Working From Home: 5 Best Tips To Make It Work

July 10, 2018 Comments off

Working From Home 5 Best Tips To Make It WorkCarving out space for a home office isn’t always easy, but if you have the option to work from home even part of the time, it’s essential to have a space that works for you.

Here are 5 great ways to meet those needs:

Adapt A Closet

A guest room closet with bi-fold doors can become a perfect workspace with the addition of a shelf at the proper height to hold a computer or calculator and proper task lighting. Hang a bulletin board or add open shelving on the back wall. Multiply the functionality with a small cabinet or a portable file rack. The advantage of going to work in a closet is that you can close it off completely without having to do a daily cleanup. 

Grab A Corner From Living Room or Bedroom

Tuck a table desk into a corner of the living room or bedroom, assuming that you can work during the day when others aren’t sleeping or actively “living” in the space. Small table desks serve a variety of purposes, from serving snacks to displaying artwork, and are perfectly adaptable as work space, with a minimum of effort. All you really need is a good lamp and a nearby electrical plug in order to create an office. 

Claim Space In A Wide Hallway

With a space as narrow as about 30 inches and minimal depth, it’s possible to set up a small tabletop and chair to serve your needs for making phone calls, organizing schedules or planning appointments. It may not be ideal, but if space is at a premium it can be functional for short bursts of work at home.

Look For Multi-Purpose Furniture

A home office can exist in a den or dining room that has either a credenza or a tall cabinet with doors. Think about your needs, and seek out furniture that will fill the bill. Traditional period “secretaries” with closed door storage and a fold-down desktop are perfect, but even ramshackle armoires can be repurposed as office cabinets. 

Look For Unused Space

If you have a mostly empty storage room, even if it’s located in the garage, clean it out and clean it up. Add proper lighting, and even a portable heater or air conditioner. Brighten the space with fresh paint and an area rug, find second-hand furniture at garage sales or estate sales, and get creative with accessories. 

Be Aware Of Your Needs

There are two primary requirements for a home workspace, no matter what kind of work you do: storage space for the tools, supplies, files and accessories that you need; and privacy. It’s nice to be able to close the door on your work and “go home,” so the more insulated your home office is from other family activities, the more efficient it will be. Even if space is minimal, it can work for you!

Be sure to contact your trusted mortgage professional to get started with the pre-approval process as soon as you are in the market for a new home.

 

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – July 9th, 2018

July 9, 2018 Comments off

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – July 9th, 2018Last week’s economic releases included monthly readings on construction spending, public and private sector job growth and June’s national unemployment rate. Weekly readings included Freddie Mac mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

Construction Spending Rises in May

According to the Commerce, construction spending rose 0.40 percent in May; public sector construction spending rose 0.70 percent and private sector spending rose by 0.30 percent. Residential construction rose by o.80 percent, which analysts regarded as a good sign for the economy. Building more homes has long been identified as the only solution for persistent housing shortages that cause high demand for homes and rapidly rising home prices.

Analysts said that volatility and heavy revisions to government reporting, construction spending readings are subject to significant change. April’s reading of 1.90 percent growth was downwardly revised to 0.90 percent growth.

Mortgage Rates and New Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported lower mortgage rates last week. Rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgages were three basis points lower at an average of 4.52 percent. 15-year fixed rate mortgages averaged 3.99 percent and were five basis points lower than for the previous week. Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged 3.74 percent and were 13 basis points lower than for the prior week.

First-time jobless claims fell last week to 231,000 new claims as compared to 200,000 new claims expected.and 244,000 new claims were filed in the prior week.

Unemployment ticks up as Public and Private Sector Job Growth Slows

ADP payrolls fell to 177,000 private sector jobs were added in June as compared to 189,000 jobs added in May. The Commerce Department reported 213,000 public and private sector jobs added in June, which beat expectations of 200,000 jobs added in June. 244,000 jobs were added in May.

