What’s Your Mortgage I.Q.?

November 18th, 2013

Houston Mortgage and Home LoansDo you fancy yourself to be a mortgage know-it-all? After all, you’ve been down the mortgage road before, bought a few properties, and think you have a pulse on mortgages and how to secure a competitive one.

Unfortunately, there may be a quite a few things about mortgages you aren’t aware of – things that could cost you big in the long run. Here are a few mortgage trivia questions to keep you on your toes:

True or False: I can figure out my mortgage payment using my interest rate.

False! The cost of your home and the interest rate do not tell the entire story of the mortgage payment for your Houston residence. Instead, look to your loan’s annual percentage rate (APR), which includes not only the interest you will pay on your loan, but the points, the mortgage insurance, and other fees, such as the origination fee on the loan. Further, you will need to factor in the cost of your homeowners insurance policy to get an accurate idea of what you will be paying each month. When shopping for a home loan, it is often best to skip the interest rate and instead look at the loan’s APR, as this will provide you with a more accurate depiction of your mortgage payment.

True or False: Credits reports, appraisals and other fees are the same across the board.

False! No laws exist that require lenders to charge the same amount for such things as credit reports and appraisals. Because of this, it is important to shop around and ask various lenders about their charges for these items. It may also benefit you to ask the lender to waive these charges, as many do to remain more competitive.

True or False: Once I choose a lender to get preapproved, I must stick with that lender for my mortgage.

False! Getting preapproved is never a legally binding contract with a lender. As such, you are never stuck with a lender simply because you received your preapproval through them. In fact, it is always a good idea to shop around and get at least three quotes from three different lenders before deciding on the home loan program that is best for you

The Secret to Selling your Houston Home Faster

May 20th, 2013

If someone told you that you could sell your Houston home faster using one, simple rule, would you sit up and listen? Chances are you would! After all, the last thing you need to worry about when selling your home is actually selling your home!

The secret to selling your home isn’t such a secret at all; it just begins and ends with a great realtor. But it’s not about just any great realtor; it’s about an Internet savvy realtor.

Q: What does it mean to be an Internet savvy realtor?

A: An Internet savvy realtor, in short, is a realtor who understands and appreciates the fact that most buyers today search for homes on the Internet. A realtor can be experienced, educated, and familiar with the local real estate market, but if he doesn’t have a presence on the Internet, chances are you are missing out on a key number of buyers; buyers who are ready to purchase your home!

The Internet today is a wealth of information for buyers. In fact, it is quite easy to find all the information needed just by searching the Internet. Most real estate sites have easy-to-use search engines, for example, that put homes for sale in front of them in just a minute or two. If your home isn’t on the top of the list, chances are it is getting overlooked among other homes for sale in your area.

Q: How do I know if my realtor is Internet-savvy?

A: The best place to start is to simply perform a web search on your realtor’s name. Does her properties show up? Does the search take you to her website, Facebook page or Twitter account? If not then your realtor probably doesn’t have a strong presence on the Internet. Do another search on homes in your area. Which realtors are at the top of the search engine? Chances are those are the ones you should consider using to sell your home.

Q: What kind of questions should I be asking my realtor?

A: When interviewing realtors to sell your home, it is always a good idea to ask them how they will market your home. An Internet savvy realtor will likely first mention his Internet marketing strategies, while a realtor without an Internet presence will likely mention other marketing avenues first. It is important to understand that, not only are buyers turning to the Internet to search for homes, the most serious buyers are almost always using the Internet as their source for real estate information. In other words, if your realtor isn’t Internet savvy, you could be missing out on attracting the most serious buyers in the market.

Before you sign a contract with any realtor, make sure the realtor understands the importance and value you are placing on an Internet presence. Make sure the realtor uses a number of Internet strategies, and make sure your realtor keeps in contact with you regarding his Internet marketing efforts along the way.

 

Thinking of Selling? Consider a Pre-Home Inspection

April 18th, 2013

There are often an endless number of things to fret over when selling a property. And, for most homeowners, the pinnacle of stress usually comes during the home inspection. Often times, home inspections can cost sellers money, and even a real estate deal. So, it only makes sense to consider a pre-inspection when selling your home as to eliminate the stress of a home inspection.

What is a pre-home inspection?

