Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Today is a Skills Market



In today's ultra-competitive real estate market where there is only 1.7 months supply of inventory compared to 6 months in a balanced market, and the average home is getting 4.8 offers per sale, it is more important than ever to have the right person "champion" your cause.

In the Middle Ages, it became customary for a person of nobility to appoint a "champion" to fight for them in their stead.  Trial by combat ended in the 15th to 16th centuries but the practice of "fighting" or speaking in one's behalf continues even to this day.

Lawyers will take up the cause of their client to win justice for them.  Professional athletes are recruited for their abilities to help their team become victorious.  Craftsmen of every type imaginable are in high demand because of their finished product.

Sellers' and buyers' objectives are different and, in many cases opposing in nature.  Sellers, rightfully so, believe they should get the most for their home while minimizing expenses and avoiding any issues that could cause delays.  Buyers want to be treated fairly; have an opportunity to buy the home of their choice and enjoy the protections of normal contingencies for things like mortgage approval and inspections.

In most situations, there are two real estate agents involved in a single sale. While there could be legal agency distinctions, it is commonly felt that the agent on their side of the transaction is "championing" their cause.  It is natural to want your champion to be the most capable person available.

There are skills that agents need in today's market not the least of which is negotiations.  Regardless of which side of the fence you're on, your agent needs to be skilled in negotiating on your behalf.  Every part of the contract is a negotiation starting with the price, then, whether it is cash or subject to a mortgage.  What's a reasonable amount of earnest money?  Can it be "as is" and still allow the buyer inspections so they'll be fully aware of what they're buying?

The buyer wants to negotiate the best terms possible with the seller and they are depending on their agent to work for them to get them.  The home inspector has been hired by the buyer to determine the condition of the home and will most likely, ask the seller to make any necessary repairs.

The lender hires an appraiser to determine the value of the home so that the loan will be secured by the property.  Recent sales are used as comparables, but they trail the market which becomes a challenge in rapidly appreciating markets, especially, when there are multiple offers. 

And since multiple offers are the norm currently, how is the best way to handle them based on the seller's or buyer's perspective.  There could be legal and ethical procedures that must be followed but an agent's experience may also contribute to the favorable outcome.

The skilled and experienced negotiator understands that every transaction is different because of dealing with individuals, their families, their needs, and their emotions.  The role of the third-party negotiator can be invaluable to the success of the transaction based on not only their experience but the juxtaposition to the principals and their objectivity of trying to reach a compromise.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Existing Homeowners May be Facing Higher Payments



As a current homeowner, you may be basking in the consolation that you bought before the market got crazy with higher prices and interest rates. However, it doesn't mean that you may not be facing higher mortgage payments for next year.

Most homeowners pay their taxes and insurance into an escrow account with their mortgage payment.  The lender monitors the account to be sure there are enough funds available when the taxes and insurance are due.  If there is a shortage, it could cause your payment to increase.

In 2021, the national average increase in home prices was just under 20% but may have been considerably higher in some local markets.  The increased value of homes doesn't just affect buyers, in can affect the assessed value of properties across the board resulting in their property taxes going up.

Various taxing authorities, like state, city, school, and other special districts, can establish the rate they charge and exemptions that apply.  In most situations, there is a state assessment procedure for establishing the value subject to tax.

When the assessment is published, there is usually an opportunity for the owner to challenge the value.  The owner can submit evidence to justify lowering the assessment like comparable sales that indicate a lower value, mistakes in the size of the improvements or lot size, or possibly, deteriorated condition of the property.

There are companies who will represent sellers in the effort to lower the assessment.  Typically, they may charge a flat fee and a percent of the property taxes saved by lowering the assessment.  This particular year, some assessed values have gone up as much as 35-40% and it may not seem fair, but it really does accurately reflect market value.

Start investigating your situation as soon as you are notified of this year's assessment.  In most cases, the owner can represent themselves in the matter, but they will need to accumulate accurate, comparable sales, not use automated value models, found online.

Your real estate agent may be able to provide you a list of comparable sales.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Homeownership and the Three M's



Homes are valuable assets and must be maintained so they function properly, are safe, enjoyable and hold their value.  Attention to maintenance, minimizing expenses and managing debt & risk will protect your investment.

Maintenance

It is interesting that people understand the necessity to maintain a car and regularly have the car inspected, repaired and do regular maintenance.  Even though a house could be worth many times more than a car, homeowners regularly neglect what should be routine maintenance.

Failure to maintain a home properly adversely affects the value.  Many times, buyers will discount the price they are willing to pay for a home more than the actual cost of the repair or expenditure.  A home in good condition instills confidence while a home in less than good condition generates concern about unknown items that may also need repair.

HVAC systems, as well as appliances, run more efficiently when they are maintained which will result in lower utility bills.  Another big benefit is that small items in need of repairs, many times, turn into more expensive repairs or having to replace the items completely.

For example, failure to replace the air filters regularly could lead to a more expensive repair like having to clean the coils or it could even lead to a larger issue like burning out a HVAC motor.  In this example, the aggregate cost of replacing the filters is much less than the cost of a new furnace or A/C unit.

It can be more expensive to fix something that is not working rather than rather than prevent it from failing by regularly maintaining it.

Minimize Expenses

Every dollar you spend on maintenance, increases your cost of housing.  Some maintenance items may be easily done yourself and you'll save the cost of having a professional do them, like changing the filters.  However, the list of minimizing expenses goes way beyond maintenance.

Replacing all your light bulbs with energy efficient alternatives like LEDs is a great example.  In the spirit of Ben Franklin's adage that "a penny saved is a penny earned", every dollar you save on utilities lowers your overall cost of housing.

Windows and doors whose seals are not adequate, or a home not properly insulated could be using considerably more energy than necessary.  The cost of making these adjustments could be recaptured in utility savings in a short period of time.

Knowing the right service providers can be a big source of savings as well as give you peace of mind.  Your real estate professional has developed a wide range of trusted service providers who are both reputable and reasonable.  You should feel comfortable asking for a recommendation whenever you need one.

Manage Debt & Risk

Refinancing your home to get a lower interest rate can be a big savings but you'll need to analyze it to determine how long it will cost you to recapture the cost involved.  A Refinance Analysis calculator can help.

Other cost-saving items could be investigating multi-policy discounts for insurance, lowering your property tax assessment, low-flow toilets, smart thermostats, unplugging small appliances when not in use, and adjusting the temperature on HVAC units and water heaters.

While you are talking to your insurance agent about possible discounts, ask about your liability coverage also.  Homeowner policies have a stated amount of coverage, but your financial situation or exposure may indicate that you need to increase those amounts.  Generally, homeowners with pools or boats have increased risk and you'll want to ask your agent about your other extracurricular activities.

Owning a home has a lot of responsibility and having a good source of information is valuable.  Your real estate professional is uniquely qualified to be your source of credible real estate information.  If you are wondering why they would be helpful even when you are not buying or selling a home, it is because they want to establish long-term relationships so that whenever you need their help or services, not only will you feel comfortable asking but that you'll feel confident to refer them to your friends.

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Will Selling Your Home Increase Your Tax Bill?



