4 Upgrades that can help you lower your homeowner’s insurance cost

reduce your insurance premium

Homeowners’ insurance premiums continue to rise each year. Here are some simple ways to not only lower your insurance premium, but they can also increase your property value.

  1. Do you have a bad roof that’s been leaking, has rotting wood, and is as old as you are? Did you know that insurers offer discounts for roof upgrades? Talk to your insurance agent and see what discounts are available with a new roof.
  2. Storm-Safe Windows and Doors can increase the value of your home, but it can also help you reduce your insurance premiums. Talk with your insurance agent to see what discounts are available to you.
  3. Install a Home Security System. This is an upgrade that’s relatively cheap and can reduce your insurance premium. Talk to your insurance agent.
  4. A Water shutoff device is another easy device that you can install which can help reduce your insurance premium. This device will alert you of moisture or leaks in places that shouldn’t have water. Talk with your insurance agent to see what discounts are available.

These are just a few of the things that can help you lower your insurance premiums. Don’t forget to contact your insurance agent when you get these upgrades to update your policy.

Your Home Buying Checklist

Are you a home buyer in Pinellas County, Florida
  1. Separating your wants -vs- your needs.

Here are a few tips for home buyers that are shopping for houses. How to narrow down your search.

  • What do you need in a Home?
  • What do you want in a Home?

Before you even start shopping think about what you actually need in the home for you and your family. There is a huge difference in what you want compared to what you need. If you work from home all the time you may need a home office. If you work from home once a week you can also say I need a home office. Is a home office really necessary if you only work once a week from home? The bigger the home, the more expensive, so it helps to break down needs versus wants.

Arona McGinley Realtor in Tampa florida

2. Be realistic about your finances

Look at your finances, determine what you can afford to spend monthly for your mortgage. Do you have money for a down payment? Do you have money for escrow? This will determine what price range of homes you can afford.

3. Talk to Lenders, get pre-approved.

This is a letter from a lender that you give to the sellers to show that you are serious about buying their home. It says that the lender is committed to lending you this much to purchase their home.

Once you determine that you are ready to be a homeowner talk with a Realtor about market conditions. This is one of the biggest investments don’t just wing it.


Why is the Appraisal so critical to your real estate transaction?

Arona McGinley Realtor in Tampa florida

Did you know that the appraisal can make or break your real estate sale? The appraiser works for the bank, not the seller or the buyer.

In real estate transactions, we have 3 significant players – the buyer, the seller, and the lender. The Appraiser is the eyes of the lender in the field. An Appraiser plays a vital role in every real estate transaction.

For example, we have a real estate transaction of a sale price of $300,000. The buyer is putting 10% down which is $30,000. He is getting a loan in the amount of $270,000. Everyone so far thinks this home is worth $300,000, obviously, the buyer thinks this because he made an offer for the sale price of $300,000.

The lender now sends the Appraiser out to the home to get an appraisal of what the home is worth. Here is where it can become pretty tricky. When the appraiser goes out here are a few things that can happen:

  1. The appraiser determines that the value of the home is higher than the sales price, maybe its $305,000 instead of $300,000. This is great news because we can go ahead with our transaction.
  2. The appraiser, appraisers the value of the home at $300,000 which is the sales price. Excellent! We move ahead with the transaction.
  3. The appraiser values that home lower than the sales price for example $290,000. This becomes a problem for all parties involved. A couple of things can happen here which is not so great for the parties involved.
  • The Lender can still lend the buyer the money to purchase the home but only for $290,000, not the $300,000 sale price.
  • The seller can either eat the $10,000 and sell the home for $290,000 instead of $300,000. This can sometimes happen, where the seller comes down to the new appraisal price.
  • The buyer can buy the home at $300,000 but would have to bring additional money to the table. You can see this happening in a seller’s market. The loan is now $290,000 with a down payment of $29,0000, the loan amount would be $261,000. The buyer has to bring an extra $10,000 to purchase the home at $300,000.
  • The last thing that can happen is that the whole transaction blows up because neither party is willing to negotiate.

