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4 Good Reasons to Not Get a Mortgage Online

by Amy McLeod Group


Applying for a mortgage these days can be accomplished entirely online—no need to schlep to a bank and suffer hand cramps filling out paperwork.

Instead, you can punch some basic info into an online mortgage site, and up pops a bunch of loan choices. An industry renowned for being slow and cumbersome is now wooing customers with the promise of ease, speed, and transparency. Rocket Mortgage, Quicken Loan's online platform, for example, promises qualified customers approval in as little as eight minutes.

 
 
 

But taking out a six-figure loan is one of the most complicated and substantial financial transactions most people will ever make. Does it really make sense to handle it by pushing a few buttons on your smartphone?

Maybe for those with a typical 9-to-5 job and good credit.

"If you are a salaried employee with no overtime, no bonus—no funky income, if you will—just a plain-vanilla borrower, then sometimes the online mortgage does work," says Brian Minkow, a divisional vice president and loan originator at Homebridge Financial Services, a non-bank lender. "You know: You have a five-year work history, you're putting 20% down, and have an 800 FICO score."

But then there's everybody else.

Here are some of the many reasons why those borrowers might consider taking more time with the process, including consulting with an experienced loan officer or mortgage broker.

1. You want to shop around for the best loan

First and foremost, it's always in a borrower's best interest to comparison shop on rates and fees, says Keith Gumbinger, a vice president at HSH.com, a mortgage information website. Speed and convenience alone do not always translate into a better price for borrowers.

"You should invest some time in it, do your research," Gumbinger says. "Also, do your diligence on your credit. And think about how long you're going to be in your home." The reason? The length of time you estimate you are likely to be staying in the home can be a factor in whether you apply for a fixed or adjustable rate loan.

Gaining an understanding of different loan programs is a smarter approach than just "going online and filling out things," says Minkow. "A lot of people really don't know if they're getting the right loan program, the right interest rate, the right down payment."

The research process may ultimately lead you straight to the speedy online mortgage site as the best option anyway. But, Gumbinger says, "You won't know that unless you go out and take a look around."

2. You're a first-time home buyer

Researching all your options is especially important if you've never purchased a home before, advises David Weliver, founder of MoneyUnder30.com, a personal finance advice site. First-time buyers should always talk through important details like rates, points, and closing costs with an expert. "After you've been through the process once, you have a better idea of what to expect and what information you'll need to provide to make the process go smoothly," he says.

Even those who have borrowed before may want to consult with someone if there is anything about their circumstances that might make qualifying more difficult. For example, Weliver says, "a real person could be a helpful advocate" for borrowers who are buying a second home or rental property, have spotty credit, or have inconsistent income.

3. You're self-employed

About 15 million Americans are classified as self-employed, according to the Pew Research Center. While salaried workers generally only have to show the lender their W-2 tax forms to prove their income, self-employed workers "should expect that they will have to provide the lender with more income documentation, such as tax returns from the last few years," Weliver says.

The fact is, some online lenders are more strict about documentation requirements than federal guidelines require, because they want to reduce their risk, says Minkow. That can make qualifying even tougher for a borrower who is already perceived as a higher risk—for example, applicants who have only been in their current job for a few months, or those who want to include overtime pay as evidence of their buying power. The lender will want to see proof that the overtime pay is consistent. "Certain guidelines say you have to show you have it for 12 months or 24 months—it depends on the loan," Minkow says.

4. You want some extra handholding

Working with someone one on one may also help prevent last-minute problems when it comes time to buy that house. "I can't tell you how many clients who have come to me after they'd gone online and gotten a pre-approval from a lender," Minkow says. "Then they go to purchase a house, and halfway through the transaction, the online lender says all of a sudden, 'You can't get approved.' The client freaks out. And that's when they get ahold of someone like myself."

Finally, there is the matter of personal preference. Not everyone likes the impersonal approach. Before applying for a loan, borrowers might consider whether they are the kind of person who appreciates a lot of help and attention in other shopping experiences. "If you like a hands-on environment, like a Macy's, you're a different kind of shopper than someone who enjoys going to a warehouse club," says Gumbinger. "Your expectations going in will influence how satisfied you are with the process."

