Save Money Making Biweekly Mortgage Payments

April 19th, 2010

It’s important to understand the benefits of biweekly mortgage payments because the savings are significant.

A lender will collect about 3 times the amount of the mortgage loan you borrowed from the interest.  This can equate to hundreds of thousands of dollars in interest you pay.  Ouch!  The best way to eliminate a lot of the interest you pay to your lender is by setting up your mortgage payments on a biweekly schedule.

Here is a real example of the savings when paying your mortgage biweekly:

Loan amount is $200,000 and the interest rate is 5% on a 30 year loan.  The total amount of interest saved is $34,356.58 and the term is reduced by 4 years and 9 months.

Here is a biweekly mortgage calculator you can use to see the savings on your personal mortgage loan:  Biweekly Mortgage Calculator.

One of the best things about a biweekly payments is that you can start at anytime.  Even if you have 10 years left on your mortgage, the amount of interest you save in 10 years is still very significant.

Here is a site to educate yourself about the benefits of biweekly payments and see what industry experts have to say.

New Home Owner Energy Rebate Bill Proposed

December 11th, 2009

In an effort to further stimulate the economy while also working toward his goal of making the country more energy-efficient, President Obama proposed a new program this past Tuesday.

Although details remain unclear in regards to the new proposal, Steve Nadel, who is the director at the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy and who helped write the bill, reports that homeowners could receive up to $12,000 in rebates if they install energy-efficient appliances and insulation in their homes. Companies that specialize in renewable energy will also be eligible to receive funding through the program.

“[Energy efficiency] creates jobs, saves money for families, and reduces the pollution that threatens our environment,” President Obama is quoted as saying in a CNN Money article. “With additional resources, in areas like advanced manufacturing of wind turbines and solar panels, for instance, we can help turn good ideas into good private-sector jobs.”

Not only is the bill intended to help stimulate the economy by encouraging homeowners to make new purchases, it will also create jobs for private contractors who will be responsible for conducting home energy audits and installing the necessary equipment to make the homes more energy-efficient. According to the details that have been released so far, homeowners would be eligible to receive up to a 50% rebate on the purchase of big-ticket items such as heating systems, air conditioners, refrigerators, windows, washing machines and insulation. They will also be able to receive a rebate of up to 50% on the cost of installation, with the maximum allowable rebate for equipment and installation being $12,000.

At this point, no income restrictions have been placed on the bill, but some critics are concerned that the bill could potentially have the opposite effect of its intentions on the economy. For example, consumers who are already struggling to make their monthly bill payments may try to take advantage of the rebates, only to find themselves in even more debt. Or, they may simply choose not to pursue energy-efficient purchases, which means the bill will do nothing to help spur the economy. Nonetheless, supporters of the $10 billion bill maintain that the bill will help to further move the economy in the right direction while also helping homeowners decrease their energy bills by as much as 20%.

Details regarding how the bill would be administered are still unclear. Potential methods include assigning state agencies to oversee the program, providing the rebates directly to consumers or providing reimbursement through a tax credit.

About the Author:
Eric Bramlett is the broker & co-owner of One Source Realty. He helps people find Austin Homes for Sale, Austin Condos, and Steiner Ranch Homes for Sale. Eric actively blogs & guest blogs on a number of sites.

Real Estate Tips: Properly Pricing Your Homes

August 6th, 2009

With today’s tough economy, it has never been more important to properly price your home. After all, if you price your home too high, there is no way you will ever get it sold. At the same time, if you price it too low, you will take a major financial loss – particularly since the current economic conditions are likely causing you to sell the home at a loss already. So, when it comes to pricing your home, it is important to keep these 5 tips in mind in order to come up with the best price possible.

Tip #1: Get it Appraised
Working with a certified appraiser will help you get a solid idea of what your home is actually worth. Ideally, you should work with an appraiser that is familiar with your particular market, as prices vary from market to market. By using this information as a starting point, you will be better prepared to determine a price that is fair.