With home prices rising 20% nationwide in the past year and in some markets, even dramatically more, many homeowners are excited about the equity in their homes.  In the past, most homeowners were not concerned about profit from the sale being taxed but some may be surprised.

The profit homeowners make on the sale of their homes have enjoyed a generous exclusion.  Since 1997, for qualified sales, single taxpayers exclude up to $250,000 of capital gain and married taxpayers filing jointly, can exclude up to $500,000 of gain.

Prior to the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997, homeowners over the age of 55 were only allowed a once in a lifetime exclusion of $125,000.  The new rule greatly increased the amount of excluded profit to the extent that most homeowners did not think about paying tax on the profit from their principal residences.

Section 121, commonly called the Home Sale Tax Exclusion, requires that you owned and used the property as your principal residence for two out of the previous five years.  This allows for a temporary rental of the property and still be able to qualify for the exemption. It can be claimed only once every two years.

Cost basis is determined by Purchase Price plus certain closing costs at acquisition plus capital improvements made to the home during ownership.  Sales price, less selling expenses, is considered net sales price from which the cost basis is subtracted to arrive at capital gains on the sale.

If the capital gain is less than the applicable exclusion, no tax is owed.  When the gain exceeds the exclusion amount, the overage is taxed at long-term capital gains rate which could be 0%, 15% or 20% depending on the taxpayer's taxable income.

Capital improvements made to a home increase the cost basis and effectively, lower the gain in the sale.  It is important for homeowners to keep records of the money they spend during the time they own the home.

Some improvements are apparent like a swimming pool, new fence, or roof but some are not so obvious.  Replacing a faucet or a light fixture can be a capital improvement and even though the cost is small, lots of these items over the lifetime of owning the home add up.

The three rules for identifying capital improvements listed in IRS publication 523 are: 1) does it materially add value to the property? 2) does it extend the useful life of the property?  3) does it adapt a portion of the home to a new use?

While taxpayers are allowed to reconstruct a register of the improvements made during the time they owned their home, some things will undoubtedly, be overlooked.  It is much better to have a written record of all money spent on the home in a contemporaneous manner and keep receipts for items over $75.

It is better to have the record of all items available when you are ready to make the capital gain determination.  You'll save time and probably pay less taxes having the list readily available whether you do your taxes or have a professional do them.

For more information, download the Homeowners Tax Guide. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Buying a Home...Ask for a CLUE Report



People purchasing a used car have most likely heard of CARFAX vehicle history reports to help them avoid buying a car with costly hidden problems.  Less likely are buyers to know that there is a way to discover some of the repair history of homes they are interested in.

Lexis Nexis C.L.U.E. (Claims Loss Underwriting Exchange) is a claims history database that enables insurance companies to access consumer claims for the previous seven years when they are underwriting a risk or rating an insurance policy.

An insurance underwriter could identify a previous claim for substantial damage to a property and try to find out whether the repairs were completed properly before assuming the risk as a new insurer.  Similarly, a buyer could benefit from knowledge of former claims that may affect the value of the property or possible, future repairs.

A CLUE report can discover insurance claims on a home to investigate whether the repairs were done properly.  These reports are not directly available to potential buyers, but their property casualty insurance agent could order a report subject to successful negotiations with the seller to agree on a contract of sale. 

If a buyer had a CLUE report on a home that they were buying and were concerned about specific issues, the buyer could address those things with the inspector during the inspection period.  Conversely, the CLUE Report could detect items that may not be visible during a home inspection.

In some cases, a listing agent might suggest a seller get a CLUE report in the spirit of full disclosure to potential buyers.  Even if there were claims and the work was done properly, a high number of claims could affect the premium paid by a new homeowner.

A current homeowner can request one free CLUE report every twelve months online or by calling 888-497-0011.  They can also email consumer.documents@LexisNexisRisk.com.  Please be ready to provide your first and last name, social security number, driver's license number and state in which it was issues, date of birth, current home address and phone number.  For more information, see Lexis Nexis Consumer Portal.

If a buyer doesn't have a property casualty insurance agent, your real estate agent can recommend one.

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

A New Opportunity for Homebuyers



You may not have heard of anyone assuming an existing mortgage for over thirty years and didn't know they were even possible any longer.  The reason is simple, it didn't make financial sense but now that interest rates are increasing, it may be an opportunity for some homebuyers.

Conventional loans added clauses to mortgages back in the early 80's that gave the noteholder the right to raise the interest rate if a loan was assumed, as well as require the new buyer to qualify for the loan.  This essentially ended the practice of assuming conventional mortgages.

Then, in the late 80's, FHA and VA mortgages did impose the right to qualify the new buyers, but the big difference was that the mortgage rate would remain the same as the original borrower.  Even so, it still effectively ended the assumptions of FHA and VA mortgages because rates on mortgages trended down for the next thirty years.

There was really no benefit to assume a mortgage that still required qualifying because it was possible to obtain a new mortgage with a lower rate.  Generations of buyers have never even contemplated assuming a mortgage but now, in 2022, it might well be an alternative that will lower the cost of buying a home.

Mortgage rates hit a bottom in early 2021 and have been increasing since, this year especially. 

Since qualifying is required for assuming an FHA or VA mortgage and only owner-occupants are eligible, you might be asking what are the benefits?  If the interest rate on the existing mortgage is less than the rate on a new mortgage, there could be a savings.

In addition to that, there are fewer closing costs involved on assumptions of FHA and VA mortgages than originating new mortgages.  Another benefit is that assuming an existing mortgage will be further into the amortization schedule than a new one which means equity-buildup occurs faster.  And finally, lower interest rate loans amortize faster than higher rate loans.

The rub in this situation is that many buyers don't have enough money to purchase an equity but there is a remedy for that.  Let's assume the buyer was considering a 90% conventional loan.  If they identified a home with an assumable mortgage, they could put the same 10% down payment in cash, subtract the existing mortgage balance from what would be the 90% new mortgage and secure a second mortgage for the difference.

There are lenders that make this type of loan and buyers need to shop and compare rates and fees on them just like they would if they were getting a new first mortgage.  Your agent can suggest lenders for second mortgages.

Most search filters on portal websites do not include assumable mortgages.  You will need to rely on your agent to ferret them out.  If the agent you are working with hasn't suggested assumptions, it may be that they are unaware of their existence.

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Cost of Waiting to Buy in Both Price and Interest Rates



Have you ever been shopping on a website where you were looking at something that was on sale?  You were interested in it but there wasn't a sense of urgency and maybe, you had a lot going on and didn't get back to it for a few days.  When you did go back to the website, the price on the item had returned to its regular price.

How did you feel?  Did you go ahead and purchase it for the current price?  How did that make you feel knowing that if you had acted more decisively, you would have saved money and had the product by now?

In 2021, homes across the United State went up 19.1% on average.  There were some markets where the prices soared 30 to 40%.  Fortunately, last year the mortgage rates did remain relatively stable but that isn't the situation this year, in 2022.

At the end of 2021, economists from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, felt like prices would go up around 7% for 2022.  The Mortgage Bankers Association and the Home Price Expectation Survey predicted more like 5% and Zelman Research and the National Association of REALTORS� forecast closer to 3%.