Let's get together to discuss your current situation and how The McLeod Group Network can help! 971.208.5093 or admin@mgnrealtors.com

By and Photo credit: Realtor.com, Lisa Prevost


What's the most common home-buying mistake? If you're reading this from a cramped living room, or while lying in your itty-bitty "master" bedroom, you probably know the answer: buying a too-small home.

The mistake is so common that I—a seasoned real estate writer!—made it, too. And plenty more otherwise-smart homeowners are realizing their starter home might be their forever home and wishing they had sprung for a few more bedrooms.

"All too often, this mistake is made by first-time home buyers upgrading from an apartment rental," says Mark Cianciulli, co-founder of The CREM Group.

But soon enough, the buyers realize their mistake—just like we did. Our cozy two-bedroom suited us fine until we began floating the idea of having kids. Panic quickly gripped us: As two work-from-home adults with three animals and regular visitors (thanks, out-of-state fam!), we didn't even know where we'd put them.

Suddenly, calling our home "cozy" seemed like a euphemism for something far more sinister.

Fellow small-home buyers, don't give up hope: Making your adorable abode work long-term isn't an impossible task. Here's how to make your cramped space function for you.

1. Add on to your home

If you adore the neighborhood, adding space to your existing home can turn a cramped cottage into a lifelong home. Check local restrictions first, then consider whether you could double your square footage with a second story, or transform an unused part of the backyard into a master suite.

This is the easiest way to make a tiny house suit your family's growing needs. But keep your budget in mind.

"This can be an expensive undertaking," Cianciulli says. "You're essentially building a new portion to the home."

Costs vary dramatically depending on your location. Expect to spend $80 to $200 per square foot to expand your home's footprint, and $100 to $300 per square foot to add a second story.

2. Inside, think vertical

You're not interested in selling, and you definitely don't have the budget to add on. No sweat! Think up. Find a talented carpenter and get yourself some serious built-ins—complete with hidden helpers.

"It's relatively easy to complement built-ins with clever, space-saving furniture that not only looks great, but serves many purposes," says Andrew Hillman, a broker at Hillman Real Estate.

Create gorgeous workstations by integrating a desk that folds into a bookshelf, or upgrade your laundry space with pull-out drying racks. Use every inch of real estate to make your home feel like a mansion.

3. Reconfigure the layout

Ready to knock down some walls Chip "Demo Day!" Gaines–style? Your floor plan will thank you.

"The best and most economical solution can be reconfiguring the existing layout of the home," Cianciulli says.

Perhaps your home would feel larger if you transformed your rarely used dining room into a master bedroom. Or maybe the living room is awkwardly placed, interrupting the home's flow.

"Even if each day has you frantically searching for ways to streamline and simplify, each home has the potential to be efficient with the right design," says Larry Greene, the president of design and remodeling company Case Indy.

But this isn't a DIY job: Hire a professional architect or remodeling company to creatively reconfigure your space. Consider going with a local company that has worked with similar homes.

"They'll be able to show you how remodelers have dealt with similar design problems and provide solutions that are specific to the challenges of your local area," Greene says.

4. Swap out your furniture

Maybe you used to have an oversize living room—so you bought a huge sectional. Now it's crammed into your current home's much-smaller TV room, making the entire floor plan feel cramped.

It's time to ditch old furniture that doesn't suit your space and integrate sleek, smaller pieces.

A few years ago, Hillman helped a buyer purchase a small city apartment. Then came buyer's remorse. Hillman stepped in to help her redesign, choosing minimalist, transformative furniture.

Soon, "she was happy about her hip, trendy, spacious small home," he says. "She's now addicted to optimizing and organizing her home with creative furniture concepts."

In addition to ditching bulky items, choose furniture that has storage or does double duty, like this industrial pop-up coffee table ($599) from West Elm.

5. Expand your outdoor space

A versatile outdoor living area "immediately expands your living room outward, making it a fun place to entertain and relax with guests," Greene says.

If you're located in a warm climate—or even one that enjoys a decently long summer—create unique, cozy dining and entertaining spaces outside. Need inspiration? Lifestyle blog A Beautiful Mess' comfortable outdoor living room is serious backyard goals.

If you live in a cold climate, you don't have to sacrifice outdoor living, either. Transform a rarely used porch into a sunroom and enjoy natural light all year long.

6. Sell your home

OK, fine: This isn't really salvaging the situation. But any discussion including the words "I hate my house" deserves at least a quick peek at this last-ditch option. If you're suddenly expecting triplets, a two-bedroom bungalow very well might strain your sanity.

