Blog

Thinking About Refinancing Your Mortgage? A Look at Refinancing Rates and Predictions for 2015
By Peta-Gay
February 23, 2015

Mortgage rates have been so low for so long that it's hard to believe there are any homeowners left who haven't refinanced their mortgages. But there are still people who can benefit, and conditions are still strong for refinancing. Below are some predictions for 2015 and how the refinancing market will shape up.

Rates Will Remain Low, At Least For A While

Mortgage rates moved back below 4 percent in the latter stages of 2014 and are expected to stay around that level into at least the first half of 2015. For homeowners who still have a mortgage rate that's around 4 1/2 to 5 percent, that makes it worth it to refinance. However, because the Federal Reserve has stopped buying mortgage-backed securities, rates are likely to go up at some point. Mortgage rates also could rise if, as expected, the Fed starts raising short-term interest rates, which could happen as early as spring.

Refinancing Activity Should Increase

As mortgage rates have dropped back below 4 percent and should remain there for at least a few months, it should spur refinancing activity, at least in the first half of the year. An improving economy and improving housing market also could help the refinancing trend, because people are more likely to refinance when they have more equity in their homes and when they feel more stable about their overall financial situation. Experts are predicting as much as a 7 percent increase in mortgage refinancing volume.

Fannie, Freddie Change May Boost Refinancing

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced on December 8 that they will allow down payments on conventional loans to be as low as 3 percent for first-time home buyers. A part of that announcement that was less-touted, however, is that Fannie and Freddie will also allow homeowners to refinance with as little as 3 percent equity in their homes to help cover closing costs. The loans will only be available to well-qualified buyers, but it should help boost refinancing somewhat. On a home worth $200,000, the difference between 5 percent equity and 3 percent equity is $4,000, which should cover closing costs in most situations.

Don't Wait To Refinance

While mortgage rates are low, they aren't likely to stay there for long. If you have a rate that's higher than current rates or want to refinance into a shorter term, call your trusted Real Estate or Mortgage professional right away.

About the Blogger - Peta-Gay Lewis, MRP is Owner and CEO of Property Locators, LLC™. She is a licensed REALTOR in DC, MD, and VA with Douglas Realty, LLC (8096 Edwin Raynor Blvd Suite C Pasadena, MD 21122). Her contact information is 202 683-0158 (c), 410 255-3690 (o) or agent@propertylocatorsllc.com. 

Here are Ways to Prepare Your Home if You Live in a Flood Zone
By Peta-Gay
February 20, 2015

If your home is located in a flood zone, it's critical that you know how to get ready for those drenching spring rains. Here are some basic steps any homeowner can take to prepare for potentially devastating floods.

Community Emergency Plans

Your community has an emergency plan in case of flooding. There are warning signals to alert residents, evacuation routes mapped out and the locations of emergency shelters are given. Get in touch with your community government center if you haven't already received copies of these preparedness plans.

Have a Family Plan

Floods can be devastating. In an emergency, it's key that every family member knows what to do and where to go. Plan an evacuation route with your family and practice it. Be sure everyone has the name, address and phone number of a family contact who lives out of state in case anyone is separated during a flood event.

Be Proactive

Get ready to prevent disaster. Turn off all electrical power to the home as soon as there is any standing water or before you vacate it. Also turn off gas and water supplies if you evacuate. Hire an electrician to raise your electrical outlets, circuit breakers and other electrical component so they are at least a foot above the home's flood elevation mark.

Emergency Supplies to Have on Hand

Being prepared in a flood zone means having emergency supplies available all the time, just in case. Stock your home with supplies that will last at least five full days. Have about five gallons of clean water per person on hand. Stock up on canned foods or other non-perishable food items. Be sure to have a non-electric can opener. Place aside some prescription medications or any other specific medical needs, in addition to a first aid kit. Have a battery-powered radio on hand and extra batteries. Also have a few flashlights at the ready. Sleeping bags or extra blankets are needed, as are personal hygiene supplies like toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap and towels.

Prepare Your Home Well in Advance

Finally, you'll want to check on a regular basis that your sump pump is in working order and have a battery-powered back up available. Get a water alarm so you'll know if water is pooling in your basement. Have your gutters and downspouts cleaned out at least twice a year.

Living in a flood zone means that you'll need to be prepared, and there's no better time than now to start getting ready.

About the Blogger - Peta-Gay Lewis, MRP is Owner and CEO of Property Locators, LLC™. She is a licensed REALTOR in DC, MD, and VA with Douglas Realty, LLC (8096 Edwin Raynor Blvd Suite C Pasadena, MD 21122). Her contact information is 202 683-0158 (c), 410 255-3690 (o) or agent@propertylocatorsllc.com.

Spring Cleaning: Follow Our Handy Guide to Organizing Your Garage, Basement and Attic
By Peta-Gay
February 19, 2015

Spring is coming faster than you think, and your garage, basement and attic need your attention. From sweeping cobwebs to throwing out old, useless junk and organizing family photos, spring cleaning is essential to keeping a tidy house. Follow our handy guide to organizing your garage, basement and attic once it starts to warm up outside.

Make Room For Your Car

You'll likely need to set aside a full weekend to organize your garage. As you won't be able to complete this task by yourself, get your family or friends to help you out. It might be a good idea to bribe them with free pizza for lunch.

Go through every square inch of the garage from top to bottom, including tools, unpacked boxes from when you moved and anything else that gets in your way. Separate the items that you want to sell or donate into one area of your driveway, items that you want keep into another area and stuff that you want to throw away into a separate pile.

