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What To Know About Mortgage Insurance

If you are on the verge of buying real estate, you’ve probably heard the term Private Mortgage Insurance. Mortgage professionals talk about it a great deal, but you may be asking, “What is it exactly? And why should I care?” Private Mortgage Insurance Defined PMI is required by lenders if the down payment of a purchase is less than 20 percent of the home’s value. It protects the lender if the borrower defaults on the loan. It also makes the lender more apt to loan, even if the down payment is as low as 3%, because in the long run, the lender’s investment is protected. You Pay For It Unlike other types of insurance which you pay to protect your interest in an asset, you pay Private Mortgage Insurance to the mortgage company to protect its interest in your new real estate. (Note that PMI is not usually tax deductible. Check with a tax professional for details.) Make It Go Away: PMI Can Be Terminated Once You’ve Paid Down Your Loan Once you pay down your mortgage to the point
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Consider Interviewing Architects Before Building A New Home

Making the decision to build a home might be one of the biggest you make in your life. You’ve found the perfect plot of land and have a vision of what type of home you want, but you need someone to bring your dream to life. That means it’s time to start interviewing architects. Hiring an architect isn’t as simple as just calling up a few and seeing who might have the time. You’ll want to ensure you choose a professional that understands your design aesthetic, communicates well, can design on budget and has an upstanding reputation. Below are a few key questions to ask when deciding whom to hire. Do You Have A Specific Design Style? When interviewing architects, be sure to ask each one if they have a specific aesthetic and if you can see a portfolio of his or her work. While most are adaptable, they usually all have design themes that recur in their projects. Whether you want a minimalist structure or LEED certified construction, you’ll want to know they have the experience.
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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week

Last week didn’t feature any housing-related news other than Freddie Mac’s weekly survey of mortgage interest rates. Reports on consumer credit, job openings and weekly jobless claims suggest that without some relief in the jobs market, Americans may be taking a “wait-and-see” stance toward buying homes. Consumer Credit Rose By $10.40 Billion In July The Federal Reserve reported Tuesday that revolving credit fell by an annual rate of 2.60 percent as compared to an annual decrease of 5.20 percent in June. Non-revolving consumer credit such as vehicle and education loans rose at an annual rate of 7.40 percent. Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey indicated that mortgage rates were unchanged for both 30-year and 15-year fixed rate mortgage loans. The average rate for a 30-year FRM was 4.57 percent with discount points of 0.80 percent; this was higher than last week’s 0.70 percent. Average rates for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage were unchanged at 3.57 percent with 0.70
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Think Twice Before Paying Off Your Mortgage Too Quickly

Most of the financial advice out there is focused on how you can pay off the mortgage on your home as quickly as possible, from making lump sum payments to switching to bi-weekly payments rather than monthly. However, there are a few things that you might want to consider before you put all of your financial efforts into paying off your mortgage as quickly as possible. Diversifying Your Investments Of course, paying off your mortgage as fast as possible has a number of obvious advantages. You will be able to own your home a lot sooner and you will decrease the amount of interest you pay over the years. However, are you diversifying your assets? Savvy investors know that they should decrease their risk by spreading their money into a number of different types of assets and investments so that they don’t have ”all their eggs in one basket.” If you have extra money and you want to invest it, you might want to make sure that you have a variety of investments including savings, stock
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7 Simple Steps To Finish Your Basement

Get in the spirit of the coming weekend and put the labor of love into your home by creating a cozy hideaway that your family can retreat to once the outdoors become too chilly. One of the best places to create this snug space is to mimic hibernating animals and go under ground — to the basement. Whether your lowest level needs a facelift or is completely unfinished, Labor Day weekend is the perfect time to make a game plan and get started on remodeling your basement. Step 1 – Obtain A Permit Before you can just slap up insulation and drywall, you need to make sure your basement is even fit to dwell in. Check with your city to ensure there aren’t any permits you need to obtain and that the space is up to code. If you don’t do it right, then this update could haunt you when it comes time to sell. Step 2 – Get The Air Flowing You’ll want this space to be warm in winter and cool in the summer. Contact a contractor to see if getting air to this lower level will be as easy as t
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Case Shiller Price Index Shows Home Prices Are Still Increasing

