Kathy O'Neal
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Assessing Your ‘Debt-to-Income Ratio’ and Why This Number Matters When Getting a Mortgage

Assessing Your Debt-to-Income Ratio and Why This Number Matters When Getting a MortgageIf you are looking to buy a home here in Chantilly or surrounding area, you may want to consider shopping for a loan first. Having your financing squared away ahead of time can make it easier to be taken seriously by buyers and help move along the closing process. For those who are looking to get a mortgage soon, keep in mind that the Debt-to-Income ratio of the borrower plays a huge role in the approval of your mortgage application.

What is a Debt-to-Income Ratio?

A debt-to-income ratio is the percentage of monthly debt payments compared to the amount of gross income that a person earns each month. Your gross monthly income is typically the amount of money you earn before taxes and other deductions are taken out. If a person’s monthly gross income is $2,000 a month and they have a monthly debt payments of $1000 each month, that person would have a DTI of 50 percent. The lower the DTI the better. 43 percent is in most cases the highest DTI that potential borrowers can have and still get approved for a mortgage.

What Debt Do Lenders Look At?

The good news for borrowers is that lenders will disregard some debt when calculating a borrower’s DTI. For example, utilities, cable, phone and health insurance premium would not be considered as part of your DTI. What lenders will look at are any installment loan obligations such as auto loans or student loans as well as any revolving debt payments such as credit cards or a home equity line of credit. In some cases, a lender will disregard an installment loan debt if the loan is projected to be paid off in the next 10-12 months.

What Is Considered Income?

Almost any source of income that can be verified will be counted as income on a mortgage application. Wage income is considered as part of a borrower’s monthly qualifying income. Self-employed individuals can use their net profit as income when applying for a mortgage, however, many lenders will average income in the current year with income from previous years. In addition, those who receive alimony, investment income or money from a pension or social security should make sure and include those figures in their monthly income as well when applying for a loan.

How Much Debt Is Too Much Debt?

Many lenders prefer to only offer loans to those who have a debt-to-income ratio of 43 percent or lower. Talking to a lender prior to starting the mortgage application process may help a borrower determine if his or her chosen lender offers such leeway.

A borrower’s DTI ratio can be the biggest factor when a lender decides whether to approve a mortgage application. Those who wish to increase their odds of loan approval may decide to lower their DTI by either increasing their income or lowering their debt. This may make it easier for the lender and the underwriter to justify making a loan to the borrower.

When the time comes to start your home search, our Search Tool will help you find and locate properties of interest all over Northern Virginia.  Kathy is always available to help you with your home search and/or home sale!”

Written by Kathy ONeal | Discussion: Comments Off on Assessing Your ‘Debt-to-Income Ratio’ and Why This Number Matters When Getting a Mortgage

Federal Reserve FOMC Announcement

Federal Reserve FOMC AnnouncementThe stage was set in high suspense for FOMC’s post-meeting announcement on Wednesday. As fall approaches, analysts and the media are looking for any sign of when and how much the Fed will raise its target federal funds rate. According to CNBC, some analysts were projecting two interest rate hikes before year end, but the truth of the matter remains unknown until the Federal Open Market Committee announces its intentions.

Meanwhile, reports of what Fed rate hikes will mean for consumers were released prior to the FOMC statement. Real estate analyst Mark Hanson said that a rate hike would “crush” housing markets, which continue to improve slowly in spite of the current 0.00 to 0.25 percent federal funds rate.

Last Friday’s report on June sales of new homes shows unpredictable progress in housing. Analysts estimated that new home sales would reach 550,000 units based on May’s reading of 517,000 new homes sold. June’s reading came in at 482,000 units sold.

FOMC Statement: Current Federal Funds Rate “Remains Appropriate”

The Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserved announced as part of its post-meeting statement that it would not immediately increase the federal funds rate. The FOMC statement cited concerns over the inflation rate, which remains below the Fed’s goal of 2.00 percent. According to the statement, the FOMC will not move to raise the federal funds rate until the committee is “reasonably confident” that inflation will achieve the committee’s goal of 2.00 percent over the medium term.

No prospective dates for raising the target federal funds rate were given. The FOMC statement repeated language included in previous statements indicating that committee members anticipate that economic events could further postpone increases in the federal funds rate. The FOMC statement asserted that committee members continue to monitor domestic and global financial and economic developments as part of the decision-making process for raising the target federal funds rate.

FOMC members agreed that policy accommodation may be required “for some time” after the committee’s dual mandate of maximum employment and 2.00 percent inflation have been achieved. This suggests that FOMC members are not in a hurry to boost rates when economic uncertainty remains.

