FHA Has Increased Loan Limits for 2018

house on money.png

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) announced a new schedule of loan limits that will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2018.

In high-cost areas of the country, FHA’s loan limit ceiling will increase from $636,150 to $679,650, while its floor will increase from $275,665 to $294,515. The national mortgage limit for FHA-insured home equity conversion mortgages (HECMs) will increase from $636,150 to $679,650. Unlike forward mortgages, HECM limits do not vary by location and a single limit applies to all mortgages regardless of the property’s location.

The maximum loan limits for FHA forward mortgages will rise in 3,011 counties and will remain unchanged in 223 counties. The FHA’s minimum national loan limit, or floor, is set at 65 percent of the national conforming loan limit of $453,100. According to the FHA, this floor applies to those areas where 115 percent of the median home price is less than the floor limit. Any areas where the loan limit exceeds this ‘floor’ is considered a high-cost area, and the FHA sets its maximum loan limit ceiling for high-cost areas at 150 percent of the national conforming limit.

Click Here to see the full chart of the areas 2018 Between the Floor Ceiling. 

 

This article was adapted from HUD.gov. To view the full article, click here. 

Don't allow your credit freeze to cause delays if you're in the market for a loan. Learn how to take control.

frozencredit.jpeg

Did you freeze your credit after the Equifax data breach?  If you did and are planning to apply for a mortgage, you will need to lift the freeze for us to process your application.

You must contact each of the three major credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. You may request a temporary lift for a specific credit grantor, or request a date range lift for a specific period of time, ranging from 1 day to 1 year.  A week should be sufficient.

To unfreeze your credit, you’ll need to use the secure PIN that you received when you originally requested a freeze. In most cases, if you make the request by phone or online, the credit bureaus can lift a freeze in as little as 15 minutes, although the Federal Trade Commission gives them up to three business days. If you lose your PIN, you’ll need to contact each bureau individually and can either request a new PIN or permanently lift your freeze.

Be prepared to provide detailed information to verify your identity:

  • Your Full Name
  • Your Address
  • Your Date of Birth
  • Your Social Security Number
  • Your Security Freeze PIN or password for each credit bureau
  • Your account username and password (TransUnion only)

Also have a credit card handy – in some cases, fees do apply.  Fees vary by state.


Equifax:  https://www.freeze.equifax.com or 1-800-349-9960

TransUnion: https://freeze.transunion.com/sf/securityFreeze/landingPage.jsp  or 1-888-909-8872

Experian: https://www.experian.com/ncaconline/removefreeze or 1‑888‑397‑3742


Feel free to contact your CLG Mortgage Consultant with any other questions you have.

Fall Home Maintenance Checklist

20160913-Share-STM.jpg

Before the weather grows colder it’s important to prepare for the winter months to prevent costly damage. Below are the fall preventative home maintenance steps that every homeowner should follow.

Gutters and Downspouts

  • Clean gutters and downspouts frequently throughout fall to prevent build up of leaves and other debris. Neglected gutters can lead to wood rot problems and pest infestations, not to mention ruined gutters.
  •  Be sure water is not coming down behind gutters and that all support brackets are securely in place.
  •  Ensure that water drains properly and doesn’t pool. Pooling can cause damage to foundations, driveways, and walkways.

Windows and Doors

  • Change summer screens to cool weather storm windows and doors.
  • Inspect and repair any loose or damaged window or door frames.
  • Install weather stripping or caulking around windows and doors to prevent drafts and to lower heating bills.

Heating Systems

  • Replace the filter in your furnace.
  • Consider having a heating professional check your heating system to ensure optimal performance and discover minor problems before they turn into costly major repairs.
  • Clean your ducts to better your heating system’s efficiency as well as to reduce household dust and to provide relief to those with respiratory problems.

Plumbing

  • To prevent pipes freezing and bursting, ensure that the pipes are well insulated.
  • Know how to locate and turn off the water shut-off valve in case pipes do freeze.

Chimney and Fireplace

  • Call a professional in to inspect and clean your chimney. Fireplaces that are regularly used during the season should have an annual cleaning to prevent dangerous chimney fires.
  • Test your fireplace flue for a tight seal when closed.

