August 18th, 2015 categories: Home Mortgage Tips
Some good information for our Chantilly area friends and beyond:
When applying for a new home loan, there are several different types of mortgage programs available to most applicants. While there are various home loan programs to choose from, the most significant difference between the various options relates to a fixed rate mortgage or an adjustment rate mortgage. Understanding what an adjustable rate mortgage, or ARM, is in comparison to a fixed rate mortgage can help applicants make a more informed decision about their mortgage plans.
What is an Adjustable Rate Mortgage?
A fixed rate mortgage is one with an interest rate fixed for the entire term length. This means that a home loan with a 30-year term has an interest rate that will remain the same for the full 30 years, and this also means that the mortgage payments will remain the same over 30 years. On the other hand, an ARM will have an adjustable rate that will fluctuate periodically over the life of the loan, and the mortgage payment will also fluctuate as a result.
How is an ARM Beneficial?
There are several benefits associated with an ARM. For example, the initial interest rate and related mortgage payment are typically lower than with a fixed rate mortgage. In addition, if rates decrease over the life of the loan, the mortgage payment will lower as a result without the need to refinance to take advantage of the lower rate.
Before Applying for an ARM
Before applying for an adjustable rate mortgage, there are a few points that the applicant should keep in mind. Just as the interest rate may go down over the life of the loan, the rate and the mortgage payment may increase. The loan applicant should ensure that the upper limit for the interest rate and mortgage payment will be affordable for their personal budget before applying for this type of loan.
Each loan program available to a mortgage applicant has its pros and cons, and this holds true for an adjustable rate mortgage as well. Understanding how each loan program works and what the benefits and drawbacks for each are can help an applicant make an informed decision when applying for a mortgage. Those who are interested in applying for a new mortgage for a purchase or a refinance in the coming days or weeks may reach out to a mortgage broker to inquire about the different loan programs available.
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August 17th, 2015 categories: Market Outlook
Last week’s economic reports related to housing were few and far between other than weekly reports on new jobless claims and Freddie Mac’s mortgage rates survey.
Mortgage Rates Mixed, Jobless Claims Up
Freddie Mac reported that average mortgage rates rose for fixed rate mortgages and dropped for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose by three basis points to 3.94 percent. The rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose by four basis points to 3.17 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage fell by two basis points to 2.93 percent. Discount points were unchanged at 0.60 percent for fixed rate mortgages and rose from 0.40 percent to 0.50 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.
Jobless claims rose to 274,000 last week from the prior week’s reading of 269,000 new jobless claims filed. Analysts expected a reading of 270,000 new jobless claims. New claims were lower by 1750 claims for the past month at a seasonally adjusted rate of 266,250 new jobless claims. This was the lowest level since April of 2000. Analysts consider the four week average a less volatile reading for new jobless claims than weekly readings, which fluctuate more due to transitory influences.
Next week’s scheduled reports include several releases related to housing. Expected releases include: the National Association of Homebuilders Housing Market Index, Commerce Department reports on Housing Starts and Building Permits and the National Association of Realtors® report on sales of previously owned homes.
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August 13th, 2015 categories: Home Mortgage Tips
Mortgages are expensive, and closing costs only add to the financial burden that homebuyers face. But with a little knowledge, you can pinpoint places to save on your mortgage closing costs and keep more money in your pocket. When you’re negotiating your next mortgage, use these tips to reduce required closing costs and keep more of your hard-earned money.
Title Insurance: Request The Simultaneous Issue Rate
Title insurance is an important add-on that no buyer should go without. At the time of closing, there may be a variety of title problems that could arise – like encroachments, easements, unpaid liens, and fraud. If a previous property owner wasn’t properly discharged from the title, they may have a claim to the property.
In the event that title ownership challenges arise later on, your title insurance will compensate you for any losses and expenses you incur when trying to prove your ownership. Buying title insurance may help you to avoid the hourly fees you’d pay a lawyer or notary to investigate your title. Typically, when you receive title insurance, you and your lender will each have separate insurance policies on the title.
You can minimize the out-of-pocket expense by asking the insurance provider for their simultaneous issue rate. This is a highly discounted rate that applies when both the borrower and lender title insurance policies are issued at the same time.
Origination Fees: Negotiable If You Have Good Credit
An origination fee is a kind of prepaid interest fee that you surrender to your mortgage broker when you apply for a mortgage. It only applies when you use a mortgage broker.
However, it’s not a mandatory fee for most buyers – even if they go through a broker. The purpose of an origination fee is to compensate the broker for the time and effort they need to invest to get your loan approved. If you have good credit and you can prove your income, then this fee isn’t necessary – and you shouldn’t have any trouble getting your broker to eliminate this fee.
