Member Access

Our members area includes access to a number of detailed mortgage program specific calculators. These not only estimate your monthly payment, taxes, and insurance but also can calculate your estimated closing cost to the day of your closing. We also include a host of detailed local market statistics derived directly from local MLS data that is updated daily. If do not find the statistic you are looking for, please let us know and we will do our best to add it to our list. To access the members area please sign up using the form below.

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When Should You Get Prequalified?

If you are starting to look at homes, then your first step should be to get prequalified. Many homebuyers decide to wait until they are more serious about purchasing before they get prequalified. This is usually once they have found a property they are interested in seeing. This can be a costly mistake. Once you are interested in a property, there is very limited time to make improvements or corrections to your credit.

You probably have stellar credit. But as a former affiliate of Wells Fargo, I have seen more than a few clients be disappointed when they had their credit pulled for a mortgage. Many of these were using a credit monitoring service. What most people don’t realize is the algorithm used for a mortgage is more stringent than what is used by credit monitoring services.

You may be concerned about having your credit pulled now and then again when you are ready to purchase. Maybe you think this could lower your score. Credit agencies actually factor in that buyers will shop for a mortgage and might have their credit pulled multiple times. If done within reason, this should have little to no effect on your score.

If you are like most of us, you probably try to save money where you can. So if you try to save on groceries and fuel points, why would you not also do what is advised to save on your mortgage? With minimal effort and a little time, we might be able to help you boost your score to the next threshold. Even lowering your rate by a mere 1/8 or.125% will save you $22 a month on a $300,000 loan. This may not sound like a lot, but every month for 5 years equates to $1,320 and $7,920 over the life of a 30 year mortgage.

You are going to have to do it anyway, and you will need to know what you can borrow. So why not do it now while you still have time to potentially save some money? There could easily be an item that you are unaware of or something that simply needs to be corrected. Stop putting it off. Don’t let procrastination potentially cost you thousands.

Contact us today for a brief no obligation phone consultation with our preferred lender.

Buying a Home with Zero Down

There are several programs still available that allow certain buyers to purchase a home with little to no down payment. These are a great way for some buyers to get into the housing market. However, some buyers feel they should put off owning a home until they can save up for a more substantial down payment. Perhaps you feel it would be better to wait until you can avoid paying mortgage insurance.

The truth is it takes most people a while to save up 20% for a down payment. During this wait time, the home you could have purchased now should appreciate. If a home that cost $300,000 today appreciates at 5% per year in 3 years would cost $347,287. Also as a homeowner, you would be making payments toward your home and your future – not somebody else’s.

No one likes mortgage insurance, but what it does is enable you to get a hedge on inflation. It allows you to purchase at today’s value instead of years down the road. The good thing about mortgage insurance is it goes away once you pay down 20% of your note. You also could consider refinancing once your home appreciates to 20% more than you owe.

The good news is there are some great programs that offer reduced or no mortgage insurance. Stop letting opportunities to invest in your future pass you by, contact us today to see what programs might be available to you.

Comparing Mortgage Quotes

When shopping for a mortgage, you should ask for zero-zero quotes from the lenders you are trying to compare. This means their quote will not include buy down points or origination fees. This is a much easier way to compare who is providing the better quote. Mortgage buy down points and origination fees are mechanisms that lower your mortgage rate by paying upfront interest.

If you try to compare quotes with varying points or origination fees, it can get messy real quick. I’ve seen it confuse even the most seasoned real estate agents. Mortgage companies know this and some try to use it to their advantage making their quote seem better than it really is.

You also want to be sure you are comparing quotes on the same type of loan. It sounds obvious, but a mortgage officer might propose a different type of loan that might also work for you – as they should. But as you evaluate it, remember you are now comparing different mortgage programs. If you want to compare rates, you should obtain the same quote from another lender.

Mortgages can be confusing. If you need help deciphering mortgage quotes or have a question you wanted to ask but… Don’t hesitate to contact me. You should feel confident about your financial decisions. As a former mortgage professional, I am here to help you find clarity.

Deciding to Sell Your Home

Deciding to sell your home or second home can be difficult decision. It is often a process that involves varying emotions. As you work your way through it, you should consider your needs and hopes for selling. What is it that you are hoping to accomplish? Clarifying your motivations will help you attain purpose and have a more successful and enjoyable selling experience.

Your motivations 

Has your family outgrown your current home? Do you want your kids in a better school district? Did your neighborhood not mature as you had hoped? Do you need a shorter commute? Are you moving to another city or state? Did your financial position recently change?

While your need to sell might seem evident, if you think about it you may have additional underlying motivations as well. These are also important to discuss with your agent. The better we understand what is driving your decision the better we can help you achieve your goals. It is also important to consider the impact this decision will have on your lifestyle and your future.

