Read This Before Signing Your Reverse Mortgage

read-loan-applicationThere are many reasons people take out reverse mortgages. However, this option is usually considered by cash-strapped seniors who own their homes and are looking to ease the burden of their golden years.

The beauty of reverse mortgages is that you’ll receive money as long as you are current on property taxes and homeowners insurance.

While this seems like an appealing opportunity, it’s a decision that should not be made lightly. Not only is the reverse mortgage complicated in itself, but homeowners make all sorts of mistakes when they’re too quick to sign the dotted line. So if you’re considering one, be wary of the common pitfalls below.

Buying Into A Scam

With reverse mortgages becoming a more common option for those over 62, mischievous opportunists are searching for ways to solicit seniors in need of help. Scammers will take advantage by charging high fees, funneling off parts of payments, creating fake loans or committing identity theft. Ensure you use a lender approved by the Federal Housing Association.

Confusing Your Payment Options

Reverse mortgages come in many forms. You can get the amount in one lump sum. Tenure payments are another option that give you a certain amount each month until you die or move out. There are also term payments, lines of credit, and modified tenure and term payments. You need to take the time to research your options and decide which one will be best for you in the long run.

Compromising Government Assistance

There are several government assistance programs that set asset limits on your monthly spending. These programs provide aid for low-income and disabled individuals. If any assistance programs financially support you, then be sure to consult their advisers before determining your reverse mortgage plan.

Disregarding Other Options

Reverse mortgages are extremely expensive and many people see them as their only option. However, there are other alternatives. Consider taking out a personal loan, downsizing or even taking on roommates. The Golden Girls always seemed to have fun.

A reverse mortgage could be just the thing to give you the extra cash flow you need and ease your mind. However, make sure you’re consulting a trusted home financing specialist, reading the fine print and have carefully considered all your options.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week

mortgage rates this week-9.16Last week didn’t feature any housing-related news other than Freddie Mac’s weekly survey of mortgage interest rates.

Reports on consumer credit, job openings and weekly jobless claims suggest that without some relief in the jobs market, Americans may be taking a “wait-and-see” stance toward buying homes.

Consumer Credit Rose By $10.40 Billion In July

The Federal Reserve reported Tuesday that revolving credit fell by an annual rate of 2.60 percent as compared to an annual decrease of 5.20 percent in June. Non-revolving consumer credit such as vehicle and education loans rose at an annual rate of 7.40 percent.

Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey indicated that mortgage rates were unchanged for both 30-year and 15-year fixed rate mortgage loans. The average rate for a 30-year FRM was 4.57 percent with discount points of 0.80 percent; this was higher than last week’s 0.70 percent.

Average rates for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage were unchanged at 3.57 percent with 0.70 percent in discount points. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage fell by six basis points from 3.28 to 3.22 percent with discount points unchanged at 0.50 percent.

Mortgage rates are likely to change next week in response to any announcement by the Federal Reserve regarding its plan for reducing the amount of monthly bond purchases in its current quantitative easing program.

Mortgage rates would likely rise if the Fed begins tapering its $85 billion monthly purchase of securities, but if the Fed maintains its current rate of purchases, mortgage rates could remain steady or fall in response to the news.

Retail sales fell short of expectations on Friday. The Department of Commerce reported a seasonally-adjusted growth rate of 0.20 percent in August against an expected reading of 0.50 percent and July’s revised reading of 0.40 percent, which was initially reported at 0.20 percent.

The University of Michigan/Thompson Reuters Consumer Sentiment Index for September fell to its lowest reading since April. The September reading was 76.80 percent as compared to expectations of 81.50 percent and August’s reading of 82.10 percent.

What’s Coming, Will The Fed Taper Its Securities Purchases?

This week’s economic news is highlighted by the Fed’s FOMC statement scheduled on Wednesday after its two-day meeting. The announcement is expected to include an indication of the Fed’s intention concerning its QE program and whether or not monthly securities purchases will be reduced. Fed chairman Ben Bernanke is scheduled to give a press conference after the FOMC statement.

