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Why You Should Not For Sale By Owner

by Amy McLeod Group


In today’s market, as home prices rise and a lack of inventory continues, some homeowners may consider trying to sell their homes on their own, known in the industry as a For Sale by Owner (FSBO). There are several reasons why this might not be a good idea for most sellers.

Here are the top five reasons:

1. Exposure to Prospective Buyers

According to NAR’s 2018 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 95% of buyers searched online for a home last year. That is in comparison to only 13% of buyers looking at print newspaper ads. Most real estate agents have an Internet strategy to promote the sale of your home, do you?

2. Results Come from the Internet

Where did buyers find the homes they actually purchased?

  • 50% on the Internet
  • 28% from a real estate agent
  • 7% from a yard sign
  • 1% from newspapers

The days of selling your house by putting out a lawn sign or putting an ad in the paper are long gone. Having a strong Internet strategy is crucial.

3. There Are Too Many People to Negotiate With

Here is a list of some of the people with whom you must be prepared to negotiate if you decide to For Sale by Owner:

  • The buyer who wants the best deal possible
  • The buyer’s agent who solely represents the best interests of the buyer
  • The buyer’s attorney (in some parts of the country)
  • The home inspection companies, which work for the buyer and will almost always find some problems with the house
  • The appraiser if there is a question of value

4. FSBOing Has Become More And More Difficult

The paperwork involved in selling and buying a home has increased dramatically as industry disclosures and regulations have become mandatory. This is one of the reasons that the percentage of people FSBOing has dropped from 19% to 7% over the last 20+ years.

5. You Net More Money When Using an Agent

Many homeowners believe that they can save on the real estate commission by selling on their own, but they don’t realize that the main reason buyers look at FSBOs is because they also believe that they can save on the real estate agent’s commission. The seller and buyer can’t both save the commission.

study by Collateral Analytics revealed that FSBOs don’t actually save anything, and in some cases may be costing themselves more, by not listing with an agent. One of the main reasons for the price difference at the time of sale is that,

“Properties listed with a broker that is a member of the local MLS will be listed online with all other participating broker websites, marketing the home to a much larger buyer population. And those MLS properties generally offer compensation to agents who represent buyers, incentivizing them to show and sell the property and again potentially enlarging the buyer pool.”

If more buyers see a home, the greater the chances are that there could be a bidding war for the property. The study showed that the difference in price between comparable homes of size and location is currently at an average of 6% this year.

Why would you choose to list on your own and manage the entire transaction when you can hire an agent and not have to pay anything more?

Bottom Line

Before you decide to take on the challenges of selling your house on your own, get together with The McLeod Group Network to discuss your needs.  971.208.5093 or admin@mgnrealtors.com

By: KCM Crew

Happy New Year!

by Amy McLeod Group

Exploring Salem Oregon: “Noon” Year’s Eve Party

by Amy McLeod Group

 

Monday, December 31, 2018
10:00 AM to 2:00 PM

Rind in the “Noon Year” at an hour your little ones can celebrate!  Complete with crafts, activities, and a balloon drop at 12:00 PM.  All activities free with paid museum admission - $6-$8.

Gilbert House Children’s Museum
116 Marion St. NE
Salem, OR 97301

503-371-3631

Event Website

Courtesy of Amy McLeod, The McLeod Group Network

Photo Credit: travelsalem.com

What to Do If Your Pipes Freeze: Defrosting Tips and More

by Amy McLeod Group


While this is the season for giving and receiving, frozen pipes are one gift you don’t want. If you're a homeowner living in a cold climate, you're likely aware of this type of threat, but do you know what to do if your pipes freeze? Given the financial risks involved here, this is something you should know about.

Here are the signs that your pipes may be frozen—and what to do if they are.

How to determine if your pipes are frozen

The most obvious sign that you have frozen pipes is the absence of water (assuming you’re not delinquent on your water bill).

“Frozen water pipes won't deliver water to the sink, tub, or toilet—and blocked heating pipes will prevent hot air from reaching radiators that are past the part that's frozen,” says Mary Redler, vice president of Polo Plumbing & Heating in Lindenhurst, NY.

