December 2007 Vol.2 No.12

 Can a Mortgage Calculator
Be Your Crystal Ball?
 Debbie Siegel on NECN  December's Home Value Improver  About Us


Can a Mortgage Calculator
Be Your Crystal Ball?

Once upon a time, you had to pull out your trusty Texas Instruments calculator to figure out your mortgage payments. And if you weren't mathematically inclined, it wasn't easy! Today, a simple Google search for mortgage calculators turns up more than 200,000 options. Mortgage calculators are good for some aspects of home shopping, but they should never serve as your last word on what you can and can't afford.

Once you have found a trustworthy real estate agent to work with, think hard about what you can afford. There are calculators for virtually every permutation of borrowing: mortgage tax savings calculators, bi-weekly mortgage calculators, and interest-only calculators, to name just a few. A mortgage calculator is a great place to start, but before you start plugging in numbers, think about some other expenses associated with buying your home and paying monthly mortgage payments.

  • Don't forget taxes. Your real estate agent should be able to tell you the tax rate in the city or town in which you are searching. If not, you can also check the municipality's tax rate. You might be surprised to find how much tax rates can differ between otherwise similar towns. Tax rates are based on the price at which the house is assessed, and the town will tell you the tax mount per $1,000.
  • Check the term. Most mortgage calculators will have a section that allows you to plug in the length of the loan. Before you decide that you can or cannot afford something, be sure that you are plugging in the right term.
  • Know your interest rates. The rate on your loan can have a dramatic effect on the amount of your monthly payments. Don't bother with a mortgage calculator unless you know your likely interest rate.

These calculators are also good if you want to play around. For instance, you may want to know the difference in monthly payment amounts if you go with a smaller or larger down payment. They are great for rough estimates, but talk to a mortgage broker to find out exactly what your payment will be.

As anyone who has tried a budget knows, what works on paper does not always work in real life. You need wiggle room. If you truly want to see what you can afford, a simple calculator will not help you. You have to consider things that can't be plugged quickly into an online tool, most importantly, your expenses. Not too many people factor into their equation that oil prices would shoot up by 200% in three years or that your take-out expenses would skyrocket after your second baby. Property taxes almost always increase.

I guess what I want to say that is using the Internet for mortgage information is like using it for medical information. It's a great place to poke around and get some information, but it's best to see the doctor for information on your health and to see your mortgage broker for information on your finances.

Debbie Siegel on NECN

12-07 Debbie on NECN

Debbie Siegel was interviewed by Mont Fennel of New England Cable News' Business Day program on the day that President Bush announced his plan to freeze rates on adjustable rate mortgages for 5 years. See what Debbie had to say!

Click here to watch!

December's Home Value Improver

Spruce it up!

Take five simple and inexpensive steps to give your home that cared for and cozy look. It will appeal to potential buyers as well as current occupants - you!

As the days and years go by, it's easy to miss the signs of wear and tear on your home. If you are even considering putting your home on the market, or just want things to have a newer, fresher look, try some of these inexpensive steps.

1.     Powerwash the exterior. Rent a power washer for half a day or a whole day and give your home a cleansing shower. You just may be surprised to see how much dirt your house has accumulated over the years.


2.     Clean up your yard. Weed those flower beds, trim the bushes, and try to keep your lawn as green as possible (season permitting). If the cold weather is making your front yard brown and dreary, add some seasonal potted plants or evergreen decorations.


3.     Repaint your walls neutral colors. In case you end up putting your house on the market, you want people to be able to envision themselves living in your home. Sure, creative types can see past the zebra- themed family room and imagine their library there, but most people cannot. This does not mean that you need to make your home look like an apartment rental. Just look for some classy, neutral colors.


4.     Replace old bathroom fixtures. You don't need anything fancy here. But if your bathroom fixtures are looking rusty or dull, some shiny chrome fixtures will literally make the bathroom glow.


5.     Add a gas fireplace. A shiny new gas fireplace still causes people to ooooh and aaaaahh. In addition, it provides a lot of heat and it's pretty simple to hook them up to a thermostat. With oil so expensive, you can even turn your house heat way down, and use the gas fireplace to heat the few rooms in which you spend most of your time.


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Happy Holidays! As the year end approaches, I hope you find time to relax and enjoy your family and friends.

It's been a crazy year in the mortgage business -- unlike any I have seen -- and it's more important than ever to have a mortgage professional you can trust on your side.

As you look forward to 2008, maybe a new home purchase is in your future. Maybe you will refinance or sell your home? Or possibly you will have a family member or friend make an important real estate decision. I hope you will consider contacting Westchester Mortgage if any of these situations arise.

Please feel free to call or email anytime for more information on this or any other mortgage topic!

Best regards,
Debbie Siegel
Westchester Mortgage

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