6 Buyer Tips for Hot Housing Markets

Couple outside new home

The housing market is heating up! For buyers, this may lead to submitting multiple offers or a potential bidding war. If you or someone you know is in the market to buy a home, here are six ways to give your offer the best chance for seller acceptance, especially when the competition is stiff:

Get preapproved: Go through the process to be pre-approved so you know your purchase ability, and have a strong cover letter prepared for your seller.

Don’t lowball: When making offers, try to be first and don’t lowball. Being first to the negotiating table plants you in the seller’s mind. But when listings are scarce, lowball offers are a losing strategy.

Opt for an escalation clause: In a hot market you can opt for an escalation clause in your offer that tells the seller you will beat any offer exceeding your bid by $1,000, up to a maximum amount of your choosing.

Perform inspections upfront: It may cost a few hundred dollars, but having an inspection performed upfront shows your’re serious. And when you make an offer without contingencies, sellers pay attention.

Tell them you love it: Ask you agent to deliver a letter listing the reasons why this house is perfect for your family (include pictures and be specific).

Don’t overpay: Do your research on the market by reviewing comparable property sales prices, schools, and online reviews for local businesses. Chat with your potential neighbors as well to get a wealth of information as well as a possible inside scoop.

What other tips do you have for navigating a hot housing market? Leave your tips in the comments!

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6 Ways to Declutter Your Countertops

If you find yourself short on counter space, these six inventive tips can help you organize and maximize any counter in the house:

  1. On the wall: Take a look around your walls, particularly walls where cabinet spaces end. Wall-mounted corner shelves or receptacles near workspaces can give everything a lift.
  2. Drawer decisions: More organized drawers can help clear counter clutter. And drawer organizers aren’t just for tableware! Find solutions for everything from kitchen doodads, to that bulky butcher’s block of knives, to spice racks that fit inside drawers.
  3. Tool time: Save even more drawer space by moving spatulas, whisks, and other tools with handles onto a wall-mounted towel bar with “S” hooks.
  4. Think inside the box…or basket: Natural fiber boxes and baskets can consolidate space for groups of items, like measuring cups and spoons or lotions and styling products, while adding that designer touch. Or use them in cabinets to neatly organize space.
  5. Charging chamber: mount a plug strip to the inside of a drawer to keep those electronics powered-up and out of sight.
  6. Paper pusher: If paper is your problem, try using a wall-pocket organization system with multiple cubbies. Don’t forget to create a system for managing the flow. For example, one cubby might be for bills that need immediate attention, another might be for interesting things to read.

One of the biggest keys to cut clutter is frequently taking stock of what you don’t use regularly. Ask yourself if you really use it, and if not, don’t be afraid to minimize and donate?

Your turn: What do you do to keep clutter down in your house? Comment below to contribute!

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What Causes Home Loan Rates to Move Up and Down?

The Federal Reserve (Fed) monitors the U.S. economy and, when necessary, takes steps to address inflationary concerns to avoid economic recession. When the Fed discusses interest rates, it is primarily concerning the Fed Funds Rate, which is the rate banks use when lending money to each other overnight.

Home loan rates, on the other hand, are dictated by the trading of Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS or Mortgage Bonds), which are a type of bond.

At the real heart of home loan rate movement is the dual relationship between Stocks and Bonds, as they compete for the same investment dollars on a daily basis. Inflationary pressures, economic conditions, and geopolitical events all influence the direction of Stocks and Bonds.

When economic reports are weak or disappointing, investors often move their money from riskier investments like Stocks into Bonds, which are considered safer. Since home loan rates are tied into Mortgage Bonds, this helps home loan rates improve and go down.

In contrast, strong economic news often causes investors to move their money into Stocks to take advantage of any gains. This can cause Mortgage Bonds and home loan rates to worsen, or in other words, the home loan rates go up.

Inflation also plays a role as it reduces the value of fixed investments like Bonds. This means that a low inflation environment tends to be good for Mortgage Bonds and home loan rates (think lower rates), while high inflation can cause both to worsen (think high rates).

Political turmoil or economic crises around the world can also cause investors to move their money into the safety of the Bond markets, helping Mortgage Bonds and home loan rates improve.

If you’re trying to decide if now is a good time to purchase a new home, visit with our Mortgage Center or call your neighborhood mortgage expert! We’ll analyze your financial situation together and create a plan that’s right for you.

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Tomorrow's Millionaires: Don't Bust the Budget!

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This challenging activity is the perfect way to constructively fill those bitterly cold winter weekends.

