Thursday, February 26, 2015

Get Higher ROI with Low Budget Updates

HomeGain, the leading provider of online marketing programs that connect real estate agents and brokers with home buyers and sellers, has identified the top 10 home improvements under $1,500 that gives sellers higher ROI as follows:

Price Increase
Return On Investment
Cleaning and de-cluttering
Lightening and brightening
Home Staging
Repairing electrical or plumbing
Kitchen and bathroom
Replace or shampoo carpets
Paint interior
Repair floors
Paint Exterior

Top 3 Money Maker$ are:

1. Cleaning and De-cluttering. Remove personal items, wash inside and outside of your home, freshen air, remove clutters from all areas of the home. Organize closets, Polish wood works and mirrors. The more personal stuff in the house, the less potential buyers can imagine themselves living there. 

2. Lightening and Brightening. Clean windows (inside and out), remove old curtains and hang a new one, remove fixtures from windows, make sure windows open easily. Make sure that sunlight enters the room.  Ensure that your house is bright and cheery - it will make more marketable.

3. Home Staging. Add fresh flowers, remove personal items, arrange furniture, add new props and artwork. Home staging simply means arranging your furniture to best showcase the floor plan and maximize the use of space. 

If you have a limited budget and you are interested in making more of a cash return on your investment, follow the 3 tips above and get top dollar when selling your home.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Lower FHA Mortgage Insurance Premium

FHA has announced that it will lower its annual premium on the loans it insures from 1.35% to .85%. for loans with less than 5% down and for loans with more than 5% down, Mortgage Insurance Premium is lowered from 1.3% to .8%. With this new rule, the first-time home buyers can save about $900 a year on their mortgage payments. Same savings will be realized by existing home owners who refinanced into an FHA loan. That is significant savings over the life of the loan.

The annual Mortgage Insurance Premium is paid on top of principal, interest and insurance every month until the end of the loan. 

According to the White House, the lowered premiums will help more than 800,000 home owners save on their monthly mortgage costs and enable up to 250,000 new home buyers to purchase a home. (Source:

Annual Savings After the Reduction in FHA Mortgage Insurance Premiums on a $175k 30-yr. Fixed Home Loan 
 Year 3.5% Down5% Down
 1 Year $818 $805
 5 Years $3,932 $3,863
 10 Years $7,421 $7,276
 20 Years $12,669 $12,375
 30 Years $14,709 $14,338

If you have any questions with the new FHA rule, do not hesitate to contact me.  

Tuesday, January 20, 2015


Smart home gadgets are making life easier and more convenient. Whether you are in the office or on vacation, your smart home gadgets will alert you on what's going on using your smartphone, tablet or computer. Not only they provide convenience, they also provide some energy efficient savings. 

Save your hard earned money on rising monthly electric bills by investing on programmable thermostat. You can program your home temperature from this smart device for every hour of every day. Your thermostat will save you money by automatically adjusting the temperature when you're not at home or asleep. According to Nest's website, Programmable thermostat can cut heating costs by 20%.

The latest smart smoke detector can tell you whether you're in immediate danger or not. If you're not at home, you can get a message on your cellphone telling you if there's a problem.

The new technology in webcam allows you to monitor your home and communicate with older kids or pets when you're out of the house. You can see what's going on in your house from your smartphone, tablet or computer 24/7. You can also record the footage to be retrieved at a later time. 
Smart home technology can easily be installed in a newly constructed home as an added bonus. Spinell Homes,
Alaska's #1 Home Builder, has 14 different communities and floor plans ranging from townhouse style condos, 
single-family homes, and multifamily properties that can be customized to a buyer's needs and wants. This 
includes adding smart home gadgets and energy efficient options.  2 of their latest projects are Dove Tree and Nadine Park. Both are centrally located - just minutes from downtown Anchorage.

Using these smart home devices can save you time and energy bills and put more money aside for things like a family vacation or other expenses. If you want to know more, don't hesitate to contact me. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

How Delinquency Affects Your Credit Score

Borrowers with late mortgage payments don't have any idea how much it will affect their credit scores and how long it takes to repair the damage. 

Credit or FICO scores help banks and other lenders determine a borrower's credit worthiness. FICO scores are broken down into 5 categories namely payment history, amounts owed, length of credit history, new credit and types of credit used. Payment history has the biggest impact on a borrower's FICO scores. A missed payment will have the longest and lasting impact on the score. The more recent the missed payment occurred, the greater the impact and the more missed payments you have, the longer it will take to restore the scores. (Source:


If a delinquent home buyer wants to buy another home, their low FICO scores may keep them from qualifying for good rates.  Borrowers with poor credit may pay higher interest rates, or worst, they might not be able to qualify for a loan at all. Not only that, they will also pay high interest rates on all credits i.e. car loans and credit cards.   It will take years to get back on track again.

For delinquent buyers that want to improve their FICO scores, pay all your loans on time. Use at least one credit card and pay in full each month to avoid finance charges. The on time payments will offset negatives from the past. 

