The Daily Scoop! Blog by™ Real Estate

If you’re just beginning to invest in real estate, you’ll find that there’s a lot to learn. Real estate investing is more complicated than investing in stocks because of the financial, legal, and extensive due diligence requirements involved. That’s why it’s a good idea to give yourself a solid education before you purchase your first investment property.

However, before you get your advanced degree, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the fundamentals. To that end, here are 5 basic tips for investing in real estate.

1. Location Matters

The old adage that “location matters” is most accurate when it comes to real estate investing. Before you fork over a down payment and put yourself in a significant amount of debt over a property, ensure that it’s in a good location.

Look for the worst house on the best street. That’s a principle you’ll come across quite a bit as you delve into further real estate investing advice.

You want to invest in the worst house on the best street because it gives you an opportunity to build equity. It’s a property in a great neighborhood (“the best street”) that needs some work (“the worst house”). You can invest some money to fix it up and sell it to someone else who wants a ready-to-move-in house in a fabulous location. Professional real estate investors call this “fixing and flipping.”

2. Look for Wholesale Properties

Investing in real estate is just like investing in the stock market in at least one way: you’re looking for the best deal. If you’re a savvy stock market investor, you probably won’t buy too many stocks at their high if you plan on holding them for a long time. Instead, you’ll follow the Warren Buffet principle of getting greedy when everyone else gets fearful. You’ll buy stocks that are beaten down and make a fortune when they turn around.

That’s what you want to do when it comes to real estate investing. Avoid paying “full price” for properties. Instead, look for so-called wholesale properties that are offered at a steep discount. Sure, they’ll probably need some work. Run the numbers and see if the investment in rehab is worth the ultimate selling price.

As noted at ThinkConveyance: “You can easily invest $20,000 in a property and add twice that much to the selling price. That’s why real estate investing is so attractive to investors who want to maximize their return on investment.”

3. Understand the Tax Benefits

The people who run our government want private investors to provide housing for people. That’s because they know that if private investors don’t provide housing, then the government will be responsible for it.

To that end, Uncle Sam offers significant tax benefits to real estate investors. The most significant benefit, arguably, is the depreciation write-off. When you buy an investment property that includes a building, you get to write off the depreciation of that building as a tax deduction. You’ll have to consult your tax advisor for specifics, but basically you can expect to depreciate a residential building over 27 years and a commercial building over 39 and a half years.

Keep in mind that the IRS views your real estate investment efforts as a business so you also get to claim the “necessary and ordinary“ deductions that business owners take, including mortgage interest, insurance, and maintenance expenses. Again, it’s a good idea to consult your tax advisor about specifics.

4. Check Your Credit Report

You’re more than likely going to need to borrow money to buy real estate. That’s why you should check your credit report before you begin investing in real estate.

If you have problems on your credit report that are mistakes, get those resolved as quickly as possible. If you have problems that are legitimate, then you’ll need to work to improve your credit.

Simply put, banks aren’t going to loan money to you for a property that’s not your primary residence as readily as they’ll loan it to you for your own home. That’s why your credit has to be spectacular.

5. Use the “1% Rule”

If you’re planning on buying a property that you’ll rent out one or more tenants, use the “1% Rule” when you decide whether or not the property is worth the price you’ll pay for it.

The 1% Rule simply states that an income producing property must produce 1% of the price you pay for it every month. For example, if you’re looking at buying a property for $150,000, then the monthly rental income should be 150,000 x 1% = $1,500.

Wrapping It Up

Real estate investing offers the potential for fabulous returns. However, people have also bankrupted themselves investing in real estate. Be sure that you know what’s involved before you start.

Source: To view the original article click here

Posted by Jackie Graves, President on July 9th, 2018 6:36 AM

If you’re looking to Refinance or Buy a Home click here before rates rise.


What is a "due on sale" clause in a mortgage contract? This common phrase, found in most conventional home loan paperwork, means that when a property is sold, the entire balance of the loan comes due. Yup, you have to pay off the whole thing!

What is a 'due on sale' clause?

"Due on sale" clauses are a type of acceleration clause. Acceleration clauses protect lenders by allowing them to accelerate, or call, a loan if a borrower takes certain actions.

Accelerating a mortgage is usually a bad thing: In most contexts, it means that a borrower has missed payments or violated the terms of the contract, and the lender is demanding that the full amount of the loan be paid immediately or be subject to foreclosure.