A pre-home inspection is a home inspection paid for by the seller before listing their home for sale. Instead of waiting to find out a home’s problems when the buyer requests a home inspection, th

e seller has a home inspection completed before they even list their home. There’s nothing quite like having the shock of a poor home inspection hit you after you’ve made a deal to sell your home. In other words, if you don’t like surprises, a pre-home inspection is almost always worth the couple hundred dollars it will cost you for a home inspection.

What are the advantages of a pre-home inspection?

The major advantage of doing a pre-home inspection is being able to discover things that may need remedied, fixed or replaced. For example, if you are selling your home and the home inspector during your pre-home inspection tells you that your electric panel needs upgraded, you can do so before listing it for sale. There will be no need to wait for repairs or haggle with the buyer over the cost of repairs.

Another advantage of having a pre-home inspection is that buyers will appreciate your efforts. You can include your pre-home inspection in your marketing plan, and include the results of the home inspection so potential buyers can review it.

Will a pre-home inspection eliminate the need for the buyer to perform a home inspection?

Although most buyers will still want to perform their own home inspection, you can rest assured knowing that your home is in order and that there are no large repairs needed or serious problems with the house, which will make your job as the seller a much easier one.

Consider the Future When Buying a Home

May 29th, 2012

A home purchase should be one that takes not only your present circumstances into consideration, but your future circumstances, as well. In other words, looking at your life now is, of course, important to consider when purchasing a home, but so is your future wants, needs and goals.

Here are a few of the ways in which it pays to consider the future when purchasing a home:

Think in terms of your future finances.

Your present salary and household income is the main consideration for lenders, but a look at your future finances should be considered, as well. For example, will you need money to put your children through college? Will you need to purchase a new car in the next few years? Will your salary decrease for any reason? All of these issues will affect your income, household budget and, ultimately, your ability to pay your mortgage each month.

Think in terms of your future professional goals.

Do you envision yourself in the same profession or at the same place of employment for the next few years? For many home buyers, changing jobs and professions is likely on the horizon, and doing so may affect your level of income or even where you will live. Because of this, it is important to consider your future professional goals when considering a home purchase. For example, if you think you will likely change jobs in the upcoming years, consider whether your new professional goals will take you away from the area. Moving just a couple years after you purchase a home is usually not a wise financial decision, so it pays to contemplate whether you plan to stay in the home for at least five or more years as to recoup your investment.

Think in terms of your home’s future value.

Is the home you want to purchase a property you envision increasing in value? Or is it located in an area that has experienced decreasing or stagnant property values? It is important to remember that a home is, ultimately, a long-term investment, so you will want to do your homework on the area in which you want to live to better increase your chances of getting into a positive investment.

Houston: Looking to 2012

February 20th, 2012

Did Houston have a picture-perfect 2010? Well, not exactly, but there are more than a few reasons to look forward to what the Houston real estate market has to offer in 2012.

Houston in 2012 will enjoy a stronger real estate market, thanks to steady increases in the energy-related job market. It was this market that kept real estate agents busy leasing commercial property and showing homes to relocating individuals.

Housing in Houston in 2012 may see about a 5-percent increase as we head into the upcoming year, and the median price of a Houston home is expected to increase from 2 to 3 percent this year. Although these numbers are lower than what we may expect historically, they are still showing a steady growth in the Houston housing market.

Foreclosures in Houston

Since 2010, foreclosure postings and actual foreclosures have declined, and most real estate experts expect these declines to further accelerate in 2012. These declines are likely attributed to the tight lending standards that took place starting in 2009. It is also likely that the financial industry has finally started to make headway in their backlogs of foreclosures resulting from the recession.

It is clear that in order to begin seeing a turnaround in the real estate market lenders must deal with the foreclosure problem, which has been a strain on the industry since 2009. It is also important to understand that lenders will experience issues now for foreclosures that occurred three years prior, meaning that they are just now facing the music from the steep increase in foreclosures in 2009.

Home Loan Lending in Houston

The national mortgage market is still expected to decline in 2012 about 25 percent, although the large markets in Texas, such as Dallas and Houston, are expected to outperform national averages due to the strong job markets found here.

Houston continues to experience increases in its energy sector, which always buoys along the real estate market.

There are plenty of good reasons to look forward to a healthy real estate market in Houston in 2012, so many real estate experts will be keeping a close eye on this market in the months to come.

