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Mortgage Points

If you have ever gone looking for quotes on a mortgage in order to find out just what a mortgage might cost you, you have probably had the term points thrown at you. So what are points?

Each point is a fee and it is based on one percent of the total amount of the loan. There are a couple of different points, there are discount points and then there are origination points and lenders do not all charge the same amount of these points. Some lenders will charge you one point while others may charge you three.

Discount points are the points that are like prepaid interest on your loan that you are getting for your new home. Every point that you purchase will lower your interest rate to some extent. Most borrowers will be able to choose just how many points they want to purchase. There is a limit of course, usually around four points. The number of points that you choose to buy will depend on how much you want to lower you interest rate. One especially good point of these points is the fact that they are tax-deductible.

Origination fees are different. These fees are used in order to pay for the costs of giving you the loan in the first place. You don’t get anything out of these points so most borrowers don’t like them as they are not even tax-deductible. If you can try to get a loan that does not require you to get these types of points. Discount points on the other hand can be useful to you.

The choices that you make concerning the points to get will be affected by a couple of different things. For example, how long are you going to be living in this house? And how much of a down payment are you going to be putting down? If you are thinking of settling into this house for the long haul then perhaps discount points are a good way for you to go. Lowering your interest rate for years to come is always a good thing. Before making your decision take stock of your situation and see what suits your needs best.

Rent-to-Own at Three Times the Price

If you had the opportunity to buy a television or a sofa at a price that was three times the suggested retail price, would you do it?  That scenario may seem ridiculous, but thousands of people do just that every day when they sign an agreement at a rent-to-own store.  Rent-to-own, or RTO for short, is a system that allows consumers with little or no credit to acquire furniture, electronics or appliances by renting them by the week or by the month.  At the end of the rental agreement, the renter gets to keep the merchandise.  The renter may also agree simply to rent the merchandise for an agreed-upon period of time.

While furniture or appliance rental may be suitable for someone who needs them for only a month or so, it represents an expensive way to buy for someone who intends to keep them.  A television may seem inexpensive at only $10 per week, but if the agreement requires eighteen months of rental before the customer owns it, the total amount paid will be $780.   That would be fine if the television were valued at anywhere near that amount, but in most cases, that $780 will provide a television that sells for only $250 or so at electronics stores.  The additional $530 goes to the rental company in the form of profit.  Expressed as an annual interest rate, some rental fees can exceed 400% annually.

In addition to the rental charges, the customer will also likely have to pay sales tax, delivery charges and possibly return charges if he or she elects not to keep the merchandise.  Late payments may also incur a late fee, provided that the rental company doesn’t elect to terminate the agreement and take the merchandise back altogether.  In that case, the customer has nothing to show for the money invested.

Rental companies point out that for those who have no credit cards, the RTO concept provides an opportunity to “have it now.”  That is true, but consumers who have little money would be better off either saving that $10 per week and buying the television in six months’ time.  Alternatively, the consumer could put the television on layaway at a retailer and pay it off over time.  Either way, the consumer would save hundreds of dollars in rental fees.

A consumer who needs furniture or appliances for a short time, such as someone on a temporary assignment to another city, might find an RTO agreement useful in order to avoid living in an empty apartment.  But anyone who wants to buy furniture, electronics, or appliances might be better served by simply saving their money until they have enough to buy the merchandise outright.

5 Ground Rules for Home Buying Success

There are few purchases in life that carry the financial and psychological weight of buying a home.  Whether you are buying your first home, moving up to your dream home, or downsizing your home and your life after the kids have gone, it is important to understand the ground rules for success in the world of buying a home.

Making the wrong decision in buying a home can have devastating and long-lasting effects, while making a wise decision in home buying can greatly enhance the overall value of the investment.  It is necessary to learn all you can about the world of home buying and mortgages before setting out to purchase the home of your dreams.

While there are plenty of web sites designed to help first time homeowners learn all they can, most financial experts say that there is no substitute for the good old one-on-one learning. Fortunately, most mortgage lenders, home inspectors and real estate agents will be able to provide this kind of one-on-one learning.

When buying a home it is often best to use a systematic approach as this is often the best way to be sure that all decisions are based on information and reason, not on impulse or emotion.  Buying a home can be an emotional process, nevertheless it is imperative to keep your emotions under control and not let them cloud your judgment.

There are five basic ground rules when it comes to buying a home and shopping smart, and they are:

#1 – Get your financing before you get your home.

There are few things in life as disappointing as losing out on the home of your dreams due to not being able to secure funding.  While the desire to get out there is search for that great home is understandable, it is vital to line up the financing you will need before you start shopping for a home.

