I Can’t Get a Traditional Mortgage… What Are My Alternatives?

 

Quandry: You are faced with circumstances that may prevent you from obtaining a traditional mortgage. Don’t panic…you have alternatives!

You want to buy a house, but your credit history isn’t in tip top shape, or you cannot show a consistent cash flow even though you have a lot of money saved in the bank making you an undesirable candidate to borrow in the eyes of the lenders.

What are your options? When it comes to real estate, here are some of the most common alternatives to a traditional mortgage for you to take into consideration:

Borrow from a Self-Directed Individual Retirement Account (IRA). Self-Directed IRAs are different from Roth IRAs and traditional IRAs. A Self-Directed IRA gives you the freedom to invest in many nontraditional assets, such as mortgages, real estate, promissory notes, tax liens, precious metals, private businesses, etc. With a Self-Directed IRA you get asset protection and tax advantages as they are government-sponsored retirement plans. Due to the self dealing rule, the IRS does not allow you to borrow against your own self-directed IRA, or those of your lineal relatives and business partners. This means that you would need to know someone who has a Self-Directed IRA to borrow from, or a third party financial company that facilitates those types of transactions. For more information on how to get private lending with a Self-directed IRA, read more on Self-directed IRA Lending.

Borrow from your Whole Life Insurance policy. Whole Life Insurance is a basic cash-value life insurance. When you pay the regular premium on a Whole Life Insurance policy, you are essentially accumulating wealth through the equity growth that you are contributing which goes into a savings account. If there are dividends or interest in this account, it is tax-deferred. Don’t mistake Whole Life Insurance for Term Life insurance. Whole Life Insurance protects you for your entire life, and allows you to borrow against the cash-value of your policy. A pro tip to borrowing against your Whole Life Insurance is that it increases your borrowing potential however, should you not pay back the loan the face value of your policy reduces. If this is the strategy you choose to implement to buy your dream home, be sure to thoroughly research this option. Ask yourself and your insurance company the following:

1. What would the Pros and Cons be to borrowing against Whole Life Insurance?
2. How long will it take to repay the loan and what would be the interest rate?
3. What would happen if you pass away before the loan is payed off?
4. What are the consequences to dependents who are beneficiaries?
5. How does it affect the annual dividends?
6. Are withdrawals of the Whole Life Insurance taxable or deferred?
7. In what scenarios would the Whole Life Insurance policy lapse if you barrow from it?

There are many things to consider when borrowing against your Whole Life Insurance policy, so be sure that your decision to buy your home outweighs some of the drawbacks of borrowing against your life insurance.

See if you can get Seller Financing. Seller Financing is a great way to skip the whole mortgage approval process. However, it is quite difficult to get for the following reasons:
(1) The seller does not own the house outright, and for the seller to give you a financing option, the seller must have paid off his/her mortgage in full.
(2) Most sellers do not want the hassle and additional risks of being a lender even though they could profit more by being the financier. With that being said, sellers don’t necessarily have to be a lender. The seller can arrange to resell the promissory note to an investor.

Buy a rent-to-own home. Rent-to-own, lease-to-own, or lease-to-buy are all the same. Often times, homeowners who want to sell off their homes but can not, those home owners may list their homes as a rent-to-own. If you and the seller sign a lease contract and you pay the Option Consideration section of the lease contract, the seller is agreeing to rent his/her home to you for a specific amount of time. Once that time ends and you have been paying the rent on the lease agreement in a timely manner and building equity towards the purchase of the home; you will have the option of going through with the purchase or not. For more details about renting-to-own a home, read Pros and Cons of Renting to Own a Home.

Source:  Dream Casa

 

 

 

Posted on May 23, 2017 at 12:33 pm
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: buying, credit score, debt, financing, first time buyers, real estate, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

9 Questions To Ask When Searching For A Family Home

These are serious questions you need to ask when purchasing a home, especially if you are a first time homebuyer!