"Due on sale" acceleration, however, is a normal part of selling a home. Typically, homeowners will use the proceeds of the sale of their home to pay off their loan in full, then take out a new loan when they're ready to purchase another property. (Meanwhile the buyers of the home will get their own home loan separately.)

Why do 'due on sale' clauses exist?

"Due on sale" clauses essentially are put in place to prevent homeowners from transferring their mortgage to the next buyer along with the house—or, in turn, taking their loan with them to the next house. Mortgages are typically tied to particular properties and individuals—and lenders prefer to vet both thoroughly.

As such, most standard mortgages contain a "due on sale" clause to make sure everybody gets their own loan.

Do home loans without a 'due on sale' clause exist?

There are some kinds of mortgages where the contract does not have a "due on sale" clause. Those include VAUSDA, and FHA loans.

These types of mortgages lack such clauses because they actually can be transferred from one individual to another. This is also known as an "assumable" mortgage, meaning a buyer can take over the seller's existing loan.

Why would someone want to transfer a loan—or take over one?

When interest rates are high, transferring a mortgage might allow the buyer to access the seller's older, better interest rate. But with today's historically low interest rates, transferring a loan is probably more trouble than it's worth for most buyers.

Yet although VA, USDA, and FHA loans are assumable, that doesn't mean any buyer can just take over the loan—the lender still requires the new buyer to meet certain qualifications. It's also worth noting that mortgages can typically be transferred in the wake of unexpected life events such as death and divorce.

For the legal nitty-gritty, check out the Garn–St. Germain Act of 1982. The main exceptions include transferring a loan to a relative if a borrower dies, transferring a loan between ex-spouses after a divorce, transferring a loan between a borrower and the spouse or children, and transferring a loan to a living trust.

Here's more on how to transfer a mortgage and when it's possible to do so. As for the rest of you, just know that a "due on sale" clause means you'll have to pay the piper (meaning your lender) when you sell.

Source: To view the original article click here


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Posted by Jackie Graves, President on June 21st, 2018 7:13 AM

If you’re looking to Refinance or Buy a Home click here before rates rise.


When inventory is low, home prices tend to go up. Attempting to purchase a house in this type of market can make the already complex process of buying a home even more overwhelming. To help buyers successfully get through the buying process in a tight inventory market with as little stress and difficulty as possible, the National Association of Realtors® has these five suggestions and an infographic:

1. Determine and stick to a budget. Before beginning the house hunting process, prospective homebuyers should receive preapproval from one or more lenders to verify the amount of money they are qualified to borrow. Then, after taking into account additional costs of ownership such as taxes, utilities and insurance, buyers should determine a final budget they can comfortably afford. When listings are scarce, bidding wars can drive up prices, so buyers must be prepared to walk away if the asking price surpasses their budget.

2. Identify desired neighborhoods and home wants versus needs. When housing inventory is tight, buyers may need to compromise on what they believe they want from a home. Certain wants, such as stainless appliances or hardwood floors, can be added later. However, if a buyer wants to be in a specific school district or have a decent sized backyard, those cannot be addressed later and must be taken into account during the house hunting process.

3. Be ready to make a decision quickly. In a seller’s market, homes rarely stay on the market long, so when a house that is in their budget and checks off all of their needs come along, buyers should not hesitate. Buyers should be ready to submit an offer quickly, or they may risk missing out on the home altogether.

4. Bid competitively and limit contingencies. It is tempting to submit a low offer as a starting bid, but in a seller’s market buyers need to put forward their highest offer from the very beginning or they are likely to lose out on the home. It is also important to remember that in multiple bidding situations it is not always the highest offer that is most attractive to the seller but the one with the fewest contingencies. Removing restrictions related to the sale of a current home and being flexible with things like the move-in date can make a bid stand out to a seller.                               

5. Work with a Realtor®. All real estate is local, so it is important to work with an agent who is a Realtor®, a member of the National Association of Realtors®, and who is familiar with the areas and neighborhoods the homebuyers are considering. Realtors® are the most trusted resource for real estate information and have unparalleled knowledge of their communities; they can give buyers the competitive advantage needed in a tight market.  

For more information on buying a home in a seller’s market, visit NAR’s comprehensive website for homeowners, is external) 


Source: To view the original article click here


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Posted by Jackie Graves, President on June 20th, 2018 12:10 PM

If you’re looking to Refinance or Buy a Home click here before rates rise.


