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From Renting to Buying: The Home Plus Program

by Karen Picarello

If you are currently renting, the transition to buying a home can be financially impossible with closing costs and a down payment as a typical requirement. If you are a first-time home buyer with no military background, a federal FHA loan may be an appealing option. However, if you are buying in Arizona, the state has a Home Plus program that can help get a person over the financial hurdles of the home buying process.

Renting a home is a good short-term option for many people who are building credit or saving for a down payment, but it is not a good investment in the long term. That's why those who think finances are getting in the way of home ownership should look into assistance from federal and state programs. 

What is The Home Plus Program?

The Home Plus program is a state program created and given by the Arizona Industrial Development Authority, and it gives new home buyers a 30-year fixed loan for a home along with down payment assistance. The down payment assistance is given as a type of second mortgage, but don’t let that stress you. The loan is a three-year, no payment, no interest mortgage that is forgiven over the term of the lien. This loan can be used for a down payment or for closing costs.

What are the requirements?

There are some requirements for the Home Plus Program, and a minimum credit score is one of them. A range of down payment assistance percentages are available for home buyers with a minimum credit score of 640 to 680. If your credit is below this, you cannot qualify. However, these credit scores are not considered good, and you may be able to get your credit up to “average” quicker than you think.

Other requirements include a maximum income of $99,170, and the price of the home cannot be more than $396,680. A homebuyer education course must be completed by one borrower before closing, and the home must be a primary residence.

Basically, if you don’t own a home, and your financial situation seems to be prohibiting home ownership because of closing costs and a down payment, the Home Plus program may be the solution.

Let’s face it. Your rent payments are simply being thrown away into the abyss of monthly bills and payments made in order to have basic survival needs met like shelter and electricity. That money could be invested into property ownership, and financially, it is not impossible. Ask your mortgage broker or lender about the Home Plus program. It could be the help you need to get the homeownership process up and going.

How to buy when mortgage rates are rising

by Karen Picarello

If you are looking for a home, you’ve likely heard that mortgage rates are rising. This can be a major problem for potential homeowners who can have hundreds of dollars added to their mortgage payment. Additionally, home values have gone up, so one could say it’s a seller’s market. That does not mean you are out of luck when it comes to purchasing a home.

Markets can sway back and forth very quickly, but they can also take time to recover, so waiting to purchase a home may not be the best option when it comes to living a healthy, stable lifestyle with a comfortable home. That is why we have created a list of ways to protect yourself from the instability of the market and get a good price and mortgage rate even when the market is tough.

3 Ways to get a good deal when mortgage rates are high:

1. Improve your credit score

After the housing crash of 2008, subprime loans were taken off the table for people with little to no credit and no tangible way to make a house payment. However, there are now “nonprime” loans available for people with credit scores as low as 500. Think they are getting good mortgage rates? Think again.

Mortgage companies are in it for the money, and it is a risk-reward game. Low credit means higher risk, which means you are only getting a loan if the mortgage company is going to make more money.

Reduce your rate to the minimum by keeping a healthy FICO credit score. This may mean waiting a little while to prove good payment histories or paying down some debt, but it is the primary way to get a good mortgage rate.

2. Consider a 15-year

A 30-year fixed rate loan is standard, but cutting that time in half does not cost nearly as much monthly as one would think. It may only cost an extra few hundred dollars a month, and it greatly reduces the amount that you’d end up paying in interest regardless of the rate.

Here is a link to a 15-year mortgage calculator.

3. Lock in your rate

Once your loan is approved, your mortgage broker can lock in your rate. If you are buying in a market where interest rates are increasing, this can save you a lot of money, as mortgage rates can be locked in for months. Get a mortgage broker who is market savvy, and he or she will lock in the rate when the time is right.

Rising mortgage rates can be discouraging to the potential home buyer, but they don’t have to be. A good credit score, shorter pay-off period, and a locked in rate can create a condition that minimizes the effect of the market on the purchase.

