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Worried About Climate Change? Here Are 4 Ways to Make Your Home More Climate Friendly

March 29, 2017

Worried About Climate Change? Here Are 4 Ways to Make Your Home More Climate FriendlyMany people are concerned with having a negative impact on the environment, but it can be hard to know where to begin when it comes to climate friendly solutions around the home. Whether you’re planning for a future investment or are interested in fixing-up the home you’re in, here are some solutions for greening up your personal space that won’t bust the bank.

Evaluate Your Insulation

If your insulation is not installed properly or requires more padding, this will have a significant impact on your energy use and your monthly electricity bill. By doing a candle test around the house to check for drafts around windows or air ducts, you can easily determine places that need a bit of a patch so the cold air can stay outside.

Re-Use An Old Item

When re-designing a space in your home, it’s tempting to run out to Pottery Barn or IKEA to pick out something new, but re-using an old piece can go a long way towards lessening your footprint. Instead of heading to the big box store, search online for old items people are selling or visit a garage sale. You may just find an unexpected piece that will add a vintage touch.

Collect The Rainwater

A great way to conserve water around the home is to set up a barrel somewhere in your yard to collect water when it rains. Whether it’s from the sky or coming down from the eaves troughs, it’s one of the easiest ways to conserve. While this green-friendly venture is DIY, it will still provide much-needed water when you’re washing the car or watering the plants.

Install A Programmable Thermostat

One of the best ways to conserve energy in your home and lower your electricity bill each month is to install a programmable thermostat. This will enable you to set the heating and cooling in your home so it works in conjunction with your schedule and you won’t have to make the adjustment on your own. You may even want to lower the temperature or change your adjustment times to provide even greater savings.

For many people, the impact they’re having on the environment is an important concern, but there are things that homeowners can do to minimize their impact.

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Renovating on a Budget? Check Out These Equity-boosting Inexpensive Home Upgrades

March 28, 2017

Renovating on a Budget? Check Out These Equity-boosting Inexpensive Home UpgradesThe idea of embarking on home renovations may strike many homeowners as an expensive one, but there are plenty of ways that you can easily upgrade your home without spending a lot of money. If you’re looking for improvements that will truly (and frugally) improve the value of your home, here are a few do-it-yourself options you may want to consider.

Change The Lighting

There are few small fixes that will improve the look of your home like lighting, so one of the best things you can do for the overall look of your house is change out some of your bulbs. Instead of going for a light that will look dingy or orange, choose a tone that’s not too bright but will still illuminate your rooms and highlight their best features naturally. Much like a coat of paint, the right light can change everything about the way a visitor will view your home.

Consider A Cabinet Makeover

One of the most outdated features in a kitchen is the kitchen cabinets, and it’s also one of the first things that a potential homebuyer will notice when they enter the room. Fortunately, installing new cabinets doesn’t have to be a huge job that involves a lot of time. Instead of getting a floor-to-ceiling makeover and a construction crew, consider upgrading the doors and hinges or picking a new color for a difference that will instantly improve the room.

Pull Out The Paint Brush

Painting may be one of the least popular household tasks because it takes so much time, but outside of lighting, few things will improve the look of your home like a new coat of paint. While it’s important to ensure that you stick with a relatively neutral shade so that it doesn’t overwhelm the viewer, it will easily upgrade the look of your home and hide any unsightly damage to the wall. It’s also a good idea to remember the front door since it’s the first thing homebuyers will notice!

The word ‘renovation’ often makes people see dollar signs, but it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg to upgrade your home. By adding a new coat of paint or upgrading the lighting, you’ll be well on your way to a more modern look.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – March 27, 2017

March 27, 2017

Last week’s economic news included releases on new and pre-owned home sales and weekly readings on average mortgage rates and new unemployment claims.

Pre-owned Home Sales Fall, Due to Dwindling Inventory

5.48 million pre-owned homes were sold on a seasonally adjusted annual basis. Analysts expected 5.45 million sales based on January’s reading of 5.69 million sales. Lagging supplies of listed homes continue to cause home prices to rise as buyers compete for fewer available homes. First time buyers represented only 32 percent of sales as compared to the normal reading of 40 percent. First-buyers represent new demand for homes and they are important to sales of existing homes that allow current homeowners to move up to larger homes.

The available supply of pre-owned homes was 6.40 percent lower in February than for February 2016. Real estate pros reported that as of February 2017. There was a 3.80 months’ supply of available homes as compared to the normal range of six-month supply.  