Ways to defrost your pipes

If you have frozen pipes that are undamaged, Redler says you may be able to defrost them yourself. But the first thing you should do is turn off the water at the main shut-off valve.

“This is important because as the pipe defrosts, you may discover that it did split, but wasn't leaking because it was frozen,” Redler says

Some people recommend using a blow dryer to defrost frozen pipes. Redler says using a space heater will also do the trick.

"Place the unit close by so it sends heat as directly as possible to the frozen area,” she says.

The more heat you can deliver, the faster the pipe will thaw—but she warns it may take a full 24 hours using this method.

“Hopefully the heat will prevent it from freezing even more and splitting the pipe, since water expands when it's frozen,” she explains.

In lieu of a space heater, there are other ways to thaw your frozen pipes. Don Glovan, franchise consultant with Mr. Rooter Plumbing, recommends using a heat lamp.

He recommends that you start applying heat at the area of the pipe closest to the faucet, and then moving down the pipe.

“Another option is to use electrical heating tape, although some models will need to be plugged in,” Glovan says.

Avoid using these sources of heat to defrost pipes: a blowtorch, propane heater, kerosene, charcoal stove, or any other type of flammable device.

You also need to open a faucet that receives water from the frozen pipe to release pressure in the pipe when it thaws out.

Should you call a plumber?

If your DIY plumbing efforts don’t work—or if your pipes have frozen and burst—bring in the plumbers. And if there's a lot of water in your home that needs to be dried out, call a water remediation company, which has the equipment and the training to remove it.

“If something isn’t dried correctly, such as inside a wall cavity, under a cabinet, carpet padding, or subflooring, etc., you could develop problems with microbial (mold) growth later," says Bud Summers, executive vice president of operations and training at PuroClean.

Tips to prevent frozen pipes

Insulating your pipes is one of the best ways to prevent the pipes from freezing in the first place. Ben Nuno, plumbing specialist at Lee’s Air Conditioning, Heating, and Building Performance in Fresno, CA, recommends insulating all exterior pipes or installing a pipe-heating cable.

Another suggestion is to let your faucets drip water, since water is less likely to freeze when there’s movement in the pipes, and opening the faucets ensures there’s no buildup of water pressure.

Also, try to keep the area around your pipes as warm as possible.

“Open your under-sink cabinet doors to keep warm room air circulating around the pipes,” Glovan says.

He also recommends sealing external openings such as basement doors, windows, and crawl spaces with weatherstripping, caulk, and sealant.

In addition, you may want to budget for a higher utility bill during the winter months.

“Very cold days are not the time to try to save money on fuel,” Redler says. “You should actually increase the temperature by a few degrees to make sure your pipes are protected.”

Contact The McLeod Group Network for all your Real Estate needs! 971.208.5093 or admin@mgnrealtors.com

By: Realtor.com, Terri Williams

Warm Wishes from Our Family to Yours!

by Amy McLeod Group

Exploring Salem Oregon: Pajama Party with Santa and Friends

by Amy McLeod Group


Visit with Santa Claus and friends in the comfort of your favorite holiday pjs!  There will be unlimited carousel rides, a keepsake craft, and lots of yummy snacks!  By reservation only - call to reserve. $20 per person.

Salem’s Riverfront Carousel
101 Front St. NE
Salem, OR 97301

503-540-0374

Event Website

Courtesy of Amy McLeod, The McLeod Group Network

Photo Credit: travelsalem.com

Your Winter 2019 Home Maintenance To-Do List: Have You Checked It Twice?

by Amy McLeod Group


We won't sugarcoat it: The thought of doing home maintenance right now is pretty blah—especially with the holidays looming and weeks of gloomy winter days on the horizon. Who wants to do housework when you can curl up and binge-watch "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" instead?

So you're forgiven if this is one article you don't want to read. But before you take up permanent residence on the couch, you should at least skim it. That's because winter chills bring a number of home-related ills—and if you don't keep up with a little maintenance now, you could be in for catastrophic repair costs later.

So pull yourself out of hibernation mode and get started. The good news? We've done the heavy lifting for you, identifying the top tasks to tackle—and what professional help will cost you if you find yourself in over your head.

