Buying Your First Home? Learn These 5 Essential Home Maintenance Skills as Soon as PossibleNew homes can be scary. But when you take the time to think about it, and plan ahead, maintaining a home is easier than you think a manageable mix of experience and common sense. Here are five skills that will help maintain your new home for years to come.

Fixing A Toilet

It’s not as daunting as it sounds. Just remember that toilets work with gravity the water wants to flow freely. Don’t be afraid to open that tank up and adjust the floater and valves as needed. Occasionally run the water (flush the toilet, turn on the sink) in unused rooms, like the guest bathroom, to keep the pipes clear and functioning.

Dealing With Animals

Sometimes your animal neighbors invite themselves in. While it’s always better to use professionals if you have a large-scale or persistent pest problem, there are steps you can take to minimize animal visitors before it comes to that. Check for termites by looking for raised, hollow tubes along the wood (tubes filled with bugs). If you have mice, and know how they’re getting in, block their holes with steel wool and set friendly traps ones that capture instead of kill. But make sure to release the captives far from your home.

Electricity and Water Awareness

Know how to shut off your electricity and water, just in case. Find the shut-offs when you first move in. And take the time then to test the breakers and label them, clearly, directly, with permanent marker. That way there is no confusion if one gets tripped.

A Regular Deep Clean

On a regular basis, give your house a deep clean. Scrub the bathrooms, clean the kitchen appliances and floors/walls. Doing this will not only prevent the accumulation of dirt and grime, which could lead to bigger problems later on, but will also give you a chance to do a run-down of your house and see what needs fixing/updating/replacing.

Be Prepared

Gather your home maintenance kit (Home Maintenance for Dummies has examples) before you need it, and keep it up if you use all the nails, replace them. It’s also a good idea to make a maintenance calendar with notes on what needs to be done when this makes it easy for the homeowner, and anyone they need to step in. Finally, in being prepared, don’t forget to maintain your fire and carbon monoxide detectors with regular checks and battery changes (suggested every six months, regardless of battery life). Contact your mortgage professional, who can help you get started on your road to home ownership.

Posted by: cameronlewismortgage | August 23, 2016

Getting to Know the Neighbors: 3 Tips for Building Good Relationships

Getting to Know the Neighbors: 3 Tips for Building Good RelationshipsOne of the factors involved in feeling truly comfortable in your community is the relationships that you’ve been able to establish with the locals in your neighborhood, but it can be hard to know how to nurture a good relationship. Whether you’re moving to a new home soon or are wondering how to make some nearby friends, here are some simple tips for ingratiating the ones that live closest to you.

Offer up Your Favorite Dish

It might seem like a bit of a risk, but one of the best ways to get to know your neighbors is to knock on their door and bring along your favorite treat as an offering. Whether it’s your famed banana bread or your best chocolate chip cookies, simply showing up on the doorstep with treats in hand will ensure your neighbors know that you want to get to know them, and they’ll likely be happy to return the favor down the road!

Throw A Little Party

If you don’t want to go through the trouble of taking treats over to all of your neighbors, you may want to consider throwing a party or backyard barbecue at your home for a more effective means of meeting everyone. By putting flyers around the community, you’ll easily interest other neighbors in your newfound presence on the block. As well, if you don’t want to go through all the planning of a big party, you can also make it a potluck style meal so everyone can share their own dish.

Make A Habit Of Neighborhood Walks

It’s certainly the least complicated of all the other options, but short walks through your neighborhood may also produce the most success in getting to know more about your neighbors. If you have a pet or a child, these tend to be automatic conversation starters, but a simple smile or ‘hello’ will also do the trick in making your face familiar. It also means you’ll get to know people over time and will be able to build a solid relationship.

It can often be hard to know how to integrate into a new community, but a simple smile or knock on the door can mean a lot when it comes to building a friendship with your neighbors. Contact your local mortgage professional for more information.

Posted by: cameronlewismortgage | August 22, 2016

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – August 22, 2016

Last week’s economic news included the NAHB Housing Market Index, Commerce Department releases on housing starts and building permits issued. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also released.

Shortages of available single-family homes have driven up home prices and increased competition among homebuyers; short inventories of homes for sale are affecting affordability in many areas, although buyers seem motivated by lower mortgage rates and some easing of mortgage requirements. Analysts have repeatedly said that the only solution to the shortage of homes is building more homes.

Fortunately, the National Association of Home Builders reported that builder sentiment concerning U.S. housing markets increased in August. The HMI moved up to a reading of 60 in August as compared to July’s reading of 58. Readings over 50 indicate that a majority of builders surveyed are confident about housing market conditions.

According to NAHB, home builders continued to face obstacles including shortages of buildable lots and skilled labor. Regulatory issues were also cited by some builders, but overall, builders remain optimistic about housing market conditions.

Housing Starts Up, Building Permits Issued Slip in July

Commerce Department reading s on housing starts and building permits issued were mixed; housing starts rose from July’s reading of 1.186 million permits issued to 1.211 million permits issued in August. July’s reading was the second highest since the recession but was driven by multi-family construction. Building permits were lower in August with a reading of 1.152 million permits issued against July’s reading of 1.153 million permits issued.

Analysts said that under present market conditions, there is little reason for homebuilders to increase single-family home production as current pricing has put many would-be buyers on the sidelines.

Mortgage Rates Mixed, New Jobless Claims Lower

Freddie Mac reported that average rates for 30-year and 15-year fixed rate mortgages dropped last week while the average rate for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages rose. The average rate for a 30 year fixed rate mortgage was 3.43 percent and the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was 2.74 percent; both readings were two basis points lower than for the prior week. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage was two basis points higher at 2.76 percent. Average discount points held steady for fixed rate mortgages at 0.50 percent; average discount points for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages were lower at 0.40 percent.

New Jobless claims fell by 4000 claims to 262,000 new claims, which was lower than analyst expectations of 265,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 266,000 new claims. Job security is important to home buyers and signs of strong labor markets can help propel would-be buyers into the market,

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic news includes releases on new and existing home sales and consumer sentiment. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will be released on schedule.

Real Estate Investing: How to Find Great Deals on Undeveloped Lots with Big PotentialPurchasing a plot of land can be one of the best investments to make. A landowner has great (but not unlimited) freedom in how to develop their plot, and land never expires so its potential is essentially infinite. That said, buying undeveloped or vacant land can be risky business, so read on to find tips on purchasing a plot.

Do Your Homework: Before You Get Onto The Land

Before anything else happens, figure out your priorities. Decide what you want the land for, what amenities and what location you want, what you’re looking for in terms of neighbors or local government, and, of course, know your budget. More specific questions will arise around taxes, fees,and permits for building, available utilities/water access but, first, just start with your ideal land plot and work backwards (and into reality) from there.

Do Your Due Diligence: On The Land Itself

Once you find a plot that fits your needs on paper, get out onto it. Walk the land with an eye on the topography (any unexpected hills or valleys? Is the ground solid/fertile/arable, depending on what you need?), neighboring properties, size and shape of the plot, and any other element that the walk brings to your senses (smell and hearing as well as sight). Ideally, do this walk in the fall, so there is no foliage hiding your view of the property and what’s around it.

Don’t Despair: It’s Costly, But There Are Deals Out There

Remember that developing the land will incur costs too. Budget for as many foreseeable costs as you can, including a land survey, well/utility installation, legal fees, land clearing, landscaping, road construction and others. That said there are places you can look at for deals on the initial land purchase, including property lots for sale (which are cheaper the farther they are from major cities, road access, and already-connected utilities) or bank-owned plots. For those, you can talk to your real estate agent about asking local banks for lists of their foreclosed properties, which tend to be cheaper as banks look to sell them off.

Don’t Be Afraid To Ask: Reaching Out To Experts

Finally, talk to people. Ask locals about the neighborhood, previous uses of the land, potential surprises (like calm paths that turn into snowmobile trails in the winter). Connect with professionals in the local health department, zoning and building departments, accountancy and other areas of development for in-depth answers to your municipal questions. Let your local mortgage agent be your first point of contact.

Posted by: cameronlewismortgage | August 18, 2016

NAHB: Builder Sentiment Improves in August

Buyer Beware: 4 Common Problems Home Sellers Try to HideAccording to the National Association of Home Builders, August home builder sentiment met analyst expectations and rose by two points to a reading of 60; July’s reading was revised downward to 58. Two out of three components used in calculating the Home Builder Index were higher. Builder sentiment concerning current housing conditions rose two points to 65. Builders were also more confident about housing market conditions within the next six months; August’s reading was one point higher at 56. Builders were less confident about buyer traffic in new housing developments. August’s reading slipped one point to 44.

Any reading above 50 indicates that a majority of builders surveyed were confident in market conditions; readings for buyer traffic have not reached 50 since 2005.

Building More Homes Seen as Solution to Persistent Home Shortage

Shortages of available homes have caused demand for homes to surge in recent months. As demand increases, home prices rise. This thwarts positive conditions including low mortgage rates and recent reports of rebounding job creation. If builder confidence rises, it follows that builders will expand construction, but builders also cited factors including regulatory obstacles, a lack of qualified labor and shortages of land available for development as ongoing concerns.

Regional Confidence Readings Mixed

Regional readings for builder confidence were mixed; builder confidence in the Northeast increased by two points to 41. In the South, builder confidence also rose two points to 63. Builder sentiment in the West was unchanged at 69 while builder sentiment in the Midwest fell two points to 55.

