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5 Must-Know Tips for Selling Your Home

By Winnie Sun

Learn more about Winnie on NerdWallet’s Ask an Advisor

Selling your home is a big decision that requires significant preparation, including listing your property and meeting with potential agents. Once you’ve done that, it can still take weeks or even months to find a buyer, depending on the market.

With all that in mind, it’s important to know the current best practices for selling your home. Following these five tips will lead to a better experience.

1. Spruce up your online listing

A recent National Association of Realtors study found that nearly 90% of homebuyers use the internet to house hunt. If your online listing is drab and uninviting, you’re already turning off potential buyers. Start by updating it with clear and colorful images of your property. You could even get creative and post a love letter video about your home on YouTube. If you really want to use technology to your advantage, consider renting a drone camera and filming a video that gives potential buyers a 360-degree view of your property.

Remember, you only have one chance to create a good first impression. Helping potential buyers envision themselves living in your home gets you that much closer to selling your property.

2. Shop around for a solid real estate agent

Finding a capable agent is just as important as marketing your home. Try out a few of your options by attending open houses and observing how the agents interact with guests. Do they actively engage the visitors? Are they organized, and do they have support from team members?

You can also ask successful sellers to recommend their listing agents, and let’s not forget the power of online review sites, which can be good tools for finding reputable agents.

3. Negotiate the commission

Once you’ve selected an agent, it’s important that you negotiate the commission. Most realtors charge around 6% of the sale price. But let’s say you’re trying to sell a property in Silicon Valley, where many homes are only on the market for a week or so. You could negotiate a lower commission based on the fact that houses tend to sell more easily in that area.

Research the underlying benefits of selling a property in your area and use this information to negotiate the commission. Six percent represents a big bite out of your proceeds. Don’t hesitate to try to cut a deal.

4. Keep your agent on track

From day one, it’s essential that you establish tasks and timelines for your agent, both verbally and in written agreement. Then make sure that he or she is on track at all stages of the selling process, whether that’s organizing open houses or advertising your property through social media. He or she is your employee, and the last thing that you want is miscommunication.

I have an acquaintance whose agent sneaked away on vacation without warning after setting up an open house. Prospective buyers quickly lost interest when the agent wasn’t around in the following days to answer questions, and the house took awhile to sell. Don’t let this happen to you.

5. Select your buyer wisely

As a seller, you get to choose who buys your house. Remember, this is a business decision — it’s not just a matter of liking the potential buyer personally. For that reason, it’s wise to choose buyers who are preapproved. These buyers have the backing of their lenders to complete a sale, meaning their credit reports and income tax returns have already been checked out, lessening the chance that a financial snafu will throw off the sale process. You shouldn’t dismiss an unapproved buyer immediately, but it’s best to lean toward those who are preapproved.

Selling your home is no simple feat. Always take the time to sort out your options. Happy selling!

Winnie Sun is the founding partner of Sun Group Wealth Partners in Irvine, Calif.

The article 5 Must-Know Tips for Selling Your Home originally appeared on NerdWallet.

Nearly Half of Couples Chip In Equally for Home Down Payment, NerdWallet Finds

When it comes to purchasing a home, 41% of Americans who bought their current home with a partner* reported that both partners contributed equal amounts of money toward their down payment, according to a new NerdWallet survey.

NerdWallet commissioned an online survey, conducted in June 2016 by Harris Poll, of more than 2,000 U.S. adults ages 18 and older. The poll delved into how homeowners sourced their down payments and what their common disagreements and fears were during the process.

Key takeaways

Among Americans who bought their current home with a partner:

  • 11% of women contributed all or more to the down payment than their partner.
  • 29% of adults in the Northeast contributed all or more of the down payment than their partners did, while only 17% of adults in the West contributed all or more than their partners.

Three in five homeowners are unsure how much they saved monthly toward a down payment for their current home

In general, homebuyers can expect to pay as little as 3.5% down for an FHA loan, or up to 20% of a home’s purchase price for a conventional loan, as a down payment, not to mention needing additional cash on hand for closing costs.

