Understanding the Difference Between a Mortgage Pre-qualification and a Pre-approval

Understanding the Difference Between a Mortgage Pre-qualification and a Pre-approvalIf you’re in the market for a new home and you’ve been researching mortgages, you’ve likely come across the terms “pre-qualification” and “pre-approval”. While these terms are self-explanatory in some circumstances, they are quite different in regards to mortgage financing.

In today’s blog post we’ll explain the difference between a mortgage pre-qualification and a pre-approval.

Pre-qualification: an Initial Look at Your Mortgage Options

The first – and easiest – step on the way to receiving mortgage financing to buy a home is known as pre-qualification. During this process you’ll meet with a mortgage advisor or lender who will assess your financial history including your current income and any debts that you might have. Using these numbers they’ll perform a quick calculation that suggests how much mortgage financing you might qualify for when you’re ready to buy a home.

Your mortgage professional will also answer any questions that you might have about the process, including what interest rates you may qualify for, how much you’ll need to invest in your down payment and more.

Pre-approval: A Conditional Mortgage Commitment

After you’ve been pre-qualified for your mortgage and you’re ready to start looking for a new home you’ll go through the pre-approval process. At this time your mortgage advisor or lender will take a much deeper look into your current financial situation, including pulling a credit report to assess how much risk they will have in lending you money. You’ll also complete a full mortgage application as this will allow your lender to get a conditional approval for a certain amount or range. Finally you’ll be informed about the interest rate and the terms of the mortgage once you find your new home and complete the purchase.

The Final Step: Finding the Perfect Home

Now that you’ve been pre-approved and have received a conditional commitment from your lender, you’re ready to find that perfect new home. On top of having a better idea of your price range and what you can afford, you’ll find that sellers are far more receptive to your offers as having a pre-approval signals that you’re a serious buyer who is ready to make your move.

When you’re ready to buy your new house or condo, your local mortgage professional is ready to help. Contact them to learn more about pre-qualification, pre-approval and your financing options. Enjoy your new home!

A Late Payment: Credit Score Impact

A Late Payment: Credit Sore ImpactThis has been a difficult year for everyone. There are a lot of people who are worried that they might not be able to keep up with their mortgage payments. Small businesses have had to close their doors and numerous individuals have been laid off from work.

It is important for homeowners to understand that banks do not want people to foreclose on their homes either. Therefore, they are often willing to work out an alternate payment plan with homeowners who are struggling due to dire financial situations. Those who are late on a mortgage payment might be wondering how this is going to impact their credit score. The answer is that it depends. 

How Does A FICO Credit Score Work? 

Someone’s credit score is a conglomeration of multiple factors including payment history, the amount of money owed, the length of the credit history,  and new credit. A late or missing mortgage payment is only going to impact one of these categories. Unfortunately, this also happens to be the largest factor, making up more than a third of the total credit score. 

A Late Mortgage Payment

First, it is important for everyone to know that a late payment is not going to impact someone’s credit score until it is late by more than a month. At the same time, people need to remember that the lender can still access a late fee. If someone has a high credit score with a long credit history, this late payment is not going to hurt as much. On the other hand, someone with a poor credit score and a short credit history might feel the sting a little bit more. 

Furthermore, it is important for people to note that a payment that is late by 60 or 90 days is going to hurt someone much more than a payment that is late by just one month. Therefore, even if a payment is going to be late, people should still try to pay it as early as possible.

Protect The Credit Score

It is important for everyone to try to do everything they can to protect their credit score. If they are worried they are not going to be able to make a mortgage payment, they should let the lender know and see what their options are.

 

The Top Questions Everyone Should Ask Before Renovating A Home

The Top Questions Everyone Should Ask Before Renovating A HomeThere are a lot of people who are looking to improve the home in which they live. One of the top ways to do this is to renovate the building; however, it is also important for everyone to make sure they know exactly what they are doing before they get started. There are several questions that everyone should ask before they start a home renovation project.

Is The Home Worth Renovating?

One of the top reasons why people renovate a home is that they think this is going to increase the value of the home. While this is certainly possible, everyone has to run the numbers and make sure they are either going to recoup their investment when they sell the home or that they are going to be in the home for a long time before they sell it. If the home is worth renovating, then it is fine to proceed.

