5 Homebuying Questions You Shouldn’t Feel Embarrassed to Ask!

embarrassed.jpgWhether you’re a First-Time Homebuyer or it’s been many years since you last went through the mortgage process, there are bound to be questions that come up along the way. You should never feel embarrassed to ask your loan officer any question, no matter how simple you may think it is. However, if you want to start with some mortgage basics, here are the answers to Five Homebuying Questions You Shouldn’t Feel Embarrassed to Ask!

1. Am I considered a First-Time Homebuyer?
This may seem like an obvious question, but the answer may surprise you. In the mortgage industry, you are considered a first-time homebuyer if you have never purchased a home, if you have not owned or co-owned a home in the last three years, or if you’ve fulfilled the necessary waiting period after a foreclosure or short sale.
2. What is the difference between a home appraisal and an inspection?
A Home Appraisal provides information on the value of a home, decided by several factors including, but not limited to, the location of the home, proximity to schools and facilities, size of the lot, size and condition of the home itself, and recent sale prices of comparable properties. A certified appraiser formulates this value for the lender, and it is an essential part of the mortgage process.
A Home Inspection provides information to the buyer about the home’s current condition and will note any existing or potential future issues. An inspector will notify a buyer about any areas that are in need of repair. This can help the buyer to negotiate a better purchase offer or at the very least, be aware of the conditions in the home they wish to purchase.
3. What is an interest rate?
Like a credit card or auto loan, a mortgage will have an interest rate. Interest is simply defined as the cost to borrow money from your lender. The interest rate is expressed as a percentage of your total loan balance and is paid on a monthly basis, along with your principal payment, until your loan is paid off. Your interest rate is determined by several factors, including the current economy, your credit score, the loan amount, your down payment, and more.
4. What is DTI?
The debt-to-income (DTI) ratio is a personal finance measure that compares an individual’s monthly debt payment to his or her monthly gross income. Your mortgage loan officer will calculate your DTI, and let you know what amount you are qualified to borrow.
5. How long will this process take?
Everyone’s loan scenario is unique and with some many pieces to the puzzle, it is difficult to give an exact timeline.
If you are interested in closing in a timely manner, I encourage you to reach out to Rick Cignoli today to discuss the right mortgage option for your family and to take advantage of my FREE Jump Start Mortgage Pre-Approval Service.

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Before Buying Your First Home…Read This!

Are you one of the many Millenial Americans dreaming of Buying Your First Home, but don’t quite feel ready? People delay homeownership for many reasons; some are unsuredream home where to settle down, some have poor credit and fear they won’t get approved. As a Mortgage Loan Officer, I understand that every person has a different path to homeownership. If you foresee a home purchase in the next few years, now is the best time to start preparing, and I’m here to help!
Just as with any project, your preparation will set the stage for your success. Think of your First Home Buying experience as your largest personal project yet!

Step One: Identify Your Goal
*Phew*, that one was easy! You’ve already completed step one, your goal is to purchase a home.

Step Two: Research
Have you made a choice about where you’d like to live? Researching towns is an important part of the process. You will want to evaluate average home prices for the neighborhood, consider potential property taxes, crime rates, and school ratings, and, more personally, determine the proximity to amenities that are important to you.

Step Three: Set a Timeline
Just like registering for a race inspires a runner to kick start their training, establishing a home buying timeline can help a prospective homebuyer kick start their preparation! Most importantly, be sure to set a realistic and achievable goal. If your aim is to purchase a home within two years, think about what you will need to do over the next 24 months to make that a reality. Are you allowing enough time to improve your credit score? Is there enough time and money each month to save for an ideal down payment?

Step Four: Take Action
With a prospective closing date in mind, do your best to stay on track toward your goal:
•   If you haven’t yet, you should check your current credit score. It is wise to figuregood-credit-vs-bad-credit this out as soon as possible. Once you know, you will be able to see where you need to do work to improve it. Whether it is paying down credit cards, or enlisting the help of a credit repair service, your credit score is crucial to the mortgage application process. It is best to start preparing now!
•   It is wise to start saving what you can, even though there are loan products that offer little or no down payment options. Remember that there will be closing costs, Family Financesmoving expenses, as well as repairs and furnishings to include in your budget. For a goal of collecting $20,000 over the next two years, you would need to save $833 each month. If you can’t find room in your budget to set that aside every month, consider extending your timeline a bit longer. If someone in your life will be gifting you funds to assist in the home purchase, try to discuss what that amount will be, so you can adjust your own savings plan accordingly.
(If you plan to use gifted funds, you will need to have a gift letter documenting it; as your Mortgage Loan Officer I will be happy to assist you with preparing one.)

