Tater Tot Breakfast Bake
- Bell Pepper
- Cheddar Cheese
- Half and Half
- Frozen Tater Tots
This delicious looking veggie-packed breakfast casserole is sure to jump-start your day. This recipe comes together super quickly, and by using frozen tater tots and broccoli, you can cut the time down to just an hour. This casserole makes a ton, so you’re bound to have leftovers. See the full recipe and instructions at TheKitchn.com.
Beer and Bacon Pancakes
- Baking Powder
Beer and bacon? It sounds like a dream. The beer really shines in this recipe, so pick your favorite. With the addition of bacon, the recipe’s author suggests adding syrup as the pancakes need a “sweet finish”. The recipe is simple, and requires only that you substitute beer for milk in a traditional pancake recipe. For full instructions and ingredients, visit The Decorated Cookie.
Steak and Eggs
Such simple ingredients for this classic breakfast. You can never go wrong with steak and eggs, and this recipe comes together in just 40 minutes. Add a quick side of hash browns or roasted potatoes, and you’ve got yourself a pretty great meal! See the full recipe and instructions at Ev’s Eats.
Crescent Bacon Breakfast Ring
- Bell Peppers
- Crescent Rolls
- Cheddar Cheese
Is there anything better than a warm crescent roll? Yes. A warm crescent roll wrapped around eggs, meat, veggies, and cheese. This recipe is quick and easy, because once the ingredients are assembled, it takes only 20 minutes in the oven. Do you have favorite ingredients in your omelets? You can swap those in instead. Add sausage or onion or mushrooms, or all of the above! You can view the full instructions for this versatile recipe at Jo Cooks.
Country Ham French Toast
- Maple Syrup
- Sliced Country Ham
- Texas Toast Slices
A genuinely delicious mix of sweet and savory, this recipe is sure to get your mouth watering. Like all standard French toast recipes, this one comes together super quick with its dip and fry done in just minutes. Serve it with warm maple syrup, and Dad will remember this breakfast for months to come. See the full recipe and instructions on Country Living.
I tell everyone, I love planting things and love the look and how plants/flowers make me feel, but I can seriously kill a cactus.
Do you have a knack for killing houseplants? Does your lawn look like a post-apocalyptic dry zone complete with dead grass and holes where the flowers used to be? Maybe the green thumb gene passed you by, but that doesn’t mean that your life should be devoid of plant life. You deserve a little green this Spring! Skip the fussy orchids and keep it simple instead. Try incorporating the following “easy livin’” plants into your home and landscape this year.
- Spider – The spider plant usually hangs from the ceiling. It’s been a household favorite for decades and can thrive indoors or out (weather permitting). If you have a cat, keep this plant out of his or her reach as it’s toxic to felines. Hang in an area with some sunlight and water once a week.
- Aloe – The aloe plant loves sunlight and will do best in a windowsill. It doesn’t require much water or attention. Aloe is truly a “set it and forget it” plant. It will be there when you need it to treat minor burns. Some people even stir aloe vera gel into water or tea for a medicinal drink, claiming it is beneficial to the digestive system.
- Rubber Tree – The rubber tree is native to South America but does well as an indoor plant. In the wild and on farms, rubber trees can grow very large and provide sap for latex. At home, your rubber tree can be kept at a manageable size. The tree will only grow as big as its roots allow, so start with a young tree and move it into larger pots as it grows, stopping when your tree has reached the desired size. Rubber trees prefer indirect light and do best with a small amount of water. Sometimes misting them works better than pouring water directly into the soil.
- Boxwood – Boxwoods are a shrub and have grown popular in landscape planting. They do best in the northern half of the United States. You can purchase a semi-mature boxwood for under $30, making them affordable as well as resilient. Boxwoods only need a moderate amount of water and blend well with almost any landscaping theme. This plant does require a yearly pruning to retain its shape.
