Real Estate Tip of the Month: Refinancing Your Mortgage

If you remember our recent article discussing homeowner’s and their regrets on not completing a refinance on their mortgage, then it might be a good time to dive into what a refinance is and how you go about the process.

What is a refinance?

A mortgage refinance replaces your current home loan with a new one – usually this is done to reduce the interest rate, cut monthly payments, tap into the home’s equity, rid of FHA mortgage insurance, or switch from an adjustable-rate to a fixed-rate loan.

How do you start a refinance?

Just like signing for the original loan, you’ll have to qualify for a refinance, file an application, go through the underwriting process, and go to closing – just like you did when you bought the home originally.

Work with same lender or new lender?

If you’re curious how a refinance might look for you, check out NerdWallet’s mortgage refinance calculator before you talk with a lender. Seeing the cost through a calculator might help you determine which lender might offer you the best deal on a refinance.

Mentioned in our previous article on refinancing, many homeowners incorrectly believe that they have to refinance with their current lender, which isn’t true. Like all of our guides on shopping for a mortgage, the same applies for a refinance. Shop, compare, and find the best lender for you.

For more real estate tips and guides, stop by Alliance Title’s Blog.

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Employee Spotlight – Priscilla Miller

We have a new employee spotlight! Let’s give a hip, hip, hooray for Priscilla Miller!

Priscilla is Alliance’s Branch Receptionist / Administrative Assistant for our Coeur d’Alene, Idaho branch. Priscilla runs the front desk and reception, including phones. She welcomes customers, escorts clients to their closing rooms, opens new orders, and much much more!

The Alliance Title team has had Priscilla since 2001 – and we’re so incredibly lucky to have her! Priscilla loves being able to assist customers and the team, as well as help make customers feel comfortable and welcomed as they walk into the CDA office.

Of the Alliance Core Values, “Teamwork” is Priscilla’s favorite. She explains, “I truly believe that it takes each and every person in our branch to make us successful. Successful as individuals and as a team!”

When asked whom she admires, Priscilla thinks of her mother. She continues, “She taught me to be strong through adverse times. She taught me to have a strong work ethic and to give 100% every day. She taught me kindness and respect for all.”

Outside of the office, Priscilla loves to spend time with her family, draw and paint, and dabble in interior design!

Priscilla’s favorite quote comes from Helen Keller: “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart.”

Now that you’ve gotten to know Priscilla a little more, give a shout out to Alliance Title’s Coeur d’Alene branch on Facebook and write them in on your next transaction! Priscilla looks forward to helping make your home closing a simple and smooth experience.

Priscilla Miller
Branch Receptionist/Administrative Assistant – Alliance Title Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
priscilla.miller@alliancetitle.com

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The Love/Hate Relationship Between Homeowner and Home

Before and after becoming a homeowner, there’s a checklist created of wants and needs that they hope their home has – obviously, not all home transactions will complete the entire checklist for the homeowner.

What are features that homeowners seek for their homes, and what are attributes that contribute towards their dissatisfaction towards their home?

According to Sears Home Services recent survey, more than 1,000 consumers helped answer the question.

Here are the features homeowners seek:

  • Security and safety – 54.4%
  • Location – 52.7%
  • Part of the home dedicated to relaxation – 51.4%
  • Privacy – 49.3%
  • Size – 46.4%
  • Living situation (housemates) – 45%
  • Outdoor space (garden, balcony, etc.) – 43%

Features that stress homeowners:

  • Noise level – 26.7%
  • Size – 24.9%
  • Proximity to other homes – 22.8%
  • Pests – 21.6%
  • Design choices – 21.6%
  • Lack of privacy – 20%
  • Lack of outdoor space – 20%

The survey also dived into what helped create the “Habit of a Happy Home” –

So, do you agree with what features make your home happy and/or frustrated? Do you contribute to any of the above “habits” to create a happy home?
Voice your comments below!

Check out more real estate news, stats, and guides through Alliance’s Blog.

