Mortgage Insurance–what am I insured against?

If you’re in the process of purchasing a new home, on your bank paperwork, you may have noticed something called “mortgage insurance.” Not sure what it is? There are several different types of insurance that homeowners should be familiar with. Here, I will explain the basics.

Title insurance:
Title insurance from the seller comes from the title company. It protects home owners and lenders from damage or property loss that may happen because of liens or other defects in the title to the property. Each title insurance policy is subject to specific terms, exclusions, and conditions.

Homeowner’s insurance:
Homeowner’s insurance/hazard insurance/fire insurance is a policy issued from an insurance company and it protects your property as well as the contents and possessions inside. It also provides liability coverage against accidents in the home or on the property.  At closing, homeowners will pay for the first year’s policy in full.

Mortgage insurance:
This type of insurance is not a benefit to a homebuyer. When a lender provides a loan and the buyer puts less than 20% down on the purchase, the lender takes a bigger risk. If the buyer ends up defaulting on the loan and they don’t have much “skin” in the game, it’s possible that the lender won’t cover their loan amount when it comes time to liquidate the property. This cost can be paid within your monthly mortgage payment or up front and it will cover the lender’s loss if something were to happen. For some types of loans, particularly FHA loans, the premium will last for the life of the loan, even though your equity position might get you above the 20% mark. Conventional financing will typically have a provision for mortgage insurance that can be removed once the homeowner has 20% equity in the home.

Buying a home requires many different steps and there is a lot of research that is required. The insurance process can be complex and sometimes confusing, especially if you haven’t gone through the home buying process before, and that’s one of the many reasons why it is important to work with a well-qualified, experienced, hands-on Realtor. If you have questions about it, I’m happy to sit down and talk with you about any questions you may have!

Posted on September 5, 2017 at 7:31 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Key items before closing on a home

The process of buying or selling a home is very detailed and requires a lot of moving parts. Once the end is in sight, you’ll need to prep for closing day. Planning for closing day can help make things run a little bit smoother. So whether you’re a buyer or a seller, here are some important must-knows on what you’ll need to have in place for closing day.

For the seller:

  • Repairs will need to be done and receipts obtained
    • Before closing can happen, all repairs that were requested during the selling process will need to be complete. Once everything has been done, be sure that all of that is documented well and that you have all receipts readily available.
  • Be ready for a buyer walkthrough
    • Once repairs have been completed, the buyer will likely want to do a walkthrough to make sure everything looks in order.
  • Arrange for your utilities to turn off
    • Call your utility companies, cable/Internet company, and any other services that will need to be turned off and transferred to your new residence. However, it’s important to note that you shouldn’t cancel your homeowner’s insurance on your current address until the final sale of the home has been recorded.
  • Gather all brochures, keys, garage door openers, etc.
    • If you have collected brochures/manuals on specific appliances in the home, or you have other important documents that need to be left for the new homeowner, make sure you have those readily available. In addition, you’ll need to leave them the keys to the home, mailbox, and any garage door openers you have.
  • Sign documents
    • This is the biggest step that transfers ownership and gets the process moving toward completion! It can happen several days before the “closing date.”

For the buyer:

  • Obtain receipts for completed repair work
    • If repairs were done in the home you’re purchasing, make sure you get all of the receipts and warranties associated with the work that was done. Keep these in your records in case you need to refer to them later or in case something goes wrong with the repair down the road.
  • Do a walkthrough
    • This is your chance to make sure that the repairs were done right and that things are good to go so you can move forward with signing closing papers.
  • Set up utilities
    • Call your utility company and schedule a time when you want water/electricity to come on. While you’re doing this, schedule a time for Internet/cable service to be hooked up, or any other services that you will need ready to go when you first move in.
  • Sign any last minute lender information
    • This is an important step! You will need to sign a closing disclosure that needs to be acknowledged to start a 3-day waiting period before you can sign final closing documents.
  • Sign documents at escrow
    • Here, you’ll sign papers that allow you to complete the home buying process. After the sale is recorded, you’ll get keys to your home and you’ll be able to start moving in!

If you’re confused about which step comes next, don’t worry! I will be there to walk you through the process. If you’re looking to buy or sell a home, contact me today for information on how I can help.

Posted on July 3, 2017 at 4:11 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Selling your home? Should you price low or high: what’s at risk?

If you’ve determined that now is the right time to sell your home, congratulations!

