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Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Little Things to Check When Looking at a House

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Contractors inspect a homeWhen purchasing a home, there are several important things that homeowners need to consider, before they end up putting money down on a monstrosity that they are going to regret. Luckily, the home inspection should be able to sort out most of these things and give you an educated outlook on whether or not you should buy a home. However, there are several things that might go unnoticed or unchecked on a home inspection that you should take the time to check yourself… (more…)

10 Ways to Protect Your Home While on Vacation

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Does this sound familiar? Your flights are scheduled, your bags are packed, and you’re ready to head out on a much-needed vacation. But as you leave your home behind, you can’t shake a lingering sense of worry. What if something happens while you’re away? What if someone tries to break in? How do you know your home and belongings will be safe? Fortunately, here are 10 ways to get peace of mind so you can travel without worry and enjoy your R&R time.

1. Go on lockdown.

First things first: It should go without saying, but make sure every door, window, and gate is locked securely. And don’t forget the garage door!

2. Stash your stuff.

Make sure your most valuable items—cash, jewelry, will—are secured at home in a safe, in a bank vault, or with a trustworthy person.

3. Batten down the hatches.

There are several things you can do around the house to avoid damage and save money. Set your thermostat for energy savings (55 in the winter, 80 in the summer). Turn down your water heater. If your home endures freezing temps, make sure your pipes are protected. You can wrap them with insulation or have someone come over to run the faucets from time to time.

4. Turn off your electronics.

Unplug all your power-sucking devices from wall outlets to protect your home from a fire caused by power surges or electrical malfunctions. You can also use surge protectors to safeguard against electrical malfunctions. Plus, unplugging your devices saves energy!

5. Snooze the snail mail.

Don’t let your mailbox overflow, alerting would-be burglars that you’re away. Just ask the post office to hold all deliveries while you’re away (they’ll do it for up to thirty days), and pick up your mail when you return. If you get other regular deliveries (like the newspaper), put a hold on those, too.

6. Make yourself at home.

Take a page from Home Alone: pretend you’re still at home. If your blinds are usually open, keep them that way. Just be careful that your home’s contents aren’t clearly visible. This may require leaving only a portion of the blinds open or choosing windows on upper floors. You can also purchase timers or smart home devices for your lights, lamps, and other electrical devices to match your regular at-home schedule.

7. Don’t advertise your departure.

It may be hard to stop yourself, but try to avoid social media status updates that show you’re away from home, especially if your posts are public. Save up those awesome vacation photos and post them when you return.

8. Call for reinforcements.

Ask a trusted friend, family member, or neighbor to set up watch for your home. Having someone regularly checking on the property is a great idea because he or she can alert you if something is wrong. You may also want to have a neighbor mow your lawn in the warmer months or shovel your driveway in the winter, which makes your home look like it’s occupied.

9. Hire a helping hand.

Consider paying someone to do yard work or even house-sit while you’re away. This is also a great option for pet owners who don’t want to board their furry friends.

10. Invest in security.

Finally, it’s a good idea to consider installing a security system. It’s one of the best ways to ensure that your home will be safe while you’re traveling. Modern systems can include door and window sensors, security cameras, and live monitoring from your smartphone. If something goes wrong, the police will be alerted, and you can take care of the problem immediately.

I hope these tips help you enjoy your vacation a little bit more! Keeping your home and belongings safe is worth a little extra effort before you leave.

How to Get Around Paying for PMI

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Mortgage insurance form on deskWhen purchasing a home, you want to make sure that the money you put into the home is adding to your equity, so that you aren’t throwing money into a home that you can’t get back. For this reason, trying to avoid paying private mortgage insurance (PMI) is a major goal of many aspiring homeowners, since the payments towards PMI don’t add to your equity. However, if you aren’t looking to get an USDA or FHA loan, then there are ways that you can get around having to pay for private mortgage insurance… (more…)

Our New 1% Down Program

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Citywide has a fantastic new 1% down payment program, and I’m here to tell you all about it. You can get into a home of your own with very little money down. Here’s how our new 1% down payment program works.