After our first 10 weekly HousingWire columns looked at predicted real estate appreciation in Metropolitan Statistical Areas in the Northeast, Northwest, Southeast, Southwest and Midwest, we now check in with the West and the nation's most populous state.

In the March 2018 VeroFORECAST from Veros Real Estate Solutions, which forecasts changing property values through March 2019 in 342 of the more than 360 MSAs in the United States, California's San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos MSA was ranked 20th with a projected rate of 8.3% appreciation over the next 12 months.

Coincidentally, that is the same percentage of California's population that lives in America's most southwestern MSA. According to a U.S. Census Bureau estimate, 39,536,653 people lived in the Golden State in 2017 and more than 3.3 million of them call the San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos MSA home. That makes it California's fourth largest and the nation's 17th largest.


Many things contribute to this coastal California MSA. In addition to its near-monotonous temperate climate, improving economy, point-of-entry position for tourists and immigrants from Latin and South America as well as Asia, the huge Marine and Naval installations that are again benefiting from increased military spending, it has a quality of life that continues to attract homebuyers and push home prices higher.

"San Diego County continues to be a highly desirable place to live. Especially the coastal towns of North County, anchored by Carlsbad, offer the best of all worlds; beautiful beaches, quaint shopping, excellent schools and relatively affordable housing," said mellohome CEO and San Diego-based The Heller Real Estate Group owner Chris Heller.

One prominent aspect behind the San Diego-Carlsbad market's real estate appreciation is a municipal-promotion of arts and culture appreciation. San Diego boasts one of the nation's finest arts and culture resources with its Balboa Park. It not only includes a nationally respected three-theater complex, the Old Globe, but museums, a space center, and wide expanses of lawn where art shows and other community events are routinely held.

In Carlsbad to the north, a well-staffed cultural arts office is about to launch a 10-year plan of investing in ways to stimulate and promote both the creation and appreciation of art and culture. A key part of this yearlong process has been gathering community input, and empowering homeowners and other residents the responsibility to buy in to the process. 

“It’s imperative to hear what community members enjoy,” Cultural Arts Manager Richard Schultz told local media.

That community buy-in is clearly part of why people will continue to buy in these areas. While not unique among the 342 metro areas included in the VeroFORECAST report, this focus is certainly as strong and valuable to future quality of life than anywhere in the country.

Those 342 MSAs represent nearly 1,000 counties and over 13,600 ZIP codes. The SFRs, condos and townhouses in these MSAs are occupied by more than 80% of the U.S. population. The range of projected appreciation in the March 2018 VeroFORECAST runs from a high of 11% in the Northwest's Seattle metro to a low of -2.9% along the Eastern Seaboard in the Atlantic City metro.

The key indicators used to determine the projected score include each MSA's inflation and interest rates, the amount of its buildable land, and its affordability index, as well as the current unemployment rate and available housing inventory.

The chief factors contributing to the high rate of projected appreciation for the San Diego MSA are a low unemployment rate of only 3.5% and a supply of housing at just over two months. Robust population growth also gives this market good expected appreciation. A report from the U.S. Department of Commerce's Bureau of Economic Analysis put this MSA's 2016 per capita personal income at $55,168, 30th among the country's MSAs and 22% higher than the average in California's three-dozen MSAs, which is $45,399.

Source: To view the original article click here


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Posted by Jackie Graves, President on June 19th, 2018 6:50 AM
If you’re looking to Refinance or Buy a Home click here before rates rise.

Welcome to your Closing on a House Checklist—a rundown of everything home buyers need to do in the 11th hour before they get their hands on those keys. Because when you're approaching the finish line in your home-buying journey, you want nothing to go wrong, right?

That’s why we’ve put together a home closing checklist, which outlines your action points in those few days leading up to settlement. Keep this list handy to know you've done what you need to in order to close the deal.