- Jonquil – The jonquil is a lovely perennial that grows from a bulb. It’s technically a type of daffodil and sprouts in early Spring. Proper planting is key, and after that, your jonquils will basically take care of themselves. Plant bulbs 10-12 inches deep and cover with fertile soil. The jonquils should come up every year after that. To ensure continued blooming, cut the stems down to one inch above the soil after the flowering season ends – usually early summer.
- Autumn Sage – Autumn sage sounds like an herb, but it’s actually an evergreen shrub. A member of the salvia family, autumn sage is drought-tolerant and a great choice for southern climates. It can grow to several feet tall and will flower during the milder months. Deadheading of flowers is recommended after they wilt.
- Garlic – Garlic is hard to kill, easy to grow, and tastes AMAZING from a garden! Plant your garlic in the Fall for harvest in late Spring. If you’re too late for garlic planting this year, take the opportunity to buy several varieties of garlic throughout the summer months so you can experiment to find out which is your favorite. When you’re ready to plant, crack your bulb of choice into individual cloves before you plant. They should sprout in mid-spring, but if a few green shoots show up early, don’t worry. Most gardeners just leave the early sprouts alone, and they still produce.
- Tomatoes – If you know when (or about when) the final frost of Spring is coming, tomatoes are a cinch. Count back a few weeks from the anticipated last frost and start your seedlings indoors. Once you’re ready to transplant, the tomato seedlings can go into a large pot or directly into the ground outside. With tomatoes, the important thing is to make sure that they get tons of water. Tomatoes may be the only edible where the water makes a bigger impact than the soil quality. Also, have some stakes or caging ready to support your tomato vines once they begin to mature. Tomatoes are dense and heavy and will lay on the ground when unsupported.
- Basil – Flat-leaf basil can be grown indoors or out. It can also start indoors like tomatoes and move outdoors when the weather agrees. If you have any feline companions, your basil will likely disappear once it produces, so find a safe location for your plant. Basil grows nicely next to tomato plants as the two seem to complement one another. Let your basil plant grow as large as you’d like and snip leaves and stems for cooking as needed. Basil plants can also be dried and crushed for use throughout the winter.
Not all loans are created equal. There are dozens of loan programs that you can choose from between purchasing a new home, building one, or refinancing your current home. It all depends on your needs and situation. In this article, we will go over the most common loan programs. When you decide it’s time for a mortgage, use this as a guide to speak with your loan officer about which loan will be best for you.
The Conventional Loan
As the most popular loan type, these loans are plentiful. They are not offered by the federal government like most of the loans discussed later in this article, which means there is much less paperwork involved. Conventional loans are only available through private lenders, and the ideal borrower has good credit and plenty of money for a down payment.
Why a conventional loan?
No mortgage insurance. While the most common down payment for a conventional loan is 20%, for just an extra 2% down, you can avoid monthly mortgage insurance which is often required for many other kinds of loans. This insurance can be removed at a later date with a conventional loan, but cannot be removed with other loan types.
Immediate equity. Because conventional loans usually require a 20% down payment, you get instant equity in your home as soon as you sign at the closing table. This will benefit you greatly in the future should you decide to sell your home or refinance.
Faster closing. Without the requirements and paperwork required with government-backed loans, a conventional loan is more straightforward. There are less requirements to cover during the underwriting process which allows for a quick closing.
Sellers love it. A buyer with a conventional loan is attractive to sellers because it means you have good financial health. Sellers will often choose these buyers over borrowers of a government loan since the process is simpler and faster.
The FHA Loan
The FHA loan is designed for homebuyers with low-to-moderate income. They are a great option for many people, but especially for first-time homebuyers or repeat buyers with low income or credit. Qualified homebuyers benefit from a lower down payment requirement (as low as 3.5%), lower monthly premiums, and lower closing costs.
Why an FHA Loan?
Low down payment. A down payment on an FHA loan can be as low as 3.5% as long as you have a credit score of 580 or higher. If your credit score is lower, a 10% down payment may be required, but this is still much lower than a conventional loan.