Here’s how to find a house your growing family will love for years to come.

Unless you’re planning on doing your own version of Fixer Upper, the general home-buying rule of thumb is to look for a place you’ll be able to live in for five years or more. So if you have kids (or are about to), you’ll need to look not just at the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, but also consider how a house will work for a crawling baby, curious toddler, rambunctious preschooler and beyond not to mention multiple children, if that’s your plan. Talk to your Coldwell Banker Real Estate professional about your needs and ask these nine questions to help you narrow in on the perfect home for your growing family.

1. Are the neighbors close in age? One of the greatest benefits of buying a home is getting to know your neighbors and having a true sense of community. But while neighbors of any age may be lovely people, having other young families on the block will go a long way toward creating a kid-friendly environment. (Think: company at the future bus stop, community activities like organized trick-or-treating and safety features like a slower speed limit.)

2. Is there ample outdoor space? It’s easy to overlook the yard if you’re childless or baby is still in diapers, but having an outdoor area that’s safe for supervised play is a major win. It’s important to consider the flip side, though at the time and cost of maintaining and make sure you’re up for the task. If not, look for a home with less outdoor space, like a condominium or townhouse, that’s within walking distance of a playground or park. (Not sure what the difference is between a condo and townhouse? Coldwell Banker Real Estate explains that here.) A house with a smaller yard on a quiet street or cul-de-sac could also be a good choice, since you might be able to use the street as an extension of your front yard.

3. How are the schools? Your first instinct may be to look into the quality of the public school district and you definitely should! but if your kids are preschool age or younger, don’t forget to research nanny and day care options in the area. Once you’ve checked those boxes, find out about school transportation (not all homes qualify for bus service), including where the bus stop is, or what the walking path and/or driving route will be.

4. Is it equipped with Smart Home technology? It wasn’t long ago that having network-connected products to control entertainment, security, temperature, lighting and safety seemed out of reach, except for in the most high-end houses. But these  smart home features have quickly gone mainstream as they’ve become more affordable and easy to set up in existing houses. They’re particularly great for families with young children having the ability to control night-lights, lighting and window treatments from your phone can help make naptime easier, for example. Consider which features are most important to you, and search for Coldwell Banker Real Estate listings that are classified as smart homes.

5. Is the kitchen large enough to accommodate the entire family? It’s often said the kitchen is the heart of the home, and for good reason. After all, you’ll be spending countless hours there over the years, whether you’re cooking and baking together, grabbing quick bowls of cereal in the morning, or working on school projects. A kitchen with an eat-in dining area, an island/peninsula for bar stools, or even a desk area for homework time will give you plenty of room to do all of the above (sometimes simultaneously).

6. Is there a separate room for playtime? Yes, an open floor plan makes it easier to keep an eye on kids while you’re in the kitchen, but a designated playroom off the living room or a finished basement can be a sanity-saver. You’ll still probably end up stepping on Legos, but having a dedicated room to store all those toys can help you keep the mess under control (or at least hide it).

7. Is there a convenient entrance with storage? Kids of every age come with a whole lot of gear from strollers and diaper bags during the baby stage to sports equipment when they get a little older. That’s why a mudroom or a large laundry room is ideal bonus points if it has its own outside entrance so older kids can drop off their stuff on the way in. If not, a foyer with storage space is a good alternative.

8. How’s the commute to work? Even the most perfect house isn’t perfect if you spend so much time getting to and from work you can’t help your kids get ready for school or see them before bedtime. Do a test run from any potential house to your workplace during rush hour, whether you plan to drive, bike, or take public transportation.

9. Are there shops nearby? No matter how good you are at stocking your pantry and medicine cabinet, it’s inevitable that at some point, you’ll run out of diapers at the worst possible time or need to pick up medicine if baby spikes a fever. Having a grocery store or pharmacy a short drive or walk away will save you time and stress especially if it’s open late.

