Understanding Credit Life Insurance for Home Buyers

Credit life insurance is a specialized type of insurance designed to provide financial protection for borrowers and their families in the event of the borrower’s untimely death. This insurance is often associated with loans, including mortgages, and is specifically tied to the outstanding balance of the loan. In the case of a home purchase, credit life insurance will cover the remaining mortgage balance if the homeowner passes away before the loan is fully paid off.

In some cases, lenders may include the expense of credit life insurance in your loan principal. This arrangement means that you’ll accrue interest on the combined amount, potentially resulting in increased costs over time. Consequently, opting for traditional life insurance, as opposed to credit life insurance, might be a more financially prudent choice to protect your family’s financial well-being.

Credit life insurance offers peace of mind to homeowners, knowing that their loved ones won’t be burdened with mortgage payments in case of an unexpected tragedy.  It can be a safeguard for their loved ones from inheriting the mortgage debt in the event of their death. It ensures that the home loan is paid off, preventing financial strain on surviving family members.

Some lenders may require or recommend credit life insurance as part of the loan approval process, making it easier for homebuyers to qualify for a mortgage but it is not typically mandatory, and the borrower usually has the option to request its removal from the loan agreement.

Advantages of Regular Life Insurance:

While credit life insurance serves a specific purpose, there are advantages to opting for a regular life insurance policy instead:

  • Regular life insurance provides a broader range of coverage beyond mortgage debt. It offers financial protection to beneficiaries for various needs, such as income replacement, education, and long-term financial security.
  • Unlike credit life insurance, which is tied to a specific loan, regular life insurance can be used to address multiple financial goals and needs, making it a versatile option.
  • Regular life insurance remains in force regardless of changes in your mortgage or loan status. It can be maintained even if you refinance, pay off your mortgage, or move.
  • Some life insurance policies, such as whole life or universal life, offer a cash value component that can grow over time, potentially providing additional financial benefits.
  • With regular life insurance, you have the flexibility to choose any beneficiary, not just the lender, ensuring your loved ones are financially protected.

Credit life insurance can provide a valuable safety net for homebuyers by addressing their mortgage debt in the event of their passing. However, it’s essential to consider the broader financial needs of your family and explore regular life insurance options, which offer more extensive coverage and flexibility. Ultimately, the choice between credit life insurance and regular life insurance should align with your specific financial goals and priorities.


Discover how to make a difference in your neighborhood

Whether you’re a seasoned homeowner or just starting this thrilling chapter, every time you turn your key, you’re not just entering a house but also embedding yourself in a neighborhood. The heartbeat of a vibrant community doesn’t solely rest upon pristine lawns or architectural beauty, but predominantly on its residents — wonderful folks like you! Consider these suggestions to enjoy your new neighborhood and actively contributing to making it a wonderful place to live.

Foster Connection – Begin your journey by fostering connections. Introduce yourself to your neighbors, participate in or organize social events, and involve yourself in local gatherings, HOA, Next Door, or forums. Establishing a network of friendly faces creates a sense of belonging and shared responsibility towards the well-being of the neighborhood.

Create a Safe Environment – A safe community is a serene community. Be mindful of adhering to speed limits while driving through your neighborhood, watch out for children playing, and consider organizing or participating in a neighborhood watch program. Ensuring that everyone feels secure enhances the quality of life for all residents.

Champion Cleanliness and Green Practices – Your new neighborhood is an extension of your home. Engage in and advocate for practices like regular clean-up drives, recycling initiatives, and maintaining green spaces. Planting trees or creating communal gardens can be wonderful projects that not only beautify the area but also instigate sustainable living.

Support Local Businesses – Frequent local shops, cafes, and services to boost the neighborhood’s economy. Supporting local businesses fosters a self-sustaining community, often making it more attractive to future residents and other local entrepreneurs.

Volunteer and Offer Support – Whether it’s helping a neighbor with yard work or volunteering in local schools, your acts of kindness will ripple through the community, establishing a culture of support and assistance that enriches everyone’s lives.

Organize and Participate in Events – From block parties to garage sales, events can add vivacity to any neighborhood. They provide a platform for residents to mingle, forge friendships, and create cherished memories, threading a fabric of unity and camaraderie.

Respectful Living – Being mindful and considerate of your neighbors is foundational. Adhere to noise guidelines, maintain your property, and respect shared spaces. A culture of mutual respect enhances peaceful co-existence and cultivates a harmonious environment.

Advocate for Improvements – If you observe areas for improvement, like a need for better street lighting or safer playgrounds, take the initiative. Work with local authorities, attend town meetings, or organize petitions to facilitate beneficial changes.

