Home Inspections in New Jersey: What to Know and What to Ask

In residential real estate, a home inspection is one of the final and most important hurdles buyers must clear prior to closing. During this process, a professional home inspector evaluates everything from the basement to the attic — and every area in between. A good home inspector will also offer clients information on proper upkeep of the residence.

Home Inspections in New Jersey: What to Know and What to Ask

“We want to teach them how to maintain the property, because it’s the biggest investment they’ll ever make,” says Alden E. Gibson, ACI and RHI, president of the American Society of Home Inspectors and president of Inspections by Gibson.

Remember, when you purchase a home you inherit everything that comes with it; this includes all the things you love about it, but also its flaws. A proper inspection provides valuable information that allows you to make educated decisions about your next steps.

How do you choose a home inspector?

First and foremost, be sure that the home inspector you’ve chosen is licensed by the state. The Home Inspection Advisory Committee licenses home inspectors and regulates the home inspection profession. This license ensures that the health, safety and welfare of New Jersey residents are protected, and that home examinations are regulated and performed in compliance with state law. A licensed home inspector will have met all the standards and educational requirements for licensure, and is required to renew his or her license every two years.

If you are ready to hire a home inspector, you have a few options. Referrals from trusted real estate professionals, such as your mortgage lender, are a popular resource. You can also do your own research, in which case a good place to start is the New Jersey Association of Licensed Professional Home Inspectors. Here, you can search by name or county to find a licensed inspector in your area.

Just as you might interview any contractor, you should feel comfortable asking a potential inspector some qualifying questions to ensure that he or she is the best person for the job. It will also help to set your expectations going into the inspection, which is a crucial part of the home-buying process. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the following are some of the key questions to ask a home inspector:

  1. What does your home inspection cover?
  2. How long have you/your company been inspecting homes?
  3. Are you specifically experienced in residential inspection?
  4. Do you offer to do repairs or improvements based on the home inspection?
  5. How long will the home inspection take?
  6. How much will it cost?
  7. What type of home inspection report do you provide and how long will it take to           receive the report?
  8. Will I be able to attend the home inspection? (The answer should always be yes).
  9. Do you maintain membership in a professional home inspector association?
  10. Do you participate in continuing education programs to keep your expertise up to date?

How much does a home inspection cost?

As with anything, the cost of a home inspection varies. Some of the factors to consider include what region you’re in, the size and age of the home, and the experience level of the home inspector. In Northern New Jersey, be prepared to spend a few hundred dollars. Regardless of the cost, it’s important to understand what is, and is not included in the inspection.

What should a home inspection include?

According to the National Association of Realtors, some of the items that should always be examined during a routine home inspection are:

Structure – The structure, which includes foundation and framing, is what enables a home to combat weather, gravity, and the earth around it.

Electrical – You should be informed of the condition of service entrance wires, service panels, breakers and fuses, and disconnects. Also take note of the number of outlets in each room.

Exterior – This, of course, includes the house, but expect the inspector to also examine sidewalks, driveways, steps, windows, doors, siding, trim, surface drainage, and any attached porches, decks or balconies.

Fireplaces – Certainly one of the most charming features of any home, fireplaces can also be dangerous if they’re not properly installed or maintained. Inspectors should examine the vent and flue, and describe solid fuel-burning appliances, e.g., wood heaters and fireplace inserts.

Heating and air conditioning – A home inspection should reveal the age of the water heater, its energy rating, and whether the size is adequate for the home. The inspector should also describe and inspect any central air or through-the-wall cooling units.

Interiors – A good inspector will keep an eye out for leaks, insect damage, rot, construction defects, and other hazard. These are discovered by evaluating walls, ceilings and floors; steps, stairways, and railings; countertops and cabinets; and garage systems.

Plumbing – No one wants to find out that their home has poor water pressure, banging pipes, rust spots, or corrosion, but these are often indicators of larger, more expensive problems so it’s important information. Your inspector will identify any plumbing issues by thoroughly examining the water supply and drainage systems, water heating equipment, fuel storage systems, drainage pumps and sump pumps.

Roofing – Information you should except to receive from your home inspector regarding your roof includes its age, roof draining systems, and whether there are any buckled shingles, or loose gutters and downspouts. You should also be informed of the condition of any skylights, as well as the potential for pooling water.

