Andy Weiser Fort Lauderdale Realtor Blog

5 Tips for Refinancing Your Home

At certain points homeowners may consider refinancing their home for several reasons. Maybe it is time to do a renovation and pull out some equity or perhaps when rates dip it may be worth considering a refi for a lower payment. Whatever the reason is there are a few steps to consider before you call a lender and just jump in. Here are 5 tips for you to review before beginning the process. 

Calculate the numbers

It may seem like a refi is always a great idea if you can either pull out equity or if you are getting a lower rate. However, the one other major consideration in the equation is time. Figure out what loan term makes sense with your future and retirement plans. Resetting the clock on a 30 year mortgage may not make sense if you are 10 years away from retirement. 

Check your credit

You are allowed to check your credit once per year from the major bureaus under federal law. Even if you know that you pay your bills on time, it is still wise to check it for accuracy and to make sure there are no mistakes. How solid your credit is will have a big impact on your borrowing power and what rate you will get. 

Prepare your finances

Lenders will check your overall financial situation so it’s best to have that in order. Aside from your credit score, they will like to see that you aren’t maxed out on your available credit. Additionally, it is also helpful to show that you have liquid savings on hand for several months in the event of a job loss or the like. If you don’t have this on hand, a refi could still be a good option for you.

Estimate your home’s value

Lenders will also want to see that you have 20% of equity or more in your home. As market conditions can fluctuate, it is a good idea to have a value in mind of what your home is worth today especially if you are pulling out equity in the refinance. You can do preliminary research online to see what has recently sold or you could reach out to me for more information. I would be happy to help.

Research lenders

Unless you have a reason not to, then begin with your current lender for a refi. Typically most lenders will want to retain you as a customer so they will offer you the best loan package. You should also do your homework and at least shop around to know what current rates are being offered as a benchmark. 

Do you have any questions about your situation? Contact me today and I would be happy to provide some guidance.

Yard Tips to Minimize Watering

These days everyone knows that when it comes to your yard you don’t want to waste our valuable resource of water, but you also don’t want to waste your valuable time. Even if you have a proper irrigation system, water bills alone can make you want to disable it at times especially if you don’t have a private well. Here are some great ideas on how you can design your landscaping so it is eco, budget and spare time friendly!

Stay with Hardy, Local Plants

Even in areas like the Southwest where there is a lack of natural water, yards and gardens are still filled with color and texture. Native plants thrive as they are used to the normal state of the region. Select which plants are typically in the area and go with those. Aside from succulents, South Florida has many trees, bushes and flowers that require less water.

Add Some “Hardscaping”

Grass is great, but some areas for patios, stone walls, paths and the like serve great purpose as well. These can enhance aesthetics but also provide great function for entertaining and gathering places. In fact, studies have stated that new patios and fire pits are among the top projects for adding value to your home for resale. Just keep in mind that you will want to plan for proper drainage given our heavier rains.

Try Fake Grass

Turf has made big progress and now has the look and feel that is much like real grasses. Research brands for those that hold up over time and have a good feel on your feet. Especially for smaller yards this can be ideal where watering and mowing can be challenging. 

Plant Cacti and Succulents

These plants are very hardy while they add color, flowers and texture to your landscaping. Just make sure they are not located in areas where they will have “wet feet” as they prefer a dryer setting.

Rock Beds

Instead of having as much grass as you may have, try breaking it up with rock beds. As an alternative to mulched beds, rock beds don’t require as much work where they don’t break down like much does and need replacement. You will save on needing to water these areas as opposed to grass while you still have the benefit of an area for drainage. 

 

More Northerners Move to Florida for Tax Incentives

Florida has always been among the top places for people to migrate to due to its spectacular weather, beautiful beaches and lack of personal income tax. More recently there has been anecdotal evidence of an influx of high earners from the Northeast that are looking to sell their homes in high-tax states and relocate to states like Florida.

Around when there was a federal tax change in 2017 there was an increase in activity for those making this move. With being limited on deducting city and property taxes especially in areas like New York, Connecticut and New Jersey there was a fire lit for some to pull the trigger on a move. Furthermore, in New York State there is going to soon be a boost in a “Mansion Tax” in NYC to help fund the city’s subway system that will only add to tax amounts. 

Some of these new residents are not only relocating their primary homes, but also their businesses too. While these northern states lose some of their tax revenue, these homeowners are able to either relocate their business or conduct a large portion of it due to advances in technology being able to do work remotely. Some states like New York are catching on to this trend and trying to hone in on those who have relocated but may still spend a considerable amount of time in the northern state. Audits are being done to see where these individuals are visiting their doctors, posting on social media and where cell phones are being frequently used to measure where the majority of their activity is taking place. 

In addition to the Northeast, Californians are also among those who are moving to the Sunshine State. For years Nevada has been a catch-all for these transplants, but now Florida is among their considerations that seek a similar climate but a more favorable tax situation. Particularly those with a higher income are looking to preserve their wealth as they get older. 