Attic ventilation

  • Be sure attic insulation doesn’t cover vents in the eaves to prevent winter ice dams on the roof.
  • Be sure ridge vents and vents at eaves are free of plants and debris.
  • Check bird and rodent screens for attic vents to prevent any unwanted guests.

Landscape and Yardwork

  • Although grass appears to stop growing in the fall, the roots are actually growing deeper to prepare for winter. Now is the best time to fertilize and reseed your lawn.
  • Prune your trees and shrubs after the leaves turn to encourage healthy growth.
  • Trim any tree limbs that are dangerously close to power lines or the roof of your house. Heavy snow and ice can cause damage in the winter.

 

**This article was provided by HomeAdvisor. To see the original article, click here.

7 Home Maintenance Tasks You Should Tackle in June

Picture courtesy of Realtor.com 

Picture courtesy of Realtor.com 

Ah, June. School's out, the days are long, and the weather's getting toasty. We get it—your vacation is beckoning. (So's ours.) But before you slather yourself with SPF 75 and reach for a piña colada, do yourself a favor and tackle a few maintenance projects. A little pain now means a big gain later—you'll ensure your home runs smoothly through the dog days of summer.

Don't worry: We’re here to make it as quick and easy on you as possible. With our handy checklist of home maintenance chores, you can knock 'em out and get back to that piña colada, pronto. (We'll take ours with two tiny parasols, please.)

1. Check your AC

"The last thing you want is a busted air conditioner, so before a heat wave hits, give it a test run for 30 minutes to make sure it’s cooling properly," says Dave Quandt, vice president of field operations at American Home Shield, a home warranty company.

Shortcut: To extend the life of your AC unit, adjust your programmable thermostat by only 2 to 3 degrees at a time.

Call in the pros: If anything seems off, call in a professional HVAC company. You'll spend between $100 and $250 for service, which includes cleaning the condenser and lubricating the fan motor. When the outdoor temps go deep into the red zone, you'll likely consider it money well-spent.

2. Stop mold before it starts

June kicks off a stretch of the hottest months of the year, especially in Southern states where heavy rain is also the norm. All that heat and moisture provide the perfect climate for mold to flourish, says Phil Kuczak, air-conditioning service and installation manager at Best Home Services in Naples, FL.

Shortcut: There's an easy trick you can use to keep mold at bay: Lower your thermostat.

"Some homeowners try to save money by setting the thermostat at an unsafe high temperature, especially in high humidity areas," Kuczak says. "The cost savings on the power bill could quickly be far outdone if you end up with a mold problem."

Also avoid leaving your AC fan in the "on" position (instead of "auto"). This can cause rapid mold growth, especially in high-humidity regions. Here's why: If your fan is running continuously, then any moisture that's condensed on your AC's evaporator coil during cooling doesn't have a chance to drain off—and it can be blown back into your home.

Kuczak also cautions against trying to limit or increase airflow to certain rooms by shutting supply grills. That can cause condensation buildup, leading to mold growth around those grills and in the adjacent ceiling or wall.

Call in the pros: If you have a mold problem, expect to pay a small fortune for a pro to remove it. Homeowners spend up to $3,200 on average for mold remediation.

3. Prime your pool

Test your pool's pH levels often to keep the chemicals balanced and your pool safe for swimming. Run the pump daily (one hour for every 10 degrees of heat in the water is a good rule of thumb) to avoid that swampy green color.

Shortcut: If you forget and come home to a green pool, a jug of liquid bleach will clear it up quickly, according to Quandt.

Call in the pros: Don't want to bother with it? You can hire a pool maintenance company for an average of $243 a month.

4. Eradicate pests

Warm weather draws out all the creepy-crawlies. But you can give summer bugs the boot (or at least keep them at a comfortable distance).

Shortcuts:

  • Trim shrubs or bushes that touch your home's exterior (which can harbor wood-destroying insects such as termites, carpenter ants, and powderpost beetles).
  • Swap mercury vapor outdoor lightbulbs with yellow sodium vapor ones, which are less attractive to insects such as mosquitoes, moths, and beetles.
  • Weed thick vegetation and pick ripe fruits and vegetables as soon as they're ready.
  • Keep bird feeders at least 25 feet from your house—spilled seeds can attract rodents.
  • Stop mosquitoes before they hatch by eliminating all sources of standing water on your property. Call in the pros: Above all, know when to seek professional help.