Ventilation/insulation – These components must be deemed adequate in the attic, as well as in any unfinished areas, such as crawl spaces. Insulation should be climate-appropriate. Lack of proper ventilation can cause excess moisture that may result in mold and water damage.

NVE Bank is proud to have earned a five-star rating for our lending services on Zillow.com. That’s because we provide our customers with five-star service, and products that fit their needs.  If you are ready to buy or refinance a home, take a look at our current mortgage offers!

For information about our other products and services, visit the NVE website, stop by one of our convenient neighborhood branches in Bergen County, or call 1-866-NVE BANK (683-2265).

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Sources:

http://www.njconsumeraffairs.gov/hom/Pages/default.aspx

http://realtormag.realtor.org/sales-and-marketing/handouts-for-customers/for-buyers/what-know-about-home-inspection

http://www.bankrate.com/finance/real-estate/5-biggest-home-inspection-mistakes-1.aspx

http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/housing/sfh/insp/inspfaq

 

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How to Stretch Your Vacation Dollar

Multiple sources report that August is the second most popular month for vacations. This means that, right now, many people are anxiously awaiting their final, and maybe only vacation of the summer. If you are among them, your trip has most likely already been planned and at least partly paid for. But there’s more to vacation budgeting than the cost of your travel and stay! Maximizing your hard-earned spending money will help you to enjoy your time to the fullest, giving you peace of mind while you’re away and allowing you to breathe a sigh of relief when you return home. Whether you’re headed overseas, across the country, or down to the Jersey shore, here are a few ways you can stretch your dollar.

A piggy bank surrounded by money and beach items

Diversify your dining experiences. There are many ways to enjoy food while on vacation, and while dining out is one of them, going to restaurants for all of your meals adds up! If you have a kitchen in your hotel or rental home, do some light grocery shopping and prepare some simple meals there so you spend less on restaurant expenses. No kitchen? No problem. Check to see if your hotel offers a free continental breakfast. Either way, the little bit you save by eating in or taking advantage of complimentary meals each day will add up throughout your stay. You can also pick up sandwiches, salads, or other easy take-out fare to bring back, and if the weather is nice (and we hope it is), have yourself a picnic!

If you’re vacationing during the week, check sites like Restaurant.com for discount certificates — you could end up purchasing a $50 gift certificate for $25! You can also purchase coupon books for your destination on Entertainment.com, and find “Kids Eat Free” programs at restaurants and hotels through Coupondivas.com. Keep an eye out for early bird and happy hour specials, too!

A major — and fun — part of traveling is sampling the local fare. Ask people in the area for affordable, “go-to” recommendations. In addition to helping you spend wisely, this will also provide you with an authentic taste of the area you might not have gotten otherwise.

Let the kids help. If you have children, turn the trip into a subtle teaching moment by giving them a daily budget. Start by figuring out ahead of time a reasonable amount of money you’d like your child to spend per day. Depending on your comfort level and the child’s age and responsibility skills, you can either dole out a daily lump sum, or hang onto it and let them make “withdrawals.” Then, explain that they can pocket any leftover funds. Watching them make financial decisions may be a new skill for you to watch and enjoy as a parent! It’s important to stick to the budget though—kids should be aware that once their money is gone, it’s gone. Of course, use your own parental discretion to decide at what age and to what extent you feel this is appropriate.

Find out what’s free. Almost every destination has free entertainment; you just have to look for it. Do a little research to find out if there are free or discounted concerts, festivals, museums, gardens, and other no- or low-cost entertainment. Some establishments, like museums, offer free admission on certain days. Even the Louvre in Paris — probably the most famous of them all — is free on the first Sunday of each month! There are also activities and destinations that are always free, like parks and historical sites. Plan accordingly!

Bundle, bundle, bundle. Did we mention…bundle? If you plan to visit multiple attractions in a city, bundling is one way to reduce the collective costs. One example of this is CityPASS, which offers up to half off the regular admission of major attractions in 12 North American destinations. When you purchase a CityPASS ticket booklet, you receive discounted admission to aquariums, zoos, and some of the city’s top attractions at a rate of up to half of what you’d spend on those same admissions separately. If that sounds overwhelming from a planning standpoint, don’t worry — CityPASS limits the number of attractions on each city’s pass to five or six of the most popular sights, so there’s plenty of time to enjoy and take it all in before heading to the next spot.

