Demolition Daze: 7 Ways to Botch Renovating a Home

 

“Renovating my house was a piece of cake,” said no one ever. Indeed, even seemingly simple projects, like installing a screen door, staining hardwood floors, or refacing kitchen cabinets, can surprise homeowners with unexpected challenges and ever-escalating costs. And the problems multiply if you make certain all-too-common mistakes.

We’re not trying to discourage you from renovating your house, but if you’re planning to give your house a face-lift, be sure to avoid these seven renovation fumbles.

1. Starting without a plan

Fact: Only fools rush into home renovations. To conserve time and money, you should create a detailed, step-by-step plan of what the work will entail instead of just “winging it.”

For example, to add a tile accent to your kitchen or bathroom, you need to gather the right tools (tile spacers, goggles, measuring tape, etc.), turn off the power to the area you’ll be tiling, mix and spread the mortar, and install the tile in small sections.

2. Hiring a handyman when you need a licensed contractor

You can certainly use a handyman to take care of minor tasks, such as fixing broken windows, swapping out old ceiling fans for palm blades, or repairing a leaky toilet. But for more complicated projects you’ll want to hire a professional who specializes in the type of work you need to be done.

While you may have to pay more for a licensed contractor, doing so gives you peace of mind that the work will be of high quality. You also get an extra layer of legal protection, since licensed contractors typically need to have insurance that protects customers if they fail to complete the job properly.

Pro tip: Don’t just hire the cheapest contractor you can find. Instead, get bids from at least three contractors, research online reviews, and talk to former customers before choosing whom you want to work with.

3. Overestimating your renovation skills

One obvious way to save money is to skip hiring a contractor and do renovations yourself. But that’s not always a good idea.

“DIY is OK for making aesthetic updates, like replacing a kitchen’s backsplash or retiling a bathroom, but there are major safety risks when you remove walls,” says Jesse Fowler, president of Tellus Design + Build, based in Southern California. (Read: If you don’t know how to handle plumbing issues, repair ductwork, or wield a sledgehammer, leave it to a pro.)

Also, consider that if you have to redo the work, you may have to spend twice the amount of money to fix the damage you’ve done, says Allen Shayanfekr, co-founder, and CEO of Sharestates, an online crowdfunding platform for real estate financing.

4. Underestimating renovation costs

Pricing out some home improvement projects is fairly straightforward. If you’re replacing a washer and dryer, it’s fairly easy to calculate how much the new appliances and installation cost. However, budgeting for bigger renovations can be trickier, especially if you have to tear down walls, which could reveal problems (e.g., mold) hiding behind the drywall. Hence, it’s no surprise that 36% of last year’s home renovators said staying on budget was their No. 1 challenge, a recent Houzz survey found.

Do thorough research on the total cost of your project (for structural changes, don’t forget permit fees, which can be substantial), and then add a 10% to 15% cushion so that you have room in your budget for unforeseen expenses.

5. Buying cheap materials

It might be tempting from a cost savings perspective, but you don’t want to skimp on building materials. For one thing, cheap materials tend to have a shorter lifespan. They are also more susceptible to damage and, in some cases, can even create health risks if they contain toxic chemicals, says the Healthy Building Network, a nonprofit that researches and publishes information on the sustainability of building materials.

You don’t need to buy the most expensive materials, but make sure you factor in quality when planning your renovation designs.

6. Making your house clash with the neighborhood

One way to sour relationships with neighbors—and hurt your home’s resale value—is to make renovations that change your house’s facade so sharply, it clashes with other homes in the neighborhood.

For instance, if you live in a community with Craftsman bungalows, transforming your house into a Cape Cod or Mid-Century Modern style might make your home stand out in a bad way.

Similarly, you don’t want your house to be the largest one on the block. (On that note, have you heard McMansions are falling out of favor with young home buyers?)

7. Neglecting safety measures

Safety always comes first, and with respect to home renovations, that means you have to take precautions throughout the project. Research from the Home Safety Council shows that of the 43 million DIYers taking on projects each year, 1 in 5 ends up in the hospital because of accidents that relate to those projects.

Be sure to wear safety glasses and a hard hat when needed, and earplugs during loud construction. Also, practice proper ladder safety. If you’re creating a large mess, a lot of dust, or paint fumes, it might be best to stay at a hotel until the work is complete.

