Boca Mortgage Blog

 

Getting Your Home Ready to Sell

Before you put your home on the market, look at it with a fresh pair of eyes. Is it in show-ready condition, or could it use some sprucing up before you list? Your home’s condition directly impacts its value, so if you want the highest selling price for your home, it needs to look its best when it hits the market.

 

While some homes only need minor cosmetic improvements before selling, other houses require a variety of repairs and improvements to maximize their resale value. Many homeowners struggle to know how much improvement their home needs before selling. After all, even the nicest homes have room for upgrades. Before you start spending money on renovations, carefully consider your home’s resale value.

 

To estimate how much your home is worth, research comparable homes in your local market. Identify homes that are similar in age, size, and neighborhood, and assess their condition. Do comparable homes have updates that your house lacks, or is your home just as modernized as other recently-sold homes? If houses in similar condition as yours have sold quickly and at a competitive price, your home will need minimal improvements to sell. However, if the homes that are selling have updates that your house lacks, it indicates that improvements may be necessary to get the best price for your home.

 

As you calculate your home’s value, consider how much you’ll make when selling your home. Some sellers are surprised to learn how much is spent on commissions, taxes, and other fees. Renovating before selling could be the difference between walking away with cash in hand or ending up disappointed with your home sale proceeds.

 

All homes benefit from a full-house cleaning before the first showing, including washing exterior features like siding, driveways, and walkways. Sellers should also attend to minor household repairs like fixing loose door knobs, cracked grout, and leaky faucets. Most repairs can be DIY-ed to save money and increase your return on investment.

 

In addition to these small fixes, sellers shouldn’t underestimate the power of a fresh coat of paint. Repainting walls brightens a home’s interior and gives sellers an opportunity to replace uniquely-colored rooms with the neutral hues that buyers prefer. According to Business Insider, walls painted “greige,” a color that straddles the line between grey and beige, can increase a home’s resale value by more than $3,000.

 

Landscaping is another area that sellers can add value without spending a lot of money. Simply by pruning landscape plants, patching the lawn, and laying fresh mulch, sellers can increase their home’s curb appeal and attract more buyers.

 

Once easy fixes are out of the way, sellers should shift their focus to bigger projects. First, consider structural and mechanical issues that could prevent your home from selling. While it doesn’t always make financial sense to replace an aging roof or an outdated HVAC system before selling, in some markets, large-scale repairs may be necessary to attract buyers.

 

Next, consider home features that encourage buyers to pay a premium price. These might include replacing white or black kitchen appliances with stainless steel models, installing ENERGY STAR-certified laundry appliances, installing hardwood floors, or creating an outdoor living space. Before investing in costly projects like these, sellers should discuss their home’s potential value with a real estate agent to estimate the return on investment.

 

When you make the decision to sell your home, you want to move quickly. However, by taking time to assess your home’s value and make smart improvements, you can walk away from your sale with more cash in your pocket. If a profitable home sale is your priority, make sure you spend the time getting your house ready to sell. 

 

Author

 

Suzie Wilson is an interior designer with more than 20 years experience. What started as a hobby (and often, a favor to friends) turned into a passion for creating soothing spaces in homes of every size and style. While her goal always includes making homes look beautiful, her true focus is on fashioning them into serene, stress-free environments that inspire tranquility in all who enter. The Ultimate Guide to Prepping Your Home for an Open House is filled with tips, tricks and other advice based on Suzie’s years of experience in interior home design that will set you up for success.

Posted by Leonard Silvestri on June 7th, 2018 10:35 AM

 

 What is Mortgage Planning?


Mortgage planning is the process of evaluating your mortgage options in the context of your overall financial objectives. Your mortgage is most likely your single largest debt, and your home is most likely your single largest asset. The strategy you use today carries financial consequences that can impact your life for years to come.  My mission is to help you improve your life by the proper use and consideration of various mortgage options. Here's how:

 

Step #1: Initial Conversation

Our initial conversation will focus on these questions:

  • What are your housing objectives and why?
  • What does your current cash flow situation look like?
  • What large expenses should we take into account as we help you develop a budget for the future (college funding, retirement planning, elder care needs, etc.)?
  • What can I do to help?

Step #2: Analyze & Evaluate Your Options

The next phase of our relationship will focus on:

  • What are your housing, debt planning and cash flow options?
  • What, if any, mortgage products and strategies would be useful to you?
  • What is the likely short and long-term impact of these mortgage options on your overall financial situation?