Homebuyers Can Be Victims of Houston Home Mortgage Fraud

July 6th, 2011

The FBI, and the US attorney general have been on a mission since 2005 to arrest, and convict any person involved in committing fraud by deception when it comes to home loans. Even though a homebuyer has nothing to do with the scheme that many mortgage brokers are a part of, they can lose their homes all the same. There might even be some jail time involved until it can be proven that the consumer had nothing to do with the crime in the first place. It is unfortunate that this happens to unsuspecting people looking to buy their next or even first home, but greed is the deciding factor when it comes to any white-collar crime.

What happens in most cases, a married couple or even an individual will come into a lending institution to get approval for a home loan. The agent or broker will run their credit checks, and look at everything pertaining to their income, and backgrounds. They already know that these prospective applicants cannot be approved for a loan, but instead of telling them no, they falsify the records that they submit on the application to the host loan grantor to ensure approval.

Everything seems fine for a while, and the homeowners are happy to have received the loan, and have settled into to their new lives of home ownership. Then one day an FBI agent shows up at their front door and delivers the news about the loan being illegal due to the falsified information that was listed on the application. Usually these investigations are launched when a certain loan brokerage in the Houston area are having too many defaults under their name.

This causes an immediate foreclosure on the home, and the buyers are not only out of a place to live, they have lost their down payment, and all the closing fees that go along with the purchase. This happens more than some might think, and as home sales dwindle across America, these loan agents are becoming desperate to maintain certain levels of income from their commission on deals that they close. This is a very hard crime to prevent in the first place, as it is done without the applicants seeing the flawed information, and there is no way they can verify that the real documents were sent.

The outright defiling of the great American dream is happening all too often and is financially destroying families left and right. One way of verifying that the company cutting the check for you loan has the right information, is to contact them directly once approval is received, and ask for a copy of the application to verify it’s correctness.

What Will Two Hundred Thousand Buy Today?

June 27th, 2011

Well quite a bit actually, and right now if a person has great credit and a down payment they can buy a dream home for two hundred thousand dollars. The State of Texas has always had more affordable housing, even in the luxury end of industry, but if you take that same amount and try to buy a home in Chicago, New York, or Hawaii, and you will not receive very much for your money. Currently a studio apartment on East 54th street in New York is going for $319,000.00, and that does not include the $568.00 monthly maintenance fees.

Right now a home shopper in the Metro area can find three bedroom two and one half bathroom homes that are new construction from the $121,000.00 range and up. Dual income households can easily afford the monthly mortgage payments, and up keep costs. One problem is that those typical thirty year mortgages are harder and harder to come by today. Most home loan lenders want bigger down payments, and a fifteen-year term. They are still gun shy from the fall out of all those sub-prime loans that were approved in the 2000s.

If you do not mind the commute, some super custom luxury homes, in areas like Spring, The Woodlands, Conroe, Magnolia, and Tomball are widely available. The Spring Texas area has been voted one of the most affordable and best places to live by many real estate, and financial publications in recent years. It is perfectly situated for work, outdoor activities, dinning, and entertainment. Add all those previously mentioned attributes to a reasonably, or below market priced home, and you have your own personal nirvana.

Prices remain extremely high in the Galleria, Hedwig Village, Memorial, and Spring Branch area, and unfortunately, $200k is not going allow for the purchase of a mini mansion or personal compound anytime soon. However, looking further west there also seems to be homebuyers frenzy out toward the Cypress, Texas area, and many PGA designed golf courses are popping up out there too.

For persons relocating their families to the Houston Metropolitan area, you will be like a kid in a candy store when you start shopping for a home. The overall lot sizes, options, and amenities in most suburban neighborhoods outshine any state in the Union when it comes to the bang for the buck factor.

Are You Having A Tough Time Buying A Home in Houston Right Now?

June 23rd, 2011

Well you are not alone with this issue, and many people would love to move out their apartment, or rented home, and start living that “American Dream”, of being a bona-fide homeowner. There are many reasons that people are not qualifying for home mortgages in the Harris County and surrounding areas right now, and some consumers will have multiple reasons preventing them from buying their dream home. There is a huge inventory of available homes all over the Metroplex, but even lowering the prices on them does not seem to make them move any faster to a sale.

Debt To Income Ratio

There are stricter standards being laid out as this is being written, and the old sixty percent debt to income ratio will no longer be tolerated. The new figure that Fannie Mae has put into operation is forty five percent, which cuts down on the consumer’s buying power quite a bit. The government and the lending industry as a whole know that all to often homebuyers, mortgage agents, and realtors will try to force a sale on a home that cannot be afforded. In a perfect world your housing costs would not run over twenty-five percent of a person’s annual income. This is a figure that is from the 1970s and 1980s, and people do not mind being drowned in debt currently.

