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. – –

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

Avoid Foreclosure – Don’t Lose Your Home If You Fall Behind On Mortgage Payments

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wilmington nc real estateIf you’re experiencing financial hard times and have missed a payment or two on your home, it doesn’t mean you’re headed to foreclosure—yet.

If you’re at the end of your financial rope, it’s time to take these steps, immediately, to rescue your home—and your credit:

1. Contact your lender. Lenders may allow a forebearance (reducing or suspending payments for a short period) and/or a reinstatement (accepting the total overdue amount owed in a lump sum). Make sure you clearly understand the repayment plan and adhere to it.

2. Request a modified mortgage plan. The term or interest rate may be permanently changed on your loan and/or past-due payments added to the mortgage balance.

3. Interest-free or low-interest loans. Investigate the availability of loans from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development or your loan insurance company to bring payments up to date.

4. Sell. Go ahead and get out of the home before it’s repossessed. Better to dump the mortgage and rent than to ruin your future credit.

5. Deed in lieu of foreclosure. As a last resort, give the property back to the lender. This move can only be made if none of the above work for you.

Let us know what we can do to help.  For more information please visit and look in the seller section.

Categories: avoid foreclosure, Avoiding Foreclosure, foreclosrue

A KING’S RANSOM? Why The MARKET (Not Sellers) Determines The Sales Price Of Your Home

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It’s no secret, pricing a home in today’s market can be difficult. Despite what some home sellers believe—that their “castle” is worth more than recent comparable sales in their area—homebuyers are the driving force in determining the true value of homes.

frontPricing a home higher than advised to “test the market” often proves a waste of a seller’s time—and of buyers’ time too. Smart homebuyers comparison shop to learn the local real estate scene, and will offer only what the home is worth today—not what other homes sold for a few months ago, not what the seller paid for it years ago and not the combined prices of all the upgrades and improvements made to the property.

A realistic price—sometimes slightly lower than the competition—attracts buyer activity right from the first moment your home hits the market. The more interest in your home, the more opportunities for offers. The positive energy from early activity today is likely to put your home in demand—and can create multiple offers and a quick sale.

Remember, the converse is also true—a too-high price can turn your attractive home into a white elephant. More and more buyers in this market will pass on an overpriced home because they know they can get more for their money elsewhere. The longer your overpriced home stays on the market unsold, the more likely it is buyers will start suspecting something more is wrong with it beyond just the price. In today’s market, the old maxim is more true than ever: Price sells!

Throw out those old calculations and numbers and sit down to face the reality of our local market today. As real estate professionals, we can help you see where home prices are right now, learn what buyers are purchasing and offering for similar homes in our area and suggest a price point that will get your home sold quickly. Here are several more tips to maximize market value.

Be Realistic

If you are a seller who bought at the peak of the market and now needs or wants to sell, being understanding is the name of the game. In many cases, you may not be able to sell your home for the same price at which you purchased it. Stand back from those numbers and realize you have had a number of good years in your home, living there and enjoying it, making it your own. Now it’s time to move on to your next stage in life. To get there, your home must be sold for whatever buyers determine it is currently worth—which may not be what you paid for it.

Make It A Steal

If you are ready to sell and your house is in great condition, aggressive pricing will get your home sold quickly. Look at your competitors, and then consider pricing your home slightly under them. When your home is crowned with that “for sale” sign, interest will be highest as buyers see the true deal they have before them. Buyers will view your home as not just a good deal or a bargain, but a steal! A bidding war may even ensue, bringing your home’s final selling price up in the process.

Super Staging

Home staging—making your home look inviting and picture perfect—is effective in getting your home sold. It’s hard erasing your personal touches from your home, but it’s needed if you want buyers to see your home as if it were a royal palace. Great staging makes it easy for buyers to picture themselves living, relaxing and entertaining in your home—as well as owning it! Hiring a professional home stager is often well worth the money as a stager’s work will encourage buyers to linger and like your home enough to make an offer. With the right price and right look, your home is as good as sold!

