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Tips for Remodeling in Any Market

When the housing market’s hot, it seems like just about any remodeling project is a good investment and adds value to your home. But when the market is tight, you want to be more selective about which projects you undertake, and know what you stand to gain in return.

So whether you’ve been thinking about boosting your home’s value, its curb appeal, or just making your living space more comfortable for you and your family, the ideas below can help you cost-effectively achieve your goals in any market.

First Things First. Buyers often decide whether to look at your house before they even get out of the car. Before you spend a lot of time and money remodeling the inside, you may want to look at the outside. Washing windows, repainting trim, planting flowers, and fixing screens can make a big difference. For even more impact, you may want to consider replacing your siding or even adding a patio or deck. The added value for these bigger projects won’t yield as high of a return on investment, but may help your house stand out from the rest. So, weigh your options and ask your REALTOR® for advice before starting a big project.

Make Yourself at Home. Making a cozy first impression is critical. To make sure your entryway is inviting, try adding a fresh coat of paint to your foyer or a wicker chair and table outside the door. For even more impact, replace those old light fixtures and update the floor in your entryway.

Sparkle up that Old Bathroom. Remodeling an old bathroom can make a big impact. For very little money, you can add a new faucet to your sink, a new medicine cabinet on the wall, and even new paint or wallpaper. For a little more oomph, you can update the bathtub, add a double sink, or re-tile the floor.

Even Better: Add a Second Bathroom. Perhaps no improvement makes a bigger impact on your family’s comfort and your house’s appeal than adding a second bathroom. The number of bathrooms is always a big sticking point for potential buyers, especially families with two or three children. Although adding a bathroom costs more than simply fixing up your old one, it also increases the value of your house more. Plus, having that second bathroom may help you sell your house faster than if it only has one…an important point to consider in any market.

Make it Hot in the Kitchen. Renovating an outdated kitchen is a great way to improve your home and its value. Plus, you don’t have to splurge on extravagant items like hand-painted Italian tile or built-in espresso machines. Focus on the basics: installing new flooring, adding a backsplash and a new coat of paint, re-facing existing cabinets, installing new counter tops, and possibly installing new appliances. These go a long way to making you, or a potential buyer, feel right at home.

Remember, start small, work your way up, and always plan ahead. You don’t want to get halfway into a renovation only to find that you have to update your entire electrical system, or that you forgot to apply for a permit. So, check your local zoning codes before starting any remodeling project.

Renovating your home doesn’t have to mean huge and expensive changes. You can make your house more comfortable and valuable with very little time and money.

If you would like more tips on easy ways to improve your home’s appeal, don’t hesitate to give us a call. We are also here to help with any Mortgage needs you may have! We are Oregon’s Expert in USDA, VA, FHA and Conventional Mortgage Loans.

From  Edelman’s Inside Personal Finance

If you’re saving money to pay for future college costs, the best place to put that money is in a Section 529. And yet, a survey by the College Savings Foundation found that 48% of parents – almost half of all parents in this country – don’t know what a 529 plan is or have never even heard of one.

Six percent of those surveyed said that while they’ve heard of 529 plans, they think the plans are “too complicated.” Another 7% said (incorrectly) that other savings vehicles have better tax savings.

Section 529 plans (named for the section of the tax code that created them) offer you something you can’t get anywhere else: The ability to enjoy unlimited profits completely free of all federal and state taxes.

It’s true: You can set aside as little as $25, or as much as hundreds of thousands of dollars. Once the money is in the account, it grows tax-deferred, meaning you don’t pay annual taxes on the profits. And when you withdraw the money for college, the withdrawals are 100% tax-free.

There is no other vehicle that allows you to invest virtually unlimited amounts of money into investments that earn market-based returns where the profits are completely tax-free.

And it gets better. You can use the money to pay for an education at any college or university in the country, public or private. In fact, the student can attend college at any accredited institution in the world.

(There’s no requirement that your child attend an in-state school.) And, you can use the money for any college expense – not just tuition and fees, but also room and board, computers and books. Virtually any cost except travel or purchase of housing is eligible.

Also, it’s no problem if your child ends up not needing the money (thanks to a scholarship, or if he or she doesn’t go to college). Simply transfer the money to another child in the family, including your child’s cousins. You can even use the money yourself, transfer it to your parents or leave the money untouched for use by your child’s future children – your as-yet-unborn grandchildren! (Yes, you can actually enjoy decades of tax-free growth down the generations!)

