Monday, July 1, 2019

Building Equity

Owning a home is the first step to building equity.  Tenants build equity but not for themselves; they build it for the owners.

Equity is the difference in the value of the home and what is owed on the home.  There are two dynamics that cause this to grow: appreciation and principal reduction.

As the home increases in value, it is said to appreciate.  Various authorities will annualize an appreciation rate based on average sales prices from one year to the next.  Since appreciation is based on supply and demand as well as economic conditions, it will not be the same year after year.  

If you looked at a ten to twelve-year period, some would be higher than others and there may even be some individual years that it is flat or even declined.  For the most part, values tend to appreciate over time.

Most mortgages are amortized which means that a portion of the payment each month is applied to the principal in order to pay off the loan by the end of the term.  A $300,000 mortgage at 4.5% for 30 years has $395.06 applied to the principal with the first payment.  A slightly larger amount is applied to the principal each following month until the loan is paid with the 360th payment.

If additional principal payments are made, it will save interest, build equity faster and shorten the term of the mortgage.  Using the previous example, if an additional $250.00 principal contribution was made with each payment, it would only take 270 payments to retire the loan instead of 360.  It would save $69,305 in interest and shorten the mortgage by 7.5 years. 

To see the dynamics of equity due to appreciation and principal reduction, look at the Rent vs. Own.  To see the effect of making additional principal contributions on your equity, look at the Equity Accelerator.  

Monday, February 4, 2019

Your Real Estate Resource

Being a better homeowner is a full-time job.  It takes good information to make good decisions not only when you buy and sell but all the years you own a home.

Think of times when you need advice on financing, taxes, insurance, maintenance, finding reasonable and reliable contractors and lots of other things.  Imagine how nice it would be to have a real estate information line you could call whenever you have a question.

Our objective is to move from a one-time sale to customers for life; a select group of friends and past customers who consider us their lifelong real estate professional.  We believe that if we help you and your friends with all your real estate needs, we can earn the privilege to be your real estate professional.

Throughout the year, we'll send reminders and suggestions by email and social media that enhance your homeowner experience.  When we find good articles to help you be a better homeowner, we'll pass them along.  You'll discover new ways to maintain your property, minimize expenses and manage debt and risk.  

We want to be your "Go-To" person for everything to do with real estate.  We're here for you and your and in the future.  Please let us know how we can help you.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Eliminate FHA Mortgage Insurance

Mortgage insurance premium can add almost $200 to the payment on a $265,000 FHA mortgage.  The decision to get an FHA loan may have been the lower down payment requirement or the lower credit score levels, but now that you have the loan, is it possible to eliminate it?

Mortgage Insurance Premium protects lenders in case of a borrower's default and is required on FHA loans.  The Up-Front MIP is currently 1.75% of the base loan amount and paid at the time of closing.  Annual MIP for loans with greater than 95% loan-to-value is .85% per year.  

For loans with FHA case numbers assigned before June 3, 2013, when the loan is paid down to 78% of the original loan amount, the MIP can be cancelled.  The borrower may need to contact the current servicer.

However, for loans greater than 90% with FHA case numbers assigned on or after that date, the MIP is required for the term of the loan.

Most homeowners with FHA mortgages are not eligible to cancel the MIP because they either originated their loan after June 3, 2013, put less than 10% down payment and/or got a 30-year loan.  If they have at least 20% equity in the home, they can refinance the home with an 80% conventional loan which in most cases, does not require mortgage insurance.

With normal amortization on a 30-year loan, it takes approximately 11-years to reduce the original loan to the 78-80% requirement based on normal amortization.  There is another dynamic involved which is the appreciation on the home.  As the home goes up in value and the unpaid balance goes down, the equity increases.

If the homeowners believe that they have enough equity that would eliminate the need for mortgage insurance, they can investigate refinancing with a conventional loan.  Borrowers refinancing will incur expenses in starting a new mortgage and the interest rate may be higher than the existing rate.  Analysis will determine how long it will take to recapture the cost of refinancing. 

Call me as (785) 650-4370 for a recommendation of a trusted mortgage professional.



Monday, October 1, 2018

Do You Need a Public Adjuster for Your Insurance Claim?