Home prices are still rising, but at a slower pace according to the S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Indices for June. Home prices for the cities surveyed in the HPI rose by 12.10 percent on an annual basis as compared to May’s reading of 12.20 percent. This is the highest rate of monthly growth for home prices since the peak of the housing bubble in 2006. June’s home prices remained approximately 23 percent lower than peak prices, but economists consider the bubble peak an anomaly and caution against comparing current home prices to the peak prices seen in 2006. Overall Housing Price Increase Strongly Regional home prices reported in June’s HMI were mixed. Case-Shiller publishes a 10-city Index and a 20-city Index of home prices. 13 of 20 cities saw their rates of rising home prices decline from May to June. Atlanta posted the highest month-to-month gain in home prices at 3.40 percent. Washington, D.C. posted the slowest month-to-month gain in home prices at 1.00 percent. New York C
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7 Tips On Getting A New Mortgage After Bankruptcy

You have found your dream home and you are eager to get a mortgage, move into the property and start enjoying life there. However, there is only one problem standing in your way – the fact that you have been through some hard financial times in the past. If you (or your partner) have been bankrupt previously, will this affect your chances of being able to buy the home you want? The good news is that it is still possible to obtain a mortgage even if you have been bankrupt before. Here are some tips that will help you to increase your chances of mortgage success: Choose the right lender. Some lenders may not approve your new mortgage if a bankruptcy shows up on your credit history. However, there are some that do as long as you are able to prove that you have the income to make your payments. If your bankruptcy was caused by factors that are beyond your control, it may be easier to get a new mortgage as opposed to a bankruptcy that was caused by poor money management. Explain the circ
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Fed Meeting Minutes Reflect Support For Reducing QE Program

The minutes of last month’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting show significant support for tapering the Fed’s current amount of monthly securities purchases. These purchases, known as quantitative easing (QE), are an effort to maintain lower long-term interest rates including mortgage rates. The Fed has been buying $85 billion per month in Treasury securities and mortgage-backed securities (MBS). Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve and FOMC has hinted at “tapering” the Fed’s securities purchases by year-end in recent statements. The FOMC minutes released Wednesday further suggest that tapering based on strengthening economic trends is likely. FOMC Members Express Mixed Views The minutes for the last FOMC meeting, which took place on July 30 and 31, states that many members are “broadly comfortable” with tapering QE securities purchases later this year if the economy continues to improve. At the same time, many FOMC members indicated that it “isn’
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Home Builder Confidence Highest Level In Nearly 8 Years

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reported Thursday that its Housing Market Index rose three points to a reading of 59 for August. Confidence among builders is likely growing in connection with stronger housing markets and high demand for homes. These conditions are being driven by short supplies of homes for sale in many markets. Builder confidence in current market conditions rose by three points to a reading of 62, while builder confidence in market conditions within the next six months rose by one point to a reading of 68. Confidence in buyer foot traffic was unchanged from July’s reading of 45. Readings above 50 indicate that more builders surveyed view housing market conditions as positive rather than negative; there was some concern that the high builders’ confidence reading could trigger the Fed to announce the tapering of its $85 billion monthly purchase of Treasury securities and mortgage-backed securities. Housing Starts Driven By Apartment Construction H
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Tips For Helping Your Kids Adjust To A New School

August means it’s time to get your children ready for school once more. Picking out backpacks, going clothes shopping and finding all the right school supplies can be hectic enough. However, when you’ve moved and your children have to start all over in a new district, there’s even more to worry about! Summer fun can make the sunny months fly by. It’s easy to forget that with the beginning of school comes excitement and anxiety for your little ones — especially if they’re starting out somewhere new. So help them get adjusted with the back-to-a-new-school strategies below. Explain Why You’ll Be Moving Whether you’re moving states or just school districts, it’s best to give your children as much notice as possible and explain to them the reason for the change. They’ll need time to get used to the idea and say goodbye to friends. Be Positive As the first day draws near, be positive about what they’ll experience. School will be a place where they’ll learn new things
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Whatever You Do, Don’t Make These Common Mortgage Mistakes

Are you applying for a mortgage on your home? Keep in mind that a mortgage is a major financial decision and choosing one will have a significant impact on the rest of your life. Many people go into this decision without understanding all of the essential mortgage information they need to know. This means that they may not make the best choices which could result in paying much more than they need to. If you want to save yourself from throwing away your hard earned money, here are a few common mistakes to avoid: Trying To Time The Mortgage Interest Rate Market Many people will wait too long to make a decision to lock in their mortgage rate, trying to wait until they think that the rates have hit bottom. However, unfortunately most of the time this leads them to wait too long and end up with a higher interest rate. If you are waiting things out, keep a very close eye on the economic indicators. Better yet, your trusted mortgage professional would be a good source of information about t
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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – August 19, 2013

