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Mortgage News Matters

How to Remodel Your Home & Reduce Energy Costs

Thinking about remodeling your home? Then it may be the perfect time to start thinking about how you can improve its energy efficiency. Though it may not be the first thing on your mind when you’re ready to expand your kitchen or put finally put that bathtub in – yet making your home more sustainable can greatly reduce your energy bills and provide better functionality overall.

To help, we’ve compiled a list of 5 simple tips that can help you reduce energy costs when you’re ready to remodel your home.

  1. Update to energy-efficient appliances. Older appliances tend to be energy-suckers, and often leave you paying extremely high energy bills. Consider purchasing newer, more energy-efficient appliances to help you cut costs.
  2. Invest in smart power strips and surge protectors. With the advancement in technology, comes an increase in the use of electronics. From TVs and computers, to tablets and cell phones, high electronic usage, means high energy usage. Consider plugging your devices into smart power strips or use surge protectors to avoid overpaying monthly on your bill.
  3. Repair or replace your roof. Making repairs to your roof can make a huge impact on your energy bill. From simple repairs like adding new shingles or a heat repelling coating, to major changes like replacing your roof altogether, you can cut costs and greatly improve the sustainability of your home.
  4. Update HVAC system. Similar to getting rid of outdated appliances and replacing them with more energy-efficient ones, updating your HVAC system can have a significant impact on the energy efficiency of your home and create long-term savings.
  5. Window repair and replacement. Adding insulation and improving sealing properties on your windows throughout your home will keep your HVAC system from working overtime, and in the end, save you money.

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Mortgage News Matters

How to Prepare for your Homebuying Journey

So, you’ve decided you’re ready to buy a new home? Congratulations! Now you’re probably asking yourself, what’s the next step? There are plenty of things you can do to prepare yourself for the next step on your homebuying journey, and we listed a few below to help you on your way!

  1. Know your credit score. A good credit score is essential to any new or prospective homebuyer. It gives your lender insight into how reliable you are as a borrower, and ultimately, whether they will lend to you or not. To obtain a free credit report, go to annualcreditreport.com and enter your information. Once you have accessed your reports, you can review and dispute any errors you find.
  2. Consider taking a home buying class. Homebuying classes can prepare you for things you may have not even thought about as a new homebuyer. These classes can give you information on saving for a down payment, searching for the right mortgage loan program for you, working with a real estate agent and so much more. They are a great way to get answers to questions you didn’t even know you had.
  3. Implement financial planning techniques. Saving towards any large monetary goal doesn’t happen overnight. Consider implementing money-saving techniques 3-6 months before purchasing your new home. This can be by setting up automatic transfers to a savings account, savings bonuses, raises, or tax refunds, applying for a credit card with cash rewards, and by not taking on any new unnecessary expenses, such as a new car payment or lease. These simple actions can make all the difference when you’re finally ready to make your big purchase.
  4. Get pre-approved. It is helpful to get pre-approved for your mortgage loan early on in your homebuying journey. Getting pre-approved will allow you to set your budget, which in turn helps you narrow your search.
  5. Communicate regularly with your lender & realtor. One of the most important ways to prep for buying your new home is by consistently communicating with your lender and realtor, so they can help with any questions you may have. The home buying process can feel overwhelming for anyone, regardless of it being their first home or their fifth. Clear and open communication with your real estate professionals is the best way to create a seamless homebuying experience.
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Mortgage News Matters

How to Navigate a Seller’s Market

Since the start of last year, homes for sale have been on the decline, while housing prices have continued to rise.

The combination of stay-in-place orders brought on by the pandemic and the rise of low mortgage rates in efforts to encourage homebuyers has only widened the gap between supply and demand.

Because of this, we find ourselves in a constant state of a seller’s market.

What is a Seller’s Market?

A seller’s market is when the number of buyers exceeds the number of homes available to purchase.

What Does This Mean for Buyers?

With homeowners choosing to stay in their homes for longer and mortgage rates becoming more affordable for a larger number of borrowers, appreciation of homes has only continued to increase.

This means that buyers must stand out while remaining diligent in their search, and buyers who are just entering the market should be prepared to bid over asking and waive certain contingencies if they hope to purchase a home soon.

What Does This Mean for Sellers?

Sellers, on the other hand, have the luxury of being picky. With the value of their home most likely continuing to increase, they can take their time when deciding on who they want to sell to and can expect a bid over asking.

For more on this, check out our post of Tips for Buyers in a Seller’s Market.

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Mortgage News Matters

Is the Lowest Rate the Best Rate?

Homebuyers who are new to the market may find themselves asking the common question, ‘Is the lowest rate the best rate?’ It’s a good question to ask because the answer can be somewhat complicated.

The short answer is no.

In some cases, even, a borrower might end up paying more for a lower rate. This is why understanding the difference between the lowest rate and the best rate is important. 

When determining the best rate, you will want to look at two major things: (1) the interest rate and (2) the APR.

What is the difference between Interest Rate and APR?

Interest rate is the rate a borrower pays on their home loan. This rate varies due to many factors, such as home price and loan amount, down payment, loan term, interest rate type – adjustable vs. fixed – loan type, and credit score, to name a few.

APR is the interest rate plus other fees and costs that go into buying a home. Which is, what a borrower will end up paying on top of the principal. These fees include the interest rate, origination fees, discount points, and closing costs – which include application and attorney fees, administrative or processing fees, insurance fees, property taxes, and expenses from the title company.

To determine the best rate, you will want to find the one that saves you the most money once you factor in fees, closing costs, and loan terms. You will want to look at the APR.

When looking at the APR you should pay attention to these major factors:

  1. Which fees are included? Sometimes fees, like appraisal fees, property taxes, and insurance costs are not included in the original APR quote. It can be helpful for borrowers to ask these questions upon receiving a quote from their lender, so they are not hit with unexpected costs later.
  2. Upfront costs? In some cases, lower APRs may have higher upfront costs, this is important for borrowers to acknowledge as well so they are not stuck paying unexpected upfront costs at closing.
  3. Take into consideration PMI, credit score, and down payment. Borrowers with less-than-perfect credit may qualify for a loan but will have a higher APR because of it. Likewise, those who put a smaller amount towards their down payment or who haven’t accounted for mortgage insurance may see an increase in their APR.
  4. Consider the length of the loan. The APR is calculated in relation to the length of the loan. This means, for a 30-year loan, the APR is determined assuming it will take 30 years for the loan to be paid off.

    However, many borrowers choose to pay their loans off earlier than the original term, which ultimately affects the APR. The best way to get the most accurate APR would be to keep the loan for the entire term. Or, if a borrower is anticipating paying it off early, they should be prepared for an increase in APR.

Understanding the difference between interest rate and APR is crucial when it comes to finding the best mortgage loan rate.

Moreover, understanding the costs that will affect your APR in the long run, is the only way to make sure you are getting the best rate possible.

Your best option is to sit down and talk with a Loan Originator who can help you break down the real, and sometimes hidden costs, that affect your APR to help you find the best deal for you!