Want to Save the Big Bucks? Pay Your Mortgage Bi-Weekly

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lv2We get it. No one really enjoys making a mortgage payment each month. But here’s a secret: You can shorten the length of your mortgage loan without refinancing your loan to a shorter term.

You simply have to make bi-weekly payments.

Here’s how this works: Normally, you’ll make 12 mortgage payments a year, one each month. If you owe $1,000 on your mortgage each month, you’ll make 12 mortgage payments for a total of $12,000 a year. But if you split your payment into bi-weekly payments, you’ll pay $500 every two weeks.

This pays off in a big way: Because there are 52 weeks in a year, you’ll make 26 bi-weekly payments. That is equal to making 13 monthly payments in a year. That’s right, with the bi-weekly mortgage payment, you’d make one extra mortgage payment each year than you would when paying 12 standard monthly payments.

Bi-weekly payments reduce the payoff time of your mortgage loan. The number of months you chop off your mortgage varies depending on the size, interest rate and length of your loan. If you are paying off a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage loan of $180,000 with an interest rate of 4%, you’ll pay off your loan in 25 years and 11 months, eliminating four years and one month of payments. That means you’ll also save more than $20,000 in interest during the life of your loan.

Those are some compelling reasons to consider a bi-weekly payment plan. Call us today if you are interested. We’ll walk you through the process and help you make the right decision for your financial situation.

Categories: Mortgage, Pay off mortgage, Uncategorized

Top Selling House Tips | Serious Holiday Selling

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housebowThinking about waiting until after the hectic holidays to sell your home? Think again. Did you know that buyers looking for a home during the holiday season are some of the most serious buyers all year? So, if you’re thinking of selling, don’t wait until spring to list your home for sale. Clean, clear-out, fix-up and prep your home like you’re hosting a big holiday party. Your home will shine online and be tour-ready when that right buyer walks through the front door. After all, emotion sells homes. Few homes for sale are more appealing than a warm and cheery holiday home. Give yourself the gift of a quick holiday home sale.

Tip #1: Contact us to learn how we make holiday home selling easy.

Tip #2: Decorate, but don’t go over the top. Consider putting out just half of your decorations while it’s for sale. You’ll have more home to show and many fewer items to put away when you’re busy packing to move!

Tip #3: Focus on the outside. Make sure that your outside still looks inviting even though it’s winter. Be sure the front walkway is clean, clear and inviting with seasonal holiday décor.

Tip #4: Turn up the heat. Don’t skimp on the temperature. Turn up the thermostat to make it cozy and inviting. During an open house (where fireplaces can be closely monitored) consider a fire in the fireplace or warmed cookies in the oven.

Tip #5: Price it right and be flexible and open to all offers. The key to a home sale any time of year is making sure your price is realistic and takes into account the competition. We can help you set the right price to sell!

If you are in Southeastern NC, text “real estate” to 910-208-0556 and see your competition.

Categories: Holiday Selling, Sell your home during the Holidays, wilmington nc real estate, Wrightsville Beach NC

Veterans Day | Take a moment and thank a Vet

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veteranHappy Veterans Day.  A huge thank you for all of you that have served or are serving our great Country.  We would not have the rights and privileges that we enjoy today without your selfless service.  According to the Department of Veterans Website the history of Veterans Day started after  World War I – known at the time as “The Great War” – officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, in the Palace of Versailles outside the town of Versailles, France. However, fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For that reason, November 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.”

Veterans Day continues to be observed on November 11, regardless of what day of the week on which it falls. The restoration of the observance of Veterans Day to November 11 not only preserves the historical significance of the date, but helps focus attention on the important purpose of Veterans Day: A celebration to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.

Categories: Uncategorized, Veterans Day

GOING TINY Want To Live In A Small Home? Financing Can Be A Big Challenge

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tinyFans of the “Tiny House Movement” have long dreamed of ditching most of their extra rooms, couches, bookshelves and tables and moving into a tiny home. Maybe you’ve thought about it…or know someone who has. This vision of the ultimate downsize is about living simply in a small home—often with around 500 square feet of living space.