Tip #2: Know Your Local Market
In addition to consulting with a professional appraiser, it is also important for you to have an understanding of your local market and the prices that homes are going for within that market. You also need to have an understanding of the type of demand that there is for your type of home within your market. Your real estate agent should be able to help you look at trends within your market, but you can also use the Internet or even take a look at your Sunday paper to gain a better understanding of your market.

Tip #3: Understand the Buyer
In addition to understanding your local housing market, you also need to get a better idea of who is buying in your market. If you live in a growing area that is attracting a lot of new residents, you will be able to command a higher price than if you are in an area that is not quite so popular.

Tip #4: Developing a Strategy
Based on all of the information that you have gathered, it is time for you to create a strategy to help get your home sold. If property prices are dropping in your area, you might want to consider dropping your price ahead of time. For example, if prices are dropping at a rate of 1% per month, you might set your price at 3% less than its value in order to gain a competitive edge over other properties in the area.

Tip #5: Look Beyond Your Emotions
Finally, pricing a home can be difficult due to the emotional attaching that you feel with the property. The memories you have built in the home and the price you paid for the home are not important to potential buyers. Be objective when pricing the property so you come up with a price that is fair for everyone involved.

Eric Bramlett is the broker & co-owner of One Source Realty, a full service Austin real estate company. Eric currently works with select buyers & sellers and helps his agents continue to succeed. Eric manages multiple niche websites, including his Steiner Ranch real estate website.

5 Reasons FHA Loans Can Help You, Today

March 1st, 2009

Are you considering the purchase of a home? Are you struggling under the threat of losing your home? If so, consider how FHA can help. FHA loans are government-backed loans that often have a much lower interest rate than a conventional (traditional) loan. Before you right off these loans as impossible options, keep in mind that millions of people are benefiting from theme right now.

Here are five ways that FHA loans can help you to obtain the home you are looking for, or help you in other ways.

#1: Lower Interest Rates: The main benefit of FHA loans is to provide individuals with a lower interest rate. If the FHA is backing your loan, you are less of a risk to the lender. Therefore, they agree to offer you a slightly lower interest rate. This translates into an interest rate that could save you thousands of dollars over the lifetime of that loan. That is money in your pocket.

#2: Better Qualifications: Many lenders have increased their standards in lending money. If you do not have a credit score over 700, then our best bet to getting a low interest rate home loan is with the FHA loans. You do not have to have as much down to qualify for these loans either.

#3: Help Getting Out Of A High Interest Loan: Perhaps you have a high interest rate loan. You are paying much more than the current four to six percent loans that are available. FHA loans can help you to get a low rate even on refinances. Definitely, worth looking forward to since it will drastically cut the amount it costs to buy your home.

#4: You Need Help: There are a number of programs available through the FHA to help you to get out of a troublesome home loan. You can stop foreclosures and often stop your overall risk of losing your home by taking advantage of these programs. If you need this help, contact an FHA loan specialist today.

#5: You Are A First Time Home Buyer: For those who have yet to buy a home and are worried about doing so, FHA loans can help. These loans are highly affordable and they are ideal for the first time homebuyer unsure of what to do next.

FHA loans can help millions of people to get into the homes they want and need, or to protect them from losing their investment. Contact a professional today to learn if you qualify.

Does Refinancing Make Sense?

February 27th, 2009

In the current market, if you can refinance, you probably should be. Refinancing is the process of obtaining a new loan that pays off your existing home loan. There are several reasons for wanting to do this, but the most important is to get a lower interest rate so you save money on your home loan. FHA loans can help you to refinance, as can other conventional lenders. The key here is to know when it makes sense to refinancing.

What’s Your Rate?

The first step in knowing if it makes sense to refinance is to know what your interest rate currently is. According to, current 30-year mortgages are available at about 5 percent, which is a very low number. Those who wish to obtain a 15-year loan may even be able to pick up a home loan that is under five percent. If your current mortgage is at an interest rate that is higher than this, you could save money by refinancing.