Low credit requirements. Borrowers of conventional loans typically need a credit score of 620 or higher, but with an FHA loan the minimum is 500. FHA loans offer some of the lowest credit requirements of any loan program.
Flexible debt-to-income ratio. A debt-to-income ratio (DTI) is the ratio of your income (your salary plus any salary of others on your home’s title) to the amount of debt you have from credit cards, student loans, car payments, or child support. It is a big factor in determining how much of a mortgage you can afford. With an FHA loan, borrowers can have monthly debt payments that cover up to 50% of their income – much higher than other loans.
Low cost mortgage insurance. Some loans require mortgage insurance which mitigates risk to lenders for borrowers who provide a low down payment on their home. For borrowers with an FHA loan, they must pay mortgage insurance on loans with a 10% down payment or lower. This insurance cannot be canceled, but it is often lower than traditional mortgage insurance.
The USDA Loan
USDA loans make it possible for families living in specific areas purchase their dream home. While typically considered loans for people in rural areas, a much larger percent of the country is covered under this loan. With 100% financing, qualifying homebuyers do not have to put anything towards the down payment on their home.
Why a USDA loan?
No down payment. Many lenders will fully finance your new home with a USDA loan. With no down payment and closing costs rolled into your mortgage, you can move into your home without paying a dime upfront.
Credit flexibility. The USDA loan allows for flexibility in your credit score and credit history. It means you can use alternative documents like subscriptions, rent, and monthly bill payments to create a credit history.
Low PMI. If you do decide to take advantage of the 100% financing and do not provide a down payment, you will be required to pay monthly mortgage insurance. However, USDA loans typically have the lowest insurance rates currently available.
Low income limit. The USDA loan is great for homebuyers who have a low to medium income. USDA loans take into account homebuyers who have an income of up to 115% of the average income in their area.
The VA Loan
Guaranteed by the US Department of Veteran Affairs, a VA loan is available to eligible veterans and their families. A VA loan often has lower closing costs and more liberal terms and requirements. Interest rates can often be negotiable. Qualified homebuyers must receive a certificate of eligibility from the US Department of Veteran Affairs for this loan.
Why a VA loan?
No down payment. Like a USDA loan, a VA loan can also be fully financed by your lender. With no down payment required and low closing costs, you can move into your home without a large payment upfront.
No mortgage insurance. A VA loan is unlike most other mortgages in that it doesn’t require mortgage insurance. This includes whether you provide a large down payment or none at all.
High maximum loan amount. With many government backed loans, the maximum loan amount is capped relatively low. Not so with a VA loan. This loan allows you to purchase a home worth over $400,000 without an issue. You will need to check with your lender to find your county’s limit.
Government guarantee. The US Department of Veteran Affairs has your back. If you are unable to make monthly payments, you may qualify for assistance from the VA.
The Renovation Loan
Want to buy a fixer-upper? A renovation loan gives you the opportunity to buy a home in need of repairs or updates. The improvements can be as simple as a new roof or as complicated as adding a whole new room. Your loan and the value of the property will be based on the value of the home after the repairs are completed. This means you can gain instant equity in your home.
Why a renovation loan?
Certified contractors. Most renovation loans require certified contractors to complete the projects on your home. This is to ensure that the home meets the terms set by the individual loan you choose.
One-time close. Renovation loans are offered with a single closing, even if there is major construction involved in the renovation. This is unlike new construction loans which often require two separate loans and two separate closings. You will only have to pay closing costs and sign paperwork once with a renovation loan.
Credit flexibility. No matter what your financial health looks like, you can probably get a renovation loan. Like an FHA loan, your credit score could be as low as 500.
When researching the right loan for you, remember to include you loan officer! They will be able to answer your questions and give you advice based on your own unique situations.
