Federal Reserve Rate Cuts | What You Need to Know

 

The Federal Reserve just made another emergency cut to the Federal Funds Rate, but it may not be clear how this will affect you. Below are things that you need to know:

  • The Federal Reserve does not control mortgage rates.
  • The Federal Reserve sets the Federal Funds Rate and Discount Rates. These are the costs for overnight loans from bank to bank or from the Federal Reserve to member banks.
  • When the Fed’s cuts their rates, mortgage rates can actually rise.
  • Lower Federal Reserve rates can be good for stocks, so investors often sell mortgage bonds to raise cash for stock investments.
  • When bond prices fall, mortgage rates rise.

How does this affect you?  Last week was a bad week for rates, but I believe this was a market overreaction to the massive influx of refinance applications that were submitted. With this new Federal Rate Cut announcement, there is a good chance we will get back to the lower rates of the previous week. We are optimistic things will settle again soon.

 

I’m always monitoring the markets to know what’s happening with mortgage rates, and keeping my customers protected is my number one goal. With that in mind, here is what you should be doing to be ready for a drop in rates:

  1. Get your application in NOW.  Click ‘Apply Now’ in this link to get started: Online Questionnaire
  2. Start gathering required documents that are listed in the ‘Apply Now’ link above.
  3. When you receive the request to send in Loan and Income Documents – Get them in ASAP!

Most Importantly, Be Armed & Ready for us to lock your loan rate in.

 

Call or email with any questions. I’m here to help!

 

Matt Askland
Retail Producing Branch Manager
Cardinal Financial Company, Limited Partnership
matt.askland@cardinalfinancial.com
480-759-1500

 

2020 is a Great Year for Real Estate

 

2020 is shaping up to be a very good year for the real estate market in Maricopa County, and here’s why.

The new 2020 conforming ($510,400) and FHA ($314,827 for Mariciopa County) loan limits are easing the financing requirements that we usually face with higher home prices. What does this mean for you? You can get the home you want at a payment that you can afford.

The NAHB (National Association of Home Builders) has released their Housing Market Index, which decreased one point in January to 75. This is still a very strong level and is only one point off a 20-year high.

Rates are still historically low, and it looks like they will stay that way for a while. That great credit score you worked so hard for is paying off (and you deserve it!). A low rate means you can spend more on your dream home, while keeping your payment at an affordable amount.

With higher loan limits and still low rates, 2020 is going to be a great year to buy. Give us a call today at 480-759-1500 to discuss your options!

2020 Loan Limits – Good News Ahead!

Rising home values are good news for many, but when you’re trying to buy a home that is just above a federal loan limit, it can be difficult. This is because most non-conforming interest rates are higher, causing a higher payment. And if you don’t have the extra cash on hand to increase your down payment and bring your loan down to the max limit, you might have to settle for a smaller home or one that’s in a less desirable neighborhood. However, with the new year comes new opportunities. We are pleased to announce Conforming and FHA loan limits are increasing as of January 1, 2020!

The new maximum conforming loan limit for single-family homes will be $510,400, a more than 5 percent increase from 2019’s $484,350, which brings the max FHA loan limit for single-family homes to $331,760. The new limits are effective for Cardinal Financial AZ loans locked on and after Friday, December 6, 2019.

Why the change? Rising home values prompted the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) to increase conforming loan limits in most of the country, including Arizona. As explained by former FHFA commissioner Ed Golding, “If house prices have gone up by 7 percent, then you need a 7 percent higher mortgage. It’s pretty automatic. Every time prices rise, the FHFA raises mortgage limits”.

So how does this effect you? Conforming loans (backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) make up the majority of the home loans issued in the U.S. As a buyer, an increase in loan limits allows you to shop within a housing market with rising values and prices. And because conforming loan rates are generally lower, this allows you to purchase that dream home with a more affordable monthly payment. These loan limits are just as important for sellers. Due to all of the above, higher loan limits allow your home to be available to a larger pool of potential buyers.  Another popular loan is FHA because of its low down payment options (as low as 3.5%). FHA loan limits are set at 65% of conforming loan limits, so when conforming increases, so does FHA.

With higher loan limits and still low rates, 2020 is going to be a great year to buy. Give us a call today at 480-759-1500 to discuss your options!

