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By Gina Tufano | Agent in Sterling, VA
  • Homeownership Part II

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Loudoun County, Financing in Loudoun County, Home Ownership in Loudoun County  |  December 9, 2013 10:12 AM  |  397 views  |  No comments
    Ask Gina & Company's Social Media Maven, Sarah, posts the second part in her series regarding homeownership to our Ask Gina blog. Read the post about mortages and finding out what option works best for you, which follows having your credit checked. If you have any questions, please call us at (703)574-3478.

  • How you can obtain some extra cash for your dream home! * Ashburn KW

    Posted Under: Home Buying, Financing  |  August 28, 2013 8:40 AM  |  728 views  |  No comments

    Found the perfect home but need some extra cash to make it yours? This article from Sean Glennon with Home Savings & Trust Mortgage has some fantastic tips for receiving funds to help you pay the down payment! We at Ask Gina & Company want to make sure you know the proper steps for so you run into no problems when buying a house!

    Receiving a cash downpayment gift on the purchase of your next home?  The tight U.S. economy plus a proliferation of first-time buyers has anecdotally increased the number of mortgage applicants using cash gifts from family and friends for purposes of a home downpayment.

    If you're among today's home buyers using a cash gift for downpayment, though, you'll want to make sure that you "accept your gift" properly. Do it improperly and your lender is likely to reject your loan in underwriting.

    Be sure to follow the rules of cash gifting.

    "Downpayment Gifts" In Demand Among Home Buyers

    Among the largest drivers for today's gifts of equity is the want of U.S. home buyers to make a 20% downpayment. With a 20% downpayment, home buyers often find themselves eligible for the best mortgage rates available from their bank; and with 20% down, there is no accompanying private mortgage insurance (PMI) charge.

    Not everyone wants make a 20% downpayment, however. That's okay. Cash gifts are also allowed for certain low-downpayment mortgages including the FHA purchase mortgage, which requires a 3.5% downpayment; VA mortgages, which can be up to 100% financing, and the Fannie Mae Conventional 97 program which requires just 3% down.

    Fill Out A Certified "Downpayment Gift Letter"

    When you accept a downpayment gift, remember that there's a right way and a wrong way to do it.  You cannot randomly deposit gift funds into a bank account, for example. That will get your loan denied.

    There's a 3-step process when accepting a cash downpayment gift and no matter what your loan type -- Conventional, FHA, VA, or other -- the 3-step process is the same. Follow the rules to the letter.

    First, write a gift letter that follows the includes the following information :

    • The amount of the gift
    • The subject property address
    • The relationship of the gifter to the giftee
    • A note that the gift is actually a gift and not a loan

    The gift letter should be as long as needed and should not contain "extra" information. Have all parties sign and date the letter. Set the letter aside -- you'll come back to it in the section below.

    Next : What The Giver Of The Gift Needs To Do

    With your mortgage downpayment gift letter written, you'll want to make sure you don't violate the rules of "taking a gift". In order to do that, make sure to keep an extra-strong paper trail for the money being gifted.

    If you are the person who is gifting funds to the buyer, for example, and you sell personal stock holding as part of the downpayment gift process, you will want to make sure that you document the sale of your stock as well as the transfer of funds from your brokerage account into the account from which you're making the gift.

    Do not make the transfer without a proper paper trail.

    Next, you'll want to write a check to the home buyer for the exact dollar amount specified in the gift letter you've written. Photocopy the check. Keep one copy for your records and give one copy to the buyer -- the lender will want to see it as part of the process.

    Next : What The Receiver Of The Gift Needs To Do

    Now that the gifter has handed, in the form of a check, a downpayment gift to the buyer, the following steps are required.

    First, with the gift check in hand, the buyer should physically walk into a preferred depository bank to make the deposit in-person. Do not deposit the check online using an iPhone or Android app, for example.

    In addition, whichever bank into which you choose to deposit your gift money, make sure it's the bank account from which all of your money at closing will be drawn. You do not want to bring money to your closing from multiple savings accounts. This, too, can make things difficult on a bank and the goal is to keep things simple.

    With your bank selected, then, do the following :

    1. Deposit the gift funds into a bank account
    2. End your transaction
    3. Collect a receipt for your deposit

    Under no circumstances should you "co-mingle" the gift deposit with other funds, or other gifts. The amount specified on your teller receipt should match exactly the dollar amount on the certified downpayment gift letter. If the amount is off by even a penny, the lender will likely reject your letter and the funds that came with it.

    Note that if you are receiving multiple cash gifts for downpayment, you should follow this process for each gift independently. Again, do not co-mingle your gifts. Be guided by your gift letter.

    Tax Notes On Cash Downpayment Gifts

    It should be noted that there may be tax implications for givers of a cash gifts for downpayment, and receivers of them. These are items for your account.

