Rounding Up Your Mortgage Payment

making-mortgage-paymentsPaying off the mortgage on your home as quickly as possible will ensure that you pay less interest and save money in the long term. But how can you accelerate those payments so that you own your home sooner?

One simple and easy way that you can pay off your mortgage faster is to round up your mortgage payment to the nearest $100 interval. So, for example, if your mortgage payment is $756 per month, you can pay $800 instead.

Not only will this help you to pay off your mortgage sooner, but round numbers are also much easier to handle for simple calculations. You will be able to look at your bank account and easily subtract your mortgage payment in your head to get an idea of where your money stands.

Will This Really Make a Difference?
By rounding up your mortgage payment, you won’t notice the difference in your day to day expenses but you will really notice the difference when it comes to the overall lifespan of your mortgage.

In your monthly budget, you will have already mentally allocated your mortgage payment as $800, so having that $44 less per month won’t make much difference and you can easily adjust. It is an amount that is small enough that you won’t “miss” it.

However, paying $44 extra per month will add up to $528 per year. That’s almost like making an extra payment every year. This extra money will go straight into the principal of the loan, which will make your interest payments go down every year faster and faster.

Over the years, this will compound and will mean that you actually end up reducing your mortgage term by a few years. The savings that you can enjoy over the total life of the loan can be in the thousands!

There are many other ways that you can pay down your mortgage faster, such as contributing a lump sum payment or switching to bi-weekly payments. However, it is interesting to know that just rounding up your payment can make such a significant difference!

For more information about the mortgage on your home, contact me.

7 Simple Steps To Finish Your Basement

finish-your-basementGet in the spirit of the coming weekend and put the labor of love into your home by creating a cozy hideaway that your family can retreat to once the outdoors become too chilly.

One of the best places to create this snug space is to mimic hibernating animals and go under ground — to the basement.

Whether your lowest level needs a facelift or is completely unfinished, Labor Day weekend is the perfect time to make a game plan and get started on remodeling your basement.

Step 1 – Obtain A Permit

Before you can just slap up insulation and drywall, you need to make sure your basement is even fit to dwell in.

Check with your city to ensure there aren’t any permits you need to obtain and that the space is up to code. If you don’t do it right, then this update could haunt you when it comes time to sell.

Step 2 – Get The Air Flowing

You’ll want this space to be warm in winter and cool in the summer. Contact a contractor to see if getting air to this lower level will be as easy as tapping into your current HVAC system and whether or not your existing appliance can handle the extra space.

Step 3 – Design And Frame

Now comes the fun part. Decide what you want down there! A bedroom or two, a man cave, or TV room; a blank slate provides all sorts of exciting options. Once you’ve got a plan, start framing it out.

Step 4 – Add Emergency Exits

This underground level needs exit points that go directly outside. So, install a back door or windows that someone could fit through in case of emergency. If there are bedrooms in the design, they also each need their own exit point.

Step 5 – Insulate And Drywall

While the ground surrounding your home provides some insulation, you’ll want to properly insulate around the perimeter and in between rooms to provide a noise barrier. Then put up the drywall.

Step 6 – Install Flooring

Pick out your flooring, such as wood, tile, carpet or vinyl. It mostly depends on what type of rooms you’re planning to create. Make sure your floors are level before you lay anything down. It’s especially common to find slanted floors in older homes.

Step 7 – Paint And Decorate

You’re almost finished! Pick out your paint colors, move in your furniture and enjoy your new cozy hideaway. Colder weather will be here before you know it, so use one of the upcoming weekends to get this project started.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – 9.9.13

home values increasingLast week was relatively calm due to the Labor Day Holiday on Monday providing little mortgage and housing related news. However, there were several positive indicators for overall economic conditions.

Construction spending rose by 0.60 percent in July and surpassed economists’ expectations of 0.30 percent and June’s zero percent growth. While this may seem a small increase, any indication that construction spending is increasing could indicate that residential construction is ramping up.

This would be good news for home buyers, who’ve been facing a shortage of available homes in many areas of the U.S.

