RE/MAX Advantage I



Posted by Mark Consolmagno Michelle Curran Team on 4/14/2021

Photo by Brett Sayles from Pexels

Before you can get a VA loan or a VA-backed loan through the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, you'll first apply for a Certificate of Eligibility (COE). You must have served a certain number of days, depending on when you served, and you must have an honorable discharge if you are a veteran. You can find in-depth VA eligibility requirements and complete a COE on the VA’s website.

Types of VA Loans

If you are a Native American veteran, you might be eligible for the Native American Direct Loan Program. The home must be an existing structure or a new build on Native American trust lands. You can use the loan to finance or re-finance. Additionally, your tribal organization has to be a part of the VA direct loan program. This is the only direct VA loan offered.

The Purchase Loans and Cash-Out Refinance Loans are guaranteed by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. You get these loans from a lender who offers VA-backed loans. If you are active duty, your spouse or dependents may also be eligible. As with any other loan, you must meet income and credit standards.

The Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan is only available to those with a current VA-backed loan. If you are eligible for a lower interest rate, you can refinance with this type of loan to lower your interest rate.

Additionally, veterans who have total and permanent disabilities that are service-connected might be entitled to an Adapted Housing Grant. You can get money to add ramps and make other modifications to help you live on your own with a disability, or you can build a house that will allow you to live on your own because it is specially adapted to your disability.

How a VA-Guaranteed Loan Works

The Department of Veterans’ Affairs guarantees part of the loan that you get from a private lender. If you foreclose on the property, the government pays the lender for part of the loan you defaulted on. You can often get a VA-backed loan without a down payment because the VA guarantees the loan. In other cases, you might get a lower interest rate.

If a lender works with the VA to get you a loan, the lender must follow the VA’s standards for closing the loan. Standards might include a limit on how low your credit score can be. As with most loans, you will most likely have to get an appraisal before the loan closes.

Homes must also adhere to standards for inspections. If a home does not pass the VA’s inspection, you can either make the repairs or have the seller make the repairs. You will most likely have to have a second inspection to certify that the home now meets the VA’s standards.




Categories: Uncategorized  


Posted by Mark Consolmagno Michelle Curran Team on 4/7/2021


 Photo by Tayeb Mezahdia via Pixabay

When you start looking for your dream home, you need to know how much mortgage you will qualify for. Your real estate agent might ask you to get a pre-qualification letter. However, just because you are pre-qualified doesn’t mean that you will get the loan. You need a pre-approval for that, and even then, the mortgage company might not approve your application.

Pre-Qualification

A pre-qualification letter just tells you how much loan you can afford. The lender does not check your credit, your debt-to-income ratio or other factors before issuing a pre-qualification letter. Additionally, a pre-qualification letter is dependent on the information you provide to the lender. The pre-qualification essentially gives you an estimate of how much home you are able to afford so that you do not look at homes that are not within your range.

To get a pre-qualification, you supply the lender with your assets, debt and income. Because the lender bases its decision on the information you provide, rather than information from outside sources, a pre-qualification is not a guarantee that you will get the loan.

Pre-Approval

Getting pre-approved for a loan usually takes longer than getting pre-qualified. The lender pulls your credit report and might ask for additional documents, including tax records and bank statements. To get pre-approved, you must complete a loan application and provide your social security number. The lender might charge an application fee for a pre-approval.

With a pre-approval, you will have a closer interest rate assessment, that is usually not finalized until the loan goes through underwriting. Once the lender pre-approves you, it will send you a conditional commitment for the loan amount. You can look for homes at or below that price.

In a market when buyers bid against each other – a seller’s market – having a pre-approval letter might give you a step up with the seller, who will more likely choose an offer by someone more likely to get the loan. Thus, if you and someone else submit a bid on your dream home, but the other person only has a pre-qualification letter, the seller might accept your offer, even if it is not as good as the other buyer’s offer, simply because you are more likely to get the mortgage.

For a pre-approval, you will need to:

  • Complete the lender’s mortgage application;

  • Possibly pay an application fee;

  • Supply your social security number and allow the lender to pull your credit;

  • Provide financial information to help the lender make a decision; and

  • Tell the lender how much you plan to put up as a down payment.

After you are pre-approved and the seller accepts your offer, you will then have to provide the rest of the documentation to the lender, including the accepted offer, bank statements, retirement account statements, taxes for up to two years, proof of income and other documents that will help the lender come to a concrete decision.





Posted by Mark Consolmagno Michelle Curran Team on 3/31/2021

In recent years, the number of employees who work from home, at least some of the time, has increased to about 25 percent. This trend shows that companies are warming up to the idea of letting their employees work wherever they’re comfortable, and that a growing number of people are working on a freelance or contract basis.

Working from home, despite its many advantages, does pose some obstacles to productivity. Thus, time management and daily task setting are key to being as productive or more productive than you would be at the office.

In today’s article, we’re going to help you learn how to become more productive when you work from home so that you can meet your daily numbers while still enjoying the perks of working remotely.

Time management

One of the most difficult aspects of working from home is sticking to a schedule throughout the day. The home poses several distractions--kids, pets, TV, the refrigerator. Aside from the distraction factor, it’s easy to procrastinate when you don’t have a boss lurking around. There are several measures you can take while working at home to counter these factors.

First, make sure you set some ground rules for yourself and your family while working from home. Make sure everyone knows your work hours, including yourself. Stick to those hours by creating a daily routine. Everyone is different when it comes to keeping a planner.