Although growing builder confidence considered positive in light of home shortages, analysts said that single-family housing starts remain well below historical levels.

In related news, NAHB reported that readings for the 55 plus housing market index increased by one point to 57 as compared to the first quarter reading and was unchanged as compared to the second quarter of 2015. As with the general HMI, any reading over 50 indicates that more builders than fewer are confident in market conditions for 55 plus housing markets.

Posted by: cameronlewismortgage | August 17, 2016

3 Things You Must Do after Inheriting a Home

3 Things You Must Do after Inheriting a HomeThere can be a lot of excitement when it comes to the realization that you’ve inherited a home, but simply because it’s an inheritance doesn’t mean there aren’t a few strings attached. Whether you’re expecting to be gifted with a home in the future or you’re currently going through this process, here are a few things you may need to watch out for.

The State Of The Mortgage

Once a home has been effectively handed over to you, it’s important to determine the status of the mortgage with the lender and if anything is still owed. While you have the option of taking over the mortgage in a lot of cases, in the event that there’s a reversible mortgage or you’re choosing to rent it out as a second property, you may not be able to transfer the mortgage. While this can often be a rather seamless process, if money is owed there can be other factors to consider.

Determine If You Want It

If you already have a first home and don’t want to take care of your second property as a rental unit, it’s important to realize that keeping the home may not be the best decision for you. While you have the option of organizing a short sale if you’d like to get it off of your hands, you can also contact a real estate agent who will be able to provide you with advice on how to proceed if you’re unwilling (or unable) to take control of the property.

Is It In Good Condition?

Whether you want to keep the home or not, there can be cases where it’s not even a question if it’s a home that you’re going to end up investing money into without much return. In the situation that a lot of money is owed on the house or there are serious issues with its general condition, you may want to release yourself from the inheritance and move on with your financial situation still intact.

There can be an instant feeling of acquired wealth in the event that you’ve inherited a home, but a home in bad condition or that you don’t want to take care of can end up being more of a headache than anything else. If you’re currently considering your options when it comes to a home inheritance, contact your local mortgage professional for more information.

Posted by: cameronlewismortgage | August 16, 2016

Bi-weekly or Monthly Mortgage Payments – Which is better?

A When you apply for a new mortgage, your lender may ask if you want to set up monthly payments or bi-weekly payments. At one time, monthly payments were common, but bi-weekly payments are increasing in popularity. This is because they break a large expense up into two smaller and seemingly more manageable payments. In addition, you can also make what equates to a full extra payment on the mortgage each year with a bi-weekly payment structure. Before you decide which is best for you, consider a few factors.

Your Personal Budget

Many people may believe that if they get paid every two weeks, a bi-weekly mortgage payment is a better option than a monthly mortgage payment. This is not always the case. You should consider other sources of income and how much your payment is in relation to your paychecks. In addition, consider which part of the month your other regular bills are due. This is critical to establishing the best payment plan for you.

Control Over the Payments

You can still enjoy the benefit of making an extra payment per year with a monthly mortgage payment schedule. For example, you would simply need to pay $100 per month more each payment to realize the same results. When you establish a bi-weekly payment plan, this extra payment is automatic. This may be ideal if you do not think you would stick with paying more per month on your own. However, if you want more control over your monthly payment amount and when you make the extra payment, it may be best to choose a monthly mortgage payment.

The Financial Obligation

The final factor to consider is the financial obligation. When you set up bi-weekly payments, your total amount paid per month will be higher. This means that your total financial obligation will be higher than if you had a monthly payment plan. This financial obligation may impact your ability to qualify for other loans or to achieve other goals.

If you want to pay your mortgage off early, you can choose to make an extra small payment with each monthly payment or set up a bi-weekly payment plan. While each will give you the same overall result over the course of the long term, one option may be preferred for your financial situation. Consider the pros and cons of each option carefully to make a better decision for your financial circumstances.

For more information, contact your trusted mortgage professional today.

Posted by: cameronlewismortgage | August 15, 2016

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – August 15, 2016

Last week’s economic news included reports on job openings, retail sales and recurring reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims. Job openings and hiring increased, which provided further evidence of stronger economic conditions. Retail sales were flat in July, new unemployment claims dropped and mortgage rates changed little.

Labor Reports Suggest Stronger Economic Trends

The Labor Department reported more job openings in June with 5.60 openings as compared to 5.50 million job openings in May. According to the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, 5.13 million workers were hired in June as compared to May’s reading of 5.15 million hires. June’ JOLTS report also showed that voluntary quits were nearly double the rate of quits during the worst part of the recession. Analysts consider quits an indicator of worker confidence in job markets; in times when jobs aren’t easily found, workers are more likely to stay with current jobs rather than risking uncertainties associated with quitting.