#buyers #homeowners #ownership #waterfront #soflo

Daniel Bortz is a Realtor in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC. He has written for Money magazine, Entrepreneur magazine, CNNMoney, and more.

House encroaches on utility easement-

Ask a real estate pro: House encroaches on utility easement — is this a problem?

Owner of Gibraltar Title, Board-certified real estate lawyer Gary M. Singer writes about the housing market in the Sun Sentinel each Monday. 
Q: My house was built 2 feet into the utility easements. There is a utility pole with electric transmission wires 3 feet from the back of my house. If the pole should need to be replaced, would the utility company be able to place it in the same spot? — William

A: Yes, and you might have some other concerns. An easement is a legal term for when one landowner gives another party, often a utility company, the right to enter or use a portion of the property for a specific purpose. Common easements are for water pipes and electric poles. Most easements “run with the land,” meaning that the easement will pass from one property owner to the next, and many people don’t even realize they have easements crisscrossing their yard. In fact, the easement you are dealing with was probably granted several owners ago, before your house was even built.

When part of a structure that is built on your land crosses an easement, it is called an encroachment because the structure is encroaching on the easement holder’s rights. Because easement holders have the right to use the space for their specific purpose, such as running power lines, they are able to enforce their right by making you remove the encroaching structure.

Usually, this is not that big of a deal — for example, if a fence or the corner of your pool deck is the encroaching structure. But because part of your house is doing the encroaching, this could be a big problem for you.

The first thing to do is to make sure there really is an encroachment, and that it isn’t a surveying mistake or an easement that was adjusted or removed when the house was built years ago. If the encroachment still exists, check your title insurance policy, since it will cover the cost of repairing an encroachment that was not found at the time you bought your home.

Be aware, though, those encroachments are often found before closing, and excited homeowners waive coverage because they are eager to close and don’t anticipate an issue, so your title policy may have a stated exception for this. If this is your case, and there is no coverage, you will need to try your best to try to work things out with the utility company. In my experience, the company will try its best to work with you on the issue. But in the end, if it can’t be worked out, the power must run through.

You should look to your community documents to see which specific guidelines you need to follow. As mentioned above, all of the rules must be reasonable. In your case, making owners wait to address agenda items until after voting is over is neither reasonable nor within the law, since it seems to defeat the very purpose of the rules.

If you have any questions you would like to see Gary answer, please email him at gary@youareclosing.com

#millenniumsales #homeowners #waterfrontproperty #luxuryhomes

How Much Do You Really Need to Put Down on a Home?

Can you negotiate rent? While rental leases may appear set in stone, they’re more flexible than many tenants think—so if you think your rent is too damn high, it’s definitely worth speaking up.

Negotiating rent with a landlord might seem like a hard battle to win, but it’s entirely doable if you can prove two things: 1) the rent being charged is higher than similar units elsewhere, and 2) you’re a model tenant who pays rent on time. Such negotiations can be done whether you’re applying to rent a new apartment or just want cheaper rent where you currently reside.

Here’s how to negotiate rent and help your landlord realize you’re worth the sacrifice.

How to negotiate rent before you move in

As a prospective tenant, it’s a bit harder to persuade a new landlord to accept lower rent, since you two have no history together. A competitive market counts here: Landlords who’ve been struggling to fill apartments will be far more willing to negotiate than most.

Here are some ways to stand out.

  • Prepare a stellar application. “The best way I’ve seen renters negotiate rent is to be an amazing applicant,” says Glenn Carter, a real estate investor at Condo.Capital. That means submitting your application quickly and including tax returns, proof of employment and references from previous landlords saying you pay rent on time. “This will show potential landlords you’re diligent and will treat the property well,” Carter says.
  • Show a high credit score. If possible, also bring a recent document showing your high credit score, which indicates you reliable pay your debts on time. “As a landlord, I would accept lower rent from a dependable source,” says Boston landlord Steve Silberberg.
  • Gather rental statistics. Comb through online listings to find out the rents of comparable properties in the area. Also research how long the property you’re interested in—or a similar unit in the area—has been on the market. When you speak to the landlord, have a print-out of comparable units that are slightly lower in rent and, if the unit has been unoccupied, have this information on hand as well. Then point out how these factors make the rent he’s charging too high for the market to bear.
  • Suggest a realistic rent reduction. Be sure to have a realistic rent reduction ready based on your research. Don’t lowball, but let your first offer be one your landlord can haggle with you on. Make your case in a non-confrontational way. Say something like, “I love this place and am looking for a long-term commitment. Unfortunately, my budget is X. Would you be willing to meet that in exchange for signing a longer lease?”

