Face The Numbers, A Mortgage That Works For You

Face The Numbers, A Mortgage That Works For YouBefore taking out a mortgage to buy a home, it’s time to take a realistic survey of your finances so that you can determine your price range and what size of home you can comfortably afford.

Buying a home that suits your finances will mean that your mortgage payments will be easily within your budget and won’t cause you financial stress.

Stay In Your Price Range

Many people, when offered a large mortgage by the bank, are tempted to buy homes that are outside of their price range.

It’s easy to see why a larger property or a more luxurious home might be appealing, but by stretching too far beyond your means you are courting with disaster.

If your monthly mortgage rate just barely fits within your budget, without room for savings, retirement contributions, or to build up an emergency fund – it will only be a matter of time before things start to get tight.

What happens if you lose your job, or if your income decreases? If you are unable to meet your mortgage payments, it is easy to slip very quickly into debt or even bankruptcy. This is why it is so crucial to buy a home that fits your budget.

Here Are Some Questions To Ask Yourself For Figuring Out How Much Mortgage You Can Comfortably Afford:

  • Make a detailed budget that chronicles your monthly incomings and outgoings. How much money do you really have each month to work with?
  • What type of safety net do you have if something goes wrong, in terms of savings and family support?
  • How large of a down payment are you able to save up? At least 20% of the property cost is recommended, but more is always better.
  • How much outstanding debt do you have from your other lenders, such as your credit card debts, your bank loans, student loans, etc?
  • How stable is your income? Do you have a steady paycheck or are you self-employed with variable income?
  • Are you willing to change your lifestyle and lead a more frugal life to get the house you want? Is there anywhere you can cut expenses and spend more on your mortgage payment?
  • What will be the total of all of the costs associated with purchasing the home, including closing costs, inspections and other fees?
  • What are the costs associated with moving? Don’t forget to include the moving van, new appliances, hotel expenses, gas and meals out during the transition period.

Once you have asked yourself these questions and taken a close look at your budget, you will be able to determine realistically what you can afford when buying a home – so that you can find that dream home that meets your budget. For more helpful advice, contact your trusted mortgage professional.

When Is It A Good Idea To Use A Home Equity Loan?

When Is It A Good Idea To Use A Home Equity Loan?A home equity loan is a type of loan that allows you to use the equity of your home as collateral. It is an option that home owners have available to them and that some people use to pay for major expenses such as home renovations, college education or medical bills.

These types of loans became popular in 1996 because they provided a way for consumers to circumvent their tax charges for that year, which eliminated the deductions on the interest for most consumer purchases.

It is a good idea to leverage your shelter for cash? What is a legitimate reason for taking out a home equity loan? It can be tempting to use the equity you have in your property to pay for expensive luxuries, but there are only a few things that you should be spending a home equity loan on.

Home Renovation Projects

Home renovations are a popular reason why people take out a home equity loan. This idea actually makes sense, because making improvements to the home can greatly improve its value.

The renovation could pay for itself and more, when it comes to increasing the value of the property.Of course, the value of the home is also dependent on other factors beside the renovation, so there are no guarantees.

Debt Consolidation

Another reason why people take out home equity loans is so that they can combine all of their bills and debts into one, such as the credit card debt, retail credit debt and more. This can be advantageous, because the interest rate on a home equity loan is a lot cheaper.

Having a single monthly bill rather than having to keep track of several debts can also make things a lot simpler and improve your monthly cash flow.

Investing In Your Kids

Many parents have chosen to use their home equity loans to fund their child’s university or college education. With the extremely high costs of post-secondary education these days, this option can make a lot of sense.

However, if you are just about to consider retirement when your kids are going to college, you might want to look for scholarships or student loans instead so that you don’t reduce the nest egg you planned to retire on.

These are just a few things for homeowners to consider when it comes to home equity loans. To learn more about owning a home, you can contact me your trusted mortgage professional.

Do Those Additions Really Add Value To Your Maine Home?

Do Those Additions Really Add Value To Your Home?When you own a home in Maine, there are additions that you can make to the property that will improve the value of your home. For example, a newly renovated kitchen or bathroom is a popular choice that will really make the home more desirable to buyers.

Also, adding storage space or a well-thought-out family room or other practical space can be a very good investment that will bring up the home’s value.

However, there are other projects that are not really worth your time or money and will allow very little opportunity to recover your costs when it is time to sell the property. Here are a few examples of things that you think might add to the value of your home, but really don’t.

An Elaborately Landscaped Garden

A beautifully landscaped garden might make the home more visually attractive to Maine buyers when they are looking at the property, but it will not likely add to the selling price.

This is especially true if the new buyer is not interested in putting in the effort to keep the garden well-maintained and sees it as a burden. If they don’t have time to do the landscaping, they will need to hire a gardener which will add to their expenses.