"Do-it-yourself pest control for a cockroach or occasional spider can be cost-effective, but it's not going to stand up when you have a serious infestation," says Ryan Michel, owner of Defense Pest Control in Mesa, AZ. "Pests can carry bacteria and disease, and some can do serious damage to your home. If you're seeing pests pop up with frequency—especially if you notice them appearing in the same places—it's time to call in a professional to help."

It'll cost you an average of $178 a month. But hey—you'll sleep better, right?

5. Service your sprinklers

Service your yard's irrigation system to save water, prevent damage to your landscaping, and reduce standing water.

Shortcut: Make sure your sprinklers are programmed to follow any local water rationing regulations, and program your system to optimal summer use settings to keep the landscape looking fresh.

Call in the pros: If you don't know what kind of maintenance your sprinkler system needs, a pro will take it on for $95 to $123.

6. Keep your fridge frosty

It should go without saying that your fridge and freezer are most vulnerable in the summer heat. To keep them running smoothly, clean condenser coils—which help the unit stay cool by releasing heat from the compressor—and be sure to remove dirt, pet hair, and any nasty food that's lodged there.

Shortcuts: Make the job simple by using a vacuum and coil brush, says Chris Granger, vice president of Sears Home Services.

While you're at it, tackle the door.

"A leaky door gasket can result in your refrigerator trying to cool the entire kitchen," Granger says.

Clean the gasket with a mild cleaner, and then check the seal integrity with a solution of soapy water—just like you would do with an inflatable mattress, he says. You can also use the dollar bill approach: Close a dollar bill in the door so it's half in your fridge. If your gasket isn’t tight enough, it won’t hold the bill firmly in place—the dollar bill will fall out or slide down.

Call in the pros: Most appliance repairmen charge by the hour. Depending on the issue, a refrigerator repair could cost anywhere from $100 and $200 an hour.

7. Pimp your ride (riding lawn mower, that is)

Use compressed air or a leaf blower to clear grass, dirt, and debris that have accumulated in your riding lawn mower. Drain old fuel into an approved gasoline can, and follow hazardous waste disposal regulations to get rid of it. Then, change your oil and filter: Granger recommends letting the mower run for a bit before getting started. If you have a foam air filter, clean it with soap and water, and make sure it’s dry before reinstalling.

Finally, change the spark plugs. "This simple but crucial task will help the mower start smoother and run more efficiently," Granger says.

Call in the pros: On average, professional lawn mower maintenance and repair will cost $35 to $90, but could increase depending on the complexity of the job and whether new parts are needed.

 

This article was written by Holly Amaya, June 1st, 2017. Pictures and original article from Realtor.com. To see the original version, click here

2017 Conforming Loan Limits Have Increased!

For the first time since 2006, the conforming loan limits have increased. In 2017, the baseline loan limit for most counties across the U.S. will be $424,100, a slight increase over 2016. More expensive markets, such as New York City and San Francisco, have conforming loan limits as high as $636,150. Anything above these maximum amounts is considered a “jumbo” mortgage.

Download Conforming Loan Limits for 2017 (All Counties)

PDF document

Excel Spreadsheet

The PDF and Excel files above were obtained from FHFA.gov.  You can download them to your computer, in either format, and refer to them as needed.

Update: Conforming Loan Limits Increased for 2017

On November 23, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced that it would raise the baseline conforming loan limit for 2017. They are also increasing the limits for certain “higher-cost areas” that are above the baseline. This is in response to significant home-price gains that occurred during 2016.

In most counties across the country, the 2017 maximum conforming loan limit for a single-family home will be $424,100. That’s an increase of $7,100 from the 2016 baseline limit of $417,000. This is the first time federal housing officials have raised the baseline since 2006.

But again, this is just the baseline conforming loan limit used for most parts of the country. In higher-cost real estate markets, like San Francisco and New York City, the limit for a single-family home loan can be as high as $636,150.

Anything above these caps is considered a jumbo mortgage.

What Is a Conforming Loan?

A conforming home loan is one that meets, or “conforms” to, certain guidelines set forth by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.