NerdWallet’s survey found that homeowners who recalled how much they saved for a down payment on their current home, individually saved an average of $1,078.50 monthly for that purpose. However, 60% of homeowners said that they weren’t sure how much money they individually saved on a monthly basis, which might suggest a lack of budgeting and planning.

Other savings trends

  • It took homeowners who needed to save an average of three years before purchasing their current home.
  • One in four homeowners saved money individually, on a monthly basis, to put toward the down payment of their current home.
  • 42% of millennial homeowners (ages 18-34) saved individually, on a monthly basis, for a down payment when they purchased their current home, while only 29% of Gen X homeowners (35-54) did the same.
  • More than half (52%) of millennial homeowners needed to save money before purchasing their current home.
  • Significantly more male homeowners needed to save up before buying a home (47%) compared with female homeowners (32%).

Tips for getting a mortgage you can afford

Finding the right house is just the first step. There are some practical ways to get a home loan that fits your needs — and your budget. Some tips include:

  1. Clean up your credit.
  2. Look for homes at the lower end of your budget.
  3. Shop around for the right lender.
  4. Consider the costs of owning a home.
  5. Focus on needs, not wants, in your home search.

Read additional survey results in the full story.

* “Partner/partners” refers to homeowners who purchased their current home with a partner or spouse.

Deborah Kearns is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. 

Mortgage Rates Today, Friday, Aug. 5: How Today’s Jobs Report Will Move Interest Rates

Thirty-year mortgage rates are unchanged Friday, 15-year fixed home loans moved a tick higher, and 5/1 ARMs were unchanged, according to a NerdWallet survey of mortgage rates posted by national lenders this morning.

There was little direction for mortgage rates prior to this morning’s jobs report. But that report may not be good news for interest rate watchers.

How the jobs report may move mortgage rates

This morning’s U.S. employment report has the potential to influence mortgage rates, as the bond market reacts to the news and lenders reprice their loan offerings. Bad news for the economy is usually good news for mortgage rates. However, today’s jobs report was much better than economists’ expectations, with nonfarm payroll employment up by 255,000.

“The best scenario for the bond market is rising unemployment, a sizable loss of jobs and little change in earnings,” Al Bowman, with Mortgage Commentary Services in Tampa, Florida, said in a report to clients. “Due to the importance of these readings, we will most likely see quite a bit of volatility in the markets and mortgage pricing following their posting, especially after the surprises of the past couple months in this data.”

With the good economic news from the July jobs report, mortgage rates are likely to see some pressure to move higher through the remainder of today and into next week.

The NerdWallet Mortgage Rate Index compiles annual percentage rates — lender interest rates plus fees, the most accurate way for consumers to compare rates. Here are today’s average rates for the most popular loan terms:

Purchase Mortgage Rates: Aug. 5, 2016

(Change from 8/4)

30-year fixed: 3.59% APR (NC)

15-year fixed: 3.00% APR (+0.01)

5/1 ARM: 3.46% APR (NC)

Homeowners looking to lower their mortgage rate can shop for refinance lenders here.

NerdWallet daily mortgage rates are an average of the published APR with the lowest points for each loan term offered by a sampling of major national lenders. Annual percentage rate quotes reflect an interest rate plus points, fees and other expenses, providing the most accurate view of the costs a borrower might pay.

Hal Bundrick is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. 

The article Mortgage Rates Today, Friday, Aug. 5: How Today’s Jobs Report Will Move Interest Ratesoriginally appeared on NerdWallet.

Mortgage Rates Today, Friday, July 29: Fixed-Rate Loans Move Lower

Thirty-year and 15-year fixed mortgage rates are down Friday while 5/1 ARMs are steady, according to a survey of national lenders by NerdWallet.

For 30-year fixed home loans, this is only the second move lower since July 7.

Mortgage rates higher while homeownership falls to all-time low

In recent weeks, mortgage rates have crept higher but remain near historic lows. However, low interest rates haven’t been enough to encourage new buyers, as the rate of homeownership has fallen to a record low.

In a new report issued by the U.S. Census Bureau, the rate of homeownership in the nation fell to 62.9% in the second quarter. That’s the lowest homeownership rate since the bureau began tracking the metric in 1995.