Foreclosures

This has put many people in the rental market, and there currently not any home loan companies that will take a chance on someone that has already lost their home due to financial difficulties. For these future homebuyers, it would be wisest to get out of debt and rebuild their credit file, and score for a purchase a few years down the road. It is also a good time to just completely get out of debt, so when your credit is restore, there will only be the house note on your debt to income ratio.

Mortgage Lenders Missing The Closing Dates

This issue has everyone involved in the home buying process enraged currently. Home loan companies are given a closing date, and they agree to it, but just as quickly they will add, “but we cannot guarantee the date”. What happens is that the closing day comes, and the lender has not responded, or worse yet the day before, they have new issues about the loan, and they will need more time to let the borrow correct the situation. No one really understands the stall tactics, at all, but it is making home sellers rich, because the can refuse to extend the closing date, and just pocket the earnest money that was put down.

A Stay-Cation May Be More Desirable When You Live At Cinco Ranch

June 13th, 2011

The real estate market in Houston has never been more competitive, and planned communities are pulling out all the stops to ensure they get a share of those property sales in the future. Cinco Ranch has really raised the bar when it comes to quality of life, and self contained entertainment. Every where a Cinco Ranch resident turns they have resort like amenities that are nothing less than breath taking to say the least. Cinco Ranch is like Disney World with luxury homes intermingled around all the attractions.

Usually any planned community will have a swimming pool or two, but the water features in this slice of paradise challenge vacation resorts built for family fun. To call anything in the Cinco area a pool is understatement, as they are more like “Water Entertainment Features”, there is something for any age level in your family. They even have fishing in the five lakes, but it is noted on their website that all anglers must practice catch and release.

Do you want to go to the beach without having to travel down to Galveston? That is no problem, as C.R. has it’s own beach with lagoon for you and whole family to catch some rays, and further your outdoor living experience. The kids have a couple of water park features where they can run around umbrellas that double as fountains let them get wet for fun, and to stay cool, plus another area that has two story water slides for some exhilarating slide and splash activities.

The Beach Club by far can create many great family memories, as you and the kids can build sand castles right at the waters edge. The water and sand are not seperated so you have more of a beachfront experience than most manmade beach areas usually offer. There are also the standard neighborhood pools that are closer to everyone’s home, but getting out to the The Lake House Pool will by far be most fun the whole family can have at one location. There is even a big screen display to watch movies at night while splashing around in the pool.

The real estate offerings at Cinco Ranch and all the superb amenities make this a great choice for any age range, and the school system in Katy Texas is second to none, when it comes to your child’s education.

Do Not Even Think About Lying On Your Houston Home Mortgage

May 17th, 2011

The Houston real estate market seems to be a lot healthier than the rest of the United States right now, and people still have their dream of owning a home. There are times when a person wants something so much, they will lie to reach their goal, and that is happening quite frequently in H-Town lately. Apartment dwellers that cannot wait to purchase a stand alone home are being very bold in they way they fill out their home loan applications, and this is going to cost them dearly if they are successful in obtaining a mortgage with incorrect data. The mortgage industry as a whole has tightened the reins on approval even more over the last few years, and people are pushing the envelope in what they must do to be approved.

Since most loans are secured with the guarantee of the Federal Housing Administration currently, people inflating their incomes, and having others verify the lies all fall under eye of the federal government. Ten years ago, they could not tell who was lying on the home loan application more, the broker, or the applicant, and the truth is both were doing it without the other knowing. Now more exhaustive background checks are being done on home mortgage documents, and the odds are that you will be doing a few years in a federal prison for what you might have thought was just a little white lie.

It is not worth the few months or even maybe two years of living in a home of your own, to only losing it, and possibly your family, and all personal possessions. This type of crime brings down the full weight of the US District Attorney, FBI, and the Internal Revenue Service on your head. Climbing out of such a scenario and rebuilding your life will take years if not decades.

Do yourself a favor and use the time when you cannot qualify for a home loan, to clean up past credit infractions, get more education for a better paying job, and get that credit score up to 750 if not higher. Staying out of debt will also help in getting to that place you need to be for buying a home as well.

There is a reason there are certain guidelines for mortgage approval, and the lender will know if you fit the guidelines when telling the truth. Dishonesty about income will only help for a few months, because in reality the funds from your real monthly salary will not be able to cover the loan payments anyway.