Regional Results for Existing Home Sales

Existing home sales declined in three out of four regions tracked by the National Association of Realtors®. Sales of previously owned homes fell by 13.80 percent in the Northeastern region; the Midwestern region posted a 7.00 percent decline in sales. The Western region reported a 3.20 percent decrease in sales. The Southern region posted a 1.30 percent increase in existing home sales.  

Sales of new homes rose in February; 592,000 homes were sold on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis as compared to expectations of 571,000 sales and 558,000 new home sales in January. Sales were 6.1 percent higher than for January and were 12.80 percent higher year-over-year. February’s reading was the highest in seven months

Analysts said that the national median price of a new home was $296,000 in February, this was 3.90 percent lower than January’s reading and 4.90 percent lower year-over-year.   

Mortgage Rates Fall, New Jobless Claims Rise

Freddie Mac reported lower mortgage rates last week. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by seven basis points to 4.23 percent. The rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was six basis points lower at 3.4 percent. The rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was four basis points lower at 3.24 percent on average. Discount points for fixed rate mortgages averaged 0.50 percent; discount points for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage averaged 0.40 percent. Lower mortgage rates stood in contrast to the Fed’s decision to raise the federal funds rate last week.

New jobless claims jumped last week with a reading of 258,000 new claims as compared to the prior week’s reading of 243,000 new claims and expectations of 240,000 new claims. While week-to-week readings for jobless claims are notoriously volatile, the four-week rolling average of new jobless claims was higher by 5000 new claims at 246,000 new claims.

What’s Ahead

This week’s economic news includes Case-Shiller Housing Market Index and pending home sales. Also scheduled are readings on inflation and consumer confidence.  Weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

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Spring Is Real Estate’s ‘Rush Hour’ — Here’s How to Tell If You’re Prepared

March 24, 2017

Spring Is Real Estate's 'Rush Hour' -- Here's How to Tell If You're PreparedThe most popular time of year to buy a home is in the spring, and this means that if you’re preparing yourself for getting into the real estate market, you may be experiencing a time crunch. If you’re wondering if you’ll be ready to put your home up for sale in time to take advantage of the season, here are few things you’ll want to think about.

Have You Cleaned Up And De-cluttered?

Spring is not only an optimal time to put your home up for sale, it’s also an ideal time for spring-cleaning! Instead of leaving all of the de-cluttering and clearing away to the time when you know you’ll be moving, get prepared by going through your stuff and discarding anything that you don’t want to move. This will not only make the packing up procedure more streamlined, it will also make the basic cleaning duties like vacuuming a dusting a little easier to carry out.

Are You Prepared To Move?

A home can sit on the market for a few weeks or months, and it can also sell on the first day, so you’ll want to have a game plan for moving beforehand. If you don’t yet have a place to stay, determine a plan for yourself and your family so that you can start looking for a home to invest in or at least rental property. You don’t want to lose out on a good offer by not being prepared, so make sure you know where you’re going before getting into the market.

Do You Know The Market Conditions?

Spring is certainly the most popular time to buy, but if your home isn’t priced right for the conditions of the market, it may linger longer than you’d expect. If you’re selling on your own, you may want to take a look at the MLS listings to determine what similar homes in similar areas are selling for. It can also be a great idea to utilize the services of a local real estate agent who will have background knowledge of the market and be able to do the tough negotiating for you.

With spring being the best time to sell, it’s important to de-clutter your house ahead of time and be aware of the market conditions you’ll be dealing with.

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Is It Still Possible to Get a Mortgage With Zero Down? Yes – and Here’s How

March 23, 2017

Is It Still Possible to Get a Mortgage With Zero Down? Yes - and Here's HowWhen it comes to investing in a mortgage, the down payment is key in making your investment a reality and proving to lenders that you’re a safe bet. However, while most opportunities for putting zero down on a home have disappeared since the recession, there are still a few ways to buy without putting money down. If you’re currently weighing your options, here’s what you need to know if you don’t have a down payment ready.

Loan Programs With No Down Payment

There are still a number of zero down loan programs for those who qualify. Veterans and families of veterans can often qualify for a VA loan if they prove military service. The United States Department of Agriculture also offers the USDA Rural Development Housing loan, which is designed primarily for low-income buyers looking at homes in rural locations.

What Are The Requirements?

