What Options Do You Have to Refinance Your Home?

By Susanne Dwyer

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

When you’re considering refinancing your home, it’s common to have a lot of questions. Unlike a first-time homebuyer, you’ve often gone through the mortgage process before and think you may know what to expect. But what options should you take into consideration before filling out a residential mortgage application? There is a wide range of options available for refinancing your home, and selecting the correct one often involves knowing what kind of financial situation you’re facing. Here are some basics to help get you started in the process.

What Options Do You Have to Refinance Your Home?
The first question to ask is why are you looking at an online mortgage? Are you looking for a better deal than your current mortgage because your credit has improved since you were a first-time homebuyer? Are you filling out a residential mortgage application because you’re looking at a second home, perhaps to spend winters in a warmer climate? Are you considering adding investment property to your overall financial portfolio and an online mortgage is easier to administer than one with your local bank? Refinancing a home may be a confusing process, but knowing why you’re doing it and what the economic conditions are may help you make a smarter decision in the long run. Here are some common types of refinance options to consider when looking at a residential mortgage application:

  • Cash-Out Refinance: When you’re in a situation where you need extra cash at a lower interest rate than otherwise available for home improvement loans, college tuition or other necessary expenses, a cash-out refinance loan may be a good option to consider. It will typically work best when you’ve built significant equity in your home, which you may then turn into cash, leveraging your home’s equity against the balance of the loan.
  • FHA Streamline: An FHA streamline mortgage is a fast and easy way to save money on your FHA mortgage loan. Depending on the terms of your current mortgage, you may be eligible to refinance with a minimum 5 percent reduction in your payment, with no appraisal, income or asset verification required.
  • VA Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan (IRRRL): Did you get a VA mortgage loan to finance your home when the economy was better and the interest rates were higher? If you’ve served in our country’s military, whether you’re currently on active duty or a veteran, getting an IRRRL loan through the VA may enable you to enjoy the lower interest rates available in today’s economic market. With a lower interest rate, you may enjoy either a shorter repayment period or a lower monthly payment with a simple online mortgage application.
  • HARP 2.0 Program: Offered through the federal government, the Home Affordable Refinance Plan was developed when the housing bubble burst. Established in March 2009 by the Federal Housing Finance Agency, it was intended to help homeowners, even first-time home buyers, who found themselves upside down in their mortgages, owing more than their home was worth. If this describes the circumstances you find yourself in, a HARP refinance loan may be helpful if you’ve kept your mortgage payments current but have not been able to receive traditional refinancing due to the changed value of your home. However, if you’re potentially eligible for this program, be aware that it currently has an application deadline of Sept. 30, 2017, with no guarantee of its extension.
  • Refinance to a Fixed-Rate Mortgage: If you have an adjustable-rate mortgage and you’re seeing the rates and your payment constantly changing, it may be very frustrating when you need to stick to a budget. When you need to count on a constant payment over a longer period of time, such as during retirement or while on a fixed income, a fixed-rate mortgage refinance may help provide that level of security. By refinancing into a fixed-rate mortgage refinance loan, you may be able to enjoy lower overall repayments and may not need to worry about changing payment amounts over the remaining life of the mortgage.

Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer facing an online mortgage process to refinance a bad interest rate or are considering a residential mortgage application to fund investment property, refinancing is often a complex process. Knowing how the process works and what your options are may mean all the difference between negotiating a successful contract and being stuck in a bad deal for years to come. By educating yourself on the options you have available, you may be able to turn a tidy profit on investment property, or enjoy that perfect vacation home you never thought you’d have the chance to own.

Source: iServe Residential Lending

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From: Home Spun Wisdom

    

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How to Throw the Perfect Oscars Party

By Susanne Dwyer

oscar_party_infographic

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now on blog.rismedia.com:

Did your invite for the Oscars get lost in the mail? Are you going to have to wait for another year to rub shoulders with celebrity A-listers and walk down the red carpet? Then why not throw your own Oscar party and treat yourself and your friends to a taste of the high life?

This fun graphic from The Rug Seller will take you through every step you need to take in order to throw the most glamorous, glitziest and most fun Oscar party possible.

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From: Home Spun Wisdom

    

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5 Advantages of Real Estate Auctions

By Susanne Dwyer

Real estate auctions can be an effective sales tool for all types of properties, including luxury residential and single-family homes, as well as multifamily, retail and development sites.

While the conventional stereotype of an auction is that of a vehicle to move distressed properties, the troubled scenario no longer strictly holds true. For example, we’re seeing an overall increase in auctions of luxury residences. This uptick is especially apparent in second-home and resort markets, where baby boomers and empty-nesters are looking to sell their second residences.

