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How to Submit an Offer Below the Asking Price Without Spooking the Seller

Going Low: How to Submit an Offer Below the Asking Price Without Spooking the SellerYou’ve found it: A large new home for your family. It’s in the area of the city that you love, with the perfect architectural style and lots of room for entertaining guests. It would have been perfect for you, but there’s only one problem – you’re not quite ready to pay the price the seller is asking for. You’ll have to put in an offer below the seller’s asking price – a risky move.

Although you will be rolling the dice with an offer below asking price, there are ways that you can increase the likelihood that your offer will be successful. Before you submit your offer, use these three strategies to make it more appealing.

Work Out Other Terms In The Seller’s Favor

If you’re going to ask for a lower selling price, it helps to show that you’re willing to compromise on other terms – that way, you come across as a reasonable human being and not a bargain hunter. By offering to give the seller the better deal on other terms, you’re showing that you want to close a sale – and the seller will see you making an effort to come to an agreement and respond in kind.

There are several ways to do this. When you submit your offer, see if you can negotiate an arrangement that has you paying the closing costs or a closing date that works better for the seller. Or, offer to make the down payment in cash or give the seller a larger deposit.

Arm Yourself With Facts To Make Your Case

If the home you want to buy is priced well above fair market value, you can easily use that to your advantage and turn it into a benefit for the seller. First, you’ll want to look up property values for similar homes in the area. You should also investigate how long it takes homes in that area to sell and the difference between the average asking and average selling price in the area.

If you can show the seller that their asking price is above their neighborhood’s average sale price or that their home has been on the market longer than the average home (or both), then you can make a strong case for a lower offer.

Submitting an offer below asking price can work, but it’s not something that should simply be done on a whim. It takes careful planning and a great strategy to actually win a bid if you’re coming in below asking price. Contact you trusted real estate professional to learn more about how to submit a below-asking-price offer.

Case-Shiller: Home Prices Continue to Outpace Inflation

You Ask, We Answer: How the New FICO Score System Might Impact a Typical Mortgage BorrowerDenver, Colorado continues to woo homebuyers as home prices rose by 10.20 percent as of June according to the Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index. The Mile-High City was the only city included in the index that posted double-digit year-over-year growth in June. San Francisco, California posted a 9.50 percent year-over-year gain in home prices and Dallas, Texas rounds out the top three cities posting highest year-over-year home price growth with a reading of 8.20 percent.

Denver’s home prices were impacted by the city’s rapidly expanding economy and demand for homes coupled with a slim supply of homes for sale. According to the National Association of Realtors®, there is approximately one month’s inventory of homes available in Denver as compared to the national average of five months. 

Cities experiencing the least year-over-year growth in home prices according to the 20-City Home Price Index were Chicago, Illinois with a year-over-year growth rate of 1.40 percent, Washington D.C. with a year-over-year reading of 1.60 percent in home price growth and New York, New York with a reading of 2.80 percent growth in home prices year-over-year.

The 20-City Index indicated national home prices grew by five percent year-over-year in June, with a month-to-month increase of one percent from May to June.

Detroit Leads Gains in Month-to-Month Home Prices 

Detroit, Michigan led month-over-month home price growth with a May to June reading of 1.80 percent. Cleveland, Ohio and Portland Oregon posted month-to-month gains of 1.50 percent followed by Atlanta, Georgia and Denver Colorado; each city posted month-to-month home price gains of 1.30 percent. 

As economic conditions continue to improve, prospective homebuyers face obstacles including tight mortgage approval standards and home prices growing at approximately twice the rate of inflation.

FHFA: Home Prices Dip in June

The Federal Housing Finance Agency reported that home prices associated with mortgages owned or backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac slipped to a year-over year growth rate of 5.60 percent in June as compared to May’s reading of 5.70 percent. The agency also reported that home prices rose by 1.20 percent during the second quarter of 2015; this was the sixteenth consecutive quarterly increase in home prices.