While the number of sales did decline at the end of February 2022 to 7.2% month-over-month and 2.4% year-over-year, that could be explained as a lack of houses for sale.  In the same month, inventory was 1.7 months which is down from 2 months in February 2021.  The median sales price had a year over year increase of 15.0% to $357,300.

The Fed had their first of what may be four or five interest rate hikes this year to try and get control of the inflation rate.  We have already seen mortgage rates at the 4.5% price and that is for borrowers with the best credit.  Those with less than sterling credit can expect to pay more.

It is anyone's guess at where rates will end a year from now, but many experts think this decade of low rates is over and we'll not likely to see them again.

There is a pent-up demand for houses to buy and an urgency to buy before the rates get higher.  If a buyer waits a year to purchase a home but the price goes up by 5% and the interest rate goes up by 1%, it will have a dramatic effect on the payment.

 

 

5% price increase

10% price increase

Sales Price

$400,000

$420,000

$440,000

Mortgage

$360,000

$378,000

396,000

Current Rate vs Possible 1.00% increase

4.5%

5.5%

5.5%

Monthly Payment

$1,824

$2,146

$2,248

Payment Difference

 

$322.18

$424.38

Additional Cost for 7 years

 

$27,063

$35,648

Additional Cost for 30 years

 

$115, 983

$152,776

 

If the appreciation is closer to 10% increase, the negative effect of waiting is exacerbated.

The equity in a person's home contributes greatly to their overall net worth and wealth position.  The effect is very apparent in contrast to renters compared to homeowners whose net worth is 1/40th of the homeowners $300,000 or $8,000 for the renters.

As people stair step their way into larger homes to not only meet their increasing demands but also to enjoy the amenities of a nicer home, the equity will continue to grow based on two dynamics: appreciation and equity-build up.  The renters do not benefit from either of these.

To run your own comparison, using your own numbers and what you believe will happen in the marketplace, go to Cost of Waiting to Buy.  If you haven't developed a plan to purchase in today's market whether it be your first home or a move-up, you need facts and a trusted team of professionals to work for you.

It starts with finding an agent who will be as committed to find your home as you are.  We would love to help you or your friends.  It is what we do.

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Instead of a vision, show them the house



Sellers try to rationalize not making needed updating and repairs to their homes before marketing them by saying they are going to let the buyers make their own personal choices.  It is a convenient story to justify not going to the effort for the necessary market preparation to justify achieving the highest possible sales price.

An agent told a story of a home that was structurally sound being on the market, but it needed significant cosmetic work, like paint, floorcovering, updated fixtures, and lots of yard work.  The house was vacant with the owner having moved out of town. 

The agent explained to a prospective buyer what he thought it would take to bring the home up-to-date and what it would be worth.  The buyer was from out of town and was going to be teaching at the university the next semester.  He returned home without buying and came back to look again two months later.

As they were looking at homes with the same agent, the question came up about the previously viewed home that needed work.  The agent told him that she had bought it and did all the things that she had suggested.  The buyer asked if he could look at it.  On seeing the property, now, in its pristine condition, the buyer asked the agent if she would sell the home to him at a profit.

The agent told him that it wasn't for sale but followed up to the buyer with a question of her own.  "I told you that you could buy it for below market and gave you an estimate of what it would take to update it which would have you in the home below market value and with all the colors and choices of your own.  Why didn't you buy it then?

The buyer admitted that it looked like a lot of work and that he just didn't feel up to the challenge.  The main thing was that he just saw a lot of work and couldn't really see the finished product.

This story is not novel; it happens frequently.  Buyers are not experienced enough to recognize what needs to be done, how much it would cost and how long it would take.  In many cases, they don't have the connections with the different service providers.  In some cases, they simply can't imagine what the home would look like after the renovations are made.

There are some buyers who scout out opportunities for do-it-yourself experiences where they can earn sweat equity by buying below market and making the repairs to add value to the home.  There are many more buyers who don't know how and/or may not want the hassle and are willing to pay a higher price and be able to "move in" to their new home.

The highest prices being paid for homes are the ones in the best condition with the best locations.

The highly popular TV series Fixer Upper now, on the new Magnolia Network, uses this situation for the premise of each show.  People want to buy a home in great condition but can't find what they want.  Chip and Joanna find a good home in a good neighborhood for them and sell the vision of what it could be.  The unique aspect of the show is that they act as agents, designers, and contractors to meet the buyers' budget.

In the case of Fixer Upper, the buyer is the beneficiary of the increased equity for having taken the risk to make the repairs.  For the seller to be the beneficiary, they need to do the updating and repairs before marketing the home.

Ask your agent if they can provide suggestions of what items would most benefit from remodeling and if they have service providers that they can recommend.  The proceeds from the sale of your home belongs to you and to maximize them, it needs to sell for the highest possible price.  Your agent can work with you to make that happen.

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Why a Home Should Be Your First Investment



Real estate has been described as the basis of all wealth.  Without considering income or investment property, buying a home to live in is an incredibly powerful way to build wealth or financial net worth.

A home is an asset measured by the size of the equity.  Equity is simply the difference between the value of the home and the amount owed.  There are two powerful dynamics at work to increase the equity which include appreciation and amortization.

Appreciation occurs when the fair market of the home increases.  The shortage of available inventory coupled with high demand has contributed to an 18% increase in value in the past year on average for homeowners in the U.S.

Most mortgage loans are amortized with monthly payments that include the interest that is owed for the previous month and an increasing amount that is paid toward the principal loan amount so that if all the payments are made, the loan would be repaid by the end of the term.

A 30-year mortgage at 3.5% interest on a $400,000 loan amount would have a principal and interest payment of $1,796.18 every month for 30 years.  After the interest is applied from the first payment, $629.51 would reduce the loan amount, thereby, increasing the owners' equity.

Each succeeding payment would have an increasingly larger amount applied to the principal and a decreasingly lower amount applied to interest.

Recently, CoreLogic reported that homeowners with mortgages have seen their equity increase 29.3% since the second quarter of 2020.  Equity rich is defined as when combined loans secured by a property are no more than 50% of estimated market value.  ATTOM reported that 42% of mortgaged homes in the U.S. are considered equity rich as of the fourth quarter of 2021.

Another advantage of this powerful asset is that borrowing money against the equity of your home is a non-taxable event. Regardless of whether it is a refinance or a home equity loan, the borrowed money is not income and not taxable.

A homeowner could stay in the home for years and as the home increases in value due to appreciation, they could borrow against their equity as many times as the value will justify.  They could continue to pull money out of their home for decades and under the current tax law, they could die and will the home to their heirs who would receive a step up in basis and the taxes would never have to be recognized.

Lastly, let's consider the home as an investment by looking at the rate of return.  Obviously, it is a personal asset that the homeowner will be able to live in, enjoy, raise a family, and share with their friends.  In calculating the rate of return, we consider a $375,000 home with a 3.00% 30-year FHA mortgage with a 3.5% down payment.  Using an annual appreciation of 3% and normal amortization, the $13,125 down payment in this home turns into a $148,062 equity in seven years.  The rate of return calculated is over 40% per year for the seven-year holding period.

Even if you discounted the ROI by half for all the unforeseen other expenses that may affect the real equity, it is still a 20% return on investment which could easily justify why purchasing a home should be your first investment.

