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Posted in Mortgages, Purchasing a Home

What Type of Mortgage is Right for Me?

When our parents were buying their first home, there was one way to finance the purchase. You would walk down to the corner bank and asked for a 30 year mortgage. Today the average home owner moves every 5-7 years. Depending on your needs there are a number of mortgage options you might consider, each with its own advantages and disadvantages, spending some time to understand the options is the best way to choose the right loan for your needs. 

While loan programs and terms vary, the most common are: 

Conventional – A conventional loan is normally still designed to be paid off in 30 years with equal monthly payments during the term of the loan. There are currently conventional loans that require as little as 5% down, although 20-25% is still commonplace. 

FHA – An FHA loan is guaranteed by the Federal Housing Administration and is attractive for a number of reasons, especially for the first time home buyer. The down payment can be as little as 3.5% and that can be a gift. 

VA – VA (Veteran Affairs) is a loan program offered for Veterans and their spouses. While the terms can vary from 0-5% down payment, this loan may allow the borrower to finance as much as 100% of the home’s value in the loan. 

Your lender will also have more specialized options for you, such as adjustable rate loans and 10 or 15 year loans. They can also explain the additional costs that could be associated with each type of loan program. 

Part of purchasing a home is to find the right financing. Your lender will talk you through your options. If you have not already spoken to a lender, or if you need a referral, your real estate agent is a great resource for you. 

Posted in Purchasing a Home

How Do You Know If You Can Afford To Buy a House?

Do you feel that you’re ready to buy your first home? Tired of paying your landlord’s mortgage? Do you want to put down roots and start building equity for yourself? There are many reasons why people decide it could be time to buy a home. The costs associated with buying and owning a home can feel overwhelming but fortunately there are simple steps you can take to see if you can afford to buy a home. 

Talk With a Lender 

The best step you can take to start your home buying planning is to find a good lender and meet to talk about your financial situation. Your lender will look at your income, savings and credit and then talk about your needs. They will help you explore the loan options available to you and the down payment, saving reserves and closing costs requirements. 

Can You Afford the Mortgage? 

Typically rent payments are less than a mortgage payment; this can feel unsettling until you understand the qualifying formula. Because mortgage interest is deductible (speak with your tax professional for exact details), most lenders look for the buyers to spend approximately 30% of their GROSS income on the loan payment and no more than 36% on all other debt. 

Ex. If your monthly gross income is $5000/month, you can spend $1500/month on your mortgage payment. 

If you think you’re ready to buy a home, find a good lender and start talking about your unique situation. Learn the costs and benefits to help you determine if you can afford to buy a new home. 

Posted in Home Decorating, Home Improvement

2020 Pantone Color of the Year – Classic Blue

Drum roll please – Pantone has chosen Classic Blue as their color of the year. Over the past couple years, bold colors on walls has become common place in designer magazines and new model homes. Bucking the old guidance of using bland, light hues to make rooms look larger, deep greens, rich reds and even soft blacks are used in even the smallest spaces. This year, Pantone has chosen a fresh Classic Blue to inspire homeowners and designers in 2020. 

Classic Blue is just want it sounds like – as classic. Think of your favorite sneaker or school binder and you’ll be right on track. Described as a calming, familiar azure, Classic Blue is an uncomplicated, straightforward tone intended to provide a “neutral” backdrop for modern color palates and urban chic styling. 

Modern interior design has been trending towards more unassuming color schemes for furniture, flooring and accents. Kitchens sport sleek white cabinets and subway tile counters and backsplashes. Tone on tone design with urban elements of steel and soft wood tones lend themselves to this fresh blue hue. Pantone suggests that the simple color palate of blue and white is a comforting return to more traditional styling and expects that Classic Blue is the perfect wall color to compliment the Mid-Century and 60s décor that have emerged with a modern twist. 

A great weekend project for a room or rooms, Classic Blue would add a fresh look to any space. 

Posted in Listing Your Home, Real Estate

Have You Outgrown Your House?

Many homeowners are surprised when they suddenly realize that “perfect” home of just a few years ago no longer suits their needs. From an expanding family to the empty nest, it’s common for a home to no longer be the right fit. If you’re unsure if you’ve reached the point where a move is warranted, here are a few signs you’ve outgrown your home.

• More Kids than Rooms or More Rooms than Kids – Life changes and our homes must change also.
• Clutter or Lack of Storage – Do you need more closet or storage space? A home with more space could be the answer.
• Home Office – More and more companies are opting for telecommuting or home office workers, if your kitchen is your office, it might be time to look for a new home with extra room for a home office.
• Outdoor Entertaining – Home design trends over the last couple decades has seen a rise in outdoor living and entertaining areas. You might have simply outgrown your yard if you crave space for an outdoor living or dining area.
• Lifestyle – The square footage might be fine, but you would prefer a different floor-plan; more open, single story, more windows, etc.

