Zillow has been busy. That makes sense – it takes a lot of research activity and media attention to create the massive online presence they have. Their latest release is a data analysis with this headline: “14% of Renters Can Afford to Buy.” It’s human nature to react to headlines, and that’s a statement that can either prompt people to say, “Maybe I can qualify to buy a home!” or “There’s more than an 80% chance I can’t qualify to buy a home.” Outside of an initial reaction to a news story, many renters really do want to know two things: Could I buy a home? Should I buy a home? It’s definitely worth finding out the answer to both of these questions.
The “could” question can easily be answered by talking to a qualified mortgage loan officer. Qualified lenders can tell you what your status is now and help you get prepared to get approved for a loan if you’re not quite ready or have some work or organizing to do with your financing. A loan officer can help you plan and give you a timeline.
The “should” question is a little more complicated. Ultimately, the individual consumer needs to decide that homeownership is for them. Realtors can provide information to help you decide if owning a home will help you move forward with your goals in the short and long term. Housing is the biggest monthly expense most of us have. Advice from a qualified mortgage loan officer and Realtor can help you figure out how to get the best return on that huge monthly investment.
The GCS Title team and I can introduce you to great people who can help you answer the “coulds” and “shoulds” of owning a home. We’re here to help! ~Charlie
Seems like you can’t look, watch or listen to anything without hearing something about mortgage interest rates, the impact of Brexit an rates and even “more historic lows” and a possible refi boom. There’s a ton of articles, information, speculation and opinion about what homeowners can do and gain during times of low interest rates and a lot of it is interesting and helpful. Here are a couple highlights:
- Save thousands of dollars on the life of their loans by getting a lower rate or shorter term (15 vs. 30 year)
- Pay of a home equity line of credit
- Consolidating debt
- Get rid of mortgage insurance
These can all be great things…the problem is, you can’t know for sure if any of these things are possible and if they make sense for you personally when it comes to costs/fees/savings without getting specific, professional advice. While it looks so available online, it’s not necessarily personalized…a mortgage calculator just doesn’t tell the whole story. At GCS Title, we work with many, many incredible mortgage loan officers. These people are licensed, experienced – and they’re actual, local people who you can reach without going through an automated system – which is a big deal when you’re making choices and decisions that affect such a big part of your finances. Loan officers are happy to discuss your situation and let you know if you have options you didn’t know you had and their findings will be geared to what’s right for you – no obligation. Let us know if we can introduce you to a loan officer who can answer your questions…a refi boom could be a great thing – as long as it doesn’t blow up in your face. ~Charlie
If you read the team bios at gcstitle.com, you’ll notice themes: We all appreciate how every day in this business is different, we thrive on solving problems and we love helping people – not only buyers and sellers who are going through an important transaction that they only do a handful of times in their lives, but the Realtors as well. The 2016 National Association of Realtors member profile came out recently and I noticed that the median gross income for agents with 16 years of experience or more went up $4600 last year – great news for those seasoned pros. Not so great news was the fact that NAR members with two years of experience or less fell $600. Being self-employed and working on straight commission is challenging and we understand the importance of every client and transaction to the Realtors we work with and we consistently work to help agents and loan officers to develop business instead of simply asking them for it.
