3 Ways to Make Moving Easy

You have the keys to your new home. Are you ready to paint the walls, host a housewarming party, and lounge for days? Great! But first, you have to move…

We’re not going to lie. Moving is never a breeze. But, it doesn’t have to be a back-thrown-out, truck-broken-down headache either. With the right approach, you can make this move your easiest one yet!


Hire a Professional for the Big Stuff

Saving a bit of coin can seem like a good idea, until you consider the dinged doors, scratched walls, and sore back you’ll have to show for it. Professional movers are professionals for several reasons:

  • They have experience. Moving is their job. They know how to fit items around corners and through door frames.
  • They have the tools to make the job easier. Good moving companies have soft blankets designed for covering sharp corners to ensure your home and your stuff is protected.
  • They have trucks. Sometimes carrying capacity is one of the biggest hurdles. Good moving companies have rigs big enough to move your items on hand for just such an occasion.


Host a Moving Party

What’s one thing that makes an un-enjoyable task more fun? Friends, of course! Host a moving party. Tell your friends when and where you’d like them to be. Bribe them with a healthy dose of post-moving pizza and cocktails. Just make sure you have all your boxes packed before your helpers arrive.


Pack Key Kitchen Items Last & Put Them in a Well Labeled Box

Eating takeout gets old and expensive after awhile. Keep your key kitchen utensils out until the last and pack them where they can easily be accessed. It’s not uncommon for some boxes to go untouched for months after you move.

But before you can move into your new home, you have to buy it. If you’re ready to move forward, I look forward to hearing from you.

The Pros of Buying a Duplex

Traditionally, when most folks imagine buying their first home they think of three options – a single-family house, a townhome or a condo.


Did you know there’s a fourth? A duplex is a home divided into two sets of living quarters with separate entrances. While it might not be what first comes to mind, owning a duplex offers some significant advantages.


4 Pros of Owning a Duplex


Mortgage Advantages

When you’re purchasing a home – whether it’s a single-family home, townhome, condo or duplex – lenders will classify it as either owner-occupied or non-owner occupied.


Owner-occupied homes are considered less risky. This is because the likelihood an owner will walk away from their mortgage when they physically live in the home is reduced. As such, you’ll typically secure a lower interest rate for an owner-occupied unit.


The great news is, lenders consider a duplex one property. If you plan to live in one half and rent the other, a lender will still consider the property as owner-occupied.


Tax Breaks

In general, buying a home gives you some significant tax write-offs, such as deducting your mortgage interest. In the case of a duplex, if you’re only living in one half you can only write-off the interest on that one side. However, if you rent the other side there are other tax write-offs of which you can take advantage. This could include any repairs or updates you make to the space. If you share expenses like the Internet, cable or garbage, you can also write half those off.


Rental Income

By renting the other side, you can help cover the cost of your mortgage. As property values rise, your rental rate will typically rise too. Once you’ve paid off your mortgage, those monthly rent checks will become a supplemental income.


Vacation Rental

Not quite sure you want to become a full-bore landlord? Sites like Airbnb and VRBO allow you to easily turn the second half of your duplex into a vacation rental.

Ready to explore your options? The first step is to get pre-approved, contact me today and let’s get started.

How to Compete Against All-Cash Buyers

In the real estate world, money rules. Sellers want to get paid. Following the recession, all-cash offers ruled. They often still do. But, buying a house outright takes a fair bit of coin. Most folks simply don’t have that much cash on hand.

Luckily, this doesn’t mean all hope is lost. These four tactics can help you compete against all-cash offers:

Be First

Don’t wait to submit your offer. Submit it immediately. And, assume you won’t have the ability to negotiate. Make your best offer first. If you’re afraid of overpaying, take a close look at the current market rate.

Be a Bit Larger

Submitting the biggest offer doesn’t automatically mean you’ll win, but it often helps. Typically all-cash offers are made by investors. Because investors are looking to make the biggest profit possible, they often aren’t submitting the biggest purchase price. If you can pay more, this can give you negotiating power.