Look at your home top to bottom with a home inspector’s eyes. Review as much as you can prior to putting your home on the market and/or prior to the home inspection process with a buyer. You would be surprised how a buyer perceives your home when a long list of minor issues adds up and creates a lengthy inspection report, resulting in a more stressful buyer inspection response. Removing half a dozen or more small things can really help your home appear to the buyer as if it has truly been maintained. The last thing you want is a long list of unexpected items to show up on the report that you knew nothing about. You can also discuss pros and cons of getting a pre-inspection done by a professional with you agent.
The goal of this is to pinpoint problems you may overlook every day being you live in the home.
*Roof – Your roof should be flush with the house. No visible mold or rot. Pay attention to fascia, soffits, and if you feel inclined to do so, use a ladder to get on the roof and ensure there aren’t nails popping up, loose shingles etc.
*Gutters – Verify they are attached securely around the home. No sagging or pulling away. Have them cleaned out if needed.
*Attic – Is your attic properly ventilated? Is the insulation properly disbursed? No strange hanging electrical lines? No mold present? Bath fans and such are venting out of the home. Are the soffit vents clogged? No signs of critters in the attic?
*Walls – Discolored spots on walls, especially ceilings, will lead a buyer to immediately think there is or was a leak. This may result in further exploration for potential mold. This is very important to eliminate concern prior to inspection.
*Basement – Check for condensation, water damage, concrete cracks that are not typical. Is there a sump pump and is it functioning properly?
*HVAC – How old is your system and when is the last time you had a regular maintenance check done? They sign off on the sticker affixed to the furnace and believe me, agents and inspectors do look at that. If you have not had service done within the last 6 months to 1 year, it is highly suggested you do. Be sure the furnace filter is the proper size and clean.
*Windows and Doors – Check conditions of weather stripping for exterior doors. Ensure windows do not have a fog haze to them or water beading up between the panes and this is a sign the seal could be broken.
*Plumbing – Ensure there are not signs of leaking under faucets, at water heater, under appliances. Be sure all fixtures are caulked as they should be (tub faucets are notorious for coming up on inspections) and tightened properly, including toilets.
*Crawl space – We don’t tend to get excited about the idea of getting in a crawl space, however the unexpected during an inspection in a crawl space can become very costly if you have no idea what is going on in there and find out you have mold on your baseboard, standing water, and a number of other issues than can be present, of which you have no clue about unless you take a look.
Warm weather and sunnier days are here! These outdoor jobs allow contractors to come to your home and work without needing them to enter your home and interaction is minimal.
- Lawn and Yard Work – Spruce up your landscaping. Mulch. Plant a tree or remove one.
- Gutter Cleaning – This is excellent maintenance to do after the Fall and Winter months.
- Exterior Painting – Extend the life of your exterior trim or apply a new color to give your home a face lift!
- Fencing – Need a new fence? Or repair to existing.
- Decks and Porches – Decks, patios, porches….all work can be done fairly quick and other than the initial plan, very little to follow up with during the process.
- Siding – How is what you have on your home holding up? Do you like the color and material?
- Power Wash – You would be amazed what a good power wash will do for a fence, deck, or concrete walk way.
Buyer’s remorse is seriously the worst. That 80-inch television was just so dazzlingly clear, magical even, hanging on the Best Buy wall. And 10 percent off? Who could have passed up such a fantastic deal? Obviously, not you.
But unlike pricey electronics that can be placed back in the box and returned to the store when your good sense has resumed (always keep those receipts!), that over-budget dream house or better-snatch-it-quick fixer-upper isn’t so easy to give back. When it comes to buying a home, there really is a point of no return, so make sure you know where that is because there’s no box big enough to fit the four-bedroom, two-bath ranch when you change your mind.
The Earlier, The Better
When it comes to backing out of a mortgage, it is best to do it early. There is little harm in house hunting, securing pre-qualification letters, and even making an offer or two on your favorite properties. All of these steps can be walked back, and while your realtor might be a little disappointed, there’s really no harm in changing your mind on the front end of the home-buying process. The bargaining stage is a fairly safe space to just step out of if you don’t feel inclined to continue with the purchase of a home. As long as you are still in the negotiating phase, the consequences of backing out are next to none.
