Moving Across the Country with Branden Harvey

After moving from Nashville, Tennessee to Portland, Oregon, Branden Harvey shares his experience of moving from one side of the country to the other. From talking about the good, the bad, and the ugly of moving and how Homes.com can help you, Branden gives you advice for making the leap.

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5 Myths About Transitioning From Renter to Homeowner

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Making the leap from being a renter to becoming a homeowner is a process that includes taking stock of your financial situation and determining whether you’re ready for such a massive responsibility. For most people, the primary question is affordability. Do you have enough cash in the bank to fund a down payment, or do you have a credit score high enough to qualify you for a home loan? But there are other considerations, too—and plenty of misconceptions and myths that could keep you from making that first step.

Below, our experts weigh in on why some situations that may seem like roadblocks are actually not as daunting as they appear.

1. Buying a home means heavy debt

Some may argue that continuing to rent can spare you from taking on heavy debt. But owning a house offers advantages.

“Buying a home and using a typical loan would be spread out over 20 to 30 years. But if you can make one extra payment a year or make bimonthly payments instead, you can shed up to seven years from that long-term loan,” says Jesse McManus, a real estate agent for Big Block Realty in San Diego, CA.

Plus, as you pay your mortgage, you gain equity in the home and create an asset that can be used when needed, such as paying off debt or even buying a second home.

“Currently, mortgage interests rates are at their lowest point in history, so … it’s a great time to borrow money,” McManus says.

2. At least a 20% down payment is needed to buy a home

“Contrary to popular belief, a 20% down payment is not required to purchase a home,” says Natalie Klinefelter, broker/owner of the Legacy Real Estate Co. in San Diego, CA. “There are several low down payment options available to all types of buyers.”

These are as low as 0% down for Veterans Affairs loans to 5% for conventional loans.

One of the main reasons buyers assume they must put down 20% is that without a 20% down payment, buyers typically face private mortgage insurance payments that add to the monthly loan payment.

“The good news is once 20% equity is reached in a home, the buyer can eliminate PMI. This is usually accomplished by refinancing their loan, ultimately lowering their original payment that included PMI,” says Klinefelter. “Selecting the right loan type for a buyer’s needs and the property condition is essential before purchasing a home.”

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Watch: 5 Things First-Time Home Buyers Must Know

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3. Your credit score needs to be perfect

Having a credit score at or above 660 looks great to mortgage lenders, but if yours is lagging, there’s still hope.

“Credit score and history play a significant role in a buyer’s ability to obtain a home loan, but it doesn’t mean a buyer needs squeaky-clean credit. There are many loan solutions for buyers who have a lower than the ideal credit score,” says Klinefelter.

She says government-backed loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration have lower credit and income requirements than most conventional loans.

“A lower down payment is also a benefit of FHA loans. Lenders often work with home buyers upfront to discuss how to improve their credit to obtain a loan most suitable for their needs and financial situation,” says Klinefelter.

McManus says buyers building credit can also use a home loan to bolster their scores and create a foundation for future borrowing and creditworthiness.

4. Now is a bad time to buy

Buying a home at the right time—during a buyer’s market or when interest rates are low—is considered a smart money move. But don’t let the fear of buying at the “wrong time” stop you from moving forward. If you feel like you’ve found a good deal, experts say there is truly no bad time to buy a home.

“The famous saying in real estate is ‘I don’t have a crystal ball,’ meaning no one can predict exactly where the market will be at a given time. If a buyer stays within their means and has a financial contingency plan in place if the market adjusts over time, it is the right time to buy,” says Klinefelter.

5. You’ll be stuck and can’t relocate

Some people may be hesitant to buy because it means staying put in the same location.

“I always advise my clients that they should plan to stay in a newly purchased home for a minimum of three years,” says McManus. “You can ride out most market swings if they happen, and it also gives you a sense of connection to your new space.”

In a healthy market, McManus says homeowners will likely be able to sell the home within a year or two if they need to move, or they can consider renting out the property.

“There is always a way out of a real estate asset; knowing how and when to exit is the key,” says Klinefelter.

The post 5 Myths About Transitioning From Renter to Homeowner appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

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As Markets Wobble, Will We See a Wave of Reverse Mortgages?

Reverse Mortgages -- Are we Seeing a Boom?Kameleon007/Getty Images

Over the past three months, the stock market has been on a roller coaster. Investment portfolios have followed suit, which could be particularly concerning for those who are counting on those funds for retirement.

For those close to retirement, a lack of savings may mean monthly expenses go unpaid. As a result, retirees may be considering a reverse mortgage to bring in much-needed cash.