The Fed Released Its Latest Beige Book Report
Federal Reserve districts reported rising consumer spending in most districts, modest expansion in manufacturing and moderate residential real estate sales. Higher mortgage rates may have dampened home buyer enthusiasm, but an ongoing shortage of available homes is also likely to have contributed to slower sales.

Mortgage rates will likely rise if the Fed tapers its $85 billion monthly purchase of mortgage-backed securities and Treasury bonds as demand for bonds is expected to decrease. When bond prices fall, mortgage rates usually rise.

ADP released its report on private sector jobs added for August; 176,000 jobs were added against expectations of 185,000 jobs added and July’s 198,000 jobs added. The three-month rolling average of private sector jobs added shows steady job growth as jobs added rose from 140,000 in May to 188,000 jobs for August.

Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey reported that the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose by six basis points to 4.57 percent with discount points unchanged at 9.70 percent.

The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose by five basis points to 3.59 percent with discount points unchanged at 0.70 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose by four basis points to 3.28 percent with discount points unchanged at 0.50 percent.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Non-Farm Payrolls Report for August, 169,000 jobs were created, which fell shy of expectations of 173,000 new jobs. Expectations were based on the original number of 162,000 jobs created in July, but July’s number was revised downward to 104,000 jobs created.

The unemployment report for August was 7.30 percent, down 0.10 percent from July’s reading of 7.40 percent.
The combination of higher mortgage rates, persistently high unemployment and fewer jobs created could signal the Fed to postpone its plan to start reducing its monthly securities purchases.

What’s Coming Up
This week’s scheduled mortgage and housing news is relatively flat, but Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey will provide the last indication of mortgage rates’ direction before the FOMC meeting on September 18.

The Fed will also likely be watching the Weekly Jobs report and the University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index as part of its decision-making process on whether to taper or maintain current QE securities purchases.

Case Shiller Price Index Shows Home Prices Are Still Increasing

home values increasingHome prices are still rising, but at a slower pace according to the S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Indices for June. Home prices for the cities surveyed in the HPI rose by 12.10 percent on an annual basis as compared to May’s reading of 12.20 percent.
This is the highest rate of monthly growth for home prices since the peak of the housing bubble in 2006.

June’s home prices remained approximately 23 percent lower than peak prices, but economists consider the bubble peak an anomaly and caution against comparing current home prices to the peak prices seen in 2006.

Overall Housing Price Increase Strongly
Regional home prices reported in June’s HMI were mixed. Case-Shiller publishes a 10-city Index and a 20-city Index of home prices. 13 of 20 cities saw their rates of rising home prices decline from May to June.

Atlanta posted the highest month-to-month gain in home prices at 3.40 percent. Washington, D.C. posted the slowest month-to-month gain in home prices at 1.00 percent.

New York City posted a monthly gain of 2.10 percent in home prices in June; this was its highest rate of increase since 2002.

Both S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Indices for June showed annual growth in home prices. The 10-city index posted an annual gain of 11.90 percent and the 20-city Index posted an annual growth rate of 12.10 percent. Las Vegas enjoyed the highest annual rate of home price growth at 24.90 percent.

In year-over-year price gains, Las Vegas and San Francisco’s gains exceeded 20.00 percent, while Atlanta, Detroit and Phoenix posted year-over-year gains of 19.00 percent, 16.40 percent and 19.80 percent respectively.

These figures suggest there’s plenty of room before prices begin to fall, but David M. Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee and S&P Dow Jones Indices, noted that “the monthly city-by-city data show the pace of price increases is moderating.”

Rising Mortgage Rates, Limited Supply Of Homes Slowing Home Price Growth
Mortgage rates remain historically low, but have risen sharply over the last few weeks. This trend, coupled with persistently low inventories of available homes is seen as a significant reason for slower growth in home prices.

Investors and would-be home buyers are also waiting to see if the Federal Reserve reduces its monthly stimulus program; such a reduction would likely cause mortgage rates to rise further.