How to negotiate rent as a current tenant

As a current tenant, you’ll have more leverage—that is, if you’ve paid rent on time and otherwise proved to be a good tenant.

Here’s how to negotiate rent when you’re already living there.

  • Time it right. Start the conversation shortly before your lease is up for renewal. Begin by saying you’re not thinking of moving out but rather want to stay—for the right price. Then state the facts: You like your current apartment, but you’re seeing cheaper rents elsewhere.
  • Point out the benefits of your staying. Remind the landlord that keeping you as a tenant saves him the hassle of listing a vacancy, showing the apartment, screening applicants, and losing potential rental income during the time the property is unoccupied.
  • Offer something in return. Ask your landlord what he wants in exchange for a lower rent—a longer lease commitment or prepaying a month or two—to make your request fit his needs.
  • Demonstrate you’re a model tenant. Frame your reduction in rent as a return on investment, because you have a stellar payment record and value as a tenant. Remind your landlord you pay rent on time, keep your place in good condition, and help your neighbors. “If less reliable tenants miss even a half-month’s rent during their lease, that translates into a loss,” says Silberberg. “I recently accepted $150 less per month on a year and a half lease for very stable renters, instead of a year lease with less stable tenants.”
  • Point out repairs. You may also want to tactfully bring your landlord’s attention to anything in your unit that’s worn out or needs painting. Then suggest that the current condition of the items in question merits a proportionate reduction in rent. You can also offer to repair or replace these items yourself in exchange for reduced rent.
  • Suggest a temporary rent reduction. If you suspect your landlord won’t budge on a permanent rent reduction, consider suggesting a temporary reduction instead—say, during off-peak seasons when it’s harder to rent places out. “I’m most open to price negotiations anytime between November and January,” says landlord Domenick Tiziano of AccidentalRental.com. “If I have a vacancy, a good candidate has a pretty good chance of talking me down a few bucks.” For a $900 property, Tiziano will consider a $50 reduction but only for a six-month period.

By: Zillow  #millenniumsales  #piecuadrado #waterfront #buying #homebuyers

Everything you need to know about buying a home

Everything you need to know about buying a home — on one index card.

A home is often the biggest financial investment you’ll make in your lifetime. In fact, a recent Zillow analysis reports that the typical American homeowner has 40 percent of their wealth tied up in their home.

Several years ago, I wrote a complete guide to financial planning on one index card, which went viral and later became a book: “The Index Card: Why Personal Finance Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated” (co-written with Helaine Olen).

Now, following up on my original index card, I’ve written a guide on buying a house. Below is the housing index card — a handy resource to print out and take with you as you look at houses or think about buying one, plus some additional advice as you contemplate making the big decision.

1. Buy for the long run. Assume you’ll own your home for at least five years.

A home is a significant investment, not to mention a linchpin of stability. According to the Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report 2017, the majority of Americans who sold their homes last year had lived in their home for at least a decade before selling.

Some are even staying for the long haul. Almost half (46 percent) of all homeowners are like me — living in the first home we ever purchased. In short: Buy a home you want to live in — one equipped (or ready to be equipped) with the features and space you need, both now and in the future.

2. Buy to improve your life, not to speculate with your money.

Your home is more than a financial investment; it’s where you sleep, eat, host friends, raise your children — it’s where your life happens.

The housing market is too unpredictable to buy a (primary) home purely because you think it will net a big short-term financial return. You will most likely be living in this home for several years, regardless of how it appreciates, so your first priority should be finding a home that will meet your needs and help you build the life you want.

3. Focus on what’s important to you. Don’t be distracted by features you don’t need.

Today’s housing market is short on inventory, with 10 percent fewer homes on the market in November 2017 than November 2016.

So, focus on finding a home you can afford that meets your needs — but don’t get distracted by shiny features that might break your budget. Nice-to-have features often drive up the price tag for things you don’t particularly value once the initial enjoyment wears off.

