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The McMullen Group Blog

Cash-out Refinance: How it Can Help

Joseph Coupal - Monday, September 18, 2017

McMullen Group, Prime Lending, Hanover, Boston, MAHas your home gone up in value? You may want to take advantage of cash-out home refinancing–a program that lets you turn a portion of your home’s equity into money that you can use however you want.

It doesn’t take a sonnet to show you that your possibilities are endless with a cash-out refinance. You could use your home equity to:

  1. Pay off high-interest credit card debt
  2. Make home improvements
  3. Take that dream vacation
  4. Pay for education instead of student loans
  5. Start a business
  6. Invest in high interest savings
  7. Start an emergency fund/save for a rainy day

For more information on how cash-out refinancing can help you, contact PrimeLending home loan expert at the McMullen Group today.

Thinking Of Buying A Home?

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Prime Lending, The McMullen Group, Hanover, Boston, MAFirst-time home-buyers nationwide are deciding whether to rent or own. The perceived challenges to becoming a first-time homebuyer seem scary. Many avoid taking the step from renting to owning out of fear of the unknown. But buying a home is affordable in the right market, and with the right loan. First-timers can even explore rent-to-own homes (with the help of a real estate lawyer) or purchasing a small, "starter home" and later selling to upsize.

Renters' dilemmas, on the other hand, all boil down to one question: "Can I save money and achieve a better quality of life by owning a home instead of renting?"

To find the answer, we must first understand every relevant factor in the home-buying process. Gathering the facts is the first and foremost important step toward making an informed decision about home ownership, financial responsibility and real security.

The largest considerations in the rent or buy decision-making process are:

• Home affordability

• Down payments

• Mortgage rates and details

• Loans

How To Calculate How Much Home You Can Afford

To understand if you can afford to buy, start by figuring out what you can pay per month. Financial professionals will tell you a home can safely cost between two and four times your annual salary.

This doesn’t consider your existing net worth, but over-investing in first-time home ownership isn’t recommended either. You can always buy more house later, but it’s impossible to undo a mortgage loan.

The idea here is to avoid overextending yourself and living “house poor.” Remember these seven essential factors when deciding how much home you can afford:

1. Take-home pay after taxes

2. All other debt and monthly payments (credit cards, auto and student loans, etc.)

3. Foreseeable expenses you’ll incur in coming years (new computer, car repairs, etc.)

4. Cushion funds for potential emergency (job loss, injury, death in family, etc.)

5. Future uses for home and space requirements (retirement, children, home office, etc.)

6. Down payment funds available (and whether you should buy or wait)

7. Expected mortgage cost via a mortgage calculator

For more information on how to purchase mortgage loans, contact Prime Lending at The McMullen Group.


What You Should Do Before You Apply for a Mortgage

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, September 05, 2017

McMullen Group, Hanover, Boston, MAIt’s more important than ever to prepare your credit for a mortgage application. Cleaning up your credit report and increasing your credit score will improve your chances of getting approved. If your credit’s already good, maintaining it will be key in locking in a low interest rate.

1. Check Your Credit Reports

When you make your application, the mortgage lender look for three main things: a steady income, a down payment, and a solid credit history.

Checking your credit report will let you see if there’s anything that’s hurting your credit. You never know which credit report the bank will pull, so check all three of them. You can get a free copy of all three credit reports at AnnualCreditReport.com.

2. Dispute Inaccurate Information

Misinformation can hurt your credit score and get your application denied . Get rid of any inaccurate information by disputing it with the credit bureau. If you have proof of the mistake, providing it will help ensure the mistake is removed from your report.

3. Pay Off Delinquent Accounts

Delinquent accounts include any late accounts, charge-offs, bills in collection, and judgments. Mortgage lenders need to be convinced that you’ll make your payments on time.

Outstanding delinquencies will kill your chances of getting a mortgage. Pay off all accounts that are currently delinquent before putting in a mortgage application.

4. Bury Delinquencies with Timely Payments

You need to establish a pattern of timely payments to get approved for a mortgage and get a competitive interest rate.

