Home Equity Tips: 3 Upgrades That Will Make Your House Worth More When You SellIt’s likely that your house is your biggest asset, so when it comes time to sell it you’ll want to do everything you can to maximize your profit. Good news the value of your home isn’t solely determined by the market, there are several ways in which you can increase its value by making upgrades before listing.

Let’s take a look at 3 top upgrades that will make your house worth more when you sell.

1. Make It Profitable

Not surprisingly, the number one way in which you can increase the value of your home is to add an income suite within the property. If your home has potential to earn buyers’ money it will inevitably be more valuable than a property that doesn’t have any potential cash flow for the owner. Whether it’s a basement suite or a floor that’s been made into a separate unit, income units are a huge bonus for buyers. Making money while paying off their home would be a dream come true for most people, and it’s a dream that buyers are willing to pay a high price for.

2. Kitchen Is Key

Kitchens are often the first area to become dated or worn out within a home, and they’re the most important part of the house when it comes to valuation. Make sure that your cabinets and countertops are updated before selling, and modernize the design with neutral fixtures that are current yet adaptable to many tastes. Having a fresh kitchen shows both function and fashion to buyers. After all, no one wants to see rusty old appliances and dingy lights when walking into the focal point of a home.

3. Beautify The Bathrooms

Besides the kitchen, bathrooms are the second most important aspect of a home when it comes to valuation. Having multiple bathrooms within a home automatically increases its value significantly, especially if at least two have at least three pieces within them, containing at least a sink, toilet, and either a shower or bath. Ensuring that your bathrooms are leak-free, look meticulously clean, and have a modern design is a fantastic way to make sure that buyers will be impressed during an open house.

Bonus tip: if installing a new toilet, consider purchasing one that is eco-friendly with dual-flush options. As people become more and more environmentally conscious, fixtures such as these will cater to a broad spectrum of lifestyle values.

If you’re ready to prepare your home for sale and are looking for more ways in which you can maximize its market value, contact your local mortgage professional today.

Posted by: cameronlewismortgage | December 8, 2016

5 Ways That a Mortgage Can Be a Huge Benefit to Your Financial Future

5 Ways That a Mortgage Can Be a Huge Benefit to Your Financial FutureFor many people, investing in a house is one of the most important purchases they will make in their lifetime. However, alongside having the comfort of your own home, there are many financial benefits associated with buying in. If you’re currently perusing the market for opportunities, here are some reasons to consider investing a little sooner.

Get Away From Inflation

If you have an adjustable-rate mortgage, your interest rates will certainly fluctuate from time to time, but owning a home actually allows you to guard against the reality of inflation, which can be a significant burden as a renter. While the price of housing and apartment rentals can rise considerably with inflation, your monthly mortgage cost will be relatively fixed.

Hold On To More Of Your Money

Renting may be an easier financial obligation than home ownership, but the money you invest into a home each month contributes to your equity, and this is a benefit for your financial future. While rent money will be gone when the month is over, equity provides a consistent means of building wealth.

Buy At A Lower Price

The cost of home ownership may vary around the country, and while it’s certainly climbing in many urban centers, home prices are lower overall. This means that, instead of having to scrounge for a down payment, you’ll be able to invest a little less and maintain a better bank balance.

Cue The Tax Breaks

Many people hold off on home ownership because of the costs of property tax and maintenance, but there are financial boons outside of the money you invest. When tax time comes, you can receive tax deductions for costs like mortgage interest, property taxes and even private mortgage insurance that make buying in a little easier to bear.

Own A Rental Property

Whether you are a first-time buyer or you’ve delved into the market before, having a home in an up-and-coming neighborhood can also be an option, as this will enable you to rent it out and reap the financial rewards. While this may be a more feasible option later on in life, it can be a means of substantial additional income.

Many people hold off on owning a home because of all the associated costs, but it can be of benefit to buy into the market earlier to reap the financial rewards. If you are currently considering home ownership, contact one of our mortgage professionals for more information.

