Have you applied for a loan to purchase a home in the Fort Myers or Cape Coral areas and now wondering what’s next?
It usually takes a lender between 1-6 weeks to complete the evaluation of your application.
Like the video shows, it’s not unusual for the lender to ask for more information once the application has been submitted. The sooner you can provide the information the faster your application will be processed.
Once all the information has been verified the lender will call you to let you know the outcome of your application. If the loan is approved, a closing date is set up and the lender will review the closing with you.
And after closing, you’ll be able to move into your new home.
At Title Junction we care about helping you stay informed throughout your real estate transaction. Have questions? Give us a call at 239.415.6574.
In case you missed it, check out our last Title Junction post: How Do School Zones Affect Home Buying?
Curious to know how school zones may impact a buyer’s decision when purchasing a home in the Fort Myers or Cape Coral areas?
When reading home listings online, you often see mention of school zones and access to quality schools. In general, parents want to live in neighborhoods that allow their children to attend the best schools. However, schools zone impact far more buyer decisions than just parents. In fact, there are buyers who either are drawn to certain school zones or are weary of being too close to a school.
In this article, we explore different types of buyer school zones considerations and how it may impact their buying perspective.
Parents with School-Age Children – This is the most obvious when the talk about quality schools arises and things such as: walking distance to schools, or convenient bus routes to highly sought-out magnet or charter schools are explored. It is not uncommon for families to stretch their budgets to buy a home in neighborhoods with great schools.
Sports – Similarly, families have been known to move to neighborhoods that grant access to a schools with specific sports teams. Parents of an all-star may want to ensure the best sport team experience and even place their child where they will have the best visibility by college scouts.
Child Care Providers – Whether grandparents, certified childcare providers working out of a private home, or commercial day-care owners, these buyers will seek out properties very close to schools for the grades of children that they support. This may mean focusing on school zones with elementary schools rather than being closer to high schools. Of course, teachers, school administrators, and school staff may also chose to live close by and have a short, easy commute to work.
Commuters – In some states the car lanes to access schools extend onto city roads. During drop-off and pick-up times, these roads can become congested for more than an hour. Commuters who need to use these road to get to work, but do not have children attending school, will often look for homes that do not require driving through these slow traffic areas.
Quiet Homeowners – Homeowners who are seeking a quiet neighborhood, especially during schools hours tend to avoid homes near schools or parks. While hearing a child laugh may be endearing to some, hearing the roar of 100+ students at recess and lunch may be unbearable to some homeowners.
Taxes – In some communities around the United States, the quality and popularity of schools drive up property values and property taxes. Homeowners without school-age children may not feel the value of such high taxes is worth living in that location and relocate to areas where school zones don’t carry such a high premium.
Storm Shelter – Storm coverage in the news has highlighted the role of schools as shelters and safe places for communities vulnerable to severe weather. For some homeowners, proximity and safe access to schools that double as shelters are an important factor when buying a home. This is especially true for homeowners with pets who need access to shelters that accept animals.
Many factors contribute to choosing one neighborhood over another. Schools zones often are a main factor in the decision making process. While it’s instinctive to think that families with school-age children will focus on school zones when buying a home, it is also true that buyers without school age children will also consider school zones and school location for different reasons when making a home buying decision.
At Title Junction we care about helping you stay informed throughout your real estate transaction. Have questions? Give us a call at 239.415.6574.
In case you missed it, check out our last Title Junction post: What Is A Qualified Mortgage?
Do you know what a qualfied mortgage means in the Fort Myers and Cape Coral areas?
As this video explains, Federal laws put into effect in 2014 and supervised by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau define lending practices and loan terms for a new category called “Qualified Mortgages.”
They provide stable loan features for consumers and improve legal protection for lenders who follow the guidelines.
These guidelines require lenders to assess each borrower’s ability to repay their mortgage loan to ensure the borrower’s monthly DEBT – including mortgage – be no higher than 43% of their monthly gross INCOME.