If you have a recent late payment - or you've just paid off some delinquencies - wait at least six months before applying for a mortgage. The older the delinquency, the better your credit looks.

5. Reduce Your Debt-to-Income Ratio

Your mortgage underwriter will question your ability to make your mortgage payments if you have a high level of debt relative to your income. Bring your monthly debt payments to at most 12% of your income – the lower, the better. (After you get a mortgage, your debt-to-income ratio will skyrocket, but shouldn't be higher than 43% of your income.)

6. Check Your FICO Score

Order your Equifax and TransUnion FICO Scores from myFICO.com to get an idea of where your credit stands. Your FICO score should be at least 720 to get good interest rate on a loan. If your score is lower than that, read through the included analysis to find out what’s bringing your score down. Note: Although lenders still use it, Experian no longer allows consumers to purchase a FICO score based Experian credit report data. If you want to get an idea of your Experian credit score, you can purchase a VantageScore or buy a three-in-one credit score from Equifax or TransUnion.

7. Don't Incur Any New Debt

Taking on new debt can make a mortgage lender suspicious of your financial stability – even if your debt level stays below 12% of your income. It’s best to stay away from any new credit-based transactions until after you’ve gotten your mortgage. That includes applying for credit cards, especially since credit inquiries affect your credit score.

Start the process by contacting a PrimeLending/ home loan expert at the McMullen Group today.


The VA Home Renovation Loan Can Turn A Fixer-Upper Into A Dream Home

Joseph Coupal - Monday, August 28, 2017

Prime Lending, McMullen Group, Hanover, Boston, MAYou’re ready for more space, better appliances or an open-concept living area. But with the high prices of today’s housing market, buying a move-in ready home may not be an affordable option. In a limited inventory housing market, your best solution may be renovation, whether buying a home with potential and fixing it up right away, or upgrading a home you already own. Sound like an overwhelming project? Don’t worry, our VA Renovation Loan will help make the process easier.

If you are an eligible veteran, the VA Renovation Loan provides you all the benefits included with a traditional VA loan, such as zero down payment and lower closing costs, plus the ability to roll your renovation costs into the very same loan. It is one loan with one application and one monthly payment – and that could save you money when compared to taking a second loan to pay for the renovations.

Here’s what you need to know to apply for the VA Renovation loan:

  • For Veterans Only – while it may seem like stating the obvious, only homes owned, occupied or purchased by veterans are eligible for this type of loan. Pay Off Your Loan in 30 Years – a VA Renovation loan can be financed over 30 years, which translates into a lower monthly payment.
  • You Can Get a VA Renovation Loan at the Same Time as Your Original Mortgage Loan – the two loans are bundled together so if you’re buying a fixer-upper home that needs immediate repairs or upgrades you have the funds to do so at the time of purchase.
  • A VA Renovation Loan is a Better Deal than a Supplemental Loan – Because the loan is rolled into your mortgage, it is one loan with one rate and one payment, instead of paying for a second loan which could be charged at a higher rate; therefore a VA Renovation loan can save you money.
  • Immediately Take Care Of Pressing Problems with your Property – This loan can also help you make repairs and upgrades to a home you already own. It’s used to address electrical, plumbing, structural issues, updating kitchens and bathrooms, changing flooring, painting and making your home more energy efficient. It cannot be used for things like putting in a pool, building a patio or adding more rooms.
  • You Can Use Up to 25% of your VA Renovation Loan to Improve/Replace Non-Fixtures – one of the benefits of the loan is you can purchase things like appliances, furnaces or hot water tanks as long as they relate to the original purpose of the loan; that means that you can use the loan to buy a stove if you’re remodeling your kitchen but not if you’re only remodeling your bathroom.
  • Allowable Repairs – the repairs you can make include:
  • Roof (repair or replacement)
  • Paint (interior, exterior and lead paint removal)
  • Kitchen (appliances, cabinets and total overhaul)
  • Electrical (repair, replace, recondition and total system)
  • Plumbing (repair, replace, recondition and total system)
  • HVAC (repair or replace)
  • Flooring, subflooring (tile, carpet and wood)
  • Foundation repair
  • Energy-efficiency upgrades

