March 2010 Vol. 5 No.3
• 5 Things a Mortgage Broker Brings to the Table • March's Home Value Improver • About Us

5 Things a Mortgage Broker Brings to the Table

Buying or refinancing a home is among the bigger steps you can take in life, and your home is likely the biggest purchase you'll ever make. One client told me, "Getting married? Easy decision. Buying a house? Now, that was difficult."

You have to consider price, location, school quality, size, how much work it needs, age, and the list goes on. Once you have actually found the right house and the sellers have accepted your offer, you likely will heave a sigh of relief. But wait, now comes the even scarier part - borrowing a huge sum of money that will take decades to pay off.

I am often asked why a home buyer cannot just go straight to a lender when buying or refinancing. Why involve a mortgage broker at all? My answer is always the same: Partnering with a trusted, knowledgeable professional as you secure a mortgage can help you get the best loan for your unique situation and it can help you navigate a confusing, challenging process.

Here are five things that a mortgage broker can bring to the table when you are buying or refinancing.

  1. Your broker has access to many lenders and can look around.
    Yes, you can call your local bank and ask to borrow $500,000, but when you're looking at numbers that high, tiny tenths of a percentage make a big difference. You want to work with a bank that will give you a good rate, offer low closing costs, and customize its loan to your situation. A good mortgage broker knows the different lenders and can direct you to the best one for you.

  2. Your mortgage broker works for you.
    Unlike the bank, the mortgage broker is independent, not beholden to any specific institution. Individual home buyers are the mortgage banker's only clients. They have more flexibility in the programs they can present to you, and they will show up at your closing to make sure things go well.

  3. By shopping around, you can find a broker that best suits your needs.
    If you are someone who wants to run the numbers yourself and just need someone to get you access to the right lender, find a mortgage broker who is quick and direct. If, on the other hand, you want someone to hold your hand throughout the process and explain everything in detail, look for a mortgage broker who will treat you with kid gloves. A good mortgage broker works hard to develop longstanding relationships with clients, while lenders are much more transaction based. They do the loan and then move on.

  4. Your broker can offer personal advice.
    Since a mortgage broker works with so many kinds of borrowers and in many different situations, he or she can give you helpful advice on what your best loan will be and how to pay it. Mortgage brokers are full-service professionals who can look at every detail in your finances, from car payments to employee bonuses, and see how it will relate to your mortgage. They also will take the time to ask the right questions and to answer your questions. And they can help to ease the anxiety that is common when buying or refinancing - especially in turbulent times like these.

  5. Your friends and family can probably recommend a good one.
    Like any other major professional in your life (doctor, lawyer, teacher), you listen carefully to the advice from family and friends. Why should choosing your mortgage broker be any different? Ask around to be sure to find one you can trust and will work well with you.

Once you take care of all the mortgage details, you can go back to agonizing over bathroom tile color, which was where you wanted to be, after all. Wasn't it?

March's Home Value Improver

Get Your Home Ready for Spring

If you're like me, you're really anxious to get outdoors after a winter of being cooped up inside. You're ready to put the snow shovels in the back of the garage, see leaves on the trees, and enjoy your yard again. Before you run out to the garden center and start buying flowers, do some important preparation.

(Oh, and if you're not interested in yard work for its therapeutic benefits, remember that it can increase your property value by 15%. I don't know many people who are not interested in that!)

Clean, clean, clean.
The wind has blown, the snow has fallen, and the frost has done a number on your plantings. Now is the time to clean the yard up. Pick up the sticks and any other debris that have fallen into the yard. Get rid of all those cruddy brown leaves - and be sure to rake the ones that are up against the house, fence, and shed.

Rake the lawn.
Now is the time to get rid of thatch. It may sound technical, but raking the thatch is an easy task and fundamental to the health of your lawn. Thatch is a layer of grass roots, clippings, and debris that is just under the grass and difficult to see. Removing the thatch requires raking the lawn, with a little more oomph and a stiff-tined rake. There are even thatching attachments for lawn mowers if you want to go the automatic route.

If you're feeling like spring is the time for growth you're right. It's a good time to fertilize, but show some restraint. Too much fertilizer in the spring can be harmful. Determining when the optimal fertilizing time is depends on several factors. There are lots of lawn care websites that you can find with a quick Internet search that will explain these in detail.

Kill the weeds.
Get rid of those pesky dandelions as quickly as possible with dandelion killer or by digging out the weeds at the root. There are several herbicides you can use.

Get your lawn mower ready.
Don't wait until the grass is up to your ankles before you roll the lawn mower out of the shed for the first time of the season. Try starting your lawn mower. If it starts right up, it is probably OK. However, you should tune up your lawn mower each spring. A hardware store may be able to do it, or you could do it yourself.

Now that ready for your beautiful spring lawn, remember that mowing it in the evening puts less stress on your lawn than mowing it in the heat of the sun.

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So I've just endured a surprise audit - I suppose that every audit is a surprise - by the State of Massachusetts Division of Banks. I'm more grateful than ever for the team of financial professionals I have on my side. Everything went smoothly thanks to their knowledge, advice and assistance.

I often preach in this newsletter about the importance of having a trusted professional on your side when making important financial decisions. This issue focuses on how a mortgage broker can be a valuable asset when you are buying or refinancing your home. There are a lot of situations where the "do it yourself" route works well, but your managing your financial life, personally or professionally, isn't one of them.

I'm always happy to take your calls and emails regarding home buying or refinancing.

Best regards,
Debbie Siegel
Westchester Mortgage

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