Be Flexible

While a seller wants to get out of their house, they might not want to get out right away. This is especially true if they are buying a new house on contingency. Make sure to emphasize your flexibility. Allow the seller to set the timeline and some of the specifics. The more flexible you are, the more attractive you are as a buyer.

Be Personable

Write a sincere letter to the seller. Explain why you want the home and the future you imagine having there. Maybe you’re getting ready to start a family. Maybe your family is getting ready to expand. Tug at the seller’s emotional heartstrings. While this won’t always help, it will in some cases. There are a lot of homeowners who become very attached to their home. When they are ready to sell, they often want to leave their home in the hands of someone who will love it.

Before you go house hunting, make sure to get pre-approved. Give me a call today.

How To Help Mom & Dad Buy A Home

From the first Band-Aid to phone calls home, mom and dad have supported you through thick-and-thin. Now that you’re financially stable, helping them buy a new home might seem like a dream come true.

It’s also a step that is more complicated (and risky) than you might realize. From cosigning to down payment support, there are a number of ways you can help. But before you jump in feet first, it’s important to carefully consider the pros and cons of each.


This can be one of the simplest ways to help your parents secure a new home, especially if they have a limited income. Getting approved for a mortgage is heavily dependant on not only the loan-to-value ratio, but the overall debt-to-income ratio of the borrowers. This means cosigning could improve your parent’s debt-to-income ratio (DTI). This could help them get approved for a bigger mortgage than they might otherwise.

What’s the catch? Cosigning their mortgage means you remain financially responsible throughout the lifespan of the mortgage. This is true whether you live with them or not. If your parents fall behind on their payments, the debt will also affect your credit score.

Down Payment Assistance

Alternatively, down payment assistance allows you to help your parents without putting your credit in jeopardy. To avoid the pricey gift tax, it’s best to plan ahead. (The maximum gift allowed is $14,000. You can gift each of your parents the full sum and so can your spouse without being parent’s being taxed.)

What’s the catch? Giving your parents enough for a down payment is a hefty sum! This is money that could go in your own retirement fund, be used for college tuition payments or simply make life a bit easier.


Renting to your parents is another way to help them move into a new home without attaching your credit future to theirs. Buying a second home has the added perk of tax deductions. You could qualify for everything from mortgage interest and property tax deductions to maintenance costs and depreciation expenses.

What’s the catch? Second homes are considered investment properties. Typically, the mortgage rates attached to them are a bit higher than you’ll be charged for your primary residence.

Ready to start exploring your options? Contact a loan officer today.

4 Questions Homebuyers Need to Answer

Buying a home can be overwhelming and confusing. To help simplify the process, make sure you can answer these questions:

How Much Do You Prequalify For?
It’s all too common to see first-time homebuyers house hunting without getting preapproved. This can cause some serious issues. First, if you’re looking at houses outside of your price range, it can easily lead to dissatisfaction. Second, it wastes your time. Most sellers won’t even look at bids from prospective buyers who aren’t preapproved.

What is Your Credit Score?
Your credit score is one of the crucial factors a lender will use to determine if you are eligible for a mortgage loan. Your credit score also affects the interest rate you can secure. If you don’t know your credit score, you’ll want to find it out ASAP. Make sure to take a close look at your credit report to identify any mistakes or discrepancies that might be affecting it. By addressing these, you may raise your credit score and improve your interest rate.

How Much Will Your Closing Costs Be?
It’s not uncommon for closing costs to stun borrowers. At three to five percent of the total home price, closing costs can be a substantial chunk of change. If you’re not prepared, finding the necessary cash can be difficult.

The key is to discuss closings costs with your loan officer from the very beginning. The final dollar amount of your closing costs can fluctuate by no more than 10 percent. However, knowing the estimated cost up-front can allow you to prepare for it or discuss alternatives, such as including your closing costs in your monthly payment.

Who is Responsible for Paying Your Closing Costs?
As the buyer, you don’t automatically have to pay closing costs. Sometimes the seller will agree to assume some or all of the closing costs in order to close the deal. Be sure to communicate with the buyer from the very beginning about who will assume responsibility.

Ready to learn more? Give me a call today.