A VA Renovation Loan is a great home loan option if you’re an eligible veteran and have repairs you need or want to make when you’re buying a house. Because you can roll the repair cost into the original loan, you have a lot more options in terms of the type of home you can consider buying. It’s also a great refinance option, if you want to take advantage of lower interest rates and need funds for repairs. With all these options to consider, start the process by contacting a PrimeLending/ home loan expert at the McMullen Group today.


Cash-Out Refinance And Other Ways To Manage The Costs Of Home Renovations

Joseph Coupal - Monday, August 21, 2017

5 Tips To Help You Afford To Remodel Your House

Remodeling a house can truly transform its entire look and feel for the better, but upgrades aren’t always cheap. If you’ve been considering a home renovation, here are some things to consider and tips to help you save.

McMullen Group, Prime Lending, Boston, Hanover, MAResearch

Planning before you start the remodeling process can help save you a lot of time and money. No matter what kind of renovations you have in mind, do plenty of research on the estimated costs, time frame and supplies that your upgrades will require.

You should also determine whether or not you’ll want to hire a contractor. While a contractor may seem pricier than a do-it-yourself project, consider your experience and skill level – if you make a mistake, it could end up costing more to fix than if you’d originally hired a contractor.

Keep in mind that not all home improvement projects are equal, profitability-wise. Certain upgrades, like revamping the kitchen or adding a deck, are likely to pay off more than others in the long run. If you are planning to sell your home in the near future, you may want to avoid projects that don’t add to your home’s resale value.


Create a budget for your remodeling goals and stick to it. This should begin with you reviewing your current financial situation in order to see where you stand and what you can truly afford.

Once you have your budget figured out, don’t plan to spend every cent on upgrades — at least 20 percent of your budget should be set aside for unexpected expenses. Once remodeling begins, surprises can arise, and you’ll want to have money put away to help cover any unexpected expenses. If you find your home needs more work than your current budget allows, consider a cash-out refinancing as an option. Cash-out refinancing lets you turn a portion of your home’s equity into money you can use however you want, including to remodel your home. A PrimeLending home loan expert explain the process and help you determine whether refinancing makes sense for you.

Shop Around

You don’t have to limit yourself to just one or two home improvement stores when you’re remodeling – there are plenty of places where you can find good deals on supplies. Browse online at sites like Freecycle.org for materials, or visit a Habitat for Humanity ReStore, which resells home improvement and home décor products at prices much lower than retail stores. You can also go to building supply auctions.

To find bargains on appliances, keep an eye out for holiday sales (Realtor.com has some great tips on when the best times are to buy appliances). Sites like Groupon often have coupons and promo codes for appliances that can be used both in-store and online. If you’re OK with buying gently-used appliances, see if there are any used appliance stores near you or check out sites like Craigslist. Some big-name retailers, like Best Buy, also offer open-box, pre-owned and refurbished appliances at discounted prices.

Buy Ready-to-Assemble Cabinets

Cabinets aren’t cheap to install, especially if they’re custom. On average, the cost to install kitchen and bathroom cabinets is about $4,561, according to HomeAdvisor.com. However, ready-to-assemble cabinets are often much less expensive, and come in many different design styles to choose from. You can find these at most home improvement store. Alternatively, you can buy unfinished oak cabinets and paint them on your own.

Consider Making Smaller Changes Instead

If the time isn’t right for big changes, why not tackle smaller projects. Sometimes a room just needs a fresh coat of paint or updated lighting to look new again. Rather than a floor-to-ceiling renovation, decide if some superficial décor changes could make your home more livable and loveable. For example, if you’re planning on remodeling your bathroom, consider how it would look with some added shelving, a different paint color or new cabinet knobs. In the kitchen, updated appliances, new barstools and new ceiling lighting can help provide a modern-looking transformation.