Getting the financing ahead of time has a number of important advantages, including knowing how much you can buy and gaining more respect from the listing agents.  By knowing how much home you can afford before you shop you will avoid wasting your time looking at unaffordable properties, and the listing agent will be more than willing to show you the homes in your price range.

It is also important to take a good look at the various types of mortgage on the market before getting started in the home buying process.  These days, mortgages come in far more choices than the typical 15 or 30 year. For that reason, potential home buyers need to understand how each type of mortgage works, and to gauge which mortgage is the best choice for their needs.

#2 – Look at the community, not just the home.

It is a good idea to look at the entire community, instead of focusing on a single home. This can be a particularly important thing to consider for those moving to a new metropolitan area, as these buyers will be unfamiliar with the local climate and lifestyle.  It is crucial to determine the areas of town that are most desirable, and to consider things like distance from work and local shopping opportunities.

We have all heard that location is the key consideration when it comes to real estate, and that is certainly the case.  Buying a house in the wrong area can be a big mistake, and it is important to choose the location as well as the home.  Potential buyers can learn a great deal about the nature of the various neighborhoods simply by driving around town, as well as by talking to other residents.

#3 – Be fair with your first offer.

Trying to lowball a seller on the first offer can backfire, as can paying too much. It is important to carefully evaluate the local market, and to compare the asking price of the home with what similar houses in the neighborhood have sold for.

Comparing the sales of comparable homes, what are known as “comps” in the industry, is one of the best ways to determine what is fair, and to make sure that you neither overpay or underbid on the property.

#4 – Always get a home inspection.

Always investigate the home for any possible defects before making an offer.  Compared to the cost of the average home, the price of a quality home inspection is virtually negligible. Hence, get a good home inspection done before you buy.

To find the best home inspector, it is a good idea to seek out word of mouth referrals as many of the best home inspectors rely on word of mouth advertising.

#5 – Do not alienate the sellers of the home.

Many real estate deals have fallen apart due to the personal animosity of the buyer and the seller.  It is important to avoid alienating the seller of the home during the process, and to avoid nitpicking every little detail during the sale.

Keeping the good will of the seller will help the transaction go smoothly, and it will provide the best environment for seller and buyer alike.

Ten Ways to Fight Identity Theft

Recent reports estimate that as many as one in ten of the population have been a victim of identity theft, one of the fastest growing crimes of the last few years. By using a variety of means to usurp your identity and pass themselves off as you, the criminals involved go on to commit fraud and theft in your name – leaving you to pick up the pieces afterwards.

The effects on your credit rating can be devastating and often take years to completely fix, so prevention is obviously better than cure. Here are ten simple ways to help you avoid becoming a victim.

1: Be careful with your old documents such as paid bills, bank statements, and receipts. Either keep them safely stored or destroy them if you don’t need them anymore. Don’t just throw them away, as fraudsters often start stealing an identity by searching for these very kinds of documents in household waste. Shredding or burning unneeded papers will prevent this first step.

2: Store your personal documents securely by keeping them somewhere out of the sight of visitors to your home.

3: If you change your address, make sure that you inform your bank, utility companies, and everyone else who sends you mail. Documents wrongly sent to a previous address are a favourite target of fraudsters.

4: Make sure that when you stop using a credit card or bank account, you actually formally close the account rather than letting it go dormant. Having an unused, forgotten about account resurrected by a fraudster might not even be noticed until serious damage has been done.

5: Watch your plastic – make sure you know where your credit, debit and ATM cards are, and tell the issuing banks immediately if you lose them or they’re stolen.

6: If possible change your PIN numbers and passwords to something easily memorable, and NEVER write them down, especially not on scraps of paper kept in your purse or wallet.

7: Don’t respond to phishing. Banks will never ask you for personal details via email, and won’t ask you for the password to your account. You don’t need to ‘reconfirmed’ your details following an email request either – just delete the email. If in any doubt at all, call your bank to make sure the request is genuine.

8: Use anti-virus software and firewall on your computer, especially if you use online banking of any kind. Keep the software up to date as well to guard against attempts by hackers to discover personal information on your computer.

9: Check your bank account and credit card statements carefully when you receive them, and query with your bank anything that you can’t identify. Spotting a fraud in progress early on will vastly help in minimising the damage it causes.

10: Finally, monitor your credit reports regularly to see if anything appears that seems odd, such as applications for credit cards that you didn’t make, or missed payments on finance that you haven’t taken out. Services are widely available online which can help you do this by automatically informing you when something on your file changes.

None of us can be 100% sure that we won’t fall victim to the crime of ID Theft, but by taking the measures listed above you’ll be making the job of any potential fraudster very difficult indeed, and they’re likely to move on to an easier target!

