Safety First! How Often Should You Clean Your Chimney?

Safety First! How Often Should You Clean Your ChimneyChimneys are as old as homes themselves. Yet, when it comes to chores, cleaning the chimney is one of the most neglected tasks. While people often think about yard work and housework, they often forget to clean the chimney.

When someone neglects to clean the chimney, they risk the development of mold. This can influence the efficiency of the chimney, causing debris to back up into the home. For this reason, it is essential for people to clean their chimneys on a regular schedule. 

Make Sure To Inspect The Chimney Properly

Chimneys are used seasonally. When the temperature starts to drop outside, people are going to start up the fireplace and use the chimney. Prior to lighting up the chimney for the next season, it is important to make sure they are properly inspected.

Cleaning grout and mold is an important part of making sure the chimney works properly. When someone is cozied up in front of the fireplace, it is important to note that there is an active fire happening. About 25,00 fires per year start due to an issue with the chimney. Make sure that all routine maintenance has been performed on the chimney for that year before firing it up.

Why Clean the Chimney In The First Place?

When it comes to fires, safety should always come first. This the biggest reason why chimneys need to be thoroughly cleaned. When someone cleans the chimney, they are working to prevent home fires. 

The more people use the fireplace, the more soot is going to build up in the chimney. The end result is flammable substances backing up in the chimney. This can be dangerous because it might lead to a fire when people least expect it. To prevent this from happening, be sure to clean the chimney on a regular basis.

How Often Should A Chimney Be Cleaned?

At a minimum, it is important to clean the chimney at least once per year. Annual maintenance on the chimney should be a readily accepted part of owning a home. This includes both cleaning the chimney and inspecting it for any structural flaws.

Some people may want to clean the chimney themselves. This is acceptable; however, it is also recommended to have a professional come in and take a look at the chimney. An extra set of eyes on the chimney may help prevent a fire from breaking out in the future.

If you are in the market for a new home or interested in refinancing your current property, be sure to consult with your trusted home mortgage professional about financing options.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – January 21st, 2020

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – January 21st, 2020Last week’s economic reports included the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index along with readings on consumer sentiment and weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

NAHB: Builder Confidence d in Housing Markets Drops 1 Point in January

Homebuilder confidence in overall housing market conditions dropped one point in January, but analysts said that a new trade deal would likely benefit builder interests. The National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index dropped to an index reading of 75 from December’s reading of 76; December’s reading was the highest since 1999.

The reading for builder confidence in January 2019 was 58; while any reading over 50 is considered positive, builder confidence increased significantly year-over-year.

Sub-index readings used to calculate the overall housing market index reading were mixed;  builder confidence in current housing market conditions fell -3 points to an index reading of 81.

Homebuilder confidence in market conditions over the next six months was unchanged at a reading of 79. Homebuilder confidence in buyer traffic levels in new housing developments rose one point to 58; index readings over 50 for buyer traffic are unusual.

NAHB reported mixed readings for homebuilder sentiment regionally. Builder confidence in market conditions in the Western region rose four points; builder confidence in the Northeastern region rose three points and builder confidence readings for the South were unchanged. Builder confidence in housing market conditions in the Midwest fell seven points.

Factors contributing to high builder confidence in housing markets include high demand for homes and a potential easing of materials prices due to recent trade agreements. Builders continue to battle high materials and labor costs that reduce their profit margins. Analysts note that narrower profit margins contribute to builders’ongoing focus on building high-end homes.

Mortgage Rates Rise; New Jobless Claims Fall

Average mortgage rates rose incrementally last week; Freddie Mac reported a one basis point gain for 30-year-fixed-rate mortgages to 3.65 percent. Rates for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 3.09 percent and were two basis points higher. Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged 3.39 percent and were nine basis points higher.

New jobless claims were lower than expected with 204,000 initial claims filed. Analysts expected 220,000 new claims and 214,000 new claims were filed the prior week. Initial jobless claims fell for the fifth consecutive week, which indicates a strong labor market.

The University of Michigan reported a lower index reading for its Consumer Sentiment Index in January. The monthly reading fell to 99.1 from December’s reading of 99.3; the projected reading for January was 99.6. The Consumer Sentiment Index reflects consumers’ attitudes toward their personal finances along with their views of overall business and buying conditions.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include sales of previously-owned homes and the Chicago Fed’sNational Index report; weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

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5 Important Mistakes To Avoid When Selling A Home

5 Important Mistakes To Avoid When Selling A HomeSellers of homes often make mistakes that are not in their best interests. Here are common mistakes people make when selling a home and how to avoid them.

Using Bad Photography

Using lousy photos or no photos to promote the property for sale is foolish. Professional photography is not so difficult or expensive that sellers should settle for the use of bad photos. Sometimes all the potential buyers will see is the photos they find online. If the photos are bad or not there at all, then that is the end of their interests. 

