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6 Mortgage Questions a First-Time Home Buyer May Be Embarrassed to Ask

by Amy McLeod Group

Mortgage questions abound when you're a first-time home buyer. Compounding the challenge is the embarrassment over interrupting the conversation with a would-be lender or seller to ask, "'Scuse me, what is a credit score? How much money do I need as a down payment?" Everyone knows this stuff, right?

No, they don't all know—so you should ask these questions. Or, at the very least, study up a bit so you know the basics. To help get you up to speed, here's a crash course on the most common mortgage questions and answers you need to know. Take five to read on, and wonder no more.

1. What do you need to get a mortgage?

Before loaning you money, lenders want to see proof that you've proven reliable paying off past debts, so you'll need to start establishing credit.

"There are ways to verify your past payments on utility bills, cellphone, and rent," notes Michael E. Matthews, senior vice president of PrimeLending. "Get a credit card, pay it back carefully. Your car and college loans—those things help you establish credit and help you get a mortgage."

2. If you have bad credit, how do you improve it?

Matthews talks to a lot of borrowers who come to him with this mortgage question. They think they have bad credit but are doing better than they think.

His first tip: Check your credit report. It's free to download one copy each year, and you may be pleasantly surprised by what you find. And if the news is bad, there's still hope.

"If you’ve got bad credit, a lot of times there’s aged activity on there—an old collection, a medical bill, something you didn’t know about," Matthews says. And these "errors" can often be fixed, boosting your credit score fairly quickly.

If you do have a bunch of bad marks and late payments, however, start paying on time and your score will gradually improve. Here are some ways to raise your credit score.

3. What’s the difference between a mortgage pre-approval and a pre-qualification?

"Pre-qualification is not going to hold the same weight as a pre-approval," says Matthews. "You can go online and get somebody to print you out a pre-qual letter. And you’ll find that if you’re negotiating with an agent and they’re looking at a pre-qual letter, it’s probably not worth much to them."

A pre-approval letter—involving lenders fully checking your finances in a verifiable way—takes more time and effort, which is exactly why it carries much more weight. If you're serious about buying a home, get pre-approved to show you mean business. Here's more on the difference between mortgage pre-approval vs. pre-qualification.

4. How much down payment do you need for a mortgage?

The gold standard down payment for a mortgage is 20%—so if the home's price is $200,000, you'd ideally have to pony up $40,000 of your own money to get the loan.

If you don't have that much, all is not lost. You can put down less, but that means you'll have to pay PMI, or private mortgage insurance. It's an extra fee of about $50 to $100 a month that lenders will require to mitigate the risk that you might default on your loan due to your lack of funds.

"There’s risk there that literally has to be accounted for, and that ends up being insurance that adds to your mortgage payment," says economist Jonathan Smoke. "When you put less down, the trade-off is you actually have to spend more on a monthly basis."

That said, there are some exceptions that allow a buyer to avoid PMI even with a small down payment. Buyers who are in the military, veterans, and family members of veterans may be able to avoid PMI with a Veterans Affairs loan. And once your equity in your home rises above 20%, you can stop paying PMI.

5. What kind of down payment assistance is available?

If you're looking for help with a down payment, Smoke says, the "bank of Mom and Dad" may be a smart start—if your parents have the means to pitch in. Gifted money can help many people qualify for a loan, he says, although you absolutely must tell your lender that the money was a gift—fibbing on this front will raise red flags.

If private assistance isn't an option, or isn't enough, never fear—there are over 2,000 down payment assistance programs across the country that can help, as long as you meet eligibility requirements in terms of income and credit.

Check with your real estate agent or lender, as they may be able to tell you about programs in your area that will help you become a homeowner.

6. What types of home loans are available?

Loan types vary widely, but Barbara A. Carrollo-Loeffler, director of consumer and residential lending at Provident Bank in Jersey City, NJ, says loans typically fall into two camps. The first includes loans with an adjustable rate, meaning the interest rate could change after a period of time. The second includes loans that are "fixed" or "term," meaning the rate will stay the same for the length of the borrowing period. Generally term or fixed-rate loans are more common and considered the safer option, but it all depends on your circumstances, including how long you plan to stay in the home.

Here's more info on the pros and cons of various types of home loans, and which one is right for you.

Contact your local experts at The McLeod Group Network for all your Real Estate needs! 971.208.5093 or mcleodgroupoffice@gmail.com.

By and photo credit: Realtor.com, Jeanne Sager

U.S. Housing Inventory Crunch Continues… List Your House Today!

by Amy McLeod Group

Every winter, families across the country decide if this will be the year that they sell their current houses and move into their dream homes.

Mortgage rates hovered around 4% for all of 2017 which forced many buyers off the fence and into the market, resulting in incredibly strong demand RIGHT NOW!

At the same time, however, inventory levels of homes for sale have dropped dramatically as compared to this time last year.