Stay connected. If you can go cell phone-free on vacation, good for you! In reality, most people will rely on their mobile devices for everything from texting and phone calls to internet searches, e-mail and apps. When using data on your smartphone, be sure to connect to a password-protected Wi-Fi network whenever possible to avoid sky-high data charges while keeping your personal information safe.

Finally, don’t lose sight of the reason you went on vacation in the first place. If you booked a trip with plans to spend big on wining, dining and sightseeing, by all means, enjoy! But if your goal is to relax and spend time with your loved ones, make that a priority, and use these tips to enhance your time together!

There are lots of ways to save and grow your money! NVE Bank offers products and services to meet a variety of saving needs and goals. For example, our Universal Club account features a structured savings plan created to help you save for special occasions like vacations. Find out more at the NVE Bank website, visit one of our convenient neighborhood branches in Bergen County, or call 1-866-NVE BANK (683-2265).

 Sources:

http://www.cleveland.com/business/index.ssf/2015/07/what_month_is_the_most_popular.html

https://aytm.com/blog/daily-survey-results/vacations-survey/#sthash.ior86iGq.dpbs

http://www.bankrate.com/finance/personal-finance/6-tips-to-stretch-your-vacation-dollars-4.aspx

http://www.parents.com/fun/vacation/planning/summer-travel-savings/view-all/

Posted in Budgeting, personal finance, saving, saving money | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Turn Cleaning Day into Cash

A select group of people enjoy cleaning. For the rest of us, it’s just another chore on our to-do list. While straightening up your house or apartment probably isn’t your favorite task, here’s the good news: in most cases, there is some sort of financial incentive you can look to as the light at the end of the tunnel. We’re talking more than just coins in the couch cushions. Here are some of the ways “cleaning house” could earn you a little — or maybe more than a little — money.

Sell your unwanted clothing

You’ve probably passed by a Bergen County consignment shop or two, such as Nonu Vintage in Dumont, Ridgewood’s Savvy Chic, or New to You in Teaneck. Perhaps you’ve made a purchase, and maybe you’ve even sold something. If so, good for you! Some pay in cash while others offer store credit. To find the best local consignment store for your belongings, refer to the store-finder listings provided by The Association of Resale Professionals.

There is also a network of online consignment stores and resell websites. For example, Thred Up assists users in thinning out their closets and selling the discards. Simply pack your clean, gently-used clothing into one of their Clean Out Kits and send it back. The amount you receive depends on the original price, brand and category of each item. Two things to keep in mind: clothes must adhere to this list of accepted brands, and if you want any clothes that are not accepted returned, you will be charged a fee.

Benefit from unused baubles and name brands

Style changes with the times, so it’s common to have a few pieces — or maybe an entire box — of jewelry you haven’t worn in years. Instead of letting these items tarnish, you may be able to make a pretty penny by selling them. Worthy.com resells all styles of jewelry. The only catch is the items must be worth more than $1,000 to be sold through the site. Find out what a piece is worth by submitting a description and images to Worthy and they will evaluate it accordingly. Once accepted, they do most of the work, and when the auction ends, the funds are transferred to you. We’re talking about significant belongings and amounts here, so it’s important to understand the entire process before making any decisions.

Speaking of more extravagant goods, TheRealReal specializes in reselling authenticated luxury items, from high-end designer apparel and accessories (think Chanel or Hermès) to fine art. According to the website, consignors earn 60-70% of the sale price, and items sell quickly. So, if you have a Louis Vuitton bag or a Cartier watch collecting dust somewhere, it might be time to see what they’re worth!

A new kind of garage sale

The saying, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” may be old, but people are always finding new ways to put it to good use. As long as the weather is nice and you’re getting a good traffic flow, an old-fashioned garage sale could be worth your while. But you might find it less taxing, and possibly more profitable, to join a Facebook garage sale. Simply search Facebook for “garage sale group” or “yard sale group” along with your town or county name and you’ll probably find at least one group you can join. Once you’ve joined the group, read its rules and guidelines. Then you’re ready to start selling!

Give gift cards new life

In one of our blogs, we reviewed saving and spending tips for back-to-school and suggested purchasing unused gift cards at discounted rates on websites such as Gift Card Granny. On the flip side, if your cleaning crusade uncovers any gift cards you probably won’t use, you can sell them to the site and get back as much as 92 percent of their value in cash.