1. Get all contingencies squared away

Most purchase agreements have contingencies—things that buyers must do before this transaction is official, explains Jimmy Branham, a real estate agent at the Keyes Company, in Fort Lauderdale, FL. These are the most common contingencies:

  • Home inspection contingency: This gives buyers the right to have the home professionally inspected. If something is wrong, you can request it be fixedor you can back out of the sale. Its rarely advisable to waive an inspection contingency. Although the average home inspection costs $300 to $500, its a drop in the bucket considering the costly home issues you might uncover, says Claude McGavic, executive director of the National Association of Home Inspectors.
  • Appraisal contingency: With this contingency, a third party hired by your mortgage lender evaluates the fair market value of the home. If the appraised value is less than the sale price, the contingency enables you to back out of the deal without forfeiting your earnest money deposit, says Bishoi Nageh, president of the Petra Cephas Team at Mortgage Network Solutions, in Somerset, NJ.
  • Financing contingency: This contingency gives you the right to back out of the deal if your mortgage approval falls through. You have a specified time period, as stated in the sales contract, during which you have to obtain a loan that will cover the mortgage.

2. Clear the title

When you buy a home, you “take title” to the property and establish legal ownership—a process that’s confirmed by local public land records. As part of the closing process, your mortgage lender will require a title search, and you'll need to purchase title insurance to protect you from legal claims to the house.

Sometimes distant relatives—or an ex-spouse—may surface with a claim that they actually own the home, and that the seller had no right to sell it to you in the first place. But clearing title will ensure this doesn’t happen, says Marc Israel, president and chief counsel of MIT National Land Services, a title company in New York City.

As the home buyer, you’re entitled to choose the title company. You can get recommendations from your real estate agent, mortgage lender, and friends—just be sure to check out the license and reputation of each company online.

3. Get final mortgage approval

Before you can go to the closing table, your home loan must go through the underwriting process. Underwriters are like real estate detectives—it’s their job to make sure you have represented yourself and your finances truthfully, and that you haven’t made any false or misleading claims on your loan application.

The underwriter—employed by your mortgage lender—will check your credit score, review your home appraisal, and ensure your financial portfolio has remained the same since you were pre-approved for the loan.

Since underwriting typically happens shortly before closing, you don’t want to do anything while you’re in contract that’s going to hurt your credit score. That includes buying a car, boat, or any other large purchase that has to be financed.

4. Review your closing disclosure

If you're getting a loan, one of the best ways to prepare is to thoroughly review your closing disclosure, also known as a HUD-1 settlement statement. This official document outlines your exact mortgage payments, the loan's terms (e.g., the interest rate and duration), and additional fees you'll pay, called closing costs (which total anywhere from 2% to 7% of your home's price).

You’ll want to compare your closing disclosure to the loan estimate your lender gave you at the outset. If you spot any discrepancies, ask your lender to explain them.

5. Do a final walk-through

Most sales contracts allow buyers to do a walk-through of the homewithin 24 hours before closing. During this stage, you're making sure the previous owner has vacated (unless you’ve allowed a rent-back arrangement in which they can stick around for a period of time before moving). You’re also double-checking that the home is in the condition agreed upon in the contract. If your home inspection revealed problems that the sellers had agreed to fix, you’ll want to make sure those repairs were made.

6. Bring the necessary documentation to closing

Make sure you have the following items when you head to the closing table:

  • Proof of homeowners insurance
  • A copy of your contract with the seller
  • Your home inspection reports
  • Any paperwork the bank required to approve your loan
  • A government-issued photo ID (Note to newlyweds who just changed their name: The ID needs to match the name that will appear on the propertys title and mortgage.)

Plan to sign a ton of paperwork. An attorney or settlement agent will guide you through the process. When you’re done, you’ll collect the keys and you're finally home free!

Source: To view the original article click here             Apply to Buy a Home             Apply to Refinance

Posted by Jackie Graves, President on June 15th, 2018 5:41 AM
If you’re looking to Refinance or Buy a Home click here before rates rise.

Gains for lower-priced homes are seeing significantly higher increases than more expensive homes, according to the latest CoreLogic Home Price Index Report.

CoreLogic researchers analyzed four individual home price tiers. The tiers were broken down into a “low price” tier that reflected homes priced at 75 percent or less of the median; “low to middle price” homes were between 75 and 100 percent of the median; “middle to moderate price” were for homes priced between 100 and 125 percent of the median; and the “high price” tier represented homes priced greater than 125 percent of the median. The lowest price tier rose 9.3 percent year over year compared with 8.5 percent for the low to middle price tier; 7.1 percent for the middle to moderate price tier; and 5.7 percent for the high price tier.

Appreciation in the low price tier began pulling ahead of the other price tiers in 2013. The five-year appreciation rate—from April 2013 to April 2018—for the low price tier was 53 percent compared with the five-year appreciation of 43 percent for the low to middle price tier; 37 percent for the middle to moderate price tier; and 29 percent for the high price tier.