 

 

 

What Young Homebuyers Are Looking For

 

These days, if you want to sell your home, you’re probably going to sell to a Millennial, or even scarier, a Generation Yer. It’s not all bad though. A lot of these younger people have solid financial backing, either from their parents or well-paying jobs, giving them the money to buy your home at a price you’ll like. But in order for them to spend their hard-earned money on your home, you’ve got to pique their interests. If only there were a way to figure out what young home buyers want. What if there was a content writer in that same age group with a lot of insight into what people his age are looking for in homes? Wouldn’t that be something? All right, fine, I’ll tell you. But we young people are pretty simple to figure out.

What young home buyers want is a home that requires little to no additional work. At this point in our lives, we’re young professionals who are more concerned with the financial benefits of homeownership and having space for our dogs to run around than fixing up a home and making it uniquely ours. Now, of course, every now and then you’ll run into that charming young couple that wants to invest their sweat equity and personal touch into a property. But the majority of us just want a nice house that we can move into without worrying about a leaky ceiling or doors that don’t shut all the way.

I don’t love pigeonholing young people like this, but it’s the truth. If I wanted to provide a nuanced account of what every type of Millennial/Gen Yer wants in a home, I’d write a book. But I’m a Millennial so this blog post will do just fine. Here’s what young home buyers want in their homes.

1. UPDATED KITCHEN AND BATHROOMS

If there’s one thing that young people don’t want, it’s a home that looks and feels old. We love a modern, upscale, and classy look, but we’re also more budget-conscious than previous generations. When you walk through a home, there are two places that are dead giveaways as to whether the house feels modern or outdated. The kitchen and the bathroom. Nothing turns off young people like old looking bathrooms and kitchens. Why? Well for one, they don’t look like how we envision our dream home looking. They aren’t sleek and modern—they remind you of your grandmother’s house. And who wants to live in their grandma’s house at age 26?

Secondly, when a bathroom or kitchen looks old and outdated, that just means we’re going to have to pay to get them renovated eventually, which is a big red flag for a group of people who want to do as little work and save as much money as possible while moving into a new home. The best way to make a home more appealing to young home buyers is to have bathrooms and kitchens that give off that modern, upscale vibe—and don’t scare them off with thoughts of pricey remodels.

2. SMART HOMES

This is an era of new and exciting technology, and what young home buyers want is a home that reflects that. We already talked about modern-style homes, but what’s more modern than a home with smart technology? Smart home features have impacted the real estate industry significantly over the past few years, and they’ve become a must-have when targeting young home buyers. Some of the more popular smart home features for young home buyers include automated or voice devices that control lighting, appliances, heating systems, garage doors, etc. For a generation that lives on their phones just as much as we do in our homes, it’s important to us to have the ability to retain control of what’s going on in our homes while we’re away.

3. ENERGY EFFICIENCY

You may not be able to tell from the first two points, but we young people aren’t shallow. We have principles. We care about things other than ourselves. One of the main things we look for when we’re buying a home is energy efficiency because we’re trying our hardest to save money— the environment! Seriously though, for whatever reason, energy-efficient windows and appliances can go a long way in making your home more attractive to young home buyers. Being conscious about saving money and the environment is part of the versatility and efficiency that makes our generation so special.

4. LAUNDRY ROOMS

This may come as a surprise, but one of the biggest features we Millennials can’t do without is a laundry room. It sounds silly, but we truly value having a space to wash, dry, and fold clothes without messing up our living spaces. Not to mention, nobody—and I mean nobody—likes the laundromat. If you don’t have a laundry room and would like to add one, a basement is usually the easiest and cheapest place to put it coming in at about $1,000. If you don’t have a basement, a laundry room or laundry closet (just fits a washer and dryer) can cost from $5,000 to $10,000 to install. Don’t have a basement or a laundry room? Don’t sweat it. There are plenty of other ways for you to tailor your home to what young home buyers want.

5. LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION

When a young person buys a home, they’re not just buying the house itself, they’re buying into the community around it as well. This is where we’re going to be doing our living, shopping, running, and potentially raising families. When you think about it like that, a good location goes a long way. That being said, there’s not much you can do if you’re selling your home and your community doesn’t have much going for it. That just means you may have to switch your target. If you’re out in a rural area, you may not want to target younger buyers because we like being closer to cities. If your home is in a good neighborhood with cool bars and nice restaurants within walking distance, be sure to include that in your home listing. Selling your home is about playing to your strengths! Do that and you’ll be golden no matter whom you’re targeting.

