How PMI can make your dream of home sweet home a reality

(BPT) – In the 2017 housing market, those who choose to pursue the dream of owning a home face several important decisions, such as how much to put toward a down payment. Twenty percent down is typically recommended by most lenders.

While 20 percent is not a requirement, paying less can have a big impact on the amount you pay monthly. It is important for home buyers to know that when seeking a conventional loan with less than 20 percent down of the sales price or appraised value of the home, lenders will often require Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI).

This article takes a deeper look at PMI by answering the most common questions on the topic.

What is PMI?

PMI is a type of mortgage insurance. Like most other types of mortgage insurance, it protects the lender in the event the borrower is unable to repay the remainder of the loan. In many cases, PMI is required on conventional loans when the buyer has a down payment of less than 20 percent.

Some lenders may offer conventional loans that require a smaller down payment without PMI, but the tradeoff can typically be a higher interest rate.

How does PMI affect your loan?

PMI can affect your loan in several different ways depending on the loan type and the lender. In some cases, the PMI will be required in a lump sum at the time of closing. This PMI payment type is called an upfront premium.

Other PMI plans call for monthly payments where the total value of the PMI is divided and factored into your monthly mortgage payments. The PMI can generally be cancelled under certain conditions once 20 percent of the amount borrowed has been reduced from the principal balance, or amount borrowed.

Finally, the lender may also opt for a plan that requires both upfront and monthly PMI payments. In this case a portion of the PMI is paid at the time of closing, and then the remaining PMI is paid as part of the monthly mortgage payment.

Alternatives to PMI

Some government-backed loans offer alternative options to buyers paying less than 20 percent down on a home loan. There are several of these loans and each has a different approach to handling down payments and mortgage insurance. By being educated on the different types of loans you will have an easier time finding which best suits your needs.

Learning more about PMI

While PMI is an additional fee, it helps those with less than a 20 percent down payment realize their dreams of home ownership.

To learn more about financing options that can make your dreams of homeownership a reality, visit VMFhomeloan.com.

NMLS Disclosure

Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance, Inc., 500 Alcoa Trail, Maryville, TN 37804, 865-380-3000, NMLS #1561, (http://www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org/), AZ Lic. #BK-0902616, Loans made or arranged pursuant to a California Finance Lenders Law license, GA Residential Mortgage (Lic. #6911), Illinois Residential Mortgage Licensee, Licensed by the NH Banking Department, MT Lic. #1561, Licensed by PA Dept. of Banking.

5 mistakes to avoid when buying your first home

(BPT) – Buying a home for the first time is comparable to the first time you ride a bike. You can learn about how it works from your parents and observe it from a distance, but you really won’t know the ins and outs until you actually sit down on the bicycle and start riding.

Like most beginners, first-time homebuyers will likely make a few mistakes as they initially go through the home-buying process in the upcoming year. Here are five mistakes first-time homebuyers often make, and how to best avoid them.

1. Waiting too long to make an offer

One of the biggest mistakes first-time homebuyers will make in 2017 is simply waiting too long to get into the real estate market, according to Jay Carr, a senior loan advisr for RPM Mortgage in Newport Beach, California. Because the rates look like they’re going to continually increase over the year, it’s important for buyers to get in as early as they can so that they can avoid paying more later on. If you see a home that you’re interested in and you have been thinking about entering into the market for some time, don’t hesitate too long.

2. Trying too hard to get less than the asking price

Many first-time buyers are younger, tech-savvy and are comfortable researching homes on their own. Overall, these are positive traits in a buyer. However, because these buyers are typically self-sufficient when it comes to other purchases, they often think they know best when it comes to what price they want to offer.

“Buyers rely too much on what they see on the internet instead of the good advice of what they would hear from a real estate agent,” Carr says.

Of course sometimes it pays off to be bold in an offer (in that you get to pay a lot less than the asking price), but often it can end up that the buyers are negotiating themselves out of a deal. It’s important to pay attention to your real estate agent, who is a seasoned professional, when it comes to putting in an offer so you don’t offend the seller and lose the house you want.