Some people keep a simple task list in a notebook, while others create intricate planners that are color-coded and rife with stickers and reminders. Regardless of your method, make sure you have a physical reminder in front of you during the day that reminds you what you should be doing.

Routine is key to managing your time. While there will always be things that come up that we don’t plan for, having a foundation for your day is vital. Starting each day the same way is a good way to help yourself stick to your schedule. Some people go for a walk each morning, while others dive right into their work. Whichever you choose, make sure you do it consistently.

Creating a productive environment

Try to work in an office or spare room away from kids or pets and let your family know that you need to focus when you’re there.

If possible, set your phone to silent or “do not disturb” mode. Remove any distractions from the room that will tempt you to procrastinate. Things like the TV and snacks can easily steal your attention.

However, in this day of social media, it’s equally important to make sure you avoid procrastinating online as well. If you find yourself subconsciously navigating to Facebook or Reddit, try setting up an extension on your browser that limits your time on those sites to 10 minutes per day to help you stay on track.

A productive environment doesn’t have to be a barren one. Choose decorations and paint colors that work for you. You’ll want to feel comfortable in your work environment, and one of the perks of working from home is being able to customize any way that you like.

Finally, remember to take breaks. Many people who are able to work from home have a tendency to put work off until the last minute and then work feverishly to get everything done.




Categories: Uncategorized  


Posted by Mark Consolmagno Michelle Curran Team on 3/24/2021

If you know you’d like to buy a home in the future, you’ve probably thought about saving money for all of the upfront costs that buying a home can bring. Saving the sizable amount of money that it takes for a down payment can be seemingly impossible to do. It’s impossible without making yourself seem miserable for a time, at least. You can save money creatively without sacrificing everything. Below, you’ll find some tips for saving money that work for your life. 


Put Your Money Somewhere Safe


While investing in the stock market may seem like a good idea to put your savings on hyperdrive, it’s risky. When it comes to your savings, try high interest savings accounts and CDs. The latter is a particularly good option because you won’t be able to touch the money for the time period that the CD will mature. You’ll also earn a bit of interest on the funds that are in there. 


If you plan to keep adding to your savings (which you should) a traditional savings account is best. You should have a dedicated account that’s solely for the house fund. Do some shopping around for the savings account that will have the best interest rate and be the easiest option for you. Remember that as boring as a savings account seems, it’s a safe bet for your money. 


Apps Can Assist You


There are plenty of budgeting apps and apps that help you to set aside spare change. You should make use of these tools to help you reach your savings goals. Whether you need some help with budgeting or need to find ways to put your spare change to good use, there’s an app for that. You can even find apps that will reward you for good behavior. These apps may “tip” you a few bucks for going to the gym or completing a project on time. You’re saving money and doing good for yourself at the same time! Saving money for your future home can be fun if you find the right tools to help you.



Set Goals


One reason that many people don’t save a lot of money is that they lack specific goals. If you sit down and look at your budget, you’ll see where you can cut expenses. Then, you’ll be able to have clear cut goals of how much you can save on a weekly or monthly basis. With your eyes on the prize of homeownership, you should be motivated to save where you can. Having specific numbers in mind can be a big help in reaching your long-term goals.




Categories: Uncategorized  


Posted by Mark Consolmagno Michelle Curran Team on 3/17/2021

While many homes are sold on the basis of emotional appeal or location, there are plenty of other factors which can help tip the scales in your direction. As a home seller, the more advantages and desirable features you can offer to potential buyers, the greater your chances of attracting multiple offers.

If your kitchen and bathrooms haven't been updated for decades, that could easily become a major stumbling block to attracting qualified buyers. Unless their plan is to remodel your kitchen after they buy your home (which is not likely), house hunters are generally not going to look kindly upon old laminate counter tops -- especially those with the ghastly colors from the sixties and seventies! The good news about making your outdated kitchen and home more marketable is that you have the option of resurfacing old countertops rather that completely replacing them.

Although it's generally a good idea to have professionals do this, you can cosmetically improve the appearance of your kitchen countertops by resurfacing them with granite sheets or tile. Resurfacing is also a relatively inexpensive way to help restore aging kitchen cabinets -- another aspect of your home that potential buyers are going to notice.

According to a recent study, quite a few buyers are drawn to features like stainless steel appliances, subway tiles, farmhouse sinks, Shaker cabinets, exposed brick, pendant lights, and quartz countertops. By the way, Quartz does offer some advantages over granite because it's more scratch resistant, maintenance free, and doesn't need to be sealed or polished.

Other features which attract home buyers include energy-efficient windows and appliances, sufficient insulation in attic and elsewhere (many older homes lack this), low-maintenance flooring (not carpeting), roofing that's been replaced within the past decade, finished or semi-finished basements, first-floor/separate laundry rooms, newer hot water heaters (extra points for tankless units), outdoor security lighting, fenced backyards, and dry basements. If you do have issues with excess moisture or leaks in your basement, it may be helpful to install a sump pump, a dehumidifier, French drains, or other dry basement remedies to address those issues before they're brought up by prospective buyers.

While there are certain aspects of your property that can not be changed, such as proximity to neighbors or the school district in which you're located, their are plenty of cost effective ways to improve the appearance and functionality of your home before you try to sell it. To identify problems before they become obstacles, some homeowners hire a property inspector to point out issues. That way, they're not blindsided by unexpected structural, mechanical, electrical, drainage, or energy conservation issues they might not be aware of. In addition to a reputable property inspector, a seasoned real estate agent can also be one of your best advisors when you're ready to put your home on the market.







Mark Consolmagno Michelle Curran Team
Tags