FHFA Principal Economist Andrew Leventis noted that home prices continued to exceed inflation and were rising in spite of higher mortgage rates.

In general, analysts regard longer term readings as more reliable than month-to-month readings that reflect more volatility based on day-to-day influences.

Will Missing Mortgage Payments Impact My FICO Score? Yes – and Here’s How

Will Missing Mortgage Payments Impact My FICO Score Yes and Heres HowIf you’re like most homeowners, you probably believe that one missed mortgage payment won’t have a noticeable impact on your FICO score. People get behind now and then, and besides, you’ve been faithfully making payments on time for years. How bad could it be?

In truth, even one missed mortgage payment could seriously damage your FICO score. Lenders can report missed monthly payments whenever they choose – they don’t need to wait until a certain date to do it. That means even if your mortgage payment is a few days late, your lender may report it as unpaid.

So what exactly happens to a FICO score when you miss a mortgage payment? Here’s what you need to know.

Payment History: The Single Largest Factor In Determining Your Credit Score

FICO scores are calculated based on several different criteria, the largest of them being your payment history. A full 35% of your credit score is determined by how often you pay your bills on time and in full. And although FICO says that one or two late payments aren’t going to decimate your credit score, they will shave off some points that could have made the difference between a low-risk and high-risk interest rate.

Consumers With Higher Scores Have More To Lose

A 2011 FICO study analyzed the impact of late mortgage payments on consumer credit scores. The study grouped consumers into three groups based on their starting FICO score, with Consumer A having a score of 680, Consumer B a score of 720, and Consumer C a score of 780. The findings?

Even if you have a credit score of 780, being just 30 days late on a mortgage payment can result in a 100-point drop. And it can take up to three years to earn that credit back. In contrast, a consumer with a score of 680 who is 30 days late will see only a 70 point drop and can recover their original score within 9 months.

The takeaway? Contrary to popular belief, people with high credit scores stand to lose more from a missed payment than people with low credit scores.

There Are Varying Degrees Of “Late”

One common misconception is that if you miss a mortgage payment, it doesn’t matter if it’s 30, 60, or 90 days overdue. The mainstream thinking is that late is late is late. But that’s not how FICO sees it.

Although borrowers with credit scores under 700 won’t see much of a decline after 30 days late, borrowers with a higher credit score will. If you have a credit score of 720 and you’re 30 days late on your mortgage, your score will fall to about 640. If you’re 90 days late, that score will fall again this time, to about 620.

That means if you miss a mortgage payment, you need to get in touch with your lender as soon as possible in order make repayment arrangements and hope they haven’t yet reported the overdue payment. It’s your best shot at protecting your FICO score.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – August 24, 2015

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week August 24 2015Last week’s economic events included a number of readings on housing related topics. The National Association of Home Builders released its report on builder confidence in housing markets, Housing starts reached their highest level since the great recession, and existing home sales exceeded expectations and the prior month’s reading. The Federal Reserve released minutes for its most recent FOMC meeting, which indicated that while a majority of FOMC members are leaning toward raising the Fed’s target federal funds rate, concerns over certain aspects of the economy continue to keep the Fed from citing a date for raising its target interest rate.

Home Builder Confidence Nears Highest Reading in 10 Years

The National Association of Home Builders reported its highest level of builder confidence in housing market conditions since November of 2005. August’s reading was 61 as compared to an expected reading of 59 and July’s reading of 60. Any reading over 50 indicates that housing market conditions are good. NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe said that August’s readings were consistent with builder expectations of gradual improvement in overall housing market conditions. Builder confidence in current market conditions rose by one point to a reading of 61; confidence in buyer foot traffic in new housing developments rose 2 points to 45 and the reading for expected home sales conditions over the next six months was unchanged at a reading of 70.

Builder confidence as shown by the three-month rolling average indicated that builder confidence increased by three points for a reading of 63 for the West; the Midwest also posted a gain of three points for a reading of 58. The South posted a two point gain in builder confidence for a reading of 63. In the Northeast, builder confidence held steady at 46.

