Buying a Home While Relocating is a Smarter Choice

Buying a Home While Relocating is a Smarter ChoiceThe idea of buying a home is challenging enough as the process requires a lengthy approval validation, paperwork, financing, and the actual move with logistics. However, when one really looks at what typically occurs with relocation, buying versus renting can start to make more sense over time.

Finances Have to be In Order

Buying a home more than once every ten years requires a good amount of discipline on one’s personal finances. Most of the initial decisions and approvals will depend heavily on keeping one’s debt versus income ratios in line and viable. That also means saving up a lot to have sufficient cash flow for fees and your down payment. It also means not letting credit cards get out of hand or taking on other significant debt unless necessary as both weigh against one’s ability to obtain new financing for the next home purchase.

Renting Versus Owning

Renting or leasing tends to be the go-to option during a relocation because it tends to be easier upfront, has fewer requirements to achieve, and involves less of a significant commitment financially. After all, what happens if there is another relocation just a year later? However, most relocations are fairly defined in time. Anything under a year would make sense for renting, but when one starts getting beyond a year, buying starts to become far more appealing.

First, all the dollars one pays in rent are a sunk cost. If one buys, some of that money goes into home equity. Second, many companies and organizations who relocate their people often have connections for quick purchasing and residential needs, leveraging corporate interests for their employees. This allows for the rotation of homes from one employee to the next and makes buying easier for longer-term stays.

Third, a purchase for a shorter-term stay doesn’t have to be a full-scale home. Smaller units that cost much less are easier to close and can work just as well for temporary living. Relocating buyers should really consider a wide range of housing options in a buy versus just a strict replacement of what they had before.

Finally, market costs in the target location have to be considered. Some markets are very affordable and might be cheaper than renting month to month but others are astronomical, and it simply doesn’t make sense to buy in these regions for a short-term stay.

The Bottom Line

Understand with renting everything paid is gone and won’t be recovered in any form at all. It’s a lost expense. That can be thousands of dollars after one year alone. Buying will have fees, but the money spent on the mortgage each month buys equity which can be recovered in a sale, plus a possible gain as well down the road. Buying doesn’t work in every situation where one is relocated, but it can be a viable option in affordable markets and when one is staying longer than a year.

As always, check with your local real estate professional for the best advice on your relocation and your personal financial situation.

Boosting Your Credit Score To Qualify For Better Rates

Boosting Your Credit Score To Qualify For Better Rates

The better your credit score, the better the mortgage interest rate for which you should qualify. That can mean thousands of dollars saved over the life of the mortgage. If your credit score needs improving, get started prior to your search for a new home.

Pay Bills On Time
The simplest way to boost your credit score is by ensuring your bills are always paid on time. Nothing harms a credit score more than late payments.

Check for Credit Report Errors
Check your credit reports for any errors. These issues are not uncommon, and can really impact your score. Each of the three major credit card reporting bureaus –Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion –will provide you with a free annual report.

Credit Utilization Rate
Look into your credit utilization, or CU, rate. The CU rate is another big credit score consideration. Your CU rate is the amount of credit authorized versus the amount you use. It’s one reason maxing out your credit cards is not a wise move.

Never allow your CU rate to exceed more than 30 percent of your available credit. In simple terms if you have $1,000 in available credit, never use more than $300. High CU rates are a red flag, as they indicate someone with potential financial problems. For best results, keep your CU rate as low as you can.
Calculate your CU rate by adding up the credit limits on all cards, as well as the balances. Divide the total balances by the total credit limit, then multiply by 100. That amount is your CU rate percentage.

Reduce Your Debt
If you carry credit card debt, pay it down as much as possible. That also helps lower your CU rate.

Avoid Opening New Credit Card Accounts
Do not open new credit card accounts while trying to boost your credit score.   A new account lowers the age of your accounts, affecting your credit history and lowering the CU rate.

Do Not Close Unused Credit Card Accounts
Do you have credit cards you never use? You might think closing them would boost your credit score, but that is not how it works. When you close the account, the amount of credit you have drops. That triggers a CU rate increase.

Refinancing Credit Card Debt
If you have substantial credit card debt, consider refinancing all of it with a personal loan. You should receive a lower interest rate with your balances now merged into a single monthly payment. This also causes your CU rate to go down.

How Long Will It Take?
How long it will take to improve your credit score depends on the severity of your credit problems. Those with serious credit issues may find it takes years to raise their scores significantly, but most people should see improvement within a few months. Then it is time to think about mortgage shopping!

VA vs FHA vs USDA What’s the Difference?

VA vs FHA vs USDA What's the Difference?You may have more options than you think when it comes to securing a mortgage for your new home. While many buyers opt for conventional financing, another option or program might be a better choice for you, depending on your personal and financial situation. Learning more about FHA, USDA, and VA loans ensures you get the best possible deal for your mortgage and that you secure the loan that you need for your new home. Here’s what you need to know about these useful mortgage options.

