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According to Money Magazine, now is the time to purchase if you’re considering a second or vacation home. Across the country, prices are near or below their five-year lows. In Vail, Colorado, home prices are down 30% from their highs. Pebble Beach, perhaps the most renowned golf area in the U.S., has seen a decrease of 36.3% in square-foot prices compared to five years ago. And prices in Orlando, Florida, home of the Walt Disney World theme park, are down more than 50% from their highs.

Will prices go lower? It’s impossible to tell, but Stan Humphries, chief economist at Zillow, says, “It’s a fool’s errand to try to time the bottom for both economists – and buyers and sellers. If you find a house that you love and want to be in for a long period of time, now is potentially a good time to wade into the market.”

Second Home

Advantages of Owning a Second Home

Whether you’re a skier who loves the mountain slopes of Colorado or Utah, a lover of the beaches of Southern California and Florida, or a potential retiree seeking to escape the snow-laden Northeast for the wide open, sunny lands of Arizona or South Texas, there are homes available to meet a wide range of budgets. The same benefits of home ownership apply to the owner of a condominium in Boston, or a mansion at the Homestead in Hot Springs, Virginia.

1. Long-Term Profits
While all assets fluctuate in value in the short term, vacation properties are more likely to retain their value and appreciate simply because they are located in popular areas with a geographically limited supply. There is a finite shoreline or mountain on which houses can be built, and only 18 holes on a golf course.
But real estate, like stocks, bonds and other investments, has always fluctuated in value and will likely continue to do so in the future. Therefore, be aware that there is no guarantee that a second home will sell for a higher price in the future.

2. Tax Deductions
Many people who own second homes prefer to keep them unoccupied when not being used for personal enjoyment. If you allow and charge rent for occupancy for no more than two weeks per year, the interest on the mortgage and the property taxes are fully deductible from your gross income. In other words, for tax purposes, you can treat this mortgage the same way you would the mortgage on your primary residence.

3. Rental Income
If you decide to rent your home, but personally use the property as well, you’ll need to determine whether you’re eligible to deduct operating expenses. To determine this, add up the days you rented the property. If you occupied the property fewer than 10% of the days you rented it or for less than two weeks – whichever is greater – you can deduct all of the operating expenses of the home including interest, utilities, cleaning fees, lawn maintenance, and management fees. If you need help determining what you’re eligible to deduct, contact a tax professional or review IRS Publication 527 on vacation rentals.
Rental fees vary according to seasons and the popularity of the resort location. For most resorts, peak season weekly rental fees are usually equal to or greater than the property’s monthly mortgage payment, allowing you to break even with an annual occupancy around 30% from a cash flow viewpoint.

4. Familiarity
Returning to the same place time and after time can be comforting as you become familiar and comfortable with the location. It allows you the freedom to be yourself and the opportunity to expand long-term friendships with residents – you can become part of the social fabric.

5. Convenience
The ability to conveniently store items that are used exclusively at the second home simplifies travel and packing. My family’s ski paraphernalia, along with extra winter clothes, was stored at our house in Breckenridge, Colorado, allowing us to easily make unscheduled trips for a weekend of skiing without the hassle of packing or worrying if our skis would arrive on the same airline flight.

6. Retirement Head Start
Though we may love the places where we work and live, every place has its drawbacks. If you live in Texas, for example, the summers of 100-plus-degree temperatures are brutal. People in Chicago, Philadelphia, and other northern cities often hate the annual struggle with snow.
A common goal of retirement is to have a place of retreat for the times of the year we dislike the most at our main residence. Locating and buying a second home prior to retirement enables you to experience the benefits of a refuge before actual retirement, a time to correct and amend your plans if the reality is different than the dream.

7. Location for Gatherings
Places stir memories of people, relationships, and good times. As a member of a large extended family, I’ve always enjoyed the annual Independence Day gathering at my cousin’s lake house. The get-togethers started when I was a young boy when my father and his two brothers purchased a lot on a large lake in western Oklahoma, and have continued through the birth of my children and grandchildren. The annual visit has become a tradition that has kept our ever-growing family close as we spread across the region and country.
The intangible benefit of owning and passing property from generation to generation – especially a home that has been and will continue to be the site of many happy gatherings – is incalculable.

8. Access to Other Vacation Homes
Many second homes are located in areas that people like to visit – resorts, golf courses, mountains, seashores – and their attraction is universal. As a result, owners in one location often arrange to trade time in their house for time in a home located in another region. This is referred to as a home exchange.

Steps to Purchase a Vacation Home

The purchase of a home, whether a primary residence or a vacation spot, can be a complicated process and a significant financial commitment. However, by following the proper steps, you can make the experience as painless as possible.

1. Determine Your Ideal Location
Resort areas usually have a wide range of properties to fit a variety of budgets. The greater the area you’re willing to consider, the more likely you are to find a property that fits your own budget. Do you, for example, have to live on the ocean or on a specific mountain slope, or would you be willing to drive to the beach or ski lift?

2. Establish a Price Range
Owning a second home should be pleasurable, not the source of constant financial strain. For purposes of a price range, assume that your down payment, closing costs, and furnishing will be 33% of the purchase price. In other words, if you have $50,000 in cash, your beginning price range should be between $130,000 and $170,000.

3. Engage a Local Realtor
The assistance of a local real estate agent is invaluable during your search for the vacation home of your dreams. A good agent can guide you through the purchase process, help you find mortgage financing, and may be able to manage the property when you’re away. Even if you’re purchasing a fractional interest from a real estate developer, the Realtor may help you get a better deal.

Bank of England Mortgage's Vacation-Second Home Mortgages offer a broad array of fixed, adjustable, and interest-only options. We work together with our clients to identify the ideal mortgage for your vacation home.

Get your Bank of England vacation home mortgage loan and make your dreams a reality - backyard barbeques and sunsets by the lake. Fun-filled relaxing fishing trips with children and grandchildren. Exciting family skiing vacations. A lifetime of memories.


The temperatures are beginning to rise, the rain is pounding, and the sun is blazing. It’s important that you take the time to maintain your home this summer and to prepare it for the extreme heat that you could be facing. Check out our ultimate checklist of summer home maintenance tips to help you give your home some TLC.

Indoor Summer Home Maintenance:

Do a test of your smoke detectors and your carbon monoxide detectors.

  • Replace the batteries if needed.

Get your cooling system ready.

  • Consider getting your air-conditioning system serviced. Proper air conditioner maintenance can help your AC last longer and prevent air conditioner fires. This one is especially important for summer home maintenance since you don’t want to be stuck without air conditioning when the temperature starts climbing.

Dust the ceiling fan blades and check that the fan is balanced and working properly.

  • Attach a dryer sheet to a paint roller so you can reach easily and dust away.

Get your chimney cleaned.

  • Yes, you might not use your fireplace again until fall or winter, but that’s exactly why this is the perfect time to call a chimney cleaning service. They won’t be as busy!

Man on ladder cleaning gutters

Clean or replace your showerheads.

Clean bathroom drains.

Reverse the direction of your ceiling fans.

  • If your fans spin counterclockwise, they’ll push the air straight down to your home will stay nice and cool. To do this, turn off the fan, wait for it to stop, and find the direction switch and check that your fans are spinning counterclockwise.

Clean the baseboards of your home.

  • Use a damp cloth and wipe away all the dust and grime.

Check your attic and basement.

  • In your attic, look for signs of dampness, mildew, leaks, holes in the roof, and pests.
  • In the basement, check for leaks, pests, mold, and mildew.

Clean the vents of your bathroom fans.

Clean the dryer vent and exhaust duct.

  • Clean out all of the dust and lint trapped in the vent and exhaust duct. Call in a professional to clean and service your washer and dryer if needed. Clothes dryers can be a fire hazard if they’re not cleaned and maintained.

Reverse the direction of your ceiling fans.

    If your fans spin counterclockwise, they’ll push the air straight down to your home will stay nice and cool. To do this, turn off the fan, wait for it to stop, and find the direction switch and check that your fans are spinning counterclockwise.

Clean the vents of your bathroom fans.

Outdoor Summer Home Maintenance:

Clean your grill to prep for summer barbequing.

  • Charcoal grills: Empty the grill and wipe away any dust or residue. Use hot water, dish soap, and a scrub brush or sponge to clean both the outside and inside of the grill. Be sure to let your grill dry off before using it next.
  • Gas grills: Close the lid, turn the heat up high, and let the grill cook for about half an hour. Let the grill cool. Use a grill brush to sweep the grill. Wipe down the outside with a sponge and cleaner. Then clean out all of the drip trays.

Wash down your porch.

  • You should sweep the porch thoroughly, then wash it with a cleaner. Remove any embedded dirt by scrubbing with soap and water.

Give your deck a once-over.

  • This is a summer home maintenance must. Check your deck to see if there are any boards that look like they’re rotting. Have them replaced. Hammer any nails that are loose. You can also check if your deck needs to be resealed by pouring a little water on it. If the water beads into little puddles, you’re good. If it sinks into the wood, you should get your deck resealed against water.

Wash the windows.

  • Why not? Clean windows are nice. Use warm water and soap to get those windows sparkling.

Wash or change your window screens.

  • Use hot soapy water and a brush to gently wash your window screens.

Add a layer of mulch.

  • If you have plants, the extra mulch will help fight off weeds and help your soil retain moisture during those scorching summer months.

Check for outdoor leaks.

  • Go on a hunt for leaks by checking all outdoor faucets. Then look at your hose. You can waste a lot of water if there’s even a tiny hole in your hose. Use electrical tape to repair any small holes in your hose.

Protect your home against unwanted guests.

  • Yes, unfortunately sometimes critters decide that your house is the place to be. From snakes to squirrels, take steps to close off your home to non-pet animals. Cover any holes that are more than a quarter-inch wide. Get your tree branches trimmed back so they don’t create a highway for squirrels – a squirrel-way if you will – to your attic. Branches should be at least 8 feet from your roof. Make sure your outdoor trash bins are tightly sealed to prevent a buffet for pests. Do away with yard debris. Leaves and twigs are a haven for animals that might decide to invade your home. Tend to your lawn frequently by mowing.

Clean out the gutters and downspouts.

  • You should clean the gutters at least once a year, perhaps twice if you have a lot of trees around your home.

Inspect the caulking around the windows and doors of your home.

  • You can keep ants and bugs at bay in the kitchen by adding fresh caulking to your windows and doors.

Consider having your driveway and walkway pressure washed.

Repair cracks or holes in your driveway and front steps.

Trim bushes and plants.

  • Pay special attention to the area around the AC unit.

Touch up the paint on the outside of your home.

Check over your fence.

  • Have it repainted, resealed, or repaired as needed.

Look at the outside of your house.

  • Check for rotted, dirty, or loose siding.

Consider getting your roof inspected.

  • It’s important to properly maintain your roof to make sure that it can last as long as possible


You’ve heard the terms pre-qualification and pre-approval, but what do they mean? The terms have been used interchangeably, but their true definitions differ.

The very first step to take if you are ready to start your new home search is to get pre-qualified. This is a no-cost, no-commitment, 10-20 minute analysis that will give you a great starting point for your new home loan. You can do this in-person or on the phone with a loan officer, or in most cases complete an online form. You will need to provide some basic information such as income, current monthly debts and credit score, but typically you won’t need to provide any documentation.
By providing these items, your lender will be able to determine an estimate of your maximum monthly mortgage payment and how much you can borrow. These aren’t concrete numbers, more of a gauge so you know your price range.

Pre_Qual vs Pre-Approval

Once you have been pre-qualified, the next step would be to get pre-approved. This process is more involved, requiring more paperwork and the help of a loan officer. Documents you typically need to provide are copies of your paystubs, bank statements and tax returns; additional documents may be needed as well. The loan officer will also pull your credit report to get a better understanding of your credit history and financial situation. Once your information has been reviewed, your loan officer will provide you a pre-approval letter stating how much you are approved to borrow. Having a pre-approval letter can give you a competitive edge against other buyers; it shows the seller you are serious and ready to buy.

You should refrain from making large purchases and incurring new debt at this time, as this can affect your pre-approval amount. Keep in mind getting pre-approved does not mean final approval; once you put an offer on a home and the offer has been accepted, the loan will still need to go through processing and underwriting before final approval is granted.