Make a mint on multimedia

Sort through your library and check sites like BookScouter.com, eBay’s Half.com  and Amazon Trade-In to see who offers you the best deal on your books. Just like other consignment stores, some pay in cash while others give store credit or gift card equivalents.

Vinyl albums, especially those from the 1950s-1970s, have made a comeback. If you have a rare, mint-condition one, you could be looking at a payday somewhere in the thousands.  Forever Vinyl offers auction and appraisal services and buys collections of singles, albums, CDs and live concert recordings.

Pull the plug on deserted electronics

According to a recent Gallup poll, 51 percent of iPhone owners and 40 percent of Android users in the U.S. upgrade to a new model as soon as their provider allows it (typically every two years). That said, chances are you have at least one outdated electronic device or appliance you want to replace. If so, you may be interested in Best Buy’s Trade-In Program, through which you can exchange a device from this list for a Best Buy E-Gift Card.

collection of old used mobile phones

Clear out old sports gear, kids’ clothing and toys

If you’re left with unwanted children’s toys, clothes, or sports equipment, there are a variety of websites designed to help you sell them. On Swap Me Sports, you can buy, trade, sell, or donate sports gear. Kids to Kid shop lets you earn cash or store credit for your kids’ outgrown items and moms’ outgrown maternity wear. Here’s a full list of gently used items they’ll buy from you. And Swap.com will pay you for women’s, men’s, baby and kids’ clothing and accessories. According to the website, sellers earn an average of $150 per box sold.

Once you’ve got some extra money, make it grow! One of the best ways to do that is to deposit it into an interest-bearing account, such as savingsmoney market, or certificate of deposit (CD). Visit the NVE website, one of our convenient neighborhood branches in Bergen County, or call 1-866-NVE BANK (683-2265) to learn more.

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Sources:

http://www.bankrate.com/finance/personal-finance/7-ways-to-cash-in-on-spring-cleaning-2.aspx

http://www.womansday.com/home/organizing-cleaning/a54344/spring-cleaning-into-extra-cash/

http://www.aol.com/article/2015/03/19/make-money-spring-cleaning/21154415/?gen=1

http://www.forbes.com/sites/niallmccarthy/2015/07/09/how-often-do-americans-upgrade-their-smartphones-infographic/#6e30913e53a1

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Mobile Banking Apps Bring Consumers Benefits

How many times a day do you pick up your mobile phone to check the time, send a text, answer an e-mail, scroll through Facebook, or just look at pictures in your gallery? How many times every hour? It might be more than you think. According to a recent study, on average, people in the United States across all age groups check their phones 46 times per day. In 2014, that number was just 33.

Every day, our mobile devices — namely, phones and tablets — are becoming more and more integrated into our lives. They are always with us, keeping everything from multimedia files to work data and other vital content accessible whenever, and wherever we need it. With today’s advanced technology, your mobile device can also provide a safe, secure connection to your bank accounts.

Every financial institution’s mobile banking app capabilities are different, but NVE’s TouchBanking offers iPhone® and Android® device users safe, secure access to your accounts right from your home screen.* From there you’re able to do everything you would on a computer and more, like check balances, review transactions, transfer funds, pay bills, and quickly locate ATM and branch locations near you. You can even have us monitor your accounts and alert you when certain events occur; for example, when your balance drops below a certain amount or when a deposit is made.

Don’t have an iPhone® or Android® device? No problem. Anyone with text messaging capabilities can be connected directly to their financial information. Simply send your desired text command — such as your account balance or a list of recent transactions — and NVE will instantly reply with the information. We can send you a text message or an e-mail notification. It’s your choice!

Here are a few examples of situations in which having a mobile banking app may prove convenient:

Problem: You’re out to dinner with a large group of people and you need to contribute to the check but you don’t have any cash.

Solution: Popmoney® allows you to send person-to-person payments as quickly as the next day via e-mail or text. All you need is the recipient’s name and e-mail address or mobile telephone number to move money from your NVE checking account to their account. No private, financial account information must ever be exchanged!

Problem: You’re at Newark Airport, about to board a flight, and suddenly you remember your PSE&G bill is due.