Trulia reported that “in Q4 2017, U.S. home inventory decreased by 10.5%. That is the biggest drop we’ve seen since Q2 2013.”

Here is a chart showing the decrease in inventory levels by category:

The largest drop in inventory was in the starter home category which saw a 19% dip in listings.

Bottom Line

Demand for your home is very strong right now while your competition (other homes for sale) is at a historically low level. If you are thinking of selling in 2018, now may be the perfect time.

How much is your home worth?? 971.208.5093 or mcleodgroupoffice@gmail.com.

By: KCM Crew

Exploring Salem Oregon: 21st Annual Mo’s Crab & Chowder Festival

by Amy McLeod Group

Friday, January 26, 2018 - 2:00 PM to Sunday, January 28, 2018 - 6:00 PM

Yearly tradition with the flavors of Oregon's coast. Enjoy music all weekend. The Brian Odell Band Friday 6-9 pm & Saturday 12-5 pm. The Flextones Sunday 12-5 pm. $15 admission.
 

Willamette Valley Vineyards
8800 Enchanted Way SE
Turner, OR 97392

503-588-9463

www.wvv.com/Events/Event-Calendar

Courtesy of Amy McLeod, The McLeod Group Network

Gap Between Homeowners & Appraisers Narrows to Lowest Mark in 2 Years

by Amy McLeod Group

In today’s housing market, where supply is very low and demand is very high, home values are increasing rapidly. Many experts are projecting that home values could appreciate by another 4% or more over the next twelve months. One major challenge in such a market is the bank appraisal.When prices are surging, it is difficult for appraisers to find adequate, comparable sales (similar houses in the neighborhood that recently closed) to defend the selling price when performing the appraisal for the bank.

Every month in their Home Price Perception Index (HPPI), Quicken Loans measures the disparity between what a homeowner who is seeking to refinance their home believes their house is worth and what an appraiser’s evaluation of that same home is.

In the latest release, the disparity was the narrowest it has been in over two years, as the gap between appraisers and homeowners was only -0.5%. This is important for homeowners to note as even a .5% difference in appraisal can mean thousands of dollars that a buyer or seller would have to come up with at closing (depending on the price of the home)

The chart below illustrates the changes in home price estimates over the last two years.

Bill Banfield, Executive VP of Capital Markets at Quicken Loans urges homeowners to find out how their local markets have been impacted by supply and demand:

“Appraisers and real estate professionals evaluate their local housing markets daily. Homeowners, on the other hand, may only think about their housing market when they see ‘for sale’ signs hit front yards in the spring or when they think about accessing their equity.”

“With several years of growth, owners may have more equity than they realize. Many consumers use the tax season at the beginning of the year to reevaluate their entire financial life. It also provides a good opportunity for them to consider how best to take advantage of their equity while mortgage interest rates and borrowing costs are still near record lows.”

Bottom Line 

Every house on the market must be sold twice; once to a prospective buyer and then to the bank (through the bank’s appraisal). With escalating prices, the second sale might be even more difficult than the first.

If you are planning on entering the housing market this year, let’s get together to discuss this and any other obstacles that may arise. 971.208.5093 or mcleodgroupoffice@gmail.com.

 

By: KCM Crew

Buying A Home Is More Affordable Than Renting In 54% Of US Counties

by Amy McLeod Group

According to ATTOM Data Solutions’ 2018 Rental Affordability Report, “buying a median-priced home is more affordable than renting a three-bedroom property in 240 of 447 [or 54% of] U.S. counties analyzed for the report.”

For the report, ATTOM Data Solutions compared recently released fair market rent data from the Department of Housing and Urban Development with reported income amounts from the Department of Labor and Statistics to determine the percentage of income that a family would have to spend on their monthly housing cost (rent or mortgage payments).

Daren Blomquist, Senior Vice President of ATTOM Data Solutions had this to say:

“Although buying is still more affordable than renting in the majority of U.S. housing markets, the majority is shrinking as home price appreciation continues to outpace rental growth in most areas.”

However, the report also shows that the average fair market rent rose faster than average weekly wages in 60% of the counties analyzed in the report (266 of 447 counties). With rents rising, many renters should consider buying a home soon.

Bottom Line

Rents will continue to rise, and mortgage interest rates are still at historic lows. Before you sign or renew your next lease, let’s get together to help you determine if you are able to buy a home of your own and lock in your monthly housing expense. 971.208.5093 or mcleodgroupoffice@gmail.com.

By: KCM Crew

Exploring Salem Oregon: Health Fair 2018

by Amy McLeod Group

Saturday, January 20, 2018
11:00 AM to 3:00 PM

Free health screenings and fitness demos. Complete a vendor passport for a free day at the Kroc Center. Free admission.

