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Joanne Bernardini's Blog

By Joanne Bernardini | Agent in Linwood, NJ
  • Updated Info on Veterans Home Buying Loans

    Posted Under: Home Buying, Financing, Military Movers  |  June 20, 2014 11:44 AM  |  94 views  |  No comments

    The Department of Veterans Affairs has a program to help Veterans purchase a home. This program offers a lower interest rate and lower overall payments.  The benefit is offered to all eligible, current and former active-duty members in all branches of the military, as well as those who have served honorably in the National Guard and Reserves for six years. Many spouses of former military members can also qualify. 

     With this program, the Federal Department of Veterans Affairs guarantees a veterans personal home loan. This is one of the least costly loans available. By this guarantee,The Federal Department Of Veterans Affairs promises to repay the loan if the veteran does not and this replaces the down payment that lenders use to offer a person more favorable mortgage terms. Closing costs are more reasonable. Estimated costs run about 1 to 2% of the loan if the veteran qualifies for the loan. There are no mortgage insurance premiums; no prepayment penalties, a negotiable interest rate, and the VA can also provide help for borrowers in temporary financial distress.

    An additional benefit comes to buyers of new construction as the VA inspects the homes and offers the buyer help in dealing with the builder and obtaining the warranty offered by the builder.

    For more information on this loan and to see if you qualify for a VA backed loan, please visit this website:

    http://benefits.va.gov/HOMELOANS/purchaseco_eligibility.asp

    If you are buying a home in Pennsylvania or New Jersey your requests for this loan guarantee are processed by the Cleveland Regional Loan Center. You can apply for a pre- approval before you find a home you like, so you will know exactly how much of a mortgage loan you are qualified to receive based on your credit score and other financial information.


    Cleveland Regional Loan Center

    Department of Veterans Affairs
    VA Regional Loan Center
    1240 East Ninth Street
    Cleveland, OH 44199

    Phone: 1-800-729-5772

    For lots of helpful, easy step by step information on the process of qualifying for a VA loan go to their website:

    http://www.vba.va.gov/ro/cleveland/steps_to_va_loan.htm

    For more information on this loan and to see if you qualify for a VA backed loan, please visit this website:

    http://benefits.va.gov/HOMELOANS/purchaseco_eligibility.asp


  • Ten Best Places To Buy Your Vacation Home

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Ocean City, Investment Properties in Ocean City  |  May 28, 2013 6:20 AM  |  605 views  |  No comments
    Americans are starting to feel a little more secure that the economy is on the mend. Smart real estate clients are returning to the vacation home market  while the mortgage rates are still hovering around historic lows. Banks are relaxing their uber tight lending requirements a bit and those that have been waiting on the sidelines are beginning their migration back into the investment home and second home market. 
    • Researching the best buys and best locations is easy with the Internet! Trulia, a large real estate listing service and 24/7 Wall Street analyzed the data from the Internet searches conducted on Trulia for the ten best locations for vacation homes. To qualify as a vacation area 25%of the homes in that area must have been listed in the Census as homes that were used seasonally or occasionally.


    The results are listed below along with the median listing price for that location.


    #1.   Ocean City, NJ.                   $525,000
    #2.   North Wildwood, NJ.            $289,000
    #3.   Kissimmee, Fla.                   $298,800
    #4.   Ocean City, Md.                   $275,000
    #5.   Marco Island, Florida           $499,000
    #6.   Big Bear Lake, California     $335,000
    #7    Lake Arrowhead, California  $399,000
    #8   Panama City Beach, Fla.      $294,245
    #9   Gatlinburg, Tenn.                   $179,600
    #10 Cherry Grove Beach S.C.      $219,900


    I am fortunate enough to live and work in the # 1 location, Ocean City, NJ. This is a place not only great for vacation living but also as a year round home! I selected it because in the off season when all the vacationers have left, it returns to a town with old world charm. People are courteous and friendly and everyone knows everybody! The school system is so fantastic that neighboring towns send their children here!
    I truly have the best of both worlds to live in a city voted the Best Vacation location! If you would like more information on buying a property here, please give me a call! I'll be happy to assist you!
    Joanne Bernardini, SFR
    Certified Short Sale Agent
    Coldwell Banker Casa Bella
    1301 Asbury Avenue 
    Ocean City, NJ 08226
    Cell: 609 947 2451
    Email:  joannebernardini@gmail.com
    Office: 609 601 1009
  • Department of Veteran Affairs Offers Much Needed Help to Veterans

