Are Common Myths Holding You Back from Buying a Home?

(StatePoint) Aspirations of home ownership is strong for America’s families, yet findings from the fifth annual America at Home survey from NeighborWorks America indicate several perceived barriers to home ownership among the majority of consumers.pexels-photo-106399.jpeg

Findings from the survey, which consisted of 1,000 U.S. adults and 500 millennials include many misconceptions about what it takes to buy a home:

  • The average millennial mistakenly thinks the minimum required down payment is 21.6 percent.
  • Approximately 73 percent of all consumers and 62 percent of millennials said they were not aware of or are unsure about down payment assistance programs in their communities for middle-income home buyers.
  • Seventy percent of adults feel they don’t have enough money saved for a down payment.

Experts believe that confusion about down payment requirements and lack of awareness about assistance programs are holding back many people from pursuing homeownership. “Before deciding if owning a home is right for you, take time to understand your down payment options, and separate myths from facts,” says Freddie Mac Vice President, Danny Gardner.

For example, the average down payment among first-time home buyers in 2016 was just 6 percent and, for repeat buyers, just 14 percent. What’s more, mortgage options, such as Freddie Mac’s Home Possible Mortgages, make it possible for qualified borrowers to put down as little as 3 percent.

If your down payment is less than 20 percent with a conventional loan, you’ll have to pay private mortgage insurance, an added insurance policy that protects the lender if you are unable to pay your mortgage. However, mortgage rates — despite their rise in recent years — remain at historic lows, providing you with a significant advantage.

There are also millions of dollars available for down payment assistance. A great place to start is right where you live. Many state, county, and city governments provide financial assistance for people in their communities who are well qualified and ready for home ownership.

To help demystify down payments and the home buying process, free tools and resources are available at myhome.freddiemac.com.

Don’t let misconceptions hold you back from pursuing home ownership. Check out the facts to learn how much home you can afford.

Is it time for you to make your move?  Email me at kim.fiore@century21.com  to get started.

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

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(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 Ally.com, 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 ally.com/docs/bank/ally-home-playbook 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 44pleasantave@gmail.com

Summer Projects with the Kids

butterflSummer is here and it’s time to get the kids outside. John Riha, writing for houselogic.com, has some ideas to spark their creativity with fun, simple home improvement projects. It’s a win-win as you will get to spend time with your kids while you’ll boost your home’s curb appeal.

When making stuff with kids, remember the Keep-It rules:

Keep it safe. Use gloves and safety glasses when necessary.
Keep it simple. They’ll come away with a sense of accomplishment if it’s a project they can handle easily.
Keep it under an hour. Kids’ attention spans are short.

1. Make Stepping Stones

This classic kids’ project never gets old — it’s gooey, messy, and arty. You’ll make the stones using ready-mix concrete or mortar; a 40-lb. bag makes 3-5 stones. Make your own forms with wood, or use old pans, aluminum cake pans, or anything that’ll create a 2-inch-thick stone.

While the concrete is still wet, decorate with beads, tiles, marbles, and polished pebbles. Wait 48 hours until the concrete is dry to remove it from the form.

2. Painting Your Mailbox

Put a little sizzle in your snail mail when you let your kids paint the mailbox.

Un-mount the box and clean it first. When dry, give it a coat of metal primer, then let your kids’ muse take over. Inexpensive craft store stencils help keep designs on track. Take the kids to the store and let them pick out designs. Don’t forget to include house numbers.

3. Planting a Shrub That Attracts Hummingbirds and Butterflies

There’s some delayed gratification with this project — the payoff doesn’t happen until the critters find the shrub — but the fun factor is high when they do.

Keep the digging to a minimum — one or two plants are plenty. Make a generous hole and have the kids fill it with outdoor potting soil, and put them in charge of watering as the plant roots in. Hold a contest to see who spots the first wildlife visitor.

Nectar-producing shrubs that attract hummingbirds include Hibiscus, flowering quince (Chaenomeles), and Lantana. Butterflies like butterfly bush (Buddleja) and Potentilla.