What are you waiting for? Whether you have a lot to spend, or just a little, with careful planning and smart spending, you can make changes to your home that won’t break the bank.

For more information contact Prime Lending, The McMullen Group.


House Hunting, What To Watch Out For

Joseph Coupal - Monday, August 14, 2017

McMullen Group, Prime Lending, Hanover, Boston, MAYou found a home. You’re ready to make an offer. But what’s that strange gnawing feeling that you can’t shake? Pay attention! It could be that your own five senses are warning you that this house just doesn’t make sense.

Most homeowners listing their home for sale are eager for quick offers and speedy closings. Their rush to find a buyer can sometimes lead them to cut corners on home repairs, or worse, attempt to disguise any issues that could hinder the sale of their home. While a professional home inspection of the property that you’re seriously considering will help identify any unforeseen issues, you can also do some subtle inspections yourself during the house hunting phase that can help you narrow down your choices.

How can you spot major red flags when considering the purchase of a home? Just let your five senses lead the way.

LOOK — Your eyes do not deceive you! Nothing is clearer than what is visible to the naked eye. Sure, a professional exterminator can spot evidence of termite damage and depressed structural issues that might not be easily visible to you, but there are some red flags that simply can’t be hidden out of plain sight. So look for:

  • Cracks: Cracks in walls and ceilings can be indicative of foundation and structural issues. Some homeowners attempt to cover cracks with caulk and fresh paint, but if you look close enough, you can usually spot a difference in wall texture and/or paint tint.
  • Water Damage: Water damage is also hard to cover up. If you notice areas of discoloration or mismatched paint color on a ceiling, chances are it’s evidence of water damage, which can lead to major structural issues. Check baseboards too, especially around bathroom, shower and sink areas, for any discoloration, rotting or molding of wood due to too much moisture.
  • Fence with Large Gaps: A fence is meant to provide privacy. So if you can see through it — beyond the typical ¼ inch gap between wood planks — you might be dealing with termite or rodent damage.
  • Too Many For Sale Signs: Is there a mass exodus occurring in your future neighborhood? If you notice tons of for sale signs, investigate the cause for mass turnover by talking with existing neighbors and/or representatives from the homeowners’ association. Check city-zoning permits to see if any major area changes are in the works, like building a new industrial park or transit system.

SMELL — One smart sellers’ trick is to entice buyers with a welcoming scent, like freshly baked cookies or fragrant floral arrangements. But what else do you smell?

  • Musty Air: If you notice the air thickens with a musty or mildew type smell, there may be mold or rotting wood nearby. Pay special attention to musty smells around kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms and any other areas with plumbing.
  • Wet Dog: If the house is home to any pets, you might be greeted with a wet-dog or litter-box smell. Be diligent as you explore the property and try to pinpoint the source of the stench. Is it just from a recent hose down of man’s best friend that left behind an added aroma in the bathroom? Or is there evidence of potty training marked deep into an area of the carpet? If the odor is deeply rooted into carpets or hardwoods, you could have an expensive treatment and/or re-flooring project in your near future.
  • Harsh Chemicals or Gas: Let’s face it … there aren’t many good reasons to ever experience strong odors of bleach, natural gas or harsh chemicals. So if your sense of smell is heightened by odors you might describe as “sterile,” “rotten eggs” or “unusual,’’ ask your realtor for an explanation and report any concerns to the city as appropriate.

TASTE — Taste the home? What? This may sound strange, but your sense of taste goes hand-in-hand with your sense of smell to send pleasant and unpleasant signals to your brain. So while you’re taking in the smells mentioned above, you may also notice a sour, bad or unusual taste when coming into contact with mildew, harsh chemicals, gas and moisture:

  • Mildew — Along with a musty smell, unseen mold and mildew can incite a sour taste in your mouth.
  • Harsh Chemicals or Gas — Harsh chemicals can breathe a heaviness on your tongue.
  • Moisture — Humidity changes might awaken your salivary glands.

