The Quick and Easy Guide to Finding the Right Builder to Construct Your Dream Home

The Quick and Easy Guide to Finding the Right Builder to Construct Your Dream HomeAre you in the market for a new house? If so, you may be considering having a custom-home designed and built to your specifications. There is no better way to get exactly what you want in a house than to have it built from scratch.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at our quick and easy guide to finding the right builder to construct your dream home.

Have Ideas In Mind Before You Start

Try to have some ideas in mind before you contact a builder. For example, how many bedrooms do you want? Are you interested in a two-car garage? Do you want a suite in the basement or elsewhere on the property for rental purposes? What about an office, workshop, media room, home gym or other amenities? Invest a bit of time in crafting a list, and your builder can help design a home that fits.

Find A Builder Before You Buy Land

At first, meeting with and securing a home builder before having a plot of land might seem premature. After all, you still don’t even know where you want them to build your house! But, in fact, this is the best way to go. A good home builder can help you understand permit rules, city or county regulations, which utilities are available in the area and more. Once they understand precisely what you are looking for in your dream home, they will be able to make an honest assessment of any particular lot. This alone can save you a significant amount of both time and money.

Verify Licensing, References And Past Work

Once you have settled on a potential builder, it is time to start the due diligence process. Ask the builder and any sub-contractors for their license details to ensure they are certified to do the work. Try to chat with at least 1-2 past references as well so you can get an idea of what it’s like to work with them.

Get All The Details In Writing

Finally, there are few financial transactions in life that should be done on a handshake and this is no exception. Your builder is going to have a contract that they will ask you to sign. Have your attorney look this document over and have them add in any specifics that are important to you.

A new construction home can be the ultimate in comfort, convenience, and luxury. When you’re ready to learn more, contact us today.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – December 11, 2017

Last week’s economic reports included readings on projected top housing markets for 2018, weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims. Labor sector readings on private-sector job growth, private and public-sector job growth and the national unemployment rate were released. Projected top housing markets in 2018 were also released.

Realtors Release Projections for Top Housing Markets in 2018

Prospective homebuyers and retirees facing home affordability issues in metro areas such as New York City and the West Coast are seeking affordable housing markets according to data released by the National Association of Realtors®.

The top three housing markets for 2018 are expected to be Las Vegas, Nevada with a median home price of $285.405 and expected annual price growth of 6.90 percent. Dallas Texas held second place with a median home price of $339,000 and expected annual home price growth of 5.60 percent. Deltona, Florida held the third position for top housing markets in 2018. Deltona is located between Daytona Beach and Orlando, Florida. Within the city of Deltona, home prices average $159,000 in Deltona and $275.000in the metro area. Home prices are expected to grow at an annual rate of 6.0 percent.

Home prices continue to be driven by low supplies of homes for sale. High demand is causing prices in many metro areas to rise to unaffordable levels/ Retirees who are no longer tied to pricey metro areas are moving to less costly neighborhoods.

Mortgage Rates Rise, Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported higher mortgage rates across the board. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose 0.04 basis points to 3.94 percent. 15-year fixed mortgage rates averaged 0.06 basis points higher at 3.36 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was 0.03 basis points higher for an average rate of 3.35 percent. Discount points average 0.50 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

First-time jobless claims were lower last week, with 236,000 new claims filed against expectations of 240,000 new claims filed and the prior week’s reading of 238,000 new jobless claims filed. According to November’s federal Non-Farm Payrolls report, government and private sector payrolls grew by 228,000 jobs as compared to expectations of 200,000 new public and private sector jobs added and the prior month’s reading of 244,000 jobs added.

ADP reported 190,000 private-sector jobs added in November as compared to 235,000 new jobs added in October. The national unemployment rate held at 4.10 percent, which was the lowest level in almost 17 years.

Whats Ahead

This week’s economic readings include releases on inflation, the Fed’s FOMC post-meeting statement, Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s press conference along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims. 

Graduating With Student Loan Debt and Worried About Your Mortgage Prospects? You’re Not Alone

Graduating With Student Loan Debt and Worried About Your Mortgage Prospects? You're Not AloneDid you recently graduate from college or university? If so, you may still be dealing with a financial hangover in the form of student loan debt. The vast majority of today’s students have to borrow to invest in their education, which can affect financial plans once school is finished. In today’s post, we will explore buying a home with a mortgage when still dealing with outstanding student loan debt.

Your Situation Is Common, But Unique To You

First, try to keep in mind that you are not alone. Many former students are moving on with life, working hard to build a career and a life while juggling past student loans. However, your situation is unique, and thus, you need to plan it that way. For example, are you single or married? Are you in a stable career or are you potentially shifting jobs? Do you have children or are you planning to in the near future? Your financial needs are unique and need to be prepared and budgeted accordingly.