Last week wasn’t kind to stock market investors, but weekly jobless claims fell to an unexpected low of 320,000 new jobless claims filed, the lowest level in nearly six years. Here is a review of the major events of the week. Monday: The federal budget for July shows an increase in its deficit to -$98 Continue reading
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RealtyTrac Report Shows Home Prices Increasing At Highest Rate Since 1977

U.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 Continue reading
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How to Deal With A Disaster in Your Home

Weather patterns across the United States seem to be getting more and more erratic. From tornadoes and earthquakes to flash floods and wild fires, there are many natural disasters that can quickly consume your home without warning. Because you never know when disaster might strike, it’s best to be prepared. Disaster insurance is the only precaution you can put in place to ensure compensation for your belongings and get your life back to normal as soon as possible. Below are the tips to take before misfortune strikes. Create An Inventory Most insurance agencies prefer if you include photographs of every room, including the insides of closets and cabinets. Shooting a video is even better. Then you can include audio of how much things cost or if they’re one of a kind. It’s also a good idea to create a spreadsheet with a list of major items and their value by room. Be sure to email these to yourself, so that you can access them anywhere. Double-Check Your Coverage Once you’ve inve
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Read This Before Signing Your Reverse Mortgage

There are many reasons people take out reverse mortgages. However, this option is usually considered by cash-strapped seniors who own their homes and are looking to ease the burden of their golden years. The beauty of reverse mortgages is that you’ll receive money as long as you are current on property taxes and homeowners insurance. While this seems like an appealing opportunity, it’s a decision that should not be made lightly. Not only is the reverse mortgage complicated in itself, but homeowners make all sorts of mistakes when they’re too quick to sign the dotted line. So if you’re considering one, be wary of the common pitfalls below. Buying Into A Scam With reverse mortgages becoming a more common option for those over 62, mischievous opportunists are searching for ways to solicit seniors in need of help. Scammers will take advantage by charging high fees, funneling off parts of payments, creating fake loans or committing identity theft. Ensure you use a lender approved b
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How To Create The Perfect Garage Workshop

Most men, and even handy women, dream of a perfectly organized work space where their tools are orderly and they can tackle that list of home DIY projects. However, renovations can get put on hold because there’s not a designated place to work. Tools are usually scattered throughout closets and the kitchen table serves as a workbench. You can create a space for all of your improvement projects by turning a section of your garage into a construction-friendly, wonderfully organized haven for your tools and home makeover endeavors. Below are easy steps to building the perfect garage workshop. Make Sure You Have Adequate Space Ideally, you’d still like to be able to get your cars in their designated space, so look for a vacant area at the back of the garage or along one side. If you’re garage isn’t quite large enough, then you might want to consider adding on to it or building an outdoor shed. Create A Work Surface For your work surface, you could repurpose old kitchen cabinets wi
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Rounding Up Your Mortgage Payment

Paying off the mortgage on your home as quickly as possible will ensure that you pay less interest and save money in the long term. But how can you accelerate those payments so that you own your home sooner? One simple and easy way that you can pay off your mortgage faster is to round up your mortgage payment to the nearest $100 interval. So, for example, if your mortgage payment is $756 per month, you can pay $800 instead. Not only will this help you to pay off your mortgage sooner, but round numbers are also much easier to handle for simple calculations. You will be able to look at your bank account and easily subtract your mortgage payment in your head to get an idea of where your money stands. Will This Really Make a Difference? By rounding up your mortgage payment, you won’t notice the difference in your day to day expenses but you will really notice the difference when it comes to the overall lifespan of your mortgage. In your monthly budget, you will have already mentally all
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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – 9.9.13

Last week was relatively calm due to the Labor Day Holiday on Monday providing little mortgage and housing related news. However, there were several positive indicators for overall economic conditions. Construction spending rose by 0.60 percent in July and surpassed economists’ expectations of 0.30 percent and June’s zero percent growth. While this may seem a small increase, any indication that construction spending is increasing could indicate that residential construction is ramping up. This would be good news for home buyers, who’ve been facing a shortage of available homes in many areas of the U.S. The Fed Released Its Latest Beige Book Report Federal Reserve districts reported rising consumer spending in most districts, modest expansion in manufacturing and moderate residential real estate sales. Higher mortgage rates may have dampened home buyer enthusiasm, but an ongoing shortage of available homes is also likely to have contributed to slower sales. Mortgage rates will li
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Pending Home Sales Indicates That The Housing Recovery Is Progressing

