You Ask, We Answer: Should I Build a New Custom Home or Buy an Existing One?

Posted on Posted in Home Buyer Tips

You Ask, We Answer: Should I Build a New Home or Buy an Existing One?Are you looking to buy a new house in the near future? If so, one of the choices you will face is constructing your own brand-new home or buying an existing home. The idea of building a new house on the right piece of land might sound enticing, but what if you could have a larger, more luxurious existing home in the same neighborhood for a much lower cost?

As you might imagine, there are pros and cons to each kind of home. In today’s blog post we will explore whether you should build a new home or buy an existing one.

Building Your Ultimate Dream Home

Let’s get the obvious out of the way first. If you can afford the combined cost of the land, the house and all of the furnishings, then building a new home is an amazing experience. It is the chance to completely customize everything about your home, right down to having your family put their handprints in the foundation. You will be able to design the garage, media room, bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen and everything else exactly the way you want it. The house will truly feel “yours,” as it’s built in your vision.

Aside from the higher cost, there are other potential downsides to building a new home. Between permits, booking contractors, wrapping up all of the necessary paperwork and construction time, building a new home can be stressful. It can also take much longer than buying an existing home outright.

Well-Kept Existing Homes Have Lots Of Upside

Buying an existing home has its upsides as well. It’s almost certainly going to be a much faster process than trying to build your own home from scratch. As long as you can find suitable listings, you can typically purchase and move into an existing home within a few weeks. You can also customize it to your liking, although not to the extent that you would with brand-new construction. It’s also likely to be less expensive, although that depends on a variety of factors including the city you’re buying in, the real estate market, the size of the home and more.

In the end, the choice comes down to budget, timing and personal preference. However, whether you decide to build new or you are okay with a lovely home that already exists, our professional mortgage team is here to help.

Mortgage 101: How Interest-Only Mortgages Work and Why They’re A Good Solution for Some Buyers

Posted on Posted in Home Mortgage Tips

Mortgage 101: How Interest-Only Mortgages Work and Why They're A Good Solution for Some BuyersWhether you’re a first-time homebuyer or an experienced real estate investor, if you are planning to borrow funds to buy a home you will want to choose the right mortgage product. In today’s blog post we’ll explore how interest-only mortgages work and why they’re the perfect choice for some homebuyers.

How Interest-Only Mortgages Differ From Conventional Ones

As the name suggests, interest-only mortgages are loans where you are only required to pay off the interest portion of the loan each month for some specific term. The length of these loans can be up to ten years, although five or seven is the most common. Once this period is over, you will have some options. Some choose to refinance their mortgage into a new term; others will make a lump-sum payment to pay off the balance. The most important item of note is that during the interest-only period, no principal is paid off unless you pay a bit extra.

The Pros And Cons Of Interest-Only Mortgages

Interest-only mortgages are a popular choice because of their many upsides. Your monthly payments are almost certainly going to be far lower during the interest-only period. This is because you’re not responsible for paying down the principal of the loan. A lower monthly payment frees up money that you can use for other purposes, such as investing. Also, your entire monthly payment during the interest-only period should be tax deductible, which may contribute to a refund each year.

Note that there are some potential downsides to interest-only mortgages as well. For example, if your mortgage interest rate is adjustable, you can end up paying more in interest than if you had locked in. You also need to stay disciplined financially. Once the interest-only period ends, your monthly payment may increase significantly to cover both interest and principal.

Who Should Consider An Interest-Only Mortgage?

Interest-only mortgages are a good fit for those individuals or families where you are confident that your income is going to grow significantly in five or ten years. Alternatively, if your income is somewhat sporadic and you want the option of paying lower payments in some months and more substantial payments in others. The key point is that these mortgages offer flexibility that other mortgage products do not.

As you can see, interest-only mortgages are an excellent choice in certain circumstances. To learn more about how an interest-only mortgage might be right for you, contact our professional mortgage team today. We are happy to share our experience to find mortgage financing that perfectly suits your needs.

