6 Reasons to Buy a New House Before You Sell

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It’s not uncommon for sellers to search for a new home while simultaneously hosting open houses to encourage buyers to make an offer on their current home. But while common, being both a buyer and a seller is difficult enough, and even more so when you’re trying to time a sale with the purchase of a new home. If your current home sells quickly, you might feel rushed into your next home purchase if you want to avoid a move into short-term housing while you continue your search.

While the prospect of paying two mortgages for your current home for sale in San Diego, CA, and a new property across the country may send shivers up your spine, there are some definite advantages to buying a house before selling your current home. Plus, if you take advantage of the protections in place for sellers who are also looking for a new home, there is little risk in purchasing a new home before your current home sale is complete.

Here are some considerations to help determine when to buy a house before selling your current one.

  1. You enjoy knowing what’s ahead of you. If you’re the type of person who feels nervous leaping into the unknown, you may find you’re more emotionally equipped to part with your current home when you know you’ve got your next place lined up.
  2. You have time to hold out for what you want. You won’t feel rushed into settling for a home that’s less than perfect just so you have somewhere to live (or because your friends are getting sick of your crashing in their guest room). You’ll be able to wait for the perfect house, whether it’s in the perfect neighborhood, has a perfect layout, or is the perfect price (or all three!).
  3. You could still bring cash to the table. You may qualify for a bridge loan if your credit is good and you have enough equity in your current home. Bridge loans allow transitioning homeowners who haven’t yet sold their current home to access the money they need for a down payment on a new home.
  4. You save on extra moving costs and hassle. If you sell your home before you buy the next one, you may wind up moving twice – first to temporary housing and then to your new home. If you buy first, you’ll need to move only once. If your temporary residence is small, like a studio apartment or a guest room in a friend’s house, you’ll also face storage fees for all your furnishings in limbo.
  5. You have a safety net. Although it’s not as attractive to the sellers you’re buying from, an offer that’s contingent on the sale of your current home allows you to put your next house under contract while still giving yourself extra time to find a buyer for your current home. In theory, that’s the best of both worlds.
  6. Your next home is too good to pass up. You’ve found your dream home, and the seller is extremely motivated. If you love the home so much that you know you’ll regret letting this opportunity pass you by, then it could be worth taking a leap.

How do you decide when to buy a house? Have you bought a new home before selling your current home? Share your experience in the comments below!

 

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ABCs of Real Estate: Quick Guide To Common Terms

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Home-buying and selling is stressful – and with industry acronyms and real estate terms flying at you from all directions, you may feel overwhelmed navigating your new real estate reality. Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer sifting through home for sale in Chicago, IL, or a seasoned investor, there’s always more to learn. Trulia’s quick guide to common real estate terms is a good place to start. Download the PDF here and find more helpful information in the articles below.

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How Long Does It Actually Take to Get a Mortgage?

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By Christine DiGangi

It may have happened several years ago, but Americans haven’t forgotten about the financial crisis.

Perhaps no one knows that better right now than the Quicken Loans social media team, which has dealt with an onslaught of criticism since a commercial for its mortgage app aired during Super Bowl 50.

“You could get a mortgage on your phone,” the commercial narrator says, as people tap a “BUY A HOME” app button while doing everyday things, like working and exercising. The commercial goes on to theorize the app – dubbed the Rocket Mortgage in reference to the eight minutes it takes a space shuttle to reach orbit – would make the mortgage process easier, which would lead to more homebuying, which would lead to the purchase of goods, which would then lead to more homebuying.

Some viewers, however, did not appreciate this message and, instead, interpreted the spot as a call for a new housing bubble. Here are a few tweets that went out after the commercial aired.

  • “Rocket Mortgage: Like The Housing Crisis Never Happened!” – John Ezekowitz (@JohnEzekowitz) February 8, 2016
  • “I’m sorry, but did Rocket Mortgage just describe the 2008 Financial Collapse in their ad? I’m pretty sure they did.” – David Sibley (@davidsibley) February 8, 2016
  • “The subprime crisis was so nice, let’s do it again #RocketMortgage #sb50 ad” – Evelyn Rusli (@EvelynRusli) February 8, 2016

Given the role of loose lending standards in the financial crisis, it’s understandable why some people would not respond well to a company touting quick and easy mortgages. Still, it’s important to keep in mind that, even with technological advancements, you generally can’t get a mortgage in eight minutes.