3. Not exploring all your financing options

Carr says many first-time buyers have grown up thinking that they need to save up for a 20 percent down payment before they can enter the housing market. While it is always great to have as much money to put down as possible before you purchase a home, it’s important to consider many of the new options available today.

One option is a home ownership investment such as the Unison HomeBuyer program, which typically provides up to half of the down payment you need. The money is an investment in the home, not a loan, so there are no interest charges or monthly payments. This new type of financing – which works in combination with a traditional 30-year mortgage – can offer greater flexibility and control to the home buyer. It allows you to cut the time needed to save for a down payment in half, lower your monthly payments and avoid mortgage insurance, or increase your purchasing power so you can buy the home you want.

4. Wanting the dream house right away

Everyone has a picture in their minds of what their first home will look like. Whether you envisioned a craftsman bungalow near all your favorite bars and restaurants or a classic ranch-style home with tons of land and no neighbors, chances are you’re going to have to trade up to that dream home from your first starter home.

“If you really like the house, you probably can’t afford it. If you think the house is just kind of below what you want it’s probably right in your price range. Get in the market rather than wait to get the dream house,” Carr says.

Carr advises those in the hunt for their dream home to focus on becoming homeowners now and to wait on their dream home until they have built up equity and have higher incomes in the future.

The median tenure of a homeowner in 2017 is about 10 years, but for the 20-year period before that it was only six. Believing that this won’t be your last house can take a bit of pressure off the home being perfectly suited for you.

5. Not having your own representation

Another mistake a first-time homebuyer can make is not having their own representation (meaning that they use the seller’s agent as their own buyer’s agent). While this is not always a bad situation, Carr cautions buyers to be careful that they have selected a good and trustworthy real estate agent that is looking after their best interests. In other words, you don’t want to pay an unfair price because someone is looking after their own best interest.

To learn more about the Unison HomeBuyer program and how it could help you, visit www.unison.com/homebuyer.

Home sellers: 6 last-minute cleaning tasks to do before every showing

(BPT) – Real estate experts agree: dirt and clutter are the anti-staging elements that can send buyers running for the door before they ever think of making an offer. Prior to staging your home, invest some time in deep cleaning it, paying attention to everything from the front walk to the garbage disposal to the air inside your home.

Once you’ve created a clean foundation, follow through with these quick cleaning tasks before showings:

1. Sweep in front of the house.

A pot of flowers on the front step is great, but they won’t look that welcoming if dirt and debris are visible too. Thoroughly sweep front walks, stairs and entryways, and don’t forget to clear cobwebs above the door. Put away any children’s toys or gardening tools that may be in the front yard. Hide trash and recycling containers out of sight.

2. Freshen the aromas inside.

Pet and cooking smells are major turnoffs for home buyers, but even if your house has neither, freshening the indoor scent can have a positive effect on a buyer’s mood. However, you don’t want to saturate your home in overpowering, chemical-based scents, either. To deodorize more naturally, try cleaning with essential oils. Mix 2 teaspoons of Aura Cacia Main Squeeze Essential Oil Blend, 1 3/4 cups of water, 1/2 teaspoon of Borax and 1/4 teaspoon of unscented liquid soap in a 16-ounce bottle. Before a showing, use the mixture to wipe down kitchen counters, leaving behind clean countertops and a fresh, energizing citrus scent.

3. Speed clean the kitchen.

Now that your counters are clutter-free, sparkling and smelling good, just a few more tasks will get your kitchen ready to show. Wipe away any fingerprints on appliances, and put away all pots, pans, dishes and glassware in their proper place. Store pet bowls out of sight, give the floor a quick sweep and dry the interior of the sink with a paper towel.

4. Put your best foot forward in the bath.

It’s tough but critical to keep the most-used room in the house looking its best. You probably used your bathroom to get ready this morning, so wipe down surfaces to ensure no hair or debris lingers. Check the mirror for spots and wipe and dry the sink. If the bathtub or shower door show signs of recent use, dry them off. Store used soap, shampoo, scrubbies, loofahs, wash cloths and towels out of sight.

5. Clean carpets.

Nothing says “show home” like fresh vacuum tracks in the carpet! Just before you leave the house for a showing, give carpets a quick pass with the vacuum. Before you do your other last-minute cleaning tasks, mix 1 teaspoon of Aura Cacia Petal Power Essential Oil Blend with a cup of baking soda and sprinkle on carpets. After 10 minutes, vacuum away the powder and leave a light, refreshing floral scent behind.

