Thursday, May 31, 2012

When Buying a House, How Much Square Footage Do You Need?

Is there a magic number or calculation of how big it should be when you decide to buy a house? Should there be so much space per person? A minimum or maximum? And how do you come to a certain number? There are a lot of things to consider when deciding on what size house to buy.

With the downturn in the economy, huge homes are less common than they were a few years ago. The average square footage of a single-family home currently under construction is 2,343. While there is no magic number for how many square feet you need per person living in your home, there are several things to take into consideration when buying a house.

First, let's look at your budget. Besides the aesthetic and convenience factors, larger homes cost more to maintain including higher mortgage payments, taxes and insurance, higher utility bills, more furniture costs, time and money to clean and make repairs. And there are also environmental factors to take into consideration when buying a home.

Also to consider when buying a home, if it is too small you may not have enough space for children to play or for you to entertain. Everyone needs enough personal space to promote family harmony. Not enough storage space can cause a home to be cluttered. Do you need space for visiting family during holidays? And do you plan to expand your family? What might your personal needs be as you age? You want to make sure your future needs are met as well.

And if you have special needs like a home office, considerations for a family member with disabilities, hobbies that take up space, pets who need to roam and exercise, large furniture like a piano or pool table, you need to take those into account.

Take a look at your current space. Are there areas you never use? Could you put your current spaces to better use? Are there features you would like to add? Make a list of the specific need for each space you would like to expand. Does your family have enough personal space per person to keep from getting in each other's way? What are your priorities?

While there is no magic number, there may be an ideal size for you. Taking a little time to think about these factors will help you determine your needs when buying a house.

Article Source:

Monday, May 28, 2012

Refinancing Can Save You A Bundle!

Whether you are interested in refinancing in order to lower your monthly payments or you are looking to renovate your home, the benefits of refinancing your current mortgage can be endless. The key to getting the most out of your refinancing is the right timing and correct research. If this is your first time refinancing it is extremely important to be aware of the different rules and regulations so you don't find yourself in default with your current loan or end up losing money in the process instead of saving. Take a look at some of the tips and information below to help you refinance your mortgage as smoothly as possible.

A very standard rule of thumb when it comes to refinancing a current mortgage is to wait until the mortgage rates are at least 2% lower than what you are currently paying; anything less than this isn't going to be worth your time to refinance. You may be thinking that the longer you wait for the rates to go down the more money you are actually spending so why wait until 2%? The fact is that this percentage is a benchmark for the average household but it can work at different levels, even as low as 0.5% for some people. The point is to do your research, understand the market. If you can understand the market and where the interest rates are going you can confidently refinance at a rate that you are comfortable with.

As a homeowner it is important to be honest about how long you plan to stay at your home. Refinancing can be an expensive process so you want to make sure you have many years left within your home in order to make the most out of the long term savings. You need to consider factors such as whether you will be relocated for your job, if your home is too big or too small for your current family, any medical conditions that may require you to move, etc. Put aside the love you have for your home and think logically about this aspect; it's the only way to save money.

Now it is time to consider the closing costs of your refinancing; these are the costs that will come from your pocket in order to complete the refinancing process. This is where more research will come into play. Although some closing costs are preset, others rely on the current market and this can be higher or lower in any case. It is essential to take the time to determine your closing costs before committing yourself to refinancing. Because closing costs can reach up to $5,000 this can really determine whether or not you are going to save money refinancing or not.

Start conducting your research today and begin learning the volatility of the market. The more you understand about the mortgage industry the more likely you are going to be able to save money in the long run. Speak with your bank advisors or financial advisors today and get the information you need to begin the process.

