Know Your Options During the Pandemic!

In uncertain times, there is hope and resources to make it through.

During the recent times of an outbreak that we haven’t experienced in our country, there are many people who are experiencing losses. New Avenue Realty is here to help guide those who will need assistance during this time. If your daily living has been affected in terms of income loss, here are options to get ahead of things.

Mortgage help needs

Contact your mortgage servicer (current company you pay your mortgage payments to) ASAP to know what options are. Below are a list of help currently being offered :

Fannie Mae Backed Loans

If coronavirus has caused job loss, income reduction, sickness, or other issues that impact your ability to make your monthly mortgage payment, relief options are available.

  • Homeowners impacted by this national emergency are eligible for a forbearance plan to reduce or suspend their mortgage payments for up to 12 months
  • Homeowners in a forbearance plan will not incur late fees
  • Credit bureau reporting of past due payments of borrowers in a forbearance plan as a result of hardships attributable to this national emergency is suspended
  • After forbearance, a servicer must work with the borrower on a permanent workout option to help maintain or reduce monthly payment amounts as necessary, including a loan modification
  • Foreclosure sales and evictions of borrowers are suspended for 60 days

Check to see if you have a Fannie Mae backed loan.

Freddie Mac is issuing a very similar policy during this time as well.

We are taking action to help make sure homeowners with Freddie Mac-owned mortgages who are directly or indirectly impacted by COVID–19 are able to stay in their homes during this challenging time. This includes offering the following mortgage relief options for those who are unable to make their mortgage payments due to a decline in income:

  • Providing mortgage forbearance for up to 12 months,
  • Waiving assessments of penalties and late fees,
  • Halting all foreclosure sales and evictions of borrowers living in Freddie Mac-owned homes until at least May 17, 2020,
  • Suspending reporting to credit bureaus of delinquency related to forbearance,
  • Offering loan modification options that lower payments or keep payments the same after the forbearance period.

Check to see if you have a Freddie Mac backed loan. There is help for those who have conventional borrowed loans for investment properties too. Your tenants may be affected and their late rent may cause a negative factor for your mortgage on the home.

FHA Backed Loans

If you have a FHA backed loan, the options above are geared more to conventional loan borrowers, here is information obtained on the HUD website to help assist:

The guidance issued today applies to homeowners with FHA-insured Title II Single Family forward and Home Equity Conversion (reverse) mortgages, and directs mortgage servicers to:

  • Halt all new foreclosure actions and suspend all foreclosure actions currently in process; and
  • Cease all evictions of persons from FHA-insured single-family properties.

“This is an uncertain time for many Americans, particularly those who could experience a loss of income. As such, we want to provide FHA borrower households with some immediate relief given the current circumstances,” said Federal Housing Commissioner Brian Montgomery. “Our actions today make it clear where the priority needs to be.”

FHA continues to encourage servicers to offer its suite of loss mitigation options to distressed borrowers – including those that could be impacted by the Coronavirus – to help prevent them from going into foreclosure. These include short and long-term forbearance options, mortgage modifications, and other mortgage payment relief options available based on the borrower’s individual circumstances.

Now is the time to be on the phones and contact your loan servicers if you’ve been affected by COVID-19. Check options to hold mortgage payments or even refinance your loan home. There are options and it is best to get ahead of it than to wait.

For refinance options, check out Keller Mortgage. Save on origination fees and even receive a $1000 credit on closing.

Nationwide banks are also stepping in to offer some assistance to waive fees for those affected by COVID-19. If you bank with a local bank as I do, check their website to see how they are helping those with financial difficulty during COVID-19 outbreak.

List of Banks Offering Assistance

Unemployment

If you’ve had a loss of income and are suddenly unemployed, here is information from the State of Texas to help you during this time as well.

According to their website, If your employment has been affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19), apply for benefits either online at any time using Unemployment Benefits Services or by calling TWC’s Tele-Center at 800-939-6631 from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Central Time Monday through Friday.

Renters

If you are currently renting an apartment or home, there are resources for you as well from the Texas Apartment Association.