Understand Your DTI Ratio

Have you heard of the debt-to-income or ‘DTI’ ratio? When you take out a mortgage to buy a home, this ratio is one factor in determining how much you can borrow. In essence, it is a ratio of your monthly debt payments versus your monthly income. As you are paying off student loan debt, that will increase your DTI ratio. Adding a mortgage, car or other monthly payments on here will as well. You will want to ensure that you maintain a healthy debt-to-income ratio or it can be challenging to stay solvent.

Balancing Your Mortgage With Your Other Loans

You may have heard this saying: “life happens.” It is rare that anyone can spend years with everything going according to plan. If you run into a temporary health or job-related issue, you may need to do some juggling to keep your mortgage and other payments fully managed. For this reason, it is worth trying to save at least a few months of your monthly expenses in a ‘rainy day’ fund. Just in case of an emergency.

Challenging, But Not Impossible

Balancing a monthly mortgage payment with student loan repayment can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. If you would like to learn more about purchasing a home as a recent graduate, contact us today.

To Stay or to Go: Should You Hang Around During Your Open House?

To Stay or to Go: Should You Hang Around During Your Open House?Are you thinking of listing your home for sale? Whether this is your first sale or you have been through the process a few times, you are probably aware that you will need to host at least one open house. Welcoming strangers in to tour your home can range from delightful to irritating, but it is a critical part of the selling process. So, should you stick around or disappear when potential buyers are viewing your home? Let’s explore your options.

The Best-Case Scenario

For almost every buyer, the ideal situation is that they are viewing a clean, vacant home which is empty of all furnishings. It can be challenging to visualize your family in your future house when you are trying to see past the current tenant’s clutter and furniture. Depending on your circumstances, this might not be possible. 

Are You A ‘People’ Person?

Would you consider your family welcoming and extroverted? Or are you more of the private, inclusive type? If you aren’t really ‘people’ people, then it is probably best if you disappear during your open house. Your real estate agent will be working hard to ensure that your potential buyers start to feel ‘at home’ while touring through your home.

If your personality is more of the shy, quiet type, then you may find interacting with buyers awkward or even intimidating. If that is the case, you should find someplace else to be during your open house.

When In Doubt, Let Your Agent Answer

Finally, keep in mind that interested potential buyers are going to have a lot of questions. They will want to know the fine details about the condition of the home, if there are any surprises waiting to be found and if they can grind down the price. If you do decide to stick around, it might be best to let your agent give the answers.

As you can see, there are pros and cons to being home during an open house. If you are ready to move forward with selling your home, contact us today. Our professional real estate agent team is happy to meet with you, discuss your options and share how to get your home listed so it quickly sells for the best possible price.

Taking Out a Mortgage for the First Time? Learn Why a Condo Might Be a Great First Home

Taking Out a Mortgage for the First Time? Learn Why a Condo Might Be a Great First HomeAre you starting to tire of paying your monthly rent to someone and never building any equity? Renting forever can be a significant pain, especially as you’re contributing to someone else’s financial well-being. The good news is that there are affordable real estate options out there for those investing in their first home. Below we will share a few excellent reasons why an apartment or condo might be the best choice for a first-time home buyer.

A Manageable Monthly Payment

In most markets across the country, condos and apartments are available at a significantly lower cost than a full-sized house. Buying a less-expensive home means that your monthly mortgage payments will, in turn, be lower. If you are single or a young professional trying to start a family, that extra money can be a massive boost to your monthly budget.

Note that while your monthly mortgage payment may be lower, you are still responsible for other maintenance and upkeep fees. The most common is known as a homeowners’ association fee, to which all condo owners in the same development contribute. These funds are used to upkeep the building or property as well as things like landscaping, a pool or gym, and other amenities.

A Smaller Down Payment

In the same vein, buying a less-expensive home also means that you can put a smaller down payment on it when you close the sale. In many cases you are required to place a certain percentage – typically 20 percent – down to avoid having to purchase private mortgage insurance. Having to commit less in your down payment leaves more money in the bank for other purposes.

An Excellent Future Investment Property

Don’t forget that when you are ready to upgrade and move into a larger house, you can keep a condo as a rental or investment property. Once your mortgage is paid off, you are only responsible for the monthly maintenance fees and taxes. So if you can rent the condo out to a tenant, you will have an excellent source of cash flow that can help to pay for your new home or fund other activities.

The above are just a few of the many reasons why a condo can be a great starter home for first-time buyers. To learn more about your home buying options, contact us today.

You Ask, We Answer: Should I Sell My Home Now or Wait Until the Spring?

You Ask, We Answer: Should I Sell My Home Now or Wait Until the Spring?Have you been thinking about listing your house or condo for sale? As you are likely aware, the seasons play a role in our local real estate market and how busy it is. Nicer weather brings out the most in any real estate market, with buyers spending their evenings and weekends touring open houses and finalizing shortlists. Many markets cool off a bit in the winter, but that does not mean that the buyers disappear.