Article Source:

Saturday, May 26, 2012

FHA 203K Rehab Loan - From Handyman Special to Dream Home

An FHA 203K loan allows a home buyer to compete with the real estate investor. This loan allows for repairs to a property that generally would not qualify for financing due to property condition. This is a very popular loan for the budget conscious home buyer in New Jersey.
There are 2 types of FHA 203K loans. The full "K" and streamline "K."
A property that needs structural repairs or repairs exceeding $35,000 will require a full 203K loan. It is best to use a certified HUD plans consultant for cost estimates of your desired work. A HUD consultant will make the paperwork a lot easier. The average contractor may not be familiar with the required documentation. Using a HUD consultant allows for a smoother flow. The consultant will not do the repair work. They will do the detailed cost estimate. The estimate will be based upon what you want done. You are allowed to renovate, carpet, paint, add new appliances, etc.
Streamline FHA 203K's are best if the required work is $35,000 or less and no structural repairs are necessary. The contractor will usually prepare the estimate on this loan. The paperwork is less detailed so it can easily be done without a HUD plan consultant. Up to $8,000 of energy efficient improvements may be added to any 203K loan.
A full FHA 203k and a Streamline 203K will allow you to use multiple contractors or one general contractor. You will chose your contractors. You should compare prices and the quality of their work. You may choose one contractor that specializes in flooring and another that is a licensed electrician. This is allowed but detailed written estimates must be obtained from each contractor.
This is the normal process flow:
1) Find a home.
2) Make an offer.
3) The offer is accepted.
4) Choose your contractors and get written work estimates. A HUD plan consultant may also prepare the estimates.
5) The contract and repair estimates are delivered to a qualified 203K lending specialist.
6) A mortgage application is prepared.
7) The work estimates are forwarded to the appraiser. The appraiser will prepare an appraisal with a value "subject to" the desired work.
8) The loan is approved.
9) The loan closed and seller is paid. You become the new homeowner.
10) Work begins.
The contractor has up to 6 month to complete the necessary repairs. They will be paid in as the work is done and inspected.
A 203K loan has a provision where you may remain in your current residence with no mortgage payments due if the new property is not habitable. This allows the contractor to complete the necessary work without a strain on your budget.
An FHA 203K loan is a fantastic way for you to take advantage of a great deal on a distressed property.

Article Source:

Friday, May 25, 2012

FHA Loans: One Step Closer To Homeownership

A lot of people who are looking to own a home know that they have an option called FHA loans but they do not know exactly what that means and they specifically do not know what it means in terms of them trying to secure funds to purchase a house with a lower level of income. Well, it is relatively easy to understand and taking advantage of this offer is an excellent way to own property and also to provide for a family.

The government, in order make it easier for people to own a home, established the Federal Housing Administration. This department insures the lenders against losses in cases where the homeowner defaults. By providing FHA loans, lenders are allowing people who may not otherwise qualify for a housing loan to get financing. For the lenders this is not a risk however because there is a guaranty from the government on the money.

While FHA loans do offer people a chance to own property it is not without its own requirements. One must typically have two years of steady employment and preferably in the same field. Additionally, it reflects positively if there is a trend of increasing compensation for your work as time goes on. Additionally, it is necessary that a person can afford the minimum payment on the amount borrowed. That typically means that it cannot be more than 30% of one's total income and all finance charges including auto loans, student loans, and credit car bills cannot be more than about 40% of monthly income. It is also necessary to have relatively good credit and not have any recent bankruptcies or foreclosures. Finally, one is only eligible to have one federally backed loan at a time so be aware that if the total of the new home is not covered by the amount borrowed one will have to find alternative financing.

FHA loans are fantastic options for first time homeowners because they allow for a relatively low down payment. This allows those with relatively little savings to be in a home easily. Usually the amount necessary is less than 3% down. Also, while decent credit is strongly favored it is not necessary to have perfect credit or even extensive credit history. Often first time buyers are accepted. Also, they have a relatively low interest rate compared to other types of financing.

Although FHA loans offer a great benefit to those who are eligible they may not be for everyone. Instead of relying on this one type of financing it is better to talk with a broker about the many options available. Also, because the interest rate is negotiable for borrowers it is worth shopping around fro the best rate.

Article Source:

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

To Rent or to Buy a House?

