Category: Home Design

Mortgage Impounds vs. Paying Taxes and Insurance Yourself

If you’ve been researching mortgages, or are in the process of taking out a home loan, you’ve probably come across the term “impounds” or “escrows.” When you hear these seemingly scary words, the loan officer or mortgage broker is referring to an impound account, also known as an escrow account. You may even be told [&hellip

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Don’t Freak Out About the Recent Mortgage Rate ‘Spike’

Queue the panic. Mortgage rates have officially spiked and the media is all over it. Yep, the average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage increased from 2.65% to 2.79% this week, per Freddie Mac’s weekly survey. Freddie Mac Chief Economist Sam Khater noted in the weekly news release that mortgage rates have been under pressure [&hellip

The post Don’t Freak Out About the Recent Mortgage Rate ‘Spike’ first appeared on The Truth About Mortgage.

USA Mortgage Review: #1 Mortgage Lender in Missouri?

If you live in the USA and need a mortgage, perhaps you’ve thought about applying at “USA Mortgage.” Makes sense, right? It just so happens that USA Mortgage is located right smack in the middle of our fine country, in St. Louis, Missouri to be exact. Well, that’s pretty darn close to the midpoint… Anyway, [&hellip

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Placer County, California VA Loan Information

Table of Contents What is the VA Loan Limit? How to Apply for a VA Home Loan? What is the Median Home Price? What are the VA Appraisal Fees? Do I need Flood Insurance? How do I learn about Property Taxes? What is the Population? What are the major cities? About Placer County Veteran Information […]

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How to Know if That Fixer-Upper Is a Money Pit