Other scheduled economic news for this week includes the Consumer Price Index and Home Builders Housing Market Index on Tuesday; Wednesday brings reports on Housing Starts and Building Permits in addition to the FOMC statement and press conference. Thursday’s economic reports include Weekly Jobless Claims and the Freddie Mac PMMS along with Existing Home Sales and Leading Indicators.

How To Create The Perfect Garage Workshop

create-your-own-garage-workshopMost men, and even handy women, dream of a perfectly organized work space where their tools are orderly and they can tackle that list of home DIY projects.

However, renovations can get put on hold because there’s not a designated place to work. Tools are usually scattered throughout closets and the kitchen table serves as a workbench.

You can create a space for all of your improvement projects by turning a section of your garage into a construction-friendly, wonderfully organized haven for your tools and home makeover endeavors.

Below are easy steps to building the perfect garage workshop.

Make Sure You Have Adequate Space

Ideally, you’d still like to be able to get your cars in their designated space, so look for a vacant area at the back of the garage or along one side. If you’re garage isn’t quite large enough, then you might want to consider adding on to it or building an outdoor shed.

Create A Work Surface

For your work surface, you could repurpose old kitchen cabinets with a counter or build yourself a rough table using lumber from your local hardware store. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s sturdy. Cabinets will provide storage for all of the nuts, bolts, paint and little tools you’ll accumulate.

Clear A Wall

Whether this is above your workstation or alongside it, you’ll want an open area to hang up and organize your tools, so that they don’t clutter your surface. Put up a pegboard and create custom spaces with hooks.

There’s a certain satisfaction that comes will seeing all your tools hanging with in reach — and a desire to fill it up.

Install Decent Lighting

You need to see what you’re doing when working with power tools. High-intensity lights, such as halogens or LEDs are perfect for brightening up your space. Utilizing them in track lighting or on bendable gooseneck fixtures can help you adjust the light to exactly where you need it.

Don’t let the thought of a home improvement project send you scurrying all over the house for tools. Take one weekend to follow these four steps and create a designated space for your garage workshop.

Everything will be in one place and it won’t matter how long a project takes or how much of a mess you make!

For more tips on home maintenance contact your trusted mortgage professional today.

Think Twice Before Paying Off Your Mortgage Too Quickly

paying-off-your-mortgage-too-quicklyMost of the financial advice out there is focused on how you can pay off the mortgage on your home as quickly as possible, from making lump sum payments to switching to bi-weekly payments rather than monthly.

However, there are a few things that you might want to consider before you put all of your financial efforts into paying off your mortgage as quickly as possible.

Diversifying Your Investments

Of course, paying off your mortgage as fast as possible has a number of obvious advantages. You will be able to own your home a lot sooner and you will decrease the amount of interest you pay over the years. However, are you diversifying your assets?

Savvy investors know that they should decrease their risk by spreading their money into a number of different types of assets and investments so that they don’t have ”all their eggs in one basket.”

If you have extra money and you want to invest it, you might want to make sure that you have a variety of investments including savings, stocks and bonds, rather than just investment in your home.

Liquid Assets

Another thing to consider is that having your money invested in your home means that it will not be a very liquid asset. If you needed the cash right away, you could have to sell your home or take out a home equity loan, which is a complex and time consuming process.

Before investing all of your money in your mortgage, consider creating an emergency fund as well so that you have some easily accessible money when you need it.

Earning More With Better Investments

Before investing all of your money in your mortgage, find out whether you would be able to earn more by investing it into other opportunities such as interest-bearing bonds. Sometimes stocks, bonds and mutual funds have better returns over time than the typical mortgage interest rates.

Perhaps paying off your mortgage as quickly as possible is the best option for you. However, make sure that you consider all of the factors before committing to this decision.

To find out more about mortgages and your home, contact trusted mortgage professional today.

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.