The Quick and Easy Guide to Determining How Big of a Mortgage Your Family Can Afford

August 23, 2017 by John · Leave a Comment 

The Quick and Easy Guide to Determining How Big of a Mortgage Your Family Can AffordAre you shopping around for a new house or apartment? One of the key considerations you will need to make is figuring out how much you want to invest in your new home. Below you’ll find our quick and easy guide to determining just how much “house” you can afford. Let’s get started!

Start By Making A Proper Budget

The first thing you’ll want to do is sit down and get a full budget put together. The easiest way to get the process started is to begin with two lists: income and expenses. For the income list, write down the amount of money your family brings in each month after taxes. If you have side income sources or extra income that tends to fluctuate over time, use the average amount for the past six months.

For the expenses list, write down all the spending that you do each month. Start with the major, stable items like rent, utilities and the like. Then work your way through to discretionary spending like dining out and other sources of entertainment. If it helps, go through your bank and credit card statements to ensure that you are not missing anything.

Once you have an accurate budget, you’ll know exactly how much you can afford to pay toward your mortgage payments each month.

Figure Out How Much You Can Put Down

Next, you’ll need to think about how much cash you want to pay as a down payment on your home. The larger the down payment you can afford, the smaller amount of mortgage financing you’ll need. While it might seem like a good idea to put as much as you can down, there are some things to consider. Any money you put against your down payment is going to be unavailable to you, which reduces your financial options. You’ll also lose the opportunity to invest it, which means missing out on potential returns over time.

Determine How Much House You Actually Need

Finally, give some thought as to how large or luxurious a home you want to buy. For example, if you have a small family and don’t need a large four- or five-bedroom house, you can instead opt for a smaller but more luxurious home. Conversely, if space is a priority, you may want to forego the high-end options to ensure you have enough room.

When you’re ready to explore your options, we’re ready to help. Contact your trusted real estate professional at your convenience. We’re committed to helping you purchase the home of your dreams.

Wrapping It All Up: Don’t Forget These Important Tasks After Closing on Your New Home

August 22, 2017 by John · Leave a Comment 

Wrapping It All Up: Don't Forget These Important Tasks After Closing on Your New HomeThe negotiations are over. The seller has accepted your bid and the paperwork has been signed. Shortly, you’ll be handed the keys to your new home and you can start moving in. But of course, the work doesn’t end after the real estate closing process. In fact, it’s just beginning! In today’s article, we’ll share a few essential tasks that you’ll want to get to work on after the closing process is over.

Backup And Copy All Of The Paperwork

If you haven’t bought a house before, you’ll soon discover that there is a lot of paperwork involved in getting the deal done. From title deeds to tax documentation, the sheer number of forms that need to be read through and signed may seem endless. Once the closing process wraps up, it’s a good idea to make copies of all of the paperwork. Store these backups in a safe place where they can be referred to later if needed.

Change All Of The Locks

Next, you’ll want to change all of the exterior locks on the house. It might seem a bit overkill, but securing your home is important. Re-keying the locks is a one-time cost that can end up paying significant dividends should anyone attempt to break in. It’s also a chance to upgrade to stronger, more secure deadbolts. If you have a home alarm system or any keypad-style locks, be sure to change the codes on those as well.

Inspect The Water Heater

While it was almost certainly checked during the home inspection, take the time to have a quick look at the water heater. You’ll want to check the temperature setting to ensure it’s reasonable. Don’t forget that maintaining a high hot water temperature can be expensive over the long-term.

Give The Gutters A Quick Check

Finally, it’s worth getting out the ladder to give all of the gutters a quick inspection. Clogged gutters can end up causing significant roof damage if left unchecked. You’ll want to ensure that both the horizontal gutters and the vertical drains are clear of leaves, twigs and other debris. As long as rainwater can drain out smoothly, you’re all set. Note that safety should be your priority here. If you don’t have a suitable ladder or you aren’t comfortable with heights, consider paying a professional.

The closing process is always an exciting time. If you’re in the market for a new home or would like to know more about real estate opportunities in the local area, contact your local real estate professional.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – August 21, 2017

August 21, 2017 by John · Leave a Comment 

Last week’s economic readings included the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index and readings on housing starts and building permits issued. Consumer sentiment for August was reported by the University of Michigan. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also released.

NAHB: Builder Confidence Jumps 4 Points in August

Builder confidence in housing market conditions improved by four index points in August after reaching its lowest reading in eight months in July. Builder confidence rose in consideration of a strong labor market and overall economic growth. Obstacles including labor shortages, rising materials costs and a lack of buildable lots continued to present obstacles to builders producing homes at a pace sufficient to meet high demand and alleviate low inventories of homes for sale.

