Tips For Helping Your Kids Adjust To A New School

back to schoolAugust means it’s time to get your children ready for school once more. Picking out backpacks, going clothes shopping and finding all the right school supplies can be hectic enough.

However, when you’ve moved and your children have to start all over in a new district, there’s even more to worry about!

Summer fun can make the sunny months fly by. It’s easy to forget that with the beginning of school comes excitement and anxiety for your little ones — especially if they’re starting out somewhere new.

So help them get adjusted with the back-to-a-new-school strategies below.

Explain Why You’ll Be Moving

Whether you’re moving states or just school districts, it’s best to give your children as much notice as possible and explain to them the reason for the change. They’ll need time to get used to the idea and say goodbye to friends.

Be Positive

As the first day draws near, be positive about what they’ll experience. School will be a place where they’ll learn new things and make great friends.

Become Involved

Think about joining the PTA, so you can learn about what’s happening in the school, meet teachers and be able to discuss policies and issues with your children.

Stick To A Routine

A new school is going to hold a lot of unknowns for your little ones. So it’s best to keep a consistent routine at home. This will help children know what to expect and feel they at least have some control in their own space.

Tap Into Their Feelings

Your children might be excited or sad about the new change and they’ll need someone to release all of this positive or negative energy upon. Just listen and be sure not to minimize their feelings. They’ll need an understanding ear throughout this adjustment.

Encourage Participation

While it’s always important for your children to focus on their schoolwork, they would also benefit by joining some sort of club, group or team. The sooner they make friends, the more settled they’ll feel.

Moving to a new school can be tough on your children, which in turn makes it tough on you.

If you can set aside the time to prepare for the first weeks, talk positively about their upcoming experiences and take the time to really listen to your children, then adjusting to the new environment can be a smooth transition for all.

For more helpful tips on adjusting to a new home and neighborhood, please feel free to contact your trusted mortgage professional today.

These Overlooked Issues Can Become Deal-Killers For Your Mortgage Application

Mortgage-ApplicationA mortgage loan approval is never final until it’s funded. And that means after you’ve signed the final paperwork and the bank has wired funds to escrow.

Mortgages are made up of many moving parts, any of which might “go wrong” while your home loan is underway.

Some are in your control, like deciding to purchase new items on credit during the mortgage process, many more are not. These “not in your control” items are the ones that you may not be thinking of.

Just being aware of some potential pitfalls could help save your loan down the road, and your peace of mind today.

What Many Mortgage Articles Don’t Say

Many mortgage related articles offer similar things like buying a car before closing, or opening a bunch of new credit cards, but there are more uncommon factors that can lead to a similar loan turndown.

For example, a home not be able to get approved if it’s unsuitable, or unsafe, for human habitation — a condition you may not discover until after a thorough home inspection’s been made.

Broken windows, lack of plumbing, major electrical code violations and/or major foundation damage are all deal-breakers with a lender.

You’ll either have to fix the home prior to your loan closing, or don’t close at all.

More Mortgage Pitfalls To Avoid

There are others ways in which a mortgage approval can go bad, too:

You’re self-employed and your income was declining over the years leading up to your mortgage application
Your tax return shows large amounts of unreimbursed employee expenses
You have switched lines ofwork or had unexplained breaks of employment in recent years

Mortgage approvals are delicate and, despite an improving economy, lenders still operate with caution. Talk with your real estate agent and your loan officer and put together a game plan.

The best way to beat the mortgage system is to know the rules before you start to play.

And the best way to know the rules is to speak with your trusted mortgage professional today!

Whatever You Do, Don’t Make These Common Mortgage Mistakes

prepare for your mortgage applicationAre you applying for a mortgage on your home? Keep in mind that a mortgage is a major financial decision and choosing one will have a significant impact on the rest of your life.

Many people go into this decision without understanding all of the essential mortgage information they need to know. This means that they may not make the best choices which could result in paying much more than they need to.