Give your gutters one last scrub

Hopefully, you've been clearing out your gutters on the regular. But once every tree is bare, it's time for one final cleaning session to "avoid moisture building up against your house—and ice dams," says Derek Christian, the owner of Handyman Connection in Blue Ash, OH.

Ah, ice dams: winter's favorite boogeyman. These troublemakers happen when warm air meets a cold, wet roof, creating supersized icicles. Eventually, that ice and moisture can find their way underneath your shingles, rotting your roof, and leaking into the living spaces below.

But ice dams are easily avoided—as long as you do a little prep.

DIY: Cleaning out your gutters is simple enough to do yourself. For extra protection, Jason Metzger, the head of risk management for PURE Insurance, recommends installing heat strips on your gutter or roof edges to keep frozen precipitation from building up.

Call in the pros: Have you been really lackadaisical with your gutter cleanings? An expert can scoop out all the gunk. Expect to pay $100 to $250.

Turn on your humidifier


Holiday humidifier. istock/Qwart

Is your furnace prepped for winter? While this might vary based on your specific model, Christian advises homeowners to check their furnace for a "winter" and a "summer" switch, which controls your humidifier.

"In the summer, the airflow to the humidifier needs to be cut off; but in the winter, you want air going through it," he says.

That keeps your skin from drying out, your eyes from itching, and your floorboards from creaking.

DIY: Switching your humidifier on is an easy task. If your furnace lacks this feature, a stand-alone humidifier, like this Honeywell model, will do the job.

Call in the pros: Adding a humidifier to your furnace is simple. Costs start at about $370.

———

Insulate (and inspect) the attic

House always feel drafty? Your attic could be to blame. Check to make sure this space is sufficiently insulated. And while you're up there, make sure no rodents can shimmy in and create their own winter retreat. (Eek!)

"Make sure any gaps and holes into your attic are sealed tight," Christian says. "As winter approaches, critters will be looking for somewhere to spend it."

DIY: Stuff gaps with insulation, and fill cracks with caulk to keep the critters—and the cold—out.

Call in the pros: If you're noticing a severe lack of insulation (or you require six blankets just to keep your body temperature normal), hiring a pro to add insulation will be worth the cost. The national average to install blown-in insulation is $1,400.

———

Create a cleaning schedule for the new year


Seasonal cleaning calendar. 
istock/ RapidEye

With 2019 rapidly approaching, now's the time to institute good home habits that will keep your space clean and organized year-round. And what better time to tackle the mountain of grime that's accumulated over the year than the frigid winter months when you can't go outside?

DIY: Creating a regular cleaning schedule makes a huge difference in keeping your home tidy and organized.

"Hang a calendar in your kitchen where your whole household can see it," and assign tasks to the household, says professional organizer Kacy Burns.

Take it one step further with weekly, monthly, and quarterly reminders.

Call in the pros: Just can't bear the thought of starting a new year with chores? If you've ever considered a cleaning crew, now’s the time. Figure on paying $200 to $300 for a one-time cleaning, but you may be able to negotiate that price down with a regular cleaning schedule.

———

Fireproof your home

With temps plummeting, you've probably already switched on your heat a few times, gathered around the fireplace, or lugged out a portable heater to warm your feet on chilly nights.

"With all these heat sources in use, homeowners must take precautions to protect themselves from house fires and carbon monoxide poisoning," says Sophie Kaemmerle, a home improvement expert with NeighborWho, a property information website.

DIY: If you haven't done so recently, replace those smoke detector batteries.

Call in the pros: If you smell gas or your carbon monoxide detector starts beeping, leave the house and call 911, followed by your utility company, which will send out a team to investigate the problem. Still feeling wary? Most fire departments will do a home safety check if you request one.

———

Maintain a smart temperature

Consider installing a smart thermostat to keep your home's temperature even. Today's models —like the über-popular Nest—will alert you if the temperature inside your home suddenly falls. That can be a lifesaver when you're on vacation, preventing frozen pipes and other winter disasters.

DIY: If you're not ready to upgrade your thermostat, you can do your part to maintain an even temperature.

"Leave interior doors, cabinets, and vanities open to keep the whole home heated," Metzger says.

Call in the pros: Is your thermostat struggling to keep temperatures even? Are cold spots in your living room bugging you on snow days? A whole-home energy audit, which costs about $400, can identify the cause.