Housing starts were lower in July at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 1.155 million starts and fell short of 1.229 million starts. 1.223 million starts were reported in July. Single family home construction was higher as builders focus on meeting demand for single-family homes. Building permits issued in July were also lower at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 1.223 million permits issued as compared to July’s reading of 1,275 million permits issued.

Mortgage Rates Mixed, New Jobless Claims Lower

Average rates for fixed rate mortgages fell last week. 30-year fixed rate mortgage rates averaged 3.89 percent at one basis point lower than the previous week. Rates for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 3.16 percent and were two basis points lower than the previous week. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose two basis points to 3.16 percent. Discount points averaged 0.40 percent for 30-year fixed rate mortgages, 0.50 percent for 15-year fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

First-time jobless claims were lower last week with 232,000 new claims filed as compared to expectations of 241,000 new claims and 244,000 new claims filed the prior week.

August’s reading for the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index was higher at 97.6 as compared to an expected reading of 94.8 and July’s index reading of 93.4. Growing consumer confidence could along with improving job markets and economic expansion could prompt renters to buy homes.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include readings on sales of new and previously owned homes along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

DIY Home Projects: Creating a Study Space That Will Help Your Children Stay Focused

August 18, 2017 by John · Leave a Comment 

DIY Home Projects: Creating a Study Space That Will Help Your Children Stay FocusedIf you’re a parent of school-aged children, you’ve likely been concerned with their study habits at some point. Sitting down in front of the television or at the dinner table to crack open the books is going to be less efficient than doing so in a quieter, more productive work space. Let’s explore how to create a study space that will help keep your children focused and on task.

Ask The Kids What They Need To Be Productive

Before you get to work on creating a new studying space, it’s a good idea to have a chat with those will be using it most. Ask the children what kind of surroundings they feel would help to keep them productive. Younger kids may only need a small desk area but would appreciate more space in the room. Conversely, older children who are in high school are likely to need a lot of desk space for laptops, textbooks, and other studying materials. Starting the project out by asking what they need ensures that they get what they need out of the space.

Brighten Up The Room

Next, you’ll want to focus on how the room is lit. A dark room isn’t likely to be a positive studying environment. If possible, natural light sources should be used as much as possible. Studies indicate that sunlight is better at keeping individuals alert and focused than fluorescent or other types of home lighting. Also, consider adding some plants which can help to keep oxygen levels a bit higher in the room.

Note that you’ll want to avoid making the room so bright that it’s distracting. Plus, the sun can cause quite a bit of glare depending on how much outdoor exposure the room has. If there’s already a lot of natural light, consider a set of curtains that can reduce or block out any glare to allow for a more comfortable learning environment.

Eliminate Any And All Distractions

Distractions – especially those which are useful for procrastinating – are the bane of any productive space. There should be no television, no video games and no other distracting elements in the study area. The only furnishings should be those used for studying.

A study room is an excellent addition to any home with school-aged children. If you’re in the market for a new home – study spaces included – contact your local real estate professional.

Getting Tired of Renting? Here Are the Top 5 Reasons Why Young People Prefer Owning a Home

August 17, 2017 by John · Leave a Comment 

Getting Tired of Renting? Here Are the Top 5 Reasons Why Young People Prefer Owning a HomeAt some point in their lives, every renter thinks about home ownership and whether or not it’s worth it. Let’s explore the top 5 reasons why young individuals prefer the idea of owning a home over renting.

It’s All About Control

It’s unlikely to come as a surprise that having control over their living space is the number one reason that younger buyers prefer owning over renting. Living in a home owned by someone else limits your ability to customize your home. Want to expand a room or rip out the kitchen cabinets? Good luck with getting your landlord to pay for that!

Privacy And Security Are Key

More than 90 percent of millennials reported that having a sense of privacy is an important factor when choosing between buying and renting. And this makes a lot of sense, especially in areas where a landlord has the right to enter the premises on short notice. It’s tough to imagine feeling secure when a landlord can demand access to their home for whatever reason they so choose.

Your Own Space Is Just Nicer

Take a look around your home. Is it as luxurious as you’d like it to be? While you can furnish a rented apartment or house however you want, in many cases, renters just don’t put the same amount of effort into it. 81% of young renters shared that one reason they want to buy is so that they can live in a nicer place.

