Archive for December, 2016

New Year, New Year’s Resolutions for Homeowners

Friday, December 30th, 2016
New Year's Resolutions

As a Brooklyn homeowner, you can make new year’s resolutions that will save you money. Here are 6 ways to save significantly in 2017!

Have you made your New Year’s resolutions for 2017 yet? The start of a new year is a popular time to make them. What are New Year’s resolutions? They’re promises made to yourself to better yourself in the new year. Time.com lists the Top 10 Commonly Broken New Year’s Resolutions:

  • Lose weight and get fit
  • Quit smoking
  • Learn something new
  • Eat healthier and diet
  • Get out of debt and save money
  • Spend more time with family
  • Travel to new places
  • Be less stressed
  • Volunteer
  • Drink less

6 New Year’s Resolutions for Homeowners

Those are great promises to resolve to do, but if you’re a homeowner, add these to your list. These resolutions will save you money and make the selling or buying process easier.

  1. Shorten the term of your mortgage

Put extra money toward your mortgage every month. The more you pay in a shorter period of time, the less you’ll end up paying in the long run.

For example, let’s say you have a $150,000 mortgage with a 30-year term at an interest rate of 5.5 percent. Your monthly mortgage payment (principal and interest) would be $852. Paying just an additional $71 each month would shorten that 30-year term by five years and one month. It would also cut the interest down by $30,789. Amazing, right?

  1. Pay off a second mortgage

Paying off a second mortgage is well worth the challenge. Freedom from debt and interest is one of the greatest resolutions to discipline yourself to keep.

Put an extra $100, $200 or $400 toward your home equity loan every month, instead of spending it on something else. The more consistent and disciplined you are to pay off a second mortgage, the better off you are.

And if your second loan has a variable rate, you could get socked with a painful payment increase if interest rates rise. And what if you’re not in a position to refinance that debt? Uh-oh or ouch!

  1. Lock in a low, fixed rate

There are a couple of great reasons to refinance your home loan:

If the only thing you do in the new year is change a variable mortgage into a fixed mortgage, you’ve done yourself a huge favor financially. Even if you end up with a higher payment, a fixed rate will save you from an increase in your interest rate in the future.

Here’s another scenario to help explain: On a $200,000 mortgage with a 30-year term and a variable rate starting at 3.5 percent, your monthly principal and interest add up to $898. If you refinanced that loan with a fixed rate of 5 percent, your monthly principal and interest add up to $1,073, an additional $175 a month. But what if the variable rate jumped way up to 7.5 percent? Your monthly principal and interest would now add up to $1,389 which is an additional $491 per month.  You can see the benefit of locking in the extra $175 in 2017. It might be difficult, but paying an extra $491 in the future could be harder to accomplish than an extra $175 each month.

  1. Challenge your property tax assessment

Has your home declined in value in recent years? If you answered, “Yes,” you might be able to save some money in 2017. Challenge your property tax assessment.

Review your property tax and request a hearing date within the required time if the assessed value is excessive. I will help you with comparable sales data for an appeal.

If your property values drop by 40 percent, your taxes should drop by 40 percent, too. The savings can be substantial, about $1,500 a year on average.

  1. Earn a discount or lower quote on homeowners insurance

Major repairs or improvements that you made to your home this past year can earn you a discount or a lower quote on the new year’s coverage.

A new roof, updated electrical and plumbing, for examples, are preventive home maintenance which will save you money. Insurers appreciate the money home maintenance will save you and are usually willing to give you a discount or lower quote on your homeowners insurance. Call your agent today and update your file with them. Find out whether or not you qualify for a discount or lower quote on your homeowners insurance policy. You might be very glad you did!

  1. Take steps to improve your credit rating

Paying off debts and paying your bills on time will strengthen your credit score. The higher your credit score, the more likely lenders are to lend you money at a lower interest rate and on more attractive terms.

If you’ve missed a few mortgage payments this year, resolve to get and stay current as soon as possible.

