Simple Strategies to Help Organize Your Finances

FHA MIWhether you are considering buying a home or not, having your finances organized is important. The ability to manage money well can help you afford a life that is a little more comfortable and a little less stressful. These tips will give you a jump start on being more in control of your money without the need of a finance degree.

Know What You Have:
The best place to start is to evaluate all of your accounts and know exactly how much money you have in each. This would include knowing the balance of your checking account, savings account, retirement fund, credit cards, loans, and any other investment. Writing down the actual balances will give you a clear starting point, even if the totals aren’t exactly what you want them to be.

Create Goals for Your Future:
This is where you can dream big, and also dream small. Once you’ve evaluated your accounts, think about what you want to accomplish financially. Do you want to save for a down payment on a home? Do you want to be free of your student loans in ten years? Do you want to save twenty extra dollars a month? Do you want to own a vacation home one day or travel the world? Big or small, your dreams are valid and writing them down is the first step in making them a reality.

Assess Your Payments:
Take a look at your income and expenses over the past 30 days. How much money do you bring in and how much money are you sending each month to pay expenses? Most people underestimate their monthly spending and don’t want to look closely at the small spending habits they have created. By assessing your cash flow, you will identify areas that need work, like if you are going out to eat more in a month than you should, for example.

Set Your Budget:
Take what you learn from analyzing your monthly spending habits and create a new budget for yourself. Create a list of rough estimates for things like groceries, gas, utilities, etc. This way you will know if you are spending more than you should month to month moving forward. There are budget templates you can find online, or you can create your own. Once you have an established budget, you’ll be much more aware of any excess spending.

Stay Focused:
Once you have your finances organized, it’s important to keep your eye on the goals you have set. You can use money management apps, hire a financial advisor, use mobile banking to see each transaction in real time. Checking in on how close you are to your goals, both big and small, every month will help you stay focused and eliminate some of the stress that comes with money

pre-approval-2Call Me at 860.945.9284 for all your home purchase needs and to to take advantage of my FREE Jump Start Mortgage Pre-Approval  with Rate Assurance service Let’s talk about the right mortgage option for your family.


Solar Panels: Buy or Lease

solar panels 2Solar panels have increasingly become more popular over the past few years, and don’t show any signs of slowing down. Leasing options have contributed to this growing number, since some leasing programs require little to no money up-front. The deals can seem attractive, but a question for homeowners is, Should I  Lease or Buy Solar Panels?

Installing solar panels on a house to generate electricity often costs $20,000 or more. However, there will most likely be a certain percentage of federal tax credit that could bring down the cost right away. Not only will you be able to take advantage of tax breaks, you will also be able to start saving money on your utility bill each month, and take advantage of Solar Renewable Energy Certificates, or SRECs.
Power companies that are required to get some of their electricity from renewable sources, buy these SRECs from homeowners. Currently the SRECs are worth about $200, but the prices fluctuate. Every time a homeowner accumulates 1,000 kilowatts hours of energy, they will be able to sell one certificate, which can generally add up to about seven certificates a year, depending on the system and location.
By purchasing a system outright, a homeowner will typically get the most savings, but there is a trade off. The customers are then responsible for maintaining the system. Installers say that the systems are generally reliable, but the panels are not guaranteed past 25 years or so, and the inverters, which converts the direct current to the alternating current that comes from a socket, only lasts about 10 years.

For most homeowners, paying upfront for solar panels is not an option. Leasing, on the other hand, gives more homeowners the opportunity to go solar. Just like a conventional mortgage or car loan, the real cost to customers varies depending on how much they are able to pay up front. The homeowner would also have to have good credit to be eligible to lease. The monthly cost to lease would typically replace your monthly electricity bill. While the lease payment stays consistent, the monthly power bill could potentially go up. Another benefit to leasing solar panels is that a homeowner would not have to figure the incentives and subsidies associated with buying. Beyond that, if a homeowner decided to buy the panels in the future, they could at a discounted price.