You’ll Be More Engaged In The Community

If you want to feel more engaged in your local community, buying a home is an excellent idea. More than 75 percent of young and first-time buyers reported that community engagement is a key reason that they want to be a home owner. Not only are you more likely to care about the area around your home if you’re responsible for its upkeep. But as the value of your home is influenced by the surrounding area, you also have a financial incentive to staying engaged in the health of your community.

Owning Gives You Flexibility

Finally, consider that owning your own home will offer flexibility that you can’t get from renting. Not only will you be able to customize your home the way you want, but you’ll also have a productive financial asset. And that can be a huge help in securing additional credit if you want to make significant investments or other financial moves.

When you’re ready to expand your freedom by purchasing your own home, contact your trusted real estate professional. We’re happy to help.

NAHB: Builder Sentiment Surges in August

August 16, 2017 by John · Leave a Comment 

Home builder confidence in housing market conditions surged in August after sagging to an eight-month low in July. The National Association of Home Builders reported a July reading of 68 in August after analysts expected a one- point increase from July’s Housing Market Index reading of 64. Any reading over 50 indicates that more builders consider housing market conditions positive than those who do not.

Component readings of the Housing Market Index also improved in August. Builder confidence in current housing market condition rose four points to 74; Builder confidence in housing market conditions over the next six months rose by five points to 78. Builder confidence in buyer traffic in new home developments rose one point to an index reading of 49.

Positive Economy Fuels Builder Confidence

Builders have long cited a shortage of buildable lots and labor, along with rising costs as impacting confidence in current and future confidence in housing markets. NAHB said that labor shortages are worse in 2017 than in 2016. Builders reported labor shortages including carpenters and electricians. August readings suggest that positive economic developments are mitigating long-term builder concerns, but a recent tariff on Canadian lumber raised materials costs for some builders.  

The discrepancy between builder confidence and housing starts concerns real estate pros and housing and lending industry leaders, but without enough workers to staff their building crews, home builders face obstacles in meeting buyer demand for homes.

Stronger economic and jobs indicators are boosting builder confidence in housing market conditions. As more prospective home buyers find stable jobs, buying a home becomes possible for prospective buyers who have waited for economic conditions to improve sufficiently to invest in home ownership.

First-Time Home Sellers: Don’t Miss These 4 Tips That Will Keep Your Sale Moving Smoothly

August 15, 2017 by John · Leave a Comment 

First-Time Home Sellers: Don't Miss These 4 Tips That Will Keep Your Sale Moving SmoothlyAre you selling your home? If it’s your first time going through a home sale, you’ve probably got a lot of questions about the process. In today’s post, we’ll share four tips that can help to keep your home sale moving along smoothly. Let’s get started!

Tip #1: Enlist The Help Of A Professional

First, you’ll want to ensure that you enlist the help of an experienced real estate agent. Selling a home is a significant financial transaction and the process can be especially daunting the first time. A professional agent with sales experience will be a major asset in having a stress-free sale. They’ll know all of the legal and other requirements to selling so you won’t be buried in paperwork. Plus, they’ll have insight into other local sales which can help with listing your home at a competitive price.

Tip #2: Focus On Your ‘Curb Appeal’

As the saying goes: you never get a second chance to make a first impression. With that in mind, you’ll want to ensure that you focus on how your home looks when a potential buyer shows up. If you feel the home could use it, a fresh coat of paint is an inexpensive upgrade that can give your home a new look and feel. Don’t forget your lawn and other landscaping, which should look well-maintained. The last thing a buyer wants to see is a nasty jungle of uncut grass or dying flowers!

Tip #3: Don’t Turn Down A Solid Offer

While you likely shouldn’t jump on the very first offer you get for your home, you also won’t want to pass up on a fair one either. It can be tough attracting a buyer, especially for larger, more expensive or luxurious houses. If your agent advises you to accept a competitive offer, it’s advice that’s well worth considering.

Tip #4: Have Your Share Of The Paperwork Ready

Last but not least, it’s worth having your share of the paperwork ready to go. There’s a lot of documentation required to complete a home sale, and being unprepared is a guaranteed way to make the closing process take longer. Spend the time gathering what you need before you accept an offer and you’ll enjoy a faster sale.

There you have it – four tips that will help to keep your home sale moving along smoothly! When you’re ready to discuss selling your home, contact your trusted real estate professional. We’re happy to share our guidance and experience to help you with your sale.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – August 14, 2017

August 14, 2017 by John · Leave a Comment 

Job Openings, New Jobless Claims Rise

Job openings rose in June to 6.20 million as compared to May’s reading of 5.70 million job openings. Analysts said that increasing job vacancies show that employers are unable to find qualified workers. Business services, construction, health care and professional job sectors had the most job openings. Slow wage growth could be contributing to widespread job openings. Average wage growth has been running at approximately 2.50 percent, which is lower than the average of 3.50 to 4.00 percent typically seen during economic expansion.