Source: CB Blue Matter / The Bump

Posted on May 23, 2017 at 12:00 pm
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: babies, backyard, buying, commute, first time buyers, kitchens, neighbors, parent, real estate, schools, shopping, Smart Homes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

How Can You Change Your Credit Score in 30 Days?

The heat is on! You want to improve your credit and you want to get it done NOW!

If raising your credit seems impossible, take a step back from the big hairy goal and tackle the beast one step at a time.

There’s no “instant” button, but there are things you can do now that will help increase your score.

The unfortunate truth about raising your credit score: There is no quick fix.

Hitting the reset button sounds tempting — especially when faced with a less than stellar credit score; but starting over with a blank slate will only set you back further.

Now that a forewarning is out of the way, on to the good stuff: Actionable tips to raise your credit score swiftly and without financial risk. You can expect most of these tips to affect your credit score in about 30 to 60 days, the typical time that’s considered speedy.

How to increase your credit score

    1. Request a copy of your credit report and look for errors

In 2013, the Federal Trade Commission found that one in five consumers carried an error on their credit report. If you find an error, dispute it. Removing negative marks made in error will help you return to your correct score.

    1. Write a negotiation letter to your credit bureau

If a negotiation letter doesn’t work, contact the company reporting a late payment to ask if it will campaign for the removal. If a payment was incorrectly reported (see No. 1), or if you simply forgot a bill when you’re usually 100% on the ball, you may be able to get the late payment removed.

  1. Stop using your credit cards You can lower your credit utilization rate in two conventional ways: Lower your spending and increase your credit. Your credit score is largely determined by the amount of debt (credit card and loan balances) compared with your credit limits. Spending around one-third of your credit limit is the recommended credit line, but crossing that debt-to-credit threshold won’t help your score. Alternatively, you can request an increase in your credit or open a new card as a way of increasing your credit-to-spending ratio, but this is a risky move if your spending doesn’t slow down. Be wary of raising limits if it wouldn’t be financially feasible to pay back any and all spending.
  2. Don’t apply for multiple forms of credit in a short time Each time you request a new form of credit, including car and home loans, etc, you’ll likely face a credit inquiry. Too many inquiries within a short time and the credit bureaus may ding your credit. Keep this in mind as you request credit increases or open up new accounts. Both actions may result in one too many credit pulls and consequently, a decrease in your credit score.
  3. Settle late payments — then automate your payment schedule Timely bill pay is gut-wrenching when you’re financially strapped, but proactively settling bills will make future payments easier. Credit bureaus count a late payment starting from the first day of your last late payment, so the sooner you can square the bill, the better. This is particularly true if you can pay off past-due debts before they reach the 30-day, 60-day, or 90-day thresholds. It’s scary to confront the financial challenge, but it’s doable. Once you’ve settled any late payments, make future payments even simpler by automating. Automation avoids accidental missed payments and takes the mental clutter of scheduling multiple payments off your mind.
  4. Building credit builds long-lasting habits Approaching the daunting task of increasing your credit score with the long-term-training mindset helps you build long-lasting habits that strengthen your financial foundation.

Source:  Trulia Blog

Posted on May 16, 2017 at 4:10 pm
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: credit cards, credit score, debt, financing, first time buyers, mortgage, real estate, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Be a Detective: Google the Address When House Hunting

Here are some GREAT tips to get the skinny on houses that have made it to your hot list. Fire up your Google!

Search-engine sleuthing is worth the effort to unearth the niceties — and perhaps negatives — when searching for your new home.

There’s probably not a day that goes by that you don’t Google something — the weather, a foreign phrase, directions, or news, just to name a few. With all the information Google can provide through its bird’s eye view, not Googling your address is practically a crime — especially when you’re searching for a new home (whether you’re house-hunting for a waterfront home in Benicia, or looking for a ranch house in Vacaville). Here’s what you could find.

