Six Key Questions to Ask when Hiring a Real Estate Agent to Market and Sell Your Home

Six Key Questions to Ask when Hiring a Real Estate Agent to Market and Sell Your HomeThe work of a real estate agent can make or break how a prospective buyer feels about the property. Now that it's time to sell your home, you want to find the right agent to market it.

How do you find someone you can trust who will make you feel confident they can sell your home quickly for the best price possible? Here are the questions you should be asking.

Are They Licensed?

This one is the easy one. You should be working with a member of the National Association of Realtors®. It is also important that you check whether they have any complaints on record about their practices.

You can check with your state's real estate department as well.

Are They Successful?

A successful real estate agent is more than the number of sales they have completed. You should also find out the average difference between listing and selling prices on their most recent sales.

If an agent is closing deals at far below the original asking price consistently, that might be a red flag.

How Busy Are They?

Make sure you ask in advance how often the agent will contact you and how they will keep you informed of potential buyers. If you're going to be working with one of their associates at times, you should know.

How Familiar Are They With Your Neighborhood?

A real estate agent is not just marketing your home – they're marketing your entire community. If they have closed nearby sales before, they are familiar with the selling points of the neighborhood as well as the right price range for properties similar to yours.

How Much Commission Do They Expect?

Normally you will pay the agent about 6 percent of the sale price. If you find one that offers their services for a low percentage, you should know why. Are they just trying to stay competitive? Or do they expect you to do a large share of the marketing yourself?

Do They Have A Plan?

The real estate agent should be able to tell you exactly which marketing techniques they would use for your home and how they plan to promote the listing. They should come to the table with ideas from the very beginning.

Now that you have a clearer idea of the basics, use the internet to find trusted real estate agents in your area. Then pick up the phone and begin your journey toward becoming a successful home seller today.

Case-Shiller, FHFA Report Slowing Growth in Home Prices

Case-Shiller FHFA Report Slowing Growth in Home PricesThe Case-Shiller 10 and 20-City Home Price Indices for June reported year-over-year gains of 8.10 percent while the Case-Shiller National Home Price Index covers all nine census regions and reported a year-over-year gain of 6.20 percent.

Readings for all three indices worsened as compared to May readings, and all cities tracked showed slower growth in home prices. The National Home Price Index, which is now published monthly, rose by 0.90 percent from May's reading, and both the 10 and 20-City Index posted month-to-month gains of one percent.

Five cities including Detroit, Las Vegas, New York, Phoenix and San Diego posted larger gains in June than for May.

Regional Home Price Growth: NYC Leads Cities in June

According to the Case-Shiller 20-City Index, New York City led home price growth in June with a reading of +1.60 percent. Chicago, Detroit and Las Vegas posted gains of 1.40 percent with Las Vegas posting its largest home price gain since last summer.

Year-over-year, Las Vegas posted the highest growth rate at 15.20 percent. San Francisco's home price gains slowed to a year-over-year rate of 12.90 percent. Phoenix posted its slowest home price growth since March of 2012 with its June reading of 6.90 percent.

Home Prices Rise, But Modestly

While home prices in all cities tracked by Case-Shiller rose for the third consecutive month, analysts said that the Federal Reserve may increase its target federal funds rate as soon as the first quarter of 2015. This would lead to higher mortgage rates, which could further flatten home price growth.

Home affordability became an issue for many would-be buyers after the rapid rate of home price growth seen in 2013. Lower demand for homes could also impact the rate of home price appreciation as inventories of available homes rise. With these factors and no one knowing exactly when the Fed will act to raise rates, it's unlikely that home prices will rapidly escalate in the coming months.

FHFA Reports Slower Home Price Growth in June

FHFA, the agency that oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, reported that June home prices slowed from May's reading of 5.40 percent year-over-year to 5.20 percent year-over-year in June. FHFA reports on properties connected with mortgages owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. FHFA shared some positive trends for seasonally adjusted purchase-only home prices in its June report:

  • June's home prices rose in 40 states.

  • Home prices rose for the seventh consecutive month

  • Home prices rose for 23 of the last 24 months with the November 2013 as the exception.

  • Home prices rose in the second quarter of 2014 in 74 of 100 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) tracked by the federal government.

  • Home prices in the Pacific and Mountain census districts continued to slow in the second quarter. After rapid growth in home prices in 2013, this appears to indicate and expected adjustment rather than an unexpected crash in home prices for these regions.

While slower growth in home prices is of concern to homeowners, more affordable prices will likely encourage more would-be buyers to become actual buyers.

Refi or Wait? How to Choose Between Refinancing Your Mortgage Now or Waiting Until You Need the Money

Refi or Wait? How to Choose Between Refinancing Your Mortgage Now or Waiting Until You Need the MoneyRefinancing your existing mortgage may provide you with the opportunity to lower your interest rate, reduce your mortgage payment and adjust your loan term. For those homeowners who have lived in their home for more than a few years, pulling equity out of the property for everything from a luxurious vacation to making home improvements is a tempting potential benefit.

However, with property values and interest rates adjusting frequently, you may wonder if now is the best time to refinance your mortgage.

Using Equity From Your Refinance

One factor to consider when debating between refinancing now and waiting relates to pulling equity out of your home. If you need access to the cash now for home improvements or other purposes, refinancing now may be ideal. Even if you do not need access to your equity for several months or longer, you can lock in today's rates and invest the money in other vehicles, such as CDs or bonds, until you need the cash.

