Infographic: 5 Down Payment Savings Tips

Sixty percent of homebuyers put 6 percent, or roughly $15,500, down on a median-priced house, according to the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). Work toward that goal with these tips:

For more information, please visit www.nar.realtor.

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Renter Demand for Houses Puts Upward Pressure on Prices

Almost half of all renters consider renting a single-family home, but less than a third actually do, according to the 2017 Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report out this fall Continue Reading →

The Best Space-Saving Ideas For Small Apartments

Sometimes good things really do come in small packages. Continue Reading →

How to Qualify for an FHA Mortgage

(TNS)—If you’re concerned about getting approved for a conventional mortgage, keep your dreams of homeownership alive by considering a mortgage insured by the Federal Housing Administration. For borrowers who meet FHA requirements, this mortgage alternative is a terrific way to buy a home with a low down payment and less-than-perfect credit.

What Are the Requirements for an FHA Loan?
In order to obtain approval for an FHA loan, the borrower must satisfy the following requirements:

  • Steady Employment History – Borrowers typically must have been regularly employed within the past two years. Self-employed borrowers have to prove that their business has drawn stable income for at least two years; verification, such as tax returns or company documents, is required.
  • Ability to Pay – This is determined by two formulas: the front-end ratio and the back-end ratio. The front-end ratio refers to the entire amount that the borrower spends on housing costs, and it must be less than 31 percent of the borrower’s gross income, with some exceptions that push limit up to 40 percent. This includes expenses such as the principal, interest, property taxes, homeowners association fees, mortgage insurance, and homeowner’s insurance. A borrower’s back-end ratio, also known as the debt-to-income ratio, encompasses all of the borrower’s debts, including the mortgage payment, credit debt, and personal loans, and it should be less than 43 percent.
  • Financial Soundness – The borrower must have a credit score of at least 580 and be able to afford a minimum down payment of 3.5 percent. Some institutions may accommodate lower credit scores if the borrower is able to pay a larger down payment. She must be a minimum of two years out of bankruptcy and not have a foreclosure in the past three years. All her federal student loans and income taxes must be current.
  • Residency – The borrower must be a lawful U.S. resident with a valid Social Security number, and she must be the occupant of the home.

What Costs Are Associated With an FHA Mortgage?
Like conventional mortgages, there are costs associated with FHA loans that the borrower has to pay when the loan closes, including lender fees, prepaid interest, inspection expenses, and attorney fees. The FHA mortgage program permits lenders and property sellers to pay some or all of the buyer’s closing costs.

To insure the mortgage against default, the borrower must also pay an annual mortgage insurance premium. The MIP varies based on the terms of the loan, including the principal, loan-to-value ratio, and term. On average, expect to pay 0.85 percent of the loan amount each year.

Borrowers may be required to pay a one-time additional mortgage insurance fee at the time of closing, called the Up-front Mortgage Insurance Premium. As of 2017, the UFMIP is equal to 1.75 percent of the mortgage.

Want to learn how long it’ll take you to pay off your mortgage? Run the numbers through Bankrate’s mortgage calculators.

What Are the Disadvantages of an FHA Mortgage?
Since an FHA loan permits a lower down payment, you can expect to pay more interest over the life of the loan than you would with a conventional mortgage that necessitates a larger down payment.

Visit Bankrate online at www.bankrate.com.

©2017 Bankrate.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

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The Best States for Single Parents

Parents raising children solo have unique needs. A recent study by GOBankingRates identifies the states with the most favorable conditions for meeting those needs, including an ideal median income:

  1. New Jersey
    Median Household Income: $72,093
    State Support: Expanded Medicaid, earned-income tax credit and paid family leave program
  1. Rhode Island
    Median Household Income: $56,852
    State Support: Expanded Medicaid, earned-income tax credit and paid family leave program
  1. Michigan
    State Support: Expanded Medicaid and earned-income tax credit
    Bonus: The average grocery cost and home list price in Michigan are among the lowest in the nation.
  1. Washington
    State Support: Expanded Medicaid, earned-income tax credit and paid family leave program (effective 2019)
    Bonus: There is no state income tax in Washington.
  1. Illinois
    State Support: Expanded Medicaid and earned-income tax credit
    Bonus: Illinois has the fourth-lowest employee contribution amount for employer-sponsored family health coverage.