Step #3: Develop & Implement Your Personal Mortgage Plan

Once we've discussed your options, and how these various options may impact your overall housing and financial situation, it's up to you to decide on which plan of action works best for you. I'll be here to answer any questions and be a resource to you in any way I can. I'll also coordinate the whole process with you and other professionals such as CPAs, CFP® professionals, attorneys, Realtors, builders, insurance professionals and other qualified advisors.

 

Step #4: Monitor Your Mortgage Plan Through an Annual Mortgage and Housing Review

Mortgage planning is a life-long process because your financial situation is likely to change from time to time. As your mortgage planner, it's my role to help you monitor these changes as needed and through an annual conversation. Most often, this process involves periodic assessment of:

  • Your fluctuating cash flow needs
  • Changing interest rates and housing market conditions
  • Family changes and life events including job changes, college funding, retirement planning and elder-care needs

Here's how mortgage planning is different than the traditional "shopping for a mortgage" experience:

"Mortgage Planning" with Me

"Shopping for a Mortgage" with any of the 500,000 + Mortgage Salespeople in the US

5-Star Experience

Overwhelming and/or Confusing Process

Focus on Which Mortgage Options Fit into Your Life, and Why

Focus on Whether You Fit into the Mortgage Lender's Box, and How

Consider the Mortgage Transaction in the Context of Your Overall Financial Situation & Objectives

Consider the Mortgage Transaction "In a Vacuum"

Customized Options for Your Scenario

One Size Fits All

Mortgage Salesperson Who Puts His/Her Relationship With You Ahead of the Transaction

Mortgage Salesperson Who Puts the Transaction Ahead of His/Her Relationship With You

Contact me so we can get started!
Posted in:Home Loan and tagged: mortgage
Posted by Leonard Silvestri on April 17th, 2017 11:50 AM


While everyone else in The States is beginning home prep work to hibernate indoors, South Florida residents are getting ready to spend more time in the open air. Because come fall and winter, Florida's humidity drops and air cools to reveal nothing but perfect weather. Upgrade your home's outdoor space this fall and get ready to lounge in Florida's beautiful open air.

Home Upgrade Tips From The Boca Raton Mortgage Brokers

Outdoor Kitchen

Take Sunday barbecues a step further. Not only does adding an outdoor kitchen add value to your home, but also creates a shaded outdoor space for you to dine, lounge and entertain guests. For a little inspiration to get you started on your own design, check out these 30 Fascinating Outdoor Kitchens from Just Imagine.

Create a Water Garden

Florida is covered in water. Why not add one more pond, but this time in your own backyard. Water Gardens are surprisingly easy to create with the right tools and a completely free weekend. Purchase a Pond Kit complete with everything you need to make the water feature of your dreams. Maybe one of these Water Ponds from Architecture and Design will peak your interest.

Illuminate With Outdoor Lighting

A little outdoor lighting goes a long way to illuminate your world. Use lighting to highlight your favorite parts of your outdoor living space. Whether it's illuminating a tall palm tree or creating a resort-like feel, outdoor lighting can completely transform your backyard's atmosphere to create stunning effects.

Size Doesn't Matter

Have a small patio or backyard? Make the most of it. A small outdoor space means you can afford to splurge more on details to make your patio larger than life. Play with unique textiles, tiles, angles and furnishings to give your pint-sized outdoor space a big personality. Click over to the Huffington Post for 16 ways to get more from your small backyard.

Posted by Leonard Silvestri on September 28th, 2015 12:38 PM

Finding a way to finance your mortgage is bunked with confusing forms and strict policies. Both bankers and mortgage brokers have taken hard hits since the 2008 financial crisis which has left consumers wondering whom to approach. Bankers or Mortgage Brokers? Both comes with pro and cons and determining their weight in funding power is a delicate balance of rate versus approval.

Mortgage Brokers

Mortgage Brokers are an intermediary entity who brings together and arranges transactions between a mortgage borrower and a mortgage lender. However, they do not use their own funds to emanate the mortgage. They are licensed professionals with access to hundreds of loan options for home buyers - sometimes exclusively. They support home buyers and mortgage borrowers by leveraging relationships to secure the best loan option available. Brokers have been known to help buyers save thousands of dollars on attaining their mortgage.

People consult Mortgage Brokers for their expertise. While loaners provide other lending options such as auto, boat and personal loans, Mortgage Brokers focus solely on mortgages. Brokers are the wheelers and dealers of mortgages with the ability to negotiate and find only the most competitive offerings.

The cost of hiring a Mortgage Broker is a downfall for many first-time buyers. And it's true - mortgage brokers do require a fee for their services. Closing costs are pricey as is and adding a fee for the Mortgage Broker will only pay more stress in the matter. However, most borrowers say a one-time fee is worth it to cut on mortgage payments down the road.