Anticipating Market Changes

You may have heard that the interest rates for home mortgages have been slowly rising, and while they remain close to historic lows, they are projected to continue to rise. Nobody can predict with certainty how interest rates will adjust in the next few months and years, and locking in today's rates may be beneficial. Keep in mind that if rates decline significantly in the near future, you can always look into refinancing again.

Reducing Your Principal

If you have a higher interest rate on your existing mortgage, your principal balance may be reduced at a slower rate than if you refinance to a lower interest rate. In addition, if you refinance from a 30-year term to a shorter term length, your principal balance will also be reduced more quickly in most cases. In many situations, refinancing your home mortgage today may establish a more efficient repayment schedule that allows you to accrue equity at a faster rate.

Each homeowner has unique factors to consider when refinancing based on property value, credit rating, existing loan terms and other factors. While many will benefit by refinancing an existing mortgage today, you can speak with a mortgage professional for specific advice and recommendations regarding your situation. Call your trusted mortgage representative today to inquire about the options and to begin working on your refinance loan application.

DOC New Home Sales and NAR Existing Home Sales

DOC New Home Sales and NAR Existing Home SalesThe Department of Commerce reported July sales of new homes dropped by 2.40 percent over June to a four month low. Analysts noted that although July's reading of 412,000 new homes sold fell short of expectations and June's reading, the new homes sector is volatile and subject to change.

June's reading of 406,000 new homes sold was revised to 422,000 new homes sold; expectations were based on the original reading. Three of four regions posted a slower rate of growth for home prices with only the South posting a gain.

The average price of a new home in the U.S. rose to $269,800, which is 2.90 percent higher than June's average home price. Inventories of new homes increased to a six-month level based on current sales pace.

This was the highest inventory of new homes available since 2011. Strict mortgage credit requirements and an elevated national unemployment rate contributed to the lower rate of home value appreciation and higher inventories of new homes.

The good news: New home sales increased by 12.90 percent year-over-year in July.

Existing Home Sales Rise: Steady Mortgage Rates, Rising Rents Cited

The National Association of REALTORS® reported that July sales of previously-owned homes rose from June's revised figure of 5.03 million sales to 5.15 million sales and achieved the highest reading for 2014.

The existing home sales readings are calculated on a seasonally adjusted annual basis. Existing home sales were 4.30 percent lower than for July 2013, which had the highest reading for existing home sales in 2013.

Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the NAR, said that a growing inventory of available pre-owned homes for sale and strengthening labor markets contributed to sales growth. Mr. Yun said that July's pace of sales was expected to continue based on mortgage rates holding steady and rising rents for apartments.

The inevitable rise of mortgage rates and increasing home prices were cited as factors that could cool existing home sales in coming months. With the Fed scheduled to complete its asset purchase program in October and changes to the Fed's target federal funds rate expected within months, mortgage rates are expected to rise. Affordability looms as an obstacle to sales; home prices continue to rise as wages grow at a slower pace than home prices.

The national median price for existing homes was $222,900, which was a year-over-year increase of 4.90 percent. This was the 29th consecutive month for year-over-year price gains for existing homes. The inventory of existing homes for sale increased by 3.50 percent to 2.37 million available homes and represents a 5.50 month supply. Unsold inventory of existing homes is 5.80 percent higher year-over-year. As compared to July 2013's reading of 2.24 million available pre-owned homes.

Homes sold through foreclosure or short sales have steeply declined from 36 percent of existing home sales in 2009 to approximately 9 percent in July and were down from 15 percent of existing home sales in June.

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - Aug 25, 2014

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week Aug 25 2014Last week's economic news brought several reports related to housing. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Wells Fargo Housing Market Index for August rose by two points to 55, which was its highest reading in seven months.

Components of the NAHB HMI include builder surveys on conditions related to upcoming sales of new homes, which rose by two points for a reading of 65. Builder sentiment concerning present sales conditions also rose by two points to 58.

Builder views on prospective buyer traffic rose from 39 to 42. Readings above 50 indicate that more builders viewed housing market conditions as positive as negative.

NAHB cited job growth and low mortgage rates as conditions driving higher builder confidence in market conditions.

Housing Starts, Building Permits Up in July

According to the Commerce Department, housing starts and building permits rose in July. Housing starts increased to 1.09 million from June's reading of 945,000 and exceeded expectations of 975,000. This reading reflects higher builder confidence and could contribute to easing demand for housing as new homes expand the inventory of available homes.

Construction of single family homes accounts for about 75 percent of new home construction. July's reading was 656,000 single family housing starts on an annual basis. Regionally, housing starts declined by 25 percent in the Midwest, but rose by 44 percent in the Northeast, 29 percent in the South and 18.60 percent in the West.

Building permits issued in July rose to an annual rate of 1.05 million, which was an increase of 8.10 percent over June's reading of 973,000 permits issued. Permits for single family homes increased by 0.90 percent to a reading of 640,000 permits annually.

July's readings for housing starts and building permits are in line with overall economic growth and suggest that housing markets may improve in coming months as the supply of new homes increases.

Let's add more icing to the cake. The National Association of REALTORS® reported that existing home sales rose to 5.15 million on a seasonally adjusted annual basis against predictions of 5.00 million existing homes sold and June's reading of 5.05 million sales of previously owned homes.

