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!

 

 

 

Real Estate Agents: 5 Great Ways To Get Involved with Your Community

I’m a firm believer that getting involved in your local community and volunteering your time is beneficial not only for your mind and body, but also your business. There’s a sense of connection and community that occurs when you surround yourself with other like-minded charitable people — that quite often — results in the deepening of relationships with existing clients, as well as the fostering of new ones.

We’ve all heard the old saying, “people do business with people they know, like and trust.” Volunteering is a great way to network and meet new people, but more importantly, when the effort is genuine, can result in new business opportunities and referrals.

If you’re a real estate agent and you’ve been thinking about donating your time and service but aren’t quite sure how to get started, here are five ideas to consider:

  1. Rotary International not only offers help locally and worldwide, but membership offers tremendous networking opportunities. The Rotary motto is “Service Above Self” and Rotary is an organization of over 33,000 local clubs serving their communities around the world.
  2. Hands On Phoenix partners with a wide range of community service organizations and government agencies to put volunteers to work where they are needed most – tackling issues like homelessness, hunger, education, animal welfare, environmental challenges, and more.
  3. Kiwanis International offers volunteer opportunities to help enhance the physical, emotional, educational, and social wellbeing of our children. Click the link to to see what opportunities are available in your community.
  4. Smaller groups that cater to different ethnicities may be ideal for the agent who specializes in a certain ethnic market. The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, for instance, can help you get in touch with local groups that offer help to the Hispanic community.
  5. Hyper-local volunteer opportunities like coaching a community athletic team, volunteering at a local school in your farm area, your church or community theater groups are also great ways to donate your time while meeting new people.

The important part is to think about what’s important to you. What are you passionate about? Then, reach out to that organization and ask how you can help. Making the time to start giving back will come back to you tenfold. In the words of Bryant McGill, “Giving is the master key to success, in all applications of human life.”

I hope you find these ideas helpful. We would love to hear about other ways you are volunteering your time and service to your local community, and how the act of ‘giving back’ has impacted your business. Feel free to comment below or share your stories with me via email at matt.askland@cardinafinancial.com.

To learn more about Cardinal Financial and our charitable work here in the Valley, please visit our Community & Charity page.

 

 

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

 

Let’s Work Together and Change the Planet

 

Dear Friends, Clients, Partners & Family,

Can you believe it’s already that time of year when the stores are packed with festive decorations and everyone gets in the holiday spirit – whether you’re ready for it or not? It’s also the time of year where the largest push, and need, for giving spreads throughout our communities. That being said, I’ve been thinking, what if this wasn’t the only time of year that we had this giving mindset? As a Chandler Compadre, I spend much of the year working on our events that raise millions of dollars for East Valley youth. I feel fortunate to be a part of this group of highly successful business owners that share this
same mentality of giving back year-round and highly encourage you all to do the same.

If you recall, a couple of months ago I sent out a letter asking you to get involved with ‘Change the Planet Week’. Outside of my involvement with the Compadres, my Cardinal AZ team and I have designated two times of the year where we get out and invest our time and energy into giving back to our community. Above are a few photos of our time spent helping Save the Family, an organization that helps local families struggling to transition into a better living environment.  As a team we painted, cleaned and made repairs to two apartment homes, and had a great time doing it.

Helping our community was not only rewarding, but an amazing team bonding event. We encourage you to join us for the next ‘Change the Planet Week’ in 2020, during the week of March 6th through 13th. If you took the challenge to help your community, we would love to hear about it! Please send the details and photos to TeamAskland@CardinalFinancial.com so we can share it on our Facebook page and continue this small movement of Change.

Wishing you a Great Finish to 2019.

Matt Askland

End of the Year Goal Planning

 

As the end of year approaches, many begin looking to define their next year’s goals. Recent studies show that about 3% of adults have clearly written goals and accomplish 5 to 10 times more than those who do not. Goal setting not only allows you to take control of your life’s direction, it also provides you a benchmark for determining whether you are actually succeeding. As someone who has been actively business planning for 10+ years, I can personally attest to the power of the physical act of writing down a goal. It helps clarify the things you truly want to accomplish; and by writing it down, you no longer have an excuse to forget about it.