All price tiers combined have risen on an annual basis every month since February 2012, CoreLogic reports. The company's overall index is now 3.9 percent higher than its precrisis peak in April 2006. Four states have showed double-digit year-over-year increases. All of them are in the West: the state of Washington is up 12.8 percent year over year, Idaho is up 12.4 percent, Nevada increased 12.2 percent, and Utah is up 11.5 percent.

The following chart shows the 25 highest-appreciating states, along with their highest and lowest historical price changes, measured year over year:

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Posted by Jackie Graves, President on June 14th, 2018 5:12 AM

If you’re looking to Refinance or Buy a Home click here before rates rise.

Mortgage rates hit their highest point in seven years last month, and home prices have jumped 6.5% since mid-2017. On the West Coast, many cities are seeing double-digit gains in home appreciation. But somehow, home buying isn’t slowing down.

In fact, according to the most recent Ellie Mae Origination Insight Report, purchase loans were at their highest share since 2014 in April, and builder confidence is strong, with most feeling good about new home sales for the next six months.

So what gives? With rates high, prices rising and affordability seemingly on the downslope, what’s keeping today’s home buyers in the game? According to experts, there are lots of factors at work.  

Buyers Want to Lock in Rates … Before They Rise Again

Rising mortgage rates worry would-be homebuyers, spurring them to lock in the current ones—even though they’re less than ideal.

According to Mark Fleming, chief economist at First American, “The fact that rates are rising actually causes demand—particularly first-time homebuyer demand—as they try to crowd into the market and lock in a mortgage rate and price before both go even higher.”

Increasing rates also push uncertain buyers into the market, ones who may have been on the fence about buying in the first place.

“As rates initially move up, there is an impetus for people that are thinking about buying a home to get off of the sidelines,” said Daniel Beckerman, founder of Beckerman Institutional. “If people anticipate higher interest rates in the future, there is an incentive to buy a property and lock in today’s interest rate.”

Apparently, these proactive moves are founded.

According to the Housing and Mortgage Market Review from Arch Mortgage Insurance, interest rates are only expected to increase as the year goes on. In fact, projected monthly payments to buy the same-priced home could jump 10 to 15% over the next year.

As Arch’s global chief economist Ralph DeFranco bluntly puts it, “Interest rates may not be this low again for decades.”

It’s the American Dreamand Renting’s Not Much Better

At the end of the day, owning a home is still the American Dream, and some people just want to buy a house. As Gina Ko, agent at Triplemint Real Estate explains, “Overall, people always want to buy a home to start a family, build a legacy and move forward in their life.”

Take Tylor Tourville as a prime example. He and his wife, Chelsey, recently braved the hot Boston market for five months to land their dream home—and the process wasn’t without its challenges.

“My wife and I got married in 2016 and have rented for the last two years,” Tourville said. “We decided we were ready to take the next step on our journey and pursue homeownership.”

Tourville said he and Chelsey “fully acknowledged” that they were home hunting at a difficult time. “We decided from the start that we weren’t going to let fear of market timing dictate our lives and deter us from moving our lives forward and accomplishing our goals,” he said.

Though chasing the American Dream was one factor in the equation, Tourville said he and his wife also saw buying as an opportunity to get out of the heated rent race.

“Buying a house is expensive, there’s no other way around it,” he said. “However, rent prices have been relentlessly rising year after year. Plus, we saw the added benefit of putting our money into something tangible, rather than seeing rent money disappear into the abyss of some landlord’s bank account each month.”

According to the recent Rental Affordability Report from ATTOM Data Solutions, renting a three-bedroom property is more expensive than buying a median-priced home in 54% of major markets. The average three-bedroom costs renters 38.8% of their annual income.

“Even if the percent of income that goes to payments on a home you own is on par with that number, it’s still money you’re putting toward building equity in the home, rather than going into someone else’s pocket,” said Sean Black, cofounder at and founding team member at Trulia. “And as a homeowner, you benefit come tax time when you make some of that money back. As a renter, once that money is gone, it’s gone forever.”

Rates Actually Aren’t That High- and Buying Power's Still Strong 

Though nominal rates and home prices might be higher than in past years, in the grand scheme of things, experts agree they’re not as bad as it seems on paper.