  1.  Get a sense of the neighborhood using Google’s Street View

    We can’t transport ourselves Star Trek–style to other places … yet, so the next best experience may be Google’s Street View, sort of a pre-virtual-reality experience. Simply type in an address, and if there’s an image of the property in the results, click on it. Other factors to note while on your Google stroll?  Scope out yard size, proximity to neighbors, how many trees are on the property and the privacy provided by them, a view of the front of the home, a view of the neighbors’ homes (such as any nearby eyesores or hoarders), and the size of nearby roads. Don’t forget to use the aerial view while you’re at it, because it might let you know the condition of the roof (but keep in mind the image could be old.)

    A caveat: Google Street View can be outdated, so it’s possible you could be looking at old news. The house you’re interested in might have been newly renovated, but you wouldn’t know that if the remodel happened after Google was there.

    2. Map the proximity of the house to potential health hazards

    The last thing anyone wants is to find out their dream home is located near a former meth lab or directly under a busy flight path. These aren’t just concerns for comfort; in unfortunate (and rare) cases, homes can be health hazards. When house hunting, be sure to search for whether or not that Los Angeles home for sale is in a safe area. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration maintains a database of homes that have been identified as drug labs, and some of these properties require intensive, expensive cleanup before they can be healthfully inhabited. Radon and industrial and airport zones are also pretty easily discoverable with a Google search and, in most states, via disclosures that most sellers will provide. (Some people find living near an airport or other noisy zone impacts their sleep, even if there is no chemical concern.)

    3. Imagine your life in this home and its neighborhood

    One of the deciding factors for saying “yes” to a house is if you can imagine yourself living there. Seeing listing photos and stats can let you know whether the house meets your specifications, but sometimes — especially with a long-distance home search — but to really imagine yourself living in that neighborhood could be difficult. Googling can help).

    Kids can scope out their potential new school and spot signs of other kids living nearby, you might map your drive to the office, learn whether there’s a local farmer’s market nearby, or look to see whether the house is in a danger zone.

    4. Get valuable details about the HOA

    When you buy a home that is part of a homeowners’ association (HOA), you should receive the bylaws in advance of your purchase. But if you dig a little deeper by Googling the association’s name, you could find out that your new HOA is one of a surprisingly large number of HOAs that have been reviewed online. Grab your popcorn, because you’ll most likely find a variety of rants (and raves) about the subdivision, complex managers, neighbors, and amenities.

    5. Scope out the neighborhood’s potential growth

    Will you jump for joy to learn that Whole Foods is coming to town? Or is that just the sort of growth you’re trying to escape? Google your potential new neighborhood’s nearest major street or intersection for permit applications that have been filed recently. You might get lucky. If not, try searching the city or county planning departments. This can help you discover community plans for expansion in that area. Reading the online applications — and any notes from city council meetings discussing the permits — might help you understand the landscape of community-development issues at hand.

What surprising information has Google revealed during your house hunt?

Source: Trulia Blog

 

Posted on May 16, 2017 at 4:03 pm
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: buying, first time buyers, Google, HOA, neighborhood, Privacy, real estate, research, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

3 Things You Shouldn’t Say To A Seller’s Agent

 

So you are thinking about checking out some open houses this weekend? Here are 3 very good tips to arm yourself with as you are going out the door!

When it comes to talking to the seller’s agent at an open house, a little mystery goes a long way.

More isn’t always better — especially when it comes to talking to a seller’s real estate agent. Your buyer’s agent is a guide and advocate in your real estate journey and should know everything about your needs, your desires, and how much house you can afford. But the seller’s agent is an entirely different story, and what you share with them should be minimal.

If you’re buying a home, your agent is almost always your voice to the seller. Speaking alone with the seller’s agent doesn’t happen very often, and it’s easy to forget who you’re speaking with — but there you are at the open house, eating a slice of quiche, and the seller’s agent, noticing that familiar glow in your eye, comes over and starts to chat you up.