Did you ever wish there was some way to get your fashion-conscious 11-year-old to realize all those things she’s asking you for actually cost money? Try this activity with your child this weekend, and your wish will be granted!

Take your child on a trip to the mall and give her a task: She can purchase a specific item she’s been asking for (a new pair of boots, a gym bag, etc.) with a set amount of cash. She cannot spend a penny more than that amount, and cannot ask you for that item again this season. Tell your preteen that you’re only going to accompany him around the mall – you will not tell him which store to choose for making the purchase, or which item to buy. As an added bonus, allow your child to keep any change left after buying the item. The freedom to spend as he pleases will thrill your child, and the offer to keep the change will motivate him to spend as little as possible.

On the way to the mall, give your preteen a quick briefing on what to look out for when choosing the item – things like quality, overpriced brand-name merchandise, hiked-up seasonal items, etc.

Then, as promised, keep your mouth closed as you accompany your child around the mall and watch in amazement as he learns invaluable lifetime skills such as comparison-shopping, saving, peer pressure and more. It all happens in one productive afternoon at the mall!

Your Turn: Have you given your child a budget for a specific item and then watched with pride as he or she carefully calculated every penny to make the perfect choice? Share your success (or your own lessons learned) with us!

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More house. Same payment.

With UCCU’s low interest rates and mortgage insurance rates, you could qualify for up to 14% more house than you could with other local lenders! Here’s how:

LOWER INTEREST RATES
UCCU’s rates are just plain lower than the competition. An independent survey on 10/21/2016 of 30 lenders in our market showed that UCCU’s 30 year fixed rate mortgage was 0.375% lower than the group’s median interest rate.

LOWER MORTGAGE INSURANCE
When your down payment is less than 20%, you are typically required to pay for mortgage insurance. This can be a significant monthly expense that gets added into your payment. UCCU receives lower mortgage insurance rates than banks and mortgage companies, which can make a big difference in your monthly payment.

Call 801-223-7640 to speak to a mortgage expert today!

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Alternatives to Putting 20 Percent Down on a Home

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Real Estate is said to be one of the best long term investments out there. If that’s the case, then why put off getting into a home? For some, it’s because there is a misunderstanding on what is required to buy a home. Below are a four loan types and their down-payment requirements.

Conventional
Many believe that 20% is required for this loan type, however,that isn’t true in most cases. By putting 20% down you won’t have to worry about mortgage insurance, and you would qualify for a lower rate. The minimum down payment required for this type of loan is actually just 5%. As for sourcing the funds, the full 5% down payment must come from the primary borrower.

FHA
This is a government backed loan. The minimum down payment required is 3.5%. Considering the nature of the loan, the down payment affects aspects of this loan less. Either way, you will be required to have mortgage insurance with an FHA loan. What’s the advantage to this loan then? The 3.5% can come as a gift from a relative, offering some flexibility on the savings.

VA
VA loans are done via the Department of Veterans Affairs, and allow veterans of the U.S. Armed Services access to programs other U.S. consumers do not. One such program is the no-money-down VA loan.

With 100% financing and accommodating underwriting standards, VA loans make approvals simple and offer lower rates than a comparable conventional mortgage. Additionally, VA loans require no mortgage insurance no matter how much you put down.

First Time Home Buyer

For those who qualify, there are special loan products that will allow up to 100% financing. Those loan requirements can vary by location, so we recommend getting in touch with your local mortgage loan officer to see if you qualify for 100% financing.

The easiest way to make sure you are getting the best type of loan for your situation is to sit down with one of our Mortgage Experts to help you get the home you want, at a price you can afford. You’re just a phone call away from reaching your dream of home-ownership. Visit your local branch or contact us by email at homeloans@uccu.com or by phone at 801-223-7640.

 

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Is Now a Good Time to Buy?

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Research is showing that housing prices are still on the rise. Although the local market is considered a “seller’s market”, is it actually a good time to buy? The simple answer is yes!

As your financial partner, we want to always make sure to steer you in the right direction and ensure that we are providing the best rates, service, and advice. If you are curious about your options we have mortgage experts available to help with all of your home buying needs.

The biggest benefit of buying a home in the current market is that interest rates are still low. You can buy a home from us with a 30 year fixed conventional loan, and receive a rate as low as 3.125%*. Before the market crash in 2008, interest rates were sitting around 6.00%. The difference between the two rates is thousands of dollars when paid back over a 30 year period.

However, there is currently no guarantee that the rates will remain low. The government is currently helping influence the lower rate, but there have been rumors for some time now indicating that this “influence” will stop sooner than later and allow the market to adjust accordingly (meaning the rates will rise).