Should You Buy a House or Rent?
Rent or buy a house? It's a dilemma facing lots of people right now. Writing that big check for a down payment can be onerous. But, with home prices and interest rates down, is this the time to grab the opportunity and buy a home? If you are paying $1,200 - $1,800 in rent each month, wouldn't it make sense to put that money toward home equity?
The answer is yes. Renting had been a better choice for cash flow for quite awhile, but the tide has turned and now buying a home is the smarter choice.
Rentals are expected to take a climb in the next couple of years - as much as 7% annually. Combine that with home prices that are down 32% from the 2006 peak and may be showing signs of bouncing back soon. If you do the math, as economics experts have, you see that buying a home is a much better decision - if you plan to stay in that home for at least 8-10 years.
There are other factors that make buying a home the best move. Real estate tax and mortgage interest can be a tax deduction. Today, you can buy many homes with 5% down. That's leverage that you just don't find in other types of investments. And although renting might be easier on your cash flow, buying will save you more money in the long run.
When you buy a home, there are lots of other expenses that take on more value. Improvements you make to your home, landscaping, etc. will enhance your home's value rather than being benefits that you just pass on to the next renter.
Buying a house means security. A renter never knows when the monthly rent payment may be increased. Getting a fixed rate loan locks in a set payment so you know what to expect for the long term. And once you have been approved for a mortgage loan, you will have an easier time qualifying for other borrowing and credit cards.
There are several tools on the internet to help you calculate the specific economic advantages in your situation to buying a home versus renting. Ginnie Mae, the Government National Mortgage Association, provides such a tool, the Rent Vs Buy Calculator.
To use it, gather the following information:
Your current rent payment
The purchase price of the home you are considering buying
The percentage of the down payment you will need
The length or term of the loan (years you will have to pay on it)
The interest rate of the loan
The number of years you plan to stay in the home
The yearly property tax rate
The yearly home value increase rate
Crunch the numbers, and you will probably find that buying a home is the smarter choice right now.

Article Source:

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Down Payments: How Much Money Do I Need To Buy A House?

When you get ready to buy a house, how do you know how much money you should have ready? Most people know they need a down payment to buy a house. But there are other costs involved as well.

The first check you will write when you make an offer to buy a house is "earnest money." This is to show the seller that you are serious about your offer and wanting to buy the house. Earnest money is put into an escrow account until you find out if your offer is accepted. If it is, it will be put toward your down payment and closing costs. If not, it will be returned. There is not set amount for an earnest money deposit to buy a house. Some states have minimum requirements. There are also amounts that are customary in each local market, but they usually fall between 1 to 3 percent of your offer. If you are making an offer to buy a house that is likely to sell quickly, or if you are making a lower offer, a larger earnest money payment may help get your offer accepted. Your real estate agent should be able to advise you of an appropriate amount.

The next payment is the down payment, which is a percentage of the agreed upon price. The higher your down payment is, the lower your mortgage payments will be. Typically, down payments are 20% of the purchase price for a traditional mortgage. But it is possible to find mortgages requiring 10 - 15% when you buy a house. FHA loans for first-time homebuyers are 3% or less. If your lender accepts a down payment less than 20 percent, they will usually require you to purchase Private Mortgage Insurance which is added to your mortgage payment. This is to protect the lender if you default on the mortgage. PMI can usually be cancelled as soon as you have built up equity equal to 20 percent of your home's purchase price.

The third payment you will make is for the closing costs which cover the paperwork needed to buy a house. This is collected when you sign your final papers for the house. Closing costs are on average between 3 to 4 percent of the purchase price. You should get an estimate of these costs when you apply for a loan. First-time homebuyers may be able to get some of these costs covered by HUD or the seller.

So let's look at numbers. If you are making an offer of $200,000 to buy a house, you will need an initial $2,000 (minimum) in earnest money, $40,000 for a down payment at 20% and $6,000 in closing costs. That's in-pocket money of $48,000. If you are making a purchase with FHA or HUD assistance, that amount can be as low as $14,000.