Here are 3 things you shouldn’t talk about with a seller’s agent

  1. How much you like (or dislike) the house.Basically, play it cool. You want the seller to know you could feel at home here and that you would be serious about any offer you might make, but she doesn’t need to know that this house is exactly what you’ve been looking for and that you’ll do whatever it takes to get it.

    You also shouldn’t be too critical. If you do end up making an offer, you don’t want to reveal anything that could make you seem like a less-than-viable buyer. Especially in a competitive environment, you want the seller to think you’re as solid as they come.

    The seller has the power in hot real estate markets, and he or she may choose to go with an offer that’s more likely to close than one that’s potentially shaky, even if it’s a few thousand dollars higher.

  2. How much you can and will spend.

    You also don’t want to talk about your financial situation. If he or she knows how high you’re either willing or able to go, then your offer could be at a disadvantage. Your first goal is to have your offer accepted. Your second goal is to have it accepted at the best price.

    Neither of these goals are served when the sellers think they know how high or low you’ll be able to go on the final sales price. It makes no difference whether your offer relates to finances or personal choice or your last tarot reading. As with romance, a little mystery goes a long way. The seller should get a fair price for what she’s offering, and if you think it’s the right house for you, the fair price has little to do with the most money a bank will give you.

  3. Be smart and let your agent do the talking.

    In the end, your best bet is to eat your quiche,
    ask questions at the open house, and let the seller’s agent talk about the house. Anything else worth revealing will be done later when your agent does her job by getting you the house at the right price.

Source: Trulia Blog

Posted on May 7, 2017 at 4:24 pm
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: buying, first time buyers, open houses, real estate, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

4 Big Reasons to Become a Homeowner This Year

And the results are in!  This is the year you’ve been waiting for…read on grasshopper!

Still on the fence about becoming a homeowner? While owning a home comes with many responsibilities, its financial and personal benefits can prove it to be one of the best investments you’ll ever make.

1.Tax Breaks

One of the greatest perks of becoming a home owner is being able to save a little bit on taxes. In the U.S. most homeowners are allowed to deduct money off the interest they pay on their mortgage every month.  Not only is your home interest partially deductible, you can oftentimes get money back on extra cash you’ve spent on refinancing, a home equity loan or line of credit.  Each homeowner’s financial situation is different, but be sure to inquire about the great financial perks available to you when you invest in a home.

2.Plant Your Roots

Before becoming a homeowner, you probably jumped from rental to rental every few years (or maybe even more). How do you know if you’re ready to take the leap from renting to buying? While it can be nice to have a change of scenery every once in a while, the money you spend on moving, security deposits and other fees can really take a toll on your savings.  One of the great benefits of owning a home is having the opportunity to plant yourself in one, secure place and really make a life for yourself there.  Being that you’ll live in the same residence for a long period of time, you’ll likely build lasting relationships with neighbors and play an active role in your community.  And if you choose to raise a family in this home, your surroundings become a part of your family history, allowing you to make lasting memories.

3. Be Your Own Boss

While renting may come with fewer responsibilities than owning a home, you’re often confined to the rules of the property’s owners.  When you own a home, you’re free to paint the walls any color, plant whatever you’d like in your garden and even adopt furry friends you never were allowed to before.  Your home should be a place you can express yourself freely and live comfortably in.

4.Build Equity

Along with getting a sizable tax break, having the opportunity to build equity is another great financial benefit to owning a home. As you pay off your loan over time, you build more and more equity. Equity equates to whatever amount you have paid off on your home and no longer owe.  If you decide to sell your home down the line, having equity plus any increase in the current market value of your property can put you in a really great position financially.  When you rent a home, you aren’t building any equity at all and have nothing you can walk away with.

Source: Dreamcasa.org

Posted on May 7, 2017 at 3:55 pm
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: buying, first time buyers, Homeowners, mortgage, real estate, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , ,

Pop Quiz: How Well Versed Are You in Home Mortgage Loans?