6 Way to Lower Your Closing Costs

There is no question that when you buy a house you will need to have a good amount of money set aside for it. Most everyone knows that they will need to save for their down payment, but what may come as a surprise to some is just how much they will need for closing costs. A good rule of thumb is to factor about 2 to 5 % of your loan’s value for closing costs. Here are some ways that you can potentially lower the amount that you will have to pay for these.

Review the Loan Estimate

Before you close your lender will provide you with a document that will detail all of the loan details and closing costs. This document will show you your monthly payment, interest rate and what percentage the bank is charging for fees. You may find that their fees are higher than what other banks would charge so you might want to shop around.

Lender Fees

Double check the fees that your lender is charging for things like underwriting and origination. These are also some costs that other lenders may charge less for or could potentially be some expenses that could be negotiated. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no!

Know what You are Paying

Before you enter into negotiations, it is a good idea to have knowledge of what you are responsible for paying for. This includes things like credit report, application fees, attorney fees and the like. Also, have a good grasp on what the seller is paying on their end like real estate commissions.

Rolling in Closing Costs

Not all lenders in all situations will be open to this, but some will allow you to roll some of your closing costs into your mortgage. It is important to note that while this will save you money up front, it will end up costing you more in the end as you will pay interest on these charges as part of the loan.

Locate Financial Assistance

Some first time buyers may qualify for select programs that offer grants or financial relief in some fashion. A good place to start is to check with a lender to see if you may qualify for one of these programs. From government to non-profit organizations there just may be one that could apply to your situation and help you save.

Select Your Own Vendors

Once you secure your loan you may want to choose your own vendors to help navigate to closing. Most often a bank will automatically use the ones they normally do, but they may charge you more than someone else you can find on your end.

Planning Your Closing Checklist

Your closing may be the last step in purchasing your new home, but it is the first step to your new chapter in life. Here is a list of things to prepare before your closing so that you are ready for what comes next.

Plan renovations

It is not that often that you buy a home that is 100% move-in ready or completely the way that you want it. If you are planning on doing some work to the home then don’t wait until after you close to begin making necessary arrangements. You can bring contractors with you at a private appointment or at your walkthrough so that you don’t lose any time getting things planned out.

Set up utilities

Don’t just assume that there will be utility service at the home when you move in. There could be a lapse in service as you also don’t know when the previous owner canceled their accounts. The best plan of action is to notify utility companies well in advance of the closing and set up accounts to begin on the day you take ownership.

Change locks

You never know who has a key to the home from the previous owner. Their friends, family, contractors or the like could have copies that work on all of the doors. A good rule of thumb is to change the locks after moving in and take this opportunity to key all doors alike if they weren’t already.

Professional cleaners

There is nothing worse than showing up with your movers with tons of boxes and furniture only to find out that the home is not clean. Assume the worst and schedule a company to do a good cleaning so that you aren’t moving your furniture in and placing it on filthy floors. Even if the previous owners did clean as a courtesy it may not be up to your standards.

Locate a handyman

You may have cleaners and movers in place for the move, but when you get settled with hanging wall art or even swapping out ceiling fans you will most likely need the assistance of a handyman. If you don’t have one already this can be a good ice breaker to ask the neighbors who they use.

6 Long Lasting Kitchen Trends

As expensive yet exciting as a kitchen renovation can be, we know this overhaul can be quite a large project. Given the time and price-tag that this often comes with, it is important to not only implement your own personal style, but you will also want it to stand the test of time. Here are 6 contemporary kitchen trends that are slated to last for years to come.

Open Shelving

Colored or glass front cabinets have been seen for years now, but open shelving offers the benefit of being both cost effective while eye-catching. It does take some thought to strategically plan so that it is accommodating, but the install is easy and it will motivate you to keep organized storage.

Classic Tiles

You can’t really go wrong with classic subway tile as it can be installed in many ways. Choose stacked joints instead of alternating or even consider a horizontal install. There are lots of other shapes that won’t fade in time too such as classic penny or even mosaic tiles.

Zoned lighting

Lighting is important on its own in any room. However, zoned lighting in the kitchen is particularly key as you will want overall lighting but also the assistance of task lighting. Choosing things from pendants to under cabinet lighting are great things to add. Best of all you can always easily change the fixtures eventually so long as the wiring is in place.

Limited upper cabinetry

This is a concept that works for everyone for aesthetics, but understandably not for all with respect to space. The open shelving trend with limited upper cabinetry will provide more of an open, larger and stylish look. Depending on space and needs the amount can vary per home.

Larger sink

While years ago a larger sink with a sprayer may have been a luxury, today it has slowly become a standard. Even if you don’t do a lot of hand dish washing these sinks are great for those larger pots and pans that don’t fit in the dishwasher. They can also be quite handy with meal prep as well!

Colorful appliances

If you are tired of stainless steel appliances, consider colorful models instead. These are becoming more popular as an alternative to the stainless, white or black options that have been around for years now. The colorful options are equipped with today’s features yet are a nod to the vintage models which are sure to add timeless character to your home.