Feb 06

Curious About Homeowners’ Association (HOA) Fees? Here’s What You Need to Know

best-maryland-mortgage-rates-480 wideIf you are thinking of buying a condominium or a home that is part of a planned community, you have likely come across the term “homeowners’ association” or HOA. In short, the HOA is a coalition of local homeowners who have banded together to manage the needs of the local community. Let’s explore the concept of the homeowners’ association, why they charge fees and what you can expect from your HOA if you buy a home that is part of one.

HOA Fees Are Meant To Make Things Easier

HOA fees are meant to make your life easier. Common sense dictates that all homeowners won’t be able to commit to investing some of their time in community upkeep. So the HOA charges a monthly fee to everyone to cover the costs of keeping everything in order. Of course, some HOAs can make mistakes or foolish investments that don’t benefit all equally. But most are well-intended and do positive work.

What Do HOA Fees Cover?

Your HOA fees will be used to pay for needs that benefit all homeowners’ in the community. If you live in a building, this will be everything from elevator maintenance to keeping the doors in good order. If you live in a townhouse complex or planned community, this includes landscaping, gardening, road maintenance and more. As long as your HOA leaders are doing their job, they will use fees to maintain and improve the community for everyone.

Some Pros And Cons Of HOA Fees

The main benefit of paying HOA fees is that you are offloading your share of the responsibility for building or community upkeep. In essence, you are trading a monthly payment so that you don’t have to vacuum the common areas, change the light bulbs or worry about repairing the gate when it breaks. The main downside to paying HOA fees is that you only have a single vote as to how they are spent and you may disagree with other homeowners about the HOA’s priorities.

All things considered, whether or not you have a favorable view of your HOA generally comes down to you. If you are the type that likes to share their opinion and is willing to commit the time to improve your local community, you may want to join your HOA. However, if you are less interested in having someone spend your money, you might disagree with their approach. Whatever the case, when you are ready to buy your next home, contact our professional mortgage team. We’re happy to help you find the right financing for your new home – HOA or not.

Feb 05

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – February 5th, 2018

fed-minutes-mortgageLast week’s economic releases included readings on pending home sales, Case-Shiller Home Price Indices and construction spending. The Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve released its monthly statement and weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were released. Last week’s economic readings wrapped with a report on consumer confidence.

Case-Shiller: Home Prices Rise in November

Home prices rose an average of 0.70 percent monthly and 6.20 percent year-over-year according to Case-Shiller’s national home price index for November. Seattle, Washington posted the highest year-over-year home price growth rate at 12.70 percent. Las Vegas, Nevada posted year-over-year home price growth of 10.60 percent and San Francisco, California posted a home price growth rate of 9.10 percent. Home price gains were attributed to slim supplies of available homes in many areas.

While analysts suggested that strong housing markets (as reflected by high demand for homes) were good for the economy, issues of affordability, slim inventories of homes available and obstacles facing builders continue to impact housing markets.

Recent gains in home prices are fueled by artificially high demand caused by low inventories of homes for sale. Builders cited shortages of labor and buildable lots and said increasing materials costs were impacting rising prices for new homes. Construction spending rose 0.70 percent in December, which exceeded expectations of 0.50 percent and November’s month-to-month reading of 0.60 percent growth in construction spending.

Pending Home Sales Rise, Key Fed Interest Rate Unchanged

The National Association of Realtors® reported 0.50 percent growth in pending home sales in December and the highest month-to-month reading since March 2017. Year-over-year pending home sales gained only 0.50 percent. Pending sales reflect purchase contracts signed with sales not yet closed.

The Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee announced that it would not raise the target federal funds range of 1.25 to 1.50 percent, but indicated that inflation was nearing the Fed’s goal of 2 percent annually. Analysts said this could foreshadow a rate increase at the Committee’s next meeting in March.