  1. Contact your property manager. The most important thing that you can do is communicate your situation with your Property Manager. Providing documentation from an employer or other documentation that shows how you have been impacted by this crisis will improve your chances for getting the help you need.
    Ignoring notices and requests to contact your Property Manager is not advised. Frequent and timely communication is the best course of action. The Texas Apartment Association has encouraged rental property owners to waive late fees and set up
    payment arrangements for residents impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. Please remember that they can’t help you if you do not communicate your situation with them. When court proceedings resume you will still owe any amounts due and may be subject to eviction; therefore, trying to work with your property to make payment arrangements is your best course of action.

Check out more resources here for renters in apartments.

Wifi Services

Frisco ISD is offering WiFi drive up services for those who need access to Wifi at this time.

The District has installed additional wireless access points in 14 schools to expand the wifi signal to driveways and parking lots. 

District-owned devices will automatically hook up to the “Frisco-ISD” wifi but personal devices can find “FriscoISD-Guest” as a new, expanded option. Students can reference this set of instructions for additional information or reach out to their campus digital learning coach.

This drive-up approach allows families to access wifi 24/7 from the comfort of their vehicle if their wireless should go out at home. The wireless can reach out to the front driveway of the campus, including that parking lot unless otherwise noted. Find locations on the website.

Meals

Local school districts are providing meals (some are even delivering them on bus routes to communities) to students Monday-Friday to help students and families with meals.

Denton ISD

Frisco ISD

Little Elm ISD

Aubrey ISD

Prosper ISD

Prosper ISD food services will offer grab and go lunch pickup at Baker, Furr, Rucker, and Windsong Elementary campuses Monday – Friday from 11:00 am – 12:30pm beginning Wednesday, March 18th for the duration of the district facilities closure. Parents may drive through the front car loop to pick up meals from a staff member for their children. Please remain in your car if coming to pick up meals to help us continue the practice of social distancing. Meals will be provided in the same location for anyone walking up. In addition, many of our local community organizations have stepped up to provide food to those in need.

Here are a list of nearby food pantries in the North Texas too:

Minnie’s Food Pantry

North Texas Food Bank

Neighbors Nourishing Neighbors

Frisco Family Services Food Pantry

Little Elm Area Food Bank

Denton Community Food Center

As Texans, we will make it through this pandemic. Here is the time to get to know what options we have and help a fellow neighbor or two. The pandemic is new to everyone and with everyone doing their part with stay at home orders, essential workers (praise to our healthcare workers and others) making sure we have some sort of normalcy. We will push through and in due time, this too shall pass.

If you have any questions or need more information on which direction to go, feel free to contact me at 972-813-9788 or atfowler@kw.com. If you know of an assistance program I can add to the list, email me to add to the list.

Texans can call 2-1-1 and select option 6 for questions about symptoms, travel concerns, unemployment insurance, emergency food assistance, city and state orders, and more.

Quarantine DIY Projects: Guest Bedroom Brushstroke Accent Wall

Ever since I’ve finished my investment property, my Sundays have been freed to do some work at my personal home. Now with a shelter-in-place order from the counties in North Texas, I found myself completing home tasks. Prior to the quarantine orders, I figured we would be in so I went to purchase tools to do some projects.

I’ve been wanting to redo my guest bedroom that I have coined “parents’ room”. It was my most dull room with no excitement. Well, my builder, HistoryMaker Homes, has an amazing DIY project gallery. I saw one or more that I loved and felt up to the challenge.

This is what I was hoping to achieve.
The beginning.
Change of heart. I was over it.

Then suddenly it hit me. I like to freestyle when doing things like this. Why not freestyle this wall with brush strokes? It is free form. No perfection (that was my problem with the designs) needed. Simple as simple can be.

I took one more direction from the HistoryMaker DIY gallery except for trim pieces, I have my paint brush.

This was my inspiration. I can do this. Simple.

That’s what I did and within no time, I had an accent wall in my guest bedroom.

This was very therapeutic in today’s time.
I wanted something simple for this bedroom but not overwhelming. I love how simple this accent is. I may even add some art work above the bed.

As of now, the Texas governor hasn’t issued a lockdown for Texas. He is leaving it up to local officials. My county isn’t on lockdown but I’ve been working from home for a week now without going out much.

However, I’m sure I’ll have time to tackle a lot of projects.

Below are instructions for doing a brush stroke accent wall in your home. I’ve attached some other inspirations.