In terms of housing markets, the Fed’s decision not to raise rates likely caused a sigh of relief as rate increase would have caused consumer interest rates including mortgage rates to rise.

By the way, if you are considering buying a home in the Chantilly or surrounding area, please know we how we can help. We are always here for you. Contact us.

Written by Kathy ONeal | Discussion: Comments Off on Federal Reserve FOMC Announcement

Pre-sale Painting: Color Combinations to Use – and Avoid – when Painting Your Chantilly Home

Pre-sale Painting: Color Combinations to Use - and Avoid - when Painting Your HomeOne of the more common steps that homeowners will take when preparing to list their home for sale involves repainting the walls. Walls can easily give the home a worn, drab look when they have visible signs of dirty, smudgy fingerprints and other unsightly blemishes.

While repainting the walls can have a whitewashing effect that instantly makes the home look cleaner, brighter and more appealing, the color combinations that you choose for your home should be considered with care. You have a rainbow of possibilities for your space when preparing your home for sale, but you want to choose colors that will have broad or universal appeal to buyers and that will showcase your home in the best possible light.

Neutral or Muted Hues are Ideal

Many homeowners love to paint their walls stylish or trendy colors, and they may dislike the banal look of beige walls throughout their home. While this may or may not be what you prefer for your home, keep in mind that you are trying to transform your home so that it has broad appeal to the buyers. The colors you choose should not reflect personal taste or preference. Instead, they should be selected based on colors that may be more likely to appeal to most and that may go well with the color of furnishings most already own. Neutral or muted hues are ideal. These lighter colors can also make smaller rooms seem larger, and they can make your entire home seem cleaner.

Avoid Bold, Dramatic Color Combinations

You may have some colors on your walls that you absolutely love, and you may be sad to see them go. However, when you have a bold, dramatic color combination in a room, a buyer may instantly be taken aback by such an intense color scheme. The buyer’s attention may then be focused on your interior design efforts rather than on the home itself, and this is not beneficial to your goal of selling your home. In addition, some may love your bold choices, but many may not. They may think about how those colors would not go well with their furnishings, and they may instantly start thinking about how they would need to work hard to repaint the walls after moving in. The last thing you want is for a buyer to think about your home as needing work.

If you are preparing your home to list for sale, repainting one room or several may be at the top of your to-do list. When you are selecting your paint colors, lean toward neutral hues that may have better appeal toward a larger group of home buyers.

And if you are considering refreshing up your Chantilly home with an eye toward selling your own home, please know we’d be happy to give you a quick estimate of the property’s current market value. Let us know how we can help!

Written by Kathy ONeal | Discussion: Comments Off on Pre-sale Painting: Color Combinations to Use – and Avoid – when Painting Your Chantilly Home

Three Inexpensive Makeovers That Will Boost Your Chantilly Home’s Appeal to Young Buyers

Three Inexpensive Makeovers That Will Boost Your Home's Appeal to Young BuyersWhen preparing to list your Chantilly home for sale, you may be wondering who will buy your home. While this initial thought may be one spurred by curiosity, the fact is that understanding who your target audience is and what they are looking for in a home may help you to position your home to sell more quickly and for a better price.

If you have determined that there are many younger buyers moving into your area, you may want to make a few changes that will add appeal to this target audience. While you could spend tens of thousands of dollars or more completing a home makeover, there are a few budget-minded ideas that you may consider.

Add Color to Molding and Trim

One of the hottest trends in home décor and interior design is to get rid of the standard white trim and molding and to add color to these areas. Neutral hues like grays and browns have universal appeal, or you can give your space a more contemporary look by adding black to these areas.

Generally, you will want a more neutral color like a creamy beige on the walls when executing a look with colored trim.

Update Light Fixtures

If you have a little more money to spend, you may consider updating your light fixtures. There are rather affordable yet stylish fixtures available in a wide range of finishes.

When your rooms are empty or staged to perfection, the light fixtures can easily set the tone of the room and may be focal points. Outdated fixtures may have limited appeal to young buyers who are looking for a home that is modern and current with today’s trends.

Redefine Outdated Spaces

In some older homes, some of the rooms may have originally been built with outdated uses in mind.

Today’s younger buyers may be looking for a home with an exercise room, a media room or a study rather than a formal living or dining area. With this in mind, you may consider how you can stage your home to show that it can be used for modern purposes.