Article Source:

Friday, May 18, 2012

Housing Numbers On The Rise

Check out the latest video blog from our friends Frank Garay and Brian Stevens of Think Big, Work Small:

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Walk Through Checklist for Buying a House

When you're ready to buy a house, you probably have a number of features you would prefer the house to have. There are several other things to look for as you view a home. It's a good idea to take a checklist or a notepad - after looking at several homes, it may be difficult to remember the characteristics of any one. Here is a list of the basics:
Plumbing - Check the water in the kitchen, bathroom, and laundry. Turn on the taps to assess the pressure. Make sure the water is clean. Look at the hot water tank. Is it big enough to supply all the water your family needs? Check the tank for leaks, rust and any signs of age or wear.
Foundation - Check for cracks in walls. Open and shut all doors - a sticking door may indicate subsidence. Take along a flashlight and be wary of rooms that are poorly lit as they may be hiding something. Stand away from the house and look at the structure for any bowed walls or sagging roof areas.
Water Damage - On the lowest floor of the house, feel the inside walls for dampness. Look for peeling, bubbling paint, watermarks and mold. Visit the house during or just after rain. Does the ground slope away from the base of the house? Are the gutters, downspouts and pipes in good condition?
Windows - Open and shut all windows to make sure they slide easily. Look at the frames to make sure there is no wood rot. Do all windows have screens that are in good shape? Is the hardware in good condition? Make sure bedroom windows are large enough in case you would need to use them to escape a fire.
Here are some amenities you should note that will help you compare before you buy a house:
Storage - Note all closets, crawl spaces and outdoor storage such as sheds.
Electrical - Are there enough electrical outlets in each room? Does each room have an overhead light?
Tile and grout - Check the bathroom, kitchen floors, and walls for loose tiles and crumbling grout.
Kitchen space - If appliances will not be left behind, make sure yours will fit. Take along a tape measure. If you want to add something like a dishwasher, is there room?
Insulation - Attics should have a minimum of R-19 insulation in a moderate climate and up to R-38 in colder ones. To check for the type and thickness of insulations, remove an electric outlet cover on a perimeter wall.
Fireplace - Check to make sure the flue works, opening and closing easily. Is there a fireplace screen or grate? Is the fireplace lined with terra cotta or firebrick? Has it been maintained?
Outside - Inspect decks, sheds, and unattached garages for structural integrity. Pay special attention to foundations and crawl spaces underneath. Check for cracks in any cement work, steps and walkways. Cracks in the driveway may indicate a drainage problem.

Article Source:

Friday, May 11, 2012

Dixon May Fair

Don't forget to visit the Dixon May Fair this weekend! 

Solano Mortage is a silver sponsor to the Dixon May Fair Parade, the oldest parade in California! The parade will be held Saturday, May 12th at 10am on First Street in Dixon. 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

What We Do


  • We help people become homeowners!
  • We help clients refinance their higher rates into lower ones!
  • We help folks with home improvement loans!
  • We employ 20 great employees at our branch in Vacaville
  • We support many local charities out of our branch office in the Alamo Plaza Shopping center!
  • We help senior citizens with reverse mortgage programs and counseling!
  • We always care about our clients and always do what is best for our customers!

What we do NOT do:

  • We do not leave our clients on hold for 30 minutes when they phone our office!
  • We do not outsource our employees to India and the Phillipines!
  • We do no work on Wall Street!
  • We do not take advantage of our consumers!


866 Alamo Drive  Vacaville, CA 95688
(707) 449-4777

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Women's Council of Realtors & Mercedes Benz Gala

Solano Mortgage is helping to sponsor the Women's Council  of Realtors & Mercedes Benz Gala benefiting Safequest and shelter for battered women.

                                                 to benefit SAFEQUEST

An Evening to Remember
on the
"Red Carpet"

5:00 PM - 10:00 PM
2950 Auto Mall Pkwy
Fairfield CA
Tickets: $30.00

For Tickets Contact:
Carolyn Holden 707-315-5759 Paulette J. Kolm 707-344-1014
Annie Vogelpohl 707-373-6949 Dan Scott 707-644-7653
Samuel Thompson 707-853-5800 Debbie Lintao 707-330-3039

Saturday, May 5, 2012

This Month in Real Estate (US): May 2012

Want to sell your house for more money? Staging just might be the answer. Watch now to find out more.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Celebrate Seniors Fair at the Ulatis Community Center

Be sure to stop by Solano Mortgage's booth at the upcoming Celebrate Seniors Fair at the Ulatis Community Center in Vacaville! We will have information focusing on FHA Reverse mortgages, which can be used for refinances as well as purchases.

Date: Wednesday, May 9th, 2012
Time: 10:00am - 2:00pm 
Location: 1000 Ulatis Drive, Vacaville 95687