Organize the items you want to keep into small, well-marked boxes and place back in the garage. Use as much wall space as possible to store tools and boxes by installing shelves inside your garage. Organize the items you want to sell into separate piles on a tarp in your garage for temporary storage.

De-Clutter Your Basement

Similar to your garage, you'll want to get rid of the clutter in your basement. Make sure you have enough room for multiple piles of items and be aware that you'll need to add to your garage piles later on.

Organize your items into three piles: one pile for items you wish to keep, another one for items you wish to sell and the final pile for items you want to throw out. If you have a significant amount of clothing in your basement, you might want to consider purchasing mobile hanger units and place them against the wall.

Turn Your Attic Into An Inviting Room

Your attic doesn't have to be a storage space if you can clean it up and organize it correctly. Place everything you want into marked boxes and dust the attic before you place them in their respective areas.

Selling and throwing away personal belongings can be a huge hassle, especially if you have an emotional attachment to them. Generally speaking, items that are broken, expired or out of date can be thrown away while items that you no longer use but don't hold much sentimental value can be sold or donated.

 About the Blogger - Peta-Gay Lewis, MRP is Owner and CEO of Property Locators, LLC™. She is a licensed REALTOR in DC, MD, and VA with Douglas Realty, LLC (8096 Edwin Raynor Blvd Suite C Pasadena, MD 21122). Her contact information is 202 683-0158 (c), 410 255-3690 (o) or agent@propertylocatorsllc.com.

Be Prepared for Your Mortgage Pre-approval Interview by Having Answers to These 4 Questions
By Peta-Gay
February 6, 2015

 

So – you've completed an initial mortgage pre-qualification and now you're ready to take the next step and meet with your lender or mortgage advisor for the pre-approval interview. Are you ready? At this stage of the application process your lender will dig into your financial background to ensure that you're fully capable of making your mortgage payments and that you don't present too high a risk. Let's take a quick look at a few questions you should know the answers to before you go in for a mortgage pre-approval.

Do You Have a Specific Home in Mind?

If you've already picked out the perfect new home, be sure to bring along some of the details when you meet with your lender. At minimum you'll want to know the price range that you're expecting to buy in so that your mortgage advisor can try to find a mortgage that allows you to purchase the home and still meet your other financial goals.

What is Your Current Income from All Sources?

Your income (and that of your spouse, if you have one) will be a major factor in the size of your mortgage, your payment terms and the interest rate that you qualify for. If you have a significant income and it's clear that you will have little trouble making the mortgage payments you'll likely qualify for a shortened amortization period that includes a lower interest rate. Conversely, if you can only afford to make a bare minimum monthly payment you'll be facing a longer mortgage term. 

Do You Have Any "Black Marks" on Your Credit?

If you have any negative spots in your credit history you'll want to ensure that you're able to answer for them, because your lender will certainly ask about them. Be honest and confident, and remember that the lender wants your business as much as you want to receive a pre-approval for mortgage financing. 

What Are Your Plans in the Next Five to Ten Years?

Finally don't forget that interest rates will continue to fluctuate and that may have an impact on your mortgage in the near future. Be sure to share any major financial plans that you have with your mortgage advisor as they can keep you appraised of any refinancing opportunities that come about.

Buying a home is an exciting time – one that will be far less stressful if you are fully prepared for the many steps along the way.

 

2015 Kitchen Design: Three Trends That You Need to Be Aware of Before You Renovate
By Peta-Gay
February 6, 2015

Renovating your kitchen is an excellent way to improve its look, increase the value of your home and appeal to a more diverse range of home buyers if you decide to sell. However, a kitchen remodel can easily cost $10,000 to $20,000 or more, which is why you want to make choices that you can live with. Learning more about some of hottest trends for 2015 can help you decide what you want and don't want in your kitchen.

Traditional Is Back

Trends come and go, but the classics remain constant. One of the hottest renovation trends for 2015 is a more traditional look. Homeowners today are no longer attached to trendy colors and modern designs; they want homes that have a more traditional look and will retain that traditional look for years to come.

Experts predict that 2015 will bring a return to darker wood colors for cabinets, tables, counters and even floors. There are also some reports that homeowners will use oil rubbed bronze and darker pulls and handles on cabinets and drawers as opposed to flashy and contemporary chrome accents. Other trends include rustic farmhouse tables, double porcelain sinks and natural stone counters.

Going Green

It's hard to go anywhere today without seeing or hearing about green decorating trends, and those trends carry over into kitchens. Homeowners want products made from recycled materials and the chance to "go green" at home. Adding a recycling center is just one of the hottest trends for the kitchen.

Designers also found that homeowners want counters and floors made from recycled or sustainable materials. Bamboo is a sustainable construction material that works well in flooring applications. Homeowners can also find counters made from old tires, soda bottles and other recycled goods.

Homeowners Want More Space

Ask anyone what they need in their homes, and the odds are good that many will say they need more space. Recessed lighting is one trendy accent that adds more space and reduces the number of fixtures and cords hanging down from the ceiling. Other ways to add more space include adding an island with storage to the center of the room and cutting down on the number of cabinets lining the walls.

There are a number of trendy ways that you can renovate and change your kitchen. Going green, adding more space and bringing in traditional elements are just a few of those ways. Talk with a real estate agent such as myself at 202 683-0158 or agent@propertylocatorsllc.com about other changes you can make that will add value to your kitchen.