Your reasons for moving will be as unique as you are, but these are just a few considerations which indicate you might have outgrown your current home. Make sure your home still meets your needs and wants, then you’ll be able to decide if it’s time to move.

Posted in Listing Your Home

3 Must-Do's Before Listing Your House for Sale

 Before you list your home for sale, it’s time to do a little work around the house – to prepare and make sure your home is seen in the best possible light. These “must-do” items are about showing your home to buyers as one which is cared for and ready for them to add their own brand of home to the space. Taking a little time up front can mean thousands of dollars as buyers start writing their offers. 

3 Must-Do’s Before Listing Your House for Sale 

1. Declutter, Depersonalize and Clean – This is the time to take spring cleaning seriously, in any season. Clear out all unnecessary items from the home; closets, drawers, extra clothes, old unwanted furniture. Donate to charity, hire a dumpster or rent a storage space; buyers will look in every space and open all drawers and cabinets, make sure your home seems spacious. Spend some time to depersonalize by removing excessive pictures and hide heirlooms. Finally, deep clean every space top to bottom. 

2. Address Deferred Maintenance – Make small repairs or hire a handyman to take care of problems which could appear during the home inspection. Replace caulking, fix broken windows and screens, replace light bulbs and freshen up and clean grout; buyers want to see a home that is cared for with “good bones.” 

3. Go for Curb Appeal – Spend some time in the yard. Trim bushes and trees, clean and repair hardscape and make sure there is adequate lighting. Welcome your buyers with seasonal flowers or décor and place a fresh mat by the front door. 

Before you put that sign in the front yard, spend a little time and elbow grease to make sure you welcome your potential buyers with the best version of your home. 

Posted in Real Estate

4 Tips For Making a Competitive Offer

Most areas of the country are experiencing a brisk real estate market. Well priced homes are moving quickly and often sellers have multiple offers from which to choose. How can you make your offer stand out and put you in a better position to get the home? Fortunately there are a few things you can do to make your offer more attractive to sellers.

  1. Offer a Fair Price – When the market is moving quickly, this is not the time to throw out a low ball offer and hope they negotiate. Write an honest price based on market values.
  2. Have a Pre-­‐Approval – It may not be enough to simply offer a pre-­qualification letter. When issuing a pre-­‐approval the lender verifies your qualifications and an underwriter gives preliminary approval based on the actual home and a good appraisal.
  3. Flexible Timing – Not everything comes down to price. A seller who is relocation might be more interested in an offer which gives them extra time to move.
  4. Attractive Terms – Most offers include contingencies for items like appraisal, inspection, title, loan approval among others. Working with your lender and real estate agent, consider removing any contingencies you don’t need. If you plan to remodel extensively for instance, you might remove the home inspection contingency. This provides more confidence in your offer vs the competition.

The most important thing in a competitive real estate market is being prepared. Working with your lender and agent, you will understand your options and be able to write a solid offer quickly, putting you in the best position to have your offer accepted.

Posted in Home Maintenance

5 Maintenance Skills All Homeowners Should Know

Maintenance Skills Homeowners Should Know
Maintenance Skills Homeowners Should Know

 Owning a home can be one of the most important parts of a satisfying lifestyle. The joy of coming home to someplace you can call your very own offers security and comfort. Yet owning a home comes with responsibilities as well; maintaining the home in proper condition is critical to avoid larger problems later. 

While some people are handier than others, here are 5 maintenance skills anyone can master. 

1. How to Turn off Your Gas and Water –If you smell gas or have a water leak, taking quick action to shut off the source to the home while you wait for a professional can save thousands of dollars, and even lives. 

2. Understanding How Electricity Is Fed to Your Home –Learn how to reset GFI outlets and popped breakers at the panel to avoid expensive house calls. 

3. How to Find a Wall Stud – Avoid drywall repair when hanging pictures or shelves. 

4. How to Change Your Air Filters – Keep your air fresh and your HVAC systems running efficiently. 

5. How to Address Simple Plumbing – From fixing a running toilet to recaulking the shower, simple plumbing related issues can save money in service calls and damage. 

A quick visit to the local big box home supply store or afternoon online watching repair videos can help any homeowner tackle a few simple do-it-yourself tasks around the house. Learning a few basic maintenance skills will ensure you and your loved ones are safe and you’ll help your home stay in top condition.