Recently Inherited a Home That You Don’t Need? Here’s How to Get It Sold Without Too Much Stress

February 6, 2018 by John · Leave a Comment 

Recently Inherited a Home That You Don't Need? Here's How to Get It Sold Without Too Much StressHas a loved one or family member recently passed on and left you with their home? Inheriting a house can be a delightful gift, but it can also present a significant number of challenges that you must navigate. Let’s explore how to deal with an inherited house and, should you decide to, how to sell it without incurring too much stress.

Are Emotions Involved?

The death of a family member or other loved one can be a trying time emotionally. Depending on how the deceased left the property, you may also have to deal with cleaning out personal belongings and reviving old memories. A battle over a will or the proceeds of an estate can compound the situation, making things worse.

If you are emotionally involved, it is best to work with a real estate agent who can do much of the heavy lifting. That way you can focus on supporting your family and keeping your stress levels down.

Understand Your Legal Obligations

Although real estate inheritance is common, there are still some legal issues that must be considered. As such, you will need to understand what your legal obligations are regarding the will or estate process. Are you the executor of the will, or is someone else? Is the property included in a trust, or is it free-standing and gifted directly to you? Has the probate period passed, or can a family member or relative still challenge the will? If you haven’t already, it is best to speak with a real estate professional or experienced lawyer to get their advice.

Consider The Tax Implications

As with any financial windfall, there are going to be tax implications that need to be considered when selling an inherited home. For example, it’s unlikely that you will qualify for the home sales tax exclusion unless you have been living in that house as your primary residence. Once you sell the home, you will also need to report the proceeds of the sale to the IRS. There are also a variety of different taxes that need to be factored in, including estate taxes, inheritance taxes and more.

Consult An Experienced Real Estate Agent

Selling a home that you have inherited in a will or as part of an estate can be an emotionally draining process. Before you make any moves, it is best to speak with a real estate professional. Contact our offices at your convenience and we will be happy to meet with you and share our guidance.

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

February 5, 2018 by John · Leave a Comment 

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – January 29, 2018Last 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.

Whats 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.

Renovating in 2018? Cash-out Mortgage Refinancing Might Be the Best Way to Fund It

February 2, 2018 by John · Leave a Comment 

Renovating in 2018? Cash-out Mortgage Refinancing Might Be the Best Way to Fund ItIf you are a homeowner thinking about a significant home renovation in 2018, you have probably already considered your budget. As with any large project, you need to have the ability to pay the expected costs plus have a little bit extra set aside, just in case. The great news is that if you are a homeowner with a mortgage, you may qualify for cash-out refinancing, which can be a helpful way to leverage some of your home equity to cover renovation costs.

In today’s blog post we’ll explore the topic of cash-out refinancing and how this unique financial product can help to solve your budget woes.

What is Cash-Out Refinancing?

If you have never heard of it before, you are probably wondering exactly how cash-out refinancing works. In short, you refinance your existing mortgage into a new one while keeping the difference in cash. For example, if you have $100,000 left on your mortgage, but your home is worth $200,000, you might decide to refinance to $150,000. You will then be left with $50,000 in cash, which you can pull out to cover the cost of renovations or for other purposes.

Note that this is different from other forms of mortgage refinancing, which may or may not increase your total balance.

Some Of The Major Pros Of Cash-Out Refinancing

As you might imagine, there are significant pros to cash-out refinancing. If you decide to use the funds for renovation purposes, you are essentially using your mortgage to increase the value of your home. That is, of course, assuming you complete renovations which boost your home’s value!

Cash-out refinancing can also provide better or more stable interest rates than a loan or a home equity line of credit. This depends on a variety of circumstances, so be sure to check with your lender.

A Few Other Considerations To Keep In Mind

As with any financial product, there are some considerations to keep in mind. You may be extending the length of your mortgage, or refinancing to a different interest rate. You also can’t just walk in and sign for cash-out refinancing. There will be a process similar to the one that you went through when you got your current mortgage.

As you can see, cash-out refinancing is an excellent option for homeowners looking to use some of their home equity to finance other expenses. If you’d rather skip the renovations and are ready to begin searching for your dream home, contact us today. 

3 Reasons Why Buying an Investment Property Is the Best Way to Build Your Net Worth

February 1, 2018 by John · Leave a Comment 

3 Reasons Why Buying an Investment Property Is the Best Way to Build Your Net WorthWhether you have recently graduated from college or are getting close to retirement, it’s likely that you have given some thought as to how you can grow your net worth. You might have invested in stocks, picked up a few bonds or have a 401(k) plan set up to help fund your retirement. But have you considered buying real estate as part of your portfolio?

In today’s blog post we’ll have a look at three reasons why real estate investing is one of the most effective ways to grow your overall net worth.

Reason #1: It Generates Passive Income

One of the best reasons to hold real estate as part of your investment portfolio is that it can generate passive income in the form of rent. Whether you buy a single-family home or an apartment block, you can almost certainly find interested tenants who will live there. Part of the rent you receive each month will cover the costs of owning and operating the property. The rest of it is income which will continue to build over time.

Reason #2: It Increases In Value Over Time

Another great reason to invest in real estate is that in most cases, it increases in value over time. As long as you are maintaining the property and investing in its upkeep you have a decent shot at it being worth more in the coming years, should you decide to sell. Keep in mind that real estate is cyclical and that it’s not always going to be the right time to sell and realize your gains.