6. Take out the trash.

Go through every room with a trash can and make sure it’s empty. It may not seem rational, but many buyers will equate trash in a waste basket with an untidy home. It’s especially important to empty trash that may stink, such as in the kitchen. Remove trash, store it in a sealed receptacle outside the house, and give potentially stinky trash cans a refreshing shot of sweet basil and lavender aroma with a DIY garbage pail pod.

For more home care ideas and essential oil recipes, visit www.auracacia.com.

Cleaning Up Credit Inaccuracies

Discovering an error on your credit history can be a rude surprise when you’re attempting to get pre-approved for a mortgage. Though most people don’t think about the details of their credit report until the need to secure a loan, it’s a good idea to check your report for inaccuracies periodically.

If you do find an error, the best way to attempt a correction is through a dispute letter. Dispute letters allow you to formally request a fix by the reporting agency. Though it may take a little time to get the errors removed, cleaning up these mistakes can have a direct (and favorable!) effect on your credit score, helping you secure lower interest rates and better terms.

Here’s what you’ll need to include for each mistake you find:

  1. Which account shows the mistake.
  1. Specifically what’s incorrect about the account where it appears in the report.
  1. What changes should be made and why those changes should be made.
  1. Any supporting evidence or documentation which will bolster your claim.

For example: “On my report, the Chase Visa ending in XXXX shows my account is still active. I closed this account in 2012 and should be shown as closed, not active. Included is a letter from Chase bank, confirming the date of my the account’s closure.”

It’s a good idea to keep copies of everything you send. Also, be sure to send the correction to all three major reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) as well as the original creditor (i.e. the credit card company, utility, etc.). You can find the current dispute mailing addresses on these company’s websites. Federal law mandates that agencies must help you within 30 days. Keep records of your disputes and when/how you communicated with the agencies.

Getting your credit in shape is an important step to take when you’re preparing to buy a home. I help buyers prepare every day! Get in touch: Teresa Butler, 614-565-8161 or Teresa@TeresaButler.com

 

5 Myths About Real Estate Reality TV Explained

Have you ever been flipping through the channels, only to find yourself glued to the couch in an HGTV binge session? We’ve all been there… watching entire seasons of “Love it or List it,” “Fixer Upper,” “House Hunters,” “Property Brothers,” and so many more, just in one sitting.

When you’re in the middle of your real estate themed show marathon, you might start to think that everything you see on TV must be how it works in real life, but you may need a reality check.

Reality TV Show Myths vs. Real Life:

Myth #1: Buyers look at 3 homes and make a decision to purchase one of them.

Truth: There may be buyers who fall in love and buy the first home they see, but according to the National Association of Realtors the average homebuyer tours 10 homes as a part of their search. 

Myth #2: The houses the buyers are touring are still for sale.

Truth: The reality is being staged for TV. Many of the homes being shown are already sold and are off the market. 

Myth #3: The buyers haven’t made a purchase decision yet.

Truth: Since there is no way to show the entire buying process in a 30-minute show, TV producers often choose buyers who are further along in the process and have already chosen a home to buy. 

Myth #4: If you list your home for sale, it will ALWAYS sell at the Open House.

Truth: Of course this would be great! Open houses are important to guarantee the most exposure to buyers in your area, but are only a PIECE of the overall marketing of your home. Just realize that many homes are sold during regular listing appointments as well.

Myth #5: Homeowners make a decision about selling their home after a 5-minute conversation.

Truth: Similar to the buyers portrayed on the shows, many of the sellers have already spent hours deliberating the decision to list their homes and move on with their lives/goals.

Bottom Line

Having an experienced professional on your side while navigating the real estate market is the best way to guarantee that you can make the home of your dreams a reality!

 

An affordable way to qualify for a home loan without that big down payment

(BPT) – For many Americans, the biggest hurdle in buying a home is the 20 percent down payment they think is required for mortgage approval. According to a recent survey by the National Association of Realtors, 34 percent of respondents believe they need more than 20 percent. Meanwhile, low down payment mortgages account for a significant amount of home buying annually.