The National unemployment grew to 4.0 percent in June as compared to May’s reading of 3.80 percent. Analysts attributed the rise in the unemployment rate to 600,000 new job seekers entering the market in June.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include readings on inflation, core inflation and consumer sentiment. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

Top Uses Of A HELOC

July 5, 2018 Comments off

Top Uses Of A HELOCHomeowners who have equity built up in their homes can tap into that equity using a home equity line of credit, or HELOC. This financial tool can be a great way to accomplish a number of financial goals.

Here are four excellent uses of a HELOC for homeowners to consider.

Consolidating Costly Debts

Credit card debt and other types of consumer loans are costly, unless a debtor is lucky enough to have a no-interest card. Borrowers can consolidate that debt into a HELOC, which is much more affordable because it is a secured debt.

This advantage only works if the borrower stops adding to the debt problem. A HELOC becomes a valuable tool to get rid of debt quickly when used properly.

Create An Emergency Fund

Most people do not intend to end up in credit trouble, but emergencies happen. Emergency home repairs, job loss, or car repairs can quickly add up to unwanted debt.

A HELOC provides homeowners the option to have an emergency fund. Should one of these emergencies pop up, the homeowner can use the HELOC for an affordable source of funds.

Home Repairs That Add Value

Some home repairs add value to the property, but are also expensive. A HELOC can provide a source to fund these repairs. Because they put value back into the property, homeowners may be making wise use of their equity when using the HELOC in this way.

To make this work well, homeowners should choose repairs that do add to the home’s value. Since the cost of the repairs comes from the equity, the home’s owner should recoup the costs later when selling the home.

Funds For Investing

Finally, homeowners can use funds from a HELOC to get started in investment. This is risky, because the loan is paid regardless of how successful the investment is, but it can give a homeowner the chance to start investing for the first time.

Similarly, retirees can sometimes use HELOC funds to supplement retirement income if investments are struggling. This is a temporary solution to give investments a chance to recover, but for those living on a fixed income it is very helpful to have this option.

The HELOC is a valuable tool for homeowners that allows them to tap equity when it is needed. Since they have spent years building up this equity, homeowners should not fear using it when it can help with their financial goals.

Contact your trusted loan professional to find out if a HELOC may be right for you. 

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Seller-Paid Closing Costs In A Seller’s Market? Yes, It’s Still Possible

July 3, 2018 Comments off

Seller-Paid Closing Costs In A Seller's Market Yes, It's Still PossibleFor first-time home buyers, closing costs are a major hurdle for home ownership. Coming up with a down payment and several thousand dollars for closing costs can be hard without home equity to tap.

To help, buyers often ask sellers to cover all or some of these costs. In markets favoring buyers, this is a common habit, but when the market switches to favoring sellers it becomes harder. Sellers who know they may get multiple offers are less likely to say “yes” to this request.

Yet even when the market favors sellers, buyers can still ask for this help. It all depends on how the offer is presented. Here’s how to potentially make it look appealing, even with other offers on the table.

Buyers Need To Consider The Total Amount

Many sellers build negotiation room into their asking prices. This means they anticipate some offers coming in that are lower than their asking price.

Buyers asking for closing costs can offer the full asking price or more than the asking price to make the offer more appealing.

For example, if the buyer needs $2,000 in closing costs, and offers $2,000 more than the asking price, the seller won’t stand to lose money and will find the offer more appealing. This, in effect, rolls the closing costs into the loan.

On the flip side, if a buyer makes an offer well below the asking price, then also asks for closing costs, the seller is likely to say no.

Buyers Should Consider Other Components Of Their Offer

Sometimes the problem the buyer faces is a lack of cash to cover the closing costs, particularly when using a no- or low-down payment loan option. To make the offer more appealing, buyers should look at the rest of the offer’s terms.

For example, a buyer may ask for closing costs but overlook other contingencies, such as non-urgent repairs. This makes the offer appealing, because the seller’s costs even out.

Buyers Can Offer To Close Quickly

Another way to make seller-paid closing costs something a seller will accept is moving the closing date up. Most sellers want to sell quickly, so the faster the buyer can close, the better the offer may look.

