What Is Mortgage Insurance and How Does It Benefit Me? Let’s Take a Look

Posted in Home Mortgage Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on May 23rd, 2018

What Is Mortgage Insurance and How Does It Benefit Me? Let's Take a LookAre you in the market for a new home? If you are considering a mortgage, you may be curious about mortgage insurance, commonly referred to as PMI or MI. Let’s explore the topic of mortgage insurance, including how it works to reduce risk and how it benefits you as the mortgage borrower.

Mortgage Insurance = Risk Reduction

You might not know this, but the toughest part of the home buying process for many individuals and families is coming up with the required down payment. For example, if you were to buy a $200,000 home, you may want to invest $40,000 or $60,000 or more in the down payment. The remainder would be borrowed in your mortgage, which you would then pay off each month.

Most mortgage lenders require a minimum of 20 percent as a down payment. In the example above, this means having $40,000 cash on hand before you buy the home. If you can’t come up with this much, your lender may require mortgage insurance be purchased to protect them in case you default on the loan.

Mortgage Insurance Can Help You Qualify

Since mortgage insurance reduces the lender’s exposure to risk, it can help you in a number of ways during the qualification process. First, you can put less in your down payment than you had initially intended, which can increase your buying power and the size of home you can afford. Mortgages backed with a private insurance policy tend to be approved a bit faster than those that aren’t. Also, if you decide that you don’t need it later, many mortgage insurance policies can be canceled, which saves you a bit of money.

Look For Supplemental Benefits

Finally, don’t forget to ask your mortgage lender about any supplemental benefits offered with your mortgage insurance policy. Some policies protect you in the event that you lose your job or provide a partial claim advance if you can’t pay your mortgage. Note that not all policies have these benefits, so be sure to ask.

While it is true that mortgage insurance provides benefits to lenders, it also offers significant benefits to you as the borrower. To learn more about mortgage insurance or to get pre-approved for a mortgage so you can buy a home, give us a call today. Our friendly team of real estate professionals is happy to help.

Tags: , ,


| Comments off

Pros and Cons of Adjustable Rate Mortgages

Posted in Mortgage by Michigan Real Estate Expert on May 22nd, 2018

Pros and Cons of Adjustable Rate MortgagesWhen you are in the market for a new home, you may be faced with numerous options for financing your home. One of the choices you will have to make is whether to apply for a fixed or adjustable rate mortgage. In some cases, an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) may be your best option, but keep in mind, they are not the answer for everyone.

Adjustable rate mortgages can be risky for some borrowers and it’s important to understand both the pros and cons.

When To Consider Adjustable Rate Mortgages

Perhaps one of the best things about ARMs is they typically have a lower starting interest rate than fixed rate mortgages. For some borrowers, this means it is easier for them to qualify for a loan. ARMs are beneficial for borrowers who:

  • Anticipate an income increase – for borrowers who are anticipating their income to increase over the next year or two, an ARM may be the right option.
  • Will be reducing their debt – those borrowers who have automobile loans or student loans that will be paid off in the next few years may benefit from an ARM which would allow them to qualify for a larger mortgage today anticipating their ability to covert to a fixed-rate mortgage.
  • Are purchasing a starter home – when you anticipate living in a home for five years or less, an adjustable rate mortgage may help you save money for a bigger home.

Adjustable Rate Mortgage Concerns

There are a number of different types of adjustable rate mortgages and they are each tied to specific interest rate indexes. While an ARM may offer borrowers some flexibility in terms of income and debt ratios, the downsides cannot be ignored. Some of the cons of using an ARM to finance your mortgage include:

  • Rate adjustments – borrowers should carefully review their loan documents to see how frequently their interest rates may increase. Some loans adjust annually while other may not increase for three to five years after the mortgage is signed. For borrowers, this means they may anticipate an increase in their monthly payments.
  • Prepayment clauses – oftentimes, lenders include a prepayment penalty with ARM loans which can be surprising for borrowers. Before agreeing to an ARM, make sure you read the documents very carefully to determine how long you need to hold the loan and if there is a prepayment clause.
  • Home values – one of the biggest challenges borrowers face with an ARM is what happens if the property value decreases: Refinancing a home into a fixed-rate mortgage may be more difficult if this occurs.