Solution: If you’ve signed up for NVE’s convenient Bill Pay service, you can take care of it directly from your mobile device. You can also change or cancel a pending payment

Problem: You need to access an ATM but you’re in an unfamiliar neighborhood and aren’t sure where the closest bank branch is.

Solution: Using the ATM & Branch Information tool available through NVE’s mobile banking app, you can quickly find the nearest locations of each. View them in a list or a map — whatever you prefer! Once you select your destination, the app will even provide you with driving directions.

Problem: You’ve found the perfect blazer to wear to tomorrow’s meeting while shopping at the Garden State Plaza, but you can’t remember if you have enough funds in your checking account to buy it.

Solution: Check your balance wherever you are. With your online banking app, you never have to wonder; all your account information is at your fingertips — literally!

Problem: You pay the same bills every month, but you can’t quite keep track of what’s due when.

Solution: It’s easy to lose track of bill due dates. Mobile banking text alerts help you keep up-to-date with your finances. You can be notified when a payment is due, and when it’s been processed, all from your phone.

Mobile Security

Your privacy and security are important to us. With NVE’s Mobile Banking, no personal or financial information is stored on your mobile device. You’ll also have added peace of mind with security features like 128-bit encryption, five-minute inactivity logout and account number masking.

Watch this video tutorial to learn how to download NVE’s mobile banking app, what the features are, and how to use them. To learn more about this and other information about NVE Bank’s products and services, visit our website or call 1-201-816-2830, ext. 1230.

mobile-banking-video*Mobile Banking is available to customers currently enrolled in our Personal Online Banking service. To enroll in Mobile Banking contact your local NVE Branch Associate for information on NVE’s convenient enrollment options. Or simply log on to Online Banking, click on “Account Services,” then “Requests,” then “Mobile Banking Enrollment” and download NVE’s Touch Banking App for your iPhone® or Android® device.

NVE Bank is an independent organization and has not been authorized, sponsored, or otherwise approved by Apple Inc.

Popmoney® is a registered trademark of Fiserv, Inc., or its affiliates. Terms and conditions apply.

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Sources:

http://time.com/4147614/smartphone-usage-us-2015/  

https://mic.com/articles/123592/6-mobile-banking-apps-that-helped-me-save-for-my-dream-vacation-without-thinking-about-it#.xFjJ3vxMt

http://www.nvebanking.com/home/personal/mobile_banking

Posted in mobile banking, POP money, popmoney | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Home Equity Line of Credit or Home Equity Loan: How to Choose

As a homeowner, it’s a near certainty that there will be times when leveraging your home’s equity — the difference between the appraised value of your home and what you owe on the mortgage — will enable you to afford certain larger expenses. This can be done in two ways: a home equity line of credit (HELOC) or a home equity loan.

Navigating these options can be confusing, and even intimidating, especially if this is new territory for you. As we stated in a recent blog post, you should really only consider these options if your mortgage is less than 80 percent of the home’s value. If that is the case, the next step is to decide which borrowing method is best for your needs. Understanding the distinctions between them will help you make the right choice.

What is a HELOC?

A home equity line of credit provides a sum of money that a borrower can draw from on an as-needed basis, almost like a credit card, for a predetermined time frame. The repayment period that follows can be up to 20 years and has an adjustable rate that changes with the market. As with a credit card, you are only charged interest and make payments on the amount you borrow, not the full amount available. Ask your lender if they offer fixed rates during the draw period, such as those NVE Bank offers borrowers.

What is a Home Equity Loan?

With a home equity loan, a borrower receives the total loan amount up front and pays it back over a fixed term at an interest rate that is locked in. You may have heard it referred to as a second mortgage. The amount you can borrow depends upon the equity you have in your home, your income, credit history, and the market value of your home. Like a HELOC, this type of loan is attractive because its interest rate is typically lower than those associated with credit cards or unsecured bank loans.

When it comes to figuring out which type of loan is best for you, there is rarely an absolute answer; it all depends on the details. To help determine which loan is best, ask yourself the following:

  • When do I need the money?
  • Is it for a short-term purpose, or over a longer period of time?
  • How much time do I need to pay it off?
  • How big a monthly payment am I able to afford?
  • Do I have the discipline to refrain from using money available via a line of credit that I don’t need?

HELOC-vs-home-equity-loanThere are common circumstances that lead homeowners toward one type of loan over the other, historically speaking. For example, a HELOC generally makes more sense if you need smaller amounts over a longer period. Examples of common uses for home equity lines include:

Home repairs. If your home is in need of essential maintenance or repairs, such as those that address safety issues or structural integrity.