Getting pre-approved will help speed up the home buying process since you will have a solid foundation of information. Once you are pre-approved, you are on your way to homeownership!

You’ve heard the terms pre-qualification and pre-approval, but what do they mean? The terms have been used interchangeably, but their true definitions differ.

The very first step to take if you are ready to start your new home search is to get pre-qualified. This is a no-cost, no-commitment, 10-20 minute analysis that will give you a great starting point for your new home loan. You can do this in-person or on the phone with a loan officer, or in most cases complete an online form. You will need to provide some basic information such as income, current monthly debts and credit score, but typically you won’t need to provide any documentation. By providing these items, your lender will be able to determine an estimate of your maximum monthly mortgage payment and how much you can borrow. These aren’t concrete numbers, more of a gauge so you know your price range.

Count on us

Team Up
Team up with the right realtor! This will ensure that you have someone in your corner that is looking out for your best interests. The right realtor will be by your side to explain the ins and outs of the process and help you make the best decisions with every step. Some first-time homebuyers are timid about reaching out to an agent because they don’t have the extra money. The seller has negotiated the commission they pay long before you see the house advertised and if the buyer doesn’t have an agent the listing agent keeps the full amount. Your realtor should be familiar with the area you’re looking at purchasing. He/she will know what you’re looking for in a home and will be able to ‘keep an eye out’ for the right home for you!

Don’t Swing for the Fence
Set realistic expectations and don’t swing out of your shoes. Depending on your budget, you may not find a house that has absolutely everything you want – hardwood floors, 3 baths, in-ground pool – in your area for the price that you want. Make a list of the features that are most important to you. You’re not wedded to this house forever and you can always choose to make renovations at a later date.

Speed Changes the Game
Too often, first-time homebuyers will give in to emotion and become attached to a less than desirable property. Spend the time to research your local market and get your finances suitable for a home purchase. Purchasing a property should never be a rushed process. First time homebuyers are typically in the initial stages of their careers, so diligently researching and utilizing the advice from real estate professionals can really help you nail down your swing and hit a home run.

Don’t be Afraid to Strike Out
Don’t be afraid of being denied. If you’ve been renting for a while, have a little bit in savings and are ready to make this big purchase – talk to a lender! There are many different types of programs to help assist homebuyers with qualifying incomes and situations. Again, meet with a loan officer and let them tell you all of the different kinds of loans and programs you may qualify for!

Don’t throw your Shamrock plant away after Saint Patrick’s Day! Follow these shamrock plant care tips to keep shamrock plants healthy year-round.

The cultivated Shamrock plant (Oxalis regnellii) has hundreds of variations, and is found in abundance at retail locations around Saint Patrick’s Day. It has clover-shaped leaves that grow in variable shades of green and purple tones. Shamrock plants bloom periodically, with delicate white or pink flowers which peek out from clusters of leaves throughout their growing season. These whimsical, living good luck symbols can be enjoyed during the fall, winter, and spring months.

Shamrock plants differ from most house plants in a few ways. For one, Shamrock plants grow from tiny bulbs that may be planted outside in fall or early spring, depending on the hardiness zone in which you live. They also fold up at night and re-open when light returns. These plants require a dormant period in the summer time, and will begin to shut down, which Shamrock plant owners sometimes mistake for the plant being dead.


Shamrock Plant Care Tips

  • Place the plant in an area that is room temperature and receives good air circulation and bright, but not direct, light.
  • Soil should be kept lightly moist. Water sparingly and allow the soil to dry out between waterings.
  • Fertilize with a balanced houseplant food every few months.
  • When leaves begin to die back in late spring or early summer, the plant is telling you that it needs a time of dormancy to rest. At this time, move the plant to a cooler, darker location, away from direct light and do not water of fertilize it. The dormant period varies and may last anywhere from a few weeks to three months, depending on the cultivar and the conditions.
  • After the first couple weeks of dormancy, check your plant for new growth every week or so.
  • When new shoots appear, the dormancy period has ended. Move the plant back to a brighter location and resume the recommended regular plant care.
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Buying a home is when you begin building equity in an investment instead of paying rent, and Uncle Sam is there to help ease the pain of high mortgage payments. The tax deductions now available to you as a homeowner will reduce your tax bill substantially.
If you have been claiming the standard deduction up until now, the extra write-offs from owning a home almost certainly will make you an itemizer. Suddenly, the state taxes you pay and your charitable donations will earn you tax-saving deductions, too. So make sure you know about all the breaks that may now be available to you!

Mortgage interest
For most people, the biggest tax break from owning a home comes from deducting mortgage interest. For tax year prior to 2018, you can deduct interest on up to $1 million of debt used to acquire or improve your home.
For tax years after 2017, the limit is reduced to $750,000 of debt for binding contracts or loans originated after December 16, 2017. For loans prior to this date, the limit is $1 million.Your lender will send you Form 1098 in January listing the mortgage interest you paid during the previous year. That is the amount you deduct on Schedule A. Be sure the 1098 includes any interest you paid from the date you closed on the home to the end of that month. This amount should be listed on your settlement sheet for the home purchase. You can deduct it even if the lender does not include it on the 1098. If you are in the 25% tax bracket, deducting the interest basically means Uncle Sam is paying 25% of it for you.


When you buy a house, you may have to pay "points" to the lender in order to get your mortgage. This charge is usually expressed as a percentage of the loan amount. If the loan is secured by your home and the amount of points you pay is typical for your area, the points are deductible as interest as long as the cash you paid at closing via your down payment equals the points.
For example, if you paid two points (2%) on a $300,000 mortgage—$6,000—you can deduct the points as long as you put at least $6,000 of your own cash into the deal. And believe it or not, you get to deduct the points even if you convinced the seller to pay them for you as part of the deal. The deductible amount should be shown on your 1098 form.

Real estate taxes
You can deduct the local property taxes you pay each year, too. The amount may be shown on a form you receive from your lender, if you pay your taxes through an escrow account. If you pay them directly to the municipality, though, check your records or your checkbook registry. In the year you purchased your residence, you probably reimbursed the seller for real estate taxes he or she had prepaid for time you actually owned the home.
f so, that amount will be shown on your settlement sheet. Include this amount in your real estate tax deduction. Note that you can't deduct payments into your escrow account as real estate taxes. Your deposits are simply money put aside to cover future tax payments. You can deduct only the actual real estate tax amounts paid out of the account during the year.
Beginning in 2018, the total amount of state and local taxes, including property taxes, is limited to $10,000 per tax year.

Mortgage Insurance Premiums
Buyers who make a down payment of less than 20% of a home's cost usually get stuck paying premiums for Mortgage Insurance, which is an extra fee that protects the lender if the borrower fails to repay the loan. For mortgages issued in 2007 or after, home buyers can deduct premiums. This deduction ended in 2017.
This write-off phases out as adjusted gross income increases above $50,000 on married filing separate returns and above $100,000 on all other returns. (If you're paying mortgage insurance on a mortgage issued before 2007, you're out of luck on this one.)

Penalty-free IRA payouts for first-time buyers
As a further incentive to homebuyers, the normal 10% penalty for pre-age 59½ withdrawals from traditional IRAs does not apply to first-time home buyers who break into their IRAs to come up with the down payment.
- However, this exception to the 10% penalty does not apply to withdrawals from 401(k) plans.
At any age you can withdraw up to $10,000 penalty-free from your IRA to help buy or build a first home for yourself, your spouse, your kids, your grandchildren or even your parents.
- However, the $10,000 limit is a lifetime cap, not an annual one. (If you are married, you and your spouse each have access to $10,000 of IRA money penalty-free.)
- To qualify, the money must be used to buy or build a first home within 120 days of the time it's withdrawn. But get this: You don't really have to be a first-time homebuyer to qualify. You're considered a first-timer as long as you haven't owned a home for two years. Sounds great, but there's a serious downside.
- Although the 10% penalty is waived, the money would still be taxed in your top bracket (except to the extent it was attributable to nondeductible contributions).
- That means as much as 40% or more of the $10,000 could go to federal and state tax collectors rather than toward a down payment. So you should tap your IRA for a down payment only if it is absolutely necessary.
There's a Roth IRA corollary to this rule, too. The way the rules work make the Roth IRA a great way to save for a first home.
- First of all, you can always withdraw your contributions to a Roth IRA tax-free (and usually penalty-free) at any time for any purpose.
- And once the account has been open for at least five years, you can also withdraw up to $10,000 of earnings for a qualifying first home purchase without any tax or penalty.

Home improvements
Save receipts and records for all improvements you make to your home, such as landscaping, storm windows, fences, a new energy-efficient furnace and any additions.
You can't deduct these expenses now, but when you sell your home the cost of the improvements is added to the purchase price of your home to determine the cost basis in your home for tax purposes. Although most home-sale profit is now tax-free, it's possible for the IRS to demand part of your profit when you sell. Keeping track of your basis will help limit the potential tax bill.

Energy credits
Some energy-saving home improvements to your principal residence can earn you an additional tax break in the form of an energy tax credit worth up to $500. A tax credit is more valuable than a tax deduction because a credit reduces your tax bill dollar-for-dollar.
You can get a credit for up to 10% of the cost of qualifying energy-efficient skylights, outside doors and windows, insulation systems, and roofs, as well as qualifying central air conditioners, heat pumps, furnaces, water heaters, and water boilers.
There is a completely separate credit equal to 30% of the cost of more expensive and exotic energy-efficient equipment, including qualifying solar-powered generators and water heaters. In most cases there is no dollar cap on this credit.

Tax-free profit on sale
Another major benefit of owning a home is that the tax law allows you to shelter a large amount of profit from tax if certain conditions are met. If you are single and you owned and lived in the house for at least two of the five years before the sale, then up to $250,000 of profit is tax-free. If you're married and file a joint return, up to $500,000 of the profit is tax-free if one spouse (or both) owned the house as a primary home for two of the five years before the sale, and both spouses lived there for two of the five years before the sale.
Thus, in most cases, taxpayers don't owe any tax on the home-sale profit. (If you sell for a loss, you cannot take a deduction for the loss.)
You can use this exclusion more than once. In fact, you can use it every time you sell a primary home, as long as you owned and lived in it for two of the five years leading up to the sale and have not used the exclusion for another home in the last two years. If your profit exceeds the $250,000/$500,000 limit, the excess is reported as a capital gain on Schedule D.
In certain cases, you can treat part or all of your profit as tax-free even if you don't pass the two-out-of-five-year tests. A partial exclusion is available if you sell your home "early" because of a change of employment, a change of health, or because of other unforeseen circumstances, such as a divorce or multiple births from a single pregnancy.
A partial exclusion means you get part of the $250,000/$500,000 exclusion. If you qualify under one of the exceptions and have lived in the house for one of the five years before the sale, for example, you can exclude up to $125,000 of profit if you're single or $250,000 if you're married—50% of the exclusion of those who meet the two-out-of-five-year test.

Adjusting your withholding
If your new home will increase the size of your mortgage interest deduction or make you an itemizer for the first time, you don't have to wait until you file your tax return to see the savings. You can start collecting the savings right away by adjusting your federal income tax withholding at work, which will boost your take-home pay. Get a W-4 form and its instructions from your employer or go to

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January may be cold and dark, but it can also be a time for bold beginnings. A new sense of purpose to get things done. But with oh, so very many things to get done – finding a starting point may be a task in itself. We’ve attached a list and some tips below from that will help get your home (and you) prepared for the new year!

1. Handle holiday cleanup.
Task: You’ve had the fun, and now it’s time to get rid of the evidence. Take down holiday lights and wrap them around a hanger to prevent tangling; set the oven on self-clean, then wipe the interior with a vinegar-soaked cloth; chip your Christmas tree and throw it in the compost pile, or scatter it around garden beds and shrubs for a midwinter mulching.
Shortcut: Instead of pitching holiday cards or tucking them away never to be seen again, recycle them into gift tags for next year. Find a pretty part of the card that has no writing on the back, cut it into a small square, and punch a hole in the corner.
Call in the pros: If you've ever considered a cleaning crew, now’s the time. Figure on paying $200 to $300 for a one-time cleaning. Ask friends who have a regular cleaning person to share the name for a one-off.


