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Resolutions

What is your New Year’s resolution? Are you going to commit to working out more often? Spend more quality time with your family? Start saving money for retirement? Read one book per week?

If your 2018 goals include buying your first home, re-sizing, or refinancing, these should be your resolutions:

1. Find out your credit score and history;
2. Establish and maintain good credit practices (ie. pay your bills on time, monitor your credit report for fraud, close unused lines of credit);
3. Save a reasonable down payment for the house that you want to buy;
4. Find the right home buying team for you. Identify a realtor, lender, and attorney that work together often.* If the team know one another and work well together, the process will be so much easier and less stressful for you;
5. Get organized: gather pay stubs, federal and state tax documents, current photo identification, bank statements, as well as any divorce, bankruptcy, and investment property documents, if applicable;
6. Obtain a mortgage pre-approval; and
7. Be smart: do not make any large purchases or big changes to your finances.

Wishing you a happy and healthy 2018!

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Falling into a new house

Doesn’t it seem like everyone moves during the spring and summer? Yes, more homes tend to sell during those seasons; however, there is no wrong time to buy and, in fact, fall and winter are excellent times to consider falling into a new home!

* You can celebrate the winter holidays in your new home;
* There is still more than enough selection of homes available;
* Sellers are more motivated to sell, especially if their house has been on the market for a while (which isn’t usually because there is something “wrong” with the house);
* You can take advantage of homeowner tax breaks for property tax and mortgage interest;
* There won’t be as much competition, so you aren’t as likely to get into a bidding war or to overpay for your new home;
* Moving companies tend to charge less in fall and winter, because they aren’t as busy;
* Your realtor will likely be less busy and can dedicate even more time to personalized service; and
* You will see your property at its worst, which is a hidden gem of information. It’s easy to make the house look pretty in the spring as flowers bloom, but wouldn’t you rather know that the heating systems, roof, and gutters are performing as they should?

As always, please feel free to reach out to us with any questions or concerns by email at faye@wjslegal.com or (508)319-1529.

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Real Estate laws: weird or true?

Laws are always evolving and changing. Some changes are fairly significant, like the child support guidelines taking effect next month, but others are slight clarifications of existing laws, like the one that we recently posted on Facebook regarding easements in condominiums; however, some just don’t make sense, like these real estate ones:

https://www.redfin.com/blog/2016/12/6-weird-real-estate-laws-that-are-actually-on-the-books.html

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Don’t be like Chicken Little

Whatever you do today, do not panic like Chicken Little. Are you going to spend the day wondering if you should train for the 2018 Boston Marathon?* Good for you!  Will you spend today pondering a semi-legitimate excuse why you can’t work tomorrow so that you can celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? Go for it! Whatever you do today, do not panic about the Federal Reserve’s slight increase in interest rates. The sky is not actually falling, but it is a great time to think about your mortgage.

 

Mortgage rates are cyclical. Interest rates go down, then they go up, before they go back down again. We have been spoiled for a very long time with historically low rates. For at least the short term, they will be on the rise; however, we have no idea where they will eventually peak or if they will ever return to the crazy low rates of recent years. What does this mean for you?

Now is a great time to refinance your existing mortgage. If you have an adjustable mortgage, now is the ideal time to lock in a stable, fixed interest rate. If you have owned your house for a while and have not recently refinanced, now is a great time to explore a lower, fixed interest rate.

This is an excellent time to sell your current home or buy a new home. The real estate market is currently in a very sweet spot where homes are still competitively priced and mortgage rates are still very low.

 Does it matter which lender you work with on a purchase or refinance? Yes, yes, yes (did we say yes?). The reality is that most lenders have access to and can offer you similar mortgage programs; however, not all lenders are not all created equal. Can you keep a secret? At Weiner Jackson & Simmons, we have our favorite lenders (and real estate agents too). We love working with people who are detail oriented, communicate with everyone involved in the transaction, and who do not panic when we hit a detour, as so often happens. If this is something that you want to explore, let us know and we will point you in the right direction.

So, no, the sky is not falling. The sun is shining and spring is only four days away. Get ready!

* If you are thinking of training for the 2017 Boston Marathon and haven’t yet started, it is time to panic, unless you are Batman, in which case, you should be totally fine.

 

Do you want to know MORE?

Two resources that will help you to understand how the Federal Reserve operates and what this all means for you:
The Federal Reserve (always best to go to the original source):
https://www.federalreserve.gov/newsevents/press/monetary/20170315a.htm

A warmer perspective on the current trend from the Palm Beach Post:
https://www.google.com/amp/www.palmbeachpost.com/business/consumer-advice/first-fed-rate-hike-2017-impact-mortgage-rates/ACwXFE8sUzmcQYbd3cxW4I/amp.htm

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What Happens Next? Closing 101

Yea….you found a new home! You have so much to do. You need to pack. You may also be busy shopping for necessities, such as furniture, towels and dishes. You may also need to hurry up and WAIT??

Closing attorneys, lenders, and real estate agents do their best to make closings happen on the date stated on your Purchase and Sales Agreement (“P&S”). We work as a team, along with many other professionals. During this time, lenders coordinate with appraisers and insurance companies. Agents insure that certificates are obtained and utilities paid. The closing attorney teams with engineers, title researchers, local tax officials, and sellers (or their attorneys). A good team of agents, lenders, and attorneys will be in constant communication with one another and will be focused on the same goal of closing on time.

Once everything is ready, your lender will send a Closing Disclosure for your approval. The Closing Disclosure contains all costs and credits involved in the transaction. Buyers must wait three days after the document is released to “close” or purchase the home.

What happens next? Make sure that you have your photo identification ready, your funds available, and stretch those fingers!

Typical closings involve 150(ish) pages of paper, some from the lender and others from the attorney. Some of the documents will be familiar to you, like your Closing Disclosure, tax forms and loan application; other documents may be less familiar to you, like an Owner’s Title Policy or Declaration of Homestead. The closing attorney will highlight the content, show you where to sign or initial, and (sometimes) date. The entire process usually moves very quickly and is done under one hour.

Once the documents are signed, some need to be recorded at your local Registry of Deeds. As soon as that happens, you are officially a homeowner. Congratulations!!

** In most cases, a Closing Disclosure is used; however, there are exceptions, such as a property being paid for in cash and reverse mortgages.