Wednesday, February 18, 2009

5 Tips for Homebuyers Seeking a Mortgage

Here’s a warning for potential borrowers: Nervous lenders have tough new rules and are paperwork crazy.

"Borrowers are going to have to prove they are the borrower they say they are," says Keith Gumbinger, vice president of HSH Associates, a mortgage-industry publisher in Pompton Plains, N.J.

Gumbinger says homebuyers should consider these things before they apply for a loan.

1. Down payments are critical. Borrowers should expect to put down at least 10 percent for a “conforming loan” – a mortgage that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will purchase.

2. Credit scores count. A 720 on the 850-point FICO rating scale will get a borrower access to the best rates. Rich Bira, branch manager of FCM Direct Lender in Chicago, says: "A score between 720 and 739 gets 0.125 percent added to the rate, a score between 700 and 719 gets 0.375 percent added to the rate, and a score between 680 and 699 gets 0.5 percent added to the rate.”

3. Consider VA and FHA. Borrowers without down payments or with less than stellar credit scores should consider these government-insured loans offered through the Federal Housing Administration of the Veterans Administration.

4. Unearth the records. Before applying, borrowers should organize tax, banking and other records that prove income, savings and debts. They should also expect to be patient about what may seem to be endless requests for information.

5. Get rid of debts. Limiting debts, including what borrowers expect to pay for the mortgage, to less than 43 percent of gross income is important.

Source: Chicago Tribune, Mary Umberger (02/15/09)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Staging Your Home In

A Down Economy

(NAPSI)- It's a tough time to try to sell a house, but Realtors say there are inexpensive ways to stage your home that might make for a faster sale. In fact, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development reports that a staged home will sell at a higher price than an unstaged home. And a recent survey by the Real Estate Staging Association reports that staged homes sell much faster than unstaged homes.

Home staging is the act of preparing your home and its contents for sale, with a special emphasis on presentation and appearance.

According to, the first thing you want to do is clear out the clutter. If your house holds too much furniture, your closets are overflowing, your kitchen and bathrooms are crowded or you have family photos and knickknacks collecting dust, it's time to pack them up. You also might consider donating unused items to charity or even selling them at a tag sale or on eBay for some fast cash.

"This is also a good time to take a close look at your closets," says HGTV and CedarSafe home improvement expert Pat Simpson. "A cedar-lined closet in the foyer, master bedroom or secondary closet will create a great look and provide a relaxing, cedar scent that will make a positive first impression."

Cedar planks or panels will also protect the items you store away. They'll prevent silverfish and moths from damaging your expensive wardrobe or even from eating books or important papers. They work with any closet organization system, or even metal or cedar shelving. It'll cost a few hundred dollars to line a closet during a weekend project. Learn more at

While the cedar will provide a fresh scent, Realtors say be sure to bathe your pets and deodorize their living areas, shampoo your carpets, clean your drapes and always empty trash cans and recycling bins.

Another suggestion: "Curb appeal is critical," says Simpson. "A fresh coat of paint using neutral colors, plus neat landscaping, will go a long way."

Visit for more information.

A cedar-lined closet will make a positive first impression.

Monday, February 09, 2009


Tips On Saving Your Home From Foreclosure

(NAPSI)-There's hopeful news for homeowners who fear they may be facing foreclosure on their home.

That's because there are practical steps they can take-such as a new refinancing program from the federal government-to resolve the problem before it gets to the point where the lender takes over their home for nonpayment.

Remember, lenders do not want your house. That's one reason there are options available to help borrowers through difficult financial times.

Here are some tips from the experts at the Federal Reserve Board:

• Don't ignore the problem. The further behind you become, the harder it will be to reinstate your loan and the more likely that you will lose your house.

If you are unable to make your mortgage payment, contact your lender as soon as you realize that you have a problem.

• Open and respond to all mail from your lender. The first notices you receive will offer good information about foreclosure prevention options that can help you weather financial problems. Later mail may include an important notice of pending legal action. Your failure to open the mail will not be an excuse in foreclosure court.

• You can contact a HUD-approved housing counselor in your area. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) can connect you with free or very-low-cost housing counseling nationwide. Housing counselors can help you understand the law and your options, organize your finances and help you in negotiations with your lender if you need this assistance.

One option may be to participate in a new program, created by Congress, that is intended to help borrowers at risk of default and foreclosure to refinance into more affordable loans. It's called HOPE for Homeowners, or H4H.

If you are having trouble making your mortgage payments, this program may allow you to refinance your loan into a new 30-year fixed-rate loan with lower payments. All HOPE for Homeowners loans are 30-year fixed-rate mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA).

The program began on October 1, 2008 and will end on September 30, 2011.

To learn more, call (800) 569-4287 or TTY (800) 877-8339, or visit the Web site at

If you are unable to make your mortgage payment, contact your lender as soon as you realize that you have a problem.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Picking the Perfect Neighborhood

Check out the local markets, parks, shops, restaurants and community events. Attending events will allow you to get a feel for the area and your potential neighbors. Ask store owners and community members what they love about the neighborhood.

Check with the local police department or state Web site for crime statistics in the area. Sites like Family Watch Dog and Spot Crime are great places to start.


Consider how you will get around. Is there public transportation? Do most people drive? Is it safe to ride a bike? How far will your commute be to work? Time it during rush hour to make sure. What about grocery stores, restaurants, malls, pharmacies and doctor's offices? You may not want to drive 20 minutes for a loaf of bread or to refill your prescription.

Research the local school districts. Are public and private schools available? Do they offer extra curricular activities? What is the cost per student? If your child will ride a bus, how long will it take to reach school grounds?

Traffic and Noise
Walk around the community at different times of the day as well as during the evening. Are there railroads, airports or entertainment establishments around? Where are the highways located? Have sound barriers been constructed?

These are all important aspects of a neighborhood to consider. Ask for information from your professionally certified Realtor®, and use the internet as a resource. Your Realtor® should be able to give you great insight into the area, and provide you with the tools you need to make your decision.