    Your lender will not report these cash gifts to the IRS; it's not the lenders responsibility to report such things. Your lender will use your gift letter(s) for underwriting only, ensuring that the mortgage meets its underwriting standards.

  • Six Simple Steps to Obtaining a VA Loan! * Ashburn KW

    Posted Under: Home Buying, Financing  |  August 12, 2013 12:14 PM  |  835 views  |  No comments

    Backed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and made possible by the G.I. Bill, the VA loan allows for no down payment, requires no mortgage insurance, and give applicants access to flexible mortgage guidelines. Furthermore, VA mortgage rates are often lower as compared to other home loan products.

    So, how do you get a VA loan? Here’s a step-by-step guide to what you’ll need to do.

    1. Confirm Your Eligibility For A VA Loan

    Most U.S. military veterans are eligible for a VA loan. But vets aren’t the only ones who qualify. Most active-duty service personnel, National Guard and Reserve members, surviving spouses of deceased veterans and others can also be eligible.

    2. Obtain A Certificate Of Eligibility (COE) For A VA Loan

    A COE is a simple document that proves to the lender that you are eligible for a VA loan. Your lender can help you get this document through an online system that can tap into the VA records to confirm your service. In mosts cases, a COE can be generated in seconds. All VA loans require a COE except for the VA Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan (IRRRL), which lowers your interest rate by refinancing your existing VA home loan.

    3. Obtain your DD-214 or Active Duty Orders

    Your lender will also require that you provide your DD-214 (discharge papers) or your active duty orders to provide evidence of your status.  Make sure to order this through VA ahead of time if you do not have a copy on hand.

    4. Get Pre-Qualified For A VA Loan

    The VA establishes the rules and guidelines for VA loans. It doesn’t set interest rates, points or other loan closing costs. This is one reason it can be a good idea to shop for the "best deal" -- something the VA actually encourages. As part of getting pre-qualified, the lender will check or “pull” your credit history and may ask to see recent pay stubs, bank statements and other basic financial paperwork. The more information you provide, the better your lender can explain your available loan options.

    5. Find A Home To Buy

    After you’ve obtained your COE and prequalification letter, you’ll be ready to look at for-sale homes with a REALTOR®. Your agent can help you find a home that you like based on the loan amount for which you’ve been pre-qualified. Remind your agent to include a VA loan contingency in your purchase agreement which will protect you in the event you cannot close your loan.

    6. Complete The VA Loan Process With Your Lender

    Once you've found a home, your lender is tasked with most of the work, which happens behind-the-scenes, to ensure your loan is approved and ready for closing. You might be asked to supply additional financial paperwork during this part of the purchase, and the lender will also arrange for an appraisal of the home to make sure you haven't over-paid as compared to the market.

    For home purchases, the VA also recommends that you commission a home inspection, so you’ll be informed about the condition of the home and its major components, such as the roof, appliances, electrical wiring and plumbing. Tested the home for lead-based paint, radon and other substances may be advisable, too.

    Get Started With Your VA Loan Application

    For VA-eligible buyers, mortgage approvals can be simple. There are fewer hurdles in the VA loan program as compared to comparable mortgage products. Plus, mortgage rates often lower than "market rates" from Freddie Mac, for example.

    All credit for this information goes to Sean Glennon.

  • Going Green or Saving Green, Check Out These Tips!

    Posted Under: Financing in Virginia, Going Green in Virginia  |  August 12, 2013 8:49 AM  |  986 views  |  No comments
    Do you want to help save the environment but don't know how? Here are some helpful tips on how you can save energy in your Loudoun home. Follow these handy suggestions and planet earth won't be the only green you save. Conserving energy can also give you a little extra cash!

    One simple task that can help you save some energy is controlling the temperature of your Brambleton townhome with thermostats. You can do this by:

    • Installing a thermostat to manage your heating and air conditioning systems more effectively
    • Lowering the thermostat on your water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit
    • When heating and cooling your townhome, be sure no windows or doors are open
    Another easy way to conserve power is to not leave electronics on at your Cascades condo. Here are some examples and tips on how to do this:

    • Turn everything off when you leave a room, such as lights, TVs, entertainment systems, computers, and monitors
    • Plug your home electronics into power strips, and turn off the power strip when you leave your home
    Saving water also reduces energy consumption, so next time you visit your Ashburn villa you can:
    • Only wash clothes and dishes when the washer is full; otherwise, you're wasting water!
    • Take short showers to avoid using excess water
    Finally, avoid using dryers at your Lowes Island abode! If possible, you can:

    • Air dry dishes
    • Air dry clothes
    And there you have it! Some super suggestions to save you some power -- and some money!

