Tuesday, February 7, 2017

How to Get a Mortgage After Foreclosure (Yes, It's Possible)

If you’ve been through a foreclosure, you’ve crawled through one of the worst real estate ordeals there is. But that experience doesn’t mean homeownership has to remain forever out of reach afterward.
In fact, it’s much easier to qualify for a mortgage after a major credit event than you may think. It all depends on the circumstances of your foreclosure—and how you’ve managed your credit since.
So if you want to get back out there, here’s how to get a mortgage after foreclosure.

How long after foreclosure can I apply for a loan?

When it comes to the necessary waiting period between going through a foreclosure and applying for a new loan, every mortgage program is a bit different. But there are some general rules.
“For a conventional mortgage, a borrower who experienced foreclosure is required to wait seven years,” says Ray Rodriguez, regional sales manager at TD Bank.
On the other hand, the Federal Housing Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture require a three-year waiting period while the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs requires a two-year wait.

How to speed up the process

You can reduce the waiting period for landing a new mortgage by showing that the foreclosure was the result of a significant financial hardship from which you have recovered.
So what’s considered significant? “I live to shop” definitely doesn’t count; legitimate reasons include a layoff, business failure, divorce, or major health problems.
Be prepared to provide documentation of the hardship you claim, such as proof of paid medical bills.
“You’ll need to provide an explanation letter, which should be short and focus on recovery from the event, rather than excuses for it,” says Casey Fleming, author of “The Loan Guide: How to Get the Best Possible Mortgage.”
Her sample sentence: “After my business failed, I landed a W-2 job with an excellent company doing the same thing I did before, but with a guaranteed salary and full benefits package.”
Just keep in mind that “there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to lenders dealing with this situation,” says Rodriguez. Every lender has different requirements aside from basic guidelines set down by the FHA, VA, USDA, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac.
The FHA, for instance, is particular about what constitutes a significant financial hardship, says Fleming. A serious illness or the death of a wage earner may be acceptable, whereas divorce may not be. (You might have been able to work through a divorce, but not through illness or a death.)

How to rebuild your credit

For a potential borrower, a major component of landing a new mortgage is demonstrating that you have bounced back from the financial hardship that caused you to default in the past. Job one of proving that is rebuilding your credit and keeping it sparkling clean.
To boost your credit score—lenders typically like to see a score of at least 580—pay bills on time and maintain low balances on credit cards.
“Consumers should also frequently check their credit reports to ensure there are no inaccuracies that could negatively affect their chances of qualifying for a loan,” say Rodriguez.

Keep a paperwork file

Be prepared to document everything finance-related in your postforeclosure life, advises Rodriguez. That includes pay stubs, bank and brokerage statements, and tax returns. Lenders will ask for this paperwork to verify everything you put on your mortgage application as a precaution to avoid another potential foreclosure.
And save your pennies! Unless you’re using VA financing, you will probably need a larger down payment to secure a mortgage than you may have put down last time.
“Figure 10% minimum,” says Fleming. There may be exceptions, but they are rare.

What about nonprime lenders?

You can land a new loan immediately after completion of the foreclosure in most cases. But beware: It’s expensive, the fees and interest rate are higher, and usually the terms aren’t great, Fleming says. For instance, rather than a 30-year fixed loan, you may be offered only an adjustable-rate mortgage with a high margin.

How a mortgage adviser can help

Meet with an experienced mortgage adviser soon after your foreclosure so that you can begin to work on any other long-term issues that need to be addressed and fixed.
“The three legs of the qualifying stool are income, credit, and assets,” says Fleming. If one or two are weak, you’ll pay more for a loan or may not qualify. The best corrective action for a prospective home buyer depends on what leg is weakest.
Once you’ve worked on getting your credit score over a particular threshold, you may need to conserve cash if your liquid reserves are too low, or pay down your credit cards if your debt-to-income ratio is too high.
Bottom line: Your past does not predict your future when it comes to financing—in fact, a bad experience can often scare people straight.
“Many folks have rough times in their financial life, and then are excellent credit risks afterward,” says Fleming. “If you can demonstrate a willingness and ability to make payments in the future, you can get a loan to buy a home.”




Wednesday, February 1, 2017

7 Home Maintenance Tasks You Should Tackle in February



By Lisa Gordon – realtor.com

Spring might be around the corner, but February can still bring plenty of harsh winter weather. Some of the harshest of the season, in fact. So that makes this month the perfect time to knock out some more of those indoor tasks to get your home ready for warmer times.
“I’ve been doing indoor tasks for three months now! Dear God, please let me out!” you’re no doubt drying. Have patience, young grasshopper—we’re almost there. But first you have to prepare your home for spring by thinking “fresh.” A fresh house can help combat the cabin fever that can overwhelm you in the last month of winter.
So how do you get fresh? We’re glad you asked!
We’ve created a handy checklist of home maintenance tasks to give your home a lift in February. And if you’re struggling to muster up the energy to tackle these chores, we’ve provided tips for how to do them faster and easier—or with the help of a pro.
Check these to-do items off your list, then sit back and relax for the last few weeks of winter.