There are still underwriting requirements introduced post-2008 that lenders have to meet. And the Quicken isn’t really selling an 8-minute mortgage anyway. Its Rocket Mortgage references pre-approval, the first step in the mortgage process in which a lender looks closely at your credit report, your employment history and your income and determines which loan programs you qualify for, the maximum amount that you can borrow, and the interest rates you will be offered. Following pre-approval, Quicken’s loans are still subject to other steps in the mortgage approval process, such as the home appraisal.

“Rocket Mortgage isn’t about changing the RIGOR of the underwriting – rather it’s about dramatically increasing the efficiency of the process,” Jordan Fylonenko, a public relations manager for Quicken Loans, wrote in an email statement to Credit.com. “While clients can complete Rocket Mortgage quickly, the entire process is in their control and done at the speed they desire.”

The Mortgage Application Process

In reality, it generally takes roughly a month and a half, on average, to get from start to finish in the mortgage process. In December, the average time to closing was 49 days (that’s for all purchase and refinance loans), according to data from Ellie Mae, a software company that processes a massive amount of home loans.

As far as speed goes when it comes to buying a home, technology like Quicken’s Rocket Mortgage app could be helpful. (The app is designed to simplify things by reducing paperwork and leveraging Big Data to verify your application information.) Still, it’s important to remember to still do your due diligence when looking for loan. For instance, you’ll want to comparison shop for mortgage lenders.

You’ll also want to make sure your credit is in tip-top shape so you can qualify for the best terms and conditions. It’s a good idea to pull copies of your credits reports prior to filling out mortgage applications to check for errors and to see if there is anything you can do to improve your credit scores. (You can do so by pulling your reports for free each year at AnnualCreditReport.com and viewing your credit scores for free each month on Credit.com.) If necessary, you can rebuild credit by pinpointing your areas of opportunity, disputing inaccurate information and establishing a positive positive history. You can learn more about fixing your credit here.

 

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Mortgage Rates Fall Further, Hitting 3.50%

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ZillowThe weekly mortgage rate chart illustrates the average 30-year fixed interest rate in six-hour intervals.

By Lauren Braun

Mortgage rates for 30-year fixed loans fell this week, with the rate borrowers were quoted on Zillow at 3.50 percent Tuesday, down 11 basis points from last week.

The 30-year fixed mortgage rate fell throughout the week, reaching 3.47 percent on Sunday before rising slightly.

“Mortgage rates fell last week, touching their lowest levels since mid-2013 before edging slightly higher on Monday,” said Erin Lantz, vice president of mortgages at Zillow. “This week, markets will look toward Friday’s monthly jobs report and should move upward if the data exceeds expectations.”

Additionally, the 15-year fixed mortgage rate was 2.72 percent. For 5/1 ARMs, the rate was 2.73 percent.

Check Zillow for mortgage rate trends and up-to-the-minute mortgage rates for your state, or use the mortgage calculator to calculate monthly payments at the current rates.

 

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30-Year Mortgage Rates Continue to Trend Lower

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ZillowThe weekly mortgage rate chart illustrates the average 30-year fixed interest rate in six-hour intervals.

By Lauren Braun

Mortgage rates for 30-year fixed loans fell this week, with the current rate borrowers were quoted on Zillow at 3.59 percent, down nine basis points from last week.

The 30-year fixed mortgage rate fell throughout the week, reaching 3.56 percent on Monday before rising slightly.

“Mortgage rates fell last week to their lowest levels since last April on the heels of falling oil prices and continued global turmoil surrounding growth worries in China,” said Erin Lantz, vice president of mortgages at Zillow. “With little U.S. economic data on the docket this week, more ‘flight-to-quality’ should dominate headlines until markets find a bottom.”

Additionally, the 15-year fixed mortgage rate was 2.79 percent. For 5/1 ARMs, or adjustable-rate mortgages, the rate was 2.66 percent.

Check Zillow for mortgage rate trends and up-to-the-minute rates for your state, or use the mortgage calculator to calculate monthly payments at the current rates.

 

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Mortgage Rates Fall Below 3.7%

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ZillowThe weekly mortgage rate chart illustrates the average 30-year fixed interest rate in six-hour intervals.

By Lauren Braun

Mortgage rates for 30-year fixed home loans fell this week, with the current rate borrowers were quoted on Zillow at 3.68 percent, down 13 basis points from last week.