Walk In Buyers’ Shoes

If you’re looking to really understand where to position your home, step back and be as critical as a potential homebuyer. Analyze what the flaws are in your home—that to this day still bother you—and remedy them. If you can’t fix the problems, such as location, needed major remodeling or items that are still not updated or fixed, adjust your asking price accordingly. We will guide you.

Serious About Selling

If you are ready to sell your home, be sure to price it right from the beginning. Waiting for multiple price reductions to finally hit the correct market price can cost you time, money—and many lost buyers. If you have a home for sale that is not garnering any interest, let alone offers, slashing the price significantly is more effective than small, incremental drops. A home that drops its price by 10% to 20% will be seen by a new buyer pool searching in that different price range—where buyers will actually consider it.

Look For Guidance

In today’s market, it’s imperative to have a professional alongside you when you sell your home. We can help you determine the best price to make your home sell quickly so you can move on. We know our local market, what buyers are looking for—and at what price points—and what makes homes sell today.


Categories: Uncategorized

CHECK THAT PIGGY BANK Do You Have Enough To Finance A Home?

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Piggy Bank, Heart, Funny, Ceramic, SaveYou know you make enough money to afford a monthly mortgage payment. Your credit is strong, too, so you’re not worried about getting hit with a high interest rate.But you do have one concern: You’re not sure you have enough money in your bank accounts to cover the down payment and closing costs that go with financing a home purchase.

It’s a legitimate concern. Fortunately, there are some estimates you can use as a guide.


Down Payment

Start with the down payment. This is the biggest upfront cost of buying a home. If you are taking out a loan insured by the Federal Housing Administration, and your FICO credit score is at least 580, you’ll need a down payment of at least 3.5% of your home’s final purchase price. For a home costing $150,000, that comes out to $5,250.

If you’re going with a conventional mortgage loan—one not insured by the federal government—you’ll usually need a down payment of 5% to 20% of your home’s purchase price. For a home costing $180,000, that comes to $9,000 to $36,000.

That’s a lot of money, and it’s why many homebuyers save for years before finally buying a home. You can, though, rely on gifts from family members to help cover your down payment. Whoever is gifting you funds must write a letter stating that the down payment funds are actually a gift that do not have to be paid back. If they don’t provide this letter, your lender will consider the down payment funds they give you to be a loan that you have to pay back—and this can reduce your borrowing power.

Closing/Settlement Costs

Closing costs are another major expense involved in closing a mortgage loan. These are the fees that lenders and third-party providers, such as title insurers or real estate attorneys, charge for the work they put in to originate and close your loan.

Closing costs vary according to lender, but in Bankrate’s 2015 survey of closing costs, the financial website found that the average homebuyer spent $1,847 in mortgage closing costs. However, it’s important to note that what you actually pay may differ. Bankrate’s study didn’t include fees such as title insurance, title search, property taxes and other associated costs.

Earnest Money Deposit

You’ll need funds, too, to pay for an earnest money deposit. This is the payment you provide to sellers after they accept your signed purchase offer for their home and both you and they sign a sales contract. The earnest money is evidence that you are serious about buying the home.

The good news? Your earnest money deposit is usually included as part of your down payment if the home sale actually closes. How much earnest money you’ll need varies widely. Some sellers will accept earnest money deposits of as little as $200. Others might want a deposit of as much as 1.5% of the home’s final sales price. For a $140,000 home, that comes out to $2,100. Your real estate pro can advise you on local expectations.


Finally, most mortgage lenders will require that you have at least two months of reserves in your bank accounts. These are funds that you have saved that you won’t be using on down payment or closing costs, but that you can use to pay for your estimated new monthly mortgage payment.

Say your estimated mortgage payment comes out to $1,200 a month. If your lender requires that you have at least two months of reserves saved up, you’d need another $2,400 in your bank accounts.

This isn’t as rigid of a rule. If your credit score is high, say 740 or more on the FICO credit scale, your lender might not require any reserves at all. That’s because your lender will have more confidence that you’ll pay your mortgage on time, even without extra money reserved.

Categories: Closing costs on a home, Financing a home, Saving for a home

ALL THE RIGHT MOVES The Best Strategy To Get To SOLD!

