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What exactly does it mean to you when your mortgage has been “sold?”

 

The sale of mortgage “paper” and/or servicing is common practice.

 

Federal law requires that the outgoing mortgage holder must send you in writing, notification of the sale and provide you with the new company’s contact information. The new company must also send you in writing their “welcome” letter and provide you with clear instructions on how and where to pay your mortgage. To learn more, visit http://www.consumerfinance.gov/askcfpb/215/what-happens-if-my-mortgage-servicer-changes-what-do-i-do.html

 

So what could possibly go wrong? Realize that many of the servicing agents are not located in the United States; data from the loan package is often manually entered into a new database; and escrow accounts can slip into an abyss. Because you, the mortgagor, are ultimately responsible for your mortgage, taxes, and insurance; you must be vigilant.

 

The subject of escrows held by a lender (or lender’s servicing company) has been tested in court and it has been determined that “when the lender holds escrow funds for property tax payments, a fiduciary duty exists.” This is a very important decision inasmuch as the lender has the obligation to you to pay all taxes and insurance (should they be collecting for that as well) in a timely manner.

 

A client recently contacted us for help sorting out the sale of their mortgage and getting their taxes paid on time. After two months of phone calls, and several emails, their property taxes were finally paid. However, the County and Town tax records now show  that late payment interest and penalty fees had been levied and received. This indication is not on the servicer’s record, it is on the homeowner’s record.

 

What’s a homeowner to do?”

 

  1. Open all lender correspondence promptly.
  2. Act on the correspondence immediately.
  3. Do not be put off by promises or delays.
  4. Keep copious notes of names, times, dates, and agreements. Record the conversations, if possible (they record theirs)
  5. Follow up, follow up, follow up.
  6. Get everything in writing.
  7. Keep all contact numbers handy.
  8. Do not hesitate to contact the investor of your loan to let them know of your problems inasmuch as the investor usually contracts the servicers.

 

If you have any questions, you can always contact us.

Most art is delicate and potentially fragile. How you handle your art during and after a move can determine your future enjoyment of the piece(s) and their value.

For the past 20 years, we had hung a beautiful limited edition print on a wall in the basement. This was mostly because the wall was large enough for the piece and because we had tired of it in our every day living space. Several says ago, during a discussion about art and artists, I took a close look at the piece. I discovered some tiny black dots on the Japon paper.

The print, framed by conservation standards, was installed on an exterior below-grade wall. Regardless of the finish level of the wall, the structural cinder block must get moisture that was trapped by the art. SO now, mildew in the  paper of a pretty valuable piece of art.

Naturally, my first thought was to contact an art conservator and organize its restoration. This is where a whole new world of art services came alive. Art conservators do not conserve paper. They restore/clean paintings – oils, linen, canvas, and the like. Paper restorers handle prints on paper. Yes, the same experts that restore books, restore art prints.

You know that some art will appreciate over time. We just never know what piece(s) might become valuable in the future. Most people buy art for its aesthetic value and not so much for investment. However, sometimes artists gain in notoriety and if their work survives long enough in good condition, the value could increase.

If you want to both enjoy and preserve your art, handle it carefully and install it with consideration of potential moisture (even condensation that forms inside a sealed frame).

Should you need a conservator of antiques, paintings or paper, we have now amassed a list of conservators who can help and/or direct you to solving your. Some have performed work for us personally, others have been recommended and have significant credentials. Give us a call and we will gladly share our list.

 

(read this to the end – see for your self)

The news about the Federal Reserve and the Fed Funds Rate is often touted as a reason to anticipate increased mortgage interest rates. As with much of the media, “news” can be manipulated to stimulate emotional reactions from joy to fear. The fear in this case would be of increasing interest rates.

What actually happens when the “Fed” raises the ‘Fed Funds Rate’? Well, those rates apply to funds that banks borrow from the Federal Reserve for periods less than 90 days, but longer than one day. Raising the rate by .25% on banks does not necessarily affect mortgage rates at all.

The Federal Reserve serves an important function in the United States – insuring deposits from bank default (within established limits) and monitoring and controlling monetary policy in hopes of maintain a stable economy with limited fluctuation. Monetary policy is complex and very carefully monitored by financial institutions and corporations.

