We’ve all done it. Waited until last minute to do our holiday shopping only to overspend on gifts for loved ones, leaving us with extra credit card debt and buyers remorse. While the holidays prove time and again to be an expensive time of year for many, they don’t have to be. Here are some tips to help keep you from overspending this holiday season.
- Set a Budget – and Stick to It.
It is always best to begin with a budget. Once you have your budget set, take the time to contemplate how you will best utilize that budget amount to get all of your holiday shopping done efficiently and wisely. Avoid going over budget – even just a little – as this can lead to falling into the trap of overspending.
Did you know that you can buy holiday gifts for family and friends year around? Most of us often forget this fact and like to put off our holiday shopping until the last minute when the malls are extra hectic and the clock is ticking. While this stressful strategy may work for some, finding and purchasing gifts year around can help you avoid the extra spending as well as the chaos of the holiday season. Just remember to stick to your budget!
They say that it’s the thought that counts, so why not get crafty and create a homemade present for someone you love? If you find you’re not the crafty type, enlist the help of a friend who is, or offer to do a favor. We recommend checking out Pinterest for some great DIY ideas your friends and family are sure to love!
During the hustle and bustle of the holidays, it’s important to look for the best deals on gift items before doing your shopping. There are typically deals happening everywhere, so take some time to sit down with your phone, tablet, or computer to research the best deals for the items you need. When shopping in store, try an app like Retail Me Not for any coupons or extra store savings.
While it’s tempting to attend every holiday party or gathering that you’ve been invited to, you must remember that these events are typically costly. Save a little extra this year by skipping one or two parties or holiday dinners. Your wallet will thank you for it!
Do you travel somewhere for the holiday season? Plan ahead to figure out what is best financially for you and your travel companions to avoid the high holiday rates and travel prices. You may also want to weigh and measure your luggage ahead of time to avoid extra fees and skip the upgrades this time as well.
Regardless of what your holiday shopping strategy may be, it is important to reflect on what you spent in total to help you plan better for next year’s festivities. If you find yourself overspending, look to what caused this and how you can fix your budget to help keep you on track next time. Once you have a total that you are happy with, you may want to open an extra savings account to set money aside all year. This will help keep you on track as well as save you from overspending.
Although every situation is unique, it is not uncommon for homebuyers to qualify for a mortgage on a new home while still living in their primary residence.
Perhaps you are outgrowing your current house, or have been forced to relocate due to a job transfer? Regardless of the motivation for keeping one property while purchasing another, let’s address this question with the mortgage approval in mind:
So, Do I Have To Sell?
Yes. No. Maybe. It depends.
Welcome to the wonderful world of mortgage lending. Only in this industry can one simple question elicit four answers…and all of them may be right.
If you are in a financial position where you qualify to afford both your current residence and the proposed payment on your new house, then the simple answer is No!
Qualifying based on your Debt-to-Income Ratio is one thing, but remember to budget for the additional expenses of maintaining multiple properties. Everything from mortgage payments, increased property taxes and hazard insurance to unexpected repairs should be factored into your final decision.
What If I Rent My Current Property?
This scenario presents the “maybe” and the “it depends” answers to the question.
If you’re not quite qualified to carry both mortgages, you may have to rent the other property in order to offset the mortgage payment.
In that scenario, the lender will typically only count 75% of the monthly rent you are proposing to receive.
So if you are going to receive $1000 a month in rent and your current payment is $1500, the lender is going to factor in an additional $750 of monthly liabilities in your overall Debt-to-Income Ratios.
Another detail that can present a huge hurdle is the reserve requirement and equity ratio most lenders have. In some cases, if you are going to rent out your current home, you will need to have at least 25% equity in order to offset your payment with the proposed rent you will receive.
Without that hefty amount of equity, you will have to qualify to afford BOTH mortgage payments. You will also need some significant cash in the bank.
Generally, lenders will require six months reserve on the old property, as well as six month reserves on the new property.
For example, if you have a $1500 payment on your old house and are buying a home with a $2000 monthly payment, you will need over $21,000 in the bank.