Freddie and Fannie are the two government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) that purchase mortgages, bundle and securitize them, and then sell them to investors through Wall Street and other channels.

When a loan meets the purchasing criteria used by the GSEs, it is said to be a conforming loan.

There are various criteria used to define a “conforming” mortgage product. But the size of the loan is one of the most important criteria, from a borrower’s perspective.

Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae will only purchase loans up to a certain amount. These maximum amounts, or limits, vary by county and are updated every year.

‘Jumbo’ Mortgages Are Still Widely Available

Borrowers who wish to obtain a mortgage loan in an amount that exceeds the 2017 conforming limits still have options. When a home loan exceeds the caps set by the Federal Housing Finance Agency, it is referred to as a “jumbo” mortgage product, and it cannot be sold to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

Jumbo loans are still widely available in the U.S., but the qualification criteria are generally stricter for these products due to the higher level of risk involved.

Jumbo mortgage products do not meet the underwriting guidelines set forth by FHFA, so they are not eligible for purchase by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. As a result, eligibility requirements are often more stringent with these larger “non-conforming” loans. Lenders often require higher credit scores and larger down payments for jumbo loans, though the specific criteria vary from one lender to the next.

To find the 2017 conforming loan limits for your county, just download the PDF document or Excel spreadsheet above.

If you are in the market for a new home, the first step is to contact one of our highly skilled Mortgage Bankers to see what you qualify for. Our team is standing by, ready to work with you to help you transition into the perfect home for your needs. Contact us today at 215-469-1000.

 

This article was retrieved from Loanlimits.org. 

What Is the Average Price per Square Foot for a Home—and Why Does It Matter?

Picture thanks to Realtor.com

Picture thanks to Realtor.com

If you’re hoping to buy a house, the very first dollar figure you’ll want to know is the home’s price, of course. But a close second is its price per square foot—and the average price per square foot for a home in that neighborhood (or the median price, which is actually a better representative of the middle ground).  Here’s what you should know about these numbers, and how to use them to your advantage as you shop for a home.

How to calculate the price per square foot for a home

Typically, a home’s price per square foot is prominently featured on the listing—both online as well as in those property information sheets you get at an open house.

But a home’s price per square foot doesn’t tell you much on its own. This number is best understood in comparison with similar homes nearby. So your next step should be to type in the city, neighborhood, or ZIP code of interest into a site like realtor.com/local. This will give you the median price per square foot for homes in that area (as well as median asking price, closing price, and number of homes for sale—all useful info during a house hunt).

What’s the average price per square foot for a home?

According to the latest estimates, the median price per square foot for a home in the United States is $123. But that can vary widely based on where you live and other factors. For instance, on the low end, you’ll pay $24 per square foot in Detroit; on the high end, in San Francisco, $810.

Why such a wide range? Well, it’s no secret that certain neighborhoods are considered more desirable than others, and fetch a higher price as a result.

“The hotter the neighborhood, the higher the price per square foot,” says Anthony Stellini, a Realtor® with RSR, a division of the real estate firm Nourmand & Associates. But odds are you knew that already. What you may not know is how this info can help you get a better deal on a house. More on that next!

How price per square foot can help you negotiate

When you run your comparison of a home’s price per square foot with the neighborhood median, you’ll be able to suss out whether a place is a bargain or overpriced.

Let’s say you see a home you love priced at $150 per square foot, but then you find that the median price per square foot for the neighborhood is $135. This suggests the home you’re looking at could be priced too high—which spells an opportunity for you to negotiate for a lower purchase price. Just point out to the sellers that homes of similar size in the area are going for much less. Or, conversely, if the median price per square foot is $135 but this home is only $120, you may have a bargain in your crosshairs that you should snap right up!

Need Help Determining if You are Getting a Good Value?

Contact one of our highly skilled Mortgage Bankers to help you determine if your dream home is priced fairly or if you have room to negotiate. When you need expert advice, let our experts help you in determining if you are getting a good value for your offer. Call us at 215-469-1000 for a no-obligation consultation or request one here!

 

 

This article was written by Margaret Heidenry, October 21, 2016, Pictures and original article from Realtor.com. To see the original version, click here. 

Preparing Your Home for Autumn: Maintenance Tips for the End of Summer

It’s time. Sigh. Summer has drawn to a close, like it or not, and Fall has arrived!