Mortgage Rates Fall, FOMC Minutes Indicate Economic Improvement

Freddie Mac's weekly survey of mortgage rates reported that average rates fell across the board: The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage dropped by two basis points to 4.10 percent with discount point lower at 0.50 percent.

The rate for a 15-year mortgage dropped by one basis point to 3.24 percent with discount points unchanged at 0.60 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage dropped by two basis points to 2.95 percent with discount points unchanged at 0.50 percent.

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) of the Federal Reserve released minutes from its July meeting. Highlights included the committee's 9-1 vote in favor of continuing the slow pace of reducing economic stimulus.

The minutes indicated that the committee intends to keep the federal funds rate below normal levels for "some time." Previous FOMC statements have consistently indicated the Fed's intention to maintain very low short-term interest rates after asset purchases under QE3 end in October, but FOMC has not released a specific time frame or details of its intentions concerning the federal funds rate.

The Fed acknowledged economic improvements, but cited lingering concerns over unemployment, which remains higher than average.

More Good News: Jobless Claims Lower, Economic Indicators Up

Weekly jobless claims fell to 298,000, lower than expectations of 300,000 new jobless claims and the prior week's reading of 312,000 new claims. Leading economic indicators (LEI) rose by 0.89 percent in July after increases in May and June. Analysts interpreted this reading as a further indication of stronger economic conditions.

What's Ahead

This week's scheduled economic reports include New Home Sales, the Case-Shiller Home Price Index and FHFA House Price Index. General economic reports include the Consumer Confidence Index and the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index. It will be interesting to see whether consumer views of the economy are consistent with recent economic improvements.

Home Buying Tips: Three Items to Watch out for in a Purchase Agreement Contract

Home Buying Tips: Three Items to Watch out for in a Purchase Agreement ContractThe purchase agreement is a vitally important document that outlines the provisions, terms and conditions for the transfer of property.

It should be read carefully and any ambiguities should be clarified prior to signing. It is a legally binding contract between the buyer and seller.

The purchase agreement may vary depending on the location. Most real estate agents use a form that has been approved by a state realtors association.

The seller may have a different version that was drawn up by an attorney. It should not be assumed that they are all the same.

Typically, the purchase agreement will include an inspection period. This allows the buyer time to verify the conditions stated on the purchase agreement. Three of the most important stipulations in the contract are listed below.

All Owners Must Sign the Purchase Agreement

In most cases, the purchase agreement should be signed by the legal owner of the property.

If there is more than one owner, each owner should sign the agreement. In many states, both parties in a married couple have an interest in a property even if the title is held in one party’s name alone. Therefore, the purchase agreement should be signed by both parties of a married couple.

In the event the property is being sold by a corporation, verify that the person signing the agreement is authorized to commit the corporation to the sale.

List All Fixtures to be Transferred with the Sale

The purchase agreement should list all items that are to convey with the property. “Fixtures” are considered items that are attached to the property.

Legally, they should be included with the sale, but more than a few buyers have been dismayed to find the property stripped of countertops, appliances and window coverings. Any fixtures and personal property that are part of the sale should be included in the purchase agreement.

Verify Zoning Ordinances

The purchase agreement may contain various stipulations. One should include the right to cancel the contract if zoning prohibits the use of the property as planned.

Zoning ordinances may restrict the use of buildings or land. This may prove to be an obstacle for someone who intended to include a workshop on the property. The buyer should be able to withdraw from the contract if they discover that zoning prohibits the intended use.

Separation Anxiety: How to Deal with a Joint Mortgage Loan in the Event of a Divorce

Separation Anxiety: How to Deal with a Joint Mortgage Loan in the Event of a DivorceDuring the course of a marriage, it is common for the couple to acquire property together. This is what is referred to as joint or community property.

When a couple divorces, it is up to the parties involved to determine what happens to this joint property or let a judge use applicable law to determine how property is to be split.

What Happens To The House?

A couple of options are available when deciding what to do with a house where both partners are listed on the mortgage. First, the couple may decide to simply sell the home and split the proceeds from the sale.

Another option would be for one person to give the other person the house as part of the divorce settlement.

Technically, the house is sold or transferred and whoever gets the home is now the sole person listed on the mortgage.

Beware Of The Tax Implications

Typically, the person who gets the house should be the person who is in the lower tax bracket. This is because capital gains taxes may be lower or non-existent for those who are in the 10 or 15 percent tax bracket.

If the house is sold and the proceeds are split, capital gains taxes are exempted on the first $250,000 of profit made on the sale. For a married couple, the exemption is $500,000. Therefore, it may be worthwhile to sell the house before the marriage is over.

What If Children Are Involved?

In the event that the divorcing couple has a child, the best interest of the child must be considered. Typically, a judge will award a principal residence to the parent who will raise the child after the divorce is finalized.

To help the custodial parent afford any payments on the house, the other parent may be asked to help make payments as part of a child support or alimony agreement. This may be beneficial to the noncustodial parent as payments that are considered alimony are tax deductible.

When a couple divorces, they have a lot to think about. As this may be an emotional time, figuring out what to do with a home where both parties are on the mortgage can be difficult. However, those who are divorcing amicably or who want what is best for their children can come to an agreement without a lot of stress or drama.

Lowballing 101: How to Avoid Insulting a Home Seller when Making a Low Offer for Their House or Condo

Lowballing 101: How to Avoid Insulting a Home Seller when Making a Low Offer for Their House or CondoBuying a home is a huge step for people who are ready to make an investment in their future. Getting a great deal on a home is just as important and knowing how much to offer could be confusing. It is important to make sure the home seller is not insulted by the lowball offer and is ready to negotiate to make sure everyone wins.