Borrowers who are searching for the right mortgage should discuss all options with their loan officer. There are specific instances when an ARM may be the best option and there are other times, such as if you plan to stay in your home for more than five years, where a fixed-rate mortgage may be your best option.

Tags: , ,


| Comments off

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – May 21st, 2018

Posted in Financial Reports by Michigan Real Estate Expert on May 21st, 2018

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – May 21st, 2018Last week’s economic releases included the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index for May, Commerce Department reports on housing starts and building permits issued. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims were also released.

Home Builder Confidence Rises in May

According to the National Association of Home Builders, home builders surveyed indicated higher confidence in housing market conditions for May. April’s reading was downwardly revised to an index reading of 68; analysts expected a reading of 69.  May’s home builder confidence reading was 70. Any reading over 50 indicates that more builders consider housing market conditions to positive.

Three-month rolling readings for regions showed mixed results in May. Northeast and Western regions were unchanged with index readings of 55 and 76 respectively. Midwestern and Southern regions posted a one-point drop with respective index readings of 65 and 92. The NAHB cited high lumber prices as a concern and said that rising materials costs were impacting builders’ ability to produce affordable housing for first-time buyers.

Both housing starts and building permits issued were lower in April than for March; The Commerce Department reported1.287 million housing starts in April as compared to 1.336 million starts in March. Housing starts are calculated on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis. Although housing starts were 3.70 percent lower in April, analysts said there was little concern as the rate of housing starts remained near the highest levels in 11 years.

April’s decline in housing starts was attributed to volatile multi-unit projects; construction rates for single-family homes were little changed. The South reported an increase in housing starts as all other regions reported fewer housing starts. Builders said that labor shortages continue to impact construction rates. Analysts expected construction rates to expand throughout 2018 as demand for homes rises. Building permits issued fell in April to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 1.352 million from the March reading of 1.377 million permits issued.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims

Mortgage rates rose to their highest level in seven years. Rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage were six basis points higher and averaged 4.61 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was seven basis points higher at 4.08 percent. Mortgage rates for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage averaged five basis points higher at 3.82 percent. Discount points averaged 0.40 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

First-time jobless claims rose to 222,000 new claims last week as compared to 211,000 new claims filed the prior week. Analysts expected 215,000 new claims filed.

Whats Ahead

This week’s economic releases include readings on sales of new and previously-owned homes and consumer sentiment. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

Tags: , ,


| Comments off

Financing Your Solar Roof

Posted in Mortgage by Michigan Real Estate Expert on May 17th, 2018

Financing Your Solar RoofGoing solar can make life sunnier for some homeowners. In addition to reducing energy dependence by “borrowing” energy directly from the sun, purchasers may also enjoy a 30 percent federal Solar Investment Tax Credit and other incentives, according to SEIA.

Solar roofing can boost a home’s equity in some cases, while making it more attractive to future buyers in sun-drenched parts of the country. Best of all, financing that solar roof may be a more attainable goal than homeowners think.

Leasing vs. Owning

Perhaps the first question a green-minded homeowner should consider is whether to own solar roofing or lease it. Leasing solar panels from a third-party provider bypasses the need to take out a traditional loan or purchase a solar roof with cash.

Energy.gov notes that PPAs (Power Purchase Agreements) allow homeowners to pay fixed monthly payments based on the amount of energy the roof will likely generate over the period of the lease. But it’s worth noting that leasing also bypasses the tax credits and other financial benefits and incentives of ownership.

The Traditional Loan Route

Traditional loans can finance solar roofs just as they can other major home renovations or improvements. For homeowners who already own their homes outright, this approach offers a simple, cost-effective way to enhance the property. Other homeowners may want to look into the Department of Energy’s Residential PACE (Property Assessed Clean energy) loans aimed at promoting energy-efficient modifications.