Step Five: Talk to your Mortgage Loan Officer
Following these preparatory steps, you will be in a good place when you are ready topre-approval-2 start the official home buying process. When the time is right, reach out to Me to talk about your mortgage options and to take advantage of my FREE Jumpstart Mortgage Pre-Approval service.

Why Every Homebuyer Should Get Pre-Approved

What is the benefit of having a Mortgage Pre-Approval when looking for a new home?

There is a difference between a Mortgage Pre-Qualification and Mortgage Pre-Approval.
A Pre-Qualification is based on the information you verbally give to qualify for a mortgage. It’s an informal snapshot of your creditworthiness just to get an idea of how much you can afford to spend on a home.
A Pre-Approval is a formal commitment by your lender that they will lend you a specified amount of money when you find the right home. To become Pre-Approved you will be asked to submit documentation of your creditworthiness. An underwriter will review and verify these documents to confirm in writing how much you can afford to borrow.
If you are looking to buy a house, a Mortgage Pre-Approval is the smartest way to get you into your dream home.

Knowledge is Key:  A Mortgage Pre-Approval gives you a good idea of how much Millennialshouse you can afford. This amount is based on a formula that compares your income to your total outstanding debts plus the proposed new monthly housing expense ( mortgage payment, taxes insurance and PMI) This will keep you focused on the big picture and help to prevent being disappointed if you fall in love with a house that is too expensive.

Improve Your Negotiating Position:  When a seller is comparing two offers and one of the buyers has Mortgage Pre-Approval, there is a high confidence level that that deal will go through and close sooner. This may help you to win in a competitive bidding situation.

Confidence in Your Offer: Know that the key information in obtaining a mortgage has been reviewed by an underwriter will give you, and the seller, confidence that your offer is bona fide.

Keep Your Spending on Track:  Having detailed information on your interest rate, closing costs, term and down payment will help you stay within in your monthly budget.

Time is Valuable:  Knowing what you can and cannot afford will save time and frustration in the house hunting process. This will also help your find the perfect house in your price range.

Move in Quicker: With Mortgage Pre-Approval, once you have found the right house, all you have to do is get it appraised for final approval. The faster you close, the quicker you can move into your dream home.pre-approval-2

Reach out to Me at 860.945.9284 to discuss the right mortgage option for your family and to take advantage of my FREE Jump Start Mortgage Pre-Approval service and be ready to make an offer on your dream home

Five Neighborhood Red Flags

Neighborhood Red Flags

red flagsThere is no such thing as a perfect neighborhood and every zip code has pros and cons. You might love a house, but if it’s in a troublesome area, it may have a negative impact on your day-to-day life, as well as the resale value of the home. Here are Five Neighborhood Red Flags to be aware of while checking out a potential new neighborhood.

  1. Too many houses on the market?
    A neighborhood with an abundance of homes for sale indicates there may be housessomething causing homeowners to leave. It could be something about the neighborhood itself, such as social issues like increased crime or falling school ratings, or gentrification of the area raising living costs and reducing affordable housing options. Alternatively, there could be many houses up for sale because of the homes themselves. If a neighborhood was developed all around the same time period and the homes appear very similar, it could be evidence that the houses were constructed by the same builder. Therefore, the homes will age at the same rate and may run into similar repair issues. Multiple homes for sale in this type of development could indicate they were built with poor quality. Think about this when wandering through a potential neighborhood!
  2. Are the homes and yards in good condition?
    A well-maintained property is a sign that homeowners care about where they live. It doesn’t matter if the homes on the street are 1,500 square feet or 10,000, it is obvious to see when a community cares about their neighborhood and its perception. If you feel that all the other homes on a street are in disrepair and the yards are dead or overgrown, you may want to avoid moving into this area. It’s likely that a neighborhood such as this may lead to falling home values as well, so think about your investment before making a purchase.
  3. Less-than-stellar school ratings?
    Have you taken a look at ratings of the surrounding schools? Just like the previous red flag, you can tell a lot about a potential neighborhood by looking at the nearby schools. A shrinking school system may suggest an aging population, or it could signify school quality and the community’s attitude toward public services in general. If you have children or are thinking of starting a family, you will want to pay special attention to school ratings online or ask on community social media pages.
  4. Where are all the people?
    If you attend an open house in the neighborhood where you are thinking of moving, take note of how many people are out and about. Did you see any kids playing in a yard or residents spending time on their front porch? This could demonstrate the culture of the neighborhood, or it could indicate that residents do not feel safe spending time outside in this area.
  5. How are the streets and sidewalks?
    It is common for residential streets to have some potholes or crumbling sidewalks in areas, especially if your region experiences harsh seasons. However, an excess of infrastructure issues could indicate a town or city is lagging in public services. If house hunting in the spring or summer, you won’t necessarily know how the town will maintain the roads in the middle of winter. If a street light goes out and you call the city works department, will they see to a repair, or neglect this neighborhood? See if you can talk to any potential neighbors to ask these questions.