———

Hunker down for winter storms


Ice storm

istock/DenisTangneyJr

In most parts of the nation, the first snow has already fallen—and more is surely on the way. Before the next bomb cyclone/polar vortex/sharknado blizzard (hey, it could happen), make sure you're prepared for the worst-case scenario.

"Heavy snows and ice can take down power lines and leave you in the cold and dark," says Krystal Rogers-Nelson of home safety and security company SafeWise.

DIY: Make sure you have a (working) generator, and stock up on batteries for flashlights and lanterns. Invest in a solar-powered or battery-operated radio to stay up to date with news in case you lose cellphone reception. Store wintry weather supplies—such as snow shovels and window scrapers—somewhere you can access them easily.

If you live in an area particularly prone to snow, mark the sides of your driveway and other key places with reflective poles to help snow plowers see where to go, suggests home maintenance expert Laura Gaskill.

And remember: A buildup of heavy snow on tree limbs can make them more prone to breaking, Gaskill notes, so brush snow off tree limbs after each big snowfall, using a broom to extend your reach.

Thinking about buying or selling a home in the new year? Contact The McLeod Group Network for all your Real Estate needs! 971.208.5093 or admin@mgnrealtors.com

By: Realtor.com, Jamie Wiebe, Holly Amaya 

4 Huge Mistakes You Might Make Moving From a City to the Suburbs

by Amy McLeod Group


There comes a time in many people’s lives—usually when the words “baby” or “school district” become a regular part of the vocabulary—when people flee the glamorous city to the charming suburbs. Only where, exactly, should you go? How do you find that perfect place where your neighbors seem simpatico rather than psycho?

Alison Bernstein once struggled with these same questions when contemplating moving her own family outside New York City.

“We made the quintessential buyer’s mistake,” says Bernstein. “We picked the perfect town, or so it seemed, based on our checklist. But the problem is, you very seldom know what you should look for, and you don’t consider vital intangibles. So we, like so many people, made a bad decision."

They picked a suburb that, looking back, "was great, but just not a good personality fit for us," she says. In short, it was too big. "I grew up in a small town, and I wanted to recreate that," she explains. "I wanted people to know my name at the local coffee shop. I wanted the pizza place to know my kids, and what they liked. Things that mattered to us—like having our kids get to know others the same age—weren't so easy, since there were so many schools in the district.”

So Bernstein and her family picked up and moved to a smaller town that feels just right, 45 minutes north of the city. She founded Suburban Jungle, a business that matches city clients with the right suburbs and partners with various local agents in every town who have been vetted, selected, and trained to work with their team. She began the advisory firm in New York City, but has since expanded to include Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington DC, placing thousands of happy families in their new communities.

“I realized the things we had been focused on when we moved weren’t the key elements," she explains. "So my company makes certain that people ask the right questions and make the best decisions for their family.”

Everyone starts out with the same wish list—a great school district, a short commute, low taxes—but there’s a better way to approach your next-home hunt.  Here, Bernstein shares some of the key mistakes parents make when moving to the 'burbs.

1. Focusing on the house rather than the whole neighborhood

When picking a new home, most people (understandably!) focus on the property itself—how many bedrooms, bathrooms, how big is the lot? After all, who can resist poring over floor plans and listing photos of sun-flooded kitchens? But no house is an island: It’s part of a community, as you will be, too. To make sure you fit in, get a feel for the community and whether it offers the lifestyle and kinds of neighbors you are looking for.

Bernstein's advice: "Don’t just visit the well-known towns—what we call the brand-name towns that most people aspire to. Just because a lot of people have heard of a town doesn’t mean it’s right for you." She recommends taking as much time as you can to hang out in different ’hoods.

Try on a couple of towns—check out their cafés, their parks. Are the playgrounds full or empty on a Saturday afternoon? Are the kids there with parents or au pairs?

"Have dinner in the town. See what the people are like, what the mood is like," Bernstein suggests. Think about whether this feels comfortable and a good fit. It's only when you settle on a place that does that you are ready to start comparing whether you like a bungalow better than a Colonial.

