Andy Weiser Fort Lauderdale Realtor Blog

The Things That Determine Your Home Loan Rate

Anyone who is looking to buy a home is going to want to secure a home loan and at the lowest rate possible. This was a bit easier to do in recent years but this year the landscape has changed with rising rates. However, if you are looking to do your best to combat today’s rates, here are some areas you can focus on.

Credit Score

Your credit score plays a big role in the rate that you can get. Freddie Mac states “When you build and maintain strong credit, mortgage lenders have greater confidence when qualifying you for a mortgage because they see that you’ve paid back your loans as agreed and used your credit wisely. Strong credit also means your lender is more apt to approve you for a mortgage that has more favorable terms and a lower interest rate.” As a side note, it is best to refrain from opening new accounts or making larger purchases during this time.

Loan Type

There are many different types of home loans out there these days. Start by reaching out to your local lender and seeing what you may qualify for. In the meantime, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau states “There are several broad categories of mortgage loans, such as conventional, FHA, USDA, and VA loans. Lenders decide which products to offer, and loan types have different eligibility requirements. Rates can be significantly different depending on what loan type you choose.”

Loan Term

Another way to play with your potential rate is to look at the length of the term that you will take your mortgage for as the associated rate will change. Freddie Mac says “When choosing the right home loan for you, it’s important to consider the loan term, which is the length of time it will take you to repay your loan before you fully own your home. Your loan term will affect your interest rate, monthly payment, and the total amount of interest you will pay over the life of the loan.”

Down Payment

Finally, you can consider how much you want to put down which can also lower your rate. These days many buyers who are at least second time buyers may have significant equity from their previous home to put down. The CFPB shares “In general, a larger down payment means a lower interest rate, because lenders see a lower level of risk when you have more stake in the property. So if you can comfortably put 20 percent or more down, do it—you’ll usually get a lower interest rate.”

Tips For Planning Your Closing

While your closing is the last step in the purchase of your new home, it is also the first step for the next chapter in your life. Here are 5 things to plan around your closing so that you are ready for what comes next. 

Utilities

Don’t wait until closing day and assume that there will be utility service active at the new home when you get the keys. There could be an interruption in service as you don’t know when the previous owner may have closed their accounts. Set up utilities in advance of the closing and have new accounts begin on the day you take ownership so that there won’t be any issues.

Plan renovations

Most of the time the home is not going to be exactly the way that you want it. If you are planning on doing some work then don’t wait until after you close to make all of the arrangements. You can bring contractors to viewing appointments and even to your walkthrough so that you don’t lose much time getting things planned. 

Change all locks

You never know who has a key to the home. The previous owner’s friends, family, babysitters, contractors or anyone else could have a copy. It is a wise idea to change the locks after moving in and key all doors alike while you are at it.

Professional cleaners

Nothing is worse than showing up with movers and the home has not been cleaned. Always assume the worst and hire a company to do a deep cleaning so that you aren’t moving your furniture in and onto dirty floors. Even if the old owners did a cleaning as a courtesy it may not be thorough. 

Find a handyman

You may have hired cleaners and movers for the move, but when you are in and want to hang pictures, replace ceiling fans or the like then you might need a handyman. If you don’t know anyone already this can be a good ice breaker to ask the neighbors who they recommend while you meet them.

 

Tips For Renovating a Small Yard

A smaller backyard can in some ways be just as nice as a larger one when it is done right. With creative design and some clever outfitting you can add more to it than you may imagine. In some ways the process of renovating a smaller yard is not unlike a larger one, you just have to prioritize what you want given less space. Here are some helpful tips if you are ready to renovate your outdoor space.

Assess the space
Take a walk around your yard and start sketching your space. Be sure to include your existing features like a patio and such. Then consider what works well and what you wish to keep. Then see if you have any trouble areas. Perhaps you have an AC compressor that you want to camouflage? Or maybe you want to add some privacy from a neighbor? Finally, how does your yard fare with weather? Do you need to add shading elements or trim foliage for more sun.

Decide what you want in it

Make a list of the things you ideally want in your space. Ask yourself some questions like who will use it regularly? Do you want zones for dining and lounging? Do you want a water feature like a fountain or hot tub? Once you have created the list of everything you want, now it is time to prioritize. You may not have room for all so rank things in order of preference. 

Collect design ideas

Here comes the fun part where you start to collect photos and inspiration of what you like and want. Start searching for design ideas online or in magazines and collect some images of landscapes that you are drawn to. Once you have a good assortment of images then you will be ready to provide a designer with some clearer direction of what to execute. 

Hire a professional

Now that you have your design inspiration and an idea of a budget, now is the time to hire a professional designer to assist you. You have a couple of options when working with a designer. You can either hire them to assist you in a more consultation way, or you can hire them to do a complete design with overseeing the installation.

Ways to Make Buyers Interested in Your Home

When you have decided to list your home for sale, it is important that your home be in excellent condition from cleanliness to curb appeal. However, what should you do to make your home stand out among the rest that are on the market for sale? Here are some tips on how to make buyer’s heads turn when they see your home. 

Remedy Deferred Maintenance

Buyers don’t always have the imagination to see past worn paint, missing pieces of trim or a broken door hinge. Furthermore, if buyers see many items that need repair, it creates a perception that there may be other significant items that may need repair. Showing your home in perfect condition will convince all that it has been well maintained. 