New jobless claims were lower with 266,000 new claims filed against the prior week’s reading of 267,000 new claims filed and expectations of 265,000 new claims filed. Last week’s reading continued a long streak of new jobless claims under 300,000 per week. Labor market trends impact housing markets, as prospective homebuyers typically consider job security as a significant factor in decisions to buy homes.

Mortgage Rates Show Little Change

Freddie Mac said that average mortgage rates held near steady readings last week. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose by two points to 3.45 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was also two basis points higher at 2.76 percent and rates for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage averaged 2.74 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for all three loan types reported. Consistently low mortgage rates help to ease concerns caused by rapidly rising home prices caused by short supplies of available homes.

Consumer sentiment fell short of the expected index reading of 91.50 with a reading of 90.40 but surpassed July’s index reading of 90.00. Participants in the University of Michigan Survey cited concerns over increasing prices coupled with slow income growth. Analysts said that consumer participants had grown acclimated to low mortgage rates, which may have offset consumer concerns about stagnant wages and higher prices.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic releases include the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index, Commerce Department Consumer Price Index and Core CPI reports along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

Posted by: cameronlewismortgage | August 12, 2016

Three Proven Ways You Boost Your Credit to Get a Mortgage Approved

These 10 States Have The Biggest Mortgage DebtCredit problems are unfortunately common, and they can make it difficult for you to obtain a mortgage. Even if you are able to obtain a mortgage with your credit issues, the rate may be rather high in comparison to what you may qualify for if you obtain a mortgage without fixing your credit problems. While some issues may take a while to fix, you may be able to see a decent increase in your credit rating when you follow a few easy steps.

Pay Off Outstanding Derogatory Credit Items

When you review a copy of your credit report, you may notice that some items have an outstanding balance due. If the account is in good standing, the outstanding balance is not a primary issue unless you have an excessive amount of debt. If the account is not in good standing, such as if you have a series of late payments or a collection account being reported on the credit report, you can see a boost in your credit rating when you pay off these debts.

Settle Judgments

Legal matters can also be reported on your credit report, and they may be settled or still outstanding. An example of this would be if an electrician serviced your home, and you did not pay the bill. The electrician could file a lien against you. A settled judgment may still be a ding on your credit rating, but it is far better than having an unsettled judgment. If you notice that you have a judgment reported on your credit report, you may consider taking the necessary steps to settle it and get back in good standing.

Pay Off Small Balances

If you can afford to do so, it can improve your credit rating to pay off small balances. A portion of your credit rating will be determined by the number of open accounts and the number of accounts with balances that you have. By focusing on the small balances, you can often see a quick improvement in your credit score. There may also be a benefit to closing these accounts after they have been paid off.

Before you apply for a mortgage, it is wise to request a copy of your credit report. You want to remove any items that you find on the report that do not belong to you. For those derogatory items that are yours, you can follow these steps to help improve your credit rating with fast results.

Posted by: cameronlewismortgage | August 11, 2016

Pocket the Profits: The Secrets to Selling Your Home above the Asking Price

Pocket the Profits: The Secrets to Selling Your Home above the Asking PriceWe all want to sell our homes at above asking price, but what is it that makes a seller succeed at this? Here’s our expert advice on how you can sell your home above the asking price.

Ask For Less

You may be surprised, but pricing your home lower than market value can have an extremely positive effect on the offers you receive. This is because a low-priced listing will stand out and will draw more attention, which boosts your chance of a bidding war.

By attracting more buyers to come and look at your home, you will find more buyers who are willing to make an offer on your property. When they view your home they will see its true market value, and are then more likely to make a higher offer in hopes of outbidding others. It’s all about creating hype, and a low asking price will do just that.

Wait It Out

While it may be tempting to accept the first offer that comes along, in some cases, it may be better to wait and see what other offers come in. If you accept the first offer on your property you have closed the door to competition.

Consider Who You’re Selling To

Is your home better suited towards traditional buyers, or is it a valuable property for investors? If your home could easily be renovated and flipped, has high potential as an income property, or is in an up-and-coming neighborhood, it may be better marketed as an incredible investment property.

Investors expect a return on the money that they spend so are often more willing to make a higher offer – they know those funds will come right back to them.

Rock Your Renos

There are several simple renovations that can add a huge amount of value to your home. The return on investment for a few small upgrades is often very worthwhile when your goal is to receive more than asking price.

Make sure the flooring, kitchen, and bathrooms in your home are updated and appealing, and if not, consider upgrading these areas first. If you’re targeting investors, adding an income suite to your property may be the best investment you can make. Consider which kind of buyer you’re targeting and what areas of your home need the most TLC, and choose accordingly. Speak with your trusted mortgage agent today to learn more.

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