• When it comes to developing...

    "When it comes to developing character strength, inner security and unique personal and interpersonal talents and skills in a child, no institution can or ever will compare with, or effectively substitute for, the home's potential for positive influence."
    -Stephen Covey

  • A house is not a home...

    "A house is not a home unless it contains food and fire for the mind as well as the body."
    -Benjamin Franklin

  • He is happiest...

    "He is happiest, be he king or peasant, who finds peace in his home."
    -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Thursday, July 24, 2014

3 Easy Tips to Pay Your Mortgage Off Quicker

Did you know that more than 20 million Americans own their home outright? That means, you can do it too. After all, isn't the end goal for everyone to get out of debt as fast as possible? 

However, paying off your mortgage faster is a lot easier said than done.  That's why it's about creating good habits and starting with small changes. Eventually, those little changes will catch up to you and you'll start to see a big difference in your loan amount.  Here are three tips that we suggest to get you going if you are determined to pay your mortgage off faster:

Start with a Dollar

No, seriously.  Start by adding an extra dollar to each month's mortgage payment.  Each month, increase your payment by $1. For example, pay $900 the first month, $901 the second month, and so on. For a 30-month, $900 per month mortgage with a 5% fixed interest rate on a loan of $150,000, you could reduce the term of the mortgage by almost six years.

Keep in mind that anything you pay each month over your monthly mortgage payment goes directly towards your principal and the smaller it gets the lower the interest you pay.

Pay a little more. 

Feel comfortable doing a little more? Start with where you feel comfortable.  Maybe that's an extra $200 a month or maybe it's an extra $20. Every little bit makes a difference.  One trick we suggest to start if your budget is really tight is to just round your payment up each month.  For example, if your monthly mortgage payment is $1271, round it to $1300. Or even to $1280.

Switch to Biweekly Payments

Since there are 52 weeks in a year and 12 months, if you pay half your mortgage payment every other week you'll end up making 26 half payments which is also equal to 12 full months at the end of the year.  This is a full extra payment and for homeowners that already get paid biweekly, this is a great option.  Check with your lender or bank to see if they offer biweekly payment plan options.

Did you find these tips helpful?  Please leave us a comment below and let us know what you thought or of any other tips you have used to pay off your mortgage faster!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Week 4: Reasons to Buy a Home

This week marks week #4 of Reasons to Buy and Own your own home.  The biggest complaint we hear from renters is, "I'm tired of throwing away my money each month."  Owning your own home is exactly the solution.  When you buy a home and get a mortgage, each month you are putting money towards an investment of your life and future.  A home is special place and an important part of your success and daily mood.  Eventually down the road, you'll stop making monthly mortgage (rent) payments and you will own your home outright.  And let us tell you, that is by far the best feeling.  It's worth it today to start putting money away for your future.  Don't make rent payments for the rest of your life.  

To view the other posts in this series, "26 Reasons to Buy," please click here.  

Monday, July 21, 2014

4 Important Qualities When It Comes to Choosing Your Right Mortgage

When it comes to getting a home, choosing the right mortgage for you is one of the most important decisions that you can make. That's why it's important to understand what qualities are important to you in regards to your mortgage loan. We've observed many of our past home buyers and have taken the top four characteristics that are usually a concern when it comes time to deciding on a mortgage program. It's important to ask yourself, which of these matter to me most?

Lower Down Payment

Your down payment is essentially how much of the loan amount you are required to put towards the home in order to satisfy the loan requirements. To many first time home buyers without a huge budget, a lower down payment option is more ideal. For someone who has the cash, they might want a program with higher down payment requirements as this may lead to lower mortgage or homeowners insurance. From the beginning you will need to consider how much money you have to use as a down payment on the home and what you feel most comfortable using. 

Rate Security

The interest rate you receive on your loan can make a huge difference in the overall amount you end up paying amortized over 30 years or however long your loan term is. For some a fixed rate that they know will not change is more ideal and for others an Adjustable Rate Mortgage with some flexibility is more of a preference. Shorter loan terms like a 15-Year Fixed Mortgage offers much lower rates than a 30-year Fixed Mortgage. 

Loan Flexibility

Loan Flexibility is essentially how tight or loose the loan requirements are. Some loan programs have high pre-payment penalties meaning you would be charged if you paid off your loan early while other loan programs have no fees at all. Also, some loan programs will allow you to pay your mortgage insurance upfront in one lump some while others require you to pay it monthly over the life of the loan. Your lender should be able to help you decide if loan flexibility is a vital factor for your personal situation or not. 

Easier Qualification

Are you haunted by bad credit? That's okay. Some loan programs allow qualifications with credit ficos as low as 620. Or if you don't have a lot of money in reserves you might want to consider a program that doesn't require a lot of money upfront. Easier qualification usually means you'll get stuck with a higher rate or mortgage insurance, so those are also factors that you will want to consider. 