Stage Your Home

Homes that are vacant or have too much furniture and belongings tend not to sell as quickly. An empty home is hard for those who don’t have the imagination to see how it can accommodate furniture. On the other hand, too much furniture can pose the opposite problem – it can be difficult to see the size of the rooms. Stage your home with the right amount of appropriately sized furniture to take the guesswork out of the picture.

How to Write a Listing Description

Make sure your home has professional photographs and the description covers all of the key points that your home has to offer. List all of the basic details of bed and bath count, but also include any significant improvements. Large repairs items like a new roof, high impact windows or newer HVAC systems are always good to point out. Finally, pointing out anything that may not be obvious to every buyer like seasonal views or how you enjoy the backyard are also great ideas. 

Enhance Your Curb Appeal

The outside of your home is the first and last thing that every buyer will see so adding color with flowers or decor will make it inviting. Replace worn or dated fixtures and freshening up paint on entry doors will help create more of a positive impression for buyers. 

Outdoor Space

Outdoor space especially here in Fort Lauderdale is something homeowners can enjoy all year round so show it off. Set up different areas or zones, one for lounging, one for dining and one for play. Finish it all off with some great lighting so that evening visits or photos will really showcase the relaxing mood!

 

9 Things All Buyers Need to Know

It is no secret that there are a lot of moving parts in the process of buying your new home. Some things may be more clear while others may not be, especially if you are a first time home buyer. Here are nine things that you will want to know as you get ready to buy your next home.

Some conditions may not be met

On occasion conditions will be worked into a deal like having the carpets cleaned. These smaller things are hard to do anything about if they weren’t done by the seller by closing time unfortunately. However, if a larger, more significant repair wasn’t completed then you can choose to either not take ownership of the home at closing or you can have funds placed in escrow until the work has been done. 

Something is going to happen

Nothing is ever perfect so you may forget to do something on your end, a possession of yours may get broken by your mover or something similar can occur. Prepare yourself earlier on and manage your own expectations so you handle this best when and if something happens.

You must have closing cost funds available

When you do your budget make sure that you have money for your closing costs in addition to your down payment. Check with your mortgage broker as they will be able to provide you with a more firm cost estimate. 

Good schools have a positive effect on home values

Homes that are located in a good school district will often cost you more. However, the good news is that when you go to sell you will be able to reap these benefits too.  

Neighborhoods can sometimes change

This can be good or bad, but it just depends on your lifestyle. Check with the local administration about any future plans for the area. Check if any parks, playgrounds, new developments and the like are in process to be erected. 

Review all paperwork

Your attorney will read all documents, but if is a good idea for you too. For example, reviewing the meeting minutes of the homeowner association (HOA) can help prepare you for any plans in the works such as future assessments, increases in fees or similar. 

Refrain from spending

Just because your offer was accepted it doesn’t mean that you have the new house. You were prequalified for the loan based on your financial status at the time of applying. Therefore, don’t open any new credit card accounts or buy that new vehicle just yet. Do these items after your closing so you don’t risk losing your loan.

Your neighbors may be your best resource

When you are previewing your new property take a look around the neighborhood and speak to some of the neighbors. You can get a good feel for the neighborhood and just how things are to see if it is the right fit for you. See what they say, how long they have lived there, any common concerns, etc. 

Check for rebates or financial assistance

See if there are any rebates or financial assistance that you may qualify for. This can be anything from a utility or appliance program to mortgage assistance that you could qualify for. Ask when setting up your utilities as well as when you first contact your lender.

How to Avoid Ruining Your New Yard

Many times homes will be in their best condition when they are put on the market for sale as they need to be presentable. This usually includes everything from the inside out down to the landscaping. However, it is not uncommon that the new owners can make some blunders when it comes to proper yard maintenance when they move in and take over. Here is a list of the common mistakes that you will want to avoid. 

Not reading instructions. Proper lawn care includes many things from fertilizer and weed control to bug control. Each treatment is very particular for when it is done and how much you use. Make sure to read all instructions thoroughly as to not damage your lawn or potentially harm kids or pets. 

Irrigation. Keeping your lawn well watered is important for its longevity. However, watering it just enough to get it wet won’t cut it as ideally the soil should be moist 6 inches deep. A good strategy is to time how long you are watering and then take a shovel and check the soil to see how long it takes to get it moist 6 inches deep. Watering too much can also be a problem. Especially with the lawn types in South Florida, it is possible to get a fungus from too much water.

Improper Fertilization.  Much like bug control or weed killer, there is such a thing as applying too much fertilizer. Using too much can cause serious damage resulting in burning or killing grass and plants while runoff water can cause algae to grow.

Grass cutting. Don’t cut your lawn too short. This can help push the time in between mowings, but it can be a recipe for a brown lawn. 

Weed killer. Weed killer is supposed to be used in smaller areas and not doused on your entire lawn in mass amounts. This can kill everything and lead to planting a whole new lawn.  

Trimming and pruning. Branches can grow to areas that need to be trimmed back, but cutting at random is not the way to do it. Make sure you do your trimming where the trunk and branch come together and leave a bump. This bump will often allow the plant to recover from the cuts. 

Planting strategy. If you want a landscaped yard with many plantings then that can be possible, however, don’t plant bushes and flowers too close to one another. Plants need room to grow and being too close can rob them of necessary nutrients and potentially lead to death.

Pet damage. It is tempting to allow pets to relieve themselves wherever they want in the yard. However, eventually you may notice patches of dead grass and damaged plants. If you can’t train your pet to go in one area, limit them to a run so they are confined to using just one particular section of your yard.