2. Protect the pipes
Task: Prevent exposed pipes from freezing as temperatures drop. A frozen pipe can crack or burst, flooding your home. If you’re planning a winter vacation, don’t forget to wrap pipes with heat tape you can control with a thermostat. And if you haven’t turned off water to outdoor spigots yet, consider yourself lucky—if they haven’t yet burst, shut off water valves and open spigots to drain existing water.
Shortcut: To thaw a frozen pipe, wrap it with a heating pad or turn a hairdryer on it.
Call in the pros: If a pipe bursts, shut off the main water valve to your home and call a plumber, which will run you anywhere from $45 to $150 an hour. If everything’s drenched, a water remediation or restoration company can perform cleanup —cart away damaged material, replace ceilings and walls, paint, and reinstall plumbing fixtures—for $23 a square foot.

3. Check for storm damage
Task: After winter storms, your home maintenance routine should include and inspection of your home’s roof, siding, gutters, and yard for wind, snow, or ice damage.
Shortcut: Instead of climbing on the roof to look for missing shingles, use binoculars to search for damage. Better yet, buy a drone that can fly over your house and spot damaged areas.
Call in the pros: A little storm damage can become a big problem if you don’t make immediate repairs. A roofing company can inspect and replace a few shingles for $95 to $127; a handyman can reattach hanging gutters for $171 to $492; and an arborist can remove cracked tree limbs and prune trees for $375 to $525.

4. Seek and destroy hidden dirt
Task: Yes, cleaning counts as home maintenance! Clean those filthy places that people don’t see but you know are there. They include the range hood and grilles, refrigerator coils, tops of ceiling fans, dusty light fixtures and bulbs (make sure lights are off before dusting), and HVAC vents.
Shortcut: Let your dishwasher clean metal parts such as vent grilles and range hood filters. You can pop dirty sponges and dishrags in the dishwasher, too.
Call in the pros: This deep cleaning is above and beyond the tasks that cleaning crews normally perform. If you want a crew to do this type of cleaning, negotiate the surcharge up front.

5. Give hardware some love
Task: Shine and tighten doorknobs and hinges; tighten loose cabinet pulls and nobs; and level cabinet doors.
Shortcut: To clean metal hardware, wash with soapy water, then shine with a microfiber cloth dipped in vinegar or lemon juice. Brass polish will remove tarnish from solid brass hardware. Not sure it’s brass? If a magnet sticks, it’s most likely metal, not solid brass.
Call in the pros: If you’re going to take off hinges and locks, hire a handyman (those doors are heavy). Prices vary widely, and some handyman services charge $125 an hour for skilled jobs. Cleaning hardware is more tedious than skillful, so don’t pay more than $30 to $60an hour.

6. Do a deep declutter
Task: Banish piles, clean out closets and drawers, and tackle the basement if you can stand it. Channel your inner Marie Kondo: If you haven’t touched something in a year or don’t love it, then you should toss, donate, or recycle it.
Shortcut: If you can’t face a total house declutter, do little bits over a few days. Pick one room or a corner of the room to organize. Or, every time you walk into a room, put/throw one thing away.
Call in the pros: Professional organizers take no prisoners when decluttering your home and setting up systems to keep things nice and tidy. But this tough love doesn’t come cheap. A professional organizer costs $30 to $80 an hour, and the average room takes 8 to 12 hours to organize.

7. Think green
Task: If you can't deal with the January gloom, you can always look ahead to spring. Home maintenance extends beyond the actual home too: Grab those seed, bulb, and bare-root plant catalogs, and start planning your flower and vegetable gardens. If you’re starting seeds inside, plant them about six weeks before the last frost in your area.
Shortcut: You’d be amazed by how much produce you can grow in raised-bed or container gardens. There’s no hoeing, raking, or digging. Create your own weed-free soil by mixing one-third vermiculite, one-third peat moss, and one-third varied compost.
Call in the pros: What, and miss all the fun? A professional landscape designer, who designs gardens and suggest plants, costs $50 to $100 an hour. Some garden centers will give you free design advice if you buy plants there. Also, seed catalogs often have free garden plans.

Everyone enjoys being a part of a holiday party, especially one that is well put together. It really does take patience, planning and thought to throw a successful party! To make the most of your holiday party, skip the unnecessary plans and focus on the things that are most important. Here are 10 tips to ensure you throw a great party!

1. Have Fun.
Remember the reason for your Christmas parties and New Year’s bash, and all the get-togethers in between, is to spend time with family, friends and those you love. Don’t lose sight of that in the chaos of planning a get-together.
Throughout the planning, keep the focus on your guests and making sure they have fun and that you have fun, too. Nothing else really matters.

2. Communicate with your guests.
I. Let your guests know well in advance all the pertinent party details. This includes the time, place and menu. Be sure to include maps and directions. If your party is a potluck, make sure guests know what you’d like them to bring.


3. Delegate.
Give others jobs to do. Upon receiving an invitation, people will often ask, “How can I help?” Instead of saying you have it all taken care of, take your guests up on their kindness and ask them to help wherever you need it. Be sure to enlist the help of others in your household, kids included. And don’t be afraid to hire help, too, if you can’t get it all done alone. Don’t be fooled by the perfect you see on Pinterest or in magazines.

4. Have a menu.
Decide early on what you’ll be serving at your party so you’ll have time to gather all your ingredients and supplies. Make things easy on yourself and stick with the basic recipes. Stick with dishes that you’ve made before and that you know will turn out fabulous. Chances are, your guests will be expecting you to serve your signature dishes.

5. Have a plan.
This is not the time to fly by the seat of your pants. Spend some time making a list of all you need to get done before your party. Then, create a timeline based on that list. When making the timeline, it helps to work backwards. For example, if your party starts at 6 p.m. and your main dish takes three hours to cook, you need to have it in the oven by 3 p.m. and probably earlier. Be sure to build in break time for yourself so you’re not completely frazzled and exhausted when guests arrive.

6. Start with a clean slate.
Certainly, you should make sure your house is clean for your party. But you also want a clean slate in the kitchen: clear countertops, an empty dishwasher, a clean sink and a clean refrigerator. This will make your last-minute party prep go smoothly.

7. Set up ahead of time.
Don’t wait until the last minute to put out your centerpieces, candlesticks, decorations and serving pieces. Set them out ahead of time.

8. Designate a place.
Decide ahead of time where you’ll put guests’ coats and purses, plus any hostess gifts and food offerings they bring.

9. Have extras.
Make sure every bathroom in the house is stocked with toilet paper, soap and other necessities. Have extra paper towels and dish towels in the kitchen. Put extra hangers in the coat closet.

10. Relax.
Have a good time. It’s a party. When you get overwhelmed during the planning phase, find a way to calm yourself down. Drink a glass of wine or a cocktail. Meditate. Pray. Veg out in front of HGTV. Whatever you need to do to relax.

When it comes to shopping for a home, winter is not the most popular season. Cold, the wind, snow and short days all make hunkering down and staying inside appealing. Real estate sales slow down, fewer homes are on the market, and many people wait to buy or sell till Spring hits.

But as a home buyer, you may benefit from going against the grain and looking for a home in the winter. There are some perks to home shopping at this time - advantages that may make the buying process easier and more productive.

1. There are fewer buyers.
The number one reason why you should buy a home in the winter is there are fewer buyers! As a buyer, you want to be special - you want to walk into a home and have the owner to be excited that you are there. In the spring and summer, there is no shortage of potential buyers, meaning that in more vibrant markets you face competition. More potential customers increase the possibility of a bidding war. You may even struggle to get an opportunity to make an offer, as houses are snatched of the market at record speed.
In the winter, sellers will get less attention and in turn will be more eager to work with you. The laws of supply and demand are always at work in real estate sales. The current inventory of homes for sale will always have a bearing on how the real estate market is fairing.


2. You may get a better deal.
If there are fewer buyers in the market, then you may be able to get a better price on the home you do buy. The seller will not have as many offers and may be willing to negotiate a better price to make the sale. There is no guarantee that you will find something for a steal, but the natural flow of supply and demand will increase your odds of finding a home for a fair price in the winter.

3. There are tax motivations for sellers in the winter.
Selling a home offers certain tax advantages that come in handy when it is time to file. As you hunt for houses, you may find that some owners desire to take advantage of selling their homes to improve their tax situation, which works to your benefit. Eager sellers are exactly what you want as a buyer - someone who is motivated to sell and will be willing to negotiate.

4. You get to see how a home works in harsh weather.
Depending on the market you are buying in, winter may be the toughest season for a home. The cold, moisture and wind will test the ability of the home to insulate and protect its residents, something that you want to know about if your are going to buy. If the insulation is no good, for instance, you are more likely to notice it as you view the home. Significant problems are also more liable to appear as well like an ice dam. Such information can be extremely useful in your decision making and your negotiations about the final price of the home.

5. You may not have to negotiate as much.
No one wants to go through long, drawn out negotiations if they don't have to. It can be stressful to haggle back and forth when you just want to get it over with and get a good deal in the process. One of the nice things about homes being sold in winter is that many sellers are already aware that the season requires compromises, which means you will find many homes priced to sell. If they are working with an experienced Realtor, the sellers will know that winter is the time for quick, decisive deals that save everyone time and headaches.

6. Mortgage rates may go up next year.
You want to get the best mortgage rate you can. Buying during winter, before rates have a chance to increase, is a clear winning strategy if you want to save extra money. Of course, interest rates don't always go up, so you have to be aware of the financial climate you are buying in. If, however, you think that interest rates are likely to increase next year, buying your home before the rate hike is a good idea.

7. You may need to buy a home now.
While it might be nice to wait until the weather is more pleasant to go home shopping, if circumstances dictate that now is the time to buy, you might not have much of a choice. Fortunately, the advantages of buying in the winter can be significant - more than enough to make you feel right about your need to purchase a home.
Be sure to remember the tax deductions when buying a house. Many buyers who have been renting have no idea they can save some significant money becoming a homeowner. Go through the list and keep it in a safe place for when you itemize your deductions. By forgetting any of these tax deductions, it's like throwing money away!

8. The seller may be moving out of necessity.
Homeowners are just like everyone else - many of them would prefer to sell in the spring or summer. However, they could be in a situation where selling is necessary due to circumstances beyond their control. They may be moving for work, for family or due to financial hardship. Whatever the reason, these sellers are ready to unload their homes now. As a buyer you benefit from their need, closing sooner and for a better price than you would in the more popular months.

9. Everyone is less busy - including your Realtor and your lender.
Realtors are eager to work with motivated buyers in the winter, and lenders have more time on their hands to process paperwork. Trying to buy in the more popular season may mean waiting longer to get your Realtor's attention, and it increases your chances of waiting on your lender to get the ball rolling and get the money in your hands.

10. The holidays may make everyone a little nicer.
People are more likely to offer a good deal to someone they like. People tend to feel more open to strangers, and more generous, during the holidays. You may just get a better price based on holiday cheer. While this may not be the case with all sellers, many are in much greater spirits.

October is here! Depending on where you live this time of the year means planning for seasons, holidays and varying weather patterns. Be prepared for a blast of cold air and its potential impact with frozen pipes!

Read below for some practical tips for home winterizing so you can be better prepared for Mother Nature’s elements:

Dead tree limbs
If you have trees above or near your property, clear out the dead limbs now. Fallings limbs and trees can cause significant damage to your roof, gutters, decks, etc. And while the trees are still in season, it’s easier to detect those bad limbs now versus when all the leaves have fallen!

If you have exposed pipes get them insulated. Properties with large crawl spaces, stilts, or built on hillsides (with exposed pipes) should be inspected and properly insulated where necessary. Also, learn where your water control shutoff valve is located. Be prepared in case an emergency occurs when you least expect it!


If you use your fireplace (gas, stove, or wood burning) have your chimney professionally inspected, cleaned, and swept. These professionals will also check for internal cracks that could pose fire threats.

Fall maintenance should include driveway pressure washing, sealing, and caulking large cracks that could lead to additional problems. Pay particular attention to concrete and aggregate driveways that are on hills. Water should be funneled off the driveway and not susceptible to draining into cracks that can lead to larger issues.

HVAC inspection
Routine filter replacement goes without saying, but I’d suggest taking it one step further and secure a certified HVAC specialist to inspect and test your furnace system. Cold nights can creep up on you and you’ll want to make sure that HVAC system is primed and ready to heat.

