Updated: Thursday, January 29, 2015
Getting The Best Mortgage Interest Rate
When you go online to look at mortgage rates, it can be confusing. The only way to get the best rate is to talk to real lenders.
First, decide on which loan program youre going to compare. You need to decide between a fixed, an adjustable rate mortgage ARM and a hybrid. A fixed rate is fixed throughout the life of the loan, an ARM has an interest rate that can vary throughout the life of the loan and a hybrid is an ARM that is fixed for a predetermined period then adjusts into an ARM.
In the current rate environment, with interest rates near historical lows, most people select a fixed rate, but that depends on how long you want to stay in the home. If you think youll sell within five years, go for an adjustable rate. If you believe youll occupy your home for longer, youll be better off with a fixed rate loan.
You also need to select a loan term, or its amortization period. The most common fixed rate term is the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage. You can also select a 15, 20, and 25-year term. The shorter the term, the lower the interest rate, but the higher your monthly payments will be.
Some buyers opt for the 30-year term, and pay down their principal when they can. Conventional income-to-debt ratios prevent you from having more than 41 of your gross income used toward debt plus mortgage payments. If you have low debt, or are buying a modest home compared to your means below an income of 28, get a shorter term so you can build equity faster.
Now youre ready to compare loan rates. Get referrals for three lenders from family and friends. Give each lender you call the same facts -- what kind of loan you want, the term, how much you want to put down toward the purchase price, and your credit score. This is to get preapproved.
Keep in mind that quotes you receive arent binding on the lenders part until you actually sign an application and share your personal financial information. Once you put a contract on a home, then you can apply with the lender of your choice. Thats when youll receive your good faith estimate, or binding costs.
Mortgage rates can change throughout the day, so compare lenders rates a close to the same time as possible. You might get a rate quote from a lender on a Friday morning of 4.5 percent then call another lender the following Monday afternoon and get a quote of 3.75 for the very same loan. That doesnt mean the second lender is lower than the first lender, it means the markets may have changed and rates in general have gone down. You need to call back the first lender and get their updated rate quote.
Give your lenders the opportunity to earn your business, just make sure theyre all competing under the same conditions. Thats the only way to know youre getting the best rate.
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14 Sneaky Ways To Get Your House Sold
Lets face it: Selling a home is stressful. The longer its on the market, the more stress it brings and the more it typically costs sellers. Having to lower the sales price, sometimes multiple times, carry two mortgages, or delay the purchase of a new home if an existing home wont sell - stinks. You need every advantage you can find to get your home sold. Try a few of these and youll be packing in no time.
1. Get your neighbors involved.
Neighbors who like you will be happy to help you get your home sold. Same for those who dont like you. Everyone else might need convincing to lift a finger. Offer a 200 prize to anyone who brings you a buyer who closes.
2. Crowdsource it.
Accessing the power of social media will naturally increase the number of people who see your home for sale. Up the ante by offering the same incentive to the person responsible for bringing in the buyer.
3. Throw in the kitchen sink.
Incentives can create additional interest in your home and maybe even convert a "maybe" to a "yes."
"Individual sellers should consider price and other incentives that could entice a buyer to take a look. You have to attract their attention somehow," said Bankrate. "You want to create the buzz."
Everything from gas cards to movie tickets to the furniture you were getting rid of anyway, to a year of homeowners fees can do the trick.
4. Entice with cookies.
5. Toy story
Is there a family touring your home? Set out a few key toys in the play room or put some crayons and a few coloring pages on the kitchen table to occupy the little ones.
6. Research your buyers
Dont become a stalkerbut uncovering a few facts you can use to your advantage could help make that connection with a buyer. Are they golfers? Conveniently leave out your clubs. Wine enthusiasts? Borrow a few bottles from your best friends wine collection and arrange on the countertop.