1. Spiff up the paint

Task: Freshen indoor paint on walls, cabinets, doors, and trim.
Shortcuts: Sometimes a once-over with a Magic Eraser sponge will remove marks and smudges, reducing the need for a paint job. If that won’t cut it—and you need to paint indoors in February—stir a tablespoon of clear vanilla extract into the paint can to make the smell less noxious. And if you have trouble removing painter’s tape from furniture or walls, heat it briefly with a hair dryer.
Call in the pros: A painter will charge $200 to $400 for a 12-foot-square room. Since spring is the busy season for painters, you may get a discount if you hire one at the end of winter. That means now!

2. Give the laundry room a redo

Task: Clean and reorganize your laundry room so it’s roomier and more efficient. Scrape dried-on laundry detergent from ridges in your washer, replace damaged sorting bins, throw away laundry products you never use, and store the rest in out-of-reach places to protect young ones.
Shortcuts: Take advantage of every square inch of laundry room space. If you don’t have room for a drying rack, extend a curtain rod over your machines to hang delicate clothes, and insert a “slim cart” between your washer and dryer to hold cleaning supplies. Also, try storing bins, buckets, and laundry bags on wall hooks to free up space.
Call in the pros: A professional home organizer costs $30 to $80 an hour. While the organizer is rearranging your closets, ask her to work her magic on the laundry area, too.

3. Clean out dryer vents

Task: Clean the duct that connects the back of your dryer to outside vents. If you don’t, lint and other debris could decrease your dryer’s efficiency, increase energy bills, and even cause fires. Also, make sure birds and other animals haven’t made a home in your warm and toasty vent.
Shortcuts: Twice a year, use a leaf blower to remove lint and debris from ducts. Also, cover the outside vents with a fine mesh screen so birds and bugs don’t nest in ducts.
Call in the pros: On average, a professional will charge $92 to $162 to clean dryer vents and remove clogs. If clogged vents are a persistent problem, the pro may recommend moving your dryer to an external wall where the distance between dryer and the outside vent is minimized.

4. Clean refrigerator coils

Task: To keep your refrigerator in tiptop shape and save energy, clean the refrigerator condenser coils located in the back or on the bottom of the appliance.
Shortcuts: Use a vacuum to clean coils (just make sure to pop on the upholstery attachment first). While you’re at it, vacuum the floor under and behind the fridge, too. Then, shove a duster or refrigerator coil brush (about $5 and designed for this exact purpose) between the coils, and clean the rest of the dust, hair, and dirt still clinging to the coils.
Call in the pros: The average cost to repair a refrigerator is $200 to $400. If the appliance is near the end of its life, typically 14 to 17 years, replace it.

5. Clean and maintain your sump pump

Task: Clean out your sump pump pit and make sure the sump pump is working in February to prepare for the increase in groundwater that spring rains will cause.
Shortcuts: Test the pump by adding water to the pit, and confirm the pump ejects it as it is designed to, says home maintenance expert Charlie Frattini, who’s appeared on FYI network’s “Hero House.” Just be sure to replace the pit cover after confirming the pump works, he notes. Also, make sure nothing obstructs the sump pump pipe, which drains water to the outside of your home.
Call in the pros: Labor to replace an existing sump pump costs anywhere from $40 to $150.

6. Give your mattress some love

Task: Vacuum box springs and the mattress top and bottom. Rotate or flip the mattress.
Shortcuts: If you have a one-sided mattress—one side is padded; the other isn’t—don’t bother flipping; just rotate it to provide even aging. If you have a two-sided mattress, flip every two months to prevent sags.
Call in the pros: A cleaning service will provide this type of deep cleaning for $25 to $35 an hour.

7. Look for leaks

Task: Inspect your roof for missing shingles and damaged vent boots, and check your foundations for cracks that can cause big problems when spring rains pour on your home.
Shortcut: Wait until it rains, then climb into your attic to look for leaks.
“It’s easier to spot water leaks during a storm,” says John Bodrozic, co-founder of HomeZada, a digital home maintenance platform. “These leaks can go unnoticed for months, causing damage to insulation and creating an opportunity for mold to grow.”
Call in the pros: Roofing and foundation waterproofing companies can inspect and cure water problems. A roofing company will inspect your roof for free if it replaces shingles and repairs other roof damage. Costs typically range from $100 to $350 to replace 10 square feet of asphalt shingles. Waterproofing companies can spray a sealant on foundation cracks for $250 to $1,000.




