January 2009
• Low Interest Rates Are Great - If You Can Access Them • January's Home Value Improver • About Us

Low Interest Rates Are Great - If You Can Access Them

A low interest rate is the holy grail of home loans. The difference between a good rate and a bad one can influence some major financial choices you make, including the home you can buy. Understandably, everyone wants to know they have the best rate available to them.

Interest rates have been sort of crazy lately, so it's easy to get excited about refinancing to a lower rate. Perhaps you heard the mom next to you at your child's gymnastics class bragging about her low rate and asking about yours. Like all things that seem too good to be true, they may not be - for you.

The now infamous "credit crunch" means that banks are keeping a tight fist with their money. Mortgages are not as easy to get as they used to be, and those who will not be able to revel in the new low rates include:

  • Those with "jumbo" loans.
    While rates fall for all types of mortgages, they don't fall as much for people with jumbo loans. A jumbo loan is anything more than $417,000, which encompasses a lot of people in the Boston area.

  • People with a high loan-to-value (LTV) ratio.
    An LTV is the percentage of money loaned against the appraised value of the property. For example, if you want to buy a house worth $150,000 and want a $130,000 loan, the LTV is $150,000/$130,000, which equals 87%. So if your appraised value has decreased but the amount you need for a loan has not, your LTV may no longer be a desirable one for the bank. Some banks used to have a 100% LTV (Remember what got us into this whole mess in the first place?). Today, banks are typically looking for an LTV that does not exceed 80%.

Buyers who have cash are in the best situation, but even they must have impeccable credit to take advantage of low rates. It's always good to know your rate and keep abreast of the mortgage world, but the advice of living within your means will never go out of style!

January's Home Value Improver

Lighting 101

Flipping the light switch when you walk into a room is so automatic, people even do it when the electricity is out. Ah, but lights are so much more! Different types of lighting serve different types of purposes. Each room has different lighting needs.

Of course, since there is where people spend much of their time and do a lot of work, good lighting is very important. You need a light over your workspaces and one under the countertops. Of course, one over where you eat is crucial, too.
Rule: Install one light per activity area.

Living Room/Family Room
Table and floor lamps are great. Remember that the bottom of the lampshade should be at eye level when sitting. Place reading lamps so that they shine over your left shoulder. Of course, a ceiling fan can help with the temperature.
Rule: Be sure lamp sizes are in line with your furniture sizes.

Dining Room
A chandelier over the table is important, as is some small lamps on the sideboard for when you want some mood lighting. This is a great room for a dimmer switch, too.
Rule: A chandelier should be about 36 inches from the table.

Recessed lights are good in general, but you also need something around the mirror. Next to the mirror is better than above it because of the way lights above can cast shadows under your eyes and nose.
Rule: Fluorescent lights are not good for bathrooms since they tend to cast a greenish light. No one wants to look green.

Overhead lights are generally not recommended in master bedrooms, but can be beneficial with a ceiling fan. Sconces above the bed are nice too, and reading lamps are essential.
Rule: The base of the lampshade should be 20 inches above the bed.

With President Obama's Inauguration Celebration this week, everyone seems to be excited about change and hopeful about the future, and that's a good thing. But it's also always good to stay grounded and focus on what's right for you.

If it's time for a change in your financial situation make sure to think it through, do your homework and seek advice from the experts.

Change can be good, as long as it makes sense! Please feel free to contact me anytime to talk about mortgage-related changes you'd like to make!

Best regards,
Debbie Siegel
Westchester Mortgage

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