Your Finances

You also will need to consider you current financial situation. What impact will selling and potentially purchasing another home have on financial security and future goals? We provide an upfront and detailed layout of all the cost involved. We also can help you with potential tax and estate planning strategies. Our goal is to not just to help you save money today but also to help you structure your investment for a better tomorrow.

Your Timeline

You also should consider your timeline for selling. Do you have a contingency contract on a home you are purchasing? Do you need to sell quickly or are waiting for that perfect offer? We can review the current market conditions to help you decide when would be the most appropriate time for you to sell. We can also discuss the financial implications of moving up or down in the same market and how future market conditions and rates could be more or less favorable.

Market Trends

We provide the most accurate and up to date information available to help you make an informed decision regarding when to sell. While it is true that no one has a crystal ball, we do everything possible to help you take the stay in front of national and local trends. This way you can take the out guesswork out of the equation and know when to sell with confidence.

If you have questions regarding the future sale of your home, please contact us.

Deciding on a Price for Your Home

Deciding where to price your home is a more difficult decision than most sellers think, and it is not one that you should take lightly. If you price you home too high it will probably stay on the market longer than it should. Some sellers think this is okay because they are in no rush to sell their home. Everyone wants to sell their home for the most that they can. However, the best price is not solely determined by the initial list price.

Many studies have shown homes that sit on the market often sell for less. In today’s market, a buyer can easily see price changes and how many days your home has been on the market. Homes that sit on the market too long are less attractive because of buyer perception. There must be something wrong with it. They must be asking too much.  It is simply human nature to question things that others pass up on.

The longer your home sits on the market, the lower the chances of you getting a respectable offer. Buyer activity usually peaks within the first 60 days, and with no change tends to further diminish every 30 days thereafter. Most experts agree for the best price, you should try to price your home to sell within the first 100 days.

It is also important to remember buyers do not have the same emotional attachment to your home as you do. They are indifferent to any sentimental value you have for your home. Some sellers fall into the trap of overestimating the value of their property because of how they feel about it. A professional can help you see your home through the eyes of a potential buyer and help you set a fair and objective price for your home.

You also need accurate data. You should be very wary of some of the popular national real estate websites. The information they provide is often inaccurate. Their valuations are often based on what homes in the area list for. They also use comparable properties that a licensed appraiser or real estate agent might negate. You need verified data from the most comparable homes to the one you want to sell.

Your pricing decision should also be based on what comparable homes actually sold for. Basing you price solely on what other sellers are asking can set an unrealistic expectation. It also can noticeably diminish your marketing efforts. The old adage is the home that sells for the best price is the one that gets shown regularly.

One last thing to consider is the strategy for defending your price. Does your home or property offer additional value in comparison to other homes on the market? Is your home priced well enough to give the perception of continued buyer traffic? Your agent can offer guidance on what strategies might best suit your property and needs.

If you have questions about pricing or would like to learn more about how to maximize the proceeds from the sale of your home, please contact us.

What Does a Prequalified Buyer Really Mean?

If you own a home, then you probably have been through this process, but what does a prequalified buyer actually mean for a seller? A prequalification is a basic screening for a potential borrower. It is not a formal mortgage application. However, it can help rule out some would be buyers who cannot purchase your home due to their credit, income, or debt.

A prequalified buyer means a licensed mortgage officer has reviewed the borrower’s credit for red flags and verified the borrower has met minimum score requirements. They also use the debt listed on the borrower’s credit report and annual income to determine if they meet the established debt ratios for a specific mortgage program, rate, and terms. These are what determine how much they can potentially borrow.

A prequalification is great first step, but it is no guarantee. Sometimes a borrower might initially include overtime or other income that a lender will not count. Sometimes they do not provide a full disclosure because they do not understand why a certain detail is relevant. The mortgage officer or underwriter might uncover a concern during the more formal mortgage application that did not come up at prequalification.

As a seller, things can happen that are out of you or your agent’s control. That said, requiring a prequalification letter from a reputable lender is a good way to gauge a borrower’s ability to close the loan. If you are considering a cash deal, you should obtain a verification of funds.

If you have a question regarding a prospective buyer’s ability to close or other questions about selling your home, please contact us.

Hiring a Home Inspector

If you unsure about the condition of part or all your property, you might want to consider hiring a home inspector or appropriate professional to check for any necessary repairs. These might include HVAC, plumbing, roof, septic, well, foundation, pool, ect. Even if it is something you do not want to fix it, you can disclose to would be buyers.

Most buyers are going to require an inspection as part of the contract. Most of the companies who perform these inspections are extremely thorough. If something has gone bad or is on its way out, chances are they are going to find it. Remember you are also required by law to disclose certain conditions of the property as outlined in the seller disclosures.

