• Are you having a baby? Here’s a handy, downloadable PDF with a list of 50 essential items you’ll need for your new baby. Whether you’re sorting through your baby shower gifts or drafting your shopping list, these tips may help you figure out what you need most.

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  • Although vacationing during the cold winter months is exciting, it’s important to take care of all the mundane details before leaving your home for a significant amount of time. Nobody wants to worry about the safety of their home while vacationing, and you won’t have to if you take these steps.

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  • Characterized by bright colors, woven fabrics and handcrafted pieces, southwestern-style decorating takes influences from Native American, Spanish and Mexican art. Whether you live out west and want your home to reflect your surroundings, or you simply want to incorporate colorful or handmade items into your existing decor, here are some tips to help you...

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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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Your First Offer to Buy a Home

Your First Offer to Buy a Home

Alright, you’ve found the home of your dreams, or at least the one you like most that you can afford. Now you’re ready to buy the home. So the next step is to make an offer on the home. What’s a Reasonable Offer? If you’ve never bought a house before, you probably don’t even know where to start in terms of making an offer. Most sellers will price their homes a little high, knowing there will be some bargaining involved. Generally, a good place to start is at five percent below the asking price. You can also get a comparable home sales report from your agent. That will tell you what similar homes actually sold for and will give you a good ballpark where to start. If the housing market in your area is hot, you may have to make an offer that’s close to the asking price. Contingencies A contingency is nothing more than saying that you will purchase the home as long as certain things are done. Contingencies can be written into purchase agreement and can include making sure that: The appraisal and title reports are satisfactory (watch the Quicken Loans Appraisal Video Series for a complete explanation of the appraisal process, including the appraisal video). The mortgage you’re taking over is paid up to date The seller gives you a comprehensive loss underwriting report (CLUE) on the property Certain repairs are made. Set a time limit on how long it should take for the contingencies to be…

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Home Loan Refinancing Choices

Home Loan Refinancing Choices

Q. Should I refinance? If you’re in an adjustable rate mortgage, you may want to think about getting a fixed-rate mortgage. Sometimes it makes sense to refinance. Sometimes it does not. It depends greatly on your individual situation and what your financial goals are. For instance, you may want to lower your interest rate and/or monthly payment, but you need to ask yourself some questions: How long do you expect to be in your home? How much equity do you have in your home? Are you willing to pay points to get a lower rate? Can you benefit from a lower mortgage payment and extremely easy refinancing with an FHA loan? Find out if you qualify for an FHA Streamline refinance by answering a few simple questions. Will having lower payments more than make up for the closing costs, fees and points if any? Q. Should I refinance from an adjustable rate to a fixed rate? Generally, it’s a good idea to get the lowest fixed rate possible, but you also have to consider your situation. If you’re in the first year of an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) and you plan on moving in three years, it probably doesn’t make sense for you to refinance. However, if the rate on your ARM is about to adjust and you think the rate will go up, then it may make sense to get a long-term fixed-rate mortgage, especially if you don’t plan on moving in the next seven years or so.  …

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Weatherproofing Your Home For Winter

Weatherproofing Your Home For Winter

Because of the decline in the housing market, and thanks in part to the lowest mortgage rates in history, more and more people are choosing to refinance their home loan rather than move to a new home. Low rates can mean lower mortgage payments and bigger savings to your bottom line! All good news! But one thing people seem to forget is that by staying in your current home, you’ll need to pay more attention to your home’s upkeep and maintenance. Chances are if your home is more than 10 years old it is in need of some winter weather maintenance to keep it in optimal shape. Here are some simple and easy things you can do to add to the life of your home while saving you money on energy bills in the long run. Weatherproofing your windows and doors The first place you should check when you begin to weatherproof your home for winter, is to check around your windows and doors for caulk that looks stiff or crumbly. If it is peeling, chipping or otherwise falling apart, it definitely needs to be replaced. Fortunately replacing weatherproofing caulk is easy and inexpensive and even the most ‘unhandy’ handymen can replace old caulking. Use a screwdriver or utility knife to remove the old caulk. Take care to completely remove all of the old caulking, and lay down a new bead of caulking in its place. Choose a brand of exterior caulk with a long lifespan, and use a damp…