The National Association of REALTORS reported Wednesday that pending sales of existing homes fell by 1.30 percent in July. According to the organization’s Pending Home Sales Index, this was the second straight month that pending home sales dropped. July’s Pending Home Sales Index reading was 109.50. Signed Purchase Contracts For Existing Homes Tracked In The U.S. ·Northeast: – 6.60 percent ·Midwest: – 1.00 percent ·West: 4.90 percent ·South: + 2.60 percent Pending home sales were 6.70 percent higher year-over-year on a national basis. This indicates that the housing recovery is progressing, but at a slower pace. Short supplies of available homes have also impacted sales. In some areas homebuyers are facing competition from multiple buyers for individual homes. Another report released earlier in the week showed that the pace of rising home prices also slowed. This connects with fewer pending home sales, as when demand for homes cools, prices are likely to fall as well. Pend
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Preventing And Clearing Clogs In Your Home

You’re brushing your teeth and you turn on the faucet. It’s not draining and starts to back up. Here’s the dilemma; do you spit and let it sit or run to the kitchen? One thing is for sure; having a clogged drain can be a major annoyance. Clogs not only frustrate a homeowner but they can be hard on your plumbing. The added pressure they create puts stress on your pipes and can shorten their lifespan. So end the issue by following the guidelines below. You’ll learn how to prevent clogging and clear the ones you already have. No Food Down The Drain Even if you have a disposal, it’s not good for your pipes to have sticky, mushy food shoved through them. Peel vegetables and scrape plates into the trashcan. Also, avoid pouring grease down the drain. Animal fat can congeal into a solid and form a blockage. Instead, store it in a sealable container in the freezer. Once it’s full, trash it! Only TP In The Toilets All feminine hygiene products should be thrown away, because most don
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Follow These Steps When Using Gift Funds For Your Down Payment

As lenders tighten mortgage guidelines for home buyers, minimum downpayment requirements are increasing. Several years ago, you could finance a home with nothing down. Today, most conventional mortgages require at least 5 – 10 percent. Incidentally, these guideline changes have led to an increase in the number of home buyers accepting cash gifts from family. Gifts are allowed in most cases but the problem is, if you don’t accept the gift in a “lender-friendly” way, the mortgage underwriter could reject it, and negate it. Three Steps To Success With Your Down Payment Gift Funds You can’t just deposit a cash gift into your bank account. You have to follow a series of steps and keep records. Provide an acceptable gift letter signed by all parties Provide documentation of the gifter’s withdrawal of funds via teller receipts Provide documentation of the giftee’s deposit of funds via teller receipts Lenders require these 3 steps for two basic reasons. First, they want to make
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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – August 26, 2013

Last week brought mixed economic news, but Leading Indicators released Thursday suggest that the U.S. economy is growing at a moderate rate. Mortgage rates for fixed rate loans were higher, but the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was unchanged from the prior week. Weekly jobless claims were also higher. The National Association of REALTORS released its Existing Home Sales report for July and reported existing home sales came in at 5.39 million on an annualized basis. This reading surpassed expectations of 5.21 existing homes sold as well as June’s reading of 5.06 million existing homes sold on an annualized basis. FOMC Minutes Released, Mortgage Rates Rise The minutes for the July 31 FOMC meeting were released, and emphasized the likely “tapering” of the Fed’s quantitative easing program possibly as early as September, though no dates have been set. Many of the FOMC members support reducing the $85 billion in monthly securities purchases made by the Fed; fewer
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These Overlooked Issues Can Become Deal-Killers For Your Mortgage Application

A mortgage loan approval is never final until it’s funded. And that means after you’ve signed the final paperwork and the bank has wired funds to escrow. Mortgages are made up of many moving parts, any of which might “go wrong” while your home loan is underway. Some are in your control, like deciding to purchase new items on credit during the mortgage process, many more are not. These “not in your control” items are the ones that you may not be thinking of. Just being aware of some potential pitfalls could help save your loan down the road, and your peace of mind today. What Many Mortgage Articles Don’t Say Many mortgage related articles offer similar things like buying a car before closing, or opening a bunch of new credit cards, but there are more uncommon factors that can lead to a similar loan turndown. For example, a home not be able to get approved if it’s unsuitable, or unsafe, for human habitation — a condition you may not discover until after a thorough home
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How To Choose The Right Neighborhood When Buying 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 Continue reading
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Quick Tips Save On Your Electric Bill

Summer always brings with it a hard choice: Do you turn down the thermostat to stay cool and resign yourself to high power bills? Or, do you sweat it out to save some dough? If you’ve been struggling with this dilemma, don’t fret. With a programmable thermostat, you can beat the heat and save money, Continue reading
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