Oct 18

Learn How to Child-proof Your Home so Your Baby Is Safe From Harm

home for growing familyDo you have a baby on the way? If so, you are likely already wondering how you are supposed to make your home safe from harm. The good news is that with a little work, you’ll be able to make your house or apartment that much safer. Let’s take a look at how you can child-proof your home in under a few hours.

Start With The Baby’s Bedroom
For the first few months, your baby will be spending a lot of time either sleeping or resting in their crib. You’ll want to keep the crib away from any cords, blinds, drapes or other items the baby might get their hands on. The crib itself should meet federal safety regulations and should be comfortable without being too restrictive.

Keep a watchful eye out for anything loose that the baby might be able to put in its mouth. All choking hazards should be kept well away from a crib.

Baby-Proofing The Halls And Stairs
Next, it’s time to take a quick sweep through your halls and stairways. Once your baby starts crawling, they’re at risk for falls and other issues. Go through your hallways and look for any items that the child might pull over. For example, if you have hall tables with plants or pictures on them, are there any fabric items which the baby might be able to reach?

Your stairways should have some sort of baby guards placed in front of them at all times. If possible, you’ll also want your stairs to be carpeted. This can help to reduce injury if your child takes a tumble down the stairs.

Keeping The Kitchen Safe
Finally, don’t forget the kitchen. There are all sorts of dangerous items in the average kitchen, from heavy appliances with loose cords to tablecloths that can lead to utensils on the floor. In short, everything should be kept in drawers and out of a child’s reach. Cupboards should be secured so that a baby can’t open them. If you want to go a bit further, consider installing some padding on the legs of hard kitchen furniture and on corners where a baby could bump their head.

It’s almost impossible to fully baby-proof a home, but the above checklist is a good start. If you have a baby on the way and are looking for a larger, safer home, contact your local mortgage professional.

Oct 17

Understanding ‘Bridge’ Financing: How to Buy a New Home Before You Sell Your Current One

first time buyersOne of the biggest challenges a homeowner can face when looking to upgrade or move is trying to sell their current home while buying another. If most of your net worth or equity is locked up in your current house, you will need to move it into cash to help fund the purchase of your new home. The alternative is to wait until your home is sold and you receive the funds before trying to buy a new one – but you could end up waiting for months.

The great news is that there are bridge financing options available to homeowners which can help to get things moving. Let’s take a look at how a bridge loan works and how it can help you to buy a new home before your sale is finalized.

How Does A Bridge Loan Work?
First, it is important to note that a bridge loan isn’t the same as your mortgage loan for your new home. Instead, when you take out bridge financing, you’ll borrow against the equity that you’ve built up in your current home. You’ll then be able to use these funds to help cover the costs involved with closing on your new house. Then, when you sell your old home, you’ll use part of the proceeds of that to pay off your bridge loan.

The main benefit you’ll get from this approach is a bit of extra time and flexibility in selling your home. Instead of having to accept a low offer or rush into a sale, you’ll have a bit of breathing room to take the best offer when the time is right.

Try To Avoid Making A Contingent Offer
Your bridge financing can also help you to make the winning bid and close on your new home faster. One piece of advice that some real estate agents and other experts have shared is to avoid making an offer on a new home that is contingent on selling your current home. This is especially true if you are buying in a hot real estate market where there are other buyers competing against you for the same home. If you’re already funded, you can submit an offer to buy the home as soon as the seller is ready.

As you can see, taking out a bridge loan against the equity of your current home is a great way to cover the costs of buying a new home. For more information about how bridge financing works and how you can pair it up with a mortgage for a new house or condo, contact us today. Our team of mortgage advisors is happy to share financing options that fit your needs and budget.

Oct 16

Smart Money Habits That Will Help You Save up a Mortgage Down Payment Faster

become-a-real-estate-investorAre you ready for home ownership? The prospect of owning your own house or apartment is an exciting one, but with any financial transaction this large there are some things to consider. The first is your down payment – that is, the initial payment you’ll put against the cost of the house to reduce the amount that you’re borrowing in a mortgage. Let’s have a look at four habits that will help you to get your down payment saved up faster.