If you are in the market for a new home, then you’d better read up!  No matter how much you know regarding mortgages, its never too late to learn.

A lot of Americans are caught up in a mortgage nightmare simply because they didn’t dive into the process with some preparation. With a little studying and education, getting a home mortgage can become a far less stressful endeavor.

Here are a few questions that can help you go into the home mortgage process with more knowledge and confidence. Although this quiz doesn’t cover everything you should know,  it’s certainly a good start:

Question 1: What is the difference between pre-qualification and pre-approval?

Answer: Pre-qualification is the first step in the mortgage process that involves supplying a bank or lender your financial information in order to find out how much you can borrow on a loan. Pre-approval is when you and your mortgage banker review your credit report to determine if you’re worthy of qualifying for a particular loan amount.

Question 2: What are the two big cash expenditures that require having money on hand to buy a home?

Down payment and closing costs.

Question 3: Generally, a monthly mortgage payment is made up of four different components commonly referred to as “PITI.” What are they?

Answer: Principal, Interest, Taxes, and Insurance.

Question 4: Why is it recommended to make one extra payment a year for people on 30-year fixed mortgages?

Answer: Since extra payments cut down the principle of your loan (and not interest), giving one additional payment a year can shorten your loan term by a decade.

Question 5: What is the downside to a subprime mortgage?

Answer: Although subprime mortgages come with lower introductory interest rates, they increase significantly after a number of years.

Question 6: What does LTV stand for and how do you determine it?

LTV stands for loan to value ratio. To find out an LTV, divide the loan amount by the appraised value of the house. So if your home is worth $200,000 and the loan amount is $100,000, then the LTV is 50%.

Question 7: There are three term lengths you can get for a fixed-rate mortgage. What are they?

Answer: 15 year, 20 year, and 30-year terms are your options for a fixed-rate mortgage.

Question 8: Of the mortgage rates mentioned in the last question, which one do most people find the easiest to qualify for?

30-year mortgages since a longer term means lower, more affordable payments. The fact that longer terms also mean bigger tax deductions also plays a role.

Question 9: Is it a good idea to get an ARM (adjustable-rate mortgage) if you plan on owning a home for a long time?

Answer: No. Since the interest rate on ARMs change along with market rates, they are unpredictable. An ARM is only recommended if you’re staying in a home for a short period of time.

Question 10: Lenders will look at your job history when considering offering you a loan. A red flag for them is if you haven’t been at your current job for at least how many years?

Lenders like to see that you’ve kept the same employment for at least two years. This also applies to people who are self-employed and part-time employees.

Question 11: What is it called when you owe more than your house is worth?

Answer: Owing more than your house is worth is called being “upside-down” on your mortgage.

Question 12: Is it OK to open a new credit account during the mortgage process in order to help pay for moving expenses, new furniture, etc?

Answer: No. Since everything must be documented with payment amounts and account statements, doing so can affect your debt-to-income ratio.

Source: DreamCasa.org

Posted on May 7, 2017 at 3:51 pm
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: credit score, financing, first time buyers, mortgage, real estate, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

7 Things Worth Saving Space for in a Small House

Sometimes that bigger house is just not in your budget this time around. Here are some nifty tips for maximizing space in smaller homes!  Include these elements to make your compact space comfortable, functional and stylish.

Advice for decorating a small home is often about eliminating and deciding what to compromise on. But there are some things every home should have. Here are seven essentials that are always worth making room for.

Photo by RICCO STYLE Interior Design 

1. A landing pad. You may not have a grand foyer, but you deserve somewhere to decompress for a moment when you arrive home.

Take a little bit of space by the front door to include somewhere to drop your coat and keys, as well as a seat for quick moments such as when tying a shoe. A mirror and a glass table will open up the look of the space, and a bouquet of flowers will provide a welcoming touch.

Photo by Anouska Tamony Designs 

2. Color and pattern. Sure, using lots of white and neutrals will make a small space look as big and breezy as possible. That doesn’t mean that all color and pattern should be strictly forbidden. Embracing some drama will make the look personal and inviting.

