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



What Is PMI?

PMIPrivate mortgage insurance (PMI) is required by lenders when a homebuyer makes a down payment on their home of less than 20%. If the borrower is unable to, then lenders will typically look at the loan as a riskier investment and will require the borrower to take out PMI.
It is a type of insurance policy that protects the lender, not you, from losing any money if your home ends up in foreclosure. PMI is also required if you decide to refinance your home with less than 20% equity.
How do I pay for PMI?
There are several different ways to pay for PMI. Some lenders may offer more than one option, while other lenders do not. Before agreeing to a mortgage, ask lenders what choices they offer.
The PMI payment is usually paid monthly as part of the overall mortgage payment to the lender. Once the borrower has paid enough towards the principal amount of the loan (the equivalent of that 20% down payment), he or she can contact their lender and ask that the PMI payment be removed.
Borrower-paid PMI (BPMI) is when you have monthly PMI payments, you are required to continue paying PMI until your loan balance reaches 78% of the original value of your home. If you would like to cancel your PMI, you must obtain approval from your lender in doing so and your home must reach 20% of the purchase price or appraised value. It is also required to have adequate equity as well as a good payment history.
Single-premium PMI means that the premium is paid upfront in a single lump sum. This does not require any monthly payments and can be paid at full at closing or financed into the loan.
Lender-paid PMI (LPMI) is a permanent part of your loan. The cost of the PMI is included into the mortgage interest rate and allows for lower monthly mortgage payments. However, with this type, you will end up paying more interest in the life of the loan.
PMI payments on conventional loans are usually cancellable when the loan balance is 78% of the original appraised value of the property.
Payments for PMI can be avoided entirely if you originally make a down payment of 20% of the purchase price of your home.
There are two types of mortgage insurance to pay on FHA loans
Mortgage insurance is required when borrowers put down less than 20 percent. It insures the mortgage for the lender in case the borrower defaults. When the Loan-to-Value is less than 20%, All FHA loans require the borrower to pay two mortgage insurance premiums.
 ♠  Upfront premium (UFMIP): 1.75 percent of the loan amount, paid when the borrower gets the loan. The premium can be rolled into the financed loan amount.
Annual premium (MIP): 0.45 percent to 1.05 percent, depending on the loan term (15 years vs. 30 years), the loan amount and the initial loan-to-value ratio, or LTV. This premium amount is divided by 12 and paid monthly.
 ♠  Monthly Mortgage Insurance Premiums (MIP) are not cancellable. The must be paid for the life of the loan regardless of LTV.
USDA Mortgage Insurance is mandatory on all USDA Loans regardless of your down payment amount. USDA mortgage insurance is made up of two parts; the Funding Fee (or Guarantee Fee) and a monthly Mortgage Insurance Premium (MIP), The Guarantee Fee is added to the amount financed and the Monthly MIP becomes part

Call Me @ 860.945.9284 to discuss the right mortgage option for your family and to take advantage of my Jump Start Mortgage Pre-Approval service.
I am committed to helping your family live comfortably and financially secure in your new home with the Right Mortgage and the Right Rate!


Thinking of Buying a Home?

Thinking of Buying a Home.
Deciding to buy a new home is a big decision. Finding the right home and applying for the mortgage to buy it can become an overwhelming process. Here are some tips from Fannie Mae to help put the pieces of the puzzle together.
1. Find Out What You Can Afford.
Ask yourself not only the price of the new home, but also the mortgage payments you can afford to pay each month. What costs can you expect to pay like the mortgage payment, taxes, home owners insurance, mortgage insurance, and maintenance costs to name a few.
2. Check Your Credit Report.what-is-good-credit-score
Relax, you don’t need perfect credit to qualify for a mortgage. But knowing your score gives you a ballpark idea as to what type of mortgage you might qualify for.
3. Save for the Down Payment and Closing Costs
There are no hard and fast rules about how much to put down-some loans require as little a s 3%; others like USDA and VA can provide 100% financing. Your mortgage officer can help determine the right option for you.
4. Shop for a Lender You Trust and Get Pre-Approved
Pre-qualification only estimates how much you may be able to borrow and gives you an idea as to what loan options may suit your situation.
pre-approval 2Mortgage Pre-Approval is a formal loan commitment from an underwriter at your lender that they will lend a specific amount of money at specific terms when you find your new home.
By getting Pre-Approved for a mortgage before you start house hunting, you’ll show sellers that you are committed to buying their listing and can close quickly.
5. Shop for a Home home shopping
Know where you want to buy and what features you like. A local real estate agent can help you narrow your search, guide you through the home buying process and help negotiate your purchase contract.
6. Get Ready to Close
Work closely with you Mortgage Officer on the documents needed to support your application, prepare the funds you will need for the down payment and closing costs, and start practicing your signature.
7. Close Your Loan
Carefully review your loan documents and don’t hesitate to ask your loan officer orKeys to Your New Home your attorney any questions.
Do a final walkthrough of the property. Be on time for your closing appointment,
sign your documents, and get the keys.
Then sit back in your easy chair, click on the TV, look around and tell yourself, “This is my home.”