In general, real estate auctions offer an efficient approach to a sale that can provide several advantages.

Auctions don’t replace brokers. Many real estate auction firms work in collaboration with brokers. Typically, the auction firm offers a cooperating broker a fee to the agent who represents the buyer. For the selling broker, the compensation structure in the conventional sales agreement often remains in place.

Auctions establish the market. An auction is a market-finding tool. By bringing together a large group of buyers to bid, that establishes what the market can be for the property.

They command attention. Real estate auctions work in much the same way as those for fine art and antiques. Auctions are exciting and draw the attention of buyers from other sales occurring in the area. They also attract interest from a wide set of potential buyers beyond the property’s immediate location. For example, the auction of a premier condominium residence at the Ritz Carlton in New York generated more than 5,000 inquiries from all 50 states, and close to 1,800 international inquiries.

The sale is completed within a definite timeframe. Real estate auctions complete the transaction within a defined period of time. Knowing the precise date when the sale will be done can provide a real convenience for the seller.

The auction process is open and transparent. One of the most positive aspects of a real estate auction is its transparency. Buyers gather and see the act of bidding. Plus, many potential buyers are unsure of the property value—an auction sets a fair market value, with a pricing floor that has a wider appeal to a much larger pool of potential buyers.

Once upon a time, real estate auctions were solely for troubled properties. Today, sellers, buyers and brokers of many different types of properties can reap the benefits of a convenient sales tool.

Jonathan Cuticelli is director of Project Management and principal auctioneer at New York-based real estate auction firm Sheldon Good & Company. Founded in 1965, Sheldon Good is one of the oldest firms in the business.

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From: Remax Real Estate Advice

    

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CFPB Explores Alternative Routes for ‘Credit Invisibles’

By Susanne Dwyer

Twenty-six million Americans are “credit invisible,” or lacking enough credit history to generate a credit score—a factor most lenders use to evaluate loan applications. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has begun exploring alternative routes to determine creditworthiness, including cell phone bill and rent payment history, seeking feedback from the public on these and other assessment methods.

“Alternative data from unconventional sources may help consumers who are stuck outside the system build a credit history to access mainstream credit sources,” says CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “We want to learn more about whether this non-traditional approach can offer opportunities to millions of Americans who are credit invisible and how to minimize any risks in how this information is used.”

Specifically, the CFPB has issued a Request for Information on whether alternative data would boost credit accessibility and/or make credit decisions more complicated, as well as its impact on borrowers and lenders and privacy and security issues.

View the Request for Information here.

Source: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CPFB)

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From: Consumer News and Advice

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
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4 Tips for Organizing Your Home Maintenance Routine

By Susanne Dwyer

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now on blog.rismedia.com:

Buying a house is only the first step in homeownership. Once you own the property, it will become your responsibility to keep it in good order through regular repairs and maintenance. It can be easy, however, to find yourself falling behind on the job and missing out on important things. Below is a list of suggestions for staying on top of home maintenance tasks.

Learn What Needs Maintaining
The first step to keeping your house in good repair is to learn what kinds of things need doing. Find a good online list of home maintenance tasks, and figure out which ones apply to your particular home. From there, you can start to get an idea of the costs and materials associated with keeping things up. Moreover, you can figure out how much of the maintenance you are capable of performing yourself and which tasks will require an outside contractor.

Make a Calendar
Once you have a solid list of maintenance tasks for your new home, you’ll need to arrange the items in a way that will help you track how often you will need to perform each task. Put it up in a common area, and make sure to mark all of the dates for maintenance clearly. Keep up on advancing the calendar, and note any tasks you need to do every month. It’s probably best to schedule these tasks towards the middle of the month. That way, when the month rolls over, you have a couple of weeks to get the necessary materials.

Use Your Electronics
Of course, modern electronics offer multiple ways to help you organize your life. You can use calendar and reminder apps for your smart devices to replace or supplement your physical calendar if you want. Having a monthly reminder pop up telling you what kind of cleaning and maintenance duties are due at your home is helpful as far as reminding you, though it can be a bit too easy to simply flick the remainder away when it goes off. Either use a redundant system to make sure you actually do the jobs or make sure to set the reminders to go off when you can do them right away.

Put Money Aside
Maintenance isn’t free, unfortunately, and one common cause of putting off what needs to be done is a lack of money when it needs doing. It’s all too easy to tell yourself you’ll just wait a week for some cash to free itself up. To prevent this, set aside a fund for home repair and maintenance tasks, and avoid using it for anything other than a true emergency. For added benefit, find an investment account that will allow you to make money on the fund while waiting to use it.