Second-quarter 2016 homeownership rates were highest in the Midwest (67.7%) and lowest in the Northeast (59.2%) and West (57.9%), according to the report. Homeownership rates were highest for householders 65 and over (77.9%) and lowest for adults under 35 (34.1%).

The Census Bureau also reported that the median asking price for a vacant home for sale during the second quarter of this year was $164,500, a figure that’s risen over the past four years. However, it’s still significantly lower than the over $200,000 median home price recorded just before the housing crash in 2006-2007.

The NerdWallet Mortgage Rate Index compiles annual percentage rates — lender interest rates plus fees, the most accurate way for consumers to compare rates. Here are today’s average rates for the most popular loan terms:

Purchase Mortgage Rates: July 29, 2016

(Change from 7/28)

30-year fixed: 3.64% APR (-0.02)

15-year fixed: 3.03% APR (-0.04)

5/1 ARM: 3.43% APR (NC)

Homeowners looking to lower their mortgage rate can shop for refinance lenders here.

NerdWallet daily mortgage rates are an average of the published APR with the lowest points for each loan term offered by a sampling of major national lenders. Annual percentage rate quotes reflect an interest rate plus points, fees and other expenses, providing the most accurate view of the costs a borrower might pay.

Hal Bundrick is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. 

The article Mortgage Rates Today, Friday, July 29: Fixed-Rate Loans Move Lower originally appeared on NerdWallet.

Mortgage Refinance Rates Today, Friday, July 22

Thirty-year fixed mortgage refinance rates are unchanged Friday, while 15-year fixed loans are just a tick higher; 5/1 ARM refinance rates are unchanged, according to a survey of national lenders by NerdWallet.

NerdWallet compiles annual percentage rates — lender interest rates plus fees, the most accurate way for consumers to compare rates. Here are today’s average rates for the most popular mortgage refinance terms:

Refinance Mortgage Rates: July 22, 2016

(Change from 7/21)

30-year fixed: 3.74% APR (NC)

15-year fixed: 3.08% APR (+0.01)

5/1 ARM: 3.46% APR (NC)

Homeowners looking to lower their mortgage rate can shop refinance lenders here.

NerdWallet daily mortgage rates are an average of the published APR with the lowest points for each loan term offered by a sampling of major national lenders. Annual percentage rate quotes reflect an interest rate plus points, fees and other expenses, providing the most accurate view of the costs a borrower might pay.

The article Mortgage Refinance Rates Today, Friday, July 22 originally appeared on NerdWallet.

Mortgage Rates Today, Monday, July 11: Another Rapid Rise

Recent headlines have touted lower mortgage rates and while rates are still historically low, borrowers who are considering locking in a rate should know that home loan pricing has moved noticeably higher in the past two days, particularly for 30-year mortgages. And the rate hikes have affected purchase loans as well as refinances.

The NerdWallet Mortgage Rate Index compiles annual percentage rates — lender interest rates plus fees, the most accurate way for consumers to compare rates. Here are today’s average rates for the most popular loan terms:

Purchase Mortgage Rates: July 11, 2016

(Change from 7/8)

30-year fixed: 3.58% APR (+0.03)

15-year fixed: 2.97% APR (NC)

5/1 ARM: 3.37% APR (+0.02)

Refinance Mortgage Rates: July 11, 2016

(Change from 7/8)

30-year fixed: 3.65% APR (+0.03)

15-year fixed: 2.99% APR (NC)

5/1 ARM: 3.38% APR (+0.02)

Homeowners looking to lower their mortgage rate can shop for refinance lenders here.

Wells Fargo, Chase and BOA mortgage rates

Three major components of the NerdWallet Mortgage Rate Index are leading lenders Wells Fargo, Chase and Bank of America. Their current purchase mortgage rates are:

Bank Mortgage Rates 7/11

30-year fixed 15-year fixed 5/1 ARM
Wells Fargo 3.66% APR 2.98% APR 3.42% APR
Chase 3.35% APR 2.79% APR 3.35% APR
Bank of America 3.57% APR N/A 3.32% APR

NerdWallet daily mortgage rates are an average of the lowest published APR for each loan term offered by a sampling of major national lenders. Annual percentage rate quotes reflect an interest rate plus points, fees and other expenses, providing the most accurate view of the costs a borrower might pay.