“I would say that there is a certain degree of sensationalism when you’re looking at and discussing these numbers, and how certain cities like those on the West Coast inflate overall national numbers,” Black said. “Everything is relative—yes, affordability is low compared to where it was following '08, but that does not mean that every home in every market is unaffordable.”  

Thanks to improving incomes, employment and the economy, housing is actually still affordable in much of the U.S. In fact, according to the recent Real House Price Index from First American, consumer-home buying power is up 14.3% since 2011, and “real” home prices—which are adjusted for changes in incomes and rates—are 32.5% lower than their housing boom peak.

If they did reach that peak, Fleming says people would still continue buying homes.

“Even when both mortgage rates and real, consumer house-buying power-adjusted house prices were significantly higher than they are today, people still bought homes,” he said. “Our home purchase decisions are often less financially motivated than personal preference driven."

Home Buying Has Other Benefits, Too

No matter where rates or prices go, when a fixed-rate mortgage is involved, homeownership always offers more consistency than renting—and that’s not going to change. Even Tourville, who’s closing on his Boston home later this month, said that reliability was a big reason he and his wife decided to buy in today’s hot market.

“We almost saw buying as a way to lock in our monthly housing payment, even if it would be at a slight premium compared to our current rent,” he said.

Michael Micheletti, director of corporate communications at Unison Home Ownership Investors, said this consistency is one of the biggest benefits homeownership can offer today’s consumers—especially amidst rising costs elsewhere.

“To me, the biggest benefit is the ability to control housing costs—a major component in the household budget—giving you an ability to take care of rising healthcare costs, saving for a kid's education, transportation, food and other quality of life issues that the average American faces,” Micheletti said.

According to Laura Conry, executive vice president of consumer originations at FirstBank, homeownership also cuts out all the relocation costs that renters deal with on a regular basis.

“Not only can owning be more affordable, but it allows people to control their housing costs and ensure they are not forced to relocate as opposed to choosing to relocate,” she said. “Rising rent costs cause tenants to move often, which can be difficult, costly, and causes instability for families.”

Millennials are Finally Buying in

According to experts, Millennials are behind much of today’s price-resistant housing demand as they finally reach the point where they can both afford a home and desire one.

“The majority of first-time buyers/Millennials have been waiting to enter the marketplace to purchase a home,” Micheletti said. “They have saved enough over the past few years to qualify, and when they do the math on renting versus buying, in most cases, it makes sense for them to buy now.”

Data from the National Association of Realtors shows that Millennials currently account for 36% of all home purchases. And though student loans have long been holding this cohort back from buying, Brendan McKay, owner of McKay Mortgage Company, said improving jobs and income have helped alleviate some of the financial pressure.

“The job market has improved, “McKay said. “There was a dearth of young people buying homes over the last five years. They were buried in student loans, and their income allowed for little in the way of savings. This is less the case now than it was then. Those same people are a little older, have better jobs, and feel stable enough to take on a mortgage payment in addition to their student loans.”

And at 27, Tourville and his wife are two of those Millennials. He says he and Chelsey budgeted, knew what they could pay, and stuck to it. The rest is history.

“We had to be firm about what we were willing to pay, and not compromise,” Tourville said. “In a market where bidding wars are the norm and waiving inspection contingencies is becoming dangerously common, sticking to a number and having an ‘If it’s meant to be, it will be’ mentality helped us not get too high or too low when making offers on houses we liked.”

As Tourville put it, “It takes time, patience, and thick skin. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.”

Source: To view the original article click here             Apply to Buy a Home             Apply to Refinance

Posted by Jackie Graves, President on June 13th, 2018 6:23 AM

Considering some potential home improvement projects in the near future? If that's the case, it's imperative you do your homework. While some renovation ideas tend to add value to one's home, others equate to throwing money down the drain and getting nothing in return.


With this in mind, here are four of the best and worst home renovation ideas, as well as some resources that can help you decide what to improve and what to leave as is:


Learn What Offers the Biggest Bang for Your Buck


Each year, Remodeling magazine conducts an in-depth survey of experts to determine which home improvement projects offer the highest and lowest return on investment. Dubbed the Cost vs. Value Report, it compares the typical costs of 29 common renovations that were completed by professionals in 99 major cities. Talk about an excellent primer of ideas.


Yet another great resource for homeowners is answers to commonly asked questions about construction, including many that relate to home renovation. By visiting credible websites for some much-needed inspiration, homeowners can put their focus and funds on projects that will make the biggest impact.