3 Simple Tips for Boosting Your FICO Credit Score Before Applying for a MortgageThere are a variety of factors that are involved in getting your mortgage approved, but few things will have more of an impact than your FICO score and the credit history that goes along with it. Instead of leaving your score up to chance when submitting your application, here are a few ways that you can boost your financial wellbeing and leave your credit score better off than it was before.

Put More On Your Card

It’s important to put purchases on your credit card that you can afford to pay off consistently, but many people are not aware that how much debt you owe can actually positively contribute to your credit score. While it’s good to use up to 30% of your available debt load, a significantly higher percentage than this can be a signal to lenders that you are experiencing financial difficulties. By putting everyday items on credit, it will be easier to give your score an instant boost.

Clear Your Credit History

Many people who think they have bad credit are too afraid to even review it, but it’s very important to take a look at your credit history when it comes to taking control of your finances and your FICO score. If there happens to be incorrect information on your credit report, this will enable you to contact the appropriate lenders and dispute the charges so they can be corrected prior to your mortgage application. It may not seem significant, but this can actually have a marked impact on the outcome of your application.

Make Your Payments On Time

It’s often the case that those who are struggling with debt may push away the bills altogether and give up on the minimum payment, but it’s very important that the minimum is made to keep your financial health in check. It may take a few months to see the results of putting down this amount before the due date, but it will improve your credit over time and forge good habits for the future.

Your credit score is an important aspect of determining your financial health for lenders, and this means that your credit history is of significant importance when it comes to your mortgage. Instead of leaving it up to chance, ensure that you’re making the minimum payments and correct any discrepancies in your credit report. If you’re currently in the market for a home and are considering your options, contact one of our mortgage professionals for more information.

Posted by: cameronlewismortgage | December 6, 2016

3 Key Reasons Why Buying Your First Home Is Like Planning a Wedding

3 Key Reasons Why Buying Your First Home Is Like Planning a WeddingYou may not see the connection right away, but buying a home and planning a wedding are two experiences that require certain skills and challenge you in similar ways. Check out the three key similarities below!

1. Budget

Whether you’re buying your first home or planning a wedding, you are likely facing one of the biggest financial obligations of your life. That’s why, in both cases, it is essential that you pick a realistic budget and stay within it.

Sounds simple, but in either case it can be difficult! Unexpected obstacles may force you to spend more than you planned, or you may find yourself wanting to overspend as you find things that would be “just perfect” additions even though they don’t fit your budget. These temptations can be expected, but it’s important to remember the big picture. When it comes to your budget, pick it and stick it.

2. Details

When it comes to a home purchase or a wedding, there are countless details to consider. It’s not a simple, pre-packaged purchase, there will always be big decisions that you have to make and if you overlook something you may regret it later on.

Some decisions that you face will be similar in both experiences: Does the location work for you? Does it work for your friends and family? What is the parking situation? Is it appropriate for the climate? Will you be satisfied with your decision in the long-term?

Other details will be more unique to the situation: Do you need a cocktail hour? Do you need a walk-in closet? What style of photography would you like? Is there too much traffic noise?

Either way you’ll have lots to think about, and you’ll become acutely aware of ‘the little things.’

3. You’ve Got Style

Both your wedding and your home say something about you, they’re a reflection of your personal style. When being presented with so many choices that are particularly catered towards your personal taste, you’ll learn what you like and what you don’t. However, you’ll also learn what it is that you absolutely need, and what you’re willing to budge on.

Whether you’re choosing a wedding dress that is both gorgeous and functional for your ceremony or deciding whether or not you need an extra bedroom in your home, you’ll learn what it is that you’d want in a perfect world, and what is absolutely necessary for your current situation.

Posted by: cameronlewismortgage | December 5, 2016

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – December 5, 2016

Last week’s economic news was plentiful with releases on Case-Shiller Home Price Indices and pending home sales. Readings on government and private sector jobs created, the national unemployment rate and weekly readings on new jobless claims and Freddie Mac’s mortgage rates survey were also released.

CaseShiller: Western Cities Dominate Home Price Growth

Case-Shiller’s 20-City Home Price Index reported that Seattle Washington topped year-over-year home price growth with an increase of 11.00 percent. Portland, Oregon followed closely with a reading of 10.90 percent, and Denver Colorado held third place with year-over-year home price gains of 8.70 percent.