This brand-new conventional loan program means that you can bring just 1% down to the purchase of your new home. Saving up a large down payment can take a lot of time, so this program can get you into a home of your own a lot sooner than you would have been able to otherwise.

How Our 1% Down Program Works

You contribute a 1% cash down payment on your new home. A grant program gives you another 2%, making your total down payment 3%. This money does not have to be paid back—it’s just given to you.

Requirements

  • You must have a minimum FICO score of 620
  • You must be eligible for Freddie Mac Home Possible Advantage, a conventional loan program
  • This loan program has no manual underwriting option (which means you have to meet all of the requirements)
  • You must invest a minimum of 1%

Benefits

  • This program is available for primary residences
  • After you have met 1% of the sales price or appraised value investment, you can receive back the difference from the earnest money you paid
  • This is a national program (excluding Washington)

Ready to Get Started?

If you’re ready to see if you qualify for this program, give me a call! I’m an experienced loan officer, and my team and I are here to do everything we can to get you into a brand-new home. That’s why we’re so excited about this new program!

A Simple Guide to FHA Loans

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Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans allow lower down payments, lower incomes, and lower credit scores. They make homeownership more accessible for first-time and lower-income buyers. Although there are specific requirements and limits on FHA loans, it could be the perfect mortgage option for you.

How FHA Loans Work

FHA loans were set up by the federal government to help stimulate the housing market and make mortgages more accessible. The FHA does this by backing up the loans, assuring lenders that they will repay the mortgage if the borrower defaults on the loan. This security allows lenders to qualify borrowers with lower incomes, lower down payments, and lower credit scores.

Qualifying for an FHA Loan

There are a few basic qualifications for FHA loans, including:

  • The home must be a primary residence (no second homes or rental properties).
  • The borrower must have a steady, two-year work history.
  • The home must be appraised by a qualified FHA appraiser, and it must meet specific appraisal requirements.
  • Borrowers must be at least three years out of foreclosure and at least two years out of bankruptcy.
  • The total cost of the loan must be below the FHA’s mortgage limit, and this varies by state.

Other qualifications are:

  • Low down payment options available
  • The borrower must have a credit score of at least 620
  • There is no income requirement, but borrowers must meet debt-to-income ratios:
    • Mortgage payment plus all fees (HOA, mortgage insurance, taxes) must be less than 31% of the borrower’s gross income (income before taxes and other withholdings).
    • Mortgage payment plus all other monthly debt, like car and credit card payments, must be less than 43% of the borrower’s gross income.

Mortgage Insurance

While FHA loans can be ideal for many borrowers, there are some trade-offs. FHA loans require mortgage insurance. According to the FHA, “mortgage insurance is a policy that protects lenders against losses that result from defaults on home mortgages.” Two mortgage insurance premiums are required, one upfront (this can be financed into the loan) and one annual premium.

Is an FHA Loan Right for You?

FHA loans offer buying power for those that may not qualify for a conventional loan. With relatively a low down payment and a chance to start fresh in cases of foreclosure, lower credit scores, or bankruptcy, an FHA mortgage may be the perfect fit for you. If you’d like to discuss your options regarding an FHA or other loan, contact us today!

Fall Home Maintenance for a Safe and Cozy Winter

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Leaves are changing, the air is getting crisp, and fall is upon us. The mild weather makes fall the perfect time of year to work on home maintenance inside and out. Our quick and essential guide to fall home maintenance will help get your home safe and cozy, just in time for winter!

First Things First

Safety is one of the most important reasons to maintain your home before colder weather settles in. Ice, snow, and temperature drops can create a lot of hazards inside and outside your home if you aren’t prepared for them.

Inside Safety

Take a tour of your home and be sure to check these maintenance tasks off your list.

  • Clean out your fireplace or wood-burning stove. Hire a chimney sweep or burn a creosote log to clean out your chimney.
  • Make sure you have carbon monoxide and smoke detectors installed in each room of your home. If they’re already installed, test the batteries to make sure that they’re working.
  • Clean out your dryer vent to prevent fires. There’s a great tutorial here.

