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Curb Appeal

Curb AppealDollar for dollar, no improvement has more impact on the future sales price of your home than dollars spent enhancing its exterior, also known as Curb Appeal. You’ve seen it on all the TV “fixer upper” shows, curb appeal is what brings attention to your home and many times can help raise its value!

Luckily for you, it’s also one of the easiest places to make a swift impact. A coat of paint, some landscaping improvements, shutters and planter boxes, neighborhood-appropriate fencing, and a decent lawn guy are all affordable fixes that will do wonders for the foot traffic you get when your home is on the market. And we all know once a prospective buyer is in the door, anything can and usually does happen. That doesn’t mean interior improvements and amenities don’t matter, because they do, but creating a wow factor before a prospective buyer steps out of his or her car is the biggest bang for your buck you can buy.

5 Signs That It’s Time to Refinance Your Mortgage

Have you been giving some thought to how you might be able to save money if you refinanced your mortgage? How do you decide if it’s really worth it? Here are 5 signs that you might want to sit down with a banker and explore refinancing seriously. refinance your mortgage

  1. Interest rates are moving. If your mortgage has an interest rate that is several years old, it might be time to refinance. Mortgage interest rates fluctuate. If the Federal Reserve Bank raises interest rates, mortgage rates will likely follow.
  1. You have substantial equity in your home. Equity in your home can be accumulated by your monthly payments or by the value of your home increasing. Either way, it’s good news. You can ditch PMI (private mortgage insurance) when your home reaches its 80% loan-to-value ratio. A lower loan amount likely translates to a lower interest rate, saving you money on your payments.
  1. There is a positive change to your credit score. Bank loans often involve a cargo-shipload of paperwork, including your credit history. You may not have realized it at the time, but the interest rate on your conventional loan was based on your credit score at the time of application. A current, higher score usually translates to a better interest rate.
  1. Your income increases. The promotion comes through. A major client signs the contract. Your book was sold to a publisher. These are all good things that relate to more money in your pocket. Take that to the bank, literally. Secure a better interest rate based on your increased ability to repay the bank loan. Or you could refinance a 30-year fixed-rate loan to a 15-year one and increase your equity.
  1. Your relationship status has changed. Breaking up is hard to do. Throw real estate into the mix and things get complicated. Division of the assets usually includes the residence and that means each party’s share of said assets. Refinancing the home is one way of “buying out” the other party involved.

Know Your Options

Once you’ve decided to explore financing, think about the kind of mortgage you want. You’ll have a lot of choices. Below are some terms you should know in order to make a choice that’s right for you:

Jumbo Loans: Mortgage amounts greater than $453,100 are in most cases considered jumbo loans. (This limit is higher in certain areas.) These types of loans mean more money is doled out by the bank and consequently they’re riskier for the lender. Banks mitigate their risk by charging higher interest rates to borrowers.

Conforming Loans: Typically, a loan amount of $453,100 or less is called a “conforming loan” because it adheres to guidelines set by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, buyers of secondary mortgages. Banks will typically sell qualifying loans to these government-sponsored entities to free up cash.

Conventional Loans: Any mortgage issued by a lender, but not backed by the federal government. Both conforming and jumbo loans fall into this category, but only conforming loans sell on the secondary market.

Let’s talk about how refinancing can help you get a better rate, or move you closer to your financial goals.

Is It Worth It to Improve Your Home or Move On?

Homeowners are faced with numerous decisions throughout the years when it comes to their homes and how to manage them. A home is one of the biggest investments you’ll ever make, so decision-making shouldn’t be taken lightly. A difficult decision homeowners face is whether to move to a different property or simply improve their current one. improve you home or move on
The answer is never black or white, but we’ve listed the variables that need to be weighed carefully. Your personal finances and the status of local markets are just two issues you will have to consider. Also, think about which improvements give you the most bang for your buck.

Before taking the leap either way, here are some factors to consider:

Thoughts on Selling

  • Current market conditions. Is your area flooded with homes for sale? What is the transaction time from listing to closing?  Is the market lopsided with more sellers than buyers?
  • Local factors. Are there new jobs coming to your city or are companies moving away and jobs decreasing? Will there be an influx of new residents or is everyone trying to sell quickly? Will new jobs bring higher incomes or is downsizing a problem?
  • Your home value. What is your home’s worth? Can you extract from it what you paid or will you sell at a loss? What is the lowest offer you can accept? Will you be able to offer any help with the closing costs?
  • Personal logistics. Can you afford to move to a new house while paying the mortgage and other costs on the first, or do you have to sell first and then move? How long can you continue to pay the mortgage, taxes and insurance on this property?

Insights into Renovation

  • Current market conditions. Will increasing your home’s size or features price you out of the area? Sometimes putting in high-end finishes can make your home worth more than what it will appraise for.
  • Local factors: Are buyers looking for homes similar to an upgraded version of yours in that area? Don’t create a forever home when buyers move to your area for a starter home. It will be hard to make a profit this way.
  • Your home value. You can quickly put in too many renovations and create a home that is worth more than what the area dictates. Take that into consideration when planning your remodel.
  • Personal logistics. If you ever plan to sell, these are things to consider. However, if you feel that you’ll stay in your home for years to come, improving your property might be a wise move.

There’s not a magic formula to determine the right steps for every homeowner, but using a local real estate professional can be a great start. They know the markets and can explain the best options for you.