So, you’ve finally found your dream house. Sure, it may need a little work — okay, a lot of work — but you’re confident it will all be worth it in the end. That is, until your home renovation projects start to go down the toilet (or worse, the toilet starts falling through the floor). Here’s how to know if the home you are considering could be a great investment, or just a great way to empty your wallet. Is A Fixer-Upper the Right Choice For You? The right fixer-upper can be a great investment and a lot of fun. The rise of seemingly simple, yet stylish home renovation television shows has made many homeowners eager to transform rough diamonds into neighborhood jewels. Couple this with the improved job market and an upswing in home values, and you have a tidal wave of homeowners willing to invest in fixer-upper dwellings. In 2018, homeowners reported an average of $7,560 or more on major home improvements, up 17% over the previous year. But that doesn’t mean that these projects always go as planned — not everything gets wrapped up as quickly and neatly as it does on television. The same Home Advisor study shows an average of $416 on emergency spending. What many homeowners believe to be a simple “fixer-upper” can quickly turn into a “money pit,” transforming a dream project into an expensive nightmare. Denise Krogman is a general contractor, designer and co-owner with her husband Rob, at RDK Design and Build, LLC. Krogman knows that whether you’re looking to buy a fixer-upper in the near future or remodel your current home, it’s worth paying attention to what separates a fixer-upper from an endless money pit. The right fixer-upper can be a great investment and a lot of fun. But with every remodel there will be the unplanned, unforeseen incidentals that arise. If it needs more than a little ‘fixing up,’ you could find yourself in the midst of a complete remodel or a total scrap. Fixer-Uppers vs. Money Pits The first step to understanding what makes a home a fixer-upper is defining the term. Generally speaking, a fixer-upper is a house that doesn’t have serious problems and can be quickly and inexpensively refreshed, says Thomas Baker, building technology editor at This Old House. Homeowners who have a big budget, a high level of DIY skills, and plenty of free time may reasonably see any house in deplorable condition as a “fixer-upper.” However, even these skilled, experienced homeowners who are initially excited about a big project may fail to properly plan for a remodel. Without thorough research and planning, many homeowners are likely to exceed their spending limit and wind up with a money pit. Baker separates remodel-ready homeowners into two personas: the visionary and the accountant. A visionary homeowner is someone who is emotionally invested in their property and can tolerate higher expenditures in order to execute their ‘vision.’ He or she isn’t worried about the resale value. An accountant weighs each cost of improvement against the likelihood of getting a return on investment at the time of sale. Ideally, homeowners should strike a balance between these two extremes, taking care not to risk their financial futures with unsustainable expenditures on improvements, but also acting as a steward, putting something back into the house so that future generations can enjoy what it has to offer. A professional home builder, general contractor, or home inspector can help a homeowner assess the condition of the home before breaking ground and help keep a project in line once it’s begun. Having that person come aboard your planning process is a great step to take. But what should they, and you, be looking for when it comes to fixer-upper warning signs? Looking to get started with your dream home project? Check out our guide to the financial documentation and other paperwork you’ll need to begin the home loan process. Fixer-Upper Red Flags If you are committed to buying a home with a few imperfections, how do you know when those imperfections go from fixable to serious deal-breakers? When purchasing a fixer-upper, a homeowner should always look beyond the surface, says Sarah Boardman-Miller, an interior designer and construction consultant. It’s important to distinguish between a home with a lot of “cosmetic” needs, as opposed to those that need major (think structural) overhauls. Depending on the ‘fix-up’ budget, one can look past a dated or poorly laid out kitchen or bath. I like a house that has not been touched. It might be dated and original everything, but these are usually good houses. Do your homework. Was the previous owner there for 40 years? Is it clean? Well-kept? When most people watch the [TV] shows, so much of the process is cosmetic … from new cabinets, to counter tops, lighting and tile. Often homes are simply outdated, are decorated in poor taste, or just in need of a little TLC. Cosmetic fixes can be quick and cost-effective, and completely change the look of the house. That being said, homeowners should stay on the lookout for any red flags. Both Krogman and Boardman-Miller say foundational issues, roofing repairs or replacement, and electrical