Archive for November, 2016

Comments Off on Reduce Your Home’s Carbon Footprint With These Energy-Saving Tips

Reduce Your Home’s Carbon Footprint With These Energy-Saving Tips


2016
11.11

Reduce Your Home's Carbon Footprint With These Energy-Saving TipsDo you believe that humans are changing the climate? As of today, the debate over carbon dioxide and climate change continues to rage. But regardless of your political standpoint, there’s always a case for reducing electricity use. Because who doesn’t like saving money, right?

Let’s explore a few ways that you can save energy while reducing your home’s carbon footprint.

Leverage The Power Of Automation

The technology behind home automation is improving at an amazing rate. Thermostats from companies like Nest make home heating and cooling simple. They learn from your use to automatically set temperatures up and down as needed. Going to be home late from work? No problem — you can use your smartphone to ensure your heat doesn’t come on until later.

Wash Cold, Hang Dry

You might not be aware of this, but cold water washing makes sense. Most washing machines and detergents are just as efficient with cold water as hot. So it makes sense to switch to washing in cold, especially if you have a newer washing machine.

To cut back even more, hang your clothes to dry instead of using the dryer. The technology behind clothes dryers hasn’t improved much over time. They still rely on warm air, forced ventilation and spinning around. All of which use a lot of energy.

Note: if you have to use your dryer, add a clean, dry towel to each load. Adding a towel will help your clothes to dry faster, thus saving you both time and money.

Modernize Your Home Lighting

Have you made the switch to power-efficient LED light bulbs yet? This one change can save an immense amount of electricity depending on the size of your home. And you can take things a step further by automating your home lighting as well. Systems from companies like Philips allow you to turn lights up, down and off as needed. You can also control these from your smartphone.

Kill Off The Vampires

Finally, watch for appliances and accessories that draw power when they’re not in use. ‘Electricity vampires’ like smartphone chargers, laptops and televisions can draw power 24/7. It’s a bit of a pain to have to unplug everything all the time. Instead, consider having these appliances plugged in to power bars. When you’re finished using them, you can switch the power bar off and go on with your day.

The above are just a few ways that you can reduce your home’s carbon footprint. If you’re interested in upgrading to a power-smart home, talk to your trusted mortgage professional to get started today.

Comments Off on 3 Ways That You Can Leverage Mortgage Financing to Build a Real Estate Investment Portfolio

3 Ways That You Can Leverage Mortgage Financing to Build a Real Estate Investment Portfolio


2016
11.10

3 Ways That You Can Leverage Mortgage Financing to Build a Real Estate Investment PortfolioReal estate may be one of the most important things that you will ever invest in, but it can also be a useful means of increasing your financial well-being. If you’re getting into the real estate game and are wondering how you can make use of investing in homes to improve your net worth, here are three ways you can successfully work towards a real estate investment portfolio that will make you proud.

Home Equity Line of Credit Loan

Also known as HELOC, this is the type of loan where a homebuyer taps into the equity of their home while they are still paying off their mortgage. As the equity that has been paid into the home is available without the homebuyer having to apply for it, this allows those who invest in real estate to borrow against equity to renovate the property or pay for a deposit on another property.

Pick Properties That Will Appreciate

It goes without saying that most people want to invest in a property that will increase in value, so as an investor you need to be especially careful about what you invest in. Since you may have problems paying all your property fees if the value of one decreases, try and be aware of future market trends and neighborhood hotspots. This means diversifying the properties you invest in and including a buffer in your payment plan so that, even if the market takes a turn, you can still pay off your amount owing.

Investing In Under Market Value

There are few better ways to improve the financial feasibility of your investment portfolio than investing in a property that is under market value. Not only will you have an automatic gain with the purchase price, you will be able to invest that money into improvements in order to bump up the market price even more. While finding this type of property can be difficult for the newcomer, looking for neighborhoods with potential or properties that require little maintenance can be a good place to begin.

There are few better things to invest in than real estate, but it can be hard to know where to put your money in the beginning. Whether through a home loan or purchasing a property under market value, there are plenty of ways to bump up your net worth. If you’re currently considering an investment in real estate, contact your trusted mortgage professional for more information.

Comments Off on Buying a Home This Autumn? 4 Unconventional Ways to Save up for Your Down Payment

Buying a Home This Autumn? 4 Unconventional Ways to Save up for Your Down Payment


2016
11.09

Buying a Home This Autumn? 4 Unconventional Ways to Save up for Your Down PaymentAutumn is a popular time for new home buyers to start looking for their first house or condo. But with that down payment looming, everybody could use a bit of help saving up to make that bulk payment a little less intimidating.

