Category: Real Estate

How to Financially Prepare to Buy a Home in 2017

If you want to buy a home for 2017, make sure to follow these important and necessary steps to make it a smooth process. 

If you want to purchase a home for 2017, be sure to follow these great and helpful hints on how to financially prepare for this journey.

  1. Check Your Credit Score – A credit score is a numerical representation of all of your credit history. These scores range from 300 to 850, and the higher your score, the better you look to banks and other lenders. Good credit will get you the best mortgage option with low-interest rates. The lower the rate, even if it is a percent or two, could potentially save you thousands of dollars.
  2. Do Not Open New Credit Cards – A new line of credit is the last thing you need when looking to buy a home. The credit line that is created when you open a new credit card can change your whole application and mess with the numbers so that your mortgage payment is higher.
  3. Keep an Eye on Interest Rates – If you hear that interest rates are near historic lows, you should not assume you’ll get that rate. This is where knowing your credit score can come in handy. Everyone’s financial situation is different, so make sure to talk to your agent/lender to get the best rates possible.
  4. Interview Real Estate Agents – The right real estate agent can help you find a home quite easily. Make sure to interview them to ensure you have the right one.

Buying a home can be tough, but if you know the simple stuff, you can make it a lot easier for you and your real estate agent. Contact Dean Rathbun when it comes time to finding the perfect plan of action to buy your home. We are happy to help you.

How to Stage Your Home (While You Live There)

Selling your home is an art. To stage your home is an art that you must master to give your home the best chance at being sold.

Trying to sell your home while you are still living in it can be quite the challenge. Prospective home buyers expect the home they will be looking at to be spotless because it gives them a better ability to imagine themselves living in the home. So, you can imagine that if you live in the house, it may be hard to sell due to your presence. But it’s not impossible. Here are a few tips on how you can stage your home while you live there.

  1. Put Away Your Junk
    Before you list your home on the market, go through all of your stuff and only keep what is most valuable. You do not have to throw it away–you can put it into storage–but it does have to leave your home.
  2. Go Neutral
    If you have rooms painted in bright and popping colors, consider repainting them back to their neutral colors. Whites and beiges may be dull and boring to live in, but they present your potential buyers to imagine whatever color they may think goes best with their personality and feel.
  3. Make Rooms Seem Bigger
    You can make small rooms look big by removing large pieces of furniture if, that is, you don’t need them. Placing a mirror opposite the window will also allow more light to reflect around the room which will make it look much bigger.

Staging your home while you live in it may be a bit hard to do, but you will be glad you did it when it sells quickly! Contact Dean Rathbun when it comes time to finding the perfect plan of action to buy your home. We are happy to help you.

Decorating Your Home for the Holidays

With the holidays right around the corner, you should try to draw inspiration from these great holiday decorating tips. 

It’s time to strip away the Thanksgiving decorations and deck the halls with boughs of holly. The holidays are here and it’s time to get festive! Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanza, or nothing at all, decorating your home puts you and any guests you may have over in the winter mood. Here are some quality and creative holiday decorative tips for you and your home.

Snowy Fruit

Even if it doesn’t snow where you’re from, you can still have snow-covered fruit in your home. Mix three parts white glitter to one part silver glitter. Then coat the plastic pears, limes, and grapes for a sparkly centerpiece.

Wreath of Ornaments

Spherical ornaments can serve more purpose than simply hanging on tree branches. With a bit of glue and a bit of patience, you can create your very own wreath made of ornaments! (Pro tip: We advise buying plastic ornaments, instead of glass ones to eliminate the cuts.)

Staircase Stockings

Your staircase railings can add the holiday feeling if you know how. From the railings, you can hang stockings with matching patterns. Then with a string of light, you can twirl it all the way around the railing.

Snowflake Coasters

Stitch up snowflake coasters for the holiday party if you’re rather skilled with a crochet and needle.

Decorating your home for the holidays is fun, but not as important as knowing your mortgage. Mortgages may seem like stressful contracts to obtain, but with the right preparation, they don’t have to be! Contact Dean Rathbun when it comes time to finding the perfect plan of action to buy your home. We are happy to help you.

Mortgage Misconceptions: Busted

Looking for a mortgage for your dream home? Make sure you have the facts and then walk down to the bank with confidence. 

Misconceptions disallow us to make rational decisions, which end up hurting us immediately and down the road. And when it comes to something as important as your mortgage, being able to filter out fact from fiction could save you thousands of dollars. Getting a mortgage may not be the easiest thing in the world, which is why discerning myths from reality will only help you throughout the entire process. Here are a few mortgage misconceptions you may have which you should clear up right now.

Your Best Credit Score Is Used for Approval

You may think that lenders will use your highest credit score, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Lenders take the middle of three credit scores. If you are applying jointly, they will take the lower of both the middle scores.

