Pat Cray

Did You Know?: 4 Ways That a Real Estate Attorney Can Make Your Home Purchase Easier

May 26, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Did You Know?: 4 Ways That a Real Estate Attorney Can Make Your Home Purchase Easier It is common for home buyers to take steps to keep their out-of-pocket expenses to a minimum, and many will try to avoid paying for optional services for this reason. While you may not want to pay for all optional services, there are some that can be truly beneficial to you even if they are not required. After learning more about the services provided to you by a real estate attorney, you may be ready to seek out these professional legal services for your upcoming purchase.

Explaining the Contract

A real estate sales contract can be confusing to understand because parts of it use real estate or legal jargon. Your real estate attorney can review the contract for you to ensure that your rights are protected, and he or she can also help you to better understand your obligations and requirements under the contract.

Assisting With Title Research

A real estate attorney can also assist you with researching the title. Everything from liens and covenants to easements and more may impact your ownership of the property. The real estate attorney will provide you with more information to ensure that you have title to the property free and clear.

Helping You With the Mortgage Documents

A mortgage is a legally binding agreement. You will be contractually bound by the terms of the mortgage. From the monthly payment obligation to the ability of the lender to foreclose on the property if you do not follow through on the terms of the mortgage, there are many legal nuances to consider. The real estate attorney can review these documents on your behalf before you sign them.

Representing You at Closing

Your closing is both a financial and a legal process. This is where you will sign all of the mortgage, title and sales documents to finalize the purchase. Generally, after closing, you will own the property and will be contractually tied to the mortgage. While many documents will be available for your attorney to review before closing, there may be last minute changes or other documents available at closing that your attorney has not reviewed. Your attorney can represent your interests and answer your questions at the closing table.

You do not need a real estate attorney to assist you throughout the purchase process. However, you can see that there are many beneficial services provided to you by an attorney. Contact your trusted mortgage professional for more information.

Avoiding Home Buyer Remorse: 5 Tips for a Happier Homeowner

May 10, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Avoiding Home Buyer Remorse: 5 Tips for a Happier HomeownerThe rush of excitement that comes with finding the home you’ve been looking for is ideal, but just because it seems like the perfect place, it doesn’t mean there aren’t other factors to consider. Instead of getting hit with buyer’s remorse, here are some tips so that your home purchase doesn’t become something you’ll regret.

Forget About The Competition

If you’re contemplating a house and happen to be dragged into a bidding war, it’s important to take a step back and determine if it’s really the right home for you. It can be easy to get carried away and up your offer, but make sure you determine what the home is really worth to you.

Take A Second Look

If you’ve been to a lot of home viewings and have finally found a place you feel good about, it can be easy to overlook the minor details. Instead of trusting your memory, make sure you visit the home a couple of times before putting in an offer so you’ll be aware of any major flaws you might have missed the first time around.

Visit The Neighborhood

The instant appeal of a home that seems perfect for your family can be unexpected, but it’s worth considering the neighborhood you’re going to be living in to ensure it’s livable. A home is one thing, but local amenities and an area your family feels comfortable will come to be equally important.

Avoid A Fixer-Upper

The kind of home you can fix up might make for a fun project for the DIY person, but biting off more than you can chew in an effort to save can be a mistake. A few small renovations may not be a big issue, but a home that needs a lot of changes will likely end up being more of a burden once the deal is sealed.

Stick To Your Purchase Price

Many people get so overwhelmed when they find a unique place to settle that their price point flies out the window. However, instead of making allowances for a purchase price you can’t really swing, keep what’s affordable in mind and be sure you don’t veer too far above it.

It can be exciting to find the kind of home you’re looking for in a center you love, but it’s important to pay a price that’s affordable and get the home you really want. Contact your local mortgage professional for more information.

5 Documents First-time Home-buyers Need for a Smoother Purchasing Process

April 27, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

5 Documents First-time Home-buyers Need for a Smoother Purchasing ProcessWith all the work that goes into finding the kind of home you’ll want to put an offer on, it can be easy to forget about all the little things that happen after the deal has been made. While the paperwork involved in purchasing may seem like a long way off, here’s a quick review of some of the documents you’ll need when the time comes to seal the deal.