Borrowing money to purchase a home typically falls under the term, mortgage. Mortgages consist of two components – principal and interest. While we all know about principal, the interest component often seems like hocus pocus in a black box. Interest is the amount that lenders charge for the privilege of lending money.

Because mortgages are typically a long-term commitment on the part of the lender, economic projections are used to set prevailing interest rates. Lenders look at the risk of inflation and the potential opportunity cost of leaving their money at a set rate for a prolonged period of time.

Mortgage interest rates are typically affected by long term bond yields and the 10-year Treasury bills. Obviously, every aspect of the monetary markets trickle down to affect interest rates, however, mortgage rates are not as sensitive to the “Fed Rate” as they are to the Treasuries or Bond Yields.

Why does this information matter to you? You are barraged by offers, threats, and disinformation to act “quickly” to refinance or to buy now. Yet, the reality is that mortgage markets are more insulated than reflected in the news.

However . . . depending on your sensitivity to rate fluctuations, a small move in mortgage interest can affect mortgage qualification. The best solution is to work with a knowledgeable lender who can guide you with correct information with which you can make good decisions.

If you are thinking of buying or refinancing, we have an excellent list of lenders who have worked for our clients who produce loans on time and on budget. Call us today.

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We invest in our agents and in our community

Whether performing in a production, providing gifts at Christmas, helping with therapeutic horseback riding, supporting alumni affairs or school sports, serving on boards, creating art for fundraising efforts, or writing for the local paper, our agents invest their time and hearts in helping to make our community a better place for everyone. Our community is great in size and scope; our involvement makes a difference.

Our recent newsletter spotlighted some of these remarkable efforts. Click to see the article –      Serving our community

We are passionate about the arts, sports, achievement, opportunities, and excellence. we lead by example.

If any of our passions match yours, please contact us and we will help you get involved.

“But how will that affect the future resale value of my home?” is a common refrain from many clients when they are considering decorating and / or improving their home. This is an interesting question and my answer is usually not expected.

 

Typically, I encourage my clients to pursue their passion and improve their home for their enjoyment. We have all seen formulas for returns on certain improvements. To those formulas, I san “So what?”

 

You take vacations, attend theater, shop for unnecessary, but desirable things, go to the spa,  and  purchase a host of other “pleasure” related things without concern of  future return. All of a sudden, when it comes to changing a wall color or adding a distinctive fabric, the breaks screech to a halt and the fretting begins. So the question is, how long do you plan to stay in your home? This answer will help you determine the wisdom of painting a wall chartreuse or building the outdoor kitchen.

 

Over the last 30 years, trends have shifted. Perfectly operating appliances have been discarded and many people have spent thousands of dollars keeping up with their neighbors’ improvements. However, what really makes you happy? Is the color du jour really your taste? Will you cook more at home with stainless steel appliances over the ones you have, and will you bathe/shower  longer or better in  the huge tub and/or shower? Will you be happier if your bank account has an extra zero?

 

Celebrating my 30th anniversary since my career change to real estate, this year, I have become pragmatic about improving, enhancing, or diminishing home values. Over this period I have learned valuable lessons.  I share 5 of those lessons with you below:

 

1.      Happy homes sell.

2.      Well-decorated homes with personality (regardless of color scheme) sell.

3.      Clean, well maintained homes, and tidy landscaping sell.

4.      Location sells.

5.      The right price will sell any time.

 

It is easy to get caught up with TV trends and neighbors’ improvements. I always recommend careful examination of the motivation of a proposed “improvement.” Unless, you will wake up and be deliriously happy  to see and/or use the improvement, bank the cost. If, on the other hand, you will enjoy the improvement, without concern about future return, then treat it as if it were a vacation and get it done. 

 

Be happy in your home and pay attention to its maintenance – both indoor and out. The worst that can happen is you’ll eventually have to repaint a few walls or you have paid to enjoy a particular feature that was important to you.

 

Have some fun and enjoy your home.

The Right Price
The Right Price Brings the Right Buyer

The Washington, DC Metro real estate market is very vibrant this year. With excellent weather and attractive interest rates, buyers are finding their dream homes. If you are thinking of selling your house this season, the key consideration is setting the right price.

Would you like to have multiple offers? Set the right price.

Even a small percentage over the “right price” will cost you both time and money. This principle remains unchanged in any market.

Since 1986 we have been listing and selling properties in your area. Call us today to schedule your pricing appointment.