In today’s blog post we will explore why selling your home during the winter can beat waiting for the real estate market to warm up in the spring.

Interest Rates Are On The Way Up

One key consideration this year is that interest rates are trending upward. While it is impossible to predict the movements that the Federal Reserve will make, there is every sign that rates will tick upward soon. Mortgage interest rates tend to rise along with the Federal Reserve’s upward movements, so selling now means selling while mortgages are a bit cheaper.

There Is Less Competition In The Market

Another great feature of listing your home for sale during the winter is that you are likely to face less competition from other home sellers. Fewer homes in the local inventory mean fewer options for buyers that need to close on a home quickly. If your house is clean, in top condition and adequately staged, you can rest assured that it will stand out from the other available options.

It is true that there may be fewer potential buyers shopping for a new home during the winter. However, you will tend to find that winter buyers are serious about finding and purchasing a home. They are much less likely to be ‘window shopping’ or passing through viewing open houses.

Holiday Staging Is That Much More Fun

Finally, it is worth mentioning that staging can be a lot more fun during the holidays. Selling your home in the summer means trimming the lawn, keeping the garden looking clean and maintaining your curb appeal. Selling your home over the holidays means Christmas lights, decorations, baked goods and a more festive atmosphere.

Selling your home in the winter might seem a bit counter”intuitive, but with the market easing up and less inventory available you will find serious, interested buyers. When you are ready to list your home for sale, contact us. Our friendly real estate sales team is ready to help ensure that you receive top dollar for your home.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – December 4, 2017

Last week’s economic releases included readings on new and pending home sales, Case-Shiller index readings for September, and construction spending. Weekly readings on new jobless claims and mortgage rates were also released.

Home Price Growth Driven by Shortage of Homes for Sale

Case-Shiller Home Price Indices reported 6.20 percent growth in home prices year-over-year in September as compared to August’s reading of 6.00 percent year-over-year growth for August. September’s reading was the highest for national home price growth since 2014.

According to the 20-City Home Price Index, Seattle, Washington held on to first position with 12.90 percent home price growth year-over-year. Analysts noticed that the month-to-month reading for Seattle home prices dipped by 0.30 percent, which could indicate that home price growth may be cooling. Las Vegas, Nevada achieved second position for home price growth with a year-over-year reading of 9.00 percent. San Diego, California held third position with year-over-year home price growth of 8.20 percent.

High demand for homes coupled with the low inventory of homes for sale continued to drive home prices up in 16 of 20 cities charted in Case-Shiller’s 20-City Home Price Index.

New and Pending Home Sales Rise in October

Sales of new homes rose to 685,000 on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis to their highest reading in 10 years. The reading for new home sales year to date rose by 8.90 percent as compared to the same period in 2016. Analysts expected a reading of 620,000 new home sales as compared to September’s revised reading of 645,000 new homes sold. As of October, there was a 4.90 months supply of new homes for sale, as compared to September’s 5.20 months supply of new homes on the market.

The Commerce Department reported 3.50 percent growth in pending home sales in October as compared to September’s negative reading of -0.40 percent. In a further sign of confidence in housing markets, construction spending rose by 1.40 percent in October as compared to September’s reading of 0.30 percent and analysts” expectation of an increase of 0.40 percent in construction spending.

Mortgage Rates Mixed, New Jobless Claims

Mortgage rates were mixed last week with average rates for fixed rate mortgages dropping two basis points. A 30-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 3.90 percent; rate; rates for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 3.30 percent and rates for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose two basis points to 3.32 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

First-time jobless claims dipped by 2000 new claims to 238,000 initial claims filed. Analysts expected new jobless claims to hold steady at the prior week’s reading of 240,000 new claims filed.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic releases include ADP payrolls, and Commerce Department readings on Farm Payrolls and the national unemployment rate. Consumer sentiment will be updated next week along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

Single and Considering a New Home? Here’s What You’ll Need to Know About Your Mortgage

Single and Considering a New Home? Here's What You'll Need to Know About Your MortgageHave you decided that it is time to move on from renting? If you are single and living alone, you may be wondering whether or not homeownership is right for you. Let’s have a look at a few key factors that you will need to be aware of when taking out a mortgage as a single person.

It’s A Commitment – But Not For A Lifetime

Some single people shy away from the idea of buying a home as it is a significant financial commitment. When you are single, especially if you are young and early in your career, flexibility can be valuable. You might decide to move to a new city to take a new job, or you may find a partner and decide to start a family.

Keep in mind that homeownership – and your mortgage – aren’t permanent. If you decide to buy a house, condo or apartment, you can always sell it later if you need to move or upgrade to a larger home.