2. Finding a 'good school district' that's not a good fit for your kids

Let’s be real: Education is one of the top motivators for a move to the ’burbs, Bernstein says, "Everyone talks about wanting a 'good school district,' but the key thing here is, what does that mean for your family? A school that ranks well on standardized tests may be a pressure-cooker that your child won’t thrive in, or it may not have much of an arts program."

Getting hung up on class size is another rookie move. While no one wants their child in a class of 50, also look at the total school enrollment. Would your child do well in a school that typically has a total of 1,000 kids per grade, even if the class size is acceptable? Do you want a district with one elementary school (small-town living) or are you looking for something with several elementary schools and possibly some specialized schools attuned to your child’s interests and talents?

Here’s another tip from Bernstein: As you narrow your choices, "go to a local school at the a.m. drop-off time and take a look. Who is dropping off the kids—nannies? Moms and dads en route to the train station? Yoga-pants-wearing at-home parents? This will also help you see if this community reflects the lifestyle you are seeking."

3. Thinking about commute time rather than quality

Before decamping for the ’burbs, most people lock in on a commute time—say, "I won’t be on the train for more than 40 minutes each way." But that can cause you to overlook a lot of the intangibles, says Bernstein. "Ask yourself, Would you rather be on a packed, standing-room-only local train for 40 minutes a day … or, what if you could be seated on an express train for 45 minutes a day?"

You won’t be able to really evaluate the commute unless you, well, commute. Bernstein suggest you do just that, at rush hour, and see what you are getting yourself into. Sure, it takes time, but can help you avoid locking into a “dream house” that comes with a surprise commute from hell twice daily. (Note: A little research will also yield info on a train line’s “on-time” record—another good bit of data to know.)

While you are doing a dry-run commute, scope out the parking situation, too. Many “hot” towns have packed parking lots with waiting lists and with prized parking permits costing thousands a year. Call the town office and inquire about the details, so you’re prepared.
Bernstein has another great tip for sussing out towns based on commutes.

"Pull out an area map and scan it carefully," she suggests. "There are wonderful small towns—hidden jewels, even—that don’t have their own train station." These villages tend to be overlooked by people moving to the suburbs, but are worth your attention. (Ask your real estate agent for help with this, too.) You might be able to move to one of these places and walk or drive three minutes to a neighboring town’s train station.

4. Assuming you'll easily find child care nearby

Most people moving out of the city do so for the sake of children (current or future), but you can’t assume the child care options are the same in the suburbs as in an urban setting. If you are a two-career couple, see what options exist nearby.

"Few suburbs are truly walkable. If you need day care, how far a drive would that be, and how long would it take during the a.m. rush hour?" asks Bernstein. What time at the end of day do they close, and what happens if you are running late? Is the town one that has a strong au pair network, or are most moms home with their kids? This info doesn’t just let you envision your daily schedule—it will tell you a lot about the community and whether it will be a good fit for your family.

Thinking about making a move? The McLeod Group Network is here to help! 971.208.5093 or admin@mgnrealtors.com

By: Realtor.com, Janet Siroto


Four actors bring dozens of Dicken’s characters to life in this fun adaptation of A Christmas Carol. Witness a 1940’s radio show with live Foley sound effects where the performers find hope and redemption throughout the play.

Adults - $17
Children - $12

M. Lee Pelton Playhouse at Willamette University
900 State St.
Salem, OR 97302

971-599-1029

Event Website

Courtesy of Amy McLeod, The McLeod Group Network

Photo Credit: travelsalem.com

3 Things You'd Better Know Before Applying for a Mortgage—or Else

by Amy McLeod Group


Unless you’re sitting on a ton of cold, hard cash, you’re going to need a mortgage to buy a home.

Unfortunately, you can’t just show up at a bank with a checkbook and a smile and get approved for a home loan—you need to qualify for a mortgage, which requires some careful planning.

So, how do you please the lending gods? It starts with arming yourself with the right knowledge about the home loan application process.

Here are three things you need to know before applying for a mortgage.

1. What is a good credit score

Ah, the all-mighty credit score. This powerful three-digit number is a key factor in whether you get approved for a mortgage. When you apply for a loan, lenders will check your score to assess whether you’re a low- or high-risk borrower. The higher your score, the better you look on paper—and the better your odds of landing a great loan. If you have a low credit score, though, you may have difficulty getting a mortgage.