FEEL — Of course, you want to end up in a home that makes you feel great! But have you taken notice of how a home and property literally feel underfoot and even on your skin? Take note of:

  • Uneven Surfaces: If you sense a tilt to the house as you walk or notice uneven surfaces underfoot, make sure you ask about any previous water damage, flooding or foundation issues in the home. Those are expensive problems to inherit, so do your homework and ensure repairs and upkeep have been maintained.
  • Temperature Changes: During a home tour, do you notice any significant shifts in temperature or humidity as you travel from room-to-room? Sometimes a previous renovation or addition to a home can be “felt” by a change in temperature due to inadequate air circulation that doesn’t account for the new living space. Also, humidity can be a sign of plumbing and/or mold issues.
  • Air Pressure: While noting the efficiency of vents and fans scattered throughout the house is a good idea, you should also take notice of the atmosphere adding any extra pressure to your head. For example, hidden mold within walls and flooring can induce a headache or significant sinus pressure.
HEAR — Noises heard inside and outside of the home can be deal breakers for homebuyers. For example, a beautifully, well-crafted home can become immediately off-putting when it backs up to a noisy thoroughfare of city traffic. And an annoyingly noticeable and consistent water drip can send a buyer running, as plumbing fixes are not cheap. Listen for:
  • Leaky faucets: It’s okay for you to test out each faucet and water fixture, and it’s encouraged! Make sure the water pressure is good and that each faucet easily turns on, as well as securely turns off.
  • Running toilets: While you’re testing the water faucets, also test the bathroom facilities. Flush each toilet in the house to ensure there is a strong suction of drainage. Also, make sure that the toilets don’t continue running for a long period of time.
  • House Pests: As we mentioned in our “Did You Hear That?” blog, different house pests make different noises. If you think you hear a horse trotting in the attic, it’s likely that raccoons have taken up residency. If you notice any rolling, thumping, trotting or scurrying either up above or within the walls, you can expect to acquire some critters with your home purchase.
  • Moaning: Older homes sometimes come with original appliances and furnaces. If you hear moaning as the heat kicks on, make sure to ask about the age of HVAC systems. You’ll also want to check that all systems (HVAC, plumbing, electrical, etc.) are up to code.
  • Whistling: If you hear whistling and feel a bit of a draft, chances are the window seals and/or doorframes need repairing or replacing. Make sure you check the condition and energy efficiency of all windows and doorways.

Buying a home is exciting! It can be made better even by tapping into your five senses to figure out if a home is right for you.

When your five senses do let you know that a home makes perfect sense, be sure to call a PrimeLending loan expert at The McMullen Group to find out which mortgage home loans make sense for your financial future.

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4 Common Types of Mortgage Loans

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, August 08, 2017

McMullen Group, Prime Lending, Hanover, Boston, MABuying a home is a big and exciting purchase. For many people, it’s the biggest purchase they’ll make in their lifetime. Of course most people finance a home over a long period of time using a mortgage. But even if you get a home loan, you’ll have to come to the table with the money to cover the down payment and associated closing costs. Just how much money you’ll need at closing depends on the type of loan you are using to finance the purchase. For example, here’s a quick breakdown of the requirements and advantages of four common types of mortgage loans. Remember, there is a wide range of options in each of these categories that a PrimeLending home loan expert can walk you through.

Conventional Home Loan

A conventional home loan is a mortgage that is not insured, or guaranteed, by the federal government. They’re popular with borrowers who have good credit, a stable job and income, who can afford a down payment and people who are financially stable overall. Conventional loans generally offer much more flexible terms and fewer restrictions than government-backed loans, and do not require mortgage insurance if you put at least 20 percent down on a purchase, which makes them more affordable home loans. Conventional loan rates are also often quite low, since the borrower is known to be financially stable with good credit.

FHA Home Loan

If you’re working with limited income or money for a down payment, a government-insured Federal Housing Administration (FHA) home loan could be the right solution for you. FHA home mortgage loans offer a low 3.5 percent down payment, flexible income and credit requirements and low closing costs. These are popular loans for first-time homebuyers.