    Posted Under: Home Buying in New Jersey, Financing in New Jersey, Moving in New Jersey  |  May 29, 2012 6:03 AM  |  950 views  |  No comments

    The Department of Veterans Affairs has a program to help Veterans purchase a home. This program offers a lower interest rate and lower overall payments. The benefit is offered to all current and former active-duty members in all branches of the military, as well as those who have served honorably in the National Guard and Reserves for six years. Many spouses of former military members can also qualify. Additionally, Veterans who have been evaluated with 100% service disabilities do not have to pay local property taxes in New Jersey. With this program, the Federal Department of Veterans Affairs guarantees a veterans personal home loan. This is one of the least costly loans available. By this guarantee,The Federal Department Of Veterans Affairs promises to repay the loan if the veteran does not and this replaces the down payment that lenders use to offer a person more favorable mortgage terms.  Closing costs are more reasonable. Estimated costs run about 1 to 2% of the loan if the veteran qualifies for the loan. There are no mortgage insurance premiums; no prepayment penalties, a negotiable interest rate, and the VA can provide help for borrowers in temporary financial distress.

    An additional benefit comes to buyers of new construction as the VA inspects the homes and offers the buyer help in dealing with the builder and obtaining the warranty offered by the builder.

    For more information on this loan and to see if you qualify for a VA backed loan, please visit this website:


    http://benefits.va.gov/HOMELOANS/purchaseco_eligibility.asp

  • Have We Reached the

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Ocean City  |  March 18, 2012 8:04 AM  |  987 views  |  3 comments

    For those who have been patiently waiting for the "Sweet Spot" when home prices have reached the bottom and just before mortgage rates begin their ultimate rise to time their purchase of a home in the Jersey Shore market, I believe we are there. While both of these benchmarks may seem to se-saw back and forth with minuscule amounts for a short period, smart buyers who have been timing the market should pay close attention!

    Polyana da Costa of Bankrate.com has reported that, "Mortgage rates inched upward this week as investors gain confidence in the economy and banks signal they've strengthened their systems enough to weather another recession.

    30 year fixed rate mortgage – 3 month trend
    30 year fixed rate mortgage – 3 month trend

    The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose 4 basis points this week, to 4.15 percent, according to the Bankrate.com national survey of large lenders. A basis point is one-hundredth of 1 percentage point. The mortgages in this week's survey had an average total of 0.4 discount and origination points. One year ago, the mortgage index was 4.91 percent; four weeks ago, it was 4.1 percent.

    The benchmark 15-year fixed-rate mortgage rose 4 basis points, to 3.38 percent. The benchmark 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage rose 11 basis points, to 3.14 percent."

    "If the economy keeps chugging along, rates could really take off," says John Walsh, president of Total Mortgage Services in Milford, Conn.

    If you examine the market statistics for the City of Ocean City, NJ for the sale of the average 3 bedroom/ 2 bath condo for the previous 12 months compiled using information from the South Jersey Regional MLS and Ocean City Board of Realtors,  you see that the trend is for sellers to get  95% of their listing price. Of the 573 condos on the market, 208 have sold. The average list price was $466,459 and the average sale price was $443,927. The market has stabilized and sellers are not willing to take the large losses seen this time last year.

    Additionally, the Federal Open Market Committee met this week and reported a strengthening of both the US banks and our economy. The Fed says, "it anticipates that the unemployment rate will decline gradually," and points that the "strains in global financial markets have eased, though they continue to pose significant downside risks to the economic outlook."

    To sum this all up, we appear to have turned the corner economically as a country, home sellers are holding tighter to their listing prices  in the Ocean City, NJ market and mortgage rates are starting to rise.
    Keep in mind that for each 1% rise in the mortgage rate a home price would have to drop 10% for a buyer to break even. On a $450,00 condo that translates into the seller dropping his price $45,000 each time the mortgage rate rises one full percent!

    If you have the resources, I feel the smart buyer should get off the fence! NOW is the time to buy your dream home at the shore!


