Mortgage Loan Calculators

How Your Clients Misunderstand Mortgages

I found this bit of info important to share. Before a buyer looks to purchase a home the buyer should understand the total process involved from start to finish. The first step a buyer should take is find a competent and knowledgeable real estate Agent. Especially if a buyer does not understand obtaining a mortgage. According to the information there are those that think they fully understand mortgages.

Americans significantly lack understanding about minimum mortgage qualification criteria, particularly renters who plan to buy a home within the next five years, according to a survey of 3,868 consumers by Fannie Mae’s Economic & Strategic Research Group

When asked about key mortgage qualification criteria — down-payment percentages, borrower’s credit scores, and debt-to-income ratios — about half of consumers answered with “don’t know” or failed to provide a valid answer, according to the survey.

For those consumers who did provide an answer, many respondents thought the requirement for a minimum down payment was four times larger than Fannie Mae’s actual figure of 3 percent. When it came to minimum credit scores, many thought the requirement was 652 — when in actuality, Fannie Mae’s requirement is 620.

The survey also showed, not surprisingly, that consumers cite lenders as one of the most influential sources of mortgage information, but real estate professionals follow closely behind along with family and friends.

Prior Fannie Mae surveys have shown that “the aspiration to own a home remains strong and that consumers perceive the down payment and their credit scores as leading obstacles to obtaining a mortgage,” notes Mark Palim, Fannie Mae’s vice president of Applied Economic and Housing Research. “Advancing from aspiration to sustainable home ownership is more likely to occur if consumers have an accurate understanding of the requirements to qualify for a mortgage. While it can take years to improve one’s credit score or save for a down payment, undertaking such efforts based on inaccurate information may lead to a needless delay in reaching the goal of owning a home.”  Source: Fannie Mae

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happyhome

5 Surprising Factors That Make Happier Homes

A realtor.com® article recently highlighted several new studies that reveal ways to increase happiness based on where you buy, how you renovate, and other characteristics on what makes a home happy. Among the recent findings to unlocking true happiness with home ownership:

1. Green or yellow walls: Could the color of your walls have the power to change your mood? A study from Vrije University in Amsterdam found that yellow and green walls brought about the most feelings of happiness. “Green gives a feeling of comfort and serenity, so it’s an ideal choice for a bedroom, while yellow brings out creativity and playfulness, so you might consider that tone for a playroom,” Victoria Shtainer, a real estate broker for Compass, told realtor.com®.

2. Short commutes: Home owners prefer a shorter drive to work while long commutes have been shown to hamper contentment levels with home ownership. A study from the Office for National Statistics shows that commutes under 15 minutes make happier home owners, while over 15 minutes, commuters start to get anxious. For commutes that stretch over an hour, home owners say they’re depressed.

3. Cleanliness: Clutter creates stress, according to the UCLS Center on Everyday Lives and Families. Its study found that a “higher density” of objects in a home caused women especially to see increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Men, on the other hand, in the study did not tend to show any physical reactions from clutter. “Clutter definitely costs you both emotionally and financially,” says Dana Korey, a professional organizer. “If your rent is $2,000 a month and half of your home is filled with nonusable space, then it is effectively costing you $1,000 a month. One short-term solution is to pack this stuff into boxes and pay to have them put into storage. That way when you see the actual dollar amount every month that the clutter is costing you, you are likely to take action and unload.”

4. Pay off more of your home. Paying down a home loan can also increase home owners’ moods. Home owners without mortgages have the happiest homes, according to the Halifax Happiest Home Report.

5. Get friendly with the neighbors. “Relationships with neighbors” also creates a sense of well-being with home ownership, according to the Halifax Happiest Home Report. “I’d recommend that people make it part of their routine to cultivate a sense of neighborhood,” says Grant Brenner, co-author of “Irrelationship: How We Use Dysfunctional Relationships to Hide From Intimacy.” “This is missing nowadays, especially in large urban centers where people tend to isolate from one another.”  Source: Realtor.com

Apparently these tips have been proven to be effective. You probably have your own ideas on what makes a happy based home. Just add this to the list. Make it work where you live now or when you move to another location.

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beforeafter

Kitchen Design Dilemmas and How to Solve Them

Kitchen design is an art form, one where function and beauty harmoniously co-exist. Achieving that balance, however, isn’t always easy. When renovating a kitchen, homeowners can find themselves facing challenging design dilemmas – They are not alone.

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“When redesigning or refreshing a kitchen, the goal is to create a space that is hard-working, yet beautiful,” says Nate Berkus, renowned designer and artistic advisor to LG Studio. “Look for items that really represent who you are and your design personality, and you’ll create an area that you and your family will love both now and 10 years from now.”

Here are six common kitchen design dilemmas and offers suggestions on how homeowners can remedy those issues:

1. Space Challenges

When you don’t have enough room for the large table that your family needs, get creative. Consider building a L-shaped bench around a farm table and adding extra chairs. It’s a clever use of space and will create a cozy nook where your family can gather for meals, or where kids can do homework. Plus, the bench can double as storage space.

2. Last Year’s (or Last Decade’s) Cabinets

Cabinets are one of the first things you notice in any kitchen, and they’re also one of the most important in terms of functionality. If your cabinets provide ample space but look dated, Berkus suggests giving them a facelift with varying materials and finishes, like a wood or paint color that’s different from the rest of the kitchen.

“I always appreciate a simple, clean style, but with cabinets, I tell my clients they shouldn’t be afraid to mix it up,” Berkus says. “I recommend sticking with a neutral palette for cabinets, whether you’re installing brand new ones or painting your existing cabinets. White, charcoal and gray will always be elegant, and you can’t go wrong with black – it’s absolutely one of my favorites. It makes a dramatic statement and looks fantastic paired with stainless steel appliances.”

