Trisha Bowen - RE/MAX Real Estate Center



Posted by Trisha Bowen on 1/17/2018

If you’re hoping to buy your first home in the near future, you’re likely wondering about the different types of mortgages that you may qualify for. Since the 1930s, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) has been insuring home loans for first-time homeowners across America.

This program helps people achieve homeownership who typically wouldn’t be able to afford the down payment or pass the credit score requirements to secure a traditional mortgage.

In today’s post, we’re going to answer some frequently asked questions about FHA loans to help you decide if this is the best option for your first home.

Does the FHA issue loans?

Although they’re called “FHA loans,” mortgages are not actually issued by the FHA. Rather, they’re issued by mortgage lenders across the country and insured by the FHA.

Will I have to make a down payment?

With an FHA loan, your down payment can be as low as 3.5%, significantly lower than traditional loans at 20% down payment. However, you will be required to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI) in addition to your monthly mortgage payments until you have paid off 20% of the home. So, the best case scenario would be to save as much as possible for a down payment to reduce the amount of mortgage insurance you have to pay.

What are the benefits of an FHA loan?

The three main reasons to secure an FHA loan are:

  • You can qualify with a low credit score

  • You can make a smaller down payment than traditional mortgages

  • Your closer costs will be less expensive

Where do I apply for an FHA loan?

You can apply for an FHA loan through a mortgage lender. You can also work with a mortgage broker to help choose a lender.

Is an FHA loan the only loan option for low down payments?

There are multiple loan programs offered at the state and federal level to help individuals secure a mortgage with a lower down payment. They can be provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs, the USDA, or state-sponsored programs. Lenders also often sponsor their own programs to attract potential borrowers. However, always make sure you compare these programs to make sure you’re making the best long-term financial decision.

Do all FHA loans offer the same interest rates and costs?

No. Since the loans are only insured by the FHA, it’s up to the lender to determine your interest rate and fees. So, it’s a good idea to shop around for the best lender.

How high does my credit score have to be to qualify for an FHA loan?

You can secure a mortgage with a down payment as low as 3.5% with a credit score of 580 or higher. However, if you can afford to make a larger down payment, you can secure an FHA loan with a credit score as low as 500.

If your score is in the 500-600 range, it’s typically a better idea to spend a few months building credit before applying for a home loan.

What information will I need to apply?

You’ll need to gather all of the same information that you would for a typical mortgage. This includes W2s from your employer(s), two years of submitted tax forms, your current and former addresses from the past two years, and your gross monthly salary.

I’ve owned a house before, can I still qualify for FHA loans?

Even if you’re not a first-time homebuyer you can still qualify for an FHA loan. However, you cannot qualify if you’ve had a foreclosure within the last three years or have filed for bankruptcy within the last two years.




Categories: Uncategorized  


Posted by Trisha Bowen on 1/11/2018

We all know that buying a home is a significant decision that comes with a great deal of financial planning and preparation. However, few of us are taught the ins and outs of actually obtaining a mortgage to make your dream of homeownership come true.

Mortgages are a complicated business that is always changing, both with fluctuations in market rates and with policy decisions.

But, if you’re hoping to buy a home in the near future, it’s important to understand all of your options when it comes to mortgages.

In today’s post, we’re going to address the 20% down payment myth, where that number comes from, and what your options are when it comes to applying for a mortgage.

Where does the 20% down payment number come from?

For most people, 20% of a house is a serious amount of money that would take years to save up. If you’re a first-time homebuyer and don’t have any equity to use from selling another house, 20% may seem like an impossible amount to save within the time you want to buy a home. Fortunately, there are several ways to buy a home without having 20% in cash saved up.

But first, let’s understand where that number comes from.

Most mortgage lenders will want to ensure that lending to you is a safe investment of their money. They want to know that they’ll earn back what they’re spending. To do this, they use several methods.

First, they’ll check your credit history to see how often you pay your bills in time. Then, they’ll want proof if your income and financial stability. Finally, they’ll ask for either a down payment or a guarantee that you will pay them back. Here’s where that 20% comes in.

If you don’t have 20% of the mortgage amount saved for a down payment, you will typically have to pay something called private mortgage insurance. This is an extra monthly fee, on top of your mortgage payments with interest, that you pay to ensure the lender that they’re seeing a return on their investment.