The ABCs Of Refinancing

Since the advent of information technology, more and more people are enticed to engage in some activities that will make their lives easier and better. This is especially true whenever people get into trouble such as debts.

What they know is that they should find some ways on how to alleviate their problems, even if it means changing from one aspect to another with the risk of getting into another trouble.

Take for example the concept of refinancing. Some people instantly opt for refinancing thinking that this is the best way to eliminate those debts. What they do not know is that refinancing could be a better alternative. However, in reality, changes may take place if the process is employed with the wrong directions.

The Concept

Refinancing, basically, refers to the way people are given the chance to request for a “secured loan” with the purpose of paying off the existing primary loan.

The main reason why many people are opting to refinance their debts is base on the fact that these people can no longer afford to pay more interests. They want to lessen, if not eliminate, the amount of interest charges.

In most cases, the most widely known kinds of refinancing are those that involve home mortgages. This is because home mortgages are usually the ones that are hard to pay off. Hence, what happens is that they continue to accumulate debts because of the growing interest charges.

So for those who have some problems on their debts and wish to reduce or eradicate interest charges, it is best to use refinancing. But you should be aware of the pitfalls behind it so as to avoid further trouble.

Here is a list of some tips that will help you construct good refinancing plans.

1. Be wary of the money involve

There are instances wherein the people are not fully aware of the amount and the classification of finances involved in refinancing.

It is extremely important to take note of this because if not, the refinancing of some amount is limited to what they can afford.

2. Do your homework

There are no better ways in learning than to learn through experience. Hence, in order to foretell the future, it would be best to conduct some researches or information regarding the interest rates to be given by the company to the people.

3. Compare charges

Before deciding on a particular refinancing scheme, it is best to analyze the situation first. And the best way to do this is to shop around and compare their features and offers.

The point here is that through comparison, the consumer can tell the edge of refinancing plan over the other.

4. Clear things out before walking out of the room.

If there is one thing that is not clear to you, try not to dismiss the fact by asking questions instantly. This is the primary step in breaking the ice and solving the problems.

5. Require pertinent documents

These documents are generally used to provide enough proof for the mortgage maker whenever they are trying to close a deal with a client. These documents are your key to success, without it, you can never access any endeavors for that matter.

The best thing about having these is that people may have the chance to live a life out of debts. As long as the proper measures are made, refinancing may be a good solution to life’sfinancial problems.

Understanding Mortgage

A mortgage is defined as a way in which property or jewelry is used as a security against the debt. The loan that is taken against mortgage is termed as ‘mortgage loan’. This loan is taken in many countries mainly for the purpose of purchasing home or for wedding in the family.

Mortgage can be taken from banks or money lenders in many countries. People involved in mortgage include-creditor, debtor and at times a legal representative. The term creditor can also be used synonymously with lender. Money lenders, insurers, banks or financial institutions are creditors who provide the money to the person in exchange of property or jewelry.      

A borrower is also known as debtor, obligor or mortgagor. A debtor gets the amount equal to the value of the mortgaged article. A mortgagor is required to abide by all the obligations or conditions of creditors. Or, else there are chances that as a way of recovering debt, the property may be taken away by the creditors. There are various properties as a result of foreclosure. These properties are available for reasonable costs for the other buyers.  

It is always that the legalities of mortgage are done under the supervision of a lawyer. All the conditions and the amount of money involved should be stated in written and signed by the creditors, debtors and lawyer present. It adds authenticity and removes any confusion if any.

Currently many Certified Financial Planners work in combination with Certified Mortgage Planners so as to provide mortgage loans to financially sound people.

In addition to creditors, debtors, legal representatives and government agencies, there is involvement of pension funds and life insurers. Terms involved in the legal process of mortgage loan are Disbursements, Mortgage Deed, Conveyance, Land Registration, Sealing Fee, Freehold, Leasehold, Seasoned mortgage and Legal Charge.

Freehold is defined as the land and property ownership. Disbursements include all the money involved as search fees, stamp duty and land registry. Legal Charge is a document that has all the minute details of the land or property owner. Conveyance is the document that transmits the possession of unregistered property. Sealing Fee is paid when the creditor discharges the charge over the land. Land Registration is also referred as title. This document contains the details of the ownership of land and property. Seasoned mortgage is linked with secondary market. In seasoned mortgage payment is made on regular basis. Mortgage Deed is a document that gives detail of possession of ownership.

Legal mortgage are of two kinds Mortgage by legal charge and Mortgage by demise. There are essentially two types of legal mortgage. A lender becomes the legal owner of the mortgaged land till the money is paid in full. A lender is free to auction or sell the mortgaged property. While under Mortgage by legal charge, a lender can not sell the mortgaged land. He may possess the land legally but the right of selling and buying of the land lies with the debtor. Also, to provide safety to the lender, the details of mortgage are recorded in a register.

