Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Energy Efficient Mortgage Loan

Nowadays, new home buyers look for energy efficient homes when shortlisting their homes. Good news for potential buyers that are looking for energy efficient homes! The government is providing assistance to potential home buyers that opt for energy efficient homes. 

The Energy Efficient Mortgage Loan program is an FHA insured mortgage loan that helps current or potential homeowners significantly lower their monthly utility bills by enabling them to incorporate the cost of adding energy efficient improvements into their new home or existing housing. (Source: www.fha.com)

It is also used to purchase an energy-efficient new home or to purchase or rehab an existing home in need of energy improvements.  If the borrower is purchasing a new home, the home must be rated by a qualified energy "rater" to qualify for the loan.  

Typically, the loan is increased by 5% of the purchase price if a borrower applies for the EEM loan.

The borrower must meet FHA's Section 203(b) income requirements and can make the monthly mortgage payments for him/her to qualify for the EEM loan. Maximum amount of $200 - inspection report cost, may be included in the mortgage. 

Energy efficient home not only saves you money but it is also good for the environment in the long run.  If you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact me.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Winning the Bidding War

With low housing inventory, properties are receiving multiple offers left and right and sparking bidding wars among buyers.  Here are some strategies on how to win your dream home:

1. Make sure you have a pre-approved financing before making an offer. Nowadays, you may be competing with all-cash buyers, having financing ready to go can help reassure the sellers that you will not back out of the transaction.  

2. Make a competitive first offer. Always put your best foot forward when making an offer. Buyers often regret not making the right offer because they would have paid the price anyway.  Also, make sure that your paperwork is complete and organized - this can help make a good impression on sellers.

3. Be available to your agent. Once you make an offer and the seller responds, you will have a limited time for accepting or countering their offer.  If the seller needs a reply ASAP, then your agent may need to reach you quickly, and if you turn off your phone or miss your emails during a bidding situation, you may miss out the property.

4. Be flexible. While most sellers look for the highest bidder, but it is not always the case. Sometimes terms and conditions are as important.  Flexibility can be a factor as well.  If you know the seller needs a quick escrow because they just bought a new house, give it to them.  If they just had a baby and need some extra time, have a longer closing time. 

5. Be prepared to offer full price or sometimes offer even over full price of the property.  If the seller requests that all offers submit their final and best offer then there are techniques, like an escalation clause, that may win the bidding war.  Being strategic and aggressive with the initial offer and final offer may win you and your family your next home.

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to call, I'll be happy to help.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Keep Your Home Safe While on Vacation

Are you planning to take a long vacation this summer? Now that summer has officially begun, a lot of families are planning a long out of town trip to enjoy the good weather.  Whether you're hitting the road for a getaway or flying out of town to visit another country/state do not forget to take safety precautions to avoid harm to your home while you're gone.  Here are some tips to assure your home is secure before you leave for vacation:

1. Stop mail and newspaper delivery.  Hold your newspaper subscription while you're away.  A pile of newspapers or letters sticking out of the mailbox gives away a signal that you haven't been home for a while.

2.  Store valuables - and not just electronics.  Burglars are out for more than just jewelry and electronics these days.  Lock away any highly personal information like social security cards, insurance and banking or credit card details to secure not onlyyour identity but your cash flow.  Also safe keep your computer's hard drive to protect the sensitive information kept in your computer. 

3.  Empty refrigerator of perishable items.  No one wants to come home to a stench of rotting food or have to go on a cleaning spree immediately from your enjoyable vacation.  Stock up on a few nonperishable items in the house to ensure you have food readily available to eat and won't need to dine out post-vacation. 

4.  Pay bills before travelling.  Do you know that almost all electricity, water, credit, insurance companies, etc., allow you to schedule a future payment or pay in advance. Take advantage of this! You won't have to worry about late charges and will know ahead of time how much money you have available while on vacation. 

5. Keep porch lights on a timer. Do not leave your porch lights on while you're away.  Leaving it on gives the "I'm not home" signal.  If possible, keep the lights on a timer from dusk to dawn, just to keep your home and valuables safe.  

6. Keep off social media.  Keep your travel plans quiet and away from the public.  While it is fun to share your photos enjoying your vacation, delay uploading your photos to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram until your return.

Follow these simple tips and take your mind off your home during vacation.  With these safety precautions, you are more prepared and protected against burglaries.

Thursday, July 3, 2014


Advance HAPPY Independence Day to all! 4th of July celebration is one of the most anticipated event of every year. To celebrate our Independence Day, kids to adults will be treated to brilliant fireworks, sports, parades, carnivals, fairs, marathon and concerts to more casual family gatherings and barbeques. There's an activity for everybody!  If you're looking for things to do on this 4th of July, take a look at the list of events below and you will surely find something to enjoy: 

Anchorage 4th of July Celebration
When: July 4, 8am onwards
Where: Anchorage's Delaney Park Strip
            8am - Pancake Breakfast
          11am - Anchorage July 4th Parade
            1pm - Reading of the Declaration of Independence
           noon - 6pm - Festival on the Park Strip with 2 stages of free entertainment, rides, games, vendors and  great food! For more information, visit http://www.anchorage.net/events/anchorage-july-4th-celebration-parade-festival

Anchorage Glacier Pilots Games
When:    July 4, 5pm onwards then Fireworks at 11:20pm  
Where:   Mulcahy Stadium

Live After Five Friday Night Concert
When:    July 4, 5-8pm
Where:  Town Square Park

Eagle River 4th of July Fireworks
When:    July 3, Midnight 
Where:   Lions Community Park

Eagle River Independence Day Celebration 
When:    July 3  (6:30pm - midnight)
Where:   Lions Community Park

Chugiak 4th of July Parade
When:    July 4, 2pm
Where:   Latimer Fire Station on Old Glenn Highway to Chugiak Senior Center

Mount Marathon Race
When:    July 4, 10am
Where:   Downtown Seward

City of Wasilla Independence Day Celebration
When:    July 4, 11am-3pm (Mayors Picnic 1-3pm, Free hotdogs, music, games for the kids)
Where:   Wasilla Iditapark

FUN FACTS about 4th of July:

Do you know that an estimated 150 million hot dogs will be consumed on July 4th? 

Do you also know that 3 of the first 5 presidents died on July 4? 2 presidents died on the same year (John Adams and Thomas Jefferson).

Do you know that in 2013, a total of $203.6 million was spent on fireworks for the 4th of July celebration?

From James Team Real Estate have a fun 4th of July celebration! Have a safe long weekend!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Choosing Your Home Design

One of the most exciting times in your life is choosing a home.  According to the recent survey by National Association of Home Builders, buyers prefer convenient, livable and energy efficient when choosing their homes.

Here are some home designs that most home buyers look for in their new home:

1. Granite Counter tops 

Granite kitchen counter tops are some of the most desirable kitchen counter tops in the US today.  It adds value to your home.  Granite counter tops is durable, functional and good to the eye as well.  The surface is sanitary and easy to clean with just warm water and mild detergent.  

2. Game Room

The home concept nowadays is to have everything in your house within your reach.  Gone are the days wherein you have to go out of your house to watch a movie.  You can now bring your favorite movie within the comforts of your own home through the help of a home theater.  You can also make your own popcorn in your own kitchen.
So why not a game room? Game room is designed to relax your mind and body after a hard day's work.  Nowadays, home buyers look for that specific room as part of the house - just like a bedroom.

3. Open Floor Plans

Open layouts are becoming more and more popular making it today's bestselling plans. Homes with open floor plans combine the kitchen and adjacent living room where family members can interact easily because of the open space.  Having an open layout is a great way to maximize space in a small plan. 

4. Tile Floors

Tile floors are durable. Quality installation can last from 10 - 20 years and longer if well maintained.  If a single tile cracks due to severe impact, it is easy to replace it with a new one.  

Tile floors are easy to care for.  Dirt, stains and liquids can easily be wiped or mopped.  Regular maintenance only involves sweeping or vacuuming or mopping.

5. Stainless Steel Appliances 

Restaurants and commercial kitchen have been using stainless steel appliances and equipment for decades because of its long life span.  It doesn't fade or discolor over time.  It's also rust-proof and stain resistant material, thus maintaining the shine of your appliances for a long time. 

It's also easy to clean and maintain.  Stainless steel appliances can be wiped down with a damp cloth. 

Stainless steel appliances does not harbor germs. Since it is made out of non-porous materials, it resists bacteria and germs more effectively than wood or plastic surfaces. It also resists smudges, fingerprints and scuff marks easily.

Choosing the right home is a major decision.  Consider how you and your family will use your home and make sure that it will suit your lifestyle.  From the size and shape to where the rooms are located, the furnishings and your budget.  If you have any questions on what are the trends in home design, don't hesitate to contact me. 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Real Estate Investment Tips

Real estate investment can be extremely profitable! IF someone has the funds, then real estate will be one of their investment options.  If you are planning on investing on properties for profit in the near future, then you will find these 5 tips handy:

1.  Define Your Target Market

You have to identify what type of tenants you would like to have. Are they students? Young Professionals? Young families? This aspect is very important, because it will help you decide on which location your real estate investment would be.