To stimulate interest in a property, it is even better to use a high-quality video walk through than simple photos. This allows a buyer to enjoy a virtual showing of the property.

Allowing Emotions To Control The Process

Sometimes, buyers should step aside and let the experts guide the process. One example of this is the decisions about staging a home for sale. Staging is getting the home in an immaculate condition that is most attractive to buyers. 

An important part of staging is the depersonalization of the home. This means removing any photos or family items. The reason for doing this is to allow the potential buyer to imagine their family living in the home and not have them think about the previous residents. 

This part of the process may be quite emotional for the seller because it is the first clear sign that they are truly giving up a home. Those emotions are natural but should not stand in the way of getting the home ready for sale.

For Sale By Owner

It may be tempting to try to sell a home without utilizing the services of a professional REALTOR®. However, many studies show that the net price that sellers receive for selling a home on their own is about the same as if they used a real estate agent. 

The buyer pays the real estate agent’s commission. Usually, the price achieved by a professional real estate agency is higher than what an owner may achieve alone. The reason for this is that buyers expect to get a discount from the market price for a for-sale-by-owner (FSBO) home. Another consideration is that marketing a home is not easy for amateurs to do, so FSBO homes may languish on the market for a long time before selling.

Too Pricey

Listing a home for a price that is higher than the market value, automatically puts the seller at a disadvantage. It discourages a potential buyer from making an offer. Eventually, this may lead to having to discount the listing price. This makes the home look like something may be wrong with it.

Not Making Repairs

Homes that have a pre-inspection and all the necessary repairs made are much more attractive to buyers. This is true, even if the price includes a discount from market value to allow for the estimated repair costs. It is mostly a matter of convenience for buyers who want a home that is ready to move in and does not immediately need repairs to be made.

Summary

Avoiding these common, and sometimes costly, mistakes may help sellers to sell their homes faster and hopefully get a higher price. Work with a qualified REALTOR® to learn more about how to get a home ready for sale, what price to ask for, when to list it, and what to do to maximize the sales price.

If you are in the market for a new home or interested in refinancing your current property, be sure to consult with your trusted home mortgage professional to discuss financing options.

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How A Reverse Mortgage Can Help With Long-Term Care

How A Reverse Mortgage Can Help With Long-Term CareAnyone who has paid attention to the TV recently has likely seen a lot of commercials for something called a reverse mortgage. For those who might not know, a reverse mortgage is exactly that. In this option, people receive monthly payments from a lender in exchange for equity in their homes. In essence, this functions as an annuity.

One of the major benefits of a reverse mortgage is that it can be used to cover the costs associated with long-term care. Over the next few decades, the number of elderly individuals in the United States is projected to double. For this reason, long-term care is projected to become a major expense.

How Can A Reverse Mortgage Pay For Long-Term Care?

Long-term care is one of the biggest unexpected expenses encountered by the elderly. Often, coinsurance associated with a health insurance policy, combined with the lifetime caps on many policies, can shift significant medical costs to the individual. This leaves many elderly individuals looking for an immediate for some cash. Because many elderly individuals and families are on a fixed income, there are not a lot of options. 

This is where a reverse mortgage can come in handy. Many elderly individuals have paid off their houses entirely. This can act as an immediate source of equity, providing seniors with a much-needed cash infusion to cover the costs associated with long-term care.

Improving On Reverse Mortgages And Long-Term Care

With long-term care expected to become a bigger issue as a larger percentage of the US population reaches retirement, suggestions have been offered to address these costs. One of these suggestions has been to marry long-term care and reverse mortgages with improved social services.

Many experts have been suggesting ways to tie the equity in someone’s home to Medicare and Social Security. This could be used to create a nice safety net that might support seniors by covering the costs of long-term care. Given the stress that an unexpected medical expense can create, this can offer a much-needed respite for seniors and caregivers alike.

Taking Advantage Of A Reverse Mortgage

In the meantime, it is important for seniors to note that a reverse mortgage can offer an immediate cash infusion. This can be used to cover an unexpected cost, such as a medical bill. It will be interesting to see how reverse mortgages evolve in the future.

Call your trusted home financing professional with questions about a reverse mortgage or other options that are available in your situation.

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What Does A Property Management Company Do?

What Does A Property Management Company DoFor those who are interested in learning more about real estate, property management companies are an important topic of discussion. Some people might not ever consider hiring a property management company.

Other people wouldn’t ever invest in real estate without a property management company to help them out along the way. This can be a hard decision for people to make. In order to figure out if hiring a management company is the right decision, it is important to think about what they do.

What Is Property Management?

It is the job of a management company to both maintain the quality of the residence while also keeping the occupants happy. Typically, the owner of the property will hire a third party to do this job. The management company then oversees the daily operations of everything that happens at the real estate property. 

This means that property managers respond to the concerns of the residents or tenants. If something goes wrong with one of the appliances, the property management company is typically the one who handles this issue.