or plumbing problems may require “gutting,” which can send a home remodeling project into an expensive tailspin. Krogman adds that her team is careful about homes that need footprint changes, such as the removal or addition of walls or entire rooms. It’s best if the changes are minor. To avoid any surprises, it’s important to invest in a thorough home inspection, says Krogman. Always request an inspection from a highly reputable company. It’s worth the extra expense. Be sure to ask a lot of questions and get documentation. When was the roof last replaced? Have there been any electrical or plumbing fixes? If there was any previous remodeling done, was it done by a reputable general contractor? And look for cracks in the foundation, sinking sidewalks, water spots or damages in the drywall. Those fixes or changes are rarely minor and can become quite costly. Frank Lesh, an experienced home inspector who works for the certifying agency American Society of Home Inspectors, has two potential problems he wants homeowners to check for within their possible fixer-upper. First, he says, examine the exterior. Take a look at the big picture. If it’s sitting in a valley, the home may be at risk for water problems. Then I look at the general maintenance of the house exterior. Not whether there’s new paint, or flowers, but if the gutters and downspouts are in good condition and directed away from the house and if the roof is in reasonable shape. Next, inspect for insects. Termites and carpenter ants can gnaw away at the bones of a home. It takes an expert insect inspection to discover the extent of the damage, to check behind finished walls and ceilings and to see if bugs are in the walls and subfloors. A house is made of wood, and that’s what they eat. A good pest inspector can hear them or use infrared to see if they’re giving off heat behind the walls. Manage Your Remodeling Expectations One of the biggest dilemmas homeowners face when dealing with a fixer-upper is managing their expectations. Even when a home remodel is expertly planned, problems may still arise, Boardman-Miller says. It is all about expectations and the ability to roll with what is happening. You have to focus on what needs to be done and cut out the extras that you may have been planning. Be realistic and stay on budget. If you do your homework, you could end up with a fair amount of equity in the finished house and get what you really want. Baker says one of the most important things homeowners can do to avoid these costly issues is research, first into the home purchase process, then into contractors, home designers, and home improvement costs. Find a contractor/carpenter who loves to work on houses and whom you can trust to make good decisions on your behalf. Without trust, these projects can become a nightmare. Take your time. Watch home TV shows, read magazines, talk to contractors, and go to the web to become an expert on the topic [of remodeling]. When homeowners embark on a home renovation the risks are great, but the rewards are even sweeter when everything is well planned and executed, Krogman says. One man’s junk is always another’s treasure, so not only can you benefit financially, but you can give back by creating a beautiful home for your own family, or for someone else. CHECKLIST: Tricks for Separating Fixer-Uppers from the Money Pits Get a thorough home inspection Determine whether improvements are structural or cosmetic Do your research on what you’d specifically like done Talk to your contractor/designer and get a plan in writing Financially prepare for unforeseen issues Manage your expectations and stay on budget How do you know a home’s true value? Get a fast, no-obligation home estimate using our free tool. Getting From ‘Before’ to ‘After’ Without Going Broke At the end of a well-planned remodeling project, you can end up with the home features you want for a lower cost than the amount of equity you gained. It’s also possible that a lack of insight into your process and potential costs could leave you with an underwater (and maybe even unfinished) home, so it’s essential to make sure you know the facts before you swing a single hammer. But don’t let those potential pitfalls scare you away from a great opportunity for a smart investment. Just make sure you follow the checklist above and do the necessary homework to give yourself the best chance to come out ahead of the game. Have you done your research and know of a great home you can benefit from investing in? If you are ready to explore buying your own fixer-upper, take the first step and get pre-approved online or contact a PennyMac Loan Officer today to discuss your options. The views, information, or opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent those of PennyMac Loan Services, LLC and its employees. The inclusion of links to third party sites is not intended to assign importance to those sites or to the information contained therein, nor is it intended to endorse, recommend, or favor any views expressed, or commercial products or services offered on these third party sites, or the vendors sponsoring the sites.