Home renovations. If you are planning to sell soon — or eventually — and would like to try to increase the potential resale value or your home. Alternatively, if you plan to stay in your “forever home” and would like to improve your quality of life.

Business funding. Many entrepreneurs and small-business owners require capital to get off the ground. A word of caution here; be sure you can pay off the debt regardless of the success of your business.

Fun fact: Community Banks have long been a primary source of credit for small businesses. NVE Bank has supported businesses in Northern New Jersey since 1887!

A home equity loan usually fits the bill for those in need of a larger amount, all at once, for a specific project or purpose. This type of loan may satisfy the following circumstances:

Consolidating debt. If you have high-interest credit card debt, paying off these credit cards with a home equity loan will allow you to repay the debt at lower interest rate. But once your debt is paid off, don’t repeat the cycle!

You know how much you need. If you know the exact amount of money you need to     borrow and don’t have plans to borrow again.

Don’t get in your own way.

In order to secure — and keep — either loan, you as the borrower must demonstrate that you are a worthwhile investment. Home equity loans and lines provide financial relief and convenience for many homeowners, but don’t lose sight of the facts. Your home is not just a means to secure this financing; it is on the line, so to speak, as collateral. If you don’t pay your debt to your lender, your home may end up being the very thing that fulfills that obligation.

It is always a good idea to review any options you’re considering and seek counsel from real estate and financial professionals. NVE Bank’s lending portfolio includes a variety of plans to accommodate your personal needs, as well as Lending Specialists who can help you select the best option for your particular situation.

For more information, visit our website to learn more about our loan options and rates or call 1-201-816-2830, ext. 1230 to speak to one of our Lending Specialists.

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Sources:

https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0227-home-equity-loans-and-credit-lines

http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2014/09/12/the-best-and-worst-reasons-to-tap-your-home-equity

http://www.interest.com/home-equity/news/4-smart-moves-for-using-home-equity/

http://www.realtor.com/advice/finance/four-uses-for-home-equity-loans/

https://www.lendingtree.com/home-equity/equity-loan-vs-line-of-credit-article

Posted in Bergen County, home care, Mortgages & Loans, New Jersey, NJ | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Three Ways to Get the Best Mortgage

There are a few key factors that determine your mortgage interest rate. It’s important to know what they are because, for better or for worse, your habits affect how much you will pay. Being aware of this information will also provide you with a better understanding of the process by which a lender comes to its decision. Furthermore, it will also equip you with the knowledge you need in order to ask any lenders you’re considering the right questions before you move forward with securing a mortgage loan.

Know Your Credit Profile

Your “credit profile” — which consists of your credit report, credit score, credit history, debt, savings, total assets, and current income — is important to your lender. This is the information that allows them to evaluate how well you manage financial responsibilities, which plays a major role in influencing the decision to approve your loan, and if so, the terms (e.g., the interest rate).

Generally speaking, the higher your credit score, the lower your loan interest rate, and vice versa. When it comes to borrowing money for a home purchase, having poor credit will play a role in the loan amount you are approved for, and could potentially contribute to not being approved for a mortgage at all. Knowing your credit standing will help prepare you and set your expectations for what’s to come.

A couple of things you can do to ensure better credit standing include paying all your bills on time and paying more than the minimum on any outstanding balances you have whenever possible.

One thing you might not naturally think to do, but should, is to make sure your credit report is accurate. You might be wondering, “Why wouldn’t it be?” It’s a good question. A Federal Trade Commission study of the U.S. credit reporting industry found that five percent of consumers had errors on one of their three major credit reports that could result in less favorable terms for loans. So, there’s your answer! The good news is that you should not have any trouble obtaining copies of your credit report. The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires each of the nationwide credit reporting companies — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months.

Know Your Investment

To determine the amount you’ll need to borrow for your mortgage loan, deduct your down payment from the price of the home. As a general rule, the more money you put down, the lower the loan interest rate. This is because when a lender sees a borrower make a larger up-front investment, that person has a bigger stake in it and is, therefore, viewed as being lower risk. The “magic number” is 20 percent; if you can put down that or more, it is likely that you’ll get a more favorable interest rate.