On top of great interest rates for home loans, tax benefits of homeownership are great too! Don’t wait too long to decide to buy. Visit https://uccu.mortgagewebcenter.com/ to be pre-qualified today or call us at 801-223-7640 to speak to a home loan specialist today!

*Please note that the interest rate shown here are available based on a 740+ credit score. The actual interest rate and fees available to you will be based on your credit history and may be different than the rates displayed here.
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Simple Steps to Buying Your First Home

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Buying your first home doesn’t have to be intimidating. Follow these simple steps designed to help you through the home buying process.

  1. Get pre-qualified – Meet with a qualified home loan specialist to find out exactly how much you qualify for, and what documentation you will need to provide. A credit check will usually be completed by this part of the process.Documentation Needed for Pre-qualification:

    A. 2 recent pay-stubs
    B. 2 months of bank statements to verify funds that will be used
    C. Government issued ID
    D. Most recent year’s tax returns

  2. Find a home – Now that you’re pre-qualified, it’s easier to find the right home. A realtor can help you find the right home for you and, when ready, help with the purchase contract. They are a great resource, but aren’t required for the home-buying process.
  1. Begin loan application – Pre-qualification was just a preliminary step. Once you find a home, and have an accepted offer, we can begin the loan application. If anything has changed since your pre-qualification, updated documentation may be necessary along with a copy of the purchase contract for the home.

4. Complete Due Diligence – A buyer’s due diligence are the things the buyer needs to complete to finish the home purchase. These include:

A. Home inspection
B. Final loan approval

5. Closing – Once all the above steps are completed, you’re ready to close. This is the big day! All parties involved will schedule times to sign the necessary documents to transfer home ownership to you.

 

 

 

The home buying process can seem daunting, but don’t let that overwhelm you. Any Mortgage Loan Professional at Utah Community Credit Union can help walk you through the process. Speak to our mortgage professionals today at 801.223.7640.

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The Buzz about UtahHomeBuzz.com

What'sTheBuzzAbout_2Everything we do at Utah Community Credit Union is to help make seemingly daunting tasks easier for you, our members. So when the opportunity came to make improvements to the home-buying process, we jumped on board!

UtahHomeBuzz.com has been created to add convenience to the home-buying process. It gives you the ability to shop every house in the state of Utah without having to leave the comfort of your home. Whether it’s the home of your dreams and you want to know when it hits the market, or a hot new foreclosure you want to take advantage of, UtahHomeBuzz.com is ready to work for you!

Other great features available through UtahHomeBuzz.com include:

  • Complete home listings (including pictures and price history)
  • The ability to search by city or on Google Maps
  • Save your favorite homes to view later
  • Support for selling your home
  • Up-to-date mortgage interest rates
  • Getting loan pre-approval right on our site

Visit UtahHomeBuzz.com today and see what the buzz is all about!

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Home Maintenance Tips

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Spring is the time for home improvements and repairs. According to some experts, home repairs usually cost approximately $1,700 each year*.  That is a large amount of money, and without a plan, that amount could be devastating in the future.  Here are some reasons why you should make home improvements.

Home Maintenance = Home Equity

Buying a home is a great investment.  You buy a home, and most likely you eventually sell that home.  Putting a certain sum of money into your home each year improves the value, but also makes it more livable as time goes on.

“Be Prepared”

Disasters will happen whether it’s a leaking roof, water drainage, plumbing problems or termite damage etc.  How can you be prepared?  The rule of thumb for home improvement is putting away 1% of your home’s value each year.  For example, if your home is worth $175,000, you would put away $1,750 each year or $145 a month for home maintenance**. By doing so, you can plan accordingly for those incidentals that so often come with owning a home.

Home Upgrades

There are many ways you can improve and increase the value of your home. Home additions can make a space more functional while adding value. Another great spot in the house that offers the best return on investment is the Kitchen. Upgrading appliances, installing fresh tile, and upgrading your counter tops are some great ways to improve the value.

Funding Home Maintenance

Obviously home improvements are essential and cost money.  Planning a budget for home maintenance is not as difficult as it sounds.  In fact, there are many ways to create a budget like obtaining a home equity loan, taking out from a personal budget, or making a home maintenance savings plan every month.  Your home is a great investment, so take care of that investment, and make financial plans to make it better!

If you have any questions, or want to look into a Home Equity Loan, click HERE to visit our website for details.

Sources
*http://balancepro.net/education/publications/fixhomerepairmaintenanceplan.html
**http://go.hfcu.org/blog/bid/138553/Should-I-use-home-equity-for-maintenance-and-upkeep-of-my-house

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