Pick Your Perfect Neighborhood

Location. Location. Location. When it comes to real estate values, it is the number one attribute. It is also one of the primary factors when it comes to your happiness. This is why, when it comes to finding your perfect home, you must first find your perfect neighborhood.

Why is the right neighborhood so important? Because the community that surrounds you plays a huge role in your environment. For example, if you are deeply religious, being surrounded by members of your faith can be a source of support. Alternatively, if you love to host potentially noisy parties, living in a quiet cul-de-sac might not fit the bill. The key is to find a location where your neighbors’ lifestyles mirror your own.

In many ways, finding the right neighborhood is like finding the right partner. It is ideal to find a place where others share your same values. Additionally, the perfect neighborhood will introduce enough spice into your life to keep things interesting – as a good partner does.

As you begin considering what neighborhood is right, ask yourself what is important to you on a daily basis. Do you want to live in a place that’s kid-friendly? Would you like it to be walkable and have cultural offerings? Is easy access to the freeway important? Or maybe you want access to hiking trails?

Then, visit neighborhoods you think fit the bill. Take the time to visit them at varying times during the day. Walk around. Talk to neighbors. Find out what’s close.

It is also essential you consider the day-to-day life of the place. Often people want to buy a home in a location because it is where they enjoy vacationing. That is great if this home is going to be your vacation home. However, vacation isn’t real life. It is vacation. Your perfect neighborhood is one you can enjoy everyday.

Ready to start house hunting? Give me a call today.

6 Hidden Home Buying Expenses

Buying your first home is exciting. As you begin imagining your new life, it’s easy to dream of a new couch here and a new TV there. It’s logical to picture a professionally landscaped yard and the color scheme of your new home office.

But remember all these “new” things cost money. Before you wipe out your savings account to outfit your new abode, make sure you can cover all the potential expenses associated with buying.

Third party fees paid at closing are typically non-negotiable. Sometimes the seller will pay some or all of these costs, but sometimes not. These third party fees can include:

  • Document Taxes
  • Transfer Taxes
  • Prorated Property Taxes

You’ll also need to pay for a home appraisal. Additionally, it’s often a good idea to invest in a professional home inspection before closing.

Once you’ve closed, you might get hit with a special property tax assessment. This is different from the property taxes and hazard insurance your mortgage company has already collected. This tax generally occurs when your taxing authority needs money to put in a new streetlight or revamp a park in your neighborhood.

If your condo or neighborhood is governed by a homeowners association (HOA), you might be charged special HOA assessments. This typically covers items such as repairs and improvements to the common areas. It’s a fee that’s due above and beyond your monthly or yearly HOA dues. The good news is, HOA members typically vote on projects and review bids before any work is started.

In addition to special taxes and assessments, you might need to acquire flood and disaster insurance. This is particularly true if you live in a flood plain.

Furthermore, your home might need some unforeseen work. For example, you could suddenly need to repair the dishwasher or patch a leaky sink.

Have additional questions? Give me a call today.

What is a GFE?

Fairway-Blog-What-Is-GFEA GFE is a Good Faith Estimate. It is a form that estimates what charges and loan terms you can expect if you are approved for that specific loan.

Lenders are required by law to give you a GFE within three businesses days of receiving your loan application. (The GFE must be mailed or hand delivered by the end of the third business day.)

Some of the fees outlined on a GFE are covered by the buyer and some are covered by the seller.

As the name would suggest, the numbers are an estimate. They can fluctuate up to 10 percent in either direction. Because of this potential increase, it’s important you hold on to your GFE. This will allow you to compare the estimated fees against the actual fees.

What Fees Should You Expect on a GFE?

Application Fee: Your application fee is the processing charge you pay when you submit your loan. In some cases this fee is rolled into other fees.

Appraisal Fee: To ensure the home you are purchasing is worth the value of the loan, an independent third party is hired to appraise the home’s value. It is important to note this is not the same as a home inspection.

Credit Report Fee: Some, but not all, lenders will charge you to check your credit history from one or all of the three major national credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

Discount and Origination Points: In some cases, discount points can be purchased to lower the interest rate on your loan.

Escrow Account: While your escrow account isn’t a fee, it is an account which holds potential payments such as earnest money, homeowner’s insurance, private mortgage insurance, and property taxes.