6. HARDWOOD FLOORS

Aside from their aesthetic appeal, hardwood floors are just really convenient when it comes to maintenance. Not only is hardwood flooring easy to clean and maintain, but it also lasts longer than carpeting. When you add in the fact that a lot of young homeowners have pets, hardwood floors are the perfect counter to the messes that our furry friends love to make. Installing hardwood floors isn’t the cheapest home improvement project but it may be worth the investment as it can bring in young home buyers in droves.

7. OUTDOOR SPACE

Speaking of pets, we’re dying to have outdoor space for our pets to stretch their legs and run around. After years of apartment living, those guys deserve the chance to have their own domain. Even if we don’t have pets, Millennials are social beings. We want space to barbecue with friends or simply kick back and relax by ourselves. If you’re looking to draw young home buyers to your home, creating an outdoor haven should be near the top of your list. The vast majority of Millennials will pay more for a home with a nice outdoor space than one without.

8. HOME OFFICE

One of the best inventions of my lifetime (up there with legendary technology like the iPhone, the internet, and sliced bread) is working from home. Did you know that more than 8 million Americans work from home? And all signs point to that trend continuing its upward trajectory. That means a home office is high on the list for a lot of young home buyers who have put their days of sitting in rush hour traffic behind them.

9. LOW MAINTENANCE

A majority of what young home buyers want really boils down to making things as simple as possible for them. Convenience is the name of the game for young home buyers. We want homes that look fancy and upscale, but without having to put too much effort into keeping it up. We’d rather spend our weekends relaxing than repairing a roof or replacing old windows. Call it lazy if you want, but I call it smart. We’re willing to pay more for a home that’s ready to move into without having to go through the stress and effort of repairs and replacements. So if you’re looking to sell your home to a young buyer, it’s important that you stress a low cost of maintenance.

10. OPEN FLOOR PLAN

Gone are the days of formal dining rooms and rooms with defined purposes. Open floor plans have been all the rage for a while now, and the Millennial generation has caught on. An open floor plan gives us the versatility to convert different spaces based on our needs. We’re looking for large open spaces in kitchens, living rooms, and family rooms that we can use for multiple purposes. We also love to entertain, so we want a home where guests can flow freely through the house during gatherings rather than being sectioned off in different rooms.

11. STORAGE SPACE

This just in: Millennials have a lot of stuff. Do we need all of it? No, but we’d like to keep all of it anyway. That’s why storage space is so high on so many of our lists. Be it walk-in closets, a spacious garage, or a pantry, we really just need a place to keep all our stuff nice and neat. We’re used to tiny apartments and the backs of chairs doubling as clothes hangers. Give us the space we need!

Original post written by Khari Pressley

 

Four Benefits of Owning a Home

 

It’s a major responsibility, but owning a home comes with some big-time benefits – one being peace of mind. Here are a few other benefits to owning versus renting:

You’re Building Up Equity Every Month

What is equity? It’s the amount you sell your home for, minus the money you still owe on it at the time of sale. The amount you owe reduces each time you make a mortgage payment. Your principal payment increases each month, too, meaning that as time goes on, you’re paying more toward the actual loan amount versus interest. Equity in your home is typically lowest at your first mortgage payment and highest at your last payment.

It’s Cheaper to Own a Home Than Rent – In the Long Run

Buying and owning a home may be a little overwhelming at the very beginning because of interest rates, mortgage payments and the paperwork that goes along with it. You may think it’s easier – and cheaper – to rent a house, but it’s really not. After a while, your interest rate will decrease. Plus, each month that you’re making a payment, you’re putting money toward your own home, not sending hard-earned cash into a landlord’s pocket.

As a Homeowner, You’ll Enjoy More Stability

Owning a home actually brings much freedom and a sense of independence. The house belongs to you and you can do whatever you want to it. You don’t have to worry about a landlord hiking up your rent at the beginning of a new year or risk being kicked out of the house. Any improvements that you wish to make benefit no one else but you! Plus, if you have kids, you’ll have to worry less about having to switch school districts on-the-fly because you won’t have to worry about being asked to vacate.