Case-Shiller: Home Price Growth Near All-Time High in August

Posted on Posted in Housing Market

Case-Shiller’s National Home Price Index rose to a year-over-year home price increase of 6.10 percent as compared to July’s reading of 5.90 percent. The 20-City Home Price Index rose to a year-over-year reading of 5.90 percent over July’s reading of 5.80 percent.

Home Prices Nearing Their Peak? 

Some cities that previously had high home price increases saw lower paces of growth. San Francisco, California, which reported double-digit home price growth rates in recent years, reported -0.10 percent growth rate month-to-month and a year-over-year home price growth rate of 6.10 percent. Home prices grew at a faster rate in nine cities as compared to year-over-year home price growth rates reported for July 2016 to July 2017.

David M. Blitzer, Operating Manager and Chairman of the S&P Index Committee said, “Price increases appear to be unstoppable, but rapid increases can’t continue forever. Measures of affordability are beginning to slide, indicating that the pool of buyers is shrinking.”

Factors pressuring home buyers include slim supplies of homes for sale, high competition for homes and affordability as demand increases and supplies of homes for sale decrease First-time and moderate-income buyers face additional challenges including the ability to meet mortgage qualification requirements and increasing amounts required for down payments.

Role of NonResident Foreign Buyers Minimal

Non-resident foreign buyers who buy U.S. homes on speculation and leave them vacant may contribute to the high demand for homes as the homes they buy may sit vacant and are removed from the supply of available homes. Such speculative buyers typically pay cash for homes which can sideline mortgage-dependent buyers.

The National Association of Realtors reports that approximately two percent of pre-owned homes are sold to non-resident foreign buyers; this suggests that the impact of such buyers on demand for homes is currently minimal. 

62 or Older? 3 Reasons Why a Reverse Mortgage Might Be the Perfect Financial Solution for You

Posted on Posted in Home Mortgage Tips

62 or Older? 3 Reasons Why a Reverse Mortgage Might Be the Perfect Financial Solution for YouAre you and your spouse starting to move into your retirement years? If so, you already know that you are going to need a solid financial plan for when your primary sources of income are no longer bringing money in. If you have invested in your retirement, you might be all set. However, what if your house makes up the majority of your net worth?

Let’s take a quick look at three reasons why a reverse mortgage might be a great way to unlock the equity you’ve built up in your home.

Reason #1: This Is Your Last Home

To qualify for a reverse mortgage, you have to own your home or be very close to paying off any outstanding mortgage debt. A reverse mortgage is money borrowed against the equity in your home, which is considered collateral. So, if staying in this house is your long-term plan, then a reverse mortgage should be a good fit.

Note that it is not impossible to buy a new home or move when you have a reverse mortgage. You simply have to pay the outstanding balance as with any other loan or mortgage product.

Reason #2: You Don’t Plan On Leaving Your House To Anyone

It is important to note that when you or your spouse dies, your reverse mortgage becomes due. In most circumstances, the house is either sold or transferred to cover the outstanding amount of the mortgage. This means that anyone inheriting the house is going to inherit the reverse mortgage as well, leaving them responsible for the outstanding balance.

If you do not have any children, or if they are already financially stable and not in need of an inheritance, you may not have to leave your house to anyone. This makes a reverse mortgage a good source of extra cash.

Reason #3: You Can Afford Taxes And Upkeep

Finally, don’t forget that with a reverse mortgage, you are still responsible for taxes, insurance and maintenance costs. Falling behind on these items can cause your reverse mortgage to become repayable immediately. If you can afford these costs without having to stretch, then you’re in good shape.