Make a List of Necessary Improvements

One of the best ways to validate a lowball offer on a home is to list improvements that need to be made to the property. If the home needs a new roof or a new heating and air conditioning system, these are reasons to offer less than the asking price. Sometimes a home may also need new flooring, paint, or matching appliances which all cost money. The buyer can make a lowball offer stating additional expenses of making sure the home is move in ready.

Explain Any Issues with the Location

Another option when considering a lowball offer is to point out problems with the location. If the home is on a busy street or close to a manufacturing district, the buyer has legitimate concerns. In the offer, list the potential problems of living too close to fast food restaurants, train tracks, or airports. A less desirable location could equal a great buy on a new home.

Provide Pricing for Comparable Homes in the Area

A knowledgeable real estate agent can help compare homes that have sold in the area. When you are writing up a lowball offer, look at the lower priced homes that have sold in the same neighborhood. A seller will quickly realize that if he wants to sell the home, he will need to accept a reasonable offer or risk letting his house sit on the market for weeks or months.

Consider the Seller's Reasons for Selling

Finally, the seller's situation can also be key in getting a good deal on a home. If the seller is desperate to sell because of a job relocation or if he has already bought a new home this can be the perfect reason to make a low offer and take the home off the seller's hands. Without insulting the seller, the buyer can make an offer for less than the asking price and agree to a quick closing.

Scam Alert! Three Mortgage Modification Scams to Watch out for (And How to Avoid Them)

Scam Alert! Three Mortgage Modification Scams to Watch out for (And How to Avoid Them)As if homeowners who are facing foreclosure don't have enough to worry about, a multitude of loan modification scam artists have invaded the internet, public files and even foreclosure notices in newspapers in hopes of targeting their next victim. By identifying the top three modification scams and learning how to avoid them, at-risk homeowners can protect themselves (and their homes).

Never Pay For Mortgage Modification Assistance

Many desperate homeowners fall victim to scam artists who offer to provide them with assistance in the loan modification process for an exorbitant fee. Many times the scam artist who promises to provide assistance will require that the homeowner pay the fee upfront, after which they will provide very little assistance or simply take the money and run. Consumers should be aware that assistance and counseling services are offered for free through a number of reputable HUD approved counseling agencies.

Avoid Transferring The Deed

One popular scam that at-risk homeowners often face is the property deed scam in which scam artists promise to purchase the home in question, agreeing to let the desperate homeowner rent it out. They suggest that turning over the deed to a borrower with a better credit rating will offer additional financing opportunities, thus preventing the loss of the home. The scammer often promises to sell the home back to the homeowner, but in reality has no intention of doing so.

Many times the scam artist will sell the home to another buyer. In some instances, the crook will collect any processing fees, take the title to the home and any equity, and then leave the home to default. It is a good idea for consumers who are approached with a property deed scam to report it to the FTC.

Ignore Unrealistic Promises

Mortgage modification scammers often make promises to do such things as negotiate a solution to the foreclosure more quickly, process mortgage payments for the consumer while the negotiation is being worked out, or even guarantee a loan modification. Since the actual lender is the only one who can agree to a loan modification, and this solution requires additional processing time, overnight fixes are almost always scams. Additionally, consumers should never make mortgage payments to anyone other than their lender.

For additional information about mortgage modification scams and how to avoid them, or to receive assistance with working out a solution to avoid foreclosure, at-risk homeowners should contact their mortgage professional.

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - Aug 18, 2014

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week Aug 18 2014Last week's economic news brought little housing-related content, but several economic reports in other sectors contributed to overall perceptions of the economy.

In a speech given in Sweden, Fed Vice President Stanley Fischer noted that the economy might be in a period of "secular stagnation." This condition is expected to keep interest rates low for longer than expected.

A survey of small business owners showed that confidence increased by 0.70 in July. Job openings for June increased from 4.60 million to 4.70 million. Readings for several reports fell shy of expectations and new jobless claims were higher than expected.

Economic Readings Lower Than Expected, Weekly Jobless Claims Rise

Retail sales for July were flat and fell shy of June's reading of 0.20 percent, which was also the expected reading for July. Retail sales except autos were also lower in July with a reading of 0.10 percent against the expected reading and June's reading of 0.40 percent.

Weekly jobless claims were reported at 311,000 against expectations of 300,000 new claims and the prior week's reading of 290,000 new jobless claims. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, this was the highest reading since June.

New jobless claims were close to pre-recession levels which suggested a slower pace of layoffs. The four-week average of new jobless claims, which presents a less volatile reading than for weekly reports, rose by 2000 new jobless claims to a reading of 285,750.

Mortgage Rates Lower

Freddie Mac's weekly survey reported lower mortgage rates last week. Average rates were as follows: 30-year fixed rate mortgages had a rate of 4.12 percent and were two basis points lower than the previous week.

Discount points averaged 0.60 percent against the prior week's reading of 0.70 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was 3.24 percent as compared to the prior week's reading of 3.27 percent. Discount points were unchanged at 0.60 percent.

The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage dropped by one basis point to 2.97 percent with discount points unchanged at 0.50 percent.

A couple of good news bytes from last week included an increase in small business sentiment in July. The National Federation of Independent Business Index for July increased from June's reading of 95.00 points to 95.70 points.

