Posted by Peggy Farber on 12/30/2015

When buying a home and shopping for a mortgage there are lots of new and unknown terms and one of those is often PMI. What is PMI? PMI stands for private mortgage insurance and chances are if you are first-time buyer you will have to pay it. First things first, PMI is for the lender, not for you. Typically, homebuyers who put down less than 20 percent on their homes are required to pay private mortgage insurance. PMI protects the lender in the event that you default on the loan. Mortgage insurance requirements vary by loan type and are not inevitable. Different loan types will have different mortgage insurance requirements. You will want to shop around because some loans have no PMI requirements at all. If your loan has PMI some lenders may offer something called “lender paid mortgage insurance” in exchange for a slightly higher interest rate. Here are some typical loans and the PMI requirements: FHA loans: Require mortgage insurance to be paid up front and monthly if equity in the home is less than 20 percent. VA loans: Do not require mortgage insurance. USDA loans: Do not require mortgage insurance. Conventional loans: Require mortgage insurance if equity is less than 20 percent. If you have to pay mortgage insurance you are not stuck with it forever. Once you reach an equity position of 20 percent or more you will be able to stop making mortgage insurance payments.  When you reach this position notify your lender, who will send you information on what is required for your specific loan program to get rid of mortgage insurance payments.





Posted by Peggy Farber on 12/23/2015

The real estate market is on the move and people are moving. Finding a mover that you can trust with your possessions can be a difficult task. Here is what you need to know when looking to hire a mover and have a worry-free move: 1. Make a list Make a complete list of what you want moved. A complete inventory of what you will be moving will make it easier to assess estimates. Insist on a firm price from your mover based on your list. This will make it easier check that everything has arrived at your destination. 2. Check your insurance Check with your insurance company to make sure your policy covers your property while moving. Moving companies do not provide actual insurance. Many movers offer protection which usually only covers between 30 and 60 cents per pound for lost or damaged items. 3. Do your due diligence Verify your movers licenses, read online reviews, and be sure you know what each mover is offering in the quoted price. Once you've done your homework create a list of prospects. You may also want to read Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move put out by the U.S. Department of Transportation for more helpful hints.  





Posted by Peggy Farber on 11/11/2015

You've been thinking about buying your first home and it is a very big decision. It is typically not a decision you make overnight instead you need to take the time prepare yourself.  Here are the basic steps that you should follow when it is time to buy a home.

  1. Ask are you ready? Home ownership is quite different than renting. It is a lot more expensive than renting. You will have added expenses and responsibility. There will be expenses like repairs, added utility costs, such as garbage and water, plus taxes and insurance related to your home. You will want to make sure to have an emergency fund, before you purchase your first home.
  2. Shop for a loan. Your first step will be to get preapproved. Knowing how much you can afford will help you to look for homes within your price range.
  3. Figure out how much you can afford. Just because you are preapproved for a certain loan doesn't mean you can afford that in the real world. A good rule of thumb is to keep your mortgage along with your taxes and insurance between twenty five and thirty percent of your income. You don't want to be house poor.
  4. Use a real estate professional you can trust.  A good real estate professional will listen to your wants and needs carefully. It is important that you are also educated on the process of buying a home. A good real estate professional will help meet your needs while navigating you through the process and advocating for your best interests.





Posted by Peggy Farber on 9/16/2015

Could condo living be for you? For many condominium living can be an attractive alternative to a single family home. The price per square foot of a condo is often less than a single family home. Before you make the leap to condo living make sure to do your homework to see if it truly is the best choice for you. Here is a checklist of a few things you may want to consider before signing on the dotted line.

  • Condominiums have monthly maintenance fees.
  • Check with the condominium association to see what the annual increase in the monthly maintenance fee has been for the past few years.
  • What is the percentage of residents are current with their monthly association payments. Look for about ninety-seven percent of the development's residents to be current with their monthly payments.
  • What percentage of the association fees are dedicated to a reserve fund. A good number would be at least 10 percent of the association's annual budget.
  • What are the condition of the condo's roof and major mechanical systems? When were they last replaced or repaired. When the condo requires big upgrades, costly "special assessment" fees are passed on to the homeowners.
Most importantly try and talk to some of the residents. They can be your most valuable resource for learning about the development's pros and cons of the condominium development.





Posted by Peggy Farber on 7/29/2015

Many people think seven is a lucky number but if you are looking to get the most bang for your buck the number you want in your address is an eight. According to a study done by the University of British Columbia, houses and street numbers ending in eight sold at a 2.5 per cent higher rate than homes and street numbers ending with any other digits. In fact, the study also found homes and street numbers ending in four sold at a 2.2 per cent discount. House numbers have recently become more important with the influx of Chinese buyers in the marketplace and the increasing popularity of Feng Shui. Numbers that sound similar to Chinese words that have positive meanings are believed to be lucky. The number eight sounds similar to the word for prosper or wealth. The fear of the number four, or tetraphobia, is because the pronunciation of the word for four is similar to the word for death in Mandarin, Cantonese and several Chinese dialects. Thinking of rolling the dice on the number 13? Many large casino hotels in Las Vegas omit floor numbers 4, 14, 24, 34 and 40 to 49. The number 13 is not however, considered unlucky in the Chinese tradition. Other numbers with perceived good luck are two, three, five and seven. Two because of the Chinese saying good things come in pairs. The number three sounds similar to birth and the number five is associated with the five elements (water, wood, fire, earth and metal). Considered the luckiest number in the West, 7 symbolizes togetherness. Even though house numbers may influence a buying decision there is no evidence to support actual bad or good luck in homes with certain numbers. The thought of good or bad luck has more to do with the psychology of people than actual events.