Date Posted: 02/14/11 - What You Should Know Before Buying A Condo in Florida
What You Should Know Before Buying A Condo in Florida
Most people think that a condominium is what they purchase when they move into a unit they have bought. However, the word actually refers to the entire residential complex.
An individual unit or apartment is what the individual buys. Common areas: hallways, grounds, swimming pool, public amenities, and the building are owned jointly and kept up by the unit owners.
Florida condo complexes are popular in the real estate market. New owners often are poorly educated about important elements of purchasing and living in condos. The unit is individually owned but communal rights are also connected to use grounds, amenities, facilities, etc. along with the obligation to pay a portion for their upkeep. The condo association is for the benefit of all owners and is non-profit.
It's important to keep the intended use in mind when he purchases a condo. Will it serve as your residence, a second home, an investment, a long-term rental, or a second home that you will rent out during prime periods? Many associations restrict use of the individual units so be sure you chose a complex that allows the use you have in mind.
You are required by law to receive a copy of the Declaration of the Condominium whether the purchase is a resale condo, a pre-construction, or a key-ready condo. These documents are registered with the State and can be more than 500 pages long. This includes detailed information about the developer, how the Home Owners‚Äô Association is formed, the building plans, floor plans for each unit, required fees, and the Rules and Regulations of the complex.
Know your ownership and voting rights in the association: What percentage of the expenses must you pay? What restrictions are placed on use of your unit and common facilities? Will the complex grow with more construction? Is the developer required to complete all the facilities and amenities proposed? Have other residents complained? Are there lawsuits against the Condominium Association? Are funds set aside for maintenance projects and future payments? Are there restrictions regarding pets? Do they restrict additional occupants staying in your unit?
Buyers are given 3 days to review the condo documents if it is a resale purchase, and 15 days when buying a new, key-ready or pre-constructed condo. If you don't want to deal with any restrictions or requirements listed, you have the right to rescind the contract without penalty if it is done within the time allotted.
The information contained regarding rules, bylaws, and voting rights are important and will affect how you can live in and use your condo unit. The Association should carry a master insurance policy and you should know what it covers. If you don't pay your maintenance fees, a lien may be placed on your unit which could lead to foreclosure.
If you fully understand these aspects before you purchase, you will have a condo that will provide you with a pleasant home for years into the future.
Date Posted: 02/10/11 - What Are My Options for A Low Down Payment Mortgage?
What Are My Options for A Low Down Payment Mortgage?
Many people who're in the market for a home don't have much of a down payment. But if they're still interested in buying one, then they have to seek out low down payment mortgage opportunities.
Your mortgage loan is based mainly on your income and credit history. Some financial institutions such as banks and credit unions offer mortgages to people. So does the federal government. The main programs that the government provides are run by the Federal Housing Administration, or FHA, and HUD, or the Housing and Urban Development department.
An FHA loan can give people seeking a mortgage a low down payment opportunity. If you already own a home and you want to fix it up, then getting an FHA rehab loan is a good idea. It's important to learn to know how to talk in the 203k FHA mortgage voice when speaking to government mortgage officials.
If you're using a mortgage broker, you have to understand a mortgage broker talking to a customer. If you do, you'll be able to comprehend all that's been said, and it will help you fully evaluate the entire low down payment mortgage process.
There is also an option for something better than a low down payment mortgage. This is a zero down payment mortgage. The Veteran's Administration offers this to veterans who served in any one of the major branches.
On most low down payment mortgages, the interest rate can vary. It's quite low on some. And it's high on others. There are also several creative financing options to obtain a low down payment loan for your house purchase. One way is to enter into a transaction with a home seller and ask him to hold a second mortgage.
This means that instead of giving him an upfront down payment as is traditionally done, you instead have him hold the paper for several years while you make regular payments to him. For example, if a lender says you need a $30,000 down payment for a $150,000 mortgage to buy his house, and you don't have that amount of cash, you could simply have the seller finance that $30,000 over five to seven years.
