Mortgage Refinancing Simplified

Have you received a mortgage refinancing eligibility notice in the mail? Is your neighbor bragging about being able to refinance their mortgage? Are you considering refinancing your mortgage? In any case, it helps to be aware of the process and to learn about your options. Before you start thinking about the benefits of mortgage refinancing and weighing the costs, it is very important to learn as much as you can about the process and to comprehend it completely.

How does mortgage refinancing work?

Refinancing a mortgage refers to the obtaining of a new loan under new terms for your home. Most people consider their loan hunting days to be over once they have bought their home. However, mortgage refinancing will allow you to pick a loan with a lower interest rate, build equity in your home with a shorter loan period and lower monthly payments. Refinancing will also present you with the option of choosing between fixed-rate mortgages and adjustable-rate mortgages.

Should you do it?

This is an important question that needs to be answered by taking a lot into consideration. For starters, you will need to think about the size of your existing mortgage, the current value of your home, the interest rates and the closing costs along with any important details about the new loan you plan to take out. You can use a mortgage refinance calculator (available online) to help determine a ballpark figure to suit your situation. If you are planning on staying in your home for longer than that time it will take for your monthly savings from the new mortgage to recoup the upfront expenses of financing, then you can definitely go for it!

What are the costs?

When your home was bought, you most likely had to pay closing costs. When you refinance your mortgage, you will have to pay closing costs again in order to replace your old mortgage with the new one. You can expect to pay about 3 – 6% of your principal in the form of refinancing fees and any prepayment penalties that may be incurred. There is the option of obtaining ‘no-fee’ refinance as well. Make sure to steer clear of these as they may have a higher interest to make up for the fees that are cut-off in the beginning.

When is mortgage refinancing not a good idea?

Mortgage refinancing is a great choice but not something that suits everyone and every situation. For starters, you have to be eligible to obtain a new loan. This means that you will have to have a certain equity amount in your home and a good credit score. If you don’t have these, then refinancing is not an option for you. Even if you do qualify, if you have plans to move from your home, then refinancing is not a good idea as you won’t have enough time to recoup the new loan’s upfront charges. You will also need to be able to afford these upfront costs. As mentioned earlier, some lenders may allow you to pay the closing costs as a part of your monthly payments. But this is only going to cancel out your payments and end up costing you more in the long run. In some cases, the original mortgage may carry very high prepayment penalties that may cancel out the potential savings from a refinance.

 

Roofing Repairs: What You Should Know

There have been more than a few cases where real estate deals were abruptly abandoned due to roof problems that were revealed during the inspection. Whether you plan on selling your home sooner or later, problems with the roof can be a major problem and may stop a sale dead in its tracks or cause a range of long term hassles for you and your family.

Watch out for early signs of leaks

It is important that you check your roof’s condition at least once every year. This will allow you to keep an eye on any leaks or possibilities for leaks to develop and to fix them right away to prevent them from getting bigger and more expensive. Early signs of roof leaks include damp spots, water stains on the furnace or pipes, damp spots on walls, floors and peeling paint on roof hangings. If you notice these, you may want to check your roof for rust spots on flashing, cracked caulk along with blistered, curling or buckling shingles and any worn areas.

When to consider repairs

Repairing minor leaks on an otherwise sound roof is not that expensive. If any damages are caused by wind storms or other unforeseen natural conditions, then the costs can be covered by your insurance policy. However, you will have to try your best to not let the problem get any worse. In addition, keep in mind that insurance may not cover problems that are a result of a worn-out roof or the lack of maintenance.

Re-roofing and the costs associated with it

In the case of considerable damage or long term wear and tear, you may have to consider replacing the old roofing. In some cases, you may be able to add a second layer without removing the existing layer. However, it is not recommended if you intend to stay in the house only for a few more years. In any case, the second layer may not last as long and may not look very good in the critical eye of a buyer.