In contributing towards shaping a great neighborhood, you’re not only enhancing your living experience but also elevating the quality of life for existing and future residents. Your active involvement, care, and initiatives sow the seeds for a community where everyone enjoys a sense of belonging, security, and joy in their daily lives. After all, the richest neighborhoods are those woven with the threads of unity, understanding, and collective effort. So, embrace your role and be the beacon that lights up your community with positivity and progress!

 

 


Talking Points to Identify an Agent

Having a list of talking points prepared before meeting with a real estate agent can be incredibly valuable in guiding the conversation and helping you make an informed decision about who will represent you in the sale of your home. Whether you’re a first-time seller or it has been a while since you last sold a property, asking these questions can reveal important information about the experience and expertise of your candidate.

Even if you already have a trusted friend who is a real estate agent, it’s still appropriate to understand how different issues will be handled. A true professional should not feel challenged to discuss these important concerns.

  1. Tell me about your experience and training.
  2. Do you work in real estate full-time?
  3. Are you a REALTOR® and a member of MLS?
  4. What is the average price of the homes you have sold and how many did you sell last year?
  5. Which neighborhoods do you primarily work?
  6. How many homes have you sold in my neighborhood?
  7. What is your list price to sales price ratio?
  8. How many buyers and sellers are you currently working with?
  9. Tell me about the positives and negatives of my home.
  10. How will market preparation and staging affect my sales?
  11. Describe your marketing plan for my home and if you will use outside professionals.
  12. Specifically address Internet exposure, open houses, and showings.
  13. Describe how you’ll keep me informed all along the way.
  14. Will I work directly with you or with team members?
  15. Can you provide me with three recent references?

It’s important to note that price was not included in the list of talking points. As the seller, you ultimately set the price, but the market and the buyer will determine the value. The agent can advise you about the proper range that will ensure activity and ultimately affect your final proceeds. This advice should be based on facts that are available to all agents as well as prospective buyers and appraisers.

In other words, the decision to list your home with a particular agent and company should never be based on the listing price suggested by a prospective agent. Trust a reputable agent to provide sound advice and guidance throughout the selling process.  You may find more helpful information in our Sellers Guide.


How Home Value Growth Beats Renting

Over the last 60 years, the average sales price of homes has appreciated at a rate of 5.56% annually, according to the Federal Reserve Economic Data. During the same period, rent has increased at a rate of 3.88% annually which presents a compelling argument in favor of homeownership.

When we analyze these figures, it becomes evident that homes have not only appreciated in value at a faster rate than the increase in rental costs, but they have also provided homeowners with a substantial asset that builds equity over time. This discrepancy in growth rates means that, in the long run, homeowners are likely to experience a greater return on their investment compared to renters.

Renters, while they may have the flexibility of moving without the ties of property ownership and might have lower upfront costs, do not gain any equity from their monthly payments. Their money goes straight to their landlord, and they are subject to the annual increases in rent. Over time, as rent continues to rise, renters might find themselves allocating a larger portion of their income to housing expenses compared to homeowners with fixed-rate mortgages, whose monthly payments remain constant.

Homeowners, on the other hand, can lock in their housing costs, particularly if they have a fixed-rate mortgage. Even as the value of their property increases, their monthly mortgage principal and interest payments remain steady. Furthermore, as they pay down their mortgage, they build equity in their home, which becomes a valuable asset. This asset can be leveraged for other financial opportunities, such as funding education, investing, or purchasing additional property.

In addition, homeowners can capitalize on the tax benefits associated with mortgage interest and property tax deductions, and potential capital gains exclusions, which can contribute to the overall financial advantage of homeownership.

In conclusion, while renting may offer flexibility and potentially lower upfront costs, homeownership presents a compelling long-term financial opportunity. The significant difference in the annual growth rates of home prices and rent over the past 60 years underscores the potential for wealth accumulation and financial stability that comes with investing in real estate and the equity building that comes with homeownership.

Download our Buyers Guide and consider getting together with your agent to get the facts of today’s market.


Tips to Achieve Your Full Potential Equity

The real estate market is constantly evolving, presenting homeowners with challenges in determining the accurate value of their properties. In today’s era of rapid fluctuations, it is essential to equip yourself with the right knowledge and tools to make informed pricing decisions. There are three crucial factors to consider when assessing your home’s worth.

Online estimators offer a convenient starting point for obtaining a rough estimate of your home’s value. While they may not provide pinpoint accuracy, these tools, readily available on reputable real estate agents’ websites and portals, can provide a general idea of where your property stands in the market.