A Hobby Specific Room

Are you tempted to convert a bedroom into a room that is specific to one of your particular interests, such as an art studio, a library or a wine cellar? This will not add a lot of value to the home, because the next buyer is not likely to share your passions.

It might even make the home less than desirable, because the next owner will not want to spend the time and money renovating the room back into a bedroom.

You can create a hobby room; just make sure that you make non-permanent chances to the room so that you can quickly and easily switch it back to a bedroom.

A Renovated Garage

Redoing your garage and turning it into a family room or a play room might give you a short term benefit, but you might regret it when you go to sell the home. Most people want a garage to serve its original purpose – as a place to protect their cars from the elements and store their shovels, garbage cans, leaf blowers and other outdoor things.

These are a few examples of home additions that will not add to the resale value of your property. To find out more about selling your home, contact your Maine mortgage professional.

How To Choose The Right Maine Neighborhood When Buying A Home

How To Choose The Right Neighborhood To Buy A Home

The old real estate cliche’ about “location, location, location” is true, as the area of the city where your home is located will have an impact on its future value as well as your lifestyle.

So what factors should you consider when you are choosing which neighborhoods to house hunt within?

Proximity to Your Daily Needs

If you work downtown, living out in the suburbs means that you will be adding time for a commute onto your day.

While this might be worth the cheaper prices for properties out of the town center, it is something to consider when making your decision.

You will also need to consider whether the house is near shopping centers, schools, doctors, dentists and other services that you will need regularly.

Planned Developments

When you are choosing a neighborhood to buy in, do some research into what developments are planned in the future for that part of town.

For example, you might be able to get a cheap price on a home that is out of the way, but a new proposed highway leading straight into the town center that will be built in the next five years could increase property values considerably.

Overall Atmosphere

Take a walk around the neighborhood where you are considering buying and get a sense of the overall atmosphere. Are there a lot of families living there? Are there green places to relax? Are people friendly and saying hello to you?

You want to live in a place where you feel welcome and comfortable.

Property Values

Different neighborhoods will have a range of house prices and you will want to look for something with the right balance of value.

Some areas of town will be very expensive but very nice; other areas will have cheap house prices but might not be as pleasant to live in. Take the time to find the neighborhood that is in the middle, where you will find the right house, and neighborhood, at a good price.

These are just a few of the factors to consider so that you can choose the right neighborhood to buy in.

For more information about buying a Maine home, feel free to contact your Maine mortgage professional today.

RealtyTrac Report Shows Home Prices Increasing At Highest Rate Since 1977

RealtyTrac: Home Prices Up For 16th Consecutive MonthU.S. housing markets continue to drive the economic recovery according to data released by RealtyTrac Inc.

National home prices rose by 11.90 percent year-over-year for June.

48 states reported rising home prices with only Delaware and Mississippi reporting lower home prices. Nevada led the states with a 26.50 percent gain over June 2012.

Cities also fared well on housing prices; 99 of the 100 largest U.S. cities reported gains in home prices.

Rising Home Prices And Mortgage Rates, Short Supply Of Homes

According to Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic, home price trends are rising at their fastest pace since 1977. While good news for sellers, homebuyers may find fewer affordable options over time while also contending with rising mortgage rates.

In spite of rapidly rising home prices, national home prices remain about 19 percent below their peak in April 2006.

Why The Shortage Of Available Homes?

Some homeowners are hoping to recoup losses on their homes before listing them for sale. This could be a risky decision, as many economists have previously characterized the last peak of the housing market to be a “bubble,” or an abnormal spike in home values.

In some markets cash buyers are snapping up homes and making it difficult for mortgage-dependent homebuyers to compete.

Another common scenario that presents challenges to home buyers in areas where homes are in high demand occurs when there are multiple purchase offers for one home.

Buyers who rely on mortgage loans for financing their home purchase can improve their chances by being pre-approved for a mortgage before shopping for a home.

Fewer Foreclosed Homes Contribute To Rising Home Prices

RealtyTrac estimates that 500,000 home mortgages will be foreclosed this year. This is approximately 25 percent lower than the number of 2012 residential foreclosures.

Bank-owned homes are typically offered at lower prices and with incentives such as direct financing, but most are sold as-is with no warranties or guarantees as to their condition.  Multiple foreclosed homes within a community can drag down home prices, so fewer foreclosed homes is positive for homeowners and communities alike.

Want To Buy A Home? Don’t Give Up

Rising mortgage rates and home prices can present challenges, but working with your trusted mortgage professional can help with finding an affordable home. Programs are available for assisting eligible first-time buyers with their down payment and closing costs.

Adjustable-rate mortgage loans that provide a low fixed rate for a specified introductory period provide an alternative to higher payments required of a fixed-rate mortgage. An adjustable-rate mortgage may be a good option for first-time buyers who plan to “move up” within a few years.