Closings and everything that goes into them is our business at GCS but we believe our role extends beyond that in the industry and beyond. We also work with our real estate and lending partners to reach out to the buying and selling public, participate in community events with Spare Key, support our veterans through organizations like the American Warrior Initiative. We believe we’re all in this together and we’re always looking for ways to support our partners and community. How can we help you? ~Charlie
The summer could be a rollercoaster based on new information from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and online real estate resource Zillow. Sales of existing homes went up 1.7% between March and April and they’re up six-percent year-over-year. Prices are higher too: NAR reports that the median home price has jumped 6.3% from April 2015, making this the 50th consecutive month of annual home price gains. So there’s the highs – the lows have to do with housing inventory. The April Zillow Real Estate Market Report shows there are 3.4% fewer homes on the market today than there were this time last year. There’s an eight-percent drop in the number of homes for sale in the entry level price range, making it even tougher for first-time home buyers than other property categories. So we’ve got a supply and demand situation that’s driving prices up. I’m not bringing this up to scare people, but rather to make them aware. These market conditions mean it’s more important than ever for consumers to make sure they’re working with experience, full-time, qualified real estate and mortgage professionals. When bidding wars are likely, top-notch representation is critical. GCS is here to help home buyers and sellers have a great experience throughout the closing process and we work with outstanding Realtors and loan officers every day. Let us know if you’d like to meet one! ~Charlie
It can be hard – and actually kind of boring – to keep up with everything lawmakers are passing that affects the real estate and mortgage industries in the interest of “protecting consumers.” The latest development out of Washington D.C. is passage of the SAFE Transitional Licensing Act that basically gives mortgage loan officers a temporary license when making a change. Those changes could be between companies or across state lines. Why should anyone who isn’t a lender in transition care? The government has spent a lot of time examining the real estate process – lending practices, settlement procedures, licensing, disclosures and marketing rules after the “real estate bubble burst” and the “mortgage meltdown.” All the new rules and scrutiny came after the waves of foreclosures and underwater properties that did in fact cause a great deal of suffering for individuals and the economy. Politicians will always be busy making laws – it’s what they do. We at GCS and the Realtors and lenders we work with also understand that consumers must be protected and empowered. Whether you’re a renter or homeowner, there are many times when real estate and mortgage professionals can be helpful – even outside the times when you’re buying, selling or refinancing. The housing and finance crises of years past have made Realtors and loan officers necessary members of your “household finance team” and they can help you stay on top of your home’s value, your credit, your ability to make a move and your options at any given time. Take advantage of their knowledge and commitment to neighborhoods, communities and your ability to build worth and wealth through homeownership! ~Charlie
You’ve probably heard of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) that affects people’s moods and happiness levels in the winter months when there’s less sunshine. That in mind, some researchers wanted to know if sunshine or clouds affected mortgage loan approvals (not making this up). Folks at the University of Washington compared loan approvals on unexpectedly sunny days to those on unexpectedly cloudy days and found some interesting things: 1) The number of approvals on the sunny days was higher and 2) The “sunny day approvals” also proved more likely to go into default. Anyone who has ever gone through the process of getting a mortgage might (and probably should) freak out to hear this and wonder, “After all the paperwork, scrutiny, explanations and proof of everything, it comes down to SUNSHINE?” It’s not quite that simple, but UW felt their data was strong enough to publicize. UW Associate Finance Professor Ran Duchin says, “The cool thing about this data is that for all the applications that are approved, we could actually trace the performance of those loans being originated, after they’re approved.” Duchin says this data should motivate lenders to investigate “to what extent should we automate some of the decision-making processes … to avoid this sort of human factor, these mistakes.”
I know from years of doing business and working with the finest loan officers and lending institutions that this research makes for an interesting news item, but it’s not even close to the whole story. Things like the weather shouldn’t affect your loan approval or experience as a borrower. One way to make sure you’re not harmed by a “fair weather lender” is to deal with experienced professionals. Get recommendations and research loan officers and companies before making a decision and don’t make an “impulse application” online without due diligence. Anyone who’s ever gotten a mortgage understands how helpful “live humans” are when the process gets stressful and complicated (and that’s practically the definition of “mortgage process”). Ask us! We can connect you with the best of the best.
It’s hard to explain title insurance. Frankly, if we were to fully explain what title insurance is and does, I’m pretty sure eyes would glaze over – if people even stuck around to hear the whole thing. Realtors and Loan Officers often say they have trouble answering questions for their buyers, sellers and refinance borrowers and consumers want to know why they’re required to buy title insurance and what it does. So here goes: Title insurance is like a warranty that insures you really own the property and no one or no other entity has rights or claims to it. Title policies are issued and work in more than one channel. Someone selling the property must provide title insurance to the buyer so they can pass “clear title” and the buyer must buy a policy to protect their lender’s investment (banks are funny about loaning money on property to one person if someone else owns part or all of it). Anything that can constitute a claim to a property outside of the seller transferring it or the new buyer is called a “cloud on title.” Title is sort of like the other insurance you may have – auto for example – and it really is one of those things that you will be SUPER glad you have if you find out that you need it. The best part of owning and working at a title company is this: We get to handle your closing and be there at one of the most important moments in your lives and be excited with and for you. Everyone at GCS will say that’s the best, most gratifying part of their job. We’ll also explain title insurance in detail if you’ve got a couple hours and nothing to do…