Why Is Spring The Best Time To Sell A Home?

In real estate, as in many other things in life, timing is everything. For many homeowners and prospective home-buyers, the decision of when to buy or sell a home can have a tremendous impact on the price, ease of sale, and competition. Many professionals in the real estate sector point to spring as the start of the busy season, which means that more houses will become available for purchase and more buyers will start looking at available properties.

The spring season brings with it an increase in real estate activity for a number of reasons. As the expensive holiday season becomes a distant memory, you might find yourself with more money in your pocket and start to become excited about a new project. Spring also means more sunlight and warmer weather, which to many people is a major motivator to finally get started on the home buying or selling process. Buying a home in the spring also lets you look forward to a summer moving project: a far better prospect than moving in the dead of winter.

So why should you consider selling your home in the spring? For starters, the boost in foot traffic at open houses increases the likelihood of multiple offers, which gives you the leverage necessary to negotiate a higher sale price. The spring weather also spurs the growth of plants and flowers, which can significantly improve the aesthetics of your home and ultimately allow you to ask for a higher price. Because spring marks the beginning of the “real estate season,” home-buyers will be nervous about missing out on a home that catches their eye, which can entice them to agree to a higher price.

That being said, this spring we’re experiencing the most active home-buying season since 2006.  If you’re shopping for a new home, don’t miss out.  Shop the most competitive rates and lock yours today. Click here for today’s rates.


How To Prepare Your Home For An Appraisal

In today’s housing market, a well-executed appraisal can add thousands of dollars of value to your home. It is important to prepare your home long before an appraiser ever arrives on the scene. Here is a quick list of tip to maximize the appraisal value of your home.

1. Clean the interior of your house: While this simple piece of advice may seem obvious, cleaning your house for even just a couple of hours can significantly affect the appraisal value. A deep clean of every piece of furniture in your house isn’t necessary, but you should at least clean it to the same level you would for a nice dinner party.

2. Maximize curb appeal: Because the exterior of a house is the first thing an appraiser will see when he or she arrives, it is important to generate as much curb appeal as possible. For most homeowners, this means mowing and edging the lawn, clearing all weeds from the garden, and trimming vines and hedges in prominent locations.

3. Invest in new appliances: In an otherwise spotless kitchen or living room, an old and worn-out refrigerator or television can make the entire room look old. By replacing outdated appliances with newer ones, you can increase the appraisal value of your home by hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

4. Consider repainting: In many homes, repainting the walls can freshen up the atmosphere and make the interior look much newer, which can significantly increase the appraisal value. Choosing a neutral color can also add value to your home.

5. Rearrange furniture to highlight space: A room with too much furniture can seem cluttered, no matter how big it is. As such, you should minimize the amount of furniture in your home to emphasize the openness of each room.

Click here to check today’s mortgage rates.


FHA Rule Changes Coming June 3rd Make Now The Time To Refinance

Thinking about refinancing your existing mortgage, or taking out a new one? Don’t delay, or it could cost you. Some Federal Housing Administration (FHA) changes involving tighter lending standards and higher mortgage insurance premiums already took effect on April 1st, while others are on the way – and these changes could make a dent in your wallet.

So what’s prompting these changes? They come in the wake of the FHA’s Mutual Mortgage Insurance Fund – which is used to fund homeowner programs – announcing a deficit of over $16.3 billion for fiscal year 2013.

You Might Have to Pay Mortgage Insurance for the Life of the Loan

After the FHA changes come into effect on June 3rd, most homebuyers with a case number after this date will have to pay mortgage insurance for the life of the loan – unless they put a down payment of more than 10 percent, according to Mortgagee Letter 2013-04 issued by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) on January 31, 2013. Read the letter here.

This means you’ll have to either put down more money upfront, or you’ll face paying mortgage insurance over the life of your loan.

Check today’s interest rates.

According to the rule changes, if you have an FHA case number dated after June 3rd, then you must pay mortgage insurance for either 11 years, or the life of the loan, depending on how much you finance. If you put down 10 percent or more, then the annual mortgage premium can only be eliminated after 11 years.  If, however, you get a case number for a mortgage or refinance before June 3rd, you can stop paying mortgage insurance once you reach 22 percent equity in your home – and the savings can be significant.

There Will Be Minimum Equity Increase for Jumbo Mortgages (over $625,500)

Do you have at least 5 percent equity in your home, or for a down payment?

If you are considering refinancing or getting a mortgage over $625,500, the required down payment (or equity in the home if it’s a refinance) will rise from 3.5 percent to 5 percent of the home value, according to a FHA Federal Register Notice dated February 6, 2013. This means that your mortgage amount cannot exceed 95 percent of the home value.

Ready to shop rates? Click to see mortgage rates now.

Mortgage Interest Rates are Increasing – Regardless of the Loan You Have

If the upcoming FHA changes don’t seem like much to be concerned about, consider this: According to the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), mortgage interest rates are predicted to reach a whopping 4.3 percent by the fourth quarter of 2013.* And that could be a reason in itself to refinance now – regardless of if you’ll be affected by the FHA changes. Let’s take a look at how much of an impact this can have on your wallet. Below is a comparison of a $400,000, 30-year fixed-rate mortgage with an interest rate of 3.76 percent (the March 29, 2013 average according to the MBA), and the predicted 4.3 percent:

3.76 percent 4.3 percent
Monthly Payment: $1,854.73 $1,979.49
Total Interest   Paid: $267,703.83 $312,614.88

With just an increase of a little over half a percent in interest rates, the monthly payment is $124.76 higher, with almost $45,000 extra paid over the life of the loan in interest. Now that sounds like a good reason to refinance.

Start your application now!

This article appeared on Yahoo! Homes on 5/2/13



Five Ways To Cut Costs At Home

In tight economic times, many families have begun looking to their household budgets for ways to save money every month. Here are five tips to help families cut down on their monthly expenses and start growing their savings.

1. Bundled services: As a result of increased competition in the telecommunications sector, many cable and satellite television providers have begun to bundle their services into cost-effective packages. Some families will be able to bundle without switching providers, while others may have to consider switching in order to get the best price.

2. Restructure cell phone plan: All too often, families will renew their plans without carefully considering their actual usage. By looking at the average number of minutes, text messages, and data used, families can cut back on their plans and save money on their monthly bills.

3. Consolidate insurance: Much like cable and satellite television and Internet providers, many insurance companies offer discounts for using multiple types of insurance under one account. Families can also lower their monthly rates by increasing their deductibles. However, one should generally conduct thorough research before doing so.

4. Review financial fees: Many individuals and families remain with the same bank or financial services provider out of familiarity. However, many financial institutions impose hard-to-catch monthly fees such as certified checks, ATM fees, and annual service fees. A considerable number of people have also switched to Internet banks, which offer highly competitive interest rates and minimal fees.

5. Conserve electricity: One of the most popular pieces of advice for saving money, conserving electricity can free up hundreds of dollars every month for families. Heating and air conditioning often represent the majority of electricity costs, especially during the summer and winter months. However, little things like turning off your lights and appliances can also save money.