Make a list of your basic needs, both for your desired home and for your desired neighborhood. Stick to finding a home that meets these needs, without buying extra stuff that adds up.

4. Determine a budget and stick to it. Don’t look at houses above that budget.

It’s important to set a budget early — ideally before you even start looking at homes. In today’s market, especially in the more competitive markets, it’s incredibly easy to go over budget — 29 percent of buyers who purchased last year did.

The most common culprit? Location. Zillow’s data indicates that urban buyers are significantly more likely to go over budget (42 percent) than suburban (25 percent) or rural (20 percent) buyers.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with that. Local schools matter, and psychologists tell us that a short commute improves your life. But be realistic about your local market and about yourself. Know what you’re willing to compromise on — be it less square footage, home repairs or a different neighborhood.

5. A 20 percent down payment is ideal. If you can’t afford that, consider a smaller down payment, or lower your budget.

If you can afford it, a 20 percent down payment is ideal for three reasons:

  • Buyers who don’t put a full 20 percent down pay a premium, most commonly in the form of private mortgage insurance (PMI). This is less financially punishing than it used to be, given today’s low mortgage rates. A monthly mortgage payment (with PMI) may be lower than a monthly rental payment in many markets — but still.
  • Buyers who put more down upfront typically make fewer offers and buy faster than those who put less down. Zillow research found that buyers with higher down payments make 1.9 offers on average, compared to 2.4 offers for buyers with lower down payments (after controlling for market conditions).
  • A higher down payment reduces your financial risk. You don’t want to owe more money than your house is worth if local markets dip when you need to sell.

6. Keep a six-month strategic reserve after down payment. Stuff happens.

While a down payment is a significant expense, it’s also important to build up a strategic reserve and keep it separate from your normal bank account.

This reserve should cover six months of living expenses in case you get sick, face an unexpected expense or lose your job. A strategic reserve will not only save you from financial hardship in the event of an emergency but also provide peace of mind.

When we accumulated a strategic reserve, my wife and I finally felt ready to build for our future. Without it, we were living from paycheck to paycheck, anxiously managing our cash flow rather than saving or budgeting.

7. Get pre-approved, and if you want to avoid uncertainty down the road, stick with a boring 30- or 15-year fixed-rate mortgage.

The pre-approval process requires organizing all your paperwork; documenting your income, debt and credit; and understanding all the loan options available to you. It’s a bit of a pain, but it saves time later. Getting pre-approved also shows sellers that you’re a reliable buyer with a strong financial footing. Most importantly, it helps you understand what you can afford.

There are a variety of mortgage types, and it’s important to evaluate all of them to see which is best for your family and financial situation. Those boring 30- and 15-year mortgages offer big advantages.

The biggest is locking in your mortgage rate. In short: A 30-year fixed mortgage has a specific fixed rate of interest that doesn’t change for 30 years. A 15-year fixed mortgage does the same.

These typically have lower rates but higher monthly payments, since you must pay it off in half the time. Conventional fixed-rate mortgages help you manage your household budgeting because you know precisely how much you’ll be paying every month for many years. They’re simple to understand, and current rates are low.

One final advantage is that they don’t tempt you with a low initial payment to buy more house than you can afford.

8. Comparison shop to get the best mortgage.

Though a home is the biggest purchase many of us will ever make, most home buyers don’t shop around for a mortgage (52 percent consider only a single lender).

I certainly didn’t. This did save me some annoying phone calls and hassle, but it cost me $40 or $50 every month, for years. The difference of half a percentage point in your mortgage rate can add up to thousands of dollars over the lifetime of the loan. It’s important to evaluate all the available options to make sure you’re going with the lender who meets your needs — not just the first one you contact.

The three most important factors to buyers are that the lender offers a loan program that caters to their specific needs (76 percent), has the most competitive rates (74 percent) and has a history of closing on time (63 percent).

9. Spend no more than a third of your after-tax income on housing (unless you live in an especially pricey market).

It’s better to regret spending too little on your home than spending too much. One-third of your after-tax income is a manageable amount. This isn’t always possible if you live in a place like San Francisco or New York, but it’s still a good yardstick for where to be.

10. When getting ready to buy, always be willing to walk away.

Buying a home is a time-consuming, stressful but ultimately rewarding endeavor — if you end up closing on a home that meets your needs. But it’s important to manage your expectations in case you don’t immediately find a home you can afford with the features you need.

