Is this winter a good time to buy a home?

Spring is traditionally the busiest home buying season but is it a good idea to close on a home during the winter?
According to a recent ATTOM Data Solutions seven year market study, it showed that buyers who closed on January 26 actually got some of the best deals, paying market value in a competitive market while buyers in June paid close to seven percent premium above market value! An example of this in actual numbers would have a $300,000 house costing almost $25,000 more in June than January!
Currently inventory is tight in most markets which applies upward pressure on pricing, and the spring buying season is likely to show this, however housing construction was up five percent last fall to help meet demand. Rates are also at record lows and if the economy rebounds their will be pressure on rates to rise.


Mortgage Rate Roundup – Low and Lower

As we start the new year, mortgage interest rates are actually going down. Freddie Mac reported the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was down to 2.77%, which is nearly a point below the average of 3.60% a year ago! The forecast is for rates to remain low with some possible rising later in the year.

We definitely recommend contacting us for a quick refinance analysis, we will give you a recommendation and tell you to how much you can save monthly, get cash out or both! And most of us can use all the extra spending money we can get nowadays. Call us or fill out our quick qualifier on our site and we will get back to you promptly with your options.


PPP Round 2

Today the second round of PPP is starting. PPP or Paycheck Protection Plan is the government assistance program to small business owners to help them weather the downturn caused by the pandemic.

Applications for round two start on January 19, 2021 and even if you received money last time, you still may be eligible. Two key criteria are that you must have opened the business prior to February 15, 2020 and if you’re a sole proprietorship you must have shown a profit on your 2019 tax return.

How much can you get? First-time borrowers are eligible up to 2.5 times their monthly payroll or if you’re a sole proprietorship you can borrower up to 2.5 times the monthly profit. See this link for more info

Do you have to pay it all back? Your loan can be forgiven if you follow the rules that at least 60% goes to payroll expenses and the other 40% goes to rent and utilities (in the new round expenses towards developing social distancing and following health mandates are also applicable).

Reach out to us if you have any questions on this or other financing (remember refinancing is often still a great idea with today’s rates!)


New Year’s Financial Resolutions

It’s a New Year! And we’re betting and hoping its going to be a better 2021. Somethings are out of our control, some things are not. We want to start with New Year’s Financial Resolutions to help us get the year started right! Here’s our top seven for 2021!

1. Make A Budget
We always here it but sometimes we don’t do it. So get the year started with the basics and make a budget. Figure out your money in (income and earnings) and your money out (bills, mortgage, taxes, etc). Then you have an idea of your monthly expenses and how much you can save!
2. Fund Your Savings And Retirement
One great thing about creating the budget is it gives you a good idea of how much you can save monthly. So use that to plan your savings and retirement deposits!
3. Prepare an Emergency Fund
If 2020 taught us anything its that the unexpected will happen! So get that emergency fund ready to pay three to six (if you can) months expenses. Also prepare for sudden emergencies– have your key financial documents organized in case of natural disaster, review your insurance policies, and an emergency supply kit and shelter plan.
4. Consider Refinancing
If you haven’t done so recently – consider refinancing. Rates are at historic lows so even if your current rate is low, you still might be able to save a lot on the monthly payment! Check with us for a quick analysis.
5. Optimize the Auto-Payments!
Check those monthly auto payments we often are paying for stuff we don’t use (maybe you only watch 2 of the 5 streaming services :). Cancelling a few might just pay for that first post-Covid vacation! One automated payment you might want to set up is automatic payments to savings and retirement funds!
6. Schedule Regular Financial Checkups
Don’t leave your finances on auto-pilot . Check in on them every couple of months to make sure you’re on track.
7. Improve Your Financial Literacy
We can’t have a resolution list without some self-improvement can we? But seriously we often go to school, work hard but don’t take the time to become financial literate. Do a little homework to improve your financial literacy so the ship doesn’t sail you, but you sail the boat!

We hope this list helps and wish you a safe and prosperous new year! And if you’re reading this later, don’t worry it applies anytime 😀


Happy Holidays

We wish you and your family a safe and happy holiday season! As we bring 2020 to end, we wish you and your family a prosperous and healthy 2021!


Your Year End Financial Checklist

Well we are almost ready to bid adieu to 2020, the longest year in memory! Its been a chaotic year to say the least, so its more important than ever to do your financial planning. Here are our top five things to check:

1. Review your budget and savings plan
Analyze your spending and saving for the year. Your savings might not have gone to plan this year and that’s ok – focus on replenishing your emergency fund first if needed and recalibrate plan for 2021 if needed.
2. Maximize Retirement Plan Contributions
If you participate in a 401k make sure you maximize contributions before the December 31 deadline, you have until April for Roth contributions
3. Review Your Insurance Coverage
Check your insurance coverage in many parts of the country housing prices went up, make sure you home is covered under current market prices. Also check your liability coverage and consider getting an umbrella liability policy that covers all your assets, you can get a million dollar policy for a few hundred dollars a year!
4. Health Savings Account
Make sure you contribute to your health savings account (if needed) as there are great tax benefits. Also check to see if you need to reimburse yourself from the account for out of pocket payments you made during the year!
5. Charitable Contributions
Finally especially this year, remember to give if you can! There are important tax changes this year, so even if you don’t itemize your taxes (most people) you can still deduct up to $300 for charitable contributions!


Guaranteed Mortgage Loans?

What is a guaranteed mortgage?
Well as you might have guessed, it’s a guarantee that your loan will be paid in case of default (fine print sometimes this is actually insurance), by a third party. In most cases the third party is the government.
Guaranteed mortgages are used when a borrower does not have the traditional required 20% of the purchase price to put down. In these cases the programs guarantee (or insure) the loan. In fact first-time home buyers often do not have the full 20% to put down, so these programs are very helpful in getting funding.

FHA, VA and USDA are the most common guarantors. FHA loans allow first time home buyers to put as little as 3.5% down (with a credit score of at least 580). VA loans allow veterans, active duty and surviving spouses to get funding for a new home loans or refinance with zero down and more flexible credit requirements. There is an upfront fee (but that can be waived in certain situations as well). USDA loans are designed for low and moderate income rural home buyers (although rural might not be as rural as it once was).

Check with us for more details and to see what program you can qualify for and what best fits your needs!


3 Keys To A Successful Home Inspection

If you’re buying or selling (but especially buying) a home inspection is a crucial part of the process that too often is seen as just another step.
So here are the 3 keys to make sure you come out on top and avoid surprises after you move in!
1. Inspect the Inspector First!
Make sure your inspector is certified, qualified and experienced. You want someone who is going to check things thoroughly and not just check the boxes. Find a good inspector early as the good ones can often be like a popular restaurant – hard to get a reservation.
2. Be Present for the Inspection
If at all possible make sure you attend the inspection too! It may take a few hours so block out the morning or afternoon if needed. You can be part of process, ask questions, get feedback on possible costs if repairs are necessary.
3. Sellers do a pre-inspection Inspection
If you are getting ready to put your house on the market it’s a good idea to get a pre-sale inspection. If the inspections turns up things that need to be repaired or fixed this will help make a smooth sale and closing while avoiding surprises!