Over time the credit scores will improve. The length of time it takes to repair the damage will depend on how serious the non-payments were. 

For more information on FICO scores, please contact me for a list of preferred lenders whom specialize in structuring a successful path for home ownership.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Pay Off Your Loan in Half the Time!

Normally, when buyers plan to purchase their home, they first think of the traditional fixed rate 30-year mortgage. It's the most common form of financing, maybe because it has the lowest monthly payment. Adjustable rate mortgages can give you less up-front payment, but the monthly payment can significantly go up few years 
down the line when the rates are recalculated as per market rate.

With historically low mortgage rates, buyers naturally want to take advantage and lock in their 30-year fixed rates at the lowest possible rate before the Fed allows the rates to increase. 

However, there will be a new option available to the low income buyers and those buyers that are still tied to their student loans but earning a steady income.  Currently, the Wealth Building Home Loan or WBHL is at it's test stage.  The WBHL has a generous credit requirement, incomes bears more weight than FICO scores. It also offers faster equity build up as compared to the traditional 30-year mortgage.  "In the first three years of the WBHL, 77% of monthly mortgage payments pay off the principal, creating huge amounts of equity," says Edward Pinto of the American Enterprise Institute International Center for Housing Risk. While the payment for the first half of the 30-year fixed mortgage rate goes to the interest alone. 

In the WBHL, majority of the mortgage payment will go to equity in the home.  Home buyers have the option to use their down payment to buy down the interest rate. Or, if they don't have money for down payment, they can use a 3% seller concession to buy down the interest rate to near zero. For every 1% paid upfront, buyers can get .5% point discount in their interest rate, twice the industry standard for rate buydowns. Bank of America will hold the 15-year mortgage loans and subsidize the interest rate buydown. ( Mortgage payments are slightly higher with WBHL, but the buyer can pay off the loan in half the time.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


Mortgage rates are still at historically low levels, they haven't changed much this year.  But this may change anytime soon. 

Both home prices and mortgage rates are expected to rise as season changes.  Mortgage rates vary depending on what product you choose and how you shop.  So how do you get the best rate? Here are some tips on how to shop for the best rates. 

Choose a term on your mortgage based on how long you expect to be in your home.  

30-year fixed rate is the most expensive among all mortgage products because the rate is the highest and you are paying for the longest term.  If you are planning to stay in your home for five years or less, then it is advisable to take a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) which is fixed for 5 years - it is a much cheaper option.  If you're conservative, try a 7/1 or 10/1 ARM - both rates are lower than the 30-year fixed rate and you can save thousands of dollars over the life of the loan. 

Complete the Required Documents

Make sure that you have the complete documents before even applying for a loan.  A great mortgage rate can turn into a bad rate if you have to extend it because you still need to complete your documents.  Remember, ALL lenders will not waive any of the required documents.

Beware of Hidden Fees 

Make sure that you review the full breakdown of closing costs before even committing to a lender so there will be no surprises come payment time. Also read all the fine prints to understand your contract. 

Compare Zero-closing Cost Mortgage 

At 12.5 basis points (.125 percent) added to your mortgage rate or equivalent of monthly payment increase of $30 to $50 may save you $4000 in closing cost or more. This of course, depends on how long is the term of your loan. 

Get One Credit Report Done

Asking multiple lenders to run your credit score can actually damage your score. Choose one lender to run your credit report,ask them to do a three merge score from Experian, Transunion and Equifax all together.

For a list of lenders, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Parade of Homes Special

Parade of Homes is a yearly showcase of both new and remodeled homes in several parts of the United States. The annual event was started by Salt Lake Home Builders Association back in 1946.  The Showcases include single family homes, condominium, duplex and townhomes. You'll find a wide range of prices, sizes and styles featuring the latest in construction, design, and decorating techniques. 

This year, the Anchorage Home Builders Association will present the 50th Annual Parade of Homes in Alaska.  Some of the finest homes in Anchorage and Eagle River will be open to the public during the dates and time mentioned below:

Open House Times 
Friday, September 12, 5 - 8 p.m.
Saturday, September 13, 12 – 6 p.m.
Sunday, September 14, 12 – 6 p.m.
The Golden Parade of Homes will feature "Made in Alaska" products which includes asphalt and insulation to windows and decorative finishes. "Made in Alaska Home" showcases building products that manufactured in Alaska.

James Team Real Estate listing is part of the entry in this 50th Annual Parade of Homes - featuring 12286 Vista Ridge Loop, Eagle River - a brand new townhouse in Eagle River minutes from schools, shopping, restaurants and bases minutes from schools, shopping, restaurants and bases. 15 minutes from Downtown Anchorage with 
great views of Alaska Range and Sleeping Lady! 

Big names in community development such as Spinell Homes, Spenard Builders Supply, FM Home Builders, Colony Builders and Petersen Group to name a few will be joining this year's Annual Parade of Homes.

Enjoy the weekend and hope to see you on the tour! If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.