You would then make affordable monthly payments to him as you pay down the entire sum of $30,000.
There are, however, plenty of lenders who offer traditional mortgage programs with very low down payment options. You simply have to search them out. Some lenders have programs where you have to only put down three to five percent. This amount is quite affordable to most prospective home purchasers.
Even ten percent down is considered low by many individuals. Plenty of banks offer a maximum of ten percent to have to put down.
The thing to remember is that with most low down payment programs from traditional lenders, in return for the little down, you'll have to usually pay much higher closing costs and associated fees. But many buyers easily agree to this, as the amount needed to pay the costs are much less than a higher down payment would be. Sometimes it's also possible to carry these costs into the mortgage if you're willing to pay a slightly higher interest rate for the mortgage.
Date Posted: 02/08/11 - 5 Things That Will Help You Get the Lowest Mortgage Rate
5 Things That Will Help You Get the Lowest Mortgage Rate
Get your free 3 bureau credit report and score
In order to qualify for the lowest mortgage rate, lenders will want to see a score of around 750 or above. If you're interested in improving your credit score, you will also need to know where you stand. It is definitely a good idea to check your credit report at least once a year to be sure that their are no errors. If your report does have errors of any kind, you will need to get them resolved as soon as possible because they can negatively affect your score. Once you have done this, you'll be on your way to finding a great Florida mortgage.
Work on improving your credit score
If your score is below 750, do not worry! There are ways that you can improve your score before it becomes time to apply for your mortgage. Your FICO score is based on 5 different things: payment history, amounts owed, length of credit history, new credit, and types of credit used. The largest portion of the formula for determining your score is based on your credit history. Any past due payments or accounts in collections can be particularly harmful to your score. If you pay your bills on time all the time, your score will continue to improve.
Pay down debt
Another way to improve your score in order to get the lowest mortgage rate is to reduce the amount of money you owe. These amounts account for 30% of your entire credit score. When you pay off loan debt and reduce balances on your credit card, your score will vastly improve. One thing to remember though is to not close your accounts after you've payed them off. Keeping them open longer will give you a lower debt utilization ratio. In the end, the amount of debt that you have will affect the total amount of money that a bank or company will be willing to lend you.
Save for a down payment
In order to qualify for the lowest interest mortgage rate possible, you will need to have saved a down payment of at least 20% of the home's value. This is because lenders charge different interest rates to individuals based on their perceived risk. Borrowers who have larger down payments will actually qualify for better rates. That is because the more the equity, the lower risk to the lender because they will be more likely to receive full amount owed to them if the borrower was to default on the loan.
Don't take on a mortgage for the maximum amount
For those interested in taking on a Florida mortgage, especially an Orlando mortgage, it is especially necessary to not take on the maximum amount you qualify for. This ensures that you are not house pour. It is important to run the numbers yourself to see what the maximum payment is that you feel comfortable with.
Date Posted: 02/03/11 - Found a Home in Orlando? 5 Steps to Get Approved
Found a Home in Orlando? 5 Steps to Get Approved
Hooray for you! You've found the home that you have been wanting in Orlando, Florida. You've gone through a trying step, but it is not the hardest step. The hardest part, especially if your credit is not top notch, is getting approved for a Florida mortgage. Commercials and advertisements make it seem so easy to walk into a bank and then walk out with enough money to buy the home of your dreams.
The truth is that homes cost a lot of money and lending out that money is risky. As a mortgage broker, however, I can help you learn the steps that you need to take to further ensure that you will be approved for your Orlando mortgage.
The first step you can take when applying for a Florida mortgage is to bring in a co-signer. When you apply for a mortgage, your income is looked at with all of your bills. This determines what monthly payment you can and cannot afford. It is a good idea to bring in a co-signer if you have additional income from something, like your own business or disability, which a lender won't consider. A co-signer must be someone that has enough income or a high enough credit score to make up for what you lack.