Keep in mind, this reserve requirement is incremental to your down payment on the new property.
What If I Can’t Qualify Based On Both Mortgage Payments?
This answer is pretty straightforward, and doesn’t require a financial calculator to figure out.
If you are in this situation, then you will have to sell your current home before buying a new one.
If you aren’t sure of the value of the home or how your local market is performing, give us a ring and we’ll happily refer you to a great real estate agent that is in tune with property values in your neighborhood.
As you can tell, purchasing one home while living in another can be a very complicated transaction. Please contact us at anytime so we can review your specific situation and suggest the proper action plan.
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Most people are surprised to learn what appraisers actually look at when determining the value of a real estate property.
A common misconception homeowners generally have is that the value of their home is determined after the appraiser has completed their physical property inspection.
However, the appraiser actually already has a good idea of the property’s value by the time they have scheduled an appointment to stop by the property.
The good news is that you don’t have to worry so much about pushing back an appointment a few days just to “clean things up” in order to help influence the value of your property.
While a clean house will certainly make it easier for the appraiser to notice improvements, the only time you should be concerned about “clutter” is if it is damaging to the dwelling.
The Key Components Addressed In An Appraisal
Location, view, topography, lot size, utilities, zoning, external factors, highest and best use, landscaping features…
Quality of construction, finish work, fixed appliances and any defining features
Age, deterioration, renovations, upgrades, added features
Health & Safety:
Structural integrity, code compliance
Above grade and below grade improvements
Is the property conforming to the neighborhood?
Is the property functional as built – style and use?
Garages, Carports, Shops, etc..
Curb appeal, lot size, & conforming to the neighborhood are obvious to the appraiser when they drive down into the neighborhood pull up in front of your home.
When entering your home, they are going to look at the overall design, condition, finish work, upgrades, any defining features, functional utility, square footage, number of rooms and health and safety items.
Be sure to have all carbon monoxide and smoke detectors in working condition.
Since the appraisal provides half the weight in any credit decision involving the security of real estate, the appraisal should be done by a qualified, licensed appraiser whom is familiar with your neighborhood, and the type of home you are buying, selling or refinancing.
If you’re interested in what specifically appraisers are looking for, here is a copy of the blank 1040 URAR form that is used by every appraiser in the country.
Related Update on HVCC:
Appraisers hired for a mortgage transaction on a conforming loan are chosen from a pool of qualified appraisers at random. Neither you nor your lender has the flexibility of deciding which appraiser will inspect your home.
This recent change was brought on with the Home Valuation Code of Conduct HVCC, and is effective with conventional loans originated on or after May 1, 2009.
Related Appraisal Articles:
Hey, I gave my real estate agent a $5000 Earnest Money Deposit check… Where does that money go?
A basic and very obvious question that most First-Time home Buyers ask once their purchase contract gets accepted.
According to Wikipedia:
Earnest Money – an earnest payment (sometimes called earnest money or simply earnest, or alternatively a good-faith deposit) is a deposit towards the purchase of real estate or publicly tendered government contract made by a buyer or registered contractor to demonstrate that he/she is serious (earnest) about wanting to complete the purchase.
When a buyer makes an offer to buy residential real estate, he/she generally signs a contract and pays a sum acceptable to the seller by way of earnest money. The amount varies enormously, depending upon local custom and the state of the local market at the time of contract negotiations.
An Earnest Money Deposit (EMD) is simply held by a third-party escrow company according to the terms of the executed purchase contract.
For example, there may be a contingency period for appraisal, loan approval, property inspection or approval of HOA documents.
In most cases, the Earnest Money held by the escrow company is credited towards the home buyer’s down payment and/or closing costs.
*It’s important to keep in mind that the EMD may actually be cashed at the time escrow is opened, so make sure your funds are from the proper sources.