The federal government also reported that job openings increased from 4.60 million in May to 4.70 million in June.

What's Ahead

Several housing-related reports are set for release this week. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) will release its Home Builder Index for August, which measures builder confidence in market conditions for newly built homes.

The Department of Commerce will release Housing Starts for July, and the National Association of REALTORS® will release its Existing Home Sales report for July. The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) of the Federal Reserve will release the minutes of its most recent meeting on Wednesday; this could provide details concerning the Fed's recent monetary policy decisions, which include the wind-down of asset purchases under the current quantitative easing program.

Experiencing 'Purchase Anxiety'? How to Calm Your Nerves Before Committing to Buy a New Home

Experiencing 'Purchase Anxiety'? How to Calm Your Nerves Before Committing to Buy a New HomeWhether this is your first big purchase, or your family is moving to a new location or looking for more space, buying a home has its share of ups and downs.

It's perfectly normal to feel anxious about whether or not you've found the right property. Here are some things you can do to make yourself feel more secure with your decision.

Do The Math

You've probably already done this, but it's okay to go over it a number of times to be sure. Factor in your household income and all the bills you expect to pay every month. Add everything up.

It sounds like a stressful activity, but when you look at the numbers and realize that buying a home is actually doable, it can be a liberating feeling.

When you know for sure you can make it as a homeowner without getting underwater, you will feel more confident.

Meet The Neighbors

If you haven't had the chance to knock on a couple of doors yet, you should spend some time saying hello to people in the neighborhood. The more you can get to talking with families that are just like yours, the more you will be able to picture yourself as a member of the community.

If you have kids, find out if there are other kids the same age nearby. That will help to ease their anxiety about moving as well.

Ask Your Agent

Don't feel like you are being overly cautious if you ask your real estate agent and or mortgage professional your lingering questions. Make sure you're getting a good price for the area, and make sure you know about any issues with the condition of the property.

You should be able to trust that your realtor and mortgage professional are excited for your decision.

Familiarize Yourself With The Neighborhood

Take a drive and figure out which stores you're nearest to, the route you can take to get to work, and which other amenities you might take advantage of. Home buyers often underestimate how important living in a safe neighborhood with plenty of accessible businesses can be.

The more you can imagine yourself living at your new address, the better you will feel.

Remember, never sign the papers on a new home unless you feel one hundred percent secure in your buying decision.

Can't Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage? Here Are Three Tips to Try to Get a Mortgage Approval

Can't Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage? Here Are Three Tips to Try to Get a Mortgage ApprovalFew people in the world can afford to pay the entire cost of a new home upfront, which is why banks and other financial institutions offer home loans. Also known as mortgages, those loans let you make monthly payments to pay off the money you borrow and the interest charged on that loan. If you can't get approved for a mortgage, try using a few easy tips.

Improve Your Credit Score

When you apply for a home loan, the lender looks at your credit history and credit score first. Your credit history contains a long list of all the money you borrowed in the past, but it also shows your total debts, medical bills and if you had a foreclosure or a bankruptcy. Your credit score is a three digit number based on your ratio of debt to credit, any defaults on your account and any issues you had in the past.

If a lender denies you for a mortgage, get your credit score up before you apply again. Even something as simple as paying off more of your debt can increase your score by a few points. Eliminating bad debts and removing any mistakes from your credit report can also help.

Apply with a Cosigner

Applying for a loan with a cosigner is another option for those with poor credit. The lender will put more weight on the credit score of your cosigner than the lender does on your own credit report. You want to find someone with a close connection to you and someone who has a good credit score.

Your cosigner agrees to pay back the loan if you default on that loan. The loan will also appear on your cosigner's credit report, which means you need to find someone willing to take a chance on you.

Look for Cheaper Homes

After applying for a loan, the lender looks at your credit history, your income and other factors to determine how much money you can borrow. Applying for a more expensive home might result in a rejection. The lender can determine that you cannot afford to purchase that home, but applying for a home that costs less might help you get the loan you need.

It's possible for you to obtain a mortgage that helps you pay for the home of your dreams. Applying with a cosigner, improving your credit and looking at cheaper homes might help you get that loan.

Mortgage Terms 101: Understanding 'Cash-Out Refinancing' and How to Determine if It's Worth It

Mortgage Terms 101: Understanding 'Cash-Out Refinancing' and How to Determine if It's Worth ItWith interest rates remaining near historic lows for the past several years, many of your friends and neighbors may have already told you that they have refinanced their home mortgages once or even a couple of times. A cash-out refinance can provide you with several important benefits, but it is not the best option for all homeowners. By learning more about what a cash-out refinance is and what the pros and cons of this type of refinance loan are, you can make a decision that is best for your current and future plans.

What Is a Cash-Out Refinance?

When you refinance your home mortgage, you can select a rate and term refinance which does not pull equity out of your home, or you can select a cash-out refinance to access some of the equity in your property. You can research your property value and your outstanding principal balance to determine how much equity you have available. Keep in mind that most lenders will not allow you to access all of the equity, and you can obtain more information about the loan amount you may qualify for by speaking with a mortgage professional.

The Benefits of a Cash-Out Refinance

If you decide to apply for a cash-out refinance loan, you may be able to walk away from the closing table with tens of thousands of dollars or more. This is money that you may use for any purpose, including home improvements, paying off high interest rate credit cards, sending the kids to college and more. In addition, you may enjoy other benefits from refinancing, such as lowering your interest rate and mortgage payment and adjusting your loan term to meet long-term goals.