Most homeowners put much less than 20% down

If you’re feeling bad about the amount of money you have saved for a down payment, don’t be! In fact, most first-time homebuyers put, on average, just 6% down on their first home.

Since first-time homeowners don’t have the benefit of equity they’ve accumulated by making payments on their previous mortgage, they often have to come up with down payments out of pocket.

Other options besides a 20% down payment

There are several ways to secure a mortgage without putting 20% down on the home. First, check to see if you are eligible for any loans that are guaranteed by the government. These can come from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), or the USDA single-family home program.

The third option is to take on private mortgage insurance until you’ve paid 20% of your mortgage payment.

Private mortgage insurance can be paid to an insurance company or to the federal government in the case of FHA loans, you can put down as low as 3.5%.


Between these three options, you should be able to find a mortgage that you can afford and one that will give you the best possible financial stability in the long-term.





Posted by Trisha Bowen on 1/7/2018

Keeping your house warm throughout the cold winter months is getting more and more expensive. While it is a relief to step out of the cold and enter your warm, cozy home, that heat comes with one serious downfall: dry air.

One of the byproducts of heating your home in the winter is that it reduces the humidity. A comfortable humidity level for your home is anywhere between 40% and 60%. Drop into the 30s or below and you’ll quickly find that your throat starts to feel sore, your nose might feel uncomfortably dry, and your skin gets dry faster.

To make matters worse, many of us suffer from the cold and flu this time of year, making it more important than ever to have comfortably humid air to recover from a sore throat and stuffy nose.

While you can purchase a humidifier to keep the indoor humidity at a good level, a decent humidifier will cost you around $200 and will increase your electricity bill each month--an expense you don’t need on top of your heating bill.

Fortunately, there are ways to increase the humidity in your home without having to buy a humidifier that are more cost effective.

In today’s post, we’re going to look at five simple solutions to dry indoor air to help you stay comfy and cozy during the cold winter months without increasing your utility bills.

1. Air dry your clothing

One of the most cost-effective ways to increase humidity is to hang up your clothes to dry after you wash them. Set up a drying rack or clothesline a safe distance from your radiators and you’ll be able to quickly dry your clothes, increase the humidity in the house, and save money by not having to run the dryer.

Though this is a win-win solution, if the air in your home is moderately to severely dry, it likely won’t be enough to increase the humidity to a comfortable level. So, it’s a good idea to combine it with a few of our other tips.

2. Leave a pot of water on radiators

A centuries-old solution to dry air was to leave a pan of water on a wood-burning stove to slowly evaporate into the air. This still works with wood-burning stoves (just be careful your pot doesn’t have plastic handles than can melt), but you can also apply this technique to radiators.

3. Get a house plant or 10

While you won’t be able to achieve drastic changes with just a few houseplants, they will increase the humidity in your home by evaporating moisture off of their leaves.

Plus, houseplants are a great way to brighten the mood of your home in the winter time and they can help to purify the air in your home to boot!

4. Let the shower steam out of the bathroom

If you take a hot shower every day, leaving the door to the bathroom open will allow the steam to distribute throughout the home, raising the humidity.

5. Try out an oil diffuser

While this one technically does cost some money, you might find that blending and diffusing oils can be a fun and relaxing hobby. Essential oil diffusers are basically small humidifiers that emit a light steam infused with the oils of your choice--peppermint, chamomile, lavender, you name it!




Tags: winter home   humidity   dry air  
Categories: Uncategorized  


Posted by Trisha Bowen on 1/1/2018

Owning a second home or vacation home is the dream of many Americans hoping to retire in style. However, owning a second home can also be a huge financial asset and even an added form of income if you’re savvy with the rental process.

What stops most of us from buying a vacation home in our ideal getaway? The funding, of course. But, there are ways to plan ahead to ensure you’ll be ready to take the plunge and purchase a second home when the time comes.

In today’s blog post, we’re going to be talking about the steps to buying a home away from home and give you some tip on how to accomplish this goal in the most financially-sensible way possible.

1.  Location is Key

When you buy a second home, you take on all the responsibilities of homeownership a second time. Since you won’t be around every day to tend to maintenance tasks and troubleshoot problems, you risk discovering costly repairs that could otherwise be avoided.