The Fed has not set a date for “tapering” its monthly stimulus, but has indicated it will do so soon if economic conditions continue to improve.

Pending Home Sales Indicates That The Housing Recovery Is Progressing

pending-home-salesThe National Association of REALTORS reported Wednesday that pending sales of existing homes fell by 1.30 percent in July.

According to the organization’s Pending Home Sales Index, this was the second straight month that pending home sales dropped. July’s Pending Home Sales Index reading was 109.50.

Signed Purchase Contracts For Existing Homes Tracked In The U.S.
·Northeast: – 6.60 percent
·Midwest: – 1.00 percent
·West: – 4.90 percent
·South: + 2.60 percent

Pending home sales were 6.70 percent higher year-over-year on a national basis. This indicates that the housing recovery is progressing, but at a slower pace.

Short supplies of available homes have also impacted sales. In some areas homebuyers are facing competition from multiple buyers for individual homes.

Another report released earlier in the week showed that the pace of rising home prices also slowed. This connects with fewer pending home sales, as when demand for homes cools, prices are likely to fall as well.

Pending home sales serve as an indicator for future home sales, as purchase contracts typically lead to completed home sales within two to three months.

Housing Market Developments Could Delay Fed Stimulus Decision
The Federal Reserve has indicated that it may begin reducing its stimulus program of buying $85 billion per month in U.S. Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities.

The Fed has repeatedly stated that continued monitoring of economic trends would weigh heavily on its decision if and when to modify its current stimulus program.

Mortgage rates have risen more than a percentage point since May when the Fed began discussing potentially “tapering” its monthly bond purchases.

The Fed may interpret the slower pace of rising home prices and pending home sales as a sign that it’s not yet time to reduce its stimulus program. This could help with lowering mortgage rates, which are expected to rise when the Fed reduces its monthly securities purchases and eventually ends its stimulus plan.

Housing has led the economic recovery; faltering indicators in the housing sector suggest that the overall recovery is a fragile process.

Existing Home Sales Report Shows Highest New Home Inventory Since January 2012

existing home inventory-webThe National Association of REALTORS reported that existing home sales for July came in at 5.39 million on a seasonally adjusted annual basis. July’s reading exceeded both expectations of 5.21 million existing homes sold and June’s reading of 5.06 million homes sold.

This suggests good news for home buyers who’ve been constrained by limited supplies of homes for sale.

As home prices continue increasing in many areas, more homeowners are likely to list their homes for sale. Existing home sales for July rose by 6.80 percent year-over-year.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency Home Price Index reported a 7.70 percent year overyear increase in prices for homes financed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

This reading was slightly higher than May’s year-over-year reading of a 7.60 percent increase in home prices.

New Home Sale Inventories Also Growing
New home sales for July dropped by 13.40 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual reading of 394,000; this was lower than expectations of 485,000 new homes sold, but this expectation was based on June’s original reading of 497,000 new homes sold. June’s reading has been adjusted to 455,000 homes sold, which likely would have resulted in a lower expectation.

New home sales were lower in all four U.S. regions:
-16.1 percent in the West
-13.4 percent in the South
-12.9 percent in the Midwest
– 5.7 percent in the Northeast

While this isn’t great news for developers and home builders, supplies of new homes for sale jumped from a 4.30 month supply of new homes in June to a 5.20 month inventory of available new homes in July. This was the highest inventory of available new homes since January 2012.

Monthly New Home Sales Continue Upward Trend
Month to-month sales of new homes tend to be volatile, but July’s year-over-year home sales were 6.80 percent above new home sales in July 2012.

Higher mortgage rates likely stifled sales, but slower sales would increase inventories of available homes. More homes available would help ease constraints on buyers and level then playing field for home buyers who have been competing for few homes in strong seller’s markets.

Rising mortgage rates could continue, especially if the Federal Reserve begins tapering its $85 billion in monthly bond purchases, a program known as quantitative easing. The Fed has announced that it may start reducing the QE program before year-end.

