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Are you shopping mortgages and struggling to understand what products best fit your needs? To help clear up your confusion, we’ve listed the most common mortgage types along with their advantages and disadvantages. We’ve also provided information on who should consider each type of loan.

ITA18FXIBLOnce you’ve narrowed down the type of financing you’re after, contact a mortgage pro. They will walk you through the entire process and get you the best available deal.

Fixed Rate Conventional

  • Description: A fixed rate loan offers a stable interest rate amortized over the life of loan, which are most often set in 15, 20, or 30 years terms.
  • Advantages: Your monthly payment stays the same over the entire life of your loan.
  • Disadvantages: If interest rates drop after you’ve locked in your loan rate, you may be stuck with a higher monthly payment.
  • Consider If: You plan on staying in your home long-term and desire the security of a predictable monthly payment.

Adjustable Rate (ARM) or Variable Rate

  • Description: A variable rate mortgage or ARM usually offers a low introductory interest rate over a 3, 5, or 7 year term. After the initial-rate period ends, the interest rate fluctuates based on market trends.
  • Advantages: Introductory rates are often lower than rates for conventional mortgages, offering short-term savings. 
  • Disadvantages: If interest rates rise after your initial-rate period your monthly payments could go up.
  • Consider If: You’re confident you’ll be out of your home before the end of the initial-rate period or you plan to refinance.

Interest Only

  • Description: A borrower pays only the mortgage interest, in monthly payments, over a fixed term.
  • Advantages: Without paying principle, monthly payments are often less than fixed rate or adjustable rate loans.
  • Disadvantages: With Interest Only loans, the balance is often due in a lump sum after the initial period ends. This could mean significantly higher monthly payments or facing a large lump sum payment.
  • Consider If: You plan to live in the home for only a short amount of time or have confidence you can handle the larger payment down the road.

FHA Loans

  • Description: Allows buyers who may not qualify for a conventional mortgage to obtain financing with a lower down payment.
  • Advantages: First-time homebuyers or individuals who may not qualify for traditional funding have better access to home financing.
  • Disadvantages: Not everyone will qualify for FHA funding and even if you do, there may be restrictions on how much you can borrow or what types of property you can buy.
  • Consider If: You’re a first-time homebuyer or have low income and/or challenged credit.

VA Loans

  • Description: These loans are offered through the US Department of Veteran’s Affairs to eligible Veterans, active duty personal, or surviving spouses.
  • Advantages: VA Loans offer competitive rates, often with low or no down payments.
  • Disadvantages: As with FHA loans, the size of your loan may be limited.
  • Consider If: You’re a veteran, active duty personal, or surviving spouse.

Jumbo Loans

  • Description: Jumbo loans are for amounts exceeding $417,000 (or $625,000 in Alaska and Hawaii), which is the maximum Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are willing to purchase.
  • Advantages: Jumbo Loans make it possible to purchase large homes and help finance home purchases in states with high home costs.
  • Disadvantages: Jumbo loans often require 20% down payments and interest rates can be .25-.50 higher than comparable conventional loans.
  • Consider If: You want to purchase a large home or live in a high-cost area.

Reverse Mortgage

  • Description: Reverse Mortgages are for seniors aged 62 and older with substantial equity in their property. With this loan, the lender pays the borrower a fixed monthly payment for as long as they live in their home.
  • Advantages: Allows seniors to convert their home equity into cash, which is often used for living expenses. The loans and interest don’t have to be paid back as long as the borrower lives in the home.
  • Disadvantages: Often an area of fraud by unethical lenders who prey on the elderly. If you’re considering a Reverse Mortgage, make sure your lender is reputable and the loan is federally insured.
  • Consider If: You’re retired and need extra monthly income.
Susie and Duffy the Real Estate Dog

Susie and Duffy the Real Estate Dog

Susie is a Real Estate Broker with Windermere Stellar and has called PDX home for over 35 years. She resides in Colonial Heights, a fantastic close-in SE neighborhood. She has a deep appreciation for the many styles of homes and micro-cultures that exist on both the East and West side of the city and is a wealth of information on life in PDX.  Susie and her team are truly Portland experts who work all over the city.