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Does your game plan require you to sell your home before you can make your next move in life? If so, you need a strategy to get the best price for your home in the shortest amount of time.

It’s like playing a game of chess: Successfully selling your home requires a combination of thought, planning, preparation and some good moves.

Think through your moves and determine your timeline. In the meantime, start prepping your home for sale—earlier is better—by thoroughly cleaning and decluttering every single space. Ditch excess belongings by donating, selling or pitching them. Box seldom used items and store them in an out-of-the way space, or, better yet, off-site. Create curb appeal that makes buyers want to get out of their car as soon as they see your home. Stage your home to create inviting spaces in which buyers want to live—and own. Predict when you’ll have to negotiate an offer and be flexible with your terms. If you practice all these moves, your game will end with a successful sale.

Learn how to master selling a home. It will open doors to your next move. Remember, as your real estate professionals, we can help you as you contemplate every single move!

Winning Requires Planning

If you’re looking to get your home sold quickly and for the best price, it takes some planning. Just like in chess, you’ll need to study the competition. See how your home stacks up against the ones already on the market. Consider your property’s location, amenities, age and condition as you visit these homes.

Take mental notes on what staging ideas make a room look warm and inviting. Recreate those in your own home. Determine what feature(s) your home has that the competition does not—and make that element pop in your own home. With a clear plan, you’re on your way!

The Game Board

The game board for chess is the same for all players, just as every home seller has access to the same set of information: data from recently sold, listed and expired homes; local economic conditions; housing demand; nearby competition; etc. It’s how you use this information that can give you an advantage.

Using the data, you can make an informed decision when pricing your home to sell fast. We can help you determine the price that buyers will find realistic and invite action, that is, a purchase offer. If you price too high, your home will languish; pricing it right or just under will create interest to get the selling game off on a good start!

Manage Your Time Wisely

Professional chess players are under time pressure to make each move. Home sellers have their own personal timeline dictating when they need to have the home sold. No matter how tight of a timeline you face, we can help.

Plan carefully for each move you make: prepping the home for sale; studying local data to determine a price; timing to put the home on the market to reach the greatest number of homebuyers; and getting the signed contract to closing/settlement uneventfully. It’s never too early to start planning to sell your home!

A Better Position Can Help

Going it alone in the real estate market can be overwhelming. Rely on real estate professionals—like us—to guide your moves through the entire selling process. We’ll cover the details and give you a play-by-play of every strategically important move you need to make. We’ll also tell you what to expect from buyers. Contact us. We look forward to helping you make the right moves to win the selling game!

Call us we would love to help.  Or visit for more Wilmington NC Real estate information.  910-202-3607


Categories: Get a House sold!, Sell a House Quick', Selling Houses, Uncategorized, wilmington nc real estate


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Check The Fine Print On Your Loan Estimate And Closing Disclosure

Mortgage lenders—including us, of course—do our best to make it easy for you to understand how much you can expect to pay for your home loan. To do this, we rely on two documents created by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB): the Loan Estimate and the Closing Disclosure.

The CFPB mandated the use of both forms starting in October of 2015. Now all mortgage lenders are required to use the standard Loan Estimate and Closing Disclosure forms nationwide. These streamlined forms make it easier for borrowers to understand all fees and costs associated with taking out a mortgage and understand exactly what they’ll be paying.


The first important form is a three-page document known as the Loan Estimate. Lenders are required to send their mortgage customers this form within three business days after they receive your mortgage loan application. The purpose of the Loan Estimate is simple: It spells out each and every cost related to your mortgage loan.

But be aware of this important fact: As the name suggests, the Loan Estimate does not contain final costs. Instead, it lists the estimated fees that your lender is charging you to close/settle your mortgage loan.


For final, exact figures, you’ll have to wait for the Closing Disclosure. This is another key form that lenders provide you, this time at least three business days before you close/settle your loan. The Closing Disclosure form lists the exact, final fees and interest rate you’ll be charged for your home loan.