The Rate You’re Quoted Is Final

Rates are tied to the daily trading of mortgage bonds, so most rates change on a daily basis. There are instances where the refinancers can like a rate when it’s quoted, but you must give your lender enough information and documentation to determine if you qualify for the quotes rate.

Mortgage Insurance Is Required if Your Down Payment Is Less Than Twenty Percent

Mortgage insurance is usually required if your down payment is less than twenty percent. The most common way to do this is with a combination mortgage. The first mortgage caps at eighty percent and the second mortgage takes care of the remaining twenty percent–often called a piggyback.

Mortgages may seem like stressful contracts to obtain, but with the right preparation, they don’t have to be! Contact Dean Rathbun when it comes time to finding the perfect plan of action to buy your home. We are happy to help you.


How to Shorten Your Mortgage by Year

Just because you have a 30-year loan doesn’t mean you have to be well into your 60s or 70s paying it off. These tips can help you cross the finish line early. 

No one wants to spend longer than they have to paying off their mortgage. The fastest way to pay off a mortgage faster is to get a shorter-term loan, like getting a 15-year instead of a 30-year. But that means higher monthly payments that not everyone will be able to afford. So how do you fix your budget with a loan you can afford and still pay it off early? Here are a few common approaches to this problem.

Biweekly Payments

A biweekly plan is the easiest way to shorten your mortgage without ruining your finances. This plan shaves about four to five year off your mortgage as you make half your payment every other week.

This means you’re making 26 payments, which is the equivalent of 13 monthly mortgage payments per year instead of just 12. The normal budget can absorb this blow because you are still paying your mortgage, only cutting in half every two weeks.

Increase Monthly Payment

If you can afford to pay more than a biweekly payment, you can opt to do so by increasing your monthly payment amount. Paying an extra $200, $300, or even $400 a month can shave off up to ten years on your mortgage!

If you can still afford more, you may want to consider a fifteen-year loan as they shave off about $100 a month off your monthly payment.

Mortgages may seem like stressful contracts to obtain, but with the right preparation, they don’t have to be! Contact Dean Rathbun when it comes time to finding the perfect plan of action to buy your home. We are happy to help you.

The Mortgage Checklist

Mortgage lenders require certain paperwork that verifies every single aspect of your life: income, debts, assets, and more. 

Being on the lender’s best side is a good idea. A substantial step in the right direction is by having everything you need before you apply for a mortgage. The lender will request the following documents, so gather them before you apply for a mortgage. Here is a mortgage checklist you should use before shopping for a mortgage.

Mortgage Checklist

  • W-2 – Lenders require the most recent W-2 wage and tax statements, but some will need two years of W-2s.
  • Profit and Loss Statements (or 1099, if you own a business) – Self-employed borrowers may have to submit a current-year profit and loss statement.
  • Payment Stubs – In order to verify that you make as much as you claim you make, loan guidelines say to have one month of verified income.
  • Tax Returns – Including all the pages and schedules will be expected. The returns will be scrutinized for unreimbursed employee business expenses, self-employment business losses, and signs of loan fraud.
  • List of Debt – On your list should be credit card debt, student loans, car loans, and child support payments.
  • List of Assets – Including bank statements, mutual fund statement(s), real estate, automobile title(s), brokerage statement(s), and records of any other investments or assets.
  • Cancelled Checks – If any checks have bounced, your mortgage company wants to know about it. They want to know if your rent payments are up to date. If you don’t have those checks from months or even years ago,  you can supply the mortgage company with the name of your ex-landlord.

Mortgages may seem like stressful contracts to obtain, but with the right preparation, they don’t have to be! Contact  Dean Rathbun when it comes time to finding the perfect plan of action to buy your home. We are happy to help you.

Questions You Should Ask Your Mortgage Lender

Are you ready to buy a home? Not so fast, cowboy. 

Do you think you’re ready to purchase a home? While the “perfect plan” is a myth, it definitely helps to have some guidelines to assist you along the way. Buying a home is likely the most expensive investment you will ever make in your life, and it is one that will be with you for decades, so being fully prepared is the best way to go about it. Here are some questions you should ask your mortgage lender before you apply for a mortgage.

  1. What is the interest rate on this mortgage?
    Ask to take a look at the lender’s loan estimate which breaks down the contract. It should include the annual percentage rate (APR) which includes: rates, points, fees, and other charges you’ll have to pay for the mortgage.
  2. How much are the closing costs? 
    Borrowers pay fees for the services that the lender and other parties provided to you. It is required for lenders to give you an estimate within three days of receiving a loan estimate.
  3. Will there be any origination/discount points for which I have to pay?
    Lenders have the option of charging origination points, discount points, or both. 1 point is equal to 1 percent of the total loan amount. DISCOUNT POINTS reduce the interest rate, and ORIGINATION POINTS are fees by the lender for originating the loan.
  4. Prepayment penalty
    Some lenders charge a penalty if you prepay your mortgage. If you want to pay off your mortgage faster and get rid of that incredible burden, you should know of any penalties that may come.

