How To Get Your Down Payment Funded

As we see home prices rise, home buyers (especially first-home buyers) need to determine how they will get funds for their down payment. Traditional loans require a 20% down payment, however there are other programs that do not require this large amount. VA loans require zero down payment, and if you qualify FHA loan down payments can be as low as 3.5% down. If you can’t do 20% many lenders may require private mortgage insurance (PMI) on the loan.
Here are typical sources of down payments
Savings – If possible, you should start saving for the down payment a few years in advanced.
Gift Funds are used by many people as well. A friend, relative or employer may help you with assistance towards the down payment. If you do this, its important to keep records of the gift and your lender may ask for a signed gift letter to certify the funds were a gift.
Inheritance is also a common source , note that funds must be available prior the loan closing.
Programs and Grants
There are a number federal, state and local down payment assistance programs that may be available to provide down payment assistance.

Its best to contact us and we can review your situation and see what program best fits your needs and what you may qualify for, so click on our online prequal for more!

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How Owning A Home Can Lower Your Taxes

As we enter tax season, it seems like a good time to talk about how owning a home can help lower your tax bill. First, lets clarify that you’ll need to do an itemized return to take advantage of the deductions. Second the deductions are just that deductions from the income that is subject to tax, not just looping that number off your tax bill.
So now that we’re clear 😊lets review. The biggest one, you may already be familiar with – the interest deduction. The money you pay in interest over the year on your loan is fully deductible on the first $750,000 of your loan or up to $1 million if your loan was originated before December 15, 2017.
The other biggie is deducting property taxes. You can deduct up to $10,000 in state and local taxes including property taxes.
Another deductible is if you paid points to lower your interest rate – this payment is tax deductible.
Finally another popular deduction is one many of came to know last year – the home office. However even though many of have one now – the deduction is meant only for the self employed – if you work full time for a company it may not qualify.

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Buying A Home with Student Loan Debt

The good news is you went to college, studied hard and earned your education, the other side for some is student loan debt. Having loans is not a deal breaker but it will factor into the important debt-to-income (or DTI) ratio, and mortgage underwriters are primarily looking at the numbers so having it be student loan debt isn’t different from a car loan in the math.

Strategies to get approved with student loan debt
Pay it down – this maybe easier said than done but if you have extra money or got a raise then try to pay down the debt
Consolidate it – if you can consolidate your debt and lower your monthly payment (even not the overall loan amount) this will help your monthly DTI ratio
Co-sign – this can be a delicate process but its one to consider if you have a trustworthy, reliable family member or friend

Programs and Assistance
Sometimes a conventional mortgage might not be possible but there are options!
FHA, VA, and USDA loans offer a lot more flexibility and lower down payments than traditional mortgages
Grants and Programs – there are a number of grants and programs out there from the federal to local level that you may qualify for
If you’re interested in qualifying for a loan but worried about your student debt give us a call or apply online and we can see what best fits your needs!

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Top 10 Things In A New Neighborhood

A lot of Americans have moved or considered moving in the last year. When you move you aren’t just moving into a new home but also a neighborhood, so you want to be sure to check the area out carefully, here are 10 things to consider.
1. Property Taxes – you should look at property taxes and also how much they’ve increased in the last five years and if any increases are planned. It’s a good idea to build this into your budget too.
2. Amenities – check what’s nearby based on your interests, restaurants, groceries stores, houses of worship etc.
3. Future development – it’s a good idea to check and see what future development is planned – it might be a good or bad thing but either way its worth checking.
4. Crime rates – you can check local crime rates online or even contact the local police department to get a better feel.
5. See the area for yourself – its best to hang around the area especially at different times of the day to get a feel for what its really like.
6. Commute times – you probably already thought about this but make sure to check the times during rush hour too.
7. Schools – if you have kids, you already thought about this. But good schools can also be a good sign of a well-kept neighborhood.
8. Housing Values – check the current values and compare them with five and 10 years ago.
9. Walkability and activities – depending on your tastes see what activities are nearby.
10. Personal Fit – everyone has different tastes so try to match the neighborhood with yours – new or old, tight-knit or independent, quiet or bustle, these are individual fits but finding the right one will help you enjoy your home that much more!
And of course reach out to us with questions and if you haven’t gotten pre-qualified yet make sure you do 🙂

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Should You Buy A Fixer-Upper?