But living the simple life can get complicated if you need to take out a mortgage loan to finance the purchase of a tiny home. Tiny homes are small, but they’re not free. They might cost $50,000 or more to buy, withTheTinyLife.com blog saying that the average cost to build a tiny house is $46,000 nationwide when they are built by professional builders (land additional).

Here’s the rub. Some banks won’t originate mortgage loans for $50,000 or less. These lenders simply won’t make enough money on such small loans to make originating one worth their time.

What to do if you’re ready to join the tiny-house movement? Here are three financing options.

Home Equity Loan: If you’re building a tiny home as the occasional retreat from your primary home, you might be able to take out a home equity loan to finance the purchase of your tiny second home.

To do this, of course, you’ll need a primary home, and you’ll need to have equity in that home. Say you owe $126,000 on your mortgage loan and your primary home is worth $220,000. You have $94,000 worth of equity in your primary residence ($220,000–$126,000 = $94,000). Lenders will lend you a certain percentage of that equity—it varies by financial institution—that you can then use to pay for your tiny home. For instance, your lender might, if you have equity of $94,000, approve you for a home equity loan of $50,000—leaving $44,000 home equity or loan-to-value of 80% ($126,000 + $50,000 V $220,000 = 80% LTV).

Recreational Vehicle Loan: If you don’t already own a home and if you want your tiny home to be your only residence—and not just a cozy vacation home—then you’ll have to go another route. You might turn to an RV loan to finance your tiny home.

To do this, you must first make sure that your tiny home actually qualifies as an RV (recreational vehicle). Usually, this means that your tiny home is mobile. It also means that your tiny home must be certified as an RV by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association.

The good news? The makers of tiny homes are increasingly certifying their homes as RVs to make it easier for consumers to finance the purchase.

Unsecured Loan: A final option is to turn to an unsecured personal loan as a way to finance a tiny home.

As its name suggests, an unsecured loan is one in which a property is not used as collateral. That’s the big difference between an unsecured loan and a standard mortgage loan. The home you are financing is used as collateral in a mortgage loan. If you miss enough mortgage payments, your lender can take possession of your home.

In an unsecured loan, lenders don’t have that opportunity. Because of this, these loans are riskier for financial institutions. Often, banks and lenders will charge higher interest rates on such loans because of this.

To qualify for an unsecured loan, you’ll need many of the same positive financial attributes that you’d bring to a lender when applying for a traditional mortgage loan: a high credit score, low debts and steady stream of monthly income. Whatever your plans, call us first. We’ll help you determine exactly what you can afford before you sign anything.

Categories: Financing for Tiny Homes, Tiny Homes, Uncategorized

MOVE UP: 4 Smart Strategies For Purchasing Your Next Home

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kingarthur3If you’ve decided it’s time to move up to a bigger home, a better home or a home in a more coveted area, your next challenge will be getting there financially. It’s likely you’ll need more cash, a larger income and, perhaps, better credit than you had when you purchased your current home. Putting all the pieces in place for the move up could take some time and detailed planning. Here are some ideas when buying Wilmington NC real estate.

1. Credit Clean-Up

Although your credit rating may have been sterling as a first-time home buyer, years of credit-card and utility accounts, car payments and consumer loans may have scuffed up that financial image a bit. Late or missed payments have a negative effect on your credit profile, as do large, long-term balances on your accounts. Your credit score, a rating system many lenders use to evaluate your financial situation, may prevent you from borrowing as much as you’d like for your next home or getting the lowest interest rate currently available.

The wise move-up buyer will take stock of his or her credit standing and debt status well before attempting the next home purchase. You may need some time to reduce your debt, catch up on any delinquent accounts, remove inaccuracies and blemishes from credit reports and make other adjustments to increase your credit score.