Existing Home Sales Hit New Post-Recession High in July

According to the National Association of Realtors®, sales of pre-owned homes reached a new post-recession record in July. Sales of previously owned homes rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.59 million sales as compared to expectations of 5.48 million sales and June’s reading of 5.48 million sales. Sales of existing homes have risen for three consecutive months and are 10.30 percent higher year-over-year. Higher home prices are helping homeowners move up to larger homes, but analysts said that first-time buyers are still struggling to buy due to strict mortgage requirements and high demand for homes.

Commerce Department: Housing Starts Higher, Building Permits Lower

The Commerce Department reported that June housing starts increased from 1.20 million in May to 1.21 million in June; this is a month-to-month increase of 0.20 percent. Economists had expected a dip in housing starts to a rate of 1.185 million on an annual basis. Single family housing starts rose by 12.90 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 782,000 starts.

Building permits slipped in July by 16.30 percent to an annual rate of 1.29 million permits issued. Permits for single family homes, which account for nearly 75 percent of permits issued, fell by 1.90 percent to an annual rate of 679,000 permits issued. Demand for multi-family homes such as condos and apartments is rising as would-be home buyers sit on the sidelines and many millennials prefer to rent. In spite of these factors the rate of building permits issued rose by 7.50 percent year-over-year.

Building permits issued rose by 7.70 percent in the South, and rose by 20 percent in the Midwest. In the West, permits issued declined by 3.10 percent in July, while the Northeast posted a decline of 27.50 percent in building permits issued. This was not a surprise as builders rushed to take out permits before a tax credit expired in June.

Mortgage Rates Mixed

Freddie Mac reported that average mortgage rates fell for fixed rate mortgages and ticked upward for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by one basis point to 3.93 percent. 15-year fixed mortgage rates fell by two basis points to 3.15 percent and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose by one basis point to 2.94 percent. Discount points were unchanged across the board at 0.60 percent for 30 and 15-year fixed rates and 0.50 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

What’s Ahead

This week’s economic news includes the Case-Shiller 10 and 20 city home price index reports, FHFA’s house price report for home sales connected with mortgages owned by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and pending home sales. Core inflation numbers will also be released; this is significant as the Fed has set 2.0 percent annual inflation as one of its indicators for raising the Federal funds rate. Freddie Mac’s survey of average mortgage rates and weekly jobless claims will be released on Thursday, and this week wraps up with the consumer sentiment report on Friday.

Buying an Investment Property? 3 Key Home Features That Will Help Ensure You Turn a Profit

Buying an Investment Property? 3 Key Home Features That Will Help Ensure You Turn a ProfitIf you’re entering the real estate investment market for the first time, you’re embarking on a great adventure – and with a solid plan, you can turn a tidy profit on your investment.

The key to a successful real estate investment is choosing the right property. A great property will reap dividends for years to come. Look for these three features in your next investment property and you’ll have no trouble finding one that turns a profit.

Location: More Important Than You Think

The location of your investment property will be critical in determining how much you earn on it and how long you’re able to keep tenants. And as the saying goes, you can change the color of the walls, you can change the type of flooring, and you can change the layout of the home, but you can’t change the location. So before you do anything else, make sure your new investment property is in a good location.

High cash flow investment properties tend to share certain location characteristics. They tend to be in neighborhoods with great schools and great amenities like pools, parks, movie theaters, and public transit. They also tend to be in an area with quiet, low-traffic, well-kept streets. Great neighborhoods have a low crime rate and don’t mix housing types.

Average Rent Price & Vacancy Rate: Look For Marketability

Aside from local amenities, you’ll also want to consider the average vacancy rate and rent price in your neighborhood. If you can’t cover your costs by charging the neighborhood’s average rent, then the home is a poor investment.