Attorney Fees: Legal documents must be prepared and reviewed by a lawyer for your loan to close. In some cases the seller will pay for the attorney’s time. In other cases the buyer will be responsible for covering this fee.

Survey Fee: In order to officially define the property’s boundaries, the property must be surveyed.

How Accurate Are GFE’s typically?

Third-party fees have a tendency to fluctuate because the lender isn’t in control of these. However, the lender’s fees are typically more accurate because they have a better grasp of their own overhead.

Have additional questions about GFEs? Contact me today and I’d be happy to help you out.

US Homebuilders Confidence Surges. What’s This Mean for You?

USHomebuildersHomebuilders estimate the next six months will bring the highest level of sales they’ve experienced in the last 10 years.

Just last month, U.S. Today reported homebuilders estimate the next six months will bring the highest level of sales they’ve experienced in the last 10 years.

Nationwide, the brutal winter caused nearly all construction sites to shut down and buyers to stay home. However, the sell-tides changed as Mother Nature brought a warm summer. Demand for new homes has skyrocketed, resulting in robust confidence among builders.

Additionally, the previous slowdown in production has lead to a limited supply of available homes for sale. This is effectively driving up prices. “Over the last 12 months, the median sale price for new homes has risen by 8.3 percent to $297,300,” reported Alex Veiga in his article, ‘Homebuilders’ confidence in sales surges in June’.

A drop in unemployment is also attributed to the new home buying surge. “Employers have added more than 3 million jobs as the unemployment rate has steadily dropped to 5.4 percent,” reported Veiga.

While new homes only represent a fraction of the housing market, their scarcity reflects the lack of current homes available for sale. In addition, their production has a huge impact on the economy. If you’re looking to buy new, shopping sooner rather than later might be your best option.

Read Veiga’s full article here.


There are some big differences when your looking at buying a new home or a current home that need to be taken into account. In most cases, buying new comes with a bigger price tag. Additionally, if you’re looking for any special touches – such as certain appliances, custom cabinetry or a special floor plan – be ready to pay more.

However, the larger upfront cost can often mean savings down the line. With a new home, it typically takes you longer to incur the hefty maintenance costs associated with older homes. For those who aren’t very handy, this might prove to be a very attractive option.

Your HELOC Loan’s Reaching Amortization. What Now?


When the initial stage of your Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) comes to an end, you could be facing a large increase in your monthly payment. Luckily, you have options.

An HELOC has two stages. The initial draw period typically lasts 10 years, though it can stretch for as long as 20 years. During this time, you make a relatively small monthly payment that covers only the interest.

During the second stage, known as the amortization phase, your minimum monthly payment includes both the principal and the interest. This causes a considerable spike in the monthly check you need to cut.

Luckily, you can delay the payment increase by refinancing your HELOC loan with one of these three options:

Refinance Your HELOC

By refinancing your HELOC, you’ll start over with a new HELOC. With this option, you’ll still have to pay off the balance someday. But for the time being, you’ll continue to enjoy the interest-only draw period.

Why would your choose to refinance? Because nearly all HELOCs are variable rate, meaning they fluctuate based on current interest rates. It’s impossible to know what rates will be in a year. If they drop considerably, the overall cost of your loan will also decrease.

Pay Off Your HELOC with a Fixed-Rate Home-Equity Loan

By taking out a home-equity loan with a fixed rate, you’ll be able to pay off your HELOC and enjoy a consistent monthly payment through the lifespan of your loan.

Refinance Your HELOC and First Mortgage into a New Primary Mortgage

Refinancing both your HELOC and first mortgage into a new primary mortgage loan would allow you to take advantage of today’s low fixed-interest rate.

The drawback you’ll face is higher closing costs. In comparison, most HELOCs have significantly lower closing costs than primary mortgages.

Regardless of which option you take to refinance your HELOC, it’s worth noting that qualification standards have become stricter since 2008. In order to protect both borrowers and lenders, a more in-depth analysis is performed of your trustworthiness as a borrower.

Interested in learning more about your options? Contact Rob today to learn more.