How Will Britain’s Exit From the EU Affect U.S. Mortgage Rates?

Shutterstock ID 421081036; PO: Cat Overman

Shutterstock ID 421081036; PO: Cat Overman

Thirty-year fixed rates approached all-time record lows in the wake of the vote. Will they continue to drop?

Financial market turmoil can be good for mortgage rates. Don’t forget this concept as you continue to read headlines about how a “Brexit” is wreaking havoc on markets.

Brexit is slang for Britain’s vote Thursday, June 23 to exit the European Union (EU), which is a political and economic union allowing free trade and movement of people among 28 member countries.

This outcome was unexpected, and caused stock markets around the world to nosedive.

Mortgage rates approach record lows

The Brexit vote also caused U.S. mortgage rates to nosedive. Rates were down .125 percent the day after the Brexit vote, and are now approaching all-time record lows as30-year fixed rates move below 3.5 percent.

Why? Because Brexit uncertainty is causing investors to sell riskier global stocks and buy safer U.S. mortgage bonds — which are among the safest bonds in the world because they’re comprised of U.S. home loans approved using the strictest guidelines in decades.

When bond prices rise on this buying, bond yields (or rates) drop. When rates drop, it’s often a good time to refinance your mortgage.

To put it in perspective: On a $300,000 loan, if you refinanced at a rate dip of .25 percent, your payment could be lowered by $42 per month.

Mortgage rate outlook from here

When markets are driven more by politics than economics, rate movement will be especially unpredictable. If this Brexit-driven rate dip meets your financial objectives, you should work with your lender to refinance at this lower rate.

Some projections call for rates to rise gradually as Brexit concerns wane, but, conversely, there is also a growing consensus that ultra-low rates may be here to stay.

If you have the stomach to watch rate markets a bit longer, Brexit isn’t the only factor driving lower rates. Forthcoming Brexit negotiations may inspire other EU countries to seek independence, which would fuel market turmoil and keep U.S. rates low.

This sentiment has already caused the Federal Reserve to pause its rate hike campaign, citing non-U.S. factors as contributing to increased risk of U.S. recession.

These conflicting predictions mean rate movement will be especially unpredictable in the coming months, so it’s best to lock rate dips that meet your financial objectives. Your lender can help you with your objectives and mortgage math.

Tips for refinancers

Thinking of refinancing to take advantage of the low rates? Here are a few tips.

  • Ensure your lender is quoting correctly. Rate quotes are predicated on a loan closing in a certain number of days. Longer rate locks have higher rates, and lock extensions can eat away refinance savings. If you see one rate quote lower than another when you shop, ask that lender what their rate lock period is, and make sure they can close your loan within their rate lock period.
  • Ask about timing. Lenders get extremely busy during rate dips, so ask your lender to confirm that they’re quoting a rate that allows them enough time to close your loan. (If they can’t, you can look into finding a new lender.)
  • Don’t forget your second mortgage. Your second mortgage holder must agree to the terms of your new first mortgage refinance before the refinance can close. This is required even if you have a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) with a zero balance. This step will add time to the process, so make sure lenders you’re shopping with know this as they’re quoting rates.
  • Get ready to provide documents again. Even if you refinance with a lender you’ve worked with before, federal laws require them to update your employment, income, asset, and debt documentation for a new loan.

When do refi costs break even? A typical refinance costs $2,000 to $4,000, depending on your market. Interest cost savings from the refi should repay closing costs within 24 to 36 months. A refinance calculator can help you estimate your breakeven time.

And don’t forget that a “no-cost” refinance isn’t actually without cost. You’re just accepting a higher rate to enable your lender to credit closing costs. Make sure your lender compares long-term savings of cost vs. no-cost refi options.

Reminder for home buyers

A rate lock runs with a borrower and a property, so as a home buyer, you cannot lock a mortgage rate until you’re in contract to buy a home.