San Francisco, California, which had posted high home price gains in recent years, posted a month-to-month reading of -0.40 percent and a year-over-year gain of 5.70 percent. Analysts said that this reading was evidence that home prices in high cost areas were topping out. Affordability, strict mortgage requirements and low inventories of available homes continued to present obstacles to home buyers.

Mortgage Rates Rise, Pending Home Sales Dip

According to the U.S. Commerce Department, pending home sales dipped in October to 0.10 percent as compared to a growth rate of 1.50 percent in September. Winter weather and holidays can cause would-be home buyers to postpone their home searches until spring.

Freddie Mac reported higher mortgage rates last week, although the 10-year treasury rate, which is tied to mortgage rates, was unchanged from the prior week. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was five basis points higher at 4.08 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose by nine basis points to 3.34 percent and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose by three basis points to 3.15 percent. Mortgage rates have risen by 51 basis points in three weeks. This trend, coupled with high home prices, doesn’t bode well for first-time and modest income home buyers.

Consumer spending for October increased by 0.30 percent as compared to predictions for a reading of 0.50 percent and September’s 0.70 percent reading. The core inflation reading for October was unchanged and in line with analyst expectations at 0.10 percent. The core reading excludes volatile food and fuel sectors.

Labor Reports: Job Creation Grows, Unemployment Rate Lower

According to the Labor Department’s Non-Farm Payrolls report for November, 178,000 government and private sector jobs were created as compared to expectations of 200,000 jobs created and October’s reading of 142,000 jobs created in October. According to the Commerce Department, the national unemployment rate for November was 4.60 percent as compared to the expected reading of 4.90 percent and October’s reading of 4.90 percent. Analysts noted that while a lower reading could indicate good news, it was also the result of fewer workers in the work force. The unemployment rate is based on unemployment claims filed by those actively seeking work; it does not include those underemployed or those who have stopped seeking work.

First-time jobless claims rose to 268,000 as compared to expectations of 250,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 251,000 new claims filed.

In spite of higher mortgage rates and dubious labor reports, the Consumer Confidence Index rose to 107.1 in November from October’s reading of 100.8; Analysts had expected an index reading of 102.5.

Whats Ahead

Next week’s economic reports include releases on job openings and consumer sentiment along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

Posted by: cameronlewismortgage | December 2, 2016

Should You Pay Your Mortgage Bi-weekly or Monthly? Let’s Take a Look

Should You Pay Your Mortgage Bi-weekly or Monthly? Let's Take a LookMost homeowners look at their monthly mortgage payment as their largest cost per month, and something they must do to maintain a good credit history. However, you may have heard of bi-weekly mortgage payments and their ability to lower your debt load and help you pay off your mortgage more quickly. If you’re wondering if bi-weekly payments are too good to be true, here’s some information worth consideration.

What Difference Does Bi-Weekly Make?

Making a bi-weekly mortgage payment may seem to mean that your interest will be automatically reduced, but because the lender is not necessarily receiving that payment until the end of the month, this is not necessarily the case. However, while a typical monthly payment will equate to 12 mortgage payments per year, a bi-weekly payment means 26 half payments will be made each year, which equates to 13 months of payments and an additional month. As a result, this can reduce the amount of interest paid on the principal.

Consider More On A Monthly Basis

Bi-weekly payments have the ability to shave a bit off the principal and thereby lower overall interest, but that doesn’t mean you have to switch to paying every two weeks. Instead of bi-weekly, consider dividing your monthly mortgage amount by 12 and adding that amount to your monthly payment. This will bump up your mortgage cost per month, but it will also reduce the total amount you owe. For example, if your mortgage payment is $1200 per month, divide it by 12 to get $100, and add this to your payment, bumping it up to $1300 each month.

Be Aware Of The Options That Work For You

In the event that you decide to make bi-weekly payments, be aware that there may actually be additional fees associated with this offering that will nullify your money savings. As a homeowner, it’s important to stay aware of changes on the market and new mortgage offerings that can benefit you. However, it’s also important to ensure that whatever you choose, you’re aware of the risks involved so they can make for a positive financial shift.