For assistance in finding an affordable home please feel free to reach out to your trusted mortgage professional today.

Existing Home Sales: Second Highest Level Since 2009

Existing Home Sales Second Highest Level Since 2009

According to the National Association of REALTORS®, national sales of existing homes in June came in at 5.08 million.

June’s reading was reported to be the second highest since November of 2009; this should calm concerns about a lapsing recovery in housing markets.

Summer typically produces the highest prices for existing homes sold, as families seeking larger homes frequently move during summer months.

The June inventory of existing homes improved by 1.90 percent to 2.19 million homes or a 5.20 month supply. June’s number of available homes was 7.60 percent lower than in June 2012.

The shortage of available homes has been causing buyers to turn from existing homes to new homes in areas where both available homes and/or land for new construction are in short supply.

Average Home Prices Continue Their Climb Nationally

So the news of more existing homes for sale is good news for home buyers and housing markets that have been held back by an excess of buyers seeking a short supply of available homes.

NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun noted that inventories of existing homes are expected to “broadly favor sellers and contribute to above-normal price growth.”

This trend was supported by June’s national average price for existing homes at $214,200, which represented a year-over-year increase of 13.5 percent. Rising home prices and mortgage rates continue creating financial challenges for first-time buyers and others seeking affordable home prices and mortgage loans.

Distressed home sales were down from 18 percent in May to 15 percent in June; this is the lowest market share since tracking began in 2008. June sales of distressed homes were significantly lower than in June 2012’s reading of 26 percent of existing homes sold.

The National Association of REALTORS® noted that falling levels of distressed sales are contributing to higher prices for existing homes.

FHFA Reports Home Prices Rise In May

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) reported Tuesday that prices for homes financed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac rose by 0.70 percent in May as compared to April’s downwardly revised 0.50 percent increase in home prices.

According to the FHFA Housing Price Index (HMI), home prices were up by 7.30 percent year-over-year in May, and are roughly equal to home prices reported for January 2005. May’s home prices remained 11.20 percent below peak prices reported in April 2007.

May’s FHFA data demonstrated steady growth of home prices for all nine census divisions on a year-over-year basis with home prices increasing from 2.70 percent to 15.80 percent in May.

Home Prices Record Highest Monthly Gains Since Case Shiller Index Inception

Home Prices Record Record Month To Month GainsThe S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Indices for April indicate that the housing recovery gained ground.

In April 2013 average home prices tracked in the Case-Shiller 10 and 20-city Composites increased by 11.60 and 12.10 percent year-over-year. On a month-to-month basis, the Composites increased by 2.60 and 2.50 percent respectively.

According to David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the S&P Dow Jones Indices’ Index Committee, the 10-and 20- City Composites experienced their largest month- to- month gains since their inception: “Thirteen cities posted month- to-month gains of two percent or more, with San Francisco leading with a month-to-month gain of 4.90 percent.”

The 10-and-20 City Indices reported the highest year-over-year gains in home prices since 2006.  Cities where home prices gained more than 20 percent year-over-year included Atlanta, Las Vegas, Phoenix and San Francisco. Phoenix posted its 12th consecutive month of double-digit increases in home prices while San Francisco home prices increased year-over-year by an average of 23.90 percent. Home prices increased year-over-year in 19 the 20 cities included in the 10-and 20 City Composites, with home prices in Detroit remaining flat.

Mortgage Loan Requirements Showing Signs Of Loosening

Mr. Blitzer also noted that according to the most recent Fed Senior Loan Officer Opinion Survey, some lenders are beginning to relax credit requirements for mortgage loans. This good news, along with the availability of adjustable-rate mortgage loans is expected to help with maintaining affordability and providing access to homes for more buyers.

According to the S&P Case-Shiller 10-and-20 City Composites, home prices fell approximately 26 to 27percent from their highest in June 2006 to their lowest in March 2012. As of April 2013, average home prices had recovered by 13.10 percent for the 10-City Composite and 13.60 percent for the 20-City Composite.

More Reports Show Ongoing Housing Recovery

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, reported that home prices increased an average of 7.40 percent year-over-year as of April 2013, and rose by 0.70 percent between March and April 2013. While this data fell short of an expected month-to-month increase of 1.10 percent, Average FHFA home prices were 11.70 percent below their peak in April 2007.

FHFA bases its report on sales of homes financed with mortgages owned or securitized by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The U.S. Commerce Department reported that sales of new homes reached a five-year high in May, the highest level since July 2008. May sales increased 2.10 percent between April and May 2013 to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 476,000 homes. This represents a year-over-year increase of 29 percent from May 2012.

While rising mortgage rates and home prices may slow demand for homes, economists don’t believe that either factor will halt the housing recovery. A good next step is asking your trusted mortgage professional about current home values and loan options in and around Portland, Maine.