The 30-year fixed mortgage rate fell steadily until Friday, then hovered around the current rate for the rest of the week.

“Mortgage rates fell last week despite strong U.S. economic data as investors sought safe assets in the wake of stock market turmoil in Asia,” said Erin Lantz, vice president of mortgages at Zillow. “With rates near their lowest levels since late October, we expect rates to move cautiously upward this week.”

Additionally, the 15-year fixed mortgage rate was 2.87 percent. For 5/1 ARMs, or adjustable-rate mortgages, the rate was 2.97 percent.

Check Zillow for mortgage rate trends and up-to-the-minute rates for your state, or use the mortgage calculator to calculate monthly payments at the current rates.

 

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Sylvester Stallone’s Stylish Desert Home Back on the Market

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By Laura Vecsey

The 2015 National Board of Review Gala
AP/Dennis Van TineSylvester Stallone

Sylvester Stallone and wife Jennifer Flavin may be walking a lot of red carpets soon, thanks to Stallone’s Golden Globe-nominated role in the movie “Creed.” But they still want to walk away from their California desert retreat.

Listed in November 2014 and removed in July 2015, the La Quinta home is back on the market, this time for $4.2 million, the New York Post reports.

The Hollywood couple bought the Mediterranean-style villa in 2010 for $4.5 million.

This is one home where the “Rocky” creator doesn’t plan to stash any of the trophies he brings home this awards season.

The listing agent is Josh Reef of the Hurwitz James Company.

 

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Mortgage Rates Only Slightly Higher at 3.81% in Quiet Week

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ZillowThe weekly mortgage rate chart illustrates the average 30-year fixed interest rate in six-hour intervals.

By Lauren Braun

Mortgage rates for 30-year fixed loans rose this week, with the rate borrowers were quoted Tuesday on Zillow at 3.81 percent, up six basis points from last week.

The 30-year fixed mortgage rose throughout the week, reaching 3.86 percent on Saturday before falling Monday.

“Mortgage rates increased modestly early last week, mostly due to market anomalies associated with the holiday-shortened week,” said Erin Lantz, vice president of mortgages at Zillow. “We expect another quiet couple of days in mortgage markets this week.”

Additionally, the 15-year fixed mortgage rate was 3.02 percent, and for 5/1 ARMs, the rate was 3.05 percent.

Check Zillow for mortgage rate trends and up-to-the-minute rates for your state, or use the mortgage calculator to calculate monthly payments at the current rates.

 

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Will an Adjustable Rate Mortgage Cost an Arm and a Leg?

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B5JD2X A magnifying glass highlights fixed interest rate and adjustable interest rate mortgage loans as part of a real estate co
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By Geoff Williams

If you’re buying a house soon, you may be mulling over the idea of getting an adjustable-rate mortgage. Or you were, until you heard about the Federal Reserve’s recent decision to raise interest rates a quarter point. That likely put a chill on many homeowners’ desires to have an adjustable-rate mortgage, also known as an ARM.

If you currently have an ARM, you might be in full-blown-panic mode, wondering if your interest rate is going to climb soon.

“My voicemail and email has been inundated by my clients, friends and partners all asking the same question, ‘What should I do about my ARM mortgage and when?'” says Drew Grandi, a loan originator with Wintrust Mortgage in Massachusetts.

What should you do? It really depends. An ARM can be a terrific strategy for paying a mortgage, or a terrible one. Before you get one, or get rid of one, you need to think about how you want to proceed.

What Is an ARM?

It’s a home loan with a fixed interest rate, usually for five years — but after that, it can adjust every year. (That’s why you’ll often hear ARMs referred to as a 5/1 ARM, although you could have a fixed interest rate for a different period, like a 7/1 ARM or 10/1 ARM.)

After those five or more years are up, the interest rate can go up or down for the duration of your mortgage.

Because the interest rate could go up, it can be risky to have an adjustable rate. Nobody wants an ARM to cost them an arm and a leg.

So why get an ARM if your monthly mortgage payment can turn on you like that? Because the fixed rate for those five years or so is lower than a traditional fixed mortgage rate. It hasn’t been all that much lower in recent years, of course, since all mortgage rates have been low. Still, even a percentage point can reduce a mortgage payment enough to save a homeowner thousands of dollars in the long run.