When QE purchases are reduced, securities prices can be expected to fall due to less demand, and mortgage rates can be expected to rise.

7 Tips On Getting A New Mortgage After Bankruptcy

mortgage approval underwritingYou have found your dream home and you are eager to get a mortgage, move into the property and start enjoying life there. However, there is only one problem standing in your way – the fact that you have been through some hard financial times in the past.

If you (or your partner) have been bankrupt previously, will this affect your chances of being able to buy the home you want?

The good news is that it is still possible to obtain a mortgage even if you have been bankrupt before.

Here are some tips that will help you to increase your chances of mortgage success:

  • Choose the right lender. Some lenders may not approve your new mortgage if a bankruptcy shows up on your credit history. However, there are some that do as long as you are able to prove that you have the income to make your payments.
  • If your bankruptcy was caused by factors that are beyond your control, it may be easier to get a new mortgage as opposed to a bankruptcy that was caused by poor money management. Explain the circumstances of your credit history to your mortgage loan officer.
  • When you are buying a home after bankruptcy, try to save up as much of a down payment as possible. Your lender may want to see a minimum of 10% as a down payment, but more is better.
  • Build up your credit again by always paying your credit card bills each month along with any other debt. The higher your credit score, the better chance you will have of being able to obtain a mortgage.
  • Avoid writing checks that you think might bounce, as this shows up poorly on your credit report as well. Any retirement plans or 401 K assets will make your credit look good, so if you can set these up it may help you to obtain a mortgage.
  • Don’t switch jobs right before applying for the mortgage, the lender wants to be able to see that you have a reliable source of income and that you have been at the same line of work for a good amount of time.

    Keeping these tips in mind will help you to obtain a mortgage even if you have been bankrupt before.

    For more information about buying a home and securing your next mortgage please contact your trusted mortgage professional today.

    Preventing And Clearing Clogs In Your Home

    drain-cleaningYou’re brushing your teeth and you turn on the faucet. It’s not draining and starts to back up. Here’s the dilemma; do you spit and let it sit or run to the kitchen? One thing is for sure; having a clogged drain can be a major annoyance.

    Clogs not only frustrate a homeowner but they can be hard on your plumbing. The added pressure they create puts stress on your pipes and can shorten their lifespan.

    So end the issue by following the guidelines below. You’ll learn how to prevent clogging and clear the ones you already have.

    No Food Down The Drain

    Even if you have a disposal, it’s not good for your pipes to have sticky, mushy food shoved through them. Peel vegetables and scrape plates into the trashcan.

    Also, avoid pouring grease down the drain. Animal fat can congeal into a solid and form a blockage. Instead, store it in a sealable container in the freezer. Once it’s full, trash it!

    Only TP In The Toilets

    All feminine hygiene products should be thrown away, because most don’t dissolve quickly enough and can cause a backup. And be sure to secure toilet lids from curious children, because you have to admit that it is pretty fun to watch almost anything go “bye-bye.”

    Hair Today, Problem Tomorrow

    Don’t wash loose hair down the drain. Collect it and throw it away after your shower. If you shed a lot, it might be beneficial to install drain screens to catch loose hair and make it easy to dispose. Be sure to clean these out every few weeks.

    Chemicals Should Be Used With Caution

    Be wary about using chemical drain cleaners. They can erode cast-iron pipes and usually don’t remove an entire clog, so it can easily recur. You should consider hiring a professional plumber to snake your drains; or better yet, buy your own augur at the hardware store for about $15.

    Homeowners can be hard on their drains. From hair to food, clogs are a time-consuming frustration that might cost you big. Treat your plumbing with a little love and it’ll reward you by quickly removing water and waste from your sight!

    For more helpful tips on periodic home maintenance, please feel free to contact your trusted mortgage professional today.

    Fed Meeting Minutes Reflect Support For Reducing QE Program

    reducing-fed-QE-programThe minutes of last month’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting show significant support for tapering the Fed’s current amount of monthly securities purchases. These purchases, known as quantitative easing (QE), are an effort to maintain lower long-term interest rates including mortgage rates.