Don’t forget about the hidden costs

There is a reason that home buyers are so afraid of roofing problems. Not only are the complicated ones time consuming and expensive, there is a lot of hidden charges that may arise once construction starts. If you are repairing your roof, be sure to choose a reputed contractor who is properly licensed and insures. If you are planning to sell the house sooner, you will have to discuss how the crew will try and keep landscaping and other damages to a minimum while work is carried on. Dry weather is the best time to carry out roof work as the job will move faster while also minimizing damage to the other parts of your home. If you look at the bright side, getting a new roof is a great opportunity to add some eco-friendly features to your home as well as to upgrade the existing roof. This will not only add a great deal of value to your property but it will also make life better for you and your family (especially if you were dealing with leaks and other problems for a while).

3 Things That can Ruin Your Chances of Getting a Mortgage


Whether you are planning to buy a home or are planning to refinance your existing mortgage, there is a number of things that may hinder your chances at getting a loan. Here are # important things that you should know in order to prevent your loan application from being rejected.

Your credit score is not as great as you think

This is a rather common situation where a consumer obtains their credit score from a credit monitoring services provider and submit it with their mortgage application documents. What happens is that most consumers think that the lenders will use this score to evaluate their eligibility. In reality, a lender will pull three credit scores from the three credit bureaus and will use the average score to measure their risk. In some cases, the credit score of a consumer may differ between different lenders. Your credit card balance is an influencing factor in your credit score. There is a time difference between when the balances are submitted to the bureaus and when the mortgage lender checks the score and this may result in different credit scores at different times. It is very important to understand how lenders obtain your credit score and about the fluctuations so that you can prepare better to apply for your loan. A credit score in the 620 range is considered adequate for a conventional loan. If you think of taking the ‘low credit score + low down payment’ option, you may be looking at various financial problems in the long run.

Your income is complicated

This is a problem that mainly affects hourly employees who have changed jobs in the last 2 years. In this situation, the lender will use an average monthly income that may be a lower amount than what you need to qualify for the loan. In fact, this amount may even be lower than what you actually earned. If you are self-employed, run your own business, work in a family business, work more than one job then you will need to work on properly obtaining income records to qualify for the loan. You will need to prepare your tax return documents, pay stubs and W-2s to present to your lender and to properly communicate your situation to them. Always be truthful about your income and your payment structure, your lender will be able to correctly calculate your earnings and to analyze your finances properly.

You have a job gap that lasted for more than half a year

Continuous employment is a sign of a better credit risk. If you have had a job gap that is longer than 6 months, then this is considered a red flag for a lender as they require your employment history for the last 2 years to assess the loan. If you are a freelancer, working in a field where it is normal to have such gaps between payments or have changed careers, then you will have to let your lenders know when you apply for the loan. In addition, situations such as maternity leave, an illness, a family emergency or something else that can be documented or explained, should also be communicated to your lender so that they don’t disqualify you.

3 Important Contingencies to Include in your Home Offer

 

House hunting is not easy! After examining hundreds of properties on the internet, visiting dozens of houses and comparing possible choices, you may have found a home or several homes that are a close fit. As you prepare to make an offer, you may notice that some properties have a ‘contingent offer’ status. This is a standard term that means that although an offer can be made on the house and the seller has accepted it, the final sale depends on specific criteria that need to be met. These criteria are known as contingencies and typically fall into the home inspection, mortgage and appraisal categories. The reason for these contingencies to be in place is to provide the buyer with a chance to back out of a real estate deal without losing their deposit should something go wrong.