“Retirement accounts have been suffering under the macroeconomic conditions that we see out there today. People are looking at the use of home equity to absorb some of those shocks in their retirement plans,” says Steve Irwin, president of the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association.

Because there’s a long lead time for a reverse mortgage, Irwin says it’s too early to tell if the numbers are up. However, a leading indicator shows we might be on the edge of a wave of reverse mortgages.

NRMLA data shows an uptick in consumers who’ve taken the initial step and completed the financial counseling needed to proceed with a reverse mortgage. Irwin says counseling sessions in the month of March were up 25% compared with the year before.

Before homeowners can apply for a reverse mortgage or complete a final application, they must complete independent third-party counseling, he notes, adding that those counseling sessions are up significantly in the first quarter.

Historically, those counseling sessions had to be done in-person, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, some states have allowed online sessions.

Reverse mortgage basics

Since the first reverse mortgage in 1990, over a million have been issued and currently about 550,000 are outstanding, according to the NRMLA. Unlike a forward mortgage, in which you pay down a loan to live in your home, a reverse mortgage draws from the equity you’ve built up in your home.

To qualify for a reverse mortgage you must meet the following criteria:

  • Be aged 62 or older
  • Own your property outright or owe a small amount on a traditional mortgage
  • Live in the home as your primary residence
  • Not be delinquent on any federal debt
  • Meet with an approved counselor

Most reverse mortgages are backed by the Federal Housing Administration as part of the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage program. Once approved, a borrower can withdraw funds as a lump sum, a fixed monthly amount, a line of credit, or a combination of these options. The loan comes due when the borrower either moves out or dies.

And although the instant hit of cash may be a welcome development, the homeowner is still responsible for other monthly payments.

“Keep in mind with reverse mortgages … you still have to have the financial resources to live in the house,” says Mary Bell Carlson, the accredited financial counselor behind the Chief Financial Mom. “You’re going to be living in the house, you still owe the property taxes, you still owe the insurance, the HOA, and all the maintenance on the home while you’re living there.”

One other note: As with a traditional mortgage, there are fees and upfront costs.

Is now a good time for a reverse mortgage?

Keep in mind, a reverse mortgage will hand you money, but the lender uses the equity in your home to give you that money.

“The amount of funds available through a reverse mortgage are calculated based on the age of the borrower, or in the case of a couple, the youngest person’s age, the home’s value, and the interest rates in effect at the time,” Irwin explains. “The lower the interest rate, the greater percentage of equity that can be made available.”

Currently, interest rates are at historic lows.

“We understand a lot of people have been looking at the reverse mortgage and just haven’t decided whether or not to move forward. But they understand that responsible use of home equity can absorb different shocks to people’s income streams,” Irwin says.

Another pandemic-related factor in play? Nursing homes and assisted-care facilities aren’t exactly an appealing option in the current climate. This may partly be why some seniors are opting to stay put in their own homes.

“We know that people want to age in place, and I think many senior homeowners who may have been considering moving or moving to a care facility are almost hesitant and reluctant to go anywhere right now,” says Irwin.

Before contemplating a reverse mortgage in the current environment, you must consider if you can still pay the expenses that come with owning a home. Lower interest rates will mean more cash in your hand, but if you don’t have funds set aside to cover needed repairs, maintenance, and other expenses of homeownership, pause for a moment to suss out your best option.

“A [reverse mortgage] doesn’t mean that [borrowers] just live scot-free in the home. They still have to have some kind of cash flow to keep up the home, and they can’t let the home fall into complete disrepair. That is a violation of the contract, and they could lose the house for that,” Carlson says.

Irwin says the answer depends on each homeowner’s situation.

“This is an individual case-by-case decision, and we want to ensure that it is a decision that’s carefully considered and discussed with trusted advisers and family members. But from strictly the available amount of proceeds given the current interest rate, yes, it is a good time.”

The future of reverse mortgages

Irwin says he expects more seniors to look at reverse mortgages as the pandemic-fueled financial crisis continues.

“It’s a needs-based transaction. They need to augment their financial stability,” Irwin explains. “They need to augment whatever retirement funding they have in place, or they need to relieve themselves of the burden of monthly principal and interest payments of a regular mortgage. I think that we will see more and more the use of the reverse mortgage as part of a more comprehensive financial plan in retirement.”

The post As Markets Wobble, Will We See a Wave of Reverse Mortgages? appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Source: realtor.com

The Pros and Cons of Building a Home in Today’s Market

If you’re considering building your next home, but aren’t completely sure of your options, here are the pros and cons you should know before deciding.

The post The Pros and Cons of Building a Home in Today’s Market appeared first on Homes.com.