Customers should also be aware that there is no easy way out of the deal if they decided to sell their home. The solar system generally stays with the house and the homeowner could either decide to find a buyer who is willing to take over the contract, or prepay for the remaining electricity charges and include that into the purchase price of the panels 2

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




Mortgage Incentives for Doctors and Physicians

Good News!

doctorsFreddie Mac Now Offers Special Mortgage Incentives for Doctors and Physicians

♦  Applies to a Borrower in, or who has recently completed a medical residency program and/or a medical clinical fellowship program.
♦ Borrower must have a social security number and be a permanent or Non/permanent resident alien
♦ Conventional Loan
♦ For Primary Residence only
♦ Purchase and Rate/Term Refinances only30 Year Term
♦ Fixed Rate and ARM Products available
♦ Min FICO 720
♦ Student loans payments deferred for more than a 12 months from note date, after closing may be excluded from DTI calculationpre-approval 2

Reach out to Rick Cignoli to discuss the right mortgage option for your family and to take advantage of his FREE Jump Start Mortgage Pre-Approval Service
stethescope or Zillow. What’s the Difference?

You’ve probably done research online to buy your new home and you’ve probably used a popular website like or Zillow. While both these sites offer free real estate market data, and are very similar, they both have their differences.
Lets compare the strengths and weaknesses of these real estate websites, to see what each has to offer.
Searching: When it comes to searching “homes for sale” on the web, Zillow will zillowmost likely appear at the top of the search results, while might appear lower down on the page. This is due to the fact that Zillow maximizes their marketing efforts in order to appear higher in page rankings. This is why many people searching for homes will end up on the Zillow website over
Finding Homes: If you want to look at listings of homes for sale, you can do so on both Zillow and, they display featured homes along with more in depth information about the homes. However, when doing identical searches on both sites,realtor where price, number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms, and location are all the same, displayed more houses. A study done by a competitor of Zillow discovered that out of 6,401 home listings in 33 zip codes from 11 metro areas, Zillow was missing about 20% of the listings. The study also found that Zillow tended to lag by about a week in displaying new listings, and about a third of the properties shown as active on Zillow, were no longer for sale.
Realtors: Zillow displays “featured” homes that are listed by agents who pay to have their listings appear at the top of the search results. Zillow also displays agent profiles alongside those of competing agents. just displays the listing agent for the house being displayed., however, is based off of the MLS listings and is operated by the National Association of Realtors, therefore, Realtors prefer to Zillow.
Estimate Property Value: There are many reasons to estimate a property’s value, but can you rely on these numbers to be accurate? and Zillow both display estimated property value, but both don’t take into consideration all the upgrades or changes an owner has made to the house. These estimates are good to get a ballpark idea of the value, but the appraisal value is what the lenders use, not the estimation on these websites. Both websites, however, make it easy to see comparable listings and recently sold homes near a property.
Bottom Line: . Both of these sites have strengths and weaknesses. If there is one unique aspect that is particularly important to you, it might make sense to favor one site over the other. Despite the information both sites offer, you may not want to use either site as your primary resource if you are actively searching for a home. Relying on your Realtor is always the best bet.

pre-approval-2Before you start your search, get an idea of how much you can spend on a home. Reach out to Rick Cignoli to discuss the right mortgage option for your family and to take advantage of his FREE Jump Start Mortgage Pre-Approval Service


Why Won’t My Real Estate Agent Answer My Questions

puzzledHome buyers and sellers may sometimes feel that real estate agents or brokers don’t answer their perfectly reasonable questions and concerns. They’re totally justified for feeling this way because, frankly, it’s true.
It may appear that your Real Estate Agents Won’t Answer Your Questions. It’s not that don’t know the answer or giving you the run-around. The fact of the matter is agents MUST be very careful about what they say because there are many Fair Housing Laws that protect the rights of all interested parties.real estate agent
It’s no secret … real estate agents can’t always be forthcoming with information sought by consumers, even when this information might be critical to the decision process of both buyer and seller