    The Fed has been buying $85 billion per month in Treasury securities and mortgage-backed securities (MBS).
    Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve and FOMC has hinted at “tapering” the Fed’s securities purchases by year-end in recent statements. The FOMC minutes released Wednesday further suggest that tapering based on strengthening economic trends is likely.

    FOMC Members Express Mixed Views
    The minutes for the last FOMC meeting, which took place on July 30 and 31, states that many members are “broadly comfortable” with tapering QE securities purchases later this year if the economy continues to improve. At the same time, many FOMC members indicated that it “isn’t yet time” to scale back the purchases.

    All along, the FOMC has emphasized that it will closely monitor domestic and global financial and economic developments as part of its decision about when tapering the QE purchases will begin.

    The minutes for July’s meeting reflected this sentiment and noted “A few members emphasized the importance of being patient and evaluating additional information on the economy before deciding on any changes to the pace of asset purchases.”

    On the other side of the issue, the minutes note that a few members said that “It might soon be time to slow somewhat the pace of purchases as outlined in the QE plan.”

    QE Tapering Not The Only Influence On Mortgage Rates
    The Fed is likely to monitor its words as well as economic conditions, as previous announcements about tapering QE made by Chairman Bernanke and FOMC have created havoc in world financial markets.

    In relation to mortgage rates, it’s likely that tapering QE purchases will cause mortgage rates to rise. Demand for bonds will fall as the Fed reduces its purchases, falling bond prices usually cause mortgage rates to rise.

    It’s important to keep in mind that tapering QE securities purchases is only one among many things that can impact financial markets, mortgage rates and the economy.

    While the Fed is expected to begin tapering its securities purchases as soon as September, developing economic news throughout the world can potentially impact mortgage rates and could cause the Fed to revise its timeline for tapering the volume of its securities purchases.

    Follow These Steps When Using Gift Funds For Your Down Payment

    gift-funds-for-new-home-purchaseAs lenders tighten mortgage guidelines for home buyers, minimum downpayment requirements are increasing.

    Several years ago, you could finance a home with nothing down. Today, most conventional mortgages require at least 5 – 10 percent.

    Incidentally, these guideline changes have led to an increase in the number of home buyers accepting cash gifts from family.

    Gifts are allowed in most cases but the problem is, if you don’t accept the gift in a “lender-friendly” way, the mortgage underwriter could reject it, and negate it.

    Three Steps To Success With Your Down Payment Gift Funds

    You can’t just deposit a cash gift into your bank account. You have to follow a series of steps and keep records.

    1. Provide an acceptable gift letter signed by all parties
    2. Provide documentation of the gifter’s withdrawal of funds via teller receipts
    3. Provide documentation of the giftee’s deposit of funds via teller receipts

    Lenders require these 3 steps for two basic reasons. First, they want to make sure that the cash gift is “clean” (i.e. not laundered). Second, they want to make sure the gift is really a gift and not a loan-in-disguise. It’s why lenders typically require that the loan application be accompanied by a signed, dated letter.

    For example:

    I am the [relationship to recipient] of [name of recipient] and this letter serves as evidence that I am gifting [name of recipient] [amount of gift] to be used for the purchase of the home at [complete address of property]. This is a gift — not a loan — and there is no expectation of repayment. Signed, [Signature of gifter]

    Keep The Cash Gift Funds Separate From Your Other Money

    As an additional step, home buyers receiving cash gifts should make sure that gifted funds are not commingled at the time of deposit.

    If the cash gift is for $10,000, therefore, the bank’s deposit slip should indicate that a $10,000 deposit was made — nothing more, nothing less. Don’t add a random $100 deposit to the transaction, in other words. The $100 deposit should be a separate transaction.

    It’s also worth noting that gifting funds between family members can create both legal and tax liabilities.

    If you’re unsure about how donating or receiving a gift may impact you, call or email me directly. If I can’t help you with your questions, I can refer you to somebody that can.