Improvements Are Made for Your Own Good

Let’s talk about this a bit more. Once you a buy a house, you’re no longer restricted by a landlord’s guidelines or requirements on paint, decor or design. You get to decide what type of construction, design or maintenance professionals you’ll hire to work on the home. Any improvements made to a rental are enjoyed by you for only as long as you’re living in the home. Once you leave, your updates will benefit the next renter.

Are you you in the process of looking for a new home? Give us a call today at 480-759-1500 to discuss your options!

Tips & Tricks For A More Organized Move

Moving into your new home is an exciting milestone. It’s the start of an all-new chapter in your life, but moving can also be highly stressful. With a little planning, you can take the frustration level down a notch (or five). Here are some clever and efficient ways to organize your move.

  • Make a list. Before starting the packing process, take a moment to imagine how you want your new home to look. Make a list of things you currently own that you don’t want or need, to move into the new place. Donate or sell what’s usable and get rid of the rest.
  • Pack smart. Use press and seal bags or containers. Buy a roll of stretch wrap to protect your valuables from getting scratched or battered during transport. Vacuum seal your out-of-season clothing for easy storage in the new house. Use wheeled suitcases to move heavy items like books.
  • Start with the easiest and most important stuff. Before things get busy, pack and set aside valuable documents, sensitive financial information, jewelry, electronics and computer-related items. All of these objects should be specially packed and cared for, and doing so at the very beginning will prevent any mishaps (and misplacements!) down the road.
  • Create a labeling system. This can sometimes be more helpful than a personal assistant! Employ a hybrid color-coded and numbered list system to keep track of what’s in your boxes. Keep written record of what’s in each colored and numbered label. This way, you won’t need to search forever for that one thing at the new house. Instead, you can dive right in.
  • Always pack a box of essentials. This box should get you through the first day and night in your new home. Use a clear, plastic bin to easily differentiate between the rest of your stuff. A few things that you may want to include in this “essentials” box are: A minimal set of dishes, towels, sheets, tea kettle or coffee maker, phone charger, hair dryer, toilet paper, light bulbs, one or two rolls of trash bags, paper towels and much-needed tools like box cutters.

I hope you guys found this article and some of these tips helpful. If you have any other tips for an organized move, I’d love to hear about them.  Feel free to let me know in the comments below!

Matt Askland

 

Now is a Great Time to Refinance

 

 

With mortgage rates still trending low, we’re seeing a huge uptick in refinancing applications – almost 2.5 times more than this same time last year, according to Mortgage Bankers Association. If you bought your home within the last two years and have been considering refinancing, now is a great time and here’s why:

  • Home loan interest rates are still at their lowest point since 2016.
  • Buyers who took on a mortgage over the last year and a half are more likely to have a higher interest rate as 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages offered through 2018 were around 4.54%, according to Freddie Mac.
  • Black Knight estimates that roughly 10 million borrowers could save at least 0.75 percentage points by refinancing

 

Shorter Loan Term

If your current interest rate is around 4.5% or higher, there is a strong possibility that refinancing could help you lower your monthly expenses and shave five years off of your current loan term and keep your monthly payment the same. (See graphic below. Savings based on a $250,000 loan amount.) For those considering refinance as an option, be sure to speak with your mortgage adviser about loan-origination fees as those fees could potentially outweigh the savings.

 

Cash-Out Refinance

Have you been dreaming of a new kitchen or adding square footage to your home, but worried that a new cash out mortgage payment will kill your monthly budget? With today’s rates, not only can you borrow for less, but your new payment is likely to be less than your existing one simply because of the lower interest rate.

Ideally, when it comes to cash out refinancing, we recommend putting that cash toward something that improves your home’s overall value versus spending it on new living room furniture, clothing or a Caribbean vacation. Other great options are to pay down high interest credit card debt or put the extra cash towards your family’s emergency fund in the event of an unforeseen hardship.

 

Whether you’re looking to lower your monthly living expenses, shave time off of your mortgage or do a cash-out refinance for home improvements, we wouldn’t recommend waiting. Speak to your mortgage adviser today and find out if refinancing is the right option for you.

 

 

Why You Need An Appraisal

It’s finally happened — after months of searching, you’ve found your dream home. It’s the perfect size for your growing family, the kitchen was just remodeled and there’s a huge deck for entertaining. And best of all, the seller accepted your offer!