Window and Door cracks
For minimal expense you can purchase new seals and draft prevention tools at your local hardware store. Doors and windows are usually the main culprits for lost heat. Also, be sure to purchase some all-purpose window and door caulking – this will come in handy when you least expect it.

make sure your gutters have properly installed downspouts. And more importantly, make sure they are draining away from the house and foundation. Downspout extensions are inexpensive and prevent future maintenance issues. However, they can be installed incorrectly. Some folks often apply splash blocks backwards. If you are unsure of proper installation and drainage techniques, go to and type “downspouts” in the search engine.

Garage Doors
many homes have bonus rooms or bedrooms above the garage. Most builder grade garage doors are not insulated. Your local hardware store will carry multiple types of garage door insulation kits with easy DIY instructions. Speaking of garage doors, I am amazed in the price variances! If you contract with a garage door company, get two quotes. As I suggested with HVAC companies, attempt to work with a local, reputable independent. There are great pre-insulated garage doors with great curb appeal that don’t break the bank.

This is by no means an all-inclusive list for winterizing your home. The severity of your climate and weather elements may dictate preventive measures. Consider this brief list nothing more than a practical guide intended to head off future, major repairs!

Live below your means- How much do you save per month?
Generations ago, Americans routinely saved 10% or more of what they made, either depositing those savings or investing them. This kind of thriftiness is still found elsewhere in the world. Today, the average euro area household saves more than 12% of its earnings, and the current personal savings rate in Mexico is 20.6%.

In 1975, the U.S. personal savings rate hit an all-time peak of 17.0%; it has been below 4% since June. Easy credit is one culprit; the tendency to overspend in a strong economy is another. Remember to pay yourself first.

Diversify your investments
What returns 15-20% a year from now may not next year or three years on./strong>
Diversification matters: you never know what asset class might soar or plummet in the future, and allocating your assets across different investment types gives you the potential to reduce overall portfolio risk.


Max out your 401k and leave it alone
Company sponsored 401k programs are a great tax-free investment for your retirement. And if your employer matches at any level, contribute enough to achieve the maximum matching (it’s free money!). Oh, and if you switch jobs or careers, leave that 401k alone. If you’re tempted to take the cash and run, check the tax implications FIRST. There will be penalties.

It’s okay to use a credit card, just pay it off
Generally speaking, US credit standards don’t necessarily align with what is taught or assumed. I am impressed with folks that refrain from using credit cards. However, withdrawing from revolving credit (i.e. credit cards) altogether may negatively impact your credit score. And the lower the credit score, the higher the rate associated with most short-term (car loan) and long-term debt (mortgage loan). I would encourage everyone to visit to learn some details around credit scoring.

Plan for a 30-year retirement
According to Social Security estimates, the average 65-year-old man is currently projected to live until age 84, and the average 65-year-old woman, to age 87. With advances in health care, living to 95 may become the norm for the average 35-year-old.

Plan for your retirement first, your children’s college education second
Some baby boomers did the inverse, and some who did wonder if they made the right decision for their futures. College students can work and receive financial aid; for senior citizens, it is a different story.

Switch jobs for better pay
Generations ago, people tended to stay at the same job for several years or longer, whether their prospects were promising or not. If a better job lures you, do not be ashamed to leave your current employer for it – you may gain, financially. Payroll processing giant ADP found recently that a job change resulted in an average pay increase of 4.5% for a full-time worker.

Home Equity
A recent online news story showcased American’s wealth through home equity. As the real estate market has rebounded from the recession, it is estimated that 42 million home owners have over $5 trillion in disposable equity. This measure has more than doubled since it bottomed out in 2012. For years, one of the easiest way to tap into this equity is through a home-equity line of credit. However, most home-equity loans are adjustable, and as the prime rate continues to climb, so will those monthly payments. Worst yet, with the recent tax reform, some home owners may lose the tax deduction ability associated with this form of credit. Those two factors combined may fuel a small refinance wave; combining those two mortgage liens into one, favorable fixed-rate mortgage with arguably lesser tax implications.

Consult your tax advisor for tax details and consult your mortgage broker or banker on what lending options may be available to you.

As mortgage rates rise, I am commonly asked, “Has business slowed down?” While business has NOT slowed down, it does beg the question, “What impact does higher interest rates have on buying behaviors?” Let’s examine this for a few minutes.

In 2003, a nationally recognized articled explained the top five reasons for refinancing were the following:

  • Debt consolidation
  • Tuition expense (private education)
  • Home improvements
  • Real estate investment
  • Business investment

15 years later, I don’t think these loan purposes (driving the refinance market) have changed much. Interestingly, interest rate was/is not a driver. Interest rate is a component of the refinancing process that impacts overall affordability of the transaction. Today, speaking from my own experiences, debt consolidation loans are significantly less than 15 years ago, despite dramatic gains in home equity over the past 5 to 6 years. Today’s regulatory framework limits mortgage product development and creativity; which has kept the industry in check compared to the escalating demand with the former subprime market. Additionally, if the recession taught us anything, consumer accountability with personal finances has improved dramatically. And as we experience positive economic times, mortgage credit and performance risk is lower, as illustrated in the following image.


In the grand scheme of things, refinance activity is the lowest it’s been in 15+ years, as illustrated below. Refinance activity was actually higher when rates were higher. In years 2002-2013, much of that refinance activity was fueled by high consumer debt obligations, steep gains in equity, and the evolution and collapse of the mortgage subprime market.

So what impact does mortgage rates have on home purchase activity? During strong economic times, purchase activity is fueled largely by economic components and the supply/demand of housing. For example, business relocation, job expansion and growth causes movement that dictates new purchase behaviors (i.e. customer moves from one location to another location for a promotion). In this case, positive economic trends drive the purchase behavior, not rate. (One could argue that low rates drive economic purchase behaviors but we’ll save that debate for another day).

Furthermore, as the graph below illustrates, there is no bubble between home prices and personal incomes. While rising interest rates will definitely impact affordability, personal incomes remain very strong and should withstand higher mortgage payments.

For entertainment purposes, I’ll include some MBA forecasts for the near future. I hesitate to include this, as I can show presentations from 2013, 2014, etc., that attempt to predict rising interest rates that never happened. But now that rates have increased, perhaps the MBA forecasts will be more foretelling than in years’ past. Recognizing that most my reading audience is within the lending and banking communities, you can expect a flat forecast with little to modest growth. And these forecasts take into consideration continued rising interest rates. By 2020, we’ll be near a 6% 30-year market. Or will we? Get out your crystal ball.


In recent years a lot of energy and resources have been poured into online resources and the "digital mortgage" experience. Amazon recently announced their eventual stake in online mortgage lending as well. One can certainly argue that getting a mortgage online can be quicker, offer less hassle, and be combined with lower rates and financial incentives.

But those advantages can come with a downside. Some online lenders have been associated with scams - they use low rates as an enticement to compete for the application and have no incentive to follow through properly. Overshadowed by the fine print and overwhelming application process, the details can easily get lost. Oh, and customer service? Questionable at best. Serving you from a centralized location (and sometimes from an international office), you may communicate with a different representative every time you have a question.

Like other lenders, Bank of England Mortgage has invested in online tools to make the customer experience easier and more convenient. But this technology never takes the place of experienced loan originators. Instead, the technical features compliment and aide the process. Our loan originators strive to know each customer, helping them overcome obstacles and reduce stress and confusion. We call our approach "Human Mortgage."


Homebuyers Want Human Interaction
In 2016, we conducted research to measure the importance of human interaction in the mortgage process. Here's what we found:

• Both first-time and experienced homebuyers see the loan originator as the most important element of an ideal mortgage experience.

• When faced with multiple options, homebuyers want to talk with a real person at the beginning of the mortgage process, especially at the initial inquiry.

• First-time homebuyers want a knowledgeable loan originator who can help them complete the application, assist with pre-qualification, and solve problems and find the best options.

• Artificial intelligence can't perform what an experienced loan originator can offer.

• Even though they have been through all of this before, experienced homebuyers still want a loan originator who can manage the entire process and work seamlessly with the rest of the client's team - realtor, title company, home inspector, insurance company, appraiser, etc. - to ensure an on-time closing.

Even tech-savvy consumers want human help. According to an industry survey, 53% of millennials want live mortgage advice at the start of the loan process, even before going online to research. Additionally, 57% said they often seek advice face to face. And 64% said they would want in-person interaction for the duration of the process.

To my fellow mortgage competitors – don't underestimate the human experience. At the end of the day, people genuinely make the difference. Technology should influence the process as a value-add, not as a replacement.

Summer is here! It's time to free yourself and get outdoors so you can enjoy the exterior of your home for a change. When you do get out there, you might find it is time to upgrade your home and give it a little more curb appeal so you can welcome your guests in style, or even enjoy the view from your front porch with a glass of iced tea. Here are some tips to help you give your home more curb appeal!

Paint the front door
This season front door colors are all the rage, because it's not only an opening to your home – it's an insight to your personality. There's something to be said about the visual appeal of a brightly-colored front door. This is a great budget friendly way to update curb appeal without having to pay the cost of an entirely new door! Consider the color of the home's facade and choose something that will complement it.

Tend to the greenery
Walk around the property and take notes of any areas that looks damaged or worn. Pick up debris or fallen branches that may have landed on the grass or in flower beds. Trim tree limbs and tend to the flower beds by removing any plants that


may have died. If you think your yard is in need of some flair, you can add colorful flowers to greatly enhance curb appeal! They are appealing to the eye and make everything look brighter and more welcoming. Lastly, don't forget to give your lawn a manicure by mowing and trimming edges.

Wash off the dirt
The winter and spring months are hard on a home. It's time to take care of the inevitable build-up of dirt and grime with a thorough cleaning! Consider renting a power washer to get the grime off of the exterior walls, driveways and walkways. Make the entrance to your home obvious. An unclear pathway littered with overgrown greenery is both unattractive and confusing for visitors.

Make the windows sparkle
One of the simplest ways to make your home summer ready is to accentuate your windows by cleaning the inside and outside for a sparkly clean view. Add shutters to either side and paint them a color that complements the rest of the exterior. You can also add flower boxes under each window to add a fun pop of color!

Replace light fixtures
Adding landscape lighting can really enhance the beauty of your home and provide safety. Many homes are built with inexpensive fixtures that simply get the job done. New fixtures, with clear domes and new bulbs, will light up the outside and have a beautiful appearance. Many lighting systems are solar powered, eliminating the need for extensive electrical work!

Spruce up your mailbox
A lot of homeowners forget about updating the mailbox, but it says something about the maintenance of your home too. You can quickly spruce it up with a fresh coat of paint and make the necessary repairs or replace it entirely. Sometimes doing a little project can have a big impact when it comes to curb appeal!

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the average time an existing home is on the market has hit a new low of 29 days! With homes flying off the market so quickly, competition to find an existing home can be tough. Here are some benefits to building a new home vs. buying one.

Think about this, when building a home you get to customize almost every detail. You'll get to personalize the details of your house when you're building from the ground up. You'll also get to choose the initial layout, the cabinets, flooring, sinks, lighting, paint colors – the choices are endless! Even tract homes that are built within neighborhoods allow for some customization in color choices, flooring options and certain finishes. Limited choices reduce labor costs—and your bottom line. Tract homes are a style of development in which multiple identical or nearly-identical homes are built to create a community.

New homes that are built to meet current building codes, are often more energy efficient and can incorporate up-to-date technology. For the first few years, you're less likely to deal with big-ticket maintenance issues like leaky roofs or failing heating and cooling systems in a newly built home. Often times, many home builders offer a limited warranty if something should break.


Another benefit of building a new home is protection. When building a house, you are protected by the Warranty Protection Program which offers deposit protection, builder performance protection, structural integrity and first year warranty protection to home buyers as well as mediation, conciliation and arbitration procedures.

What if you can build your way to affordable housing? What if, in fact, building is the only path to affordable housing? What if cities around the world have been building their way to affordability for decades? You can. It is. And they have.

On March 1st we rolled out our new Construction Loan Program! With the current market conditions and low housing inventory - we have a huge advantage by being able to offer this program to the community and our consumers. When working with us, clients will have a loan professional who understands new construction and the challenges that developers and their clients go through. We're committed to making the home builder's role less stressful and more rewarding.

If you've been thinking about building your dream home – contact your local Bank of England Mortgage office today! We look forward to working with you.

Baseball isn't the only thing that has arrived for Spring - it's peak season for homebuyers! This also means that first-time homebuyers are in full swing and starting to search for the perfect home. If you're a new homebuyer, read the tips below to get started.

Step up to the Plate - Talk to a Lender
Many new buyers will assume that looking for their first home starts with finding the right home. It's easy to look on and Zillow, find the perfect home and assume the price range you can afford - unfortunately you could end up striking out. These websites do not always include home insurance and other factors in the monthly mortgage cost estimate. So, talking to a lender and receiving a pre-qualification letter should always be your first move. The lender will have access to look at your debt, credit score and other finances to determine how much house you can afford. Not to mention, this is the best play for you and your realtor! It will save you a lot of time and heartache.


Team Up
Team up with the right realtor! This will ensure that you have someone in your corner that is looking out for your best interests. The right realtor will be by your side to explain the ins and outs of the process and help you make the best decisions with every step. Some first-time homebuyers are timid about reaching out to an agent because they don't have the extra money. The seller has negotiated the commission they pay long before you see the house advertised and if the buyer doesn't have an agent the listing agent keeps the full amount. Your realtor should be familiar with the area you're looking at purchasing. He/she will know what you're looking for in a home and will be able to 'keep an eye out' for your new home!

Don't Swing for the Fence
Set realistic expectations and don't swing out of your shoes. Depending on your budget, you may not find a house that has absolutely everything you want - hardwood floors, 3 baths, and in-ground pool - in your area for the price that you want. Make a list of the features that are most important to you. Keep in mind, you're not wedded to this house forever and you can always choose to make renovations at a later date.

Speed Changes the Game
Too often, first-time homebuyers will give in to emotion and become attached to a home that makes the best financial sense. Be realistic and patient, this is an important decision. Spend the time to research your local market and get your finances suitable for a home purchase. Purchasing a property should never be a rushed process. First time homebuyers are typically in the initial stages of their careers, so diligently researching and utilizing the advice from real estate professionals can really help you hit a home run.

Don't be Afraid to Strike Out
Don't be afraid of being denied. If you've been renting for a while, have a little bit in savings and are ready to make this big purchase - talk to a lender! There are many different types of programs to help assist homebuyers with qualifying incomes and situations. Again, meet with a loan officer and let them tell you all of the different kinds of loans and programs you may qualify for! Bank of England Mortgage is always here to provide top-notch service and mortgage advice, visit us today!

As the seasons change from winter to spring, hopeful buyers are looking to purchase a home. We have assembled some advice to help you spring into action with the following home buying tips in order to help those of you that fall in the buyer's category.

Talk to a Mortgage Lender FIRST
Although some experts suggest that potential buyers talk to a real estate agent first, that is a bit counter-productive. Real estate agents will be happy to help you find a home just as soon as you have secured a mortgage pre-qualification letter from a mortgage lender. When you have a pre-qualification letter from a lender it allows you to make a serious offer on a home. In fact, many sellers will ask for some type of proof that you have either the cash or financing before signing an offer.

Your lender is tasked with finding the best mortgage to fit your needs. While it is true that your credit history and income play a huge part in getting approved for a mortgage, you also need to share with your lender your future plans. For example, if you are looking for a starter home with plans to buy a bigger home later on, you may be interested in a low down payment home with an ARM mortgage.


Providing all of your financial information to the lender will make it easier for the loan officer to help you choose the right mortgage that fits your needs.

Pick the Right Real Estate Agent
It is wise to talk to multiple sources and get referrals for a quality real estate agent. Since you will likely be dealing with this agent for at least a month or more, it is wise to pick someone that is not only good at their job but someone that you like as well. If possible, pick someone that specializes in the area of town that you hope to live in. Some markets are big enough that agents will choose to work in select areas. These people can thoroughly answer your questions about potential homes for sale as well as the general area.

Do a Drive-by
Many would-be homeowners only visit their potential new home right after work or on a Sunday afternoon. This results in a quick decision and often inaccurate perception about the house and neighborhood. However, there is a better way to investigate a home.

You should take some time to visit the home early in the morning, late at night and at various times on the weekend. Take note of everything you see and look for the following:

• children playing in the yard
• people working on projects outside
• the number of cars parked on the street
• the level of noise
• are people congregating at a particular home or place

Do Some Homework on the Area
The location of the home is often just as important as the home itself. When beginning your research on the neighborhood, a good place to start is to look at crime in the area. Certain areas seem to be more vulnerable to burglaries and other kinds of crime.

Another thing to research is nearby amenities. Where is the nearest grocery store? Is there a nearby park for your kids to play at? Is there a factory nearby that may cause a lot of noise? This may sound too analytical – but it could change your perception of the home.

Use these tips and get a head start on looking for your future home! Be on the lookout for part II of more tips next month.

Showing your home a little extra love this time of year is easier than you may expect!

Whether you're looking to increase your home's value for a future sale or you just want to increase the power of your largest investment, here are five great ways to boost your home's value.

Let Your House Breathe
Space is a huge commodity and is something most homebuyers list at the top of their “must have” criteria when looking for that perfect house. Give your home a chance to breathe by creating space in your most cramped areas.

Knock out a nonstructural wall or even remove an outdated kitchen island to give new life to tiny, old rooms. Anything that opens up space and creates a better sense of flow in a house offers an instant perceived value to would-be homebuyers.

Stay Healthy with Maintenance
Just like you, your home needs regular maintenance. Although it's not nearly as exciting as remodeling a kitchen or bathroom, tending to the basics of home upkeep actually provides you a larger bang for your buck.


Insulate the attic, repair plumbing issues, fix leaky windows, install storm doors and weed out those winter-hardened flowerbeds. These regular care items and basic fixes add value to your home's bottom line and leave your home looking and feeling like a million dollars.

Go Green Instead of Red
This Valentine's Day, take your house green instead of embracing the holiday's standard red hue. If your heating or air conditioning systems are old, switch them out for a more efficient solar-powered system. This $7,000 to $10,000 investment can provide you annual tax credits and lower your monthly heating and cooling bills dramatically, not to mention that it instantly makes your house more appealing to future homebuyers.

Appeal to a Softer Side
If you're getting ready to put your home on the market, don't allow walls with chipped paint to go unmaintained. If you need to do more than a touch up, take the opportunity to appeal to the softer side of your potential homebuyers and repaint with more neutral colors for your update.

Love at First Sight
As the saying goes, you only get one shot at making a first impression. Give your home the best chance possible for making a good impression on prospective homebuyers by updating the front of your home

A new front door and updated landscaping can take your house from “blah” to “powerful” and provide the “arrow” needed to hit a future homebuyer right in the heart, causing them to fall instantly in love with the look of your home.

These five updates are great ways to not only show your home a little love this Valentine's Day, but they also give your home the extra lift needed to help it stand out and appeal to prospective homebuyers during the next home buying season.

Can you feel it? NOW is the time that you will finally sit down and get your financials in order! People tend to be more motivated in the spring to organize, clean and go through their stuff. So, as you begin to think about all the things you need to do – follow these steps to help you get started on spring cleaning your finances, and feel the relief sooner than later!

Look at the details
There's almost nothing worse than looking over your bank statements and realizing you spent $150 eating out last month. That's probably why so many of us avoid look at our statements at all. We'd rather not be reminded of the wasteful damage we are doing.

Take a few minutes to analyze and write down where your finances are going every month. Write down your household income, your monthly expenses and needs, so you can make the necessary changes.


Cut It Out
Once you have looked at the bank statements and analyzed your spending habits - it's time to detoxify. It will be hard work, but if you're looking to tackle a major life change, like getting out of debt, going to grad school, or buying a house - you need money to make it happen.

Know the Score
Keeping track of your money habits involves more than just combining your bank statements. Understanding you credit score can really help you towards achieving your goals. You want to ensure you are in good standing because if you want to buy a car, home, or do anything that requires a loan – your credit rating truly matters. Your score will determine whether you qualify for more credit and what kinds of interest rates will be attached to the credit you do qualify for.

Find a Side Hustle
If you've been able to cut down your expenses and you're still feeling squeezed, an option is to look for a side gig to earn some more money. It really is not as hard as it sounds, and it doesn't mean you have to march into your boss' office and demand a raise. There are now more ways than ever to use your talents or to make money off the stuff you already own. If you love animals, try pet-sitting a couple times/month. Or sell some of those DIY projects you've been making.

Set it, but don't forget it
You've figured how much money you have coming in and exactly how much you can afford to part with each month. Your biggest challenge now will be to stay on track. Use technology to your advantage by automating your monthly bills or and using an app or website to keep tabs on how well (or not) you're sticking with the rules you set out for yourself.

Ask, and You Might Receive
You should never be afraid to ask for a break. If you have a car, look at how much you're paying for car insurance. It could be worth it to call your insurance company and say, "Hey, I'm not driving as much as I used to because I work from home once a week now." Or, "I have a really good track record. Can you do better?"

Phone a Friend
Let your friends and family know you're trying to spend less and save more. This lets them know that this is a priority for you and can offer up the support you need - or even inspire them to start doing the same. Commit to checking in with one another and offering words of advice and tips! You'll be holding each other accountable and you'll both be that much closer to living the lives you want and deserve.

At Bank of England Mortgage, we want you to be as financially fit as possible, if we can help lower your current mortgage rate or save by owning instead of renting, please give us a call or visit us at

January is a great time to get started on filing your taxes! It's easy to put this off but the closer you get to the deadline – the bigger the headache it is to get it done. By waiting, you cause yourself to feel more rushed and pressured, which can cause mistakes. Get your taxes out of the way! Being prepared and getting them done early will allow you to enjoy that refund check with the least amount of stress.

Consider taking these steps as you get ready to file:

There are a couple different ways that you can file your taxes. Will you file them electronically? Will you meet with a professional? Take note of what changes have occurred in your life this year. If you have bought or sold a home, had children, gotten married or even changed bank accounts - this can all affect your taxes. Get an early look at what these milestones will mean for your taxes this year before crunch time in April.


Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) get busy during these early months of the year. If you are choosing to enlist help from a tax professional, you will want to schedule your appointment as early as possible. Waiting until March or early April can leave you stuck if your CPA is booked. If you wait until late March or early April and your tax preparer's calendar may be booked, or if you need to have a follow-up meeting for missing information then you have plenty of time. Save yourself some stress and schedule early.

Take the relative calm of the first month of the year to get your paperwork in order. Gather your receipts, proof of charitable contributions and other tax forms in one place. Watch for any essential tax forms to be mailed to your home and have a special place to store them. Note any missing tax forms you may need and make the proper arrangements to get copies.

Eligible filers who submit their tax returns early enough can use their refund to further reduce the previous year's taxes. If you are eligible, you can make an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) or health savings account contribution for 2017. You can only make contributions to these until April 17, which is the day that taxes are due. The key to doing this is to file as early as possible – or else your refund will not come back in time to do so. Make sure to tell the account custodian the year in which you plan to apply your refund. If you skip that step, he or she may apply it to your 2018 contributions instead.

Preparing and filing your 2017 taxes early will help you to start thinking about your 2018 taxes. Use this first quarter to harvest tax losses. Prepare your return for other uses like applying for a mortgage or adjusting your withholding. Be prepared and save yourself the stress. File for your 2017 taxes early!

Bank of England Mortgage does not, and does not intended to, provide legal, tax or accounting advice, and readers should consult their tax advisors concerning the application of tax laws to their particular situations.

Winter is underway and with it comes a whole new set of tasks designed to keep your home in good shape during the cold weather ahead.
From cleaning and organizing to insulation and weather stripping, this winter home maintenance to-do list will help get your home in tip-top shape for the holidays.
Read on to find out how to maintain your home this winter both inside and out!

Indoor Winter House Cleaning & Organizing

Kitchen Cabinets: While you're stuck indoors in winter weather, take the opportunity to give your kitchen cabinets a good cleaning to remove any grease and grime. To make the job easy, spray on a little orange oil cleaner to cut the grease, then wipe the cabinets clean with a wet sponge that's been microwaved about 40 seconds. Be sure to wear gloves so you don't burn your hands! The combination of citrus oil and hot water will make short work of grease on cabinets.