3. Small Budgets, Big Taste

When you long for that sleek, built-in look but don’t want to break the bank, counter-depth appliances are a great design choice. They seamlessly integrate with cabinetry no matter what the material, supporting that clean look you ultimately want your kitchen to reflect.

4. Unattractive, Inefficient Lighting

Lighting is one of the most important design elements in any room, and it’s the one thing people often overlook when re-designing their kitchens. “Lighting can instantly change the whole feel of a space,” Berkus says. “I believe it is one of the most important decisions you can make in any room, especially the kitchen, which, let’s be honest, is usually the hardest working room in your home.”

To create lighting that is both useful and beautiful, remember to light the room in layers – from above, under cabinets to illuminate work areas and all-around accent lighting to create ambiance.

5. Counter Space Confusion

Figuring out how much counter space you’ll need is always tricky. Start by considering all the ways you’ll be using your counters. You’ll need food prep areas, of course, but will you also want a breakfast bar where your family can sit for meals and snacks? Will you need extra room for counter-top appliances?

“My rule of thumb is, to always double the amount of counter space you think you’ll need,” Berkus says. “You can never have too much, especially if you like to cook and entertain.”

6. A Too-Clean Slate

A large, open-concept kitchen can seem appealing, but it can also be daunting to design and decorate.

“Don’t be afraid to do something unexpected in the kitchen to break up the space,” Berkus says. “I love the idea of creating an unexpected seating area in your kitchen. Shop your weekend flea markets or online stores for a vintage sofa, coffee table and rug to set up an area for your family to relax in.”

Ultimately, Berkus says, keep in mind that the kitchen truly is the heart of the home. “Kitchen design is about creating a space in your home that brings the whole family together, and is the best place to reflect your sense of personal style.”      Source: Home Consumer Resorces

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Appraisal (1)

3 Ways to Buy Remotely With Confidence

It may seem impractical to purchase a home sight unseen, but one in five buyers have made an offer on a property without ever visiting it, according to a recent BusinessWire survey of 2,134 Americans. It’s a risky way to buy, so for those who can’t be there for an in-person showing and need to rely on the Internet to come to a purchase decision, here are a few tips to help them feel more confident that they’re making the right choice:

  1. Get a bird’s eye view. Buyers should not only look at the home but also the neighborhood and surrounding area. “I recommend [buyers] look at Google Earth and do Street View to get a good feel for their area,” says Benjamin Beaver, an agent in San Angelo, Texas. Beaver says that he’ll do a video tour of the neighborhood for his clients to pinpoint any possible noise issues, such as from a nearby highway, that wouldn’t be identified through online listing photos. Video tours also allow buyers to see every angle of the home itself — not just the most flattering ones depicted in listing photos. “I think it gives buyers that confidence of OK, I know what I’m getting here,” he says.
  2. Hire an inspector. A home inspector can uncover any potential problems, but they are usually hired after an offer is made. For remote buyers, however, you could ask an inspector to skim the home’s online photos, and they may be able to spot glaring issues sellers are trying to hide, says Frank Lesh, executive director of the American Society of Home Inspectors. Also remote buyers should ask an inspector once they are able to do an in-person evaluation about any odor issues, such as from a dank basement. Those are issues remote buyers can’t identify for themselves online.
  3. Request a walk-through contingency. Negotiate a walk-through contingency into a contract, which will provide a safeguard if the home doesn’t measure up to expectations in person. The buyer will then be able to walk through the property before signing papers at closing. But as is the case with any contingency, sellers don’t have to agree to it and may demand a higher purchase price in order to comply.

On line photos can tell a lot about a property. Most competent and Agents take many photos and offer virtual tours. I also advocate providing a lot of info describing the total picture of what is being offered. No trickery just honest statements of facts.

HAPPY HOUSE HUNTING

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beforeafter

Judging a Home by Its Driveway

A driveway can boost curb appeal and set the tone for an entire home. Buyers may want to carefully assess not only the condition of the driveway but also the logistics of it too, particularly if they have to share one.

The condition of the driveway can even be a potential deal breaker for some buyers. “Cracks and crumbling, sunken areas in a driveway usually mean there are weeds growing underneath,” according to a recent blog post at Century 21’s real estate blog. That could lead to the option of having to tear apart and repaving the entire driveway if the cracks are bad enough.

“Looks matter in a lot of departments, including your driveway,” notes the blog post at Century 21. “Gravel driveways are economically easy to make and maintain, while a timeless cobblestone path gives the home upscale undertones. Attractive paths tend to lead towards more impressive interiors, so the bar is already set high from the moment you park the car.”

Also, an added sales point for some driveways has become a driveway sensor. A driveway sensor can detect suspicious movement around the entrance of a home and alert the family whether home or away.

Home buyers, mostly in urban neighborhoods, also may want to carefully consider the pros and cons if they have to share a driveway with neighbors. This may require constant communication in the early morning hours in coordinating the parking arrangements.

Not all homes are in perfect condition. The older the home the more likely situations and problems will occur. All though health and safety issues are the most important cosmetic issues will play an important part as to whether a Buyer will proceed. First impressions of any object leave a lasting impression in a person’s mind. Driveways, landscaping, exterior of the home whether it be damaged or an awful color will make a HUGE difference as to whether or not a Buyer will preview the home. Many times in my long career in real estate I’ve pulled up to a home and the Buyer says “no way”.

Remember that home maintenance is an on going process.  Stay on top of the “honey do’s”. When the time comes to sell your home for top dollar you’ll stand a better chance of making more $$$.

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