Source: homes.com

A Guide To Everything You Need To Know About Home Ownership Costs [Free Download]

Along with the excitement of purchasing a new home, comes the additional costs that you will be expected to pay as a homeowner. Apart from covering the mortgage of your home, you’ll have additional expenses – such as home insurance – that you will be expected to cover. If you’re looking to budget for a home purchase, it’s important that you consider these costs as they can add up to thousands of dollars each year.

To help you make educated decisions when budgeting, we’ve compiled a list of the major home ownership costs in one free, downloadable guide. Get the Home Ownership Costs to Consider guide here.

Home Insurance

Home insurance policies help protect against serious damage and destruction, like fires, leaks, floods, or break-ins. It also protects a homeowner from personal liability. Some banks may offer home insurance products, although you can typically purchase a home insurance policy through a home insurance agent or broker. 

Tip: You may get better rates if you use a broker or agent. It’s also important to keep in mind that policies typically renew on an annual basis.

Condo Fees

The cost of maintenance fees should be taken into account when you’re buying a condo. This recurring cost is in addition to your mortgage and impacts how much home you can afford. 

Your mandatory monthly fee will vary by your building and square footage. It typically covers:

  • Utilities (such as water and garbage collection)
  • Building insurance
  • Maintenance of common areas (such as the gym, pool, front desk, hallways, landscaping)
  • Building reserve fund (covers emergencies and long-term maintenance projects such as a new roof or elevators repairs)

What Are Status Certificates?

If you’re looking to purchase a condo, you’ll want to look into obtaining a status certificate so that you have as much information about the building and your unit as possible before buying. A status certificate provides valuable information about the condo corporation and its financial

situation. It includes details on the budget, legal issues, the reserve fund, maintenance fees, and any fee increases expected in the future. 

Tip: You’ll want to carefully review your status certificate with your lawyer before making a purchase.

Property Tax

Property taxes are paid annually by homeowners to their municipality. These taxes are ongoing and are separate from your mortgage. Your annual property tax can often be paid in installments.

Tip: It’s important to remember that this cost is not due at closing, but is a recurring cost.

How Are Property Taxes Calculated?

Your property tax rate will vary depending on the value of your property as assessed by your provincial assessment authority. This is then multiplied by a rate that falls between 0.5% to 2.5%.

How Do You Pay Property Taxes?

You can pay your property taxes either through your mortgage provider or directly to your municipality. 

Your Utility Bills

When you purchase a home, you’ll have to set up or transfer your utility bills to your new home. If you live in a condo, these costs may be included in your monthly maintenance fee. Your utility bill will include:

  • Hydro (electricity)
  • Heat
  • Water and Garbage
  • Internet, Phone, Cable

For the full details on the home buyer’s journey including examples, advice, pictures and sample calculations, download a copy of our free Home Ownership Costs to Consider Guide here.

The post A Guide To Everything You Need To Know About Home Ownership Costs [Free Download] appeared first on Zoocasa Blog.

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6 Sumptuous Ways To Make Your Home Feel Like a ‘Big Hug’

Albina Gavrilovic / Getty Images

During winter, when temperatures drop, we all want to keep our homes feeling (and looking) as cozy and comfortable as can be—and that’s easily done if you layer in the right fabrics like mohair, boucle, and chenille.

“Soft textiles like these are obviously cozy, but they also provide a luxurious look that makes spaces feel timeless,” says Barbara Karpf, founder of DecoratorsBest. Plus, “The pandemic has only furthered our need to create a comfortable, safe haven in our homes, and using materials like these is an ideal way to snuggle up after a long day.”

If you’re a fan of natural textiles, the winter-weight options below fit the bill.

“These fabrics offer strong fibers that are healthy for the home, plus they add texture, which infuses rooms with dimension,” says Liz Caan, an interior designer with the eponymous firm. “They’re like a big hug—and who doesn’t love a hug?”

If you’re craving a warm and fuzzy shopping spree, check out these decor ideas below.

1. Mohair

Mohair is the crowning touch on this vintage slipper chair.

Etsy

Similar in feel to a very dense velvet, mohair is a type of wool that comes from the hair of the Angora goat.

“It’s incredibly insulating and dense, so it’s well-suited to upholstery use due to its natural sheen and durability,” says Caan.

Our pick: Add a midcentury vibe to your living room or den with this elegant perch that’s been recovered with jade mohair ($500, Etsy).

2. Boucle

Choose from square or lumber shapes in cream or taupe.

Target

Boucle, French for “curl,” is a heavy textile made with looped yarn.

“The look is irregular, and the tiny loops create shadows, both of which add interest and texture,” says Caan

And boucle has long been a source of inspiration in the fashion and furniture worlds.