Mortgage Rates, Weekly Jobless Claims

Mortgage rates rose last week according to Freddie Mac’s weekly Primary Mortgage Markets Survey. Rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose by seven basis points to an average of 4.22 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose six basis points to 3.68 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage ticked up one basis point to 3.53 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

First-time jobless claims dipped by 1000 claims to 230,000claims. Analysts expected 240,000 new claims. The University of Michigan reported a lower reading for consumer sentiment in January with an index reading of 95.7 as compared to an expected reading of 95.0 and December’s reading of 95.90. Consumer sentiment remains near pre-recession highs. Consumers cited tax breaks and large stock market gains as the basis for high confidence.

What‘s Ahead

This week’s economic releases include readings on job openings and consumer credit along with weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

Feb 02

3 Reasons You Might Consider Refinancing Your Mortgage in Early 2018

mortgage-rates-this-week2If you are a homeowner who has had their mortgage for a few years, you may be starting to wonder about refinancing. In essence, this is the process of retiring your current mortgage and taking out a new one because the terms are more favorable to you. Below we will share three reasons why you might want to look at refinancing your mortgage this year. Let’s get started.

Can You Use Some Extra Cash?

Ask yourself: if you had some extra money on hand, how would you use it? Many homeowners refinance to pull out some of the equity value that they have built up in their home over time. You might use this cash for a major renovation, or to upgrade your furnishings, or even just for a nice vacation.

Of course, you should keep in mind that you are borrowing a brand-new mortgage loan that will replace your old one. You will still need to pay attention to your credit score, monthly debt load and other personal finances.

Can You Get A Better Interest Rate?

Moving to a mortgage product with a better interest rate is another reason that homeowners refinance. Mortgage interest rates tend to fluctuate over time and it is possible that you may be able to get a lower rate, which in turn lowers your monthly payments. If your credit score has improved significantly since you first borrowed your mortgage, you may find that you have access to favorable interest rates as well.

Would You Prefer A Lower Monthly Payment?

Finally, an efficient use of refinancing is to reduce the amount you have to pay for your mortgage each month. For example, if you owe $60,000 and you have five years remaining, that ends up being about $1,000 per month. However, depending on your circumstances it may be possible to extend this out to 8 or 10 years, which means that you will pay a lower monthly payment for a longer time period.

The above are just a few of the many good reasons that you might consider refinancing your mortgage sometime in 2018. To learn more about the benefits of refinancing, or to get the process started, give us a call today. Our friendly team of professional mortgage advisors is ready to share our experience and help you get the most out of your refinancing.

Feb 01

In a Hurry to Buy a Home? Speed Your Mortgage Approval up by Following This Checklist

making-home-affordable-refinanceHave you finally found your dream home after months of searching, only to discover that the seller has received other offers? Few circumstances can raise your stress level as much as finding yourself in a bidding war against another buyer. However, being unprepared by not having your finances in order can make the situation even worse. Let’s take a quick look at a few ways that you can speed up your mortgage approval if you are in a hurry to buy your next home.

Pull Your Credit Report ASAP

The first step you will want to do is check your credit report so you have an idea what your mortgage lender will be seeing. You can get a free copy from the major credit reporting agencies up to once per year, so take advantage. There are scams out there, so be sure to only request a report from a government-approved credit agency.

Get All Of Your Paperwork Ready Before You Go In

You will want to gather up as much financial documentation as you can before heading in to meet with your mortgage advisor. Pay stubs, tax forms, and bank statements are all going to be required to prove that you are accurately reporting your current financial situation. You will also want to be able to provide reasons for any substantial loans or other transactions that have taken place in the past couple of years.

Share It All And Keep No Secrets

If you want your mortgage approval to come back quickly, it’s best to be truthful and hold nothing back during the application process. If you lie or try to gloss over areas that you feel are a bit negative, it can end up delaying your approval. Be straight with your advisor and don’t keep any secrets from them.

Work With A Professional Team

Last but not least, if you want the fastest possible mortgage approval you will want to work with a professional team. An experienced mortgage advisor knows the ins-and-outs of the mortgage marketplace. They know which lenders will be able to process quickly and which tend to be on the slower side. If you try to borrow a mortgage from a bank or large lender, you are tied into their process which may not be as quick as you would like.