Those who seek to take out a mortgage on a solar-roofed home, however, should watch out for the proverbial fine print. For instance, PACE loans trump mortgage loans, so having a PACE loan in place can make getting that mortgage loan impossible. 

Fannie Mae’s HomeStyle Energy Mortgage

The HomeStyle Energy Mortgage from Fannie Mae offers an attractive alternative to traditional loans, according to the Washington Post. This product includes the solar roof (or other energy-efficient modification) within the overall mortgage loan.

A HomeStyle Energy Mortgage factors in the anticipated energy savings offered by the modification in figuring the loan terms. It also lets borrowers take out larger amounts that they might receive through traditional mortgages — up to 15 percent of the home’s “as-completed” appraisal value.

Some smart financing strategies can turn the objective of owning a solar roof from an out-of-reach dream into a practical reality. A skilled real estate expert can help homeowners weigh all the available options and come up with a sensible plan that suits their needs.

Tags: , ,


| Comments off

Ensuring A Stress-Less Closing

Posted in Mortgage by Michigan Real Estate Expert on May 16th, 2018

Ensuring A Stress-Less ClosingBuying a home is an exciting and exhilarating time. Between the time your offer is accepted, and when you finally have keys in hand and you are ready to step into your new home, it can be stressful. The escrow period, also known as the closing, can take the most easygoing home buyer to the brink of insanity.

After you have negotiated your best price and come to an agreement, there are ways to make the escrow process less anxiety-provoking. Here are some tips from top real estate agents to help you get through the escrow process without losing your cool. 

Utilize Your Professionals

Trust your real estate agent and home financing professional to walk you through the entire process is key to a smoothly closing escrow. Rely on them to do their job, but don’t be afraid to express any anxieties, and lean on them during negotiations and inspections. They are the experts, so ask questions and ask for advice, but try not to second guess their guidance or recommendations. 

Your additional trusted partner is your mortgage professional. They know how important the financing piece is to this equation and they will be sure to know your timeline and be available to answer questions and assist you throughout this process. 

Stay Organized

Chaos rarely inspires confidence. Stay on top of all paperwork and make sure you sign and return everything to your lender promptly to eliminate delays. The lender and escrow company want the sale to close in a timely fashion, too, so don’t slow them down by being disorganized or failing to return important documentation such as income tax information or bank statements.

Maintain A Healthy Perspective

No home is perfect, so be prepared for inspections that bring some daunting news. Ask to be present when the inspections are performed. The more information you have about your prospective home, the better you will be prepared to negotiate for repairs before they surprise you in the future. 

Ask for credits and repairs as needed, but try to remain objective. Some seemingly minor fixer projects can lead to a much longer time table. You may decide that, when considering the bigger picture and a timely transaction, a couple thousand dollars might not actually be a worth negotiating. 

Be Flexible

Retain as much flexibility as possible during the closing process and focus on the big picture, rather than all of the details. When opening escrow, ask your agent to give you an overview of the expected timeline from beginning to end. Knowing what to expect, and when as well as being aware of projected milestones goes a long way in reducing anxiety. You can, and should, ask to be notified when important milestones are reached.

While you might have it penciled in on your calendar, it’s common for closing dates to change. Instead of thinking of your closing date as set in stone, think of it as a flexible target. Do not book movers until the last minute, so you won’t be stressed if your belongings are all packed in a truck and the escrow date is set forward a day or two.

Don’t forget to breathe!

This is an important time to take care of yourself. Take a run, meditate, or do yoga. Read a book or enjoy a hobby. Moving can be a physically taxing event, so take the time now to relax before the big move.

Before you know it, you will be moving into your new home. Being informed, staying organized and taking care of yourself are key elements. Most important, though, is to rely on your trained professionals to guide you through this process and help to ensure a stress-less closing.