The laws also define unacceptable loan terms:
- interest-only loans
- terms over 30 years
- negative-amortization loans that increase principal over time
- most balloon loans
These terms do not meet the Qualified Mortgage guidelines.
The laws aim to provide consumers with objective guidance about reasonable debt from the CFPB and in return, to grant lenders who follow that guidance with higher levels of protection from lawsuits.
Ask your lender about Qualified Mortgage options for your home purchase.
At Title Junction we care about helping you stay informed throughout your real estate transaction. Have questions? Give us a call at 239.415.6574.
In case you missed it, check out our last Title Junction post: Loan Officers, Underwriters, and Mortgage Brokers – Who’s Who?
Buying a home in the Cape Coral or Fort Myers area soon?
The world of real estate has many different types of professionals. If you are a buyer looking to purchase a piece of property with financing, an area that can get a little confusing involves the professionals within the mortgage lending landscape.
According the National Association of Realtors, over 80% of buyers require some level of financing to be able to buy a home. Ironically, while ensuring you are qualified for a loan to buy a house is the recommended first step in the home buying process, many buyers start by contacting a real estate agent. When the need for pre-qualification comes up, buyers will usually do one of two things: Go to their bank or use the Realtor’s recommendation.
Either option can lead to exceptional results and an outstanding buying process, however, buyers often do not realize that there are different providers in the mortgage space and who they choose can impact the loans offered and how much they pay for their home in the long run. To help you understand your options, we have outlined several key players you may come in contact with or hear about throughout the process.
Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Loan Officers evaluate, authorize, or recommend approval of loan applications for people and businesses. Most Loan Officers are employed by commercial banks, credit unions, and related financial institutions. This means that while they may have access to different types of loans available through their lending institution, they can only fit you to a loan offered by their employer.
To qualify for loan, a Loan Officer may need you to have an existing account with their bank or lending intuition and to meet stringent requirements that match their employer’s tolerance of risk. Since the 2008 mortgage crisis in the United States, some banks have exited the mortgage business while others have adopted conservative loan requirements.
When deciding on a Loan Officer, you need to research the reputation of their employer, after all they will likely service your mortgage long-term. You also need make sure you can communicate and get along well with your Loan Officer. If you don’t hit it off, try visiting another branch of the same lending institution, they will have access to the same loan programs.
Loan Officers will typically take your application and gather all necessary documentation related to your loan. This package is then submitted to other departments such as processing and then underwriting where approval decisions are made. Loan Officers are paid either hourly or a salary by their employer and may receive bonuses for number of loans applications or dollar amount of the loans.
Think of a Mortgage Broker as an independent consultant. They may work with a mortgage brokerage company or their own a mortgage brokerage. They are not lenders and in the majority of cases they will not service your mortgage loan. Instead, they have relationships with a diverse collection of lenders and will find a loan to meet your needs. The source of funding may include banks, wholesale mortgage lenders, equity funds, and even private lenders.
Mortgage Brokers will assess your loan needs then “shop the market” for the best loan available. There are strict regulations in place to help ensure that your broker provides the best loan for your needs rather than a loan that pays them the most.
Depending on the size of the team, a mortgage broker may have in-house loan processors or may outsource this function. Ultimately, a mortgage broker who wants to be successful will ensure clients have the best loan experience possible, regardless of how their back-office functions are arranged.
A well-established mortgage broker has great relationships with their lenders and the underwriting teams and has a high rate of closing loans in a reasonable amount of time. They are paid by the lender typically as a flat fee or percentage of the mortgage amount. Newer industry regulations prevent mortgage brokers from being paid or bonused based on the interest rate of a loan.
A Mortgage Underwriter may work for a bank, lending company, or private fund. They are the decision makers who review all the documentation submitted for a loan and decide if all requirements have been met and if the loan applicant is qualified for the loan.
They represent the lender and are responsible for analyzing the loan package and determining if the lender will take on the risk associated with approving a loan. They examine criteria such as the applicant’s credit rating and history, the applicant’s perceived capacity for repaying the loan, and the value of home being purchased in terms of loan collateral.
