Once the kids are grown, have careers, relationships and get a place of their own, parents find that they may not need their “big” home like they did before. Their lifestyle may have changed and the house just doesn’t “fit” anymore.
Benefits of a smaller home:
- Easier to maintain
- Lower utilities
- Lower property taxes
- Lower insurance
- More convenient location
- Convenience of a single level
- Possibly more energy efficient
- Possibly lower maintenance
Moving from a larger home frees equity from the previous home that can be invested for retirement income, purchase a second home, travel, education or just to have a nest egg for unexpected expenses. The profit on the home, in most cases, will be tax-free up to the exclusion limits set by IRS.
There will be expenses involved in selling a home as well as the purchase of a new home. These will lower the amount of net proceeds available to invest in the new home.
Like any other big change in life, it is recommended that you take your time to consider the possible alternatives and outcomes. Your real estate professional can provide information that can be valuable in the discernment process such as what your home is worth, what you will net from a sale as well as alternative properties for your next stage in life.
Buyers with a minimum down payment are generally faced with the decision of whether to get a FHA or a conventional loan. With the new 3% down payment program on conventional loans, it may become more confusing which loan to pursue.
The two loan programs have mortgage fees that can differ greatly. FHA has a 1.75% up-front mortgage insurance charge in addition to the monthly mortgage insurance charge which was recently lowered by .5%.
FHA’s mortgage insurance is a fixed amount where conventional mortgage insurance providers’ fees are determined by individual companies and according to the credit score of the borrowers. A borrower with a good credit score will be charged less than a borrower with a marginal credit score.
Mortgage insurance on conventional loans can be cancelled when the equity in the property reaches 20%. FHA mortgage insurance in most cases, is paid for the life of the mortgage. Once a borrower has a 20% equity in their home, to eliminate the monthly FHA mortgage insurance, they would need to refinance the home with a conventional loan and would not be eligible for any refund of the up-front fee paid at closing or added to the mortgage.
If a borrower has a low credit score, FHA may be the better choice because conventional underwriters may have a higher minimum score. FHA loans also tend to be more lenient than conventional loans when a borrower’s total monthly debt exceeds 45% of their monthly income. FHA tends to allow borrowers a shorter time frame after foreclosures and bankruptcies.
The decision-making factor is which mortgage will provide the lowest cost of housing including payment and all loan fees. A lot of information is necessary to make a good decision and typically, the borrower isn’t able to acquire it on his/her own.
A trusted mortgage professional is very valuable in not only providing the information but guiding the borrower through the entire process. Your real estate professional is uniquely qualified to make such a recommendation.
Finding a mortgage lender is not a problem. Selecting someone who will help you find the best loan product for your situation even if it means sending you to another lender is paramount.
There is a huge advantage to be able to sit across the table from someone you’re doing business with and look them straight in the eye. It’s difficult to make an informed decision based on a website and a phone call.
Doing business with a full-time professional who specializes in residential loans like you’re trying to get is important. You want the loan officer to be familiar with local conditions, values and practices.
It’s to your benefit to have a loan officer who has the experience to put the unusual transaction together even if yours is not.
Here are a few questions that will be helpful in selecting the right loan officer.
- What percentage of your business are FHA & VA compared to conventional mortgages and how long have you been doing them?
- What percentage of your loans close on time according to the sales contracts?
- Will my credit score affect my interest rate?
- Will you help me select the best loan product for me regardless of your commission?
- Are there prepayment penalties on any of the loans we’re considering?
- Are there any restrictions on refinancing any of the loans we’re considering?
- When is my loan rate locked-in? Is there a charge for that?
- Is your loan underwriting in-house?
A real estate professional can be your best source of information and can recommend a trusted lender. If you have any questions as to what kind of answers you should expect, please give me a call.
Most people’s first introduction to Radon is during the inspections of a home. It can be as much a surprise to a seller as it is a buyer. Radon is an invisible and odor-free, cancer-causing radioactive gas.
Radon can get into a home through cracks in solid floors, construction joints, cracks in walls, gaps in suspended floors, gaps around service pipes, cavities inside walls and even the water supply.
It is estimated that one out of every fifteen homes in the United States has elevated radon levels. The EPA recommends that you test your home which is the only way to find out if you and your family are at risk. If the level found is 4 picocuries per liter or higher, the EPA suggests that you make repairs or install a radon reduction system. Even lower levels can have health risks.
The EPA’s interactive map is available to find state and county information but still recommends that all homes should test for radon. More information can be found from the EPA in A Citizen’s Guide to Radon.
Test kits are inexpensive and can be purchased at stores like Lowe’s or Home Depot if you choose to do it yourself. If levels indicate a high enough level, you can contact a qualified radon service professional for another test or to mitigate your home. You can get information on identifying these professionals at www.nrpp.info and www.nrsb.org.
There are sites all over the web that offer to tell you what your home is worth. Simply plug in your address and email and you’ll get a value. It’s fast; it’s easy but is it accurate?
The value is determined by what is called an Automated Valuation Model (AVM) that analyzes public record data with computer decision logic. Square footage, age, number of bedrooms and location are easily definable objective data. The challenge is identifying, measuring and comparing the subjective data.
An AVM cannot identify how unique features might add or detract from the value, if the market is declining or why the comparable sales apply or don’t apply to the subject property. Is a home worth more because it is near shopping or less because it is across the street from a high-traffic commercially zoned property?
Experienced professionals are more likely to make proper adjustments for condition, market appeal and positive and negative influences.
Imagine that you’re going out for dinner and you consult HamburgerAVM.com to tell you how much a hamburger is worth. It might be accurate based on condiments, vegetables and weight but can it address things like taste, quality, cleanliness, service, convenience or atmosphere. You certainly couldn’t present the printout to the waiter to negotiate a lower price.
An AVM can be a tool that a homeowner, prospective buyer, mortgage officer, appraiser or real estate agent can use to get a quick idea of price but there are inherent limitations that can only be considered by personal examination balanced with experience in the market place.
Experience and understanding of the subject property and the marketplace are critical to having confidence that a value is accurate. Any person could go through the same steps to arrive at a value but an experienced, well-trained professional is far more likely to assess all of the variables more accurately.