Rate dips like the current one tipped off by the Brexit vote benefit you as a home shopper because you’ll likely get to lock a lower rate when you get into contract. But until then, you’re subject to daily rate market movements.

Posted by Julian Hebron on Zillow

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10 Essential Skills Every New Homeowner Should Have

Don’t let clogged gutters or a running toilet put a damper on your new-home high.

Ah, the joys of homeownership — you can paint the walls any color you choose, let Fido run free in your backyard, and finally leave your bike outside your side door, without getting a citation from your property-management company.

There are many perks of having a place to call your own, but the honeymoon can come to a sudden end as soon as something goes awry. Suddenly, there’s no one to call when your toilet just won’t stop running, a leak appears below your bedroom window, or your garbage disposal gets clogged. You’ve got to figure out how to fix the problem yourself — or hire someone to do it.

But with a little patience (and some smart internet research), it’s possible to take on many common home maintenance tasks yourself. Who knows: You may even start to take pride in your newfound handyman (or handywoman) skills! Whether you’re moving into a new home in San Diego, CA, or Wilmington, DE, these 10 skills are essential techniques that new homeowners across the country should know how to do.

Such things as knowing how to shut off the water to your sink are essential skills to pick up soon after moving into your new home.

1. How to change your air filters

Chances are, if you’re moving from a rental, your landlord took care of this task for you. Changing your air filters regularly is important to maintain air quality. “We get calls from homeowners who can’t figure out why their homes are so dusty,” says Bailey Neal, CEO of Nestive, a Nashville, TN-based home maintenance, repair, and cleaning service. “Come to find out: They’ve never changed their air filters.”

Neal says for new construction, consider changing your filters every two to three weeks at first, because of the initial drywall dust. Every three to six months is recommended for people without pets or allergies; if you have pets or allergies, every 30 to 90 days is best. Once you determine the size of your filters (it will be printed on the old one, for example 10x20x1), such services as Amazon or EZFilter can automatically deliver new filters at a determined frequency.

2. How to shut off your water

Ask someone, whether it’s your home inspector, a friend with construction experience, or a plumber, to locate and show you where the main water valve is in your home. “Water is one of the leading causes of damage in homes,” says Neal. “If you can shut off your water quickly, you can prevent thousands in damage.” Neal notes that if you’re going to be away for longer than one or two days, you should turn off the water to your washing machine — it’s as simple as turning the water-valve handle behind the machine to the right. “If there’s a leak while you’re gone, that water is going to run continuously,” he says.

3. How to change the temperature on your water heater

Many manufacturers set water-heater thermostats to reach 140 degrees, but most houses need only a maximum of 120. Setting the thermostat to a lower temperature prevents the potential of scalding, slows mineral buildup and corrosion in your heater and pipes, and can save you $10 to $30 per each 10-degree reduction on your annual energy bill. Plus, it’s as easy as turning a dial.

4. How to turn off your gas

If you smell gas or suspect there’s a gas problem, your first step should be calling your gas company. But it’s important to know how to turn off the gas yourself just in case you need to. The shut-off valve is usually located outside at the meter and will require an adjustable pipe or crescent-type wrench to operate.

5. How to fix a running toilet

A running toilet might sound like the start of a joke, but it can be very annoying — not to mention become a waste of water that could amp up your next water bill. Toilets run for several reasons: problems with the flapper, chain, or float are the most common. A diagnosis and repair is quick and easy. And remember, the water inside the toilet tank is clean, so don’t worry about putting your hands in there.

6. How to turn off power to different parts of your house

“We had a customer who bought a new house, and the first week she was there, her hair blow-dryer suddenly stopped working,” says Neal. “Our electrician went in, hit the ‘reset’ button on the outlet, and the dryer started working again.” The lesson? Look to see if your outlet has a reset button (common for grounded outlets, which are typically located in kitchens and bathrooms, since they are close to water); and while you’re at it, familiarize yourself with the circuit-breaker box. Neal says it’s common for power to die in one room of the house and people then think there’s a power outage. “They don’t even think to go to the breaker box to see if it has tripped,” he says. “Especially if you have (an) older house, the wiring was not built to handle the same capacity of modern electrical systems. Older homes will get overloaded quicker.” When you move into your new home, take some time to flip your circuit-breaker switches and figure out what controls what room — and that the switches are properly marked.

