Gunning Daily News

Q: When Is the Best Time to Refinance?

June 6, 2013 4:58 am

A: Many people flock to refinance while mortgage interest rates are low, particularly when rates are about two percentage points below their existing home loans.

Other factors, like when to finance, will depend on how long you plan to hold on to your home and whether you have to pay considerable fees to refinance. It also will depend on how far along you are in paying off your current mortgage.   

If you expect to sell your home relatively soon, you are not likely to recoup the costs you incurred to refinance.  And if you are more than halfway through paying your current mortgage, you probably will gain little by refinancing. However, if you are going to own your home for at least another five years, that is probably long enough to recoup any refinancing costs and realize real savings as a result of lowering your monthly payment.

In fact, if it costs you nothing to refinance, you can gain even more.  Many lenders will let you roll the costs of the refinancing into the new note and still reduce the amount of the monthly payment. Plus, there are no-cost refinancing deals available.

Contact your lender, and its competitors, before you refinance.

 


Find the Perfect Retirement Destination

June 3, 2013 6:02 pm

Searching for the perfect active adult community to enjoy during retirement creates all sorts of questions. Do you want to live somewhere else? If so, where? Do you want warmth and sunshine? Do you want to stay close to family? Do you want a condo or single family home? With questions like these, doing your homework is important, and so it's best to start early.

According to research conducted by ProMatura, a global market research and advisory firm specializing in 50+ consumers, active adult home buyers visit an average of 4.6 active adult communities before making a final purchase decision, and they visit the community that they ultimately choose an average of 3.8 times before making that final decision. Unless you’re Lori Rust and her husband Kevin Jordan.

Lori and Kevin began their search for the best retirement location at age 50. Six years, six states and thirty-five communities later, they believe they have found “home.” The two, living in Denver, Colo. at the time their search began, thought about the longevity of their careers  and what they wanted to do with the rest of their lives.

“We’re both analytical people,” says Jordan, who is now working in real estate sales. “We needed to take the emotion out of the process and focus on things that would enhance our lives, and so we created a list of important characteristics and applied a weighted score.”

It wasn’t an easy process. Kevin, a New York native, wanted to be close to the action with cultural and retail offerings, while Lori, who grew up in Montana, wanted open spaces, beautiful views and clean air. “We started with a blank canvas,” says Kevin. We were willing to consider most everywhere in the country. We looked at the Carolinas, Florida, Texas, California and Arizona. We had to decide what areas would we enjoy, and then drill down to what state, what area, what community, and then the home. It ultimately has less to do with the house and more to do with everything else,” he notes.

Also among their many considerations were a warm climate, access to quality golf and the ability to get on the course during peak season. Plus, they wanted a good value that allowed them to live within their means and still enjoy the extras. And, they wanted to be in an area attractive to fellow baby boomers.

For this couple, as they looked ahead to the next phase of their life, being in an area appealing to aging baby boomers was important. They knew they wanted to be working and interfacing with this huge demographic, the first of the 78-million boomers began turning 65 last year. Baby boomers were born between 1946 and 1964 and 10,000 a day are now turning 65.

“When researching communities, one of the most illuminating things you can do is talk to the people who live there. You’ll learn more than you can imagine,” says Lori.

Below are some more important things to go over when searching for the perfect retirement destination:

  • What are your weather and climate preferences?
  • If interested, is there quality golf and the ability to get tee times in peak season?
  • What is the average age of the residents?
  • What is the proximity to commercial services, culture and restaurants?
  • Is the cost of living reasonable?
  • How well-built is the home?
  • Do the onsite amenities, if any, match your lifestyle needs?

Secrets to a Foolproof Vacation

June 3, 2013 6:02 pm

(Family Features)--Vacations should be filled with worry-free days and endless fun, whether you're zip-lining through the jungle or sunbathing on the beach. Navigating unknown territories, however, can cause unwarranted stress if you're not prepared. As you embark on your perfect getaway, consider these quick tips to ensure that it's a trip to remember, for the right reasons.

Stay Energized. Don't let the journey to your destination dampen the experience and start your dream trip on the wrong foot. Avoid fatigue caused by early flights and long drives by getting at least eight hours of sleep the night before your departure and don't succumb to stress-ridden packing procrastination. While traveling, easy access to sensible snacks, such as string cheese and nuts can keep your energy levels up. For long flights and hotel stays, consider sticking ear plugs and a sleep mask in your bag to help combat distracting noises and bright lights that may detract from a restful sleep.