2. Do Your Research 

Research is one of the most important step in investment - in any type of investment. You need to study the market trends before investing your hard earned money.  You need to do your pricing research (how much your target market is willing to pay), the best location, risk analysis and the CMA (Comparative Market Analysis). This will help you determine whether a property is worth investing on. 

3.  Focus on Promising Areas

Location! Location! Location! It's better to invest more money in a home located in a central area. Focus on finding your property in areas where people would like to live and raise their children.

4. Never Spend More Than You Can Afford

Golden rule in property investment - never spend more money than you have. Real estate investment is very unstable - it has its ups and downs.  Sometimes, you can earn significant amount of money but there will be times that you can lose money. You must be aware of all the risks in investing in real estate.  If you cannot afford losing money, then you need to set your budget and stick to it.  Overspending may lead to bankruptcy and it will not look good on your portfolio.

5. Negotiate a Price Reduction

Every penny reduced is a penny saved. The lower the price of your home the faster you'll get your return on investment.  Knowledge is power in negotiations.  Again, research will play a big role in negotiating for a price.  When buying a home, ask for a CMA (Comparative Market Analysis) to get an idea of the price of the homes being sold within the same area.  Use that knowledge to negotiate back and forth until you and the seller agree on the acceptable price for the both of you. 

If you're asking when is the right time to invest - a possible answer would be to invest in an investment property when the housing market is strong and showing signs of increasing appreciation.    It's also advisable to focus on median-priced investment properties (not too high, but not not too low) as long as they are located in central areas with high rental demand.  Contact us today for more information on the current housing market and available properties.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

What You Need To Know About Credit Score

Are you planning to purchase your dream home?  The first thing you should find out is your credit score.  Lenders use your credit score to find out if you will qualify for a loan. There are 3 independent national credit reporting bureaus where lenders collect your credit reports from -  TransUnion, Experian and Equifax.

These credit reporting bureaus collect information about your credit card use, rental history from landlords and your loan history which includes vehicle and student loans. Then the bureaus will analyze the results and tabulate them into credit scores.  Your lender can purchase the reports as well as the FICO scores to serve as summary of your credit history.

If you have a mistake on your credit report from one bureau, there's a chance that it will not appear on the other 2 bureaus' reports. You just need to send a copy of your proof of payment to the bureau to have it removed.  It may take up to 30 days to remove the negative item which can result to a delay on the approval of your loan.  Make sure to keep several copies of your payment into your file. 

FICO credit scores range from 300 to 850.  To get the best mortgage rate for your loan, your score must be as close to 850 as possible. Most lenders will give you lower mortgage rates if your credit scores are 750 or higher.

Raise your credit scores by managing your credit.  One third of your FICO score is your payment history. One third is based on how much of your available credit you use.  If you're only paying the minimum payment on your accounts, that means you're living beyond your means.  Don't max out any credit card. 

You can also mprove your credit score by paying your debts early and avoid late payments.  Data collected by the bureaus includes the loan terms, payment history - on line, early or late payments, monthly balance rollovers, payment amounts, minimum payment history, income-to-debt ratios and percentage use of available credit.  Pay off the credit cards that charge the highest interest first. Don't incur new debt.

One of the major factors that affect the credit score is how much revolving credit you have versus how much you're actually using.  You can increase your scores by limiting your credit card charges to a maximum of 30% of your card's limit. You can ask your credit card companies to set up an email or text alert to let you know when you're approaching the limit you have set. Maximizing your credit limit can hurt your scores even if you pay your bills in full each time.

Only apply for a credit when you really need it. Every time you apply for credit, it can cause a small dip in your score that lasts up to a year.  If a person is making multiple credit applications, it shows the lender that you want to use more credit. Keep in mind that lenders grant the loans to people who doesn't seem to need a loan.

Here's a list of professional lenders that can help you with your credit planning:

Joe Weiss - Alaska USA
Phone: 907-261-3403
Cell Phone: 907-727-5639
Toll-free: (800)737-3033 ext. 3403
Fax : 907-929-6896

Richard Mantyla – Residential Mortgage
Phone: 907-222-8833
Cell Phone: 907-230‐4747

Jim DiMaggio – Residential Mortgage
Direct Phone: 907-222-8888
Office Phone: 907‐222-8800

Lindsey Shram - Residential Mortgage
Office: 907- 865-9402

If you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact me.  I'll be more than happy to help.