How to Prepare for the Spring Home-Buying Season

William Schumann, 1st Vice President—Mortgage Sales 

William Schumann, First Vice President, Head of Mortgage Sales

William Schumann, First Vice President, Head of Mortgage Sales

Ready to make your move? Whether you are trading up, downsizing or taking your first plunge into home ownership, preparation makes for a more efficient process and, ultimately, more livable results. What you’re preparing for is more than a financial transaction—it’s a purchase that will influence your overall lifestyle.

Choose a Neighborhood

A good real estate agent can help you understand what a neighborhood offers and how it might match up with your lifestyle preferences. There are also a variety of apps you can download to help you get acquainted with an area’s walkability, its schools, and how well it will serve your daily needs.

Determine What “Home” Looks Like

Once you decide where you want to look, consider the type of home you are looking for. Many online listings now have walk-through videos to provide previews. Although, until you start walking through homes, knowing what will feel comfortable may be hard to gauge, especially if this is your first purchase.

Find Your Financial Comfort Zone

Once you develop a feel for your preferences, it’s time to start thinking about what you are comfortable with financially. You should consider where you are today, given your current income and debt levels, and where you expect to be in a few years.

For an approximate idea of what will be affordable, you can take a DIY approach and use the calculators that banks like ours offer to help you run the numbers. However, it’s typically more helpful to sit down and talk to a banker. A banker can also prequalify you, which will improve your understanding of how much of a mortgage you can comfortably afford, giving consideration to both the monthly payment as well as the total loan amount.

Speaking with a mortgage professional also alerts you to any programs you may qualify for. Currently, there are programs with special incentives for first-time buyers. There are also programs that make buying a property that will need immediate fixing up more affordable.

Spring Ahead

Spring is considered the kickoff to the home-buying season. This year, however, there is some incentive for starting to prep for buying a bit earlier.

Recently, mortgage rates increased. The rise was not dramatic, and though additional increases are anticipated in 2017, mortgage rates are expected to remain at the low end of their historical range. However, each increase adds to the cost of buying.

Another reason to start preparing now is that home values in many areas have recovered to their prerecession levels. Realtor.com forecasts that prices in our area could rise another 1.95 percent this year.[1]

For more information on how we can help you prepare for your home purchase, visit us here or call 1-877-966-0202. We can’t wait to talk to you about what we can do to help you make your next move.

Sources:

[1] Joe Kirchner, “Realtor.com®2017 National Housing Forecast,” Realtor.com, posted Nov. 30, 2016, retrieved Jan. 4, 2017.

 

 

A Different Way of Investing

Rich Gartelmann CFP® Senior Vice President/Head of Wealth ManagementRich Gartlemann Bio Picture

More often than not, when people talk about their investments, they talk about how well they did versus “the market” or about how much they gained in a single stock. The problem with measuring performance this way is that investing really isn’t like a sporting event where you keep score against an opponent. The only way you “win” is if you have enough money to achieve your financial goals. If you don’t, it won’t matter that your portfolio beat the S&P 500 Index for 10 years straight.

Focus on Results, Not Numbers  

When asked about their goals, often people will say, “I just want to have a million dollars by the time I retire.” That is a big round number, but is it enough? Too much? It depends on the type of retirement you want and the sources of income you’ll have available to support you.

Similarly, there are many investors who start selling stocks and buying bonds when they turn 65, because they believe that when they hit this age they need to invest conservatively. It may be the right action and, depending upon the current market condition, it may not even be a conservative move. Interest rate risks and rising inflation rates can devastate bond investments at certain points in an economic cycle.

If a person turning 65 today is in good health and still enjoys working, they are probably not ready to retire. Even if they are looking forward to retiring, they need to think about how to manage their assets in a way that will support them for another 30 years.

Match the Investments to the Timeframe

The trick to financial planning really isn’t the math as much as determining the journey. Think about where you are in your life and what you want to achieve next. Then, decide what you hope to achieve after that and, from a financial standpoint, what you wish to achieve in the long term.

The list will change over time, and it’ll be different for everyone. However, it may include things like:

  • Buy a home
  • Earn a graduate degree
  • Start a business
  • Pay for my children’s education
  • Pay off my home
  • Buy a family vacation home
  • Eat out whenever I want
  • Travel more
  • See every professional sports team play a game at home
  • Afford health care expenses
  • Avoid estate taxes for my family
  • Support charitable causes
  • Retire early
  • Just keep doing what I love and not retire

To know what you need to afford what you want requires adding some details to your goals and a timeframe. From there, your advisor can work with you to set a dollar goal and calculate how much you need to save to achieve it, if it is an expense. Your advisor can also help you decide how much you need to invest and how to invest your savings to create enough income to achieve ongoing goals, like retirement.

When it comes to investing, we focus less on the big numbers and more on helping you achieve big results.

For more information on how we approach and deliver goal-driven wealth management services, visit us here or call 630-844-5730. We can’t wait to talk to you about what we can do for you today.

 

Non-deposit investment products are not insured by the FDIC; not a deposit of, or guaranteed by, the bank; may lose value.

Terms of Confusion: Straight Talk About Mortgages

Steve Weber, Executive Vice President—Residential Lending fullsizerender

It’s not you— it’s us, and we apologize. When it comes to talking about home loans, we sometimes forget that not everyone speaks the language of mortgages.

What sounds like code to you, often is—frequently it’s legal code. From 203 (k) loans to TRID, the mortgage process is riddled with references to the legal statures that lead to certain provisions, requirements or types of loan structures. To cope, we just start talking in shorthand. 

Deciphering Our Acronyms

Some of the most used terms within the industry are the hardest to understand. It’s not intentional. We just forget that we can lose you in the acronyms if you aren’t familiar with the language.

For instance…

APR (Annual Percentage Rate)

This is the total yearly cost of your mortgage, which is stated as a percentage of your loan’s amount. APR is not the same as your interest rate. The interest rate just refers to one expense. APR includes the cost of mortgage insurance (if you are paying it) and the loan origination fee or any points you paid. When you compare mortgage programs—or lenders’ rates—APR provides you with an apples-to-apples comparison to determine what will be most cost effective for you.

DTI (Debt-to-Income Ratio)

DTI is a key determinant in mortgage lending. We calculate it for every application. It’s used to qualify you for a mortgage by comparing your total monthly housing expense plus what you pay on your other debt obligations to the total amount of money you have coming in each month. The lower the DTI, the easier it will be for you to afford the mortgage amount you seek and typically, the easier it is for us to approve the request.

PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance)

Just for the record, PMI—which is also referred to as MIP under some loan programs—is the fee you pay if you buy a home with a down payment that is less than 20 percent of the purchase price, under most loan programs. The insurance is not on you, or your home, but on your ability to pay. What that means is that when a person puts down less than 20 percent, the loan is considered riskier for the lender. More risk means the higher the interest rate you are likely to be charged. But, mortgage insurance guarantees that the lender, or whoever ultimately holds your loan, will be paid even if the loan defaults. It also enables us to offer better terms than if you were to borrow without it.

These are just a few of the many terms and abbreviations that may crop up in a conversation during the mortgage application and approval process. As they do, please stop your lender. Call us out on our “secret” language and have us explain what we are talking about in plain terms. It’s your money and your home. You deserve explanations of the terms and conditions related to financing it.

When it comes to home loans, you can find your answers here. Contact us at 877-966-0202 with your questions or if you need an immediate definition, visit our online Mortgage Glossary. We can’t wait to talk to you about what we can do for you today.