Archive for April, 2021

Boosting Your Credit Score To Qualify For Better Rates

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on April 30th, 2021

Boosting Your Credit Score To Qualify For Better Rates

The better your credit score, the better the mortgage interest rate for which you should qualify. That can mean thousands of dollars saved over the life of the mortgage. If your credit score needs improving, get started prior to your search for a new home.

Pay Bills On Time
The simplest way to boost your credit score is by ensuring your bills are always paid on time. Nothing harms a credit score more than late payments.

Check for Credit Report Errors
Check your credit reports for any errors. These issues are not uncommon, and can really impact your score. Each of the three major credit card reporting bureaus –Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion –will provide you with a free annual report.

Credit Utilization Rate
Look into your credit utilization, or CU, rate. The CU rate is another big credit score consideration. Your CU rate is the amount of credit authorized versus the amount you use. It’s one reason maxing out your credit cards is not a wise move.

Never allow your CU rate to exceed more than 30 percent of your available credit. In simple terms if you have $1,000 in available credit, never use more than $300. High CU rates are a red flag, as they indicate someone with potential financial problems. For best results, keep your CU rate as low as you can.
Calculate your CU rate by adding up the credit limits on all cards, as well as the balances. Divide the total balances by the total credit limit, then multiply by 100. That amount is your CU rate percentage.

Reduce Your Debt
If you carry credit card debt, pay it down as much as possible. That also helps lower your CU rate.

Avoid Opening New Credit Card Accounts
Do not open new credit card accounts while trying to boost your credit score.   A new account lowers the age of your accounts, affecting your credit history and lowering the CU rate.

Do Not Close Unused Credit Card Accounts
Do you have credit cards you never use? You might think closing them would boost your credit score, but that is not how it works. When you close the account, the amount of credit you have drops. That triggers a CU rate increase.

Refinancing Credit Card Debt
If you have substantial credit card debt, consider refinancing all of it with a personal loan. You should receive a lower interest rate with your balances now merged into a single monthly payment. This also causes your CU rate to go down.

How Long Will It Take?
How long it will take to improve your credit score depends on the severity of your credit problems. Those with serious credit issues may find it takes years to raise their scores significantly, but most people should see improvement within a few months. Then it is time to think about mortgage shopping!

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Do You Need a Real Estate Attorney to Help Close Your Home Purchase? Let’s Take a Look

Posted in Home Buyer Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on April 29th, 2021

Do You Need a Real Estate Attorney to Help Close Your Home Purchase? Let's Take a LookWhen buying a new home, you may have a close eye focused on your budget and expenses, and your goal may be to keep related expenses to a minimum. However, you may also be well aware that a real estate purchase is a legal transaction, and you may be wondering if you need to pay for legal services from a real estate attorney. With a closer look, you can make a better decision that is right for your home buying plans.

The Legal Forms Used With A Typical Transaction

The majority of real estate contracts will be written using standard legal forms. These are legally binding forms with clauses that protect buyers and sellers alike. While they are standard forms, you do want to read the forms in their entirety and understand your obligations before signing the contract. Keep in mind that you are not required to use these forms, and you can request an attorney to prepare a separate contract for you. However, these are commonly used forms that real estate agents typically will use.

The Services Of A Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent is not a legal professional, and your agent likely will not be licensed to practice law in the state. However, the agent can explain your obligations with a standard contract so that you have a better understanding about what you are committed to. Your real estate agent may refer you to a real estate attorney if you require a special contract to be drawn up or if you are not comfortable with different clauses in the standard forms.

When Special Situations Arise

The standard real estate contracts will typically be feasible for use with most transactions, but there are special situations that may arise from time to time. For example, you may only want to purchase a portion of a large estate. While the seller would need to subdivided, your attorney would need to review special documents to ensure the transaction is legal. Perhaps you want to purchase real estate in a corporation or under another entity, or you want to protect your rights when purchasing property with a partner who you are not legally married to.

While real estate agents are not legal professionals, they are able to prepare standard contract forms for you and explain them to you. Because of this, many people will not need to pay for additional legal services, but each situation is unique. When you speak with your trusted mortgage professional about your upcoming purchase, he or she can help you to learn more about services an attorney may provide that your real estate agent may not be able to.