It is challenging, particularly in some markets with low inventory, multiple offers, rising prices and increasing interest rates, but the advantages of owning a home are significant.  Would-be homeowners need the facts about their market and how to get into a home.  Start with downloading the Buyers Guide and make an appointment with a trusted real estate professional.

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Paying Points to Lower the Rate



Two commonly known ways to lower your mortgage payments are to make a larger down payment especially if it eliminates private mortgage insurance and improve your credit score before applying for a mortgage.

Another way to lower your payment would be to buy down the interest rate for the life of the mortgage with discount points.  A discount point is one percent of the mortgage borrowed.  Lenders collect this fee up-front to increase the yield on the note in exchange for a lower interest rate.

A permanent buy down on a fixed-rate mortgage is available to borrowers who are willing to pay discount points at the time of closing.

Let's look at two options on a $315,000 mortgage for 30 years at 4% interest with no points compared to a 3.75% interest rate with one-point.  The principal and interest payment on the 4% loan would be $1,503.86 compared to $1,458.81 on the 3.75% loan. 

The $45.04 savings is available because the buyer is willing to pay $3,150 in points.  By dividing the monthly savings into the points paid, you can determine the breakeven point.  In this example, if the buyer is planning to stay in this home for at least 70 months, they would recapture the cost of the points and each month after that would be savings.

Another interesting thing to consider is that lower interest rate loans amortize faster; in other words, they build equity faster by paying off the loan sooner.  If the buyer stayed in the home for 10 years, their unpaid balance in this same example would be $2,117.38 lower than the 4% mortgage.  Combine that with the $2,259.29 in savings from the breakeven point to the end of 10 years and the buyer, in this situation, is $4,372.67 better off buying down the mortgage by paying the additional points. 

For a person buying a home, it may be difficult to come up with the extra amount for the points but one benefit is that the points paid are considered interest by IRS and can be deducted in the year paid.

A rule of thumb commonly used is that one discount point lowers the quoted mortgage rate by ¼% or 25 basis points.  A lender may quote X% + .6 points for a mortgage.  Using this scenario, to lower the mortgage rate by .25%, the buyer would need to pay 1.6 points. It is important to note that each lender determines the pricing of points for the loans they make. 

It may be beneficial to a buyer to pay points depending on how long they plan on being in that home.  To help you determine whether paying points should be considered, use this Will Points Make a Difference and download the Buyers Guide

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

I wish I knew then...



We have all heard this expression that implies that had a person known earlier in life what they know now, they would have done things differently.  The subject possibilities are endless   While no one has a crystal ball to see into the future, it may be possible to learn from people who have experienced similar situations.

In the late sixties, mortgage rates hit 8.5% but before the decade had finished, the rates had come down to 7% where they stayed for some time.  Homeowners who purchased at the higher rate, could buy a larger, more expensive home for the same payment if they could get out from under the obligation of their existing mortgage.

FHA and VA mortgages, up until the late 80's, could be assumed by anyone, regardless of credit worthiness.  Since these homes were purchased one or two years earlier, the sellers didn't really have much equity in them, and many homeowners were willing to "give" them to investors so they could qualify on a new, lower rate mortgage.

It was a fantastic opportunity for investors who could afford the negative cash flow because the homes wouldn't rent for the payment.  As the 70's economy, started heating up, so did inflation.  Most people consider inflation an undesirable thing but for people who owned rental property, it meant the values were going up and so were the rents.

Soon, the rentals no longer had negative cash flows and the investments turned the corner.  If you talk to investors who purchased those homes during that period, you'll very likely hear, "I should have bought more of them."

If we could fast forward into the future to see how people will be talking about the period we're currently in, we might see an even greater opportunity in our present time.  Interest and mortgage rates have been on a downward trend for thirty years.  In the past ten years, they hit an historic low.  They are trending up currently and it appears they will continue to do so.

Homes are in short supply which has caused the prices to go up.  Builders haven't returned to the number of new units needed to meet demand and that has been going on for over ten years.  Even when the supply does increase, it will take a long time to catch up with demand.

Combine that with supply chain shortages due to the pandemic and prices look like they are unaffordable.  Many millennials and some Gen Xers believe the "window of opportunity" has closed.

For tenants, rents are continuing to increase due to the same causes that home prices are increasing.  Buyers, by acting now, can lock in their mortgage rate and the purchase price of the home.  As prices continue to increase and the amortization of the mortgage pays down the unpaid balance, homeowners' equity increases and so does their net worth.

Unfortunately, for tenants, the rents will continue to rise, along with prices which will make it more difficult in the future to purchase.  Their rent is used to pay the landlord's mortgage who benefits in the principal reduction for each payment made.

The market is changing and people who don't own a home currently must find a way to buy one.  The longer they wait, the harder it will be to buy one.

People wanting to purchase a home in today's market must educate themselves with facts and not hearsay.  There are all sorts of programs available to address low down payments, varieties of mortgages, credit issues and other things. 

It starts by meeting with a real estate professional who can recommend a trusted mortgage professional.  Download our Buyers Guide and check out your numbers using the Rent vs. Own.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Your Home is a Hedge Against Inflation



The concern about inflation is the sustained upward movement in the overall price of goods and services while the purchasing value of money decreases.  Tangible assets like your home consistently become more valuable over time.  In inflationary periods, your home is a good investment and a hedge against inflation.

Money in the bank loses purchasing power due to inflation and the interest you may be earning is almost always less than inflation.

Home prices are going up but so is rent.  With mortgage rates near historic lows, the interest is, generally, less than the appreciation the property is enjoying.  Combine this with the leverage that occurs using borrowed funds to control an asset and your equity is most likely, growing at a faster rate than inflation.

A 90% mortgage at 3.5% for 30-years on a $400,000 home that appreciates at 4% a year will have an estimated equity of $220,000 in seven years due to appreciation and amortization.  That is a 27.5% annual rate of return on the down payment.  That is a significant hedge against a current inflation of 4%.

If a person were to put that same $40,000 in a certificate of deposit that earned 2%, it would be worth only $45,947 in seven years.  If it was invested in the stock market that earned 7% annually, the $40,000 would grow to $64,231.  The equity in the example for the home would be almost 3.5 times larger.

The assets that are considered to be good bets against inflation include some bonds, gold and other commodities and real estate.  Another distinct advantage of investing in a home is that you would be able to live there with your family and enjoy it which is not possible with bonds and commodities. 

There are certainly other considerations in a comparison like this such as maintenance, but it could be offset, at least partially, by the cost of housing being less than you would be paying for comparable rent.  And with the shortage of rental units available, the rent will certainly continue to increase annually where your housing costs are fixed with the exceptions of increases in property taxes and insurance.

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Why is the APR higher than the interest rate?



Annual percentage rate is a calculation to accurately reflect the cost of the mortgage considering the note rate of interest, financing fees and charges based on the term of the mortgage.

Annual percentage rate, APR, calculates the interest rate and loan fees over the life of the loan expressed as a rate.  A mortgage has a quoted interest rate plus a specified number of points which may be paid at closing or rolled into the loan, in some instances.