For buyers in a seller’s market who need closing cost help, the key is to make all other aspects of the offer appealing. By doing so, these buyers may just get the closing cost help they need to move forward with their home purchase.

One of the best things to do before entering into negotiation is to have your mortgage funding pre-approved. Contact your trusted home loan professional to get started today.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – July 2nd, 2018

July 2, 2018 Comments off

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – July 2nd, 2018Last week’s economic reports included readings from Case-Shiller housing market indices and data released on new and pending home sales. Weekly releases on mortgage rates and first-time unemployment claims along with the Consumer Sentiment Index for June were also posted.

Case-Shiller Reports Rapid Home Price Growth in April

April home prices ticked downward by one-tenth percent for the National Home Price Index, which reported 6.40 percent growth year-over-year. Case-Shiller’s 20-City Home Price Index also dipped by one-tenth percent to 6.60 percent year-over-year. Analysts note that home prices continue to outpace wage growth and inflation, which limits affordability for many prospective home buyers.

Seattle, Washington held the top spot on the 20-City Home Price Index with year-over-year home price growth of 13.10 percent; Las Vegas, Nevada followed with year-over-year home price growth of 12.70 percent and San Francisco, California reported home price growth of 10.90 percent year-over-year. New York, New York was the only metro area to report negative home price growth. Analysts said recent tax law changes and a glut of new apartments impacted home prices.

New Home Sales Rise as Pending Home Sales Fall

Sales of new homes rose in May to a seasonally-adjusted annual level of 689,000 sales. Analysts expected 668,000 sales based on April’s downwardly-revised reading of 646,000 new homes sold. Year-to-date, sales of new homes were 8.80 percent higher than for the same period in 2017.

Rapid home price growth has been driven by high demand and limited inventories of homes for sale. Supplies of new homes dipped from a 5.40-month supply in April to a 5.20-month supply of homes for sale. Real estate pros consider a six-month supply of homes an average inventory.

Pending home sales dipped in May by -0.50 percent,  as compared to April’s reading of -1.30 percent. Low supplies of available homes have sidelined buyers who haven’t found homes that they want or can afford. High demand has created bidding wars and cash buyers in some markets have sidelined moderate-income buyers and those who need financing to purchase homes.

Mortgage Rates Mixed, New Jobless Claims Rise

Freddie Mac reported lower average mortgage rates last week. Rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by two basis points to 4.55 percent. Rates for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 4.04 percent and were unchanged from the prior week.

The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was four basis points higher at 3.87 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

New jobless claims rose to 227,000 first-time claims filed from the prior week’s reading of 218,000 claims filed. Analysts expected 220,000 initial jobless claims.

Consumer sentiment fell to an index reading of 98.20 in June as compared to May’s reading of 99.30. according to the University of Michigan.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic news includes readings on construction spending and minutes of the most recent meeting of the Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee, Labor sector readings on Non-Farm payrolls, ADP payrolls and national unemployment will also be released.

Weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will be released on schedule.  U.S. Financial Markets will be closed on Wednesday in observance of Independence Day.

Home Automation Conveniences Attract Buyers

June 28, 2018 Comments off

The rise in Millennial homebuyers will inevitably change the items that promote faster and more lucrative home salesThe rise in Millennial home buyers will inevitably change the items that promote faster and more lucrative home sales.

Consider trends over the past decades that have included conveniences such as built-in dishwashers, central air, energy efficient appliances and many others. As mechanical and technological advances move into the mainstream, prospective home buyers seek them out and favor properties that come tech ready.

While Millennial buyers have a vastly different world view than previous generations, Baby Boomers and Gen X homeowners are also enjoying the ease of technology. For many homeowners, automation equals convenience and improved quality of life. That’s why having the latest automation integrated into a home can make it a priority home on the market. These are some of the latest — let’s call them gadgets — that seem to be piquing the interest of today’s home buyers.  