First-time jobless claims rose to 244,000 as compared to expectations of 242,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 242,000 new jobless claims.

Mortgage Rates Lower

Freddie Mac reported lower mortgage rates last week. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was three basis points lower at 3.90 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was unchanged at 3.18 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was one basis point lower at 3.14 percent.

Inflation rose in July by 0.10 percent against an expected increase of 0.20 percent; June’s reading was unchanged. Core inflation, which excludes volatile food and energy sectors, rose by 0.10 percent against expectations of 0.20 percent and 0.10 percent growth in June.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include the NAHB Housing Market Index, Commerce Department readings on housing starts and building permits issued and the University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index, Weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

Go Big or Go Home: 3 Reasons Why Your First Home Should Be a Spacious One

August 11, 2017 by John · Leave a Comment 

Go Big or Go Home: 3 Reasons Why Your First Home Should Be a Spacious OneBuying a home for the first time? One of the key considerations you’ll need to make is just how much ‘house’ you want to buy. While going minimal might seem like a good idea to save on costs, having a smaller living space can end up cramping your lifestyle in many ways. Let’s take a look at three great reasons why your first home should be roomy, spacious and luxurious.

You Might End Up With More Family Than You Think

Have you considered whether or not you want to have a family? Whether you’re a single young professional or part of a newlywed couple, there’s always a chance you’ll end up with more kids than you think. If you’re buying a home for the long haul, you’ll want to ensure that you have enough bedrooms to contain a growing family. It’s much easier to make other use of a spare room than to invent an extra bedroom if you end up with one or two more children than you had planned. Even if you don’t have kids, you may end up welcoming other family members into your home for extended periods.

Small Spaces Limit You In Just About Every Way

As you might imagine, small living spaces will limit your options. Whether you want to build out a new media room or just want more luxurious furniture, much of the time living small means living without. Buying a larger home from the start will give you all of the space needed to build your dream home. And over time, you’re far more likely to enjoy living in a home that you can tweak and customize to suit your changing tastes.

You Can Always Monetize The Extra Space

Don’t forget that extra space can always be put to good use. If you have a finished basement, you can possibly rent the suite out to a tenant. Or, you can host guests in your extra bedrooms using apps like Airbnb. If you’re more of an entrepreneurial type, you can start a small business out of one of the spare rooms.

These are just a few of the many reasons why buying a larger home is an excellent idea. For more information about luxurious homes that are for sale in the local area, contact your trusted real estate professional today.

Thinking About a New Home? 3 Reasons Why a Mortgage Will Be the Best Money You Ever Borrow

August 10, 2017 by John · Leave a Comment 

Thinking About a New Home? 3 Reasons Why a Mortgage Will Be the Best Money You Ever BorrowIn these days of low interest rates, it can be a great idea to get into the real estate market and invest in a home. However, if you don’t have the funds saved up to buy a home outright, it may seem like more of a burden than it’s worth. The good news is that you might qualify for a mortgage loan, which tends to come with more favorable terms than a traditional bank loan. Here are three reasons why a mortgage might just be the best money you ever borrow.

Taking Advantage Of Low Interest

Interest rates have been relatively low for a number of years, which can be a definite financial boon when it comes to your monthly mortgage payment. Unfortunately, though, the predictions forecast that rates are on the rise and that means home ownership may be a more difficult dream in the coming years. If you’re interested in getting a home at a lower price with a better interest rate, it may be worth getting a short-term loan for the long-term gain.

Begin To Invest

It will certainly improve your financial outlook if you have a financial plan and a monthly budget you stick to, but few things will help your money grow like investing. Fortunately, real estate is still one of the best investments you can make in terms of helping your money grow and ensuring your future fiscal success. While stocks and mutual funds can be a bit topsy-turvy if you’re not knowledgeable about investing, real estate can be a more reliable asset that’s easier to understand.

Giving Up On Rent

When investing in a home, there are few things more rewarding than not having to pay rent anymore. Instead of effectively tossing away money each month that you’ll never see again, you will be able to see your equity grow in the home and property you purchase. Plus, this equity can be used as leverage for investment in another home. It also means that no matter the downturn in the market, you’ll have a solid investment in something.

You may not like the idea of borrowing money for your mortgage, but it can be a good fiscal choice with interest rates on the rise and the opportunity to say goodbye to rent forever. If you’re currently considering borrowing and are planning on buying a home in the near future, contact your trusted real estate professional for more information.

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