For example, a $400,000 loan amount at 2.98% interest for 30-years with 0.7 points would have an annual percentage rate of 3.0349%.  While the mortgage rate is quoted at 2.98%, the borrower must additionally pay 0.7 points or slightly less than one percent of the amount borrowed as a fee to the lender in consideration of making the loan.

This increases the yield to the lender on what they are earning by making this loan and is expressed as the annual percentage rate for the benefit of the buyer.

Since the lender is required to include all the loan fees being charged in the APR calculation, if the seller is paying some of those fees on behalf of the buyer, the APR would not accurately reflect the cost to the buyer.

The lender is required to disclose the APR to the borrower in the Truth in Lending document referred to a TILA.  Your mortgage officer will be able to answer any specific questions regarding what is included.

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

There's more to it than you might think



There is more to selling a home than you might think.  Superficially, a person might think that it will sell itself currently because, nationally, homes for sale receive 3.6 offers and they sell within 18 days. 

Any business student can probably list the four Ps of marketing: product, price, place, and promotion.  It may appear that there isn't much to selling a home: put a price on it; photograph it; put a sign in the yard; and, put it in MLS but, on closer scrutiny, there is a lot more that the best agents provide.

Long before the home goes on the market, the agent will create a detailed value and pricing study based on similar homes in size, price, proximity, and condition.  An overpriced home will sit on the market longer than it should.  The longer it stays on the market, buyers, as well as other agents, begin to wonder if there is something wrong with it.

The agent will develop a staging and declutter plan to make the house show at its best because first impressions matter and this type of effort provides a neutral canvas for buyers to start imagining their things in the home.

The marketing plan is a comprehensive strategy to consider every aspect of selling the home with the focus being to maximize efforts to get the highest possible price, in the shortest time with the fewest unanticipated events.

The individual marketing materials need to present the home in its best light.  It begins with professional photos because today's buyers will most likely, first see the home online and if the pictures don't make the property look good, they may decide not to see it. In addition, those photos will be used on the brochures for the home and just listed announcements, as well as social media.  They are crucial.

Among the most important value the agent brings to the table is their negotiation experience.  Every phase of the sale involves negotiation and the position of third-party negotiator eliminates an uncomfortable situation for sellers having to deal directly with buyers, other agents, appraisers, inspectors, and lenders.  Your listing agent will be your champion.

The following list includes typical things that most professionals will provide.  When interviewing an agent, feel comfortable to ask questions regarding their position on these items.  Another item you might find helpful is our Sellers Guide.

 


Listing Presentation

  • Create Value/Pricing Study
  • Staging/DeClutter Plan
  • Develop Marketing Plan
  • Document Preparation

Marketing

  • Professional photos
  • Property Description
  • Lockbox
  • Sign
  • MLS & Portals
  • Flyers
  • Showings
  • Open Houses
  • Answer phones
  • Just Listed/Just Sold
  • Prospect for buyers
  • Weekly Follow-up - Seller
  • Inquiry phone calls
  • Pre-qualify buyers
  • Maintain files

Negotiations

  • Meet with buyer's agent
  • Write & Review contract
  • Net sheet
  • Present offer
  • Negotiate

Pending

  • Inspections
  • Appraiser
  • Resolve Issues
  • Review Escrow Statement
  • Track buyer' loan progress
  • Coordinate closing
  • Documents Review
  • Attend final inspection
  • Attend settlement

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Will Soft Inquiries Hurt Your Credit Score?



Soft inquiries, sometimes known as a soft credit check or a soft credit pull, do not impact your credit scores because they are not attached to a specific application for credit.  They can occur when a credit card issuer or mortgage lender checks a person's credit for preapproval purposes.

Examples of soft inquiries are when you check your own credit or one of your current creditors checks your credit.  If you are concerned about the negative impact on your score, specify to the lender that you want a "soft pull" to see if you qualify for preapproval.

Soft inquiries may appear on your credit report but should not adversely affect your credit score.

Consumers are entitled to one free copy from each major credit bureau, Experian, Equifax and TransUnion, once every twelve months available at AnnualCreditReport.com. 

Hard inquiries occur when a borrower makes a new application for credit.  These will impact your credit score and will remain on your credit report for about two years.  The impact is usually minimal and scores tend to rebound within a few months if no new negative information appears.

Borrowers may be concerned about multiple inquiries when they are shopping for rates or even approvals.  Scoring models have algorithms to account for this situation if the inquires take place in a 14 to 45-day period. 

Even a hard inquiry should not necessarily concern you and probably, will only play a minor role in your score.  Soft inquiries, regardless of how many you may have will not impact your score.

Working with a trusted mortgage professional and sharing your concerns in advance of the "hard pull" is valuable.  This mortgage professional may even be able to advise you on some things that could improve your credit score which may actually improve your score which could result in qualifying for a lower rate that could save thousands and possibly, tens of thousands of dollars over the life of your mortgage.

Your real estate professional can recommend a trusted mortgage professional to you.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Paying Down Your Mortgage



When the situation arises that you have a lump sum of cash to pay down your existing mortgage,  there may be different options available.  Pre-paying principal on a fixed-rate mortgage shortens the term of the mortgage but the payment stays the same.

Conversely, recasting a mortgage with a lump-sum principal payment lowers the principal and interest payment but leaves the term intact with the same payoff date.

The interest rate on the mortgage will stay the same regardless.  Prepaying principal can be done at any time but may not be applied until the next payment date.  Recasting cannot be done within the first 90-days of a mortgage.

Pre-paying principal is like driving faster on a trip to a specific destination to get you there sooner.  Recasting/Re-amortization gets you to the destination at the same estimated time of arrival but using less fuel.

Most loans allow you to pre-pay principal, but recasting is not allowed on FHA, VA, and GNMA.  If you have a conventional loan, check with your lender to see if it is possible.

Contact your mortgage servicer for specific information on pre-paying or recasting your mortgage before acting.

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

An Easy Fix to Avoid a Flood in Your Home



Do you remember if or when you have replaced your washing machine hoses?  Are they the original hoses and if so, how old is your washing machine?  It is recommended that washing machine supply hoses should be replaced every five to seven years. 

Washing machines, like all appliances, are expected to work and when they don't, it's time to have them fixed or replaced.  However, there is a critical connection from the water supply that may even be older than your washing machine itself.

Eventually, unless hoses are replaced, they will fail, which on the mild side could be slow leaks or burst entirely, and could cause a catastrophic flood in the home.  The failure could come from a number of causes including age, improperly installation, poor-quality materials or poor design.

The hoses are generally under the same pressure as the other plumbing in the home.  Imagine having an open faucet running directly on your floor.

Ask someone whose hose broke while they were asleep or out of town and you'll hear stories of how quickly the water can damage walls, flooring, and furniture.  Almost anyone with a pair of pliers can replace the hoses for under $30.00 to avoid this potential disaster.

As you're shopping for the replacement hoses, consider the braided stainless steel connectors available at any home center.  The advantage is that the stainless steel offers additional protection in case a soft spot develops in the hose beneath.  They'll cost a little more but offer considerably more protection for a nominal additional price.

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

In Search of a Big Mortgage



The Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loan limits are adjusted annually to keep up with cost of living but with the appreciation experienced in many markets, it may not be enough. When the conforming loan limit is not enough, qualified buyers can turn to a jumbo loan.