After a major storm or a freak accident that ends in massive amounts of property damage, you're probably going to feel two things essentially at once: you're going to be overwhelmed with the amount of damage that was caused and you're going to wonder how you're going to get the mess cleaned up.

A call to your insurance company will summon an insurance adjuster to help estimate the extent of the damage, but you have no say at all in who assesses the extent of the damage to your property or how much your policy should pay to help you rebuild.

Hire Your Own Adjuster — Problem Solved

If you've filed a claim before for a car accident, you've met an insurance adjuster employed by the insurance company that you're filing on. This isn't the guy you need when things get really hairy. Although he's not out to get you, he's working for the insurance company and trying to minimize their pay-out. That's his job.

However, you can hire your own guy, known as a public adjuster, to help you navigate the complicated situation that comes around when a bicycle is flung through your garage door and then breaks out the back window of your car during a bad storm. Public adjusters receive the same training as those working for the insurance company, but instead of walking between two parties, the public adjuster you choose is working on your behalf exclusively.

Who Pays the Public Adjuster?

Many homeowners are hesitant to call a public adjuster because they think the fees will be significant. Of course the public adjuster needs to get paid, but many will take a percentage of your settlement rather than demand fee after fee. Anywhere from 10 to 20 percent of the final settlement is typical for the market.

It can be a lot of money, there's no joke about it, but the difference between the insurance adjuster's figures and your public adjuster's figures can more than cover their costs. According to Bankrate's research, a study of one Florida insurance company showed that the homeowners who used a public adjuster's typical settlement was $22,266 where those who let the insurance company take the wheel only got $18,659.

To put those numbers into perspective, let's assume the public adjuster had a 15 percent fee. On $22,266, the fee would be $3,339.90. Even once that fee is taken out, you're ahead of the insurance adjuster's payment of $18,659 by $267.10. If the public adjuster only has a 10 percent fee, that number gets even bigger — a whopping $1,380.40 in money you might have left on the table.

Working With a Public Adjuster: Best Practices

Just like working with any professional, there are better and worse ways to go about it. Unlike most other professions, most people know nothing about public adjusters, leaving them ill-prepared for how one works. Let's talk about the claim cycle and how your contributions can speed up the insurance claim process.

* The Loss. Your house has the roof taken to Oz, a big tree in your yard crushes your car, a dirigible crashes into your picture windows — whatever happens, this has to happen first. If you call a public adjuster before you have a loss, it's going to look mighty suspicious..
* First Contact. Who you contact at this stage is vital. You definitely need to let your insurance company know there's an issue, but this is also the best time to get a public adjuster into the mix. If they begin at the beginning of your claim, they don't have to hold up the show trying to get up to speed.
* Checking Your Docs. Find all your insurance papers and have them ready for your public adjuster. Your insurance documents double as a contract between you and the insurance company, it's a really good idea to know what they say before you go into battle. Your public adjuster will be doing more in-depth research while you're finding your papers.
* Documenting Your Claim. For personal property, this is generally most easily done with a video camera, but you'll also need estimates for rebuilding your home. This is one of the many things a public adjuster can do for you if you don't have the time or energy to line up the necessary talent.
* Submitting Your Bundle. Once everything's put together, all your damages documented and the cost to get your life back together put down in writing, your public adjuster will give the packet to the insurance company for their consideration.
* Negotiating a Settlement. Finally, your public adjuster will stand in your corner and defend your claim with all they have. If there's room for negotiation and you've given them permission to do so, the public adjuster may counter a lower offer from the insurance company on your behalf.

Since public adjusters get paid a percentage based on the amount your insurance company settles for, it's in their best interest to get as much money as they can. They're on your side, but they're kind of on their own side, too.

Looking for a Public Adjuster, Insurance Agent, Contractor, Roofer or Other Home Pro?

In the moments after a massive hit to your property, you won't be able to see beyond what's in front of you, but when your head clears, you'll need to figure out who you need to help you build your insurance claim. Luckily, your HomeKeepr family can set you up with all the home pros you need. Adjusters, contractors and so many more have already been recommended for you, just pop in and say hello to the people your Realtor trusts most.

