4 creative ways to come up with a down payment

Many prospective homebuyers face a big hurdle: the down payment. But coming up with that initial investment doesn’t have to be a roadblock even if saving is difficult. These four options could make homeownership a reality sooner rather than later:

1. Pulling from an IRA: You, your spouse, parents or grandparents could withdraw up to $10,000 from a traditional IRA to put toward a home. Although it’s categorized as a first-time homebuyer exemption, anyone who hasn’t owned a principal residence in the past two years may qualify. Note: Some differences exist when withdrawing from a Roth IRA.

2. Receiving a gift: If you have family members willing to help you out, you can get what’s called “gift money” for your down payment. The amount of gift money you can use depends on the loan type. And you’ll likely need signed documents stating that the money is indeed a gift, not a loan or anything earning interest.

3. Co-buying: Another option is to buy a home with a family member or friend. It’ll allow you to split the down payment and the mortgage payment. But co-buying does come with an important decision: how the title will be held.

4. Renting to own: Leasing-to-own is another possible route to homeownership, one that typically requires a smaller down payment called option money. Additionally, a portion of your monthly rent payment can go toward your purchase of the property. Pay special attention to the written agreement. Reach out if you want to make sure your lease-to-own agreement is mortgage-ready.

There are also low down payment options like HomeReady, HomeOne, Home Possible and FHA loans, as well as down payment assistance programs and grants. Want to learn more, or know someone who’s looking to buy a home? Get in touch today.

Your Refinancing Questions Answered

Are you curious about refinancing and why homeowners go this route? More importantly, is it a good option for you? Depending on your goals, a refi could result in smaller payments, a shorter loan term or even cash to put toward college tuition or home improvements.

These are just a few of the benefits a refinance can offer, but the timing has to be right. Want to learn more? Here are four things to know about refinancing:

1. What is a refinance? Essentially, a refi replaces your old mortgage and allows you to change your loan term, rates and other details.

2. Would it benefit you? Refinancing might be a good choice if:
•You have an adjustable rate loan and your interest rate is about to change.
•Current market interest rates are lower than the rate on your current loan.
•Your credit score has greatly improved since you took out your mortgage.
•You want to shorten the length of your loan or lower your monthly payment.
•You need a source of funds.

3. When should you refinance? It depends on a variety of factors — things like how much you’ve paid off on your loan, what your rate is compared to the current market rate, the type of loan you have and your financial goals.

4. What options are out there? Some common refinances include:
•Rate and term refis, which aim to change your interest rate, loan term or both.
•Cash-out refis, which give you cash based on your home equity.

Not sure if a refi is right for you? Or want to learn more about how they work? Get in touch so we can talk about your financial goals and options.

Steps to Boosting Your Credit Score

Steps to Boosting Your Credit Score
Your credit score plays a big role in the homebuying process. It can influence what interest rates you’re eligible for, as well as what options you have for loans in general.
If your current score isn’t as high as you’d like, don’t lose hope. You can boost your score and improve your chances of qualifying for a mortgage or a better rate. Here are a few ideas that can help:
• Check your credit report. Credit reporting agencies collect data from a variety of sources, and this info may contain errors. Plus, there’s always the possibility of identity theft. Request a copy of your annual credit report from one (or all) of the three main agencies — Experian, Equifax and TransUnion — and make sure everything is correct. If you see something that looks off, report the issue to get it resolved.
• Settle any debts in collections. Having an account in collections hurts your credit score. Pay these off as soon as possible, or work with the creditor to set up a payment plan.
• Work toward paying off other debts. Start paying down your debts as much as you can, focusing on high-interest ones first. Your total debt balance has a big impact on your score, so reducing even one account can help immensely.
Additionally, don’t open any new credit cards, take out a new car loan or put extra purchases on your existing cards when gearing up for a home purchase. Though this won’t improve your score, it will keep it from getting worse — and that’s just as important.
A picture-perfect financial history isn’t necessary to buy a home, but having good credit helps. If you have questions about how it affects the mortgage process, get in touch.

Buy a Home, Even With Student Loan Debt

Student loan debts may be at all-time highs, but Americans aren’t letting that stop them from buying a home. In fact, a recent report shows that 27 percent of all homebuyers have student loan debt. And first-time buyers? A whopping 40 percent have student loans.

So how do they do it? How do they keep making monthly loan installments while saving for a down payment or paying a mortgage at the same time? Here’s how today’s buyers are making it happen.
•They’re choosing the right loan programs. For buyers with student loan debt, an FHA loan can be a great option. And both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have made favorable changes to how student loan debt factors into the mortgage qualification.

•They’re getting gifts and co-borrowing. Many buyers are choosing to use gift money from family members to pay their down payment or other costs, while others are choosing to co-borrow their mortgage with a significant other or roommate. Both of these help lower the costs of homebuying at the outset.

•They’re taking advantage of down payment assistance programs. Saving for a down payment is often the hardest part when you’ve got student loan debt on your shoulders. Fortunately, there are hundreds of down payment (and closing cost) assistance programs that can help cover these expenses and more. Check your state, city and county to find out if there are any you qualify for.

