Friday, November 8, 2013
When you’re buying or selling, the obvious source to get your real estate question answered is your agent but where do you go the rest of the time? As a homeowner for many years to come, you’ll need reliable help and solid suggestions. Our business goal is to have a select group of our friends and past customers who consider us their lifelong real estate professional. We want to earn that trusted position so they’ll enthusiastically refer their friends to us. Our plan to achieve this is simply to help these people with all of their real estate needs not just when they buy or sell but for all the years in between. Throughout the year, we offer reminders and suggestions by email and social media that benefit your homeowner experience. When we find good articles to help you be a better homeowner, we’ll pass them along. You’ll discover new ways to maintain your property, minimize expenses and manage debt and risk. We want to be your “Go-To” person for everything to do with real estate. If we don’t have the answer you need, we’ll point you in the right direction to find it. We’re here for you and your friends…now and in the future. Please let us know how we can help you. Email Charles Kraus
Lenders, like any business, have to make a profit. The cost of acquiring the funds, the operating costs to service and the expected profit margin are easily identified. The variable in pricing is the type of mortgage and the credit worthiness of the borrower. A loan with a 3.5% down payment is riskier than a loan with 20% down payment. If the lender has to take the property back to recover their expense, the margin is greater between what is owed and what the property is worth on an 80% mortgage. Credit scoring is a risk-based pricing method that allows a lender to be competitive in the market for the best loans from different borrower groups. Individual lenders set their own levels for what they consider “A” credit which is reserved for the best rates. If good credit is approximately 710 to 740, scores below that are considered higher risk and will have higher rates. Risk must be assessed for both the borrower and the property that collateralizes the loan. The borrower’s credit history and income stability are strongly evaluated by the lender but if a default should occur, the property must secure the loan to avoid a loss to the lender.
The challenge for some buyers is they are unaware of what their credit score is and how it will affect the interest rate offered by the lender. It is to the buyer’s advantage to be pre-approved by a reputable lender prior to starting the process of looking for a home. In some cases, the lender can actually improve the borrower’s credit score to help them qualify for a lower interest rate. Contact me for a recommendation of a trusted mortgage professional - Email Charles Kraus
Thursday, November 7, 2013
One of the anxiety highpoints during the sale of a home is waiting for the buyer’s home inspection report. Most sellers willingly disclose what they know about their home to any potential buyers. The concern stems from the inspector finding something that they’re totally unaware of and that it will either cost them a lot of money to correct or the buyer will simply use it to void the contract. If the inspection does reveal some unknown problem with the home, it’s probably as big a surprise to the buyer who is not as emotionally or financially invested as the seller. It is human nature to fear what you don’t understand and when a report identifies defects, they may simply opt-out of the home. The solution to the situation may be for the seller to have the home inspected prior to putting it on the market. There is still a risk of becoming surprised by an unknown defect which at that point, would have to be disclosed to potential buyers or repaired by the seller. The advantage is that it creates a baseline to compare discrepancies that may arise when a future buyer has the home inspected. If the seller’s inspection report is made available during the marketing process, it could give buyers a sense of confidence about the home even though they may still choose to have the home checked by their own inspector. The cost of the inspection, possibly $500, keeps some sellers from taking this initiative when selling their home. In an effort to minimize their expenses, they forego getting valuable, disinterested 3rd party advice that could help sell their home. On a $175,000 home, the fee for the inspection will probably be less than 3/10 of one percent of the sales price. Another option to the seller to increase marketability of the property and bolster buyer confidence in the home would be to offer a home protection plan. Generally, the seller doesn’t incur cost for this coverage until the home is sold and there may even be some coverage for the seller during the listing period. The benefit to the buyer is avoiding unanticipated expenses for specific items that are covered during their first year of ownership. Contact me for recommendations of home inspectors or home protection plans.
Man’s best friend enjoys many of the benefits of his master’s home besides food and shelter and a comfortable place to live and play. In return, dog owners expect companionship and possibly, protection; after all, even a small dog can bark to signal intruders. Few people doubt that most dog owners love their pets and treat them well. The costs associated with having a dog can include medical and dental that rivals human expenses, premium food, toys, grooming and license fees. However, one of the expenses not anticipated by pet owners is a higher homeowner’s insurance premium. There are almost five million dog bites a year with children being the main victims. “Dog bites accounted for more than one-third of all homeowner’s insurance liability claim dollars paid out in 2012, which amounted to more than $489 million,” said Peter Robertson, representing the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, testifying against the bill at a hearing of the Committee on Financial Services. He said, “The total cost of dog bite claims increased by more than 51 percent between 2003 and 2012.” It is now estimated that dog bites cause losses of over one billion dollars a year. Some insurance underwriters have denied or canceled coverage or increased the premium of the owner’s liability insurance based on the homeowners’ specific breed of dog such as Pit Bulls, Dobermans, Akitas, Mastiffs, Malamutes and even German Shepherds. The aggressive nature of certain types of dogs combined with specific training or lack of training, abuse or neglect are identified by insurer’s refusal to provide liability coverage. If you are considering what insurers identify as a high-risk pet, you might want to visit with your insurance agent prior to acquiring your new best friend to see if it affects your rates.
Wednesday, November 6, 2013
You’ve seen lists telling buyers what to do to find the right home but knowing what not to do can be just as important. After finding the right home, negotiating a contract, making a loan application and inspections, buyers, understandably, start making plans to move and put their personal touches on the home. In today’s tenuous lending environment, little things can derail the process which isn’t over until the papers are signed at settlement and funds distributed to the seller. Verifications are made by a lender at the beginning of the loan process to determine if the buyer qualifies for the mortgage. The verifications are usually done again just prior to the closing to determine if there have been any material changes to the borrower’s credit or income that might disqualify them. Simply stated: 1. Don’t make any new major purchases that could affect your debt-to-income ratio 2. Don’t apply, co-sign or add any new credit 3. Don’t quit your job or change jobs 4. Don’t change banks 5. Don’t open new credit accounts 6. Don’t close or consolidate credit card accounts without advice from your lender 7. Don’t buy things for your new home until after you close 8. Don’t talk to the seller without your agent Your real estate professional and lender are working together to get you into your new home. It’s understandable to be excited about one of the biggest decisions you’ll make and that you feel you need to be getting ready for the move. Planning is smart but don’t do anything that would affect your credit or income while you’re waiting to sign the final papers at settlement.
Equity is the difference in what your home is worth and what you owe. Ideally, as the value goes up and the unpaid balance goes down with each amortized payment made, the equity grows from two directions. This dynamic leads to increasing a person’s net worth much faster than many other investments. A homeowner has minimal control over value. It is necessary to maintain the property to avoid depreciation and make good decisions on capital improvements. After that, appreciation is generally controlled by supply and demand and the economy. Mortgage management is something that the homeowner does have control. Making the decision to select a shorter term mortgage at a lower interest rate can have an impact on equity build-up. Lower interest rates amortize faster than higher interest rates which will also affect equity growth. Currently, it is possible to get a 1% lower rate on a 15 year mortgage than a 30 year mortgage. Compare two alternatives of a 30-year and a 15-year mortgage. The payments will definitely be higher on the shorter term because it pays off quicker. However, if a person can afford the higher payments of $362.53 more per month in this example, the equity will be greater. Even after you take into consideration the higher payments, the increased equity is $17,236 at the end of the seven year holding period.
Another decision that can affect equity build-up is making additional principal contributions along with the regular payments. Whether you’re making an occasional lump sum payment toward principal or regular monthly contributions, it will save interest, build equity and shorten the term on a fixed rate mortgage. Estimate your personal savings with this Equity Accelerator.