Families with down payments as low as 3 or 5 percent have been able to purchase a home thanks to private mortgage insurance (MI) for 60 years. Since 1957, MI has helped 25 million families become homeowners. In the past year alone, MI helped more than 795,000 homeowners purchase or refinance a mortgage. Nearly half were first time homebuyers and more than 40 percent had incomes below $75,000.

How MI works

Mortgage insurance is simple. In addition to the other parts of mortgage underwriting process — such as verifying employment and determining the borrower’s ability to afford the monthly payment — lenders traditionally required 20 percent down to ensure the borrower had some of their own money committed before the bank would provide a loan. This is where MI enters, bridging the down payment divide to qualify borrowers for mortgage financing.

Benefits of MI

* It helps you buy a home, sooner. For the average firefighter or school teacher, it could take 20 years to save the typical down payment. Private mortgage insurers help borrowers qualify with as little as 3 percent down.

* It’s temporary, leading to lower monthly payments. MI can be cancelled once you build 20 percent equity, either through payments or home price appreciation — typically in the first five to seven years. This is not the case for FHA loans, the federal government’s form of MI. The majority of which require MI for the life of the loan.

* It provides several flexible payment options. Your lender can offer several options for MI payment; the most common is paid monthly along with your mortgage.

* It’s tax-deductible. Subject to income limits, MI premiums are tax deductible — similar to interest paid on a mortgage. In 2014, 4 million taxpayers benefited from this deduction with the average being $1,402.

MI is a stable, cost effective way to obtain low down payment mortgages, and offers distinct benefits to borrowers. It’s been a cornerstone of the U.S. housing market for decades, providing millions the opportunity to own homes despite financial barriers. Ask your lender for low down payment options using MI. Visit www.USMI.org for more information.

The home design trend you need to know about

Mix and layer materials used for surfaces at home to create dramatic, beautiful spaces – this kitchen features High Pressure Laminate on tabletop and cabinets, as well as Solid Surface and Quartz on countertops, island and backsplashes.

(BPT) – With the new year underway, the housing world is buzzing about the next transformative trend in home design and remodeling. This year it seems certain the growing trend of mixing and layering materials, something many designers and architects noticed was growing in popularity over the past few years, will dominate the remodeling and design scene.

When it comes to mixing materials, there’s no rule book; all you should do is find a combination to match your personality. This might be one of the biggest reasons why people have taken to mixing materials, as it truly allows you to create a home that is uniquely yours.

Bold and innovative

The most immediate effect of mixing materials is that it opens new possibilities and new ways of expression. An example of this can be likened to how hard stone surfaces in a room can be complemented by soft carpet and furniture, or how the highly textured wood on a ceiling can stand in stark contrast to polished stone. Some of the hottest looks today, such as the blending of unfinished industrial materials with modern floors and cabinets, would have been considered outlandish only a few years ago. Mixing materials gives you greater freedom to create a space that represents your style.

Style on a budget

Of all the rooms in a home, kitchens and bathrooms still get the most attention. Unfortunately, getting that dream kitchen or perfect bathroom isn’t always inexpensive.

For those who have uncompromising taste, but are on a budget, mixing materials is the ideal solution. For instance, say you had your heart set on a marble island and surrounding countertops, but just can’t afford marble. Instead, you can choose from a variety of Wilsonart(R) Quartz for the island. Engineered to showcase the erratic veins and patterns prized in marble, quartz also has the advantage of being non-porous, so it won’t stain and requires virtually no maintenance. A timeless look that continues to win the popularity contest are nature’s neutrals in white, grey and black, offering flexibility to play with bold or demure colorful accents.

You can complement the quartz island by mixing in an even more affordable material like Wilsonart(R) Laminate for the perimeter countertops and vertical applications such as backsplashes and walls. With numerous styles to choose from, you’ll be able to create a stunning contrast and dimensionality that will make your room pop. With today’s innovation in laminate manufacturing and fabrication, adding affordable luxury to your kitchen or bath has never been easier.