- Earnest Money is submitted to an escrow company with the accepted purchase contract
- At the close of escrow, the EMD is credited towards the down payment and / or closing costs
- If there are no closing costs or down payment, the EMD is refunded back to the buyer
Who Doesn’t Get Your Earnest Money:
- Selling Real Estate Agent – A conflict of interest
- Sellers – Too risky
- Buying Agent – They shouldn’t have your money in their account
Related Articles – Closing Process / Costs
By including title insurance when purchasing property, your title insurer takes on accountability for legal expenses to defend your property title, should it ever be challenged.
Many different occurrences can come into play to warrant the need for title insurance.
The title company responsible will then take on the legal expenses to defend the property for as long as you are in possession of an interest in the property under the title.
If the defense is not successful, you will be reimbursed for any loss of value of the property.
Common Things Title Insurance Covers:
1. UNDISCLOSED HEIRS, FORGED DEEDS, MORTGAGE, WILLS, RELEASES AND OTHER DOCUMENTS
2. FALSE IMPRISONMENT OF THE TRUE LAND OWNER
3. DEEDS BY MINORS
4. DOCUMENTS EXECUTED BY A REVOKED OR EXPIRED POWER OF ATTORNEY
5. PROBATE MATTERS
7. DEEDS AND WILLS BY PERSON OF UNSOUND MIND
8. CONVEYANCES BY UNDISCLOSED DIVORCED SPOUSES
9. RIGHTS OF DIVORCED PARTIES
10. ADVERSE POSSESSION
11. DEFECTIVE ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS DUE TO IMPROPER OR EXPIRED NOTARIZATION
12. FORFEITURES OF REAL PROPERTY DUE TO CRIMINAL ACTS
13. MISTAKES AND OMISSIONS RESULTING IN IMPROPER ABSTRACTING
14. ERRORS IN TAX RECORDS
Related Articles – Closing Process / Costs
* Disclaimer – all information in this article is accurate as of the date this article was written *
The FHA Mortgage Insurance Premium is an important part of every FHA loan.
There are actually two types of Mortgage Insurance Premiums associated with FHA loans:
1. Up Front Mortgage Insurance Premium (UFMIP) – financed into the total loan amount at the initial time of funding
2. Monthly Mortgage Insurance Premium – paid monthly along with Principal, Interest, Taxes and Insurance
Conventional loans that are higher than 80% Loan-to-Value also require mortgage insurance, but at a relatively higher rate than FHA Mortgage Insurance Premiums.
Mortgage Insurance is a very important part of every FHA loan since a loan that only requires a 3.5% down payment is generally viewed by lenders as a risky proposition.
Without FHA around to insure the lender against a loss if a default occurs, high LTV loan programs such as FHA would not exist.
Calculating FHA Mortgage Insurance Premiums:
Up Front Mortgage Insurance Premium (UFMIP)
UFMIP varies based on the term of the loan and Loan-to-Value.
For most FHA loans, the UFMIP is equal to 2.25% of the Base FHA Loan amount (effective April 5, 2010).
>> If John purchases a home for $100,000 with 3.5% down, his base FHA loan amount would be $96,500
>> The UFMIP of 2.25% is multiplied by $96,500, equaling $2,171
>> This amount is added to the base loan, for a total FHA loan of $98,671
Monthly Mortgage Insurance (MMI):
- Equal to .55% of the loan amount divided by 12 – when the Loan-to-Value is greater than 95% and the term is greater than 15 years
- Equal to .50% of the loan amount divided by 12 – when the Loan-to-Value is less than or equal to 95%, and the term is greater than 15 years
- Equal to .25% of the loan amount divided by 12 – when the Loan-to-Value is between 80% – 90%, and the term is greater than 15 years
- No MMI when the loan to value is less than 90% on a 15 year term
The Monthly Mortgage Insurance Premium is not a permanent part of the loan, and it will drop off over time.
For mortgages with terms greater than 15 years, the MMI will be canceled when the Loan-to-Value reaches 78%, as long as the borrower has been making payments for at least 5 years.
For mortgages with terms 15 years or less and a Loan -to-Value loan to value ratios 90% or greater, the MMI will be canceled when the loan to value reaches 78%. *There is not a 5 year requirement like there is for longer term loans.