Make sure, however, before you recruit a co-signer that he or she understands what they are signing. If you were to not make your monthly payments, the lender can go to your co-signer for the full amount that you owe. Also, if you were to not make these payments, yours and your co-signer's credit score would take a big hit.
Another step in making sure you get accepted for your new mortgage is to watch and wait for a good time to buy. If the economy is bad and the housing market is plummeting, it's probably not a good time for anyone to get approved for a mortgage,espically Florida. While you are waiting for things to return to normal, however, work on getting your credit score higher.
If a loan officer ever disapproves your application, you can ask for a second opinion as if you were seeing a doctor. They will send you to another officer within the same company and your application will be looked over again by a second party. Of course, you can just ask for a second opinion. You must have a good reason to back up your request. A very detailed letter that explains your reasoning and why you should get another chance is a good thing to have as well. When you write this letter, stay away from sob stories and excuses.
Sometimes if all of the above fails, you may just need to try a different lending company. If you keep getting denied for the same reasons from different lending companies, it's obvious that you need to fix whatever is wrong and try again at a later date.
Finally, if you want to have a better chance of having your Florida mortgage approved, try being a little more conservative and shopping around for a less-expensive house. If you can't get approved for say, $200,000, you may want to start your search again with a smaller maximum budget. Or, you can build your credit and wait until you can afford and be approved for what you want.
Date Posted: 01/28/11 - Florida's Top Cities to Live in
Florida's Top Cities to Live in
Florida conjures up images of palm trees, blue oceans, orange juice, and eternal summer, but being such a large state, there are actually areas that get snow every winter! In the middle of the state are cities whose residents have to drive over an hour to get to a beach. They may be fine with it, but are you? Heres a list of the top five Florida cities to live in, and what they have to offer:
Orlando: Orlando is the third largest metro area in Florida, and boasts over 235,000 residents in the city limits. Located in central Florida, Orlando's temperatures and climate stay within a comfortable range of 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit year round. It is home to major tourist attractions, such as Universal Orlando and SeaWorld Orlando, and offers tons more to its residents. Local amenities include the main campus for the University of Central Florida, Orlando International Airport, and numerous golf courses. Orlando has a large population of Puerto Ricans, which has led to 16% of its population speaking Spanish.
Kissimmee: This Florida city is located in Central Florida, and is home to approximately 50,000 people. Kissimmee is not on a beach, but it is on a large lake, Lake Tohoe. An Amtrak Station is located in Kissimmee, and it is scheduled to also be a stop on the planned SunRail commuter rail system. Kissimmee students attend a variety of schools, including high schools that offer the International Baccalaureate Program. Located near Orlando, Kissimmee offers the same climate, and features the Houston Astros' spring training facilities, and the Osceola Softball Training Complex.
Winter Park: Winter Park is located near both Kissimmee and Orlando, but is recognized as the first centrally planned community in Florida. As a result, its main street area features not only stores but art galleries, a liberal arts university (Rollins College), train station, and country club. The city's historic emphasis on art, underlined by the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art which contains the world's largest collection of Tiffany glass, have attracted many different types of residents, and today the city is inhabited by approximately 25,000 people.
Lakeland: Though located in South Central Florida, on Interstate 4, the town has plenty of water with its namesake lakes. Lakeland is a sizable community of approximately 78,000 people, supported by a variety of industries. Though still important, citrus is no longer the economic backbone of Lakeland. Today, Publix Supermarkets is the cities largest employer, employing over 6,500 people in their Lakeland headquarters and warehouses. A hub for Fedex, many Lakeland residents also are employed by the shipping company. The town is also host to the Detroit Tigers spring training, which makes for great rental opportunities.