If you are looking to make more of your home equity as a financial asset and both you and your spouse are 62 or older, reverse mortgages are an excellent idea. To learn more about these financial products and your options, contact us today. Our professional team of mortgage advisors is happy to show you why a reverse mortgage is a good fit.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – October 30, 2017

Posted on Posted in Mortgage Rates

Last week’s economic news included readings on new and pending home sales and weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

New Home Sales Exceed Expectations; No Growth for Pending Sales

September sales of new homes reached a 10-year high with a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 667,000 new homes sold. Analysts said that high demand drove September sales past the expected rate of 555,000 sales and August’s reading of 561,000 sales of new homes. September’s reading was 19.9 percent higher than for August and was 17 percent higher year-over-year. September’s reading was 8.60 percent higher for year-to-date sales of new homes. This news may encourage builders to ramp up new home construction, but the widespread damage caused by hurricanes and fires will account for rebuilding thousands of previously-owned homes in the coming months.

The national average price for a new home was $319,700 as compared to $314,700 year-over-year. Real estate professionals said that it would take five months to sell all new homes currently available.

Pending home sales did not change from August to September. The Commerce Department reported no change from August’s reading of – 2.80 percent. Low inventories of pre-owned homes and affordability concerns may have sidelined would-be buyers as competition for available homes and home prices rose.

Regional results for pending sales were mixed. The Northeast region reported 1.20 percent growth in pending home sales, while the Midwest reported 1.40 percent growth and the West topped regional pending sales rates with 1.90 percent growth. The Southern region posted -2.30 percent fewer pending sales; hurricanes likely accounted for fewer contracts signed in September. Year-over-year pending home sales were lower in all regions.

Weekly Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Rise

Mortgage rates rose across the board last week. Freddie Mac reported that averaged rates for a fixed rate mortgage rose by six basis points for 30-year and 15-year mortgages. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was 3.94 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was 3.25 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose four basis points to 3.21 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

New jobless claims rose to 233,000 claims, which matched expectations and exceed the prior week’s reading of 223,000 first time claims, which was a 44-year low. The jump in first-time claims is not due to layoffs as employers report shortages of skilled candidates to fill job openings.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic news includes readings on Case-Shiller home prices, construction spending and labor sector readings on private and public-sector employment. The national unemployment rate will be released along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

Buying an Older Home? Watch Out for These 3 Key Flaws That Could Spell Trouble

Posted on Posted in Home Buyer Tips

Buying an Older Home? Watch Out for These 3 Key Flaws That Could Spell TroubleAre you a fan of homes with a bit more character than newer, modern designs? Whether in pristine condition or more of a “fixer upper,” older homes are incredibly popular in cities across the country. However, there are some key factors to consider if you’re thinking about buying a home built decades ago before modern standards were enforced.

Let’s take a look at three key design issues that you will need to be aware of if you’re thinking about buying an older house.

Old Electrical Designs Can Be A Significant Fire Hazard

No matter when a home was built, it’s almost guaranteed to have electrical wiring running through walls to supply rooms with lighting and power outlets. However, if the wiring was run in decades past it may be with older cords that are less able to withstand a modern workload. A quick check of the circuit-breaker panel or fuse box and the wires leading from it can give an idea just how old the wiring is. As older designs can be a fire hazard, you will want to ensure the wiring is up to date.

Poor Plumbing Design Can Lead To Rot Or Worse

Plumbing can also be an issue in older houses – especially those in states that experience a cold winter. Water pipes tend to expand and contract due to temperature, which can lead to stress and leaks over time. Moreover, even though older pipes are typically made of metal, they can still wear out. The last thing you need is to wake up to a flooded basement, so be sure to have the plumbing professionally inspected.

Is The Roof And Insulation Strong Enough?

While the roof might look solid from the outside, it may not be as well put together on the inside. Even the smallest of holes or leaks in roof membrane can wreak havoc on the structural integrity of the roof. It’s worth spending some time in the attic to inspect the inside of the roof, the condition of the insulation and how well the entire structure is holding up.

While the above list might sound a bit scary, it isn’t meant to turn you away from buying an older character home. If you’re diligent in checking out the home’s history and invest in a professional inspection, you’ll stay safe. When you’re ready to explore a mortgage for a character home, contact your trusted mortgage professional.