There are plenty of unconventional ways to save up that may seem small, but will quickly add up and put a dent into that down payment.

Create A High Interest Savings Account

Talk to the bank about creating a secondary savings account with a higher interest rate. These super savings accounts usually come with the caveat that no money can be removed for a designated period of time. Using this account for the down payment works in everybody’s favor because it guarantees those extra dollars cannot be used for any other purpose.

Discard One Guilty Pleasure

Enjoy Starbucks coffee? Grab a pint every happy hour? Choose one vice and put the amount that would be spent on it into a jar. Most people will be surprised on how much money they spend each month on one guilty pleasure that can easily be cut out of their life. Every perk that’s cut will increase the amount by a decent margin.

Put Away Any Bonus Money

Holiday bonuses from work, tax refunds, birthday or Christmas presents, income from side gigs, any and all extra dollars that come in from any source outside of the main paycheck should be considered ‘down payment dollars.’ Sure it’s tempting to use that nice bonus or tax refund on a weekend trip or a night out, but all extra income should be saved away for that initial down payment.

Bring On The Roommates

People who already own a home and are looking to relocate can take this unconventional approach. Decent housing is hard to find so anybody with an extra room can rent it out and put that money towards the new house. Having a roommate can be a pain, but it’s for a limited time and can add up quickly.

While saving for a down payment can be stressful, you don’t have to go through the process alone. Your trusted mortgage professional will be able to guide you and provide some helpful tips for how to make that down payment without breaking the bank. These men and women have seen countless couples go through the same thing and their experience can make a world of difference.

Comments Off on Reverse Mortgages 101: How This Unique Financial Product Can Make Your Life Easier

Reverse Mortgages 101: How This Unique Financial Product Can Make Your Life Easier


2016
11.08

Reverse Mortgages 101: How This Unique Financial Product Can Make Your Life EasierIf you’ve been in your home for a while and have considered other loan options, you may have heard the term reverse mortgage without being aware of how this product can benefit you. While this type of mortgage works for those who have a high amount of equity in their home, here are the details on reverse mortgages and how this product may work for you.

What’s A Reverse Mortgage?

The reverse mortgage was created in 2009 as the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage for Purchase (HECM) and is something that can be used by those who are older than 62. As this type of mortgage does not require the homeowner to pay monthly mortgage payments, it enables those who use it to repay their loan after they move out or pass on. If the cost of maintaining your home is manageable and you don’t plan on moving, this can be a useful option.

The Requirements For Reverse Mortgages

Beyond the age requirement, those who want to utilize this product need to own their current property or have a high amount of equity in it. They must have the ability to pay any insurance and property tax on the home, and they must comply with the standards that are set by the Federal House Administration (FHA). This means that applicants may require documentation like bank statements to confirm their financial security, or even pay stubs if they are still receiving a monthly income.

The Pros And Cons

A reverse mortgage can be an option for those who don’t want to make a regular monthly payment on their home and would like to turn it into a source of additional funds while still owning it. While this can be an option to for those who want to stabilize their monthly expenditures, it’s also important to be aware that there can be higher costs associated with a reverse mortgage. In addition to a higher interest rate, reverse mortgages incur a higher overall interest payment since monthly payments are deferred until the loan is paid in full.

There are many types of mortgage products out there on the market, but you may not be aware that a reverse mortgage or the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage for Purchase (HECM) can be a useful option for many seniors. If you are wondering if this option is right for you, contact your trusted mortgage professional for more information.

Comments Off on What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – November 7, 2016

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – November 7, 2016


2016
11.07

Last week’s economic news included reports on inflation, construction spending, the Federal Reserve’s announcement regarding interest rates and several labor and employment related releases. Weekly reports on new jobless claims and Freddie Mac’s survey of interest rates were also released.

Construction Spending Rises, Fed Holds Steady on Interest Rates, Suggests December Increase

Construction spending remained in negative territory for September according to the Commerce Department. The month-to-month reading decreased by 0.40 percent against the expected reading of +0.40 percent and August’s reading of -0.50 percent. Approaching winter weather is a likely reason for less spending, but ongoing challenges with shortages of buildable lots and labor are also factors. Spending on residential construction rose 0.50 percent, which is good news in terms of a persistent shortage of available homes.

The Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve announced that it would hold federal interest rates in the target range of 0.25 percent to 0.50 percent. Analysts have been monitoring Fed policymaker pronouncements in anticipation of a rate increase. With strengthening labor markets and other economic indicators, policy makers hinted at raising the Fed target rate in December.