Tampa: This large Gulf side city is home to over 343,000 people. The city is split into a number of neighborhoods, some of which date to the 1920s. Tampa is home to many colleges, including the University of South Florida which has nearly 45,000 students enrolled, making it the fifth largest college in the United States. Tampa's residents are served by over 20 hospitals and 4 trauma centers in and around Tampa, and boasts its own Major League Baseball Team, the Tampa Devil Rays and National Hockey Team, the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Date Posted: 01/27/11 - The Benefits of Owning Versus Renting a Home
The Benefits of Owning Versus Renting a Home
Getting a mortgage and becoming a home owner can take a great deal of courage. Investing any amount of money in the real estate market requires careful consideration. A new home buyer is often uncertain whether or not they are making the right decision. Many renters are unaware of the advantages of buying a home. Once they learn about the many benefits of home ownership, however, they feel much more confident in their decision to buy instead of continuing to rent. If you are weighing your options, educate yourself about the benefits so that you can make a fully informed decision.
Invest In Your Future
While you are renting a home, you are paying hundreds or even thousands of dollars each month to your landlord. Other than a place to live, you receive no other benefits. When you own your home, however, each time you pay your mortgage you will be building financial equity. Owning a home lets you investing in your family and your future.
Owning a home can be beneficial for tax reasons as well. Home owners can deduct their mortgage interest when the time comes to pay their yearly income taxes. Although some politicians recently proposed to eliminate or cut back on some of the tax benefits of home ownership, financial experts believe these tax benefits will remain in the tax code.
In addition to the considerable financial benefits, owning your home can help improve your quality of life. If you have children or pets, a fenced backyard can be a priceless benefit. Gardening can relieve stress. Your home will be a private retreat, and you will feel more comfortable there than you would ever feel in apartment. You will have more space and more privacy than if you lived in an apartment complex.
Freedom To Enjoy Your Home
If there is a feature in a rental home or apartment that a resident does not like, as a tenant their only option is usually to just live with it. When you own your home, you have the freedom to make improvements or alterations to your property. You can paint your living room without checking with a landlord. You will be free to hang pictures and plant flowers in your garden. Your home will truly feel like a home and not like a mere living space.
Although home ownership is not something to rush into without understanding the potential risks and rewards, an evaluation of the real estate market and research into the benefits encourages many people to buy their starter home. Once people own a home, they rarely return to renting because they grow used to having relaxing private space. Owning a home can be beneficial to you and your family. The positives of home ownership are many and consist of both financial and personal benefits.
Date Posted: 01/26/11 - 10 Reasons to Buy a Home in Florida
10 Reasons to Buy a Home in Florida
Buying a home in Florida can be one of the best decisions, you can make. Here are the top ten reasons why you should consider buying a Florida property.
- It is possible to find a good deal. Prices are approximately thirty percent below their peak, and there are more homes available than buyers. So you can go out there and take your pick.
- Financing your house is cheap. Many local lenders can help you achieve the lowest rate possible, ones in which fit your needs. A thirty year loan might only come in around 4.5%, this means you will only be paying one fifth of what you would have been paying two years ago. If inflation rises again, these rates will not be found again.
- There are major tax breaks. The interest on a mortgage can be deducted from income tax, as well as real estate taxes. With the tax breaks, owning can cost less than renting. So why throw away money when you can use it towards your own house?
- There is satisfaction when being a home owner. RP Realty can help you secure refinancing to help you customize your home. Paint it the way you like or build extensions like an outdoor kitchen. Live out your dreams without having to be answerable to anyone.
- You can get a home of your choice. Finding good rentals is not easy, if at all possible. A good rule of thumb is if you want the best neighborhood and a good house, buying is the only answer.
- There is inflation protection. Long-term housing defeats inflation by a few percent points annually. Previously government bonds or TIPS provided inflation insurance, but their yields have taken big falls lately. So comparatively, owning a home looks better.
- It is a good investment. When the economy starts to recover, home prices will definitely go up again. Think of it as investing for your old age.