You can see how the Appraiser is vital to a real estate transaction. It does not matter what the buyer or the seller thinks the home is worth. It matters what the Appraiser thinks…that’s what counts!

What is a 4 Point Inspection?

4 POINT INSPECTION

Your offer has been accepted to purchase your dream home, and now you have to set up an inspection to make sure the home is in good condition.

When buying a home, you will have to get a home inspection if you’re getting a mortgage and even if you are purchasing with cash. You want to have a home inspection done no matter what the situation. By having a 4-point inspection done, it lets the bank or the homeowners know the quality of the home that they are purchasing.

A 4-point home inspection includes

  • Foundation
  • Roof
  • Electrical
  • Plumbing
  • HVAC systems
  • Damages caused by termites, flood, fire, and mold.

Any of the above can impact the value of your home. If a home inspection is not done, and later you find out that the foundation is cracked or the roof is rotted, this can be a costly fix for the buyer.

Once something is revealed in the home inspection you can negotiate with the seller for a lower asking price.

Who can do a 4-Point Home Inspection?

  • A Florida licensed general contractor
  • Architect
  • Building Inspector
  • Engineer
  • ASHI Home Inspectors
  • FABI Building Inspectors
  • NACHI Certified Home Inspectors

**A Home Owner cannot do a Home Inspection

Home Purchasing Costs & Fees

Here are some of the costs that you will have when purchasing a home in Florida.

Are you Financially Prepared To Buy Your Home?

are you financially prepared to buy your home

You’ve made the decision to purchase your home but are you financially prepared to buy your home.

Here are a list of things that you need to know now.

  • Evaluate your current Income versus your Expenses
  • Do you know your Credit Score?
  • Figure out what you can afford for your monthly payments
  • Do you have Savings?
  • Do you know your Debt to Income Ratio?

Are You Ready To Buy Your Home?

Your guide to buying your first home -

Buying a home can be the most exciting time for you and your family. But don’t lose out on the home of your dreams by doing this alone. This is one of the biggest financial transactions of your life, and I want to help you by making this experience less stressful.

As you go through the process you may have questions on –

  1. Downpayment – How much is required as a downpayment of a home?
  2. How do I get a Mortgage for this home?
  3. How do I complete the Mortgage application?
  4. Do I have enough money saved up to buy this home?
  5. Do I have a good credit score?
  6. How do I write up an offer on my dream home?
  7. How do I negotiate to get the best price?
  8. How do I submit an offer on my dream home?
  9. What do I do when the Seller accepts my offer?
  10. How do I get the home inspected?
  11. How do I negotiate repairs?
  12. How do I get a title search?
  13. How do I get a survey?
  14. What are my closing costs?

There are so many things to think about when buying your home. Don’t go through this alone. Call/Text 727-422-9340 I can help you buy the dream home for you and your family.

5 Must-do Home Improvement Projects to sell your home in 2020

5 home improvement projects to sell your home in 2020

You’re ready to sell your home, and although you’ve always kept your home in great condition you still need to do some extra maintenance. When selling your home your property has to be in tiptop shape if you’re going to get top dollar when you sell. If you’re selling your home you still want to have your home looking good on the inside as well as the outside. Even if your home is on the market for 3 months or more, you have to keep giving that home your love, even if you have already vacated the home. When your home looks like its well cared for, you get more people interested in looking at it and even get top dollar. Here are some tips that you may already be doing or neglecting.