Build (And Stick To!) A Reasonable Budget
The first and most obvious tip is to stick to a reasonable budget. Determine how much you have coming in and going out of your bank accounts and credit cards each month. Group everything into areas like ‘food,’ ‘utilities,’ ‘dining out,’ ‘entertainment’ and more. Then, reduce each area to a reasonable amount and avoid any overspending.

Figure Out Your ‘Latte Factor’ And Eliminate It
If you’re unfamiliar with the term, a ‘latte factor’ is that one consistent purchase that you make each day which, over time, drains your bank account. For example, if you spend $5 each day on your coffee habit that adds up to almost $2,000 per year in unnecessary costs. Pay close attention to your spending habits and try to eliminate anything that you can.

Make Automatic Payments To A Down Payment Fund
If you’re working a stable job and have regular pay periods, you may want to explore setting up a separate savings account for your down payment. Once you have this account opened, set up automatic deposits from your regular bank account after each pay day. This limits your ability to spend your cash while building up your down payment fund automatically.

Don’t Carry Credit That You Don’t Need
Finally, try not to carry credit that you aren’t going to use. This includes department store credit cards, extra bank credit cards or lines of credit. While it won’t necessarily harm your credit score to have available credit, if you do have it you’re far more likely to use it than if you don’t. You’ll need to be disciplined to save up your down payment. So don’t bother with extra credit that may be too tempting to resist using.

These are just a few of the smart money habits that will help you get your mortgage down payment saved up as quickly as possible. When you’re ready to discuss mortgage financing for your new home, contact our your trusted mortgage professional.

Oct 13

How to Use a Mortgage to Buy a Home After Going Through a Bankruptcy

calculatorWhile it is sometimes the best option to get your finances repaired, the bankruptcy and following discharge period can be tough. However, while it may delay things for a couple of years, the good news is that even a bankruptcy won’t stop you from borrowing a mortgage to buy a home. In today’s article, we will share some insight into how you can get a mortgage loan after going through bankruptcy.

Step 1: Get A Professional Credit Assessment
Once your Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy has been discharged, you will be required to wait for at least two years before you’re able to take out a mortgage. During this time, it is a good idea to sit down with a credit professional and get an assessment. Individuals and families with a bankruptcy on their credit file are going to go through a bit of extra scrutiny when taking out future loans. So spend a bit of time working on cleaning up your credit.

Step 2: Figure Out Your Monthly Budget
As you move closer to buying a home, you will want to start living off of a monthly budget. This will help to ensure that you are always prepared for your monthly mortgage payments and aren’t left short of cash when payment time comes. A budget can be as simple as a spreadsheet listing your monthly sources of income and expenses. Alternatively, you can use iPhone or Android apps which help to make budget tracking easier.

Step 3: Get Your Down Payment Saved Up
You will also need to start saving for the down payment that you’ll place on your home. The amount that you will need depends on a variety of factors including the city you’re buying in, the size of the home and much more. If you’re unsure about this, contact us and we’ll share some insight.

Step 4: Maintain Your Spending Discipline Until It’s Buying Time
Finally, it’s worth noting that you will need to be very disciplined in the period between your bankruptcy discharge and your mortgage application. Your credit report has to stay clean so that your mortgage lender does not doubt your ability to pay.

Don’t get discouraged if you have some work ahead of you to get your credit repaired. With a little time and effort, you can put your bankruptcy behind you and move on as a happy homeowner. To learn more about the financing process and to discuss your options, contact our team of mortgage professionals today. We’re here to help.