Mortgage Bankers

When looking for a mortgage, many people turn to their banks. It's a simple decision really. Most people trust their banks and already have an established relationship. They know exactly what to expect in terms of service and deals. This is a big pro for bankers as their ease of service and lack of a third party dealer make them very appealing.

However, a big con of Mortgage Bankers is that your bank already knows a whole lot of information about you. They know your credit score, if you're reliable with payments, how much money is in your account, income, spending, habits, etc. While this makes qualifying easier, it means there's not much wiggle room for negotiation.

Which ever you decide, Mortgage Broker or Mortgage Banker, it's worth doing the extra bit of research to discover which option makes more sense for your situation. If you do decide upon a Mortgage Broker and are looking for a Florida Mortgage, call the Boca Raton Mortgage Brokers at Alternative Mortgage Group for the best rates at 561-395-4264.

Posted in:General
Posted by Leonard Silvestri on September 18th, 2015 2:20 PM


You love your pets. But sometimes Fido and Mr. Meowsworth aren't perfect when it comes to relieving themselves where they're supposed to. This can be a real problem when it comes time to sell. No one wants to buy a house that smells like a kennel. Cleaning pet odors from carpet, wood floors and floorboards can be tricky, but with the right cleaning agents you'll have a fresh home in no time.

Cleaning Pet Odors From Carpets

If you catch your pet in the act, grab some paper towels and try to absorb as much liquid as possible. Now spray the urine stain with carpet cleaner. Mix 2 parts water with 1 part vinegar and saturate the stain. This will help neutralize the odor and kill any bacteria. Let the mixture soak for 5 minutes before blotting up the excess solution. Now sprinkle baking soda on the spot for more absorbing and neutralizing power. Vacuum and voila! If smell still persists, try using an enzymatic cleaner. These cleaners release cultures that eat the urine, leaving things smell-free and sanitary. Never use a steam cleaner on urine stains as the steam will bond odors to carpet fibers.

Cleaning Pet Odors From Harwood Floors

Pet urine can be very damaging to hardwood floors and cause big, ugly stains that are difficult to remove. Clean it up immediately to best avoid any long-lasting damage. Blot up any remaining liquid, trying not to spread the stain's surface area. Now mix baking soda and white vinegar into a paste-like consistency and apply to the stain. Let the paste dry completely and wipe up. Next, soak a paper towel in 3% hydrogen peroxide and let it sit over the stain for several hours. This will help lift the smell and lighten the stain. Be careful with hardwood floors and monitor treatments to ensure no damage is done.

These easy, homemade remedies should work to clean up foul odors caused by pet urine. In cases where a stain was allowed to sit and absorb, a professional cleaner may be necessary.

Posted in:General
Posted by Leonard Silvestri on September 9th, 2015 10:55 AM

For many hopeful homeowners out there, buying is simply out of the question for the time being. Student loans, career changes and life's many uncertainties have a way of keeping you stuck in the rent zone. While owning a home does miracles in boosting your credit score, there's always more than one means to an end. Be a proud - and smart - renter and take advantage of your situation. Make your rent payment work for you to build credit and bring you one giant step closer to those home ownership dreams.

Build Credit History

Build your credit history and watch as your financial life benefits tremendously. Even bad credit tends to win over no credit in most situations. Institutions want to see evidence of your financial responsibility, especially in home mortgage situations. The more you build your score, even if starting from a bad place, the more financial credibility you have to your name. Paying rent allows you to build your credit score if your landlord reports data to credit bureaus - which they should be doing anyway. Not all landlords report, so be sure to ask in your apartment search.

Pay On Time

Making any financial payment on time goes a long way in improving your credit score. Think about it. Essentially, you're playing with someone else's money in all terms of credit and not paying that money backlashes with consequences. Don't pay your electricity bill, the lights go out. Don't pay your minimum payment on time, get slapped with a fee. It's important to make as many payments as you can on time and in full - including rent.

Pay Rent With Credit

More than likely, your landlord is going to want payment in the form of a check, making it difficult to use a credit card. However, it's still possible. Many landlords use digital transactions like direct deposit or electronic payments to accept rent. If this is the case, take full advantage of using rent to build credit. If you're new to using credit, putting rent on credit is a good way to get in the habit of paying cards off monthly. An additional bonus is that it helps diversify your credit use. Pay rent off every month in full and these habits act as a testament to your good credit habits.