How High Can an ARM Go?

While your monthly mortgage payment can adjust every year to a higher and higher rate, there is a limit to how much financial pain you’ll endure.

“There are protective caps, so the loan cannot adjust higher than the designated annual cap or lifetime overall rate cap,” says Staci Titsworth, regional manager of PNC Mortgage in Pittsburgh. This is looked upon as insurance against risk.

“Most ARMs are capped so that your interest rate will not exceed more than 5 percent above your original rate,” Grandi says.

That doesn’t sound so bad, but it can add up. Grandi offers an example of the homeowner who has a 5/1 ARM at 3 percent on a $300,000 mortgage. That would mean you’re paying $1,264.81 a month for the first five years, he says. If interest rates shot up, the most you would pay is 8 percent on that $300,000, which would mean a max monthly payment of $2,201.29, or about $936 more than your original payment.

If you are thinking about an ARM, Titsworth suggests having the loan officer run a few examples of payments, including the worst-case-scenario payment. It may be eye-opening.

What if You Have an ARM Now?

Don’t panic, Grandi says. “Everyone currently in an ARM should not necessarily be hounding their mortgage expert to refinance into a fixed-rate mortgage,” he says.

In fact, if you have a low-rate ARM now and you refinance into a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, you’d likely pay around 4 percent and your monthly payment would jump a little. With that previous $300,000 ARM example, Grandi says, the homeowner’s payment would go up less than $200 a month.

That may well be worth it to have the comfort of knowing you have a fixed mortgage payment. But if you’re planning to move in the next couple of years, you’re probably better off keeping the ARM. That’s because one of the biggest factors in whether you should get an ARM is how long you plan to live in your house. Generally, if you’re going to live in your home for a short time before selling it, an ARM is considered a financially shrewd move.

“I’m a big believer in ARM loans and have one now,” Titsworth says. “Adjustable rate mortgages are a good option for consumers that have a shorter-term need, and also those that are comfortable with a little risk,” she adds.

Who Shouldn’t Get an ARM?

Do what you want, but if you’d like some general rules of thumb, there are three types of homeowners who should likely avoid an ARM.

First-time homebuyers. Ali Vafai, president of The Money Source, a national correspondent lender and mortgage loan servicer on New York’s Long Island, says first-time homebuyers or those with little down payment should not choose ARM loans. Since rates are near historic lows today, he says it’s very likely rates will be higher in five years and payments would increase after the fixed period. Even if you’re not planning to stay very long, maybe you’ll discover you hate moving and and realize you don’t want to go anywhere.

— People on a tight budget. So you scraped up your down payment, barely, and you figure you can afford to live in a house if you pare back your budget a bit. It sure doesn’t sound like you would do well if, in five years, your monthly mortgage payment shot up a couple hundred dollars a month.

— Natural-born worriers. As has been duly noted, ARMs are a risk. Before you get an ARM, ask yourself some risk-related questions, Grandi suggests.

For instance, when you’ve been living in your home for two years, will you suddenly have sleepless nights because you aren’t sure what your mortgage payment will be in three years?

“Do you expect continued doom and gloom for the United States’ economy with unemployment increasing and inflation staying low?” Grandi asks.

In other words, if you a worrier, the ARM is probably not for you.

Titsworth agrees. She loves the ARM, though, and points out what isn’t often emphasized: When your fixed rate ends and it adjusts, your monthly payment doesn’t necessarily have to go higher. “It’s possible the rate could drop,” she says.

Still, all in all, “ARM loans are typically not the product of choice for someone that believes they will be in their home long term and wants [the] peace of mind of knowing what their payment will be,” Titsworth says. “The long-term fixed rates come with less risk and therefore a higher rate.”

 

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Small Fed Move Doesn’t Mean You Can’t Buy a Home

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Rising Interest Rates
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By Devon Thorsby

The Federal Reserve announced Wednesday that interest rates would increase by 0.25 percent, or 25 basis points.

The last time the Fed raised rates, “the iPhone didn’t even exist,” says Mark Fleming, chief economist for title insurance company First American Financial Corporation.

Interest rates in the U.S. have been close to zero for the last seven years, intentionally kept low to allow employment and the market to recover from the crash in 2008.

For new homebuyers, the expectation of a rate hike spurred many to buy in the months leading up to the decision and encouraged a cycle of refinancing from existing homeowners.

