Home Finance

Solar Panels: Why You Should Buy and Not Lease

Why You Should Skip the Lease and Purchase Your Solar PanelsWhen it comes to making a home more environmentally friendly, solar panels are one of the first things homeowners think about. Solar panels can be an excellent way to save energy and money over time, and there are multiple ways to get them. The first way is to use cash or a solar loan in order to purchase the panes, and the second is to lease the solar panels from a company. However, these options are not equal. Here are some of the reasons why homeowners should purchase solar panels instead of leasing them.

Cost

Solar panels are not an addition that can be made on a whim. Depending on the quality of the panels and size of the roof, it can cost anywhere from $15,000-30,000 to purchase solar panels. It’s these steep up front costs that often make homeowners look into leasing panels instead of purchasing them outright. Loans typically last 20-25 years, which is roughly the lifespan of the solar panels themselves, and make it easier to obtain the panels. However, homeowners who lease their solar panels will miss out on possible tax benefits and rebates that may save up to 50 percent of the cost of the panels.

Lease contracts will also take energy cost inflation into account when they’re created and will usually increase about 2-3 percent per year. If energy costs don’t rise...

VA Loans: What are the Options?

What Kind of VA Loans are ThereOne of the benefits offered to members of the US Armed Forces is the ability to take out a Veteran’s Affair’s (VA) loan when it comes time to buy a home. However, there isn’t just one VA loan that fits all needs, and many veterans don’t realize they have may have options for the loan they want to take out. Here are the different types of VA loans and the different advantages they each have.

VA Purchase Loans

The Purchase Loan is the loan most people think of whenever someone talks about VA loans. With a Purchase Loan, applicants won’t have to pay any closing fees when purchasing a home. However, hey will have to pay a VA Funding Fee that helps the program keep running in the future. The Funding Fee is a one-time payment, and its cost will vary based on the cost of the home that is being purchased. Purchase Loans also typically feature lower interest rates than normal loans as well as 100% financing. 

Native American Direct Loan

As the name might imply, these loans are exclusive to Native American veterans. However, they can only be used if the applicant in question intends to either purchase or build a home on Native American Trust land and has a valid Certificate of Eligibility (COE) to apply for the loan. Native American Direct Loans don’t require a down payment, and the maximum loan limit for most...

FHA Loans: An Informational Guide for Home Buyers

FHA Loans for First-Time Home BuyersShopping for the right home loan can be nearly as important as shopping for the right home. Failing to compare the benefits and limitations of each type of loan option can mean paying unnecessary costs and fees associated with obtaining the home loan as well as higher interest rates over the life of the loan. Since the Federal Housing Administration was created as part of the National Housing Act of 1934, it has provided home loan options for millions of buyers and continues to offer benefits to thousands more each year.  

What is an FHA Home Loan?

FHA home loans are not actually issued by the Federal Housing Administration. Instead, these loans are issued by approved banks and lending institutions and insured by the FHA. If a home owner defaults on their FHA home loan, the Federal Housing Administration pays a claim to the issuing lender. This practice allows lenders to make loans to more borrowers while incurring less risk.

Benefits of Using an FHA Loan

FHA home loan programs can benefit home buyers in a number of ways. Some of the most popular benefits include: 

  • Low or no down payment options, usually no more than 3.5% of the purchase price of the home
  • An ability for buyers with lower credit scores to obtain an FHA loan
  • A stringent appraisal process to ensure the home is in good condition and...

What You Need to Know About Qualifying for a Mortgage [INFOGRAPHIC]

Some Highlights:

  • Many buyers are purchasing a home with a down payment as little as 3%.
  • You may already qualify for a loan, even if you don't have perfect credit.
  • Take advantage of the knowledge of your local professionals who are there to help you determine how much you can afford.

Contact Marin Modern Real Estate, experienced Marin County Realtors, for help purchasing or selling a home in Marin County.

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Understanding the Reverse Mortgage

What is a Reverse Mortgage?As home owners approach retirement, they may be concerned about not having enough money to cover their living expenses on a fixed income. You may have heard of a reverse mortgage as a way to supplement your income, without having to sell your home and downsize.

This guide shows you the details surrounding a reverse mortgage, and how to determine if it is the right choice for you.

What is a Reverse Mortgage?