You’ll Need To Be Disciplined

As you will only have one income stream coming in to support you in managing your monthly finances, you will need to be disciplined. Living paycheck to paycheck is not really an option as you will end up in trouble if an emergency occurs. Some financial experts advise having at least 6 to 12 months of monthly expenses saved up, in case of a job loss or an unexpected health issue that takes you out of work.

Don’t forget that there are also mortgage insurance products that can help to cover some of your costs in the event of an emergency. These may be an option to consider as a backup plan.

Starting Small Versus Going Big

Do you need a lot of space? If not, investing in a small ‘starter’ home is an excellent option. You can buy just enough home to suit your needs without buying anything extravagant. A helpful advantage that you gain purchasing a less-expensive home is that it comes with a smaller mortgage that can be paid off faster.

Questions? Get Professional Advice

If you have questions about purchasing a home as a single person, you’re not alone. Give our professional real estate team a call. We will be happy to share our guidance and expertise.

Downsizing? Here’s What You Can Expect When You Move From a House to a Condo

Downsizing? Here's What You Can Expect When You Move From a House to a CondoWhether the kids have moved out or you just aren’t using the extra bedrooms, having a house that feels ‘too big’ is rarely fun. In today’s post, we will share a few changes you can expect when you downsize from a large house to a smaller apartment or condo.

Why Downsize At All?

As you might imagine, having too much space is the primary reason that couples and families downsize. Larger homes cost more to maintain and can feel empty if it’s just one or two people living there. In many cases, old items and clutter tend to build up as there is so much storage space. Downsizing to a smaller home helps to maintain a lifestyle that is more efficient but no less luxurious.

Ask Yourself: Are You Ready?

Another consideration that you will need to make: are you ready to move? If you are retired from work, then you likely have enough time on your hands to manage a move. Conversely, if you and your spouse are both working full-time and live near your workplace, you may want to source a smaller home nearby.

Don’t forget that if you own the house you are living in now, this might mean having to list and sell it while buying your new home. This is a common situation and isn’t a significant problem, but it will require a bit of scheduling and financial planning.

The Hardest Part: Choosing What To Keep

Ask any couple or family that has downsized their home about the toughest part, and many will share that it was choosing what stays and what goes. When space is at a premium, everything from shoes to appliances needs to be considered.

Spend some time going through each room in your house, taking an inventory of what you have. Are there any family heirlooms or other emotional items that you can’t part ways with? After that, is there anything that will be usable in your new home? Everything else should be considered fair game. Sell it, donate it or toss it out.

Moving to a smaller home can seem challenging at first, but it is a lifestyle choice that can pay significant dividends. When you are ready to make a move, contact our professional real estate team. After discussing your wants and needs, we will be happy to recommend some perfect local listings.

Case-Shiller: Home Prices Grow at Fastest Rate Since June 2014

Home prices continued to rise in September according to Case-Shiller National and 20-City home price index reports. According to the National Home Price Index, national home prices rose 0.70 percent month for the three months ending in September. The National Index regained its pre-housing bubble peak and surpassed it by 5.90 percent as of September.

The 20-City Home Price Index rose 0.50 percent from August’s reading. Analysts forecast a growth rate of 0.40 percent month-to-month. The 20-City Home Price Index indicates a home price growth rate 0f 6.20 percent year-over-year. The 20-City Index remained 1.50 percent below its peak in 2006.

The 20-City Home Price Index showed 16 of 20 cities posted gains in home price growth. Seattle, Washington, which has consistently held the top spot for year-over-year home price growth, posted slower growth for September. Seattle held on to its lead for year-over-year home price growth with a reading of 12.90 percent. Las Vegas Nevada held second place in the 20-City Index with a year-over-year home price growth of 9.00 percent. San Diego, California held third place with a year-over-year reading of 8.20 percent appreciation in home prices.

CaseShiller Home Prices: Not the Whole Story

Analysts caution that while Case-Shiller Home Price Index reports are intended as a tool for real estate investors, they may not reflect all factors impacting U.S. housing markets. An analysis published in May by Trulia indicated that only 38 percent of U.S, homes have recovered their post-recession values. Some analysts say that methodology used for calculating the Case-Shiller home price index readings does not reflect individual or local factors impacting home prices.

In an unrelated report, the Federal Housing Finance Agency reported that home prices for properties with mortgages sold to or guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were up 6.50 percent from the third quarter of 2016 to the third quarter of 2017.

FHFA reported that the District of Columbia and all 50 states posted higher home price gains for the period between Q3 2016 and Q3 2017. The top three year-over-year home price gains were held by Washington, D.C at 11.60 percent; the state of Washington held second place with a gain of 11.50 percent and Hawaii and Arizona tied for third place with year-over-year home price gains of 10.00 percent.

FHFA reported home price growth in all 100 areas it tracks and said that the Seattle, Washington region held the highest year-over-year growth rate of 14.60 percent.