This may simply mean moving your formal dining room set into storage, adding French doors and investing in an affordable desk and side chairs for staging purposes. This is just one of several options available that may give your home broader appeal to a younger audience shopping for a modern floor plan.

If you are thinking about renovating your home and you believe that you will likely attract younger buyers to your area, you can consider implementing some of these ideas in your space.

And if you are considering updating with an eye toward selling your own home, please know we’d be happy to give you a quick estimate of the property’s current market value. Let us know how we can help!

Written by Kathy ONeal | Discussion: Comments Off on Three Inexpensive Makeovers That Will Boost Your Chantilly Home’s Appeal to Young Buyers

The HARP Mortgage Program is Coming to an End Soon – Here’s What You Need to Know

The HARP Mortgage Program is Coming to an End Soon - Here's What You Need to KnowThe United States government established the HARP program, otherwise known as the Home Affordable Refinance Program, to assist homeowners who are struggling with their mortgage payments. Initially, the program was founded in March 2009, and it has provided many homeowners with an easier route to adjusting their mortgage payments to make them more affordable. However, the program will be ending soon, and homeowners who have not yet taken advantage of the program and who intend to do so may need to act quickly.

When Does the Program End?

The HARP mortgage program will officially end on December 31, 2015. If you intend to apply for a mortgage under this program, you must have your application submitted by this date. However, a closing date may extend into early 2016. There are special rules and eligibility requirements that must be met in order for you to take advantage of this program, and these must be in place before you submit a full application. Therefore, it is important that anyone who is interested in applying for a mortgage under the HARP program take time initially to understand more about the rules and eligibility requirements in place.

What Are the Requirements?

It is important to note that the HARP program is not suitable for all homeowners who wish to refinance, and special requirements must be in place. Just a few of the requirements include that you must be in good standing with your current mortgage with no late payments within the last six months. You also cannot have had more than one late payment within the last 12 months. In addition, you must be able to pay for the new mortgage payment, and the mortgage must be a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac loan. These are just a few of the requirements, and you will need to work with a mortgage professional to ensure that you qualify for these and other requirements that are in place.

The HARP program has already helped many homeowners who have been struggling with their mortgage payments. While the program offers a permanent solution to homeowners by re-establishing a new mortgage payment amount, the program itself was only intended to be temporary in nature. Because it will officially end at the end of 2015, any homeowners who are still interested in taking advantage of the benefits of the HARP program should consider speaking with their trusted mortgage professional soon to learn more about the requirements and to begin the application process.

Written by Kathy ONeal | Discussion: Comments Off on The HARP Mortgage Program is Coming to an End Soon – Here’s What You Need to Know

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – July 27, 2015

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week July 27 2015Last week’s scheduled economic news releases were limited as no news was released on Monday or Tuesday, but good news did arrive in the form of a dip in mortgage rates for fixed rate loans. The National Association of Realtors® reported higher sales of pre-owned homes and FHFA reported that home price growth associated with mortgages held or backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac held steady in May.

Sales of Pre-Owned Homes and FHFA House Prices Rise

According to the National Association of Realtors®, June sales of existing homes reached their highest level since February 2007. Sales of used homes reached a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 5.47 million previously owned homes sold against expectations of 5.42 million homes and May’s reading of 5.32 million pre-owned homes sold. By comparison, sales of existing homes remain about 24 percent below a pre-recession peak. Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors® cited improving labor markets and home buyer concerns over rising mortgage rates as factors contributing to May’s reading for existing home sales.

FHFA, the federal agency that oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, reported that home prices associated with sales of homes financed with loans owned or backed by Fannie and Freddie rose by 0.40 percent month-over-month in May and held steady with April’s revised reading of 0.40 percent. FHFA home prices rose by 5.70 percent year-over-year in May.

Mortgage Rates Mixed

Freddie Mac reported that average rates for 30 and 15-year mortgages fell while the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage ticked upward by one basis point. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by five basis points to 4.04 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage fell by four basis points to 3.21 percent. The rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate rose by one basis point to 2.97 percent. Average discount points were unchanged at 0.60 percent, 0.60 percent and 0.50 percent respectively.

Expected reports on weekly jobless claims and new home sales were not released last week.

What’s Ahead

Scheduled economic reports for this week include the usual weekly reports on jobless claims and mortgage rates along with the Case-Shiller Home Price Index reports for May and the Commerce Department’s report on pending home sales. The Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve has scheduled an announcement on Wednesday, and reports on consumer confidence and consumer sentiment will also be released next week.