If you want to save yourself from throwing away your hard earned money, here are a few common mistakes to avoid:

Trying To Time The Mortgage Interest Rate Market

Many people will wait too long to make a decision to lock in their mortgage rate, trying to wait until they think that the rates have hit bottom. However, unfortunately most of the time this leads them to wait too long and end up with a higher interest rate.

If you are waiting things out, keep a very close eye on the economic indicators. Better yet, your trusted mortgage professional would be a good source of information about the fluctuations of interest rates.

Forgetting About Closing Costs

In addition to saving up a down payment for your mortgage, don’t forget to factor in the closing costs. These can range from two percent all the way up to six percent of the value of your home.

Make sure that you have budgeted for this in advance, so that these fees don’t catch you by surprise.

Not Considering All Loan Options

There are many people out there who haven’t considered certain loan products, such as an adjustable rate mortgage, because they just don’t understand how they work. However, you might be missing out on an option that would really work well for you.

Make sure you do your research and gain an understanding of the loan options available to you. Ask your loan officer for guidance in this area.

Looking At Just The Mortgage Rate

Remember that the mortgage interest rate is only one factor that you should consider when choosing a mortgage. Don’t forget to also consider the time frame of the mortgage closing, any restrictions on lump sum payments and any other important factors.

Following these steps will help you avoid a few of the common mistakes people make when choosing a mortgage. For more information about home buying and mortgages, you can contact your trusted mortgage professional today.

How To Choose The Right Neighborhood When Buying A Home

tree lined streetThe old real estate cliche’ about “location, location, location” is true, as the area of the city where your home is located will have an impact on its future value as well as your lifestyle.

So what factors should you consider when you are choosing which neighborhoods to house hunt within?

Proximity to Your Daily Needs

If you work downtown, living out in the suburbs means that you will be adding time for a commute onto your day.

While this might be worth the cheaper prices for properties out of the town center, it is something to consider when making your decision.

You will also need to consider whether the house is near shopping centers, schools, doctors, dentists and other services that you will need regularly.

Planned Developments

When you are choosing a neighborhood to buy in, do some research into what developments are planned in the future for that part of town.

For example, you might be able to get a cheap price on a home that is out of the way, but a new proposed highway leading straight into the town center that will be built in the next five years could increase property values considerably.

Overall Atmosphere

Take a walk around the neighborhood where you are considering buying and get a sense of the overall atmosphere. Are there a lot of families living there? Are there green places to relax? Are people friendly and saying hello to you?

You want to live in a place where you feel welcome and comfortable.

Property Values

Different neighborhoods will have a range of house prices and you will want to look for something with the right balance of value.

Some areas of town will be very expensive but very nice; other areas will have cheap house prices but might not be as pleasant to live in. Take the time to find the neighborhood that is in the middle, where you will find the right house, and neighborhood, at a good price.

These are just a few of the factors to consider so that you can choose the right neighborhood to buy in.

For more information about buying a home, feel free to contact your trusted mortgage professional today.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – August 19, 2013

green-homeLast week wasn’t kind to stock market investors, but weekly jobless claims fell to an unexpected low of 320,000 new jobless claims filed, the lowest level in nearly six years.

Here is a review of the major events of the week.

Monday: The federal budget for July shows an increase in its deficit to -$98 billion, a deficit increase of $28 billion over June’s figure of -$70 billion. The good news is that the deficit for the first 10 months of the fiscal year is $38 billion less than during the same period of the prior fiscal year.

Thursday: Thursday was a busy day for economic news. The weekly jobless claims report came in lower than expected with 320,000 new jobless claims filed. This was lower than the expected.

While this is a strong sign for the economy that would typically boost stock prices, the markets fell. Analysts cite a good news/bad news scenario in describing what happened. The good news was that jobless claims fell to a new low, but the bad news is that investors feared that this may give the Fed a signal to begin tapering its quantitative easing (QE) program.

