How Much Home Can You Afford this Spring?

How Much Home Can You Afford this Spring?

Factors to Consider

house dream(StatePoint) The chicken or the egg? Which came first continues to fuel philosophical debates. But when it comes to buying a home, experts are pretty clear about the proper order of things — agreeing you should fit your mortgage to your finances, not to a house.

“Before you even start your search for a home this spring, it’s crucial to know how much you can afford to pay each month,” says Freddie Mac Senior Vice President, Christina Boyle, who stresses that there are a few important things to keep in mind as you calculate this figure.

Start by getting a handle on your finances. What do you earn? What do you spend? How much do you have in savings? Answering these questions will help you better understand how much home you can afford. Make a budget and use free online tools and calculators to determine how much you can afford.

Remember that your monthly expenses go beyond mortgage payments, so leave some room in your budget. Whether it’s a new roof or a leaking faucet, homeownership can mean unexpected expenses. Be prepared to pay for such items, as needed. General maintenance, combined with utilities (an expense that can vary by home depending on its size and other factors), are added expenses to consider. Some neighborhoods also have homeowners’ association fees to cover the cost of upkeep of common spaces.

Your lifestyle can also help you assess whether a particular home is right for you and your budget. Location is key in determining what you can afford. Some points to consider are whether you want to live in a suburban or urban setting, whether you need to be near specific schools and public transportation, and the potential length of your commute. These factors can affect the cost of a home and you should determine your priorities in advance of home and mortgage hunting.

Remember, getting pre–approved can help you act fast and make a confident offer, so talk to your lender now before you start shopping.

A full rundown on all things home buying, including free tools and resources, is available at

This spring, be sure to prepare yourself for the home buying experience by being well-informed and aware of what you can afford.

Is it time for you to make your move?  Email me at  to get started.

How to Find the Right Home Mortgage So You Don’t Overpay


(StatePoint) Ample bedrooms and bathrooms? Check. A roomy kitchen? Check. A nice-sized backyard, storage space in the attic and just the right amount of curb appeal? Check, check and check.

Once you’ve found your perfect home, the next step is finding the right mortgage — which can sometimes feel like you’re competing in a contact sport, being blindsided by confusing requests or financial surprises as you go through the application process.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 63.7 percent of Americans own their home. But getting there wasn’t necessarily easy. A 2017 NerdWallet survey reports that 42 percent of homeowners felt the home-buying process was stressful, a third said it was complicated, and 21 percent found it intimidating.

To help make you a mortgage all-star, Ally Home has created “The Mortgage Playbook,” a free, easy-to-read resource. Authored by members of the Ally Home Team, a dedicated group of loan experts, the “Playbook” features four sections that cover the entire field — from a getting-started game plan to approval and closing on a mortgage. It also breaks down confusing financial terms, helping applicants avoid pain during the home buying process.

To help you prepare for your mortgage game day, here are three top tips from the experts at Ally:

• Maximize your financial fitness. There are five steps consumers should take to improve their “financial fitness” before applying for a mortgage. These include demonstrating stable employment, managing debt, paying down credit accounts, accumulating assets like savings or retirement accounts to boost credit histories, and reviewing (and correcting, if necessary) your credit reports.

• Know your numbers. Borrowers can take advantage of free online tools, such as the Affordability Calculator available at, to determine how much house they can afford. Using two pieces of data — monthly income and monthly debt — a borrower can quickly calculate their debt-to-income ratio. In most instances, this ratio should not exceed 43 percent, meaning your monthly mortgage payment and other debt obligations (car loan, school loan, credit card payments) should not comprise more than 43 percent of your gross monthly income.

• Know what type of mortgage is best for you. One of the biggest decisions borrowers make is whether to get a fixed-rate or adjustable-rate mortgage. When interest rates are low, a fixed-rate mortgage may be the better option. But if interest rates are higher, an adjustable rate mortgage could make sense because its lower initial rate means lower monthly payments for a specific time period (usually five, seven or 10 years) before the rate could change.

For more valuable tips, visit to download the complete “Mortgage Playbook.” This free resource was created by Ally Home, whose mortgage products are offered by Ally Bank, Member FDIC, Equal Housing Lender.

Just like you wouldn’t hit the field without training and preparation, don’t head into the home buying process without the right knowledge. Leverage free resources that can help you be prepared.


$10 Home in Montclair NJ, (and yes there’s a catch)

Montclair NJ

If you have ever dreamed of living in an historic home designed by  a famous architect now is your chance. The 3,900 square foot house at 44 Pleasant Ave by prominent  Montclair architect Dudley S. Van Antwerp is up for sale for $10 but of course there’s a catch.

The Montclair Planning Board approved a subdivision application for the property with a condition of the Board’s approval being a buyer must move the house from its present location to a site within approximately one-quarter mile of its current location.