Home Inspection Contingency

This is probably the most important contingency as it allows the buyer the right to get the property inspected by a professional. If the inspection reports something wrong with the house, the buyer can either back out of the sale or request the seller to fix it. Waiving an inspection contingency is never a good idea! Although the property may look like it is your perfect dream home, an inspection may reveal any major or minor problems with the house. For instance, you can’t tell from a glance whether a home has mold eating up the framework or if the roof is too old to hold up for a couple more decades. An inspection is a must to identify anything that may be wrong with the house so that you can discuss with the seller on whether to back out on the deal or whether they can repair them for you. For the record, these are pretty standard requirement for any successful contract, so make sure you or your realtor has included it. As a special note, in the state of Florida, as-is contracts have to be much more specific. You must agree what is included within the “as-is” status, and what details they did not intend to include. “As is” usually means that an inspection will reveal some areas of concern, but the house price already reflects the general cost of those future repairs. Just beware, and make sure your inspector is trusted by you, and very thorough. It helps to be there for the inspection, they tend to move slower and be more accurate with their inspections when they know their being watched. Plus they can better explain any issues they find clearly, giving you time to think things through ask questions on the spot. It can be helpful to record the conversations you have for later reference.

Appraisal Contingency

The appraisal contingency allows a third party, hired by your lender, to evaluate the fair-market value of the home in which you are interested. Should the appraisal reveal that the home is far more expensive than the fair-market value, the appraisal contingency allows you to walk away from the deal. No matter how perfect a home may be, a buyer should not have to pay a higher price than the property’s worth. While buyers may feel a pressure to waive the appraisal contingency in a hot market, they just may end up paying more than a property’s true value. In any case, since the lender is going to evaluate the property’s value, the buyer will only receive the home’s true value and will have to pay the rest. Many real estate professionals claim that waiving the appraisal contingency is not a very good idea unless you are willing to pay more to secure the deal, as in the case of a market that a great deal of cash is floating around in, and they are afraid the house will be bought out from underneath them if they have to many contingencies in the contract.

Mortgage Contingency

It is highly unlikely that a buyer would want to sign for a property sale without having the money to back it up. A mortgage contingency is another important contingency ton include in your offer. It protects the buyer from getting into a real estate deal without a proper loan at hand. Under this contingency, the buyer is provided with a specific time frame to obtain a loan in order to cover their mortgage. If the buyer is not able to obtain a loan, then they have the option of walking away from the sale without losing their down payment. This is great protection for both parties, and although a pesky inconvenience, it usually will help in the long run to obtain proof of the pre-approved loan amount before showing up with an offer. It can save time, and the seller will be more likely to take your offer seriously if it’s backed up by pre-approved money from the bank. Higher cash down payments always sweeten the deal as well.

 

Want a Vacation Home? Good Idea! But don’t overlook these costs!

Planning on Buying a Vacation Property? Consider These Costs First!

Owning a vacation property is a great idea so that you can always have a place to call your own at your favorite holiday destination. When you are not vacationing in your property, you can always rent it out and it would make a great investment. However, there are certain expenses that you must consider when it comes to buying a vacation property. Whether you have plenty of money to spare or not, it is very important to be aware of these costs before you make your decision to buy a vacation property.

Property management costs

Managing a vacation rental is not something that you can’t or shouldn’t do. Unlike residential properties that are jointly maintained by the owners and tenants, vacation properties will have to be handled in a different manner. Unless you live nearby, managing it on your own is highly unrealistic. It is very important to have someone to manage tasks such as cleaning, preparation for renters, being on call for emergencies and repairs as well as handing over the keys. If your property has plenty of outdoor space (eg: waterfront property), you will have to keep a landscaping crew at hand to keep things clean and presentable at all times. This is an expense that you must consider when you think of buying a vacation rental. If your property is not managed properly, its value and the interest that people may have in renting it could go down drastically. And don’t forget about those pesky H.O.A. fees.

Cost of furnishings

The rental will have to be properly furnished with good quality pieces to ensure the comfort of your renter as well as your costs for repairs and maintenance. If there are other rentals nearby, your house will have to compete with them to make sure that renters don’t walk away. Good furniture does not come cheap! You will have to put aside a sizeable amount to outfit your place for renters at the start.

Prime time rentals

If you are renting out your holiday home, then you will need to know that you won’t be able to enjoy it during prime vacation times of the year if you plan on covering your cost with rental payments. Peak travel seasons during the year can have renters clamoring for properties in holiday destinations and if you take your property off the market for a personal vacation, you may lose out on the financial gains.