The Fed is expected to begin tapering its monthly purchases of $85 billion in treasury securities and mortgage-backed securities as early as next month. The QE purchases are intended to help hold down long term interest rates including mortgage rates.

The fall in stock prices on Thursday and Friday suggested that fear of the Fed ending QE is more compelling than the lowest number of new jobless claims since October 2007.

Freddie Mac reported that the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage remained unchanged at 4.40 percent with 0.7 percent in discount points. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage ticked upward by one basis point from 3.43 to 3.44 percent.

Discount points fell from 0.70 percent the prior week to 0.60 percent last week.

The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) rose from 3.19 to 3.23 percent with discount points unchanged at 0.50 percent. The 5/1 ARM provides an alternative to higher fixed rates for borrowers seeking lower mortgage rates and payments.

Friday: Included Housing Starts for July, which came in at 896,000 as compared to expectations of 915, 00 0 and June’s figure of 846,000 housing starts. Building permits issued in July came in at 943,000, and surpassed June’s reading of 918,000 building permits.

Increasing home values, buyer demand and a short supply of available homes were seen as motivating factors for builders to construct more homes.

Looking Ahead

This week’s schedule of economic news is set to include the Chicago Fed’s National Activity Index on Tuesday. The FOMC minutes will be released on Wednesday along with Existing Home Sales.

Thursday will bring Weekly Jobless Claims, Freddie Mac’s survey of mortgage rates and the FHFA home price index. Friday will finish the week with a New Home Sales report.

Quick Tips Save On Your Electric Bill

how to save on your electric billSummer always brings with it a hard choice: Do you turn down the thermostat to stay cool and resign yourself to high power bills? Or, do you sweat it out to save some dough?

If you’ve been struggling with this dilemma, don’t fret.

With a programmable thermostat, you can beat the heat and save money, too. They are easy to install and can save you over $100 a year.

The key is that they have different temperature settings for certain times of the day. The latest models can be self-installed, are easy to program and can be controlled over the Internet.

Save Energy

This is obviously the biggest perk. Not only are you helping the environment, you’re also helping your monthly budget.

You can preset the thermostat to adjust the temperature when you’re away from the house, so you’re using less energy. Then it can kick back on just before you arrive home.

Save Money

You’ll immediately see a difference in your utility bills when you set your programmable thermostat to turn off for eight-hour periods while you’re at work. Every little bit counts!

Save Yourself The Frustration

If you’re going to be home early from work or are arriving back from a week long vacation, don’t worry about coming home to a sweltering sauna of a house.

Most modern thermostats allow you to access their controls online through a computer, or even your smart phone. With the touch of a button, you’ll arrive to a perfectly comfortable home.

Save Even More

Below are a few tips to keep bills down and your thermostat running efficiently.

  • Make sure you place the thermostat away from air vents, open doorways and windows with direct sunlight.

  • Try to set temperatures for longer increments, such as when you’re at work or while you’re asleep.

  • Every time you hit the buttons you’re using more energy.

  • If your thermostat runs on batteries, change them once a year.

Don’t waste any more energy! Make the investment in a programmable thermostat and start saving this summer. The convenience and lower utility bills will make you glad you did.

For more tips on home maintenance and savings, reach out to your trusted mortgage professional today.

RealtyTrac Report Shows Home Prices Increasing At Highest Rate Since 1977

home prices risingU.S. housing markets continue to drive the economic recovery according to data released by RealtyTrac Inc.

National home prices rose by 11.90 percent year-over-year for June.

48 states reported rising home prices with only Delaware and Mississippi reporting lower home prices. Nevada led the states with a 26.50 percent gain over June 2012.

Cities also fared well on housing prices; 99 of the 100 largest U.S. cities reported gains in home prices.