To get the best of both worlds, fit color into high and low places and keep the walls neutral so the main sightlines are still clear.

Try using a fun paint color on your ceiling, or go for a low-slung sofa or other piece of furniture, so it pops without overtaking the natural field of vision.

Ceiling paint (similar): Your Majesty, Benjamin Moore

Photo by Black and Milk | Interior Design | London

3. A real dining surface. In a small home, you rarely find a dedicated dining room. That doesn’t mean you can’t incorporate somewhere for a proper sit-down meal that isn’t at your desk or in your lap. Try pushing a small dining table up against a wall or window to seat just two diners.

If you don’t have room even for a small fixed table, try using a fold-down table with stackable seats that can be pulled out when needed, or a convertible coffee table that can be raised to dining height so you can eat at the sofa in proper comfort.

Photo by DD Hus AB 

4. A truly comfortable place to sit. While it’s often tempting to try to stuff many compact pieces of furniture into a small home, you shouldn’t skimp on a full-sized place to sit.

Including a truly comfortable sofa or lounge chair, rather than many tight modern seats, will make the whole home much more satisfying. To fit in occasional extra guests, have compact side chairs on hand that are only meant for sitting in for a few hours while someone visits, or you can even use a plush ottoman.

Photo by Toronto Interior Design Group | Yanic Simard

5. Great lighting. In a small space, the lighting is often inadequate, as it tends to be assumed that a single fixture can properly light each area. In reality, good lighting can never come from just one source, so it’s always important to include a diverse palette of fixtures.

Photo by Wander Designs 

To save room while adding a lot of light, choose a plug-in sconce with multiple bulbs, like the one here. It will brighten the walls in a rich way without taking up any square footage from your floor plan or table surfaces.

6. A living plant. Speaking of your floor plan, now that you’ve saved a little space with a great sconce, why not use that square footage for a healthy living plant?

Photo by Norden & Klingstedt 

Including an element of living greenery will make the space feel more human and welcoming, bringing a sense of the outdoors in.

Photo by Luisa Volpato Interiors 

7. Space to breathe. Lastly, when decorating your small home, don’t forget to leave room for one very important thing: empty space.

Filling every square inch of your walls and flooring with decorative baubles and unneeded furniture leaves the space feeling cluttered and cramped. Let some walls remain empty, and keep lots of circulation space open so you can move about freely and really enjoy the great pieces you have.

 

Source: CB Blue Matter / houzz

 

Posted on May 2, 2017 at 4:03 pm
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: decorating, first time buyers, Homeowners, interior decorating, living small, maximizing space, small home, small space | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Millennials Are All About the Online Experience—Except in Real Estate

There is just no doubt about it…the millennial generation is impacting real estate sales in a huge way. This generation prefers the tried and true method of one on one communication and trust building in person with their Realtor as opposed to an online agent. Read on!

When it comes to interacting with businesses, millennials are all about the online experience—except, a new survey shows, when in need of real estate services.

Seventy-five percent of millennials recently surveyed by CentSai, a financial wellness website, would prefer to enlist the help of a local real estate agent than an online agent. Seventy-one percent, in addition, would prefer to work with a local mortgage lender.

Why favor face-to-face collaboration? “Amount of hassle,” handholding,” “local knowledge,” “longstanding relationships” and “personal touch” were all given as reasons behind the desire to hire local.

“We were surprised to learn that online providers are not yet as big a disruptor in this sector as we first thought, despite purported cost savings,” says Doria Lavagnino, co-founder and president of CentSai. “We found that millennials place a high value on the personal touch and knowledge of a local agent. Buying a home for the first time is daunting, and working with a local agent—particularly an agent referred by a parent or friend—could provide peace of mind.”

The findings of the survey correspond with the results of a recent Ellie Mae survey that revealed mortgage borrowers—millennial and others—would benefit from a combination of in-person and online communication with a lender, and more seek out referrals for lenders, rather than find one online.