If their home inspector finds an issue you could or should have been aware of, it may plant a seed of doubt in a buyer’s mind. Nothing is worse than looking like you may have tried to hide something. I wonder what else they are not telling us. If they didn’t take care of ______ what other maintenance should we be worried about? An undisclosed issue might also give a buyer an easy out of the contract if they were already looking for one.

Not all repairs and upgrades offer the same perceived value to a potential buyer. In some cases, it might be better to offer a seller credit or concession. If you want to know what your options are for a prospective repair or upgrade, please contact us.

Preparing Your Home to Sell

If you want to sell your home for top dollar, there are a few things you can do to improve your chances. Some sellers believe prospective buyers should be able to look past minor repairs or even an unkept home. In a way, they do have point. Prospective buyers are looking a used home.

However, most buyers want to purchase a home they feel has been well cared for. Think about what other products you might consider purchasing pre-owned or refurbished. Would you buy a car that is dirty and in need of maintenance? Would you buy a refurbished phone with a scratched screen?

Maybe you would … if what? If it was a good deal, right? Selling your home is no different. The homes that sell for most are typically the ones that look the best. These a few simple and inexpensive steps you can take to increase your chances of getting the most for your home.

Curb Appeal

This is your opportunity to make a good first impression on would be buyers. Take a moment to assess your home’s curb appeal. Does your porch or entry way need a touchup or repainting? Perhaps your landscaping could use some updating. Fresh mulch and flowers can go a long way.

Try to remove any eye sores from your yard. If it does not look good to you, it probably does not appeal to many buyers either. Also do not forget about the backyard. It is one of the last places buyers look, but it can a great place to make a lasting impression.

Repairs

You should also consider small upgrades and repairs. Simple things such as paint touchups, window treatments, or replacing worn out hardware can make significant difference in the overall appeal of your home. If buyers see your attention the little things, it leaves the impression that your home has been well cared for.  Many buyers will discount or even exclude homes they feel should have done more.

For more costly upgrades or repairs, you should consult with a professional. Some repairs and upgrades add more value than others. You probably do not want to make an upgrade that cost $5,000 if it only adds $3,500 of value to your home. In such case, a seller credit or concession might be more appropriate.

Staging and Cleanliness

There is no secret as to why model homes look immaculate. It helps the builder sell more homes. For people who live in the home they are trying to sell, this might seem unrealistic. But you should do your very best to keep your home clean and especially clutter free. Try to pay attention to the details because your equity may depend on it.

Take the time to clear the kitchen countertops. Clean up any dog/hair and make sure there are no unwanted smells. The kid’s rooms should be picked up. The garage should be organized. You could also put out some flower or light a scented candle.

You are probably proud of your family. But it you have a more than a few pictures of them, you might want to store some of them while you are trying to sell. Seeing your pictures will only remind prospective buyers whose home this is. Instead we want them to visualize your home as their own.

It is also advised that you are not present during showings. This will help buyers feel more comfortable discussing your home with their agent. If you do happen to see a prospective buyer in passing, try to be polite but do not get drawn into answering questions. Simply ask them to refer any questions to your agent.

If you have more questions about how to get the most for your home, please contact us.

Prepaid Taxes and Homeowners Insurance

If you intend to finance your next home, you will be required to pay homeowner’s insurance as part of your mortgage note. You will select the insurance company and the policy details prior to closing. You will pay your lender the monthly premium, and they will pay your insurance company. You probably will also be required to escrow one year of premiums in advance.

They do this to ensure their interests are always protected and your policy never lapses. You can at a later date change policies or even insurance companies, but you will need to coordinate it with your lender. Also when you decide to sell your home, your mortgage servicer is required to pay you back what you have in escrow. If you put down enough of a down payment, some lenders may not require your homeowners insurance to be a part of your note. However, they probably will require proof that your property is insured.

Property taxes are usually paid in arrears and are due in December depending on the county. The current tax bill will be prorated to the day of closing. You will be required to pay from closing until the end of the fiscal year. If your down payment is less than 20% your property taxes will be collected as part of your note. You will also be required to escrow one year of property taxes at closing. Lenders require this to protect their interests by ensuring your property taxes are paid.

In some cases, a portion or all of your prepaid taxes and/or insurance can be paid for you as a part of a seller concession. This would need to be negotiated in the sales contract. If you choose this route, it is very important to get accurate figures because any money not used for seller concessions goes back to the seller. You do not want to leave money on the closing table.

If you have questions about property taxes or just want to know what is reasonable to pay for insurance in the area, please contact us. We also can help negotiate and properly structure seller concessions that lower your upfront cost.