Better Late Than Never
Once your offer is accepted, and a purchase agreement is drawn up, though, you are expected to hand over a good faith deposit (also known as earnest money) to assure the seller you mean business. This amount tends to be minimal, typically averaging under 1% of the overall purchase price; however, on a high-dollar house, this could still put buyers into the tens of thousands. Once that money is exchanged, it is difficult to get back without a viable reason, “cold feet” not tending to be one of them. You have to understand the seller will put their home at a pending status, of which stop buyers from touring it (unless it is a continue to show, however traffic still trickles to nothing usually). Should their home go back on market for any reason, there is time lost. Should a home inspection go awry, or an appraisal come back too low, you should have grounds to stand on, but make sure the purchase agreement allows for these reasons for retraction if you aren’t inclined to wave farewell to a considerable deposit. There are several reasons a transaction falls apart. Sometimes the seller will be understanding, but the reasons behind the decision to back out, communication between the agents, and timing all matter.
Remember, A Purchase Agreement Is A LEGAL Contract
Now, if your indecisiveness takes too long to grab hold, you might find yourself in a bit of a pinch. Once those closing papers are signed, there is little recourse available for a change of heart. For folks heading into a refinance, there is a three-day window in which the mortgagee can back out, providing the refi is on a primary residence. For a traditional mortgage, however, once those papers are signed, the house and that big loan are pretty well set in stone.
Often, folks who decide to rescind after the ink has dried are left with weighty damages to pay or are deemed responsible for costs incurred by the seller as the property in question was pulled from the market for a time. A significant change in finances (such as divorce and job loss) or false claims made by the seller (incorrect property lines, extensive undisclosed issues with the home, etc.) may increase a buyer’s chances of avoiding such penalties. Should you need to back out, for whatever reason, discuss thoroughly with your Agent and Lender to understand the next steps, specific to your unique situation.
There are a multitude of steps to climb on your way to the finalized purchase of a home, and the home inspection is one of the most important. Different from a home appraisal, the inspection provides homebuyers with a detailed list of existing issues contained within a given property. An experienced professional adept at identifying both structural and cosmetic problems examines the home and compiles a report including both internal and external problems.
While incredibly helpful in theory, home inspection reports can be difficult for the average homeowner to decipher (especially a first-time buyer). So how do you know the difference between a deal breaker and a deal maker? We’re here to shed some light on this oftentimes cloudy step in the homebuying process.
A home inspection report should include a review of the home’s HVAC and electrical systems, plumbing, flooring, doors and windows, foundation, roofing and ventilation system, and any applicable basement and/or garage. It may also cover a home’s exterior decking or porches and patios. While many folks have a general understanding of these systems and structures, it can be difficult to determine which identified issues within these areas are worth your worry – so let’s start small and work our way up.
Minor Plumbing Problems: Drippy faucets, slow drains, and interchanged hot and cold water knobs are the least of your concerns. These inconveniences are easy, and sometimes not even necessary, to correct once you’ve unpacked and made yourself at home.
Dirty Air Ducts: This minor maintenance issue comes up on inspection reports every day and is no cause for alarm. Most homeowners fail to keep up with the recommended cleanings every 3-5 years, so homebuyers are often left to cover this expense shortly after move in.
Blown Window Seals: This is a common problem in many homes. When a seal ruptures on a window, the R value of that window decreases substantially, leading to less insulation and potentially higher energy expenses. However, aside from minimally raised heating and cooling costs, a broken seal will only cause occasional condensation in between panes and fogginess that may increase over time. It is possible to fix a blown seal yourself but DIY on this type of work is tedious, so hiring a professional is likely your best bet.