The maximum loan limit on conforming, conventional loans for 2022 is $625,000 for a single-family home but is increased up to $937,500 for designated high price areas.  The underwriting guidelines for conforming loans are consistent with regards to things like minimum down payment, private mortgage insurance, debt-to-income ratio, minimum credit score and cash reserves required.

Jumbo loans are loans more than the FNMA maximum limits and are considered non-conforming loans.  This allows lenders to set their own requirements on maximum loan amount, minimum required credit score, maximum debt-to-income ratio, and minimum down payment.

The rates paid on the jumbo loans may be the same as conforming loan rates.  It might sound logical that a larger loan would have more risk and therefore, be priced higher.  Lenders do not sell jumbo loans to FNMA which saves them the guarantee fee normally required.    This makes the jumbo loan more profitable.  Borrowers are encouraged to shop the rates. 

A minimum credit score of 700 will probably be required together with a debt-to-income ratio below 45%.  While many borrowers seeking a jumbo may be putting 20% down, it is possible to find a lender who may only require 10% down payment.  Lenders may be more lenient with regards to mortgage insurance.

Lenders may also require six to twelve months of cash reserves due to the increased risk of the larger loan amount.

It is a common practice for banks to make jumbo loans to attract other business that the borrower might be able to influence like company, corporate, or investment accounts.

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Credit Utilization Affects Your Score



Credit utilization reflects how much of your available credit is being used at a given time.  Lower credit utilization indicates that a borrower is not heavily relying on their credit and that they are using their credit responsibly.

Is calculated by dividing your total credit card balances by your total limits.  The higher the percentage, the higher the risk which adversely affects the credit score according to most of the companies.  It is recommended that your credit utilization be under 30% to positively impact your credit score.

If the available limit on a credit card is $12,000 and their normal monthly balance is around $3,000, they have a credit utilization of 25%.  If for whatever reason, the borrower's available limit was reduced to $6,000, and their long history of having a monthly balance of $3,000, the ratio, then, increases to 50% which will likely lower their credit score.

For borrowers who use more than 30% of their available credit and regularly pay off the bill each month, they should consider making payments toward the balance more frequently, like every two weeks.  This keeps the balance lower, and, in many cases, the card issuer will only report the credit activity once a month to the credit bureau, usually on the monthly closing date of the account.

Another option may be to use multiple cards, if they are available, for the purchases during the month.  Based on the limits of each card, this could result in lower utilization on a single card.

You could also ask for your available credit to be increased.  Assuming you have a good history of paying on time, this may be an easy fix.  Before doing this, ask if it could negatively impact your credit score because it will be reported as a hard inquiry on your credit.

If you are trying to improve your score to qualify for a mortgage, consult with a trusted mortgage professional who can advise you specifically for your situation.  If you would like a recommendation, please contact mekim@novakadvantage.com.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Larger Payment, Shorter Term, Bigger Savings



Some people consider a house payment as basic as monthly utilities but with a plan and some discipline, you can be mortgage free.

Consider a person borrowed $300,000 at 3% for 30 years, the principal and interest payment would be $1,264.81 and at the end of 12 years, the unpaid balance on the mortgage would be $210,900.

If that same person had financed the home on a 15-year term at 2.5%, the payments would have been $2,000 but the unpaid balance at the end of 12 years would be $69,310.  The homeowner will have a larger equity but they have also had to make higher payments.

15-year mortgages usually have a lower interest rate than the 30-year loans and at the time this article was written, the difference in a 30-year loan was about 0.5%.  A 15-year loan gives the lender their money back in half the time.  If rates go up during the interim, they will be able to loan it at the higher rate sooner.  For that reason, they are usually willing to offer a slightly lower rate on the shorter term.

Having a lower rate means paying less interest but another remarkable thing happens, lower interest rate loans amortize faster than higher rate loans.

 

30-year

15-year

$300,000 mortgage for 30 years

3%

2.5%

Monthly payment

$1,264.81

$2,000

Unpaid balance at end of 12 years

$210,900

$69,310

Increased equity

 

$141,590

Additional monthly payment

 

$735.56

Additional total payments for 12 years

 

$105,920

Savings

 

$35,670

This recognized wealth building technique with higher payments, saves interest and retires the mortgage sooner.  The shorter-term mortgage requires a commitment to make the higher payments each month rather than giving the borrower flexibility to spend or invest the difference each month for as long as the loan is in place.

To make you own calculations, go to the 30yr vs. 15yr Comparison.

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Have you checked these lately?



Homeowners know the need to periodically check certain things around the home to ensure that things operate properly and efficiently.  If maintenance is required, it may be less expensive to take care of it early rather than waiting until it is not working at all.

Checklists are helpful because it requires little effort to know what must be done.  They are usually concise and provide enough information to complete the task.  These items apply to most homeowners but in no way offer a comprehensive list.

  1. Vacuum dryer exhaust ... not only does it affect the efficiency of your dryer itself, the accumulation of lint along with the hot air can ignite and create a fire hazard.
  2. Replace HVAC filters 4 to 6 times a year ... This is one DIY project that almost everyone should feel confident in handling.  Locate the filter, make a note of the size, and keep replacements available.  Turn off the unit, open the door or housing, remove the dirty filter, and replace it with the new one.  Pay attention to the direction of the air flow; filters are marked to indicate the correct direction.
  3. Test all GFCI breakers. - GFCI breakers, as well as outlets, have a test button on them.  Pressing the test button should cause the breaker to trip which shuts off all power to the entire circuit.  To reset the breaker, push it completely to off and then, back to on.
  4. Vacuum refrigerator coils ... Coils on refrigerators can be in different places depending on the model and manufacturer.  Locate the coils and clean the dirt and dust from them using a soft bristle brush or a vacuum cleaner with a brush.
  5. Replace batteries in smoke detectors ... smoke detectors should be tested monthly by pushing the test button.  Annually, the batteries should be replaced, even if they appear to still have life in them.  After replacing the batteries, test the smoke detector to see if it is functioning properly.
  6. Check windows and doors for leaks ... There are several ways to check for leaks.  One method used on a cold day would be to hold your hand a few inches from the window or door frame to feel for drafts.  Another method would be to light a candle and trace the outline of the window or door to see if the flame or smoke pull in one direction, indicating an air leak.
  7. Inspect all sprinkler system stations to see if heads are leaking or need adjusting. ... Manually, turn on each of the stations and look at each sprinkler that is running to see if it is leaking or if it is properly covering the area intended. 
  8. Check garage door opener to see that safety features engage properly ... Place a cardboard box in line of one of the sensors before trying to close the door.  The door should reverse itself after sensing the obstruction.
  9. Check and clean fireplace(s) annually, if used ... this may be a job that you want to have someone else do but you may be able to recognize indicators that the chimney needs cleaning.  These things include evidence of birds or animals; fireplace smells like a campfire; smoke fills the room; difficulty starting or keeping a fire going; the fireplace walls have oily marks; the damper is black with soot and creosote. The frequency of use on wood burning fireplaces will impact the need for cleaning.

If you need a recommendation of a service provider for repairs, contact me kim@novakadvantage.com with what you are looking for.  I'll get back to you quickly.