Here is an example. Let us say you currently have a mortgage loan payment of $1400 per month and you owe $175,000 on your home and have another 28 years to pay on it. You are currently paying about 9 percent for the mortgage. If you keep this loan for the next 28 years, you will end up paying a total of $304,984 in interest alone, on top of the purchase price of the home.

Now, let us say you refinancing your home loan to a loan for 30 more years and pay 5.5 percent on the loan. Your mortgage payment is now under $1000 a month. At the end of your payments, you will have paid just $182,707 in interest payments towards the loan. As you can see, this is much more affordable than holding onto the loan you currently own.

You will likely need to pay closing costs and your homes appraised value still needs to be high enough to cover the mortgaged amount to qualify for a refinance. There are other qualifications you may need to make, too.

To find out if this is an option for you, get a quote from a lender. You may even qualify for an FHA loan through the refinance process. This can further lower your interest rate and make it even more affordable to buy your home. To refinance a home loan, contact an FHA loan specialist to find out if you qualify.

How To Avoid Foreclosure

February 25th, 2009

Foreclosure numbers are staggering and they are likely to continue until some type of aid is available to the average homeowner who is losing their job, unable to make payments or just made a poor financial decision. The FHA and HUD actually provide some help to individuals who are facing foreclosure or who wish to avoid it.

What To Do Now

If you are at risk of foreclosure, you need to do something now. Do not wait as this is a sign of your willingness to go through with the foreclosure. Instead, invest the time in getting help.

#1: Talk to an FHA housing counselor about your situation. They may be able to point you in the right direction in terms of stopping the foreclosure process. There IS help available for many people.

#2: Talk to your lender. Today’s lenders are more willing than ever to keep you in your home by finding a solution to foreclosure. When they call, tell them what is happening and what type of help they can offer. They may allow you to skip a payment or help you to refinance the loan into a lower rate.

#3: Find out if you qualify for HOPE for Homeowners, a program designed to provide resources to individuals who wish to remain in their homes but who are having trouble refinancing or getting into a more affordable loan.

Should You Keep Your Home?

Those without income may be unable to remain in their home since no amount of mortgage can be paid. If you do have a job and you do wish to stay in your home, find out if there are any options to help you to do so. If you lose your home to foreclosure, lenders will not lend to you for years to come. With the credit market being so tight, even with good credit, you will struggle to find a lender to buy another loan, or even a rental agent who will rent to you. In other words, if you can stay in your home, do so.

Those who may be having trouble with lenders or those who are unable to find the help they need otherwise, may wish to look for help directly from FHA loan specialists. The goal you have is to get help now. Do not wait since it only takes a few months before you are too far into the foreclosure process to stop it.

How To Get An FHA Loan

February 23rd, 2009

Throughout these pages, there are countless opportunities for individuals to get FHA loan help. You may need an FHA loan as a first time homebuyer. You may be struggling with a possible foreclosure and want to take advantage of the HOPE for Homeowners FHA program. You may need to refinance, get a lower interest rate or you may just want to buy a piece of property. In all of these situations, your first goal should be to contact an FHA house counselor or FHA loan specialist. You can do this easily right here.

Once you contact an FHA loan specialist, they will talk to you about the types of loans available, as well as what you may qualify for. To get answers quickly, be sure you have all the information and resources you need. Here are some tips:

*Know your credit score and credit history is clean. Check your credit report for errors prior to applying for a loan since creditworthiness is key to obtaining any loan.

*Have proper identification to show who you are. This includes having your Social Security number ready. Also, have the addresses of the locations you have lived over the last two years.

*Have your income information on hand. Your lender will need to see proof of income as well as the names and contact information for each of your employers over the last two years. You will need to have on hand any W2 information as well.

Once you have these items ready to go, the FHA loan specialist will talk to you about the loans available to you. They may prequalify you for the loan. This is a process of getting qualified for the loan, on the information that you provide. Once this information has verification, you will receive preapproval for a loan.