What Is The Budget On The Renovation Project?

Next, it is also important for everyone to know what the budget is one the renovation project. Remember that there are always going to be expenses that are not foreseen, so be sure to include some room at the top in case the contractors come asking for a budget increase. They almost always do.

What Are The Offers On The Home Renovation Project?

Finally, it is also important to collect multiple offers. Talk to designers, contractors, and architects. Collect a few referrals. Then, talk to all of these individuals and see how much money it is going to cost to complete the project. This is one of the top ways that everyone is able to save money on their home renovation projects and make sure they get exactly what they asked for when the project started.

Answer These Questions Before Starting A Home Renovation Project

By planning ahead of time, everyone is able to plan accordingly, making sure they know what they are doing before the project gets started. When homeowners take the time to plan a home renovation project, they increase the chances of the project being a success. This includes not only an aesthetically pleasing project but a wise financial investment as well.

The Required Steps For A Smooth Mortgage Refinance Process

The Required Steps For a Smooth Mortgage Refinance ProcessThere are lots of people who have heard that one of the top ways to ensure the best mortgage rate possible is to refinance. At the same time, it is critical to make sure that this process is planned out accordingly.

Therefore, there are a few steps that everyone has to follow to make sure they are able to handle the mortgage refinancing process in a smooth manner that leads to the best rate possible.

Ask If A Refinance Is The Right Step

There are a lot of people who assume that a mortgage refinance is a financial win; however, it is important to keep the added costs in mind. For example, the refinancing process is going to lead to another closing. When this happens, there are going to be closing costs that must be considered.

Therefore, the refinancing process could lead to a higher mortgage payment if the money saved on interest payments is not enough to offset these costs.

Check The Credit Score First

Many people get lured into the refinance process by looking at low mortgage interest rates and assuming they are going to qualify for them; however, this is not always the case. Only the people with the top credit scores are able to qualify for these low rates. Therefore, everyone needs to take a look at their credit score and make sure that their credit report has been cleaned up. This is the only way that people are going to be able to qualify for these low rates.

Talk To A Trained Professional

Finally, many people are going to be going through the refinance process for the first time. It is important to work with a trained professional who can walk everyone through this process, ensuring that they know what they are doing as the process unfolds. This can go a long way toward ensuring that everyone has a successful refinancing experience.

Go Through The Right Steps

Following these steps can maximize everyone’s chances of making sure they end up with a refinance that works for them. By planning out the process ahead of time, everyone can go through the steps they need to make sure that the refinancing process proceeds as smoothly as possible.

How To Negotiate A Better Mortgage Rate

How To Negotiate A Better Mortgage RateFor those who are thinking about buying a house in the near future, they want to make sure that they get the best mortgage rate possible. At the same time, if people who want to reduce the interest rate on their mortgage, then they need to do everything you can to make yourself as attractive as possible to lenders. When they are negotiating for a better rate on your mortgage, they need to keep a few important points in mind.

Make A Larger Down Payment

If people want the lender to reduce the interest rate on your mortgage, then borrowers need to think about making a larger down payment. By doing everything they can to reduce the risk they present to the lender, they will be rewarded with a lower interest rate. If borrowers are willing to put more money down, then that is less money that the bank has to lend out. Therefore, the risk the bank takes on is going to be reduced and borrowers will be rewarded with a lower interest rate. Make a larger down payment to reduce the interest rate on the mortgage.

Improve the Credit Score

Another way that people can reduce the risk that they present to the bank is to improve their credit score. What can borrowers do to make this happen? They can check your credit report first and correct any inaccuracies that might be present. After this, they should take a look at any existing debt they have and try to pay down as much of it as possible. By reducing the amount of debt they owe, the credit score will improve, helping them qualify for a lower interest rate on their mortgage.

Take Advantage Of Discount Points

Those want to reduce the interest rate on your mortgage, could use something called discount points. These are points that the borrower will pay directly to the lender in exchange for a lower interest rate. By providing the lender with more money up front, they can secure a reduced payment over the life of the loan.

Reduce the Interest Rate

These are a few of the fastest ways that people can secure a lower interest rate on their loan. This can save them a tremendous amount of money.

