Tuesday, February 11 2014
January presented us with major changes to mortgage lending rules. These new guidelines aim to curb some of the excesses that occurred during the sub-prime years—hopefully resulting in a lower risk of default and foreclosure by borrowers and a healthier real estate climate for everyone.
QM: “Qualified Mortgage”
This all came about as one offshoot of the Dodd-Frank legislation that went into effect in 2014. It creates a new category, “Qualified Mortgage.” Lending institutions are required to document each loan they deem to be a QM; when they do, they benefit by being able to sell them to Freddie Mae and Fannie Mac, and are protected from legal action in the event of a future default.
The reason that these changes won’t keep most borrowers from getting a loan is that loans that don’t qualify (“Non-QM” loans) will still be offered by some banks—they’ll simply keep them on their own books.
The bedrock requirement for a QM is an evaluation of the borrower’s debt-to-income ratio. That’s the projection of debts divided by income on a month-to-month basis — especially important when getting a loan with a variable interest rate. If it seems to you that this calculation makes common sense for any loan—I’m in your camp! The reason a bank might choose to issue a loan that does not meet the letter of this requirement could be their analysis that the percentages dictated by the rules are too strict for a particular borrower.
A Qualified Mortgage can’t have any of the risky factors that were hallmarks of the mortgage meltdown. Included are “no” or “low-doc” loans; loans with terms longer than 30 years, interest-only loans, and those with minimum payments that don’t keep pace with interest rates, causing the loan balance to increase.
So: what’s the bottom line for buyer’s intent on getting a loan this year?
The good news: most loans will go through as before (estimates are about 95% of them). But more paperwork and longer processing times are likely, and since fees and charges for a QM cannot exceed 3% of the mortgage, getting a smaller loan might become more difficult if banks determine they can’t make a profit.
In any case, coming prepared is still the best insurance that your loan goes through as smoothly as possible. If you’re looking to buy a home in Evansville this season, I’ll help make sure your preparation is first-rate! You will be able to take advantage of my extensive network of different mortgage providers in order to make the purchase of your new home as seamless as possible. You can reach me on my cell phone at 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Thursday, February 06 2014
With cars, TVs—even watches—getting connected through WiFi and wireless telephones, it’s small wonder that “Smart Homes” are here, too. According to Forbes, companies offering smart homes technology will be a $35.6 billion industry within just three years. They already offer homeowners an array of connected appliances, security systems and even HVAC systems.
From what I’ve seen, their marketing has highlighted the convenience factor—but if that seems to be more sizzle than steak, here are some surprisingly substantial reasons why you might consider upgrading your own place into a smart home:
Your current security system gives you peace of mind whenever you’re out of town. But have you ever wondered whether you remembered to lock the back door? Smart homes let you click a function on your phone that commands the home to lock itself! The same app can also send you a live video feed of the interior and exterior of your home.
In addition to securing the premises, smart homes can help you prevent home accidents. Smart appliances can be controlled via mobile apps which allow you to turn off ovens, stovetops, microwaves and even washing machines from anywhere you establish a WiFi connection. This minimizes the risk of the kind of home fires which can be caused by unattended appliances. (If you’re thinking that homeowner insurance premium discounts may soon be offered for connected homes: the Wall Street Journal reports that they already are!)
Major manufacturers GE, LG and Samsung have introduced complete lines of connected appliances controlled via mobile phone, eliminating the need to physically get up to adjust settings. Think how, especially for the elderly and handicapped, this would meaningfully enhance their quality of life—maybe even extending their ability to live at home without assistance. For all age brackets, being able to effortlessly control lighting, heating and air conditioning at the touch of a device screen will inevitably result in practical energy savings; and that raises perhaps the most important selling point for smart homes technology—
Increasing the value of smart homes when they come up for sale. The practicality of smart homes is already especially appealing to the growing number of tech-savvy buyers.
If you’re comparing home upgrades prior to putting your own home on the market, I’m here to help you choose which (if any) are likely to add the most value. Call me anytime to discuss your short and long term plans! You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email: Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Wednesday, February 05 2014
One of the unusual situations that sometimes crops up in real estate is one where the buyer purchases a house without ever seeing it. This may sound nuts—but there are circumstances (more than you’d think) where it can be the only practical solution.
Wholesalers and house-flippers, for instance, sometimes simply haven’t time to visit every property they suspect is a great buy. Other times, buyers might be relocating to Evansville from out of state (or even out of the country) under a timetable that doesn’t allow them an extra visit—or even a first visit! According to the latest full-year data from the National Association of Realtors®, home sales to foreign buyers amounted to $68 billion!
As you’d guess, the risks of purchasing a house sight-unseen when relocating to Evansville remain stark. Nonetheless, there are ways such buyers can protect themselves:
Adding a contractual walk-though contingency—one which allows a final walk-though before signing at closing—is the surest protection. Sellers aren’t obligated to accept such a contingency (and in a competitive market it’s less likely to be acceptable), but if it’s allowed, it’s also a sign that the property is likely to pass muster.
The odds of a good “sight-unseen” result when relocating to Evansville grow significantly better when you present your agent with a clear list of requirements. Some important factors outside of specific house metrics could be the quality of local schools, transportation links and commuting times, crime rates, shopping and entertainment and recreation area access.
It is especially important to hire a first-class home inspector. When you can’t visit the property yourself, your inspector can be the trained eyes that prevent your inheriting unneeded maintenance issues. If the listing doesn’t give you a clear idea of how the home is laid out, requesting a video of both interior and exterior of the property is a good idea. If one isn’t available, don’t be shy about asking your agent to make a walk-through video for you.
For anyone relocating to Evansville when a ‘sight-unseen’ home purchase is necessary, choosing the best-qualified Realtor and inspector couldn’t be more important. In that situation, they become your ears and eyes on the ground! Please feel free to call me at 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com and I will be more than happy to assist you with your real estate needs. Our motto is “With an Accent on Service”