The Township of Montclair requirements are:

Historic “Aubrey Lewis” house available for purchase. The premises are purchased “as is,” “where is.” The structure must be removed from its present location at 44 Pleasant Avenue, Montclair, NJ, to a location within approximately ¼ mile. The purchaser shall be required to enter into a contract with seller in which: (a) the purchase price not to exceed $10.00; (b) the purchaser shall perform all necessary remediation before the move and the costs of the move shall be borne by purchaser; (c) the seller will contribute a maximum of $10,000 toward the move cost; (d) all other incidental costs, if any, shall be borne entirely by the purchaser; (e) purchaser shall indemnify seller from any and all liability, including attorneys’ fees and costs; and (f) purchaser shall provide appropriate insurance guarantees. Contract must be executed on or before August 31, 2017; the movement of the structure shall be negotiated in good faith.

All offers are to be submitted to

West Essex Home Sale Prices

Average home sale prices in the West Essex NJ area are finally close to the sale prices that were last seen in 2006, the height of the housing market peak according to the NJ Department of Taxation.   In fact, Livingston, North Caldwell and Roseland prices have slightly exceeded those  of 2006.  2015 2006 avg home price

Is it time for you to make your move? You might be in for a happy surprise if you have not checked the value of your home recently!   Email me at  to get started.


What do Increasing Interest Rates Mean to Homebuyers and Homeowners

By now you have heard that the Federal Reserve  has increased short term interest rates by 0.25%.  This is the first rate hike since 2006.  It is also predicted that there will be more small interest rate hikes to come.  What does this mean to you as a homebuyer or homeowner?  How will it affect your ability to get a mortgage or to refinance?


As interest rates rise, it will be more difficult for homebuyers to qualify for a mortgage.  This is because lenders look at an applicant’s debt- to-income ratio, the percentage of an applicant’s monthly income that goes to paying debt. As the monthly payment goes up because of higher interest rates, the amount the borrower can borrow for a mortgage goes down. For example:

At 4% interest, a fixed rate 30 year $350,000 mortgage will require a monthly principal and interest payment of $1671.  At 5.5% interest, a fixed rate 30 year $350,000 mortgage will require a monthly principal and interest payment of $1987.  That is a difference of over $300 a month and might disqualify a borrower from qualifying for the loan.  Another way to look at this: if the lender calculated a borrower would be able to pay $1675 a month for principal and interest, at 4% the borrower could borrow $350,000, at 5.5% the borrower could only borrow $295,000.  The borrower would need a larger down payment for the same house or look for a less expensive home.   

These are just examples of what higher interest rates might mean to you.  You can calculate using your own numbers using the Zillow Mortgage Calculator.

Current Homeowners

Fixed Rate Mortgages

If you are holding a fixed rate mortgage, your rate will not change.  This rate was locked in when you closed on your home and will stay the same for the life of your mortgage.  If you decide to refinance or buy a new home though  you will probably see a higher interest rate.

Adjustable Rate Mortgages

If you have an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) you need to ask yourself how long you plan on staying in your current home.  If you are thinking about staying for more than a few years, you might want to  look into refinancing  your ARM into a fixed rate mortgage.  Start shopping around now to find the best mortgage for you .  Keep in mind not only the interest rate but also fees and other costs associated with the new mortgage.

Home Equity Line of Credit

Adjustable rate home equity line of credit (HELOC) borrowers will be among the first to feel the interest rate increases as these loans typically adjust interest rates monthly.  If you are using this type of credit, you might want to speak to your lender about converting your HELOC into a fixed rate home equity loan.  You also might be able to include your HELOC balance if you are refinancing your primary mortgage.


To give you an idea of what refinancing would mean to you, look at the Zillow Refinance Calculator. This calculator will  help you  estimate the amount of money a refinancing could save you by comparing the details of your current home loan with new rates, terms, and other factors.


Taking the time now  to see how your housing costs will change as interest rates rise could save you a great deal in the short and long term.  It seems as though interest rates  are heading up, so now might be the best time to start your new home  search.  Do you have any questions about buying or selling a home?  Do you  want to know more about the communities of West Essex?  Fill in the form below or email me @ and I will get right back to you.




Living in North Caldwell

In 2013 North Caldwell was named as the 3rd best place to live in New Jersey by New Jersey Monthly Magazine.   The magazine hired independent researchers at Leflein Associates  to rate the  the quality of  life in over 500  New Jersey communities.  Categories rated include  home values, property taxes, crime rate, school performance and “lifestyle factor.”

IMG_3916_HDRThis brick ranch recently went on the market for $494,500.  It is  situated on a large level corner lot in desirable North Caldwell.  Highlights include a gas fireplace in living room, master bedroom with  attached master bath,  storage galore, and a partially finished basement with cedar closet.  A Home warranty is offered on this home.

See more at:

The inventory of single family homes under $500,000 in this desirable  town is practically nonexistent so if you would like to live in this family friendly community, now is the time to act.  Call me at 973-349-6731 or fill out the form below to schedule a showing today.