The most common issues to be concerned with are frozen pipes in northern climates, flooding in coastal areas, and problems like pests that can be found just about anywhere.

Depending on your budget, you might want a home you can drive out to on the weekends, meaning somewhere close by to your primary home. This option also makes it easier to stay up-to-date on home maintenance tasks before they become an issue.

2. Try before you buy

If your ideal vacation home is in an area you’re not totally familiar with, it’s a good idea to visit the neighborhood, talk to the locals, and gain their perspective on the area before buying.

This trip will also give you a sense of what you can expect to spend each time you visit the home. And, if you plan on renting out the property when you aren’t using it, you’ll be able to gauge what a reasonable rent price is for the location.

3. Earning income from your vacation home

Making extra cash from a home that you get to use pretty much whenever you want. Sounds like a dream, right? It can be if done properly, but you’ll need to ensure a few things before you can start earning income from your vacation property.

First, be aware that investment properties often require a larger down payment (typically 30%). Lenders also charge extra interest on homes that will be rented out.

Finally, there are local and state-level laws you’ll need to adhere to. These laws are designed to protect your interests as well as the people who rent out your property, so make sure you use a standard rental agreement for your area.

4. Making an offer

You’ve been here before. Once you’ve decided on a home, it’s time to start crafting your offer and negotiating with the seller’s agent.

However, before you pick a number, do some research on all of the expenses you’ll be paying on the house in question. Property taxes, homeowners association dues, utilities, and any other costs should be on your radar before determining if it’s the right home for your budget.

You’ll also want to be aware of the stipulations of renting out a property you own. This includes reporting income from renting your home to the IRS.


Now that you know the steps you’ll need to take to move toward your goal of buying a vacation home, you’ll be better equipped to make decisions that are best for you and your family’s future.





Posted by Trisha Bowen on 12/29/2017

The cold weather is upon us once again. And while it does brings the joys of the holidays and serene, snowy landscapes, it also brings expensive heating and utility bills.

People who have electric heat watch their bills double or more during the winter months. And for those who burn oil, wood or pellets, fuel costs are rising year after year.

To help offset the increased costs of heating their home in the winter, many people have turned to cost-efficient solutions that can help mitigate the effects of rising prices.

In this article, we’ll discuss some of the most simple and effective ways to conserve heat in your home so that you can get the most out of your heating source each month.

Apply window insulating film

One of the cheapest and easiest ways to mitigate the amount of heat list from your windows is to use window insulating film. During the winter months, this quick fix can save you $15 per window during each season. If you have large, draft windows, these thin sheets of clear plastic can be quite effective.

Proper installation of these insulators makes them practically invisible unless you inspect the windows closely. To make them less obvious, use a hair dryer to shrink the film, making it airtight and removing any wrinkles in the plastic.

Work with sunlight

We get so few hours of daylight during the winter that the Sun doesn’t get much of a chance to heat up our homes.

Take advantage of natural light throughout by opening the curtains for rooms that receive direct sunlight at varying times of the day. Of course, this is hard to do if you are away from home for most of the day. In that case, it’s often better to keep northern- and eastern-facing curtains closed throughout the day.

Lower the thermostat at night

According to a study by the U.S. Department of Energy, you can save up to 10% a year on heating by lowering your thermostat by 10°F for 8 hours overnight. This is potentially a huge amount of savings for those who don’t mind bundling up in bed during the night, or for those who can control the heat in different parts of their home, heating only their bedroom overnight.

Seal up cracks and holes in your home

Before the cold weather hits, take a walk around the interior and exterior of your home and search for cracks and holes to seal up. Sometimes outdoor lines and pipes are sealed with caulk that has since cracked and fallen away. Using an expanding foam will ensure the cracks stay closed and keep the cold air out.

Similarly, check the doors of your home for sealed weatherstripping. On a cold day, you can often feel a draft by putting your hand near the bottom of your doors. To reduce this draft, you can buy one of many types of weatherstripping.

Felt strips can be bought in large rolls, but typically only last for a year or two. V-strips tend to be the most durable.


Using these four inexpensive methods, you can start saving today on your home heating bill and be prepared for the coming months.





Tags: Save Money   winter   heat   home heating  
Categories: Uncategorized