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Uncle IRRRL wants to refinance your VA loan



You don't have to have an Uncle IRRRL but you must be a veteran with a current VA-backed home loan. IRRRL is an acronym for Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan. To refinance with this program, also called the VA Streamline, the loan must provide a net tangible benefit (NTB) which would be in the financial interest of the Veteran. 

Obtaining a lower interest rate is usually the reason behind refinancing but there needs to be enough difference in the current and the new mortgage to justify the expenses incurred.  Significantly lower payments or a shorter term are examples of acceptable benefit.

The Veteran must currently have a VA-backed home loan to refinance using this program.  The Veteran does not have to currently live in the home as long as it can be certified that he or she did at one time.

In most cases, an appraisal is not necessary and less verifications are required.  A minimum 640 credit score is needed, and borrower must be current on their payments with no 30-day late payments in the previous 12-months.  A two-year employment history is required.

There are expenses associated with the IRRRL but they can be rolled into the loan balance.  The VA funding fee, required on new VA loans for purchases or refinances is lower on the IRRRL at 0.5%.  Disabled Veterans and qualifying surviving spouses refinancing under this program are exempt from the VA funding fee.

This program is not available for a cash-out refinance.  There is a $6,000 exception for additional funds to pay energy improvements completed 90-days prior to closing.  Your lender can provide more information for you.

If you are a Veteran and considering a refinance, ask your mortgage professional about this program.  If you need a recommendation of a trusted mortgage professional who is experienced in VA loans, give me a call at (801) 726-1443 or kim@novakadvantage.com.

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Buy Before You Sell Options



The decision to buy first or sell first, has always been a little of the "Which came first: the chicken or the egg?" type of question.  Is it better to buy another home before you sell your current one or sell the current one before you buy the replacement?

Some buyers don't have a choice because they need the equity out of the current home to purchase the new one and possibly, their income limits their ability to qualify for having both mortgages at the same time.  However, some buyers, with sufficient financial resources, may have other options available to facilitate the move.

A home equity line of credit, HELOC, is a type of loan that a traditional lender like a bank will loan up to the difference in what is currently owed on the home and 75-80% of the value.  A borrower is approved for the line of credit and then, can borrow against it as needed. 

A homeowner with sufficient equity, would want to secure a HELOC prior to contracting for the new home.  Typically, the interest will be due monthly.  When they sell the home, the loan would be paid off along with any other liens on the property like the first mortgage.

A bridge loan is different in that it is usually a specific amount of money for a short term used to "bridge" the time frame necessary to acquire the replacement property and sell the existing home.  The amount available is like the HELOC, usually, up to 80% of the home's value less the existing mortgage.

Some lenders may require being in the first position which may require retiring the existing first from the proceeds from the bridge lender.

Hard money lenders are a little more flexible in some of their requirements compared to typical lenders, but it comes at a cost.  They could charge two to three percent, called points, of the money borrowed paid up-front and the interest rate will be higher than long-term mortgage money. 

Another alternative is to find a conventional lender who has a program that allows you to recast the loan in a specified period.  The borrower would get a low-down payment mortgage on the replacement home and after the original home is sold and funded, the lender will apply the lump sum toward the principal amount owed and recalculate the payments and amortization schedule.

By recasting the loan, the borrower does not go through the process of getting a new mortgage by refinancing and saves the costs involved.  Most conventional loans and conforming Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans allow it after 90-days.  FHA, VA, GNMA loans do not allow recasting.

Borrowers with 401(k) retirement accounts may consider borrowing against that asset which could be a lower interest rate than other temporary options.  Depending on the size of the 401(k), the amount available to borrow could be up to half the balance or $50,000 whichever is less.   If the loan isn't repaid in a timely fashion, there can be taxes and penalties.

In each of these options, the seller is involved in borrowing money to accommodate a purchase and sale of a home.  There will be expenses involved but the advantage is that they have a better chance of realizing most of their equity while facilitating a purchase before they sell their home.  This is particularly helpful in markets that are low in inventory.

One last options is to consider selling your existing home to an iBuyer or private investor.  The attraction to this alternative is that they will make you an instant offer, buy your home and you'll have cash to use to purchase your new home.  These companies or investors, intend to resell the property, so they must discount the price they pay for your property taking into mind they will be responsible for repairs, maintenance, selling fees and other expenses.

While it may sound appealing, you may discover that the amount you will realize will be less than if you sell your home in a conventional manner.

Your real estate professional will be able to do a comprehensive market analysis to indicate market value and the net proceeds you can expect to have.  This will assist you in determining which option makes sense for you at this time.  They can also recommend lenders and approximate timelines for each alternative.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Removing or Adding a Person to a Loan



In divorce situations, it is common, for the spouse who keeps the home to refinance to remove the other spouse from the loan.  Equally as common, first-time buyers who don't have enough income to qualify may ask a parent to co-sign and must add their name to the mortgage.

Another situation that requires removing or adding a person to a loan could be to qualify for a better interest rate.  The difference in a minimally acceptable credit score and something that might be considered "good" could be as much as a 0.5% higher rate for the term of the mortgage.

Consider that a couple is buying a home on a conventional loan, and they have individual credit scores of 760 and 670.  The underwriters will price the loan based on the lower of the two scores.  A half percent interest on a $400,000 30-year mortgage could have close to $110 a month difference.

A possible solution to this dilemma could be available, assuming the borrower with the higher credit score had enough income to qualify for the mortgage separately.  If so, that person would be eligible for the lower rate.

The property could still be titled in both names and if so, that person would be liable for the mortgage should the named borrower default on the loan.

Another scenario that may arise is that a couple has enough income to qualify for a mortgage but because one of the parties has a lower credit score, it will be priced higher.  Having a parent or relative added to the mortgage as a non-occupying borrower to help with the credit score.  Interest rates are determined on the lowest middle of three scores for the borrowers applying for the loan.

Assuming the parent's score was higher than the lower score of the couple, it could improve the rate applied to the mortgage loan.

The value of a trusted mortgage professional is very important.  They can offer alternatives to situations that could be worth tens of thousands of dollars over the life of the mortgage and in some cases, can make the difference in being approved at all.

Your real estate professional would be more than willing to make a recommendation and can support the need to assemble a strong team to help with your transaction.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Keep Your Current Home as a Rental



Let's assume that you have owned your home for several years.  It has increased in value and the unpaid balance considerably less than you originally borrowed.  In short, you have equity in the home.  You're thinking about buying another home and one of the questions going through your mind is "should we find a replacement property before we put our home on the market?

It is a good question but maybe there is another one you should be asking.  "Should we keep our current home and convert it to a rental when we buy another home?  The answer to the question may have a great deal to do with your finances but if you can afford it, it may end up being one of the better investments you have made.

Do you have enough discretionary funds for a down payment and closing costs for your new home?  Is it enough to put 20% down payment so you can avoid paying mortgage insurance?  Can you qualify for the mortgage on the new home with the additional liability of your current home?

You don't even need "yes" answers to all of these to be considering the possibility of converting your home to a rental.  If you have sufficient equity, you may be able to pull part of it out for your down payment and closing costs and still have equity available for other needs.  Lenders will usually make cash out refinances up to 80% of the value of the home.