One word of warning here. Don't let rent eat up your available credit. Credit score is dependent upon the ratio of how much credit you have available to how much you actually eat up. The lower your ratio, the higher your score.

Use these renter good money habits now, boost your score and reap the benefits in home ownership later.

Posted by Leonard Silvestri on August 26th, 2015 1:06 PM

It's pretty evident that self-employment has skyrocketed in the past few years. Some even claim it may be on the road to becoming the new normal. Many opt for this less conventional lifestyle for its freedom in time and dress code. No pant workdays? Sign us up. The downfall, however? Qualifying for a mortgage.

While qualifying for a loan under self-employment is difficult, it's not impossible. All it takes is a little ingenuity and advance planning on your part to convince the banks you're one-man business is financially sound.

Take Advantage of Tax Write-Offs

You're probably doing so already, but if not, take advantage of what constitutes as a tax deduction for the self-employed. Business dinners, retirement plan funds, business expenses, and interest on business loans are all tax deductible to help your small business out come tax time. However, mortgage underwriters typically look at tax returns as a proof of income. While not all mortgage lenders understand this, a growing percentage do. Some mortgage lenders will allow certain deductions to be added back in the income. Keeping records of these write off's as well as receipts can help plead your case when consulting with your mortgage broker.

Plan Ahead and Take The Long Route

Due to the unconventional nature of self-employment, less than conventional tactics will need to be taken. The self-employed will need to plan ahead longer than most mortgage borrowers before buying a home. One way to do this is by writing off less expenses leading up to the home buying purchase. Separate business expenses from personal ones with a business credit card and use it for more expensive business purchases, such as a new computer.

Prove Your Business' Growth

Nothing makes a mortgage lender happier than knowing that the loan they lend out will be coming back to them. And few things prove this more than seeing a client's assets increase in value. Lenders will ignore the usual seasonal peaks and troughs in income, but will perk up when they see a continual trend in growth year after year.

Enlist The Help Of A Co-Signer

Sometimes, creativity and technique just won't push a mortgage lender. If this is the case, then enlisting the help of a co-signer to back you up on your behalf. Another idea is to lower your loan expectations and seek a smaller loan you do qualify for and think about investing in a townhome or condo instead. Again, sometimes you have to go the long route.

Alternative Income Verification Loan

Think of the alternative income verification loan as the sister to the stated income loan. Not everyone offers these just yet, so do your research in finding a mortgage broker who offers such a loan. At Alternative Mortgage Group, we offer stated income loans and are more than happy to assist you. This sort of loan is verified by using 12 months of business bank statements and personal bank statements.

Posted by Leonard Silvestri on August 18th, 2015 12:22 PM

Purchasing South Florida real estate can be an overwhelming process especially without guidance from a professional Boca Raton mortgage broker. If you're a first time home buyer, it can be even more intimidating. The professionals at Alternate Mortgage Group can help guide you through the process. Here are some key things to consider:

What mortgage terms are right for you?

Mortagage rates generally come in two forms:

Fixed Rate Mortgage

A fixed rate mortgage is pretty self-explanatory - the interest rate is fixed. That means for that the interest rate will remain fixed for the entire duration of the loan term. Other factors may fluctuate, such as insurance and taxes, but the interest rate will always remain the same. Fixed rate mortgages typically have a slightly higher interest rate, but the borrower has the security of fixed principle and fixed interest payments.

Adjustable Rate Mortgage

An adjustable rate mortgage payments and interest rates fluctuate over the life of the loan. Typically, these loans begin with a fixed period anywhere from one to ten years. Then the rate adjusts based on a number of factors, such as the prime lending rate. Many home buyers like the take advantage of low introductory rates allowing them to budget for a larger home.

How much should you put down for a down payment?

Choosing how much to put for down for a down payment is a big factor in determining the cost of your new loan. The more equity you owe versus the home's value can help you get a better interest rate. Typically, a down payment of 20% of the home's value will help put you in a good position with lenders. An equity position of less than 20% usually requires that you pay mortgage insurance which will add to the overall cost your mortgage payback. It's best to pay as much of a down payment as you can while still leaving enough for savings and emergencies will afford you the best interest rate and terms.

Buy down the interest rate or pay points up front?

Points are upfront fees to lower the interest rate by a fixed percentage, usually in increments of 1%. Points are a good idea of you plan on owning your home for a long time.

Hidden mortgage rate factors to watch out for

Special conditions may exist that will affect the overall cost of your home and your monthly mortgage. The bank's main goal is to protect its investment and they will look for factors such as flood zoning, the type of property (single-family home, condo, etc) and such. There's a loan for every type of property but interest rates are typically lower for single-family homes while high-risk propertis will come with a higher interest rate.