Related Articles – Mortgage Approval Process:
For homeowners interested in making some property improvements without tapping into their savings or investment accounts, the two main options are to either take out a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC), or do a cash-out refinance.
According To Wikipedia:
A home equity line of credit is a loan in which the lender agrees to lend a maximum amount within an agreed period, where the collateral is the borrower’s equity.
A HELOC differs from a conventional home equity loan in that the borrower is not advanced the entire sum up front, but uses a line of credit to borrow sums that total no more than the credit limit, similar to a credit card.
HELOC funds can be borrowed during the “draw period” (typically 5 to 25 years). Repayment is of the amount drawn plus interest.
A HELOC may have a minimum monthly payment requirement (often “interest only”); however, the debtor may make a repayment of any amount so long as it is greater than the minimum payment (but less than the total outstanding).
Another important difference from a conventional loan is that the interest rate on a HELOC is variable. The interest rate is generally based on an index, such as the prime rate. This means that the interest rate can change over time. Homeowners shopping for a HELOC must be aware that not all lenders calculate the margin the same way. The margin is the difference between the prime rate and the interest rate the borrower will actually pay.
A Home Equity Loan is similar to the Line of Credit, except there is a lump sum given to the borrower at the time of funding and the payment terms are generally fixed. Both a Line of Credit and Home Equity Loan hold a subordinate position to the first loan on title, and are typically referred to as a “Second Mortgage”. Since second mortgages are paid after the first lien holder in the event of default foreclosure or short sale, interest rates are higher in order to justify the risk and attract investors.
Measuring The Different Between HELOC vs Cash-Out Refinance:
There are three variables to consider when answering this question:
2. Costs or Fees to obtain the loan
3. Interest Rate
1. Timeline –
This is a key factor to look at first, and arguably the most important. Before you look at the interest rates, you need to consider your time line or the length of time you’ll be keeping your home. This will determine how long of a period you’ll need in order to pay back the borrowed money.
Are you looking to finally make those dreaded deferred home improvements in order to sell at top dollar? Or, are you adding that bedroom and family room addition that will finally turn your cozy bungalow into your glorious palace?
This is a very important question to ask because the two types of loans will achieve the same result – CASH — but they each serve different and distinct purposes.
A home equity line of credit, commonly called a HELOC, is better suited for short term goals and typically involves adjustable rates that can change monthly. The HELOC will often come with a tempting feature of interest only on the monthly payment resulting in a temporary lower payment. But, perhaps the largest risk of a HELOC can be the varying interest rate from month to month. You may have a low payment today, but can you afford a higher one tomorrow?
Alternatively, a cash-out refinance of your mortgage may be better suited for securing long term financing, especially if the new payment is lower than the new first and second mortgage, should you choose a HELOC. Refinancing into one new low rate can lower your risk of payment fluctuation over time.
2. Costs / Fees –
What are the closing costs for each loan? This also goes hand-in-hand with the above time line considerations. Both loans have charges associated with them, however, a HELOC will typically cost less than a full refinance.
It’s important to compare the short-term closing costs with the long-term total of monthly payments. Keep in mind the risk factors associated with an adjustable rate line of credit.
3. Interest Rate –
The first thing most borrowers look at is the interest rate. Everyone wants to feel that they’ve locked in the lowest rate possible. The reality is, for home improvements, the interest rate may not be as important as the consideration of the risk level that you are accepting.
If your current loan is at 4.875%, and you only need the money for 4-6 months until you get your bonus, it’s not as important if the HELOC rate is 5%, 8%, or even 10%. This is because the majority of your mortgage debt is still fixed at 4.875%.
Conversely, if you need the money for long term and your current loan is at 4.875%, it may not make financial sense to pass up an offer on a blended rate of 5.75% with a new 30-year fixed mortgage. There would be a considerable savings over several years if variable interest rates went up for a long period of time.
Choosing between a full refinance and a HELOC basically depends on the level of risk you are willing to accept over the period of time that you need money.
A simple spreadsheet comparing all of the costs and payments associated with both options will help highlight the total net benefit.
Related Article – Refinance Process: