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FHA Mortgage Insurance Rates in 2017

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If you’ve recently been on the market to purchase a home or secure a mortgage, you are probably very familiar with FHA Mortgage Insurance rates. It had recently been in the works that the FHA was going to be reducing FHA Mortgage Insurance rates in the near future, but the FHA has since backtracked. Here’s what you need to know, and how it will affect you as a homebuyer:

The FHA, a sector of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, is a government agency that insures loans on homes and protects lenders in the case of default by collecting fees owed to reimburse lenders when necessary. The FHA usually insures first-time home buyers that may not have the best credit. In the past, the avg. credit score was 679. There have also always been limits on the price of a loan the FHA will back.

In late January, the Trump administration stopped a rate cut that was proposed by Obama just a week before he left office. The Obama administration originally proposed the cut because the FHA could withstand the cut to premiums that would in turn save homebuyers extra money, which they argued would be the best thing to do since the FHA has improved vastly since its bailout in 2013. If implemented, the premium rates would drop a quarter of a percentage point, which would restore rates back to what they were before the housing crash.  The Trump administration suspended the cut with the concern that if the FHA was unable to cover the losses from reduced premiums, taxpayers could end up paying.

So what does this mean? While nothing has officially changed, it has been a HUGE headache for the industry. Approximately 40,000 people are estimated to be priced out of home ownership, while another 800,000 will have to pay more than anticipated. When it comes down to it, if you had originally planned on using the FHA-backed loan with lower insurance rates, all this news really means is that you will just still have to pay the same rate required since January 2015- unless of course, you have to adjust your home-buying plans altogether. While the cut hasn’t been totally eliminated, nobody is certain if this cut will get back on the table for approval anytime soon.

To keep up with all things mortgage, housing, and real estate, be sure to subscribe to our blog! Here at Alpha Mortgage, we’re proud to be North Carolina’s #1 mortgage company. Contact us today to make owning your dream home a reality.

 

 

Happy Holidays!

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Happy Holidays from your friends and family here at Alpha Mortgage! Can you believe it is almost 2017? As we reflect on this past year, we have seen a lot of changes. One thing however has stayed constant- our incredible clients in the Wilmington, Jacksonville, Fayetteville, New Bern, Greensboro, and Cary area. We are so proud to serve you in this great state of North Carolina, and look forward to another year of helping turn your home dreams into reality.

If you will be on the coast this holiday season, be sure to join in on the fun! Check out these last minute activities to take part in before the new year in Wilmington:

UNCW Men’s Basketball vs. East Carolina     

December 20, 2016
6:30 PM

The UNCW men’s basketball team (record: 10-1) tips off against East Carolina (7-4) in a non-conference game at Trask Coliseum in Wilmington. The Seahawks are 7th in the country in points per game with 89.6. Kids under 16 get in for $10.

Nights of Lights 

December 19, 2016 to December 20, 2016
4:00 PM to 7:00 PM

Bellamy Mansion Museum in downtown Wilmington, NC, presents Nights of Lights, a chance to view the historic property decorated for the Christmas season.

Holiday Lights Trolley Tour

December 15, 2016 to December 23, 2016

The Wilmington Tolley Company offers Holiday Lights Trolley Tours in historic downtown Wilmington, NC, at 6 and 7:30pm featuring music and narration in an enclosed and heated environment, and a great view of illuminated neighborhoods. Boarding at 101 Water Street.

Holiday Lights Cruise 

December 23, 2016
6:30 PM to 7:30 PM

Wilmington Water Tours presents a Holiday Lights Cruise, a chance to see the waterfront come alive in the holiday spirit.

Holiday Wine Tasting & Charcuterie Demo

December 21, 2016
4:00 PM

Tidal Creek Co-op in Wilmington, NC, presents a Holiday Wine Tasting & Charcuterie Demo featuring a selection of our wines just in time for the holiday weekend, and a sampling local meat, cheese, and other accoutrements to create a charcuterie platter.

Christmas Caroling with Santa and His Reindeer

December 16, 2016 to December 24, 2016
6:00 PM to 10:00 PM

Horsedrawn Tours in downtown Wilmington, NC, presents Christmas Caroling with Santa and His Special “Reindeer.” Free candy canes for the kids.

We hope you all enjoy this holiday season with your friends, family, and loved ones. On behalf of all of us at Alpha Mortgage, we wish you all a safe and a happy end to 2016. Let’s make 2017 the best year yet!

Housing For The Holidays

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With Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday under our belts, the holiday season is officially in full swing and we couldn’t be happier about it! 2016 has been a whirlwind of a year, and on behalf of everyone at Alpha Mortgage, we are glad that we were able to make so many dream home ambitions a reality. So what’s going on in the housing world? We’re here to update you on what’s happening now, what to expect, and the best gifts to give your home the extra love it deserves this holiday season.

What’s happening- A Recap

As many of you know, mortgage rates have stayed relatively low for the past few years, and the market has favored sellers. Why? Recently, the housing market has been in high demand with very tight supply across the nation, which led to a new peak in home prices nationally in September 2016, according to CNBC. You know the deal- sellers can list as-is, and usually, drive up the price of the sale due to multiple offers because demand is so high.

Here’s the update- in early November 2016, mortgage rates raised for the first time since January from about 3.94 to close to 4.10. Why? A little thing called the United States of America’s Presidential Election. Don’t panic, the rates were the same at the beginning of 2016.

The FHFA also raised their conforming loan limits from $417,000 (which has been in place since 20016), to $424,100 which will be effective January 1st, 2017, and that means that house prices are going up enough to qualifies you to borrow more money starting in the new year.

Oh, and tiny homes are still a thing.

What to Expect

A holiday housing freeze- it is normal for sales and prices of homes to drop in the Winter months, following in suit of dropping temperatures, as well as increased spending on other things (hello holiday shopping). Longtime Realtor Kim McElroy explains to Realtor.com that “Typically, sales do slow down somewhat in the winter just because the focus is on the holidays and a lot of people do take their houses off the market,” says longtime Montgomery, AL-based Realtor Kim McElroy of Keller Williams Realty. “But I see a spike of interest and calls right after the holidays.”

Longforecast predicts that the 30-year mortgage rate for December 2016 will increase by 1.41% averaging a rate of 4.33, and also predict that January 2017’s average rate will be 4.28 or a -1.15% from December.

Expect the housing market to swing in the favor of buyers in the next 2-3 years due to increased supply from builders taking advantage of the lack of homes available.

Top 5 gifts under $250 to make your house a home

  1. Satechi iPhone Charging Stand – $25- Amazon- This is a great stocking stuffer for anyone who Facetimes, Cooks and uses their phone for recipes, or multitasks in general! It comes in 4 different finishes that match each phone color.

81ls-p3a3ul_sl1500_2. Ring Video Doorbell Pro– $249 – Amazon- See, hear, and speak to anyone at your door from your smartphone, tablet, or PC and get instant alerts when visitors press the doorbell.

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  1. Nest – Learning Home Thermostat– $249 – Amazon – Nest automatically adapts to your life, as well as when the seasons change. All you have to do is use it for a week, and it programs itself!61kyuqogkl-_sl1000_
  2. August Smart Lock– $229 – Amazon- Use your smartphone to lock, unlock, and monitor traffic on your doors.

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  1. Kohler Moxie Showerhead and Wireless Speaker– $92.50 – Amazon -Stream music playlists, news, and other audio in the shower.

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TRID – A Year Later

On October 3rd 2015, history was made in the mortgage industry when the TRID Rule, or the “Know Before You Owe” Rule was implemented in the United States. TRID was created in order to bridge the gap of transparency between borrowers, regulators, and lenders through more consumer-friendly documents and additional time restraints in the lending process with the hope of creating a more informed, and therefore better protected consumer. In the two years leading up to the implementation of TRID, those in the lending industry feared that additional paperwork and time would deter potential buyers. Once TRID was implemented, there were a few hiccups in the road, but the mortgage industry has been changed forever.

With a year of the implementation of TRID officially under America’s belt, we want to take a look back on the up’s, down’s, and still-to-come’s.

THE TRID TRAIN, A TIMELINE:

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November 2013: TRID unveiled to the lending industry with the proposed roll-out date to take place August 1st 2015. Cue industry-wide panic attacks due to the copious amounts of work they will have to do in order to adhere to the new rule (think technology and work process overhauls).

November 2013- June 2015: Everyone freaks out about the implementation of TRID, concurrent with an “administrative error” prompting the CFPB to change the start date to October 1st, 2015.

June 24th 2015-  A proposed amendment to TRID is released where the official start date of the “Know Before You Owe” rule will be October 3, 2015.

October 3, 2015- TRID goes into effect, and companies are mandated to comply. Many express concern and complaints that the CFPB is vague in some sections of TRID and the lack of guidance offered in the following months.

January 2016- Ellie Mae’s Origination Insight Report shows that total time to close has reached a high of 51 days, an indicator that the 6 days added in the process were being added to the total time instead of integrated in. Lending companies continue to complain about vagueness and lack of education from the CFPB regarding TRID.

July, 2016- The CFPB responds to concerns by lending companies and other businesses impacted by TRID and put some new changes into place regarding the secondary market to better help and inform lenders. The proposed changes include: tolerances for the total of payments, expanding the number of housing assistance loans that would qualify for exemptions, including cooperatives in the rule, and clarifying how a creditor could provide separate disclosure forms to the consumer and the seller.

August 2016- NAR surveyed 2,500 REALTORS to get their perspective of how the TRID rule was working which revealed that the majority saw no changes through the implementation of the rule.

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TRID IN 2017

While there were a few up’s, down’s, and hiccups in the past year for the lending industry (as expected with any major industry overhaul), it is apparent that TRID has been a mostly beneficial and much needed industry update for the consumer. As Pete Mills from the Mortgage Bankers Association stated, “TRID was a massive undertaking from a systems and business processes standpoint,” Although many anticipated the rule would significantly disrupt the closing process for consumers, the impact of TRID on consumers was mitigated because lenders and other participants in the closing process dutifully prepared for the final rule.”

Many lending companies are still making adjustments in their strategy with the implementation of the new rules, but with a year of adhering to TRID under their belt, lending companies are now analyzing ways to better streamline processes and resources to better serve their clients and integrate the additional 6 days in the process instead of adding them. Ready to own the house of your dreams? We’re here to help you from the beginning steps of your planning period all the way until you step through the doors of your new home. Contact us today at Alpha Mortgage!

 

Is the HECM For Purchase Program for you?

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You’re nearing retirement and looking for your forever home. You’re also looking to increase your well-being and security. You’ve heard about the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (or HECM reverse mortgage) but wonder, “is it too good to be true?”. We’re here to tell you that the H4P isn’t too good to be true – it’s TRUE!

What is H4P?

The H4P mortgage allows homebuyers to receive funds from their lenders to finance approximately 50-60% of the purchase price of their new home. They are then freed from having to make regular payments after purchase, although they will be responsible for ongoing property taxes, homeowner’s insurance and home maintenance. Repayment is not necessary until the last surviving homeowner is no longer living in the home as their primary residence – either from selling or vacating the property or passing away.

So what’s the catch? You must be eligible for a federally insured H4P reverse mortgage. This includes being 62+ years old, be able to make a sizable down payment and finance the rest. Here are some further requirements needed to qualify for this safe program

  • A financial assessment to determine suitability.
  • Reside in the home for more than 6 months of each year.
  • Participate in a homeownership counseling session.
  • No minimum credit score required.
  • Federal debt including back taxes must be paid.
  • H4P is a first mortgage on title at time of closing.

Why H4P?

H4P provides you with the financial security you’re looking for in retirement. It provides flexibility, with NO monthly payments required. This will allow you to increase your reserve funds and liquidity. H4P also protects your heirs and is FHA insured, giving you peace of mind!
The amount of funds available will depend on your purchase price, age and interest rate. Use this calculator for an estimate of what you would qualify for and then give us a call! We’d love to inform, educate and pre-approve you as an H4P Buyer and start giving you the peace of mind you deserve.

August Update

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One of the hottest months of the year in Wilmington, NC is almost over, but the housing market is still on fire! According to recent NC Regional MLS statistics, home sales in New Hanover, Brunswick, and Pender counties combined have seen an 18% increase in home sales compared to last July’s home sales, and the median price of homes dropped about 3%. Similarly, Fannie Mae recently announced that it will maintain it’s forecast for 2016’s GDP at the same 1.8 percent forecasted in July after the second quarter growth was more than 1 point lower than predicted. So why didn’t America hit the predicted mark? According to the source, there was slowed growth in residential, non-residential, government and inventory investment in August. Fannie Mae is confident that August and September’s results will be different.

Now Trending: Roof Decks 

What is one of the most popular trends we’ve seen this summer with real estate development? Rooftop decks in urban areas. As demand for rentals rises and space for outdoor yards decreases in more heavily populated areas, roof decks have become a very popular and sought out addition for renters and those searching for their next purchase. Not only do they provide tenants with a private area to enjoy the sunshine, but they are also usually combined with luxurious amenities like pools, incredible views, fire pits, grills, and most importantly of all- fresh air that many millennials look for when searching for a space to inhabit. So what’s to come with this trend? Expect it to stay for a while. We predict that rooftop decks will become even more popular and expected in urban areas. We also predict to see the trend start popping up in areas that have landscaping for added value.

8 Reasons to Move to Wilmington, NC

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There’s never been a better time to relocate to ILM and its surrounding beaches. Between the bustling downtown river walk scene, the breathtaking beaches, the strong and connected community, as well as and the incredible year-round climate – Wilmington and its surrounding beaches welcomes and has something to offer everyone. What are your reasons to relocate?

  • Beaches- Once you visit North Carolina’s coast, your life is changed forever. Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, and beaches surrounding Wilmington, NC all offer spectacular views of the Atlantic paired with relaxed southern feel that makes anyone feel at home.
  • Downtown- The bustling downtown scene provides Wilmingtonians with a taste of the city life, with incredible shopping, dining, and nightlife opportunities for people of all ages to enjoy. Take this and combine it with downtown Wilmington’s rich history and landmarks, and you are armed with activities to partake in for years!
  • Community – Wilmington is home to both Cape Fear Community College and UNCW which gives locals opportunity to support the colleges in activities like Midnight madness, cheering on sports teams, and more! The tight-knit Wilmington community also provides many festivals downtown during the year, houses incredible music talent at spectacular venues like Greenfield Lake Amphitheater, and Azalea Fest itself is a great look into Wilmington’s amazing community!
  • Incredible Shopping + Dining- From shopping centers, to one-of-a kind boutiques, Wilmington is an amazing shopping hub for the south east. Whether you are strolling down shops in The Forum, browsing at boutiques downtown, or hitting up one of the local surf shops, ILM loves fashion. Another thing that Wilmington loves is great dining. Fresh seafood and breathtaking views make Wilmington a desirable place for any restaurant to open, but Wilmington houses some of the best restaurants in the state.
  • Proximity- Wilmington is close enough to bigger NC cities like Raleigh and Charlotte for an easy weekend trip, and just far enough to provide the perfect getaway from your friends. When you live in Wilmington, you’re never too far for friends and family to visit! (And once you move to the beach, they’ll want to visit all of the time!)
  • Furry Friends are always welcome- Wilmington loves your four-legged friends! From the loop at Wrightsville Beach, to the many dog parks in the city, your pets are an extension of your family in Wilmington and are even welcomed at many outdoor restaurants! Bring your pup on the dog-friendly beaches, or Java Dog Coffee shop downtown- ILM knows your pets should enjoy the beautiful city as much as you do!
  • Healthy Lifestyle- Wilmington loves being active. From stand up paddle boarding, or running clubs, to yoga on the pier, and everything in between, Wilmington loves supporting healthy and active lifestyles that take advantage of the amazing climate and views the town and surrounding beaches provide.
  • Home Affordability – Not only does Wilmington and its surrounding beaches have a steady real estate market, but the options are endless. Wilmington has high-end homes and communities as well as more affordable options that are still in incredible locations.