The internet is still an important part of the home-buying process for millennials, however, according to the CentSai survey. Ninety-one percent of those surveyed would look for prospective homes and neighborhoods online, either through an app or a site—in line with National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) research that shows 95 percent of homebuyers rely on the internet.

For real estate professionals, the survey’s findings emphasize the value of referral-based business in gaining millennial clients, as well a balanced, tech-and-touch approach to customer service. Fifty-six percent of the millennials surveyed, decidedly, plan to buy a home in the next two years.
Source: RisMedia

 

Posted on May 2, 2017 at 3:49 pm
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5 Tips for First-Time Homebuyers

You’ve decided to go for it. You know mortgage rates are enticingly low. Buying a home can be thrilling and nerve-wracking at the same time, especially for first-time homebuyers. It’s difficult to know exactly what to expect.

Take these five steps to make the process go more smoothly.

Check Your Credit
Your credit score is among the most important factors when it comes to qualifying for a mortgage.

“In addition, the standards are higher in terms of what score you need and how it affects the cost of the loan,” says Mike Winesburg, formerly a mortgage planner in Wheeling, W. Va.

Scour your credit reports for mistakes, unpaid accounts or collection accounts.
Just because you pay everything on time every month doesn’t mean your credit is stellar. The amount of credit you’re using relative to your available credit limit, or your credit utilization ratio, can sink a credit score.

The lower the utilization rate, the higher your score will be. Ideally, first-time homebuyers would have a lot of credit available, with less than a third of it used.

Repairing damaged credit takes time. If you think your credit may need work, begin the repair process at least six months before shopping for a home.

Evaluate Assets and Liabilities
A first-time homebuyer should have a good idea of money they owe and money they have coming in.

“If I were a first-time homebuyer and I wanted to do everything right, I would probably try to track my spending for a couple of months to see where my money was going,” Winesburg says.

Additionally, buyers should have an idea of how lenders will view their income, and that requires becoming familiar with the basics of mortgage lending.

For instance, some professionals, such as the self-employed or straight-commission salesperson, may have a more difficult time getting a loan than others.

The self-employed or independent contractor will need a solid two years’ earnings history to show, according to Winesburg.

Organize Documents
When applying for mortgages, you must document income and taxes.

Typically, mortgage lenders will request two recent pay stubs, the previous two years’ W-2s, tax returns and the past two months of bank statements—every page, even the blank ones.

“Why it has to be every single last page, I don’t know. But that is what they want to see. I think they look for nonsufficient funds or odd money in or out,” says Floyd Walters, owner of a mortgage company in La Canada Flintridge, Calif.

Qualify Yourself
Ideally, you already know how much you can afford to spend before the mortgage lender tells you how much you qualify for.

By calculating debt-to-income ratio and factoring in a down payment, you will have a good idea of what you can afford, both upfront and monthly.

Though there’s not a fixed debt-to-income ratio that lenders require, the standard dictates that no more than 28 percent of your gross monthly income be devoted to housing costs. This percentage is called the front-end ratio.

The back-end ratio shows what portion of income covers all monthly debt obligations. Lenders prefer the back-end ratio to be 36 percent or less, but some borrowers get approved with back-end ratios of 45 percent or higher.

Figure Out Your Down Payment
It takes effort to scrape together the down payment.

There are programs that can assist buyers with qualifying incomes and situations.

“I’ve helped arrange assistance loans for $10,000, which are interest- and payment-free, and forgivable after five years. Although considered a loan, they’re more like grants. Other programs can provide up to $40,000 interest-free,” Winesburg says.

Finally, speak with mortgage lenders when you’re starting the process. Check with friends, co-workers and neighbors to find out which lenders they enjoyed working with and ask them questions about the process and what other steps first-time homebuyers should take.

Posted on March 6, 2017 at 7:09 pm
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