Oct 12

Upgrading Your Home? 5 Great Reasons to Make the Switch to Hardwood Floors

choosing-kitchen-colorsAre you tired of scouring the internet, trying to find the secret recipe for whatever will take stains out of your carpet? And the irritating annual steam cleaning ritual where your whole home is soaking wet for a couple of days? Ugh. If your old carpet has you down, it might be time for a change. In today’s blog post we’ll share five great reasons why you’ll want to make the switch from carpet to hardwood floors.

Your Home Will Look Amazing
Let’s face it. Unless you have a serious appreciation for all things shag, hardwood floors look much better than carpet. Available in a variety of colors and grains, hardwoods add a natural element to any room. They give off a much warmer appeal than carpet as well, especially when polished.

They’re Much Easier To Keep Clean
Spill on the floor? No problem. Pet has an accident? Rest easy. Hardwood flooring is far easier to keep clean than any form of carpeting. Your floor won’t absorb liquids and solids won’t leave a mess.

They’re A Great Equity-Building Investment
Hardwood floors are an excellent investment in your home. Some studies show that up to 75 percent of the cost will be returned when the house is sold, which puts hardwoods high on the list of equity-building renovations. Also, many home buyers are specifically looking for houses with hardwood flooring. So when you do choose to sell, your home may sell that much faster.

They Last Longer Than Carpets
The next time you are over at a friend’s house, take a look at their floors. Many homes have hardwood flooring that has been around for decades, requiring only the occasional refinishing to restore its former shine. Hardwoods last much longer than carpets and won’t require a full “rip and replace.”

Your Allergies Will Thank You
Finally, if you or any of your family members suffer from allergies, hardwood floors may be the answer. Carpets collect dust, which can lead to the formation of dust mites and other allergens. And while you can vacuum them regularly, only the very best vacuums have enough suction to get deep into the carpet fiber to remove this gunk.

These are just five of the many good reasons to invest in hardwood flooring for your home. If you’re in the market for a great new home, contact your trusted mortgage professional. We will be happy to show you some great local opportunities.

Oct 11

Four Mistakes to Avoid When Making an Offer for Your Dream Home

home-for-sale-my-mortgage-news-dailyYou’ve scoured the new home listings, been to all the open houses and have finally found the home of your dreams. It is now time to draft an offer and begin the negotiation process. Below we’ll share four mistakes that you will want to avoid when making an offer on your dream home.

Mistake #1 – Not Working With A Professional
The first mistake that home buyers make is trying to buy a home without using the services of a real estate professional. Buying a home is a significant financial transaction and one where the seller and their agent are working hard to ensure they come out ahead. Having experienced representation on your side of the table ensures that you won’t be taken advantage of.

Mistake #2 – Skipping The Home Inspection
The second mistake – and one that is more common than you think – is skipping the home inspection. There are countless instances of home buyers thinking that the house looks great on the outside without realizing that there are issues with the roof, the foundation, the plumbing, inside the walls or some other area that’s tough to see. Having the house professionally inspected before tabling an offer ensures that issues are fixed up before the transaction is complete.

Alternately, if you’re willing to move ahead regardless, you can ask for the price to be reduced as compensation.

Mistake #3 – Not Being Pre-Approved For Financing
The third mistake in our list is making an offer on a home without being pre-approved for the amount of mortgage financing you will need. Regardless of how good your credit is, the mortgage application process is one that can present challenges. Also, many home sellers will require evidence of financing pre-approval before accepting an offer, so it’s best to come prepared.

Mistake #4 – Taking On Other Debts
Once you’ve decided on the home you want to purchase, you will want to avoid taking on any other debts which can affect your credit score. Don’t buy a car, open any new credit cards or do anything else which will show up on your credit report. Once you are pre-approved for your mortgage, you’ll want to keep your credit as spotless as possible to ensure that nothing goes wrong.

If you’re prepared and clear-headed, the offer process will go smoothly and you’ll soon be moving into your dream home. When you’re ready to explore financing options, contact your trusted mortgage professional.

Oct 10

Negotiations: 3 Tricks That You Can Use to Ensure Yours Is the Winning Bid

getting-a-cosigner-for-your-mortgageYou’ve toured through a number of listings, attended all the open houses and have found your potential new dream home. Now the hard part begins, especially if you’re working against other buyers who are keen on getting the same home as you. Let’s take a look at three tricks that you can use to make sure the bid you submit on a home is the one that wins.

Don’t Start With A Lowball Offer
First, it’s important to note that the offer itself needs to be a fair one. If you approach a home seller with a low offer, you’ll likely discover that they’re not too interested in accepting it. Even worse, if your offer is too low, you risk the seller feeling insulted. And that might prevent you from being able to counter with a higher price to be more competitive. Instead, consider bidding on the low end of a reasonable, fair price range as your starting bid. That way the seller knows that you’re serious and is more willing to entertain the conversation.

Let A Real Estate Agent Handle It
If you want to make an offer that a seller can’t refuse, you’ll want to work with a real estate agent. An experienced agent that has helped dozens of buyers with the purchasing process will have critical knowledge that will be useful in making the right bid. Plus, if you end up receiving a counter-offer from the seller, an agent can assist you with understanding the terms and touching up your bid to get the deal done.

Keep Your Cool And Be Ready For The Counter
Speaking of counter-offers, you’ll want to ensure that you keep an open mind when it comes to negotiating with the home seller. Unless your offer is close to or over the listing price, the seller is likely to counter your opening bid. This is normal and is a sign that they’re interested, so from here it’s your job to ensure that you sweeten the deal just enough that they’re willing to close.

These are just a few of the ways that you can ensure that the bid you make on a home is the one the seller accepts. For more tips and insight, contact your trusted mortgage professional today. We look forward to connecting!

Oct 09

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – October 9, 2017

board-of-the-federal-reserveFixed mortgage rates rose by two basis points last week as the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage dropped by two basis points. Construction spending returned to positive territory, but job growth dropped in public and private sectors. National unemployment was lower.

Construction Spending Rises in August
Builders increased construction spending in August after July’s reading dipped lower than June’s reading. Construction spending rose by 0.50 percent in August, which exceeded expectations of a 0.40 percent increase and July’s reading of -1.20 percent. Higher construction spending in August was driven by higher spending on public sector building projects.

Analysts said that public building projects rose by 0.70 percent, which was boosted by a 3.50 percent increase in building educational facilities. This is a good sign for construction spending as educational renovation and new construction had stagnated for a few years. Construction of new schools could have a positive impact on home sales as schools are typically a major consideration for families with school-age children.

Damage caused by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma has not yet impacted construction spending.
Mortgage Rates Mixed, New Jobless Claims Fall
Freddie Mac reported higher average fixed mortgage rates last week. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose two basis points to 3.85 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was also two basis points higher at 3.15 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage dropped by two basis points to an average of 3.18 percent.

First-time jobless claims were lower by 12,000 claims at 260,000 new claims filed. Analysts had expected 265,000 new jobless claims based on the prior week’s reading of 272,000 new claims.

Private and Public–Sector Job Growth Lower in September
ADP payrolls for private-sector jobs fell to 135,000 new jobs from August’s reading of 228,000 new jobs. The federal Non-Farm Payrolls report, which includes public and private sector jobs, dropped by 33,000 jobs as compared to the August reading of 169,000 jobs Analysts had expected 75,000 new jobs in September.

The national unemployment rate fell to 4.20 percent in September from 4.40 percent in August. This suggests that slower growth in payrolls has not led to more layoffs.

What‘s Ahead
This week’s scheduled economic news includes readings on inflation, core inflation and mortgage rates. Weekly jobless claims and retail sales data will also be released.

Oct 06

5 Key Maintenance Tasks to Prepare Your Home for the Winter

get-roof-ready-for-winterThe days are getting shorter, the temperature is dropping and the kids are heading back to school. The approach of autumn means that winter is just around the corner. The question is – is your home ready? Break out your checklist and let’s run through five key maintenance tasks that will get your home prepared to face the winter.

Pack Up And Protect Your Outdoor Furniture
Unfortunately, the arrival of winter means that the patio has to be closed up for the season. It’s time to get chairs, tables and other furniture covered up or stored if you have space. The BBQ will also need to be covered or moved off to the shed or another dry area.

Get Your Windows Ready For Cold Weather
Next, take some time to inspect your windows for drafts, leaks and other issues. This can be as easy as shutting them tight on a windy day and using your senses to determine if any air is leaking in. Depending on where you live in the country, you might need to do some additional work on your windows to get them prepared for the cold.

Turn Down Your Garden, Plants And Flower Beds
Unless you have a garden full of robust, cold-loving plants, it’s likely that you will see most of them die off as we move from autumn into winter. Spend some time turning down your gardens and other areas. This can help to move nutrients into the soil where they’ll be ready to nourish new plants in the spring.

Check Your Furnace And Heating Ducts
If you haven’t used it in a few months, now is the time to fire up the furnace and check the home’s heating system. The last thing you want is to discover that your home isn’t heating on the first cold night!
Consider Giving The Roof And Gutters A Quick Inspection

Last but not least, don’t forget to check your roof for any damage or areas that might be prone to leaking. You will also want to check the gutters to ensure they are clear of debris. Keep in mind that this does involve climbing up a ladder and physically inspecting these areas. If you’re not good with heights or don’t own the proper equipment, don’t sweat it. Give a professional roofing team a call and have them handle the inspection instead.

The better your home is prepared for winter, the less likely you are to have a nasty surprise waiting for you in the spring. If you would rather upgrade or check out a newer home than try to winterize yours, contact your local real mortgage professional to get started.

Oct 05

Pay Your Mortgage Off Faster With These Money-Smart Strategies

care-sunt-cartierele-unde-gasesti-cele-mai-ieftine-garsoniereAs with any loan or line of credit, there are benefits to getting your mortgage paid down. You’ll pay less in interest, potentially saving thousands over the repayment period. Moreover, you’ll own your home outright that much quicker.
Let’s explore four money-smart strategies that will help you to pay your mortgage off faster.

Start With The Obvious And Increase Your Payments
It won’t come as a surprise that one of the easiest ways to get your mortgage paid off is to increase the amount you put towards your monthly payments. Most lenders will allow you to place any extra funds directly against the outstanding loan amount or “principal.” This is very efficient as it avoids having to commit any additional funds to interest.

One trick that many families use is to round the payment amount up to the nearest hundred-dollar figure. For example, if your mortgage payment is $652.32, you would pay $700 instead. This might be an easy burden on your wallet but still amounts to an extra seven percent of your payment.

Accelerate Your Payment Schedule
Another way to get your mortgage paid off as quickly as possible is to accelerate how frequently you make payments. For example, if you are currently making payments on a monthly basis, you can switch to bi-weekly payments instead. This means that instead of 12 large payments per year, you’re making 26 smaller payments. However, your interest will still compound on a monthly basis which means that over time you’ll end up paying less in interest. Not all mortgage products support this, so it is best to check with your mortgage professional to ensure it is an option open to you.

Dedicate Your Tax Refund To Your Mortgage
If you receive a tax refund or other large sum of money, consider using it to pay your mortgage down further. This is an excellent use for a spare block of cash as it gets you one step closer to owning your home, free and clear.

Refinance Your Mortgage To A Shorter Term
Finally, one last strategy is to look at a shorter term for your mortgage. For example, if you started with a 30-year amortization, you can refinance down to a 15-year loan instead. This will require having access to significantly more money to place against your payment, so be sure to carefully budget for this additional cost.

These are just four of the many ways that you can get your mortgage loan paid off faster. For more information or to inquire about a mortgage for your next home, contact us today. Our professional team is happy to share additional strategies that can have you owning your dream home in no time.

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