Always be prepared to walk away if the sellers don’t accept your offer, the home doesn’t pass a rigorous inspection or the timing isn’t right. Hold fast to your list of must-haves, stick to what you can afford and don’t overreach or settle.

It’s no tragedy to miss out on any particular house. Remember that you’re playing the long game. You want to be happy 10 years from now.

 

by: Harold Pollak 3

#buyingahome #msi  #purchasing #waterfrontproperty #homes #homebuying #selling

 

Will It Become Harder to Afford a Home? Experts Say Yes

Despite a red-hot real estate market, most aspiring buyers can still afford to buy a home—if they can find one. But it may not be that way for much longer.
Households bringing in at least $68,000 a year, the national median, could afford about 59.6% of all newly constructed and existing (previously lived in) homes sold in the fourth quarter of 2017, according to a recent National Association of Home Builders report. But that doesn’t take into account the most expensive coastal markets such as San Francisco and New York City, where buyers need six-figure salaries for even the smallest and oldest of residences.
The quarterly report looked at three figures: home prices, mortgage interest rates, and the median household income, across the nation and in 238 metropolitan markets. It did not take into consideration down payments, and the struggle that many would-be buyers face accumulating a lump sum to pay upfront.
Related Articles
Rent or Buy? 10 Places Where You’ll Get the Most Bang for Your Buck
Tired of Big-City Squeeze? Score a Bargain in America’s 10 Cheapest Housing Markets
Which Generation Is Struggling the Most to Buy a Home? (It’s Not Millennials)
“Buyers should be prepared,” says the association’s chief economist, Robert Dietz. “It’s going to be more expensive to afford a house over the course of 2018. … Interest rates went up a little bit, and home prices went up as well.”
Thank the lack of homes on the market, and of construction to build new ones, for the price bumps. The lack of inventory has led to bidding wars, offers over asking, and a whole lot of frustration.
Buyers have more peace of mind in Syracuse, NY, and Youngstown, OH, which tied for the most affordable major housing markets. In focusing on individual markets, the report used local median figures for household income and home price.
About 88.3% of homes sold were affordable to folks earning the areas’ respective median incomes of $54,600 and $68,000. These areas have struggled as manufacturing jobs, and then residents, have left in recent decades.
The rest of the most affordable markets were Indianapolis; Scranton, PA; and Columbia, SC.
Cumberland, MD, was named the most affordable smaller market in the country. Residents bringing home the area’s median income of $53,900 could afford about 96.9% of homes sold.
There were even several abodes under $20,000 for sale—including a three-bed, two-bath, single-family house going for $17,900.
The least affordable metros were all in California, with San Francisco topping the list. No surprise there as the median home list price in the city limits is a jaw-dropping $1,200,000, according to realtor.com® data. It was followed by Los Angeles, Anaheim, San Jose, and Santa Rosa.

BY:Clare Trapasso is the senior news editor of realtor.com and an adjunct journalism professor. She previously wrote for a Financial Times publication and the New York Daily News.

buying, selling, financing  Millennium Sales.

 

A Guide of estimating closing costs!

Calculating Closing Costs

calculator to calculate home closing costs for homebuyers

In the sale, the sellers usually pay the larger figure of closing costs because they are charged with paying out the commission to the real estate agents. But buyers can try to negotiate with the seller for the seller to pay a portion of the closing costs on behalf of the buyer. We’ll assume for the point of this article that the seller is not paying anything for the buyer.

First, there are several variables that go into the closing cost calculation including the cost of your new home. A good estimate for buyer’s closing costs are around 3-6% of the purchase price. According to Bankrate.com, closing costs increased 6% from 2014-2015 but only 1.6% from 2015 to 2016, which is some consolation. Still, the average across the US on a 200,000 home is around $3,000.

But what goes into closing costs for the buyer?

Components of Closing Costs

The following are some of the costs you can expect to pay at closing:

Ways to Reduce Closing Fees

While there are some services that can be shopped around like title insurance and home inspections, there are also a few other tips to help you pay the least amount possible at closing.

calculator with fees and magnifying glass closing costs for home buyers

  • Close at the end of the month: you’ll be charged per diem interest so if you close at the beginning of the month, you’ll have a larger portion to pay than if you close with one day left.
  • Check with your employer and memberships. Some employers like the military (U.S. government) and some unions offer discounts on closing costs or home prices, though they may require a specific lender be used.
  • Ask the seller to cover them. You can negotiate with the seller to pay your closing costs. However, this is probably not advisable in a hot real estate market.

