Many home buyers complain that one of the biggest hurdles they face is qualifying for financing. So what are some ways that home shoppers can ensure they qualify for a better mortgage deal — particularly one that takes advantage of the near record-breaking low mortgage rates?
A recent article at Money Magazine highlighted some of the following tips when shopping for a mortgage:
1. High credit scores count. The lowest mortgage rates go to home shoppers with credit scores of 760 or higher. Avoid opening new lines of credit or loans for at least three months prior to getting a loan. Also, on your open accounts, try to pay off those balances. “One large balance — even if it’s paid off at the end of the month — can ding your score by 20 points or more,” according to the article at Money Magazine.
2. Gather plenty of quotes. Most experts say shopping around can pay off. Gather at least six quotes from lenders on mortgage rates because they can vary quite a bit from lender to lender. Request quotes from local and regional lenders as well as national ones for comparison. Be sure to ask about estimated closing costs, too, which can be anywhere from 2 percent or more of the loan balance.
3. Ask about lock-ins. To make sure the rate doesn’t go up when you’re under contract, ask about a lock-in period on the loan, in which lenders agree to not raise the interest rate within a certain time period. Home shoppers should ask their lender and REALTOR® how long it takes to close loans similar to theirs and see how long they can lock a rate in for. Some lenders will charge several hundred dollars to extend a lock-in agreement, so experts recommend learning the lock-in terms beforehand when shopping for the best mortgage deal.
Source: “6 Ways to Get a Great Mortgage Deal,” Money Magazine (April 30, 2012)
24/7 Wall St. recently asked real estate experts and several real estate organizations to weigh in on how sellers can get their house sold at the best price and in the shortest amount of time.
Here’s what they had to say as some of the best ways to get the “sold” sign out this spring:
- Pay attention to “curb appeal”: First impressions are critical, and homes with inviting landscapes and exteriors tend to sell better, agents say. Pay attention that the driveway is in good condition, lawn well-kept, and the house looks freshly painted.
- Set the right price: Real estate professionals know how to set the price and prepare a home for sale. Agents use comparable sales of homes sold in the last 60 days to help set the most realistic price for the sales price of a home. By setting a realistic price from the beginning, sellers should be reminded that this will prevent having to drop the price of the home several times before getting it sold and having it linger on the market. If no recent comps are available, some experts recommended sellers get an appraisal, which will also offer a realistic price that the bank may be willing to take when a buyer tries to qualify for financing the home.
- Talk about energy efficiency: Many buyers don’t fully understand “green” homes but they understand savings. Sellers should point out any features in their homes — such as energy-efficient windows or appliances — that could save buyers money with utility costs.
- Give the home Web appeal: Good photographs make a home stand-out online and help lure more potential buyers to the front door. Realtor.com says that more than 6,300 photos are viewed per minute on listings posted at its site.
- Make it move-in ready: Fix any needed repairs, such as water stains, creaky doors, and windows that don’t shut. Flaws in the home — even if relatively minor — can distract buyers, and should be fixed before the home is even listed. Some agents recommend that sellers get a home inspection prior to putting the home up for sale, which can help sellers be proactive in identifying any potential problems that could potentially derail a sale later on. Once a problem is uncovered, sellers are obligated to disclose it or fix it.
Read more ideas at 24/7 Wall St.
Source: “13 Ways to Sell Your Home in 2012,” 24/7 Wall St. (April 24, 2012)
Investment and vacation home sales surge in 2011
Investment-home sales surged an extraordinary 64.5 percent to 1.23 million last year from 749,000 in 2010. Vacation-home sales rose 7.0 percent to 502,000 in 2011 from 469,000 in 2010, according to NAR’s 2012 Investment and Vacation Home Buyers Survey, which covers existing- and new-home transactions in 2011. Owner-occupied purchases fell 15.5 percent to 2.78 million.
Vacation-home sales accounted for 11 percent of all transactions last year, up from 10 percent in 2010, while the portion of investment sales jumped to 27 percent in 2011 from 17 percent in 2010.
“During the past year investors have been swooping into the market to take advantage of bargain home prices,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “Rising rental income easily beat cash sitting in banks as an added inducement. In addition, 41 percent of investment buyers purchased more than one property.”
The median investment-home price was $100,000 in 2011, up 6.4 percent from $94,000 in 2010, while the median vacation-home price was $121,300, down 19.1 percent from $150,000 in 2010.
Source: CAR Newsline, 4/18/2012