In situations where you need immediate attention, such as when you may be struggling to pay your monthly mortgage payment or when you are facing potential foreclosure, alert the FHA loan specialist. There may be opportunities to freeze the process if you can refinance. Keep in mind that you still need to meet the FHA requirements for refinancing to be able to use these programs.

If you are ready to get the FHA loan you need, contact a specialist today to request a quote. You may be surprised by just how easy it is to get an FHA loan.

Realtors Back Stimulus Bill

February 21st, 2009

There are many benefits to the stimulus bill that passed Congressed to the real estate market. One of the best benefits, according to the National Association of Realtors, which is an organization representing more than a million of the country’s real estate associates (of all types) is the benefit that some of the funds within this build are designed to help stabilize the local communities.

Why They Need Help

Like virtually everything else in the economy, the real estate market has been hard hit due to the downturn. Some blame the housing market for putting this economic downturn into play. Regardless, the failure of the markets has resulted in pain across the board. For example, so many homes have been foreclosed on in some neighborhoods that each street has one or more signs of homes for sale by banks. Some homes have simply been abandoned. They are vacant. Foreclosures and vacant homes add to the neighborhood’s increased crime rate. The problem is, some cities have had to trim back on their services and on their employees. The result is fewer police officers on the streets even though there is increasing difficulties.

Another way to look at the problem is to note what has happened to so many neighborhoods with these vacant homes in terms of property values. Property values have fallen significantly. 20, 30 or more percentage of property value has just been wiped clean. This means that those who currently own homes and wish to sell them cannot do so without taking a serious cut. Others may be forced to foreclose due to the inability to sell property.

As you can see, there is a real problem when it comes to these homes sitting on the market, unable to be sold or unwanted.

How The Bill Changes Things

One thing that the economic stimulus bill has done, is to offer cities a bit more help. The plan gives cities money to purchase these vacant properties. The city and purchase the property, clean it up and resell the property. They can also bulldoze it so that the vacant lot is less of an eyesoar in the community.

With cities being able to do this several benefits are seen. First, cities see stabilization in the real estate market. They can also see improvement in home values as these properties may not sell at a higher amount. In addition, they stop the house values from falling farther which has only made the difficulties even more difficult. Communities can finally stop the decline.

The Bill Gives More

The stimulus bill is doing a good amount to aid individuals in buying those homes, too. Now, individuals who are first time homebuyers (who have not purchased a home in the last three years) are able to get a substantial tax credit if they do so in 2009.

FHA also receives aid because now there is an increased ability to lend money since the stimulus bill has aided in creating higher loan lending limits. Overall, the benefit here is that individuals will be able to qualify to purchase a home more readily.

FHA loans are available for a growing number of people. If the stimulus bill has done anything, it is to encourage more people to buy homes. According to the National Association of Realtors, the stimulus bill could help to sell more homes. An estimated 300,000 first time homebuyers may be attracted to purchasing a home due to the tax break offered to them. Thousands more will find that funding they need through the availability of FHA loans. It is a great time to buy.

Stimulus Bill and FHA

February 19th, 2009

The stimulus bill, The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act passed Congress on Friday and is to be signed by President Obama on Tuesday, February 17th.  The Bill does mention the FHA, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, the government lending bodies. One of the things the Bill does for these organizations is to raise their lending limits. In 2008, lending limits were raised significantly to allow the FHA to step in and help more people facing foreclosure. Those levels reverted back in 2009. The Bill pushes the limits back to the 2008 level. This means more funds are available for these banks to aid those purchasing homes.

What Do New Limits Do?

There are several things that this new higher limit offers to the mortgage industry. First, by raising the limit, there is more money available to these organizations to purchase loans. This means that when Joe Smith comes to purchase a home, and would like FHA backing on that loan, he can get it because the funds are available to allow for this.

