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It’s beginning to look a lot like cold nights, evening gatherings, decadent cookie displays and overflowing cups of eggnog. The holiday season is here, but don’t let that turn your focus away from your goal of buying a new home. Recently, mortgage interest rates have started to slightly increase and during a year that has been historically low that may start to worry some buyers. What is important to know is that the holiday season can still be a great time for you to lock in a great rate to purchase the home of your dreams for 2017.

Steve Grossman, Vice President and Partner of NJ Lenders Corp. said, “The winter and holiday months are typically a slower time of year for real estate.  Now this market can be an advantage for buyers. Fewer real estate transactions can translate to less competition, more motivated sellers, quicker mortgage approval, plus other advantages. Home prices are typically at 12-month lows in December. Lower home prices mean buyers can purchase more home for less”.

One of the biggest reasons that many buyers make the leap from renting to buying is for the tax benefits. If you wait until January to buy, you won't realize the tax advantages until the following year. Closing by December 31 can mean tax benefits for home buyers, like deductions for mortgage interest, property taxes and some closing costs.

Here are 4 tips to remember while you shop for your new home this holiday season.

  1. Be a Grinch with Your Credit Card ...

Mortgage rates have seen slight increases since the election, but that does not mean prospective homebuyers have lost the opportunity to still lock a great rate for their new home purchase. With the likelihood increasing that the Federal Reserve could boost interest rates later in December and stick with its policy of monetary tightening, at least in the near term, the reality is that mortgage rates could rise even more. This means prospective homebuyers need to be extra diligent in their efforts to secure a low mortgage rate.

According to Bankrate, as of Dec. 4, the average 30-year fixed mortgage was 4.13%. Comparatively, a month before, the 30-year mortgage rate averaged just 3.51%, a difference of 62 basis points. Mortgage rates have reached their peak to date this year in the week leading up to the expected rise in the key interest rate, with the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaging 4.13 percent, according to Freddie Mac's recently released Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®). The key rate, which the Federal Reserve will determine action on next week, generally informs the movement of mortgage rates. Analysts widely anticipate an increase in the rate, despite initial claims to the contrary after the election.

Before you get started the most important step to take is to consult an experienced licensed loan originator who will be able to educate you on all of the options available the match your financial needs.  The average NJ ...


4 Financial Tips for Military Families

Dec 5
4:47
PM
Category | Blog

Managing your money is always a complicated task, but military families in particular have a bevy of unique situations to navigate. Service members and their families often cite finances as one of their most significant stressors, even more so than deployments and personal relationships. Service members can’t adequately focus on the job at hand if they are concerned about financial problems at home. Military families face unique financial challenges like deployments and relocations, so we stress the importance of planning ahead as much as possible.

Here are some financial tips for Military and Armed Forces service members and their families:

  • Contribute automatically to a Thrift Savings Plan. Military members have access to the Federal Thrift Savings Program, which offers the lowest-cost retirement savings plan available. Have automatic contributions withdrawn from your paycheck.
     
  • Plan for deployment. Before deployment, have a family conversation about managing the household budget. Consider granting power of attorney to your spouse, should they need to make any urgent financial decisions while you are gone. Check with your bank to see if they have pre-printed forms you can use for bank accounts. Military personnel also receive additional funds while deployed. Decide on the best use for that extra cash, whether it is paying off debt or additional Thrift Savings Plan contributions.
     
  • Set up ...

Today, home inspections are almost universally recommended by every real estate professional. When it comes to their clients—especially first-time buyers—many are not familiar with the home inspection process, and what they can expect. Here are a few things you can do to prepare your client for a home inspection.
 
Choosing a Home Inspector
All home inspection companies are not created equal. Outline criteria that distinguish a reputable home inspection company, like finding out if a company is licensed and certified (in states where applicable). Encourage clients to look at how professional a company is. Do they have a professional website? Do they arrive in uniform with marked vehicles making them easily identifiable? Do they deliver an electronic report with photos? Verify that they have both errors and omissions and general liability insurance, which covers the agent and the inspector. Consider how convenient it is to work with them. Do they make the experience easier with online scheduling? Do they text or email reminders about the inspection? Do they schedule any additional inspections that would be requested by the client, like pest and radon inspections? Each of these criteria will help enhance the client’s overall home-buying experience.
 
Homebuyer Preparation
Prepare buyers for the inspection by helping them understand the inspection process and how to maintain perspective. Home inspectors are generalists ...


Since relocating is such a major undertaking, it's vital to thoroughly research your options. This is especially essential regarding an overseas move. Here are five things to assess in a prospective neighborhood to ensure you'll feel at home, no matter whether your new home is here or abroad.

1. Transportation
One consideration is how you'll navigate your new surroundings. Find out whether you'll have access to public transportation or need a car. If you can use public transit, what are the service hours and stops? If you require airport proximity, determine how you'll get there. Do you currently have a job lined up? If so, calculate the distance of the commute from the neighborhood in question. Will the trip be a cakewalk, or grueling? According to World Knowing, the top-ranked countries with the best transportation systems in the world are Hong Kong, Singapore, the UAE, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Japan, Germany, France, Spain, and the UK.

Even if a REALTOR® lists the distance from a house to a public station, the calculation doesn't always include door-to-door travel time. You may be able to use Google Maps to determine this. If not, the website of a city's public transit system may provide a clue.

2. Businesses
Before visiting a neighborhood, think about businesses you'll be frequenting, such as a bank, grocery store, pharmacy and retail shops. Make sure they're a feasible distance from ...


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