Posted in:General and tagged: boca raton mortgage
Posted by Leonard Silvestri on August 10th, 2015 2:30 PM

Blindsiding, term misconceptions, charges, fees and a lack of complete disclosure were just some of the nightmares facing homebuyers at the height of the foreclosure crisis. Those dark days are over however as the Consumer Financial Protection Breau has been working on creating transparency in loan process since 2011 and a payoff is about to go in effect. This year, what is being known as the TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure rule will change the way loan seekers will interact with the disclosure rules for their mortgage.

Starting October 3rd, two new "Know Before You Owe" forms will replace four current forms and introduce buyers to the mortgage process in a simpler way. These two new forms will walk consumers through the process every step of the way to better understand the loans and fees they're paying.

The new forms have received much praise from all entities involved in the home buying process. "The forms are fantastic. They are just awesome," says Casey Fleming, mortgage professional and author of "The Loan Guide: How to Get the Best Possible Mortgage." And since the forms are standard, they make it much easy compare rates and fees from multiple lenders while mortgage hunting.

The Loan Estimate Form will be revised to pinpoint a number of confusing factors including:

  • Interest rates
  • Fees for both lender and third-party services
  • Estimated closing costs
  • Right to shop services
  • Payment penalties
  • Future expected changes in interest rates

The Closing Disclosure will also be revised to iron out details in:

  • Final figures for closing costs
  • Prepaid taxes and insurance
  • Payments
  • Fees and mortgage terms
  • Payment costs by buyer and seller
  • Real estate transaction cuts

New rules are scheduled to go in effect August 1st but lenders have 60 days to meet compliance. While praise for the new rules has been overwhelmingly positive, real estate agents fear it will delay the closing process and many agents are adding 15 days to contracts to make up for delays.

Posted in:General and tagged: home mortgage
Posted by Leonard Silvestri on July 28th, 2015 2:28 PM


They weren't kidding when they said a home is a long-term investment. You put down your down payment and paid up monthly on a mortgage and now it's time to sell. And just like any financial payback, it's always nice to walk away with a good return on investment. You don't need to invest thousands of thousands of dollars more to increase its value. A few simple tweaks can double your dollars with minimum effort.

Storage

Storage is valuable, especially in older homes. If you have space to spare, expand a closet or add a large wall unit wardrobe. In living rooms and kitchens a little shelving can go a long way to add value to your home and increase functionality.

Two Person Vanity

Master bathrooms are much more partner friendly when there's a his and hers sink keeping couples from fighting for bathroom time in the morning. Adding another sink is a little more of an investment, but one well worth adding.

Showerhead

Get rid of your shower's old water damaged showerhead. Bring a touch of luxury to your bathroom with a rain showerhead. This simple upgrade instantly brings an effortless touch of sophistication to your bathroom.

Porch

Adding a porch to your home is a big project with a big payoff. A porch adds another living space to your home and can really up your home's curb appeal. The best part is that this is one project that can be budgeted according to your desires.

Kitchen Island

A kitchen island instantly adds cooking space to your place. It can be used as a food prep area during meal times and a decorative countertop when not. There are many options to choose from over at IKEA or customize one of your own.

Backsplash

Upgrade your kitchen walls with a brand new backsplash. A backsplash only looks expensive and can completely transform the feel of your kitchen.

Landscaping

First impressions are everything and nothing spells neglect more than dying flowers in the front yard. Give your green thumb some practice and replace wilting plants with their fresh and colorful counterparts.

Paint Exterior

Every home needs a facelift during the buying period and years of exposure has faded your exterior paint color. A fresh paint job and a fresh lawn pair together to make the first impression your home needs.

Neutral Paint

Your red accent wall may be one of your favorite features in the house, but might not be to taste with prospective buyers. When selling your home it's best to repaint interior walls a neutral color so potential home buyers will have an easier time picturing themselves there.

Molding

Crown molding along windows, doors and ceiling frames add instant luxury for a good cost. The weekend project is surprisingly easy to do and brings in the feel of instant class.

Kitchen faucet

Just like in the bathroom, upgrading your kitchen faucet and appliances is another small project with big impact. Using metal appliances appeals to most and will completely transform the way you prepare food and wash dishes.

Security

A home security system increases property value tenfold and well worth the investment. After all, you can't put a price on the feeling of safety.

Posted in:General and tagged: home hack
Posted by Leonard Silvestri on July 16th, 2015 1:15 PM

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