What’s In Your FICO Score?

Obtaining copies of your credit reports from the three major credit reporting bureaus is a must for all American consumers. If you order your copies directly from each bureau, you can get yours for free [once per year per bureau]. That is the law. There is, however, one piece of information not included with your credit reports and that is your FICO score. Your FICO score can determine several things, including what interest rate mortgage lenders will charge you and the rate you will pay for your credit cards. For just a small fee you can order your FICO score and get a hold of a piece of information that is critical to you fully understanding and improving your credit rating.

FICO, or Fair Isaac Corporation, is a score that helps determine what interest rate creditors will charge you. The higher your score, the lower your interest rate will be resulting in lower mortgage payments and more money for you. Indeed, when you apply for a new cell phone account, purchase a car, or make just about any type of credit application, your FICO score is obtained by creditors. Unfortunately, you typically do not know what that score is unless you get the information yourself. Don’t count on creditors sharing that information with you!

Your FICO score is based on five determining factors. According to the Fair Isaac Corporation, these five factors are weighted differently and each one is assigned a percentage figure based on their importance. Specifically, they are:

1. Payment History – 35%

2. Outstanding Balances – 30%

3. Length of Credit History – 15%

4. New Credit – 10%

5. Types of Credit Used – 10%

Obviously, if you have made several late payments and owe a large amount of money to your creditors, your FICO score will be much lower than the person who pays what they owe on time, has a manageable level of debt, and possesses a solid credit history.

Coupled with your credit report, your FICO score can help you determine the plan of attack you need to take to improve your credit standing. This is very important step to take especially if you anticipate making any sort of credit application within the next year. If there are errors in your credit report than these will lower your FICO score. Make certain that the three credit reporting bureaus correct each error now and, once amended, run your FICO score again to determine if it has been adjusted upwards.

Remember, the higher your FICO score, the lower your monthly payments will be on virtually everything you finance through a creditor. Order your free credit report today and pay a little extra to obtain your FICO score.

What You Should Know About Interest Rates

For all people shop around for the best rate, there are few who have taken the time to sit down and add it all up. After all, why would you bother? The answer is that understanding just how interest rates work can help you see how important small differences in rates and payment amounts can be.

Interest Rates are Compound.

It is important to remember that what you owe is compounded – that means you pay interest on the interest you owe from the month before. That means that if you’re paying 2% per month in interest, you’re not paying 24% per year – you’re actually paying 26.82%. Charging interest monthly instead of yearly is a trick to make it feel like you are paying a very low price for your borrowing.

A Thought Experiment.

Here’s a question: would you rather have $1 million, or $10,000 in a savings account earning 20% per year in compound interest?

Well, let’s see how that $10,000 would grow. After 10 years: $61,917. 20 years: $383,375. 30 years: $2,373,763. 40 years: $91,004,381. 50 years: $563,475,143.

So after fifty years, you’d have over $500 million?! Well, not so fast. Of course, you have to take inflation into account – if we say inflation is 5%, then that money would have the buying power that $10,732,859 does today. Still, that’s not a bad return on your investment of $10,000, is it?

That’s the power of compound interest, and the way the credit card companies make their money (it’s also the way pensions work, and the reason the prices of things seem to rise massively as you get older). Be very, very afraid of compound interest. Or, of course, you could start saving, and be very glad of it…

Compound Interest Adds Up.

Let’s work through an example on a more real kind of scale. Let’s say you have an average unpaid balance of $1,000 on a card at 15% APR.

You will owe $150 in interest for the first year you borrow. However, this amount is then added onto the balance, and interest is charged on that. The second year, you’d owe another $172.50, for a total of $1322.50. It goes on, with totals like this: $1,520.88, $1,749, $2,011.35.

After just five years at 15%, you’d owe double what you borrowed. And after 10 years, you’d owe four times what you borrowed! Bet you weren’t expecting that. If you let something like that carry on for long enough, you’ll end up paying back that credit card for years afterwards, paying back what you borrowed many times over and still not clearing the debt. Most people don’t work this out, and feel that the payments must simply be their fault for spending too much money to begin with.

One Percent of Difference.

One more thing. You might think there’s not that much difference between a card that charges 15% APR and one that charges 12% APR. Let’s see the difference the lower rate would make to that $1,000 borrowed for five years. Remember, after five years at 15%, you owed $2,011.35.

At 12%: $1120, $1254.40, $1404.93, $1573.52… $1762.34 after five years. So you’ve saved $249.01 from that 3% difference in APR – in other words, you’ve paid almost 25% less interest.