Category Archives for "Real Estate"

Struggling With the Mortgage?

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If you answered yes,  you are not alone. 

You can skip this entire first section if you want and go straight to the resources.  It won't hurt my feelings. I won't even know.  Summary of the first section: An explanation of why this isn't going to be the prettiest and best formatted blog you have ever read, but also that I am committed to providing helpful and relevant information.  

More wordy explanation: I'm terrible about wanting to blog about an important topic, but rather than get the information out there, I put it off until I 'have extra time'  to make sure it's well written and properly formatted. Needless to say, 'extra time' doesn't  happen and I miss a chance to share information when it's most relevant. I continually struggle with writing a blog the way I'm 'supposed to'.  Worrying about that stresses me out and  prevents me from actually sharing lots of helpful advice and information, so from here on out I'm scrapping the 'correct way' and I'm just going to put it out there in my own words.

Today's topic comes to me after having a recent surge of people contact me about listing their home for sale.  In an effort not to get off topic, I won't go into my procedure, but it  involves so much more than pulling comps, taking photos, and listing on MLS.  I talk to potential seller clients about their individual situations and what they need to achieve. We discuss realistic figures, time frames, and plans of action.

I will be taking on some new listings this month, but there are a few people I spoke to who decided not to list their home with me.  I'm not sad about this because they didn't actually want to sell. They just didn't know there were other options. 

Below you will see some of the resources I've shared over the past couple weeks.  Keep in mind, I can't address all things for all people in one post, but I will say that I'm available to answer any questions or to provide additional  resources. If you want to sell your home, I'd love to help, but if you don't, there may be other options to help you keep your home.  Disclaimer:  I am a licensed SC real estate agent,  so I am not giving mortgage or financial advice, just resources and ideas. Policy and procedure is not the same everywhere. Absolutely consult with your lender, accountant, attorney, insurance provider, or appropriate professional before making any financial decisions, changes to your existing loan, or insurance coverage.
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Federal Programs 

If you have been affected by COVID-19 , there are certain federal programs to include the CARES Act.  Check out the link  for some available programs and assistance.  Some of the provisions include tax relief, unemployment benefits- even for those not usually eligible, student loan relief, small business loans, and much more. Just make sure you read the fine print and understand if and when you will be responsible for repayment. 

Existing Loan

 If you are struggling with your mortgage you should call your lender and discuss all available options.  You can ask them if any of these are an option for you:  

  • Forbearance
  • Recasting:  This is a way to reduce monthly payments. Term and interest rate remain the same since the existing loan is kept.  Government backed loans are excluded. Typically there is a low fee as opposed to closing costs associated with new loans. 
  • Restructuring or modification:  The existing loan is kept, but modified for lower payments. 
  • Refinancing:  This is whole new loan that pays off existing loan(s). It's often done to reduce payments and interest rates.
  • PMI: If you didn't put down 20% at the time of purchase, you are likely still paying PMI, or mortgage insurance. If you now have 20% equity in your home, check with your lender to see if your loan is eligible to discontinue PMI. If so, find out what the procedure is to eliminate mortgage insurance from your payment. 

Your lender will be able to discuss the pros and cons and determine what option is best for you.  Hopefully they can help  you find a viable solution that you are happy with. If not, it may be an option to re-finance with a different lender who offers additional programs. 

Taxes 

In Horry County, homeowners who occupy their home as a primary residence pay less taxes than those who have a vacation or investment property. Property tax is determined by multiplying the assessed value of the home by the assessment ratio, then by the millage. The assessment ratio for a primary home is 4%. The assessment ratio for a 2nd or investment home is 6%. When you close on a home, the assessment ratio automatically defaults to the higher rate.  So, if you bought a home in Horry County that you are occupying as your primary residence and did not change the rate at the assessor's office, you should proceed immediately to Horry County Assessors office or check this out for some serious savings.  

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Insurance

Some homeowners are surprised to find out that even if they have a  fixed rate mortgage, their payment  can change. Though principal and interest remain the same for the life of the loan, insurance and property taxes being held in escrow can affect the mortgage payment amount.  I recommend contacting your insurance provider annually to go over existing coverage and rates to see if there can be any improvement.  You want to make sure you have adequate coverage with appropriate deductibles, but often the current policy can be changed to save money.  I once reduced my insurance rate over $500 per year without changing coverage, deductible, or companies...just by asking my agent if we could do better.  Be sure to ask your agent about any discounts that may apply to you such as a new roof, monitored security system, or multiple policies. 

Even if your insurance payment is held in escrow, you can still shop around for better rates.  I've had clients save hundreds of dollars by doing so. Be sure the coverage is sufficient and the deductible is manageable.  You'll need to  let your lender know if you are changing insurance companies. It's quick and easy to find out if there's a better rate, and if so it's a great way to save money and reduce a house payment without changing the loan. 

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I love helping people buy and sell property, but if I can help someone figure out a way to keep their home if that's what they prefer, I consider that just as rewarding.  I promise you I mean that, so don't hesitate to reach out if I can help with any real estate related question or refer you to someone if it's beyond my expertise.