Outside Safety

If the outside of your home is prepared for winter, you’ll be preventing a lot of possible damage, saving yourself money and time. Here’s what you need to do to get a head start on ice, rain, and snow.

  • Clean gutters and securely fasten them to your home. Piles of leaves and stray branches can lead to water backups. That water could freeze, leading to icicles that can take down a gutter that’s not properly secured.
  • Trim dead branches and shrubs. Heavy snows can cause dead branches to snap and fall. Not only are falling branches dangerous, but they can also cause a lot of home damage.
  • Make repairs to railings and loose steps. We wouldn’t want to add any more falling hazards to the ice and snow!
  • Cover your exposed pipes with rubber insulation. Make sure to drain and shut off any outdoor water sources. This will prevent bursting pipes when temperatures get below freezing, saving you a lot of money and a big headache.

Cozy Up Your Home

Now that your home is safe, it’s also reassuring to know that your home is comfortable and efficient. Here are some general fall maintenance tasks that will keep you cozy.

  • Weatherize windows and doors. A tube of caulking goes a long way around doorframes and windows. Add weather stripping to keep cold drafts out and warm air in.
  • Check for cracks in your exterior walls. Seal up any spaces on your exterior to prevent any unwanted critters, snow, or rain from joining you in your warm home.
  • Change the filter in your furnace and have your heating system serviced by a professional.
  • Wash blankets, pillows, and curtains.

Winter will be here before we know it! Fall home maintenance is essential for an enjoyable winter. Make it a goal to complete one task a day, and by December, you’ll be ready for a long winter’s nap!

5 Questions to Ask The Builders of Your Home

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Building your own home is a goal that many people have. By the time you’re able to afford building your own home, you’ve probably lived in a handful of other properties. This gives you a great idea of what you definitely don’t want in your home, and also what things you absolutely do want. One of the first things you’ll need to do, after purchasing the land to build your house on, is to hire a builder for your home. The entire process is exciting, and can be overwhelming. Because of how overwhelming this project is, there may be a lot of things you should ask your builder, but fail to mention. No matter the specifications for your project, there are five questions you should ask. (more…)

How To Get The Most From Your Home Insurance Claims

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No one ever wants to need to use their home insurance policies. They purchase a policy because it’s necessary and it’s a smart thing to have in case of emergency or accident, but no one ever wants a situation to arise where they’ll actually have to use it. Most insurance companies, however, will do everything they can to cut corners and not pay your claims and cover what they should. They often prolong the process, and as a result, only 10%-20% of homeowners actually follow through with claims they’ve filed with their home insurance companies. One main reason for this is emotionally based. If a tree falls on your home and damages the roof and ceiling during a storm, you’ll want to have it fixed immediately. So, instead of waiting a lengthy amount of time for your insurance agent to follow through, often you’ll decide to handle the issue yourself and then end up with a hefty bill. This isn’t the way that it should be. (more…)

Buying vs Renting after Retirement

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Old man reads paper and sips coffeeFor most people, retirement is a major goal in life. Everybody has their own individual plans for how they want their retirement to pan out, but there are still certain details about what the best way to go about retirement is that people continuously weigh in their head. When people enter the retirement age, their kids have usually moved out, and they don’t quite need as much space. As a result, many retirees opt to downsize their living situation. When this time comes, is it better to buy or rent a new home? Here are some things to consider on the subject… (more…)

Best Ways to Access Your Home’s Equity

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A model house is tied to moneyFor many people, part of the appeal of owning a home, as opposed to renting, is that your payments go towards the equity of the home, meaning that instead of your money evaporating into rent checks, it gets tied up in the value of the property and the home. The more you pay, the more you own, and the more value you have. However, the money in your home isn’t money that you can utilize or spend right away, but there are a handful of ways you can access your home’s equity when you want to… (more…)

For consumer support and inquiries please contact our Consumer Solutions Dept. at 1 (866) 508-5515 or by email to consumersolutions@citywidehomeloans.com.