When a loan is delayed or “falls through” many people think this is done by their Loan Officer or Mortgage Broker. Certainly, failure to properly match applicants with loan requirements or to submit critical documentation can impact the viability of a loan. However, the ultimate decision on approving or declining a loan falls with the Mortgage Underwriter. While most properly submitted loans are approved, sometime changes in underwriting requirements can “kill” a loan and stop a real estate transaction.
Mortgage Underwriters are employed by banks and lending institutions and go through extensive training to evaluate loan applications. While they must be mindful of risk, Mortgage Underwriters do not aim to decline loans. On the contrary, their paycheck and job security depend on approving as many healthy loans as possible.
Know Who Guards the Money!
When it comes time to buy a home or refinance your current home, be mindful of the service providers available to you. In some instances, the Loan Officer at your bank may have the best rates and terms for you. In other situations, your best bet may be to consult with a Mortgage Broker with access to dozens (maybe hundreds) of lenders who may offer better rates and terms.
Whomever you choose, be certain to submit all necessary documentation carefully so that the Mortgage Underwriter can clearly see that you meet all requirements and easily approve your home loan.
In case you missed it, check out our last Title Junction post: Title Insurance Explained Visually.
What is title insurance and why should any buyer purchasing a home in the Fort Myers or Cape Coral areas get it when purchasing a home (single family, townhouse, condo, apartment, or whatever format your home purchase takes)? Doesn’t the attorney or settlement company handling the closing see to it that you have a clear title?
Title insurance prevents the property owner from suffering financial loss if, at any time during his ownership of the property, someone comes along who can show that they have full, or partial, ownership of the property instead.
A careful title search is done at the time property changes hands. On rare occasions mistakes are made anyway. Property can change hands in a number of ways including by deed, by will and by court action. Typically, these proceedings are recorded in different places. Searching the history of ownership to be sure nothing has fallen through the cracks is a tedious job that requires alertness, intelligence, and skill.
It is very likely that the value of your property will go up over the years. As time passes, these elements are likely to result in your home equity’s being your largest asset. Just how devastating would it be if you eventually discovered that someone else owned what you’d always thought was your home?
Do yourself a favor. When you buy a home, buy title insurance. And watch the video to understand the essentials.
In case you missed it, check out our last Title Junction post: 5 Room Makeover Ideas.
If you own a home in the Fort Myers or Cape Coral area and have been on the hunt to spruce up a room or two in your house then you have landed at the right spot. Consider these 5 room makeover ideas during your planning!
- Everything Has A Place: A Walk In Closet
If you have become a recent empty-nester or looking to do something with the guest room, converting an old bedroom into a walk-in closet is something to think about! Just imagine having a whole wall…just for shoes.
If the room is large enough, you can even have a center island installed to hold ties, accessories, and jewelry. Full length mirrors can be added to wall areas or section doors. Shirts can be separate from slacks and sweaters can have their own kingdom. If you need to sit while you tie your shoes, no worries – just use your footwear bench. The possibilities are endless and overall, converting a bedroom into a closet is relatively inexpensive and can typically be done without structural changes or permits.
- A Space for Your Passion: The Hobby Room
Perhaps it’s time for your passions to have their own space. Bedrooms can be transformed into spaces that house materials and work areas for a variety of fun hobbies and pass times. Are you a crafting maven? Into model building? How about sewing? Or perhaps a music room with a collection of guitars? With the right lighting and ventilation, that old bedroom could even become a new studio for painting or sculpting (or both!).
Transforming a former bedroom into a hobby heaven can be as simple as removing furniture and adding a work bench. If you want something more dramatic or high-end you can add cabinetry, storage areas, power strips, custom lighting, and even soundproofing.
- Be Your Best You: Your Personal Fitness Center
Perhaps you’ve had a gym membership that should qualify as a donation when you figure you have been to the gym 3 times in the past 5 years. Perhaps those dollars are better spent converting an old bedroom into a fitness area designed just for you.