•They’re working on their credit. A great credit score means a great mortgage rate — and less money paid monthly and over the life of the loan. Today’s buyers are boosting their scores by paying down their debts, avoiding late payments and watching their credit reports carefully.

As they say, “where there’s a will, there’s a way.” And today’s young buyers are proof of that. Do you have questions about buying a home while dealing with student loan debt? Get in touch today.

3 Ways to Build Equity in Your Home

For homeowners, equity is like an extra bank account. Every dollar you put toward your property gives you a bigger stake in your home, as well as more money to pull from should you need it down the line.

Equity gives you additional funds to tap via a cash-out refinance, home equity loan or home equity line of credit. These essentially turn your equity into cash — money you can use for home improvements, college tuition or even a family vacation.

But how do you get more equity? Here are some things you can do:
•Make a bigger down payment. If you haven’t bought a home yet, the easiest way to get more equity is to put more money down. And depending on the type of mortgage loan you choose, this could also lower your monthly payment or eliminate the need for private mortgage insurance, making your home more affordable.
•Upgrade or renovate your home. Anything that increases the value of your home also increases your equity — and the amount you stand to gain when you sell. Just be sure to choose your renovations carefully, as some offer higher returns than others.
•Pay down your mortgage. The lower your mortgage balance, the more equity you have, so work on paying that loan off sooner rather than later. Try making an additional payment every quarter or dedicating your tax returns and holiday bonuses to the account. It’ll make a significant difference in the long run.

Already have a good amount of equity in your home and want to put it to use? Get in touch today to learn how.

Budgeting Beyond the Home’s Sales Price

Determining how much home you can afford takes some number crunching. Sure, you should look at the listing price — but that’s only one part of the equation. In reality, there are dozens of other expenses you’ll face as a homeowner.

So what should you consider when budgeting for a home purchase? These costs are a good place to start:

  • Down payment — Depending on what type of loan you’ve secured, you’ll need anywhere from 2 to 20 percent of the sales price to put down on closing day.
  • Moving expenses — Whether you’re moving cross-country or down the street, you’ll likely have some moving costs to cover — truck rentals, movers, storage or even just boxes and tape. Make sure to budget for these items up front.
  • Closing costs — There are a number of closing costs you’ll need to cover; these vary from state to state and lender to lender. You should receive a breakdown of these estimated costs as closing day approaches.
  • Home and mortgage insurance — You’ll definitely need homeowner’s insurance to protect your new investment. Depending on what type of loan you have, you may need mortgage insurance as well.
  • Property taxes — Unlike renting, homeowners have to pay property tax at the beginning of each year. Depending on where you live, you might be able to pay in installments.
  • Repairs and maintenance — From broken dishwashers to leaky roofs, there’s always something that needs fixing when you own a home. Likewise, regular maintenance costs, like lawn care, should be budgeted for.

Try to understand the full scope of a home’s cost — both now and over time. Make sure you have a clear picture of what you can and can’t afford.

Crowdfunding Real Estate Investments

You may have heard about people raising thousands or even millions of dollars for business ventures on sites like Kickstarter. Known as crowdfunding, it’s a concept now making its way into real estate circles, driven by the signing of the JOBS Act in 2012, which made it legal for companies to solicit funds from and promise equity to ordinary investors online.

What’s the Appeal?
For individuals, crowdfunding makes real estate investing more accessible (minimums can be as low as $1,000). For developers, it provides a new source of capital and can help bypass a bank when the size of a project or some other factor makes it difficult to secure a loan.

There are two ways it’s been playing out. Debt crowdfunding pools money and lends it to a company with interest, similar to a mortgage. Equity crowdfunding, on the other hand, takes money in return for ownership.

Things to Know
As with any investing, crowdfunding involves risk. When considering an investment, look at the developer’s track record, determine whether they’re invested in their own project and make sure you understand what your stake in the project will be.

You should also know there are caps on how much you can invest during any 12-month period. And you may also be limited on how long you must hold the investment before selling it.

While real estate crowdfunding is still in its infancy, there’s good reason to believe it’ll keep growing. The key, of course, will be in making the right deals.

TrustLine Mortgage
TrustLine Mortgage, Inc.
EMAIL loans@trustlinemortgage.com
Phone (904) 381-5626
ADDRESS 6101 Gazebo Park Place North, Suite 108 Jacksonville, FL 32257
NMLS: 331480

Top 10 Outdoor Remodeling Projects

You’ve probably heard that outdoor remodeling projects can improve the resale value of your home, but do you know which ones are the most highly recommended by Realtors? A recent report by the National Association of Realtors ranked the most valuable outdoor features in terms of cost and return on investment.