FHA Loans
These are traditional mortgages that are backed by the FHA: when you take out an FHA loan, this government agency is insuring the loan. This makes your loan more appealing to lenders who might otherwise feel your credit or income history is not strong enough. An FHA loan is available to a wide range of buyers and price points and offers a low-down payment, reasonable interest, and other perks that make it worth exploring for your next mortgage. 

VA Loans
If you are a veteran then this program, which offers loans insured by the VA, is a great option for you as they do not require money down so you can buy immediately, rather than saving for years for a down payment. The VA loan is available to those who have served or are serving in the armed forces and is a good option to help you get the home you want with no money down, unlike a conventional mortgage loan.

USDA Loans
One of the most useful and often overlooked loan programs is from the USDA. While this government office offers direct loans, far more people qualify for their insured loan programs. USDA loans are for rural areas, but a surprising number of suburban communities and locations qualify as well. With a low-down payment and interest, this subsidized loan program is well worth it if you plan to live in a rural or suburban area. 

Not every borrower will qualify for the mortgage options above; the USDA has guidelines on income and the home you are interested in. The FHA does not have income requirements, but you will need to prove your income and this option also has a loan limit.  If you do meet the guidelines of any of the above programs, they can help you access the home you want by dramatically reducing your upfront and deposit costs. 

The right loan for you will depend on your income, credit, and the home you’ve selected. Your agent can help you find the home that suits the program you want and make it easy for you to secure the financing you qualify for. Get in touch today to talk about your home buying options and see which loan option is right for you. 

Working From Home Could Mean A New Home

Working From Home Could Mean A New HomeThere are a lot of people who are working from home for the first time. There are a lot of advantages that come with working from home, such as the opportunity to develop stronger relationships with family members, the chance to save money on gas, and more autonomy over the work schedule. In addition, this could also mean a new home.

With many people spending more time at home than they did in the past, they might be thinking about investing in new floorplans, renovating cabinets, and adding a dedicated home office. This could also provide the opportunity to move.

Why People Are Thinking About Upgrading Their Homes

For those who continue to commute to work, they might not spend that much time in their homes. As a result, they may not be that invested in the overall layout of the home. As long as the home meets their needs when they are present, this is enough.

On the other hand, when people work from home, their needs change. For example, many people have their kids home from school right now. Their kids might distract them when they are trying to work. By renovating the home and creating a dedicated space for a home office, this could allow someone to be more productive. Renovating the home is about meeting people’s needs as they change.

The Prospect Of Moving Entirely

On the other hand, some people might be thinking about moving to a new home entirely. The vast majority of people end up purchasing a new home because they have recently obtained a new job and need to live close to work. When someone works from home, they can live just about anywhere they choose. While many people still choose to live relatively close to their current location, working from home provides people with more flexibility than they had in the past. Therefore, many families are taking advantage of it.

Working From Home Will Become More Common

In the future, working from home is going to become more common. As technology continues to improve, people are going to have the opportunity to work from home for the foreseeable future. This represents a lifestyle shift that many people are going to embrace.

Getting A Lower Interest Rate During A Refinance

Getting A Lower Interest Rate During A RefinanceThere are a lot of people who have spotted the record-low mortgage rates right now and are wondering if they can refinance successfully. While many people apply for a refinance of their current home loan, not everyone will be approved. Furthermore, a home refinance is not the best option for everyone. Those who want to qualify for record-low refinance rates need to keep a few key points in mind.

Be A Strong Refinance Candidate

First, homeowners need to make sure that it is actually worth their time to refinance to a lower home mortgage rate. In general, homeowners want to make sure they are able to save at least three-quarters of a percentage point when compared to their current home loan to make a refinance worth their while. If they cannot save this much money on their home loan, then they may end up spending more money on the refinance in closing costs.

Act Quickly

The real estate market is volatile right now. Therefore, home refinance rates are often moving targets. As a result, the interest rates that are published this week could change in the span of a few days. By the time loan packages are returned to the lender, the rates might not even be accurate anymore. Therefore, all homeowners need to be willing to act fast. Have pay stubs, bank statements, and tax returns ready to go when the lender asks for it.

Have The Money For Closing Costs

One of the most common reasons why homeowners lose out on the best interest rates is that they do not have the money ready to pay closing costs. By the time the homeowners get the money together, the refinance rate might have passed them by. Usually, closing costs fall somewhere between two percent and five percent of the total loan amount and this amount is usually due at signing.

Qualify For The Best Mortgage Rates During A Refinance

With mortgage rates falling to record lows, now is a good time for many homeowners to refinance. On the other hand, homeowners need to set themselves up to qualify for the lowest mortgage rates. Following these steps can place homeowners in a position to be successful when they apply for a refinance.