When you get a traditional mortgage, you borrow a certain amount of money from a bank to finance or refinance a home, and then make monthly mortgage payments with interest. With a reverse mortgage, also known as a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage, you use the home’s equity to get a loan from the lender.

The lender makes payments to you at a specified interval, which can range from a lump sum at closing to fixed monthly payments for the rest of your life, depending on the loan terms. As long as you fulfill the requirements of the loan, you are not required to leave the home. Some people consider a reverse mortgage to be an effective way to supplement their income in retirement.

Who Can Qualify for a Reverse Mortgage?

There are a few simple qualifications you have to meet in order to be able to get a reverse mortgage. Applicants must:

  • Be at least 62 years old
  • Maintain the home (or a unit in a 2-4-unit dwelling) as a primary residence
  • Own...

The Life Cycle of a Mortgage

Mortgage Application and ServicingAs you search for a mortgage, you may think that your lender will be your loan provider and mortgage servicer for the life of the loan. The truth is more complicated, with many entities having some control over the process at various stages.

With this guide, you will gain a better understanding of every step of your mortgage, from the beginning of the loan process, to the final payment. To better understand how different mortgages will work within your personal situation, speak with a lender or financial advisor.

1. Researching Lenders

Before applying for a mortgage loan, home buyers often decide on a couple of lenders they would like to consider. Shopping around is more likely to give you better rates and terms, and to help you understand what is available with your income and credit. Unfortunately, about half of home buyers only seriously research one lender, and 77 percent of home buyers apply to only one lender.

2. The Difference between a Mortgage Pre-Qualification and a Mortgage Pre-Approval

Home buyers shopping for a mortgage should know the difference between a mortgage pre-qualification and a pre-approval. In most cases, a mortgage pre-qualification is simply taking the information you provide and placing it into a mortgage calculator to determine if you have enough income to buy a home and your approximate...

PACE Loans - the good and the bad...

There has been some buzz going on around about a recent legislation that has passed in California that is now rolling out in Marin County. Have you heard of PACE?  What is it? Is it good or bad? How can this help homeowners?  The talk around town has been very mixed!

PACE stands for Property Assessed Clean Energy.  It is a way for homeowners to finance energy efficiency, renewable energy and water conservation upgrades in their home. These upgrades can include solar panels, new windows, tank less hot water heaters, new heating and cooling systems, insulation, lighting improvements, and water pumps…just to name a few.

There are several companies that partner with PACE to provide this kind of financing.  HERO or SCEIP are a couple common names in our area.  Rates on these loans can be anywhere from 5-10% and the terms can be from 5-20 years. Unlike other loan products, the loan is rolled into the homeowner’s property taxes as an assessment.  The payment is fixed and it stays with the property when transferred in a sale.  Many people can qualify for these loans with little equity in their homes while a home equity line of credit may require more equity in the home and a lot more paperwork for loan approval.

So there are pros and cons for sure.   You may pay higher to carry the PACE loan and it is a fixed payment at a higher interest rate than a HELOC in most cases.  However, the homeowner may be able to get the loan when they cannot pull money out of the house for home improvements because there is not enough e        ...

FHA, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac: What's the Difference?

Difference Between FHA Fannie Mae and Freddie MacYou have probably heard of FHA loans, but you may not be aware that other organizations buy mortgages as well.

These entities, sponsored by the government, use different methods to encourage homeownership and promote lending as a way to strengthen the economy.

With this guide, you will understand how the FHA, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac function, and what these organizations do to assist potential home buyers obtain a mortgage.

And in all cases, it is always helpful to speak with a lender, mortgage broker or financial advisor to see which mortgage loans may work for your current financial situation.

What is an FHA Loan?

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) came into existence during the Great Depression, when the federal government realized that banks needed protection to guarantee the mortgages that they offered to borrowers. The FHA now serves certain buyers qualify for mortgages, especially those who cannot get a loan through conventional methods. These potential home buyers may include those with:

  • low income
  • limited credit or lower credit scores
  • minimal ability to make a down payment

The FHA does not provide the money for a mortgage, nor does it buy the mortgage debt from your lender once the loan is approved. Rather, the FHA insures the loan. In doing so, the lender may have more security loaning money in the form of mortgages to a greater percentage of borrowers. ...