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Homeowner Regret: The Refinance Train

It’s no shock or surprise to read that mortgage rates are currently (still) at historical lows, but what may be a surprise – are homeowners who didn’t refinance and jump on saving thousands of dollars.

What happened?

2020 was a big refinancing boom, obviously due to the incredibly low rates. However, according to LendingTree, more than a third (36%) of homeowners report having regret after not taking advantage of the low mortgage rates. Most homeowners incorrectly assumed that in order to refinance, they had to work with their original lender (false) or only had the option to refinance their mortgage once (also false).

And 11% of homeowners also currently do not know what their mortgage rate is, or even if it’s worth it to refinance at all.

Interest rates are currently sitting at 3.060% for a 30-year fixed mortgage rate and 2.340% for a 15-year fixed mortgage rate – but about 34% of homeowners (over a third) have a 4% mortgage rate or higher.

So, who did take advantage of refinancing? Looks like Millennials were the ones to jump on board last year. 42% of Millennials, 18% of Gen Xers, and 10% of Baby Boomers refinanced within the last year.

However – it looks like with all the reporting on “missed refinancing,” homeowners are starting to consider it in the next year, about 49%.

For more real estate news, stop by Alliance Title’s Blog.

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Blooming Real Estate Stats

Spring has sprung in real estate! Buyers and sellers alike are heating up the market – check out the latest stats to hit the industry.

  • Urban areas are the top location for MILLENNIALS, with the group citing convenience and commuting costs as their top concerns.
  • 81% of all homes purchased continue to be detached single-family homes.
  • Baby Boomers are the largest group of sellers at 43%.
  • *NAR 2021 Generational Stats

Stay in the know and reach out to your local Alliance Title Rep today!

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Real Estate Vocabulary for First-Time Homebuyers

Congratulations – you’re in the arena to purchase your first ever home! That in itself is an amazing accomplishment.

Because you’re a first-time homebuyer, there will be a lot of real estate vocabulary that you might not be totally familiar with. But don’t fret! This is where we come in to help.

Check out some of the top real estate vocabulary to familiarize yourself with:

  • Adjustable-rate Mortgage: After a period of time that could be anywhere from three to 10 years, the interest rate on an adjustable rate mortgage will be adjusted by the lender in accordance with current interest rates.
  • Annual Percentage Rate: These are also known as an APR. This is the standardized method of showing you the total cost of borrowing money. This will be a combination of the interest rate charged by your creditor, in addition to any fees you may be charged for.
  • Appraisal: These are professional opinions of the market value of a property. Appraisers use a number of methods to determine the appropriate value of the home, including the current market value and seeing what prices homes nearby sold for.
  • Closing Costs: These fees will come up after the completion of a sale. They may be related to insurance fees, survey fees, or attorney fees and will vary from location to location.
  • Fixed-rate Mortgage: This mortgage’s interest rate will never change – even if the term of the loan is 30 years.
  • Title Insurance: This policy protects a lender’s or owner’s interest in real estate property from assorted types of unexpected claims of ownership.

Understanding real estate terminology can help arm you with the knowledge and confidence needed to make the best decisions for you!

Check out Alliance’s Buyer-Seller Guide for more information and tips!

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Real Estate Tip of the Week: Working on Real Estate Bios

When a buyer or seller is on the search to find a real estate agent, don’t be the one to fall into the loud mesh and not been seen! There are a lot of real estate agents out there – how can you stand out from the crowd?

Your bio on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, or Blog is a great way to separate yourself from the Plain Janes in the real estate world! What you write about yourself can really make a big impact to the audience you’re trying to reach.

Here are some quick tips to up your real estate game:

The Lead

Be sure to introduce what brought you into this industry, how long you’ve been helping clients, and some of the goals you’ve accomplished since becoming an agent!

The Action

You should be telling your clients why you’re a good fit for them – yes, you’re the number one real estate in the area, but be sure to be specific about what you do!

Talk about what you love about your work, the clients you help, and your goals as an agent. Mention the clients you’ve helped purchase or sell homes for; are they retirees, first-time homebuyers, or newlyweds?