Tags: , ,


| Comments off

5 Ways Millennial Buyers Can Snag Their Dream Home In This Sellers Market

Posted in Mortgage by Michigan Real Estate Expert on May 15th, 2018

5 Ways Millennial Buyers Can Snag Their Dream Home In This Sellers MarketAccording to the 2017 Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends Report, Millennials bought 34% of the homes sold; the largest of any generation last year. 

Millennials looking to buy their first, or second, home need to ready themselves for a surprisingly competitive market. Lack of supply causes attractive homes to garner multiple offers in just a few hours!

What can a Millennial buyer do to appeal to sellers and be the one who ends up with the home? Here are 5 ways they can snag their dream home in this seller’s market. 

Get Pre-Approved

Figuring out what a home buyer can afford is a crucial step and no different for these savy Millenial home buyers. Sellers like to avoid nasty surprises. Being pre-approved shows the seller that the homebuyer is serious and financially able to purchase their home. 

Meeting with a mortgage originator and getting pre-approved is how it’s done. This professional will pull credit history and look at current financial infomation to determine precisely how much of a mortgage is affordable. The pre-approval can then be used as part of their offer letter. 

Be Decisive

A hot real estate market is no time for cold feet. Millennials should proactively create a list of must-haves and be ready with an offer when they find a home that meets their requirements. 

Taking too long to mull over whether they like the house, the neighborhood, or the price can result in a dream house being sold right out from under them. 

Get Real

Millennials should research pricing in the neighborhoods they like, and lean on their real estate agent for helpful guidance. Low-balling an offer is not likely to be received well in this competitive market. Making a fair, reasonable offer close to, or even above, the asking price is the best course of action to land the home they want. 

Show Personality

If sellers feel like they know the buyer, they are more likely to choose them over a faceless offer. Include a personal letter with the offer. Go into detail about why the house is appealing. Add personal details about what the Millennial buyer wants to do in the house like raise children, plant a garden, or enjoy baking in the kitchen.

If all buyers are equal, a heartfelt letter just might tip the scales. 

Agree to the Sellers Timetable

Some sellers prefer unloading their house fast. Others may want to wait to move until their kids are out of school or the new home they are building is ready. 

Millennial buyers may need to dig to get this information but it can be used to their advantage. Being flexible might just set them up to be the best choice for the seller. 

While challenging, it’s not impossible for Millennials to end up with the house of their dreams. With a bit of planning, decisiveness, flexibility, and a preapproval from their trusted mortgage professional, Millenials can make homeownership a reality in the very near future!

 

 

Tags: , ,


| Comments off

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – May 14th, 2018

Posted in Financial Reports by Michigan Real Estate Expert on May 14th, 2018

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – May 14th, 2018Last week’s economic reports included readings on consumer prices, consumer sentiment and weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

Consumer Price Index Increases in April

Consumer prices rose by 0.20 percent in April according to the Commerce Department. Analysts expected prices to rise by 0.30 percent based on a negative reading of -0.10 percent in March. Core consumer prices, which exclude volatile food and energy sectors, eased to 0.10 percent growth in April after growing by 0.20 percent in March. Analysts said that Fed policymakers’ concerns over inflation growth could wane with the easing of core consumer prices.

Mortgage Rates, Mixed New Jobless Claims Unchanged

Freddie Mac reported mixed readings for average mortgage rates; rates for fixed rate mortgages averaged 4.55 percent and were unchanged from the prior week. Average rates for a fifteen-year fixed rate mortgage dipped by two basis points. Rates for a5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged 3.77 percent and were higher by eight basis points.

New jobless claims were unchanged 211,000 new claims filed. Analysts expected 215,000 new claims. In other news, the University of Michigan reported that consumer sentiment was also unchanged with an index reading of 98.80 in May.

