VA Loan / Veteran Mortgage News
(NMLS #273132) is Sr. Loan Officer specializing in VA Home Loans with Emery Federal Credit Union and VALoans.com. Bruce has originated and underwritten VA loans in all 50 states for over 25 years and is a Nationwide Lender.
Happy New Year!
Now is a time to be thankful for what the past has brought, and to anticipate our next steps in life. We hope you'll find 2005 to be a great year - with just enough newness to make everything seem fresh.
Remember that we're here to answer any questions you have about home financing this year. We look forward to helping you reach your housing and financial goals!
President signs Act raising VA Limit to $417,000
On December 10th, 2004, President Bush signed The Veterans Benefits Act of 2004
. The law changes the maximum guaranty amount of $60,000, for certain loans in excess of $144,000, to an amount equal to 25 percent of the Freddie Mac conforming loan limit determined under section 305(a)(2) of the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation Act for a single family residence, as adjusted for the year involved. To illustrate, the maximum guaranty for 2005 would be $104,250. This is 25 percent of the 2005 Freddie Mac conforming loan limit for a single family residence of $417,000.
The Act also expands the term of Adjustable Rate Mortgages. The law gives VA authority to guarantee "traditional" Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARMs) in a manner similar to that by which HUD insures adjustable rate mortgages under section 251 of the National Housing Act. VA previously had this authority but it expired September 30, 1995. The legislation provides authority through September 30, 2008.
Low Rates Keep Real Estate Strong
Home buyers continue to benefit from low mortgage rates, and that produces a vibrant real estate market. But you shouldn't take today's great rates for granted. Economists say that at some point the Federal Reserve's rate increases will cause mortgage rates to rise.
Additionally, the dollar is weakening in value against other currencies. While that helps American exporters, a weak dollar also will mean higher rates in the future.
Homeowners with fixed-rate mortgages have few concerns about tomorrow's economic events. Your property will tend to go up in value with time, and yet your payments won't change.
Households with adjustable-rate mortgages should consider moving into a fixed-rate loan soon, if they plan on staying in their current house for at least a few years. Although adjustable loans can help buyers make a purchase, their payments typically rise as time passes.
You also may have a home equity credit line that's based on adjustable rates. Putting your balance into a fixed-rate second mortgage could be a smart move to make now.
Contact us right away to find out how today's low fixed-rate mortgages can help you enjoy stable, affordable payments as long as you live in your home. Act soon, since no one can be sure how long today's great financing opportunities will be available.
Owning Makes Life Better
Our quality of life goes up when we buy a home. A recent survey states that two-thirds of owners are highly pleased with the amount of living space in their house.
Yet just one in three renters say they have enough space and privacy. Most owners also are "very satisfied" with the safety of the neighborhood where they live.
However, just two out of four renters feel the same way. Overall, three-fourths of the homeowners surveyed were very satisfied with their housing, compared with less than two out of three renters.
Owning gives us future options, along with more security today. We have a pleasant place to live, where we can relax with friends and family.
Homeowners also can improve their space to make it better fit their current needs. Additionally, ongoing price appreciation gives us opportunities to buy a better home in the future.
More than nine out of ten owners report that the value of their property has gone up in recent years. In fact, 76 percent say it's "increased a lot."
Make sure to contact us first, no matter whether you're thinking of purchasing your first house, moving up, or buying a vacation home. We'll work hard to insure that your transaction goes smoothly, and that you're happy with your financing.
Save on Home Improvements
Home remodeling projects are limited only by your creativity and your budget. Here are some ideas on how to stretch your dollars when it's time to improve your home:
- Start by thinking of the simplest solution. If your current kitchen cabinets are structurally sound, you can save thousands of dollars by painting them and putting on new knobs, instead of replacing them. Or you may not need to add on a whole new bathroom. Putting in a skylight can make your existing bathroom seem larger. Installing a double sink also might allow you to put off adding a new bathroom.
- Know what adds value. Energy saving alterations - including upgraded appliances, new furnaces and air conditioners, extra insulation, and energy-efficient windows - will save on energy bills while boosting your home's value.
- Make sure what you buy will do the job. For instance, independent firms rate doors and windows to determine how well they keep out drafts. Also match the capacity of a furnace or water heater to your needs before purchasing. And determine that cabinets can easily handle the weight of what you'll be placing in them.
- Get input on your ideas before starting. Your contractor, a handy neighbor, or hardware store employee may be able to show you a cheaper or easier way to reach your goal.
Some owners who want an extra room are putting traditional, lower ceilings in their two-story family rooms. What once was seen as an impressive feature now is viewed as being hard to clean, and a waste of space. Instead, they add a room on the second floor.
Step by Step
Decide if you want to do a big project all at once, or in stages. Taking a remodeling project one step at a time lets you live with a series of small changes in a room.
Rather than replacing the flooring and wall covering together, do one first and then decide how to proceed. Painting or wallpapering walls can make a room look different, so your plans may need to change as well.
No matter how extensive or simple your goals are, contact us to learn about easy ways you can finance them. We'll make sure you spend your time and energy thinking about improvements, rather than focusing on how you'll pay for them.
Gain While Giving
One way to maximize your charitable deductions is by giving stock that has gone up in value. You receive the full value of your gift as a tax deduction.
However, your actual cost was just the amount of your original investment. And you would've been required to pay capital gains tax if you sold those stocks before giving them away.
You can extend this concept of smart giving by donating a "remainder interest" in your home to a charity. It's an interesting way to give, since you receive an immediate charitable deduction.
Yet you can continue living in your home as long as you wish. Your charitable deduction will be equal to the current value of your residence, discounted to reflect the years the charity will wait before receiving the property.
Go over these concepts with a qualified tax and estate attorney if you think they may be beneficial in your situation. He or she also will be able to calculate what your tax deduction would be worth.