Water Damage: This one is tricky, and it really all depends on where and why the water damage originated. A leaky drain is a quick fix, but a leaky roof could potentially cost you thousands. Follow your inspector throughout the examination of the home and ask lots of questions to obtain the most information possible. They can be a fantastic resource, and one you are paying for, so use them!
Electrical Issues: Again, it all depends. If the inspection report includes minor fixes like missing GFIs in your kitchen or a light switch to nowhere, it’s no big deal. If they find larger problems like wiring issues with the breaker box or improper installation and securing of wiring throughout the house, it could present potential fire dangers or a costly bill should you choose to correct these problems. For a larger list of common issues, check out This Old House and their how to guide.
Creepy Crawlies: While the occasional stray ant or mouse sighting cannot be avoided, the constant presence of pests within a home should be taken very seriously. Termites and carpenter ants cause extensive damage to a property and can be difficult to exterminate. Mice and bats left unchecked in attics and outbuildings create potentially hazardous areas due to toxins that can build up in their excrement. Squirrels and other small rodents can tear through insulation and cause fire hazards should they get curious about electrical wires. Signs of a constant or rampant pest presence should be taken seriously and corrected by the existing homeowner prior to any sale. Already signed the paperwork? Here are some helpful hints on how to keep pests out of your home.
Work Done Without a Permit: Homeowners looking to save a buck often try their hand at home improvement jobs or hire folks to remodel without pulling proper permits within their county or township. Regardless of the quality of the finished product, this missed step could be incredibly costly, so beware. Buyers should insist that the seller handle any missing permits and building inspections prior to the property changing hands to prevent expensive fixes in the future.
Mold: Mold is oftentimes the result of water damage or poor ventilation within a home. For example, a bathroom fan that vents into an attic space instead of the outdoors will cause excessive moisture to build, inviting mold. While the ventilation problem is correctable, the existing mold should be inspected by a professional and a proper assessment of remediation obtained before closing the deal. Keep in mind, mold can be treated and prevented.
Foundation Problems: The foundation of a house affects the entire structure, so any time issues arise, they should be taken seriously. Visible cracks along walls, ill-closing doors, sagging floors – these could all indicate much larger problems lurking below ground. There are a gamut of problems connected to a house’s foundation and quite a few warning signs to accompany them, so do your research and be willing to walk away when issues are found.
The home inspection is essentially your chance to test drive a house, so do not overlook this inexpensive means of uncovering costly situations down the road. When done properly and by an experienced professional, this stage of the homebuying process can be a real lifesaver, but it should be more than just a piece of paper. Take time to walk through the inspection with your hired professional and get answers to your questions in real time to prevent a hiccup from becoming a high priced, homebuying mistake.
Cats make wonderful pets. Whether they are affectionate or aloof, they bring joy and humor to any home. As a member of the family, you love them. As the cleaner of their litter box, life could be better. It’s an eyesore, and we tend to try and hide it away in a small room to keep it out of sight. Fortunately, there are many options for you and your furry friend! Whether you want to purchase something, are ready to get creative, or a mix of both – there’s bound to be a perfect way for you to hide the litter box.
If you’re looking for a cheap-ish option for hiding your litter box and are willing to do a little work to get it
done, modifying an Ikea cabinet is one way to go. Plus, you can put fresh plants or a candle on top to mitigate the smell. Simply cut a square into the side of the cabinet, install a cat door (or don’t!), and you’re good to go.
The Wicker Basket
Baskets like these are relatively inexpensive and are more breathable than the cabinet option above meaning smells won’t linger as long. Plus, baskets with framing like the one in this project are perfect for a little DIY. Cutting out one side of the wicket doesn’t hinder the integrity or sturdiness at all.
The Corner Bench
While this project isn’t made for hiding a litter box, it can be easily fixed to change that. Simply use the method in the Ikea Hack to cut out a rectangle on the side. A bench like this one can be left with a plain wooden top or can be padded to add extra seating in your entryway or kitchen.