If you want help with acquiring the mortgage that’s right for you, contact  Dean Rathbun when it comes time to finding the perfect plan of action to buy your home. We are happy to help you.

Real Estate Market Trends for Fall 2016

What should you expect from the real estate market in the fall of 2016? 

Seasons change, and the real estate market is not immune to this shift. The fall of 2016 is here, but what can you expect to happen to the housing market during this change in seasons? Will the prices be affected by the presidential election? Will an up and coming generation finally make its mark in the real estate market? And for what should potential buyers be on the lookout. Here is what you should know about the real estate market trends for the fall of 2016.

In the fall, mortgage rates will rise. Mortgages have been low for the past decade and with a strengthening economy, prices are looking to be back on the rise.

Rent rates will climb gradually. Rent rates have increased since 2015, and it will remain steady through the fall of 2016 and into the future. This steadiness is because American households simply do not have the credit, savings, and stable income that’s required by modern-day lenders.

Millennials will take the wheel. The fall is known for the slowing down of home sales, but in 2016, Millennials will finally start making a difference in the real estate market as more of them buy their very first home. Recovering Gen Xers and Baby Boomers will also make an impact in the home buying field as well.

The fall is a time for change, and the real estate market will be changing along with it. Being prepared for this shift is the only way you’ll be able to take advantage of the opportunities that may be coming and acquire the house that’s right for you. Contact  Dean Rathbun when it comes time to finding the perfect plan of action to buy your home. We are happy to help you.

Why Isn’t My House Selling? 3 Possible Reasons as to Why

Has your home been stalled in the housing market? There may be some reasons you’re overlooking.

It’s currently a seller’s market in many cities across the U.S. If your home is in one of those cities, and is not getting offers, something is wrong. There are more buyers than there are houses for sale, so simple statistics means that your home should be getting at least a few offers. Knowing the problem is a good first step in finding the solution and giving your house high visibility for some great offers.

  1. Your Confidence is Playing Tricks on You

While being confident is certainly a quality you want to have, there is such a thing as too much confidence. This overconfidence may be hindering your chances of selling your home. Don’t get lazy in this seller’s market, and prepare as you would in a regular market (equal buyers to sellers ratio).

  1. Your Photos Are Bad

Finding homes online is what many buyers are doing nowadays. The first view they see must be a well-framed HD picture; otherwise, they’ll skip right over it and settle on a house that took the time to procure high definition photographs. Hiring a professional photographer to take pictures may not seem necessary, but, it pays off if you want additional offers.

  1. The House Has an Odor About It

If your house has a pet or a smoker, your house will likely smell pretty bad. Washing the rugs, carpet, and investing in some professional-grade odor removers would be a wise investment. No one wants to move into a house that smells bad.

If your house isn’t selling in this market, there may be an issue which you can quickly fix and (literally) bring home those offers. Contact  Dean Rathbun when it comes time to devising the perfect plan of action to sell your home. We are happy to help you.

3 (More) Questions to ask Your Mortgage Lender

A little research to compare your options for a mortgage, and a few questions in your artillery, will help you get the best one when you work with your mortgage lender.

Previously, we wrote about three questions to ask your mortgage lender before you secure your mortgage–we now have three more questions you should ask to give you even more knowledge and help to secure the best mortgage that you can get. When you are ready to get the best potential mortgage, here are three (more) questions you should ask your mortgage lender.

  1. What are the closing costs that go with this loan? Closing costs usually fall between 2 and 5 percent of the total loan. This range, when factored in with hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars, is big enough to make this question an important one.
  2. Is it an adjustable-rate or fixed-rate mortgage? An adjustable-rate mortgage locks your mortgage for a specific amount of time, and at the end may increase your monthly mortgage rate. A fixed mortgage keeps your interest rates and mortgage payment locked for the duration of the loan but is a bit more expensive than the adjustable-rate mortgage.
  3. What is the down payment that’s required? There exist many kinds of loan types, and not all of them require the same down payment. Make sure to ask what your down payment will be–if it’s less than 20 percent, ask if attaching private mortgage insurance (PMI) will be an additional requirement.

It’s best to put your pride aside and ask as many questions as you possibly can when it comes to something as vital to your life as your mortgage. This thing is going to be with you, potentially, for the next thirty years! Contact  Dean Rathbun when it comes time to finding the perfect plan of action to buy your home. We are happy to help you.