7. How to find a wall stud

It’s important to locate wall studs, which are vertical wood boards behind your drywall, when you’re hanging heavy wall adornments in your new home — including TV wall mounts, shelves that will support significant weight, or even a heavy mirror. Luckily, technology has made it pretty simple to do this — for around $10 at a hardware or home improvement store, you can purchase a stud finder that will help you locate the boards. Pro tip: Studs are almost always spaced either 16 or 24 inches apart.

8. How to clean your gutters

Clogged gutters are no joke. They can cause water to flow onto the wood trim and siding of your house, which can eventually lead to rot — and replacement, notes Neal. Gutters should be cleaned every year, or twice a year if you have overhanging trees. If you feel confident on a ladder, you can clear the gutters yourself by suiting up (wear long sleeves, gloves, even goggles and a mask) and using a small garden shovel to clear the muck, followed by a high-pressure water rinse from your hose. Focus on clog-prone areas: mainly where the downspouts join the gutter system.

9. How to caulk

Caulking is a simple task but delivers big impact — not to mention, it keeps air and water at bay. First, pick the right caulk. For a long-lasting seal, choose permanently waterproof, flexible, shrinkproof, crackproof silicone caulk. (Skip acrylic caulk, which can shrink and crack over time.)

Next, remove old caulk with a utility knife and make sure your surface is clean and dry. Cut the nozzle of the caulk tube to your desired bead size and run a line of caulk — make sure to use even pressure when applying with a caulking gun. Finally, smooth the line with a wet finger. Need more instruction? Do a little research about proper caulk protocol, and you’ll be sealed up in no time.

10. How to maintain your appliances

This doesn’t exactly seem like a skill, right? But you’d be surprised: Knowing how to properly clean and maintain your appliances is key to extending their life span. For one resource, locate your oven’s instruction manual (or look it up on ManualsOnline.com) and run the self-clean feature — no need to bake your cookies with lasagna leftovers from the previous homeowner.

If your refrigerator is equipped with a water dispenser (i.e., it makes its own ice), we’re betting it has been awhile since the filter was replaced. Again, use the manual to determine the correct filter model and how to replace it. Next, clean your dryer vent of lint buildup — in the lint trap, behind the lint trap, and in the duct that leads to the outside of your home. Then clean your dishwasher filter or trap (depending on your dishwasher model) and run an empty cycle on “hot” with a cup of white vinegar: This will remove all grease and grime. And finally, know how to unclog the garbage disposal — a clean toilet plunger can work or, in more extreme cases, an auger, which is sold at home improvement stores.

Posted by Liz Olech on Trulia

5 Reasons to Sell This Summer

As the temperature rises, buyers are coming out ready to purchase their dream homes. The summer is a great time to list your home for sale. Here are five reasons why:

1. Demand Is Strong

The latest Buyer Traffic Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows that buyer demand remains very strong throughout the vast majority of the country. These buyers are ready, willing and able to purchase… and are in the market right now!

Take advantage of the buyer activity currently in the market.

2. There Is Less Competition Now

According to NAR’s latest Existing Home Sales Report, the supply of homes for sale is still under the 6-month supply that is needed for a normal housing market at 4.7-months.

This means, in most areas, there are not enough homes for sale to satisfy the number of buyers in that market. This is good news for home prices. However, additional inventory is about to come to market.

There is a pent-up desire for many homeowners to move, as they were unable to sell over the last few years because of a negative equity situation. Homeowners are now seeing a return to positive equity as real estate values have increased over the last two years. Many of these homes will be coming to the market this summer.