MATERIALS

Take some paper or small canva and test out brush strokes. I used the Sure Swatch to test different strokes for the look I wanted and decided which brush stroke I liked the most. I purchased four from The Home Depot. I ended up using the ALL 2″ Flat Brush. Check out more examples of this simple and easy project.

DIY Brushstroke Accent Wall
Nursery Brushstroke
More brush looks
Kitchen Brush Stroke

Interest Rates & Monthy Housing Payments

Spring is right around the corner, so flowers are starting to bloom, and many potential homebuyers are getting ready to step into the market. If you’re thinking of buying this season, here’s how mortgage interest rates are working in your favor.

Freddie Mac explains:

If you’re in the market to buy a home, today’s average mortgage rates are something to celebrate compared to almost any year since 1971…

Mortgage rates change frequently. Over the last 45 years, they have ranged from a high of 18.63% (1981) to a low of 3.31% (2012). While it’s not likely that the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate will return to its record low, the current average rate of 3.45% is pretty close — all to your advantage.”

How Interest Rates Can Impact Your Monthly Housing Payments | Keeping Current Matters

To put this in perspective, the following chart from the same article shows how average mortgage rates by decade have impacted the approximate monthly payment of a $200,000 home over time:Clearly, when rates are low – like they are today – qualified buyers can benefit significantly over time.

Keep in mind, if interest rates go up, this can push many potential homebuyers out of the market. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) notes:

“Prospective home buyers are also adversely affected when interest rates rise. NAHB’s priced-out estimates show that, depending on the starting rate, a quarter-point increase in the rate of 3.75% on a 30-year fixed rate mortgage can price over 1.3 million U.S. households out of the market for the median-priced new home.”

Bottom Line

You certainly don’t want to be priced out of the market this year, and waiting may mean a significant change in your potential mortgage payment should rates start to rise. If your financial situation allows, now may be a great time to lock in at a low mortgage rate to benefit greatly over the lifetime of your loan.

Could You Use Some Savings on Your Mortgage?

Are you spending more than you have to?

Rates are low which is great for buyers who want more house without the extra payment OR who want the house without the extra interest. 🤷🏾‍♀️ Everyone’s situation is different.

You know who else the rates are low are great for? Current homeowners. Seriously, as a homeowner, you have to stay on top on where you could be saving money. You can refinance your mortgage loan to save money on your principal and interest.


If you purchased a year or many moons ago, check your interest rates. Rates are hovering in the 3% range. This time last year, rates were in the mid 4s and December 2018/early January 2019, rates were in the 5%. What could you do with extra money in your pocket?

Do you have a good amount of equity because you purchased at least 3 years ago? Maybe instead of a rate and term refinance, you consider a cash out refinance? What could you do with X amount of money? Buy that investment property? Rent out your house and buy your next home to start building your portfolio. Pay bills. Etc.

Make it an annual thing to check where you could be saving money. Mortgage rates are low. Check for your savings for BUYERS AND CURRENT homeowners. If you need a list of lenders, send me a DM and I’ll connect you.

Homeowner Tool Kit! Things You Should Have…

Congratulations! You just purchased your very first home. As you move from your apartment or rental home, you are trying to figure out how to really make this house a home.

Here are a list of trusted tools and products that I’ve used that I absolutely swear by to do some work around my house.

I’m a Home Depot fanatic as well as a #HomeDepotPartner. I’m can spend about as many hours here as I do HomeGoods and Target. Home Depot exclusively carries the Ryobi Tools line. These products are affordable and perfect for DIY projects for homeowners. I find myself in the power tool section just because.

Ryobi Homeowners Starter Kit

This alone is more than enough for any homeowner doing basic work. I love the One Volt Line because you can use the same battery in soooo many products from Ryobi.

Upgrade Kit with the battery charger here:

If you’re a money saving homeowner and like to do your own lawn unlike myself, then this leaf blower would come in extra handy. Spend less time raking and more time enjoy your free weekend.

Electric Jet Blower

If you want cordless to use with the One Volt, you can upgrade to this one.

Ryobi Pressure Washer

This is great for cleaning the exterior of your home and keep that curb appeal sparkling.

Ladder/Step Stool

This is a need. Now the stool is great if you have ceilings 9 feet or below. Anything higher, you can opt for a Little Giant that can change sizes.

