Home values are rising in many U.S. markets. The S&P/Case-Shiller Index has home values up 1.2 percent as compared to last year, and the government’s Home Price Index shows an increase of 3.7 percent.

This has been partially evidenced by rising median home sales prices nationwide. Versus last year, the median sale price of a new construction home has climbed 17 percent, and the median sale price of an existing home sale is higher by 10 percent.

For home sellers, an improving market means the chance to net more proceeds from a home sale. Or does it?

In this 3-minute piece from NBC’s The Today Show, we hear about the home appraisal process and how it may be limiting the number of home sales nationwide, plus the prices at which homes are selling. 

The interview includes several key insights into the home appraisal process :

  • In a rising housing market, a home’s appraised home value may be lower than its “true” market value
  • Short sales and foreclosures can make a negative impact on a home’s appraised value
  • Consolidation in the appraisal industry has lowered product quality and may be harming valuations

One key take-away from the video is that home owners in Midlothian should provide their home appraisers with as much relevant information as possible — especially information which may not be publicly-available. This includes records of recent “all-cash” sales of comparable homes which were never formally listed for sale.

One in three purchase agreements are canceled because of appraisal issues, according to the interview. Take steps to make sure yours is not among them.

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Insurance is protection against unexpected expenses and insurance policies are available for nearly any scenario you can envision — even your own ransom. But just because an insurance policy is available, that doesn’t mean you should buy it.

Some insurance policies give you good bang for the buck. Others are plain wasteful.

In this 3-minute segment from NBC’s The Today Show, you’ll hear of several common insurance policies and their relative merits to people of Virginia who purchase them.

For example, Americans will spend an estimated $450 million on pet insurance this year. Because of the policies’ restrictions and deductibles, though, it’s an insurance policy that rarely pays off. This is one reason why financial experts often recommend that you pass on purchasing pet insurance.

Within the segment, other reviewed insurance policies include :

  • Mobile phone insurance
  • Flight and travel insurance
  • Extended warranties for electronics
  • Umbrella policies
  • Renters insurance

There’s also discussion about home warranties, and why you should avoid policies that last longer than one year.

Insurance should be an important part of your overall financial plan. However, the key is to have the proper policies in place, with an appropriate amount of coverage. Review your policies annually and keep your coverage current.  

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Despite several big-name banks pulling the product from their respective home loan offerings, reverse mortgages remain a popular mortgage choice among homeowners aged 62 or over.

A reverse mortgage is exactly what it sounds like — a mortgage in reverse. Rather than borrow a fixed amount of money then pay that loan balance down to zero as with a “forward” mortgage, a reverse mortgage starts at a given loan balance and works its way up as scheduled payments are added to the existing loan balance.

This 4-minute piece from NBC’s The Today Show highlights a few pros and cons of reverse mortgages, and the reasons why you may want to consider one, including :

  • No mortgage payments are ever due on your home
  • There is no credit check required for a reverse mortgage
  • There is no income requirement to qualify for a reverse mortgage

There are some basic qualification standards for the reverse mortgage program including a requirement that all borrowers on title must be 62 years of age or older; and that the subject property be a primary residence. Loan fees can also be higher than with a conventional-type mortgage.

If you meet the qualification standards, though, with a reverse mortgage, you have flexibility in how your home equity is distributed to you. You can receive a lump-sum payment, elect for monthly installments over time, create a line of credit, or a combination of all three. 

Like all mortgages, reverse mortgages are complex instruments. That’s one reason why all reverse mortgage borrowers are required to attend counseling — the government wants you to be certain that you understand the nuances of the reverse mortgage program.

Your lender will want you to understand the program, too.

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

The typical U.S. taxpayer will receive roughly $3,000 in federal income tax refunds this year — an average of $250 per month. So, what would you do with an extra $250 monthly? This segment from NBC’s The Today Show offers some advice. 

Whether you’ve already filed your annual taxes for 2011, filed an extension, or will squeak by on the deadline, you could probably be doing more with your taxes. The above video shares some tips. It’s four minutes of solid insight on tax refunds, tax withholdings, and reducing your household’s overall “bad debt”. There’s something for everyone.