By the way, our Search Tool will help you find and locate properties of interest all over Northern Virginia. Kathy is always available to help you with your home search and/or home sale!

Written by Kathy ONeal | Discussion: Comments Off on What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – July 27, 2015

Have a Weekend to Spare? Consider These Quick Renovations to Add Value to Your Chantilly Home

Have a Weekend to Spare? Consider These Quick Renovations to Add Value to Your HomeChantilly homeowners who are thinking about listing their home for sale in the coming weeks or months may be focused on improving their home to help it sell more quickly, but there also may be a focus on adding value to the home in the process. While each home is unique, there are a few projects that most homeowners would benefit from. In fact, these are a few simple and easy projects that can typicaly be completed over the course of a weekend; that can add value and desirability to the home.

Replace The Front Door

The front door has an impact on curb appeal, and it also is one of the primary features that buyers will see when they approach your home to take a tour. Replacing an older door that lacks style or that is plagued with signs of wear and tear can improve property value and curb appeal alike. Many homeowners who have basic tools and some do-it-yourself experience with other projects will be able to replace the front door without additional help from a contractor.

Update The Kitchen Back Splash

A kitchen is a key selling point in a home, and the back splash is among the most visible features in this space. Replacing the back splash with stylish tile can improve the look and can instantly make the home more desirable. This can be a relatively simple type of home renovation project, if you have experience with tile work, that may be completed within just a few hours.

Repaint The Walls And Baseboards

Few things can improve the look of a home more easily than a fresh coat of paint. If the walls are showing signs of wear or the colors do not have modern or universal appeal, applying a fresh coat of paint to walls and baseboards is a simple enough project to tackle. For the best results, focus on the rooms with the most undesirable paint colors, in the most visible rooms of the home or in areas where the paint is in generally poor condition.

Each of these projects can have a dramatic impact on the homes appeal and can influence the value of the home itself.   Each of these projects under most circumstance can be completed with minimal time and cost to the homeowner. Those who are ready to improve their home in a short period of time can consider which of these projects will yield the most significant results in their home.

And if you are considering  selling your own Chantilly home, please know we’d be happy to give you a quick estimate of the property’s current market value. Let us know how we can help!

 

Written by Kathy ONeal | Discussion: Comments Off on Have a Weekend to Spare? Consider These Quick Renovations to Add Value to Your Chantilly Home

Selling to Millennials: Three High-Tech Upgrades That Will Increase Your Home’s Appeal to Young Buyers

Selling to Millennials: Three High-Tech Upgrades That Will Increase Your Home's Appeal to Young BuyersMillennials are finally starting to enter the real estate market here in Northern Virginia after delaying home purchases for several years. With a completely new client base looking for homes, it is time to start making your home more appealing to these young buyers.

Millennials are used to using high-tech gadgets every day, so they are going to desire these things in their new home. While there are several high-tech upgrades you can make on your home, these three will appeal the most to young homebuyers.

Keyless Entry: Security for the New Millennium

Keyless entry doors are becoming a popular way of keeping a home secure while adding that great “wow” factor. These keyless entry systems mean there’ll be no more fumbling for keys when all you want to do is get in the door. It may seem like something out of a sci-fi film, but several companies have mastered the art of keyless entry doors that you can use in your home today.

The door automatically locks when it is shut, and you will need the correct fingerprint to unlock the door. If you could show off a keyless entry system at your open house, you would immediately pique the interest of every young buyer interested in technology.

A Home Security System is a Great Practical Addition

A high-tech home security system will certainly make your home more appealing to young buyers, who may even be thinking about having children in the near future. No matter how safe your neighborhood is, everyone is always looking to feel more secure at home. Placing a few security cameras around the exterior of your home will allow you to know what is happening outside at all times, and buyers will love having that peace of mind.

Home Energy Monitor: For the Eco-Conscious Generation

Young people are extremely conscious of the environment, so they would love seeing a home energy monitor when shopping for a new home. A home energy monitor is able to track the energy use of every aspect of your home.

If you think your air conditioner is not running efficiently, a home energy monitor can tell you whether or not you’re right. Since young people know about the dangers of improper energy use, they will want to make the home as efficient as possible.

Millennials are slowly entering the real estate market, and although they are starting to look at homes, you’ll face a lot of competition from other homeowners looking to pass properties onto this new generation. These three upgrades will increase your home’s value and make it more appealing to Millennial buyers.

By the way, if you are considering either buying or selling a home in the Chantilly or surrounding area, please know we how we can help. We are always here for you:  Contact us.