Friday, January 27, 2017

How to Fix a Leaky Faucet Before It Drives You Insane

  | Jan 27, 2017 – realtor.com
Drip … drip … drip … If you’ve ever heard this sound, you’ve probably pondered how to fix a leaky faucet—and not just because that repetitive noise is an insidious form of torture. The Environmental Protection Agency reports that a single seemingly innocuous leak can end up wasting 500 gallons of water a year, and raising your water bill by nearly 10%.
So, for the sake of your savings account and your sanity, here’s a crash course on the steps and tools you’ll need to make this important home repair yourself.

How much does it cost to fix a leaky faucet?

If you go straight to the pros and hire a handyman or plumber, a leaky faucet repair can end up costing $150 to $250.
“I would charge at least $145, depending on the extent of the leak,” says Marc Ricco of R&L Heating and Plumbing, in Norristown, PA. This option is good for people who lack a decent set of tools, or are all thumbs when it comes to repairs. Because after all, as Ricco points out, “It’s important that plumbing work is done up to code, both for resale assurances and so that a quick fix doesn’t end up causing larger issues down the road.”
That said, if you’re reasonably apt at DIY tasks it’s entirely possible to fix a leaky faucet yourself. It shouldn’t take long—less than a half-hour—and since your labor is obviously free, replacement parts are your only expense. While the price will depend on the model of your faucet, most name brands offer faucet repair kits that can be found at most home improvement stores for $10 to $20.

Tools you’ll need

  • Kitchen towel
  • Small flathead screwdriver
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Hex wrench
  • Lock-jaw pliers
  • Replacement kit (varies, depending on the make and model of the faucet)

Steps to fix a leaky faucet


Generally, leaks result from wear and tear and can be solved by simply replacing a few parts, although exactly which parts will depend on where your leak originates. Faucets can leak from three places: the handle, the base, or the waterline. For your classic dripping faucet, the problem is the water valve. Replace that, and your leak should be fixed. Here are the steps.
Step No. 1: Turn off both the hot and cold water supply under the sink, then turn on the faucet to release any residual water. Close the drain, and place a kitchen towel over it to prevent any parts from falling in and getting lost.
Step No. 2: Most single-handle faucets have plug buttons on the front or back of the faucet. Use a small flathead screwdriver to remove it; doing so will allow you to see the lock screw. As you remove parts, keep them in order, so that you’ll be able to put the faucet back together the same way later.
Step No. 3: Use the hex wrench to loosen the lock screw until it’s loose enough to allow you to lift off the handle.




Step No. 4: Once you remove the handle, you should be able to unscrew the bonnet of the faucet with your hands.





Step No. 5: Use the pliers to remove the mounting nut.







Step No. 6: Take out the valve cartridge. (Note: Not all faucets have valve cartridges. If yours doesn’t, it will likely have either a ball mechanism or a group of washers and springs that you should remove at this time. If you aren’t sure what type of replacement parts you need, just bring the old one to the hardware store to make finding a match easier.)

Step No. 7: Insert the new valve cartridge in place. On the bottom of the valve, there are two pegs that need to be aligned with two depressions in the valve body. In the event that your faucet uses washers and springs or a ball mechanism, you should replace those in the same formation as the originals, as well.
Step No. 8: Reassemble the faucet in reverse order.







Step No. 9: Turn the water back on, and test the faucet for leaks.







How to fix a leaky faucet with two handles

The process for fixing this type of leak is very similar, except for turning off the water supply and accessing the lock screw. Since the leak is likely coming from either the hot or cold line, you’ll want to turn off the water lines one at a time to determine the source of the leak. If the faucet is still dripping after you turn off the first water line, you’ll know that the leak is coming from the other valve.
After you’ve found the source of the leak, turn off both water lines and follow the same steps listed above to replace the defective valve. Double-handle faucets may not have the plug button referenced above in
Step No. 2;  instead they may have a cap across the top of each handle. You’ll need to use a coin or thin blade to pop off the cap before continuing to remove the lock screw.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