Fitness means a lot of different things to different people. Maybe you are best motivated by the cardio trio of Treadmill, Elliptical, and Stationary Bike. Or, sculpting muscle with free weights might be more up your alley. Quality fitness equipment can be purchase brand new or you can save quite a bit by shopping online or at second-hand stores for used equipment.
If investing in a ton of heavy equipment isn’t in your retirement plan, imagine a serene yoga room achieved with some soothing paint colors and a plush carpet. Add a small self-contained water fountain and a quality speaker for playing music and presto, you have a peaceful meditation room that can serve as an escape from your everyday routine.
- Watch Your Flicks In Style: The Movie Room
Bring on the sun blocking curtains and leather recliners! With the abundance of streaming services brining dazzling HD movies into your home, your home can beat out any fancy movie theater. A simple and indulgent movie room can be created with a large screen TV and comfy couch.
For those who want more of a movie theater experience, there is a vast collection of theater style seating for the home. Some seats even include cup holders or built in speakers! Your viewing experience can range from an oversized flat screen TV, to a curved 4K screen that brings you in close. Movie buffs may take it even further with a projector and screen that makes you feel like you should be holding a huge tub of popcorn. Sure, these higher-end options can add up to a sizeable budget, but at least the popcorn will be much cheaper at home!
- Indulge Yourself: Master Bath with Home Spa
Speaking of higher-end budgets, how about luxuriating in a brand new master bath with spa features? If your empty nest goals involve more relaxation rather than entertainment, this might be just the make-over you need.
While building a bathroom requires a greater investment of time and money, the results can be so worth it. Imagine never having to share a sink again. You’ll have plenty of counter space, plus storage for your skincare and spa products. How about a beautiful Jacuzzi tub – for two! Or a rainforest shower with side jets. Other perks you can add include heated floors, a towel warmer, and….how about a personal sauna?
It’s a wonderful fantasy that can be your reality! Visit spas in your area to get ideas, check out boards on Pinterest, and/or consult with a designer who specializes in crafting home spas. In just a few weeks you could be fully submerged in a deep, warm bubble bath in your own home enjoying some much needed relaxation.
Make the House Yours with a Makeover
Former bedrooms can sit unused for years adding to the quiet and creating a space of nostalgia. At some point, it becomes time to let go and reclaim the space in your home. Add excitement, color, purpose, or even relaxation by transforming that room into a space that brings you joy. Whether it’s painting, working out, watching movies, or hanging out in your sauna – a room makeover can be exciting and add a whole lot of fun to your life!
In case you missed it, check out our last Title Junction post: What Does The Ability To Repay Mean?
Looking to secure a home loan in the Fort Myers or Cape Coral areas and curious about the “Ability to Repay” rules?
In a nutshell, as this video shows, new laws require lenders to make a good-faith assessment of a borrower’s capacity to pay back their loan over time.
It’s a longer-term view that goes beyond immediate income, debt and credit rating.
These new Federal laws- supervised by the CFPB – require lenders to ask more questions –
about income, assets, employment, credit history, and monthly expenses –
as they relate to the proposed loan.
For example, a lender offering a mortgage with a low initial rate must try to assess how a borrower will handle the later, higher rate as well.
If you’re applying to borrow ask whether the program you’re considering is a Qualified Mortgage
Ability-to-repay rules are built in to loans that meet Qualified Mortgage guidelines.
In case you missed it, check out our last Title Junction post: 5 Tips If A Storm Damages Your Home
We can all agree 2017 has been a year of intense storms and natural disasters across our country. For us living in Florida we are no stranger to storms. Although we hope you never have to deal with damages resulting from a storm we thought it would be helpful to share some tips in case you ever find yourself in this situation.
Below are 5 tips to keep in mind in the event your home is ever damaged by a storm:
1) Document the Damage
The more comprehensive your documentation the better. Video has become a favored medium for recording damage, however, insurance companies and government agencies aren’t always able to receive or process video files. In addition to video, make sure you have still photos and plenty of notes to clarify what the photos represent. If available, before and after photos can be helpful in demonstrating the extent of the damage.