Stuck in a Bidding War? 3 Ways to Win Without Busting Through Your Mortgage Approval Amount

Posted on Posted in Home Mortgage Tips

Stuck in a Bidding War? 3 Ways to Win Without Busting Through Your Mortgage Approval AmountAre you making an offer on a new home in a hot housing market? If so, one possibility is that you are going to end up bidding against other buyers who are looking to buy the same home. Unfortunately, in some cases bidding wars are inevitable, and they can be a significant source of stress. Let’s take a look at three ways that you can win a bidding war without having to spend more than you can afford.

Price Is Important, But It’s Not Everything

The first consideration to keep in mind is that price is important, but it isn’t the sole consideration that sellers make when deciding which offer to choose. In fact, for many home sellers, the price is secondary to a variety of other factors.

For example, consider whether or not the sellers need to close quickly. Perhaps they are moving to a new city, or have already bought a new house and are looking to get out of their old one. If you have your mortgage financing pre-approved and your paperwork in order, you can promise a shorter close than other buyers may be able to provide.

Have A Face-To-Face Conversation With The Listing Agent

It’s worth investing the time in a sit-down chat with the seller’s real estate agent to find out what their motivations are. Are they selling for the money, are they moving, are they under pressure or just getting rid of the house to make an upgrade? All are factors that you can use to your advantage in a bidding war.

Another great tip: be sure to find out where the sellers plan to live once they sell their home. If they want to stay in the house, you may be able to buy it and lease it back to them. That’s a difficult offer to refuse.

Be Flexible, But Be Firm

Finally, keep in mind that you will need to be flexible to win a bidding war, but you should remain firm. Don’t bend your offer or terms too much. If you table a great offer and still lose the bidding war, that’s life. You can move on and find another great home to live in.

If you are in a hot real estate market, it’s a good idea to mentally prepare for a bidding war when you submit an offer on a new home. For more insight or to find out how much mortgage financing you qualify for, contact us today. Our professional mortgage team will be happy to meet with you and show you how you can purchase your dream house or condo.

Worried That Your Past Student Loan Debt Might Delay Buying a Home? Here’s What to Do

Posted on Posted in Home Buyer Tips

Worried That Your Past Student Loan Debt Might Delay Buying a Home? Here's What to DoWhether you are just about to graduate college or you have been out of school for a few years, there’s a good chance you’re carrying some amount of student loan debt. It seems that news headlines are regularly pointing out that the nation’s graduates are suffering from the stress of student debt. Moreover, that pressure can be even worse for those who are looking to buy a home and start putting some roots down in the local community.

Are you worried that past student loan debt will affect your chances of buying a home? Let’s run through a few tips that can help put your debt worries at ease.

Start A Budget And Embrace Using It

The first and most important step anyone with debt can take is to commit to a monthly budget. Managing your debts means living within your means. In turn, that requires careful examination of your income and expenses to ensure your debts are being paid down.

Also, in most cases, interest is being charged on outstanding student loan debt which makes it a high priority for repayment. The faster you can pay your student loan debt off, the less interest you will pay on top of it.

Check In With An Expert Advisor

If all of this seems confusing, you’re not alone. The good news is that there are expert debt and financial advisors that can help you to make sense of it all. They will help you to understand exactly where your money is going each month and what kind of financial discipline you’ll need to clear the path to home ownership. Many are provided by local or state governments at no cost, so be sure to check out your local options.

Reach Out To Friends And Family

Don’t forget that friends, colleagues and family members can be a great source of advice and support. Close family members may also be willing to lend a hand financially to get you out of renting and into your own home. Also, be sure to check in with former college classmates who have gone on to buy homes in the area. They’ll be a great source of information.

While past student loan and other debts can crimp one’s finances, they are no reason to put off home ownership indefinitely. For more information, contact your trusted mortgage professionals.