Here Are 10 Topics Your Real Estate Agent Won’t Discuss With You:
1. I won’t answer your questions about other people. Not the race, color, national origin, religion, familiar status, disability, age, or sexual orientation of neighbors or other principals in the transaction. This would violate federal, state, and local fair housing laws.
2. I won’t discuss my clients with you. Not their motivation, urgency for buying or selling, financial situation, or willingness to negotiate. I am required by law and my Code of Ethics to “maintain the confidentiality of clients.”
3. I won’t disclose my client’s opinion of your home because it may violate my obligation regarding confidentiality. If you or your agent request feedback, however, I will seek permission from my clients to share their opinion of your property with your listing agent, and follow the instructions of my client.
4. I won’t offer my opinion on legal, tax, or structural matters because I’m licensed real estate agent or broker, NOT an attorney, accountant, or property inspector. If requested, I will provide you with contact information for licensed attorneys, accountants, or home inspectors that have earned rave reviews from my past clients.
5. I won’t answer your questions about real estate in another state because I’m licensed only in this state. I will, however, refer you to an agent in that state who can help you.
6. I won’t discuss your property or its value if I have a present or contemplated interest, unless this interest is specifically disclosed to all affected parties.
7. I won’t disclose details about the property condition of my listing unless there are any “material defects,” that I and and the seller are required to disclose. That’s what a home inspection is for.
8. I won’t answer your questions about neighborhood safety because my response may be interpreted as “steering” you toward or away from a neighborhood, which violates Fair Housing Laws. I can refer you to online resources for information on this topic.
9. I won’t discuss local schools with you for two reasons: 1) Anything I say may inadvertently violate Fair Housing Laws and 2) Information about school boundaries, policies, or programs may change without notice. I can direct you to various websites that do contain factual information about local schools including public, private, and parochial schools, daycare centers, and local colleges and universities.
10. I won’t tell you the contract price for a listing that is “under contract, but not yet settled. In addition to my obligation to maintain the seller’s confidentiality, there is another very practical reason: If the contract fails to close, public knowledge of the previous contract terms could negatively impact my client in future negotiations.

If you feel that your agent is giving you a runaround, don’t be too quick to judge. Tell the agent how you feel and ask WHY they won’t tell you what you want to know.

Reach out to Rick Cignoli to discuss the right mortgage option for your family and to take advantage of his FREE Jump Start Mortgage Pre-Approval Service.


Original Content by Margaret Woda

Top Reasons To Buy A Home In The Summer

The spring housing market tends to be the busiest and most popular time to buy a home. However the summer months can provide a unique opportunity for those considering the purchase of a new home. Here are few of the main reasons why you should consider this summer the ideal time to buy.

Kids Schedule: If you have kids, they are now off from school – this makes it an ideal time to transition into a new home, especially if it involves moving towns or districts. By not disrupting their school routine, your kids may have an easier time adjusting to their new surroundings in plenty of time to start the school year.

Less Buyer Competition: Many people are busy with vacations and parties throughout the summer and therefore less focused on buying a home. By starting your search during these months, you’ll be up against less competition from other buyers and are more likely to snag the home you really want; maybe for less money than you would during more competitive seasons.

Spring Surge Brings Lower Prices: Any homeowner who listed in the spring market and has not sold their house yet will most likely be looking to reduce the price. If you can find a home that does not need a lot of repairs, it could be a great opportunity to buy for less than you would during another season.

Checking Out the Neighborhood: With school out and family schedules being less hectic, you will likely see more activity in the neighborhoods you are looking at. The summer months provide a good opportunity to see a community in action and thriving with different activities. Having a sense of the area will help solidify your purchase decision.

While there are benefits to buying in all seasons, the summer months are an ideal time to start the search for your dream home!

Reach out to Me today to discuss your mortgage options and to take advantage of my FREE JumpStart Mortgage Pre-Approval service

When You Work With a Professional, You Get Professional Results


Preparing To Own Your First Home

Preparing To Own Your First Home
referralAs a First Time Homebuyer, you’re about to make one of the biggest financial decisions of your life. For Millennials, a new home represents the most expensive purchase they’ll ever make. One of the best things you can do is read, research and learn about the mortgage application process. The more you prepare, the more confident you’ll feel about purchasing the home you want.

Mortgage Pre-Approval
Being pre-approved by a lender gives you the confidence to shop for a new house, knowing exactly how much you can afford. You can avoid looking at properties that don’t fit your budget. The pre-approval helps you know exactly what is possible right from the start. In fact, most realtors expect you to be pre-approved.

How Much Can You Afford?
A good place to start is to look at your current expenses. You probably have FHA MIboth “fixed” expenses… i.e. car payments, taxes, or day care … and “discretionary” expenses… i.e. things like travel, clothing, entertainment, or other areas where you can decide how much to spend.
Then, make up a budget. You’ll see how much of your monthly income is already committed to “fixed” expenses, as well as how much you have to spend on a mortgage payment, taxes, and insurance for a home.
Of course, how much you can afford also depends on how much debt you have. Long-term debt – i.e. debt that will take more than 10 months to pay off – is what lenders are most concerned about. If you have long-term debt that is considered “excessive” for your income, it will probably limit how much you can borrow. If you have a lot of long-term debt, you may want to pay off some of it before you apply for a mortgage.

mortgage financeRemember: I’m always here to help make things easier.  Reach out to Me at to discuss your mortgage options and to take advantage of my FREE Jump Start Mortgage Pre-Approval service.