Reason #3: You Can Leverage Equity To Buy More Properties

Finally, our third reason that real estate is the best way to build your worth is your ability to use it as leverage to buy more real estate. For example, say you decide to purchase a house valued at $100,000 as an investment property. Once the mortgage on that home is paid off, you have an asset valued at $100,000 that you can then borrow against. So you can go out and acquire another $100,000 home without having to sell the first. As you can see, this can scale quite nicely over time.

If you are interested in learning more about real estate investing, give us a call. We are happy to share our insight and expertise as well as advise you on the best local investment properties currently available.

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

January 31, 2018 by John · Leave a Comment 

In a Hurry to Buy a Home? Speed Your Mortgage Approval up by Following This ChecklistHave 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 real estate team is happy to help you find your dream home, no matter how much of a hurry you might be in. We look forward to assisting you!

Down Payments 101: Is It Worth It to Put More Than 20 Percent Down?

January 30, 2018 by John · Leave a Comment 

Down Payments 101: Is It Worth It to Put More Than 20 Percent Down?Are you thinking of buying a new home this spring or summer? If so, you’re not alone. Many thousands of individuals and families alike will become homeowners this year. Whether you’re a first-time buyer or a seasoned veteran of the housing market, you probably know there are significant choices to make. One of the big decisions you will have to ponder is how much you want to invest in your down payment.

With that in mind, let’s try to answer the question of whether or not it is worth it to put more than 20 percent of the home’s price in your down payment.

Ask Yourself: How Liquid Are You?

Before you can decide how much to put down, you first need to determine how liquid your finances are. That is, how much cash do you have access to? For example, if you are considering a $300,000 home, a 20 percent down payment is $60,000. If you have more than $60,000, fantastic. However, if you have less than that, you might have to do a bit of work to save up the remainder.

Even if you do have enough available cash now, you won’t have access to it once you take possession of the home. It is important to leave yourself with some cash in case of emergencies or for other uses.

Higher Down Payment, Lower Interest Rate

If you do choose to invest more than 20 percent in your down payment, it’s possible that you will gain access to a lower interest rate for your mortgage. Many lenders look favorably on homebuyers that are investing more of their own money and borrowing less. Be sure to check with your mortgage advisor to find out if you qualify for lower rates.

Lower Monthly Payments Await

Finally, choosing a down payment higher than 20 percent means that you will have lower monthly mortgage payments in the future. You are borrowing less so you will owe less. This can provide a nice boost to your monthly budget moving forward as you will have more free cash flow each month.

Try to keep in mind that there is no perfect answer to the question of how big your down payment should be. Choosing the best course of action means taking a good, long look at your current financial situation and deciding what your goals are. When you’re ready to discuss buying a new home contact us. Our professional real estate team is happy to share our experience!

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

January 29, 2018 by John · Leave a Comment 

Last 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.

Whats 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.

Spring Is Coming: Get a Jump on Spring Cleaning and Breathe New Life into Your Tired Spaces

January 26, 2018 by John · Leave a Comment 

Spring Is Coming: Get a Jump on Spring Cleaning and Breathe New Life into Your Tired SpacesSpring is almost here – and with it, the need to clean out the clutter and freshen up your home. Let’s explore a few tips that will help you to get a jump on your spring cleaning so that you can get outside and enjoy the nice weather later.

Need It? No? It’s Got To Go!

Do you consider yourself a bit of a ‘hoarder’? Is there furniture, appliances and other items in your home that have been collecting dust since the ’90s? If so, it is time to minimalize your lifestyle. A great rule of thumb is the one in bold above – if you don’t need it, it’s time to get rid of it. Consider listing anything you don’t need up for sale on a local resale marketplace as you may find an interested buyer willing to give your old stuff a new home. Once you have the clutter kicked out, the actual cleaning can begin.

Your Garage Is Not A Storage Locker

If your garage is so full of miscellaneous junk that you can barely get your car door open, it’s time for a thorough cleaning. Again, the first mission is to get all of the stuff you don’t need either thrown out or otherwise disposed of.

Letting go of your old possessions can be tough, but you will be amazed at how much space you have once it’s all gone. And that space can be put to better use – once it’s cleaned.

Consider Hiring Help For The Deep Clean

Finally, don’t be afraid to enlist professional help if you are feeling overwhelmed. Having a couple of cleaners come into your home for a few hours is a cost-effective way to speed up the spring cleaning process. Note that it’s best to have cleaners join you after the clutter has been removed, so they aren’t wasting their time trying to move old furniture and other items you are going to dispose of anyway.

Unless you absolutely love washing walls and cleaning out closets, spring cleaning is rarely fun. However, it is necessary to ensure that your home stays in tip-top condition. If you have decided that you are in need of more space, or are looking to downsize your home, contact us today. Our friendly team of real estate professionals is happy to show you some beautiful options that will perfectly suit your needs.

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

January 25, 2018 by John · Leave a Comment 

Curious About Homeowners' Association (HOA) Fees? Here's What You Need to KnowIf 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 or sell your next home, contact our professional real estate team. We’re happy to help you find the right home – HOA or not.

NAHB: Home Builder Confidence Drops in January

January 24, 2018 by John · Leave a Comment 

Homebuilder 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.  

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