Smart homebuyers will want to study both of these documents carefully. Make sure that the figures listed on your Closing Disclosure vary only slightly from the ones on your earlier Loan Estimate. If the fees on the Closing Disclosure differ—higher or lower—ask your lender about them. If you can’t resolve the discrepancies to your liking, you always have the option to walk away from the loan.

What other information will your Loan Estimate and Closing Disclosure contain? The documents will also list the estimated costs of your new home’s property taxes and insurance payments. If your loan comes with a prepayment penalty—a fee you’ll have to pay for paying off or refinancing your loan before a set number of years pass—your Loan Estimate and Closing Disclosure will list this, too. More more helpful hints please visit or contact us at
Categories: Mortgage, Mortgage Fine Print, Uncategorized

INVEST YOUR RENT: Why Pay Your Landlord’s Mortgage?

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The only one who benefits from a rent check is the landlord. Renters never see that money again, while homeowners usually profit when they sell. In addition, renters can’t use any of their rent payment as a tax deduction, like homeowners can. If you or someone you know is renting, it’s time to put that rent check to better use!e mortgage-interest deduction is probably the best financial argument for buying rather than renting. Consider this example:If you can afford a mortgage payment of $1,000 (principal and interest only), you can buy a house for $151,426 if you put 10% down on a 30-year mortgage at 8% interest ( current rate for great credit is 4%) . If your payments started in January, you would pay $10,862 in interest for the first year in the home. That entire amount is deductible on your federal income tax return! Assuming you are in the 27.5% tax bracket, you would save $2,989 in taxes, or $249 per month. So your $1,000 payment is really only $751 when you factor in the homeowner’s tax advantage.

Can A Renter Really Afford To Buy?

shells5The real question is whether renters can afford not to buy. The tax savings alone make the purchase of a home a wise financial decision. But let’s go a step further.

Using the same example, a 10% down payment would create an immediate equity of $15,142. Assuming the $151,426 house grows in value by just 3% a year, in five years it would be worth $175,544. The original loan amount would then be down to $129,565, yielding an equity of $45,980. In addition, remember the nearly $3,000 tax savings every year. The total value of your equity and tax savings would be almost $61,000 after five years.

Pick A Loan

To take advantage of the financial benefits of homeownership, renters must first find out how much buying power they have. We can help. Call us for information about the whole range of mortgage options now available, including low- and no-down-payment loans, and programs that allow buyers wrap home-improvement costs and closing costs into the mortgage.

Plan Ahead

Although some lenders allow buyers to use up to 41% of monthly income to purchase a house, beware of becoming “house rich and cash poor.” Be sure to budget for homeownership costs beyond the mortgage, including expenses for:

decorating and furnishing
homeowners insurance
property taxes
homeowners association fees (if any)
utilities-power, water, sewer, cable, trash pick-up
yard tools, supplies and general upkeep
home repairs, supplies, cleaning and upgrades.

Today, homeownership is a wonderful dream-come-true for more people than ever before. Let us help turn those dreams into a home to be proud of.

Check out for more information and helpful tips.

Categories: Buying Wilmington NC real estate, mortgage interest deductions, tax advantage, tax advantages to buying real estate, tax exemptions, why pay your landlords mortgage, Wilmington NC Neighborhoods, Wilmington NC real esatate

Do You Know How You Can Profit Using “OPM” and Leverage?

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Home ownership remains an important investment for most people, thanks in large part to the use of OPM (“Other People’s Money”) to gain “leverage.” Here’s how leverage works.

  • Assume that a family bought a home five years ago for $80,000. They put up 20% of the purchase price ($16,000) and borrowed the 80% ($64,000) balance. Now, they manage to sell the house for $120,000. Their relatively small cash investment has reaped the benefit of the increase in value of the entire property. The $16,000 cash investment has resulted in a profit of $40,000.
  • Compare this with an investment in common stocks. Federal regulations require that an investor put up at least 50% in cash. Therefore, the leverage is not as high as for the home buyer. If the investor put up $40,000 to buy $80,000 in securities and sold the stocks five years later for $120,000, the return would have been less substantial.
  • Taxes, selling costs and other factors would change these figures in the “real” world, but the principle of leverage would remain the same. If you want to increase the return on your home investment as much as possible, let OPM go to work for you.