Your Credit Report

It’s important to review your credit before putting an offer in, so ensure that you request your credit report in advance and review it for any errors that may be present. If there are any discrepancies negatively impacting your credit score, you’ll be able to have them corrected before they can cause an issue with your real estate purchase.

Pay Stub Proof

In order to ascertain your ability to pay your monthly mortgage, you will need to provide pay stubs from your current place of employment. You won’t want to give away your originals, but a photocopy of your paychecks usually serves as adequate verification.

Recent Bank Statements

The number of bank statements required to prove your credit history may change depending on the lender you’re dealing with, but you’ll probably need photocopies from the last two to three months. This will be a means of proving your financial health as well as your ability to pay your monthly mortgage.

Tax Return Copies

Your federal tax returns will provide further proof of your employment and financial standing, so the last two years of these – complete with your signature – will need to be submitted. Keep in mind that any schedules you’ve filled out to complete your yearly returns should also be included.

Additional Asset Statements

In addition to recent bank statements, if you have any stocks and bonds, mutual funds, RRSPs or other investments, you should also provide statements of proof for these. While these accounts will only require your most recent statements, they will be beneficial in providing a more comprehensive picture of your finances.

There are many aspects of purchasing a home that can be time consuming, but having the documents you need beforehand can save a lot of stress when crunch time comes. If you’re planning on purchasing a home soon, contact your trusted local mortgage professional for more information.

Investor Thoughts: What Home-buyers Can Learn from a Real Estate Investor’s Stand-point

April 21, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Investor Thoughts: What Home-buyers Can Learn from a Real Estate Investor's Stand-pointThere are plenty of things to consider when purchasing a home, from the size of place that you’re looking for to the amount of home you’re able to afford. While it’s certainly worth knowing what you want going in, here are a few factors that investors often think about when it comes to making or breaking the appeal of a real estate purchase.

Will The Location Last?

‘Location, location, location’ is a popular expression for a reason, and it’s among the first things that any person purchasing a property will consider when they think about long term-investment potential. It can be easy to think that a currently trendy community or beachfront property will always be a great investment, but trendy places go out of style and sea levels can rise. An investor will want a location that’s ideal, but they’ll also consider what the area’s future might hold.

Are You In A Bubble?

If you’ve found the perfect home to live in and are considering an offer, you may not be too worried about it’s selling potential a few years on. However, if you’re buying in a bubble, your price may be inflated, and this can cause problems if you want to make a profit in five years’ time. Real estate is on the up and up all over the world, so a true investor will consider if the market value will continue to rise or if it’s readied for a considerable economic setback.

Will It Survive The Trends?

The market for condos is certainly booming right now with the rising price of real estate, but many people are also choosing to move away from urban centers to buy a little bigger and start a family. Whether it’s an open concept or a sizeable townhouse, it can be tempting to buy the type of home that is hot right now, but these trends may not be so popular in the coming years. Instead of going for flash, consider what will always be in style or can at least be easily renovated.

The most important thing when purchasing a home is buying a place that you can feel good about, but real estate investors know that there are a number of important factors to consider. If you’re currently on the market for a new home and are weighing your options, contact your trusted local mortgage professional for more information.

How the Truth in Lending Act Protects You When You Take Out a Mortgage

March 24, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

How the Truth in Lending Act Protects You When You Take Out a MortgageIf you’re planning to get a mortgage, it’s critical that you know your rights under the law. The Truth in Lending Act (TILA) is a piece of federal legislation that governs how mortgage lenders can and cannot operate their businesses.

So how does the Truth in Lending Act protect you, and what are your rights under this legislation? Here’s what you need to know.

Your Lender Must Give You A Timely Loan Estimate

A Loan Estimate (previously known as a Good Faith Estimate) is a document your lender provides you that details information about what kind of a mortgage you’ve applied for. Your Loan Estimate includes terms such as your estimated monthly payment, your estimated interest rate, and whether or not your mortgage balance is able to rise even if you make payments.

