• This post is for all the gardeners out there! This time of year, we’re excited about combining our love of gardens with our love of prize giveaways. Whether you’re new to the gardening game or have years of experience in the backyard, this contest is for you.

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  • Summer has arrived! Keeping your kids occupied and off the couch can be a difficult task. Here are five lifesaving backyard activities that are easy and fun for everyone!

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  • In recent months, my wife and I have been on the hunt for a house. Fortunately the search is over, but in the course of looking for our dream home, we were treated to a few – shall we say – interesting approaches to decorating. These screaming, shrieking examples of what NOT to do,...

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VA Jumbo Loan: Higher Mortgage Loan Amounts for Veterans

VA Jumbo Loan: Higher Mortgage Loan Amounts for Veterans

Are you a veteran or member of the U.S. military who needs a very large loan amount for your home? Good news! Quicken Loans is proud to offer the VA Jumbo loan for amounts over $417,000 – up to $1,094,625. If you live in Alaska or Hawaii, the maximum loan amount is $1,500,000. VA Jumbo Loans are a top benefit for veterans and military personnel because it offers more flexible requirements and higher loan amounts than conventional loans. Contrary to popular belief, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) actually don’t write the mortgages. Instead, the VA insures the loans that are written by banks and mortgage companies. Financing (or refinancing) with VA loans are only available for veterans and active members of the U.S. Military (and spouses – even widows, as long as they don’t remarry). The Benefits of VA Jumbo Loans The VA Jumbo loan offers higher refinancing amounts than many typical conventional loans. These flexible guidelines often allow more homeowners to refinance in difficult housing and financial markets. Here are some of the benefits of refinancing with a VA Jumbo loan: VA loans allows up to a 90% refinance limit – higher than most conventional loan limits. No PMI when refinancing with a VA loan. No prepayment penalties on VA loans. VA assistance to veteran borrowers in default due to temporary financial difficulty. Ability to roll the VA funding fee into the refinance amount (no funding fee for disabled veterans). If you’re buying and not refinancing a home, the…

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Mortgage Applications

Mortgage Applications

Be Prepared! Applying for a mortgage for the first time can be intimidating and sometimes overwhelming. But if you have all the right documents prepared ahead of time, it will make the process go much smoother and faster. First, lenders will need to know your date of birth and Social Security number in order to pull a credit report. They do this to find out how risky you are as a borrower. Generally, the higher your score, the less risky you are and the better rate you’ll qualify for. Then, you’ll need to give your lender: Documents you will need: The signed purchase agreement Copies of your W-2 forms Proof of income (original pay stubs, verification of employment, or two years’ worth of tax returns) Proof of assets (bank statements, investment statements, etc.) to show you have money to cover closing costs Copy of the earnest money deposit Copy of your homeowners insurance It may take some time to gather all of them, but it will be worth it when it comes time to close your loan. Not everyone will be able to document everything and that’s ok. There are very flexible loans available with little documentation. But generally speaking, the more documentation you provide, the better interest rate you’ll get on your loan. A Quicken Loans home loan expert can help you figure out exactly which documents you’ll need to prove your income and assets. They can also tell you whether you’ll need other documents other than the ones…

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Homeownership Preservation

Homeownership Preservation

Life is full of surprises. Sometimes, events beyond our control interfere with our best intentions – like paying our bills. Luckily, there’s help for homeowners who face challenges in making their payments. If you’re at risk, it’s important to realize you are not alone. Millions of homeowners face foreclosure each year. If you are having difficulty making your payments, your first course of action should be to contact your servicer as soon as possible. Whether you intend to sell your home or stay in it, your servicer can help with a variety of programs to support your goals. Resources for Every Homeowner Foreclosure isn’t good for anyone. That’s why the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development offers resources to help homeowners find the best solutions for their unique circumstances. Be cautious of those who claim they could help – sadly, there are scams that take advantage of homeowners in need. Only trust your servicer or HUD-approved counseling agencies when seeking information. HUD-Approved Housing Counselors Find foreclosure-prevention counseling in your area. 800-569-4287 Homeownership Preservation Foundation A HUD-approved housing counseling agency 888-995-HOPE Making Home Affordable Loan Lookup Tool Find out if your loan is eligible for a lower rate with Making Home Affordable Quicken Loans Programs for Homeownership Preservation If Quicken Loans is your servicer, and you’re having difficulty making your payments, your best course of action is to contact our servicing team directly. At Quicken Loans, we know that your home can be your most powerful asset and your key…