If there is something wrong with one of the utilities, the management company handles this also. Parking problems are often handled by the manager as well. Property managers will also make sure that rent is collected on time.

Property managers are also busy while the property is vacant. The manager will make every effort possible to get the property filled if it is vacant. The manager will also make sure that the property is well-kept when it is empty. This means keeping it clean, updating appliances, fixing leaks, and other common issues that arise.   

Is A Property Manager Needed?

In order for someone to decide whether or not a property manager is needed, there are a few important considerations.

First, the more rental properties someone has, the more work will need to be done. It might be too much for one person to do on their own.

Next, think about how far away the property is. The farther away the property is, the harder it will be to keep an eye on it.

Finally, managing property is an active job. Those who intend to get into real estate as a form of passive income will want to hire someone else to handle this job.

Consider these questions carefully when thinking about property management companies.

If you are in the market for a new home or interested in refinancing your current property, be sure to consult with your trusted home mortgage professional.

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Is A 15 Or 30 Year Mortgage Right For You?

Is A 15 Or 30 Year Mortgage Right For YouWhen someone is looking to purchase a house, they need to think about how long they want their mortgage to last. While a bank can structure a mortgage to last for any number of years, the most common lengths are 15 and 30 years. While a 30-year mortgage is typically more affordable, a 15-year mortgage is cheaper overall. 

When someone is trying to decide how long they want their mortgage to last, there are a few important tips to keep in mind.

The Benefits Of A 15-Year Mortgage

There are a few important benefits that everyone should know about a 15-year mortgage. Some of the biggest benefits include:

  • With a 15-year mortgage, people are going to pay off their home more quickly. This will free up cash to spend in other places. Those who are looking to retire without a mortgage may want to go with a 15-year mortgage. 
  • Next, a 15-year mortgage is going to come with a lower interest rate. Because the bank is going to get their money back more quickly, they are going to reward the borrower with a lower interest rate. Overall, the bank is taking on less risk.
  • Finally, a 15-year mortgage is also going to be cheaper overall. With a lower interest rate and a loan that is paid off more quickly, the bank is going to take less of someone’s money over the life of the loan. 

The Benefits Of A 30-Year Mortgage

A 30-year mortgage has some notable differences when compared to a 15-year mortgage. There are a few important benefits that people need to remember. These include:

  • The monthly payments are going to lower. Those who are planning on paying for their children’s college education, or who envision a car payment in the near future, may want to have extra cash on hand to fund them.
  • As someone pays off their mortgage the interest paid on the loan is tax-deductible. Since more interest is paid on a 30-year mortgage, there will be greater tax savings as well. This means that people will get some of their money back.
  • Finally, a 30-year mortgage is also more flexible. During the loan, people may elect to make extra payments. This allows someone to pay off their home more quickly.

These are a few of the most important points people need to remember when trying to decide between a 15-year and 30-year mortgage.  As always, call your trusted home mortgage loan professional to discuss the options available for your personal situation.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – January 13th, 2020

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – January 13th, 2020Last week’s economic reports included readings on public and private sector jobs, the national unemployment rate and weekly readings on mortgage rates and new unemployment claims.

ADP: Private-Sector Job Growth Eases in December

Private-sector jobs increased by 202,000 jobs in December and exceeded expectations. November’s original reading of 60,000 new private-sector jobs was revised to 124,000 jobs.

Three and six-month average private-sector job growth rates were 159,000 and 151,000 jobs, but these growth rates fell short of 2018’s average monthly job growth rate of 218,000 jobs added.

Analysts said that private-sector job growth has settled into a more modest but steady pattern.

Non-Farm Payrolls: Public and Private-Sector Job Growth Slower in December

The Commerce Department reported 145,000 public and private-sector jobs added in December with 145,000 new jobs reported. Analysts expected 165,000 new jobs added, which was markedly less than 256,000 new jobs added in November.

Reduction in new jobs during December was likely due to slowing in holiday hiring and winter weather. Average hourly earnings for December rose by 0.10 percent and were lower than expectations of  0.30 percent growth. Slower wage growth contributed to predictions of slowing economic growth.

The national unemployment rate was unchanged at 3.50 percent in December.

Mortgage Rates, Weekly Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported lower mortgage rates last week; the average rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages fell eight basis points to 3.64 percent. Rates for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged nine basis points lower at 3.07 percent.

Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged 13 basis points lower at 3.30 percent. Discount points for fixed-rate mortgages averaged 0.70 percent and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgages.

Freddie Mac predicted that rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages will average 3.80 percent in 2020 as compared to 4.00 percent in 2019.

Weekly jobless claims fell to 214,000 new claims; analysts expected 219,000 new claims filed. 223,000 first-time claims were filed the prior week.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include readings from the National Association of Home Builders on housing market conditions. Commerce Department readings on housing starts and inflation will also be released. The University of Michigan will post data on consumer sentiment; weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will be posted as scheduled.

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