As mentioned earlier, a vacation property is a great investment. However, to make it work, you need to be prepared.

You’ve Purchased a Home, Now What?

Moving in to your own new home is an exciting experience but it is very important to not let the excitement distract you from the things you need to do right after you have moved into your new home. Here are our tips for the Top Things to Do after You’ve Purchased a New Home.

Get the locks changed

This is something that can be done right after the closing is complete. In reality, the old locks are most likely to have access from the realtors, previous owners and maintenance professionals. You can easily call a locksmith and install a new set of locks to make sure the security of your home and your peace of mind.

Clean up the house

Many seers will definitely leave a clean house for their buyers. Some won’t really bother nor have the time. In any case, it is advisable that you hire a professional cleaning service to clean up the whole house from top to bottom. This can not only make your home look great but it can also make you feel great about the house and get it ready for a fresh new start!

Organize your storage spaces

You will need to take your specific storage requirements into account when it comes to organizing the closets and cupboards. If you need special fittings in your storage units, be sure to get them done as early on as possible. This will help you get unpacked faster and to get settled-in sooner.

Service the mechanical equipment

The heating and cooling systems have to work perfectly at your new home. If the previous owners did not do a full servicing on the systems, you will have to make sure that they are working perfectly and to make any necessary repairs.

Install window treatments

While you won’t be able to handle all the windows in your home, you can try to install window treatments on the most important windows to help make things more comfortable by ensuring privacy. This will take some planning ahead as you will need to note down these windows, measure them and get some curtains or blinds made to suit them.

Visit the local stores

Any neighborhood will have a few stores where you can buy your essentials. Be sure to leave some time free to step out of the house during unpacking and to check out the local stores. If you introduce yourself, the store owners would be happy to help you get accustomed to things faster.

Meet the neighbors

While getting your new home to work well with your requirements is a must, meeting the neighbors is just as important. You will need to make sure that you make a great impression and get to know your neighbors as they will be your new friends and help you get settled into the neighborhood. Don’t forget to take your kids with them as you go out to meet the neighbors so that they can meet the neighborhood kids and make some new friends right away.

Rent a Storage Space and Get Rid of Clutter

De-cluttering is one of the most important parts of staging a home before you sell. For most home owners, cluttering is a huge problem that is not always remedied with an easy solution.

Rent a Storage Space

For instance, if you have a lot of books, children’s toys, sports equipment, personal belongings and various other items that don’t get used all the time, there is a chance that you have piled them on random places in the house. It is rather normal for many people to have belongings that outnumber the available storage space. Of course, when you are selling, you cannot have your belongings scattered about, covering up your home’s best-selling points. Once you have arranged some items into your storage spaces and tossed some of them but still have some left over, the best option is to look into storage.

Put Non Essential Items in Storage

Rented storage is a great choice to handle clutter when you are short of time. In fact, you can take all of your belongings that need to be kept out-of-the-way until you move, in a storage unit. However, it is very important to decide what to store. Start by sorting items into piles and then selecting the storage pile for a second sorting. Things that you think you may need might not actually be useful at all. If you see anything that are not particularly valuable such as, old books, old clothes and old shoes, these may become useful to someone else and may be sold off in a garage sale or donated. When you consider paid storage, consider the items that you will actually need and are valuable as opposed to anything that simply takes up too much space.

Find Storage Close to Home

Hiring the right storage is the next step. If you have decided on a new neighborhood for you to live, it makes sense to choose a storage unit close by to help you retrieve the items conveniently. If not, you can choose a place close to your home so that you can arrange for the items to be picked up on the way during the move or later. If you are dealing with valuables be sure to pay special attention to how secure the storage space is. Narrow down a few options in your desired location and visit them for a good assessment of their security features. When it comes to storing your valuables, privacy and security are two very important requirements that must be fulfilled.