Whats Next

This week’s scheduled economic releases include readings From the National Association of Home Builders, Commerce Department reports on housing starts and building permits. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

Tags: , ,


| Comments off

5 Critical Tips For Buying In A Seller’s Market

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on May 11th, 2018

5 Critical Tips For Buying In A Seller's MarketThis summer, quality homes are being scooped up almost as fast as they’re being listed – and for top price. Yes, it’s a seller’s market out there, which is great news if you’re planning to list your home. For those looking for a home, the competitiveness can be frustrating and aggravating.

Frustrating as it may be, there’s plenty of reason for buyers to stick it out until their offer is accepted. For starters, interest rates are still fairly low. And secondly, there are great homes out there if you act fast enough.

How can you successfully get that dream home in a seller’s market? Here are some top tips:

Stay Dedicated

Make sure that you and your Realtor are on the same page with your must-haves for your new home. Then, make sure you check for new listings daily. If any look good, make an appointment to see it that day. Don’t wait, or it will likely be gone. It can be tempting to make an offer based on listing photos alone, but be very wary of doing this. Go out and see it – and do it quickly.

Start With Your Best Offer

With some good properties gone in a matter of hours, this is no time to nickle and dime a seller. What’s more is that the seller will be unlikely to even entertain the offer and counter it. The best practice in competitive times is to start with your very best offer on the property and give the seller something to seriously consider. Chances are your offer isn’t the only one they’ll be receiving. You want it to make an impression.

Include A Personal Note

Even though they’re essentially getting rid of their property, sellers often like to work with a buyer who is going to appreciate and care for the home they’re purchasing. That’s where a personal note included with your offer to the seller can come in handy. In your note, talk about the things you love about the home and how you know it will be the perfect fit for you and your family. You can even up the ante and include a family photo. 

Make A Significant Earnest Money Deposit

Generally speaking, the larger your earnest money deposit, the more serious of a buyer you are. In a seller’s market, you will want to look for any competitive advantage over the others that are likely to make an offer on a particular property. A big deposit can serve as that advantage.

Stay Patient

Like we said in the opening, a seller’s market can be frustrating for buyers – so try to stay patient. The right home is out there for you, and good things come to those who wait. 

Your trusted real estate agent is ready to talk to you about the impact of a seller’s market and show you the best houses available in your area. Create your must-have list and call today!

Tags: , ,


| Comments off

How to Get Along With Your Homeowners Association

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on May 10th, 2018

How to Get Along With Your Homeowners AssociationRules and covenants of a homeowners association can be a bit overwhelming, especially for a first time homeowner. Understanding that the regulations are designed to protect the value of your home helps make some restrictions easier to live with.

Homeowners Association CC&Rs, which stands for “covenants, conditions and restrictions,” can be intimidating. But, with the growing number of communities and subdivisions that have existing HOAs, it’s important to know what you’re getting into before you buy a home.

Associations Come In All Forms

An association’s goal is to maintain the ambience of the community and assure that home values are upheld. Associations are typically responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of common areas, including streets and green spaces, playgrounds and community pools, if they exist.

Some associations, often in retirement communities, include front yard upkeep; Condominium associations commonly include exterior building maintenance as well.

Homeowners Association CC&Rs may be quite restrictive, requiring vehicles to be garaged or disallowing privacy fences, for instance. Alternatively, they may be loosely organized and act primarily as social organizations designed to foster the sense of community and promote safety for resident families.

Only occasionally is HOA membership offered on a voluntary basis; in those cases, the HOA is apt to be a group with little power.

CCRs Are A Legal Obligation

Subdivisions with functioning homeowners associations must supply prospective buyers with a copy of current CC&Rs prior to closing.  If you plan to buy a home that has an existing association, it is important to familiarize yourself with the rules and regulations prior to agreeing to abide by them. Read them thoroughly and understand them completely, because they constitute a legal obligation for compliance as well as for payment of dues and special assessments.

Legal Requirements Of An HOA

Whether the dues are a lot or a little, and whether the association’s affairs are professionally managed or not, the majority of associations are governed and controlled by a volunteer board and elected officers who volunteer their time for the benefit of the community. If you choose to become involved in governance, you might have a great influence over the way rights and responsibilities are defined in your neighborhood.