Under the Truth in Lending Act, your lender is obligated to give you a good-faith Loan Estimate within three days of when you apply for your mortgage. If your lender fails to provide your Loan Estimate within three days or fails to fix reported errors within 60 days, you can sue for damages and report the lender to the federal government.

Your Lender Must Notify You Of Rate Changes

The Truth in Lending Act states that your mortgage lender is required to give you an annual percentage rate estimate within 1/8 of one percent of government guidelines. Your lender must use the government-approved mathematical formula to provide your rate estimate.

If your estimated rate may be subject to change, your lender is obligated to disclose the first possible change you’ll see to your interest rate, and the maximum degree to which it may change. Your lender is also required to disclose the maximum possible changes for subsequent rate adjustments.

There Are Strict Rules About How And When Lenders Can Charge Late Fees

If your lender typically administers fees for late payments, TILA will specify that your lender must notify you – in advance – the date on which a late fee will be imposed and how much the late fee will be. TILA states that no late fee can exceed 4 percent of the amount past due, and a payment is only considered late if it is 15 or more days past due (or 30 or more days past due if you prepaid your interest). Your lender also cannot charge you a late fee on top of a late fee.

TILA is a powerful consumer protection law that gives would-be homeowners a great deal of power. By knowing your rights under TILA, you’ll be able to confidently negotiate with lenders and avoid any unnecessary problems. Contact your local mortgage professional to learn more.

3 Tips and Tricks to Make Mortgage Pre-Qualification Easy

March 15, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

3 Tips and Tricks to Make Mortgage Pre-qualification EasyIf you’re planning to buy a home, you should know that the mortgage pre-qualification process is the first in a series of steps that eventually lead to home ownership. A pre-qualification is different from a pre-approval – the pre-qualification meeting is simply you and your lender hashing out how much you can afford to spend on a property. But once you’ve been pre-qualified, it makes the mortgage process easier.

So how can you make the pre-qualification quick and painless so you can get on with your house hunt? Here’s what you need to know.

Get Your Debts In Order

One of the major questions during the pre-qualification meeting will be your credit history and debt payments. Your lender will use your social security number to look up your credit history and determine how your income and current monthly debt payments stack up. If you have a high amount of debt, you may want to do everything you can to pay it down to qualify for your dream home. However, it’s important to go over the details with a trusted mortgage professional for specific guidance here.

Chart Your Income And PITI

Your lender will use a specific ratio (the PITI to income ratio) to determine how much it’s willing to lend you in order to buy a home – and that’s why, if you calculate this ratio beforehand, you’ll know what to expect going into the meeting. PITI stands for “Principal and Interest, including Taxes and Insurance”.  It refers to the four components of a standard mortgage payment. Your PITI ratio, often referred to as the “front end ratio” then, shows how much of your income goes toward your monthly mortgage payment.

To calculate your front end ratio, simply divide your gross monthly income by your monthly mortgage payment (your PITI amounts plus your mortgage insurance). Most lenders will want to see a PITI to income ratio that is under 28%.

Build Up Your Savings Account

It’s important that you have some savings over time that can be used for a down payment, closing costs and reserves.  Although there are some very low down payment options, having a decent balance in your savings account always helps you qualify easier for a mortgage.  

Closing costs are the fees associated with getting a mortgage loan.  These can also be negotiated to be paid by the seller if you choose.  But once again, they aren’t required to make that concession, so it would be wise to move toward saving for those expenses. 

Reserves are the amounts that will need to be collected to cover your taxes, insurance and mortgage insurance on the property.  These will fund the “reserve” in your escrow account so you’ll always have enough to cover those expenses as they come due throughout the year.  Your mortgage company keeps this money for you and pays the expenses on time as well.

Pre-qualifying for a mortgage can seem like a daunting process, but it’s actually quite simple. Your mortgage advisor can help you to understand what goes into a pre-qualification. Contact us today to learn more about how pre-qualifications work and how you can get started.