Any child can have an unlimited number of 529 accounts. That means you can establish an account, and so can both sets of grandparents. Or they can contribute to the account you establish, if they prefer. And in many states, you get a state tax deduction when contributing to a 529 plan, further sweetening the benefits. (The tax deduction goes to the person who established the account. Thus, if a grandparent contributes to an account set up by the parent, the parent gets the tax deduction, not the grandparent. If the grandparent wants the tax break, he or she should create his or her own 529 account.)

If you have a child headed for college, open a Section 529 plan now.

If you are looking for a SDA, FHA, VA or Conventional Mortgage loan in Oregon? Give me a call!

Business Networking Tips

There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of business networking books available today, and each one offers “proven” strategies or best practices on how to make the most of it. Some call it an art, some see mastering networking as a science, but all of them see it as an essential element of business in today’s world. For me, I see it as the best opportunity available to surround myself with like-minded business professionals interested in sharing and growing in the years ahead.

Over the years, I’ve tried a lot of different techniques, but here are the two essential networking rules I swear by. The first is consistency. I’m always a member of at least two groups that meet face-to-face on a regular basis. The other rule I try to follow is diversity. Whatever networking groups or events I physically attend must have a variety of business professionals involved, not just mortgage or real estate professionals. By following these two simple rules, I’m assured a continuous opportunity to meet and hopefully connect with the best and brightest business minds in the community – especially if you keep the following strategies in mind:

1. Help Others Succeed – I believe that the best way to make a meaningful connection with other professionals is to help them solve their problems and to reach their goals. While some look to find the “center of influence,” I find being the center of influence provides more opportunities to create and strengthen relationships.

2. Honor the Event – While networking can occur “anywhere,” I feel it’s important to network in a way that’s appropriate and aligned with the function itself. If you’re attending a seminar or luncheon with other professionals, your conversations will be much different than if you’re at a wedding or a town hall meeting. Let’s face it, sometimes the best way to network is not to “network” at all.

3. Explore all Media – While consistent face-to-face networking is important, don’t discount other forms of networking. The Internet has changed the meaning of community, and sites like Facebook and LinkedIn, or sites for blogging or message boards are valuable tools we should definitely utilize on a regular basis.

Well, those are my networking strategies that have gotten me this far. If you have any strategies you think I should add to my list, give me a call.

By the way, are you or anyone you know in need of a Mortgage loan? If so please contact me at 503.931.4490. I can help!

I know, it’s hard to believe that the USDA Rural zero down payment program can be used in a city the size of Salem, but it’s true. There is some new construction going on in West Salem that fits into the USDA boundaries. You can search for these, and nearly 5,000 more homes by visiting www.salemoregonpropertysearch.com

One of the biggest difficulties many first-time home buyers face is a lack of down payment and the necessary funds for closing costs. However, even with the widespread availability of “no-money-down programs” evaporating in the credit crisis, one national no-down payment program still remains: USDA Rural Development home loans.
Guaranteed by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), this program might make you think that you have to buy farmland or live “in the country” to qualify, but this is often not the case. In fact, you might be surprised to see just how many neighborhoods actually do qualify as rural development areas. For this program, the term “rural” really applies to those areas with a lower population or fewer homes, not necessarily those areas and neighborhoods far outside of the city.
There are several benefits of the USDA loan program besides no money down. The program also does not require private mortgage insurance, and the seller is allowed to pay all of your closing costs and pre-paid items up to 6.00% of the total sales price of the property. And while this is great news for first-time home buyers, it’s important to note that you don’t have to be a first-timer to qualify for a USDA loan.
Other than the location of the property you’re seeking to buy, there is one other limitation to this valuable program that you must consider: your income. Luckily, however, these numbers have recently increased to allow more potential buyers to take advantage of this special program.
The USDA program is edible in many areas, Rule of thumb is any town with less than 20,000 population, but as you read above, there are some exceptions.

To find out more about USDA loans, give us a call. We can have an answer as to whether you qualify for this program in just a few minutes. 503.931.4490. I can also be reached via Email at tnewton@englending.com

USDA Update

USDA Loans Will Have Monthly Mortgage Insurance as of October 1, 2011


What Does This Mean To You?

USDA Rural Development and its loan program were designed to help improve the economy and quality of life throughout rural America. The program continues to remain a wonderful option for qualifying homebuyers, with zero down payment required.

But a change is coming! Now is the time to contact me, rates remain at all-time lows and home prices are down!

Beginning October 1, for the first time in the history of USDA, the Single Housing Guaranteed Loan Program will have an annual fee. This fee will be calculated based on the guaranteed loan amount and based on the average annual scheduled unpaid principal balance for the life of the loan.