As we near your closing date, your lender will want to verify the home’s value with an appraisal. This might sound nerve-wracking, but don’t worry: Appraisals protect you from overpaying.

Let’s dive into appraisals to demystify the process:

When do you need an appraisal?
If you’re taking out a mortgage to buy a new home, the lender will require an appraisal. The appraiser gives an independent estimate of the property based on recent sales data of similar homes.

When your mortgage amount matches the appraised price of the home, you know that you have a good loan-to-value ratio — and aren’t paying more than you should be.

What does an appraiser look for?
An appraiser will physically measure the home’s square footage and visually inspect the entire property. They’ll note things like:

  • Floor plan functionality and the number of bedrooms and bathrooms
  • Age of the house and its overall appearance
  • Value of any recent updates or remodeling
  • Size of the lot
  • Desirability of the surrounding neighborhood

After comparing all of that against similar nearby homes sold within the last 90 days, the appraiser arrives at your home’s value.

What if it’s valued for less than you expected?
Let’s say you agreed to buy the property for $250,000 but the appraisal came in at $225,000. Your lender won’t approve a loan for more than the appraised price.

If you still want to buy the home, a lower price can be negotiated with the seller or you can challenge the appraisal and pay for a second opinion.

Another option is to walk away. This may not sound ideal, and it will probably be hard to do. But the goal is to get you the right home at the best price.

If an appraisal comes in low, we’ll discuss all the options available to make sure you don’t overpay.

Are you ready to find your dream home? Reach out today to get started.

 

 

Fixing Ugly Isn’t Easy

 

Have you ever dealt with a collection company before?  Would you rather bang your head against the wall?

Recently, our team was called upon to help a client fix an “ugly” situation on their credit report to improve their terms with a home loan refinance.  The collection only totaled $250 but, it had a huge impact because everything else was paid perfectly.  You may wonder why this particular collection had a larger impact on this particular client’s strong credit report vs. someone who notoriously has late payments on their report.  That’s a great question…..however the answer is, “it’s just an ugly reality.”  Believe it or not, if you pay your debt in full but negotiate the wrong type of letter from the creditor, your result in regards to credit improvement could still be costly.  We coached our client on what to say and what documentation they would need with the exact verbiage required to improve their overall credit rating.

The result:  we were able to improve our client’s credit score by 107 points and reduce their monthly mortgage payment by over $100 per month for a one-time $250 payment and a patient phone call.

The long term savings in this situation saved the client thousands!  If you have an ugly credit situation, call us so we can help you! As always thank you for your continued support!  Without your ongoing referrals we would not be where we are today!

 

Great News for Interest Rates | Is Now The Right Time to Buy A Home?

IS NOW THE RIGHT TIME?

Are you thinking about buying a house, but not sure it’s the right time? Trust us, we get it. Buying a home is a huge decision with many factors to take into account, such as neighborhood, school district and the number of bedrooms and bathrooms to name a few. However, the biggest question in most people’s mind is, ‘How much house can I really afford?’ That answer has its own set of factors, with one in particular being the Interest Rate (cue the ominous music). But we have good news. Actually, we have REALLY good news (drumroll)…

THE BIG NEWS

Last month, the Federal Reserve officially announced that there are no plans to raise interest rates in 2019. With the current rates still historically low, and holding steady, there is no reason to wait to begin the search for your dream home (champagne pop and confetti)!

Even better, mortgage rates haven’t been this low since February 2018, almost 14 months ago, and Freddie Mac reports 30-year fixed rates were down to 4.28% in March 2019. This rate was only available a few months ago by taking out a fifteen-year fixed or adjustable rate loan, which for many buyers, is not a very feasible option. Thirty-year fixed loans were close to 5% just this past November and that rate was still considered historically low, so a potential rate in the low 4’s, in our opinion, is definitely worth taking advantage of if you can.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR YOU?

Firstly, a lower rate equals a lower payment. A lower payment means you could potentially get more home or buy in your dream neighborhood, or have additional funds to decorate your new home.

Bottom line. With current interest rates holding steady and the news from the Federal Reserve, 2019 is definitely the year to consider taking the leap and making that long awaited purchase. It’s an investment that will continue to pay off in dividends for many years to come.

If you have additional questions or would like to learn more about what loan programs would be right for you, give us a call today at 480-759-1500.

We would love to help you turn hope into a home!