Searching for Dog Friendly Communities

by Karen Picarello

According to SmartAsset, almost 70 percent of homeowners own pets, and the most popular pet they own is a dog. Dogs have been labelled man’s best friend for many reasons. They can be loyal, they are easily trained, they’re fairly smart, and they are simply lovable. For many people a dog is shoulder to cry on, a confidant to sit on the couch with, and sometimes the cuddliest bed partner one could ask for. However, owning a dog is a responsibility, and aside from the dog not being a nuisance to neighbors, dog owners must also provide a good home for their loyal companion. Arizona has some of the best cities for dog owners because they have good weather, which is suitable for getting dogs out into the fresh air. They also have many communities that have amenities for dogs that make it easy for you and your dog to have fun.  

5 Features of Dog Friendly Communities

1. Sidewalks:

Dog walking is one of the most important parts of ownership, but life gets busy, and having access to walkable paths is key to making sure your furry pal gets outside. Seeks communities with well-made sidewalks, so when time is tight, all you have to do is walk out the front door. Lighting should also be a consideration, and well-lit sidewalks are a bonus.

2. Dog parks:

Dogs can be social creatures, and dog parks create a friendly area for dogs to meet and greet or simply play catch in an open area…without a leash. Dog parks used to be reserved for larger cities where many homes had little or no yard. Not anymore. Dog parks are in many rural communities today.

3. Runnable parks and trails:

While dog parks are nice, some owners wish to run alongside their furry friend, and runnable parks and trails give owners a chance to get out their running shoes and get some exercise in a safe area free from traffic.

4. Dog friendly businesses:

Dog friendly shopping centers allow your dog to come with you on each shopping excursion, and they won’t be a surprise or a nuisance to other shoppers or shopkeepers.

5. Dog friendly restaurants:

Like dog friendly businesses, dog friendly restaurants allow you to keep your dog nearby at all times, and in places like Arizona, where it can be very hot, this can be key to being able to get dogs out of the house.

SmartAsset ranked Tuscon, AZ as the most dog-friendly place for 2018, but there’s more to it than that. If you have a large dog, and you are in a less dog-friendly community, make sure you find a big yard. If you have a dog who barks, then it may be better to make sure there is plenty of room inside for the dog to stay and not annoy neighbors. Each dog has unique requirements, but it is important to remember that communities have a lot to offer when it comes to quality of life for your pet.



 

Selling with Solar in the Sunny Arizona South

by Karen Picarello

Parts of Arizona get approximately 300 days of sunshine a year, so it is no wonder that solar panels are becoming popular in this Southern state. Selling a home with solar panels is not a problem, and statistics indicate that the number of homes sold that have solar panels is constantly increasing.

However, whether or not solar power will increase the value of your home is dependent on multiple variables, and in some cases, it does not amount to enough of an increase for it to be worth it. Solar panels can save a homeowner a lot of money in electricity over the years, but home sellers and buyers must be armed with knowledge in order to consider adding panels to sell a home or consider buying a home with solar panels.

5 Things to Know about Solar

1. Value added diminishes with the length of warranty.

The value of solar panels is calculated by using the amount a homeowner will save in energy consumption and multiplying that by the years left on the warranty. If there is very little time left on the warranty, then that value added to a home price will be reduced drastically.

2. Leased panels do not add value.

If the panels have not been purchased, then they do not add any value to the home because they are not owned. A buyer can take over the contract however, so leased panels may improve that salability of a home.

3. The home may still be dependent on the grid.

Some solar panels don’t make quite enough electricity to fully power the home, which means they still rely on the grid for constant electricity, which means there is still an electricity bill. This can be a deterrent to some home buyers, but it can also provide comfort in knowing there is a backup option for power if needed.

4. If the roof is in disrepair, solar panels are expensive to remove to reroof.

Obviously, a roof that is in poor condition is going to be a factor in a home sale anyway. However, if the roof is okay but will probably need replaced in five years, buyers may be turned off by the added expense in their future.

5. Some energy companies will buy your excess energy.

There are tax credits and energy credits that power companies will provide if you are able to create excess energy and export it to the grid. Since Arizona is the sunniest state in America, there is a good possibility that a residential home could produce excess power, in which case the homeowner would benefit.

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Contact Information

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TeamPicarello
RE/MAX Fine Properties North Scottsdale
21000 N. Pima Road, Suite 100
Scottsdale AZ 85255
Office: (480)860-8733
888-548-8713
Fax: (480)860-8755