Here’s a look at their top picks in order of their appeal to buyers:
1.Basic Lawn Care — 303 percent ROI with an estimated cost of $330 for six applications of fertilizer and weed control
2.Overall Landscape Upgrade — 105 percent ROI with an estimated cost of $4,750 for a 30-foot flagstone walkway, two 6-foot stone planters, five flowering shrubs, one deciduous 15-foot tree and mulch
3.New Patio — 102 percent ROI for an estimated cost of $6,400
4.New Wood Deck — 106 percent ROI for an estimated cost of $9,450
5.Softscape Upgrade — 100 percent ROI for an estimated cost of $7,000 for five trees, 25 shrubs, 60 perennials, edging and boulders
6.Sod Lawn — 143 percent ROI for an estimated cost of $700 for 1,000 feet
7.Seed Lawn — 417 percent ROI for an estimated cost of $120 for 1,000 feet
8.Fire Pit — 78 percent ROI for an estimated cost of $4,500 for dry stacked natural stone kits and a gas burner with 10-foot-diameter flagstone patio
9.Fireplace — 60 percent ROI for an estimated cost of $13,300 for veneered masonry stone, gas starter, chimney and wood mantel
10.New Pool — 50 percent ROI for an estimated cost of $50,000

HouseLogic, a homeownership site, surveyed consumers about their last remodeling project and calculated a “joy score” from 1 to 10 based on their satisfaction with the completed work. While a pool came in last in terms of its buyer appeal and ROI, it received the highest joy score, a perfect 10.

Other top joy-scoring projects included an overall landscape upgrade (9.8), a new wood deck (9.7), a new patio (9.6) and a softscape upgrade (9.6).

TrustLine Mortgage
TrustLine Mortgage, Inc.
EMAIL loans@trustlinemortgage.com
Phone (904) 381-5626
ADDRESS 6101 Gazebo Park Place North, Suite 108 Jacksonville, FL 32257
NMLS: 331480

4 Home Tasks to Leave to the Pros

Do you have a few home improvement projects to tackle in the coming months? A quick search on the internet can result in an array of DIY tutorials and videos, but just because you can do it yourself doesn’t mean you should. Here is a handful of home projects that are better left to the pros:

Tree Removal
Trimming trees brings you face to face with several hazards, including using tall ladders, climbing trees and working at unfamiliar heights. Then there are the dangers of overhead power lines, unwieldy chainsaws and falling branches — all sobering risks, even for experienced tree care experts.

Roof Repairs
You can probably handle a gutter cleaning if you have a low-slung roof, but anything more should give you pause. DIYers face the risk of a fall due to the steep slopes and angles of most rooftops, as well as bungling the job. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you may end up with water damage the next time a storm passes through.

Asbestos Removal
Suspecting you have this toxic substance in your home isn’t necessarily cause for panic, but it is a major health hazard that warrants a professional opinion. Some states, counties and cities regulate asbestos removal by homeowners, requiring a permit, proper disposal and more.

Gas, Electricity and Plumbing Fixes
With one wrong move, do-it-yourself work on gas, electrical and plumbing lines can turn into a big mess. A plumbing fail can quickly flood your home, while a botched gas or electrical job can result in a fire.

Saving money may make a DIY approach inviting, but disastrous results aren’t worth it. Be smart about what you choose to tackle around your home and what you leave to skilled experts.

TrustLine Mortgage
TrustLine Mortgage, Inc.
EMAIL loans@trustlinemortgage.com
Phone (904) 381-5626
ADDRESS 6101 Gazebo Park Place North, Suite 108 Jacksonville, FL 32257
NMLS: 331480

Use Language To Sell Your Home

You know words matter, but when it comes to real estate listings, the words used can impact the sale. Keep the following tips in mind to craft a listing description that’s both accurate and compelling:

Use Buzzwords
High-response terms can vary by price point and region, but research shows that several words and phrases help nationwide. Homes touting “Shaker cabinets,” “subway tile” and “quartz” sold faster than anticipated and up to 13 percent over their expected values. Other terms that had a positive impact: “Craftsman,” “frameless shower” and “heated floors.”

What’s the takeaway? Be specific. Rather than the vague “gourmet kitchen,” call out the particulars, like the quartz countertops and Shaker cabinets. (In fact, one study found a correlation between the use of “gourmet kitchen” and a longer stay on the market.)

Mention Brands
Capitalize on the positive association buyers have with certain brands. To promote your home’s high-end kitchen, mention the Sub-Zero fridge and the Wolf range. This strategy showcases the room’s luxury better than less specific words can.

Point Out Upgrades
Spell out any improvements or renovations you’ve made recently. Selling points include renovated kitchen, new roof, upgraded HVAC system, wood floors or new windows. Incorporate desirable materials or brands in the descriptive text.

Sell the Location
Play up your neighborhood or a nearby attraction, just take care not to violate housing laws when you do. Highlighting “good schools” or crime may not be your best bet. It’s often better to direct people to official sources for statistics and information so they can draw their own conclusions.

When preparing to sell your home, don’t take your word selection lightly. Creating a thoughtful, well-worded listing description may help your house close sooner than expected.

TrustLine Mortgage
TrustLine Mortgage, Inc.
EMAIL loans@trustlinemortgage.com
Phone (904) 381-5626
ADDRESS 6101 Gazebo Park Place North, Suite 108 Jacksonville, FL 32257
NMLS: 331480

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