Purchase The Right Amount Of Home Insurance

Purchase The Right Amount Of Home InsuranceFor most people, their home is the most valuable investment they will ever make. Therefore, it needs to be protected. This is where homeowners’ insurance is critical. At the same time, buying the right amount of homeowners’ insurance can be a bit of a challenge.

A home that is underinsured leaves the homeowner vulnerable to situations involving fires, floods, and theft. On the other hand, nobody wants to throw away money unnecessarily by over-insuring the home. How can everyone purchase the right amount of homeowners’ insurance?

Review The Coverage Every Year

First, people’s needs are going to change from year to year. Therefore, everyone should review their policy annually. For example, actual cash value only reimburses someone based on the current condition of the home. For example, if a home was built ten years ago, the actual cash value will only provide someone with the depreciated value of the home and not the original value. While this might be enough at the beginning, it may not be enough ten years from now. Everyone has to make sure they purchase enough insurance to cover the cost of rebuilding the home, excluding the cost of the land.

Overlooking Valuables And Liability

Another common mistake that people make when it comes to homeowners’ insurance is overlooking issues such as valuables and liability. Most people have enough insurance for the structure of the home. Most people do not have enough insurance to cover liability claims and valuables. Liability claims might arise if someone gets hurt on the property and the homeowner gets sued. Valuables are important if the home burns down or if someone steals something from the home. All homeowners must have enough homeowners’ insurance to protect themselves against potential liability claims (such as someone slipping and falling in the home) and the loss of valuables (such as electronics and jewelry). Everyone has to make sure they document these valuables appropriately.

Purchase The Right Amount Of Homeowners’ Insurance

Make sure you include everything to purchase the right amount of homeowners’ insurance. Review current construction costs as part of the process. Finally, review the fine print of the homeowners’ insurance policy every year to avoid being underinsured or over-insured.

Home Values Are Impacted By School Zones: Is The Move Worth It?

Home Values Are Impacted By School Zones: Is The Move Worth It?If you are looking for a home, then you probably have a budget in mind. You also need to know about the most common factors that influence the price of a home. One factor that always seems to play a role in the price of a home is the quality of the school system. This makes sense. After all, a lot of people who are looking for a home have children (or are planning on having children) and want to make sure they have access to a quality education. At the same time, is it truly worth the price increase to have access to a better school district?

The Quality Of The School District And The Price Of The Home

Numerous surveys have consistently shown that the majority of homeowners are willing to go over their budget price for the perfect and home and the location certainly plays a role. In this manner, the quality of the school system absolutely factors into the right location.

When people think about going over budget, they often think about a higher monthly mortgage payment; however, other costs are going to increase as well. For example, you might need to pay a higher down payment, pay more in home insurance to protect the home, and pay more in property taxes. Therefore, is this truly worth it?

This Is A Subjective Decision

In the end, the answer to this question is always going to be subjective. Therefore, you need to decide what matters most to you and your family and compare this to the premium that is put on the home. For example, the school rankings and test scores are certainly important factors. At the same time, they only tell one small part of the story.

For example, you also want to see how much money the school district spends on each of its students. The more money they spend, the more they care about their students. You also want to think about the diversity of the school district as well, as this is closely correlated to the overall quality of the education each student receives. Compare these factors to your budget to see if it is worth the price of living in that school district.

Home Expenses Include Far More Than Just the Down payment

Home Expenses Include Far More Than Just the Down paymentIf you are thinking about purchasing your first home in the near future, then you need to be aware of the costs that you are going to take on. When you are looking at the cost of a home, it is very tempting to focus on the sticker price of the home. Even though the down payment is going to be the largest check you are going to write, this is not the only cost that you are going to pay.

There are numerous other costs for which you need to budget as well. By thinking about all of these costs ahead of time, you can make a smart financial decision for you and your family.

Think About The Real Estate Taxes

Depending on the part of the country in which you live, real estate taxes can be significant. For example, it is not unusual for even a modest home to cost thousands of dollars in real estate taxes per year. Therefore, even though you have budgeted for your monthly mortgage payment, make sure that you have budgeted for real estate taxes as well. Usually, your mortgage lender is going to hold your real estate taxes in escrow for you so you don’t end up having to write a large check at the end of the year.

Homeowners’ Insurance And Utility Costs

In addition, you also need to think about homeowners’ insurance and utility costs. Some of the utilities that you have to pay for include internet, phone, cable, gas, electricity, and water. When this is added to your homeowners’ insurance expenses, this can also add up to several hundred dollars per month. Therefore, make sure that you can afford not only the mortgage payment but these recurring monthly expenses as well.

Budget For Your First Home Accordingly

Some of the other expenses that you might have to incur when it comes to your first home include maintenance and repair bills. Therefore, you should make sure that you sit down with an experienced planner and ensure that you can afford the combined expenses. Otherwise, you might end up being priced out of your first home before you realize it.

 

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 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.