Making a bi-weekly payment on your mortgage may have the benefit of lowering your overall home cost, but you may be able to get this benefit from simply bumping up your monthly payment. If you’re currently looking for a mortgage lender, contact one of our mortgage professionals for more information.

Posted by: cameronlewismortgage | December 1, 2016

Case-Shiller: Home Price Growth Mixed for September

September’s 20-City Housing Market Index from Case-Shiller showed signs that rapidly rising home prices in some metro areas may be losing momentum. San Francisco, California, posted a month-to-month reading of -0.40 percent and a year-over-year reading of 5.70 percent. Home prices stayed flat in Seattle Washington from August to September, but posted the highest home price gain of 11.00 percent year-over-year. Slowing home price growth in high-demand areas suggest that affordability concerns are impacting rapid gains in home prices seen in recent years.

Case-Shiller’s National Home Price Index achieved its highest gain with a reading of 5.50 percent as compared to August’s reading of 5.10 percent.

YearoverYear: Western U.S. Holds Highest Gains in Home Prices

In addition to Seattle’s year-over-year home price growth rate of 11 percent, Portland, Oregon closely followed with a year-over-year reading of 10.90 percent. Denver, Colorado rounded out the top three cities in the 20-City Home Price Index with a year-over-year growth rate of 8.70 percent. September was the eighth consecutive month that the top three cities held their places in the 20-City Index. Case-Shiller’s 20-City Home Price Index posted a year-over- year gain of 5.10 percent.

September Home Prices Cap Recovery, Usher in New Progress for Housing Market

According to David M. Blitzer, Chairman of S&P Dow Jones Index Committee, September’s record national reading for home prices marks a transition from housing recovery to “the hoped for start of a new advance.” Mr. Blitzer cited recent data on sales of new and pre-owned homes and said that housing starts reached a post-recession peak.

September’s peak in national home prices was 0.10 percent above the pre-recession peak set in 2006. Adjusted for inflation, the September peak remains approximately 16 percent below the pre-recession peak. During the recession, national home prices reached a trough that was 27 percent lower than Case-Shiller’s September reading. Analysts expressed some caution and noted headwinds to housing markets including slower-than-normal rates of homes construction, higher mortgage rates and strict mortgage approval requirements.

Let's Talk Basements: How to Finish Your Basement so It Adds Value to Your HomeAre you on the hunt for home renovations that will boost usability and value? Look no further than that unfinished basement. In this article, we’ll show you how to turn that dusty cave into an amazing new living space.

Note: finishing a basement isn’t the easiest job. For most basements, it’s a lot more than a weekend do-it-yourself project. If you’re not comfortable with construction be sure to enlist the help of a professional.

Step 1: Plan Everything Out

The first step is to plan out how you’re going to use the space. Are you going to make an office? A full suite? Is there any plumbing or wiring involved? Will you need to create full walls? Map out how you plan to use the available space so you have an idea of what you’ll need.

Step 2: Measure And Deal With The Floor

Once you figure out how you’ll use the space, you’ll need to measure everything out. Height can be an issue — especially in basements not designed as a living space. You can solve height problems by digging out the concrete slab. Once you get down deep enough, you pour a new slab.

Step 3: Frame Everything In

Is the basement at a good height? Next you’ll need to start framing everything in. Depending on how you have your walls mapped out, this might take a while. You may also need permits or to enlist licensed tradespeople, such as an electrician. If you’re just framing in a single room to add walls, it will be easier.

Step 4: Insulate And Install The Walls

After the framing process, you’ll insulate everything before installing the walls. Adding insulation can drive energy and heating costs down by a lot. So much so that in colder areas of the country, new homes must have insulated basements. After the insulation is in place, you’ll install the drywall and ready the walls for painting.

Step 5: Paint, Carpet And Finish Up

The final step is to get everything painted and finished. If you chose to go with a carpeted floor, you’ll want to save this for last. Once the painting is complete, install the carpets, baseboard and trim. Touch up any final areas and you’re all set.