When you’re ready to buy a home, give us a call. Our mortgage team is happy to help you secure your financing, no matter how much of a hurry you might be in. We look forward to assisting you!

Jan 31

NAHB: Home Builder Confidence Drops in January

builder-confidence-is-upHomebuilder confidence in housing market conditions dipped two points in January; ongoing challenges including labor shortages and materials costs were cited by the National Association of Home Builders, which provides monthly readings on home builder sentiment. Three component readings of the Housing Market Index declined by one point each. Readings for current sales conditions, housing market conditions for the next six months and for buyer traffic within new single-family housing developments were 79, 78 and 54 respectively.

Readings over 50 indicate positive builder sentiment. The reading for buyer traffic seldom exceeds 50. Current readings support continued builder confidence in current and future housing market conditions. NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz said housing demand should continue to grow in 2018 based on the gauge of future market conditions remaining in the 70s range. Real estate pros have repeatedly cited slim inventories of homes for sale as driving rapidly rising home prices.

NAHB estimated 1.125 million housing starts for 2018, which was 2.70 percent higher than for2017. The Commerce Department released its annual rate of housing starts in December at 1.192 million starts; Building permits were issued at the annual rate of 1.302 million permits issued in December, based on November’s annualized reading of 1.303 million permits issued.

Regional Builder Confidence Readings Rise

Regional readings for builder confidence were higher in all four regions tracked by NAHB. Calculated on a three-month rolling average, the Northeast gained five points for an index reading of 59; The Midwest posted a one-point gain for a January reading of 70. The South posted a one-point gain for an index reading of 73 and the West reported a two-point gain for a reading of 81.

Analysts said throughout 2017 that building more homes would be the only way to solve the housing shortage and resulting challenges including rapidly rising home prices that eliminate first-time and moderate-income home buyers out of affordable home prices and home financing options.

Jan 30

Shopping for a Mortgage? Don’t Make These Key Mistakes That Trip Up First-time Buyers

consumer1Are you ready to dive into the real estate market for the first time? Buying a new house, condo or apartment is an exciting experience that sets you on the path to building your net worth. However, if you are planning to take out a mortgage, you should be aware that there are some potential pitfalls to avoid. Let’s explore a few of the key mistakes that first-time homebuyers make when they are shopping around for a mortgage.

Mistake #1: Trying To Rush The Process

The first mistake that you will want to avoid making is trying to rush the mortgage process along. Even if you have all of your paperwork ready before you enter the building, it can still take your mortgage lender some time to complete the background checks necessary to determine how much risk you represent. If you need to close on your new home quickly, it’s best to get pre-approved for your mortgage amount first.

Mistake #2: Ignoring Your Credit Score

Ask yourself: when is the last time you checked your credit score? Is your credit history healthy or does it need some attention? Are there any black marks or delinquencies in your past that need to be dealt with? Many first-time buyers fail to appreciate the importance of their credit score when they apply for a mortgage. Don’t make the same mistake.

Mistake #3: Being Behind On Your Taxes

Another crucial mistake that is commonly made is not being up to date with the IRS. While being behind on your taxes is never a good place to be, it can be significantly worse if you are trying to take out a mortgage. Remember that a mortgage is a large loan and one that presents a certain amount of risk to the lender. If you are not paying your bills on time, they may decide that you aren’t worth the trouble.

Mistake #4: Not Working With A Mortgage Professional

The last mistake we will warn you to avoid is trying to move forward with a mortgage without consulting a professional first. An experienced mortgage advisor knows far more about the current market than the average person does. The last thing that you need when you are trying to buy a home is bad advice. It is a good idea to work with a mortgage professional who has your best interests in mind.

When you are ready to buy your next home, contact us. We would be happy to share our insight and help you choose the mortgage product that best suits your needs.