Climate Controlled Storage

Needless to say, proper packing is very important to guarantee the safety of your belongings when it is placed in storage. Whether you are storing the items for a long time or a short time, you will have to pack and stack the items carefully to make sure that they don’t get damaged or have their value decreased in any other way. For instance, if you are storing a vinyl collection, art or something particularly sensitive to climate changes, be sure to request a climate controlled storage space and to pack them appropriately. Don’t forget to check up on the items now and then if you are storing them for a long period.

 

How to Stage a House to Sell

Many sellers consider home staging as a great way to display your home in its best possible light during open houses. While you can definitely hire a professional for the best results, you can always attempt the task on your own as well. Frankel Realty has been in the business of selling homes for several decades and has some great home staging tips for hopeful home-sellers trying to get the best possible price for their property.

Get rid of clutter

Clutter may make a home seem lived-in but it can also distract potential buyers frome sm noticing the best features in your home while also highlighting the lack of storage space. In reality, the best way to start staging a home is to get rid of all the clutter as the first step. Needless to say, you may need to take a bit of time to decide what to take and what to toss as well as what can be put in storage. You can’t stuff everything in a cupboard as people will open and check each storage unit in the house and finding knickknacks stowed away may not make a good impression.

Make your rooms seem more defined

It is very important that your potential buyers are able to view the purpose of each room clearly. If you have rooms that double up for different purposes, you can easily define that with the décor and furniture. Your buyers need to be given a good idea of the available space in your home so that they can visualize what they can do with it. If you have any spaces that can be upgraded, be sure to consider it as an attic office or a basement entertainment center can be an attractive option for potential buyers.

Go neutral with the colors

This is one of the most important parts of a home staging project. If you are a fan of bright bold colors and have painted large sections of your home with them, it is highly recommended that you paint your home in a more neutral palette to appeal to a wider audience. A neutral color palette not only works with paint colors but also with the furniture.

Choose the right furniture and the right layout

During an open house, people will be moving all through your home. If you have not defined clear paths for them by properly arranging your furniture, this can be difficult and may count as a negative point among buyers. Choose furniture that doesn’t clutter a space by sticking to appropriate sizes and designs. As for the layout, arrange your furniture in the best possible way to enhance the available space as well as to clearly define the room’s purpose.

Remove personal elements

If your walls are full of family photographs and memories, this may discourage buyers from making an offer. Instead, remove all personal elements and leave only a few select items to create the ‘lived-in but available for sale’ look that attracts buyers’ attention. The idea is to let buyers picture themselves in your home while not getting distracted by your own memories.

Home Improvement Repair Scams

When it comes to improving your home, or fixing something that’s broken in your house, the success of the project depends on the contractor that you choose. There are also scam contractors who never finish the work on time, keep increasing their prices, or end up doing an overall sloppy job.

If you are seeking a company to complete your renovation or some sort of repair job, you might come across companies that will offer to arrange home improvement loans or to try to persuade you into doing larger scale repairs than intended; you might be dealing with a scammer. Scammers, or con artists of this sort tend to target elderly homeowners and end up doing incomplete, sub-standard work. Something that professional contracts advise is to never pay any contractor for materials or work upfront unless it is a reasonable deposit amount.

Chimney Sweep Scams

Chimney scams are among the most common home improvement scams where a chimney sweep informs you that they need to replace the entire chimney by highlighting the many dangers of cracks. Scare tactics are highly popular among these scammers as that is the easiest way to get homeowners to commit to large-scale renovations. To avoid this type of scam, look for chimney sweep contractors who are fully certified. A good chimney sweep will use video scans and other modern techniques to find the problem and recommend a reasonable solution. Depending on your location, a certified chimney sweep will charge about $100 – $200 for an inspection and cleaning assignment. The National Chimney Sweep Guild is a great source to find certified sweeps for any state.