If you’re thinking of purchasing a home and you’re wondering if you may qualify for a USDA loan, give me a call right away. Home loan rates are still very attractive. Let’s see if this program is right for you…before the October 1 fee begins.

Please let me know if I can assist you in any way today! I’m here to help.

Travis Newton

 

Good Friday! There are some (big) changes to the FHA program beginning on September 7th, 2010.

FHA is lowering their Up Front Mortgage Insurance (Financed on top of the loan) from 2.25% down to 1%. Yes, this sounds great doesn’t it? Not so much, they are raising the monthly mortgage insurance from .55% to .90%. It may not sound like much, so let’s take a look at the example below:

 How does this affect you? 

$200,000 Purchase price

4.5% Interest Rate (apr 4.71%)

 PRE- September 7th

Principal interest and mortgage insurance payment: $1,127.16 

AFTER- September 7th

Principal interest and mortgage insurance payment: $1,172.45 

As you can see the payments will rise by $45.29 in this example. 

If  a borrower is looking for a home now (or on the fence waiting), it’s important to know about these changes. This can alter their “approved for” amount by as much as $10,000!

It’s important to work with someone who understands how these changes will affect you. 

Please let me know if I can help in any way. 

Have a wonderful Weekend!

 Travis

Below you will find the actual letter sent out from David Stevens.

August 5, 2010 LINKS

Over the past week, Congress has taken quick action and passed H.R. 5981.

The bill gives FHA the authority to adjust its annual mortgage insurance premium, yielding approximately $300 million per month in value to the FHA Mutual Mortgage Insurance Fund at a time when its reserves are perilously low.

As I have previously stated in my testimony before Congress, FHA will lower its upfront premium simultaneously with the increase to the annual premium¹. It is our intention that effective on September 7 insurance premium will be adjusted down to 100 basis points on all amortization terms and the annual mortgage insurance premium will increase to 85–‐90 basis points on amortization terms greater than 15 years². A Mortgagee Letter will be forthcoming once President Obama signs the bill into Law schedule, I wanted to immediately inform the industry of our plans so the lending community can begin preparing for the operational and system structure on all new case numbers by September 7, 2010. 

With this authority, FHA is in a better position to address the increased demands of the marketplace and return the MMI fund to congressionally mandated levels without disruption to the housing market. While we appreciate and applaud this recent action, there is still work to be done. HUD remains steadfast in its commitment to comprehensive FHA reform legislation, similar to the FHA Reform Act passed earlier this year by the and risk management efforts.

We hope Congress will take swift action to pass management efforts will not be complete without the ability to monitor lender performance and ensure compliance with our rules.

Although the transition timeframe is short, implementation by September is critical. Thank you in advance for the efforts of you and your organization to make this change happen on such short notice. We appreciate your hard work and continued partnership.  

¹The upfront and annual premium changes do not apply to the following FHA Programs: Title I, HECM, HOPE for Homeowners (H4H), Section 247 (Hawaiian Homelands), Section 248 (Indian Reservations), Section 223 (e) (declining neighborhoods), Section 238(c) (Military Impact areas in Georgia and New York).

 

My Company is still FUNDING this Program!
One of the biggest difficulties many first-time home buyers face is a lack of down payment and the necessary funds for closing costs. However, even with the widespread availability of “no-money-down programs” evaporating in the credit crisis, one national no-down payment program still remains: USDA Rural Development home loans.

Guaranteed by the United States Department of Agriculture, this program might make you think that you have to buy farmland or live “in the country” to qualify, but this is often not the case. In fact, you might be surprised to see just how many neighborhoods actually do qualify as rural development areas. For this program, the term “rural” really applies to those areas with a lower population or fewer homes, not necessarily those areas and neighborhood far outside of the city.

There are several benefits of the USDA loan program besides no money down. The program also does not require private mortgage insurance, and the seller is allowed to pay all of your closing costs and pre-paid items up to 6.00% of the total sales price of the property. And while this is great news for first-time home buyers, it’s important to note that you don’t have to be a first-timer to qualify for a USDA loan.

Other than the location of the property you’re seeking to buy, there is one other limitation to this valuable program that you must consider: your income. Luckily, however, these numbers have recently increased to allow more potential buyers take advantage of this special program. For households in non-high cost areas, with up to four people, the income limit is around $73,600. In households where 5-8 people reside, the income limitation is around $97,150. These income limitations are guidelines and, in some cases, may be exceeded.

As I mentioned, I am currently FUNDING these loans. Most lenders are not taking applications as of now. If you have clients in need of the 100% ZERO Down Financing…Please don’t hesitate to call on me. I’d love to assist you!