USDA Home Loan

The USDA loan, or USDA Rural Development Guaranteed Housing Loan Program, is another type of government-backed loan. Originally designed to provide a mortgage alternative to rural property buyers who had limited financing options, the USDA home loan is becoming a viable mortgage option for people who want to live away from cities and enjoy country living. But even if you live in a suburb, you may find you can qualify for some USDA programs. The USDA loan requires no down payment, has low interest rates that aren’t tied to credit score or down payment, and offers flexible credit guidelines.

VA Home Loan

A VA home loan is a great benefit to military personnel during and after their service. VA home loans are partly guaranteed (typically a quarter of loan value) by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and offer advantages such as no down payment, higher loan value, no private mortgage insurance, a limit on closing costs and other benefits.

Although you’ll want to start saving long before you ever apply for a loan, understanding the types of mortgage loans can help you determine approximately how much you’ll need to save up.

If you’re in the market for a new home, start your journey to homeownership with The McMullen Group. Contact one of our mortgage lenders today to get details on your loan options and start the application process.


Is It Smart To Buy A Home With Less Than 20% Down Payment?

Joseph Coupal - Monday, July 31, 2017

McMullen Group, Prime Lending, Hanover, Boston, MAHere are some items to consider before taking on one of the new, low-down-payment loans on the market.

There’s a reason most people don’t purchase a home on a whim. From appraisals and inspections to closing costs and down payments, the upfront cash required can take years to save. However, thanks to low-down-payment loans now on the market, homeowners can have keys in hand to that home for sale with significantly less cash out the door. But is purchasing a house with little to no money down a good financial move?

If you’re weighing your down payment options before diving into a home purchase, here are a few things to consider.

What are the types of no- or low-down-payment loans?

There are several no- or low-down-payment loan options available for a wide array of financial situations. We’ll highlight just a handful.

VA loans: Reserved for active-duty and honorably discharged service members, reserves, National Guard members with at least six years of service, and spouses of service members killed in the line of duty, VA loans require 0% down and no private mortgage insurance.

USDA loans: Also known as the “rural housing loan,” this 0%-down loan is meant to help low- to moderate-income households in eligible areas that are in need of housing but may be unable to qualify for other loans.

FHA loans: With more lenient approval requirements than conventional loans, FHA loans also require as little as 3.5% down. However, mortgage insurance premiums will have to be paid for the life of the loan.

Conventional loans: It’s possible to get a conventional loan with as little as 3% down, but just as with FHA loans, there’s an additional requirement of private mortgage insurance (PMI). However, once you reach 20% equity in the home, this additional cost can be dropped.

What are some of the reasons to put less than 20% down on a home?

You don’t have the cash upfront

Many people struggle to come up with a 20% down payment, but that doesn’t mean they can’t handle the monthly mortgage costs. For example, you may have recently paid off your student loans, leaving you free of debt but also leaving you without enough savings to afford a lump-sum payment at the beginning of your home-buying journey.

You aren’t planning on staying in the home for the long run

It’s a gamble to purchase a home you plan to sell within a shorter time frame (say, three to five years), but if that’s the plan, the cost of a 20% down payment could wash out the savings of a lower monthly payment. Plus, this practice puts your potential profit from the sale of the home at risk, since you’ll need time to build equity (and hope real estate prices rise).

You need the liquid funds

Whether you prefer a larger emergency fund, plan to invest liquid assets elsewhere, or need cash to put toward a home remodel, you may want to protect your liquidity by minimizing the amount of your down payment. It’s all about your personal comfort level when it comes to your finances.

What are the upsides to making a smaller down payment?