Jan 29

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – January 29, 2018

become-a-real-estate-investorLast week’s economic news included releases on new and existing home sales along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims.

Home Sales Fall Due to Slim Supply of Homes

December sales of previously-owned homes dipped to an 18-year low with a reading of 5.57 million sales on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis. Pre-owned home sales were expected to reach 5.73 million homes based on November’s downwardly- revised reading of 5.78 million sales. December sales were 3.6 percent lower month-to-month, but were 1.10 percent higher year-over-year.

Analysts credited the shortage of sales to tight inventories of homes for sale. Low inventories of homes for sale have worsened, a situation that sidelines would-be buyers due to the slim selection of homes, rapidly rising prices and buyer competition.

Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist of the National Association of Realtors, said that December sales were lower in all four regions tracked by his organization. The Northeast had 7.50 percent fewer sales; The Midwestern region has 6.30 percent fewer sales in December and the South and West had 1.70 percent and 1.60 percent fewer sales.

Available homes reached a 3.20-month supply; the National Association of Realtors typically views a six-month supply of available homes as average. The national median home price was $246,800 in December and was 5.80 percent higher year-over-year.

Sales of new homes were also significantly lower in December, at an annual rate of 625,000 sales. Analysts expected 679,000 sales and November’s reading showed a sales pace of 689,000 sales.

New Home Sales Fall in December

Sales of new homes were lower in December but were strong overall for 2017. The Commerce Department reported 625,000 sales of new homes for December as compared to expectations of 680,000 sales and November’s downwardly revised reading of 689,000 sales of new homes.

The annual sales pace of new homes was 9.30 percent lower in December than in November, but the sales price of new homes increased 14.10 percent year-over-year. The median price of a new home was $335,400, which was 2.50 percent higher year over year. A 5.6 month supply of new homes for sale reflected healthy market conditions for new homes.

Mortgage Rate, New Jobless Claims Higher

Mortgage rates rose for the third consecutive week with the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage 11 basis points higher at 4.15 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was 3.62 percent and was 13 basis points higher. 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged 3.52 percent and rose by six basis points. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages. Higher mortgage rates were attributed to an increase in the 10-year Treasury yield, which was at its highest rate since 2014.

First-time jobless claims rose last week after reaching a 45-year low the previous week. 233,000 new claims were filed last week; analysts expected a reading of 240,000 new claims filed against the previous week’s reading of 216,000 new jobless claims filed. Bad weather, two holidays in January and seasonal layoffs at the end of the holiday shopping season contributed to the increase in new jobless claims.

What‘s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include readings from Case-Shiller Home Price Indexes, homeownership rates, and inflation. The Bureau of Labor Statistics will release monthly reports on private and public-sector jobs and the national unemployment rate. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims will also be released.

Jan 26

3 Ways That Buying a New Construction Home Beats Buying an Existing One, Every Time

builder confidence is upAre you in the market for a new house? Whether you are a first-time home buyer or are upgrading to get more space, you will need to choose between buying an existing home or building a brand new one. As you might imagine, there are pros and cons to each kind of home. But if it is in your budget, you may want to lean towards a newer home over an older one. Let’s explore three reasons why new construction homes are better than existing homes.

Customize Every Aspect To Your Tastes

Ask anyone living in a custom-built home and they are likely to tell you that the ability to customize everything was a major deciding factor. When you build a brand-new home, your input isn’t limited to the floor plan or room layout. Your family can choose everything from the paint colors to the door hinges. Imagine having your pick of appliances, cabinets, flooring, and trim in every room – that’s what new construction is all about.

Modern, Efficient And Convenient

A brand-new home means a home that is energy-efficient and built for convenience. Your home can be designed with as much advanced technology as you have in mind. Seamless Wi-Fi and other wireless connectivity for all your devices. A cutting-edge video security system to keep your family safe. Efficient heating and cooling that offers superior indoor air quality. And, of course, lower energy costs and a smaller carbon footprint.