    Joanne Bernardini
    Sales Associate
    Certified Short Sale Agent
    Coldwell Banker
    Cassa Bella Realtors
    601 New Road
    Linwood, NJ 08221
    cell-609-947-2451



  • When You Buy a House You Get The Neighborhood For Free!

    Posted Under: Quality of Life, Traffic & Public Transportation, Home Buying  |  January 3, 2012 8:06 AM  |  1,092 views  |  4 comments

     

    Most buyers plan and save to buy the perfect house. They check heaters, roofs, windows and appliances. However, beyond an investigation of the school system, very few take the time to check out the area beyond their property lines. This can be a huge mistake. 

    After the moving van leaves and the boxes are finally empty you must live there. There are several factors that can impact your quality of life and ultimate happiness in your new home. Every buyer should take some time to investigate before putting the bid on your dream home. What are some of the thing to investigate? Here are a few potential pitfalls. 

    •   Visit the neighborhood at different times of the week both in the day and evening and    listen!
    • Are there dogs that bark incessantly while their owners ignore them?
    •  Can you hear the constant noise of a nearby highway or busy street? 
    •  Engage some of your potential neighbors in conversation. Let them know you are      considering moving to the area so they don’t think you are “casing” the area as a burglar!  What do they like and dislike about living in this neighborhood?
    • Are there inconsiderate neighbors that habitually throw loud parties or mow their lawn    every Saturday morning at 7am? 
    • If there are neighbors with a pool whose property adjoins your property ask how they drain their pool or backwash their pool filters? If there is not a designated drainage system for this water, you will most likely get a periodic flood and soggy mess in your yard. 
    • Do the teens that live next door blast music or have a band that rehearses nightly?
    • Is the street you are considering a high traffic street complete with a lot of rumbling trucks and buses that pass?
    •  Is this a “cut through” street that motorists use to avoid rush hour traffic?
    •  Is this street a school bus route? (Besides the obvious convenience if you have children, this is a plus in the winter as those streets are the first plowed in a snow storm!)
    • If your neighborhood has a homeowners association are they reasonable or overly restrictive with the rules?
    •  If there are vacant tracks of land close to the neighborhood, find out how they are zoned. Don’t be surprised by the construction of a noisy commercial building that can wreck your sleep and your resale value. 

      Ultimately, only you can determine which if any of these situations are “deal breakers”. If you know the problems in advance, you can make an educated decision as to whether the home and the neighborhood that goes with it, are really right for your family.


    • Check Your Insurance Policies for the Exclusions!

      Posted Under: Home Buying, Home Insurance  |  November 1, 2011 6:45 AM  |  798 views  |  3 comments
      Insurance policies are a necessary part of the expenses involved in home ownership. Having homeowners insurance helps us sleep at night knowing that if tragedy strikes we are protected from loss. But how many of us have a false sense of security and don't even know it until tragedy strikes? Having been a victim of this false security, I urge you to take a few moments, pull out your insurance policies and look at the page labeled "Exclusions". This is where you'll uncover the gaps that need to be filled in the coverage you think you have but don't!

      While building a home we were under the impression that our nearly finished home was covered under the homeowners policy we took out. Our home was burglarized and the thieves took all of our tools, the rolls of insulation that were neatly stacked in the living room waiting to be installed the next day,  even the boxes of dry wall screws! To add insult to injury they took the front doors right off the hinges! I was speechless when I discovered they even took the stain that was left to finish the inside of these doors! Our roof was damaged when they tried unsuccessfully to pry the skylight window  out! At least I knew we could replace this all because we were covered. It was quite a shock when we discovered we were NOT because the home was still under construction!

      This morning I received an email from our local insurance agent, Thomas Heist, with some helpful tips and explanation's of insurance inclusions! I include his tips here. Please take the time to read them and then check your own policies! Buy additional coverage if you need it! Doing that would have saved us $5,000!!

      Dealing With Homeowners Policy Exclusions

      Property exclusions exist in Sections A and B of a homeowners insurance policy. The following are some of the most important exclusions to be aware of:


      Collapse - If a home collapses, there is no coverage provided unless the cause is included in the list of additional coverage inclusions section.


      Flood - This is one of the most important exclusions to be aware of. In the eyes of insurers, there is a large difference between water damage and flooding. It's important to keep in mind that flooding hasn't been covered in homeowners policies since the 1960s. In 1968, the government implemented the National Flood Insurance Program. Even those who don't reside in flood zones should have this valuable coverage. Heavy rains and hurricanes often cause flooding in areas that usually don't see it.


      Freezing - If heating, air conditioning or plumbing systems freeze, the damage is excluded from a homeowners policy if the dwelling has been vacant or is in the process of construction.


      Homes Under Construction - When thieves steal property or materials from an unfinished home, the loss is not covered by a homeowners policy.


      Retaining Walls, Foundations & Nonbuilding Structures - Damage to swimming pools, fences, docks and similar structures from thawing, freezing, weight or pressure of water is not covered by a homeowners policy.


      Mold, Wet Rot & Fungus - Damage caused by these issues is not covered if it's due to a sump pump, sump or similar equipment. It also isn't covered if it's from a gutter, roof drain, downspout or equipment that is similar.


      Risks Of Direct Physical Loss - This is the section of a homeowners policy that lists any other exclusions. Some examples of common exclusions are smog, rodents, birds, wear and tear or owned animals. It's important to read it carefully to fully understand it. If there are any questions or concerns, contact an agent to clarify the terms.


      Concurrent Causation Exclusions - Homeowners policies explain how loss is handled if a specific cause is covered but another is not.


      Malicious Mischief & Vandalism - If the dwelling has been vacant for a period exceeding 30 consecutive days prior to the damage or loss, this exclusion exists.


      Coverage sections A, B, C and D have several exclusions. Loss from any events that take place as a result of law enforcement on the property are excluded. However, endorsements are available to be added to a policy to provide this coverage. Damage or loss from earthquakes or landslides is also excluded. Power failure, neglect, water damage and war are also causes of damage that are excluded.


      Sections E and F of a homeowners policy provide liability coverage. However, there are several exclusions in those sections to be aware of. Intentional injuries to other people are excluded. The business of an insured person is not covered by a homeowners policy. Premises held for rent, professional services, locations not listed on the homeowners policy, watercraft and motor vehicles are also not covered under a homeowners policy. Liability damages from war, owned aircraft, sexual molestation, abuse, communicable diseases and controlled substances are not covered. Coverage for home day care is very limited under the property section of the policy but is excluded under the liability section.


      Although these exclusions exist, there are many add-on options available from insurers to provide coverage for such areas. There are also separate insurance policies for some exclusion. Flooding is one example. However, there are some exclusions that simply aren't covered under insurance policies or additional coverage purchases. Harm to others from controlled substances is an example. The best way to avoid such problems is to take the proper preventative measures to avoid being in a position to suffer loss from any exclusions. The first step to getting coverage for exclusions is to speak with agent. An agent will be able to provide valuable information about extra coverage options and a list of ways to avoid suffering loss from issues that aren't covered by insurance.


              


    • Use Your Bridal Registry for FHA Home Downpayment Help!

      Posted Under: General Area, Home Buying, Financing  |  August 30, 2011 8:32 AM  |  679 views  |  5 comments
      The FHA has a program that buyers can use to have friends and family help them gather money for the down-payment on a home! This is a great idea for couples who already have "everything they need" and are tired of apartment living! It's called the
      FHA Bridal Registry and operates similar to a traditional Bridal Registry but is more flexible. A registrant must select an FHA mortgage lender to work with and set up an account specifically for this program. This account is a custodial savings account where all deposits made are used to fund the down-payment on a home. Usually when someone receives help on a down-payment it must come from a relative and be accompanied by a letter clearly stating it is a gift and not a loan that must be repaid. With the FHA Bridal Registry program, friends and family can make a deposit directly into the account or give the couple a check or cash which the couple then deposits into their account.
      With the FHA Bridal Registry Program, the only gift documentation required is “lender and borrower certification of the funds." While many non-FHA loan programs limit the portion of a buyer's down-payment that can come from gift money, the FHA Bridal Registry Program does not. This is a really interesting way to get you into a home! Check with the lender you select in advance to make sure you have set everything up properly to meet their requirements as far as how they want the funds to come in and out of the account before you start to make the deposits. It is worth the extra effort! Then go ahead and list this on the "Wish Lists" you send to your wedding guests! Let them skip the toaster oven and help get you into a toasty new home!
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