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August 2015     

What are Loan Points?

When shopping for a mortgage rate it is necessary to pay attention to the details. Loan points are often overlooked as buyers are fixated on getting the lowest interest rate; however they are an important point to consider when picking your mortgage.

Loan points are an upfront charge by the lender that is part of the price of a mortgage. Points are expressed as a percent of the loan amount, with three points equating to 3 percent of the amount financed, on a $200,000 house that is $6,000.

Points can also be negative, in which case they are a rebate from the lender to the borrower. Rebates usually are bundled into higher rates, while low rates usually have positive points. Lenders usually offer borrowers a range of interest rate/point combinations, leaving it to borrowers to select the best combination for their particular needs.

If you have sufficient cash to meet the requirement and plan on staying in the home for a long time then you should probably pick a low rate/high point combination. On the other hand, if you do not have sufficient cash and do not expect to be in your home for a long time it would be best to pick a high rate/low point combination.

It is possible to include the points in your financing; however you want to make sure that it does not push you into the threshold where you will need Private Mortgage Insurance.

Location, Location, Location...

When it come to real estate anyone can tell you that three of the most important factors in where you buy a home are location, location, location. This is one of those terms that we hear all the time and which becomes especially salient as we are searching for our dream home.

All too often buyers will be caught up in the excitement of the home buying process and make an offer on a home that seems too good to be true. unfortunately, many times it does turn out that the "perfect home for the reasonable price" is too good to be true.

The reason is simple - location. Buying a home in the wrong location is going to have a dramatic impact on how happy you are in your new home and also on the value of your home when you decide to sell.

For this reason it is important that you do your homework beforehand and pick out possible neighborhoods that suit your lifestyle. At the same time, keep an eye on that future date when you might put your new home back on the market and pick a neighborhood that is know for good schools and well maintained public facilities.

Once you have narrowed down the neighborhoods, visit the neighborhood and pick the best house available.

You'll be happier in the end if you plan well in the beginning.

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Lawn Maintenance Tips

If the spring weather is any indication of the summer ahead, then it is likely to be a long and hot summer. The scorching heat, though appreciated by sunbathers, can be murder on our lawns and gardens. A little early prevention is the best way to ensure that your lawn remains free of brown patches, insects, disease, and weeds.

In order to avoid a desiccated lawn, start tending your lawn early in the growing season. A strong and healthy lawn is the best way to ward off weeds, insects, and diseases.

The best time to aerate and fertilize the lawn is during the spring months, you do not want to wait until late May or June. For warm climate grass you will want to fertilize monthly using nitrogen.

Sharpen the lawn mover blade so the grass will be cut cleanly, not shredded. This will help stave off diseases.

During the hot summer months, make sure that you do not crop your lawn too short. Cut only a third of the grass bladed when you mow and raise the mower height gradually by 25 to 50 percent as temperatures rise.

Water uniformly, deeply and infrequently in the morning with a sprinkler or in ground system. Your lawn should receive a total of 1 inch of rain, including rain and irrigation.

If you are constantly fighting off weeds every year, then you might want to look into using an herbicide. The best time to apply the herbicide is in late April and May. You should not broadly apply any herbicide during summer as this is when your lawn is at its weakest.

By following these tips you can make sure that your lawn is lush and green for those BBQ's and family get-togethers.


Existing-Home Sales Bounce Back Strongly in May as First-time Buyers Return

Fueled partly by an increase in the share of sales to first-time buyers, existing-home sales increased in May to their highest pace in nearly six years, according to the National Association of Realtors®. Led by the Northeast, all major regions experienced sales increases in May.

Total existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, rose 5.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.35 million in May from an upwardly revised 5.09 million in April. Sales have now increased year-over-year for eight consecutive months and are 9.2 percent above a year ago (4.90 million)

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says May home sales rebounded strongly following April's decline and are now at their highest pace since November 2009 (5.44 million). "Solid sales gains were seen throughout the country in May as more homeowners listed their home for sale and therefore provided greater choices for buyers," he said. "However, overall supply still remains tight, homes are selling fast and price growth in many markets continues to teeter at or near double-digit appreciation. Without solid gains in new home construction, prices will likely stay elevated — even with higher mortgage rates above 4 percent."

"The return of first-time buyers in May is an encouraging sign and is the result of multiple factors, including strong job gains among young adults, less expensive mortgage insurance and lenders offering low downpayment programs," said Yun. "More first-time buyers are expected to enter the market in coming months, but the overall share climbing higher will depend on how fast rates and prices rise."

According to Freddie Mac, the average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage climbed in May to 3.84 percent from 3.67 percent in April but remained below 4.00 percent for the sixth straight month.

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