Stay Connected. Your smartphone, tablet and other portable devices keep you connected and make it easier to engage with the culture and exciting attractions that come with a new destination. Whether you're scouting the hottest restaurants, sourcing directions back to your hotel or keeping up with loved ones at home, being able to access your trusted devices is a must. Don't waste precious sightseeing time searching for outlets. Instead, recharge your devices on-the-go with the Motorola P4000 Universal Portable Power Pack. The lightweight and super slim device fits easily into a pocket or purse. It provides up to two full phone charges, plus it's compatible with phones by all manufacturers.

Stay Organized. Avoid spending aimless time digging through your belongings looking for your favorite bathing suit, when you could be enjoying the waves and a beautiful sunset. To stay organized while living out of your luggage, consider investing in a suitcase or duffel bag with multiple zipped compartments designed to house small, hard-to-locate items. Clear toiletry bags are also convenient, and allow you to quickly find your everyday necessities while on the road.

Stay Focused on Fun. It's easy to run out of time when you're exploring a new place. Carve out time for your top priorities by making a pre-trip list of must-do activities. Utilize your hotel concierge, resort guide books and online trip planning websites to help create your perfect itinerary and ensure you get the chance to enjoy it all.

Regardless of your destination, with some planning and essential tools, your vacation will be everything you dreamed of and leave you yearning for your next journey.

Source: www.motorola.com.

 


Word of the Day

June 3, 2013 6:02 pm

Loan servicing.  Task of collecting monthly payments, handling insurance and tax impounds, delinquencies, early payoffs, and mortgage releases.


Q: Does the Government Offer Assistance with Home Improvements?

June 3, 2013 6:02 pm

A: Yes.  Two very popular programs offered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) include the Title 1 Home Improvement Loan and the Section 203(k) Program.  

In the first program, HUD insures the loan up to $25,000 for a single-family house to cover alterations, repairs, and site improvements.  The latter program, which also insures mortgage loans, is HUD’s primary program for the rehabilitation and repair of single-family homes.  

Loans are also available from the Department of Veteran Affairs to buy, build, or improve a home, as well as refinance an existing loan at interest rates that are usually lower than that on conventional loans.  The Rural Housing Repair and Rehabilitation Loan program, funded by the Agriculture Department, offers low-rate loans to low-income rural residents who own and occupy a home in need of repairs.    

Funds are also available to improve or modernize a home or to remove health and safety hazards.  The federal government isn’t alone in its efforts to provide assistance.  Local and state governments offer special home improvement programs.  Contact your governor or mayor’s office for more details.


Stress-Free Trip Planning

June 3, 2013 6:02 pm

According to data from the U.S. Travel Association, three out of four domestic trips are taken for leisure purposes. And, in 2012, planned travel spiked by 61 percent between May and October as the summer months and warmer weather hit the nation.

To help take the guesswork and stress out of trip planning this travel season, below are several trips to consider, courtesy of LiveLifeLocal:

The Internet is the best traveler's guide out there. An unplanned adventure can bring a sense of excitement to summer travel plans. But, when heading on vacation with a family or a large group, spontaneity isn't always an option. Online resources can make it easy to plan a full itinerary for your trip – whether it's a road trip across country or a day trip to a local town.

Plan ahead and pack smart. Packing for an extended trip can quickly take the joy out of traveling. Avoid this stress by packing compact. Other tips like using vacuum bags to conserve space or packing multipurpose items, such as a sleeping bag that works as a picnic blanket, can help eliminate clutter.

Don't let gas costs limit destination desires. The drive can be just as fun as the destination itself when it comes to summer road trips. Simple tips for how to save at the pump, like fueling up in larger cities and leveraging the cruise control, can help limit gas expenses and enable travelers to take advantage of the open road.

"With kids out of school for the summer, we see families and individuals alike out traveling and experiencing new events now more than ever," says Eric Trott vice president of marketing, Safeco Insurance. "Regardless of the vehicle you're traveling in, summer is the time to explore a new city or become a tourist in your own town. LiveLifeLocal is geared directly towards making that possible with inspiration of where to go and tips on how to get there."

Source: www.livelifelocal.com

 


Packing Tips for Summer Moves

June 3, 2013 6:02 pm

(BPT) - Let's face it - moving is hard. Along with the stress of leaving a familiar place and adapting to new surroundings, moving means packing, loading, transporting, unloading and unpacking everything you own - as well as everything you forgot you owned.

While relocation may never be completely carefree, there are ways to ease the anxiety. A well-thought-out approach to boxing up belongings can help simplify the moving process and bring you one step closer to making your new house a home.

Box it up. To be prepared for packing, seek out a large quantity of clean, sturdy containers in a variety of shapes and sizes. When selecting boxes, you may choose to purchase new ones, helping to ensure they can withstand the rigors of moving. You can also purchase dividers, which come in handy for packing glasses and other small, fragile items. No matter what you are using, remember not to over-pack. As a general rule, heavier items should be placed into smaller boxes to avoid too much strain on the box (and your back).

