Credit, Mortgages and Your Ability to Buy a Home: It Doesn’t Have to Be Scary

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May 232019
 

Credit, Mortgages and Your Ability to Buy a Home: It Doesn’t Have to Be Scary

Margaret McNeal, a housing counselor for ClearPoint Credit Counseling Solutions, a national financial counseling organization based in Atlanta, says many homebuyers didn’t understand their mortgages, which became a major contributor to the housing crisis. “Primarily, people weren’t educated,” she says.

While the economy has largely returned to pre-recession levels, and the real estate market has recovered, many consumers are still a little gun-shy to close on a home.

John Sulzbach, a financial and housing counselor for LSS Financial Counseling in Minneapolis, likens lending to a pendulum, swinging back and forth over time, reacting to market events and borrowers. “It went from greed in 2007 to fear in 2008, ’09 and ’10. Now I see that pendulum is coming back to a more neutral position,” Sulzbach says, adding that lenders are doing their due diligence when considering a loan and want borrowers to do the same.

Buying a home shouldn’t be scary. The key is understanding your financial situation and what you are able to afford, as well as the kind of lending you sign on for. Following the steps below will not only make buying a home possible, but a positive financial move.

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11 Popular Home Updates That are Worth the Money

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May 162019
 

11 Popular Home Updates That Are Worth the Money

With a few tweaks to your home, you can save money and get more back when it comes time to sell.

Backsplash installation

What’s the secret to selling your home for a higher price?

More often than not, it’s about the time, money and effort you devote to the property while living there. The more updates and proper maintenance put in, the more likely you are to see it reflected in the final sale price when you put the home on the market.

But not all renovations are equal, and some make for a better return on investment when it comes to sale prices.

When you’re making renovations to a home, how do you know what’s a solid investment? A worthy update can either serve to reduce your cost of living while you remain in the home or add significant value to the home sale price when you decide to put it on the market.

“You’re selling a lifestyle when you’re selling a home,” McGillivray says. “You definitely want to think about the demographic, but you want to be broad about that demographic as well.”

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6 Ways to Boost Your Chances of Getting a Mortgage

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May 092019
 

6 Ways to Boost Your Chances of Getting a Mortgage

For first-time home buyers in particular, unfamiliarity with the process means a lot of shots in the dark when contacting mortgage lenders, searching Google for house-hunting advice and questioning whether your credit history is good enough to afford a home.

Whether it’s your first home purchase or you’ve owned previously, the mortgage industry is constantly evolving to reflect the current economy and better fit consumers who are looking to borrow.

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What Is a BPO in Real Estate?

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May 022019
 

What Is a BPO in Real Estate?

Here’s what to know about a broker price opinion, how it’s calculated and if you should get one.

Woman in business suit takes a photo of a house.

With an exterior BPO, you may see a broker taking photos outside your house.

You’re working in your yard one day when a car stops in front of your home and starts taking photos. When you ask what’s going on, the individual, who says she’s a real estate broker, explains that the photos of the exterior of your house are for a BPO – a broker price opinion – for your lender.

You’re not planning to put your house on the market, and you haven’t applied for refinancing with your lender. Is this BPO something to worry about?

 

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Economic Indicators That Will Help You Understand the Housing Market

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Apr 182019
 

Economic Indicators That Will Help You Understand the Housing Market

From home prices and sales to construction and mortgage rates, these are the real estate gauges to watch.

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Look carefully at year-over-year changes between home prices, the number of sales and available homes to better interpret the future direction of the housing market. (Getty Images)

Concern seized the U.S. housing market in late 2018, prompting discussion about an impending slowdown, a recession even. After home prices skyrocketed earlier in the year, the back half of last year ushered a softening that invoked comparisons to the real estate crash of a decade ago. Yet by the onset of 2019, anxiety seemed to have thawed as the billowing headwinds failed to topple the market.

“The U.S. real estate market looks like it is on solid ground” this year, says Ralph McLaughlin, deputy chief economist at business intelligence firm CoreLogic.

Another housing market crisis is unlikely in the immediate future, primarily because the trouble-prompting factors of the mid-2000s aren’t present today. In the pre-bust period, subprime loans stirred up demand and hurled the market into overdrive, whereas today, tight supply reigns, coupled with stern mortgage requirements.

This peculiarity, however, spawns its own issues. High home prices and low inventory, which dominated 2018, erode affordability that further suffers when mortgage rates spike. Such “pain points,” McLaughlin says, often fester rather gradually, as the real estate market moves slowly compared to the stock market.

Even with a slow-moving market, certain industry indicators offer a prognosis to buyers, sellers and investors alike. Several such gauges, when measured collectively, could measure the vitality of mostly any housing market under nearly any economic condition.

Here are the indicators you should keep an eye on to better understand the future of the housing market:

  • Home prices
  • Home sale volume
  • Construction
  • Available housing inventory
  • Mortgage rates

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