Pick up the phone | You Should Call Your Mortgage Lender in 2017

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We all fall into the same bad habit: Once we take out our mortgage loan, we tend to forget about it – at least until it’s time to send in our payment each month.

U.s Dollar Bills Pin Down on the GroundBut vow to take a different approach in 2017. Instead of mostly ignoring your mortgage this year, take an active role in managing it.

To do this, give your mortgage lender a call. You might be able to tweak your home loan so that you can save some serious dollars this year. Here are three big reasons to call your lender, and take control of your mortgage loan, this year:

It might be time to refinance: Mortgage interest rates have been low for a long time. And they continued to drop throughout the end of 2016. So maybe it’s time to talk with your mortgage lender about the possibility of refinancing your home loan.

Sure, a refinance isn’t free. But if you can drop your interest rate by a point or more, you’ll generally pay back your upfront investment quickly. If you plan on staying in your home for more than five years, the odds are good that refinancing your loan to one with a lower interest rate might make financial sense.

You’ll never know, though, unless you give your lender a call. Your lender will be able to run the numbers to determine if a refinance is the right move.

You might be able to eliminate a ton of interest by shortening your loan’s term: Maybe your interest rate is already low. You can still save money by refinancing your mortgage loan to one with a shorter term. Say you are paying off a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage today. By refinancing to a 15-year version of this loan, you can reduce the amount of interest you’ll pay over the life of your loan by tens of thousands of dollars.

Again, though, you should talk to your mortgage lender to determine whether the interest savings make the cost of refinancing worthwhile. A lot of this depends upon how long you plan to live in your home.

You might be able to pay off your mortgage early—but doing so might not make sense: Maybe you’re coming to the end of your mortgage loan’s lifespan. That’s good news. You might even be tempted to pay off your loan early just to get rid of the monthly payment.

But often, paying off a mortgage loan early isn’t the wisest of moves. Again, checking in with your mortgage lender might be in order.

Mortgage debt generally comes with lower interest rates than do other forms of debt, especially credit-card debt. If, then, you are paying off this kind of debt, it makes more sense to concentrate your money on reducing it than it does to pay off your mortgage loan early.  kaybakerassociates@ec.rr.com

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Categories: mortage planning, Mortgage choice, Mortgage Fine Print, Mortgage ideas

LOOKING FORWARD Real Opportunities In Real Estate This Year

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Whether you’re looking to buy your first—or 15th—home, this year holds many opportunities for you. And, if you need to sell this year, the same holds true. 2017 is looking to be a great year for sellers, buyers, investors and those who need to relocate or settle down with a second home, too.

How is that possible? First, financing continues to be available to a wider group of consumers as lenders increasingly work to open up some qualifications. Secondly, interest rates continue to sit near historic lows, making mortgages affordable for many. Lastly, with rents increasing in many regions, it makes more sense to buy a home than it does to rent one. (And, if you’re an investor, with rising rents, it makes more sense to grow your rental property portfolio this year.)

Additionally, your credit plays a big role in landing affordable financing, so we’ll give you the year’s scoop on how to monitor your credit report and protect your identity and financial details in light of all-too-frequent data breaches.

Free stock photo of wood, light, house, luxuryAnd, if you’re just staying put in your home, we’ll give you the remodeling outlook for the year, too.

No matter your real estate plans, we are here for your home-related needs. Contact us. We’re eager to work with you this year!

SMART CHOICE

When It Makes More Sense To Buy Than Rent

In many areas today, rents are rising faster than home prices. In such situations, it often makes more sense to own a home than to rent someplace to live. Even when renting and owning seem like a wash, owning can still come out ahead.