Among the points covered in the tax refund piece :

  • Consider changing your personal payroll exemptions so your 2012 refund is $0
  • Remember that refunds are not “free money” — it’s your money. Spend wisely.
  • Use your tax refund to fund retirement accounts

Advice is also shared about how to use your tax refund to fund a reserve account, or emergency fund. As a homeowner or home buyer in Midlothian , applying tax refunds to a savings accounts in this manner can go a long way. When you’re a homeowner, maintenance costs can be sudden and unexpected. A furnace can explode, for example; or, a roof could spring a leak. Having money set aside for crisis is essential.

Having a savings account will also improve your household’s long-term financial stability. 

As a reminder, in most years, federal income tax is due April 15. However, with Tax Day falling on a Sunday and with the federal government closed for a holiday the following Monday, U.S. taxpayers in Virginia and nationwide get a reprieve until Tuesday, April 17, 2012.

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter
by | Categories: Taxes | Tagged: , , | No Comments

According to Freddie Mac’s weekly mortgage rate survey, for 13 straight weeks, the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage has held below 4.000% for mortgage applicants willing to pay up to 0.8 discount points plus a full set of closing costs.

These are the lowest mortgage rates in history and now — with a bevy of loan programs for the nation’s 11 million “underwater homeowners” including HARP, the FHA Streamline Refinance, and the VA IRRRL — millions of U.S. homeowners can exploit the current mortgage rate environment.

In this 4-minute clip from NBC’s The Today Show, you’ll learn about today’s mortgage market and your refinancing opportunities in Virginia.

The video begins by telling us that 14 million credit-worthy Americans have yet to refinance their respective mortgages, and are leaving an average of $471 in “wasted savings” on the table each month which adds up to more than $5,600 annually.

That’s a big number.

Some of the video’s other key points include :

  • Refinancing is “worth the hassle” when mortgage rates are as low as they are today
  • The best rates are reserved for homeowners with the highest credit scores
  • Comparison shop — your current mortgage lender may not offer you the best rates

Furthermore, the video reveals the characteristics of the homeowner type most likely to benefit from a refinance. These traits include having with 20% equity in the home; have plans to live in the home for at least the next 36 months; carrying a current mortgage rate of 5 percent or higher.

It should also be added that, with a zero-closing-cost or low-closing-cost mortgage, even a small reduction in your mortgage rate can make a refinance worthwhile.

Mortgage rates are low but can’t stay low forever. If you haven’t participated in the Refi Boom, talk with a loan officer and review your mortgage options. You may be able to save hundreds of dollars per month with just modest closing costs. 

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Credit scores play a huge role in today’s mortgage market — larger than at any time in recent history. Blame it on the high default rates of the last half-decade. Lenders are reserving their lowest rates for the customers most likely to make on-time repayments.

Mortgage rates are at an all-time low in Virginia. However, the low rates you see advertised on TV and online are only available to the home buyers and would-be refinancers whose credit scores are pristine. Having a high credit score is often the difference between getting “the best rates” from your lender, and getting something worse.

The first part of improving your credit score is understanding how it works. In this 5-minute piece from NBC’s The Today Show, you’ll learn the basics :

  • Why you shouldn’t close a credit card after you pay off a large debt
  • What is the maximize balance to leave on your credit cards, relative to your credit limit
  • What types of credit checks harm your credit scores, and which ones don’t

You’ll also learn how to shop for a mortgage with multiple lenders without having your credit score “dinged”, as well as several proven methods to raise your credit score quickly.

In the end, good credit scores are the result of paying bills on time and staying with your means. Those with the best scores, get the best rates.

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Will your home gain value over the next 12 months? Nobody can know for sure, of course, but should recent housing trends continue, there’s concrete cause for optimism.

The housing economy has suffered since 2007, knocking home values down nearly 20% nationwide. And while some areas have fared better as compared to others but, in general, home values are down. 

Mortgage rates are down, too, and that’s good news for buyers in Richmond. The combination of low rates and low prices has led home affordability to an all-time high. As you’ll hear in this 4-minute interview with NBC’s The Today Show, carrying a mortgage costs 25% less per month as compared to just 3 years ago.

Some other notes from the interview include :

  • There are more buyers out looking for homes today, which leads to more sales
  • The housing market is expected to get gradually better, month-by-month, in 2012
  • Foreclosures will continue to be a big part of the housing market

With housing supplies shrinking, buyers throughout Virginia may find their best “deals” today — before the Spring Buying Season begins in February.

However, we can’t forget that housing markets are local — not national. Each town and neighborhood has its own market drivers and prices where you live may have already started to climb.

For accurate, up-to-date data on the housing market, talk with a local real estate agent. 

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter