Google Introduces Mortgage Search

Many potential homebuyers start their home search by doing research online. If you have been researching financing online, your email inbox may become inundated with mortgage offers and unsolicited messages. Now the search engine giant Google has a new mortgage search feature that can help.  Their new mortgage seach will eliminate the unwanted emails and calls by streamlining your search and making a mortgage match just for you – without the accompanying spam.

Google has recently introduced a similar process for refinance customers and they promise to extend that service to all  mortgage seekers.

Still in Beta mode, the service is only available in 38 states. However you can go to https://www.google.com/comparisonads/mortgages to see lists of lenders and their product portfolios. You can choose the package, along with rates and other costs, that works best for you.  Google also gives you the ability to calculate your monthly payment by inputting variables such as your down payment, credit status and the kind of loan you want.

One of the best features with this search tool is that you can choose to receive an offer from just one lender, and your direct contact info is not readily available. Google also promises that they will hold the lender to the offer made online – as long as basic criteria given in the search are correct and unchanged (such as the appraised value).

Google has not been able to attract major lenders, so the list of companies may be a little obscure to the average buyer. Even though, this new search tool is excellent for helping consumers shop for competitive mortgages online, without the hassles of overeager sales people and email overload.

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Closing Costs For Buyers and Sellers

If you have bought or sold a home, the final step in finalizing that sale is when you close. There will be alot of paperwork to complete and the closing costs will be indicated at this time. Most homebuyers are aware that their will be closing costs but many sellers are surprised to find that they are responsible for closing costs as well. 

Closing costs refer to all of the taxes, fees and costs required to close a real estate transaction. The amount and who will be responsible can vary from state to state.

If you are sellling your home, it is important to ask your agent for a breakdown of what you are expected to pay in closing costs as well what the buyer will pay. In most states the buyer and seller split closing costs but some states consider the buyer to be responsible or both parties can be required to pay the costs. 

The real estate market can have an impact on on who will be responsible for paying closing costs. For example in a market that is plentiful, the seller could have more of a chance in having the buyer pay the majority of the closing costs. But in a market that is struggling such as now, buyers tend to have the upper hand and many sellers will pay the majority of the closing costs in order to complete the sale.

Below are some of the common closing costs faced by sellers and buyers:

Escrow/attorney fees: Some states require third-party escrow companies handle real estate closings, while others dictate attorneys perform the function. Title companies, title agents, lenders, brokers and even real estate agents are allowed to handle closings and/or escrows depending on the state. These fees are usually split between the buyer and seller.
Title insurance: There are usually two types of
title insurance that must be purchased – the lenders’ policy and the owners’ policy. Usually either a title company or in some states a lawyer will research the title to make sure there are no liens against the property or unidentified owners. These policies protect the lender and new owner for the full value of the property. Usually, the seller pays for the owner’s policy and the buyer pays for the lender’s policy. This is often referred to as clearing title.
Transfer or documentary taxes: These are paid either to the state, county, city or a combination depending on the state. This is where the government agency gets their share of the transaction. This is also known as a reconveyance tax.
Recording fee: Usually paid to the county for recording the deed, which shows ownership of the property.
Mortgage tax: This is an additional tax collected by some states. Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Virginia are the states that collect this tax.
Brokerage commission: The fee you contractually agreed to pay for the selling of your home.

Aside from these costs, the seller may be responsible for costs such as any credits that were promised to the buyer for repairs or home warranties. Don’t forget that Federal law requires that sellers and buyers receive a copy of a HUD-1 form outlining all charges in a real estate transaction.

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Go Green With Tankless Water Heater

Homeowners who are concerned about the environment as well as saving money have many options when making upgrades to their home.  One of the lastest in eco-friendly, efficient, and  economical appliances are tankless water heaters. The Department of Energy or DOE tells us that hot water usage, specifically heating the water, is the 3rd largest day to day expense in the home. If you are looking to be more energy efficient and cut back on utility expenses, you may want to consider purchasing a tankless water heater.

If you are unfmailar on conventional water heaters work, they will keep your water hot 24/7, while an on-demand system, using the tankless approach, only heats water when you need it. An efficient gas burner quickly heats cold water traveling through the system to a preset temperature.

There are several common manufacturers of tankless water heaters – check out www.smarterhotwater.com, sponsored by Rheem. They tell us that annual costs for conventional water heating and storage (average) can be as much as $285, where the costs for tankless are more than $100 less per year on average.