Consider these facts as you look at buying a home in 2017:
  • Don’t forget how the mortgage interest you’re paying will likely benefit you at tax time. (Consult with a tax adviser for details specific to your situation.)
  • If you plan to live in the same place for a length of time, your home is likely to appreciate so that at sale time, you’ll find yourself with a gain, or at least break even in many cases.
  • Buying gives you a home that you’re free to customize as you wish, while also giving you a place to put down roots and get involved in the community.
  • Depending on the financing you choose for your home purchase, your monthly home mortgage amount may be fixed from 15 to 30 years, allowing you to budget for other expenses more easily.
  • Renting puts money in the pockets of your landlord while paying off a mortgage results in a home paid off, and resulting in no more monthly mortgage/housing payments.

Consult with a local mortgage professional (contact us for recommendations) to get preapproved for a mortgage. Then let’s talk about home shopping! kaybakerassociates@ec.rr.com 

Categories: buying a home, real estate, Uncategorized, wilmington nc, Wilmington NC homes

Five Ways To Get The Best Interest Rate

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Free stock photo of black-and-white, man, hurry, reflectionsToday’s real estate market continues to be a busy one, thanks in part to mortgage interest rates that remain near historic lows, allowing buyers to afford more home. Despite this, it’s still important to watch interest rates to ensure you get the best deal.

(If you need recommendations for great local lenders, please let us know!) Here are in-the-know tips to help you get the best rate for your mortgage.

1. ACT FAST
Lock in an interest rate today. There’s no sense pining over rates of yesterday because they are old news and unlikely to return. If you’re nervous your home won’t close in the typical 30 days, pay to extend your rate lock.

2. GRAB A DEAL
Even with slightly higher interest rates, your buying power is still strong. The difference between an interest rate of 4% and 4.5% on a $200,000 30-year mortgage is only $58 more per month.

3. SCALE BACK
If your proposed mortgage payment makes you nervous, step back and think about finding a home with a smaller price tag. You may have to give some on space and/or location but your monthly budget will thank you.

4. ADJUST
If you aren’t sure how long you’ll be living in your next home, consider a hybrid or adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) that offers an initial fixed lower rate for a specific amount of time (three, five, seven years, etc.) before a single adjustment or annual changes.

5. GOOD SIGNS
Closely examine the area where the home is located. An improving local economy with stable and increasing jobs, vibrant schools and nearby conveniences increases the likelihood that the home will appreciate over time. Besides your home being a great place to live, you might also make a profit when it comes time to sell!

Categories: Uncategorized, wilmington nc real estate

The Secret to My Open House Success

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Free stock photo of house, windows, plants, doorIn today’s real estate environment, more than ever, open houses are an effective open house marketing strategy. But, just to advertise the home in the Sunday paper and post a sign is not enough. An effective marketing campaign for open houses will prove to be a very successful open house and hopefully bring buyers to the table. Read the rest of this entry

Categories: Home Selling, Uncategorized

Mortgage Planning For The New Year

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Free stock photo of eye, macro, human, seeA new year is nearly here. That means it’s time to take a closer look at your mortgage loan.

You might not give much thought to your home loan, other than to pay it on time each month. But remember that your mortgage bill is probably the largest payment that you are responsible for each month. It makes sense to review your loan details to make sure that it is still the best fit for you and your family—and your budget.

Here are our recommendations for possible changes to make to your mortgage loan in 2017:

Time to refinance? Your mortgage interest rate might already be low, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t save potentially hundreds of dollars every month with a refinance. As a general rule, if you can shave a full point off your interest rate, you’ll save enough money each month to make the cost of a refinance worth it.

Call us today to ask whether you might qualify for a lower interest rate. We’d be happy to study your loan to determine whether a refinance might make financial sense for you.

Shorten your loan term? You don’t have to refinance merely to earn a lower interest rate. You can also refinance to reduce the term of your loan. If you are now paying off a 30-year fixed-rate loan, for instance, it might make sense to refinance to a 15-year or 10-year fixed-rate loan.

Yes, shortening your term will usually result in a higher monthly payment. But you’ll also potentially save tens of thousands of dollars in interest during the life of your loan. If you’re ready to reduce the amount of interest you’re paying each month, refinancing to a shorter-term loan could be a smart move. Again, contact us if you’re ready for a shorter-term loan. We can help you determine if this is a wise financial step.