Also, as builders regain confidence in the market, new construction of single-family homes is projected to continue to increase over the next two years, reaching historic levels by 2017.

The choices buyers have will continue to increase. Don’t wait until all this other inventory of homes comes to market before you sell.

3. The Process Will Be Quicker

Fannie Mae just announced that they anticipate an acceleration in home sales that will surpass 2007’s pace by late summer. As the market heats up, banks will be inundated with loan inquiries causing closing-time lines to lengthen. Selling now will make the process quicker & simpler.

4. There Will Never Be a Better Time to Move Up

If you are moving up to a larger, more expensive home, consider doing it now. Prices are projected to appreciate by 5.3% over the next year, according to CoreLogic. If you are moving to a higher-priced home, it will wind up costing you more in raw dollars (both in down payment and mortgage payment) if you wait.

You can also lock-in your 30-year housing expense with an interest rate below 4% right now. Rates are projected to increase by nearly a full percentage point in the next 12 months.

5. It’s Time to Move On with Your Life

Look at the reason you decided to sell in the first place and determine whether it is worth waiting. Is money more important than being with family? Is money more important than your health? Is money more important than having the freedom to go on with your life the way you think you should?

Only you know the answers to the questions above. You have the power to take control of the situation by putting your home on the market. Perhaps the time has come for you and your family to move on and start living the life you desire.

Posted by The KCM Crew

5 Simple Ways Regular Home Maintenance Improves Your Security

Home Security has never been a “one and done” thing, and it never should be. Homeowners want to make sure that their home security is constantly evolving and being maintained so that it can always keep them and their family safe. Regular home maintenance is one of the best ways to make sure that your home security measures are consistently working, and it presents homeowners with the opportunity to improve their safety. Let’s take a look at some of the simple ways regular home maintenance helps improve the security of your home.

1. Helps Find Flaws and Damage

Performing regularly scheduled home maintenance gives homeowners the opportunity to perform check ups in and around their home. This helps them ensure that theirwindows and doors are functioning properly and that none of them have broken locks that could lead to home breaches. For instance, homeowners could have increased the security of the lock on their doors, but their door might still be a weak link because the material itself is weak. Even if the door was once fine, it may have been damaged over time by rot or weathering. This is a common thing that homeowners miss, because they do not put much value into home maintenance.

2. Reduces Family Safety and Health Risks

Home Security isn’t only limited to keeping the bad guys out of your home. Your home security also encompasses the act of keeping yourself and your family safe. Carrying out regular maintenance helps reduce safety and health risks within the home. It is important for homeowners to schedule maintenance on their air filters, fireplaces and even on their floors. This helps them make sure that nothing is malfunctioning and it will help prevent any unlikely occurrence.

3. Improves The Appearance Of Your Home

The way your home looks plays a major role in your overall home security. Burglars are less likely to target a home that looks as if it is being well kept because, more often than not, it denotes that the occupants are aware of what goes on around their home. It is important to trim your shrubbery, mow your lawn, and give the exterior of your home an overall clean look. This ensures that you have a clear line of sight while you are inside your home. In addition, regularly maintaining the exterior of your home means that there will be nothing left lying (gift boxes, bicycles etc.) that will spark the interest of potential burglars.

4. Making Sure Appliances Work

The playing field for home security is rapidly evolving, and many homeowners are taking advantage of home security systems and home automation. The act of performing regular home maintenance checks gives homeowners the opportunity to ensure that their home security appliances are functioning the way they are supposed to. For instance, if you own a home security system that relies on sensors around your doors or windows, you want to make sure it works, right? This is why maintenance checks are supremely important. They allow homeowners to make sure that their homes are actually secure.

5. Helps Save Money

Regularly scheduled maintenance also improves home security by helping homeowners save money. Maintenance gives homeowners the opportunity to cut the cost of utility bills and it also eliminates the need for repairs on things that were damaged because they were not well maintained. The act of maintaining your home frees up more capital that homeowners can, in turn, use to make their homes safer with home security upgrades.