Your dream house is waiting for you in Wilmington, NC, and once you find it, Alpha Mortgage  will help you turn your dream house into a reality! Contact us today!

Finding your Dream Home – Where to Start

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Modern, brick, condo, ranch, one-of-a-kind, wood, restored, single-family, two-story, updated, beachfront, contemporary, finished- the options are endless. If you’re reading this blog, chances are you’re about to embark on one of the most exciting experiences of your life- purchasing a home! Exciting, and a bit intimidating for first-time buyers. The home-buying process is different for everyone, but luckily we are compiling the best tips, research, and helpful information in the next few blogs to make the process as easy as possible for you. So where do you start? After you get pre-approved to show that you are a serious buyer, determine how much house you can actually afford, and get in the mindset to find your dream home, you need to get organized.

Here are the basic, but extremely important questions you need to answer to get on the right track of finding and buying your dream home:

  • What basic features do you want for your house? This may seem like a no brainer, but list out exactly what kind of house you want to live in with as much detail as possible. Once you list the basic features out, prioritize what is most important.
    • Home style (condo, ranch, two-story, etc.)
    • Architecture style
    • Landscape Needs
    • Bedrooms
    • Baths
    • Square Footage
  • Where do you want to live? Once again, it’s important to list out the state, city, neighborhoods, and areas you would be comfortable living in. Location. Is. Everything.
  • Think a little into the future… buying a home is a big commitment. Will you be expanding your family with kids (extra rooms, school districts, etc), will you still be at your current job (commute), and how long do you plan on staying in the house?
  • Needs + Wants – here’s the fun part. Now that you have the basics covered, what do you NEED in a house (non-negotiables) and what do you want in a house? Get on Pinterest, check out what you like, and write down as much as you can!

Once you know what you want, it’s time to go out and find that home (or create it)! Keep an eye out for our next blogs leading you through the rest of the home-buying process! Happy hunting!

 

The Importance Of Good Credit

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It’s no secret when we tell you that the better your credit score is, the easier your life can be. Your credit score is a three-digit number that represents how trustworthy you are from the perspective of someone that would lend you money for something like a loan or a mortgage. In fact, your credit is THE single most important determining factor from a lending perspective. Our economy runs on credit. So what is so important about those 3 numbers, and how does it impact your mortgage rates when you decide to buy a home? Here’s what you need to know:

  • Your credit report = Your financial report card. You want all A’s – Like we mentioned before, your credit score is a representation of how well you can handle your money, and can make or break a lender’s decision to approve you for a loan or mortgage, and impact your interest rates majorly. Your credit report is made up of how much money you’ve borrowed, your history of paying it back, and how much open credit is available to you. Here is what appears on your credit report: debts and a history of how they’ve been paid, public record information (tax liens, bankruptcies), bills referred to collection agencies, and inquiries made about your creditworthiness.
  • Credit score: Credit scores range from 300-850 points and are based on debt, amount of time you’ve used credit, debt totals, how often you apply for new credit, and types of credit you currently use based on information received from your credit report.
  • The higher your credit score, the lower your interest rates will be, and vice versa- The better your credit score is, the more banks and lenders can trust you, resulting in much lower interest rates for loans and mortgages. Don’t think interest rates are that big of a deal? Consider this- for a long-term credit loan such as a mortgage, interest alone can add thousands of dollars to your original buying price. Ouch.
  • Banks aren’t the only ones who look at your credit – so do landlords, employers, insurance companies, utility companies, phone companies, and more!

Having good credit is essential for having a healthy financial presence. So now that you understand how vital it is, check out these tips for improving your credit before shopping for a mortgage!

Credit Checklist Preparing for a Mortgage:

  • Start early – A year to a year and a half before you will be buying a home, do a deep analysis of your credit report. This will give you time to make minor changes to your score that can save you big bucks in the end when you start shopping for mortgage rates.
  • ALWAYS pay your bills on time- This is a given! It is also important and make an effort to pay more than the minimum balance if possible.
  • Have a mix of credit (auto, credit cards, student loans, etc.) – Lenders like to see a long and versatile credit history.
  • Keep a low balance – on any given credit card try not to use more than 30% of your limit.
  • Start saving now– It is ideal to try and aim to put a 20% down payment on your home, which requires a decent amount of cash upfront. Start bulking up your savings account now!
  • Don’t forget about closing costs!
  • Whatever you do- do not do these 5 things that will destroy your credit while looking for a mortgage!

When it is time to find a mortgage for your dream home, be sure to contact us so we can help make your dream rate a reality!

 

 

 

 

Recent Changes in USDA Rates

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If you’ve been in the market for a mortgage lately, you’ve undoubtedly heard a lot of commotion about the recent changes in USDA rates, and are probably wondering what this means for you, a person who is looking to purchase or refinance a home. On May 16, 2016, the USDA recently announced a series of changes that will make it cheaper and faster to refinance a USDA loan. We’re here to break it all down for you.

To begin, it’s important to understand what a USDA loan is. USDA loans are mortgages backed by the US Department of Agriculture as a part of its USDA Rural Development Guaranteed Housing Loan program. USDA loans have increased in popularity over the past few years due to their 100-percent financing program that helps approved lenders provide low to moderate-income households with an opportunity to own a home in a rural or semi-rural area (to buy it, refinance it, build it, rehabilitate it, improve it, or relocate another dwelling) with no down payment, reduced mortgage insurance premiums, and an attractively low monthly interest rate. No, you don’t have to be a farmer to obtain the loan, you just have to meet the following criteria:

  • Meet income eligibility
  • Agree to personally occupy the dwelling as your primary residence
  • Be a US Citizen, US non-citizen national, or qualified alien
  • Demonstrate the willingness to meet credit obligations in a timely manner
  • Purchase a property that meets all program criteria including location as defined by the USDA

The loans were created in 1991 to encourage homebuyers to live in rural and suburban areas in hopes of boosting the local economies and growth through more affordable housing options. So what do the new changes mean? Nothing but good news for those who qualify!

Starting June 2nd, 2016, homeowners current on their mortgages for the past 12 months will no longer be required to secure an appraisal, provide a credit report, or undergo a debt-to-income calculation when they refinance for a 30-year term, saving applicants both time and money.

Average savings are expected to be around $150 per month, with some borrowers saving up to $600 per month. When it comes to the changes, Rural Housing Service Administrator Tony Hernandez says “These changes reaffirm the Obama Administration’s commitment to middle-class Americans, and I am pleased that we continue to provide affordable housing to support thriving economies in rural communities. Helping homeowners refinance their homes to reduce their monthly payments and take advantage of low-interest rates will bring increased capital to rural residents and the communities where they live and work.”

Interested in seeing if you qualify for a USDA loan or refinance? Contact us today!

Alpha Mortgage – April Recap

It’s officially May, and the housing market is heating up just like the weather in Wilmington,NC! This month’s blog will cover the updates on the CFPB’s decision to revisit TRID, the hottest smart-home technology to keep an eye out for, as well as the 20 hottest markets in the US for April. Enjoy!

http://www.constructiondive.com/news/20-hottest-housing-markets-in-april/418340/

http://www.constructiondive.com/news/20-hottest-housing-markets-in-april/418340/

Revisiting TRID– You all recall the four letters that started to cause chaos in the real-estate industry late last year- TRID. TRID, also know as the ‘know before you owe’ rule was put into place to help the borrower be better informed and protected during the lending process. The process was expected to transition seamlessly into the lending community, but unfortunately, the rule has run into a few hiccups and many complaints. The biggest? Lack of understanding.