Leave it. The easiest packing is no packing at all. Moving is the perfect time to clear the clutter out of your life. Before boxing up your belongings, decide what to keep. Clothing and housewares in good shape can be donated, and broken or unused old items can be tossed or given to someone who can repurpose them.

Mind the supplies. The right tools can go a long way toward easing the moving process. Pick up plenty of quality wrapping material, like Bubble Wrap Brand cushioning, as well as strong packaging tape to help make boxing up your belongings a painless process. Don't get caught up in common frustrations that cause stress and waste time, such as tape that constantly tear or splits or struggling to find the tape end. Choose a quality tape, like Duck brand EZ Start packaging tape (packagingtape.com), for your moving needs; the brand's Frustration Free special release technology ensures that you never lose the tape end. And EZ Start unrolls smoothly and easily, without splitting or tearing.

Organize and prioritize. Pack from room to room and label boxes based on box contents, where boxes will be unpacked in the new location and priority. EZ Start packaging tape provides a solution here, too - with different prints to choose from, boxes can be organized and prioritized according to the particular design used.

Get help. Be organized to help the entire moving day run smoothly, so that your volunteers aren't waiting around for a job to do. Providing tasty snacks and drinks is a thoughtful way to say thank you, as are gift cards for coffee, movie theaters or their favorite stores.

Pack a survival kit. Moving can be exhausting, and an all-day move may not wrap up until late in the evening. Don't spend your first night in your new home unpacking. Instead, pack a survival kit or an "Open Me First" box with essentials to get you through that first night. Make sure to include some fun items, such as your favorite movie or a batch of brownies, to reward yourself for a hard day's work.

Moving day may never rival a beach vacation, but these simple tips can make it a lot less stressful and help you enjoy your new home faster and easier.


Mortgage Interest Deductions: Are We Leaving Too Much 'Free Money' on the Table?

June 3, 2013 6:02 pm

I was somewhat shocked to discover a recent Pew survey showing about half of homeowners who might qualify to take a mortgage deduction on their federal income tax, chose not to do it.

According to the survey, one of the largest tax expenditures in the U.S. tax code is the deduction for home mortgage interest. Tax filers who own a home and itemize their deductions are allowed to subtract interest paid on mortgage debt from their income.

The report states that before the onset of the housing crisis and the beginning of the Great Recession, the total mortgage interest deducted by tax filers hit its peak in 2007, resulting in $543 billion in deductions and roughly $85 billion in forgone revenue.

But between 2007 and 2010, the total deduction amount fell 28 percent, and the number of claims declined by 12 percent. The report also shows that the geographic distribution of this tax expenditure generally is skewed toward areas with relatively high incomes and property values.

The report, for the first time, uses detailed ZIP-code-level data from the Internal Revenue Service to show that the distribution of the deduction appears even more skewed at the metropolitan area level, with tax filers in and around major metropolitan areas generally claiming the deduction at much higher rates and greater average amounts than filers in less-populous areas.

Other factors influencing the distribution, including differences in housing turnover frequency and the proportion of tax filers living in rental housing.

With changes to tax expenditures under consideration, the Pew study poses that data showing the current geographic distribution of the mortgage interest deduction should initiate informed discussion about how changes to tax policy would affect home owners in individual states.

Any modification to the deduction — such as eliminating it, capping itemized deductions generally, limiting deductions to mortgage interest paid for first homes, or replacing the deduction with a credit — would likely alter the distribution of this federal tax expenditure across geographic areas.

Depending on how any changes are structured, federal taxes could increase in some areas and decrease in others. So the issue of home mortgage deductions may be a topic worth following whether you are taking advantage of the tax benefit or not.

 


Q: Is Private Mortgage Insurance Always Required on Low-down Payment Loans?

June 3, 2013 6:02 pm

A: Lenders require private mortgage insurance (PMI) on most loans with less than a 20 percent down payment.  They believe there is a correlation between borrower equity and default.  They have found that the less money borrowers put down, the more likely they are to default on a loan. PMI guarantees the lender will not lose money if this happens and a foreclosure is necessary.

A growing number of private lenders, however, are loosening up their requirements for low-down payment loans. In fact, the Homeowners Protection Act states that PMI must be dropped on any loan originated after July 29, 1999. Borrowers can request that PMI be canceled when they pay down the principal balance on their mortgage loans to 80 percent of the purchase price. Lenders must automatically cancel PMI when the balance hits 78 percent.


Word of the Day

June 3, 2013 6:02 pm

Listing.  Contract used for hiring a real estate agent to sell a piece of property.  Also a piece of property that is for sale.