Pay a bit more? Another way to reduce the amount of interest you’ll pay over the life of your mortgage is to pay a bit more each month than is required. Even paying $100 more toward your loan’s principal balance each month can dramatically reduce the amount of interest you’ll pay. Just make sure to indicate that the extra money you are sending in is earmarked to pay down your principal balance. There should be an option for this on your payment stub or your online payment plan.

Categories: Mortgage, new year, refi, Uncategorized

BUY OR WAIT? Check The Answer That’s Right For You | Wilmington NC real estate

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There’s no right or wrong answer when you ask: “Is it the right time to buy a home?” For some, it’s a great time to buy—while for others, the answer is not as clear cut. There are lots of check marks that make buying favorable, but some unknowns as well. We’re here to help you sort out the right answer for you.

Today’s real estate market is affordable for many. Interest rates are still near historic lows, which means your money buys more home than it will when rates rise. With stable employment, a decent down payment and a good credit history, you’re likely to qualify for a mortgage.

The selection of homes available locally is improving because the overall economy has encouraged more owners to sell. Because of this, your odds of finding the right home for you are higher today. Also, homebuyers now have many financing options because lenders offer a variety of loan programs that allow buyers to choose their mortgage term and interest rate to ensure the loan is affordable today—and tomorrow.

Should you buy a home today?
There are many reasons why it might be a good time for you, personally, to buy real estate today. How many reasons can you check off?

☑ I need a tax break.
Paying mortgage interest and real estate taxes may provide you with a sizable deduction on your income taxes. Consult a financial professional to review your tax return and see the impact owning a home (or a larger home) could have on your tax bill.

☑ My household income is likely to grow.
Up for a raise in the not-too-distant future? In line for a promotion? If your career—or your partner’s career—is on an upward trajectory, your growing income will offset any increases in real estate taxes, insurance or interest rate down the road.

☑ I’m ready to put down some roots.
You may feel ready to sink deeper roots in one location and become more vested in our community. If you’re looking to call our area home for five years or more, it may make sense to buy a home or move up to a larger one.

☑ I have been saving for a rainy day.
If you’ve been stashing away money for a down payment for some time, consult a mortgage lender to determine how much home you can comfortably afford to buy (ask us for lender recommendations). Calculate if your savings cushion is enough to cover unexpected maintenance costs or other emergencies after the down payment is paid.

☑ I need a home that will grow with my family.
If the home you can afford today has enough bedrooms to accommodate future children, children who are returning home, elderly family members or a work-at-home situation, it may be the right time for you to buy.

☑ I’ll be receiving some money.
If you are receiving a large legal settlement or a family member has presented you or your partner with a sizable monetary gift or inheritance, you might be able to buy that home you’ve only dreamed of before now.

☑ I follow a budget.
With your finances in order and personal spending in check, you likely have a realistic budget to know how much you can safely spend on housing.

☑ My debt situation is under control.
If you had student loans and they’re nearly paid off, college-age kids that are close to graduation or credit card debt that is near a zero balance, it might be time for you to think about buying a home.

☑ I’m just ready.
If you’re ready to buy a home, it’s time to contact us. We can show you local homes that fit your finances and your family. We can work with you to determine which one meets your needs best. We look forward to hearing from you soon!

Categories: Buy Now or Wait, Wilmington NC homes, Wilmington NC Market Statistics, wilmington nc real estate, Wrightsville Beach NC

What is the difference between loan pre-approval and pre-qualification?

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Pre-approval and pre-qualification are steps ywww.cbbaker.comou can take to line up your mortgage loan before you start house hunting in Wilmington NC. They are different, so read on:

Pre-approval:

  • is actually applying for, and getting, a conditional commitment for a mortgage loan up to a specific amount of money.
  • is usually good for 60-90 days.
  • applies, even though you might not have chosen the home you will buy.
  • often requires a loan application fee.
  • gives you bargaining power, because it tells the seller you are ready to buy and able to get financing.