Man Vs. Machine: Why Using a Human Mortgage Professional Is Better Than Trusting an App

Posted on Posted in Home Mortgage Tips

Man Vs. Machine: Why Using a Human Mortgage Professional Is Better Than Trusting an AppAre you currently house-hunting or plan to be in the near future? If you plan on using mortgage financing to pay for your home, you will soon discover that there’s no shortage of options available to you. You can meet with a local mortgage professional, apply for mortgages online and even download mobile apps that promise to set you up with a mortgage. However, is every option equal?

Let’s explore why, in the epic battle of man versus machine, you will want to place your trust in a human mortgage professional.

Human Mortgage Professionals Have Local Experience

The first and most important reason you will want to work with a human mortgage professional is their understanding of the local real estate market. While you are likely to be working with a real estate agent, your mortgage advisor is another pair of eyes-and-ears that can help to keep your home purchase on the right path. They are also working regularly with many local clients and can share insight and information that no website or app will be able to come up with.

A Human Can Appreciate Your Unique Financial Situation

Online and app-based mortgage technology is… cold. Algorithms are processing the math and other hard facts about your financial history, with little consideration of you and your family as people. When you meet with a human mortgage advisor, you’re speaking with someone who understands the challenges that regular people face. They have also worked with numerous other clients and can appreciate why certain circumstances may have come up in the past.

A Human Will Go To Bat For You If Needed

Finally, don’t forget that a human mortgage professional is invested in your success. A mobile app isn’t going to understand when it needs to go the “extra mile” to ensure that you get the financing you need. You can trust that a human will push for that extra bit of funding or those better repayment terms as they’re on your side.

The above are just a few of the many reasons that you will want to work with a human mortgage advisor rather than using a website or mobile app. Don’t believe us? Give our professional (and human!) mortgage team a call today. We will be happy to share our expertise and insight to ensure you get the best mortgage financing for your new home.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – October 23, 2017

Posted on Posted in Housing Market

Last week’s economic reports included NAHB Housing Market Indexes along with readings on housing starts, building permits and existing home sales. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also released.

NAHB: Builder Sentiment Jumps in September, Housing Starts and Building Permits Fall

The National Association of Home Builders reported a four-point increase in its Home Price Index for October. Builders surveyed reported higher confidence in overall market conditions, which resulted in a reading of 68. Analysts had expected no change in the September reading of 64. Natural disasters have raised builder opportunities for new projects, but the industry continues to be swamped with labor shortages and rising materials costs.

While stronger builder confidence is expected to impact housing starts and building permits issued, both reports had lower readings in September. Housing starts were calculated at 1.215 million starts on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis. An expected reading of 1.170 million housing start was based on August’s reading of 1.183 million starts. Single-family housing starts were lower than for August but were 9.10 percent higher year-over-year.

Building permits issued fell in September; 1.215 million permits were issued on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis as compared to 1.272 million permits issued in August. Higher readings for building permits are expected in the aftermath of recent hurricanes and wildfires, but increased starts and permits will include replacing damaged structures as well as building new developments.

Mortgage Rates Mixed, Existing Home Sales Rise

Fixed mortgage rates were lower after the 10-year Treasury rate fell six basis points. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was three basis points lower at 3.88 percent the average rate for a 15-year mortgage dropped by two basis points to 3.19 percent. Rates for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage averaged 3.17 percent, an increase of one basis point. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for fixed-rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

Sales of existing homes rose in September according to the National Association of Realtors®. Previously-owned homes sold at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 5.39 million sales. Which surpassed August’s reading of 5.35 million sales and expected sales of 5.30 million previously-owned homes. Any increase in sales is a welcome sign that the severe shortage of homes for sale may be easing. It’s too early to know how hurricanes and fires will affect housing markets and it will take months to rebuild all homes destroyed.

Weekly jobless claims fell to 222,000 and were lower than the expected 244,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 244,000 new jobless claims filed. Fewer jobless claims suggest that jobs markets continue to expand and may help renters decide to buy homes.

Whats Ahead

Next week’s economic readings include reports on new and pending home sales and consumer sentiment. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.