Stovetop and Oven: Citrus-based cleaner also works great for cleaning your stove. Start by removing the burners and pans, then give the stovetop a good cleaning using the same hot sponge method. Be sure to remove and clean the knobs and the surface behind them as well. For stubborn stains, sprinkle a little baking soda and scrub. While you're at it, be sure to clean your oven with a commercial oven cleaner, following the instructions. For a greener option, sprinkle the bottom of the oven with baking soda, spritz with water, let it sit overnight, then scrub it clean.

Range hood and Filter: Allowing grease to build up on range hoods and over the stove microwave fans can reduce their efficiency and shorten the life of the fan. In addition to cleaning the outer and inner surfaces of a range hood or microwave with a citrus cleaner, it's important to remove and clean the range hood grease filter regularly by washing it in the sink in hot, soapy water or running the filter in the dishwasher. If you can access the exhaust fan on the range hood, turn the circuit breaker off and clean the fan blades as well.

Closets: Take advantage of a rainy or snowy day to clean and organize your closets. Remove everything from the closet and give the floors and woodwork a good cleaning. Then, before putting anything back, take a look and see if you're getting the best use out of the space. Some new DIY wire track shelving along with hanging bars, drawers, bins, and baskets can increase your storage space dramatically. For help designing and organizing your closet, consider hiring a company specializing in organizational solutions to design and install a new closet system in your home.

Bathroom Drains: Nothing ruins a good shower like a slow running drain! To clean tub and sink drains, remove the drain assembly and insert a drain stick in the drain pipe to pull out any hair or other clogs. Follow this by pouring a little bleach down the drain, allow it to sit for 10-15 minutes, then flush it with water to kill any mold or mildew lurking in the pipe.

Home Inventory: Winter is a great time to compile a home inventory of all your prized possessions for insurance purposes, or update to inventory you have with any new purchases from the past year. Be sure to document it with photos, videos, and receipts. Make extra copies and store them in a safe place away from your home, such as a safe deposit box or with a friend or relative.

Why you should join the movement?
Owning an eco-friendly home is all the buzz right now. You do not have to be the building-a-house-out-of-tires kind of person to own a green home. There are many reasons and benefits to owning an eco-friendly home. Here are some important reasons to consider going green.

Increase the Value of Your Home
No one can complain about this one. A green home is instantly more valuable to future potential buyers. It does not matter if it is a big investment like installing solar panels or something small like switching to a water conserving shower, buyers will remember it. In a competitive selling market, this will give you a heads up over competitors.


Energy-Saving Products Will Add Up
Owning an eco-friendly home means better insulation, tight ductwork, sealed doors and windows, and efficient heating and cooling. Those products combined will result in lower electric and gas bills. If you do make the splurge and purchase solar panels, you will eventually reap the benefits. Even small changes in your home can add up. The U.S Department of Energy states that if buildings were all green-improved that the U.S. would use $20 billion less energy every single year.

Decrease Your Water Bill
Going green means your water bill savings will add up. Purchasing Energy Star appliances as well as water-saving plumbing systems will consistently save you hundreds of dollars on your water bill on an annual basis. This can be especially important for states such as California, Arizona, and Nevada where water-restrictions are in place. The next time you have to update an appliance, opt for the energy conserving one.

Enjoy a More Durable Household
Recycled products do not mean they deteriorate sooner, but quite the opposite. Going green means your home will be more durable. Recycled products are inclined to last five times longer than manufactured products. This means less updates and maintenance in the future, thus more money in your pocket when you do decide to sell.

Improved Air Quality
A green home means a healthier home environment. Having non-toxic materials and purer ventilation systems mean the air is cleaner. Fresh outdoor air is continuously brought into your home. Ultimately, improved health means less spending on medical bills and insurance.

Reduction in the Use of Natural Resources
Green remodeling and building significantly reduces the waste created during the project and reuses products wherever possible. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that building waste accounts for about 20 percent of all trash in landfills or about 136 million tons per year. Additionally, an eco-friendly home aims to have the smallest possible impact on its environment. This entails only taking down trees where necessary.

Positive Environmental Impact
By choosing green products that are made from recycled materials, you can reduce your carbon footprint; this will also reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfills. Green homes utilize non-toxic materials. Thus, when your house is built less toxic waste is emitted into the air. Ultimately, you are benefiting the environment as well as your own health.

As you can see, there are several good reasons to owning a "green home". If you have any questions at all on obtaining home financing, refinancing or general questions, Bank of England Mortgage is here to help!

You were pre-qualified for a loan, made an offer on your dream home, and it has been accepted! The question is whether or not the home is actually worth what you have agreed to pay. This is where the home appraisal comes into play.


What Is An Appraisal?
A home appraisal is the expert opinion of a certified, state-licensed professional who determines the value of a piece of property. An appraisal protects the lender from paying too much for a property that is worth less than they have invested and protects the buyer from spending too much on a home that they fell in love with at first sight. It is an unbiased, professional opinion on the value of a home.
It may take longer than you expect. The standard turn time for FHA, Conventional, and USDA loans is five business days depending on the area. For VA loans, it is ten business days. The actual inspection of the home can take only a couple of hours, but the appraiser must also prepare the comparables and other documents which can take several days.

Why Are They Required?
Lenders require an appraisal mostly to ensure that they are making a wise investment. Just because the seller and buyer have come to an agreement, it ultimately is the lender that will be paying for it. It is their safety net.
As the buyer, you will be paying for the appraisal. The majority of the time, the fee is wrapped into your closing costs. The appraiser works for the lender, however, and are required to remain independent of the buyer. This is to ensure that the appraiser remains ethical in the value they determine; in fact, it is a crime to attempt to coerce an appraiser into reaching a certain value.

Appraisal vs. Inspection
This category is comprised of FHA, VA and USDA loans. FHA loans are insured by the Federal Housing Administration. VA loans are guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. USDA loans are backed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. USDA loans are also called RD or Rural Development loans, after the USDA division that handles them.

Jumbo Loan
It is important to note that a home appraisal is not the same thing as a home inspection. A home inspection is significantly more in depth than an appraisal. In purchasing a home, it is suggested to also get an inspector to come look at the home. They inspect things that could turn into potential nightmares once you own the home, such as checking to see if the plumbing is up to code and testing the heat and air. Appraisers examine more obvious physical issues. The appraisal value is determined by the location, upgrades, size, age of the home, and most importantly the comparables. Comparables or "Comps" are nearby homes that are similar in size and features to the home being appraised.
The appraiser should not take into account curb appeal and general tidiness of the home. Despite this, it is possible for it to affect their overall opinion when there are dirty dishes in the sink and an overgrown yard. To ensure a smooth home appraisal, it is wise to tidy up the home and make the small maintenance repairs that you have been putting off – give the walls a new coat of paint, clear away clutter, and plant new flowers.

What if you received a low appraisal?
Let's say you and the seller agree on $200,000, but the appraisal comes in for $150,000 – what do you do? The lender will not give more than the appraised value, so that leaves you with a couple options.
First, you could try to get the appraiser to take a second look at the property after you have completed repairs and maintenance. Sometimes the appraiser will ask for more comps in the area, and that is when it is your job to start doing research and find homes in the area with similar values. If that does not work, you always have the option to get a second appraisal. You will have to pay for this, but it is possible that a different appraiser will have a different opinion on the home.
Another option is to come up with the extra cash to cover the difference between the appraisal and the offer price. If you don't have the cash on hand, you could also ask the seller to cover the difference. This is a common solution, because it means the house is overpriced in the first place.
If all of these options do not work and the appraisal is still too far below what can be financed, then you may be left to cancel the transaction. There most likely is a loan contingency which allows you to cancel the contract and get your deposit back. Keep in mind, that this may be beneficial and keeping you from overpaying for a home.

If you have any questions at all in regards to home mortgages, please don't hesitate to contact BOE Mortgage!

When it comes time to purchase your first or third home, having the funds for a down payment can be one of the biggest hurdles. But it doesn't have to be. There are many different types of loan programs available to you.

To list a few, here are the common ones like Conventional, FHA, VA and USDA that allow low or no down payment options, however, a Down Payment Assistance Program may be available to help fund your down payment. We understand from time to time, we all need a helping hand.


At Bank of England Mortgage, we offer Down Payment Assistance Programs through HUD and the local state authority. Assistance is available for down payment and closing costs through multiple programs. We also have relationships with outside investors, where we can offer lower credit score programs as well. That's something that helps a lot of first time homebuyers qualify for mortgages.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provides grants to state and local organizations. A DPA grant decreases homebuyer costs, avoids burdening the homebuyer with additional debt and eliminates property liens associated with secondary financing options. The grants are designed to help eligible buyers bridge the gap between their savings and the required down payment for a mortgage. In a lot of cases this money doesn't have to be repaid.

It's common to think that 10% down or more is needed to buy a home. With the options available to you today, that's just not true. In fact, the average down payment for first time home buyers today is just 6%. Don't get "stuck" trying to raise enough down payment money. An overwhelming 87% of homes are eligible for some kind of assistance, but few home buyers apply. Get in touch with your local branch to get started on your way to becoming a home buyer!

Contact a knowledgeable mortgage lender that have the resources and programs to assist you in all aspects of your home buying journey, it could save you thousands. In some instances gifts are allowed as down payments from family, friends, employers, etc.

If you have any questions at all in regards to home mortgages, please don't hesitate to contact BOE Mortgage!


Teachers this is for you:

  • When the going gets tough and it will, remember why you began teaching in the first place. Write it down and put it in a place that you can see as a daily reminder.
  • Engage in self care. Self-care is a strange phenomenon. Self-care is critical to refilling what the daily grind drains. Figure out what works best for you. Try to do something every day. Taking even a few minutes for yourself can make a big difference.
  • Keep a jar of successes and memories. Use a jar of memories to keep yourself motivated. During the school year, anytime something funny or memorable happens in your classroom, write it down on a slip of paper and put it in a jar. On tough days, open the jar and pull out a few memories to read. This will shift your focus to better times and better days.

Students this is for you:

  • Select a good study space: Do not just start studying anywhere. Find a quiet, orderly place. A peaceful environment will be an immeasurable help to your concentration.
  • Call friends: Talking with a trusted friend or family member about how you are feeling helps because most of them have been there, done that or are in the same boat as you. Talking things out can have the immediate effect of reducing stress levels. Sharing with someone else helps us feel we aren't alone which can be so helpful.
  • Prioritize & Plan: "Failing to plan is planning to fail." Plan how to allocate your time and what to study. Engage
  • Ask for Help:  Many students are afraid to ask for help. If you do not understand what to do or study, ask someone. You could speak to your teacher during office hours, or talk to your friends and classmates. You are all working together and in the same boat. Your teacher wants to see you succeed and so do your friends; they most likely will be glad to help.
  • Catch some sleep: Everyone has different sleep habits, but it is never healthy to pull an all-nighter. Make sure to get the sleep your body needs.

Parents this is for you:

  • Don't let lunch boxes get the better of you: Freeze sandwiches, slices of homemade cake and squeeze pack yogurts to help you in the desperate moments.
  • Your child WILL be tired and moody: That's because they will be exhausted. Primary school timetables these days are a merry-go-round of Chinese, sport, art etc. So let them relax after school.
  • Be a friend to make a friend: It's not only your child who may feel nervous as they start at school. It can be daunting for new parents, especially if you don't know many people at the school. Be bold — ask about their lives, offer to meet for coffee. If you don't hit it off, move on. The friends you do make can be "emergency friends" to call on when cars break down or a work crisis strikes.
  • Create some sanity savers: Put all the uniforms, sports kits, homework and bags in one cupboard instead of being scattered through bedrooms. Get children to put on shoes before breakfast. Do anything in advance to save your sanity in that moment when you rushing out of the door.
  • Don't feel guilty if you can't volunteer: If you work full time or care for babies or toddlers it's hard to be able to volunteer to help with class reading, trips and so on. Don't feel guilty. Where possible, choose one or two tasks a year so you feel connected.
  • Slow down school years: The terms can rush by in a blur of shouting and stress, so try to slow the pace. Occasionally get to school early for a play; head to the park or beach for a picnic instead of the usual evening routine.

If you think mortgage jargon is confusing, you're not alone. And it's not just first time homebuyers who are baffled. Some of the terms are so tricky even the experts don't agree on exactly what they mean.