Keep an eye on vacancies in the neighborhood. If there are a high number of vacancies in the area, it could mean that the area’s rental market is seasonal or that renters are no longer interested in it. A low-vacancy area will allow you to charge more rent, and you’ll be more likely to find renters.

Floor Plan: Know The Trends And Buy Accordingly

There are a lot of things you can change if you don’t like your home, but the floor plan is a challenge to rearrange. That means in order to make your property competitive on the market, you’ll want to choose a property with a modern floor plan. Watch the trends and buy a home with a floor plan that’s in demand – you’ll have an easier time finding tenants.

Buying an investment property is a great choice for smart investors, but it’s important that you choose a property that will turn a profit. An experienced real estate agent can help you find a great new investment property that tenants will love. Contact your local real estate professional to learn more about qualifying investment properties.

FOMC Minutes: Rate Hike May be Near

FOMC Minutes Rate Hike May be NearThe minutes for the most recent meeting of the Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) suggest that while committee members won’t specify a date, a rate hike could come sooner than later. Committee members continue to cite concerns over labor markets and other economic factors, but the minutes of the FOMC meeting held July 28 and 29 indicate that a majority of members see a rate change as likely in the near term.

Economic Conditions “Approaching” Readiness for Rate Hike

According to the minutes released Wednesday, the time for raising rates is not hear yet, but a majority of FOMC members feel that the time is approaching when economic conditions will warrant an increase of the target federal funds rate which is currently set at 0.00 to 0.25 percent. When the Fed increases this rate, consumer loan rates including mortgage rates are expected to increase as well.

Achieving maximum employment is one of the Fed’s mandates; labor markets continue to improve as the national unemployment achieved its lowest reading for 2015 as of June, but labor force participation and the unemployment to population ratio have also declined. On a positive note, the number of part-time workers was lower and under-utilization of workers was lower than since the beginning of the year.

Committee members continued to have varied opinions about whether employment rates are low enough to indicate that the Fed’s mandate of “maximum” employment had been achieved.

Inflation remains below the 2.00 percent medium-term goal set by the Fed. FOMC members have consistently indicated that they don’t expect to see inflation achieve the target rate in the near term.

Housing Markets Show Improvement

The minutes noted that while construction of new homes declined in June, new starts increased over the second quarter. Sales of new homes were lower in June, but sales of existing homes increased. Building permits issued suggest the rate of construction is stable but little changed. Pending home sales were stable and suggest little change in completed home sales in the near term.

A jump in multifamily building permits were attributed to an expiring tax credit date, but housing analysts have repeatedly cited the millennial generation as preferring to live and work in large metro areas where housing can be out of reach for all but the top tier of earners. In other economic sectors, the minutes said that auto loans and student loans continued to grow.

The FOMC minutes indicate the same position of FOMC members in recent months; while the national unemployment rate is low, the Fed does not expect to see inflation at the agency’s target rate of 2.00 percent immediately. Committee members note that they will continue to monitor domestic and global financial conditions as part of the fact-finding process necessary for deciding when to the federal target funds rate,

Speculation over when the Fed will move to raise rates has persisted for several months and will no doubt continue until the Fed does decide to raise rates.

Five Required Mortgage Closing Costs – And A Few Tips On How To Minimize Them

Five Required Mortgage Closing Costs And A Few Tips On How To Minimize ThemMortgages are expensive, and closing costs only add to the financial burden that homebuyers face. But with a little knowledge, you can pinpoint places to save on your mortgage closing costs and keep more money in your pocket. When you’re negotiating your next mortgage, use these tips to reduce required closing costs and keep more of your hard-earned money.

Title Insurance: Request The Simultaneous Issue Rate

Title insurance is an important add-on that no buyer should go without. At the time of closing, there may be a variety of title problems that could arise, such as like encroachments, easements, unpaid liens, and fraud. If a previous property owner wasn’t properly discharged from the title, they may have a claim to the property.