4. Building a Garden Gate Arbor

It’s easier than it sounds. You’ll find simple DIY kits at home improvement centers that you and your team can put together in 1 to 2 hours. If that challenges younger kids’ attention span limit, let them wander away for a bit, then call them back when it’s done. They’ll love carrying the finished arbor to the garden and setting it in the ground.

Cost: $150-$250 for a wooden kit.

5. Adding Solar Lights

This is one of the easiest projects. Gather up some solar walkway lights — the kind mounted on a stake — and have your kids put them along your sidewalk, paths, and at the edge of garden beds. When the sun goes down, they’ll get a kick out of seeing the lights switch on.

Cost: Outdoor lighting comes in all styles and prices, but you’ll find an 8-pack of solar stake lights under $50 at your home improvement center.

6. Stacking a Tipsy-Pot Plant Tower

Here’s a great optical illusion that kids will really dig. Stick a ½-inch diameter wooden dowel or piece of copper pipe firmly into the ground or a big pot. Put clay pots of various sizes onto the pipe, threading the pipe through the drain holes. Fill the pots with soil and tilt them at crazy angles — the rod holds all the pots upright. Plant easy-care plants like impatiens or petunias.

For more real estate and home info and ideas follow me on Twitter  @kimfiorenj

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 kim.fiore@century21.com  to get started.

 

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: http://194mountainave.c21.com

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.

 

Mass Transit Options in West Essex

Located less than 20 miles from midtown Manhattan, the West Essex Area is very easy to access from New York City and area airports.  Route 80 and Route 280 are major highways that run through Fairfield and Roseland respectively to enable an easy commute to points north , south, east and west.

Public Transportation

DeCamp Bus Line offers service 365 days a year to New York City from West Caldwell and Caldwell on the #33 bus line.   The trip is approximately 45 minutes during rush hour from Caldwell.

http://www.decamp.com/commuter.htm

Nj Transit runs 2 routes to Penn Station from Fairfield, West Caldwell, Caldwell, Essex Fells,  Roseland and Verona.

http://www.njtransit.com/pdf/bus/T0071.pdf

http://www.njtransit.com/pdf/bus/T0029.pdf

The 871 operates between Morristown and Willowbrook Mall with stops in Fairfield

http://www.njtransit.com/pdf/bus/T1871.pdf

Lakeland Bus Line offers service 365 days  between Fairfield and NYC Port authority bus terminal.

http://www.lakelandbus.com/bus-schedule

Although commuter trains do not run through these towns they are just a few minutes away in Little Falls and Montclair  through  NJ Transit.  The  Montclair- Boonton Line runs 7 days a week to Penn Station in New York with connections through the Hoboken Path station to the World Trade Center.

http://www.njtransit.com/pdf/rail/R0030.pdf

Do you have any questions about commuting to the West Essex area?  Do you  want to know more about the communities of West Essex?  Fill in the form below  and I will get right back to you.   You can also email me @ kim.fiore@century21.com .

Welcome to West Essex NJ

we2The towns of Caldwell, Essex Fells, Fairfield, North Caldwell, Roseland and West Caldwell are generally know as the West Essex area of Essex County in New Jersey.  Cedar Grove and Verona are also in the western area of Essex county.

Caldwell and West Caldwell share a K- 12 school system as well as recreation programs and first aid squads.  Each town has their own government. Most shopping and many restaurants are on Bloomfield Avenue.  Bloomfield Ave runs through both towns.

There are 4 neighborhood elementary schools, 1 middle school and 1 high school in the  Caldwell/West Caldwell School System.  In 2012, James Caldwell High School had  209 graduates  with approximately 79% going on to 4 year colleges. Caldwell is also home to Trinity Academy serving grades K-8, Mount St. Dominic Academy for girls in grades 9 -12 and Caldwell College, a private 4 year college.

Essex Fells,  Fairfield , North Caldwell and Roseland  have their own K-6 schools but  send all students in grades 7 -12 to the West Essex Regional Schools in North Caldwell.  In 2012 West Essex Regional High School had 239 gradauates with approximately 80% going on to 4 year colleges.