7 Home Programs Vets Should Know About

Veterans

Veterans sacrifice a lot for this country. To help honor these sacrifices, special programs were put in place to aid vets in getting and keeping a home. Unfortunately, not all veterans know that these programs exist. Even for those who do, they may not realize exactly what options are available for them and may apply for a program that doesn’t really match their situation ideally.

To help sort out some of the confusion, here are a few of the most common home programs that vets might be interested in. As requirements and availability can change over time, be sure to find out more before attempting to apply for any specific program.

VA Home Loans

One of the most commonly used home programs for vets are VA home loans. These loans are subsidized by the Veterans Administration itself, similar to HUD home loans or rural loans subsidized by the Department of Agriculture. Thanks to the VA subsidy, vets can qualify for better-than-average interest rates and may be able to reduce or eliminate down payments or closing costs as well. Houses must meet the livability requirements of the VA to be purchased with a VA home loan.

VA Foreclosure Programs

Another useful home program for vets is the VA foreclosure program. This features homes that have been foreclosed upon that meet livability requirements, allowing vets to buy the homes at a discount from their market value. This lower price can make VA loans even more affordable since there is less to repay from the start.

Loan Forbearance

One problem that vets sometimes face is getting behind on mortgage payments and running the risk of losing their home. The VA offers loan forbearance programs that can help with this. While this doesn’t serve as loan forgiveness, the forbearance does temporarily stop repayments to give veterans more time to catch up. There are no penalties accrued during the forbearance period – and pending foreclosures won’t move forward while the loan is in forbearance. Once the forbearance period ends, the vet can begin making payments again at their normal rate.

Loan Modifications

VA-backed loan modifications are another option for vets that are struggling with their mortgage payment. These modifications can make changes to the interest rate, interest type or even the repayment period of the loan to reduce the amount of the monthly payment. There are a few different types of loan modifications available for vets ranging from basic loan refinancing to specialized repayment plans designed to keep vets in their homes when times are tough. The specific terms of the modification will depend on the specific program or plan that the veteran uses to modify their loan.

In-Home Care Programs

For veterans who were injured in service or who experience other chronic health issues, the VA offers programs to aid in getting in-home care. These programs pay out directly to the care provider and may also cover the cost of specialized care equipment or home modifications that are necessary to help the vets get through their day. These programs may be a good option for injured vets who need minor remodeling for medical reasons but who are unable to get it done on a fixed income.

VA Disability Status

It is important to point out that some VA programs require a veteran to have disability status before they can qualify. Disability through the VA can take a while to certify, so vets who have ongoing mobility or health issues should apply early before applying for other programs. Some programs may have options available while a disability decision is still pending, but there are at least a few VA programs that can’t do anything for you unless you’re already certified as disabled by the VA.

Finding the Right Program

If you’re struggling to navigate the complexities of some of these programs, there are mortgage and loan experts out there who can help you. They have experience dealing with VA programs and may be able to advise you on which programs are best for your situation.

75 Years of VA Home Loan Benefits

75 Years of VA Home Loan Benefits

75 Years of VA Home Loan Benefits | MyKCM

Today, on Veterans Day, we salute those who have served our country in war or peace, and we thank them for their sacrifice.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of VA Home Loan Benefit offerings through the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act, also known as the GI Bill. Since 1944, this law has created opportunities for those who have served our country, ranging from vocational training to home loans.

Facts About VA Home Loans:

  • Nearly 24 million home loans have been guaranteed by the Veterans Administration.
  • Nearly 82% of VA home loans are made with no down payment.
  • The VA also provides grants to help seriously disabled Veterans purchase, modify, or construct a home to meet their needs. Last year the VA provided 2,000 grants totaling $104 million.

Benefits of a VA Home Loan:

  1. No down payment
  2. No Private Mortgage Insurance*
  3. Lower credit score requirements
  4. Limitation on closing costs
  5. Lower average interest rates

*More information on VA Home Loan Fees

 Bottom Line

The best thing you can do today to celebrate Veterans Day is to share this information with those who can benefit from these opportunities. For more information, or to find out how to qualify to use a VA Home Loan Benefit, let’s get together to navigate through the process. Thank you for your service!