7. Write it out.
Leave a personal note for the potential buyers touring your house telling them how much you have enjoyed living there and offering a few tips about the neighborhood the best place for ice cream, where to find a good babysitter. The personal touch will endear you to buyers and help make your home memorable.
8. Create a list.
Another way to make your home memorable is to create a "Top 10 reasons to love our house" list. Have it printed and/or laminated and leave it for buyers.
9. Another kind of "leave behind."
Use the best picture of your home to create a magnet or key chain for buyers to take with them.
10. Stage it.
"Sellers need to understand that the way we live in our home is not the way we sell our home," said Front Door.
Homes that are staged "spend 73 percent less time on the market; typically sell for more money; end up on buyers "must see" lists; are viewed as "well-maintained;" and have fewer concessions requested of the seller," according to the Real Estate Staging Association, said the Daily News.
Staging can cost up to 2,500, but by using tactics used in model homes, sellers might be able to do it themselves. The first step "is a thorough de-cluttering. Sellers should purge the house of all personal belongings, family photos and countertop appliances," said Front Door. "Furniture should be rearranged so as to make the room appear larger. Space sells.
11. Underprice it.
This is no new tactic, but it is one that can result in a bidding war and a higher sales price that would have been achieved otherwise.
12. Forget the open house.
Ditch the typical open house and throw a wine tasting party instead. Feature a few local wines, pull together a couple of appetizers and voila. Not only is this a different approach that will make your listing stand out, it will also showcase the homes entertainment potential.
13. No bones about it.
If theres a loud barker in your neighborhood, offering to pay for a day of doggie daycare during an open house may be warranted. Handing out special dog bones packaged as "Open House Bites" will help occupy dogs on your street and help keep them quiet while potential buyers are touring your home.
14. Borrow some bikes.
If you live in a family neighborhood, make sure it looks like you live in a family neighborhood. Enlisting some neighbor kids to leave their bikes outsideand maybe parents of babies can leave out a stroller or twoduring an open house will warm up the street and illustrate who lives there.
Have any more ideas for sneaky tactics you can use to get a home sold? Let us know in the comments.
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What Buyers Should Know About Home Inspections
For many first-time buyers, buying a home can be a scary experience. They know theyll be maintaining or improving a home with little to no maintenance experience, so the solution is to buy a home in perfect condition. So they hire a home inspector to point out all the flaws.
The problem is -- no perfect home exists. Air conditioners break, plumbing pipes leak, and roof tiles blow off in the wind.
If youre buying a home, start with a reasonable expectation of what home inspectors can do. Their job is to inform you about the integrity and condition of what youre buying, good and bad.
A home inspection should take several hours, long enough to cover all built-in appliances, all mechanical, electrical, gas and plumbing systems, the roof, foundation, gutters, exterior skins, windows and doors.
An inspector doesnt test for pests or sample the septic tank. For those, you need industry-specific inspectors.
Heres what else you need to do.
1. Make sure the inspector you hire is licensed. The responsibilities of home inspectors vary according to state law and their areas of expertise.
2. Ask what the inspection covers. Some inspection companies have extensive divisions that can provide environmental for radon and lead paint. Be prepared to hire and schedule several inspectors according to your lenders requirements and to pay several hundred dollars for each type of inspection.
3. Some inspection reports only cover the main house, not other buildings on the property. For specialty inspections such as termites, make sure the inspection covers all buildings on the property including guest houses, detached garages, storage buildings, etc.
4. Attend the inspection and follow along with the inspectors. Seeing problems for yourself will help you understand whats serious, what needs replacement now or later, and whats not important.
5. Dont expect the seller to repair or replace every negative found on the report. If youre getting a VA or FHA-guaranteed loan, some items arent negotiable. The seller must address them, but otherwise, pick your battles with the seller carefully.
A home inspection points out problems, they also point out whats working well. It can help you make your final decision about the home - to ask the seller to make repairs or to offer a little less, to buy as is or not to buy at all.
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