We reached out to a few West Valley agents to get their take on this subject, but most do not participate in goal planning. Those that do say it’s propelled their business to new levels and can’t imagine not using it. Below is what Karen and Mike Baron from Infinity and Associates shared with us, followed by my personal goal planning steps.

‘Goal planning has always been a part of our business model. We do goal planning throughout the year, on a monthly basis, and have five year and long-term goals that we aim for. We use a white board to look at different scenarios. Before starting real estate, we read “The Millionaire Next Door” and have based part of our finance and goal planning strategy on that. Use a day planner and actually write everything down on paper! Review it weekly and train your brain to say it to yourself out loud. Have lists and check items off, and even if you don’t do something because you decided it wasn’t necessary, at least you didn’t forget about it.  We started using the Panda Planner for tasks and goals and it helps us to understand life balance.

Now here is what I do for year-end goal planning. First things first, to accomplish your goals, you need to know how to set them. I’m sharing three steps that will allow you to formulate goals that you can accomplish.

 

Step 1: Set Your Goals

Identify clear, concise and SMART goals that motivate and excite you – SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time Bound. In more specific terms, your goals should be clear and well defined, include precise figures and dates, are possible to achieve, are aligned with the direction you want your personal and professional life to take, must include a deadline and, last but not least, must be written down so that they inspire you to take action.

 

Step 2: Create a Business Action Plan

Now that you’ve identified and written down your goals, it’s time to put a plan in place to achieve them. To get yourself into the business planning mindset, start by conducting a review of your current or previous year. Some great questions to ask yourself: What did I accomplish? What are some roadblocks or challenges that got in my way? What opportunities did I miss? What did I learn? It is important to review what worked last year and to know your basic numbers (i.e. average days on market, listing to sale ratios) before you begin planning for the year ahead. Once you know your stats, begin writing down the individual tasks you need to carry out to achieve your objective, and in the order you need to complete them. Keep this list close by so that you can easily mark off tasks as you complete them.

 

Step 3: Track & Measure Your Results

How do you know if what you’re doing is yielding positive results? Using a suitable tracking system – whether that be a simple tracking form or a CRM platform to record your results – will allow you to track your progress and make necessary corrections throughout the year.

 

I hope you found these points helpful. By following these three steps, I’m confident you can set goals with certainty and enjoy the satisfaction that comes along with knowing you achieved what you set out to do.  If you’d like a copy of the forms I use for my personal and business goal setting, please email me at matt.askland@cardinalfinancial.com and I’ll be happy to share them with you. Good luck!

 

 

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.

 

 

Change The Planet Week

 

Dear Friends, Clients, Partners & Family,

Every year I forget how hot it actually gets here in Phoenix, and then, like clockwork, it hits me. Is anyone else ready to welcome back those cooler fall temperatures? Well, while we’re waiting, I wanted to share a project that I’ve been passionate about recently – and I hope it sparks something in you too.

In the past, I’ve mentioned an organization – The CORE – which is now like family to me. Being part of a mentor group has been instrumental in my professional growth and something I highly recommend looking into if you want to grow your business. A few years ago, we decided it was time to start giving back to our communities. They created ‘Change the Planet Week’ to encourage people to donate their personal time and labor to make a difference in their neighborhoods.

Between my involvement with the Chandler Compadres and now The CORE, I have made it a priority to give back to local organizations like these, and I’d like to ask the same of you. This year, Change The Planet Week begins on September 8th. During this week, I’m asking my friends, family, partners and colleagues to give a few hours of your personal time and labor to a cause of your choice and share your experiences on our Facebook Group page (search for Change the Planet Week). It would mean the world to me and will hopefully inspire others to give of their time too.

We have supported many organizations in the past. This year my team and I are working with Save the Family to get an apartment ready for a new family. We are excited to do something new and this should be a great team building exercise.  Are there any organizations you enjoy volunteering at or giving your time to? Send me an email and let me know.

I truly believe that it only takes a few hours of time spent giving back to your community to make a huge impact, and who knows, together we may just Change the Planet! What do you say? Will you join me? I hope the rest of your year is a success and look forward to speaking to you soon.

Matt Askland