The State Matters

Closing costs do vary by state due to local and statewide regulations and fees. Here’s a list of the least expensive and most expensive states in which to close.

When you first obtain your loan, you will receive an estimated closing statement. Three business days before closing, you’ll receive a revised one. Compare the two numbers. They may be off slightly but should be very close. If not, notify the sender immediately.

At Bay National Title, we put our clients first. We take the time to make sure all of their questions are answered to their satisfaction.

#millenniumsales buyers home waterfront, oceanfront Berta Correa, Broker 954-802-2143

FHA Loan Requirements: What Home Buyers Need to Qualify

If you’re looking up “FHA loan requirements,” you are very likely wondering if you qualify for an FHA loan. These mortgages, which are insured by the Federal Housing Administration, help home buyers secure financing to buy a home despite their low income, lack of savings, or poor credit scores—the kind of things that often prevent people from getting a conventional loan.

“FHA loans are a great option for a lot of home buyers, particularly if they’re buying their first home,” says Todd Sheinin, mortgage lender and chief operating officer at New America Financial in Gaithersburg, MD. And while not all lenders offer FHA loans, many do, because their government backing guarantees that lenders won’t lose their money if the buyer defaults. So it’s win-win all round!

Yet although FHA loans have looser qualification requirements than traditional mortgages, that doesn’t mean they have none at all. While the exact rules and thresholds will vary a bit by lender, here’s a ballpark guide to what you can expect you’ll need to qualify for an FHA loan.

1. A minimum down payment of 3.5%

With conventional loans, it’s generally recommended that you make a 20% down payment, which would amount to a whopping $50,000 on a $250,000 home. FHA loans lower the bar to a far more realistic level, requiring as little as 3.5%. So, on a $250,000 house, you would only need to plunk down $8,750 to qualify for an FHA loan.

This is a boon, particularly for first-time home buyers, who tend to have less money socked away to put toward their dream of home ownership. In fact, a recent study from Apartment List found that more than two-thirds of millennials don’t even have $1,000 saved up for a down payment. And millennials are now the largest group of home buyers.

2. A minimum credit score of 500

To qualify for an FHA loan, your credit score—the numerical representation of your track record paying past debts—will need to be at least 500—although if your score is indeed in this low range, you’ll have to make a slightly larger down payment, of 10%. To take advantage of that teeny weeny 3.5% down, you’ll need a credit score that’s slightly higher, at 580 or above. All that said, keep in mind that credit requirements may fluctuate not only by lender but based on changes in the housing market.

3. You’ll have to pay mortgage insurance

Because the federal government insures these loans, borrowers must pay an upfront mortgage insurance premium (MIP). Currently, the fee is 1.75%—that’s $4,375 on a $250,000 home loan. However, once you’ve accrued 20% equity in the home, the MIP should drop off from your mortgage payments. (Note: You’ll want to follow up with your lender at that point, to make sure the insurance premium has been removed.)

Borrowers will also have to pay annual mortgage insurance, currently around 0.85% of the borrowed loan amount—or $2,125 more per year. For most loans, this mortgage insurance remains throughout the life of the loan, or until you refinance out of an FHA loan to get rid of it, says Jordan Dobbs, a loan officer at Washington First Mortgage in Rockville, MD.

4. A maximum debt-to-income ratio of 59%

Debt-to-income ratio is a way lenders determine whether you can afford your housing payments, by comparing the amount of money you make to what you owe. Currently, the maximum debt-to-income ratio for an FHA loan is 31%. In other words, if your monthly pretax salary is $6,000, your housing expenses should not exceed about a third of your income, or $1,860.

More realistically, however, debt-to-income ratio should factor in all of your recurring debts, including college and car loans. In this context, the FHA generally looks for a borrower’s total debt load not to exceed 59% of pretax income. To use the $6,000 example above, that would mean that the maximum amount you should be paying for your mortgage and other debts (credit card not included) is $2,580. Check this FHA handbook for more information.