  1. Landscaping – your lawn should be mowed, trees and shrubs trimmed, flower beds should look lush. Your driveway and walkways should be well lit without weeds and leaves on it.
  2. Gutters – people tend to forget that you get all sorts of debris in your gutters. Make sure that your gutters are cleaned out. By not doing this you can have all sorts of issues with your roof, walls of home and drainage issues. You don’t want to deal with overflowing drains if it rains, or damage walls or foundation issues or drainage issues when selling your home.
  3. Fix Broken things – Buyers tend to check to make sure the doorbell works. It’s one of the things that people tend to forget when getting their home ready for the sale. Lots of times it doesn’t work. This may be something small to you, but to buyers, this can be a big deal. Fix leaky faucets and running toilets.
  4. Critters – go around your home and make sure you don’t have squirrels or other critters living in your attic or other areas of your home.
  5. Clean Windows and Doors – If your home is on the market for more than a month you will have to get those windows and doors cleaned up. Get rid of cobwebs or spiderwebs that may have built up around them. Not doing this will make the home look neglected.

Get your punch list made up, and make sure you’ve got all of these little things taken care of. By doing these small things you can get more return on your investment.


How Much Home Can You Afford? Your Monthly Mortgage Payment Made Easy

afford more house

How much house can you afford? Knowing you want to buy a home is one thing; knowing how much of a mortgage payment you can handle is quite another. Too often, dreams and reality collide: You’re yearning for a four-bedroom Colonial, but given your income and debt owed to credit cards and beyond, the best monthly loan payment you can manage is for a two-bedroom bungalow in a sketchy party of town.

So how do you pinpoint a house where the monthly mortgage payment is financially within your reach, and one that won’t drive you deep into debt? Allow us to help you paint your payment profile picture and find that magic number.

Why your mortgage payment depends on your income

Getting a ballpark estimate of how much house you can afford starts with looking at your income, or how much money you’re pulling in.

“The general rule of thumb is that you can purchase a home that costs two or three times your annual income,” says Harrine Freeman, a financial expert and the owner of H.E. Freeman Enterprises.

So if you’re earning $80,000 per year (and you have a reasonable amount of job security and don’t expect wild fluctuations in your income anytime soon), you can afford a house up to three times that, or $240,000.

That said, income isn’t everything, and this is just a ballpark figure to get you started.

“Tripling your income is only an estimate and does not account for your monthly bills,” says Freeman. So let’s dive into more specifics on what makes your payment pass muster.

Why your mortgage payment depends on your income and debt

Your income is only half the picture of what determines the monthly mortgage payment you can afford. The other half is your debt—meaning the debt you owe to credit cards, college loans, and other credit sources. Even if your income is high, having high credit debt means you have less money to put toward a monthly mortgage.

One way to factor your income and credit debt into how much mortgage you can afford is to follow the 28/36 rule, a simple but effective ratio for mortgage affordability.

The “28″ refers to your monthly housing payment—things such as mortgage, home insurance, and property taxes—which shouldn’t be more than 28% of your gross monthly income (ideally this payment should be less). This payment is easy to calculate, because all you need to do is multiply. For example, if your gross (meaning before taxes are taken out) monthly income is $6,000, you would multiply that by 28% (or 0.28), which equals $1,680—this is the maximum amount of your monthly housing payment.

The “36″ refers to your debt-to-income ratio. This ratio compares your debt, or how much money you owe (to credit cards, colleges, car loans, and—hopefully soon—a home loan) to your income. This ratio should be “no more than 36%,” says Freeman; ideally, this ratio should be much lower.

Think about this ratio in terms of your monthly expenses: If you have a monthly income of $6,000 but also spend $500 paying off credit cards or other debt, you would divide $500 by $6,000 to get a debt-to-income ratio of 8.3%. This ratio is great, but adding $1,680 in monthly mortgage payments would push up your debt load to $2,180 and your debt-to-income ratio to 36%. This ratio is exactly the maximum experts say you can afford. Going past this threshold is a risky move. Ignore this ratio, and you could end up with a house that, over time, could drive you even deeper into debt.

How a down payment fits into the picture

Last but not least, the amount you have for a down payment matters, too. Ideally, to get the best mortgage rates and terms, you’ll want a down payment amounting to 20% of the price of the house. But if you don’t have that much, rest assured you can put down less. FHA loans, for instance, need a down payment of only 3.5%.