She will be sharing some of her great knowledge about Portland, OR neighborhoods with us — keep an eye out or subscribe to our blog so you don’t miss out!

To see more of Duffy on Instagram, search for duffytherealestatedog or if you are looking for a great Realtor, connect with Susie here.

Curb appeal—everyone wants it, but not everyone knows how to achieve it. Especially when it comes to capturing engaging photos for online listings. Here are four relatively simple ways to take your exterior shots to the next level.

1. Focus on the front door. It’s important to set a welcoming tone with exterior shots. Consider both symmetry and framing, paying special attention to the front door. An inviting image will make a lasting first impression.

2. Deal with the driveway. Make sure that you remove all detritus from the driveway, including garbage cans and recycling bins. If your driveway is paved, consider hosing it down and using an indoor-outdoor broom to scrub stains.

3. Let there be light. A well-lit home is as much about security as it is about aesthetics. But in photographs, lighting is paramount. Try taking photos at different times of day to find out when your home looks best—and rely on natural light as much as possible. Harsh artificial lighting can make a home seem dated.

4. Use plants for color. Make sure that there is mulch in garden beds or add colorful flowers. This will help give your photos a pop of color, as well as highlight any landscaped areas that add value to the home.

Illustration: Julia Rothman

Rarely do we give anything but compliments when invited into someone’s home—right? After all, it seems awfully rude to enter a new space and immediately start to critique design choices.

And yet, it’s an all too common experience for many homeowners and agents when showing their house to prospective buyers. Elle Decor spoke to Sheila Heen, author of Thanks for the Feedback, about strategies for dealing with constructive or even negative comments about your home.

1. Know what to listen for. There are three different kinds of feedback: appreciation, coaching, and evaluation. Keep that in mind and approach every conversation knowing that all three can yield helpful information.

2. Know your own standards. “People have really different criteria by which they’re making choices about decor and cleanliness,” says Sheila. “And it differs at different times of our lives.” Your choices may simply reflect your lifestyle.

3. Look for the good. Rather than take offense, imagine that the intention of the feedback is to make your life easier or more enjoyable.

4. But don’t be a doormat. If your agent, designer, or family member is constantly rearranging your home, Sheila suggests saying something like: “I appreciate your help and one unintended result is that I find myself constantly searching for things. If you don’t know where something goes, please feel free to leave it on the counter.”

5. Before you speak, consider the consequences. Be sure to remember that if you cannot accept the feedback in the spirit it was given, you may risk alienating the relationship.

6. Consider the source. Try to separate the feedback from the individual providing it—sometimes a critical statement from a family member stings more than when it’s said by a professional.

Photo: Flickr

The Millennial generation (those born between 1980 and 2000) is currently the second largest segment of homebuyers behind Generation X. As this group is only expected to grow, it is important to understand the different wants and expectations of younger buyers.

Here are 6 home “must-haves” of homebuyers under 35:

1. Updated kitchen and bath. The majority of Millennials are looking for updated kitchen and bathrooms because they simply cannot afford remodeling. “Most of their savings will go toward the down payment and furnishings,” explains Jack Curtis, a real estate professional in Dublin, Ohio.

2. Big kitchen, open floorplan. The kitchen is the center of the home and seen as a hang out place for many young buyers. In addition, Curtis says that “today’s young buyers are also more attracted to an open floor plan, rather than a layout that compartmentalizes the home”.

3. Home office. Due to advances in technology, many Millennials now have the option of working from home making home offices more appealing.

4. Location. Younger buyers tend to see location differently from their parents, says Chicago real estate broker Allison Nichols; “My younger buyers look for properties that are in proximity to public transportation and that have a good walking score.”