5. The home must undergo a rigorous appraisal

While pretty much all loans require a home appraisal, so lenders can make sure their money isn’t funding a shack, FHA appraisal guidelines are more rigid than those for conventional loans, and not all houses will get the green light for FHA approval. This may mean that the seller of your desired home will need to make some repairs in order for your lender to approve the loan.

What are the FHA loan limits?

FHA loan programs only insure loans up to the maximum limit, which varies by county. In most areas, the limit is $417,000, but in certain high-cost areas, the limit is $636,150. You can see the FHA loan limits for your county at Hud.gov.

For more smart financial news and advice, head over to MarketWatch.

Daniel Bortz is a Realtor in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC, who has written for Money magazine, Entrepreneur magazine, CNNMoney, and more.
First home buyers, Millenniumsales, FHA, morgages, qualify for a mortgage, financial news.

Zero-down!

The zero-down loan? It’s making a comeback

NEW YORK – June 16, 2017 – Buyers may soon be able to bring less to closing. They were blamed for precipitating the housing crisis years ago, but major lenders are giving no- and low-downpayment loans another shot.

Several major lenders are reportedly offering loans with just 1 percent down. Navy Federal, the nation’s largest credit union, offers its members zero-down mortgages in amounts up to $1 million. NASA Federal Credit Union markets zero-down mortgages as well.

Quicken Loans, the third highest volume lender, offers 1 percent downpayment options, as does United Wholesale Mortgage. And the Department of Veterans Affairs has offered zero-down loans to eligible borrowers for many years.

Also, Movement Mortgage, a large national lender, has introduced a financing option that provides eligible first-time buyers with a non-repayable grant of up to 3 percent. As such, applicants can qualify for a 97 percent loan-to-value ratio conventional mortgage, which is basically zero from the buyers and 3 percent from Movement. For example, on a $300,000 home purchase, a borrower could invest zero personal funds with Movement providing $9,000 down. The loan also allows sellers to contribute toward the buyer’s closing costs.

So far, the delinquency rates on these low- to zero-down payment loans have been minimal, according to lenders. Quicken Loans says its 1 percent down loans have a delinquency rate of less than one-quarter of 1 percent. United Wholesale Mortgages told The Washington Post that it has had zero delinquencies from the borrowers on its 1-percent down loan since debuting it last summer.

For Movement’s new loan product, the lender will originate the loans and then sell them to Fannie Mae, which remains under federal conservatorship. Fannie officials released the following a statement:

“(We’re) committed to working with our customers to increase affordable, sustainable lending to creditworthy borrowers. We continue to work with a number of lenders to launch (test programs) that require 97 percent loan-to-value ratios for all loans we acquire.” They add that there “is no commitment beyond the pilots,” which are “focused on reaching more low- to-moderate income borrowers through responsible yet creative solutions.”

During the housing crisis, zero-down loans were among the biggest losses for lenders, investors and borrowers. However, housing experts say the latest versions are different from years ago. Applicants must now demonstrate an ability to repay what’s owed. They also must have stellar credit histories and scores, and lenders require a lot more documentation to prove borrowers are in good standing.

Also, many of the programs are charging higher interest rates. For example, Movement’s rate for its zero-down payment option in mid-June was 4.5 percent to 4.625 percent, compared with 4 percent for its standard fixed-rate mortgages.

Some critics say that the borrowers who really could benefit from such options aren’t able to qualify for them. Paul Skeens, president of Colonial Mortgage Corp. in Waldorf, Md., told The Washington Post that “it seems like people without excellent credit scores and three months of [bank] reserves don’t qualify.”

Source: “No Down Payment? No Problem, Say Lenders Eager to Finance Home Purchases,” The Washington Post (June 14, 2017)

Buy a home, Millennium Sales, Berta Correa, Investing in Real Estate.

LOVE YOUR DOG?

Vacation in Fort Lauderdale – with your dog.

Did you know that a recent survey showed that 90% of dog-owning travellers consider their pet when booking accommodation? If you’re one of that huge number of people, then allow me to introduce to you our Fort Lauderdale vacation paradise – and yes, your dog is most welcome too.

In fact, we have special treats and amenities that are especially for him or her. But first, let’s look at your gorgeous home-from-home.

508HendricksIsle 690
Yes, that’s your apartment on the right – upper floor. It has direct views over the wonderful Rio Grande canal. Right from your apartment, you can watch the water traffic go by. From the upper balcony or from the dock, enjoy your morning coffee or your evening glass of wine watching yachts, cruisers, paddle-boarders and more.