There is a lot to think about when planning a move. Not only do you have to think about the style of the house and the number of bedrooms, but a smart homebuyer must also consider whether the neighborhood meets their needs. Do you want to live in a tight-knit community where everyone knows each other by name and your next-door neighbor would lend you a cup of sugar in a pinch? Or do you desire a more secluded neighborhood where everyone minds their own business?

If you are buying a new home, remember to look beyond just the house, and evaluate a neighborhood as a whole. Check Five Neighborhood Red Flags on this list, and if the neighborhood passes the test, it could be great for your next home!

Then reach out to Me at 860.945.9284 to discuss the right mortgage option for your family and to take advantage of my FREE  Jump Start Mortgage Pre-Approval service and be ready to make an offer on your dream home

Prep Your Grilling Spot For A Weekend BBQ!

After a chilly winter and a rainy spring, many people cannot wait to break out their grills and tidy up their patios for fun weekend BBQs! Whether your barbeque hang out spot is a raised deck, your yard, an apartment rooftop, or a fully functional outdoor kitchen, these tips can help everyone make their space more inviting and enjoyable for gatherings all summer.Add weatherproof furnishings:
♦ Gone are the days when “patio furniture” means wobbly, white plastic chairs. The market has expanded to include so many weather proof options from dining sets to “zero gravity” lounge chairs. Outdoor furniture also experiences a lot more wear and tear than indoor counterparts. High-quality pieces should either be brought into a shed or garage in extreme weather or secured and covered with heavy-duty tarps.
♦ Design an inviting, natural space by hanging outdoor grade string lights overhead. Solar-powered path and garden lights also help guests avoid stepping in newly planted flowers or veggie patches once the sun goes down!

Create shade:
♦ If you want to shade a picnic table, go with a classic patio umbrella. As assortment of colors are available to match your outdoor décor. Be sure to always collapse your umbrella at the end of the party though, as these can easily blow away in a windy storm!
♦ If you want to invite shade over a larger area, opt for a rectangular or triangular “sail shade.” This unique way to cover your space can be secured to any structure, such as fences, trees, roofs, or posts, to provide shade underneath.
♦ A pergola can be a beautiful addition to a back yard or patio and, with some convenient climbing vines to block out the sun’s rays, makes a comfortable shaded area to enjoy.

Keep bugs away:
Add ambiance and keep bugs away with homemade bug-repellant luminaries. Fill an empty mason jar with a couple slices each of lemon and lime and a couple sprigs of rosemary. Fill the jar with water and top with a floating candle. Placing these luminaries around your BBQ will keep your guests happy!
Decorate with lavender and basil plants. They give off aromas that naturally repel insects.
♦ Provide bug spray options for guests to apply if the mosquitoes decide to join the party despite all your defenses!