- Look at it as mandatory savings. If you could rent a place for $2,000 instead buying for $2,400, I suppose I would rent, too. But honestly speaking, I would never be able to save that $400 every month. Remember the portion of your payment that is repaying principal is not cost, it is forced saving. That is very good discipline.
- There are lots of choices available. While there are fewer homes on the market than last year, the supply of new foreclosures will be plenty. So finding that perfect home should not be hard.
- The market will clear. The population is ever growing, and eventually, supply and demand will equalize each other. The population is expected to increase by over 100 million people in the next 40 years. This translates to forty million people looking for homes. Markets across all the sectors have never seen these kind of lows since the depression, really, there has never been a better time.
Date Posted: 01/25/11 - 3 Things to Look for When Looking Online for a Mortgage Lender
3 Things to Look for When Looking Online for a Mortgage Lender
Ready to buy a new home, you're going to a good mortgage lender--one that specializes in new home purchases. Here are some tips for finding the right mortgage lender in your online search.
Buying a new home can feel a little scary. You don't do it often (maybe only once in a lifetime) and that makes it seem all the more complex and scary.
However, all of this anxiety can be lessened by finding the right mortgage lender to expertly guide you through the new home purchase process.
In this modern digital age that process probably starts with an online search for mortgage lenders or brokers. That's probably what landed you here. It's convenient and simple! However, there are a few things you should look for to ensure that your lender has your interests--and not their own--as their top priority.
Make sure your lender offers options
There are a lot of mortgage programs and loan options other than the traditional 30-year fixed rate mortgage. Depending on your personal needs and financial situation, an Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) or Interest-Only mortgage might be a better fit. You might also want to consider a mortgage loan with a longer or shorter term. The 15-year has always been a popular option and now the 40-year fixed rate mortgage is a newer favorite of many new home buyers.
A good mortgage lender will be able to offer you a wide variety of options. This puts you in control and allows you to pick the mortgage financing solution that best suits your needs. Beware of the mortgage broker that tries to push or guide you into one particular type of loan or doesn't present several financing options.
Get "pre-approved" or at least "pre-qualified"
Many online mortgage lenders with quote you a mortgage rate or monthly payment. That's not good enough in this market. You need a pre-approval letter or at least get pre-qualified for the mortgage you need. This gives you several advantages in the buying and negotiating process. First, you know what you can afford and second it lets the seller know you are serious and capable of buying their home--for the right price.
Depending on the lender you may request a pre-approval or pre-qualification, either way you are ensuring less surprises later in the home buying process. This means that you are authorizing the lender to "pull" and evaluate you credit and several other factors that will be considered in the final approval. Taking this extra step and providing full financial disclosure to your lender will make sure you can get the mortgage you need to buy the home you want.
In this mortgage rate environment--"lock in" the rate you're quoted
Mortgage rates change almost daily and the current trend is upward. However, there is still a great deal of volatility. So if you get quoted an interest rate you like--you'd better lock it in.
Often a mortgage lender will quote you their best rate to get your business that day, if you don't lock it in it can easily float higher before your deal is done.
Generally, you can lock-in a quoted mortgage rate for 30, 60 or 90 days. Reputable home lenders will guarantee your promised mortgage rate, by "locking it in" even though finding a home and closing the loan may take a month, or longer.
Once you've found your online mortgage lender, for your new home purchase, make sure they are willing to offer you options, pre-approve your loan, and lock-in your rate. We at RP Funding are willing to do all that and more to make your new home buying experience exceptional.
Date Posted: 01/23/11 - How to Avoid a Low Home Appraisal
How to Avoid a Low Home Appraisal
When refinancing a home loan, one of the most important aspects of being approved for a new mortgage is having enough equity in your home. While you may have put forth a large down payment when you initially purchased the home and have paid down a portion of your balance since loan origination, there is a chance that your home has declined in value to the point where you would no longer qualify for the refinance. To prove the value of your home, all mortgage lenders will order a new appraisal. While the value of a home is often determined by market conditions, there are several things you can do to avoid a low appraisal.