2. Loan Shopping

A quick way to sift through these issues is to contact a lender who can pull a credit report to see if there are any glaring spots on your record. If nothing needs immediate attention, you can continue on with a complete application, providing the financial information needed for loan pre-approval. The loan officer will determine the maximum loan amount you qualify for based on your income and debt profile.

You may want to shop around at this point, comparing loan programs and interest rates. Consider how well your current loan has worked for you and remember that rates aren’t everything. The lowest rate may be accompanied by high points. If so, you’ll have to keep the mortgage long enough to justify paying the steep up-front cost of the loan.

Consider whether a non-traditional mortgage program could meet your needs. An adjustable-rate mortgage may be a good choice if it looks as though interest rates will be falling. A 40-year mortgage might reduce the monthly payment enough so you qualify for a larger loan.

3. Collecting Cash

An important factor in the equation that determines your buying power will be how much cash you have for a down payment and closing costs. The best mortgage interest rates are available to buyers with down payments of 20% or more. If you make a smaller down payment, you may have to take a higher interest rate or pay for private mortgage insurance, both of which will reduce your buying power.

Unless you’re a prodigious saver, chances are the equity you have in your current home will provide the largest source of cash for your next home purchase. Equity, of course, is the difference between the market value of the home and the balance on any mortgages secured by the home.

We would be happy to conduct a comparative analysis of your home to determine the right sales price — at no obligation to you, of course. By determining the value of your home and subtracting out selling costs (paying off the old mortgage, marketing fees and settlement expenses), you’ll have the basis for a down payment on your move-up property.

4. Fine Tuning

After taking stock of your financial situation, you may find it necessary to delay your move in order to get the type of home you’ve targeted. Perhaps you need to save more cash for down payment and settlement costs. You may need to pay down outstanding debts to improve your credit score and qualify for a larger mortgage or a lower interest rate. Remember, it’s likely your home’s value and your equity in it will continue to grow as you get yourself in a position to move up successfully.

Categories: Move Up Homes, Waterfront Wilmington NC, waterfront wrightsville beach, wilmington nc real estate, wilmington nc relocation

How To Jazz Up Your Home To Sell | Wilmington NC Real Estate

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1If you’re looking to sell your home, want to buy a new one or just moved into your home, take some tips from the interior designer pros to make sure your home gives off a colorful, but inviting vibe:

ACCENT COLOR Don’t paint a room in your favorite vibrant hue. Instead, buy accessories in your fave color and place them around a neutrally painted room. Eyes will travel around the room from each pop of color.

TIE ROOMS TOGETHER Using bursts of color in other rooms in the same manner will tie rooms together and give them a unified overall look. Choose different accessories to exude color for variety and interest.

NEUTRAL BASE Choose neutral colors for the walls and trim of each room, allowing you to easily change the color pops as your budget allows and color whims evolve.

LAYER COLORS If you chose bright blue accent pieces, throw in other shades of blue—both lighter and darker—to carry the hue through the room.

Tour other homes for sale, even new model homes, to get design inspiration on how best to stage your home for sale.

Categories: Staging your home, Uncategorized

SELLERS MARKET – Why Every Home Doesn’t Sell

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Fence Series 3Wilmington NC has a healthy housing market—by most indicators a seller’s market—especially for homes that are priced to sell and in great condition.

As we move into the year-end season, there are no signs the market is shifting. Price remains critically important. Today’s sellers must avoid the pitfall of believing “everything sells.” Track market trends with a real estate pro—like us—and make sure your home’s sales price reflects what buyers expect—and will pay. If an offer doesn’t appear quickly, make a noticeable price improvement sooner—not later—if you expect to get your home sold.

Despite a great year so far, many prospective sellers still are not getting their homes sold. Here’s what our experience and local trends tell us:

Overpriced Listings. You can’t sell a home based on last year’s prices or national headlines that conflict with our area’s micro-trends. Don’t set a sales price based on the amount you want to cash out of the home. Pricing right is paramount to get your home noticed, toured and sold fast. The right price is one that buyers are willing to offer compared with other nearby homes currently for sale. Expired listings are often homes that aren’t priced right. You may be amazed at how many homes have lingered on the market longer than average—at all price points.