Under the Stairs
Have empty space under your stairs? You can use it to hide your cat’s litter box! Use the instructions on this project to craft doors and a small room for your cat. This keeps your litter box hidden away as well as out of the way, keeping you from having to add extra furniture to your home.
This adorable planter can be purchased at Wayfair (plant not included!). Plants and litter boxes work so well together because plants naturally freshen the air around them. A planter like this could be created with a little time and elbow grease, but if you’re looking for something that’s ready to go now, this one is the way to go.
In a Drawer
This project is similar to the first on the list, but instead of a regular cabinet, install a pull-out drawer instead. This will give you easy access to clean the litter box without having to put your head under a cabinet.
There are dozens of ways to hide a litter box in your home, and the internet is full of tutorials or purchasable options. Hopefully this list gave you some ideas of what to do in your own home. Remember, a litter box is only well-hidden if it’s also well-cleaned. Unscented or odor-absorbing litter (versus ones with heavy scents), daily cleaning, and an air freshener will go far to keep litter boxes hidden even from the most sensitive noses. When you home is on the market, you definitely want to keep the box clean and utilize one of the suggestions above, if possible, to remove it from being out in the open for potential buyers to see….and smell.
If you want the best deal possible in a business situation, start by asking the right questions. The things you ask your Loan Officer can help to guide your conversations and ultimately result in a great transaction. Your LO wants you to be happy. He or she would love for you to leave the closing table feeling good. Where to start? Try the following seven questions to get the ball rolling:
1. If I pay some things off before you pull my credit report, could I get a better interest rate?
The answer here is dependent on your current credit. Start by finding out exactly what’s on your report. Go to www.annualcreditreport.com for your free yearly copy. It will show all open accounts and all closed accounts for the past several years. The report will also list any bankruptcies, judgments, liens, and previous credit pulls. It’s good practice to bring a copy of your free report to your first meeting with your LO He or she can advise on what to pay-off, close, and/or dispute before the lender initiates their actual credit inquiry. Your free report won’t show your FICO score but it will offer a host of information to help you prepare for your loan application.
2. How long should I wait after a major financial blunder before I apply for a loan?
A good rule of thumb is to wait two years after a bankruptcy, foreclosure, short sale, etc. before applying for a new mortgage. The two-year rule assumes that during the waiting period you pay your bills on time and display great character when it comes to credit. Some borrowers may be advised to wait up to four years before applying for a mortgage if a more conservative loan product best fits their needs. If you must apply for a loan sooner than advised then the underwriter is likely to place you in a subprime risk category, resulting in a higher rate and/or tighter loan terms.
3. Are interest rates trending up or down?
It’s impossible to predict exactly what the mortgage market will do, but a good LO will be educated in this area. Find out if your LO keeps tabs on market indicators and reads-up on analyst predictions. If rates are likely to move up before you move on, you may want to consider locking your interest rate. Conversely, a downward trend in the market might prompt your LO to advise a “wait and see” strategy.
4. Does the loan I want have a prepayment penalty?
Loan terms vary from product to product. One item to consider is the presence or absence of a prepayment penalty. Some lenders will impose a fee if the buyer pays off a loan early, especially if the payoff is the result of a refinance. If there’s a chance that you could move or refinance shortly after obtaining your new loan, discuss this with your Originator. Prepayment penalties are not inherently bad – they serve a purpose in the marketplace as they help to stabilize returns for secondary market investors. Just make sure to ask whether your loan has a prepayment penalty so there are no surprises down the road.
5. What will my total payment be if I go with the highest loan amount offered?
Lenders will offer you a loan amount based on your ability and likelihood to repay on time. This doesn’t mean you have to go with the highest loan amount offered. Some people who can afford Cadillacs still buy Corollas. And those people still have a nice car to drive. The same applies to a home purchase. Consider your total payment at various loan amounts before committing to your next home or refinance.