This can be a traumatic and overwhelming task, so try not to do this alone. Take a relative or friend that you can trust to be emotionally supportive and also helpful in identifying and documenting damage. Avoid lingering in unsafe conditions. However, if the area is safe, then take your time and document carefully. If you are taking video, slowly narrate what you are seeing and explain the damage you see, for example: “White door with broken window laying in about 4 inches of water in the backyard is the backdoor to the house. It is now about 25 feet away from the house, all hinges are broken, and the doorway is completely exposed”
Inside the home, check for evidence of flooding and roof leaks. Be methodical, yet avoid any areas that seem unsafe. Never enter a flooded basement or climb unto a potentially unstable roof. If you are not certain if your roof has been damaged, speak to your insurance company about an assessment by an approved roofing company.
2) Secure the Area
Again, safety is key here. Even small pieces of debris can feature sharp edges, so be abundantly careful if you must clear an area. For large jobs including removing trees or sizable debris such as cars, boats, parts of homes, etc. contact your insurance company to get access to their preferred provider list. Beware of post-storm opportunist who canvas neighborhoods asking for exorbitant prices for debris removal.
Your insurance company will likely have approved resources listed for water remediation as well as companies that will cover damaged roofs and broken windows to prevent further water damage. These resource are often available on the website so you don’t have to spend time holding to get information. Providers vetted by your insurance company will often not ask for money upfront, instead, they will help you file a claim to cover the costs of damages.
It can be confusing to know what is covered by the insurance company and what falls under your responsibility. Your best option is to gather information directly from your insurance company and your local municipality. Often, local sanitation departments will help with debris removal, but it can take time for them to get to your home.
3) File a Claim
After a storm, be prepared for possible long hold times when calling your insurance companies. Use a landline or make sure your mobile phone is sufficiently charged. Especially if you need to contact multiple insurance companies such as your home insurance company, auto insurer, flood insurer, and/or wind insurer.
When calling insurance companies, it is typically better to stay on hold rather than hanging up and calling back. Have your policy information handy (if possible), be prepared to calmly describe the damage sustained to your home, and have photo and video files ready to transmit once you have instructions from your insurance providers.
It’s a good idea to have pen and paper ready to take notes. Also, if you are leaving the area or do not have access to mail service, provide your insurance companies with a forwarding address where they can mail important documents. The same applies if you have a new or temporary phone number.
4) Tap Into Government Resources
Stay abreast of communications emerging from local, state, and federal agencies. They will have critical information on resources available to help with damage control and debris removal. Depending on the nature of the storm and the total impact to your community, your region may be declared a disaster area in which case different types of financial assistance and services may be available to you. There are many misconceptions about payouts from FEMA and other agencies, so please make sure you conduct careful research and speak to qualified personnel. Try not to rely on rumors or unofficial social media posts.
5) Watch for Deadlines
Insurance claims and applications for financial assistance all come with important deadlines. In the aftermath of the storms, days can be lost while you struggle to clean up and get life back to normal. Set reminders for yourself and make sure you have access to phone and internet service when needed to submit applications or substantiating documentation. Put your claim or case number on all correspondence and keep careful documentation of all submissions, conversations, and contacts.
Always start with local and state websites for information relevant to your immediate community. If weather is still a factor, tune into www.weather.com or any reliable weather channel in your area. If there is a risk of inclement weather during clean up, it is important to have a working cell phone or battery operated radio with you and audible at all times. Knowing about tornados or flash floods even minutes in advance can be life-saving.
If your community is declared a disaster area, visit www.FEMA.org to learn about resources and aid available to your area. Agencies such as www.redcross.org and https://www.disasterassistance.gov may also be helpful in accessing needed resources and support.
We certainly hope you never need to use this information and that you and your family are always safe and sound. However, should there be an incident in your area, we hope that the information and resources provided give you peace of mind and helpful guidance during a difficult time.