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Buying a Home? What to Do if Problems Are Found During the Final Home Inspection

Posted in Home Buyer Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on April 28th, 2021

Buying a Home? What to Do if Problems Are Found During the Final Home InspectionAs a home buyer, you may go through a number of different steps to ensure that the property that you purchase is in great condition. For example, you may complete an initial walk-through or even several home tours before you make an offer. You may also order a property inspection and even negotiate for the seller to make some repairs on your behalf.

A day or two before your closing date, you may set up a final home inspection to ensure that the home is still in the same condition as the initial walk-through. In most cases, there will be no problems with the final inspection. However, in the event that there is a problem with the final inspection, you will need to know how to handle it.

Work With Your Real Estate Agent

As a first step, you should discuss the issues with your real estate agent. Your real estate agent may have some strategies or ideas that can be used to help you overcome the issue in the best possible way. Minor issues may be resolved with a last minute negotiation to the sales contract. More significant issues may need to be rectified prior to closing, and you may need to delay the closing by a few days or longer until any issues are resolved.

Consider Walking Away

It may be rare for a property to have issues during the final home inspection, and most issues that do arise at this late stage in the buying process may be resolved through negotiations between the buyer and seller. However, in the event that the seller plays hardball and refuses to work with you to resolve the matter, or in the event that the issue is so significant that you are not comfortable with it, it may be an option to walk away from the property.

In most sales contracts, wording is present that requires the property to be delivered to the buyer in the same condition as it was when the contract was signed less general wear and tear. Walking away may not be ideal, but it may be the best option in some cases.

Making a final home inspection is not a requirement, but it is advisable. It can ensure that the home your purchase is in the same condition as it was when you did the initial walk-through, and you can apply these tips if you discover that the home is not in the same condition.

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Buying in a Sellers Market

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on April 27th, 2021

Buying in a Sellers MarketHome buying is often made possible or unreachable due to the local and national economy. Fortunately, what goes up, must come down. So, for buyers who can wait, economic changes in supply and demand can create opportunities. These shifts in real estate are known as buyer’s markets and seller’s markets. 

The seller’s market specifically tends to be the harder one for homebuyers. In short, sellers see a lot of demand, so they can command higher prices for a sale. Things are competitive, sell fast, and inventory is low. 

For buyers, it’s a headache, but there are ways of handling the challenge.

Understand Your Local Market Better

Many people might throw out the statement locally, “Oh good luck, it’s a seller’s market,” but that’s not necessarily the case until you can confirm it objectively. It may be that certain neighborhoods have high demand, but overall regional inventory is available. 

Understanding your local market as a whole and by neighborhood gives a buyer a far better idea of what’s really going on and how to compare homes in different locations.

When Making an Offer, Go With Your Best Offer First

The worst that can happen is someone responds “no.” You didn’t really lose anything with a rejected offer. However, if they accept your offer as-is, then you may have scored a better deal than trying to hedge and bargain down after the fact. Negotiation can be more difficult in a seller’s market, and sellers can be quite motivated to drop a negotiation the instant a second buyer becomes available.

Be Prepared to Move Quick and Bid Fast

Sellers’ markets go fast. Bids are taken in a day and a sale happens the next day or by that evening. If going out to buy, you need to be ready to make an offer on-site. That means also having your pre-approval for financing squared away and having enough liquid assets to cover the down payment along with enough cash to cover closing fees as well. If you’re not wired up already, you will lose sales waiting for your financing prep to get taken care of.

Have Cash, Will Talk

Buyers who are able to show they have the cash to purchase make the process go much more smoothly. Sellers are far more interested in parties who can show they are a firm sale versus those with financing approval still pending. 

Known as earnest money, a deposit placed on a home with larger than the minimum amount will get attention and commitment faster than someone with a nice bid but waiting for financing approval, thereby delaying the seller.

Anticipate Non-Cash Sweeteners

Sellers often have interests or desires to meet when letting go of a home. A buyer who can fathom what these are can improve a buying position considerably.

In some cases, it might be as simple as agreeing to additional time for a seller to move out. 

In other cases, the seller might have an attachment to the home that they want to keep protected versus seeing it destroyed by a new seller. 

Finding these things out can help a buyer make commitments in a sale that make it better for the seller and for the buyer versus other bids.