Labor Data: Slower Job Creation, Lower Unemployment

ADP payrolls showed that only private-sector jobs 147,000 jobs were created in October as compared to September’s reading of 202,000 jobs created. The Labor Department reported 161,000 government and private-sector jobs were added in October as compared to an expected reading of 175,000 jobs added and September’s reading of 191,000 jobs created. Healthcare, professional jobs and financial sector jobs showed the highest job gains.

National Unemployment met expectations with an October reading of 4.90 percent. September’s reading was 5.00 percent Unemployment readings are reported as a percentage of workers seeking work and do not include workers who’ve left the workforce. New jobless claims rose last week to 265,000 as compared to expectations for 258,000 new jobless claims and the prior week’s reading of 258,000 new jobless claims.

Mortgage Rates Rise

Freddie Mac reported higher average mortgage rates last week. 30-year fixed rate loans had an average rate of 3.54 percent, an increase of seven basis points. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose six basis points to 2.84 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was three basis points higher at 2.87 percent. Discount points for fixed rate mortgages averaged 0.50 percent; discount points for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages held steady at 0.40 percent.

Low mortgage rates have helped to offset the effects of high demand for homes and rapidly rising prices; if mortgage and refinance rates continue to rise, affordability and mortgage qualification issues are likely to arise for some home buyers.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include job openings, consumer sentiment and weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

Comments Off on Buying a New Home? Use This Checklist to Ensure Your Finances Are in Order

Buying a New Home? Use This Checklist to Ensure Your Finances Are in Order


2016
11.04

Buying a New Home? Use This Checklist to Ensure Your Finances Are in OrderBuying a home is a significant expense. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a first-time buyer or have experience. Unless you have a large pile of cash, you’ll need to ensure your finances are in order before closing. In this post we’ll explore four financial items you’ll want to check off before buying a new home.

Figure Out Your Current Monthly Budget

First, you’re going to want to sort out your monthly budget. If you’ve never done a budget before, start with something basic. Open up a spreadsheet or take out a piece of paper. Make two columns: ‘income’ and ‘expenses’. Fill in each column with the amounts that you make or spend each month. Bank, credit card and other statements can help with this process. It’s a good idea to go back at least 3 months to ensure you’re capturing your true spending.

Make A Debt Management Plan

Do you have any debts? If so, you’ll want to make a plan for how you’re going to manage these when you buy a new home. For example, you may have a car payment, student loans, a line of credit or credit card debt. Write down your debts, how much you owe and when payments are due. If any debts are due monthly, make sure you include those in your budget.

Keep in mind that your outstanding debts may impact your ability to borrow for a mortgage as well. If you plan on taking out a mortgage to pay for your new home, it’s best to get your debts figured out beforehand.

Understand All Your Real Estate Costs

Next, you’ll want to determine what all your real estate costs are going to be. If you’re not yet close to the bidding or closing process, this might be a bit challenging. But ask your real estate agent for a breakdown of what you can expect to pay for a home in your price range.

Set Up An Emergency Savings Cushion

Finally, you’ll want to set up a financial cushion in case of emergencies. It’s not much fun to think about, but losing a job or having a health event is possible. Most financial experts recommend having at least six months of expenses saved up. Of course, this is always easier said than done. What’s important is that you have at least some cash tucked away, just in case. If you can, save a bit extra each month or from each pay check and add to this emergency fund.

When you’re ready to buy a new home, your trusted mortgage professional is your best bet for success. Reach out to us today and learn more about how affordable a new home in your community will be!

Comments Off on Understanding How Mortgage Amortization Works and How It Can Affect Your Future

Understanding How Mortgage Amortization Works and How It Can Affect Your Future


2016
11.03

Understanding How Mortgage Amortization Works and How It Can Affect Your FutureWhether you’re just beginning to peruse the market or you’ve recently found your dream home, there’s a chance you’re already considering the lenders and loan terms that will work best for you. Amortization may be a less-familiar term when it comes to the layman’s knowledge of buying a home, but knowing more about exactly what it means can go a long way towards a more secure financial future.

Explaining Mortgage Amortization

Amortization is the process of paying off your mortgage loan through regular monthly payments. While a portion of each monthly payment will go towards the price of the home and a portion will go towards interest, having a higher monthly payment can mean you pay less interest on the home’s balance overall. This means that, with a shorter amortization period, you can actually end up paying a lot less for your home.

Why It Can Be Good To Pay Down Sooner

It’s easy to believe that paying your monthly mortgage amount is enough, and this can certainly suffice, but putting down more than this can actually improve your financial situation in the long run. Because the early years of paying off your mortgage will involve paying interest on a larger home balance, it can take a while to even break even and begin to see a lowered interest payment and principal. By making lump sum payments or pre-payments, you may significantly lower your amount owing and pay off your home much sooner.

What’s Best For You?