The Ultimate Payoff: Getting Debt Free Before Retirement

The Ultimate Payoff: Getting Debt Free Before Retirement

Try To Keep Housing Costs Low

First, it is important for everyone to try to keep their housing costs as low as possible. Housing is one of the major sources of death of people have when they retire. This could come in the form of a mortgage that has been stressed out for a longer period of time in order to send kids to college.

At the same time, as people start to approach retirement, they should try to attack this debt as much as possible. Remember that cash is king. Paying off a mortgage before retirement can really help people improve their quality of life on the other side.

Pay Down Credit Card Debt

Ideally, individuals are able to pay their credit card bills in full every month. Yes, it is great to take out credit cards because of the rewards that they provide and the positive credit history this can create. At the same time, if individuals end up carrying a lot of credit card debt, this can end up hurting them in the long run. In addition to damaging someone’s credit score, this can also take money away from retirement. Therefore, it is important for everyone to try to pay down their credit card debt as quickly as possible. That way, they do not have to worry about this when they retire and have more money they can spend every month.

Get Ready To Retire Debt Free

By following these tips, everyone is able to enjoy their retirement just a little bit more. By trying to find ways to retire without any debt, everyone is able to set themselves up for success. That way, they will be ready to take advantage of everything that retirement has to offer.

 

Save Money on Your Home Energy Costs This Winter in Just Three Easy Steps

Save Money on Your Home Energy Costs This Winter in Just Three Easy Steps It doesn’t matter if you heat your home with electricity, natural gas or some other energy source; prices continue to rise and that means increased heating costs for most of us.

In today’s blog post we’ll share three easy ways that you can save money on your home energy costs this winter.

Install and Use Programmable Thermostats

Now that Nest and other companies have brought Wi-Fi enabled, programmable thermostats on the market there’s very few excuses to avoid using them. At bare minimum you’ll want a digital thermostat that can be programmed to turn on and off at certain hours of the day.

For example, you can shut your heat off after leaving for work and have it turn back on again a half-hour or so before you get home. You can do the same at night when you’re fast asleep under warm blankets. If possible, try to get a thermostat for each room so that rooms can be heated individually as needed.

Switch Up Your Ceiling Fans

If you have ceiling fans you may not know that by reversing their direction you can keep your rooms feeling much warmer. In the winter you’ll want your fans spinning in a clockwise direction, which will push warm air downward into the room where you’ll be able to feel it. In the summer you’ll want to switch the fans back to counter-clockwise as this will help move warm air towards the ceiling.

Check Your Insulation, Furnace and Ducts Now

Finally, you’ll want to check that your home heating system is operating at peak efficiency. If you can access your attic, check to ensure that your insulation is tightly packed and that it’s still in good condition. Clean or replace the air filter on your furnace, and check your ducts for any leaks that need to be repaired. If it has been a few years, consider having a professional furnace and duct cleaning to get all of the dust and debris out of the ductwork.

As you can see, a little time spent on home maintenance can end up saving quite a bit in energy costs when the temperatures drop. When you’re ready to look at buying a newer, more energy-efficient home, contact your local real estate agent and book a consultation where you can share your needs and price range.

A Few Simple Ways To Upgrade The Kitchen Pantry

A Few Simple Ways To Upgrade The Kitchen PantryDuring the past few months, people have been spending much more time at home than usual. Therefore, many people are looking for ways to upgrade their homes. A common area of focus is the kitchen.

Even though many people are thinking about upgrading cabinets and countertops, the kitchen pantry should also be a target for home improvement. There are a few simple ways that everyone can improve their kitchen pantry. 

Use Vertical Storage

One of the top tips for everyone to follow is to use vertical storage capacity. It is a smart idea for everyone to build in a few extra storage areas by thinking about under-shelf baskets. These baskets can help people instantly create space for various items and ingredients. Furthermore, think about using the insides of cabinet doors to create some extra shelves, walls, or baskets. This can significantly add to the storage space of a pantry.