5. Low maintenance. According to broker Lou Cardillo, “Younger homebuyers prefer low upkeep features in their homes such as hardwood floors and granite countertops because they are attractive and hassle-free.”

6. Online photos. Younger buyers tend to start their searches online, which makes good quality photos more important than ever. According to the National Association of Realtors, 90% of buyers use the internet to search for homes.

The article can be found in its original form on ABC News.

Photo: Homedit

Last week, Househappy participated as a Start Up Alley exhibitor at Inman News’ Real Estate Connect conference. Here are 5 takeaways from my first trip to Real Estate Connect:

1. “Partnerships” seemed to be one of the overriding themes throughout the conference. Nikki Field from Sotheby’s International Realty demonstrated this best during a panel discussion when she talked about “teams, partnerships, and alliances” and how they can ultimately help a broker or agent sell real estate. More and more, I am seeing real estate professionals embrace this concept and implement it in their daily business with great success.

2. Another trend I heard repeated was the importance of brokers/agents learning to think globally. A significant number of real estate professionals understand the power of advertising their listings to a global market––according to one broker, 73% of their sales last year came from international buyers.

3. Inman’s CEO Summit was one of my favorite experiences at Real Estate Connect. It’s unusual to find a forum in which the heads of industry can come together in such an intimate setting. Not only were there great presentations (including one from The New York Times own Andrew Sorkin), but there was also a cocktail hour immediately following which fostered even better connections within the group. (Plus, as an appreciator of design and architecture, I truly enjoyed getting to check out The New York Times building first hand––see pics below).

4. One of the recurring topics in the real estate industry is leveraging new and relevant tech advances; Start Up Alley provides an opportunity for brokers and agents to preview these options. As an exhibitor, we couldn’t have asked for a better venue in which to introduce Househappy.

5. Overall, a week at Real Estate Connect reinforced my belief that Inman News is vital to the real estate industry. Inman regularly produces forward-thinking content that attracts a high level crowd to their events. To keep the industry moving forward, we need people to continue to address the big issues; Real Estate Connect provides a venue for real estate professionals to discuss relevant topics and encourage each other to push the status quo.

Were you at Real Estate Connect NYC? I’d love to hear what you learned or what your favorite part was! Comment or tweet us @househappyinc.

Also, check out some of the photos from our trip below.

All the best,

Kevin McCloskey
Founder & CEO

Every January, Park City, Utah draws in tens of thousands of movie fans to attend the annual Sundance Film Festival. This influx of nonresidents creates a huge opportunity for real estate agents to up their game and attract potential buyers.

Park City is the lesser-known Hollywood ski town when compared to Aspen, Colorado; however, many celebrities choose Park City because they can keep a low profile there. Celebrities from Michael Jordan to Katherin Heigl own homes in this ski town.

While many locals see the Sundance Film Festival as two weeks of crowded restaurants and paparazzi, real estate agents see the festival as a boost in business. They find ways to turn the thousands of nonresidents who visit into potential buyers––especially those who are looking for an escape from Hollywood.

“I love Sundance. I have sold so many homes through Sundance. At least one person will fall in love with Park City. They may not buy that week but they come back,” says Paul Benson, an agent at Summit Sotheby’s International Realty, who sold three homes for a total of $27 million last year to people exposed to Park City through Sundance. Mr. Benson says the potential buyers aren’t just in the entertainment industry, they are also the investors and the corporate sponsors. He hosts dinners and events to get to know them.

According to a study by the University of Utah Bureau of Economic and Business Research, of the more than 30,000 nonresidents who attended Sundance last year, some 40% said they would return to Utah during the following year.

As far as the real estate market in the Park City area goes, nearly 70% of homes are second homes. The average price for a single-family home in 2013 was $929,000 up about 6% from the previous year, according to the city’s department of economic development. Last year, 34 homes sold for over $4 million and the number of building permits for new homes was up 50%.

In the end, wining and dining festival attendees seems to pay off for real estate agents.

Source: WSJ

Photo: World Ski