Myrietta Leach Headshot

Myrietta Leach
Keller Williams



Monday, September 24, 2018

How to Clean Gutters

The gutters and downspouts on your home are intended to channel rainwater away from your home and its foundation.  When they're blocked and not functioning properly they can lead to the gutters coming loose, wood rot and mildew, staining of painted surfaces, and even worse, foundation issues or water penetration into the interior of the home.

Most experts recommend cleaning the gutters at least once a year.  More often might be necessary depending on the proximity of leaves and other debris that could collect.

If this is a task that you feel comfortable about tackling yourself, there are few things to consider.  If the debris is dry, it will be easier to clean the gutters.  Safety is important, and precautions should be taken such as using a sturdy ladder and possibly, having someone hold it while you're on the ladder. 

Other useful tools will be a five-gallon plastic bucket to hook on the ladder to hold the debris; work gloves to protect your hands from sharp edges of the gutters; a trowel or scoop and a garden hose with a nozzle.

?         Start by placing the ladder near a downspout for the section of gutter to be cleaned. 

?         Remove large debris and put it into the empty bucket. Work away from the downspout toward the other end.

?         When you're at the end of the gutter, using the water hose and nozzle, spray out the gutter so it will drain to the downspout.

?         If the water doesn't drain easily, the downspout could be blocked.  Accessing the spout from the bottom with either the hose with nozzle or a plumber's snake, try to dislodge the blockage.

?         Reattach or tighten any pieces that were removed or loosened while working on the downspout.

?         Flush the gutters a final time, working from the opposite end, as before, toward the downspout.

There are specialized tools at the home improvement stores like Lowes and Home Depot that can make this job easier.  Check out their websites and search for "gutter cleaning".



Monday, September 17, 2018

Consumer Protection from Irresponsible Mortgage Practices

Congress enacted the Dodd-Frank Act in 2010 in response to the mortgage crisis that led to America's Great Recession.  The two parts that apply closely to homebuyers are the Ability-to-Repay (ATR) and Qualified Mortgages (QM).

A Qualified Mortgage is a category of loans that have certain, more stable features that help make it more likely that borrowers will be able to afford their loan.  These loans do not allow certain risky features like an interest-only period when no money is applied to reduce the principal; negative amortization that would allow the mortgage balance to increase; and, "balloon payments" at the end of the loan that are larger than the normal periodic payments.

A debt-to-income ratio of less than or equal to 43% has been established to provide a limit on how much of a borrower's income can go toward total debt including the mortgage and all other monthly debt payments.  However, the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau believes these loans should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis and in some cases, can exceed 43%.

There is a limit for up-front points and fees the lender can charge.

By showing that the lender made an effort to be certain that the borrower has the ability to repay the loan, the lender in turn, receives certain legal protections.  Underwriting factors considered by the lender include:

  1. current or reasonably expected income or assets 
  2. current employment status
  3. the monthly payment on the covered transaction 
  4. the monthly payment on any simultaneous loan 
  5. the monthly payment for mortgage-related obligations
  6. current debt obligations, alimony, and child support
  7. the monthly debt-to-income ratio or residual income 
  8. credit history

For more information, see the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau fact sheet ... protecting consumers from irresponsible mortgage lending.



Monday, September 3, 2018

Act Decisively

Whether it is hesitation or procrastination due to uncertainty, it can cost buyers by having to pay more for both the house and the financing.  This is one of those markets where most of the experts expect interest rates and prices will continue to rise through 2019.

The National Association of REALTORS? reports there is currently a 4.2-month supply of homes for sale which is close to the same as last year's inventory.  Normal inventory is considered to be a 6-month supply.

If during the period you're waiting to buy, the price of the home goes up by 5% and the mortgage rate increases by 1%, the payment on a $275,000 home with a 95% mortgage could be $233.80 more each and every month.  Over a seven-year period, the delay to purchase would total close to $20,000.

To act decisively, you need good information; a confused mind will not generally make a decision.  In today's market, you need to know exactly what price home you can qualify for and you need to know what kind of home you can expect for that price.  

You'll want a housing and a mortgage professional you can trust to give you the information you need to make good decisions for yourself and your family.  We'd like to be your real estate professional and can recommend a trusted mortgage professional.

To get a better idea about what it may cost you for a home in your price range, use the Cost of Waiting to Buycalculator.  If you have any questions, call me at (785) 650-4370.