Traditionally, real estate professionals would consider comparative home sales data from the past six months. However, the current market volatility demands a shift towards using more recent comps. Notably, 2022 and 2023 witnessed a significant doubling of mortgage interest rates within a six-month span, causing home prices to respond accordingly. To ensure accurate pricing, it is crucial to work with a seasoned real estate agent who can identify and leverage the most recent comparable sales.

While research and analysis are valuable, nothing compares to the expertise of a professional real estate team. Their experience and training enable them to price your home accurately from the outset. A skilled agent can identify the key amenities and upgrades that will yield the highest return on investment, as well as develop a tailored marketing plan to outshine competitors.

Evaluating the obvious and the subtle differences between your home and the comparable sales can make the difference in achieving your full potential equity in the least market time with the fewest deterrents or not.

In the ever-changing real estate market, determining your home’s value requires a multifaceted approach. By utilizing reliable online tools, considering recent comps, and collaborating with an experienced real estate team, you can confidently navigate the dynamic market and price your home appropriately. If you have any questions or need assistance with real estate matters, please feel free to reach out to me. I am here to serve as your dedicated resource for all your real estate needs.


Proven techniques to shorten your market time

Are you in a hurry to sell your house? Whether it’s due to relocation or a desire to streamline the selling process, selling your home quickly doesn’t have to be a daunting task. With extensive experience in assisting homeowners, our expert team has identified three key strategies that can help secure a fast and favorable sale. Let’s explore these techniques in detail.

Maximizing the appeal of your home is key to generating interest from potential buyers. Take the time to clean, declutter, and depersonalize your space before listing it. By storing away family photos and neatly packing your belongings into boxes, you create a blank canvas that allows buyers to envision themselves in the space. Consider hiring a professional cleaner to ensure your home is in impeccable condition. A pristine presentation will entice buyers to submit attractive offers promptly.

Don’t let minor repair issues become obstacles during negotiations. Prior to listing your house, proactively take care of any small repairs that may arise. Fix faulty light sockets, replace worn-out door handles, and address other minor issues that could potentially delay the sales process. By resolving these matters upfront, you can facilitate a smoother inspection and negotiation phase.

To expedite the sale while maintaining a favorable asking price, consider providing incentives to potential buyers. This strategy can greatly enhance buyer motivation. Explore options such as covering closing costs, offering an interest rate buydown, a repair allowance, or including essential appliances as part of the sale. By offering enticing incentives, you’ll likely attract buyers who are willing to expedite the closing process, even if it means paying a higher price.

For homeowners looking to sell their property quickly, employing these three effective strategies can significantly expedite the sale without compromising the final sales price. By preparing the home meticulously, addressing minor repairs proactively, and offering appealing incentives to potential buyers, sellers can create an enticing package that encourages prompt and attractive offers. Collaborating with an experienced real estate agent further enhances the chances of a smooth and successful transaction. Embrace these strategies today to pave the way for a swift and favorable home sale.

For more information, download our Seller’s Guide. If you have any questions regarding these techniques or any other aspect of the selling process, reach out to me and we’ll talk.


SRES May newsletter

Parents Supporting Adult Kids Risk Their Retirement Security

If you’re helping your adult kids financially, you’re not alone.

 

A new Bankrate (https://bit.ly/3oEZVH6) survey found that most parents (68%) are providing support for their adult kids. But in doing so, many may be compromising their financial futures by putting emergency and retirement savings on the back burner. .

 

Parents with children 18 or older have made a financial sacrifice to help them, and nearly a third of that group (31%) say they have sacrificed “significantly,” and 37% said they have sacrificed “somewhat.”

 

For instance, 51% say they’ve sacrificed their emergency savings, with 20% saying they’ve done so significantly. They’ve also impacted debt payoff (49% total; 18% significantly) and retirement savings (43% total; 18% significantly), and 55% report missing out on reaching other financial milestones.

 

Savings.com research (https://bit.ly/441HH2u) also found that parents are footing many adult kids’ bills, with 45% providing financial support for at least one grown offspring.

 

Groceries, cell phones, housing, and student loan payments are common parent-funded expenses, and their average monthly contribution is more than $1,400.

 

Parents also said they’d go to extraordinary lengths—even emerging from retirement—to support kids, even if it meant compromising their retirement.

 

Savings.com asked, “Which of these would you be willing to do to support your adult child(ren)? Select all that apply.”

Live a more frugal lifestyle 58%
Pull money from my savings or retirement account 44%
Retire later 33%
Take on debt 25%
Come out of retirement 16%
Refinance my home 10%
None of the above 19%

 

Bankrate’s tips for cutting your kids loose:

  • Determine a realistic amount of money to give your kids and stick to an amount that doesn’t compromise your financial stability.
  • Set clear expectations with your children, specifying a specific dollar amount or duration of assistance to avoid being seen as a permanent piggybank.
  • Prepare your kids for financial independence by sharing your knowledge of financial planning and responsibility with them before cutting off financial support.