Ready to Move in to Your New Home? Not So Fast! Take Care of These 3 Items Before the Big Move

March 11, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Ready to Move in to Your New Home? Not So Fast! Take Care of These 3 Items Before the Big MoveWith the excitement involved in moving into a new home and all of the things that need to be done, it can be easy to forget a few important things before you load up the moving van. If the day of departure is drawing closer and you’re mulling over the final details, here are some items you may want to check off the list first.

Install A New Lock

One of the most important aspects of home ownership is the feeling of security it automatically provides, so you’ll want to change out the locks on the doors before you embark on the big move. As soon as you’ve received the keys to your new home, contact a locksmith who will be able to do the dirty work for you or, if time permits, you may want to take on this task on your own and save a little bit of money in the process.

Do A Quick Clean

With so many boxes to unpack and items to organize, the concept of cleaning the house you’ve just moved into might not be very appealing; however, this can be a necessary step in making you and your family feel more at home. It doesn’t have to be the kind of cleanup that will take 10 hours, but a quick dusting and wiping of cabinets and appliances, as well as a quick sweep and vacuum of the floor, may change the way you feel about your new home.

If Time Permits, Paint!

If the walls of your new house happen to be in immaculate shape, you can probably avoid paint; however, a prime up of the walls can add a lot to the sparkle of your new home and may make it feel like yours much sooner. Instead of going for boldness or deciding on a decorating scheme right away, choose a neutral color that will instantly brighten your room. If the walls are in particularly bad shape, you may even want to contact a professional who will be happy to sand and spackle away.

Moving into a new home is undoubtedly a time of great excitement, but there are some things you should do before you make yourself comfortable in your new place. If you’re curious about what’s available on the market and would like to know your options, you may want to contact one of our local real estate professionals for more information.

Worried about Your FICO Score? 4 Easy Strategies to Fix It Up

March 10, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Worried about Your FICO Score? 4 Easy Strategies to Fix It UpIf you’re worried about your bad credit, you’ll want to do everything in your power to improve your rating as quickly as possible – especially if you have a major purchase coming up. Improving your credit rating can give you access to better interest rates on mortgages or even help you to get that job you’re after.

IMPORTANT! If you are currently involved in a home loan transaction, speak with your trusted mortgage lender before taking any action regarding your credit!

So how can you boost your FICO score quickly and easily? Here’s what you need to know.

Get Your Credit Report And Dispute Any Errors

Credit reporting agencies don’t always keep 100% perfect records, and there’s a good chance that your credit report contains at least one error. One recent FTC study found that 25% of consumers have an error on their credit report, and that in 5% of cases, the errors were actually severe enough to impact the loan terms that borrowers were able to negotiate.

You can get your annual credit report from all three credit reporting agencies for free. Carefully read over it. If you see any errors – if your name is misspelled, if they have the wrong address on file, or if there are late or unpaid charges that you didn’t make – you can dispute the items in question.

Still Overdue? Negotiate Payment Terms With Your Creditors

If you’re overdue on a payment, it will weigh heavily on your credit score. As your payment history makes up a full 35% of your FICO score, this is one area where you’ll want to invest a great deal of time and effort.

Contact any creditors you owe money to and ask if you can negotiate your bill. The ideal outcome for you is to have the creditor report your debt as paid in full, so see if you can secure that promise in writing in exchange for an accelerated payment schedule.

Try Maintaining A Lower Utilization Ratio

Your utilization ratio refers to the amount of credit you use at any given time. If this number goes beyond 30 percent, you’ll start to see your credit score drop. Ideally, you should aim for a utilization ratio below 10 percent – this will prove to your lender that you can responsibly pay for the credit you use.

Have Recurring Bills? Automate Your Payments

Automating your monthly payments can be a great way to boost your credit score. Whether it’s your mortgage, your credit card, or your student loan, a pre-authorized monthly payment will ensure that everything gets paid on time and give you a great credit history.

Your FICO score is a number that will determine your eligibility for mortgages and other loans. These are general tips to help with your credit score and improve the overall reporting of your credit.

Call your local mortgage professional to learn about what kind of a mortgage your credit score can afford you.