Finishing your basement into a usable space is an excellent way to add value to your home. To learn more about building your home’s equity, give us a call.

Posted by: cameronlewismortgage | November 29, 2016

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – November 29, 2016

Last week’s economic reports included new and pre-owned home sales, new jobless claims and Freddie Mac’s weekly mortgage rates survey.

Home Sales Mixed in October

According to the National Association of Realtors®, sales of previously owned homes reached a seasonally adjusted annual level of 5.60 million sales, which exceeded expectations and October’s reading of 5.49 million sales. Analysts had expected a rate of 5.44 million sales.

October sales of preowned homes rose 2 percent over September’s reading and were 5.90 percent higher year-over-year. This was the highest reading for sales of pre-owned homes since February 2007. High demand for homes is driving housing markets in spite of obstacles including rising mortgage rates and tight mortgage approval requirements.

Sales of new homes were lower in October, which indicated continued ups and downs in the economic recovery. October’s reading of 563,000 sales on a seasonally adjusted annual basis was lower than expectations of 595,000 sales and September’s downwardly revised reading of 574,000 new homes sold.

New home sales were 17.80 percent higher year-over year and 12.60 percent higher year to date, but analysts said that housing markets continue to be constrained by a short supply of available homes. Inventories of available homes are slowly increasing, which is expected to help curtail rapidly rising home prices caused by pent-up demand.

The median price of a new home was $304,500 in October as compared to September’s median price of $314,100 and October 2015’s median price of $298,700. There were 246,000 new homes for sale in October, which was the highest quantity of new homes on the market since September of 2009.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Rise

Mortgage rates jumped last week in response to an increase in the 10-year Treasury note rate. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose nine basis points to 4.03 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was 11 basis points higher at 3.25 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was five basis points higher at 3.12 percent. Last week’s readings were the first time in 2016 that mortgage rates exceeded four percent.

New jobless claims were also higher last week with 251,000 claims filed as compared to expectations 248,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 233,000 new claims filed. Last week’s reading marked the 90th consecutive week of new jobless claims less than the benchmark of 300,000 new claims, an event that hasn’t occurred since 1970.

Whats Ahead

Economic reports scheduled this week include Case-Shiller Housing Market Indexes, pending home sales and construction spending. Readings on inflation and labor will also be released along with weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

Did You Know?: 4 Factors That Can Delay Your Mortgage Approval (and How to Avoid Them!)If you’re currently buying a home and are stressing about the kind of home to choose and which lender to go with, it can help to clear up some of the confusion surrounding the mortgage process. While mortgage applications are assessed on a case-by-case basis, here are some factors you’ll want to avoid so the timeline of your approval isn’t negatively impacted.

Your Employment Status

It goes without saying that the amount you bring in each month is a huge factor towards how much house you can afford, so having a part-time job, being self employed or even being unemployed can adversely impact your application. Instead of leaving this factor up to chance, make sure you have a job that will more than cover your monthly payment or at least the savings in the bank to take the pressure off.

The Debt You Carry

The amount of your debt has an impact on the house you can afford, but debts whether from auto loans or credit cards; can still adversely impact the lender’s perception of your finances. Before buying a home, you may want to pay down some of your debt or hash out a monthly budget so you’ll have more certainty when it comes to application time.

Your Credit Report

There are few things that will have a more marked impact on your mortgage approval than your credit history, so whether or not you have good credit will play into your application approval. While many people shy away from their credit report, ensure you look it over before submitting your application so you know what you’re dealing with and can correct any mistakes.

The Down Payment Amount

You’ve probably heard that 20 is the magic percentage to put down, and while this number isn’t needed to buy a home, it can be the right number if you have high debt or a negative credit history. While you may want to buy right away, waiting and saving up may actually improve your odds of approval and save you money in the long run.

There are many factors involved in the mortgage process and many of these things have the ability to slow down your application. But, by being aware of your credit and having a 20 percent down payment saved up, you may be able to speed up the process. If you’re close to submitting your mortgage application, contact your trusted mortgage professionals for more information.

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