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Informational

Mortgage Lending Advice : Why Winter is The Best Time to Buy a Mortgage.




For most people, winter is one of the least convenient times to shop for a home. Whether the weather’s keeping them inside, the holidays are eating up their free time, or they just don’t want to potentially mess with their child’s school year, homebuyers are simply not on the hunt. Here are five reasons why it’s ideal to look for a home during the colder months.

  • Bargain Prices: There may be fewer buyers out and about, but there will still be houses on sale during the winter causing supply to exceed demand in the housing industry. Because of this home prices are usually at an annual low around January, meaning you will probably end up with more for your money.
     
  • Motivated Sellers: Generally, if a homeowner lists their home in winter it’s because they need to move from their property for one reason or another. You can then use this to your advantage to get a better deal as they’re usually more willing to negotiate.
     
  • Less Competition: Since most people don’t think of winter as prime house hunting season, there’s much less competition in the market. Less competition means there are fewer chances of there being multiple offers on any one property, so you won’t have to worry nearly as much about someone having a better offer.
     
  • Availability of Professionals: Again, fewer people are looking at houses now than during the rest of the year. You won’t have nearly as much competition for a home or for the attention of real estate professionals. Both real estate agents and lenders will have fewer clients to worry about so they’ll be able to spend more time with you answering your questions.
     
  • Seasonal Perspective: When you tour a home in the summer, it’s hard to imagine what life would be like there in the winter. Are there drafts? Does the heat seem to be working well? Are you cold as you walk around? If you live somewhere where the winter weather is particularly harsh, touring a house during that time and seeing how well the heating and insulation actually work could actually be more beneficial than touring in the warmer months.

Despite all these facts, it’s important to remember that the best time to buy a house is the time that works best for you. So, if you should find yourself buying a home this winter call Homestead Funding for all your home financing needs!


Informational

Affordable Care Act Tax Scam Alert 

The Internal Revenue Service has announced the latest scam to hit the country, which features a fake notice that the recipient owes money due to the Affordable Care Act. If you or someone you know receives a suspicious message you're not sure is from the IRS, you'll want to know these details:

Fake notices designed to look like actual IRS CP2000 notices (sent when information received about your income doesn't match your tax return) will claim you owe money for the previous tax year under the Affordable Care Act.

Emailed notices are a red flag because the IRS doesn't initiate communication by email. These emails may include a link to make an online payment. Fake payment processing websites can not only defraud you but also steal your identity or infect your computer.

Mailed notices may request that a check made payable to "I.R.S." be sent. However, legitimate CP2000 notices request taxpayers only make checks payable to "United States Treasury."

The IRS has defined procedures for communicating with taxpayers and will never:

  • Initiate contact by email, text or social media
  • Request payments via gift card, prepaid debit card or wire transfer
  • Threaten immediate arrest or deportation for failure to pay

If you or anyone you know receives a suspicious notice, a copy should be immediately sent to phishing@irs.gov and then deleted from your email account. The Federal Trade Commission should also be notified.


Informational

New Conforming Loan Limits in 2017

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced new maximum loan limits for conforming loans acquired by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. This is the first increase since 2006. 

Effective January 1, 2017, the maximum loan limit for one-unit properties in much of the country will be $424,100, up from $417,000. Higher loan limits will be in effect in higher-cost areas. 

What prompted this change? 

The baseline loan limit of $417,000 was established by the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (HERA). The law requires that this loan limit be adjusted each year to reflect changes in the national average home price. 

FHFA's most recent third quarter Home Price Index report showed average home prices have risen about 1.7 percent above where they were in the third quarter of 2007, prompting an equivalent increase in loan limits. 

With home prices on the rise, the conforming loan limit increase opens up opportunities and helps keep home loans more affordable for more Americans. 

If you'd like to learn more about these new loan limits or other loan products, please contact Homestead Funding Corp. today!


In the Community

Volunteer as a Family this Holiday Season

It’s that time of year again where the world is colder but hearts seem to be warmer as people are preparing for the holidays. It’s a time to come together with family and friends and share food and laughter, but why not share those times while also helping others? This year, try to find a way to work together and give back to the community and those in need.

Donate: Pick a charity to donate to as a family so everyone feels more involved, and then set donation goals to add motivation. Have your kids go through their old clothes, toys, and other things that never get used and have them choose things to donate. Take them shopping to buy presents to donate to Toys for Tots, or have them designate a piggy bank for money to be donated.

Create: Get the kids together and have them make cards to those in your community who deserve a little extra love this season. Make an afternoon of it and invite your children’s friends to join in. Craft thank you cards to bring to the local fire department, police station, or to any local volunteers seen out in the cold or at the front door of various shelters. Deliver homemade cards to nursing homes or to a homeless shelter or hospital. If you plan far enough ahead you can even send some overseas to our troops who deserve a little holiday cheer.

Go Out: Many charities and organizations throw benefit events that the whole family can participate in. Concerts, dinners, mini festivals, and races are usually sponsored either by a charitable organization, or by a company intending to use the money for charity. Go out as a family and spend a little time and money having fun and supporting a good cause.

Get Your Hands Dirty: If you have older kids, look into Habitat for Humanity. The charity takes volunteers as young as 16 (18 to use power tools) to help build affordable housing for low-income families. They have people available to teach you, so don’t worry about not being overly construction-savvy. If you have younger kids, try looking into local trash pick-up or adopt a highway projects and spend an afternoon cleaning up your community.

Puppy Love: Don’t forget about all the fluffy little guys who also deserve your help this season. If you don’t have the lifestyle to foster a pet of your own, look into helping out at an animal shelter this season as many of them will be in need of temporary help. Also look and see if any of the shelters in your area are in need of food, toys, or other pet supplies items that you could provide. Take the whole family when you drop off the donations and briefly visit all the four-legged friends who will benefit from your kindness.


General

Make Breakfast. Many people chose to have a light breakfast or skip the meal all together in order to prepare themselves for the feast yet to come, but indulging yourself in a fun, festive, and delicious breakfast could really brighten your day from the start. Enjoy some pancakes, waffles, or cinnamon rolls as the family gets ready to watch the parade, or treat yourself to some morning pumpkin pie.

Display Your Gratitude. Decorations are an important part of any holiday, and what could make a better decoration than the lovely thoughts and thanks of your loved ones? Find a fun way to display what everyone is thankful for. Write your blessings on paper leaves and use them to make a wreath. Then you can bring this decoration back out each year and add to it so it becomes a beautiful piece of family artwork. If you don’t feel like turning your thanks into a presentation, you can have everyone write them in a notebook that you keep safe from year to year.

Get Everyone Involved. Making and serving dinner doesn’t have to be a one person job. Find little ways so everyone can help. Small children are generally quite willing, so find easy jobs for them like mixing up the potatoes or setting the table. Have older kids help with serving - maybe put them in charge of serving dessert, or ask them to help with the clean-up. The work is more fun (and goes faster) when everyone pitches in.

Take a Walk Outside. Let your body digest and enjoy the autumn air with a family walk right after dinner. If the weather is nice and your tummies are full, it might be nice to take in the season and enjoy a family walk in the great outdoors.

End the Day as a Family. Whether you chose to watch a movie or play a game, the best way to end Turkey Day is all together. Choose something you’ll all enjoy doing and sit together for an hour or two. If you want, you can switch up your last activity of the day every year, or the game you play or the movie you chose to watch can become its own tradition that comes back to warm your hearts each and every year.


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