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Posted by St. Martin Team on 4/19/2018

If you’ve been considering taking the next step toward homeownership, you’ve likely heard about FHA loans. Offered by the Federal Housing Administration (hence, “FHA”), these loans are great for a number of people hoping to purchase a home but who don’t have a large down payment saved.

There are many misconceptions about FHA loans since they’re often advertised by large, private mortgage lenders but are technically a government program. In order to clear up some of the confusion, we’ve provided answers to some frequently asked questions regarding FHA loans.

Read on to learn about FHA loans and how they might help you purchase a home.

Who issues an FHA loan?

FHA loans aren’t issued by the government. Rather, they’re issued by private lenders but insured, or “guaranteed,” by the government.

Since lenders want to make sure they’ll see a positive return from lending to you, they typically want you to have a high credit score and a large down payment (typically 20%). However, not everyone is able to meet those requirements. In this situation, the FHA is able to help you acquire a loan by giving your lender a guarantee.

Are there different types of FHA loans?

Yes. In fact, there are nine distinct types of loans guaranteed by the FHA. These include fixed rate mortgages, adjustable rate mortgages, refinance loans, reverse mortgages, VA loans, and more.

What do you need to qualify for an FHA loan?

It’s a common misconception that you need to be a first-time buyer to qualify for an FHA loan. However, if you have previously owned a home that was foreclosed on or if you’ve filed for bankruptcy, the foreclosure and bankruptcy have to be at least three years old.

You’ll also need to demonstrate a stable employment history, usually including two years of employment with the same employer.

Finally, the FHA will ask you for your current and previous addresses, the last two years tax returns, and the W-2 forms from any of your recent jobs.

What is the most I can borrow with an FHA loan?

The FHA sets mortgage limits on loans depending on the state and county you’ll be living in. For a single-family home, the limit ranges from $275,000 to $451,000. So be sure to check the limits for your state and county.

Can you refinance an FHA loan?

Refinancing a loan is a great way to receive a lower interest rate or to shorten the term of their mortgage to save in the total number of interest payments. In fact, the FHA typically only allows refinancing when it will result in lower interest payments on a loan.

What is the minimum credit score needed to qualify for an FHA loan?

While you don’t need excellent credit to qualify for a loan, the FHA will require you to have a score of at least a 580. You can check your score for free online from a number of companies, such as Mint or Credit Karma. Be aware, however, that scores vary between credit bureaus. So, it’s a good idea to check your FICO score once per year, which is the score used by mortgage lenders.




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Posted by St. Martin Team on 4/12/2018

If you intend to sell your house, it pays to get expert support throughout the home selling journey. In fact, if you hire a real estate agent, you can put various home selling myths to rest.

Ultimately, there are many home selling myths that you may hear before you list your house. If you take these myths to heart, you may struggle to prepare for the home selling process.

Let's take a look at three common home selling myths, and the problems associated with these myths.

1. Selling a house is a quick, seamless process.

The process of selling a house often can be long and complicated, particularly for a first-time home seller. Fortunately, if you hire a real estate agent, you can reduce the risk of encountering home selling hurdles.

A real estate agent will learn about you and your home selling goals. Then, this housing market professional will offer recommendations about how to promote your residence to the right groups of buyers and maximize your house's value.

Furthermore, a real estate agent is available to respond to questions at each stage of the home selling journey. He or she will guide you along each stage of this journey, and as such, help you identify and resolve problems before they escalate.

2. What you originally paid for your house matches what it is worth today.

The real estate market fluctuates constantly. Thus, what you initially paid for your house is unlikely to match what your residence is worth today.

A real estate agent can help you evaluate housing market data to better understand how your residence stacks up against the competition. That way, you'll be better equipped than ever before to establish a competitive price for your residence.

Also, a real estate agent may recommend that you complete a home appraisal. This appraisal will enable you to receive a property valuation to help you determine the optimal initial asking price for your home.

3. There is no need to make home improvements, because a buyer will make home upgrades after finalizing a purchase.

When it comes to selling a house, it pays to go above and beyond the call of duty. Therefore, if you complete myriad home improvements before listing your house, you can increase the likelihood that your home will stand out to potential buyers.

Take some time to examine your residence both inside and out. If you identify any major problems, you should fix these issues immediately. Because if you fail to do so, you may miss out on opportunities to stir up interest in your house.

A real estate agent generally can provide recommendations about home upgrades. This housing market professional may even be able to put you in touch with the best local contractors who can help you upgrade your residence in no time at all.

Don't fall victim to the aforementioned home selling myths. Instead, work with a real estate agent, and you can get the help you need to quickly and effortlessly navigate the home selling cycle.




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Posted by St. Martin Team on 4/5/2018

If you’re looking to buy a property in the near future, you may be considering a condominium as a part of your search criteria. There’s so much to consider when you are deciding on whether to buy a condo or a traditional home. Condos can be great for the right buyers. You just need to be sure that your needs will be met by purchasing a condo. Hopefully, laying out the pros and cons will help you to make an informed decision that’s right for you.

The Positives

There’s many great pros to buying a condo. For people who seek security and easy upkeep living, buying a condo can be great for the following reasons:   

Security: Many condominiums offer gated communities with security staff on duty. In this way, living in a condo gives you a special sort of safe community feel. 

Amenities: Condos also offer many different kinds of perks for owners. These can include a pool, a clubhouse, or community events. You won’t get all of these unique benefits living in a traditional house.

Maintenance: You don’t have to worry about maintaining your home or the surrounding areas. In a condo, someone else takes care of it for you! When your heating unit fails, it will be taken care of. This is one of the great benefits to this style of home.  