In the event that title ownership challenges arise later on, your title insurance will compensate you for any losses and expenses you incur when trying to prove your ownership. Buying title insurance may help you to avoid the hourly fees you’d pay a lawyer or notary to investigate your title. Typically, when you receive title insurance, you and your lender will each have separate insurance policies on the title.

You can minimize the out-of-pocket expense by asking the insurance provider for their simultaneous issue rate. This is a highly discounted rate that applies when both the borrower and lender title insurance policies are issued at the same time.

Origination Fees: Negotiable If You Have Good Credit

An origination fee is a kind of prepaid interest fee that you surrender to your mortgage broker when you apply for a mortgage. It only applies when you use a mortgage broker.

However, it’s not a mandatory fee for most buyers – even if they go through a broker. The purpose of an origination fee is to compensate the broker for the time and effort they need to invest to get your loan approved. If you have good credit and you can prove your income, then this fee isn’t necessary – and you shouldn’t have any trouble getting your broker to eliminate this fee.

Also note that an origination fee is the same thing as a broker fee. If your agreement includes both, you’re getting charged for the same service twice. Ask for one of them to be removed.

Mortgage Application Fees: Typically A Money Grab

A mortgage application fee is another common fee that you can usually avoid. This fee – which typically runs about $50 or so – is something your lender charges you in order to cover the cost of running your credit report. However, since banks and brokers order hundreds of credit reports every day, they can pull your credit report for next to nothing.

The $50 fee they charge you is, essentially, free money for them – and you can usually get them to drop this fee if you ask.

Underwriting Fees: Your Broker Shouldn’t Charge You For Underwriting

Brokers don’t underwrite loans – lenders do. That means if you’re getting your loan through a broker, you shouldn’t have to pay any kind of underwriting fee – it should already be included in the loan terms the bank set. It’s perfectly valid for a bank to charge you an underwriting fee, but ask your broker to take underwriting fees out of your agreement.

Courier Fees: Handling Documents Should Be A Standard Business Practice

One common closing cost is courier fees. These fees come in different amounts and go by different names. It may be $20 or $50, and it may be called a courier fee or a document handling fee.

Title companies might very well use couriers to send documents, but lenders most likely won’t – and $50 is excessive. Document handling fees are a standard cost of doing business, and that means they should already be included in the lender’s core billed services, not added as an extra fee. Use this argument when you ask your lender to remove the fee – they’ll likely comply.

House Hunting in a New City? Three Ways to Determine Which Neighborhoods Are Up and Coming

House Hunting in a New City? Three Ways to Determine Which Neighborhoods Are 'Up and Coming'If you’re moving to a new city and you’re looking for an affordable home in a nice neighborhood, one great way to get a fantastic home without paying sky-high prices is by choosing a home in an up-and-coming neighborhood. Communities that are starting to gentrify make it easy to find an affordable home, especially if you buy before the prices start to rise.

So how can you spot a neighborhood that’s on the rise? Here’s what you need to know.

Look For Neighborhoods Popular With Artists & Young People

Young people, artists, musicians, performers, and other bohemians tend to lead the way when it comes to neighborhood revitalizations. These are the kinds of people who typically don’t have copious amounts of disposable income, so they’re looking for something affordable. But they also want to live in a hip, trendy part of town.

And as the area gains more and more creative types, it starts to take on its own creative personality. That makes it attractive to all manner of buyers, which starts driving more and more sales. So if you want to find an up-and-coming neighborhood, just follow the artists, musicians, and Gen Y buyers.

Track The Area’s Average Days On Market

One great way to find which neighborhoods are the most popular with buyers is to track the average number of days on market for properties in those neighborhoods. Your real estate agent can help you find this information. If you notice a slow decrease in days on market over time, it’s a good sign that the neighborhood is on the up and up.

Oftentimes, in an up and coming area, the days on market will decrease before prices start to rise – which will help you get a great deal.