Pre-qualification:

  • is the result of a lender taking a cursory look at the buyer’s income, credit history and assets.
  • states the buyer probably could afford to buy up to a certain limit.
  • does not include a loan commitment.
  • tells sellers you’re serious about buying and their house is in your price range.
  • usually costs no more than the credit report fee.

Some advantages of pre-qualification and pre-approval are:

  • A pre-approval or pre-qualification can speed closing because the paperwork for the loan has already been started.
  • You will begin learning about the financing process, and any problems that might arise can be resolved early.
  • You know in advance how much you can borrow.
  • Your offer is more attractive to the seller, because the seller won’t have to guess about whether you can afford the house.

Where do you begin when it’s time to look for a new house? Start by calling or e-mailing us with your home-buying questions. We can give you an idea of how much home you can afford to buy, then you can follow up with your local lender.

Categories: Pre-Approval for Loan, Pre-Qualification, wilmington nc real estate, Wilmington NC real estate stats 2014, wilmington real estate stats

NEGOTIATE: How To Buy The Home You Love At The Price You Want

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2Found the house of your dreams? Now the negotiations begin.

The agent you’re working with can guide you through the process of making a purchase offer. You’ll want to start by learning as much as you can about how much the property is worth.

Check the comparables

Your agent has up-to-the-minute price data at hand to help you analyze any comparable properties; just ask. Although every home is unique, here’s some of what makes a home “comparable” to the one you’re considering purchasing:

same neighborhood;
same age and condition;
same size lot;
same home style–equivalent living space, number of rooms and baths;
similar terms of sale.

Follow sales price trends

Ask about recent pricing trends in the neighborhood. Specifically, what has been the average difference between listing price and sales price for recent sales of comparable homes? What is the ratio of assessed tax value to market value?

Offer what you think the house is worth

Some asking prices have built-in padding, but others are already priced to sell. You could lose a well-priced home with a low-ball bid. Remember, a lower mortgage interest rate will allow you to borrow more and pay a higher price for a home without increasing your monthly payment.

Spell out the details

Consider getting a pre-purchase appraisal and home inspection. The appraisal will give an independent valuation of the house, and the inspection will help identify any potential problems you may have overlooked. Consider including a contingency making the contract subject to a satisfactory appraisal and inspection.

Evaluate contingencies

The contract can also be contingent upon an attorney’s review, previous home sale, and acceptable mortgage loan terms, etc. Contingencies are typically used to smooth acceptance of an offer without delaying the final decision. Too many contingencies, however, weaken your bargaining position.

Know what’s important to you

Prioritize the elements of the sale on paper (“must” and “want”) and decide where you have negotiating room–what you’ll give up or accept in exchange for a concession. Items frequently negotiated include adjustments for needed or requested repairs, what personal property stays and what goes with the seller, points and closing costs, and move-in date. Knowing exactly what you want and where you are willing to bargain is your most important negotiating tool.

Put everything in the first purchase offer

If the first offer is accepted it may be too late to add anything. Include a financial statement. Do all negotiating in writing with a deadline for a response, often 48 hours. You are free to cancel an offer until it is accepted by the seller. Require that your binder or deposit be held in an escrow account with the interest credited to you.

Be Patient

Negotiating could take several days. Be patient; you won’t want to rush into one of the most important purchases you’ll ever make.

We can help

If you’d like help finding your dream home, please call or e-mail us. We’ll help with your home search and will give you all the important information we can provide to help you make the right offer for the right home.