1. Good: Kitchens and Bathrooms


According to HGTV, splurging for a kitchen and/or bathroom remodel is typically a wise investment, one that usually nets homeowners with 100 percent ROI. For example, basic kitchen renovations typically run about $15,000. And in cities like Miami and New Orleans, homeowners who then later put their home on the market recouped top dollar in total resale value.


As for specific projects that offer the most bang for your buck, upgrading your cabinets to solid-wood options, countertops with a new stone or quartz finish and/or flooring with a stone mosaic are all safe options.


2. Bad: A Second Bathroom


For homes with only one bathroom, the thought of adding a second one (even a half bathroom) makes good financial sense, especially if you plan to one day sell it. And while you may very well appreciate having an extra lavatory on hand for your family, be advised that you may not necessarily recoup the full renovation cost when putting your home up for sale.


Simply put, adding a new bathroom is an expensive proposition, one that can run you a hefty $25,000. However, in most cases, homeowners can expect to receive an estimated 60 percent ROI. Bottom line: If you have no intention of moving — and have the necessary funds available — adding on a second bathroom could very well be a worthwhile endeavor.


Of course, if you're weighing your home's resale value, there are certainly better ways to spend your hard-earned money.


3. Good: Curb Appeal


Homeowners can invest thousands of dollars to upgrade their kitchen and ensuite bathroom, but if your front lawn and trees look shabby, potential buyers will drive on by. As notes, you can easily make a number of budget-friendly and relatively minor exterior improvements that will increase your curb appeal exponentially.


In fact, for less than $100, you can rent a power washer to clean off the driveway, sidewalk and porch, and then spend some time cleaning up the yard and putting or throwing away old lawn furniture. Add a fresh coat of paint on the front door and spring for new, stylish house numbers and voilà — you just breathed some serious new life into your home.


4. Bad: Anything Over the Top


Before springing for that enormous and expensive commercial grade gas stove and pricey custom marble shower, research the local listings to see what features similar homes offer. Instead of making any number of over-the-top renovations, you should err on the side of caution and choose more modestly priced and classic upgrades.


This doesn’t mean you have to select low-quality or unattractive finishes, as you can certainly still replace any old or cracked floor tiles with an attractive and durable tile that looks like wood. And heavens knows how much you'll save by choosing to not import stone flooring from Italy.


Bottom Line: Choose Renovations Wisely


When it comes to your home's resale value and recouping any renovation costs, know that not all projects are created equal. By acquainting yourself with reliable online resources that provide worthwhile insights and primers, as well as making good financial decisions, you can enjoy all the perks of your beautiful, renovated home.


Source: To view the original article click here             Apply to Buy a Home             Apply to Refinance

Posted by Jackie Graves, President on June 12th, 2018 9:34 AM

When all is said and done, buying a home is exciting—and a milestone to be celebrated. But if you expect each step of the process to be a thrill ride, we're here to tell you you're sorely mistaken. In fact, between the rush of the hunt for the perfect place and the extreme satisfaction of crossing your threshold as a new homeowner, the rest of the home-buying process can be a bit of a slog.

There are many unglamorous parts of buying a home—some of which many consider downright boring. Do the words "financial due diligence" make your eyelids feel heavy? Yeah, ours too.

But when you know what to expect and why, it’s a whole lot easier to deal. So pay attention to these three very mundane—but very important—parts of the home-buying process. We've outlined why they matter and how to get through them without losing your sanity.

1. Raising your credit score

Savvy home buyers know that a good credit score will allow them to lock in a good interest rate. But what if your credit score is in the gutter? Raising it can take some time—a year, if not more—but there are some strategies you can take to get it where it needs to be.

One of the easiest and most effective ways to bump up that credit score (besides paying all your bills on time, which you already do anyway, right?) is to avoid applying for any new credit—including personal loans, car loans or leases, and credit cards—for about one year before starting the home-buying process, says Shayan Jalali, an agent with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, in Boston.

“Your credit gets pulled each time you apply for a loan of any type, which negatively impacts your credit score,” he says. And that can translate to a less favorable rate when it comes time to get a mortgage.

2. Securing a mortgage pre-approval

Once you’re satisfied with your credit, it’s time to shop for a mortgage lender who will ultimately help you buy a home. We won't lie: Shopping for a mortgage lender is not fun. It requires a number of steps and a lot of paperwork.