Don’t forget the drinks:
If you don’t have a cooler large enough for your get-together, fill a wheelbarrow with ice and your favorite bottled or canned drinks!
Tap a watermelon keg! If you carve out a watermelon to fill with your favorite juice or adult beverage, you can install in a keg tap right into the rind of the melon. Consider using some of the watermelon itself to make a frosty, melon-flavored punch.Try a delicious new recipe:
Nothing beats a juicy burger or a perfectly grilled hot dog but try adding interest to your outdoor cooking with different recipes this summer:
Grilled pizza
Grilled corn on the cob (elote)
Grilled peaches and pineapple

Have fun!
♦ Lawn games such as cornhole and giant Jenga are great for kids, as well as parents. There’s nothing like a healthy competition to keep your party going into the wee hours of the night!
For a quieter evening BBQ, host an outdoor movie. Ask guests to bring blankets and lawn chairs to settle in for a single or double-feature! Tie it all together by incorporating the theme of the movie into your BBQ décor and food choices.

If you’re dreaming of a new home with the perfect backyard grilling spot, reach out to ME at 860.945.9284 y today to to take advantage of my FREE Jump Start Mortgage Pre-Approval service and see how much you could qualify for. Your best summer yet could be just one conversation away with Norcom Mortgage.

Top Ten Home Buying Playlist

Here’s a post I saw on FreddieMac’s Facebook page that I thought might be valuable to  followers here on my blog

road trip3Like making the perfect music playlist for your road trip that thrills all passengers, buying a home requires that you build a “Top Ten Homebuying Playlist” of sorts – one that makes your journey less stressful and more successful.

As you build your Homebuying Playlist, it’s important that you do your homework and focus on the key components of the buying journey, from getting Pre-Approved for your mortgage to the costs involved.

Keep in mind what you are making the playlist for, what your goals are, and how each element is vital for the overall experience. Playlists have an order.

Some must-have components for a successful Top Ten Homebuying Playlist:
1.  Down Payment – That portion of the purchase price of a home that you pay up front, usually between 3-20%. It’s your equity in the property
2.  Credit Score – Your credit score is a single number, ranging from 350 to 850, that represents and summarizes information from your credit report, indicating your likeliness to repay your debt. Generally, your credit score plays a significant role in getting approved for a loan and the interest rate you are charged — the higher your score the better.
3.  Pre-Approval Letter – It’s highly recommended that you work with your lender to get pre-approved before you begin house hunting. A Pre-Approval letter will tell you how much home you can afford and can help you move faster and with greater confidence.
4.  Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)– PMI is a monthly premium required by your lender if your down payment is less than 20%, protecting the lender if you are unable to pay your mortgage.  Get the low down on PM
5.  Closing Costs – These are fees charged by the people representing your purchase, including your lender, real estate agent, and other third parties involved in the transaction. Closing costs are typically between 2 and 5% of your purchase price.
6.  Points – Sometimes called discount points, these are up-front payments typically used to reduce your mortgage interest rate on the loan to obtain a lower monthly payment. A point is 1% of your loan amount, or $1,000 on a $100,000 loan.
7.  Appraisal – Once you make an offer on your home, your lender will order an appraisal to get a professional opinion on the value of the home. This is usually performed by a qualified appraisal professional who estimates the value of a property by taking current market values of similar homes and the quality of the home into account.
8.  Annual Percentage Rate (APR) – The annual rate it costs you to borrow over the term of the loan, including the interest rate, points, fees and certain other charges you are required to pay.  The APR is the bottom-line number you can use to shop and compare rates among lenders.
9.  Fixed-Rate Mortgages (FRM) – A fixed-rate mortgage has an interest rate that does not change during the entire term of your loan.  This is the most common type of mortgage, giving you certainty and stability over the life of the loan.
10.  Adjustable-Rate Mortgage (ARM) – A type of mortgage with an interest rate that adjusts after an initial period of time — typically 3, 5, or 7 years — and resets periodically. ARMs usually give you lower monthly payments at the onset, but over time your payments will change with interest rates.

A good playlist can take you far, even saving you significant time and money on your journey. Take your time to plan it out well and you’ll enjoy smooth sailing (and maybe dancing too!).

Reach out to Me to discuss the right mortgage option for your family and to take advantage of my FREE Jump Start Mortgage Pre-Approval service.

Tuesday Tips – Your Monthly Mortgage Payment

tuesday tipsWhen looking at a potential home purchase, don’t forget to factor property taxes into your budget. Be sure to consider homeowner’s insurance and, if necessary, your monthly PMI premium too. All will be included in your monthly mortgage payment obligation.

Purchase or Refinance. Call Me @ 860.945.9284 to discuss the right mortgage option for your family and to take advantage of my FREE “Jump Start” Mortgage Pre-Approval service.