Hal Bundrick is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. 

The article Mortgage Rates Today, Monday, July 11: Another Rapid Rise originally appeared onNerdWallet.

Mortgage Rates Today, Tuesday, July 5: Down Again and Nearing Historic Lows

Fixed-rate mortgage terms are steeply discounted and approaching historic levels. After another round of cuts this morning, mortgage rates on 30-year terms are near all-time lows while 15-year home loans are now below 3%, according to an early Tuesday survey of major national lenders.

The NerdWallet Mortgage Rate Index compiles annual percentage rates — lender interest rates plus fees — the most accurate way for consumers to compare rates. Here are today’s average rates for the most popular loan terms:

Purchase Mortgage Rates: July 5, 2016

(Change from 7/1)

30-year fixed: 3.54% APR (-0.04)

15-year fixed: 2.99% APR (-0.01)

5/1 ARM: 3.31% APR (-0.01)

Refinance Mortgage Rates: July 5, 2016

(Change from 7/1)

30-year fixed: 3.62% APR (-0.05)

15-year fixed: 3.01% APR (-0.01)

5/1 ARM: 3.33% APR (-0.01)

Homeowners looking to lower their mortgage rate can shop for refinance lenders here.

Wells Fargo, Chase and BOA mortgage rates

Three major components of the NerdWallet Mortgage Rate Index are leading lenders Wells Fargo, Chase and Bank of America. Their current purchase mortgage rates are:

Bank Mortgage Rates 7/5

30-year fixed 15-year fixed 5/1 ARM
Wells Fargo 3.66% APR 3.04% APR 3.38% APR
Chase 3.34% APR 2.80% APR 3.32% APR
Bank of America 3.52% APR N/A 3.26% APR

NerdWallet daily mortgage rates are an average of the lowest published APR for each loan term offered by a sampling of major national lenders. Annual percentage rate quotes reflect an interest rate plus points, fees and other expenses, providing the most accurate view of the costs a borrower might pay.

Hal Bundrick is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. 

The article Mortgage Rates Today, Tuesday, July 5: Down Again and Nearing Historic Lows originally appeared on NerdWallet.

Mortgage Rates Today, Monday, June 20

A survey of national lenders early Monday finds mortgage rates mostly unchanged. Of the lenders who repriced their terms early this morning, the move was unanimous: mark up loan rates.

However, moves made were small — and not enough to move overall averages for most loan terms. And there appears that there is little on the horizon to urge rates to move higher in the coming days. Worries over a British exit from the European Union have faded ever so slightly in recent days, though the referendum will be voted on Thursday.

NerdWallet compiles lender interest rates plus fees (APR) — the most accurate way for consumers to compare rates. Here are the average rates for the most popular loan terms:

Mortgage Rates: June 20, 2016

(Change from 6/17)

30-year fixed: 3.69% APR (NC)

15-year fixed: 3.05% APR (NC)

5/1 ARM: 3.32% APR (+0.01)

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen will appear before Congress for two days of testimony this week, beginning Tuesday. The markets will be looking for any sign of change in the central bank’s monetary strategy. For now, many observers believe the Fed may wait on raising interest rates a while longer, until the global economy gains more solid footing.

Little else is on the economic calendar which could motivate mortgage rates to rise or fall this week.

Lock or float your mortgage rate?

With mortgage rates hugging three-year lows, analysts are expecting little change in the near term. However, with the Fed seeking an opportunity to raise short-term rates prior to the end of the year, mortgage lenders are bound to follow — at some point.

“Taking everything together, my expectation would be for a minimal increase in mortgage rates when the Fed first tightens,” Brad Hunter, chief economist for HomeAdvisor, tells NerdWallet. “Between now and the end of the year, however, I would expect mortgage rates to begin moving higher. I am forecasting gradual increases in mortgage rates over the next two years.”

As always, any decision to lock a mortgage rate should be based on the borrowers’ risk tolerance and their short- and long-term goals.