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Mortgage Q&A – Mortgage Options Approaching Retirement

Mortgage Q&A – Mortgage Options Approaching Retirement

Q: My wife and I are retiring in three years. We plan to move west to be closer to our kids and grandchildren after we retire. We owe $220,000 on our mortgage and we’re paying a 6.75% mortgage rate. We missed the chance to refinance when rate were low a few months ago and, even at a lower rate, we aren’t sure if paying a lot of closing costs on a loan we’ll only be on for three years makes sense. Should we just sit tight or are there other options? A: You can take advantage of a 1st Lien Home Equity Loan. The rate is fantastic and the closing costs are very low. Let’s do some math. Rate – 3.75%     Closing Costs – $400 Current rate (6.75%) – New rate (3.75%) = $1,427 payment vs. $687 payment = $740 monthly payment savings. $740 × 36 months is $26,640. Because the Home Equity loan is interest only, you won?t be paying down principal, so you?d need to add back the $7,500 you would have paid your current loan down. You can save a net $19,100. The loan is tied to the Prime Rate. It will adjust. However, all forecasts point to the Prime Rate remaining low for the foreseeable future. Even if Prime ticks up a full percentage point, or even two, over the three year period, you will still have a lower interest rate than you have now!

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First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit – Home Loan Tips and Tricks!

First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit – Home Loan Tips and Tricks!

First-time Home Buyer Credit: Home Loans with an $8,000 Tax Credit: 5 Insider Tips Everyone’s talking about the $8,000 home loan tax credit for first-time home buyers! And now even existing homeowners can get a tax credit if they’ve owned their home 5 years or more – up to $6,500! The intention of the credit is to encourage home sales to help stabilize housing prices, minimize foreclosures and help the economy. This is great news for the personal economies of first-time buyers! Check out these tips on how to take advantage of this aspect of President Obama’s housing bailout plan. Tip #1: Think Twice! You May Be a First-Time Home Buyer and Not Even Know It! Are you a first time home buyer? Before you answer, consider this: for the purpose of this tax credit, a first-time home buyer is defined as someone who has not owned their primary residence in the past three years! Translation: thousands more people qualify for the tax credit than meet the eye. And the “primary residence” distinction is also important to note: this means that people who rent their primary residence and also own an investment property or vacation home could also get the credit for becoming owners of their residence. And now the tax credit has been expanded – homeowners who have been in their homes more than 5 years can get up to a $6,500 tax credit. Tip #2: Start Shopping Now! Make the Tax Credit Part of Your Personal Housing Bailout…

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Homeowner Income Tax Deductions

Homeowner Income Tax Deductions

Homeownership comes with a lot of advantages, especially when it comes to tax time. Make sure you’re not missing out on important home-related tax deductions. As always, please consult your tax advisor to find out which deductions apply to you. Deducting Mortgage Interest The interest you pay on a home mortgage is usually tax-deductible. You are allowed to deduct interest on multiple mortgages, as long as they add up to less than $1 million. The one criteria being that the money was used for buying, building or improving a home. Every year, you should receive a “Form 1098” from your lender which details how much mortgage interest you paid. To claim this deduction, you need to fill out “Schedule A”, under “itemized deductions” to record your interest deduction. Home mortgage interest deductions can also include late payment charges and pre-payment penalties. The only requirement is that they were not for a specific service received in connection with your home loan. Deducting Real Estate Taxes Real estate taxes are also tax-deductible. Your interest statement should list the amount of real estate taxes you paid if your taxes and homeowners insurance were placed in an escrow account when you closed on your mortgage. If your real estate taxes aren’t included on the statement, review your cancelled checks to figure out the total amount of real estate taxes paid. Deducting Mortgage Discount Points Paid on a Purchase The points you pay on a loan for a home purchase are tax-deductible for the year…

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