So, what’s considered a good credit score in the mortgage realm? While a number of credit scores exist, the most widely used credit score is the FICO score. A perfect score is 850. However, generally a score of 760 or higher is considered excellent, meaning it will help you qualify for the best interest rate and loan terms, says Richard Redmond, mortgage broker at All California Mortgage in Larkspur and author of “Mortgages: The Insider’s Guide.”

A good credit score is 700 to 759; a fair score is 650 to 699. If you have multiple blemishes on your credit history (e.g., late credit card payments, unpaid medical bills), your score could fall below 650, in which case you’ll likely get turned down for a conventional home loan—and will need to mend your credit in order to get approved (unless you qualify for a Federal Housing Administration loan, which requires only a 580 minimum credit score).

Before meeting with a mortgage lender, Beverly Harzog, consumer credit expert and author of “The Debt Escape Plan,” recommends obtaining your credit report. You’re entitled to a free copy of your full report at AnnualCreditReport.com. Though the report does not include your score—for that, you’ll have to pay a small fee—just perusing your report will give you a ballpark idea of how you're doing by laying out any problems such as late or missing payments.

2. What down payment you need

What’s an acceptable down payment on a house? In a recent NerdWallet study, 44% of respondents said they believe you need to put 20% (or more) down to buy a home. So, if you do the math, you'd have to plunk down $50,000 on a $250,000 house. Of course, that’s a big chunk of change for many home buyers.

The good news? That 20% figure is common, but it's not set in stone. It’s the gold standard because when you put 20% down, you won't have to pay private mortgage insurance, which can add several hundred dollars a month to your house payments. Another advantage of putting down 20% upfront is that that's often the magic number you need to get a more favorable interest rate.

But, if you’re unable to make a 20% down payment, there are many lenders that will allow you to put down less cash. And there are a number of loan products that you might qualify for that require less money down. FHA loans require as little as 3.5% down. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs loan program gives active or retired military personnel the opportunity to purchase a home with a $0 down payment and no mortgage insurance premium. Same with USDA loans (federally backed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development).

Another option worth pursuing is qualifying for down payment assistance. There are 2,290 programs across the country that offer financial assistance, kicking in an average of $17,766, according to one study. (You can find programs in your area on the National Council of State Housing Agencies website.)

There are some cases, though, where you’ll have to put more than 20% down to qualify for a mortgage. A jumbo loan is a mortgage that's above the limits for government-sponsored loans. In most parts of the country, that means loans over $417,000; in areas where the cost of living is extremely high (e.g., Manhattan and San Francisco), the threshold jumps to $625,000. Since larger loans require the lender to take on more risk, jumbo loans typically require home buyers to make a bigger down payment—up to 30% for some lenders.

3. What is your DTI ratio

To get approved for a mortgage, you need a solid debt-to-income ratio. This DTI figure compares your outstanding debts (on student loans, credit cards, car loans, and more) with your income.

For example, if you make $6,000 a month but pay $500 to debts, you’d divide $500 by $6,000 to get a DTI ratio of 0.083, or 8.3%. However, that's your DTI ratio without a monthly mortgage payment. If you factor in a monthly mortgage payment of, say, $1,000 per month, your DTI ratio increases to 25%.

Lenders like this number to be low, because evidence from studies of mortgage loans shows that borrowers with a higher DTI ratio are more likely to run into trouble making monthly payments, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

For a conventional loan, most mortgage lenders require a borrower’s DTI to be no more than 36% (although some lenders will accept up to 43%), says Ray Rodriguez, regional mortgage sales manager at TD Bank.

The good news? If you’re above the 36% ceiling, there are ways that you can lower your DTI. The easiest would be to apply for a smaller mortgage—meaning you’ll have to lower your price range. Or, if you’re not willing to budge on price, you can lower your DTI by paying off a large chunk of your debts in a lump sum.

Let The McLeod Group Network help you with all your home-buying needs. 971.208.5093 or admin@mgnrealtors.com.

By: Realtor.com, Daniel Bortz

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Contact Information

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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.