If you're truly down in the dumps, consult with your real estate agent. This is "the obvious solution," Cianciulli says, but also a major commitment.

Consider exhausting all the options above before you settle on selling, and prepare to make difficult sacrifices. If you picked your too-small space because it fit your budget and you loved the surrounding neighborhood, don't expect to find a larger home nearby unless you're willing to pony up significantly more cash.

Contact The McLeod Group Network to start the search for your new home! 971.208.5093 or admin@mgnrealtors.com

By: Realtor.com, Jamie Wiebe


Offering over asking price on a house often makes buyers wince. But let's face it, paying above list price is just a reality in certain circumstances—at least if you really have any hopes of getting that house!

So when exactly should you aim high and offer over asking? Check for these signs below that suggest this pricey move is essential.

1. It’s a seller’s market

seller’s market is when there are more home buyers than sellers—meaning demand outpaces the supply of homes for sale. As a result, home buyers in a seller's market face a tough challenge: Due to increased competition, they often have to act fast and bid high to woo sellers into accepting their offer, says Seth Lejeune, a real estate agent with Berkshire Hathaway in Malvern, PA.

Looking at a couple of key factors can help you determine whether you’re in a seller’s market, Lejeune says, starting with the average days on market.

A good rule of thumb: “If houses are selling in your neighborhood in less than 10 days, it’s a strong seller’s market,” Lejeune says. You can find what the average days on market is in your city using realtor.com's Local Market Trends tool.

You’ll also want to evaluate what homes are selling for compared with their list price. In a strong seller's market, Lejeune says, the final sales price is typically at least 10% higher than the asking price. (Your real estate agent can pull this data for you.)

2. You know, for a fact, you're going up against other offers

Bidding wars can erupt, even in a buyer’s market—sometimes all it takes is an aggressively priced home, which is why it’s important to find out whether there are other bids on a property before you make an offer. So go ahead and ask (or have your real estate agent ask on you behalf); generally it's in their interests to say if other offers are on the table since it might spur you to act fast.

3. The house is blatantly underpriced

Some sellers decide to list their home well below the property’s fair market value in an effort to spark a bidding war. In that instance, it may make sense for you to offer over asking price in order for your bid to outshine other offers.

To figure out if a house is underpriced, you and your agent should assess recently sold homes in the area (also known as comparables, or “comps”). This will give you a baseline that you can use to calculate a home’s true market value, which you can use as a benchmark when pricing your offer.

4. You’re competing with cash buyers

Home sellers swoon over all-cash offers for one simple reason: It means there's no doubt that you've got the coin to close the deal. Consequently, all-cash home buyers have a distinct advantage over those who need a mortgage, because there's no guarantee that lenders will fork over the money.

Cash offers made up 29% of single-family home and condo sales in 2017, according to ATTOM Data Solutions. So, if you know you’re competing against one, making a bid that’s over a home’s list price could persuade the seller to accept your offer.

5. The seller isn’t motivated

Some home sellers have to unload their house as quickly as possible, say, due to an imminent relocation for a new job or a need to raise cash to purchase their next home. Other sellers, though, aren’t quite as motivated—and they may just be listing their house to “test the market” and see what sized offer they can get, which is why it’s important to ascertain what the seller’s motivations are, says Diana George, founder of Vault Realty Group, in Oakland, CA.

“I always call the real estate listing agent and speak to them directly to get a better understanding as to what's driving the seller,” George says.

If you find yourself dealing with an unmotivated seller, offering above the home’s list price could make the seller bite. The caveat, of course, is you don’t want to offer so much above asking price to the point where you significantly overpay for the home.

6. You absolutely adore the home—and can’t risk losing it

Sometimes buyers simply fall head over feels for a house, says Chris Dossman, a real estate agent with Century 21 Scheetz in Indianapolis. If you find a house and feel your heart would be broken if you lose it, offering over asking price can help you lock down the property, Dossman says.

7. You can afford to pay over asking price

One word of warning: If you’re obtaining a mortgage, be aware that if you pay way over what a home is really worth, the home still has to pass appraisal in order for your lender to provide you with the loan that you need. Any difference between a home’s appraised value and your contract price would have to come out of your pocket. As always, you’ll want to rely on your real estate agent to help you craft a winning offer you can afford.