Home maintenance is not always fun, but it prevents bigger problems down the line. Spending some time now on keeping things up will pay off in the future.

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From: Home Spun Wisdom

    

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Nancy Wey
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Aging in Place? Prepare to Pay—or Change Your Mind

By Susanne Dwyer

Forty-three million homeowners plan to stay put in their current home as they age, but lack the accessibility features to make it practical. A recent Insight from Freddie Mac reveals that adding those features—levered handles, widened doorways and hallways—could be costly, or impossible.

According to Freddie Mac, half of Americans age 55 and older and three-quarters of Americans age 75 and older have one or more “physical functional limitations” that necessitate accessible features at home. Approximately 1.5 million existing homes require some retrofitting to make them accessible—and 2 million will require retrofitting by 2030. Retrofitting includes relocating living space to a single floor and replacing stairs with ramps.

Simple retrofits, according to the Insight, such as grab bars and pull-out cabinets, can cost on average $100-$270. Complex retrofits, however—a bathroom remodel, for instance—can cost between $5,600 and $13,000.

Some homes, as well, are unable to be retrofitted at all. Fifty-seven percent of homes in the Northeast—which tend to be older than homes in other regions—can accommodate single floor living, compared to 73 percent in the Midwest and 80 percent in the Southwest and West.

“Nearly a quarter of all baby boomers are going to be faced with the financial realities of aging in place, which can range from a few hundred to thousands of dollars,” says Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac chief economist. “Of course, the cost depends on the type and condition of the home. Many older homes, such as many of the Colonial-style homes common in the Northeast and Midwest, may not be good candidates for retrofitting. For some of them, aging in place until the bitter end may not even be a possibility. Like Bette Davis said: ‘Old age is not for sissies.’”

According to the Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS) at Harvard University, only 3.5 percent of homes today have accessible features.

Source: Freddie Mac

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From: Consumer News and Advice

    

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Buy or Rent? How to Decide which Living Option Is Best for You

By Susanne Dwyer

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

Should you buy or rent? Most people ask themselves this question at one point or another, and there’s no clear correct answer. Before you give up in frustration, take some time to ask yourself the following questions.

How Stable Is Your Lifestyle?
Are you the kind of person who likes to stay in one place, or do you like to move around? If your life is relatively stable and you are looking to put down roots, buying a home is probably a good idea. If you are looking to move around or you are willing to pick up stakes for your job, you should consider renting.

What Are Your Plans for the Near Future?
Your plans for the near future are also very important for deciding whether you will rent or buy. If you are planning on expanding your family, for example, it might be a good idea to buy a home that’s bigger than most apartments. Likewise, if you are planning to move soon, you’ll want to rent. Issues like adopting a pet, taking long trips or even major medical decisions can influence whether purchasing a home is the right move in your life.

What’s Important to You?
You should also take a few moments to consider what’s important for you in terms of a living situation. Do you like privacy, stability, and the feeling of owning your own home? If so, then you’ll want to buy. Do you prefer amenities, a community, and putting the responsibility for home care and maintenance in the hands of professionals? That might mean you want to rent. There’s not a right or wrong answer here, so take some time to come to your own conclusion.

Who Is Helping You?
Finally, think about who’s helping you to make this choice. If you work with professionals, you’ll have a better chance to see more properties and make a more informed decision. One of the worst moves you can make when making this decision is to rush forward without enough information. Always make sure you let a real estate professional help you in your search.

Deciding whether to rent or buy is always a deeply personal decision. Take some time and think things over, then work with a professional to help you find a living situation that suits your lifestyle.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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From: Remax Real Estate Advice

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
281-455-2893

Looking for Love? 20 Singled-Out Cities

By Susanne Dwyer

Love is all around…but if you relocate to one of Trulia’s “Dating Destinations”—cities with scores of educated, employed singles ready to mingle—your chances of finding the one shoot up like a stray Cupid’s arrow.

According to Trulia, the top 10 cities where there are more single men than women are:

  1. Bakersfield, Calif.
  2. Salt Lake City, Utah
  3. San Francisco, Calif.
  4. Las Vegas, Nev.
  5. San Jose, Calif.
  6. Honolulu, Hawaii
  7. San Diego, Calif.
  8. Seattle, Wash.
  9. Colorado Springs, Colo.
  10. Austin, Texas

The top 10 cities where there are more single women than men are:

  1. North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, Fla.
  2. Birmingham, Ala.
  3. Winston-Salem, N.C.
  4. Silver Spring-Frederick-Rockville, Md.
  5. Greensboro, N.C.
  6. El Paso, Texas
  7. Dayton, Ohio
  8. Philadelphia, Pa.
  9. New York, N.Y.-N.J.
  10. Baltimore, Md.

