Find Your Down Payment

Most people looking to find a home struggle with figuring out the down payment. You have a couple options. First, if you are moving into a home within the limits of a FHA Loan then you could manage to purchase a home for only 3% down. Second, if you are Veteran, there are VA loans that offer low down payment options. Third and the most commonly used option is getting money gifted to you from friends and family. Each of these scenarios has pluses and minuses including some precautions that need to be taken. Saying that, do not feel that you are without options. The best thing to do is to consult a qualified mortgage consultant to go over the best way to finance your first home purchase. I’m Karen, your Mortgage Genie, helping you find the home of your dreams.

First Time Home Buyer – Steps to Success

As a first time home buyer, you are likely very nervous, confused, and scared. I want to make it as easy as possible for you by breaking it down to 5 easy steps:

  1. Review your financial situation with a qualified financial advisor to determine the realistic amount that you could afford in a monthly mortgage.
  2. Work with your CPA to understand the possible tax benefits you may have by owning a home. This is particularly critical with the new tax law.
  3. Identify a strong, mortgage broker who can not only give you a qualified preapproval letter but also will provide a secondary perspective on some of the first two items.
  4. Interview and identify a strong realtor who can advocate on your behalf. Do not merely choose the cheapest or family friend. Realtors have an important role and could impact your ability to find the right home, particularly with this still being a seller’s market.
  5. Work with your Realtor and the important family members to identify the neighborhoods that would work for you. Once you have all these players in place, you can locate the home, make an offer, and get in the home of your dreams.

After you are in escrow, the last piece of advice I would provide is that you ensure you obtain proper home inspections before you close on the property. I’m here to help you through this scary, exciting period. I’m Karen, your Mortgage Genie, helping you find the home of your dreams.

Mortgage Industry Consolidation

When an industry shifts, we often see a move towards consolidation. In 2018, the mortgage industry is moving towards consolidation. This happened in the last great recession when mortgage companies were dying and had lost volume. The big one back then was Countrywide being bought by Bank of America. This time we are likely going to see mortgage companies losing refinance volume. Don’t get me wrong, interest rates are still staying relatively low. However, many individuals who recently sought a refinance have already done it, Now the volume of refinances is dropping. We’rre anticipating both local and national mortgage companies to merge with other entities to save costs and keep volume up. As a home buyer, you cannot do much to prevent this but I’d recommend working with a reputable mortgage broker who has been in industry for a long time. They can help navigate you through this transition and ensure stability during such times. I’m Karen, your Mortgage Genie, helping you find the home of your dreams.

How to make Successful New Year’s Resolutions

While the new year is still a couple weeks away, many start thinking about their resolutions for the upcoming year and it’s important to plan ahead. I want to take a moment to pause from my weekly mortgage and home buying tips to give you some tips to succeed in your resolution.

First, pick one realistic resolution and plan ahead to achieve it. In your planning, try to anticipate any problems or challenges. Next, pick a start date. It doesn’t have to be January 1. The solution can start today. Lastly select a reward for when you achieve it and then start working towards your goal.

I’m Karen, your Mortgage Genie, helping you find the home of your dreams.

Final 2017 Tax Law Agreement

As we’ve all waited several weeks to hear of the final version of the massive tax law changes, Congress has finally come to an agreement.

As it relates to the real estate industry, the biggest impact is that the mortgage interest tax deduction will exist up to $750,000 of the mortgage. This is better than the proposed limit in the original House version. With regards to Property Tax and even State Income Taxes, Congress is looking at allowing a deduction for up to the first $10,000. The minimum residency period is also still planning to be raised to be 5 of the past 8 years. These are the anticipated tax law changes as they relate to the real estate industry right now.

Please sign up to keep in touch with me for more details on the tax law as things become clearer. I’m Karen, your Mortgage Genie, helping you find the home of your dreams.

Karen’s Weekend Picks: December 15 – 17, 2017

I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season! One of my favorite things is looking at holiday lights. The Fisherman’s Wharf Community Benefit District and the St. Francis Yacht Club present the oldest and largest lighted holiday boat parade on San Francisco Bay this Saturday near Pier 39. This is a free event for the Bay Area holiday season.

On a different note, check out a unique play about Oz. In Castro Valley, “Christmas in Oz” is playing which is a musical about old friends.

I’m Karen, your Mortgage Genie who provides weekly weekend suggestions every Thursday or Friday so check in with me then.

How Does the New Tax Law Impact Home Buying?

While each chamber of Congress recently approved a version of new tax regulations, the direction is clear. We are in for a whole new era of taxes. While I would strongly recommend consulting a tax consultant, I do want to give you an idea of how I understand this will impact the home buying market. The big difference between the versions is the amount of mortgage interest deduction that will be allowed. On new mortgages, the House version caps it at the interest on the first $100,000. The Senate version caps it at $1,000,000. In addition, there is the possibility that the property tax will no longer be a valid itemized deduction. I anticipate for things to become clearer prior to Christmas but whatever happens, these changes will likely impact the real estate market.

I’m Karen, your Mortgage Genie, helping you find the home of your dreams.

Low Interest Rates

While many people have bought homes over the past several years, a lot more families are still not finding the right home or are working out credit issues. A common question I get is how long interest rates are going to stay low. Many thought that rates would start going up a little bit towards the latter half of 2017. In fact, there was a brief uptick in the middle of the year.

However, this reversed course. All signs are pointing to rates staying low for a little while longer. This could be sometime in 2018. So it is important to evaluate your situation closely! If you are in a loan that is maturing or at a high rate, you should refinance. Should you be looking for a home, don’t wait too long. If you have questions about loan options, do not hesitate to ask. I’m Karen, your Mortgage Genie whose helping you find the home of your dreams.

Should I Use a Mortgage Broker or Banker for My Mortgage?

A common question people wonder is whether to use a broker or banker for their mortgage? As far as rates go, they are very comparable. It is commonly misjudged that brokers have higher rates but this is not accurate. Brokers do get a commission but their fees come out of the more competitive rates that they are able to obtain. Also, if you work with an experienced mortgage broker, you will find that they have excellent knowledge and are able to provide you unbiased advice since they don’t work for a direct financial institution. I’m Karen, your Mortgage Genie whose helping you find the home of your dreams.

Karen’s Weekend Picks: 12/1-12/3

Bay Area Weekend Picks for 12/1-12/3: This holiday season is here and no matter what your religion or background, you can’t resist the overall joy most people feel this time of year. A great activity this weekend is the annual holiday parade in Pleasanton. This is two hours of pure joy including a visit from good old Santa Claus. Besides a fun parade, take the opportunity to go to a local ice ring. Many pop-up ice rings are put up during the holidays including in many malls and within some tree lots. Happy Holidays. I’m Karen, your Mortgage Genie who provides weekly weekend suggestions every Thursday so check in with me again soon.