If you want to increase the value of your house hunting time and energy, let us go to work for you. We can help steer you through the complexities of contracting, financing and closing.

Visit for more information.

Categories: OPM, Uncategorized

Masonboro Island Wilmington NC

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Masonboro Island NC

Masonboro Island is an 8 mile long uninhabited island on the southern North Carolina coast between Wrightsville Beach and Carolina Beach and is part of the National Estuarine Research Reserve. Masonboro Island, only accessible by boat, is enjoyed by campers, surfers, anglers, and bird-watchers alike. The reserve consists of about 5000 acres, which about 4400 acres are tidal marsh and mud flats. The most northern end at Masonboro Inlet is the most popular area with its sandy beaches and protected waters. Any summer weekend you will see many boaters and campers prepared for a few days on the beach with tents, grills and water toys in tow. Read the rest of this entry

Categories: Buying Wilmington NC real estate, Uncategorized, Wilmington NC Neighborhoods

HEALTHY HOME: The Top 10 House Maladies To Avoid

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babyhandWhether you’re selling a home or looking to purchase one, you’ll want to make certain the home in question is in good physical condition. Check out the following list of the 10 most common home “health” problems identified by members of the American Society of Home Inspectors in a recent survey.

1. Improper surface grading and drainage.

Inspectors rated this problem the most troublesome, with 35.8% of those surveyed listing it as their top issue. Responsible for household maladies, such as leaky basements or crawl spaces, grading and drainage problems can be fixed either by regrading the ground away from the house or replacing gutters and down spouts.

2. Improper electrical wiring.

This was rated the most common problem by 20% of the inspectors surveyed. Some inspectors reported that 70% to 80% of electrical wiring in homes is installed incorrectly — mostly by do-it-yourselfers. Noted problems included insufficient electrical service, inadequate overload protection and amateur (sometimes dangerous) wiring connections.{short description of image}

3. Roof damage.

Leaking roofs ranked third in the survey, resulting most often from old or damaged shingles or improper flashing and drainage. Asphalt shingles, the most commonly used shingle type, last between 20 and 30 years — about the same life span as wooden shake shingles. For longevity, try slate shingles, which can last 100-plus years!

4. Heating systems.

Most sales contracts require that heating systems be in working order, so it’s an item that must be dealt with if it fails the home inspection — which often happens, according to the ASHI survey. Problems include broken or malfunctioning controls, blocked chimneys and unsafe exhaust disposal. Don’t overlook heating system problems — they can be dangerous if left unattended.

5. Poor overall maintenance.

Although the survey found this problem common, it is truly avoidable. Signs of poor maintenance include: cracked, peeling or dirty painted surfaces; crumbling masonry; makeshift wiring or plumbing; and broken fixtures and appliances.

6. Structural problems.

This category includes damage to structural components such as foundation walls, floor joists, rafters and window/door headers — often caused by some of the five problems already listed.

7. Plumbing.

Common problems include faulty fixtures and waste lines and the existence of old or incompatible piping materials.

8. Exteriors.

While exterior flaws may not have structural significance, defects in windows, doors and wall surfaces can cause discomfort to residents via moisture and air penetration. The most common exterior problems are inadequate caulking and/or weatherstripping.

9. Poor ventilation.

It is possible to “overseal” a home, resulting in excessive interior moisture, which can lead to rotting and failure of structural and non-structural elements.

10. Miscellaneous.

Included here were interior elements — usually cosmetic. They were mentioned so infrequently by respondents that they did not rank individually in the survey.Fortunately, many of the most common problems in homes are far from fatal — they can often be fixed quickly and inexpensively! The point is to fix them early, before they cause significant damage to your home.

Call us 910-202-3607 for more information and tips. Or visit



Categories: #selling homes, #Spring Time To Sell, Healthy Homes, Uncategorized, wilmington nc real estate

Kay Baker Associates | 1001 Military Cutoff | Ste 101 Wilmington, NC 28405 | | 910-202-3607 | Fax 910-338-2428

Copyright © 2016 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.