What other qualities matter to you when it comes to choosing a mortgage? We would love to hear your feedback! Please comment below or share this article with your friends or family using the Social Media share buttons below.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

4 Pros to Rising Interest Rates

Yes, you read that headline right.  There is more than just bad news associated with rising interest rates as the housing market continues to grind toward recovery.  While it's easy to understand the advantages of low interest rates, it's not common you hear the other side of the story.  That's why we've outline 4 good things about rising interest rates in our housing market:

Today's mortgage rates are still extremely low

It's no doubt that even at 4 %to 5%, interest rates for home loans are still at historical lows.  A slight increase in rates at this point hardly affects home affordability and most housing markets are still standing strong.  

Improving Economy

According to many experts, rising interest rates directly correlate with a rising economy.  Increases in mortgage rates is a sign that consumer confidence is rebounding and that consumers are better able to pay higher interest rates.  Higher interest rates suggest that uncertainty among investors is also improving.  

The return of home purchase mortgages

Higher interest rates usually shifts the paradigm away from home refinancing and towards purchasing a home. With higher demand in home mortgages and more competition between mortgage lenders, homebuyers are more prone to receive relaxed lending requirements. For those looking to finally get into a home or upgrade to a new home, it's the perfect time to do so still.  

Sellers are in a great position

Homeowners that are looking to sell their home in the current market, demand is standing tall.  With rising interest rates and also increasing home prices, many home buyers are ready to jump on the homeownership band-wagon in order to avoid paying even higher rates or fees down the road.  Home sales in the United States are the highest we've seen in almost six years and that trend will likely continue through the rest of 2014.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Buying a Home: How to Choose a Neighborhood That You Will Love

There's more to the home buying process than just choosing a home, you also want to find the perfect neighborhood.  After all, one really bad neighbor could really make or break your experience living there. When shopping for a new home remember to consider the following to ensure that you decide on the best neighborhood for you:

1. Convenience

It's important to consider the convenience of the neighborhood for you and your family.  Especially if you don't like to drive a far distance just to do daily tasks.  Some things you may want to ask yourself:

  • How long will my commute to work be? 
  • Is there a school nearby for my children?
  • How close is the nearest freeway?
  • Is there a grocery store, gas station, bank, restaurants, etc nearby? 

2. Safety

One of the biggest concerns with buyers shopping for a home is the safety and location of the neighborhood. After all, it's important to have the comfort of knowing you can walk around at night without feeling afraid and can leave your house during the day and not have it vandalized or broken into.  One easy way to figure out the crime in the neighborhood is to do research online and find crime statistics for that specific neighborhood.  

3. Transportation and/or Parking

If you have a car, consider whether the home has ample parking space for you and any potential guests that might come over.  The cost of parking tickets or vandalism to your car can add up quickly so it's important to make sure you have a designated parking spot or garage area.  If you don't own a car, you'll want to check to see what options there are available for public transportation in that area.  

4. Look and Appeal

You're much better off buying a home in a an attractive neighborhood rather than somewhere drab and poorly taken care of.  Your home is somewhere you come home to every day to relax and unwind and should be a place that makes you happy.  It's much harder to do that when you don't like what you see out of your front windows.  

5. Personal Necessities

Are you the type of person that likes to go the gym every day or go out to eat a lot? If so, you might want to consider a home that is also located nearby to the places that are important to you.  Some common amenities that people often like to be able to have nearby:
  • Parks
  • Hospital
  • Swimming Pool
  • Fitness Center
  • Convenience Store
  • Shopping
  • Post Office
The most important thing to remember is to make sure you fall in love with not only the home, but the neighborhood too.  If the two happen to align, then you've probably found the right home for you.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Week 3: Reasons to Buy a Home

We are bringing you 26 reasons to buy a home and this week is reason #3.  One of the most common frustrations between renters and landlords are pets.  Finding a good home to rent that actually allows pets and doesn't cost an arm and a leg is hard to do.  A lot of the times, renters are forced to give up their pets or find temporary homes for them while they rent.  The solution to all of this, owning your own home.  That way, no one else get's to decide whether you can have an extra member of your family or not.

To view all 26 Reasons to Buy a Home, please click here

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Mortgage 101: What Are Mortgage Reserves?

During the process of your home loan your loan professional might ask you about your reserves, but what exactly do they mean?

A commonly misunderstood aspect of getting a mortgage is reserves.  And no, we're not talking about the strawberry and peach kind your mom used to make in the summer time.  A good way to think of reserves is something "left over."  When buying a home, reserves are essentially how much money you have saved up in case something goes wrong.  Six months of reserves would be considered as having enough money in savings to pay your mortgage for six full months if you were to lose your job or get injured.  This is just a precaution to ensure that your mortgage will be paid on time each month.

When are mortgage reserves required on a home loan? 

Not all home purchase or refinance transactions require reserves, especially if you have a good credit history. However, it's still important to understand what reserves are.    Most government loans such as USDA, VA, and FHA do not require any reserves, however providing them at time of application and underwriting can help to make your file look stronger.  Often times, reserves can also be helpful when purchasing a second home or investment property.  

How are reserves proved in the home loan process?

To show reserves to your lender you will need some form of an asset statement, depending on where your funds are kept.  The funds do not have to be liquid so a 401k account or IRA account will do.  You can also provide a statement for a savings, checking, or any other accounts that you may have.  Usually the lender will need to see at least 60 days worth of account statements to show that the money is sourced and seasoned; meaning it was not gifted to you for the purpose of the loan.  

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