Contact The McLeod Group Network to start the search for your new home! 971.208.5093 or admin@mgnrealtors.com

By: Realtor.com, Daniel Bortz

With Inventory Low: Will Your Dream Home Need Some TLC?

by Amy McLeod Group


According to a new survey from Move.com, the wave of first-time homebuyers hitting the market this summer has resulted in an interesting statistic. Nearly 60% of buyers searching for a home this spring are willing to consider buying a fixer-upper, with 95% believing that the projects needed will increase their new home’s value!

Realtor.com’s Chief Economist, Danielle Hale, pointed to low-inventory at the entry-level price range for the increase in willingness to renovate.

“The combination of rising home prices and limited entry-level homes for sale is prompting many home shoppers to consider homes that need renovating.

Replete with inspiration at their fingertips – like Pinterest, Instagram, and various home renovation TV shows – some home shoppers are comfortable tackling home renovation jobs to find a home that balances their needs with their budget.”

Just over half of all respondents who said they would be willing to buy a home in need of some TLC, would also spend more $20,000 to make the home fit their needs.

The most common ‘expected’ renovation is a kitchen remodel which can run anywhere from $22,000 for a minor remodel to $66,000 for a major remodel.

This isn’t a new trend by any means. According to the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University,home improvement project spending reached a new high in 2018.

“Americans spent $336.9 billion on remodeling projects, up 7.4% from the $313.6 billion a year earlier.”

Home renovation television shows have given many buyers hope that they could renovate a home they can afford into their dream home!

Bottom Line

If you are one of the many Americans considering buying a home this spring, let’s get together to help you find a house with the potential to be your dream home! 971.208.5093 or admin@mgnrealtors.com 

By: KCM Crew

'How's the Housing Market Right Now?' Answers Ahead

by Amy McLeod Group


Yeehaw, the latest home-buying season is now in full swing! And if you're hoping to buy a house soon, listen up: The real estate market changes on a dime, so if you want to succeed in today's environment, you'll want to take its temperature and act accordingly.

And buyers are in luck: By and large, this year's home-buying season is a far better bet for buyers than in the past. So if you're craving some intel on what to expect—and how to use this to your advantage—here's the info you need to confidently buy a house right now.

The strong seller's market is on the wane

In the recent past, you weren’t altogether wrong if it seemed like buyers were offering their firstborn child in order for their offer to get a fair look—and often for houses that you would have snubbed in less-sizzling markets. But now it’s OK to breathe—and even sleep on it.

As inventory begins to rise, the strong seller's market that characterized last season's home-buying season is fading fast. In fact, many say we’re back into what can be considered more of a buyer’s market, where the seller doesn’t hold all the cards, says Brad Cox, a real estate agent at the Vesta Group of Long & Foster Real Estate, in Lutherville, MD. That means you’re going to have some wiggle room to negotiate.

“While you still want to prepare a competitive offer, your time window is likely to expand—meaning you can think it over before rushing in with an offer," Cox says. "And you aren’t going to have to include some of the riskier elements, such as waiving financing or inspection contingencies, that were a hallmark of past years."

But what you face still varies by the Big L

You’ve heard the adage "location, location, location," but it will definitely be a huge factor in 2019's home-buying season, Cox says. Because while bidding wars are out in most markets, real estate is still very neighborhood-driven.

“While you might see a softening market in some areas, others may still be in a strong seller’s market," he explains.

He says the key metric to look for is “days on market,” which means how long a property has been waiting to sell. If you’re hoping to buy in an area where days on market are staying low, you’ll have to be prepared to act a little faster. But in areas where this number has started creeping up, you might be able to look around a little more.

For an accurate pricing picture, look only at the latest comps

Both buyers and sellers rely on comparables, aka comps, when determining a fair price. But that can get tricky as the market starts to turn, because sellers might be remembering a months-ago heyday and pricing accordingly.

“Buyers should only consider the most recent comps, which means the last three months, because that is the most accurate reflection of where the market is,” says agent Jed Lewin of Triplemint in New York City.

But don’t forget that it’s still very easy to insult a seller

Yes, the house might have been on the market a few more days than it would have been last year and the comps might be sliding, but that doesn’t mean you can expect that anything goes when you’re buying a home in 2019.

“I am seeing far more buyers starting to make very aggressive lowball offers in an attempt to test sellers’ appetites, even if they’re totally serious about a given property,” says Lucas Callejas, an agent at Triplemint. But in places where the market is still warm, that can turn sellers off—and turn their attention to the next offer that comes along instead of yours.

You may be able to get a better interest rate than you think

One of the big stories of 2018 was rising mortgage interest rates—but while they ticked up precipitously by the end of last year, they’ve fallen a bit again, so you could be in a good spot, says Beatrice de Jong, director of residential sales at Open Listings, in Los Angeles.

Bottom line: Now is the time to lock in a great rate, since today’s appealing numbers might not last long.

“Interest rates are predicted to rise in 2019 and 2020, so buyers would be wise to shop for and lock in their interest rate as soon as possible,” de Jong says.

Increasing rates can make a huge difference, she points out, noting that the difference between a 5% interest rate and 5.5% interest rate is $93 a month on a $300,000 mortgage loan, which can easily derail a buyer’s budget.

So even if you are trying to improve your credit or save a few more bucks for the down payment, you might be better off just wading in and locking in the rate, says Jason Lerner, vice president and area development manager for George Mason Mortgage, in Lutherville, MD.

“You might work for three months to burnish your credit, and then find that the rate has risen so much that it doesn’t make a difference,” he adds.

Your credit score might be better than you thought

Two recent developments in credit scoring may help would-be buyers: One is the new UltraFICO, which takes into account how you manage your checking, savings, and money market accounts, in addition to your credit cards and consumer loans. And the second is Experian Boost, which adds your utility and cellphone bills into the mix.

But even if you have a stellar record in all those areas, there’s no guarantee these will be your golden ticket, cautions Lerner. That’s because it’s still early days for these initiatives: UltraFICO is currently available only in a pilot phase in certain areas, and Experian has yet to launch the booster product, although it is taking sign-ups. But as these products become more widely available throughout the year, home buyers may reap the benefits.

“A difference in 10 or 20 points to your credit score can make a difference between approval or denial—and can lower your rate, which can save thousands over the life of a mortgage,” Lerner points out. He also predicts that requirements will loosen a bit in 2019: “You might not think your credit is good enough for a mortgage, but it’s worth talking to a lender to see if there is a program out there that can help.”

Contact The McLeod Group Network to find your new home! 971.208.5093 or admin@mgnrealtors.com 

By: Realtor.com, Cathie Ericson

Your Tax Refund Is The Key To Homeownership!

by Amy McLeod Group


According to data released by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Americans can expect an estimated average refund of $3,143 this year when filing their taxes. This is down slightly from the average refund of $3,436 last year.

Tax refunds are often thought of as ‘extra money’ that can be used toward larger goals. For anyone looking to buy a home in 2019, this can be a great jump start toward a down payment!

The map below shows the average tax refund Americans received last year by state.

Many first-time buyers believe that a 20% down payment is required to qualify for a mortgage. Programs from the Federal Housing Authority, Freddie Mac, and Fannie Mae all allow for down payments as low as 3%. Veterans Affairs Loans allow many veterans to purchase a home with 0% down.

If you started your down payment savings with your tax refund check this year, how close would you be to a 3% down payment?

The map below shows what percentage of a 3% down payment is covered by the average tax refund by taking into account the median price of homes sold by state.

The darker the blue, the closer your tax refund gets you to homeownership! For those in Oklahoma looking to purchase their first homes, their tax refund could potentially get them 85% closer to that dream!

Bottom Line

Saving for a down payment can seem like a daunting task. But the more you know about what’s required, the more prepared you can be to make the best decision for you and your family! This tax season, your refund could be your key to homeownership!

Contact The McLeod Group Network to find your new home! 971.208.5093 or admin@mgnrealtors.com 

By: KCM Crew

6 Things You'll Love—and Hate—About Buying a Home This Spring

by Amy McLeod Group


Welcome to the best—and worst—time to buy a home: spring! Yes, it's peak home-buying season. However, it’s no bed of roses.

Knowing what to expect is half the battle, and can help you use these highs and lows to your advantage!

So consider this an essential prep course. Ready to dive into the best of times and the worst of times for home buying?

You’ll love: All the inventory

One of the best things about buying a house during the spring is that you have a lot more options to choose from.

“New listings tend to flood the market in April and May,” says Kimberly Sands, a real estate broker in Carolina Beach, NC. Just keep in mind that with so much inventory out there, you’ll want to make sure to stick to your search and price parameters to avoid getting overwhelmed.

You’ll hate: All the competition

Busier times mean more buyers and, thus, more competition—which explains why bidding wars are more common during the spring, says Chris Dossman, a real estate agent with Century 21 Scheetz in Indianapolis.

As a result, you have to act fast when the right listing pops up, says Seth Lejeune, a real estate agent with Berkshire Hathaway in Collegeville, PA. Signing up for instant alerts, so you can see homes as soon as they hit the market, can help you stay a step ahead.

That being said, don’t expect a computer to do all the work for you. In hot markets, listings may be scooped up before they are even posted online, which is why most housing experts suggest working with a real estate agent throughout the home-buying process.

You’ll love: All the open houses

More homes on the market mean more open houses for you to attend. That’s exciting news for buyers who relish ogling homes in person. Going to more open houses means you’ll get a better feel for the neighborhood you’re interested in, while also giving you the opportunity to size up the other home buyers you’re going up against.

But with so many open houses to hit, make sure to plot out on a map the ones you want to see, with the times they're open, in order to maximize your time.

You’ll hate: The time pressure

Great listings get snatched up quickly year-round, yet home buyers are under even more pressure when there's more competition among buyers. You have to be prepared to make an offer fast, since indecision could potentially cost you your dream home. That’s why it’s crucial to zero in on what type of home you’re looking to buy and what your price range is before you start seriously looking, Dossman says.

Moreover, you should get pre-approved for a mortgage before you start your home search. Plus, having a letter from a mortgage stating that you’ve been pre-approved for a loan will speak volumes to a home seller, says Linda Sanderfoot, a real estate agent at Coldwell Banker in Neenah, WI.

“Sellers want reassurance that you’ll be able to obtain a home loan,” says Sanderfoot, “otherwise the deal can fall through.”

You’ll love: Shopping in warmer weather

You can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that the season’s warmer weather makes for a more enjoyable house hunting experience. After all, who enjoys trudging through snow or suffering through cold weather to look at houses? No one! Also, clearer skies and warmer temps make for better moving conditions.

You’ll hate: Higher prices

Home buyers generally have more wiggle room to make lowball offers during the slower seasons, since there’s less competition. However, buyers have less negotiating power during the spring. Therefore, “be prepared to pay full list price for a house, assuming it’s been priced at fair market value,” says Lejeune.

Also, if possible, be prepared to offer a seller something that other buyers won’t, such as a longer closing period or a rent-back agreement so that the seller has extra days to move out. This is where having a great buyer’s agent comes in; a savvy agent will talk to a listing agent to find out what the seller is looking for—giving you the ability to make a more attractive bid.

The bottom line

Spring home-buying season has its pros and cons, but by preparing for them you’ll be in a much better position to clinch your dream home. And, if you don’t manage to buy a house this spring, summer is still a great time to buy a house, too.

Contact The McLeod Group Network to find your new home! 971.208.5093 or admin@mgnrealtors.com 

By: Realtor.com, Daniel Bortz

7 Things To Avoid After Applying for a Mortgage!

by Amy McLeod Group


Congratulations! You’ve found a home to buy and have applied for a mortgage! You are undoubtedly excited about the opportunity to decorate your new home! But before you make any big purchases, move any money around, or make any big-time life changes, consult your loan officer. They will be able to tell you how your decision will impact your home loan.

Below is a list of 7 Things You Shouldn’t Do After Applying for a Mortgage! Some may seem obvious, but some may not!

1. Don’t change jobs or the way you are paid at your job! Your loan officer must be able to track the source and amount of your annual income. If possible, you’ll want to avoid changing from salary to commission or becoming self-employed during this time as well.

2. Don’t deposit cash into your bank accounts. Lenders need to source your money and cash is not really traceable. Before you deposit any amount of cash into your accounts, discuss the proper way to document your transactions with your loan officer.

3. Don’t make any large purchases like a new car or new furniture for your new home. New debt comes with it, including new monthly obligations. New obligations create new qualifications. People with new debt have higher debt to income ratios… higher ratios make for riskier loans… and sometimes qualified borrowers no longer qualify.

4. Don’t co-sign other loans for anyone. When you co-sign, you are obligated. As we mentioned, with that obligation comes higher ratios as well. Even if you swear you will not be the one making the payments, your lender will have to count the payment against you.

5. Don’t change bank accounts. Remember, lenders need to source and track assets. That task is significantly easier when there is consistency among your accounts. Before you even transfer money between accounts, talk to your loan officer.

6. Don’t apply for new credit. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a new credit card or a new car. When you have your credit report run by organizations in multiple financial channels (mortgage, credit card, auto, etc.), your FICO score will be affected. Lower credit scores can determine your interest rate and maybe even your eligibility for approval.

7. Don’t close any credit accounts. Many clients have erroneously believed that having less available credit makes them less risky and more likely to be approved. Wrong. A major component of your score is your length and depth of credit history (as opposed to just your payment history) and your total usage of credit as a percentage of available credit. Closing accounts has a negative impact on both those determinants of your score.

Bottom Line

Any blip in income, assets, or credit should be reviewed and executed in a way that ensures your home loan can still be approved. The best advice is to fully disclose and discuss your plans with your loan officer before you do anything financial in nature. They are there to guide you through the process.

Let The McLeod Group Network assist you in finding your new home! 971.208.5093 or admin@mgnrealtors.com 

By: KCM Crew

4 Reasons to Buy a Home in the Spring

by Amy McLeod Group


Spring has sprung, and it’s a great time to buy a home! Here are four reasons to consider buying today instead of waiting.

1. Prices Will Continue to Rise

CoreLogic’s latest U.S. Home Price Insights reports that home prices have appreciated by 4.4% over the last 12 months. The same report predicts that prices will continue to increase at a rate of 4.6% over the next year.

Home values will continue to appreciate for years. Waiting no longer makes sense.

2. Mortgage Interest Rates Are Projected to Increase

Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey shows that interest rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage came in at 4.41% last week. Most experts predict that rates will rise over the next 12 months. The Mortgage Bankers Association, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the National Association of Realtors are in unison, projecting rates will increase by this time next year.

An increase in rates will impact YOUR monthly mortgage payment. A year from now, your housing expense will increase if a mortgage is necessary to buy your next home.

3. Either Way, You Are Paying a Mortgage

Some renters have not yet purchased a home because they are uncomfortable taking on the obligation of a mortgage. Everyone should realize that unless you are living with your parents rent-free, you are paying a mortgage – either yours or your landlord’s.

As an owner, your mortgage payment is a form of ‘forced savings’ that allows you to have equity in your home that you can tap into later in life. As a renter, you guarantee your landlord is the person with that equity.

Are you ready to put your housing cost to work for you?

4. It’s Time to Move On with Your Life

The cost of a home is determined by two major components: the price of the home and the current mortgage rate. It appears that both are on the rise.

But what if they weren’t? Would you wait?

Examine the actual reason you are buying and decide if it is worth waiting. Whether you want to have a great place for your children to grow up, greater safety for your family, or you just want to have control over renovations, now could be the time to buy.

Bottom Line

If the right thing for you and your family is to purchase a home this year, buying sooner rather than later could lead to substantial savings.

Let The McLeod Group Network assist you in finding your new home! 971.208.5093 or admin@mgnrealtors.com 

By: KCM Crew

Top 10 Questions to Ask a Mortgage Lender: Do You Know Them All?

by Amy McLeod Group


What are the best questions to ask a mortgage lender before you lock in a home loan? If you want to find the very best mortgage for your needs, it pays to not automatically go with the very first lender you see.

“You need to shop around to make sure you’re getting the best interest rate and loan terms,” says Peggy Yee, supervising broker at Frankly Realtors, in Vienna, VA, who recommends that home buyers meet with at least three lenders before they pick.

So how do you compare and contrast your options effectively? Ask these 10 questions below to get a sense of who's right for you.