Water Hose

A good water hose is needed. Listen, I opted for a $5 hose and let’s just say there was more water on me than the ground.

Paint Brushes

Touch up paint will be needed and you’ll want to be prepared.

Other items needed would be batteries, and light bulbs, and touch up paint! What are so other tools you feel homeowners should have? Let me know below 👇🏽!!!

This post contains affiliate links with Home Depot as a Home Depot Affiliate Partner.

Do You Know About Closing Costs?!

Saving for a down payment is a key step in the homebuying process, and it’s not the only piece you need to include in your budget. Another factor that’s important to plan for is the closing costs required to obtain a mortgage.

What Are Closing Costs?

According to Trulia,

When you close on a home, a number of fees are due. They typically range from 2% to 5% of the total cost of the home, and can include title insurance, origination fees, underwriting fees, document preparation fees, and more.”

For those who buy a $250,000 home, for example, that amount could be between $5,000 and $12,500 in closing fees. Keep in mind, if you’re in the market for a home above this price range, your costs could be significantly greater. As mentioned before,

Closing costs are typically between 2% and 5% of your purchase price.

Trulia gives more great advice, saying,

“There will be lots of paperwork in front of you on closing day, and not enough time to read them all. Work closely with your real estate agent, lender, and attorney, if you have one, to get all the documents you need ahead of time.

The most important thing to read is the closing disclosure, which shows your loan terms, final closing costs, and any outstanding fees. You’ll get this form about three days before closing since, once you (the borrower) sign it, there’s a three-day waiting period before you can sign the mortgage loan docs. If you have any questions about the numbers or what any of the mortgage terms mean, this is the time to ask—your real estate agent is a great resource for getting you all the answers you need.”

Bottom Line

Be sure your plan includes budgeting for what you need to purchase your dream home – without any surprises!

Taking the Fear Out of the Mortgage Process

A considerable number of potential buyers shy away from the real estate market because they’re uncertain about the buying process – particularly when it comes to qualifying for a mortgage.

For many, the mortgage process can be scary, but it doesn’t have to be!

In order to qualify in today’s market, you’ll need a down payment (the average down payment on all loans last year was 5%, with many buyers putting down 3% or less), a stable income, and a good credit history.

Once you’re ready to apply, here are 5 easy steps Freddie Mac suggests to follow:

  1. Find out your current credit history and credit score– Even if you don’t have perfect credit, you may already qualify for a loan. The average FICO Score® for all closed loans in September was 737, according to Ellie Mae.
  2. Start gathering all of your documentation– This includes income verification (such as W-2 forms or tax returns), credit history, and assets (such as bank statements to verify your savings).
  3. Contact a professional– Your real estate agent will be able to recommend a loan officer who can help you develop a spending plan, as well as help you determine how much home you can afford.
  4. Consult with your lender– He or she will review your income, expenses, and financial goals in order to determine the type and amount of mortgage you qualify for.
  5. Talk to your lender about pre-approval– A pre-approval letter provides an estimate of what you might be able to borrow (provided your financial status doesn’t change) and demonstrates to home sellers that you’re serious about buying.

Bottom Line

Do your research, reach out to professionals, stick to your budget, and be sure you’re ready to take on the financial responsibilities of becoming a homeowner.

Book an appointment with #NewAveRealty at atfowlerrealtor.appointy.com.

Spectacular Backyard Views in Arrowbrooke

One of my favorite neighborhoods off the 380 Corridor in Denton County is the Arrowbrooke community. This outdoor centered neighborhood makes it easy to enjoy nature and meet neighbors out hiking, biking, hitting the trails, or fishing at one of the many fishing ponds in the neighborhood.The latest home available in the neighborhood gives you all of that just steps from your front door.Stunning Arrowbrooke Home in Aubrey with spectacular backyard views features 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms,2.5 car garage. This fairly new home has 1.5 stories that feature an open floor plan, separate study, bright windows, spacious bedrooms, & wood look tile floors. The kitchen comes equipped w granite countertops, stainless steel appliances & wooden cabinets with crown molding. The second-floor ventures into a private suite space with a Gameroom, spacious bedroom, a full bath. Entertain in style & enjoy nature w the extended patio & pond views in this outdoor living centered neighborhood. This home comes with the remaining 2 & 10-year builder warranties.View more on this home at bit.ly/2104BrokenArrow. Schedule an appointment to view at atfowlerrealtor.appointy.com.

