Energy Efficient Mortgage

The Energy Efficient Mortgage (EEM) allows a homebuyer to save future money on utility bills. This is done by financing the cost of adding energy-efficiency features to a new or existing home as part of an FHA-insured home purchase. The EEM can be used with both 203(b) and 203(k) loans. Basic guidelines for EEMs are as follows: The cost of improvements must be determined by a Home Energy Rating System or by an energy consultant. This cost must be less than the anticipated savings from the improvements. One- and two-unit new or existing homes are eligible; condos are not. The improvements financed may be 5% of property value or $4,000, whichever is greater. The total must fall within the FHA loan limit.
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Odd Rooms

Funky space? Think twice: When house-hunting, look closely at room shapes as well as sizes. Oddly shaped spaces can be interesting, but difficult to furnish–especially with the furniture you currently own.
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Attracting Buyers

If you're looking for ways to attract buyers, consider offering a warranty for the first year after the sale. The assurance that they won't face major repair bills right away may make some buyers more comfortable with your asking price.
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Contingency Clauses

Contingency clauses should satisfy the concerns of both the buyer and seller. Buyers also can protect themselves by inserting additional necessary contingencies. Indicate which items like curtains and appliances are to remain with the house. Then stipulate you have the right to personally inspect the home 24 hours before closing to make sure all is in order.
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Initial Offer

Unless you have a buyer's agent, remember that the agent works for the seller. Make a point of asking him or her to keep your discussions and information confidential. Listen to your real estate agent's advice, but follow your own instincts on deciding a fair price. Calculating your offer should involve several factors: what homes sell for in the area, the home's condition, how long it's been on the market, financing terms, and the seller's situation. By the time you're ready to make an offer, you should have a good idea of what the home is worth and what you can afford. And, be prepared for give-and-take negotiation, which is very common when buying a home. The buyer and seller may often go back and forth until they can agree on a price.
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Discount Points

Discount points allow you to lower your interest rate. They are essentially prepaid interest, with each point equaling 1% of the total loan amount. Generally, for each point paid on a 30-year mortgage, the interest rate is reduced by 1/8 (or.125) of a percentage point. When shopping for loans, ask lenders for an interest rate with 0 points and then see how much the rate decreases with each point paid. Discount points are smart if you plan to stay in a home for some time since they can lower the monthly loan payment. Points are tax deductible when you purchase a home and you may be able to negotiate for the seller to pay for some of them.
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Application Timeline

It usually takes a lender between 1-6 weeks to complete the evaluation of your application. It's not unusual for the lender to ask for more information once the application has been submitted. The sooner you can provide the information, the faster your application will be processed. Once all the information has been verified, the lender will call you to let you know the outcome of your application. If the loan is approved, a closing date is set up and the lender will review the closing process with you. And after closing, you'll be able to move into your new home.
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Contractor Insurance

Be sure your contractor has the required personal liability, property damage and worker's compensation insurance for his/her workers and subcontractors. Check with your insurance company to find out if you are covered for any injury or damage that might occur.
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Rental Rates

If you're buying a property that contains rental units, consider obtaining a letter from a real estate broker or some other documentation verifying that the rents you plan to charge would be realistic. A lender who is qualifying you for a mortgage probably will not take your word for that.
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