Condition. Is your home move-in ready? It will sell quickly because choosy buyers want a modern home in great condition. They’ll pay for it, too. If you have a list of fix-ups, needed updates and undone maintenance, buyers will notice and keep looking…right past your home.

Set The Stage. Clean and declutter each room. Make each space inviting and bright. If you’ve already moved out, rent or borrow furniture to give each room a purpose and focal point. Empty homes don’t sell.

Contract Kickouts. Perhaps the biggest reason not every home sells in this market is that some homes go under contract but never reach settlement. Those deals “kick out.” Maybe it’s the home inspection. Sometimes it’s buyer remorse. Often, financing for the buyer doesn’t come through…especially if the buyer isn’t preapproved or paid over market value in a bidding war. Whatever the reason, a significant number of contracts fall through without ever getting to closing—and if your home is priced right and in good condition, it’s got a better chance of not tripping over closing hurdles.

Going It Alone. If you’re trying to sell your home on your own, your property is not getting the marketing and exposure it could when you partner with a real estate professional. Today’s real estate market is healthy, but selling by yourself could mean lost time, lost money and a lost sale.

Bottom line for today’s sellers? Fixing-up matters. Staging matters. Savvy marketing matters. Negotiating experience matters. And—most important—pricing ahead of the market matters to be sure you get your home sold for top dollar in our market today. Contact us to discuss how we can turn your “for sale” quickly into “sold.”

Categories: Sellers Market, Wilmington NC Market Statistics

Selling Basics | 1-2-3s Of Selling In Wilmington NC

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1604crowslanding1—Start cleaning, clearing and prepping now. Don’t waste time getting your home in order for visits by potential buyers. Clear out clutter, deep clean and move out some of your bulkier furniture to temporary storage or sell/give away/move it to your new home.

2—Secure a local agent. Selling your home in today’s fast-changing market requires you to know and do a lot more than most people have the time, energy or know-how to deal with. Work with a local agent who has experience—like us.

3—Price it right. Working with a professional agent, you will get feedback on what local home prices are doing, what the competition looks like and how the price will affect buyers.

4—Stage it, clean it, make it ready to show. Staging a home means having it look its best for buyers by giving each room a focal point and a purpose—whether you do it yourself with your belongings or you use rental items to spruce up your residence. Hiring a pro stager is another option, but make sure you have a clean base to start from and your home could be ready to show quickly.

5—Accept the right offer. The first offer could be your best offer, only offer or the start of more. You’ve got to know when to hold ’em, know when to counter and know when to call. We can help you evaluate an offer to help you determine whether it’s a good move to accept or whether you should make a counteroffer.

SELLERS: Yesterday is history. Set an asking price for your home that reflects the reality of the current real estate market—instead of rumor or yesterday’s sales prices.

6—Be patient, but pay attention.Once the offer is signed and accepted, be flexible to allow the buyer to schedule inspections and finalize financing. However, your agent and you should keep track to make sure closing/settlement is on track for the agreed-upon date.

7—Get moving. Once that offer is signed, it’s real. Get your bags packed and boxes loaded up. You’re on your way to the next stage with your home sale behind you!

Professional guidance is essential in today’s real estate market, especially in your local area. We look forward to putting our know-how to work for you.

Categories: Selling Basics, wilmington nc real estate, Wilmington NC real estate stats 2014

Need to Renovate? A Mortgage Loan That Can Help Pay For Your Home’s Renovations

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1Want to renovate your home’s 20th century-era kitchen? Or maybe you’d like to build that master bedroom of your dreams. You can—with the help of two mortgage programs designed to help homeowners pay for renovations designed to improve the value of a residence.

Fannie Mae offers the HomeStyle Renovation Mortgage, while the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) provides the 203(k) Program. Buyers can take out these mortgages when buying a new home. But they can also refinance their existing mortgage loans into a HomeStyle or 203(k) loan if they need to make improvements to their current homes.