5 Key Property Features When House Hunting

When shopping for a home, many of us know our basic focal points, such as identifying the right neighborhood or finding a house with the ideal number of bedrooms and bathrooms. These factors are important, but there are other home features (some very large and some very small) that can greatly contribute to the enjoyment of your new home. Let’s make sure you don’t miss any of them. Here are five opportunities to maximize the benefits of your purchase that go beyond just the house and why each one deserves your consideration. Home Buying Consideration #1: The Garage Garages are a very important feature for many homebuyers, and can even end up being a dealbreaker for some buyers. More than a parking spot, garages provide valuable storage and project space, as well as a way to protect your vehicles from all types of damage. When you are first shopping for a home, you may know that you want a garage, but you may not have considered all of the variables that go into the garage design, and which choice is right for you. Garage Design: Why it Matters When evaluating garage design, it’s important to start by considering what you may want to use the space for, and what external factors (such as weather) might impact your use. Here are several major garage design aspects to keep in mind as you house hunt. Rental space: Depending on the size and layout of your garage, is there space that could be rented out full time, or used as a short-term rental to generate additional income? That extra income could be directed towards your mortgage payment. Storage opportunities: Does the garage have room to store what you need to reduce in-home clutter? Is there space for shelves, or even room in the rafters? Potential property value increase: According to the sales comparison approach (SCA), one of the most recognizable forms of valuing residential real estate, a “finished” garage that feels like an extension of the home’s indoor living space is one of several features that can increase overall home value. You may also want to consider the possibilities of eventually remodeling a bland garage in an otherwise perfect home. Attached vs. Detached Garages: Pros vs. Cons One of the biggest distinctions in garage design is whether a garage is attached or detached. Often influenced by lot shape (narrow lots on an alley often have detached garages, wider lots with a driveway often have attached garages) or the age of a home, having a detached or attached garage has both advantages and disadvantages.   Attached Garages: Pros Convenient access to your cars, storage, and other items, particularly if you live in an area with an extreme climate  Attached garages are often less expensive to build, and can be climate controlled by accessing the electrical and HVAC systems that are part of the home As attached garages are the most popular type of garage, having one typically increases the value of your home Attached Garages: Cons If you’re thinking of adding one, it may not be possible to fit on a narrow, urban lot Since they offer direct access to the home, they can be a security and fire risk   They can be hard to add onto or expand, and any additions or changes might require more expensive permits and extensive inspections Adding an attached garage, particularly to a vintage home, may look strange or otherwise detract from the exterior look of the home Noisy garage activities may be heard more inside the home Detached Garages: Pros More flexibility in size, layout and location, lot size and shape permitting It’s easier to add room for cars, storage, and projects, and to add onto if needed Less fire and security risk to your home  Less of an impact to the look or curb appeal of your home Can increase the resale value of your home Detached Garages: Cons  Particularly in bad weather, less convenient in terms of access  Will require separate utilities, HVAC, and more May not be allowed by your HOA or city permitting office Now that we’ve examined the garage, let’s take a look at another key feature — what’s going on with the front and backyard? Home Buying Consideration #2: The Yard No longer limited to just a lawn, yards have now become an extension of the home. A convenient, well-designed outdoor living space is something that many homeowners desire. Yards can be great spaces for entertaining and are often much less expensive to create than comparable indoor entertaining spaces. Here are some important yard elements to consider.  Trees and landscaping: Important for both aesthetic and practical reasons, trees and landscaping can increase your yard’s appeal. A mature, well-designed landscape is valuable, as it represents an investment of both time and money.  Outdoor kitchen: Whether you are grilling for two or entertaining 200, an outdoor kitchen makes cooking fun and convenient.  Fireplace or fire pit: This stylish focal point makes it easy to keep enjoying your yard, even after dark or in cooler weather.  Automatic sprinklers, drip system, and misting system: Automatic sprinklers and drip systems can keep your yard looking lush for a low cost, and are particularly valuable in dry climates. Misting systems can also keep you cool on hot days.  Deck or Patio: A stylish outdoor surface makes it easy to enjoy your yard, and many new construction materials require little to no maintenance.  Shed: Well-designed sheds can go beyond storage, offering everything from a private workspace to extra space for guests to sleep.  So, you’re considering the finer points of a yard. But what about adding a body of water to that yard for cooling off on hot days? Here’s the pros and cons of investing in a water element for your next home. Just starting your home search? Here’s the best time to begin. Home Buying Consideration #3: The Pool Pools and hot tubs are perhaps the most controversial of all outdoor home features. Some homebuyers totally avoid them, and some won’t look at a house without them. Which side are you on? Here are some factors to consider.  Backyard Pool and Hot Tub: Pros  Pools and hot tubs can be aesthetically pleasing Both are also useful for entertaining In warmer climates, pools can provide a way to enjoy the outdoors comfortably If you like to swim, engage in other aquatic exercises regularly for fitness, or use a hot tub for muscle and joint pain, having your own can be convenient In hot climates where pools are common (i.e., Arizona, California, Florida), having a pool can significantly increase the resale value of your home  Backyard Pool and Hot Tub: Cons Both pools and hot tubs require regular maintenance that includes chemicals, cleaning, and repair Many families with small children do not want a pool at home due to safety concerns Your insurance cost may be higher, and your utility bills may go up as well, particularly for heating a pool  When it is time to sell your home, there are many buyers who will not want a house with a pool A pool is a big decision that comes with both maintenance and benefits alike. You can always opt for a different kind of water feature, like a backyard stream. But if you’re looking to streamline your life, investing in home tech devices is almost a no-brainer. Home Buying Consideration #4: The Appliances and Tech Gadgets As technology improves and designs continually evolve, having up-to-date appliances and other devices in your home has become increasingly important. For example, while attractive kitchens are near the top of many house-hunters’ wish lists, there are items within those kitchens that can help — and items that can hurt — when it comes to increasing a home’s value. Appliances That Can Help Property Value Commercial-grade appliances: Particularly in high-end properties, many buyers expect to see appliances from luxury or professional brands.  Smart devices: Thermostats, fire detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, security cameras, door locks, and doorbells are just a few of the relatively new smart home devices that homebuyers are now beginning to appreciate and even expect. Appliances That Can Hurt Property Value Old and energy inefficient: These power-sucking products will cost you in both your utility bill, and the resale value of your home.  Homes totally lacking certain appliances: Is your property missing a dishwasher, indoor laundry, or other key features? This can be a major turn-off for buyers who don’t want to have to complete a complicated remodeling and installation project.  Mismatched appliances: Appliances from different eras or in different colors can make your kitchen look unfinished and low-quality, even if your other finishes are fantastic. Looking to stock up on home amenities? We’ve targeted the seasonal best deals for doing so. Now that you’ve considered the key interior and exterior components of your dream home, there’s one last important element to contemplate: the driveway. Home Buying Consideration #5: The Driveway Walkways and driveways connect your home to the outside world and play a crucial role in the curb appeal of your residence. Although often overlooked, they are important home features that can be messy and expensive to replace or update.  If you are evaluating the driveway at a potential home, or considering an update at your current home, the first choice you will need to make is whether you want asphalt or concrete. Both have benefits and drawbacks that may vary depending on your climate, landscape, and usage needs. Today, many homeowners and buyers are also looking for something beyond the basics, with driveway design trends including elaborate paving materials, irregular shapes, and additional features like extra parking for guests. Know the Tricks, Now Land the House Although these five features may not be your first considerations in the house-hunting process, they are important elements that you will use or interact with nearly every day. Add them to your consideration list, and you will be sure to end up in a customized home that you enjoy and treasure. If you’ve found your ideal home with all the right features, reach out to a PennyMac Loan Officer today or apply online to get pre-approved for the loan that’s right for you.