Coco Chanel was enamored with this nubbly fabric, so she created the iconic boucle jacket that’s still worn today,” says Karpf. “And the womb chair made by Eero Saarinen for Florence Knoll was also covered in boucle.”

Our pick: Snuggle up to this cute throw pillow that sports an exposed metallic zipper with a tassel ($22, Target).

3. Chenille

Chenille is 100% cotton and machine-washable.

Walmart

This pretty woven fabric also has a French pedigree (chenille means “caterpillar”) and can be made from cotton, wool, silk, or rayon. The fuzzy twists of yarn create a raised, tufted texture that’s ideal for bedspreads, pillow shams, carpets, and blankets.

Note: While many of the fabrics here mix and match well, chenille isn’t necessarily one of them.

“It often feels more casual than sophisticated,” says Karpf.

Our pick: The swirling floral pattern on this bed cover is whimsical and feminine, making it a nice option for a master bedroom or guest suite ($75, Walmart).

4. Shearling

Prop your sore feet on this soft-as-a-cloud cube.

Etsy

Shearling is made from a lamb’s hide that’s been treated and tanned so that there’s a suedelike surface on one side. While it’s typically seen on jackets, hats, and house slippers, shearling is right at home as a pillow or throw rug.

Our pick: This adorable handmade pouf comes in pink, red, beige, and white, and could be a sweet accent piece in a baby nursery ($90, Etsy).

5. Twill

Blackout panels are chic and versatile.

Amazon

Twill is a woven material that results in diagonal lines or ridges on the fabric’s surface—and it’s a top choice when it comes to curtains. Twill hangs well, is easy to clean, and won’t show dirt and dust the way a plain weave can. This fabric is typically made from cotton, but velvet versions are also available.

Our pick: These smooth sateen twill curtain panels can block drafty windows and come in four sizes and two dozen shades. Sturdy grommets line the top for easy hanging on just about any kind of dowel ($35-plus for a pair, Amazon).

6. Velvet

Legs with an antique brass finish are a luxe touch.

Crate & Barrel

Plush velvet is a go-to for upholstery, pillows, and curtains, though keep fabric weight in mind as you select window treatments. (Some velvets are heavy, which affects the way it drapes on the rod.)

“The most expensive and least durable is silk velvet, but a linen-cotton blend is better and moderately priced,” says Karpf. Or consider performance velvet, especially the ones from Maiden Home, which is resistant to stains and spills. “This strong fabric is an easy-care alternative that looks and feels just like real velvet.”

Our pick: Consider this gorgeous sapphire velvet couch with a frame made from locally sourced hardwood that offers midcentury design and comfort in one stylish package ($1,469, Crate & Barrel).

The post 6 Sumptuous Ways To Make Your Home Feel Like a ‘Big Hug’ appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Source: realtor.com

6 Ways to Summer-Proof Your Home

Not only are we living through a global pandemic, but we’re also living through what is one of the hottest summers in many states. Here’s how you can protect your home from the summer heat and other woes you may face this season.

The post 6 Ways to Summer-Proof Your Home appeared first on Homes.com.

Source: homes.com

5 winter DIY home projects

If you’re the type that loves to take on a good DIY project, the winter season can leave your options … lacking. Don’t despair, there’s still plenty that needs to be done around your home even when it’s cold outside. Here’s a list of indoor DIY projects you can start tackling today.

  • Insulate your water heater. A source of heat during the winter, you can reduce your home’s energy usage by wrapping your water heater in insulation to keep your water hot, whether you’re using it or not.
  • Add a programmable thermostat. This one just makes sense when considering energy conservation. Programmable thermostats allow you to control the temperature of your home from anywhere and set preprogrammed temperature guidelines to lower your home’s temp when you’re away and raise it when you return.
  • A fresh coat of paint. Summer is the time for painting your home’s exterior, but the winter was made for inside painting projects. This is an easy way to add vibrancy to those dreary winter months. Just try to pick a day when it isn’t raining or snowing to make your ventilation easier.
  • Clear the clutter. Increase your living space by clearing junk. If you haven’t used it in a year, say goodbye.

 

The post 5 winter DIY home projects first appeared on Century 21®.

Source: century21.com

10 home features that have fallen out of favor

Trending: 10 home features that have fallen out of favor:
1. Bold color schemes
2. Industrial-style kitchens
3. Kitchen islands
4. Granite countertops
5. TVs in the kitchen
6. Over-the-stove microwaves
7. Raised-panel cabinets
8. Wall-to-wall carpet
9. Distressed wood walls
10. Mediterranean-inspired suburban McMansions

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Source: century21.com