    Used these tips and don't know what to do with the extra money? Get yourself a new Loudoun mansion! Contact Ask Gina & Company today at 703-574-3478 to save you some energy when buying a house!
  • VA Loan Limits ~ Increase is good until Dec. 31st!

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Loudoun County, Financing in Loudoun County, In My Neighborhood in Loudoun County  |  October 17, 2012 9:45 AM  |  474 views  |  No comments

    VA Loan Limits ~ Increase is good until Dec. 31st!

    Are you a Veteran of the US Military? Did you know the increased VA Loan limits are only good through December 31st? Now is the time to take advantage of this program which requires no money down! 


    VA Loan Limits for Northern Virginia counties:

    • ALEXANDRIA - $838,750 
    • ARLINGTON - $838,750  
    • FAIRFAX - $838,750 
    • FAIRFAX CITY - $838,750 
    • FALLS CHURCH - $838,750 
    • FAUQUIER - $838,750
    • LOUDOUN - $838,750
    • PRINCE WILLIAM - $838,750 



    Ready to take advantage of the VA Loan increases? Curious if you qualify for a VA Loan?

    Call your local real estate experts at Ask Gina & Company at 703-574-3478 to unlock the possibilities!

    Thanks for your service to our country - We'd be honored to serve you!


    Gina M Tufano * Ask Gina & Company
    Licensed Virginia Realtors since 1996
    Keller Williams Realty Loudoun Gateway
    20130 Lakeview Center Plaza #110
    Ashburn, VA 20147

    (703) 574-3478 office
    (703) 891-9315 fax
    Unlock the possibilities!

    Ask Gina & Company * Ashburn Keller Williams * Real Estate

  • We are Your Short Sale GPS... From Start to Finish!

    Posted Under: Home Selling in Loudoun County, Financing in Loudoun County, Foreclosure in Loudoun County  |  August 16, 2012 2:27 PM  |  508 views  |  No comments

    We are Your Short Sale GPS... From Start to Finish!

    What does that mean for you?

    When you contact the Ask Gina & Company team, local Real Estate experts will GUIDE you through every twist and turn of the Short Sale process with courtesy and commitment.  

    Plus, put you in contact with related professionals with proven success, including negotiators and attorneys, acting in your best interest to PROTECT YOU while we are marketing and selling your house. At the end of your Short Sale, you to feel safe and SATISFIED that we have successfully navigated you through a financial bottleneck.

    Do you have friends or family members 
    that may be struggling under the financial strain of their property? 


    Tell them to contact our office directly at 703-574-3478 so they can spend the next year moving forward!

    Gina M Tufano * Ask Gina & Company
    Licensed Virginia Realtors since 1996
    Keller Williams Realty Loudoun Gateway
    20130 Lakeview Center Plaza #110
    Ashburn, VA 20147

    (703) 574-3478 office
    (703) 891-9315 fax
    Unlock the possibilities!

    Ask Gina & Company * Ashburn Keller Williams * Real Estate

  • Rent vs. Lease: Which is Right for You?

    Posted Under: Home Buying in 20165, Financing in 20165, Property Q&A in 20165  |  October 19, 2011 8:22 AM  |  699 views  |  No comments

    Rent vs. Lease: Which is Right for You?

    Although mortgage rates are at an all time low and inventory is plentiful, some potential buyers find themselves faced with a situation in which purchasing a home is not practical for the time being. For example, Northern Virginia is well known for being home to many government employees who are on short-term contracts for employment or will be sent overseas for an extended period of time. Typically, if you can not foresee living in your home for more than 5 years, renting or leasing may be the best option for your housing needs.

    You may be asking yourself, “well, what it the difference between renting and a lease?” Below is a description on both:

    Rent: This is a short term, temporary agreement between you and a landlord. Terms are pre-determined but may be flexible. Rent-to-own situations may be worked out in which the renter is given an option to purchase the home at a set price and some of the monthly payment goes towards the purchase price of the home.

    Lease: This is a long term, contract between you and a landlord. Terms are pre-determined and are not flexible, giving both the lessee and lessor stability in the agreement. Rent-to-Own is similar to Lease-to-Own, however the significant difference is the former is an OPTION whereas the latter is an obligated contract.

    As you can see, both options may be a wonderful way to home ownership in situations where credit may be a factor or you anticipate extension of a short-term employment contract. Which option is best for you will depend on your plans for the future and what you desire for your path to home ownership.

    Would you like guidance on your Loudoun County Real Estate housing options? Contact the experts at Ask Gina & Company today and let us unlock the possibilities!

    Gina Tufano with Keller Williams Realty Loudoun Gateway, Ashburn, VA

    http://www.ask-gina.com/ * 703-574-3478

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