Sellers’ markets are hard, but there are ways around the challenge and getting into a home you want. By being flexible, creative, and ready you stand a better chance than bidders with half a heart in but one foot still hanging out.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – April 26, 2021

Posted in Financial Reports by Michigan Real Estate Expert on April 26th, 2021

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - April 26, 2021Last week’s scheduled economic news included readings on sales of new and previously-owned homes and weekly reports on jobless claims and mortgage rates.

March Sales of  Previously-owned Homes Dip; New Home Sales Rise

Sales of single-family homes fell in March as demand for homes exceeded availability. 6.01 million previously-owned homes were sold in March on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis; analysts expected a pace of 6.11 million sales based on February’s reading of 6.24 million sales of existing homes. The March reading for sales of pre-owned homes was 3.70 percent lower year-over-year and was the lowest sales pace reported since August 2020.

High demand for homes coupled with low inventories of available homes constricted sales. Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the National Association of Realtors® said, “Sales for March would have been measurably higher had there been more inventory.” Mr. Yun also addressed affordability concerns arising from lean inventories of homes and high demand. “Without an increase in supply, the society’s wealth division will widen with homeowners enjoying sizable equity gains while renters will struggle to become homeowners.” 

The average price of a single-family home in the U.S. rose to $329,100 in March, which indicates year-over-year growth of 17.20 percent in home prices. While a six-month supply of homes for sale indicates an average inventory, the March inventory of homes for sale rose to a 2.10-month supply from February’s 2.0- month inventory of homes for sale.

Shortages of existing homes for sale boosted March sales of new homes, which sold at a seasonally-adjusted annual pace of 1.02 million sales. Analysts expected 888,000 new homes to be sold year-over-year in March based on February’s sales pace of 846,000 new homes sold. Rapidly rising materials costs created obstacles for builders and limited their ability to meet the need for affordable homes, but they raced to meet the ongoing demand for homes.

Mortgage Rates Mixed; Jobless Claims Fall

Average mortgage rates fell below three percent last week; the rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages dropped by seven basis points to 2.97 percent. Rates for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 2.29 percent and were six basis points lower. Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages rose by three basis points to an average rate of 2.83 percent.

Jobless claims were lower last week with 547,000 new claims filed; analysts expected 603,000 initial claims filed. 586,000 first-time claims were filed in the prior week. Claims were also lower for ongoing claims filed. 3.67 million continuing jobless claims were filed as compared to 3.67 million continuing claims filed in the prior week.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include readings from Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, data on pending home sales, and the University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims will also be published.

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Home Buying Horror Stories: How Buying a Home Can Go Wrong – and How to Avoid These Mistakes

Posted in Home Buyer Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on April 23rd, 2021

Home Buying Horror Stories: How Buying a Home Can Go Wrong - and How to Avoid These MistakesWhen you buy a home, you may have dreams of settling into a beautiful new space that meets your needs and that your family can feel comfortable in. While many will enjoy this vision of domestic tranquility after taking ownership of their dream home, others have had their dream turn into a veritable nightmare due to some simple mistakes or oversights on their part. By understanding these mistakes, you can avoid making them yourself.

Paying Too Much For The Property

One the surface, the main cost of buying a home relates to the sales price, and it is true that your monthly housing payment may be the primary related expense. However, other expenses such as homeowners insurance, property taxes, repair and maintenance costs, utilities and more will all need to be factored into the cost of home ownership. Some buyers believe that because an online calculator or a lending professional tells them that they can afford a high priced home that it is the case. You can review your budget and estimate all related home expenses to determine how affordable a specific property is for you.

Finding Out That The Location Is Undesirable

There are many things that can make a location undesirable, and you should take time to become comfortable with the location before making an offer. Consider, for example, if the neighbors like to throw loud parties on the weekend or if there is a teen driver that likes to speed down the street. If you are buying a property with open land or vacant buildings around it, consider researching zoning, and think about future uses for these properties that could influence value and desire.

Discovering That Your Property Is In Bad Condition

Some home buyers discover after purchasing a property that it is not in the best condition, and some even learn that their home needs tens of thousands of dollars of repair work or more. Even properties that appear to be in great condition on the surface may have hidden issues with the foundation, structure, roof, pipes or electrical work, to name a few. You can order a property inspection to learn more about the true condition of a property.