Automation Home Control Devices

The era of clap-on lights and voice-controlled systems has given way to smart technologies. Homes that are integrated with smart technologies are getting a leg up in the market and future-leaning companies are rolling out devices to fill the need.

A company called Nanoleaf is marketing a 12-sided remote that can be programed to automate and control an entire smart home. The Nanoleaf Remote is expected to interface with Apple Homekits to produce amazing home scenes and manage devices throughout the household.

If you saw the movie “Minority Report” starring Tom Cruise, you may remember him interacting with a 3D holographic interface. The new “Talon” smart ring hitting the market is a wearable smart remote that looks similar to the popular Fit Bits. It also interfaces with your home in a futuristic way and can automate most everything. The point is that smart homes are popular and complimentary devices will only make them more so.

Alexa Is The New BFF

Alexa became America’s best friend by providing everything from favorite music to voice-command Google searches. Alexa looks to be everyone’s BFF going forward and more and more home automation technologies are developed to directly connect with the little Echo Dot. iDevices’s new light switches can be brightened or dimmed via Alexa. Consider Alexa-driven automation.

Automated Home Security

In an era when security is frequently on people’s minds, things like motion detectors, security cameras and smart locks are looked upon more favorably when they are integrated into the home and fully automated. Homeowners are not looking to take on home security as an after-work task.

The Ring company, among others, is introducing everything from smart doorbells to outdoor lighting. When fully automated, security can be a huge boon for home sellers.

The Real Estate market remains competitive and seemingly small differences between properties can set them apart. Automation and smart-technology integration can be a game-changer in terms of days on the market and asking price.  

Contact your trusted mortgage professional to get your financing pre-approved so you can be ready to make an offer on your new automated dream home.

Understanding the Factors That Impact Your Credit Score

June 27, 2018 Comments off

Understanding the Factors That Impact Your Credit ScoreMost consumers believe if they pay their bills on time, they need not worry about their credit score. Oftentimes, it is a rude awakening when they apply for a mortgage loan, car loan, or any revolving credit to learn they are not going to get the lowest rates available due to their credit score. This is because paying bills on time only accounts for 35 percent of your credit score. The remaining 65 percent is spread out among other factors that impact your credit score.

Credit Usage and Impact on Score

Nearly one-third, 30 percent, of your credit score is based on how much of your available credit you are using. For example, if you have combined credit available of $100,000 and you use $90,000, you will suffer a decline in your credit score. Those consumers who have similar credit lines and are using $9,000 will get a slight bump in their score.

New Credit vs. Old Credit

We seldom think about how long we have held a line of credit open. However, some consumers “exchange” credit lines for other credit lines due to special offers made by credit card companies. This is not necessarily a good idea since 15 percent of your credit score is determined by the age of your credit accounts. The longer you have had an account, the better in most cases. The calculation will take all open credit accounts, take the amount of time they have been open and get an “average age”. If you have six accounts which have been open less than a year and six that have been open five years, the newer accounts will count against you in this case.

Mixing up Credit Lines

A consumer who has only a mortgage and a single credit score will take a modest hit on their credit score versus a consumer who has multiple credit cards, a mortgage, and an auto loan. The types of credit you have will account for 10 percent of your credit score and the more varied your open credit lines, the better. While it is inadvisable to open new credit lines simply to show a variety of types, having installment loans, retail credit cards, and traditional credit cards is a good idea.

New Lines of Credit Opened

One danger many consumers are unaware of is suddenly opening new lines of credit. For example, a new homeowner may open a new account with a home improvement store, a general retail store, and a new credit card to help them furnish and repair their new home. This could be a red flag since the credit lines are new, and there is no established history on the mortgage, or the new credit lines. Since this factor accounts for 10 percent of your credit score, you could suffer a temporary decline in your credit score.

Consumers should be aware of the factors which impact their credit score, and also be aware of the factors that do not impact their scores. Understanding your credit score may be the most important tool you have when buying a home, or refinancing your current mortgage.

Please contact your trusted mortgage professional to discuss how your credit score may be impacting your ability to finance your next home purchase. 

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