In case you missed it, check out our last Title Junction post: What Is An Escrow Account And Do I Need One?
Shopping lenders for your Cape Coral or Fort Myers new home purchase? Have you come across the term “Escrow Account” and wondered what it means or if you even need one?
As we show you in this video, an escrow account is an account, established by your lender, to set aside a portion of your monthly mortgage payment to cover annual charges for homeowner’s insurance mortgage insurance (if applicable), and property taxes.
Escrow accounts are a good idea because they assure money will always be available for these payments.
If you use an escrow account to pay property tax or homeowner’s insurance make sure you are not penalized for late payments since it is the lender’s responsibility to make those payments.
In case you missed it, check out our last Title Junction post: What Should I Know Before Investing In Real Estate?
Are you thinking of investing in real estate in the Fort Myers or Cape Coral areas?
While you can’t control everything, it helps to know what you are getting yourself into and actively prepare yourself to execute a sound investment. If you are new to real estate investing, here are ten nuggets of wisdom that can help you prepare for success.
10 Things to Know Before You Invest In Real Estate
- Understand Your Risk Tolerance – As the famous Greek adage says “First Know Thyself”. If the idea of losing money gives you a migraine, then you need to direct yourself to lower risk investments. Outline how much money, time, and effort you can realistically and willingly dedicate to investing, then respect your own thresholds.
- Pick Partners Carefully – The number one destroyer of marriages, family relationships, friendships, and partnerships is money. Make sure you have a clear agreement on acceptable risk and losses with people involved in your investment. Choose people you can stand to work with even in stressful times and that you can trust implicitly in prosperous times.
- Assemble A Team – Even if you are venturing out as a solopreneur, you really cannot do it all on your own. Before you get started, build a solid team including a Lender, Contractor or Handy Man, Tax Professional, Attorney and a Realtor. If possible, find a mentor who has experience in the type of investing you want to do.
- Write Out A Plan – Avoid making it up as you go along. Decide what type of investment you want, how the numbers work, and who will be on your team. Map out the investment like a project and carefully track time and expenses. Always be realistic about the amount of time and funds you can sink into an investment. Finally, be sure to have an exit plan.
- Taxes Make A Difference – An investment can seem profitable until tax seasons comes around and you are paying thousands in capital gains and other tax obligations. Keep in touch with the tax professional on your team and make sure you know the tax outcome of every potential investment you consider.
- Always Run The Numbers – Buying a home to live in is usually an emotional purchase. Investing in real estate is a decision based on numbers. Carefully examine expenses, investment capital, tax burden, and even the cost of failure associated with the property before fronting your money. If the numbers don’t work, walk away.
- Keep A Tight Schedule – Time really is money in most real estate investments. In many types of investing, such as flipping a home, the longer you hold a property, the higher your expenses. Conversely, in some cases holding properties long-term allow is better. In addition, there are deadlines for inspections, payments to lenders, etc. that need to be carefully managed.
- Find Your People – Many cities have a Real Estate Investors Association. This is a great place to meet mentors, take workshops, meet qualified service providers, and even build partnerships. Use Google to find associations in your area or try finding a group on Meet-Up. These groups are also a great way to get plugged into local trends.
- Be Aware That Markets Have Cycles – Tune in to the local real estate market where you intend to invest. Many people made lots of money investing between 2003 and 2005. By 2007, there was no more easy money and many “late-to-game” investors lost their money, their good credit, and in some cases even their own homes. Pay attention to the market.
- Know When to Fold – Just as our own homes can become money pits, so can a real estate investment. When a loss is becoming overwhelming, sometimes the right answer is to walk away. The same applies when you are making a lot of money. Avoid getting complacent, taking on too much risk, or failing to enjoy the wealth you are accumulating because you are working too hard.
Real Estate is considered one of the most reliable paths to building wealth. If you decide to venture into this diverse and exciting world, be sure to follow these 10 guidelines. Remember, make a plan, not a bet!
In case you missed it, check out our last Title Junction post: What Is The Debt-To-Income Ratio (DTI)?