Bankrate Senior Industry Analyst Ted Rossman says, “Offering financial assistance can backfire if it puts your own savings, investments, and financial well-being at risk. It can be a vicious cycle. Young adults are wrestling with student loans and high household formation costs. Still, if parents overextend themselves to help, they might jeopardize their financial security.”

Homeowners Prioritize Long-term Living with Recent Home Upgrades

Not long ago, many homeowners renovated with an eye toward selling. That’s changed, according to the 2023 U.S. Houzz & Home Study, which found that 61% of homeowners intend to stay in their homes for 11 years.

It found that this year, just 6% of homeowners are renovating with the intention of selling, compared to 12% in 2018.

 

In addition, among all the generations, baby boomers are leading the renovation activity (59%), and during 2022 spent a median of $24,000.

Much of that renovation activity in 2022 was done to bring aging homes up to date with projects that included upgrades to plumbing (29%), electrical (28%), and home automation (25%). Also, one in five homeowners made cooling and heating system upgrades, spending a median of $5,500 and $5,000, respectively.

Still, renovation of interior spaces is the most popular area for upgrades (72%), with kitchen and bathroom, remodels being the top projects.

In 2022, 28% of homeowners upgraded their kitchen, spending a median of $20,000, while 25% chose to renovate their primary bathroom, spending a median of $13,500.

Houzz says such renovations come with challenges, including finding the right service providers (33%) and products (28%), staying on budget (27%), and staying on schedule (21%).

During 2023, 53% of homeowners plan to continue renovating their homes, with a median planned spend of $15,000. Additionally, 35% of homeowners plan to make repairs during the same period.

Provided by John Mazzara-RE/MAX Results

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See the complete report at https://st.hzcdn.com/static/econ/2023-US-Houzz&Home-Study.pdf.


Make Your Home Offer The Most Appealing

Sales in March 2023 were down 2.4% month over month and still down 22.0% year over year according to the NAR Housing Snapshot.  The median sales price dipped 0.9% to $375,700 and there are 2.6 months supply of homes on the market compared to 2 months a year ago.

“Inventory levels are still at historic lows, and consequently, multiple offers are returning on 28% of properties.” According to Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for the National Association of REALTORS®.

It is still important to have a strategy for potentially competing with other buyers on the house you want to buy.  The plan should include several available provisions and options, so that at the time of drafting the sales offer, you can consider exactly what to include based on the situation.

Unless a person is paying cash, you need to be pre-approved by a trusted mortgage professional long before you start looking at homes.  Include the written pre-approval letter along with the offer.  When you are making an offer on a home, have the mortgage professional available to reassure the listing agent by phone who will convey assurance to the seller.

If you’re concerned about multiple offers, make your best offer first because you may not get to counter and simply lose out to another buyer.  Starting with a low offer and gradually coming up doesn’t work in highly competitive situations.  In some cases, a low-ball offer could cast a pall on any consideration of your purchase contract altogether.

The listing agent will calculate the expenses on the different offers for the seller to show them what their net proceeds will be on each contract.  Some types of financing have more costs incurred to the seller.  Asking the seller to make repairs or other financial concessions could lower their net even though your offer may be higher.

From a buyer’s standpoint, contingencies provide options for things that may be uncertain like qualifying for a mortgage, discovery of major impediments to the condition of the home, and other things.  To the seller, they are obstacles that may invalidate the contract causing the home to go back on the market.  If the contingencies are necessary, try to make them as palatable to the seller as possible.

Instead of waiving your rights to make inspections, consider a very short inspection period to minimize the time the property is in limbo.  Instead of asking for repairs, provide a simple “accept or reject” once the inspections have been made.

Try to accommodate the seller’s desired closing and possession dates.  Sometimes an earlier date may be more desirable for a seller and other times, it might be a later date based on the home they’ll be moving into.  Your agent can do some research and find a flexible alternative that may appeal to the seller.

Increase your earnest money deposit more than the minimum.  It is a pecuniary indication that you are serious.  Your agent can tell you what the amount should be and alternatives like increasing the earnest money after certain contingencies have been met.

Escalation clauses state that you are willing to increase your offer by a certain amount up to a specified maximum, subject to another bona fide offer being received before yours is accepted.  Your agent will be able to further explain how these might work in your situation as well as share their experience with them in other similar negotiations.

You as a buyer and your offer to purchase need to be seen as the solution to the seller’s situation in price, terms, and reliability to close.  Working with an experienced agent with seasoned negotiation skills is key to your success in buying a home in a competitive environment.