6. How soon can we close?
Most loans can closes in under 30 days and a large portion are 17 days or less. Some buyers and sellers need more time for a variety of reasons.
7. Last but not least, do NOT make any financial changes until you speak with a lender!
Ask your lender what items you need to focus on regarding bills to pay, funds needing to be saved, and planning for that next big step. Don’t assume the answer is to pay off that car loan or wipe out as much debt as possible to improve your credit score. Remember they are the expert and a good lender will guide you in the right direction to your next home, or your first!
“Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers.” ~Tony Robbins
Buying a home is overwhelming – plain and simple. There are just so many decisions to make. When is a good time to buy? What neighborhoods are on the upswing? How old is too old? How much is too much? Are we truly fixer-upper kind of people? How badly do we need a fenced yard? Do the neighbors look friendly? More importantly, do they look quiet? Which lender is the best? What in the world is an adjustable rate mortgage? Is this really worth all the stress?
Okay, let’s slow it down and tackle those questions one at a time, starting with the easiest: Yes, it really is worth all the stress.
Next, we’ll jump up a level and work through a tougher one: the world of adjustable rate mortgages. But before we go too deep, let’s look at its counterpart – the fixed rate mortgage – because to understand one, you have to understand the other.
Fixed Rate Mortgages
The fixed rate mortgage is just that – a mortgage that has a fixed interest rate, one that does not change over the life of the loan. Whether it be 10 years or 30, that interest rate is going to stay the same.
For homebuyers who prefer to stay on-budget, tend to avoid financial risk, or plan to stay in the home for at least five years, the fixed rate mortgage is most likely the best bet. While the interest rate might be higher than the initial percentage offered on an adjustable rate mortgage, over the life of the loan, homeowners tend to pay a considerable amount less in interest. Additionally, this route allows the buyer to build a budget and stick to it as the payment amount never changes (not withstanding any escrow payments that could fluctuate due to property taxes or insurance costs).
Those looking for consistency in their monthly expenditures and a bit more peace of mind in the homebuying process will do well to consider this type of loan. Fixed rate mortgages are dependable, reliable, steadfast – much like that trusty dog laying by your side, the one you just have to get a fenced yard for, right? Seriously. There are so many questions.
Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARMS)
So back to the big one: What in the world is an adjustable rate mortgage? Let’s start with the basics. An adjustable rate mortgage (ARM), also commonly referred to as a variable rate mortgage, is a loan in which the interest rate is subject to change after a fixed number of years. This type of loan usually begins at an attractively low rate for the initial period (typically 3, 5, 7 or 10 years) after which time the interest rate adjusts annually or even monthly based on the index it is tied to.
These types of mortgages often appeal to buyers planning to sell the home prior to the end of the initial fixed period, those hoping for more house than their current debt-to-income ratio allows, or folks purchasing a second home for the purpose of future rental income to help offset the increase in payment amounts. An ARM can be a great option for buyers with specific goals like these, but like all methods of financing, it is important to do ample research before laying down any signatures. To better understand how variable rates are determined, organizations like Debt.org are available to fill in the blanks. Mortgage calculators designed to help consumers considering variable rate loans are also a handy tool.
Financing a home is a big deal, and the decision on which type of mortgage to pursue plays a key role in how quickly and comfortably you can pay down that debt. For this reason, be sure to take your time, plug in the numbers and ask great questions of your lender before making the final decision. An adjustable rate mortgage might just be the ticket, but much like those seemingly serene neighbors, looks can be deceiving. In five years, that quiet couple might have four barking dogs, two sets of twins, a new affinity for the drums and a rooster that crows from sun up to midnight – and that’s okay as long as you had the foresight to plan for the increase in volume, as long as you’ve prepped during the honeymoon period and stocked up on ear plugs. An adjustable rate mortgage is kind of like that, a perfectly suitable option for those who are well-prepared.
For more information and to talk with a lender to find out which option is best for you, give me a call!