However, don’t count on being able to make changes to your own property easily if there are clauses in the HOA CC&Rs that initially rub you the wrong way. In some cases, owners require association approval prior to making any changes to the property, whether that be planting a new tree, adding a skylight or changing the color of the front door. 

As you consider making an offer on a home, it’s important to decide whether or not you object to any of the existing regulations. If you feel that the regulations will negatively impact your livability in your new home, it might be better option to look for another house. It can be difficult to be at odds with your HOA and can cause significant ongoing stress. Withholding dues or flaunting existing regulations can have unpleasant legal consequences, even resulting in a lien against your property.

Talk to your trusted real estate professional about any concerns you have about HOAs and what you are looking for in a neighborhood. Your agent can help you navigate the area and offer information about individual neighborhoods to make sure that you find just the right home for you.

 

 

 

Tags: , ,


| Comments off

Pet-Friendly Homes: Some Selling Do’s and Dont’s

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on May 9th, 2018

Pet-Friendly Homes: Some Selling Do's and Dont'sNearly 70 million American households include at least one pet, but most prospective buyers won’t want to see evidence of pets in a home on the market.

Here are some tips about how to sell a pet-friendly home.

Prior To Listing

Point out special pet features to your real estate agent — a cat door, feeding station or a pet shower, even a fenced back yard or a dog run can be a bonus to many buyers. It’s important to remember that buyers want to imagine their pets in the home, not yours! Minimize your pet’s presence by decluttering pet supplies as well as your personal items.

While it is best to downplay non-human residents in a home for sale, some pets are more difficult to camoflage or move out of the way. If you have a bird, an aquarium, or large exotic pets, use your best judgment while keeping the “less is more” philosophy in mind.

If there is any pet damage, it should be repaired before you show the home. If necessary, repaint walls, refinish floors, or replace carpeting. Ask a friend or relative (one without a pet) to give your house a sniff test. If there are any odors, do whatever is necessary to eliminate them. It is not likely enough to try to mask the odors with air freshners in order to make the best impression on potential buyers.

Dealing With Showings

Always arrange for animals to be out of the house when a showing is scheduled. If you can’t be there to pick up a pet, trust a neighbor to take the dog for a walk or herd the cat into a carrier and keep it for a few hours. A barking dog in the back yard is annoying, and even the cutest puppy can intimidate a buyer. Cats, too, are notoriously independent, and not all humans are cat-lovers.

Buyers expect even a house with pets to be kept scrupulously clean. Sweep and vacuum up pet hair as often as necessary. Pick up feeding bowls and toys, and remove cat litter boxes prior to a showing. Polish nose prints off glass and put away the scratching pole. Think of pets and pet items the same as you would personal photographs and other memorbillia that clutters your home. Removing those items helps the buyer see themselves in your home and can increase the likelihood of a sale.

It’s also wise to double check with your insurance company to determine your liability in the event that your pet bites or otherwise injures anyone at your property. 

Before And During Moving

Remember that moving is stressful, not only for you, but for your best friend as well. Speak to your veterinarian in advance about possible symptoms of anxiety such as increased accidents, changes in appetite, aggressive behavior or other personality changes that may occur. If you notice any significant signs of anxiety, seek treatment.

If at all possible, take your pet to see your new home prior to your move. If not, continue to look for signs that your pet is feeling disoriented or anxious. Finding a reliable and trustworthy veternarian near your new home beforehand is a good idea in case your pet is struggling. Take extra care that your pet doesn’t try to “escape” back to the familiar and get lost. 

Selling your home and moving into a new home can be exciting, complicated and stressful events. The same can be true for your pets. With a little bit of extra planning, things can go a lot smoother for your entire family. Contact your real estate professional for even more tips for a successful home selling, home buying and relocating experience.

 

Tags: , ,


| Comments off

« Previous entries Next Page » Next Page »