Utility meets style

Parents, in particular, face a constant dilemma: They want a home with rooms that can stand up to all the abuse toddlers and teenagers can throw at it, but still have it look good. The answer lies in Wilsonart(R) Solid Surface. This material is tough, non-porous, seamless and repairable without sacrificing beauty. With a wide variety of styles replicating stone, you can easily mix it with other material looks to make an intriguing statement.

To explore hundreds of options, visit www.wilsonart.com and start mixing materials to see what’s possible in your home.

The Pitfall of the Pricing Game

Which do you think matters more when waiting for the right time to buy a home? Is it securing a low purchase price, or locking in a great financing rate?

Most buyers become focused on purchase price when they’re considering whether or not to buy. The question you often hear is the same: “Has the market bottomed out yet?” The idea of getting “the best deal” on a home is paramount to these price shoppers, and indeed for cash buyers, this may be the primary concern.

While negotiating a great price is an important part of the equation, the value of securing great financing terms cannot be overstated. The inherent risk in waiting for the market to hit bottom is that you’ll also miss out on the best interest rates available.

Imagine, for example, you’re waiting for homes to drop an additional X% in value. While you’re waiting, mortgage rates rise Y%. Sure, you might secure the home at a better purchase price, but what you’ll pay over the life of the loan will be significantly higher than buying when the market was more expensive (but rates were lower).

Perhaps the most punishing part of missing great financing is the net impact on your monthly payment. Even a 1% increase in your mortgage rate can end up costing as much as a brutal 10% increase in your monthly payment.

Buying a home is not like buying a nice coffee table. Price is not the sole concern. Given the complexities of price, property taxes, financing terms, and the larger tax implications of home ownership, it truly pays to consult with an agent who can help you weigh the pros and cons and help you make the right move.

I’m always happy to work with you to navigate the market, negotiate price, and put you in touch with mortgage professionals who will help you get the best rate possible. Contact me today and I can help you explore your options: 

Teresa Butler

Worthington Realty

614-565-8161

Teresa@TeresaButler.com 

5 easy DIY projects to tackle this winter

5 easy DIY projects to tackle this winter

(BPT) – The winter months are the perfect time to dig in and tackle easy DIY projects for an updated home you’ll enjoy all year long. These five simple home improvement projects are incredibly easy, affordable and can be completed in three hours or less.

Marvelous mirrors

Mirror, mirror, on the wall, you’re looking a little shabby. Mirrors are timeless decor options, but the frames can look dated over time. Breathe new life into an old mirror by painting the frame a rich, modern color that pops within the current color scheme. Another idea is to clean the frame and adhere mosaic tiles along the edge for a crafty, custom look.

Handsome hardware

Old hardware makes any room look like a relic of yesteryear. A complete replacement can be costly, so instead opt to paint existing hardware. Simply remove and clean to eliminate grime. Then use one of 11 colors of Krylon(R) Premium Metallic, like Pewter Gray or White Copper, to create a lustrous, high-gloss metallic finish in just a few coats. A tip for painting hardware is to use an old egg carton. Turn the egg carton upside down, secure the hardware to the egg cups and spray away!

Dazzling doors

Dingy doors can get a stylish update with minimal effort when you add some interesting detailing to the panels. Leftover wallpaper, for example, can be adhered to the panel sections for an eye-catching look. Another fun option, especially for kids’ rooms, is to spray paint panels with chalkboard paint. Then kids can customize drawings and messages whenever they’d like with chalk markers.

Lovely lamps

Those old lamps still have a lot of life left in them – they just need a fresh color and finish. Metallic colors are trending for 2017, so add a modern touch to treasured lamps with a fresh coat of spray paint. Use Krylon(R) Shimmer Metallic for some extra shine and shimmer to transform an old lamp into a new statement piece.