Source: GOBankingRates

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The Best States for Single Parents

Parents raising children solo have unique needs. A recent study by GOBankingRates identifies the states with the most favorable conditions for meeting those needs, including an ideal median income:

  1. New Jersey
    Median Household Income: $72,093
    State Support: Expanded Medicaid, earned-income tax credit and paid family leave program
  1. Rhode Island
    Median Household Income: $56,852
    State Support: Expanded Medicaid, earned-income tax credit and paid family leave program
  1. Michigan
    State Support: Expanded Medicaid and earned-income tax credit
    Bonus: The average grocery cost and home list price in Michigan are among the lowest in the nation.
  1. Washington
    State Support: Expanded Medicaid, earned-income tax credit and paid family leave program (effective 2019)
    Bonus: There is no state income tax in Washington.
  1. Illinois
    State Support: Expanded Medicaid and earned-income tax credit
    Bonus: Illinois has the fourth-lowest employee contribution amount for employer-sponsored family health coverage.

Source: GOBankingRates

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Kid Rock Goes Off In Politically Charged Tirade At Michigan Concert

The profanity-filled speech about Nazis and Black Lives Matter was caught on video. Continue Reading →

Kid Rock Goes Off In Politically Charged Tirade At Michigan Concert

The profanity-filled speech about Nazis and Black Lives Matter was caught on video. Continue Reading →

5 Reasons Why Your HVAC Systems Aren’t Working Right

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

The wind is howling outside, and you’re curled up under four blankets. “It’s freezing in here!” you mutter as you push the up button on the thermostat yet again.

At times like this, you know your HVAC system isn’t working right, but you have no idea why. Here’s a little insight into what might be going on, and when it’s time to call an HVAC technician in for a little help.

Clogged Filters
If it seems like you’re turning the heat up, up, up or the air conditioning down, down, down but nothing seems to be happening, a clogged filter could be your culprit. Lack of proper air flow caused by clogged filters is the No. 1 cause of inefficient HVAC systems.

To keep clogged filters from becoming an issue, check your filter once a month and plan on replacing it once every 90 days. If you have pets in your home, you may need to replace the filter a little more often.

Worn Parts
Just like everything else, the parts of your heating system can wear out. Things like belts and motors can become worn and cause your system to work poorly. This problem can be hard to diagnose without a qualified HVAC tech to come in and check things out.

If your system seems like it’s just not working the way it used to, it’s probably time to call in the pros. The upfront cost might seem a little high, but if your system continues to work highly efficiently to heat and cool your home, you’ll save money in the long run.

Leaks in the System
Leaks in your HVAC system can be easy to diagnose but a little harder to fix. Still, it’s great information to give your tech before he gets started.

To diagnose a leak in the system, start with the obvious. Look for liquid coming from anywhere other than the condenser pipe (that’s the part where the water normally leaks from).

Check your filter for ice. Leaking refrigerant will cause your filter to freeze the moisture it catches, turning the filter into a popsicle.

If a pipe is leaking at a junction, a seal could be dry-rotted or corroded. Be sure to pass on the information to your HVAC technician before he or she comes out so he or she can be better prepared to help you.

Electrical Issues
Even if you have a gas or oil-powered HVAC unit, it still has electrical components. If these components are not working correctly, they can cause your system to waste fuel, not work correctly, or not work at all.

The biggest problem seen on the electrical side is with the ignition system. If your unit clicks a lot before it ignites or continues to click without igniting, this is a problem with the electrical igniter.

Age of the Unit
Even with regular maintenance and care, older units are going to start to fail. According to ENERGY STAR, replacing a unit that is 10-15 years old can save you up to 20 percent on your heating and air conditioning costs.

If you are unsure how old your unit is, you can use the serial number to figure out when your unit was made.

Leaks, clogged filters, and the age of your unit can all cause problems with your HVAC unit. Having a qualified technician come out and repair or replace your unit will save you money on your fuel bills and reduce your impact on the environment.

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West Coast Home Sellers Cashing In the Most on Record Home Values

Oakland sellers averaged $235,000 in profit on the sale of their home last year, 78 percent more than what they initially paid Continue Reading →