When a Cash-Out Refinance May Not Be Advisable

A cash-out refinance loan can be beneficial, but there are instances when it is not the best solution. The loan will adjust principal reduction, the loan payoff date, the interest charges and other factors. The adjustment of these factors may make your new loan less advantageous for you in some cases, so you should carefully consider the full impact of refinancing before you decide to move forward.

From learning more about the benefits of refinancing to finding a competitive rate for your new mortgage, there are many factors to consider. You can speak with a mortgage professional today to inquire about the cash-out refinance loan terms that you may qualify for and to explore the options in greater detail. If you are thinking about applying for a cash-out home loan, contact a lending representative today.

Five Tips for Managing Your Monthly Budget to Ensure Your Mortgage is Paid On-Time, Every Time

Five Tips for Managing Your Monthly Budget to Ensure Your Mortgage is Paid On-Time, Every TimeHomeowners who are struggling to make their monthly mortgage payments can make it easier on themselves by cutting costs in other areas. Learning how to budget effectively will likely enable homeowners to pay their mortgage payments on-time, every time. Here are five of the best budget tips:

Conserve Energy

It is advisable to be mindful of energy use in order to keep utility bills down to a minimum. Lights, televisions and other devices requiring electrical power are best to leave off in unoccupied rooms. It is also a good idea to make sure that windows and doors are properly sealed so that energy is not wasted.

Stay Committed to Couponing

All too often, coupons that arrive in newspapers or through emails are quickly discarded. Collecting coupons from various sources can give homeowners the chance to save big on groceries, entertainment and other everyday purchases. Some of the savviest consumers have been known to spend practically nothing on their purchases by simply staying committed to the art of couponing.

Watch Credit Card Usage

Having a credit card often creates a false sense of financial security. Many card holders are tempted to charge their credit cards up to their limits only to be burdened with high interest rates and inflated minimum payments. Credit cards are best to use only in times of emergencies.

Consider Alternative Transportation Methods

Fuel costs, auto repairs and other expenses associated with driving a vehicle on a frequent basis can make it much harder for homeowners to stay on top of their mortgage payments. People who have access to adequate public transportation may be able to significantly reduce their commute costs. Car sharing services give people the opportunity to use a car on an as-needed basis and often prove to be a smarter alternative to owning a vehicle.

Keep Expense Records

It can also be easier to set money aside for mortgage payments if expenses are carefully monitored with a detailed eye. It is best to closely scrutinize receipts, bank statements and other financial documents for any discrepancies. Keeping track of expenses on a spreadsheet so that all financial information is clearly displayed may be another practical idea.

Smart budgeting practices can help homeowners save the extra money they need to pay their monthly mortgage payments before each due date passes. Contact a local mortgage professional to learn more clever ways to manage money while trying to pay on a mortgage.

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - Aug 11, 2014

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week Aug 11 2014

Last week's housing related news was minimal, but a Federal Reserve survey of senior loan officers revealed that although credit standards for commercial and industrial loans as well as credit cards are easing, current mortgage credit standards are more stringent than in 2005. This could be a contributing factor to slowing housing market gains while other sectors of the economy are recovering at a faster pace.

Qualified Mortgage Rules Impact Non-Conforming Mortgages

The Senior Loan Officers survey also noted that qualified mortgage rules have slowed approval of prime jumbo mortgages and non-traditional home loans. This suggests that applicants falling outside of stringent qualified mortgage rules can expect challenges when buying or refinancing their homes.

In other housing news, Freddie Mac's Primary Mortgage Market Survey reported that last week's mortgage rates were mixed. Mortgage rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 4.14 percent with discount points of 0.70 percent against last week's reading of 4.12 percent with discount points of 0.60 percent. 15-year mortgage rates averaged 3.27 percent with discount points of 0.60 percent. This was an increase of four basis points, although discount points fell from 0.70 percent to 0.60 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was 2.98 percent, a drop of two basis points, with discount points unchanged at 0.50 percent.

Fewer Jobless Claims, Service-Related Business Growth Exceeds Expectations 

The weekly Jobless Claims report brought a lower than expected reading of 289,000 new claims as compared to predictions of 305,000 new jobless claims. In other economic news, the Institute for Service Management (ISM) reported that its non-manufacturing index rose from June's reading of 56.00 percent to 58.70 percent in July. Analysts had forecasted July's reading at 56.50 percent. July's reading represented the highest growth rate for service-related businesses since 2005.

According to the Department of Commerce, June factory orders rose by 1.10 percent over May's reading of -0.60 percent against an expected reading of 0.60 percent. As business expands and factory orders increase, it's likely that jobs and hiring will also grow. Steady employment is a compelling factor for most home buyers and positive reports in labor and industrial sectors could boost housing markets as more buyers increase demand for homes.

What's Ahead

Next week's economic reports include retail sales, retail sales excluding automotive, industrial production and the weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims. While there isn't much housing news expected next week, readings in other economic sectors can suggest potential trends in housing markets

Five Absolute Truths About the Home Buying Process That You Will Need to Come to Terms With

Five Absolute Truths About the Home Buying Process That You Will Need to Come to Terms WithBuying a home is one of the most exciting times that an individual will undertake in life. However, a property purchase is not without its challenges, and these can cause frustration. In this article we'll share five potential setbacks that home buyers will need to understand and come to terms with to make a successful purchase.