If you are a fan of technology and the conveniences it can provide, a new construction home is a perfect choice.

Many Years of Trouble-Free Living

Another benefit of living in a new home is that everything around you far less likely to fail over the next few years. Moving into an older home means worrying about the roof, the electrical wiring, the appliances and a whole host of other potential problems. In a new construction home, you will be surrounded by brand-new machinery that is built with the future in mind. Also, even if you do run into any issues with your home or appliances, it should all be under warranty.

If you’re ready to discuss financing options for a new construction home, contact us today. Our professional mortgage team is happy to help.

Jan 25

3 Great Reasons to Use an Experienced Mortgage Professional for Your Next Mortgage

applying-for-a-mortgageAre you thinking about buying a new home in 2018? Whether you are a first-time home buyer or you’re downsizing now that the kids have moved out, you are likely considering whether or not you will need a mortgage. Even if you can afford to buy a home in cash, taking out a mortgage can help you maintain your liquidity for other spending purposes.

No matter what the case, you will want to work with someone who can help you understand your options and what the right decision might be. Let’s explore three excellent reasons why you should work with an experienced mortgage professional for your next mortgage.

Helpful Advice, Every Step Of The Way

The first – and best – reason to work with a mortgage professional is that they are working with your best interests in mind. For example, you may qualify for a number of different interest rates and amortization periods. Which do you choose? Or perhaps your options are more limited as you are rebuilding your credit. Do you know which mortgage will best help you over the long term?

Your mortgage advisor is there to provide helpful, supportive advice as you move through the process.

Access To The Best Possible Rates

Another reason to work with a mortgage professional is that they have access to a wide variety of mortgage products, including those with lower interest rates. While you might think that 0.1 percent off of your mortgage rate doesn’t seem like much, over time this can result in thousands of dollars in savings.

Building A Long-Term Relationship For Future Needs

Finally, keep in mind that you will not just be a “one and done” with your mortgage advisor. This is the start of a long-term relationship that you may come to rely on in the future. You may decide to buy a larger home when you start a family or buy an investment property to diversify your portfolio. No matter the case, you will need someone whom you can trust will guide you in the right direction.

These are just a few of the many good reasons to work with an experienced mortgage professional. When you are ready to buy a new home, or if you are a homeowner in search of refinancing, contact our offices today. We will be happy to share our advice and expertise to help you choose the best mortgage product.

Jan 25

Looking to Buy a Home in 2018 and Don’t Know Where to Start? Here’s a Few Tips

Are you a renter that has become tired of paying someone else’s mortgage and not building any equity? Or a homeowner who has a growing family and is in need of more space? Whatever the case, if you are in the market for a new home there is no time like the present. Let’s explore a few tips that will help you to prepare for the home buying experience.

Tip #1: Prepare For A Busy Spring Season

First, it should be pretty obvious that you aren’t the only house hunter on the market. Other local individuals and families alike will be searching for a new house to call their own. As you may know, the spring is generally when the local real estate market starts to heat up. So, if you are looking to buy, you may want to address your needs earlier in the spring rather than later. The sooner you can get the paperwork signed, the less of a chance you end up in a bidding war.

Tip #2: Mortgage Rates May Be Trending Up

While this is in no way a prediction, there have been some indications that mortgage interest rates may be trending higher in 2018. If this does end up being the case, the cost of buying a home is going to be a little bit more. So if you can move quickly and get your mortgage pre-approved now, you may find that you end up with a better deal than those families who wait until the summer to make a move.

Tip #3: Prepare Your Finances And Credit In Advance

Finally, it’s a great best practice to ensure that your personal finances are prepared in advance. Your real estate agent will be able to assist you with which documentation you will need to have ready. You should also check in with one of the major credit reporting agencies. They will be able to advise you as to whether you have any issues with your credit rating or FICO score.

Buying a home is always an exciting experience – one which can be relatively stress-free if you are prepared. When you are ready to discuss financing your dream home, give our offices a call.

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