NerdWallet daily mortgage rates are an average of the lowest published APR for each loan term offered by a sampling of major national lenders. Annual percentage rate quotes reflect an interest rate plus points, fees and other expenses, providing a more accurate view of the costs a borrower might pay.

Hal Bundrick is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. 

The article Mortgage Rates Today, Monday, June 20 originally appeared on NerdWallet.

Mortgage Rates Today, Monday, June 13: Average Rates Lower Before the Fed

A Federal Reserve monetary policy meeting is looming but mortgage rates are fearlessly moving slightly lower. In a survey of lenders early Monday, lenders repriced just enough to move the needle incrementally lower, on average. Without major economic news expected today, there is likely to be little catalyst for additional interest rate moves until the Fed’s Wednesday short-term rate announcement.

While short-term rate moves by the Fed don’t directly impact mortgage rates, the influence of a Fed rate hike among lenders is undisputed. Banks facing higher overnight borrowing costs are likely to pass those expenses along to consumers. And with many economists thinking the Fed will pass on a rate hike at this week’s meeting, any news otherwise would likely move mortgage rates immediately higher.

Meanwhile, in a survey of lenders early Monday, average rates for the most popular loan terms were hugging three-year lows:

Mortgage Rates: June 13, 2016

(Change from 6/10)

30-year fixed: 3.70% APR (-0.02)

15-year fixed: 3.07% APR (-0.01)

5/1 ARM: 3.34% APR (-0.01)

Lock or float your mortgage rate?

“With a more muted economy in view and with the world’s investors desperate to find positive yields for their investments, interest rates will find it hard to get any upward traction, and this will likely continue to be the case even if the Fed comes back ‘in play’ as we wend our way into summer,”  Keith T. Gumbinger, vice president of mortgage information publisher HSH.com, wrote in an analysis emailed to subscribers Friday.

Of course, any decision to lock a mortgage rate should be based on the borrowers’ risk tolerance and their short- and long-term goals.

NerdWallet daily mortgage rates are an average of the lowest published APR for each loan term offered by a sampling of major national lenders. Annual percentage rate quotes reflect an interest rate plus points, fees and other expenses, providing a more accurate view of the costs a borrower might pay.

Hal Bundrick is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. 

The article Mortgage Rates Today, Monday, June 13: Average Rates Lower Before the Fed originally appeared on NerdWallet.

Mortgage Rates Today, Wednesday, June 8: Hovering Near 3-Year Lows

Some lenders reduced their mortgage rates even further this morning, while others held firm. The net effect: average rates are unchanged to modestly lower. Defying predictions of looming higher interest rates, home loan pricing remains near three-year lows.

A NerdWallet survey of mortgage lenders early today shows the daily change in average mortgage rates:

Mortgage Rates: June 8, 2016

(Change from 6/7)

30-year fixed: 3.74% APR (-0.02)

15-year fixed: 3.09% APR (NC)

5/1 ARM: 3.35% APR (-0.01)

While mortgage rates continue to be favorable for buyers, only 29% of Americans believe it is a good time to buy a house, according to a Fannie Mae national survey.

“Continued home price appreciation has been squeezing housing affordability, driving a two-year downward trend in the share of consumers who think it’s a good time to buy a home,” said Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist at Fannie Mae.

However, more than half (52%) of those surveyed believe it is a good time to sell a home.

Lock or float your mortgage rate?

In spite of the recent weak employment report, Duncan believes mortgage rates will remain low through the end of the year. Fannie Mae’s forecast is for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages to finish 2016 at 3.7%.

Of course, any decision to lock a mortgage rate should be based on a borrower’s risk tolerance and short- and long-term goals.

NerdWallet daily mortgage rates are an average of the lowest published APR for each loan term offered by a sampling of major national lenders. Annual percentage rate quotes reflect an interest rate plus points, fees and other expenses, providing a more accurate view of the costs a borrower might pay.

Hal Bundrick is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. 

The article Mortgage Rates Today, Wednesday, June 8: Hovering Near 3-Year Lows originally appeared on NerdWallet.