Homeowner's Insurance is Necessary

Most lenders will require insurance before financing is approved. To fulfill these requirements, the policy should be for at least one year and proof that the policy has been paid for must be presented. Purchasing the policy is something that must be done before closing can take place, so if you're sure that this is the home for you, don't delay.

Some Sellers Are Firm, No Matter What

In an ideal situation, the buyer and the seller come to a mutual agreement very easily. However, in most cases negotiation of some type is likely to be a part of the process. As with most negotiations, to reach success both sides will need to compromise.

Probate Properties Have Special Terms

When the original homeowner has died, there are certain considerations to keep in mind that do not typically apply to other types of property. One is the fact that there is a special process that must be completed before the property can be sold, even though the heirs may advertise the property as being for sale ahead of time. Another factor to keep in mind is that a recently probated property may have been uninhabited for some time and will be sold 'as is'.

Loan Offers May Not Be Set in Stone

A common pitfall for many buyers is the assumption that home financing will be approved without issue. Unexpected circumstances may arise that cause a mortgage loan to be denied, which can cause an unprepared buyer numerous issues. Many sellers, in anticipation of such problems, have a contingency requirement.

Expect Caution from Sellers

If a seller treats your offer with caution or trepidation, don't take it personally. Many homeowners have been burned during previous sales, and you have no idea what the seller has been through with potential buyers this time around. If someone is exercising caution, there's likely a good reason for it.

Is a 40-Year Mortgage Worth It? How to Decide Whether or Not This Longer Term is Right for You

Is a 40-Year Mortgage Worth It? How to Decide Whether or Not This Longer Term is Right for YouThere are different timetables for mortgages. The most common types are 15-year and 30-year mortgages. However, a mortgage broker can establish unique timetables for a homeowner, such as a 40-year mortgage.

Friends may recommend going for a long-term timetable, but what do professionals think of a 40-year mortgage? Here is what you may want to consider to see if a 40-year mortgage is appropriate for you.

The Monthly Rates Will Be Low

Compared to a 15-year or a 30-year mortgage, the monthly payments for a 40-year mortgage will be lower. Since the mortgage is spread over 10 years beyond a conventional 30-year mortgage, homeowners will see much lower mortgage payments per month. This can be very attractive for homeowners who need to control their housing costs per month.

Long Term Costs

But, many brokers will tell a homeowner the extra 10 years is not worth it. Because the homeowner will need to pay interest rate charges each month for 10 extra years beyond the typical 30-year mortgage window, the homeowner will end up paying more in interest for a 40-year mortgage. Even with a low, fixed interest rate, homeowners are still extending their home payments by a whole decade, which will add up in the end.

Always Fixed

Under housing laws, a 40-year mortgage must always be a fixed-rate mortgage. This can be attractive for many homeowners since it guarantees that the mortgage payment per month will be the same for the next 40 years. For those on a budget, knowing ahead of time what they owe per month for 40 years can help them prioritize their payments.

Home Of One's Dreams

Since the 40-year mortgage will calculate as a lower monthly payment for an already credit qualified candidate, a broker will be more willing to offer a larger mortgage to the candidate. This means that many people who utilize the 40-year mortgage have a larger pool of homes to choose from. Of course, it is important to find a home within a reasonable budget.

Understanding the ramifications and specific issues with a 40-year mortgage can help a homeowner candidate better decide if it is right for them. Like any housing finance option, there are advantages and disadvantages, so knowing how the 40-year mortgage works is important. This information should enhance the home shopping experience and help the candidate and the broker find the best home under the most appropriate financing option.

Why a Detached Garage Can Drastically Improve Your Resale Price

Considering a Major Home Addition? Why a Detached Garage Can Drastically Improve Your Resale PriceBefore you make a major structural change to your property, it is important to consider how this will affect your resale value. While there are many steps that you can take to improve your property, the addition of a detached garage may be beneficial to you and may drastically improve your resale price when you are ready to sell.

You should always first obtain customized information about how the addition of a detached garage may affect your property's value.

Adding Square Footage to Your Home

As a property owner, you may be well aware that one of the most common ways the value of your property is determined is by the market rate for price per square foot of homes in the area. While factors such as age of the property, condition of the property and amenities in the neighborhood may affect whether your property's price per square foot is above or below market average, the size of the improvements has a direct impact on property value. Adding a detached garage adds square footage to the property, and a real estate agent can help you to determine the true financial gain you may experience through this addition.

Increasing Appeal to Potential Buyers

Properties that are more appealing to potential buyers may sell for a higher price. When you add a detached garage to your property, you may be adding style and function to the property by adding a place to park vehicles and to store items like seasonal items and lawn equipment. You can also create a detached garage with a workshop or another functional area for added appeal.

Transforming Existing Space

Some home additions will add a detached garage to a property because a garage was never constructed on the property, but others will be added because the homeowner wants to transform the existing garage attached to the home into a more functional area. For example, a new home addition, may turn the existing garage into a living room, a bedroom or another functional area. With the addition of a detached garage, the property owner can retain the benefits of having a garage while also improving the functional use of the main area of the home.

The addition of a detached garage can benefit you and your family in a number of ways, and it can also improve the resale value of your home.

The Summer Buying Season Is Here: 3 Tips to Help You Secure a Favorable Mortgage Rate

The Summer Buying Season Is Here 3 Tips to Help You Secure a Favorable Mortgage RateThe best way to ensure you get a good rate on your mortgage is to become an informed buyer. The more you know about mortgages, the more you'll be able to save, and that doesn't just mean knowing where to find the best interest rate.