Certainly, higher monthly payments or lump sums can minimize the amount you owe, but depending on the house you choose, a higher monthly payment can be a tight squeeze. This can also adversely affect the quality of your life if you’re working too much to make ends meet or budgeting so much you can’t enjoy your life. While a shorter loan period is great if you can swing it, if it will negatively impact your life and the financial benefit is not worth it, you may want to take a little longer to pay down.

There are a lot of terms and phrases involved in the mortgage process that can be confusing for the new homeowner, but deciding on the length of your amortization can have a significant impact on your future finances. If you’re currently considering the amount of house you can purchase with your monthly payment, contact your trusted mortgage professional for more information.

Comments Off on Baby on the Way? Helpful Advice for Managing a Mortgage With Only One Parent Working

Baby on the Way? Helpful Advice for Managing a Mortgage With Only One Parent Working


2016
11.02

Baby on the Way? Helpful Advice for Managing a Mortgage With Only One Parent WorkingIf you’re dealing with paying off your mortgage and going down to a one-income family, it can be complicated to determine how to financially swing it. However, becoming a parent and managing a mortgage are quite common nowadays with maternity leave and the modern family. While managing a mortgage on just one salary can be a challenge, there are a few simple things you can do to make it work.

Buy The House You Can Afford

It may sound much too simple, but many people get so wrapped up in the concept of a dream home that they forget about what makes the cost of it manageable from month to month. While affordability is important, it becomes even more important when you’re dealing with one income, so ensure you have a monthly payment that you can pay off with one salary. Even if interest rates shift or an emergency comes up, you’ll still be able to handle your monthly payment.

Create A Budget

Budget may very well be the dreaded ‘b’ word when it comes to finances, but there is nothing that’s going to be a better friend to you in managing a one-income mortgage than sticking to it. Instead of leaving your expenses to chance, make sure that you’ve set aside the appropriate funds for your mortgage, groceries, car payments or transportation, necessities and any extras that go along with living. Keep in mind that while starting a budget is good, you may want to schedule weekly meetings to ensure you’re sticking to it.

Maintain An Emergency Fund

Since it may be a struggle to pay off your mortgage and pay for day-to-day life on one salary, it’s important that you’re prepared for any emergencies that come up. Because these will be the things that arise that can sink your budget, like your car breaking down or a window needing to be replaced, you should be setting aside money each month to cover the incidentals. Tossing aside your budget for an emergency can have serious financial implications, so be prepared for what can arise.

It goes without saying that managing a mortgage on one income can be a challenge in this day and age, but this is a situation that many families find themselves in when they decide to have children. If you’re currently trying to determine how you’ll be able to manage your mortgage on one income, contact your trusted mortgage professionals for more information.

Comments Off on $500 Renovations That Will Boost Your Home’s Value and Speed Up Your Sale

$500 Renovations That Will Boost Your Home’s Value and Speed Up Your Sale


2016
11.01

$500 Renovations That Will Boost Your Home's Value and Speed Up Your SaleThe idea of home renovations when you’re selling your home can be unpopular because of the cost and time that can go into sprucing up a place you’re about to leave behind. However, making a few simple, economical touches can go a long way to capitalizing on your home’s value and making a difference in dollars. If you’re curious about cheap options for an easier sale, here are a few that may make the deal a little sweeter.

Kick Up The Kitchen A Notch

With all of the time that a family spends in the kitchen, it’s unsurprising that it is fast becoming one of the most important features that go into a potential buyer’s interest in a home. For less than a thousand, you may want to consider an upgraded appliance that will serve as a sparkly new selling feature or even some slightly revamped cabinet fronts that will keep the price down and the look up-to-date.

A Little Bathroom Fix-Up

With the bathroom being one of the smallest spaces in any home, it can be hard to know how to properly enhance this minimal space for maximum effect. Instead of re-doing the floor or the tub, consider the basic cost of a new light fixture and an updated mirror. Simply updating these two items will completely shift the look of an aging bathroom.

Clean Up The Carpet

With carpet making a bit of a comeback, it’s certainly not going to be worth your while to replace any damage it’s incurred before leaving your home. Instead of leaving things to chance, though, consider a relatively economical carpet cleaning that will drastically improve the look of your carpet and may convince potential buyers it’s less worn than it is.

Lighting Is Everything

There are few things that can lend or detract from the look of a room more than the lighting you choose. While you may want to consider a new, nice fixture to change up your living room, kitchen or foyer area, a shade of light that is complimentary to the space it’s illuminating will have more of an impact than anything on how your home is viewed.

Renovations may seem like unnecessary work if you’re planning on selling your home in the near future, but some minor upgrades can make a huge difference on the price tag that your home sale will pull in.