Before the leaves fall and the wind turns chilly, it’s a good idea to do some seasonal maintenance on your home. Here are some things to add to your fall “honey-do” list.

Have your furnace inspected. It’s smart to have your heating system serviced before you actually need to use it. Experts say that as much as 75 percent of the calls they receive about homeowners without heat are a result of not having the furnace serviced and cleaned. It will also keep your heating costs down and help keep the air in your home healthy.

Inspect your roof. You’ll want to check for shingles that are cracked, buckling, or missing. Check for caulking that needs to be replaced, or moss or lichen, which could indicate deterioration underneath. If you don’t trust your own assessment, work with a certified inspector.

Check for mold. The humidity of summer can cause mold to flourish. Check locations such as around leaky pipes, basements, or areas that don’t get good ventilation. You will want to remove the mold as soon as possible. It’s wise to have this done by a professional.

Replace weatherstripping on doors. There could be gaps that you can’t see and that can jack up your energy costs. It’s a simple fix that can be done with items found at your local hardware store.

Check the airflow. Focus on areas like vents, the hood over your stove, dryer vents, baseboard heaters and room fans. Not only is a buildup of dust a fire hazard, but you also want to keep the air flowing and the allergens at bay.

Get control of gutters and downspouts. Clogs in gutters and downspouts can cause the roof to leak, which can lead to a host of other problems. It’s a slippery slope from clogged gutters to water damage in your home!

Look over your siding. You’ll want to look for any areas on vinyl siding that are buckled or warped. If you have wood siding, look for curling, splitting or cracking. Should you find an issue, you’ll definitely want it taken care of before the weather gets cold!

Inspect your insulation. The most important area to check is your attic. You should have the highest concentration of insulation here. See if there are any gaps that need to be filled. You don’t need to check the insulation in your walls unless you notice heating issues.

Make sure your detectors are working. Ensure both smoke and carbon monoxide detectors have fresh batteries. It’s smart to test them, also. Both are especially important once your furnace is in use.

Each season brings its own challenges and wear-and-tear on your home. With summer ending and autumn on the way, you can go into the new season secure that your home is in tip-top shape!

 

Article written by Anita Alvarez, originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. 

Is Paying Off Your Mortgage Early Something You Should Do?

Even if you can easily afford your mortgage every month, the idea of living debt free after paying off your home loan early can be pretty tempting. If you do decide to pay off your home loan early, you’ll save money from skipping out on the interest tacked on your mortgage payments.   

While saving money on interest rates is great, there are many benefits to steadily paying off your mortgage as well. Consider the following before deciding to pay off your home loan early– you just may save more money in the long run.

Tax breaks.

Many homeowners get a decent tax break based on the interest they’re paying on their home loan. During the years you pay off your mortgage, you get a federal and state tax deduction on mortgage and home equity loan interest for loans that are up to 1 million dollars.  Before deciding to pay off your mortgage, consider your future tax strategy to assess whether or not it’s in your best interest to do so.

Retirement and savings.

If you’re planning to develop a retirement fund or other savings accounts over the upcoming years, perhaps putting so much of your money into paying off your mortgage early isn’t the best idea.  Down the road when you begin to rely more on your 401(K), you’ll be happy you didn’t spend too much of it on a mortgage.  It’s also hard to know of any future expenses that may fall into your lap (like medical bills, natural disasters, school, etc.), and it would be nice to have a little money set aside for you to use when you have nowhere else to turn.

Other financial responsibilities.

Borrowing money for a house isn’t as expensive as some other loans like high interest credit card debt, or student loan debt.  Because paying off a mortgage can be easily managed, it may be wise to use any of your extra income on more pressing payments.  If you use more of your money to pay off a home loan early, you’ll end up paying more money in interest rates on more expensive debt in the long run.

Whether or not you decide to pay off your mortgage early, be sure to take the time to go through your current and potential future finances to ensure it’s in your best interest to do so. 

If you’d like an extra opinion on the matter, consult with one of our highly qualified Mortgage Professionals to help you come up with the most beneficial options for you. Call us at 215-469-1000 and schedule your free consultation today!

Adapted from http://dreamcasa.org To see original article, click here.