The Personal

It’s important to be relatable. Write about something quirky or unique about you – maybe your favorite sports team, your favorite hobby, what you’re passionate about. Show potential clients that you’re more than a real estate agent – you can be someone they connect with as they go on to purchase or sell their home.

You are YOUR brand – so be sure to use your voice in the way that highlights the best you!

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Employee Spotlight – Carmen Coy

Let’s give a round of applause for our new Employee Spotlight, Carmen Coy!

Carmen is Alliance’s Administrative Assistant for our Emmett, Idaho branch. Carmen answers in-bound calls, meets and greets the public, and handles information of sensitive/confidential nature. She also opens new orders and assigns them to the escrow officers of the branch, prints checks, approves wire transfers, distributes mail, and arranges for the procurement of supplies and services.

Although Carmen has only been with the Alliance Title team for the past 8 months, she already feels like part of the family. She continues, “I’ve been loving every minute of it. I look forward to many years with this company and most of all – with my team.”

Of Alliance’s Core Values, Carmen’s favorite would be “Trust & Respect.” She explains, “I feel that if you have trust and respect, the remaining core values automatically fall into place.”

When asked whom Carmen admires, she thinks of her daughter. She explains, “Watching her take care of her home, her husband, and raising two of my grand-babies has been nothing short of awe-inspiring. And who am I kidding – sometimes she takes care of me too! The love she has for Jesus and every human she encounters is just amazing. I learn regularly from this blessing of mine.

Outside of the office, Carmen enjoys playing softball! Her daughter and son-in-law are on the same tournament team, so they get to travel together – and they recently returned from a softball tournament in Florida! Carmen absolutely loves spending time with her family and 5 grandkids; as she explains, “They bring constant joy to my life!”

Carmen’s favorite quote, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” from Philippians 4:13, gives her daily peace. She continues, “I feel that I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for His guidance.”

Now that you’ve gotten to know Carmen a little more, give a shout out to Alliance Title’s Emmett Branch on Facebook and write them in on your next transaction! Carmen looks forward to helping make your home closing a simple and smooth experience.

Carmen Coy
Administrative Assistant – Alliance Title Emmett, Idaho
carmen.coy@alliancetitle.com

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How to Allergy-Proof Your Home

It’s about that time – spring allergy time! If you’ve started to notice the sneezing, itchy and watery eyes, then it’s about time you notice that there’s something you can do to help!

Your home contains allergens that make you feel like spring is against you. But, as a homeowner, it’s important that you learn the ways you can help clean and de-allergen your home. Check out our tips below:

Vacuum

Dust settles, and dust carries a lot of those allergens that annoy you! If you can, try and upgrade with a vacuum that includes a HEPA filter. These trap particles as tiny as.3 microns, which means they’ll get rid of most of the allergens in your home.

Air Filters

Don’t forget to replace the filters in your heating and cooling system. Check out our previous article that dives into it!

Microfiber Cloths

As mentioned before, dust is a true allergy culprit! Instead of just brushing dust away with a towel or a duster, try and use a damp microfiber cloth. These will trap the dust instead of moving them around.

Wash Bed Sheets

Be sure to wash your pillow cases and sheets every 3 weeks.

Air Purifier

Indoor air is twice as polluted as outdoor air with all the dust, mold, and chemicals that stay in an enclosed space over time. If you can, think about investing in an air purifier. Make sure it uses a HEPA filter (like mentioned for the vacuum).

Allergies can be a real downer! But if you work hard at maintaining your home during the spring and summer months, you’ll feel the benefits!

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Closing Time & Delays

Real estate has its hoops for buyers, sellers, lenders, agents, and the like to jump through – but what recent hurdles have been happening in the title and escrow world?

The majority of home contracts have been settling on time, but according to REALTORS Confidence Index, about 26% faced some sort of delay in February, while 6% were cancelled completely.

So what happens to be the most common issues when trying to close on a home? Check out the National Association of REALTORS infographic below that highlights what potential problems might delay contracts:

Stop by Alliance’s Blog for more real estate news.

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