5 Tips for Starting Your Home Search

5 Tips for Starting Your Home Search

5 Tips for Starting Your Home Search | MyKCM

In today’s market, low inventory dominates the conversation in many areas of the country. It can often be frustrating to be a first-time homebuyer if you aren’t prepared. Here are five tips from realtor.com’s article“How to Find Your Dream Home—Without Losing Your Mind.”

1. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage Before You Start Your Search

One way to show you’re serious about buying your dream home is to get pre-qualified or pre-approved for a mortgage. Even if you’re in a market that is not as competitive, understanding your budget will give you the confidence of knowing whether or not your dream home is within your reach. This will help you avoid the disappointment of falling in love with a home well outside your price range.

2. Know the Difference Between Your ‘Must-Haves’ and ‘Would-Like-To-Haves’

Do you really need that farmhouse sink in the kitchen to be happy with your home choice? Would a two-car garage be a convenience or a necessity? Before you start your search, list all the features of a home you would like. Qualify them as ‘must-haves’‘should-haves’, or ‘absolute-wish list’ items. This will help you stay focused on what’s most important.

3. Research and Choose a Neighborhood Where You Want to Live

Every neighborhood has unique charm. Before you commit to a home based solely on the house itself, take a test-drive of the area. Make sure it meets your needs for “amenities, commute, school district, etc. and then spend a weekend exploring before you commit.”

4. Pick a House Style You Love and Stick to It

Evaluate your family’s needs and settle on a style of home that will best serve those needs. Just because you’ve narrowed your search to a zip code doesn’t mean you need to tour every listing in that vicinity. An example from the article says, “if you have several younger kids and don’t want your bedroom on a different level, steer clear of Cape Cod–style homes, which typically feature two or more bedrooms on the upper level and the master on the main.”

5. Document Your Home Visits

Once you start touring homes, the features of each individual home will start to blur together. The article suggests keeping your camera handy and making notes on the listing sheet to document what you love and don’t love about each property you visit.

Bottom Line

In a high-paced, competitive environment, any advantage you can give yourself will help you on your path to buying your dream home.

6 Ways to Spruce Up Your House for Holiday Hosting

hosting

The holiday season is one of the most-traveled periods of the entire year. People drive and fly across the country or around the world to visit friends and loved ones. It’s wonderful to have those you care about coming to visit, but it can also be very stressful if your home is in disarray. Even though you tell yourselves that people won’t really care about what your home looks like, there’s always that fear that they’ll judge you if your house isn’t ready for guests.

You don’t have to worry, though. There are a number of ways that you can make your home more festive in preparation for holiday visitors. Here are just a few suggestions to help get you started.

Rearrange the Furniture

Even something as simple as rearranging some of the furniture can have a big impact on the look of your home when company arrives. Changing the positioning of couches, chairs and other large pieces can open rooms up and make them seem more inviting to your visitors. Best of all, you can easily focus the changes around a Christmas tree or other holiday centerpieces to really tie things together and create a unified holiday look. Once your guests leave, you can either move the furniture back to its usual spots or leave it where it is to keep the new look going throughout the year.

Clean Up the Outdoors

Another place that you can make a big impact is cleaning up around the outdoors. Rake and mulch leaves, clean up flower beds, trim back trees and bushes… do whatever needs to be done to get everything looking great before the temperatures drop too low. If possible, you may even want to clean the bricks or siding and clean out your gutters. While you’re up there, you may as well install some hangers for holiday light strings, too!

Update Your Accents

One seemingly small change that can make a big impression is to change the accent colors on your home by painting the doors and shutters. This option isn’t right for everyone since it’s a permanent change, but for those wanting to update the look of their home it can make a big difference. While the color you choose is dependent on the color of your home and your personal preference, going with red or green can add a splash of holiday flair that will still look great the rest of the year through.

Spruce Up the Floors

If your carpets are stained, worn or otherwise need a refresh, don’t just install a similar carpet in their place: Consider going for woodgrain vinyl slats or laminate wood flooring instead. These flooring options add the beauty of a natural wood floor without the frustration, standing up to stains and other issues while requiring significantly less work to maintain. Best of all, a change to a wood look near the holidays can enhance the charm of your home when your visitors finally arrive.