Conclusion

Home maintenance is important, and it is a task that homeowners need to carry out diligently to ensure that their homes are constantly being kept secure. Home maintenance and home security go hand in hand and work so that homeowners have absolute peace of mind.

Posted by Ralph Goodman on HomeZada

74% of Households in the US Now Have Significant Equity!

CoreLogic’s latest Equity Report revealed that 92% of all mortgaged properties are now in a positive equity situation, while 74% now actually have significant equity (defined as more than 20%)! The report also revealed that 268,000 households regained equity in the first quarter of 2016 and are no longer under water.

Price Appreciation = Good News for Homeowners

Frank Nothaft, CoreLogic’s Chief Economist, explains:

“In just the last four years, equity for homeowners with a mortgage has nearly doubled to $6.9 trillion. The rapid increase in home equity reflects the improvement in home prices, dwindling distressed borrowers and increased principal repayment.  

These are all positive factors that will provide support to both household balance sheets and the overall economy.” 

Anand Nallathambi, President & CEO of CoreLogic, believes this is a great sign for the market in 2016 as well, as he had this to say:

“More than 1 million homeowners have escaped the negative equity trap over the past year. We expect this positive trend to continue over the balance of 2016 and into next year as home prices continue to rise.  

Nationally, the CoreLogic Home Price Index was up 5.5% year over year through the first quarter. If home values rise another 5% uniformly across the U.S., the number of underwater borrowers will fall by another one million during the next year.” 

Below is a map illustrating the percentage of households in each state with significant equity: 

Many homeowners with more than 20% equity in their home would be able to use that equity as a down payment on either a larger home or even a retirement home.

Bottom Line

If you are one of the many Americans who are unsure of how much equity you have in your home, don’t let that be the reason you fail to move on to your dream home this year!

Posted by The KCM Crew

Light It Up: 6 Ways To Boost Natural Light In Your Home

Call on these design tricks to create the illusion of a bright, spacious home, no matter its size.

Living the rental life has its benefits: the flexibility to move whenever your lease is up, access to neighborhoods you might not be able to afford to buy into (yet), and someone to fix anything that breaks. However, unless you’re living in a superluxury building, chances are good that at least one room in your place lacks that gorgeous natural sunlight that’s the difference between a “charmingly cozy apartment” and a cave.But whether you’re moving into a new apartment for rent in New York, NY, or a bungalow in Atlanta, GA, an odd layout, a less-than-ideal wall color, a brick wall view, or even a lack of windows can make your new home feel dark and dreary. If your abode suffers from lack of natural light, there are a few solutions that can make it feel bright and welcoming. Here are some tips to help you lighten up.

1. Hone in on lighter colors

Light colors are the hands-down favorite decor trick for creating an open and airy setting. White, of course, is the easiest choice. But some shades can look flat or dingy, depending on the undertones. “One of our favorite colors is Benjamin Moore’s Moonlight White. It has just enough depth to make an impact while still reading as very bright,” says Gale Sitomer of G Sitomer Designs.

We know what you’re thinking: Some landlords panic at the mere mention of paint. However, if you’re currently stuck with dark walls, Sitomer recommends opening up the conversation with your landlord — especially if you plan on staying awhile. Be sure to stress that you’ll be painting the apartment a neutral color. (Hint: Have samples of the new shade to share!) If they won’t budge, cover those dark indigo walls with temporary wallpaper in a light hue. And if that’s still a stretch, Sitomer suggests working in furniture or accessories in a light color.

2. Reflect a bigger space

Objects in a mirror can definitely look larger than they really are. This especially holds true in a room, according to Amy Fleischman of Drapes Decor. The key is mirror size and placement. “The bigger the better for mirrors to make a space look large — and they should also be simple, clean-cut, and placed in a space to reflect surrounding furniture,” she says. Best of all? Reflect a window. “We recently worked on an apartment on the water that made use of a large mirror on the wall to reflect the view and create the illusion that the water continued on,” adds Fleischman.