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.
I am committed to helping your family live comfortably and financially secure in your new home with the Right Mortgage and the Right Rate!

You Can Win a Bidding War For Your New Home

It’s a Sellers’ Market! Today’s market has buyers bidding against each other for a Sellers marketlow inventory of desirable homes. As if the prospect of buying a home wasn’t stressful enough, waiting to find out if your offer was accepted can heighten the emotions and make the waiting unbearable. Luckily, there are things you can do to better your chances of winning a bidding war.

Use a Pre-approval Letter:
A Pre-Approval letter is different than being Pre-Qualified.
A Pre-Qualification is a snapshot of your credit worthiness based on the verbal information you supply to your lender.verifies your income and how much your bank might lend you based on your credit.
A Pre-Approval Letter means that your lender has essentially underwritten your application and it is simply pending an appraisal. Submitting your financing documents to your lender before making any offers will allow you to act quickly when you are ready to make an offer on a new house.

Start with Your Best Offer:
You only get one chance to make a good first impression, which is why you should submit your best offer up front if possible. By doing your research and determining the value of comparable homes in the neighborhood, you can present an accurate and competitive offer. In an extremely competitive market, most houses will sell for over the asking price, so be sure to factor that into the price of the home you are considering.

Limit Your Demands:
Sellers want clean offers; not those that come with a lot of demands or contingencies. For example, if you can avoid asking the seller to cover your closing costs, or trying to get them to make repairs as part of the negotiations, you might have a better chance of having your offer accepted. Sellers have the advantage in a multiple-bid situation and the less complicated you make yours, the more likely they are to say yes.

Give the Seller More Time:
If you can be flexible with your moving timeline, it might give you the competitive edge to offer the seller more time to move out of the home. Not only will they be selling at a price they are comfortable with, but they now have the added bonus of making their own move less stressful. You can offer to have the seller rent back the home for a period of time, or push back the closing date.

Make it Personal:
It may seem silly, but some buyers are swayed by the personal touch of a hand written letter expressing why their home is perfect for you. You can introduce yourself in the letter, tell the seller all about your family, the things you love about the house, and the memories you hope to create there. If the seller is sentimental, they might appreciate the personal touch you’ve added to your offer and feel better knowing who is going to be living in their home.

Stay in Touch:
Even if you find yourself on the losing end of a bidding war, have your realtor keep in touch. A lot of things can happen between an accepted offer and the actual closing. If your offer was in top consideration, you might win out in the end should the initial buyer have complications.

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



5 Tips for Millennial Home Buyers

MillennialsThe Millennial generation has a considerably more challenging road to homeownership in large part to increased student debt and challenges with credit. Oftentimes, Millennials looking to buy their first home are under the impression that it’s not possible and choose to rent instead. However, by following these 5 buying tips, the Millennial generation can make the goal of owning a home a reality.

1.) Stay Within Budget
It can be easy to get caught up in a passionate bidding war when you think you’ve found your dream home. Unfortunately, this often happens to First Time Home Buyers who forget to stick to their budget. Once Pre-Approved for a mortgage and a down payment is calculated, it’s imperative to stick to those numbers and not offer more. A real estate agent can run comparables of homes in the area you are looking at and help determine a reasonable offer.

2.) Save!Family Finances
This might seem like an obvious tip, but for Millennials, it’s crucial. With surmountable student debt, high credit card bills, and the overall cost of living, saving is often easier said than done. However, by determining the cost of your potential down payment, even setting aside a small amount each month over time will help you reach your goal of owning a home within your set budget.

3.) Get the Help of Professionals
It might seem tempting to take on the home buying process on your own, perhaps with the idea of saving a little money in mind. In reality, enlisting the help of a loan officer and a real estate agent can save you a lot of headaches down the road. When it comes to any complicated closing issues, or language in contracts that might be confusing, you’ll be thankful that you have the help of people familiar with the process.