These are among the most common issues that can turn a dream home into a nightmare. When you work with a local real estate agent when buying a home, your agent can help you to avoid unpleasant and costly mistakes such as these.

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The Three Essential Habits That Successful Home Buyers Must Embrace

Posted in Home Buyer Tips,Mortgage by Michigan Real Estate Expert on April 22nd, 2021

The Three Essential Habits That Successful Home Buyers Must EmbraceWhether you are preparing to purchase your first home or it has been many years since you last walked through the home buying process, you may be starting to feel overwhelmed at the thought of all of the work that lies in front of you. From concerns about finding the right home to the physical act of relocating all of your belongings after the closing, there is certainly a lot to think about. While each home buying transaction is unique, the most successful home buyers have typically adopted a few behaviors. You may keep these in mind to help you navigate through the process with success.

Keep An Eye On Your Budget

Financial stress when buying a home is common. You may have saved for years to afford your down payment, but there are various expenses that some may have not calculated or planned for. It is important to leave extra funds available for unexpected expenses, such as paying for the appraisal up-front on the home you have fallen in love with. Likewise, keep a close eye on your budget so that you are aware of your financial situation at all times.

Be Available And Flexible

It is imperative that you remain available and flexible as much as possible. Your real estate agent may call you at the last minute with a great new listing that has come on the market, and you may need to be flexible with your schedule to see this property before other buyers do. In addition, you may need to be flexible and accommodating with regards to contract negotiations, working with title company requests and more.

Seek Advice And Knowledge

Buying a home does not have to be stressful, but it also is not something that you do every day. There is a lot for even an experienced home buyer to learn, and you should be prepared to seek advice and to educate yourself along the way. Ask questions as necessary, and use the Internet for additional research.

Home buying is a process, and you may consider taking one day at a time as you proceed through the journey to reach your ultimate goal. A skilled real estate agent can guide you through the process and can help you to more successfully reach your goal. Reach out to a real estate agent today to begin looking for your new home.

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VA vs FHA vs USDA What’s the Difference?

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on April 21st, 2021

VA vs FHA vs USDA What's the Difference?You may have more options than you think when it comes to securing a mortgage for your new home. While many buyers opt for conventional financing, another option or program might be a better choice for you, depending on your personal and financial situation. Learning more about FHA, USDA, and VA loans ensures you get the best possible deal for your mortgage and that you secure the loan that you need for your new home. Here’s what you need to know about these useful mortgage options.

FHA Loans
These are traditional mortgages that are backed by the FHA: when you take out an FHA loan, this government agency is insuring the loan. This makes your loan more appealing to lenders who might otherwise feel your credit or income history is not strong enough. An FHA loan is available to a wide range of buyers and price points and offers a low-down payment, reasonable interest, and other perks that make it worth exploring for your next mortgage. 

VA Loans
If you are a veteran then this program, which offers loans insured by the VA, is a great option for you as they do not require money down so you can buy immediately, rather than saving for years for a down payment. The VA loan is available to those who have served or are serving in the armed forces and is a good option to help you get the home you want with no money down, unlike a conventional mortgage loan.

USDA Loans
One of the most useful and often overlooked loan programs is from the USDA. While this government office offers direct loans, far more people qualify for their insured loan programs. USDA loans are for rural areas, but a surprising number of suburban communities and locations qualify as well. With a low-down payment and interest, this subsidized loan program is well worth it if you plan to live in a rural or suburban area. 

Not every borrower will qualify for the mortgage options above; the USDA has guidelines on income and the home you are interested in. The FHA does not have income requirements, but you will need to prove your income and this option also has a loan limit.  If you do meet the guidelines of any of the above programs, they can help you access the home you want by dramatically reducing your upfront and deposit costs. 

The right loan for you will depend on your income, credit, and the home you’ve selected. Your agent can help you find the home that suits the program you want and make it easy for you to secure the financing you qualify for. Get in touch today to talk about your home buying options and see which loan option is right for you. 

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Looking at Home Mortgage Refinancing in 2021

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on April 20th, 2021

Looking at Home Mortgage Refinancing in 2021In 2019 many people expected that the home lending market was going to eventually grow more expensive. Instead, 2020 spent its entire 12 months becoming more affordable when it came to financing a personal home, moving in the opposite direction of what was expected. Not only did the loan cost drop break previous records, but it also presented an additional opportunity for homeowners to reposition and take advantage of lower borrowing costs again.