Cheeky Chairs

Wood chairs are a household essential, but because they are used so frequently, they suffer a lot of wear and tear. There’s no need to replace when the finish is dull; just add some colorful pizzazz by painting with Krylon(R)ColorMaster(TM) Paint + Primer spray paint. No primer is needed, plus it dries in 10 minutes or less so you save time. Vivid shades like Gloss Emerald Green and Satin Burgundy are guaranteed to pop. Follow the simple directions below to revamp your own wooden chairs:

Materials:

Krylon(R) ColorMaster(TM) Paint +Primer

Protective gloves and eye wear
Drop cloth to protect work surface
Sandpaper
Tack cloth

Instructions:

1. Set up a spray area by covering work area with a drop cloth. Make sure it is in a well-ventilated area.

2. Read the spray paint can label for proper safety and application instructions.

3. Prep chair surface by lightly sanding. Then wipe down the surface with a tackcloth to remove dust and particles.

4. Apply even coats of ColorMaster Paint+Primer to the chair in a side-to-side motion. Slightly overlap each spray, working from the top down.

5. Recoat, per instructions, until the chair’s surface is completely covered.

6. Allow paint to dry completely.

6 easy, affordable smart home features that could help you sell your house faster

(BPT) – Fresh paint on the walls, professional staging and an asking price that ends in 999 – when you’re selling your home, you’ll do whatever you can to help it stand out and sell faster. Because the National Association of Realtors is predicting modest growth for the 2017 real estate market, as a seller you want every edge you can get. And on the heels of the popular Consumer Electronics Show in January, perhaps that edge is a smarter home.

“Smart home features are designed to make homes more convenient, appealing, secure and energy-efficient – all of which are bonuses when you’re trying to sell a house,” says Geoff Lewis, president of RE/MAX, LLC. “Sellers who want to move their homes faster may benefit from adding smart features that make their properties more appealing to tech-minded buyers.”

According to IHS Markit and CNBC, 80 million smart home devices were delivered worldwide last year. That’s a 64 percent increase from 2015.

Here are six trending smart home features that might catch buyers’ attention and help sell your home faster:

* Keyless/remote entry door locks – Have you ever left the house and worried that you left the front door unlocked? If your home is equipped with a keyless/remote entry door lock – available from multiple manufacturers – you can use an app on your smartphone to lock the door from wherever you are. Some manufacturers make versions that will also send a text or email to your phone when the door opens. Locks that can be programmed with multiple entry codes also allow you to see who comes and goes and when.

* Smart lighting – From lighting automation that allows you to control lights remotely and wirelessly, to energy-efficient LED bulbs that can change color to match your mood and decor, lighting has come a long way. Some smart lights work in tandem with home automation systems to allow you to turn them on or off, or even dim them, from an app on a smartphone or tablet. Others require no communication hub and can be controlled directly from your mobile device. You can also put some smart bulbs on timers (using your wireless device), sync them with certain TV shows or movies, and integrate them with security cameras and thermostats.

* DIY security systems – Don’t want to sign a contract or deal with complex security systems? Install-it-yourself security systems are affordable and offer security features like cameras, sensors, motion detectors and alarms or sirens, without the need for a security service to monitor them.

* Smart appliances – The Internet of Things (IoT) – everyday objects that have network connectivity – includes a growing list of smart appliances. Many manufacturers are offering washers, dryers, refrigerators and other home appliances that can communicate with you – and each other – wirelessly. Many can be controlled remotely from your smartphone – so if you leave the house and can’t remember if you turned off the stove, you can check in and turn it off using your smartphone app.

While appliances aren’t always included in a home sale, they do make for interesting features that keep your home top of mind to buyers.

* Smart plugs – One of the easiest, most affordable smart home upgrades you can make is to add smart plugs to your home. These Wi-Fi-enabled plugs fit existing outlets and can be controlled from a smartphone app. Plug anything into a smart plug, like lights or a television, and you can turn it on or off remotely, track energy consumption, or even create an on-off schedule.

* Temperature controls – Programmable thermostats were just the beginning; today’s home temperature controls are even smarter. Like other smart home features, smart thermostats can be controlled remotely from your mobile device. You can program them to make automatic temperature adjustments and then use your smartphone to override the program like turning up the heat on a particularly cold day. Some smart thermostats learn from household behavior and adjust the temperature to meet your family’s needs and save energy, while others adjust based on the number of people in a room. And several can now be operated via voice-controlled virtual assistants.

“Many of these smart home features are surprisingly easy and affordable to install,” Lewis says. “Sellers who are open to the idea of investing a little money to possibly help get a speedier sale, may want to consider adding the smart features buyers will be looking for in 2017.”

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