3. Clear the room

No, clear furniture doesn’t have to look like the ’80s. Glass, Lucite, and acrylic designs have made a huge comeback — and they can do wonders to maximize a feeling of spaciousness in a room. “The ability to see through the furniture allows one to see the rest of the space, which makes everything look less cluttered,” Fleischman says. Clear coffee tables, side tables, and even lamp bases can make a huge impact. Pro buying tip: If you can’t choose between glass, Lucite, and acrylic, she recommends going with acrylic: It’s thicker and stronger than glass yet (generally) more affordable than Lucite.

4. Dress windows wisely

Light-blocking curtains can help you get a good night’s sleep, but if they’re your only window dressing, you’ll be left in the dark during the day. For this reason, Fleischman recommends a layered, two-treatment approach that gives you options depending on your needs. “Closest to the window, you can use a blackout roller shade or blackout-lined drape to block out the light at night. In front, the use of a solar shade that is minimum 10% — preferably 14% — opaque will allow light in while keeping UV rays out,” she says, adding that the layered approach isn’t the only solution; she opted for light-filtering sheer shades in the dining area pictured above. “You can also do this using a fabric that has an open weave, therefore letting light in.”

If you’d prefer a single-product solution, designer Julia Robberts has a simple recommendation. “Blinds can also be a good option — even when they are blackout-lined — if they’re hung above the windows, so when they’re in the raised position they sit above the glazed area.” This way, you can use the full window during the day, maximizing light.

5. Don’t forget to dust

While it might not be as glamorous as a chic acrylic table, keeping all surfaces clear of dirt and grime is a cheap shortcut on how to brighten a dark room. Both Fleischman and Robberts agree that giving your windows a thorough cleaning will instantly brighten a room. But there’s a commonly overlooked item that affords an even bigger benefit when cleaned: light bulbs. That’s because accumulated dust and dirt can dramatically reduce illumination of a bulb (by up to 50% when factoring in the age of a bulb, according to Consumer Reports). While you’re at it, give those walls a good cleaning — dirt and dust also reduce the amount of light they’ll reflect, making a space feel dark and (rightfully) dingy.

6. Stow your stuff

“Having good storage that keeps clutter at bay can help a space feel bigger — less is more!” says Robberts. Sure, you can’t turn a studio into a penthouse, but limiting clutter reduces visual chaos. Just think twice about investing in clunky storage furniture, like big armoires and shelving units, and choose scale-appropriate furnishings. Ottomans and benches with hidden compartments, along with under-the-bed and under-sofa bins, keep everything out of sight without wasting a square inch.

Posted by Brie Dyas on Trulia

 

Home Maintenance Tip: Inspect Heating and Cooling Systems

Generally summer is hot in most places in the northern hemisphere and air conditioning units come in handy during severe heat waves. In fact, an air conditioning unit can actually protect against heat stroke or some other illness caused by excessive heat. 

Your heating, ventilating, and air condition (HVAC) system are like the lungs to your home. These systems keep you and your family comfortable in your home and help provide the air you breathe inside your home. Imagine the air in your home circulating through these machines and what could happen if these machines were not cared for properly.

HVAC systems also consume a lot of electricity therefore, your utility bills are dependent on the efficiency of your system. It is a good practice to proactively have an HVAC professional inspect your system periodically. We recommend twice a year. Spring and fall are great times of year to get these checked. Right before hot and cold seasons. This can help maintain or replace key components before they break, leaving you and your family either really hot or really cold because the system is not working. A professional will usually check various components including the furnace, the fans, the electrical connections, the duct work and various other components.

Hire a licensed HVAC maintenance contractor

Your air conditioning units need regular maintenance of the compressor and electrical components.  Checking this on an annual basis can reduce your energy bills and keep your expensive mechanical equipment working longer. Many HVAC contractors have maintenance plans you can participate in to have the staff review your systems periodically.

Posted on HomeZada