Accessible prices: Condos are much more affordable than homes in many places.  Purchasing a condo can be a great first step to home ownership.   

The Negatives


HOA Fees: All of the amenities that condos carry come at a price. You as the homeowner cover the costs of maintenance and security in the community. This fee is paid on top of your mortgage payment. In some cases, the association fees can vary widely, so plan your finances accordingly. 

Privacy: Living in a condo is similar to living in an apartment. There’s a lack of privacy that exists when you’re sharing walls with your neighbors. You’ll hear people going up and down the halls and fellow owners will be around you 24 hours a day. If you enjoy your privacy and space, condo living may not be for you. 

Selling: If you have seen one condo in a specific complex, you have seen them all. That’s what makes selling a condo difficult at times. If a building has more empty units than not, the condo may be more difficult to sell. Keep this in mind when you’re searching.   

Condos Have Rules: Living in a condo means you’re living under the management’s rules. You may not to be able to install the technology that you want like solar panels and satellite TV under the community regulations, for example. A condominium's home owner association may limit things like what you can do in your yard or hang on your door.

In Summary

The decision to buy a condo over a single family home is a big one. There’s many different things that need to be considered on an individual basis for your choice to be complete. Look at your decision from all angles. A condo could be a great pathway to home ownership for many people.       





Posted by St. Martin Team on 3/29/2018

If you want to promote your house to potential buyers, there is no shortage of options at your disposal. In fact, some of the proven ways to showcase a residence to potential buyers include:

1. Home Listing

A home listing can make a world of difference for any home seller, at any time. However, it is important to note that not all home listings are created equal. But if a seller allocates the necessary time and resources to create an effective home listing, he or she should have no trouble stirring up interest in a residence.

Oftentimes, an effective home listing includes accurate information about a home's age and condition. The listing also should be both informative and engaging.

The ideal home listing should be shared with a seller's family members and friends too. That way, a seller's loved ones can offer details to lots of potential buyers about a residence, thereby increasing the likelihood of a fast home sale.

2. Social Media

Facebook, Twitter and other social networks are exceedingly valuable to home sellers. These networks enable sellers to share details about their residences, as well as respond to potential buyers' concerns and questions.

If you decide to share details about your home via social media, it often helps to include high-resolution photographs of your residence. With these photographs, a seller can showcase various areas of a home and help a buyer determine whether to set up a date and time to check out a residence in-person.

Furthermore, don't forget to post to social media regularly. Because the more frequently that a seller shares details about his or her home across social networks, the more likely it becomes that a potential buyer will learn about the residence and schedule a home showing.

3. Real Estate Agent

If you are unsure about how to promote your residence to potential buyers, there is no need to worry. Dozens of real estate agents are available in cities and towns nationwide, and these housing market professionals can guide you along the home selling process.

A real estate agent will learn about your home selling goals, as well as your residence. Then, this housing market professional will offer home selling suggestions and help you map out a successful home selling strategy.

Typically, a real estate agent will set up home showings and open house events, keep you up to date about offers on your residence and negotiate with a buyer's agent on your behalf. He or she also is unafraid to speak from the heart, and as such, will provide honest, unbiased home selling recommendations.

Perhaps best of all, a real estate agent can respond to your home selling queries. This housing market professional will even educate you about the real estate market and ensure that you can make informed home selling decisions.

Ready to promote your residence to large groups of potential buyers? Use the aforementioned options, and you can improve your chances of stirring up substantial interest in your house.




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Posted by St. Martin Team on 3/22/2018

Buying a new home is a commitment. Not just to a mortgage but to the house itself, the neighborhood and your local community. And for many, this is part of what makes purchasing a new home so rewarding. To have a place to truly settle into and call their own. Part of that settling in includes crafting a timeless interior that will welcome you home for years to come.

But going about creating a timeless home can feel intimidating. Magazines and television shows focus on the trends and how to keep up with what’s current. Following these cues will only leave you with a home that will become quickly outdated.  

The key is to mix a variety of styles both old and new. Resist settling for one particular style for a home that seamlessly transcends the decades to come. And while you don’t want to fully jump into any one trend, adding a few accent pieces will keep your home fresh and modern. Art, throw pillows, and small details are the perfect decor pieces to take advantage of trends with. Large investment pieces, however, are best kept neutral and in a style that has already proven itself to be classic.

Styles that earn the title of classic are usually simple with just one element that reflects the era of its inspiration. Think a couch with tufting but in a warm beige or a table with ornate millwork that boasts its natural wood coloring. Whereas a tufted couch in a print or ornate millwork painted a color from a trend that has come and gone will date the look of your whole room.

Neutral colors are best used for the majority of your color palette, leaving color for your accent pieces. That doesn’t mean your home needs to lack depth, however. Choose different tones for your paint swatches and reach for a variety of textures when adding fabrics. Having a diverse range of tones and textures will add visual interest without depending on color to do the job.

Natural elements such as wood, stone, and glass also help to bring depth to your neutral color palette and maintain a timeless look. Wood flooring is well worth the cost in the long run both in terms of maintenance and style. An exposed brick wall makes a statement without becoming dated. A leather couch or armchair adds warmth and sophistication. While cotton, linen and wool textiles add natural texture to your furnishings.

Homebuyers often dream about the decades to come spent in their new home’s rooms. They want to spend time living life’s moments to the fullest and not fussing over decor every ten years. Creating a timeless look for your home doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. Keeping to a neutral color palette and natural elements guarantee a classic home that you will love coming home to for years to come.  




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