It’s clear—after taking the love blinders off—that the highest concentrations of single men are on the West Coast, with most bachelors located in the Bay Area. The highest concentrations of single women, however, are spread out on the East Coast. The takeaway? Compromise is key to any relationship—so if you’re looking for love this Valentine’s Day, try meeting in the middle…of the country.

Source: Trulia

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From: Consumer News and Advice

    

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Nancy Wey
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Moving? Chances Are You’re Headed to Atlanta

By Beth McGuire

More Americans migrated to Atlanta than any other city in 2016, according to Penske’s annual Top Moving Destinations ranking, which is based on one-way rental truck reservation data. A-Town has taken the top spot every year since the list’s inception in 2011. One look at its housing costs, and it’s not hard to see why.

The full top 10:

  1. Atlanta, Ga.

Median Home Value: $198,100

Median Rental Price: $1,574/month

  1. Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas

Median Home Value: $117,100

Median Rental Price: $1,148/month

  1. Phoenix, Ariz.

Median Home Value: $200,900

Median Rental Price: $1,055/month

  1. Denver, Colo.

Median Home Value: $363,500

Median Rental Price: $1,577/month

  1. Tampa/Sarasota, Fla.

Median Home Value: $216,350

Median Rental Price: $1,264/month

  1. Orlando, Fla.

Median Home Value: $158,200

Median Rental Price: $1,322/month

  1. Seattle, Wash.

Median Home Value: $611,509

Median Rental Price: $2,133/month

  1. Las Vegas, Nev.

Median Home Value: $205,100

Median Rental Price: $950/month

  1. Houston, Texas

Median Home Value: $310,000

Median Rental Price: $1,392/month

  1. Charlotte, N.C.

Median Home Value: $178,200

Median Rental Price: $1,169/month

The majority of the top 10 cities in the ranking are in the South, and none of them are in the Northeast. Seattle continues to draw residents in droves, despite having the highest housing costs, both for owners and renters, of the top 10—and at a time when most markets are plagued by too-high rents, Las Vegas remains relatively affordable. Still, when it comes to desirable features and overall quality of living, Atlanta’s seven-peat can’t be beat.

Source: Penske

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From: Consumer News and Advice

    

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Feast on ‘Santa Clarita Diet,’ a Comedy about Real Estate (and Zombies)

By Susanne Dwyer

A lot of things can go wrong when showing clients around a property. Nerves can get the best of you—especially when your boss has already told you you’ll be fired if you lose this listing. That being said, never in a million years would you expect to puke your guts out—literally—in front of your clients. And while I wish I could say this hasn’t happened, that’s not the case for Drew Barrymore in her new Netflix show “Santa Clarita Diet.”

In the newly released horror/comedy, Sheila (Drew Barrymore) and Joel (Timothy Olyphant) Hammond are a pair of run-of-the-mill real estate agents. They live in between two cops whose constant bickering make the Hammonds look even more sane and ordinary. That is until they’re halfway through one of their listing tours. After complimenting the laundry chute accessible to the master bedroom, Sheila proceeds to projectile vomit all over the carpet.

Joel tries his best to continue the tour since their jobs are on the line—yet while he’s pointing out the fancy framing, the spacious room and the great lighting, all you can hear is Sheila’s incessant and incredibly violent moaning. The clients obviously end up bolting and Joel runs upstairs to check up on his wife.

Joel finds Sheila dead on the floor. The show allows him to cry for a couple of seconds before bringing the undead Sheila back to life. Soon enough, the family finds out (thanks to the neighbor’s odd kid) that Sheila is now a zombie.

Will the Hammonds be able to recover the lost listing? Will Drew Barrymore get to dazzle as a real estate agent? Or are the Hammonds moving to other kinds of real estate (read: like eating people!)? You’ll have to watch “Santa Clarita Diet” to find out!

(P.S.: If you get an offer from Coby Real Estate, maybe don’t take it.)

Stream season 1 of “Santa Clarita Diet” now on Netflix!

Gabrielle van Welie is RISMedia’s editorial intern. Email her your real estate news ideas at gvanwelie@rismedia.com.

This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. Visit the blog daily for housing and real estate tips and trends. Like Housecall on Facebook and follow @HousecallBlog on Twitter.

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From: Consumer News and Advice

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
281-455-2893