Buying a home is bound to be one of the biggest investments you make during your lifetime. Therefore, it is natural to spend time thinking about the pros and cons of purchasing a home. Some people seek advice and feedback from friends and family, while other research on the internet or in the library.
At some point in this discovery process the term "building equity" will inevitably pop up. Though this term is commonly used, it is not necessarily understood. According to Webster's dictionary equity is defined as "the money value of a property or of an interest in a property in excess of claims or liens against it".
This may seem simple at face value, however many people are ignorant of the ways in which they can use the equity they have accumulated. Therefore, let us look at the different ways in which you can use your home's equity.
Basically by refinancing your home you are paying off your current mortgage and getting cash out based upon how much equity you have in your home. If mortgage rates are low, refinancing brings greater advantages because it allows you to lock in a low rate for the duration of the term. Refinancing also comes in handy when you need large sums of cash, whether it is for home improvement or your second son's college tuition.
The down side of refinancing is that there could be numerous additions to the cost of your loan. Mortgage lenders often charge closing costs, discount points, appraisal fees, loan processing fees, document prep and recording fees, underwriting fees, and more. You want to be careful that your need or savings through refinancing exceeds the additional costs that will be added to your mortgage premium.
A second mortgage would probably be more useful to a homeowner who does not need a large influx of cash and already has a competitive mortgage rate. The term is much less than a conventional 30-year mortgage - five to 15 years. These installment loans are paid out in one lump sum, so they're good for repaying credit card debt or remodeling projects, or even buying a new vehicle.
You must be sure you will be able to pay this loan back, because it's easier to foreclose on a second mortgage than on a federally insured first mortgage. Find out about closing costs and points in advance, as well as balloon payments, hidden fees, or credit or property insurance tacked on.
A home equity line of credit allows you to borrow money against the value of your home. It works much like a credit card in the fact that you have a pre-set credit limit and are able to borrow against this limit as need dictates. Home equity lines of credit are good for expenses such as debt consolidation, tuitions, major home improvements, and any other expected or unexpected needs that arise. The benefit of a home equity line of credit is that rates are generally lower than other types of debt and you do not make payments unless you use the money; however it is always there if you need it in a pinch.
Some credit lines have variable interest rates, with no cap on how high they go. Make sure you read the fine print and find out exactly how much it could increase, and then do the math. And if you're an impulse buyer, this may not be a wise choice. A home equity line of credit shouldn't be used for frivolous luxury items, unless it's a one-time purchase and not a pattern of behavior.
A reverse mortgage is a loan against your home that requires no repayment for as long as you live there. This type of loan is generally only available to persons over the age of 62 who own their own home. Homeowners who opt for a reverse mortgage can generally get their money through an immediate cash advance, a line of credit, monthly cash advances, or a combination of the three. As a homeowner draws payments their equity decreases and their debt increases, which is why it is generally referred to as a "rising debt, falling equity" loan.
The debt does not need to be paid until the homeowner no longer occupies the home. The amount to be paid off, either in cash or through sale of the home, is all the sum of all payments received (including any fees) and the interest incurred on the debt.
When you are buying a home, there are many problems that the seller is obligated to disclose. But, these disclosures don't always paint the entire picture of the home. Here are six questions you may want to ask that can offer additional insight about the prospective home before you make a final decision.
This question may help you evaluate the "real value" of the property.
This question can, in some instances, help the buyer negotiate a better deal - maybe even get the seller to carry part of the loan.
By asking the seller what he or she likes most and least about the property, you might get some interesting information. In a few cases, what a seller likes the most about a home might actually be something the buyer is looking to avoid.
Even if it is something that has already been fixed, it is important to know the history to ensure the issue was properly repaired.
Use this answer to find out about any noisy neighbors, barking dogs, heavy airplane traffic or even planned changes to the neighborhood, such as a planned street widening.
Because the value of a neighborhood is usually greatly influenced by the public schools in the area, finding out the buyer's perception can give you some insight about the quality of the area's schools.
As we enter the fourth month of the year we can already see the drab hues of winter begin to give way to the promise of a colorful spring. What better way could there be to celebrate this fertile and exciting time of year than to work on improving your garden? Gardening is a relaxing and fulfilling activity that the whole family can enjoy together. Plus, a rich and colorful garden can greatly add to the aesthetic beauty of your home. I've compiled some tips that you should keep in mind when attending to your yard this spring.
Horticulturist, Mitch Hoyles of Western Garden Nursery says the biggest danger at this time of year is over watering. "Now is the time when we have to start watering, and most people water way too much," Hoyles said. Roots need air in order to grow. Clay soil must be allowed to dry between watering, so the water can be replaced by air to nourish the roots.
Make sure you don't walk on delicate flowerbeds when they are saturated. Wait until the soil dries. If you compact the soil by stepping on it when it is wet, you run the risk of damaging new growth.
Pick up old leaves, broken branches, and debris accumulated during winter. Cut back any perennials that you have. Trim shrubs, and any other excess growth.
Sharpen mowers and clippers so everything is ready when things start to grow. Make a note of what's missing and order tools for the new season of growth.
Check soil pH with a Home Soil Test Kit, taking several samples from different planting areas for an accurate reading. Enrich soil as necessary. Add dolomitic lime to raise the pH, or elemental sulfur to lower the pH.
Apply balanced fertilizer (6-6-6 or 8-8-8), fish emulsion, or other soil enhancements suggested by soil-test results around trees and shrubs when new growth appears. Spread high-acid fertilizer and pine-needle mulch around acid-loving shrubs like azaleas and camellias. Begin fertilizing perennials when active growth resumes.
With a bit of luck and hard work your garden will be the envy of the neighborhood. By the time summer rolls around, you'll be able to relax in your garden in comfort and style as you sip your favorite beverage and enjoy the beautiful environment you have created for you and your family.
After increasing to the highest annual rate in six months, existing-home sales tumbled in February amidst unshakably low supply levels and steadfast price growth in several sections of the country, according to the National Association of Realtors®. Led by the Northeast and Midwest, all four major regions experienced sales declines in February.
Total existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, dropped 7.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.08 million in February from 5.47 million in January. Despite last month's large decline, sales are still 2.2 percent higher than a year ago.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says existing sales disappointed in February and failed to keep pace with what had been a strong start to the year. "Sales took a considerable step back in most of the country last month, and especially in the Northeast and Midwest," he said. "The lull in contract signings in January from the large East Coast blizzard, along with the slump in the stock market, may have played a role in February's lack of closings. However, the main issue continues to be a supply and affordability problem. Finding the right property at an affordable price is burdening many potential buyers."
"The overall demand for buying is still solid entering the busy spring season, but home prices and rents outpacing wages and anxiety about the health of the economy are holding back a segment of would-be buyers," says Yun.
According to Freddie Mac, the average commitment rate (link is external) for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage declined from 3.87 percent in January to 3.66 percent in February, which is the lowest since April 2015 at 3.67 percent. The average commitment rate for all of 2015 was 3.85 percent.
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