Radon Gas Scams

Several years ago, Radon became a highly publicized real estate scare. The invisible radioactive gas is a by-product of decaying uranium that is present in various types of soil and rock. The gas is linked to cancer and homeowners clamored to get their homes tested for the gas. Most homeowners easily fell prey to radon mitigators who employed false claims and scare tactics to get homeowners to pay for radon tests. While a home radon test kit costs less than $20, these scammers will charge you massive amounts. If you suspect radon is present in your home, take your time and look for a licensed company to fix the problem.

Termite Extermination Scams

Termite infestations are bothersome problem that is not only a huge hassle, but may significantly decrease your home’s value. While mostly prominent in warmer climates, termites may cause trouble in just about any part of the country. If you hired an exterminator who presents proof in the form of termite wings or droppings after an inspection, be sure to ask them whether they are able to tell the difference between ants and termites, and if they determine whether the infestation is old or new. A qualified specialist will know the difference between winged ants and termites. Any termite exterminator, who promises to ‘control’ the infestation rather than exterminating, will aim to make money with regular inspections. A termite infestation should be eliminated with a special process but never controlled as it will only increase the damage the longer it stays ‘controlled’. A reputed company will give you a reasonable extermination quotation after the inspection is complete.

 

Go Green Buy Produce at Farmer’s Markets

Florida is a great place for those who live a healthy lifestyle. With many green markets that run from October through May and the opportunity to take part in many outdoor activities allow residents to enjoy an active lifestyle. Today, our focus is on the many farmers’ markets in the Palm Beach region.
Delray Beach Green Market

The Delray Beach Green Market is a popular destination on Saturday mornings. The open market is held at the Old Square Park on Delray Beach. The market started in 1996 and as of today, features over 65 vendors as well as live entertainment every week. The market features fresh picked fruits, antibiotic and hormone free poultry and meat, fresh-cut flowers and freshly baked artisan goods with plenty of options for vegans and gluten free diets.

The Riverwalk Green & Artisan Market

The Riverwalk Green & Artisan Market is held along the Intracoastal Waterway under the shade of the Indianatown Rd. Bridge. The market features a selection of vendors featuring fresh produce, dairy, meat, poultry, baked goods and flowers. The market also offers vendors that offer jewelry, arts and crafts as well as drinks and snacks. The Riverwalk Green & Artisan Market is held on Sundays from 10am to 2pm and offers a great opportunity for families to enjoy a great time while shopping.

Lake Worth Farmers Market

The Lake Worth Farmers Market is on the west side of A1A and Lake Avenue, in Lake Worth, FL. Held from 9am to 1am regardless of weather, the Lake Worth Farmers Market is a great place to buy fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs and beautiful fresh-cut flowers in a wide array of colors. Aside from a delightful choice of food items, the market also features vintage and artisanal goods by some of the most popular local dealers in the Palm Beach County.

Wellington Green Market

Wellington Green Market opened on the 18th of October 2014 at Forest Hill Boulevard and is one of the most popular weekly event that features a diverse range of vendors. From fresh produce by local vendors all the way to delicious homemade food options, the market is a great place to spend a few hours while shopping for the week.

West Palm Beach Green Market

The West Palm Beach Green Market is held on the waterfront and is a popular choice among the residents of Palm Beach County. Featuring sellers that offer meat, poultry and dairy items as well as fresh local produce and delicious sweets and snacks, the market is a great place to enjoy some time with the family on the waterfront. Held at South Flagler Drive, the market also features great home décor and gourmet foods.

Frankel Realty Group follows the letter and spirit of the Equal Housing Act, and is a member of the Northern Palm Beach County Board of Realtors, the Florida Multiple Listing Service, and National Board of Realtors.  Thomas Frankel is Broker of Record.   Frankel Realty Group and all of its affiliated agents are licensed as either brokers or salespersons by the Florida Real Estate Commission.  Copyright © 2013 Frankel Realty Group, All Rights Reserved. The name Frankel Realty Group and its logo and design are trademarks of Frankel Enterprises or its affiliates.

 

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