You are entering into a ‘seller’s market’— this means that there are more buyers in the marketplace than sellers and it’s a great time to sell.  One of the most crucial keys to selling quickly with a maximum return is to establish the RIGHT price. You want to maximize your return but set a price from the start to position your home to sell in a reasonable timeframe and let you get on with your next adventure.

WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU PRICE TOO HIGH?

There are several major risks if you price your home too high.  First, your target buyer may not find your home online or see your property because the price is out of their price range.  In addition, buyers who are shopping in a higher price range will be comparing your home with others and priced too high, you will not compete, actually making the competition look like a better buy.  Homes priced just 10% high reduce the number of buyers by 30%.  The end result is that your home could sit on the market for a longer period of time which means your ownership costs continue and most importantly you can’t “move on.”

HOW CAN WE SELL YOUR HOME AT THE RIGHT PRICE?

Call me! I will do research on what the market conditions are in your neighborhood, taking into consideration your home’s features, age, location, and updates/remodeling you have done.   Then we’ll sit down and talk about your specific goals and needs, then set a price and terms of sale that fit those goals and needs.  We’ll develop a marketing plan specific for your house and price range that targets the right kind of buyers.  During the time you are FOR SALE, I’ll be sure we get input from buyers and their agents to make sure we know how they see our condition and price.  This allows us to make sure we do what we can to make your property more attractive to buyers.  All the while, we will keep aware of things happening in the local market and that might affect how your home sells.

Each home and each client has a unique story.  Whether you’re moving from a condo to a house, moving from acreage to the downtown core, I can work with you in that journey.

Posted on June 26, 2017 at 5:01 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

What is the other agent looking for in a potential buyer/seller?

Buying and selling a home is a process that some people just do once or twice in a lifetime, so oftentimes it feels unfamiliar and awkward. Having an experienced real estate agent that can walk you through the various steps is so helpful. Listing agents want buyers to have specific things when it comes to purchasing a home. Buyers agents want sellers to have specific things, too. Here’s what they are:

Listing agents generally want the potential buyer to have the following:

  1. A competent agent.
    Listing agents generally want to work with a knowledgeable agent that is experienced in managing contingencies and is ethical throughout the process, especially when there are multiple offers on a property involved.
  2. A pre-approval letter.
    Going house shopping without a pre-approval letter showing what home price you’re qualified to shop for, is a time drain for everyone involved. Before shopping for a home, buyers should have a pre-approval letter from their lender that has credit, assets, and income verified. That gives agents parameters on what homes are within the buyer’s range.
  3. Reasonable expectations.
    Buyers have many ideas on what they want their next home to look like, but those expectations need to be realistic. In other words, buyers need to have reasonable expectations of house conditions based on the age of the home.

Buyers agents generally want the seller to have the following:

  1. A knowledgeable, competent agent.
    Working with another agent who has experience in using the right forms and standard processes is important, and working with another agent that is ethical is also key. In today’s market, there are often multiple offers on homes and working with someone who follows ethical guidelines in those situations especially is important.
  2. Empathy and realistic expectations.
    Sellers want to sell their home, but it’s important to keep in mind that buyers are facing a lot of stress in the process trying to find a home. Buyers agents appreciate sellers that have empathy for what buyers are facing in a low-inventory market. In addition, sellers that have realistic expectations of what types of repairs a buyer will ask for as a result of the home inspection is also important to making the selling process go smooth.
  3. Resources and information.
    Sellers should be proactive about finding reputable, licensed contractors to get repairs done quickly and efficiently, the first time. This will help the selling process go a lot smoother. In addition, sellers should stay informed about the closing process and stay on top of getting their paperwork in order so there are no unnecessary delays.

Buying a home or selling one can be an exciting, but overwhelming time in your life. No matter what position you’re in, you and your Realtor should be able to work well together on whatever steps are coming next. If you’re looking for a Realtor to help make your home sale or home purchase a reality, contact me today.

Posted on May 22, 2017 at 4:48 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips, Home Remodeling Tips, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Mortgage Financials: Deciphering the Details

Last week we discussed the basic steps in the mortgage process. There is a lot of complicated detail in a new home loan.  Reading the fine print can be overwhelming if you’re not sure what it all means. Here are a few things to de-mystify the information coming your way.

#1: Choosing a good mortgage company and experienced loan officer.
An experienced loan officer will sort through all the financial complexities: the mortgage type of mortgage, closing costs, and monthly payment requirements. It’s in your best interest to meet with your loan officer before you make an offer—the purchase contract requires you declare your mortgage company within five days of agreement.