Rising Home Prices And Mortgage Rates, Short Supply Of Homes

According to Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic, home price trends are rising at their fastest pace since 1977. While good news for sellers, homebuyers may find fewer affordable options over time while also contending with rising mortgage rates.

In spite of rapidly rising home prices, national home prices remain about 19 percent below their peak in April 2006.

Why The Shortage Of Available Homes?

Some homeowners are hoping to recoup losses on their homes before listing them for sale. This could be a risky decision, as many economists have previously characterized the last peak of the housing market to be a “bubble,” or an abnormal spike in home values.

In some markets cash buyers are snapping up homes and making it difficult for mortgage-dependent homebuyers to compete.

Another common scenario that presents challenges to home buyers in areas where homes are in high demand occurs when there are multiple purchase offers for one home.

Buyers who rely on mortgage loans for financing their home purchase can improve their chances by being pre-approved for a mortgage before shopping for a home.

Fewer Foreclosed Homes Contribute To Rising Home Prices

RealtyTrac estimates that 500,000 home mortgages will be foreclosed this year. This is approximately 25 percent lower than the number of 2012 residential foreclosures.

Bank-owned homes are typically offered at lower prices and with incentives such as direct financing, but most are sold as-is with no warranties or guarantees as to their condition. Multiple foreclosed homes within a community can drag down home prices, so fewer foreclosed homes is positive for homeowners and communities alike.

Want To Buy A Home? Don’t Give Up

Rising mortgage rates and home prices can present challenges, but working with your trusted mortgage professional can help with finding an affordable home. Programs are available for assisting eligible first-time buyers with their down payment and closing costs.

Adjustable-rate mortgage loans that provide a low fixed rate for a specified introductory period provide an alternative to higher payments required of a fixed-rate mortgage. An adjustable-rate mortgage may be a good option for first-time buyers who plan to “move up” within a few years.

For assistance in finding an affordable home please feel free to reach out to your trusted mortgage professional today.

A Few Red Flags To Look For When Buying Real Estate

red-flags-for-home-buyersIf you’re looking to purchase real estate, keep in mind that the homes you are considering might be in need of repairs or improvements.

In a recent study done by a major home inspection company, at least 40 percent of previously owned homes on the market have at least one serious issue or defect.

When buying real estate, you should have a professional inspection performed on the property to look for any issues that might not be visible to the untrained eye.

It’s better to identify this damage before you buy so that you are not stuck with budget-busting renovations.

Below are a few major red flags you should look for when buying a home.

Foundation Damage

Look at the slope of the yard. If the land slopes towards the house, this could be causing water to run down into the foundation, which will result in moisture damage. Take a look at the foundation for any bulges or cracks that could indicate serious issues.

Faulty Wiring

Your home inspector should be sure to check the electrical wiring — especially if it is an older house. If there are any flickering lights, circuits that don’t work, or warm outlets, these are telltale signs of wiring issues that might be expensive to fix.

Ceiling Stains

This is usually a sign that something in the house is leaking. Ceiling stains are common underneath bathrooms when a toilet, shower or bathtub has a leak. A leaky roof could be an even more expensive repair.

When you are negotiating to buy a house and damage is discovered, you can either change your mind about the sale or renegotiate for a lower price that factors in the cost of repairs. Either way, it is always worth having the home professionally inspected to identify red flags and avoid any surprises.

Please call me, your trusted mortgage professional for more information about buying your next home.

Important Tips To Do If Behind On Your Mortgage Payments

behind on mortgage paymentsWhat happens if you go through a tough financial period and you find yourself behind on your mortgage payments for your home?

If you are missing mortgage payments and are having difficulty paying, this can become a serious problem. Even just one missed payment can be difficult to catch up on, and if you are in this situation it is important to get help right away.

Contact Your Lender

The first step in this circumstance should be to get in touch with your mortgage lender to explain the situation. Simply leaving things alone and not explaining why you have missed a payment will just make things worse.