4.) Find Who You Like and Who You Know
Building off of the last tip, there are many professionals you can choose from to help you. Make sure that you are comfortable with who is helping you buy your first home. Take the time to find somebody you can trust and can communicate well with so that your needs and goals are being met throughout the entire process.

5.) Consider Doing it Yourself
It is a great idea to have an idea of what home repairs and projects you are willing to take on yourself as a new homeowner, and which you would want a professional for. In addition, which projects would give you more return on your investment should you decide to sell later on. By doing this, you’ll be sure you are submitting the best offer on the home you want and hopefully will minimize and surprise expenses down the road.

pre-approval-2As they say, “where there’s a will, there’s a way.” And today’s Millennials are proof of that. Do you have questions about buying your First Home?
Reach out to Me to discuss your mortgage options and to take advantage of my FREE JumpStart Mortgage Pre-Approval service.


How To Buy a Home Even With Student Loan Debt

Student Loan Debt may be at all-time highs, but Millennials aren’t letting that stop them from buying a home. In fact, a recent report shows that 27 percent of all First Home Buyers have student loan debt. And First-Time Buyers? A whopping 40 percent have student loans.

Family FinancesSo how do they do it? How do they keep making monthly loan installments while saving for a down payment or paying a mortgage at the same time? Here’s how today’s buyers are making it happen.

They’re choosing the right loan programs. For buyers with student loan debt, an FHA loan can be a great option. And both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have made favorable changes to how student loan debt factors into the mortgage qualification.

They’re getting gifts and co-borrowing. Many buyers are choosing to use gift money from family members to pay their down payment or other costs, while others are choosing to co-borrow their mortgage with a significant other or roommate. Both of these help lower the costs of home buying at the outset.

They’re taking advantage of down payment assistance programs. Saving for a down payment is often the hardest part when you’ve got student loan debt on your shoulders. Fortunately, there are hundreds of down payment (and closing cost) assistance programs that can help cover these expenses and more. Check your state, city and county to find out if there are any you qualify for.

They’re working on their credit. A great credit score means a great mortgage rate — and less money paid monthly and over the life of the loan. Today’s buyers are boosting their scores by paying down their debts, avoiding late payments and watching their credit reports carefully.

As they say, “where there’s a will, there’s a way.” And today’s Millennials are proof of that. Do you have questions about buying a home while dealing with student loan debt?
Reach out to Me to discuss your mortgage options and to take advantage of my FREE  JumpStart Mortgage Pre-Approval service


Mortgage Pre-Qualification vs. Pre-Approval – They Are Not the Same

The terms used in the initial steps of getting a loan can be confusing and misleading. Understanding the difference between a Pre-Qualification and a Pre-Approval helps determine how much house you can afford, and if you are qualified to get a loan. Here’s a breakdown of the difference between two very similar and equally important terms:
Pre-Qualification:mortgage finance
The Pre-Qualification is a less involved process than the Pre-Approval and can be done over the phone or online. Mortgage Pre-Qualification is an informal snapshot of a borrower’s creditworthiness.
It is based on verbal information provided by the borrower. As the borrower, you provide the loan officer with information about your overall financial picture including debt, income, and assets. It does not involve an analysis of your credit report or a close look at your ability to purchase a home. The pre-qualification letter allows you to explore your mortgage options with a lender and ask any initial questions.
Only a Mortgage Underwriter Can Issue a Mortgage Pre-Approval Letter.
The Pre-Approval Letter comes from the mortgage company you are working with and is essentially a commitment that you have a loan approved for a certain amount of money subject to an appraisal of the property you want to buy. This letter is supported by required documentation that you voluntarily provide including;
– Credit checkpre-approval-2
– Income/employment verification
– Analysis of your financial obligations such as   credit card balances, car loans, etc.
– Copies of W-2s, pat stubs and bank statements
– Other pertinent documentation as  required
Once you are Pre-Approved, you can move forward with looking for a home confident in knowing you have a conditional commitment for the money you need to buy a your new home.

Loan Officers can not issue a valid Mortgage Pre-Approval Letter.
A valid Mortgage Approval has been underwritten by an authorized underwriter (an underwriter is the final person that says your loan is approved). If an underwriter Pre-Approves your application upfront, issues you a valid Mortgage Pre-Approval Letter, all you have to do is find the home you want, have it inspected and appraised, and you should be able to close in less than a month. This gives you leg up on an offer from somebody who has not been pre-approved.

If you are looking to buy a new home, a Mortgage Pre-Approval Letter is the smartest way to proceed. Call 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.