TRID is extremely complex, and many mortgage officers and investors have had a difficult time understanding if they are complying with such a large and intricate rule. Industry groups also have asked for guidance on many other issues like curing errors, accounting for lender credits, and calculating cash-to-close transactions.

7 months after its implementation, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has announced that it would reopen rulemaking, with a notice of proposed rulemaking expected to be released by late July to provide greater certainty and clarity to the mortgage industry.

According to Dodd Frank, the new rulemaking, governing what also is known as the Know Before You Owe mortgage disclosures, would incorporate some of the bureau’s existing informal guidance as well as provide adjustments in the regulatory text and commentary, CFPB Director Richard Cordray said in a  letter to the industry.

The industry is pleased that the CFPB is being so receptive of their concerns and complaints. Cordray gives more peace of mind writing “We will continue to work with industry, consumers, and other stakeholders to support a smooth transition for the mortgage market. As we do so, we and other regulators are all agreed that our oversight of the implementation of the Know Before You Owe mortgage disclosure rule in the months ahead will continue to be sensitive to the progress made by those entities that have squarely focused on making good-faith efforts to come into compliance with the rule.”

-Top 5 smart home features– While some people may have thought that by 2016 we would be living in a world of flying cars and homes that would virtually do everything we needed them to and more on their own, we aren’t quite there yet. Take your home to the next level this year by investing in these 5 smart-home features that are guaranteed to make your life easier and your home’s value increase as written by US News.

1. Keyless entry systems. With these replacements for standard locks, homeowners don’t have to worry about carrying keys. They can also give instructions to others on how to get into the home when they’re not there.

2. Smart thermostats. Thermostats have grown beyond a mechanism that you can program to raise and lower the temperature. Today’s smart thermostats can be controlled via your computer or smart phone and will even learn habits such as when you’re usually at home and if you raise or lower the temp when you get up or at certain times of day, like when you go to bed.

3. Alarm systems. Today’s home security systems include controls for thermostats and lighting and have features that allow you to arm and disarm them remotely, using a computer or a phone. Security cameras also have fallen in price and grown in popularity among homeowners.

4. Hidden or unobtrusive built-in speakers. Wired speaker systems are still popular, but the speakers are smaller and there may be more than two to a room, Galante says. That makes it easier for homeowners to customize sound for, say, a party.You can expect to see more of these four smart home innovations in the future:

5. Smart building materials. Shingles will be able to notify you of leaks, drywall will detect moisture and wood framing will report termite infestations. “That’s the stuff that’s coming seven to 10 years down the line,” Galante says.

Realtor.com’s 20 hottest markets for April featured many of the same cities from March (we’re talking about you, California), however, there was a spike in popularity around the mid-west that it is important to take note of. So why is this important? Jonathan Smoke, realtor.com’s chief economist explains. “The Midwest region is representative of the status of the broader U.S. recovery. When Columbus, Ohio, is the 10th hottest market in the country, you know that the Midwest – and the U.S. overall – is back and doing well.”

Also on the list? Raleigh, NC at number #15, showing the US that North Carolina is definitely an area to watch in terms of quality of life and property. Check it out:

1. San Francisco

2. Vallejo, CA

3. Denver

4. Santa Rosa, CA

5. San Jose, CA

6. Dallas

7. Santa Cruz, CA

8. Sacramento, CA

9. Ann Arbor, MI

10. Columbus, OH

11. Boston

12. Colorado Springs, CO

13. San Diego

14. Stockton, CA

15. Raleigh, NC

16. Lafayette, IN

17. Fort Wayne, IN

18. Oxnard, CA

19. Modesto, CA

20. Sioux City, IA

As we move into the Summer months, we invite you to stay tuned to the latest in mortgage and real estate news. We are proud to serve the Wilmington, Charlotte, Jacksonville, Winston-Salem, Greensboro, Fayetteville and Asheville areas with the most competitive mortgage and lending services at the lowest rates. Let us help make getting your dream home a reality!

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