To help ease the frustration, here are a list of the most common confusing terms:


Conforming Loan
A conforming loan is a mortgage that follows, or "conforms," to a set of loan guidelines or standards. By far, the most common type of conforming loan is one that meets Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac guidelines.

Non-conforming Loan
Loans that don't conform are known as "non-conforming." A non-conforming loan is a loan that fails to meet bank criteria for funding. Reasons can include the loan amount is higher than the conforming loan limit, lack of sufficient credit, the unorthodox nature of the use of funds, or the collateral backing it to name a few.

Government Loan
This category is comprised of FHA, VA and USDA loans. FHA loans are insured by the Federal Housing Administration. VA loans are guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. USDA loans are backed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. USDA loans are also called RD or Rural Development loans, after the USDA division that handles them.

Jumbo Loan
Jumbo loans have a loan amount that's higher than Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac guidelines known as loan limits. The current limit in most U.S. counties is $417,000. Loans for more are jumbo loans.

Conventional Loan
This category includes all conforming loans and many non-conforming loans, but no jumbo, government or subprime loans. A conventional loan is a mortgage that is not guaranteed or insured by any government agency.

APR (Annual Percentage Rate)
The cost of credit on a yearly basis, expressed as a percentage. Required to be disclosed by the lender under the federal Truth in Lending Act and Regulation Z. Because it includes certain costs paid to obtain the loan, it is usually higher than the interest rate stated in the mortgage note. Aids in comparing the true cost of loans offered by lenders.

'Private mortgage insurance' or just 'mortgage insurance'?
Mortgage insurance, which may be required when a borrower's down payment or equity is less than 20 percent of the home's purchase price or value. Some mortgage insurance is called private mortgage insurance (PMI) and some is simply called mortgage insurance (MI) or mortgage insurance premium (MIP). Why two different terms?
PMI is private mortgage insurance, and is for conventional or conforming loans. It is a risk-management product that protects lenders against loss if a borrower defaults.
MIP is mortgage insurance premium, and that is on FHA and USDA government loans. The VA doesn't have MIP, it has a funding fee. It doesn't have mortgage insurance, so it's not applicable.

DTI (Debt-to-income ratio)
The ratio, expressed as a percentage, which results when a borrower's monthly payment obligation on long-term debts is divided by his or her gross monthly income.

Discount point
A discount point, paid upfront to the lender, and generally is used to lower the borrower's interest rate over the life of the loan. This interest rate reduction is sometimes called a "buy down."

Origination point
An origination point is a fee or collection of fees. Unlike a discount point, an origination point doesn't buy down the borrower's interest rate.

Closing is perhaps the happiest term in a real estate transaction since it refers to the process by which the loan is completed and everyone receives his or her due, whether that's the proceeds of a home sale for the seller or the title to a property for the buyer.

Settlement refers to the reconciliation of accounts or accounting process that takes place as part of the real estate closing.

Escrow refers to an account or entity that holds funds for others prior to disbursement.When used to describe the mortgage servicer as collecting a portion of your payment every month and holding it on your behalf to disburse payments to taxing authorities or insurance companies; this is an escrow account (sometimes referred to as an impound account).

If you have any questions at all in regards to home mortgages, please don't hesitate to contact BOE Mortgage!

Whether you've bought a home before or it's your first time at the rodeo, it's a complicated process involving much more than making an offer and having it accepted. Unlike most transactions where you hand over some cash or swipe your debit card, buying a home involves a lot of different parties and there are a lot of boxes to be checked.


And because it's probably one of the biggest purchases you'll ever make, it's important to know the pitfalls to look out for that can cost you a significant amount if you aren't paying attention. Here are some of the most common mortgage-shopping mistakes that prospective homebuyers make:

A surprising number of people only learn about problems in their credit report when they apply for a mortgage. Not only can what you don't know about your credit cost you more on a mortgage, it can also derail the whole process. Plus, you can't really shop for a mortgage and have any idea of what rate you'll be offered if you're in the dark about your credit report or credit score.

Check your credit before you start shopping for a home or a mortgage, so you know where you stand. Being familiar with what's in your credit report gives you the opportunity to address errors and take other steps to improve your credit profile before you approach lenders; you'll qualify for a better rate and won't get any nasty surprises after your offer has been accepted on your dream home. By law, you're entitled to a free credit report from each of the three bureaus (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion) once a year.

Each time you apply for credit, the credit check is rated as a "hard inquiry" on your credit, and will cause your credit score to temporarily dip. Closing old accounts can also have a negative impact – even if you aren't using them, closing them reduces the amount of credit you have available, which will affect your credit score. Keep in mind that all credit inquiries for home loans made within a couple of weeks of one another will only count as one inquiry, so if you're shopping around with several lenders, be sure to submit all your applications at around the same time.

Each time you apply for credit, the credit check is rated as a "hard inquiry" on your credit, and will cause your credit score to temporarily dip. Closing old accounts can also have a negative impact – even if you aren't using them, closing them reduces the amount of credit you have available, which will affect your credit score. Keep in mind that all credit inquiries for home loans made within a couple of weeks of one another will only count as one inquiry, so if you're shopping around with several lenders, be sure to submit all your applications at around the same time.

Pre-qualification allows you to go through the application process before you start shopping for a home; the advantages include knowing how much you can spend, loan type and an idea of what interest rate you qualify for before you start looking around. In addition, pre-qualification demonstrates to sellers that you're a serious buyer and that you won't be rejected for a mortgage – which means they might be willing to accept a lower offer, knowing that it's a sure thing. Once you do find the home you want and have an accepted offer, all you have to do is provide the lender with the address and details of the offer, and the mortgage process can move forward.

Bank of England Mortgage is always happy to educate homebuyers and answer any question. We'll help you gain an understanding of the mortgage process so you can make the best choices for your home financing goals.

Are you hunting for the perfect mortgage lender? One to help you move into that long-anticipated dream home or provide the best refinance option for your current dream home? Be cautious… Exercising caution to make sure you find an agreeable lender is a vital step in realizing your dream. It can make a world of difference when the long term payments set in. Taking time to find the right professional will make sure getting what you need assures smooth and thorough service. Lenders that pride themselves on excellent customer service can reduce the stress of home financing.


The best mortgage professionals take pride in guiding you through what could be a confusing process. They are knowledgeable about their loan products, willing to spend as much time as possible to explaining in detail, and have your financial goals in mind. It pays to do advance research on loan options before you meet with a mortgage lender. Doing your homework and equipping yourself with some basic knowledge about the home financing process is important. This will help in making a sound assessment about a mortgage lender's skills, abilities and honesty, while boosting your confidence.

Buying a home is intimidating on a number of levels. The mountain of forms, declarations and even financial terminology can be daunting to inexperienced homebuyers. It's always smart to exercise care during the home-buying process. Understand what you are signing and any obligations you are assuming. A signature is a permanent commitment. Some buyers may have a very short time to back out. Otherwise, they are liable for what's in the document. Even if you back out during that short period, you will likely forfeit deposits because you broke the contract. Extra costs can be avoided if you take time when signing all agreements, ask questions and understand the answers. If a lender is rushing you through paperwork and pressuring you to sign the form, he or she is not doing their job properly.

The best mortgage lenders will focus on understanding your long-range financial goals. They will ask you how long you intend to remain in your home. Your answers will help in discovering the best mortgage products to suit your needs.

Seeking out a mortgage lender in your community is the best option. Interest rates vary on a daily basis. A local lender will know the rapid changes happening in the community's housing market. They will understand how these changes may affect you. Local lenders can monitor your loan application closely, and will be more accessible to answer any questions you may have.

Ask your friends and family about their experience with mortgage lenders. They may be comfortable recommending the same professionals they used for their home loans. Word-of-mouth is often the best way to identify quality professionals in your area. Once you have a list of possibilities, verify their backgrounds so you can will confident in their ability to help you.

We hope you have gained some valuable and useful information from this article. Bank of England Mortgage would be honored to be a part of your home financing journey. Rates are showing a lowering trend, so now may be a great time to purchase or refinance. Give your local team a call, they're excited to answer all your questions.

While moving, and having a new home to make your own is exciting, it can also bring a little more stress than anticipated. But there are ways to survive the process without pulling your hair. Here are manageable tips that will lower your stress before, during and after you've boxed up your whole life and moved into your new abode.


Create a moving tasks calendar and to do list. Get organized! When you move homes, you inevitably end up having 600 different things to do and remember. Don't let all these tasks and important reminders, no matter how seemingly obvious, slip your mind.

Don't hoard unnecessary things to your new home. Get rid of it! While it could sometimes be a tough decision to make on what to hold on to or toss, it will be such a stress reliever when it comes time to unpack and you've already sorted through the clutter beforehand.

Don't wait until the last minute and throw anything you can get your hands on in random boxes. Plan and take the time to pack like items together, so that when you are ready to unpack you can put things in their place quickly and easily. You don't want to find yourself digging through a box of kitchen items and find toiletries.

Set stuff aside if you have the time flexibility to sell items you no longer want. Have a garage sale, post on Craig's list, local Facebook selling page.

Avoid confusion for yourself and those that are helping unload by labeling boxes accordingly. Not only should you label by room, but labeling the boxes by content makes it much easier as well.

Schedule a free donation pickup. Save yourself the trip and make the call, while helping others!

Change your address a week before you move. This is one of those things everyone forgets to do until they're two weeks into life in a new home and they realize their Amazon Prime shipment still hasn't arrived. Change your address ahead of time so your bills, credit card statements, and packages can arrive on time and without hassle.

If you are hiring movers, do so at least a month in advance. If you are flexible on your moving day, then you could get a lower cost for weekday moving.

It will be an added expense but renting a moving truck helps a lot with the process. Even if you are only moving across town, it's simpler to load a truck and move everything at one time.

When loading the moving truck, do so by grouping the boxes by room. Obviously, there will be some items that need to go in certain spots – like all the heavy items being along the walls so that you can tie them down. Trust, you will be so glad you didn't skip over this tip!

Good luck with your exciting new move, we at BOE Mortgage wish you all the success for a stress-free move!

Years ago, everyone knew the answer to this question, or thought they did. Owning a home was considered one of the cornerstones of the American Dream. Then we had the housing crash, and a slew of articles advising that buying a home was a scary bet. Over the last several years, that advice has become more mixed, leaving some consumers confused about whether buying a home makes financial sense.


Home ownership is not a one-size-fits-all proposition; the decision to buy is a personal one that hinges on the circumstances of your life, where you live, and how long you plan to stay in one place. Most consumers have by now heard that it doesn't make sense to buy if you plan on staying in the home for less than three to five years; because most of the early payments on a mortgage goes to paying down interest and closing costs on a mortgage can be substantial, a few years isn't enough time to accumulate equity to offset the closing costs. For short-term living situations, renting may be the better option.

Beyond this, the situation gets a little murkier. Don't plan on making a big profit by buying a home and selling it one day. Owning a home can still be a good investment, but you shouldn't expect the value of the home to increase more than the rate of inflation. Over the long term, home values have always tracked pretty closely to the inflation rate; we aren't likely during our lifetimes to see another bubble market with skyrocketing values like we saw in the 2000s, and we probably don't want to see that again, considering the aftermath of the last one. While there are several housing markets in the country where home values continue to outpace inflation, they are in large urban centers such as New York and Los Angeles; the factors in play in those markets do not apply to central Arkansas or most of the rest of the country. Outside of booming urban markets, buyers should expect home values to continue to track pretty closely with inflation.

Purchasing a home can still be a wise investment, especially if you plan to remain in one place for 10 years or longer. In areas where home values are increasing and the cost of renting is close to the cost of a monthly mortgage payment, purchasing a home makes sense. A home purchased with a fixed-rate mortgage represents a known housing cost; rents can and will increase over the course of 10 years. In addition, over that period of time, a homebuyer will build up a substantial amount of equity; if they had rented instead, they would be walking away empty-handed.

The answer, then, is that purchasing a home is still a good bet – if you plan to remain in one place for more than five years, if you buy into an area with increasing values, if the costs of rent are close to the cost of a monthly mortgage payment, and if you're prepared to shoulder the maintenance responsibilities that come with home ownership. Owning a home provides accomplishment and there is no other feeling than that of laying down roots and providing stability. A home isn't just a place to keep warm and dry, it's the place where memories are created that last a lifetime. Bank of England Mortgage is always happy to help educate homebuyers. We'll help you gain an understanding of the mortgage process so you can make the best choices for your home financing goals. If you're ready to take the home buying plunge, locate your local branch and give us a call!