When people are struggling financially, they avoid calling their creditors for as long as they can. This is usually the wrong strategy to have if you want to make sure that you keep your home.

When you speak to the lender, you can explain why your payment is overdue. For example, perhaps you were laid off from your job or you have been sick and unable to work. If you have a good payment history and you are the one to initiate contact, the lender may be more likely to consider options for you to repay the mortgage.

Consider All Of Your Options

Is there a relative or a friend who could lend you enough money to pay off your missed mortgage payment? Could borrow from your insurance policy? Is there a way you can sell something that you are not using or cut back on other expenses?

Perhaps you could work a part time job on the side to earn more money. There are a number of ways that you could come up with the extra cash and make the mortgage payment.

However, be careful with payday loan companies or other short term lenders, as they may charge extremely high interest that can make it even more difficult to get out of debt later.

Loan Modification

In some circumstances, you might be able to arrange with your loan servicer to permanently change one or more of the terms of your mortgage contract so that your mortgage payments will be more manageable for you.

This could include reducing your interest rate, adding the missed payments to the loan balance or extending the term of the loan. A loan modification can be a good idea if you are facing a reduction in your income that will last for an extended period.

If you are struggling financially and you have missed a mortgage payment, don’t panic. Instead, follow these steps to make sure that you deal with the situation well and get back on track.

To find out more about getting a mortgage on your home, contact your trusted mortgage professional today.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week of August 12, 2013

mortgage rate trendsHighlights of economic news from last week, include a survey of senior loan officers from U.S. and foreign banks doing business in the U.S.

They indicated that banks were gradually easing lending standards for business and consumer loans, but viewed lending criteria for home loans as more restrictive than other types of loans.

According to CoreLogic, U.S. home prices increased at their fastest pace since February 2006. Mortgage rates rose incrementally, and the Weekly Jobless Claims report came in lower than the expected 339,000 at 333,000 new jobless claims.

Monday: Bank loan officers surveyed indicated that while mortgage lending requirements have been eased for low risk mortgage loans, it remains challenging for those with less-than-stellar credit to qualify for home loans.

Bankers noted some concern that easing credit standards may signal to the Fed that it’s time to taper the quantitative easing program that’s designed to keep long term interest rates, including mortgage rates, low.

Tuesday: The CoreLogic Home Prices report for June showed that home prices rose 1.90 percent in June, and rose by 11.88 percent year-over-year. 48 states showed rising home prices while only Mississippi and Delaware showed a decline.

Nevada led the list of higher home prices with a 27.00 percent gain year-over-year; Nevada home values were among the hardest-hit in the economic downturn.

Thursday: Weekly Jobless Claims came in at 333,000, which were higher than last week’s reading of 328,000 new jobless claims. The four-week average is considered a less volatile indicator of unemployment trends.

The four week rolling average for new jobless claims decreased by 6250 to 335,000. This was the lowest reading for the four-week rolling average since November 2007.

Freddie Mac’s weekly report on mortgage rates brought not-so-good news; the average rate for 30-year fixed rate mortgages rose by one basis point to 4.40 percent, while the average rate for a 15-year fixed mortgage was unchanged at 3.43 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage rose by one basis point to 3.19 percent.

Discount points for 30-year fixed rate mortgages and 15-year fixed rate mortgages were unchanged at 0.7 percent, while average discount points for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage dropped to 0.5 percent.

What’s Coming Up

This week’s economic news includes the federal budget for Monday. Retail Sales and Core Retail Sales will be reported on Tuesday; the Producers Price Index (PPI) and Core PPI will be out on Wednesday.

Thursday’s news includes weekly jobless claims and Freddie Mac’s mortgage rates update. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) and Core CPI (excluding volatile food and energy sectors) will also be released. The NAHB Home Builders Housing Market Index (HMI) is also due Thursday.

Friday’s scheduled economic news includes Housing Starts, Building Permits and Consumer Sentiment for July.