2015 Property Taxes

House reading newspaperProperty taxes. They’re insignificant to some and the bane of others’ existence. The average American household spends $2,089 on property taxes for their homes each year. Roughly $15 billion-worth of homes are also foreclosed upon as a result of property tax delinquencies each year, according to a 2012 study by the National Tax Lien Association.

And while property taxes may appear to be a non-issue for the 36% of people who rent their homes, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. We all pay for property taxes, whether directly or indirectly, as they impact the rent we pay as well as the finances of state and local governments.

These 11 states ranked as having the lowest 2015 property taxes on real estate: Read more

Buying a Home in the Spring

Spring and summer are the high season for buying a home: according to one estimate, about 40 percent of home sales happen from April through July. Spring is a great time to buy a home, because buyers can move in better weather, have months to fix up the house before the cold sets in, and can get kids settled before the school year begins.

However, those advantages also mean that spring can be a competitive time to house-hunt. It’s important to be prepared: Know what you want, what you’re willing to trade off and how much you can spend, and be ready to move quickly when you find the home you want. Read more

The Best Time to Refinance

A surprise interest-rate drop inInterest Rate Drop
January spurred a record number
of homeowners to refinance.
What you should know when rates fall again.

In a winter surprise, average interest rates for 30-year jumbo fixed-rate mortgages dropped below 4% for five weeks from the week ending Jan. 9 through Feb. 6, according to HSH.com, a mortgage-information website. As a result, refinance applications for jumbos and other mortgage types skyrocketed nationally by 49% in the week ending Jan. 9, the largest weekly gain since November 2008, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. That’s 45% higher than the same week in 2014.

Homeowners who missed the boat this time may wonder if refinancing is worth it the next time rates come down. Read more

Six Tips for First-time Home Buyers

First_Time_HomeOwner_Image_1344110563383Are you a first-time home buyer eager to get into the market? Here are some tips:

1. You may check the selling prices of comparable homes in your area of interest by speaking with your real estate agent. Your agent can give you a general idea of what you should expect to pay and may also direct you to websites where you can do a search of the Multiple Listing Service for homes that meet your criteria. LDSAgents.com has over 3,000 realtors across the USA and Canada who can help.

2. Your real estate agent will be able to recommend reliable lenders to speak to regarding a home loan.

3. There are many variables that can affect your interest rate. Your lender will be your ultimate source in helping you decide what kind of loan is best for you and what you can afford.

4. Know that your house payment may well include items like homeowner’s insurance, mortgage insurance (PMI), property taxes, and homeowners association fees. These costs can vary widely from state to state and location to location.

5. If you obtain a home loan, there will be closing costs associated with it. These upfront costs shouldn’t be overlooked. Closing costs include origination fees charged by the lender, title and settlement fees, taxes and prepaid items such as homeowners insurance and homeowners association fees. Again, your lender will be your valuable guide to these matters.

6. Last, but not least, consider a payment plan that enables you to pay off your home as quickly as possible. Paying off a home over 15 years rather than 30 can save you tens of thousands of dollars. One way to do this is to take out a 30 year loan (to guarantee lower monthly payments) and then make additional payments along the way as you are able. Talk to your lender about it.

Basic Steps for Buying a Home

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Note: Your agent and lender will help you through all these steps!

Step 1: Start Searching Early—Homes frequently appear very different in person than they do on line.

Step 2:  Find the right real estate agent and lender: We can help at LDSAgents.com

Step 3: Determine how much you can afford by getting “Prequalified” for a home loan. See our video on “Prequalification”

Step 4: Shop for your home with your agent – This is the fun part!

Step 5: Get an Inspection – Your agent will help select a local inspector.

Step 6: Work with your lender to select the best loan for you. See our video on “Conventional, FHA, and VA loans”

Step 7: Have the Home Appraised—Your lender will normally take care of this (the appraised value must exceed the loan amount by certain criteria).

Step 8: Wait for funding to be approved by the “underwriter”.

Step 9: Meet with the title company or with the closing agent (depending on your state) to close the loan and the purchase. We recommend that you watch our video on “Closing Costs”

 

 

Buy or Rent in Retirement?

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Is it better to rent or own your home in retirement? It depends on your goals and financial situation.

Weigh the pros and cons of each housing option as you head into retirement.

“There is no one correct answer,” says Doug Heddings, founder of Heddings Property Group. “Each individual retiree must evaluate their financial portfolio to determine the cash that they will need to live on a monthly basis,” he says. Most retirees grew up with the idea that owning a home is always the best choice. The U.S. Census reports that 81 percent of Americans age 65 and older are homeowners. But that attitude may be changing. Experts agree it’s unwise for retirees to carry over large debts into their retirement years. In 2009, half of retirees carried mortgage debt, a figure that doubled from 2007 when only one in four had mortgage debt. And a recent study by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University projects more than 2 million Baby Boomers now entering retirement will opt to rent.
So how do you decide?

Read more

Student Loans Risk the Economy

 Worried about your student debt loan?

The class of 2014 graduated college with an average $33,000 in debt. Many of those freshly minted graduates did not find jobs with yearly salaries greater than their total debt, a rule of thumb for indebted graduates.

When we read the remarks by Deputy Treasury Secretary Sarah Bloom Raskin, concerning the nation’s record level of student loan debt, we were reminded of comments made in 2007 by Ben Bernanke, then the chairman of the Federal Reserve, concerning the nation’s subprime mortgage crisis. Read more

When Life Gets Rough, Be Grateful!

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There are always blessings in our lives that we miss seeing when our vision is clouded by bad luck or discouragement.

We’ve all heard the phrase that when life gives us lemons, we should make lemonade. We’ve also all heard the story of Job in the Bible, who, despite losing all his possessions, family, health, and support from friends, trusted in the Lord and found something to be grateful for—his testimony.

Often life does not go the way we planned and fate seems to be against us. But even when jobs, friends, or health fail us, there is always something in our lives that the Lord has blessed us with and that we can be grateful for. If like Job we can keep our sights on the Lord and step back to see the bigger picture, the rough time will pass and we will find it easier to see the abundance that the Lord has blesses us with. Though many of the ideas below are probably familiar, it never hurts to think about them more deeply and be reminded of our blessings.

Here are 10 things to be grateful for when everything seems to be going wrong. Read more

Mistakes Parents Make With Financial Aid

The Timing of Certain Financial Decisions Can Hurt Students’ Eligibility for Assistance

Most families know the basics of college financial aid: Several months before school starts, students apply for assistance, parents detail their financial situations, and then everybody waits for the powers that be to tab the bill.

What many don’t know—or at least, don’t realize until it’s too late—is that the timing of certain financial decisions made well before and even during college can significantly alter a student’s eligibility for aid from both the federal government and the university itself. This has been quite an eye opener for several families. Read more