A Lack of Listings Remains 'Huge' Challenge in the Market

The housing crisis is finally in the rearview mirror as the real estate market moves down the road to a complete recovery. Home values are up, home sales are up, and distressed sales (foreclosures & short sales) are at their lowest mark in over 8 years. This has been, and will continue to be, a great year for real estate.
However, there is one thing that may cause the industry to tap the brakes: a lack of housing inventory. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), buyer traffic and demand continues to be the strongest it has been in years. The supply of homes for sale has not kept up with this demand and has driven prices up in many areas as buyers compete for their dream home.
Traditionally, the winter months create a natural slowdown in the market. Jonathan Smoke, Chief Economist at realtor.com, points to low interest rates as one of the many reasons why buyers are still out in force looking for a home of their own.
“Overall, the fundamental trends we have been seeing all year remain solidly in place as we enter the traditionally slower sales season, and pent-up demand remains substantial as buyers seek to get a home under contract while rates remain so low.”
NAR’s Chief Economist, Lawrence Yun, points out that the inventory shortage we are currently experiencing isn’t a new challenge by any means:
"Inventory has been extremely tight all year and is unlikely to improve now that the seasonal decline in listings is about to kick in. Unfortunately, there won't be much relief from new home construction, which continues to be grossly inadequate in relation to demand."

Bottom Line

Healthy labor markets and job growth have created more and more buyers who are not just ready and willing to buy but are also able to. If you are debating whether or not to put your home on the market this year, now is the time to take advantage of the demand in the market.


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Buying a Home? 4 Demands to Make on Your Real Estate Agent

Are you thinking of buying a home? Are you dreading having to walk through strangers’ houses? Are you concerned about getting the paperwork correct? Hiring a professional real estate agent can take away most of the challenges of buying. A great agent is always worth more than the commission they charge, just like a great doctor or great accountant.
You want to deal with one of the best agents in your marketplace. To do this, you must be able to distinguish an average agent from a great one.
Here are the top 4 demands to make of your real estate agent when buying a home:

1. Tell the Truth About the Price

When making an offer on the home you want to buy, make sure that your agent walks you through their plan for getting both the seller – and the bank – to accept that price. Too many agents will just take the offer that you suggest and then try to ‘work’ both you and the seller in the negotiating phase later. In a competitive market, you need an agent who is going to help you make the best ‘initial offer’ so that you stand out from the crowd. Every house in today’s market must be sold twice – first to you and then to your bank.
The second sale may be more difficult than the first. When prices are surging, it is difficult for appraisers to find adequate, comparable sales (similar houses in the neighborhood that closed recently) to defend the selling price when performing the appraisal for the bank. A red flag should be raised if your agent is not discussing this with you at the time of the original offer.

2. Understand the Timetable with Which Your Family is Dealing

You will be moving your family into a new home. Whether the move revolves around the start of the new school year or a new job, you will be trying to put the move to a plan.
This can be very emotionally draining. Demand from your agent an appreciation for the timetables you are setting. Your agent cannot pick the exact date of your move, but they should exert any influence they can to make it work.

3. Remove as Many of the Challenges as Possible

It is imperative that your agent knows how to handle the challenges that will arise. An agent’s ability to negotiate is critical in this market.
Remember: If you have an agent who was weak negotiating with you on parts of the purchase offer, don’t expect them to turn into a superhero when they are negotiating with the seller for you and your family.

4. Find the Right HOUSE!

There is a reason you are putting yourself and your family through the process of moving.
You are moving on with your life in some way. The reason is important or you wouldn’t be dealing with the headaches and challenges that come along with buying. Do not allow your agent to forget these motivations. Make sure that they don’t worry about your feelings more than they worry about your family; if they discover something needs to be done in order to attain your goal, insist that they have the courage to inform you.

Good agents know how to deliver good news. Great agents know how to deliver tough news. In today’s market, YOU NEED A GREAT AGENT!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Strong Buyer Demand Continues to Outpace Inventory of Homes for Sale

The price of any item is determined by the supply of that item, as well as the market demand. The National Association of REALTORS (NAR) surveys “over 50,000 real estate practitioners about their expectations for home sales, prices and market conditions” for their monthly REALTORS Confidence Index.
Their latest edition sheds some light on the relationship between Seller Traffic (supply) and Buyer Traffic (demand).

Buyer Demand

The map below was created after asking the question: “How would your rate buyer traffic in your area?”
The darker the blue, the stronger the demand for homes in that area. Only four states came in with a weak or moderate demand level.

Seller Supply

The Index also asked: “How would your rate seller traffic in your area?”

As you can see from the map below, the majority of the country has weak Seller Traffic, meaning there are far fewer homes on the market than what is needed to satisfy the buyers who are out looking for their dream homes.

Bottom Line

Looking at the maps above, it is not hard to see why prices are appreciating in many areas of the country. Until the supply of homes for sale starts to meet the buyer demand, prices will continue to increase. If you are debating listing your home for sale, let’s get together and discuss the demand in our area.