Poor credit is not a forever thing. The longer you remain current and on time with your bills after being late, the more your FICO score will improve. Lenders pay attention to current behavior. Older credit problems count for less with lenders.

Do you want to save money or make the selling or buying process easier in 2017? Add these New Year’s resolutions to your list. Then contact me, Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn real estate agent with Fillmore Real Estate at (718) 253-9700 ext. 206 or email charles@brooklynrealestatesales.com today. I can answer your questions and help you figure out how much money you’ll save by keeping these homeowner promises in 2017.

What is the Requirement for a Down Payment on a Home?

Thursday, December 15th, 2016
Down payment in Brooklyn

Bottom line: A bigger down payment equals more house.

We’ve found the perfect house, and interest rates are still low at just under 4%. We have been preapproved for the loan needed to purchase the home and have given the seller earnest money for the escrow account. The next step? Acquiring a down payment.

What is a down payment?

A down payment is the money given to the seller of the home you are buying. It is a percentage of the total price of the home. The remaining amount is paid to the seller from the mortgage secured.

The money for a down payment can come from:

  • Your personal savings account
  • The sale of a house
  • Gifts and grants from family, employers and nonprofits

Why is a down payment required when purchasing a home?

Lenders require a down payment because it gives the borrower incentive to make their monthly mortgage payments. If you as a homeowner can’t make the monthly mortgage payments on your home, you risk losing the down payment and going into foreclosure.

What is the minimum amount required to put down on a home?

For a while now, 20% has been the minimum down payment for standard loans. While a down payment of 20% or more allows you to avoid purchasing mortgage insurance, down payments less than 20% are becoming more common.

Because the housing market is improving, lenders are relaxing. Even 10% down payments are more widely accepted. That’s good news for all who need to buy a Brooklyn home.

Most lenders require at least 3% down. Mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA loans) require at least 3.5% down. Minimum down payments of 5%, 10%, 20% or more are determined based on your credit history, the type of dwelling and your reason for buying.

For the sake of explanation, look at these two examples. Let’s say you buy a house for $300,000:

  • A 20% down payment means you pay the seller $60,000 and borrow $240,000.
  • With a 10% down payment, you would pay the seller $30,000 and you would borrow $270,000.

Search for a low down-payment mortgage today. Click here.

Are there risks associated with down payments less than 20%?

Yes, if you can call them risks.

  • In order to qualify for a down payment less than 20%, you’ll need a credit score “in the green.”
  • You’ll have to but mortgage insurance, too. (Mortgage insurance protects the lender in case you default on the loan). There are two main types: Private mortgage insurance (PMI) and FHA insurance.
  • Lenders usually charge fees to borrowers who make down payments of less than 20%. The fees are on top of mortgage insurance premiums. The smaller the down payment, the higher the fees. Fees are paid at closing. Lenders sometimes charge higher interest rates instead of the fees.

When a down payment of 20% or more is put down on a home, the lender figures defaulting will be more detrimental to you than it will be to the bank. (This calculator will estimate the cost of mortgage insurance in your case.)

Because home values are improving, home prices are increasing. However, most economists predict they will not increase rapidly. Putting 10% down rather than 20% will make gaining equity in your home take longer. This matters only if you want to apply for a home equity line of credit in the future. You’ll have less to draw on.

Depending on your situation, 10% down may prove to be worth the complications that come with that. To make sure you’re making the right choice, talk with your lender. Discuss fees and factors that come with different sizes of down payments. (i.e, 10% versus 20% down as mentioned above).

In closing …

A bigger down payment equals more house. Again, talk with your lender. If you can, put 20% down. If you can’t, look at many different sizes of down payments and how each amount will affect your monthly house payments. A good lender will get creative and work with you to get you into your next home.

If you have questions about down payments, contact Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn real estate agent with Fillmore Real Estate at (718) 253-9700 ext. 206 or email charles@brooklynrealestatesales.com. He’ll answer your questions or connect you with a great person who can. Call him today!