#2: Reviewing loan documents.
The multitude of documents you’ll be reviewing is quite daunting, but your loan officer will wade through them with you. At the onset, your loan disclosure will lay out all the details, and keep you from being surprised with closing costs. These costs generally include lender fees, closing fees, prepaid interest/insurance, prorated taxes, and HOA dues. There is a lot to create confusion! This is why a good working relationship with a lender is essential.

#3: Lock in your interest rate.
It’s important when your loan professional advises you to commit, that you lock in your rate ASAP—they can change by the hour! Most lending institutions are bound by the same guidelines, meaning that though one lender might offer a better rate, the quote can be manipulated by changing fees, especially the “loan origination fee.” If you want to shop around for rates, be sure that you’re comparing apples to apples. Rates are constantly in flux, so what might look good from one lender today could change tomorrow.

#4: Understand the terminology.
Feel free to ask your loan officer to define specific terminology that you should know. For example, what is APR? This is a universally term that defines the actual cost of your loan. It rolls lender fees into the cost, then recalculates the annual percentage rate—not to be confused with the “note rate” on which your payments are based. The general rule of thumb: the greater difference between the APR and the note rate, the more the lender is charging you for services.

Feeling confused? You’re not alone. You can see that a trusted mortgage professional is essential to understanding what you’re committing to. I have long-standing recommendations for competent, accessible, trustworthy mortgage professionals—seeing firsthand how they have worked with clients’ best interest in mind. Choosing one will serve as a major ally as you navigate financial details, paperwork, and terminology.

Posted on April 24, 2017 at 4:57 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips, Home Remodeling Tips, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

When should you refinance?

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If you have lived in your home for a while and you’re considering completing a refinance, you likely have some questions as to when or if it’s the right time to do so. Refinancing is a big decision, as it requires a lot of details and time, but it can have some great benefits to it once it’s all said and done. When deciding whether or not you want to refinance, one of the key questions is to ask yourself how long you plan on being in the home. If you intend on staying in the home for several years, a refinance could be a great choice, as you’ll likely recoup the closing costs over your time spent there. For those that are looking to move in a couple of years, refinancing might not make as much sense.

Aaron Hicks, Mortgage Consultant at HomeStreet Bank in Vancouver provides some great reasons to take into consideration on when a refinance might make sense for you.

Reason#1: Reduction in interest rate
Refinancing to lower your interest rate and payment is one of the main reasons why people choose to refinance. Hicks says, “There are still many people out there that have a much higher interest rate on their home loan than they should considering the current market. Refinancing could very well favor a lower interest rate or reduced monthly payment that reduces a person’s overall outgoing monthly debt.”

Reason #2: Reduction in loan term
If you want to pay off your loan faster, refinancing to significantly lower your loan term could be a fantastic idea. In most situations for example, if a borrower wants to refinance from a 30-year fixed mortgage to a 15-year fixed, the borrower will save a substantial amount of money in interest every year.

Reason #3: Cashout.
If you have been in your home for a while and it has gained significant equity, many homeowners choose to refinance and take cash out of the equity. Hicks says, “Some people do this to consolidate liabilities, make home improvements, or use the cash to invest in additional real estate. The ultimate goal here is to have the cash you are taking out work toward future financial freedom.”

Reason #4: Change loan programs.
If you have an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM), it can be very helpful to refinance to a fixed rate loan. Hicks shares, “ARMs carry the risk of having their interest rate increase significantly. When this happens, this can cause severe financial burden on a person’s finances.”

There are many reasons to consider a refinance, but each homeowner’s situation is different. What may work for one, may not work for another. Sit down and look closely at your home loan and what is left to be paid back and consider whether a refinance is right for you.

Posted on December 12, 2016 at 10:32 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Important Factors to Consider When Choosing a Home

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Purchasing a “dream” home is something that people usually plan many years for. For some, it has been something they’ve envisioned since they were young children and buying a dream home is on their bucket list. Whether it’s a historic Craftsman-style home, a modern loft, or a country escape with acreage, there is a home out there that will fit your needs and line up with those dreams that you’ve had of choosing a home to live in for many years to come. So, when it comes time to start shopping for a home, here are some important factors to consider:

Factor #1: Price range
Did you see a 3,000 square foot home on the river and decide that it might be your dream home? Don’t get too ahead of yourself, because you’ll first need to figure out what price you are prequalified for. Once you know your exact budget, then you can start shopping and get excited about finding the perfect home!