Written by Kathy ONeal | Discussion: Comments Off on Selling to Millennials: Three High-Tech Upgrades That Will Increase Your Home’s Appeal to Young Buyers

Good News! Existing Home Sales, FHFA Home Prices Increase

Good News Existing Home Sales FHFA Home Prices IncreaseHousing markets here in Chantilly and the rest of the country show continued signs of strengthening according to reports released on Wednesday. The National Association of Realtors® reported that sales of pre-owned homes rose to 5.49 million in June as compared to May’s revised reading of 5.32 million pre-owned homes sold and expected sales estimated at 5.42 million sales. Expectations were based on May’s original reading of 5.35 million sales. June’s reading was the highest since February of 2007. Readings for existing home sales are calculated on a seasonally adjusted annual basis.

Buyers Gain Confidence in Labor Markets, Rush to Beat Rate Hikes

Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors® said that buyers may be influenced by rising mortgage rates and encouraged by improving job markets. Analysts expect the Federal Reserve to raise its target federal funds rate this fall, which means that mortgage rates along with consumer lending rates will rise.

The national median home price rose by 6.50 percent annually to $236,400, also a record reading.

While this news paints a rosy picture for housing markets, challenges remain. Strict mortgage standards are an obstacle for first time and moderate income buyers as well as for buyers with less than stellar credit scores. While construction of new homes is increasing, the majority of projects are apartment complexes. 41 percent of housing starts in June were multi-family projects with five or more units. This data falls in line with stricter mortgage standards and a trend for millennials, an expected group of first-time homebuyers, preferring to rent in large cities rather than moving to suburban areas.

FHFA House Prices Rise in May

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) reported that home prices associated with mortgage loans owned or backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac was unchanged from April’s revised reading of 0.40 percent month-to-month home price growth. April’s month-to-month reading was originally reported at 0.30 percent. FHFA home prices were up 5.70 percent year-over-year in May.

FHFA reported that year-over-year home price growth was positive in all nine census divisions, with the lowest growth rate of 0.90 percent in the Mid Atlantic division and the highest growth rate of 8.40 percent in the Pacific division.

By the way, if you are considering either buying or selling a home in the Chantilly or surrounding area, please know we how we can help. We are always here for you. Contact us.

Written by Kathy ONeal | Discussion: Comments Off on Good News! Existing Home Sales, FHFA Home Prices Increase

3 Reasons Why the Lowest Mortgage Interest Rate Isn’t Always Your Best Option

3 Reasons Why the Lowest Mortgage Interest Rate Isn't Always Your Best Option One of the more common methods that home loan applicants use to find the best loan program available is to compare interest rates, but choosing the lowest rate possible is not always the best option available. In fact, in some cases, it may be one of the least advantageous options when all factors are considered. With a closer look, home mortgage applicants may decide to review other factors in combination with the interest rate to make a more informed decision when applying for a new loan.

The Closing Costs Impact The Rate

It is important to note that lenders can increase or decrease the interest rate with adjustments to closing costs, and this means that some of the lowest interest rates available may also have some of the higher closing costs. In some situations, choosing the lowest interest and paying more in closing costs is acceptable. However, a loan applicant should be aware of this and should compare interest rates along with closing costs in order to find the best loan program available.

The Loan Term Affects The Rate

Generally, a shorter loan term will have a lower interest rate. However, even with the lower interest rate, the mortgage payment may be higher due to the shorter term. A higher mortgage payment can impact affordability as well as loan qualification in some cases, and there are instances when the higher interest rate associated with a longer term is most desirable.

The Interest Rate May Adjust

Adjustable rate mortgages typically have lower interest rates than fixed rate mortgages, but the interest rate with an ARM may adjust higher in the future. For those who only plan to own the home or to retain the mortgage for a short period of time, this may be acceptable and even desirable. However, for those who plan to own the home or retain the mortgage for a longer period of time, the potential for a rate adjustment in the future may not be preferable.

For individuals who are shopping around to compare interest rates and to find the best deal on a mortgage, there may be a desire to opt for the lowest interest rate, but this is not always the best strategy. The interest rate can reflect many aspects of the loan, and each of these points should be analyzed to find the best loan program. A mortgage broker can provide assistance comparing loan terms and helping loan applicants determine which is the best solution for their needs.

By the way, our Search Tool will help you find and locate properties of interest all over Northern Virginia. Kathy is always available to help you with your home search and/or home sale!”

Written by Kathy ONeal | Discussion: Comments Off on 3 Reasons Why the Lowest Mortgage Interest Rate Isn’t Always Your Best Option