All posts by Steve Cook
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July 11, 2018

Eight Ways to Save on Homeowners’ Insurance

Homeowners' insurance is an important step in the home buying process. Here are eight ways to save on homeowners' insurance
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July 4, 2018

Second Quarter Market Update: Shortages Continue, and Prices Still Rise

If you liked last year’s real estate markets, you will love 2018. The same factors that are making homes less affordable and making owners happy with new-found equity are still driving local markets across the country. Check out these updates as the third quarter of the year rolls in.
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June 29, 2018

Five Surprising Facts About Luxury Homes

Are you in the market for a luxury home or simply love checking out million-dollar listings? The luxury market is a distinctly different marketplace from the rest of residential real estate. Check out these five surprising facts about luxury homes!
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June 26, 2018

How the New Tax Law Impacts Vacation Homes

It's almost summer and that means homeowners will be taking advantage of their vacation properties. Here's how the new tax law impacts vacation homes.
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June 8, 2018

How to Hire a Lender

Most homeowners are unaware of how to hire a lender. We've compiled all the things you need to consider before choosing one.
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May 31, 2018

Remodeling Face-Off: Kitchens vs. Bathrooms

The two rooms of a house that make or break most home sales are bathrooms and kitchens, which explains why those two rooms dominate the remodeling business. Last year, bathroom renovations edged out kitchens as the most popular remodeling project by a margin of 81-to-78 percent. At 49 percent, renovations of entire homes were a distant third, according to a survey by the National Association of Home Builders.

Though both rooms top the popularity list for remodeling, the value that they add to a home’s sale price is almost always less than the costs of remodeling. Very few remodeling projects pay for themselves by recouping their costs when the house is sold. As a [...]

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May 29, 2018

Facts About Finishes: Eight Ideas for New Homeowners

By selecting the countertops, cabinets, flooring and a dozen other interior details, new owners convert newly built houses into homes. The finishes chosen will make a statement about the homeowner’s personal style for years to come.

Premium builders invite new owners to their design showrooms to pick the finishes that will create color combinations for every room and an overall unique look to every owner. In their model homes, other builders display several packages of finishes pre-selected by professionals. These result in designs that are less personal but require no participation by owners. In custom-designed homes, owners may hire a professional interior designer to [...]

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May 25, 2018

How to Avoid Over-Paying for a House

When you buy a car, you know it comes with additional expenses beyond the sales price. Fuel, maintenance, sales tax, insurance, and registration add up to several thousands of dollars a year. The same is true with buying a home. However, many buyers don’t budget for the actual costs of homeownership. They think that the amount for which a lender pre-approves them is all they need. Lenders’ approvals don’t take into account the costs of homeownership, just the cost of buying a home. Learn how to avoid over-paying for a house.

Buyers who don’t budget for all the costs of homeownership run the risk of sentencing their families to a “house poor” [...]

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May 22, 2018

When is the Best Time to Buy a New Home?

When home builders market a new development, their goal is to generate interest quickly and maintain their momentum until every lot is purchased. Most builders work with borrowed money, so they don’t want to take the chance that unsold homes will linger on their books. Every day that passes costs them interest on the loans. Builders begin marketing new developments with “pre-sale” and “invitation only” events as soon as a model is ready. Then they build excitement with a heavily advertised grand opening followed by sustained advertising and public relations. By selling as many homes as possible as quickly as possible, builders won’t have to build [...]

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May 16, 2018

What Are Your Chances of Getting Approved for a Mortgage?

Lenders use three criteria to decide whether or not to approve a mortgage application. Borrowers must meet minimum standards for credit scores, loan-to-value ratios (LTVs) and debt-to-income ratios (DTIs) in order to be approved. Minimum standards vary by the type of mortgage in which you are applying for and by the lender.

Over the past three years, mortgage lenders have been slowly loosening their standards for mortgages. Understanding the reasons for this trend and the differences among different loan types will help today’s borrowers understand their options.

Credit scores, LTVs, and DTIs

The most widely discussed lending standards are FICO scores, the credit [...]

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May 15, 2018

How to Efficiently Pay Your Mortgage

The term “mortgage” is a 13th century Middle English word imported from Anglo-French: “mort” is French for death, and “gage” means pledge in Latin. In early Anglo-Norman law, property pledged as security for a loan was usually held by the creditor who could farm it and sell the proceeds — a sneaky form of interest in an era when lending for profit was considered a form of sinful usury. When the debtor finally couldn’t stand watching his wealthy creditor get even richer off his mortgaged land, he found a way to pay off the debt. If he couldn’t find the cash by the time he died, the land would become the creditor’s. Hence the name [...]

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May 9, 2018

6 Sure-Fire Tips to Get a Lower Mortgage Rate

It’s understandable why borrowers think that the best way to get a lower mortgage rate is to pick a lender who advertises the lowest rate. Mortgage companies know that, and they try to differentiate themselves from competitors by advertising the lowest possible rate they can offer the most qualified borrower.

Comparing the rates lenders advertise does not mean the one advertising the lowest rate will be best for you. What most borrowers don’t realize is that they have the power to lower their mortgage rates.

Lower risk means a lower rate

Many factors determine an individual borrower’s mortgage interest rate. Lenders are in the business of managing [...]

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