Think About Specific Needs For The Pantry

When looking at a kitchen pantry, it is a great idea for everyone to think carefully about specific needs they might have. Consider what items need to be stored in the pantry. Then, shop for the right items. For example, many people like to store wine bottles in the pantry. These are awkwardly shaped items that might not fit on typical shelves. Therefore, thinking about a wine rack that will fit in the pantry is a great way to create some extra, specific storage.

Relocate Bulk Items Somewhere Else

Too often, people end up trying to store bulk items in the pantry. While it is true that shopping in bulk is incredibly cost-efficient, bulk items can also take up valuable space in the kitchen pantry in the blink of an eye. Think about finding alternative locations for paper goods, canned items, and other large, non-perishable items. This will instantly open up some more storage space in the pantry.

Upgrade Storage In The Kitchen Pantry

Upgrading the kitchen does not always have to be expensive. There are simple ways that everyone can create extra storage space in their kitchen pantry by simply moving some other items around. Consider adding storage baskets to the kitchen pantry to create some new storage space.

 

How Are Different Mortgage Lenders Handling Student Loans During the Pandemic?

How Are Different Mortgage Lenders Handling Student Loans During the Pandemic?The coronavirus pandemic has had a massive impact on everyone. This pandemic has led to massive economic issues as well. Given the ongoing crisis as it relates to student loan debt, many students are wondering how the pandemic is going to impact their student loans and how their student loans are going to impact a potential mortgage payment. There are a few points to keep in mind.

Freddie Mac

In general, loans backed by Freddie Mac are going to use the student loan payment that is marked on the credit report. If this amount is $0 or unknown, then the lender is going to use 0.5 percent of the outstanding loan balance. This should also be reported on the credit report. Then, the lender will provide the borrower with information on possible mortgages.

Fannie Mae

When it comes to loans that are backed by Fannie Mae, students might still be on an income-driven repayment plan. In this case, the monthly payment might be zero and the lender may qualify a potential borrower with this $0 payment. On the other hand, if the loans have been deferred or are in forbearance, then the lender may calculate a payment that is equal to approximately 1 percent of the remaining balance on student loans. 

FHA Loans

For individuals going through FHA, the lender is going to run a few calculations. The lender may look at one percent of the remaining balance on the loan, the monthly payment that is reported on the credit report, or the actual documented payment as long as the borrower provides ample evidence. The lender will likely use the greater of these amounts in calculations. 

Why Do These Student Loan Payments Matter?

Credit reports are an essential part of the home-buying process. It is critical for everyone to understand what their student loan payments are and how they might impact their credit report. Furthermore, their student loan payments are also going to have an impact on the monthly mortgage payment they can afford. Therefore, it is important for everyone to make sure the information documented on their credit report is accurate when it comes to their student loans.

 

Restoring A Patio On A Budget: 3 Simple Tips

Restoring A Patio On A Budget: 3 Simple TipsThere are lots of homeowners who are looking at their patio and are not satisfied with what they see. This is where it is important to think about ways to bring that patio back to life. Whether this means entertaining friends or simply relaxing with a cocktail and a book, there are a few easy ways to bring a patio back to life.

1. Target The Pests

There are lots of pests that like to make their homes in the patio. This might include debris that is brought in by the wind, critters that like to dig underneath the patio, or even kids’ toys. There are ways to prevent critters from making their homes in the patio. Simply place pine cones in the nearby area. This is far easier than using mulch. As for the kids’ toys, that sounds more like a parenting issue!

2. Add A Splash Of Color

One of the easiest tips that can bring a patio back to life is adding a splash of color. Instead of going with the boring brown patio, add some plants to bring some green to the porch. Then, throw in some colored furniture. Finish it off with a colorful umbrella and the patio will look like new!

3. Build A Fire Pit

Finally, those who want to host a party need to have a fire pit. A fire pit is one of the best ways to draw attention away from the patio itself. A mini fire pit acts as the focal point of the room while adding a bit more fun (and function) to the patio itself. This is a great place to roast a few hot dogs, make some smores, and host a party! Adding a fire pit to the patio is one of the top ways to take a sad patio and bring it back to life once again.

Restore An Old Patio With These Tips

A patio is meant to be a place where family members and friends come together to enjoy each other’s company. In order to bring a patio back to life, think about putting these tips to use. This will make the patio functional once again, making the porch the place to be.