But the moderate rate increase does not spell doom if you’re looking to buy a home — in fact, it may give you the push you need to get out there and buy your home before interest rates rise again, something economists are predicting for 2016.

How will rising interest rates affect you as a homebuyer? U.S. News asked experts to weigh in on whether you should be concerned about your ability to afford a mortgage and what you should know about interest rates in the next year.

The Fed’s decision doesn’t affect your interest rate as much as you may think. While the interest rate policy changes will affect how interest rates are offered, mortgage rates function separately, and are in fact far more volatile than the Fed’s interest rate.

Jonathan Smoke, chief economist for realtor.com, explains rates for new fixed mortgages not only fluctuate on their own, but have changed in anticipation of increased Fed interest rates, without any actual change in policy.

“When you look at the volatility of what rates have done around the ‘what is the Fed going to do’ all year long, we’ve had enormous movement in mortgage rates,” Smoke says. “We’ve had roughly 70 basis points of movement in the 30-year [fixed-rate mortgage] alone in the last 12 months when the Fed hasn’t done anything.”

Rising interest rates don’t mean you can’t find a mortgage that works for you. The rate hike by the Fed is minor and isn’t likely to squeeze too many consumers out of being able to buy a home. You might have to reconfigure what you put down versus what you pay monthly but as Smoke emphasizes, mortgage rates differ from day to day and lender to lender.

“It’s like buying gasoline — it’s different by provider, it’s different one street to the next,” Smoke says.

Higher interest rates can give the push you need. Many economists are expecting interest rates to continue to increase throughout the next year by a total of 1 percent, and while they are small, steady increases, getting a mortgage on the lower end is always a better idea than waiting and paying more.

Steve Rick, chief economist for CUNA Mutual Group, which builds financial products for credit unions nationwide, says that extra push to get homebuyers and other consumers moving in the market could serve as an additional stimulus for the economy.

“We could see faster economic growth next year because the Fed is raising rates, because it will help with confidence, and it will help with people trying to get ahead of the rising rate environment,” Rick says.

Increased rates can help keep home appreciation in line with wage increases. As housing markets continue to recover from the recession, home values have been appreciating rapidly, outpacing wage increases and making it more difficult for everyone to afford them.

“When you raise rates, you slow down the pace of house price appreciation,” Fleming says, noting mortgage rates will go up regardless of the Fed’s decision. By slowing the increase of home prices, the same people who could afford a house today will likely be able to afford the same house down the line, without being edged out by rapid property appreciation.

But at the moment, Rick notes, “housing is still relatively affordable,” and after such a long period of no interest rate changes, the Fed’s decision to increase rates by 0.25 percent isn’t going to stop people from making big purchases such as cars or homes with financing.

If you already own a home, you likely don’t have to worry about adjustable-rate mortgages. Because chances are you don’t have one. “The majority of mortgages that were taken out in the last couple years were 30-year fixed mortgages,” says Svenja Gudell, chief economist for Zillow. “We’re talking 85 to 90 percent of originations.”

Gudell notes many homebuyers are overinsured with a 30-year fixed rate mortgage — because the chances they’ll stay in one home for 30 years are slim — but many are not willing to take the risk of facing higher rates down the line in the wake of the subprime mortgage crisis.

But if you get an ARM, you don’t need to be scared. ARMs typically have a locked interest rate between five and seven years, so your interest rate is unaffected as long as you’re in that period. But even if you are in the floating rate part of your mortgage, Gudell and Fleming agree that rate hikes down the line will likely remain affordable.

“The increase in the mortgage rates are going to be so tame and so controlled that [homeowners] will be able to adjust over time,” Gudell says.

Fleming adds that a 1 percent total increase by the end of 2016 will likely bring your interest rate to 4 to 5 percent, equating to about $50 to $70 per month in additional payments, which is minimal. “You can find 50 bucks by going to Starbucks less often,” he says.

You should still shop around. Treat your mortgage like any other major purchase — weigh your options and compare rates before you sign on the bottom line. The mortgage, and your ability to pay it off, are just as important as the house you choose to buy.

“Consumers will be able to mitigate some of the increases by putting as much effort into finding their mortgage as they do in finding their dream home,” Smoke says. “You don’t just take the first offer; you don’t just go to the lender that was recommended. Pursue and understand that you can get different rates.”

 

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