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Home Equity Loans and Cash-Out Refinancing

Home Equity Loans and Cash-Out Refinancing

Let’s say you have a home that’s worth $150,000 and you owe $100,000 on the mortgage. That means you have $50,000 of equity in your home. A cash-out refinance allows you to access that equity. For instance, if you need $10,000, you can refinance your mortgage so that you owe $110,000 and the lender then gives you $10,000 in cash at closing. Since every homeowner’s situation is different, your best option will depend on your specific circumstances. Quicken Loans has several mortgage options to choose from. When you compare cash-out refinance loans further, there are a few things you should consider in order to determine what’s best for you: Speed Need cash fast? Cash-out refinances can be done as quickly as two weeks. Rate A cash-out refinance loan typically has a lower rate than a home equity loan and can be done without taking out a second mortgage. Term Cash-out refinances lump all your payments into one low payment instead of having multiple payments due each month. A Quicken Loans mortgage expert can help you learn more about a cash-out refinance loan. With your own personal mortgage expert to guide you, you’ll have no trouble determining if this loan is right for you. If you still have questions, please call us at 800-251-9080 to talk to a refinance expert today. We can help you determine which refinancing option is best for your situation.  

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How to Improve Your Credit Score

How to Improve Your Credit Score

There are no quick fixes to improve your credit score. But you can raise your score over time by consistently managing your finances responsibly. One way to learn how to do this is with Quizzle.com, where you’ll get access to a Credit Personal Trainer that will show you exactly what it takes to reach your credit potential. In the meantime, any of the following ten tips can help you to improve your credit score: Pay your bills on time. This is the best way to improve your score, and it’s never too late to start. Even if you’ve had serious delinquencies in the past, those will count less over time if you keep paying your bills on time. Keep credit card balances low. High outstanding debt can pull down your score. Don’t go maxing out your credit cards all the time. Check your credit report for accuracy. It’s possible that there may be inaccurate information on your credit report that can be easily cleared up (see How To Fix Credit Report Inaccuracies). If this proves to be the case, then you should contact one of the three credit reporting agencies — TransUnion, Experian or Equifax. Pay off debt rather than moving it around. Consolidating your credit card debt onto one card or spreading it over multiple cards will not improve your score in the long run. The most effective way to improve your score is by simply paying down the amount you owe. Keep your credit cards – but manage…

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Important Information You Should Know Regarding Mortgage Refinance Appraisals

Important Information You Should Know Regarding Mortgage Refinance Appraisals

You have researched the options available to you and realized the benefits of moving forward with a refinance. The paperwork has been processed, the home loan has been conditionally approved and the next step is the appraisal. There are several questions surrounding the appraisal process and what to expect. The appraisal is ultimately your safeguard against spending more on your home than it’s worth. It’s also a safeguard for your mortgage company to not lend out more on a property than it’s currently worth. Appraisers are always 3rd parties in the mortgage process (it’s illegal for the appraiser to work directly with or for the mortgage company) and they have only one purpose – to realistically judge a property for its actual worth at the time of the appraisal. Watch our Real Estate Appraisal Video Series on YouTube. We’ll walk you through an entire appraisal in this six-part video series, which will certainly answer any questions you may have about mortgage refinance appraisal inspections. If you’d rather continue reading than watch a video, below are the top things to understand about an appraisal. These should answer most of your questions regarding the appraisal process during a refinance, but in case you still have a questions, please call us at (800) 863-4332 or email help@quickenloans.comand we’ll answer all your concerns. How long will an appraisal inspection take? The physical appraisal inspection usually lasts anywhere from 5-30 minutes, depending on the size and complexity of the home. The appraiser will make note of the…

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