Also note that an origination fee is the same thing as a broker fee. If your agreement includes both, you’re getting charged for the same service twice. Ask for one of them to be removed.
Mortgage Application Fees: Typically A Money Grab
A mortgage application fee is another common fee that you can usually avoid. This fee – which typically runs about $50 or so – is something your lender charges you in order to cover the cost of running your credit report. However, since banks and brokers order hundreds of credit reports every day, they can pull your credit report for next to nothing.
The $50 fee they charge you is, essentially, free money for them – and you can usually get them to drop this fee if you ask.
Underwriting Fees: Your Broker Shouldn’t Charge You For Underwriting
Brokers don’t underwrite loans – lenders do. That means if you’re getting your loan through a broker, you shouldn’t have to pay any kind of underwriting fee – it should already be included in the loan terms the bank set. It’s perfectly valid for a bank to charge you an underwriting fee, but ask your broker to take underwriting fees out of your agreement.
Courier Fees: Handling Documents Should Be A Standard Business Practice
One common closing cost is courier fees. These fees come in different amounts and go by different names. It may be $20 or $50, and it may be called a courier fee or a document handling fee.
Title companies might very well use couriers to send documents, but lenders most likely won’t – and $50 is excessive. Document handling fees are a standard cost of doing business – and that means they should already be included in the lender’s core billed services, not added as an extra fee. Use this argument when you ask your lender to remove the fee – they’ll likely comply.
Buying a house is expensive enough without added fees that merely complicate things. But with a mortgage professional on your side, you can figure out which costs are reasonable and which ones aren’t. Contact a mortgage professional near you to learn more about saving money on closing costs.
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.
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August 12th, 2015 categories: Real Estate Tips
If you’ve been following the real estate and mortgage industry for any length of time, you’ve probably heard the phrase “buyer’s market” at some point. And although the meaning may seem apparent, it takes some study to understand what actually constitutes a buyer’s market.
Who decides whether it’s a buyer’s or seller’s market? What’s the threshold for deciding between the two? Here’s what you need to know.
Supply And Demand: Economic Factors That Govern…Everything
If you studied economics in school, you’ll probably remember an early lesson on supply and demand. Essentially, supply and demand are the two factors that influence what a commodity is objectively “worth” in a free market. They’re also a great way of characterizing whether a market is hot or cold, and whether or not it’s a good idea to invest at any particular moment in time.
In a nutshell, supply is the amount of something that is available for purchase, while demand is the amount of that same thing that people want to buy. When supply goes up while demand stays the same, buyers have more choice with respect to whom they want to buy from – and that means the price goes down because the commodity is freely available. When demand increases while supply stays the same, we see the opposite effect – the value (and price) increases because there’s not enough of the supply to go around.
The Buyer’s Market: What You Need To Know
A buyer’s market is a real estate market where the supply of homes available is greater than the demand for housing – it’s a market where there are more homes for sale than there are people willing to buy. This is a great situation for buyers, because their freedom of choice gives them a significant amount of power when negotiating prices. In a buyer’s market, sellers may have to accept a lower price in order to make the sale.
How To Navigate The Buyer’s Market
For buyers, the buyer’s market means lower prices and fewer bidding wars. But there are still some basic principles that savvy buyers ought to follow. Don’t lowball too far below the asking price, even if it is a buyer’s market – if homes in an area have recently been selling for $400,000 and the asking price is $450,000, offering $350,000 will only insult the buyers.
A buyer’s market means you can find your dream home at an affordable price, but there are certain nuances you’ll want to pay attention to. It also means that you will want to be ready to move quickly. Make sure to contact your trusted mortage professional today to get started so you are ready to move forward quickly.
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August 10th, 2015 categories: Market Outlook
This week’s scheduled economic news includes reports on construction spending, a survey of senior loan officers, and reports on labor markets including ADP private sector jobs, the federal government’s reports on non-farm payrolls, core inflation and the national unemployment rate.
Construction Spending Slows, Loan Officers Survey Suggests Growing Confidence
Construction spending fell in June after the May reading was revised upward to 1.89 percent from the original reading of 0.90 percent. Spending for residential construction rose by 0.40 percent, while non-residential construction spending remained flat. The seasonally-adjusted annual outlay for construction was $1.06 billion in June.
Analysts continue to note a trend toward construction of smaller residential units including condominiums and apartments, with an emphasis on rental properties. This supports reports that would-be homebuyers are taking a wait-and-see stance to see how factors including rising home prices, fluctuating mortgage rates and labor market conditions perform.