With the housing market tight in many parts of the country and affordability a big issue for many would be buyers, buying a fixer-upper might be tempting. We’ve all seen the home make-over shows with amazing before and afters but should you do it?
Here are a few things to consider:
1. Know Your Limits
How much of the work can you do. How much time do you have to put into renovations. Are you prepared to live in a work zone for a while
2. Work Out Costs In Advance
Have a contractor walk through the inspection with you and get a written estimate for work he would do. If you are doing the work yourself price the costs of supplies, either way add 15% to the costs because surprises are likely.
3. Check Permitting Costs and Procedures
Check with local officials to see if the work requires a permit and the permit costs.
4. Be Extra Careful with Structural Issues
If the house requires structural repairs then double check the work and pricing. Hire a structural engineer to do an inspection and if structural work needs to be done make sure your bid discounts this work
5. Include Inspection Contingencies
Make sure you hire professional inspectors and check for hidden issues like mold, piping issues, pest damage etc. And if things come up ask for discounts. And if too many red flags come up or the seller won’t properly discount the costs for repair then you may want walk away and keep looking!

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Interest Rate And Housing News

As we hopefully start to climb out of the covid crisis, interest rates nudged up this week. Rates inched up as Freddie Mac reported that the average 30-year-fixed-rate mortgage was 2.97%. This is still well below the rate a year ago which was 3.45%. Analyists expect rates to continue to rise slightly throughout the year on an anticipated economic recovery, although rates are expected to remain very low by historic standards.
While rates remain near historic lows, the housing market continues to be red hot. Extremely low inventory is driving prices up. The National Association of Realtors reported existing home sales were up nearly 25% compared to last year and the median home price is up nearly 15% from a year ago. This may be a bigger impediment to home buyers than rates inching up.
We will continue to keep you up to date on market trends and use our web site pre-qualifier to see what you can afford and get a pre-qualification to assist your home shopping.

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5 Things Needed For Pre-Approval

If you’re looking for a new house, many realtors will actually ask for a pre-approval in advance. And its good for you to know how much you can afford and if there are any issues, you will know in advanced instead of any last minute surprises!

1. Proof of Income
This is usually W-2 statements but also includes any other sources of income like bonuses or alimony.
2. Proof of Assets
This will include bank and investment account statements. If you are receiving a money from a relative or friend you may also need a gift letter from them.
3. Credit Score
Your credit score will be an important factor on the down payment and interest rate on the loan.
4. Employment Verification
Lenders may call your employer to verify employment, or if you are self-employed you may need to supply additional paperwork.
5. You Verification
You may need to supply a copy of your drivers license and social security number as well.

Now that you know the basics, check with us to get pre-approved and see how much you can get approved for!

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5 Things Needed For Pre-Approval

If you’re looking for a new house, many realtors will actually ask for a pre-approval in advance. And its good for you to know how much you can afford and if there are any issues, you will know in advanced instead of any last minute surprises!

1. Proof of Income
This is usually W-2 statements but also includes any other sources of income like bonuses or alimony.
2. Proof of Assets
This will include bank and investment account statements. If you are receiving a money from a relative or friend you may also need a gift letter from them.
3. Credit Score
Your credit score will be an important factor on the down payment and interest rate on the loan.
4. Employment Verification
Lenders may call your employer to verify employment, or if you are self-employed you may need to supply additional paperwork.
5. You Verification
You may need to supply a copy of your drivers license and social security number as well.

Now that you know the basics, check with us to get pre-approved and see how much you can get approved for!

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Top 10 Things To Research Before Your Kitchen Renovation

We are in the middle of winter and that means more time indoors and often in the kitchen. If you’re kitchen is the before part of a makeover show then here is our top ten list of things to consider before starting a renovation project.

1. Budget
Before getting started set a budget! (Can’t you say this before starting every project? 🙂
2. Lighting
Gone are the days of dark cramped kitchens, make sure there’s plenty of light and consider a mix of light sources.
3. Walkways
This one is especially important if you have or are planning on adding an island – make sure there’s enough room to move around without the kids getting in the way!
4. Countertops
This is a big one of course and with more options than ever. A great mid-range option is quartz which has the appeal of marble without the cost and upkeep worries.
5. Outlets
Make sure you plan enough outlets for appliances, gadgets and maybe the thing you are reading this on 🙂
6. Panel Ready
If you are doing a fancier reno, we love panel appliances. How clean does the paneled dishwasher look when it seamlessly blends in?
7. Ceiling
Don’t forget to look up! Make sure the ceiling isn’t neglected and having some great light fixtures can really make the kitchen pop!
8. Storage
This is another biggie – you want enough space to store all the goodies and gadgets! Don’t put appliances in corners and make sure doors don’t bang into each other too!
9. Flooring
Your grandparents linoleum floors are history – today there are a ton of awesome flooring choices.
10. Appliances
This one depends on your budget. The lux range looks great and is useful but be realistic too. It’s an investment, consider if you are going to stay in the house a long time and you’re a big chef are two key factors to consider!

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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.

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