First, you’re going to want to inquire with different lenders to learn about their rates, programs, fees, and specials. You’ll also want to consider if you want to work with a mortgage broker, who will essentially shop home loans for you.

It’s important to take the time to discuss the ins and outs of the loan programs that are available, from conventional 30-year loans to adjustable-rate mortgages, to FHA loans.

Once you’ve settled on where you want your loan to come from, it’s time to get that all-important pre-approval, which is a commitment from your lender to provide you with a home loan up to a certain amount. That will set your home-buying budget, and also show sellers that you are serious about buying when it comes time to put an offer in.

But the pre-approval process takes patience.

“Lenders require a host of documents to get you fully pre-approved, and often it comes down to minutiae such as explanations of small transactions in or out of your account,” says Luke Loiselle, a real estate agent at Keller Williams, in Portland, OR. The plus side is that once you have your pre-approval, you can largely check tedious mortgage tasks off the list.

3. Reading the fine print

Spoiler alert: You are going to be bombarded with financial, legal, and technical documents during the home-buying process—and unfortunately, it’s your job to read through all of it. Even if that sounds about as exciting as trudging through "War and Peace," don't skimp on the time it takes to understand the contracts you're signing.

The best way to get through all the painful paperwork is to know what to expect. Here are the three most important documents that are going to come your way:

  • Your offer: Once you and your real estate agent have put together an offer, you have to look over the contract and make sure its accurate. In the age of digital signature technology, buyers often click to add their initials or signature without fully reading contract documents. This is especially common for buyers who have made multiple offers, as they all start to blur together. It’s important to read every document for each offer to ensure that the contracts were completed correctly, including the offer price, earnest money deposit, and any contingencies, says Andi Costello, a real estate agent with Keller Williams Premiere Properties, in Vancouver, WA.
  • Inspection report: Soffits. Fascia. Ductwork. We get it, the inspection report can be a snooze. In fact, if the roof isn’t falling off and the sellers are not planning to remove that orange shag carpet, then you may decide you can just ignore the whole thing. But that would be a mistake. Even if you’ve received a verbal update after the inspection, you should actually read the report you paid for to ensure the inspector didn't inadvertently forget to share any areas of concern," Costello says.
  • Closing documents: Get ready for a pile of closing documents about 2 inches thick. It’s in your best interest to master all the intricacies of your mortgage and understand your closing fees, so make sure to look over your closing documents and have your lender explain any issues that you're concerned about so you know what you’re signing.

Source: To view the original article click here             Apply to Buy a Home             Apply to Refinance

Posted by Jackie Graves, President on June 11th, 2018 6:40 AM

You've found the home you've been searching for and now it's time to make your home purchase offer. What's your next step and who's going to guide you through the process?  

When you're ready to make an offer, your real estate agent will take center stage, walking you though the following steps and communicating closely with the seller's agent and you.  Here's how the offer process works:

Step 1:  Determining Your Price

Your real estate agent will help you determine a price that's fair, based on their experience and important considerations, including:

Step 2:  Submitting an Offer

Once you've determined your price, your agent will draw up an offer, or purchase agreement, to submit to the seller's real estate agent. This offer will include your agreed upon purchase price and terms and conditions of the purchase, including:

  • Your target closing date

  • Provisions for certain fees

  • A deadline for the seller to accept or counter your offer, typically one to two days

When writing your offer, it's highly recommended that you make the home purchase contingent on the home inspection and appraisal.

Step 3:  Negotiating the Offer

Oftentimes, the seller will counter your offer, typically asking for a higher purchase price or to move the closing date. In these cases, the seller's agent will submit a counteroffer to your agent, detailing their desired changes. At this time, you can either accept the offer or decide if you want to counter.

Each time changes are made through a counter offer, you or the seller have the option to accept, reject or counter it again.

Step 4:  Finalizing the Offer

The contract is considered final when both parties agree to all terms and sign the written offer.

What's next?  You'll need to provide your lender with a copy of the signed purchase agreement to finalize the loan application process.  As always, lean on your team for any questions or concerns along the way – it's their job and they're there to help.

Follow this series to learn more about how things work in the mortgage industry, from the secondary mortgage market to closing on your loan.

Source: To view the original article click here             Apply to Buy a Home             Apply to Refinance

Posted by Jackie Graves, President on June 8th, 2018 7:00 AM


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