One way to get an idea of the price range of the home you hope to buy is to look on real estate websites like Zillow and, for Northern New Jersey real estate, GSMLS. This research will give you a sense of typical prices in the neighborhoods you’re interested in. With this information, you can prepare yourself for what your short-term and long-term home-buying investment options are.

 Know Your Bank

Choosing a bank for a mortgage can simply be a personal preference, but it can sometimes also be the best financial option for a borrower. While banks and mortgage companies typically offer similar interest rates, banks may offer additional, unique advantages. For example, along with competitive rates, banks also have financial services such as checking and savings accounts, IRAs, money market accounts, a range of loan offerings, and much more. Utilizing these products and services can pay dividends. Often times, because a borrower’s bank of choice already has a good deal of information about them (e.g., account balances), qualifying can be easier, faster, and more convenient. Many people are also comfortable and familiar with their own bank’s staff — especially at a smaller, community bank.

NVE is headquartered in Englewood with 12 branches throughout Northern New Jersey, so unlike a big bank, all our decision makers are located across town, not across the country. That means our customers have access to people who can give them answers quickly, efficiently, and most importantly, with a Bergen County point of view. The confidence and peace of mind that can instill in a home buyer can be invaluable during what can be a stressful time.

In closing (no pun intended), interest is a very important factor to consider during the borrowing process, but it isn’t the only one! Points, mortgage insurance, and closing costs are also valuable discussion points. Having a trusted partner to walk you through all of these aspects can really put you at ease during the life-changing experience of buying a home at any stage. That’s why NVE Bank’s Mortgage Specialist works closely with customers every step of the way to ensure a smooth process and speedy closing, so buying your dream home doesn’t become a nightmare experience.

Visit our website to learn more about our latest promotions, loan options and rates! You can also call 1-866-NVE BANK (683-2265) to speak to one of our Lending Specialists, or visit your nearest neighborhood branch.

 

Sources:

http://www.consumerfinance.gov/about-us/blog/7-factors-that-determine-your-mortgage-interest-rate/

https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2013/02/ftc-study-five-percent-consumers-had-errors-their-credit-reports

http://www.bankrate.com/finance/mortgages/mortgage-tips/

http://1.usa.gov/1QU35IG

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Maximizing Your Tax Return: Keeping Up on Changes

Whether you do your own taxes or get them done by a licensed tax preparer, this yearly task is often looked upon as one of the more dreaded chores we face as taxpayers. Making it even more formidable is the fact that tax laws are perpetually changing. This, by the way, is one of the primary reasons you really should consider consulting a professional tax advisor.

To learn about the 2015 tax changes that may affect you, the IRS website is an excellent resource. Publication 17 addresses tax changes; the section titled “What’s New” summarizes important tax changes that took effect in 2015. Most of the changes are discussed in more detail throughout that publication, but you can keep up to date with the latest information about tax law topics covered in Publication 17 — including legislation enacted after it was published — here. These are the Recent Developments for Publication 17 as of February 17, 2016.

Here are some tax-related financial tips you might not know about.

  • If you have an IRA, you may be able to claim a deduction on your individual federal income tax return for the amount you contributed to it. Consult your tax preparer to find out what you may be eligible for. If this sounds good to you but you don’t have an IRA account and are interested in learning more, start here!
  • Homeowners may be happily surprised to know that all that hard work you put into building equity on your home can pay off — literally — when it comes to taxes. Why? Because you can use your Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) to pay your taxes. Securing a HELOC* allows you the freedom to write a check for the cash you need, up to a maximum approved credit line. You can use the funds any way you want to. So, if you owe money to the IRS, you might want to consider this option.

Keeping current on tax updates and working with a tax preparer can help to maximize your refund. To make that money grow even more, it’s wise to deposit it into an interest-bearing account, such as savingsmoney market, or certificate of deposit (CD). Visit the NVE website, one of our convenient neighborhood branches in Bergen County, or call 1-866-NVE BANK (683-2265) to learn more.

*Interest on the loan may be tax deductible-consult your tax advisor.

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Sources:

https://www.irs.gov/uac/RDA-2016-01-17-2015-P17

https://www.irs.gov/uac/About-Publication-17

https://www.irs.gov/publications/p17/ar01.html

https://www.taxact.com/professional/resources/articles/2015-tax-law-changes-that-affect-your-clients/

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