So why haven’t we all converted? Tankless water heaters cost more up front – sometimes as much as twice more than traditional water systems. But adoption is growing as consumers become more and more concerned with efficiency and long term value for their dollars. Here’s a few reasons to consider going tankless:

1. Energy friendly and efficient. On demand systems can reduce energy costs as much as 25%.
2. Reliable and convenient. You get a continuous supply – imagine never running out of hot water!
3. Sleek and small. No more bulky tanks taking up valuable storage. Typical tankless heaters aren’t much bigger than a small suitcase.
4. Life expectancy.  Tankless water eaters are built to last  – 20 + years or more.
5. Versatility. It’s size and operating system allow you to place nearly anywhere in your home that is convenient for you.

Tankless water heaters are expensive, as noted and can be expensive to retrofit. If you are purchasing a new home that you plan to say in for a long time, the savings and benefits are worth the expense. If you are in a short term arrangement, the conventional water heaters may still be all you need for now. Also, avoid electric style tankless heaters – the gas units are much more efficient and affordable.

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Residential Appraisal Components and Misconceptions

One of the requirements that mortgage lenders will request during the home buying process is a real estate appraisal. For many first time buyers, there may be some misconceptions as to exactly what this is.  A real estate appraisal is a detailed report that is created by a licensed appraiser in your state and establishes the market value of a residential property. This is a very important aspect and several different considerations go into an official appraisal, and it forms the basis of the bank’s determination of the loan value. While appraisals do consider market comparisons, the actual appraisal value comes from much more than a market analysis.

Here are the components of a residential appraisal:

  • Property details
  • Comparisons  to at least three similar properties
  • Evaluation of the market conditions in the area
  • Environmental conditions that could decrease the property’s value
  • Structural issues that could decrease the property’s value
  • Estimate of time on the market
  • Status of the home site – new development, established neighborhood, acreage

Common misconceptions

  1. Appraisals aren’t the same as home inspections
  2. Appraisals are owned by the lender and not the buyer
  3. Assessed values don’t necessarily match market value
  4. Realtors do not provide appraisals
  5. Consumers do have the right to question appraisal facts and contest them

Understanding the neighborhood and ‘comps’ are an important part of your buying experience, but you are also bound to the official appraisal given to the lender. Work with your realtor, lender AND appraiser to make sure you understand all the details in the appraisal report of your new home.

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Home Loan Denials

The current real estate market is one that favors buyers. Record low interest rates, low home prices and a large inventory are all favorable for potential homebuyers looking for a new home. The problem facing thse homebuyers is that is obtaining financing for a new home can be a challenge in this difficult economy. Many mortgage lenders have tightened their requirements. However, it is important for homebuyers to realize that it isn’t always the lenders fault. Of course they would like potential customers to assume that they will be approved but the loan industry is a very risky one right now and they have to protect their assets.

Many potential homebuyers are finding that their application has been denied, so if you have been denied recently or in the past for a loan, it’s time to take control of the situation. Educate yourself, ask questions and do your research to help change that NO answer to a YES answer! Here, to help you out are some suggestions.

  • Consider a co-signer if your income simply is not high enough to qualify for the actual loan. The co-signer’s income can possibly be considered as an amount towards your loan regardless if the person is living with you or helping you pay the actual bill. In many cases, the cosigner might also be able to compensate for your low credit. It is important however to understand that there are risks for your cosigner and if you default on your mortgage, the lender can actually in turn go after your cosigner for the full amount!
  • Wait it out.  Sometimes the best advice you can get, especially if the conditions in the housing market is slow or the economy is bad, is to simply wait. Oftentimes when conditions improve in the economy, the lenders will be more willing to let you “borrow” the money for your loan. While you are waiting, you can take this time to work on your credit score. While you are waiting, home prices could also drop!
  • Consider a less expensive property. We all want what we want, but you might have a better chance of being approved if you switch to a less expensive option. For example, if you wanted a house, but you cannot wait and you cannot qualify for the loan, you might consider switching to a smaller home or to a town home instead. Later on down the line when your financial situation improves, then you can trade up the property and move to the location and home you really want to.
  • Apply with a different lender. The world is full of lenders, if you don’t like what one says or you get denied – try someone else! However, if every single lender you go to denies you, you should become aware that it is for a reason – in fact, if they all list the same reason then you will know what you need to fix.  Use common sense and stay away from predatory lenders. We have heard some pretty scary stories about these places – so just don’t do it. You could literally be signing your life away.

If you are denied, it is important to not give give up and keep trying! Work on your credit and then in a few months try again! With a little time, patience and understanding, you could be able to turn the situation around to your favor!

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