While interest rates play an important role in determining the price of your mortgage, there's always more to a mortgage than just the interest rate. Here are three things you need to know about mortgages to make sure you secure a favorable rate.

Understand The Fees Involved - And How To Avoid Them

Aside from the interest rate, the biggest factor affecting the price of a mortgage is often the fees involved. These fees won't always be easy to find, so you might have to do some homework if you want to compare fees charged by different lenders.

Sometimes, it's possible to have these fees waived or removed. For example, if you end up moving your mortgage from one lender to another, the original lender may have some sort of mortgage pre-payment penalty. You'll want to make sure the terms of your existing mortgage loan don't include fees like this before you refinance.

Understand How The "Lock-In" Process Can Affect Your Interest Rate 

When you get a quote for a mortgage, each lender will offer a "lock-in period" in which the lender guarantees the interest rate for your mortgage stays the same. Because interest rates fluctuate so often, this "lock-in period" ensures that you end up paying the same rate you were initially offered should you choose to take out a mortgage with that lender.

If you need a longer lock-in period of two months or more, many lenders will charge a higher interest rate for that provision. For this reason, it's a good idea to be sure about the closing date of your sale so you can avoid missing out on the lock-in period or being forced to ask for a rate-lock extension.

Understand How Your Credit Score Affects Your Mortgage Rate

Generally, a better credit score means a better mortgage rate, but it's important that you don't damage your score while you're shopping around for mortgages.

Every lender will want to know your credit score and see your credit history. The good news is that every inquiry of the same tyep (mortgage in this case) will only count as a single inquiry on your score.  However, if you have other types of credit pulled, like furniture or auto financing, then too many inquiries into your credit history can lower your credit score.  Your best bet is to hold off on any additional financing until your home purchase loan is completed.

Of course, it's always important to shop around and compare rates when you're looking for the best mortgage deal. And now that you know these extra pieces of information about how mortgages work, you should have an easier time differentiating between a good mortgage rate and a bad mortgage rate. A mortgage rate that looks good at first could end up being a bad mortgage rate in the end because of hidden fees and other cost factors.

To learn more about finding the best mortgage rates, give your trusted mortgage professional a call.

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - Aug 4, 2014

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week Aug 4 2014Last week's economic news included a number of housing related reports. According to the National Association of REALTORS®, pending home sales dropped by 1.10 percent in June. The S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index reports for May noted that home prices are growing at a slower rate of 9.30 percent year-over-year than April's year-over-year growth rate of 10.80 percent. Construction spending was also lower in June.

The Fed's FOMC statement indicated that asset purchases connected to quantitative easing will cease in October, but that the current target federal funds rate is expected to stay in place "a considerable period" after asset purchases conclude. FOMC noted its concern over housing markets, which was based on slower home price growth and market activity.

Pending Home Sales, Home Price Growth Slower

Pending home sales dropped by 1.10 percent nationwide in June. This was the first decrease in four months. Pending home sales rose by 1.10 percent in the Midwest and 0.20 percent in the West, but dropped by 2.90 percent in the Northeast and 2.40 percent in the South. Pending sales are measured by signed purchase contracts and provide an indicator of future completed sales and mortgage loan activity.

The 20-city Case-Shiller Home Price Index for May fell by 1.50 percent to a year-over-year reading of 9.30 percent from April's 10.80 percent. No cities in the 20-city index reported declining home prices.

Construction spending fell by 1.80 percent in June against projections of an 0.30 percent increase in spending and May's reading of an 0.80 percent increase. Reasons cited for lower construction spending included builder focus on high-demand areas. Builders have also indicated concerns about rising mortgage rates and tight loan requirements that impact numbers of home buyers that can qualify for home loans.

Mortgage Rates Little Changed, Fed Continues Wind-Down of Asset Purchases

According to Freddie Mac's weekly Primary Mortgage Market Survey, rates were little changed last week. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was 4.12 percent as compared to 4.13 percent the prior week. Discount points were unchanged at an average of 0.60 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage fell by three basis points to 3.23 percent with discount points higher by 10 basis points at 0.70 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage fell by one basis point to 2.38 percent with average discount points of 0.40 percent unchanged.

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) of the Federal Reserve issued its customary post-meeting statement on Wednesday. The FOMC plans to continue reducing asset purchase under the current quantitative easing program until the purchases cease in October. Although some analysts were concerned that the Fed may consider raising its target federal funds rate based on lower than expected unemployment figures, the FOMC said it doesn't plan to raise the target federal funds "for a considerable time" after the QE purchases cease, but no specific timeline was given.

Labor Sector News

The Department of Commerce's Bureau of Labor Statistics posted a national unemployment rate of 6.20 percent for July, which was higher than expectations of a 6.00 percent national unemployment rate and June's reading of 6.10 percent. To put these readings in perspective, the Fed had established an unemployment rate of 6.50 percent as a benchmark for winding down its asset purchases and potentially raising the target federal funds rate.

Non-farm payrolls reported 209,000 jobs added in July against projections of 235,000 jobs added and June's reading of 298,000 jobs added. While July's reading was lower, analysts said that job growth suggests ongoing recovery for labor markets. Labor markets have been cited in recent months as reasons for slower demand for homes and home builder skepticism.

Next week's scheduled economic news contains no housing-related reports other than Freddie Mac's mortgage rates report.