1. What types of home loans do you offer?

Some lenders offer a wide range of mortgage products, while others specialize in only one or two types of home loans. Finding a lender that offers the type of mortgage you need is a must. These are the most common types of home mortgages:

  • Fixed-rate loan: True to its name, a fixed-rate mortgage means that the interest rate you pay remains fixed at the same level throughout the life of your loan (typically 15 or 30 years).
  • Adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM): An ARM offers a low interest rate for an introductory period. After that period—typically two to five years—the rate becomes adjustable up to a certain limit, depending on market conditions.
  • FHA loan: Geared toward low-income home buyers, a Federal Housing Administration loan lets borrowers put down as little as 3% on a house.
  • VA loan: If you or your spouse serve or served in the military, you may qualify for a Veterans Affairs loan. Under this program, the VA guarantees the loan—reducing the risk to the lender—and allows you to finance up to 100% of the house's cost, so you won't have to come up with any money for a down payment.
  • USDA loan: Another type of government-backed mortgage, this loan is offered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development in towns with populations of 10,000 or less. USDA loan borrowers can have down payments as low as 0%.
  • Jumbo loan: If you live in a pricey housing market, you may end up with a jumbo loan—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.

2. What type of mortgage is best for me?

A mortgage lender should be able to answer this question once you’ve completed a loan application and the lender takes stock of your employment, income, assets, credit, debt, expenses, down payment, and other information about your finances.

3. What are your closing costs?

For home buyers, closing costs—the fees paid to a lender and other third parties that help facilitate the sale of a home—typically run about 3% to 4% of a home’s sales price. So on a $250,000 home, your closing costs as a buyer would amount from $7,500 to $10,000. The good news is some closing costs are negotiable: attorney fees, commission rates, recording costs, and messenger fees.

Your best approach is to submit loan applications with several lenders so that you can receive good-faith estimates(GFEs), which contain an itemized list of a lender’s closing fees.

4. How much time do you need to complete a mortgage?

One recent study found that closing times take, on average, 50 days. But, if you’re buying in a hot housing market, you may need to find a lender who can turn around a mortgage quickly—30 days or less.

The caveat: Some types of loans often take longer to process. The entire FHA loan process, for example, may take 30 to 60 days from the time you apply for the loan to the day you close, since the house must pass an inspection conducted by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. And if the house requires certain repairs in order to pass inspection, they must be completed before the sale can go through.

5. Do you do underwriting in-house?

Underwriting—the process in which mortgage lenders verify your assets to get a home loan, check your credit score, and review your home appraisal—can last as little as two to three days, but typically takes over a week to finish. All loans must go through underwriting before the lender can issue you the funds for a home purchase.

Some lenders do underwriting in-house, while others farm out to third-party underwriters. Though there are plenty of good lenders that outsource their underwriting, finding lenders that do theirs in-house could help speed up the process, since the underwriter would have direct access to your loan officer. (Communication between a loan officer and an outside underwriter might take longer.)

6. What documents do I need?

Proof of income and assets, personal identification, and information about your credit history are the big three. It can be a lot of paperwork, so start now by getting your paperwork in order.

7. Do you participate in any down payment assistance programs?

Need help making a down payment? There are many down payment assistance programs across the country which can help. One study found that buyers who use down payment assistance programs save an average of $17,766. The challenge, though, is not all mortgage lenders participate in these programs—but if you need down payment assistance to buy a house, you’ll need to find a lender that does.

8. Do you charge for an interest rate lock?

mortgage rate lock is a commitment by a lender to give you a home loan at a specific interest rate, provided you close on your home in a certain period of time. This rate lock offers protection against fluctuating interest rates—useful considering that even a quarter of a percentage point can take a huge bite out of your housing budget over time.

Most lenders will offer a 30-day rate lock at no charge to you, but some lenders do charge for rate locks. This fee can be as high as 1% of your total loan amount. On a $300,000 mortgage, that means paying up to $3,000 to secure your rate—that’s not chump change.

9. Who will be the title and escrow agency or attorney?

You don’t have to leave the selection of the title company up to the lender. See how much your mortgage lender’s recommendation will cost, then shop around and see if you can save any money.

You can do the same for an escrow agency and attorney.

10. How do you communicate with your clients?

A great mortgage lender will stay in close contact with you, giving you updates on key steps in the mortgage approval process (e.g., the home appraisal and underwriting), says Yee. Additionally, you want to find a lender that you could reach easily when you have questions. Some loan officers work only during regular business hours, Monday through Friday, which can be a big disadvantage if you need help on a weekend.

Let The McLeod Group Network assist you in finding your new home! 971.208.5093 or admin@mgnrealtors.com 

By: Realtor.com, Craig Donofrio 

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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.