Change Your Decorating Style

Consider ditching the tired old holiday decorations that you put up every year and go with a bit of a different look this time around. If you usually go cartoony, consider something classier like white lights and pine accents. If your decorations are usually sparse, do something a bit more over the top this year. It doesn’t matter how you refresh your decorations, just give your visitors something to see that they haven’t seen before. While this is especially effective if combined with other updates to your home, you can still wow your guests just by subverting their expectations of your holiday décor.

Bring in the Pros

If you can’t come up with a solution you like, consider bringing in a decorator to help you find the holiday updates that work best for your house.

The #1 Reason to List Your Home in the Winter

Daughter having fun with mother

Many sellers believe spring is the best time to put their homes on the market because buyer demand traditionally increases at that time of year. What they don’t realize is if every homeowner believes the same thing, then that’s when they’ll have the most competition.

So, what’s the #1 reason to list your house in the winter? Less competition.

Housing supply traditionally shrinks at this time of year, so the choices buyers have will be limited. The chart below was created using the months supply of listings from the National Association of Realtors.

KCM Number 1 Reason to List Your House in Winter Sweet Spot

As you can see, the ‘sweet spot’ to list your house for the most exposure naturally occurs in the late fall and winter months (November – January). 

Temperatures aren’t the only thing that heats up in the spring – so do listings!

KCM Number 1 Reason to List Your House in Winter Inventory Level

n 2018, listings increased from December to May. Don’t wait for these listings and the competition that comes with them to come to the market before you decide to list your house.

Added Bonus: Serious Buyers Are Out in the Winter

At this time of year, purchasers who are serious about buying a home will be in the marketplace. You and your family will not be bothered and inconvenienced by mere ‘lookers.’ The lookers are at the mall or online doing their holiday shopping.

 Bottom Line

If you’ve been debating whether or not to sell your house and are curious about market conditions in your area, let’s get together to determine the best time to list your house.

Taking the Fear Out of the Mortgage Process

One light in the dark spooky woods at nightA considerable number of potential buyers shy away from the real estate market because they’re uncertain about the buying process – particularly when it comes to qualifying for a mortgage.

For many, the mortgage process can be scary, but it doesn’t have to be! 

In order to qualify in today’s market, you’ll need a down payment (the average down payment on all loans last year was 5%, with many buyers putting down 3% or less), a stable income, and a good credit history.

Once you’re ready to apply, here are 5 easy steps Freddie Mac suggests to follow:

  1. Find out your current credit history and credit score– Even if you don’t have perfect credit, you may already qualify for a loan. The average FICO Score® for all closed loans in September was 737, according to Ellie Mae.
  2. Start gathering all of your documentation– This includes income verification (such as W-2 forms or tax returns), credit history, and assets (such as bank statements to verify your savings).
  3. Contact a professional– Your real estate agent will be able to recommend a loan officer who can help you develop a spending plan, as well as help you determine how much home you can afford.
  4. Consult with your lender– He or she will review your income, expenses, and financial goals in order to determine the type and amount of mortgage you qualify for.
  5. Talk to your lender about pre-approval– A pre-approval letter provides an estimate of what you might be able to borrow (provided your financial status doesn’t change) and demonstrates to home sellers that you’re serious about buying.

Bottom Line

Do your research, reach out to professionals, stick to your budget, and be sure you’re ready to take on the financial responsibilities of becoming a homeowner.

4 Reasons to Buy a Home This Fall

4 Reasons to Buy a Home This Fall

4 Reasons to Buy a Home This Fall | MyKCM

Here are four great reasons to consider buying a home today, instead of waiting.

1. Prices Will Continue to Rise

CoreLogic’s latest Home Price Insights Report shows that home prices have appreciated by 3.6% over the last 12 months. The same report predicts prices will continue to increase at a rate of 5.8% over the next year.

The bottom in home prices has come and gone. Home values will continue to appreciate for years. Waiting no longer makes sense.