Categories: buying a home, The Art of Negotiating, Uncategorized, wilmington nc real estate

Get The Most Bang For Your Remodeling Bucks | Wilmington NC real estate

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Get The Most Bang For Your Remodeling Bucks

Thinking about making a change to your home? Be sure your remodeling dollars are well spent.
You certainly should focus on making your home a place you (rather than some future buyer) will enjoy living in. Still, it makes sense to remodel with an eye to maximizing the return you’ll get on your remodeling costs when the time does come to sell.
Consider the following suggestions:
1. Try To Fit In
Make sure your changes are consistent with the neighborhood. Don’t improve your home’s value more than 20% above the average value of homes in your area. If three bedrooms are standard and you are adding two more, you are not likely to get a very good return on your investment. Consider moving to a larger home rather than over-improving your current one.
2. Take The Middle Path
Shy away from highly decorative (or expensive) fixtures and designs. While a black-onyx wet bar and a mirrored wall might suit your fancy, it may make your home harder to sell later on. Remember, trendy colors and styles become stale all too soon (remember “harvest gold”?). Classic styles and neutral colors, on the other hand, stand the test of time. Express your individual taste with furnishings that you can take with you when you go.
3. Invest In Popular Improvements
Renovations with the best return include changes in the kitchen or bathrooms and room additions accomplished by adding on or enclosing a porch or garage. Tour similar homes that are for sale to see what kind of renovations your neighbors have made. Take a look inside some new homes, too. Builders know what today’s buyers are looking for; you may want to incorporate a few of the latest features in your home remodeling project.
4. Look At Your Moving Timetable
Will you be moving in a year or two? If so, shy away from major projects or personalized “luxury” updates such as saunas or art studios. You could end up spending extra money to reconvert the space if your buyers don’t like the results. Don’t start renovating if you expect a short-term stay, because long-term remodeling loans will deduct cash from your equity when you sell.
5. Find A Reputable Contractor
Look for a contractor with a solid track record doing the kind of work you’re looking for. Check for proof of insurance, licensing and bonding. Ask for references and contact several. Make sure you have a contract that spells out all of the details and possible scenarios — materials, periodic payments based on progress, completion dates, etc.

More on remodeling here…

Categories: Financing a Home Purchase in Wilmington NC, Home Selling, Managing your debt, Screen Gems Studio, Showcasing your home, Technorati Profile, volunteer in wilmington NC, wilmington nc, Wilmington NC Neighborhoods, wilmington nc real estate

No Brainer | Pre-Approval Is The Smart Choice

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happyYou know that getting pre-approved for a mortgage loan before you even start shopping for a home is the smart move.

When a lender pre-approves you—telling you exactly how much mortgage money it is willing to lend you—you know how expensive a home you can truly afford. You won’t waste time looking at residences that fall outside your price range.

But how do you go about getting pre-approved? Fortunately, the process isn’t overly complicated.

1. Contact a lender that offers loans in the area where the property is located. Ask about interest rates and fees. If you’re comfortable, explain that you’d like to get pre-approved for a mortgage.The lender will ask to run your credit. Give your permission. Your credit scores determine the interest rate for which you might qualify—if you qualify for a mortgage loan at all.

2. You will need to provide financial documents that prove your income. Documents will include your last two paycheck stubs, last two months of bank-account statements, last two W-2 forms and, maybe, copies of your tax returns from the last two years.

3. All this information will then be sent onto the underwriting team, which will study your finances to determine how much of a lending risk you are. Once the underwriting team finishes its study, your lender can tell you exactly how much they are willing to lend you.

4. Finally, your lender will send you a pre-approval letter that will state this amount. Now you’ll know not to look at $300,000 homes if you can only qualify for $200,000 in mortgage money.

We are local Wilmington NC people who love real estate.  Let us help you.  www.cbbaker.com – app.seacoastrealty.com/househunter – kaybakerassociates@ec.rr.com

Categories: Get Pre-approved before house hunting, Mortgage 101, Pre Approval for Mortgage


Kay Baker Associates | 1001 Military Cutoff | Ste 101 Wilmington, NC 28405 | kaybakerassociates@ec.rr.com | 910-202-3607 | Fax 910-338-2428

Copyright © 2017 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.