Once you know both the down payment you plan to contribute as well as your monthly income and debt, you can easily work out the maximum monthly mortgage payment you can afford—and by extension, the priciest house you should buy.

According to realtor.com®’s Home Affordability Calculator, if you earn $6,000 monthly, pay $500 monthly in debts (pre-house), and can make a down payment of $40,000, if you get a 30-year fixed mortgage at 4% interest you can afford a house worth $277,800. Plug in your own numbers and see what happens!

How mortgage pre-approval can estimate your mortgage payment, too

Another easy way to get a sense of how much you can comfortably pay in monthly mortgage payments is to approach a mortgage lender and apply for mortgage pre-approval. That’s where the lender will take a look at your income, debt, credit score, credit report, and other factors of your financial past to determine how much money it’s willing to loan you to buy a home.

Note: If you’re not sure what your credit score is or why it matters, here’s a quick crash course: A credit score is your track record paying off past debt you’ve had on credit cards or college loans. The better your credit score, the better your odds of landing a great mortgage. (You can check your credit score for free at CreditKarma.com.) If your payment to debt sources has had some rough patches via late or missing payments, this could stand against you. The good news? If you take care of past debt and make your monthly payments on time, you can improve your credit score over time.

Mortgage pre-approval doesn’t just tell you exactly how big your monthly mortgage payment can be. As a bonus, pre-approval also makes you a more attractive buyer to home sellers, since they know you have financing to back up your offer.

Beyond your monthly mortgage payment: What else do you have to pay?

In addition to your down payment and monthly mortgage payments, you’ll want to budget for some other costs. The big one is closing costs, which are fees related to processing your loan that can range from 2% to 7% of your home’s price. Closing costs aren’t paid monthly; rather they are due at closing, when you get your keys. So make sure to set aside enough money to cover this sizable expense!

The other big ongoing expense to factor into your monthly budget is property taxes. Property taxes are often folded into the monthly payments you’ll find in a mortgage calculator, but they’re worth examining as a distinct factor since they vary greatly by area. So, you’ll want to check property taxes carefully. You can typically find the exact amount (or an estimate) of the property taxes you’ll pay on real estate listings, or by entering your address into an online home value estimator.

One final housing expense to keep in mind is homeowners insurance. This is also factored into payment estimates made by realtor.com’s mortgage calculator. One ballpark payment to keep in mind is that the average annual premium costs just shy of $1,000. This payment will vary by area and home, too. You can often break up this payment into small monthly installments so you won’t feel the pinch quite so much.

Add it all together = How much house you can afford

Once you’ve determined how much you can afford as a monthly mortgage payment, you can confidently embark on your house hunt!

Having a certain mortgage payment ceiling in mind, based on concrete numbers like your monthly income and debt, means you won’t end up busting your budget. You can choose a house that fits comfortably in your payment profile, so you know you can handle the monthly bills with ease.

If you find your monthly income and mortgage budget aren’t enough to snag the type of home you want, you’ll have to start weighing what you absolutely must have in your home—and what you’re willing to sacrifice if necessary.

Use the “pick 2″ rule: payment, quality, location. Typically you can prioritize two of those categories, but not all three. Your best bet is to stick to an amazing neighborhood for an amazingly low monthly loan payment, and know that your home might not have that pool, wine cellar, or other amenities you’d hoped for.

These trade-offs are just the reality of scrounging together enough of a payment to manage a mortgage and a house without getting sucked deep into debt—so don’t be disheartened.

If your monthly payments are falling short of your dream house, try widening your search to different neighborhoods or knocking a few items off your must-have list until you find the location and amenities that best fit your budget. Weigh what really matters for your dream home, then start performing preliminary searches online using sites such as realtor.com. And try to stay optimistic!

With enough searching and some luck, you can find a dream house that not only has all the features you want, but also meets your payment profile—from your income to debt to credit score and more.

Article from Realtor.com