The requirements to get a zero-down loan vary, but because they involve a more significant financial risk for the lender, there are often many restrictions. In many cases, the homebuyer will be required to prove that they have the money to re-pay their loan and they will also have to have a good credit history. As well, because of the convenience of no money down, the homebuyer will likely be paying a higher interest rate than they would if they provided a down payment.

Should You Invest In Zero Down?

The idea of not having to put money down can be very enticing for many homebuyers, but this means that you will be paying a higher monthly payment and have no equity in your home to start out. If you are set on buying a home in the near future but don’t have the money for a down payment, you may want to look into these or other low down payment loan programs. It may also be worth holding off until you’ve saved up as this can be a more financially sound decision for your future.

There are a number of benefits to not putting money down on your home and getting into the real estate market more quickly, but it’s important to consider what’s financially beneficial for you before choosing a zero-down option. If you’re currently on the market for a home, contact one of our mortgage professionals for more information.

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Real Estate Investment: Three Telltale Signs You’re Not Cut Out to Be a Landlord

March 22, 2017

Real Estate Investment: Three Telltale Signs You're Not Cut Out to Be a LandlordThe idea of purchasing a property and having renters can be an exciting business venture that offers lucrative financial rewards. However, there’s a lot involved in being a successful landlord and it’s important to be aware of what’s required before making the commitment. Whether you’re investing in one rental property or five, here are some questions you should ask yourself before getting involved.

Can You Do-It-Yourself?

There’s a lot more to being a landlord than taking the rental check, and one of these things is being there for the tenant when push comes to shove. If there are issues with the heating or the fridge breaks down, you’re going to be the one who has to facilitate or complete the repair, so you’ll need to have the wherewithal to fix problems effectively. While there are many situations where a repairperson can help, having some DIY skills goes a long way towards turning a better profit.

Do You Have The Time?

Weeks and even months may go by where your tenant requires little to nothing from you, but if you own an older property or have several renters, even maintaining the place can get to be quite a bit of a chore. It can be a good expenditure to have a contractor take care of these issues, but you’ll still have to use your time to find the right person and oversee the budget. If you already have a pretty full schedule, being a landlord will add a lot more to the pile.

Can You Deal With The Risk?

It can be easy to turn a profit if you have a renter, but if you happen to own property in a vacation area or a community on a downturn, it may be more difficult to find renters consistently. There may be periods of time where tenants are scarce, and this means that you’ll have to be comfortable with financial instability in order to weather the storm. While the moneymaking months can make up for the off-season, if you doubt your ability to take on the financial risk, this may not be the right choice.

Being a landlord is a considerable responsibility that will require you to take on financial risk and serve your tenants effectively and efficiently.

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Buying a New Home? Three Major Mortgage Missteps That You’ll Want to Avoid

March 21, 2017

Buying a New Home? Three Major Mortgage Missteps That You'll Want to AvoidBuying a home is one of the biggest financial investments you’ll make in your life, and it’s important to make sure that you’re doing what will be right for you down the road. If you’re trying to avoid buyer’s remorse and are wondering what major missteps to avoid when diving into the market, here are a few things you may want to watch out for.

Buying Too Much Home

It’s often the case that a homebuyer will get so excited about a home they see that they need to have it, but putting all of your money into one investment can be difficult to sustain over time. Instead of deciding to budget and buckle down on your expenditures, ensure that your monthly budget still leaves room in the event of other expenses or financial setbacks. This will ensure that your home stays as something you can enjoy that won’t become a burden.

Not Saving Up Enough

Many people want to invest in the market right away and get into a home, but it can often be worth the wait to save up so that you have at least 20% for a down payment. Putting 20% down on a house means that you won’t have to pay the added costs for Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI). Not only can this lead to smaller mortgage payments on a monthly basis, it also means that you’ll be able to pay off your mortgage loan that much more quickly.

Forgetting All The Associated Costs

It’s easy to be wooed by the cost of the monthly payment and think that it’s less expensive than you thought, but it’s important not to forget about all the other costs that go into owning a home. In addition to the closing costs of home ownership, there will also be property taxes, homeowner’s insurance and the maintenance fees required for home upkeep. If the monthly mortgage payment is already pushing it, costs like these can make your overall mortgage costs unmanageable.

There are many mistakes that can be made when it comes to purchasing a home, but by being aware of all of the costs of home ownership and taking the time to save up, you’ll be well on your way to owning a home that’s affordable and sustainable. If you’re getting prepared to delve into the real estate market, contact your trusted mortgage professionals for more information.