According to a survey of senior loan officers conducted by the Federal Reserve, mortgage lenders reported that mortgage applications increased during the second quarter and indicating that financial constraints on consumers may be easing. According to the survey of 71 domestic banks and 23 foreign-owned banks, 44 percent of respondents reported moderate increases in loan applications, while only 5 percent of survey participants reported fewer loan applications.
Some banks surveyed reported easing mortgage approval standards, but fewer lenders eased standards than in the first quarter. Further supporting growing confidence among lenders, the Fed survey also reported that large banks were easing consumer credit standards for auto loans and credit cards.
Mortgage Rates Fall, Jobless Claims Rise
Freddie Mac reported that average mortgage rates fell across the board last week with the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage lower by seven basis points to 3.91 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage fell by four basis points to 3.13 percent, and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was unchanged at 2.95 percent. Discount points for all loan types were unchanged at 0.60 percent for 30 and 15-year fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.
Weekly jobless claims rose from the prior week’s reading of 268,000 new claims to 270,000 new claims, which matched analysts’ expectations. In other labor-related news, the government reported a national unemployment rate of 5.30 percent in July; this was unchanged from June’s reading.
The ADP employment report for July showed fewer jobs were available in the private sector. June’s reading showed that private sector jobs grew by 229,000 jobs; July’s reading fell to 185,000 private sector jobs. According to July’s Non-farm Payrolls report, 215,000 new jobs were added in July as compared to expectations of 220,000 jobs added and June’s reading of 231,000 new jobs added.
The Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) is closely monitoring job growth and inflation rates as it contemplates raising the target federal funds rate. Core inflation grew by 0.10 percent in June; which was consistent with May’s reading and expectations. The FOMC recently cited the committee’s concerns about labor markets and lagging inflation. The Fed has set an annual growth rate of 1.65 percent for inflation for the medium term; this benchmark is part of what the Fed will consider in any decision to raise rates.
This week’s scheduled economic reports include reports on retail sales and consumer sentiment in addition to usual weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.
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August 3rd, 2015 categories: Market Outlook
Last week’s scheduled economic reports included the Case-Shiller 20 and 20-City Index reports, pending home sales data released by the National Association of Realtors® and the scheduled post-meeting statement of the Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee.
Case-Shiller: Home Prices Growing at Normal Pace
The Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price index for May reported that year-over-year home prices grew by 4.40 percent year-over-year. S & P Index Committee Chair David M Blitzer said that home prices are increasing gradually by four to five percent a year as compared to double-digit percentages seen in 2013. Mr. Blitzer said that home price growth is expected to slow in the next couple of years as home prices have been growing at approximately twice the rate of wage growth and inflation, a situation that is not seen as sustainable.
Denver, Colorado led the cities included in the 20-City Index with a 10 percent year-over-year growth rate for home prices. San Francisco, California followed closely with a year-over-year gain of 9.70 percent and Dallas Texas posted a year-over-year gain of 8.40 percent.
Fastest month-to-month home price growth in May was tied by Boston, Massachusetts, Cleveland, Ohio and Las Vegas, Nevada with each posting a monthly gain of 1.50 percent. May home prices remain about 13 percent below a 2006 housing bubble peak.
Pending Home Sales Down From Nine-Year Peak
According to the National Association of Realtors®, pending home sales dropped by 1.80 percent in June as compared to May’s reading. The index reading for June home sales was 110.3 as compared to May’s index reading of 112.3. This indicates that upcoming closings could slow; June’s reading represented the first decrease in pending home sales in six months. Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors®, cited would-be buyers’ decisions about whether to hold out for more homes available or to buy sooner than later will affect future readings for pending home sales.
Fed Not Ready to Raise Rates, Mortgage Rates Fall
The Fed’s FOMC statement at the conclusion of its meeting on Wednesday clearly indicated that Fed policymakers remain concerned about economic conditions and are not prepared to raise the federal funds rate yet. The FOMC statement did not provide any prospective dates for raising the target federal funds rate, which is currently at 0.00 to 0.25 percent, but the Fed continues to watch employment figures and the inflation rate.
Freddie Mac reported that mortgage rates fell last week, likely on news of the Fed’s decision not to raise rates. Average mortgage rates fell across the board with the rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage dropping by six basis points to 3.98 percent; the rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage dropped by four basis points to 3.17 percent and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage fell by two basis points to 2.95 percent. Average discount points remained the same for fixed rate mortgages at 0.60 percent and fell from 0.50 percent to 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.
This week’s economic calendar includes reports on consumer spending, core inflation and consumer spending. July readings on Non-Farm Payrolls and the national unemployment rate will also be released along with regularly scheduled weekly reports on new jobless claims and mortgage rates.
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If 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!”
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July 30th, 2015 categories: Market Outlook
The 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.
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One 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!
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When 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!
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