While pre-qualification allows buyers to know how much they are qualified to borrow for a new home before they start shopping, and it can speed up the mortgage application process once they find a home they like, prospective homebuyers need to keep in mind that pre-qualification is not final approval. Events and decisions affecting a borrower's financial profile that occur after pre-qualification but prior to closing can determine whether or not the loan is ultimately approved.

Especially now, as the mortgage industry adjusts to new financial regulations, it is more important than ever to ensure that the financing of your new home goes smoothly; thanks to the time constraints of the new regulations, even minor bumps can really slow down the process. Following the tips below will make the process go more quickly and smoothly, help to prevent unpleasant surprises, and reduce the stress of the approval process.



  • Make mortgage or rent payments on time.
  • Pay all bills on time.
  • Stay with the same employer.
  • Stay with the same insurer.
  • Continue living at your current residence.
  • Keep credit card balances at or below 40% of credit limits.
  • Call your lender before doing anything regarding your employment, credit cards or assets.
  • Ask your agent or seller if the property is in a flood zone as you may be required to obtain flood insurance.
  • Notify your lender of any changes to the sales contract (closing date, sales price, etc.)
  • Provide a copy of both sides of your earnest money check after it has cleared your bank, along with a bank statement reflecting the withdrawal.
  • Promptly provide legible copies of all pages of each document requested by your lender throughout the mortgage process.
  • Provide your lender with contact information from your homeowner's insurance agent.
  • Communicate openly and honestly.


  • Make any major purchases (car, boat, etc.).
  • Take out any large cash advances.
  • Apply for new credit cards or loans of any kind.
  • Pay off any collections or charge-offs before consulting your lender.
  • Bounce any checks or overdraft any accounts.
  • Change bank accounts or banks unless advised by the lender.
  • Consolidate your debt into fewer accounts.
  • Start any home improvement projects.
  • Deposit cash or non-traceable funds.
  • Close credit card accounts.
  • Borrow money.
  • Transfer checking or savings balances from one account to another.
  • Max out or overcharge existing cards.
  • Quit or change jobs.
  • Do anything that might raise red flags for the underwriter (co-signing on another person's loan, changing your name and address, etc.).
  • Plan a vacation during your loan transaction without informing your loan officer.
  • Give notice to your landlord before consulting your loan officer.
  • Take it personally if you're requested to provide additional information about your income or deposits. All information will remain completely confidential.
  • Hesitate to contact your lender with any questions throughout the process. They are there to help!

Bank of England Mortgage is always happy to help educate homebuyers. We'll help you gain an understanding of the mortgage process so you can make the best choices for your home financing goals.

Today's market is very competitive, so making a good first impression is crucial. Home staging is the act of making a home look visually appealing to buyers. There are ways to highlight your homes qualities, de-emphasize its shortcomings and engage potential buyers.

Home stagers will make selling your home a lot less stressful. They have an eye for home appeal and can transform it into a welcoming, attractive product that anyone might want and will perceive as a much higher value.


Staging your home yourself or having a professional home stager do the work for you depends on your budget. Either way, the first impression is imperative.

Homeowners, reluctant to spend the money or admit that their decorating choices might not be catnip to buyers, are often loath to pay strangers to impose their tastes on their premises. Home staging has evolved over the past decade. Today, stagers are increasingly tackling all-out transformations in some cases that translate to a much higher selling price and even bidding wars. So if you are thinking of putting your home on the market, consider home staging.

    Home Staging Tips

  • Be Creative with Color, often when it's time to sell, some aspects of a home can be dated due to its color. Finding the best color combo to make it look fresh can be really eye catching to a buyer, so don't be afraid to use it creatively.
  • De-clutter everything but the bare bone essentials should be removed or thrown out
  • Less is More… select your best pieces of furniture and rearrange them.
  • Let Light In, good lighting accentuates the best qualities of your home and illuminating essential areas.
  • Bring The Outdoors in. There's nothing like a fresh healthy plant. Decorating with greenery will add charm and beauty to your home.
  • Make an Entrance by making the entrance feel welcoming, you honor all who enter. Make it count!

    Benefits of Staging (Yourself and Professionally)

  • You will make a profit. The cost of professionally staging your home should be included in the sales price. If staged professionally, more often than not, the home is sold at asking price or very close to.
  • Your home will sellmuch quicker. On average, well-staged homes sell faster for more money.
  • Selling "as is" in any market doesn't work well. It's always a buyer's market, so give them what they want. Successful agents know that the key to selling competitively is professional staging.
  • Most homebuyers can't see their home unbiasedly. When you create a feeling buyers are looking for and get them emotionally involved with your home, they are more likely to buy your home
  • You can unwind. You will have the fulfillment of knowing you have done everything conceivable to affect a quick sale of your most valuable commodity and for as much as possible!

For the first-time home buyer, mortgages come with a seemingly incomprehensible flood of numbers. Even seasoned home buyers can find themselves confused; between interest rates, credit scores, and down payment percentages, there are a lot of numbers to juggle. To help sort through the confusion, the following are the numbers you most need to understand in order to make a sound financial decision.

25% - the number of first-time buyers who report being completely in the dark about the mortgage process.

It's important to understand the process, because not knowing can cost you big. Working with a lender who's willing to take the time to walk you through the process and answer your questions can help you make the right decision.

77% - the percentage of borrowers who only apply to one lender.

Big mistake - not shopping around can cost you. You shop around for other big purchases, and you should do some shopping around for your mortgage as well, since it's likely to be one of the biggest purchases you'll ever make. Get estimates from several lenders and study the terms closely before deciding which lender offers you the best deal. The lender that communicates and explains the answers to your questions, typically, will be more efficient through the process. Also, trust your intuition!

740 – the credit score that will qualify you for the best interest rates on mortgages.

Having a lower score won't shut you out from buying a home, there are many programs for borrowers with all kinds of situations. Don't count yourself out, a good lender knows what options you have and will help you get the loan that best fits your needs.

Prospective lenders will pull your credit score as part of the loan application process, but if you'd like to know your score before you start shopping around, you can get a free copy of your credit report from many online credit reporting companies.

20% - cash down payment required for a conventional loan.

Don't have 20% to pay down, there are loan programs that require much less, some even offer 0% down payment. Find a lender that offers a multitude of programs.

60% - number of homebuyers who used retirement savings to make down payments in 2015.

Just because a lot of people are doing it, it doesn't mean it's a good idea. Before you dip into your 401(k) or IRA for a mortgage down payment, consider the tax implications. Consult your certified public accountant for advice.

13 – the average number of year's home buyers stay in their homes.

The amount of time you plan to remain in your home makes a big difference in what type of mortgage will work best for you. If you're in a job where you move every few years, you may decide that lower rates offered on ARMs (adjustable-rate mortgages) makes sense. On the other hand, if you plan on staying in the same place indefinitely and need the assurance of a predictable monthly payment, you'll probably want to take advantage of today's historically low mortgage interest rates by locking in at a fixed rate for 15 – 30 years.

40% - number of seniors 65 and older who carry a mortgage.

If your goal is to be mortgage-free in retirement, you will want to select a loan with a shorter term, so it will be paid off before you reach retirement.

Bank of England Mortgage is always happy to help educate homebuyers. We'll help you gain an understanding of the mortgage process so you can make the best choices for your home financing goals.


Everyone enjoys being a part of a holiday party, especially one that is well put together. Great music, appetizing food, and enjoying the company of family and friends. It takes patience, planning, and thought to throw a successful party. To make the most of your holiday party, skip the unnecessary plans and focus on the things that are most important. The Do's.

Although, everyone on your guest list won't be able to attend the party, you want to aim for a non-conflicting date for most of your prospective guests. It becomes more difficult for friends and family to attend the closer it gets to the holiday. Try setting a pressure free date.

Choose the colors or theme of the party to match the invitations. There are so many options, which may make it harder to choose, but be sure to stick with the same color or theme throughout. If you're planning a fancier party, paper invitations are almost a must. It helps set the tone for your event. Online invitations are fine if the event is more casual.

Determine how many people you are inviting to decide whether you will need the services of a caterer, a personal chef, or if you can manage preparing the food on your own. Be careful though, if you are choosing to handle the cooking, that you are not spending more time in the kitchen than you are with your guests.

Note on the invitation what type of food you will be serving. Whether it be heavy appetizers, sit-down dinner, dessert and drinks, or a potluck. Tailor the start time of your party to the type of food you will be serving.

Don't be afraid to ask for help. Friends and family always want to know how they can be helpful. Have them bring an appetizer, drink, dessert or whatever you're needing to the party.

Lastly, have entertainment that will interest your guest, like party games and a music playlist.


New information demonstrates that prospective buyers could save money by purchasing a home in the late fall and winter over the late spring. Information for the 50 most crowded metro areas in the United States over two years uncovers that home costs topped during summer and dunked in fall and winter, implying that buyers could save thousands. As fall nears, listing values somewhat fall. There are local changes as well. For instance, the biggest drop amongst summer and fall was in the Hartford-West Hartford-East region of Hartford, Connecticut.'s chief economist, Jonathan Smoke, said, "If your circumstances give you the freedom to be able to choose the best time to look to sign a contract on a new home, there's no question that the market dynamics favor you the most to do that in the dead of winter..."

So, When's the Best Time to Buy a New Home?

Everybody realizes that spring is the best time to purchase or offer a house? The weather is nicer, there are more buyers, and kids are nearing the school year end. It's easily the busiest time in the real estate year.

Land and home building specialists say that an accentuation on the spring home purchasing season has its roots in practical reasons and in some enduring misperceptions about the marketplace.

One things for sure, in spring, individuals who have been cooped up over the winter are prepared to bust free, get out and test the daylight. Also, for some, a potential address change around then fits pleasantly with the school calendar.

Reconsidering the Seasons

Many real estate brokers recommended that the best time to offer their property for sale is in the fall or winter.

"True, in fall and winter, you have less inventory out there, fewer homes to look at. But people who are buying a home in fall or winter, those are serious buyers." Said recently by a real estate broker in Huntsville, Alabama.

It may feel good to have 35 people come through your open house in May, of which most are less than serious buyers. It deems more favorable and less time consuming on everyone's part to have a couple people with their agents come through in December that are ready to buy and serious about it.

What's Your Moving Timetable?

One approach to set an individual real estate timetable is to choose when you need to be in (or out of) a house, and work in reverse from that point. The time it takes from contract to closing table can differ regionally, but agents recommend that a month is sensible. For most homebuyers the entire process from finding a home to backing up the moving truck is 2-3 months.

For sellers, it will rely on local market situations and value, both of which have experienced a change in numerous areas since the first of the year.

In the event that you expect to move into a recently constructed home, planning backward from a move-in date is even more critical. Builders Offer Both Built-from-Scratch and Quick Move-In Homes. You have a few timelines to consider. If you're buying a quick move-in or "spec" home – a home that is built on speculation– the time from contract to move-in might fit that one-month (or slightly longer) span.

If you're outlining and building a home starting with no outside help with a production or large volume manufacturer it could take 4-6 months. It may take longer if building a new home from scratch with a smaller or custom builder.

Real Estate Agent Advice for Buying and Selling in the Winter

You may have doubts about being one of those house seekers conquering the rain, hail or snow to locate your ideal home in the winter months. But, as these tips from two experienced real estate agents will say, winter real estate is full of possibilities.

"Buyers who are house hunting in the winter ought to keep their inquiry going, paying little mind to the season", states a realtor in the industry for over 26 years, "…a home that meets their optimal criteria and at the right cost can appear available whenever."

Advice from one realtor, suggests a few things to help close a deal more quickly. "Have an agent who can keep you educated of any present and more up to date listings as a seller. A skilled real estate agent can charm and wow a winter buyer over the competition in any season." "Concentrate on getting your funding in order so that you can submit aggressive offers."

Oftentimes, the down payment isn't the biggest concern for sellers. It's more about the financing type, short inspection periods, short closing periods, and if you can give the seller time to stay in the home after closing if they need it."