1. Your money might be more useful elsewhere

There’s a chance the money could offer a bigger savings or return if used elsewhere. For instance, if you have $20,000 in credit card debt at an interest rate of 16% and a minimum monthly payment of 2% of the balance, you would be paying $400 per month (plus interest). Now let’s say you want to buy a $200,000 house at 3.92%. A down payment of $40,000 would put your mortgage payment at $756.50 (plus the additional $400+ per month for the credit card). However, if you cut the down payment in half (to redirect the funds to pay down the credit card) and increase your home-loan interest rate to 4.02%, your total monthly mortgage payment would be $861.42. In this case, the greater monthly savings comes from paying off the card.

2. You can keep your cash liquid

Unless you plan to move out, pulling equity out as cash requires refinancing — a potentially costly endeavor. A lower down payment can keep more of your cash liquid in case life circumstances require a cash expenditure in the near future. Without this cushion, you could potentially put your home (and living situation) in jeopardy.

What are some downsides to a smaller down payment?

1. You may have to pay PMI or mortgage insurance premiums (MIP)

To mitigate the additional risk of lending to a borrower with a small down payment, lenders usually require private mortgage insurance for conventional loans until the homeowner has at least 20% equity in the home. All FHA loans require homeowners to pay mortgage insurance premiums for the life of the loan.

2. You’re likely to have a higher interest rate and closing costs

The best interest rates don’t automatically go to the borrowers with the best credit score — the size of the down payment makes a difference as well. This higher rate translates into higher monthly payments and more money spent over the life of the loan. In addition, since closing costs are a percentage of the total loan amount, borrowing more means higher costs.

3. You will have less equity upfront

The less money you put down, the less equity you will have once the home officially becomes yours. This could mean you can’t take advantage of home equity loans or lines of credit if your home needs repairs for which you can’t afford to pay cash. It could also increase your chances of being underwater in your home (owing more than what the home is worth) should the market crash.

So, what’s the bottom line?

Conventional wisdom might say 20% is always the way to go, but more options and different financial circumstances put this to the test. Make sure to fully explore the loan options available to you before deciding on the down payment amount that suits you and your situation best.

For more information on low down payment mortgages, contact Prime Lending and The McMullen Group.


A Renovation Loan Might Be the Key to Affording Your Dream Home

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Prime Lending, McMullen Group, Boston, Hanover, MAConsidering the current high prices of the housing market, buying a move-in ready home may not be the affordable option. Renovating a fixer-upper may be your best solution.

Whether it’s changes to a current home or updating a newly bought fixer-upper, more people are finding their dream homes through renovation.

Going with renovation lets you buy a larger or better located fixer-upper than you could afford as a move-in ready home; it boosts resale value for a smarter long-term investment; you can invest in upgrades that will pay -off over time, such as energy-efficiency. But the most important benefit is it helps you better enjoy the space you’re in because it suits you better.

Listen to yourself

“What’s important to you in your ideal home?”. Are you talking about improving your living situation, or are we talking about making more money when you sell?

What’s “cool” in housing trends changes so frequently that “if you’re going to live in the house for at least five years after the remodel, don’t worry about the [resale] value you’re adding. In cases like this, think about cost rather than value.

Stick with professionals

Unfortunately, a successful renovation isn’t as easy as it looks on home improvement shows. There are few things in life as complicated and traumatic as home remodeling. There’s plastic over everything. You can’t find anything in its normal place.

Seeking professionals to handle your work — as opposed to doing it yourself — can save your sanity. Before hiring your team, consider the following:

  • Calculate the cost of your dream changes ahead of time
  • Pick what you can afford (with some cushion money set aside for the unforeseeable)
  • Select professionals with a proven history (more than a year is ideal).

Looking at reports of “cost versus value” will be invaluable in calculating the cost of each additions and upgrades depending on your location, as well as the resale value it could add.

Renovating a kitchen, updating bathrooms or adding additional square footage are the kind of projects that offer the biggest impact in both adding value and improving quality of life.” says Brad McMullen, vice president of renovation lending at PrimeLending.

Weigh your financial options

Having so much to plan and pay for can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Connecting with a professional renovation lender can help you set a budget and start your renovation project off on the right foot.