As you know, the FHA allows individuals to get a lower interest rate when borrowing money because it gives the lenders an added insurance that the loan is secure to them. If the borrower with an FHA loan fails to make payment, the property is foreclosed on, but the loan holder can file a claim with the FHA to be reimbursed some money. It works very much like an insurance policy for the lender. Because of the lessoned risk, the lender offers a lower interest rate to the borrower. In short, it aids each body involved.

There are other ways this new higher limit on Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae will. Because it does free up some of this money, more people will qualify in all likelihood for these home loans. With better qualification numbers, more homes can be purchased. People can afford to purchase a home again with the lower interest rate. In turn, more properties that have been sitting on the market or even vacant can be sold. In other words, by raising these limits, the government is aiding in reducing inventory of available housing. This will give cities back their property taxes and aids in boosting other home values throughout the area.

The overall process improves the liquidity of the mortgage market as a whole. Many economists blame at least part of the economic downturn on the failure within the housing market. By restoring some stability here, it could also help to restore some of the value in housing and the markets as a whole.

What Does It Mean To You?

As you consider the Bill and what is included in it, one thing you may want to consider is your own ability to obtain a mortgage and to purchase one of these homes. Not everyone will qualify for a home loan through this program, but far more money is available to help more people to qualify. If you have been considering purchasing a home, but where not sure if you could, or should do so, there benefits of these increased limits makes now an ideal time.

The benefits of having an FHA loan are immense and it should not be overlooked by anyone who is looking for an opportunity to buy a home. Keep in mind that you will still need to meet income and credit qualifications to obtain an FHA loan. If you have been thinking about this type of loan opportunity, take the time to talk to an FHA loan specialist to find out if you qualify for the loan.

The New Tax Benefit Of Buying A Home

February 17th, 2009

If you are ready to purchase your FHA backed home mortgage, now may be a great time. In the recent Bill to pass Congress, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill, Congress has put into place a substantial benefit to individuals who purchase a home this year. Those who are ready to buy will find that this benefit is sizable and lucrative, making it an ideal time to buy.

What Do You Get

The stimulus bill gives individuals who purchase a home in 2009 a sizable tax break. The Senate’s version of the bill called for much more than actually passed, but for first time homebuyers, this new benefit is still very enticing. For those who purchase a property in 2009, a onetime $8000 tax credit will be available to them. This tax credit does not have to be repaid as similar opportunities in previous years have required. Rather, as long as you make under $75,000 as an individual or $150,000 jointly, you will qualify for this tax break.

Anyone that has not owned a home in the last three years is technically qualified as a first time homebuyer. This means that millions of people may have these funds available to them currently. This particular element in the stimulus bill costs $6.63 billion, but may be well worth it for several reasons.

#1: It gives individuals more of a benefit to purchase a home even if they thought now was not the time. For example, if you were unsure if the bottom of the market had hit, and you wanted to get the best deal available, buying in 2009 is likely to be a good opportunity to save money in the form of a tax credit.

#2: It helps to clean up some of the inventory that is sitting open on the real estate market right now. This will help to boost the property values of homes in the neighborhoods. In addition, it allows cities to get back some of their property tax dollars they have lost. Many cities throughout the country are cutting jobs and services because they do not have the property tax income they need to pay for such services. Getting people back into those homes may be particularly beneficial to the cities.

#3: Those who may have needed that extra reassurance that now is the right time to buy a home can get it. Credit standards are still tight, but with this added benefit, more people will see that now is a great time to own property.

What To Keep In Mind

One of the problems with tax breaks like this is that people often think of it as free money. It is important to note that while you do not have to pay this money back, you still have to qualify for the mortgage to obtain the house in the first place. It is highly recommended that you have some money to put down to buy the home and have a good or better credit score. With these qualifications, you may be able to obtain a home loan through FHA.

Do not overlook the benefits of FHA loans. These loans can sweeten the deal even more so by giving you an added benefit of a low interest rate on the home you buy. You will pay less tax and you will pay less in terms of interest over the lifetime of your loan.

To find out if you qualify for an FHA loan, contact an FHA loan specialist. Ask them about how this tax break can help you to save money while buying a home.