The first thing you can do to avoid a low appraisal is to hire your own appraiser. While most lenders will be able to refer you to an appraiser, they may not choose an appraiser that has your best interests in mind. Choose an appraiser that has a reputation for coming up with favorable price points for their clients. Not only would this possibly get you a better value on your home, but it will give you more flexibility in negotiating the cost of the appraisal.Â Keep in mind that the appraisal will need to be approved by the bank so it is important to ensure that the appraiser is licensed and his work will be accepted by the bank.
The next thing that you can do to avoid a low appraisal is to complete any projects that you have started in your home. The appraiser will walk through your entire home and assess both the condition of your home as well as the quality of the improvements. If the appraiser notices that there are a lot of uncompleted projects, or noticeable defects with the home, then your appraised value will be lower than it would be otherwise. By completing the projects, you could cause a noticeable increase to the value of your home.
The third thing that you can do to avoid a low appraisal is to perform your own research on market conditions. Prior to ordering an appraisal you should review recent home sales in your neighborhood as well as other homes that are listed in the market. By doing this, you should be able to get a good understanding of how your home compares to the comparable homes and determine the value of your home. If the appraiser comes in with a lower value than you are expecting and did not utilize the same information as you did, you may be able to get your appraised value increased by presenting the appraiser with your research.
Date Posted: 01/22/11 - Is it Recommended to Buy a Condo in Florida
Is it Recommended to Buy a Condo in Florida
Florida is the ideal state of residency for many people. With its warm, tropical climate, Florida allows you to enjoy a sunny lifestyle while still staying in touch with the realities of everyday life. However, many people are unsure as to whether or not the purchase of a Florida condo would be a wise decision. It can be difficult to determine whether this major monetary investment is the right choice for you.
Thankfully, buyers need have no fear in regards to the purchase of Florida real estate. Like most other areas in the country, the real estate market in Florida heavily favors buyers at this point in time. By purchasing a Florida condo now, buyers will undoubtedly see the value of their property rise throughout the coming years. However, the real estate market is slowly beginning to turn itself around, so potential home owners should try to act quickly.
The reason that Florida condos would be an excellent investment is the unbeatable climate of the state. Beachfront properties are always highly valued by home buyers. Even if your specific purchase is not right on the shore, future buyers will greatly appreciate the property's relative proximity to tropical oceans and Florida's major attractions. Furthermore, warm year-round temperatures in general tend to increase the value of a residency. It is doubtful that a Florida property could ever be worth less than the price you would pay for it at this specific point in time; people will always love the idea of owning a home in a tropical area.
For some lifestyles a Florida condo is most likely a better choice than purchasing a single family home. This is due to the costs that are involved with maintaining a property all on your own. When most people move to Florida, they generally do not want to have to deal with the trials and nuances of everyday life. Most people view the state of Florida as a type of retreat where they can escape from the bothers of household chores and repairs.
Although some people would prefer single family residencies, condos are immensely popular in Florida because they support the carefree, lighthearted lifestyle for which the state is famous. If you do not like the idea of constantly tending to a yard or repairing your utilities, then a Florida condo would be the right choice for you.
Owning a Florida condo rather than a single family home is also beneficial in that home owners have far fewer cosmetic aspects to worry about. Most condominiums are cared for by an established maintenance team, which keeps the entire property looking modern and refreshed in addition to performing general repairs. Owners walk into their condominium complex and are greeted by bright, new paint, fresh flowers, and a spotless exterior.
It is highly recommended that potential home buyers consider consulting a trusted realtor and real estate agent in Orlando to secure a Florida condo of their very own. Making the purchase and paperwork process of this large monetary commitment can seem daunting, but you will undoubtedly be pleased with your purchase in the years to come.