The apartment is located midway between the famous Fort Lauderdale Beach and the fabulous Las Olas Boulevard with its incredible boutiques, galleries and dining options – and many of those restaurants and cafés are dog-friendly.

Your vacation apartment is close to the very best Fort Lauderdale can offer – art museums, theatres, concert venues, historical sites, fine dining and so many attractions and events. And for your dog? In your apartment you’ll find:

  • A beautiful, ultra-soft microfibre dog bed
  • Organic dog treats
  • Feeding and water bowls
  • Custom-prepared book showing all the local facilities available to your pet
  • Aromatherapy dog shampoo and conditioner (great for after the beach)
  • Dog towel
  • Collapsible dog bowl for when you’re out sightseeing
  • Um … waste bags

And for the human guests?

  • A cute Mid Century Modern apartment right on the water
  • Free wifi and cable TV
  • Free designated parking right in front of the building
  • Central air conditioning (so important in Florida)
  • Beach chairs, beach umbrella, cooler for your snacks
  • Onsite manager to answer your questions / supply extra provisions
  • Tourist guides and money-off coupons
  • Top quality linens and towels

What Stays With the House When You Move?

What Stays With the House When You Move?

| Feb 9, 2015

When you’re selling your home, it is natural to assume that anything you can safely remove is yours to keep—like the light fixtures you painstakingly cleaned and repaired, or the appliances you bought last year—but the buyer may want some of those items, too.

Rather than keep everything, you should decide what you can keep and what you should leave as a way to entice buyers into making an offer. Here’s what you should consider:

What stays with the house?

Generally, certain items stay with the house when you sell and move. Here’s what to expect:

Built-ins: Built-in bookshelves, benches, and pull-out furniture generally stays inside the home.

Landscaping: Trees, shrubs, and any flowers planted in the ground should stay in the yard.

Wall mounts: If you have TV wall mounts or picture mounts that might damage the wall if you remove them, it is a good idea to leave them in place when you move.

Custom-fit items: If you have custom-made curtains, plantation shutters, or blinds, leave them on the windows and doors.

Hardware: If you upgraded the knobs and drawer pulls in your bathrooms and the kitchen, you’ll either have to leave those behind or install replacements before you move.

Alarm systems: Wireless alarm systems are designed to be removed. Otherwise, leave the alarm monitoring station attached and either relocate or cancel the monitoring service.

Smoke detectors: Smoke detectors and sprinkler systems should stay in the house, especially if you plan to move before selling the house.

What can you take?

While you’re expected to leave some items behind, in general your belongings are yours to keep. Here are some examples:

Patio furniture, lawn equipment, and play sets: If you have a wooden swing set in the backyard and a bistro table on the front porch, take those items with you.

Appliances: Some lenders require that a home have an oven installed before approving a loan, but for all other appliances, it’s up to you to decide what you will take and what you will offer as part of the home.

Some light fixtures: Generally, homeowners leave light fixtures behind, but if you’re attached to a certain fixture, you can make arrangements with the buyer to take it.

Built-in kitchen tools: If you can safely remove a mounted spice rack or the pasta arm, you can take it with you.

Rugs, basic curtains, wreaths: Small decor items like rugs or curtain rods that can be safely removed can be taken.

What should you consider leaving?

Some of your personal items can be used to help sell your house—or increase the asking price. Before you take everything just to take it, consider offering some hot items like the following:

Appliances: Homeowners, especially new homeowners, don’t always have their own appliances. Many buyers would be more likely to place an offer on a home if it came fully stocked with appliances.

Custom swing and play sets: If you have a swing set or playhouse your children have outgrown and you notice a potential buyer has children, offer to include the item with the deal.

Kitchen built-ins: Built-in spice racks, pantry organization, and windowsill shelves can really help sell a kitchen. Consider offering the items to an interested buyer.

Light fixtures, curtains, rugs, and other upgrades: If you’ve upgraded the light fixtures or have custom rugs in the entryway, a buyer may be willing to increase his or her offer to keep those items in the home.

If you’re not sure what would entice a buyer, ask your Realtor® to provide suggestions.

Angela Colley writes about real estate and all things renting and moving for realtor.com.