It Isn’t Always a Clear Road after Pre-approval: 4 Reasons Why Your Mortgage May Be Denied

March 9, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

It Isn't Always a Clear Road after Pre-approval: 4 Reasons Why Your Mortgage May Be DeniedSo you’ve been pre-approved for a mortgage – great! You’ve taken the first step toward becoming a homeowner. But before you start picking out china patterns, you’ll want to keep in mind that a pre-approval isn’t the same thing as a mortgage agreement. There’s still no guarantee that you’ll actually get a mortgage.

But why would a lender deny a mortgage after pre-approving a borrower? Here’s what you need to know.

Sudden Changes In Income Or Employment History

A number of mortgages will require borrowers to have consistent employment for a certain length of time. If you apply for an FHA mortgage, for instance, you’ll be obligated to have an employment history dating back at least two years. Any gaps in your employment history will require a written explanation that your underwriter will need to approve.

If you switch career fields while in the process of buying a home and it has a significant impact on your income, your lender may deny your mortgage.

Credit Mismanagement After Pre-Approval

Lenders like to see consistency – so if your credit score suddenly drops after you’ve been pre-approved for a mortgage, it sends up a red flag. Even something as minor as a late payment on a cell phone bill could affect your credit score just enough to cause your lender to deny you. Pay extra attention to your bills throughout the home buying process, and make sure nothing slips past you.

Taking On More Debt In The Interim

A number of buyers will take on more debt after they’ve been pre-approved for a mortgage. Although it may be tempting to get a new car to go with your new house, getting a car loan will change your debt-to-income ratio and cause your lender to think twice about how responsible you are. If you’re in the process of buying a home, hold off on any other major purchases until after the deal has closed.

An Unsatisfactory Bank Appraisal

Sometimes, your mortgage can be denied for reasons that have nothing to do with you. Some lenders will only issue a mortgage if the property value of the house in question is appraised above a certain level. Others will deny a mortgage if the home requires roof repairs, electrical work, or a new heating system.

You’ll want to check with your lender to see what home conditions could be cause for denying your mortgage application.

Getting approved for a mortgage is a convoluted process at best, but a mortgage advisor can help you to navigate the approval process with ease. Contact your local mortgage professional for more tips on how to ensure you get approved.

Buying a New Home? Learn How the ‘Conforming Loan Limit’ Might Affect Your Purchase

February 24, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Buying a New Home? Learn How the 'Conforming Loan Limit' Might Affect Your PurchaseFrom mortgage to equity to debt-to-income ratio, there are many terms associated with home ownership that can be quite confusing if you’ve never been on the market for a home before. ‘Conforming loan limit’ may be a less familiar real estate term than the rest, but here are some things you’ll need to know about it and what it could mean for your biggest investment.

What Is The ‘Conforming Loan Limit’?

The Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac) are legally required to provide loans for balances below a specific amount, and this amount is what is known as the ‘conforming loan limit’. While the loan amount is determined by credit history and income amount, these conforming loans that are less than the specific amount are considered lower risk. If a loan amount is above the conforming loan limit, it is known as a jumbo loan and usually comes with higher rates.

How The ‘Conforming Loan Limit’ Is Determined

The Federal Home Financing Agency determines any adjustments made to conforming loan limits and the decided-upon amount is based on the home prices from October to October for the previous year. This amount is released annually in November and is enforced the following January. While this limit was continued at $417,000 through 2016, the amount for regions like Alaska, Guam, Hawaii and the United States Virgin Islands is significantly higher than the standard amount due to the cost of housing.

Going Above The ‘Limit’ And Combination Loans

While jumbo loans carry more risk, there are ways to avoid going above the conforming loan limit. There is the option of acquiring a conforming loan for $417,000, the amount established for 2016, and then utilizing a second mortgage for the remaining amount that will ensure you do not have to take out a jumbo loan; however, the rates for a second loan will likely be higher. In the event that you would like to avoid jumbo loans or a combination loan, you may want to consider putting more money down on your initial down payment.

The conforming loan limit changes each year, but it may have a significant impact on your home purchase if it falls below a certain amount. If you are curious about real estate terms because you’re considering a home purchase in the near future, you may want to contact one of our local real estate professionals for more information.

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