Another possibility may be to borrow against your qualified retirement program.  The advantages include speed and convenience (it is your money), repayment flexibility, and cost advantage.  If you believe the stock market is moving toward a down position, this could be additional incentive to earn more in the rental.

What makes rental properties so attractive right now is that rents are rising and expected to continue because the factors that make a shortage of homes for sale are the same that make the shortage of homes for rent.  The rent collected, less the mortgage payments and expenses will probably result in a positive cash flow before tax.  The other major factor is that homes are appreciating at a very high rate. 

Using borrowed funds to control an appreciating asset is leverage and it can dramatically affect the rate of return an investor enjoys.  The dynamics of income, appreciation and favorable tax benefits makes rental real estate very appealing.

Your real estate professional can provide information on the value of your current home, estimates for rental income and expenses and in finding your replacement home.  Talk with your tax advisor to see how this alternative would work for you. 

The good news if you choose this opportunity is you will not have to put your home on the market and timing of your new purchase became greatly simplified.  It may even be to your advantage to be flexible with the seller's occupancy which could be a big advantage if you are negotiating against multiple offers.

For more information, download the Rental Income Properties and talk to your real estate professional.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Cash-Out Refinance



With the rapid appreciation that homes have had in the last two years, most homeowners have equity.  A common way to release part of the equity is to cash-out refinance but some homeowners may not be eligible currently.

This type of loan replaces the current mortgage by paying it off and an additional amount of cash for the owner.  Generally, lenders will consider a new mortgage up to a total of 80% of the current value.

Typically, the rate on a cash-out refinance will be slightly higher than a traditional purchase money mortgage.  As is in any lending situation, the rate depends on the borrower's credit and income.  The best interest rates are available to borrowers with higher credit scores, usually over 740.

Loan-to-value can affect the rate a borrower pays also.  A 70% loan-to-value mortgage could be expected to have a lower interest rate than an 80% LTV because there is a larger amount of equity remaining in the property and therefore, less risk for the lender.

There are no restrictions on how the owner can use the money.  It can be used for home improvements, consolidating debt, other consumer needs or for investment.

Eligibility Requirements as found in FNMA Selling Guide B2-1.3-03 Cash-Out Refinance Transactions

"Cash-out refinance transactions must meet the following requirements:

  • The transaction must be used to pay off existing mortgages by obtaining a new first mortgage secured by the same property or be a new mortgage on a property that does not have a mortgage lien against it.
  • Properties that were listed for sale must have been taken off the market on or before the disbursement date of the new mortgage loan.
  • The property must have been purchased (or acquired) by the borrower at least six months prior to the disbursement date of the new mortgage loan except for the following:
    • There is no waiting period if the lender documents that the borrower acquired the property through an inheritance or was legally awarded the property (divorce, separation, or dissolution of a domestic partnership).
    • The delayed financing requirements are met. See Delayed Financing Exception below.
    • If the property was owned prior to closing by a limited liability corporation (LLC) that is majority-owned or controlled by the borrower(s), the time it was held by the LLC may be counted towards meeting the borrower's six-month ownership requirement. (In order to close the refinance transaction, ownership must be transferred out of the LLC and into the name of the individual borrower(s). See B 2-2-01, General Borrower Eligibility Requirements (07/28/2015) for additional details.)
    • If the property was owned prior to closing by an inter-vivos revocable trust, the time held by the trust may be counted towards meeting the borrower's six-month ownership requirement if the borrower is the primary beneficiary of the trust.
  • For DU loan case files, if the DTI ratio exceeds 45%, six months reserves is required."

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Encouraging Multiple Offers



Based on the current competition due to lower than normal inventories, it is possible for a seller to find themselves on the beneficiary side of a multiple offers.  Two or more parties may be trying to buy your home at the same time and because of the competition, they increase the purchase price, possibly, remove unnecessary contingencies and try to make their offer as attractive as possible.

This can pleasantly result in you realizing higher-than-expected sales price and proceeds of sale.  While it may not materialize, it is good to understand what could happen and the best way to handle it.  Your real estate professional is positioned to offer you specific advice but the following are some things to consider.

One tactic is to delay showings for a short period of time.  Some agents will create this by putting a sign on the property with a rider that indicates "coming soon" and depending on the local MLS rules, it may even be put in the system.  No showings will be allowed until a publicized date, usually, a few days, at which time, the goal is to have prospective buyers standing in line to see the home.

This might even be combined with an open house scheduled for the initial showings.  Agents using this method have sometimes found lines of people waiting outside the home to see it first.

When multiple offers are made, invariably, there will be some disappointed people and for that reason, it is essential to follow a strict procedure to see that no one is given an advantage over other buyers.  Discuss the following suggestions with your professional:

  • All offers are countered by asking the buyer to make their "best and final" offer which will include not only price but terms also.
  • The seller may authorize the listing agent to disclose that there are multiple offers.  (Article 1, Standard of Practice 15 of the National Association of REALTORS® code of ethics.
  • Discuss with your professional their thoughts on revealing information, like price and terms, on other offers you are considering.  In most cases, they are allowed to do so with your permission, and it may make a difference in the negotiations.
  • If one offer is substantially better than the other offers, the seller can accept or counter-offer.
  • Have your real estate professional advise you of countering more than one offer which could result in contracting to sell your home to more than one person.  They can advise you alternative ways to do this.

Keep this in mind.  Sometimes, the highest offer is not the best offer.  Even though the buyer is willing to pay a high price for your home and possibly, willing to remove the financing condition, if they are going to get financing and it doesn't appraise, it can cause issues. 

Have your real estate professional tell you about asking for proof of funds from a cash buyer or confirming their ability to pay above appraised value.

Your real estate professional can help you realize the most out of your home.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Homeowners Need to Know



In the Boy Scouts, a certification, called a Totin' Chip, is required for scouts to carry, and use woods tools like a knife, axe and a saw.  They must read and understand the use and safety rules from the scout handbooks and demonstrate the proper handling, care, and use of each.

No such certification is required for homeowners but there are a lot of good reasons why it should be self-imposed.  Making minor repairs is part of the responsibility of owning a home that will save both time and money.

A homeowner will certainly appreciate the need for such training the first time a call is made to a service company to fix their air conditioner that suddenly quit cooling.  When the repairman arrives, he has a checklist which includes verifying the unit is getting electricity.  If not, they go to the electrical panel to see if a breaker has been thrown.

It can be very humbling and expensive to have to pay a service fee to have a repairman flip a breaker to get your air conditioning working again.

The basic items every homeowner should be able to do the following:

  • Turn off the water in case of an emergency.
  • Reset a circuit breaker.
  • Change the HVAC filters and clean the outside coils.
  • Clean a dryer vent.
  • Reset a garbage disposer and dislodge a jam by spinning the flywheel
  • Unclog a sink or drain.
  • How to plunge a toilet and when to use an auger.
  • Re-caulk a bathtub or sink
  • Light a pilot light on a water heater or furnace
  • Change the batteries on a smoke alarm

YouTube can be a great resource for searching the millions of videos that have been uploaded to help homeowners with all sorts of do-it-yourself projects.  You should be able to find one that addresses your particular situation, and you can determine if you have the skills and tools to handle it.  If not, check our list of Service Providers or just ask for a recommendation.