Factor #2: Style
Most people that are looking to purchase a home have a pretty good idea of styles and designs that they do and do not like. For example, do you want separate rooms for everything or do you like open concept living? Think about what you want now, but also what style of living will fit your lifestyle five or 10 years down the road. When you’re browsing homes online or viewing them with your Realtor®, take note of home features that you must have or those that aren’t as big of a deal. It will make the process of finding your new house easier in the long run.

Factor #3: Age
Do you want a home that has older vintage charm or something that’s new, up to code and requires no work? There are benefits to both, so determine which one is right for you.

Factor #4: Location
Do you want to be away from the epicenter of things or do you want to immerse yourself in the hubbub of the city? Do you want to be close to public transportation or able to walk to restaurants or other businesses? What school district do you want to be in? Many people put schools first in their home search, but this could end up being an error in the long term scheme of things. If you compromise your home wish list just to be in a specific school district, you may end up disappointed later down the road. 

No matter what you’re looking for, finding the right house that fits your needs can be done! Contact me to help you start the necessary steps toward home ownership!

Posted on July 5, 2016 at 11:55 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A Basic Guide to Property Taxes

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If you’re new to the home buying process, there is a lot to learn and a lot of different terms that you may be unfamiliar with. Property taxes are one of those things that are just one of the forms of tax that homeowners will need to pay in order to remain compliant with the government. Taxes are made up of charges from different entities and local governments will use property tax revenue to fund important programs, with the biggest percentage going to schools.

Property Value:
Assessed value is the value placed placed by the county on your property. Every six years it is reviewed/assessed by a real person. The appraised value is the amount a trained appraiser places in the property for loan purposes and the ratio of assessed to appraised varies greatly.  If the market is going up, then the appraisal is always higher than assessed. As a homeowner, there can be several things that can cause an increase and one of those is taking on home improvements. Remodeling and home additions will add to the value of your home, but it can also cause the assessed value to increase. So, before you take on a big project, make sure you balance what the increased property taxes will be compared to what money you will make when you sell the home for a higher price.

Tax Rates:
Every jurisdiction levies on your house based on a tax rate. Several different levels of taxing entities/jurisdiction have permission to collect property tax, including counties, school districts, and others such as fire districts and libraries. All of these jurisdictions have a tax rate which add up to a total millage rate. The millage rate is the amount you’re charged for every $1,000 of assessed value of your home and it differs from location to location. Multiply the millage rate per thousand dollars your house is assessed at, and that’s what your property taxes is.

Property taxes can be confusing for many homeowners, so understanding the basics is important in understanding how to they’re calculated and what it means when you’re buying a home. Homeowners will have the option to pay their property taxes yearly in a lump sum, or they can be factored into your mortgage payment every year. If you factor them into your mortgage payment, and the property taxes fluctuate, there may be a change in the amount you’re paying every month on your mortgage bill. 

Wondering what your property taxes are and what they are being allotted to? You can look at the Clark County website here and enter your address to get the details. 

Still not sure how they work? I’m happy to go over them with you to make sure you understand what all the terminology means.

Tips Provided by Nancy Johns, Blog Written by Brooke Strickland (brookestrickland.org)

Posted on January 11, 2016 at 5:35 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Happy New Year!


Well, the holidays are over, the dinner parties are done, and your company has left for a time. And have you noticed that the stores around town have moved all of the storage boxes, Rubbermaid containers, and organizational planners up to the front of the store so they are in your line of vision as soon as you enter the doors? The beginning of a new year is a great time to do some reorganization and rethinking of goals and priorities in your life. Have you thought about rethinking how you can get the most out of your living area, while making the most out of your finances? Are you tired of spending your money every month on rent, or are you done with living in a space that is clearly too small for you or your family? Or maybe your kids have moved out and it’s time to downsize?  There are a variety of reasons why 2015 is a good year to make a move. 

Listen up, buyers! Lending is loosening up and rates are low but may be on the rise in the near future, so getting the ball rolling on a new home purchase is important to do quickly. In addition, prices are still low but are steadily on the rise. So, getting into a home that works for your budget before prices go up too much is important. 

Sellers, inventory is low! That means that if you choose to list your home, you will be able to get top dollar and have less competition. Selling prices have risen nicely, so that means that crunching the numbers on what you can get for your home is certainly worth looking at. 

A new year means lots of open doors and opportunities. So, whether it’s buying or selling, if you’ve been debating on how you can make a move in the real estate market this year, it’s time to get a real estate review going. Perhaps 2015 will be a great real estate year for you! 

 

 

Posted on January 7, 2015 at 5:20 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,