The Salvation Army Kroc Community Center
1865 Bill Frey Dr.
Salem, OR 97301

503-798-4849 or 877-748-4357

www.salem.kroccenter.org

Courtesy of Amy McLeod, The McLeod Group Network

What Impact Will the New Tax Code Have on Home Values?

by Amy McLeod Group

Every month, CoreLogic releases its Home Price Insights Report. In that report, they forecast where they believe residential real estate prices will be in twelve months.

Below is a map, broken down by state, reflecting how home values are forecasted to change by the end of 2018 using data from the most recent report.

As we can see, CoreLogic projects an increase in home values in 49 of 50 states, and Washington, DC (there was insufficient data for HI). Nationwide, they see home prices increasing by 4.2%.

How might the new tax code impact these numbers?

Recently, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) conducted their own analysis to determine the impact the new tax code may have on home values. NAR’s analysis:

“…estimated how home prices will change in the upcoming year for each state, considering the impact of the new tax law and the momentum of jobs and housing inventory.”

Here is a map based on NAR’s analysis:

Bottom Line

According to NAR, the new tax code will have an impact on home values across the country. However, the effect will be much less significant than what some originally thought.

Contact The McLeod Group Network for all your real estate needs! 971.208.5093 or mcleodgroupoffice@gmail.com.

By: KCM Crew

Thinking of Selling? Now is the Perfect Time

by Amy McLeod Group

It is common knowledge that a great number of homes sell during the spring-buying season. For that reason, many homeowners hold off on putting their homes on the market until then. The question is whether or not that will be a good strategy this year.

The other listings that do come out in the spring will represent increased competition to any seller. Do a greater number of homes actually come to the market in the spring as compared to the rest of the year? The National Association of Realtors (NAR) recently revealed the months in which most people listed their homes for sale in 2017. Here is a graphic showing the results:

The three months in the second quarter of the year (represented in red) are consistently the most popular months for sellers to list their homes on the market. Last year, the number of homes available for sale in January was 1,680,000.

That number spiked to 1,970,000 by May!

What does this mean to you?

With the national job situation improving, and mortgage interest rates projected to rise later in the year, buyers are not waiting until the spring; they are out looking for homes right now. If you are looking to sell this year, waiting until the spring to list your home means you will have the greatest competition amongst buyers.

Bottom Line

It may make sense to beat the rush of housing inventory that will enter the market in the spring and list your home today.

Let’s discuss your options! 971.208.5093 or mcleodgroupoffice@gmail.com.

By: KCM Crew

Exploring Salem Oregon: WINE 101

by Amy McLeod Group

Saturday, January 13, 2018
2:00 PM to 3:30 PM

Dive deeper into the understanding of what it takes to make wine.  Come out to the vineyard for an in-depth look at what we do at the winery and then taste wine.  $10 admission.

Chateau Bianca Winery
17485 Highway 22
Dallas, OR 97338

Call 503-623-6181 for more information.

Event Website

Courtesy of Amy McLeod, The McLeod Group Network

The Impact of Tight Inventory on the Housing Market

by Amy McLeod Group

The housing crisis is finally in the rearview mirror as the real estate market moves down the road to a complete recovery. Home values are up, home sales are up, and distressed sales (foreclosures and short sales) have fallen to their lowest points in years. It seems that the market will continue to strengthen in 2018.

However, there is one thing that may cause the industry to tap the brakes: a lack of housing inventory. While buyer demand looks like it will remain strong throughout the winter, supply is not keeping up.

Here are the thoughts of a few industry experts on the subject:
 

National Association of Realtors

“Total housing inventory at the end of November dropped 7.2 percent to 1.67 million existing homes available for sale, and is now 9.7 percent lower than a year ago (1.85 million) and has fallen year-over-year for 30 consecutive months. Unsold inventory is at a 3.4-month supply at the current sales pace, which is down from 4.0 months a year ago.”

Joseph Kirchner, Senior Economist for Realtor.com

“The increases in single-family permits and starts show that builders are planning and starting new construction projects, that’s a good thing because it will help to relieve the shortage of homes on the market.”

Sam Khater, Deputy Chief Economist at CoreLogic

Inventory is tighter than it appears. It’s much lower for entry-level buyers.”

Bottom Line 

If you are thinking of selling, now may be the time. Demand for your house will be strong at a time when there is very little competition. That could lead to a quick sale for a really good price.

 

Contact The McLeod Group Network to find out how much your home is worth!  971.208.5093 or mcleodgroupoffice@gmail.com.

 

By: KCM Crew

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 14

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Contact Information

Photo of The McLeod Group Network Real Estate
The McLeod Group Network
Keller Williams Capital City
1900 Hines St SE #220
Salem OR 97302
971-208-5093
Fax: 971-599-5229

**Disclaimer: Amy McLeod, and her team, do not initiate, process, or service mortgages.  And provide this information only as a service.  You should confirm information here with your Licensed Mortgage Lender.