2. Mortgage Interest Rates Are Projected to Increase Next Year

The Primary Mortgage Market Survey from Freddie Mac indicates that interest rates for a 30-year mortgage have recently hovered just above 3.5%. This is great news for buyers in the market right now, because low interest rates increase your purchasing power – but don’t wait! Most experts predict rates will rise over the next 12 months. The Mortgage Bankers Association, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the National Association of Realtors are in unison, projecting that rates will increase by this time next year.

An increase in rates will impact your monthly mortgage payment. A year from now, your housing expense will increase if a mortgage is needed to buy your next home.

3. Either Way, You Are Paying a Mortgage 

There are some renters who haven’t purchased a home yet because they’re uncomfortable taking on the obligation of a mortgage. Everyone should realize that, unless you’re living rent-free with your parents, you are paying a mortgage – either yours or that of your landlord.

As an owner, your mortgage payment is a form of ‘forced savings’ that allows you to have equity in your home you can tap into later in life. As a renter, you guarantee your landlord is the person with that equity.

Are you ready to put your housing costs to work for you?

4. It’s Time to Move on With Your Life

The ‘cost’ of a home is determined by two major components: the price of the home and the current mortgage rate. It appears both are on the rise.

But what if they weren’t? Would you wait?

Look at the actual reason you’re buying and decide if it is worth waiting. Whether you want to have a great place for your children to grow up, you want your family to be safer, or you just want to have control over custom renovations, maybe now is the time to buy.

Bottom Line

Buying a home sooner rather than later could lead to substantial savings. Let’s get together to determine if homeownership is the right choice for you and your family this fall.

4 Reasons to Buy a Home This Fall — Parson Realty Group

4 Reasons to Buy a Home This Fall Here are four great reasons to consider buying a home today, instead of waiting. 1. Prices Will Continue to Rise CoreLogic’s latest Home Price Insights Report shows that home prices have appreciated by 3.6% over the last 12 months. The same report predicts prices will continue to increase at a rate […]

via 4 Reasons to Buy a Home This Fall — Parson Realty Group

4 Things NOT to Do When Putting Your Home on the Market

 

So you’ve decided to put your home on the market. Congratulations! Hopefully, you’ve brought a rockin’ REALTOR® on board to help you list your spot, and together you’ve done your due diligence on what to ask for. As you start checking things off your to-do list, it’s also important to pay mind of what not to do. Below are a handful of things to get you started.

Don’t over-improve.
As you ready your home for sale, you may realize you will get a great return on your investment if you make a couple of changes. Updating the appliances or replacing that cracked cabinet in the bathroom are all great ideas. However, it’s important not to over-improve, or make improvements that are hyper-specific to your tastes. For example, not everyone wants a pimped out finished basement equipped with a wet bar and lifted stage for their rock and roll buds to jam out on. (Okay, everyone should want that.) What if your buyers are family oriented and want a basement space for their kids to play in? That rock-and-roll room may look to them like a huge project to un-do. Make any needed fixes to your space, but don’t go above and beyond—you may lose money doing so.

Don’t over-decorate.
Over-decorating is just as bad as over-improving. You may love the look of lace and lavender, but your potential buyer may enter your home and cringe. When prepping for sale, neutralize your decorating scheme so it’s more universally palatable.

Don’t hang around.
Your agent calls to let you know they will be bringing buyers by this afternoon. Great! You rally your whole family, Fluffy the dog included, to be waiting at the door with fresh baked cookies and big smiles. Right? Wrong. Buyers want to imagine themselves in your space, not be confronted by you in your space. Trust, it’s awkward for them to go about judging your home while you stand in the corner smiling like a maniac. Get out of the house, take the kids with you, and if you can’t leave for whatever reason, at least go sit in the backyard. (On the other hand, if you’re buying a home and not selling, then making it personal is the way to go, especially when writing your offer letter. Pull those heart strings!)

Don’t take things personally.
Real estate is a business, but buying and selling homes is very, very emotional. However, when selling your homes, try your very best not to take things personally. When a buyer lowballs you or says they will need to replace your prized 1970s vintage shag carpet with something “more modern,” try not to raise your hackles.

*content taken from RISmedia Housecalls: http://blog.rismedia.com/2016/home-on-the-market/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email