Know your financial options — how much can you borrow and what will your renovated home appraise for? — and speak to a pro as soon as possible. There are many options for renovation loans available. We base your loan amount on the cost of planned repairs. If you’re knocking down the wall between the dining room and kitchen, that’s one loan. But if it’s a load-bearing wall, that’s another.

Spanning from $500 for a broken water heater to a $2 million home addition, PrimeLending offers a rainbow of renovation loan options in Boston, MA and in all 50 states. Options for if your credit isn’t great, if you’re a military veteran or if you want to roll your renovation costs into your mortgage for a single payment. These options simplify your finances and save you money — along with the invaluable expertise that will guide you through remodeling’s many “surprises” and across the finish line.

For more information on renovation loans, contact Prime Lending and The McMullen Group.


Renovating Your Home: How Much Will it Cost?

Joseph Coupal - Monday, July 17, 2017

Prime Lending, McMullen Group, Boston, Hanover, MAThe market is tight. Many homeowners who would be in the market are staying put and considering renovating instead of buying a new home. Start your project off on the right financial foot — with a little planning and the right team, you'll keep your budget in the black.

So you want to calculate the price tag on a house rehab, but you have no construction background. How do you go about it?

Understandably, this is a common scenario that holds many people back from flipping houses. It’s also one of the most common questions people ask.

Home renovation costs involve more than just what you pay your contractor, so ensure you consider them all by dividing them into five categories:

  • Costs of a rehab team
  • Costs of purchase
  • Costs of rehab
  • Costs of ownership
  • Costs of selling
  • Costs of a rehab team

Build your rehab team before you start a project. This gives you time to thoroughly screen each of your team members. The last thing you need is to hire the wrong home inspector or contractor because you were closing on a deal and crunched for time.

You want qualified people who understand your needs and investing as a business. If you’re wondering what your team should look like, here are the main players:

  • Attorney
  • Lenders
  • Real estate agent
  • Insurance agent
  • Contractor(s)
  • Home inspector

Ask others. It’s a good way to find solid, trustworthy team members, and most investors will be glad to recommend who they use.

The only possible exception to this is contractors. Good contractors can be hard to come by, and a real estate investor may not be willing to compete with you for their contractor’s time. So, you may be on your own.

If you find yourself in that situation, ask employees at your local lumberyard or hardware store for recommendations. You can also search sites like Craigslist or Angie’s List, but you’ll want to personally vet whomever you choose.

Once you assemble your team members, use their help to get more accurate rehab numbers. It could also be beneficial to enroll in a program for learning the ins and outs of real estate investment, like Success Path.

Costs of purchase

The biggest chunk of this category is probably the money you’ll pay to close on the property. But also included here is any expense you might have incurred while hiring your team members.

There are some other hidden costs here that you might not have thought of, such as flood certificates or various government fees. But in general, your main expenses will likely include the following:

  • Purchase price
  • Home inspection
  • Home appraisal
  • Surveys
  • Lender fees (your bank’s closing costs, appraisal fees, origination costs, etc.)
  • Attorney fees
  • Costs of rehab

This includes contractor fees, permits, and any work done on the house. It can be difficult to get an accurate number for this category, but there are a few things you can do to get close.

First, pay your contractor to do the walkthrough with you. Get their advice on things that need to be fixed or changed, and get a quote from them.

Or, find a home inspector with construction experience, then ask questions and listen to their input as they inspect the house.

Costs of ownership

These expenses happen while you are in possession of the home:

  • Mortgage payments
  • Property taxes
  • Property insurance, including flood insurance, if necessary
  • Utilities
  • Yard upkeep
  • Costs of selling

It might seem like this category should be all profit. That may be true if you do the job right, but it’s still important to budget for the costs that come with selling a house, like the following:

  • Selling price
  • Real estate commission
  • Home warranty
  • Radon and lead tests, termite inspection, and other tests buyers sometimes request
  • Staging
  • Attorney fees

For more information on home renovation loans, contact Prime Lending and the McMullen Group.