Look Up Building Permits To See Where The Renovations Are

You can also tell if an area is up and coming if there’s a lot of renovation activity happening. Visit your municipal government office and see if you can find information on which neighborhoods are seeing more and more building and renovation permits. Lots of construction and renovation activity in an area indicates that it’s a great place to move to.

Finding a great neighborhood is critical to being satisfied with your home purchase. There are lots of things about your home that you can change, but the neighborhood isn’t one of them – so make sure you’re happy with the area before you buy. Local real estate agents are a great source of information about neighborhoods – contact a trusted real estate agent near you to learn which neighborhoods are most popular with buyers.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – August 17, 2015

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week August 17 2015Last week’s economic reports related to housing were few and far between other than weekly reports on new jobless claims and Freddie Mac’s mortgage rates survey.

Mortgage Rates Mixed, Jobless Claims Up

Freddie Mac reported that average mortgage rates rose for fixed rate mortgages and dropped for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose by three basis points to 3.94 percent. The rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose by four basis points to 3.17 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage fell by two basis points to 2.93 percent. Discount points were unchanged at 0.60 percent for fixed rate mortgages and rose from 0.40 percent to 0.50 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

Jobless claims rose to 274,000 last week from the prior week’s reading of 269,000 new jobless claims filed. Analysts expected a reading of 270,000 new jobless claims. New claims were lower by 1750 claims for the past month at a seasonally adjusted rate of 266,250 new jobless claims. This was the lowest level since April of 2000. Analysts consider the four week average a less volatile reading for new jobless claims than weekly readings, which fluctuate more due to transitory influences.

What’s Ahead

Next week’s scheduled reports include several releases related to housing. Expected releases include: the National Association of Homebuilders Housing Market Index, Commerce Department reports on Housing Starts and Building Permits and the National Association of Realtors® report on sales of previously owned homes.

Marketing to Millennials: How to Stage Your Home to Attract One of the Hottest Buyer Groups

Marketing to Millennials: How to Stage Your Home to Attract One of the Hottest Buyer GroupsMillennials are finally starting to enter the real estate market, but as is expected with a generation as different as Gen Y, they’re buying homes in a completely different way. Millennial buyers intend to own for shorter periods of time and want to live in metropolitan areas, and they’re also actively interested in real estate as an investment.

If you want to sell your home to a Millennial, you’ll need to change the way you stage and market the house in order to make the sale. Here’s how you can make your home more attractive to Millennial buyers without having to plan a massive renovation.

Millennials Want Investment Properties, Not Storybook Homes

One of the major characteristics that defines the Millennial generation is that they are nomads. Millennials don’t want to hear about how a property is the perfect place for them to live out their Happily Ever After. For a Millennial, marriage and kids and the white picket fence are still a long ways off – and that’s if they’re in the picture at all.

Instead, present your home as the ideal investment property – something they can easily renovate and flip for a nice, tidy profit, or something they can rent out to help pay their student loans. Millennials are entrepreneurial by nature, so appeal to that entrepreneurial zeal.

Convert An Unused Room Into A Home Office

Millennials are also very career-minded and tend to be passionate about side projects. Millennials are leading the charge in the work-from-home movement, and the more easily they can see themselves working out of your home, the more likely they are to buy it.

If there’s a room in your home that you aren’t using, converting it into a home office will help you show Millennials that they can run their online business in a great environment.

Ditch The Carpets And Opt For Hardwood Instead

Millennials want their homes to look modern, and carpets will simply make them think of every 1970s stereotype there is. If you want to reach a Millennial buyer, an easy way to make them see your home as more desirable – and more valuable – is to tear out your carpets and replace them with hardwood flooring. Hardwood is also easier to clean, which will appeal to Millennials’ desire for a low maintenance home.

Millennials have traditionally been difficult to understand, but an experienced real estate agent can help you navigate the Millennial market’s demands and stage your home in an appealing way. Contact a trusted real estate professional near you to learn how you can turn your home into something no Millennial can resist.