5 Tips for Starting Your Home Search

In today’s market, inventory dominates depending on what your price point is. Below $220K in DFW and it can be a struggle to find something. This can often be frustrating to be a first-time homebuyer if you aren’t prepared. Here are five tips from realtor.com’s article, “How to Find Your Dream Home—Without Losing Your Mind.”

1. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage Before You Start Your Search

One way to show you’re serious about buying your dream home is to get pre-qualified or pre-approved for a mortgage. Even if you’re in a market that is not as competitive, understanding your budget will give you the confidence of knowing whether or not your dream home is within your reach. This will help you avoid the disappointment of falling in love with a home well outside your price range.

2. Know the Difference Between Your ‘Must-Haves’ and ‘Would-Like-To-Haves’

Do you really need that farmhouse sink in the kitchen to be happy with your home choice? Would a two-car garage be a convenience or a necessity? Before you start your search, list all the features of a home you would like. Qualify them as ‘must-haves’, ‘should-haves’, or ‘absolute-wish list’ items. This will help you stay focused on what’s most important.

3. Research and Choose a Neighborhood Where You Want to Live

Every neighborhood has unique charm. Before you commit to a home based solely on the house itself, take a test-drive of the area. Make sure it meets your needs for “amenities, commute, school district, etc. and then spend a weekend exploring before you commit.”

4. Pick a House Style You Love and Stick to It

Evaluate your family’s needs and settle on a style of home that will best serve those needs. Just because you’ve narrowed your search to a zip code doesn’t mean you need to tour every listing in that vicinity. An example from the article says, “if you have several younger kids and don’t want your bedroom on a different level, steer clear of Cape Cod–style homes, which typically feature two or more bedrooms on the upper level and the master on the main.”

5. Document Your Home Visits

Once you start touring homes, the features of each individual home will start to blur together. The article suggests keeping your camera handy and making notes on the listing sheet to document what you love and don’t love about each property you visit.

Bottom Line

In a high-paced, competitive environment, any advantage you can give yourself will help you on your path to buying your dream home.

Start with a consultation with New Avenue Realty at atfowlerrealtor.appointy.com.

Source: Keeping Current Matters

How Property Taxes Can Affect Your Mortgage Payment

When buying a home, taxes are one of the expenses that can make a significant difference in your monthly payment. Do you know how much you might pay for property taxes in your state or local area?

When applying for a mortgage, you’ll see one of two acronyms in your paperwork – P&I or PITI – depending on how you’re including your taxes in your mortgage payment.

P&I stands for Principal and Interest, and both are parts of your monthly mortgage payment that go toward paying off the loan you borrow. PITI stands for Principal, Interest, Taxes, and Insurance, and they’re all important factors to calculate when you want to determine exactly what the cost of your new home will be.

TaxRates.org defines property taxes as,

“A municipal tax levied by counties, cities, or special tax districts on most types of real estate – including homes, businesses, and parcels of land. The amount of property tax owed depends on the appraised fair market value of the property, as determined by the property tax assessor.”

This organization also provides a map showing annual property taxes by state (including the District of Columbia), from lowest to highest, as a percentage of median home value.

How Property Taxes Can Impact Your Mortgage Payment | Keeping Current Matters
The top 5 states with the highest median property taxes are New Jersey, New Hampshire, Texas, Nebraska, and Wisconsin. The states with the lowest median property taxes are Louisiana, Hawaii, Alabama, and Delaware, followed by the District of Columbia.

In Texas, we do not have states taxes which helps to pay for local services. Instead, the local municipalities are paid through property taxes. In your tax portion, you’ll notice taxing entities such as the city (“quasi city if you live in a MUD), county, school district, and any other county additions. For instance, Dallas County residents have Parkland Hospital and Dallas County Community College as additional tax entities.

Bottom Line

Depending on where you live, property taxes can have a big impact on your monthly payment. To make sure your estimated taxes will fall within your desired budget, chat with my real estate group at New Avenue Realty Group at Keller Williams today to find out how the neighborhood or area you choose can make a difference in your overall costs when buying a home.

📞 972-813-9788

📧 info@newavenuerealty.com

📆 atfowlerrealtor.appointy.com