The General Advantages of a Home Loan Refinance

The refinancing of a mortgage has traditionally been three-fold. First, it is a chance to renegotiate the loan on a home purchase for a lower interest rate, which means more of the borrower’s payment goes to the loan and less to an interest charge. Second, it gives people an option to change the interest rate charged to a shorter payment period, which can also save considerable money. A borrower will pay dozens of thousands less on a 15-year loan versus a 30-year mortgage. Finally, refinancing allows a borrower to tap into home equity to use that cash value to consolidate debt, pay for other big costs, or make renovations to the home without paying out of pocket for them.

Why 2021 Provides a Good Window

By the time 2020 ended, mortgage rates overall were running at all time lows on a conventional 30-year fixed mortgage, an amazing opportunity for the cost of borrowing and probably the lowest possible in 50 years. The dip won’t last forever, as many people have been trying to project, and eventually what goes down also goes back up. Some amount of rising rates is a firm prediction from the National Association of Realtors® for 2021 which has already occurred, and that loan interest rate cost is expected to eventually go somewhat higher by the end of the year if the economy speeds up again. So, the 2021 window for a valuable refinancing opportunity is clearly the beginning half of the year.

Comparing Current Status to “What If”

Obviously, just chasing a mortgage refinance for minimal gain is silly. The amount paid in closing costs can be expensive. However, when the shift can easily be a percentage point difference or more, then it is worth considering. Many people locked in homes at higher rates in the past and are still paying that amount, especially on an adjustable-rate mortgage. Grabbing a fixed mortgage refinance in the current rate environment is definitely worth the work and time, potentially paying for itself in a handful of years or by consolidating higher cost debt into the home loan.

There is no perfect formula that applies to everyone, but 2021 has already shaped up to be the year that the majority of homeowners can definitely benefit from, especially given the need for financial reserves and a bit of personal finance reorganization after 2020.  As always, consult with your professional mortgage advisor for details on your personal situation.

 

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – April 19, 2021

Posted in Financial Reports by Michigan Real Estate Expert on April 19th, 2021

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - April 19, 2021Last week’s economic news included readings from the National Association of Home Builders on housing markets along with Commerce Department readings on housing starts and building permits issued.  Fed Chair Jerome Powell appeared on 60 Minutes. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims were also released.

NAHB: Homebuilder Confidence Ticks Up

The National Association of Home Builders reported that home builders’ confidence in housing market conditions rose one point to an index reading of 83. Builder confidence readings over 50 indicate that most builders consider housing market conditions as positive.

Component readings used for the NAHB Housing Market Index were varied. Builder confidence in current market conditions rose one point to 88 and home builders’ confidence in housing markets over the next six months fell two points to 83. The index reading for home buyer traffic in new housing developments rose three points to 75. Homebuilders faced ongoing challenges including supply chain problems, rising materials prices, and meeting the need for affordable homes.

In related news, the Commerce Department reported a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 1.74 million housing starts in March. 1.77 million building permits were issued at a seasonally adjusted annual pace in March.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported lower average mortgage rates last week as the rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages dropped by nine basis points to 3.04 percent; rates for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages dropped by seven basis points to 2.35 percent. Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged 2.80 percent and were 12 basis points lower. Discount points for fixed-rate mortgages averaged 0.70 percent for fixed-rate mortgages and  0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

New jobless claims fell to 576,000 claims filed last week as compared to 769,000 initial claims filed the previous week. Ongoing jobless claims were unchanged from the prior week at 3.73 million claims filed.

The Commerce Department released inflation data for March. The Consumer Price Index rose by 0.60 percent as compared to February’s growth rate of 0.40 percent; analysts expected a March reading of 0.50 percent. Core inflation, which excludes volatile food and fuel sectors rose 0.30 percent in March and exceeded expectations of 0.20 percent growth. Core inflation rose by 0.10 percent in February.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell appeared on 60 Minutes on Sunday; he said that that the global economy would not return to normal until the COVID pandemic is controlled, but he presented a brighter picture for the U.S. economy. He said that the national economy is expected to grow between six to seven percent and that the national unemployment rate could fall to four or five percent from its current rate of six percent.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic news includes readings on readings on sales of new and previously-owned homes and weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims.

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