These loans allow consumers to borrow more than a home is worth, as long as you use the extra money you are borrowing to pay for home repairs or renovations.

For instance, if borrowers want to buy a $150,000 home, they can take out a HomeStyle or 203(k) loan for $175,000. They can then use that extra $25,000 to fund the renovation of an aging kitchen or add another bathroom.

Borrowers will have to work with consultants who will study borrowers’ renovation plans and make sure that the homeowners are using the money for the repairs they promised to make.

But that extra work is worth it if it allows you to improve the value of your home while making it a better place to live for you and your family.

If you have questions about these loan programs, don’t hesitate to call us. We can help you determine which program is best for you. And we can guide you through the application process for both types of loans.

Don’t Keep It To Yourself!
After you’ve read and reviewed this newsletter, we hope you’ll pass it on to those you know who are thinking about selling or buying a home this year. They’ll appreciate you thinking about them, and we’ll certainly appreciate the referrals. Your positive word-of-mouth is greatly valued. Thank you!


Categories: Get a Mortgage to Renovate, Uncategorized, wilmington beach homes, wilmington nc, wilmington real estate stats

SMORGASBORD When You’re Ready For A Mortgage You’ll Have Plenty Of Choices

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jones 91011 268This is a great time to apply for a mortgage loan. Interest rates are still low. Many borrowers are able to qualify for rates under 4%. And even better? Mortgage lenders today offer a wide variety of loan types. Borrowers with solid credit scores should have little trouble finding a home loan that works for their varied financial situations.

Here’s a look at some of the choices on the most popular mortgage smorgasbord available today. If you need help choosing, give us a call. We’d be happy to discuss your options.

30-Year Fixed-Rate: The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) loan remains a favorite among borrowers. And why not? This mortgage comes with lower monthly payments because of its long life. Plus, the interest rate is fixed, so borrowers always know how much they’ll pay in principal and interest each month. (Your payments can still change, though, if taxes or insurance bills increase or decrease.) The downside? Because repayment is spread out over three decades, borrowers who pay off a 30-year loan in full will pay a lot more interest than those with different loan types.

15-Year Fixed-Rate: The 15-year fixed-rate loan comes with all the benefits of the 30-year version. But borrowers will pay far less interest each month because the repayment period is cut in half. The interest rates attached to 15-year mortgages are also lower than those that come with 30-year loans. However, because of the shorter term, a 15-year mortgage does come with higher monthly payments.

Hybrid ARMs: An adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) features interest rates that are fixed for a certain number of years, often five, seven or 10. After that fixed period ends, though, the interest rate adjusts on a pre-set schedule according to the performance of whatever financial index the loan is tied to. Hybrid ARMs come in several varieties, but they all operate similarly: The 5/1 ARM, for instance, features a fixed-rate period of five years, while a 7/1 hybrid has a seven-year fixed period before the interest rate begins adjusting each year. The main benefit of these loans is the low initial interest rates that come with them. ARMs usually start with interest rates that are lower than those attached to fixed-rate loans. It’s important, though, for consumers to understand just how high their rate can jump each year once their loans enter the adjustable period and how that affects their payment—and ability to pay.

5/5 ARM: The 5/5 ARM is a relative newcomer. In this type of ARM, the interest rate is fixed for five years, then can adjust once every five years until the loan is paid off, the owner refinances it or the owner sells their home. This loan combines the low interest rate of an ARM with a bit of the stability that comes with a fixed-rate loan. Another variation is a 15/15 ARM.

Categories: Mortgage choice, Uncategorized

Kay Baker | 1001 Military Cutoff Rd. | Ste 101 Wilmington, NC 28405 | kaybaker@seacoastrealty.com | 910-232-0363 | Fax: 910-256-0473

Copyright © 2015 Wilmington NC Real Estate Guide. All rights reserved. Disclaimer: All content on this blog is my own opinion and should not be treated as fact or relied upon when purchasing or selling real estate.