“We’ll [STILL] Guide You Home”- adapting as necessary to do so in the face of today’s unprecedented “social distancing” guidelines and requirements.
The COVID-19 Coronavirus has, at least for the short term, changed almost everything about our everyday living and working habits. We want you to know that during this time of unexpected and profound disruption, all 750+ RMS employees are working harder than ever to deliver on our “We’ll Guide You Home” brand promise, and helping individuals and families meet their home financing needs.
How we need to go about conducting business has changed, virtually overnight, in ways none of us could ever have expected. Many of our office locations are open where permitted by law, but most of our employees are equipped to work remotely and will continue to serve you without interruption. Please contact your loan officer if you have any questions.
Loans in process could be affected by each state’s decision whether businesses such as settlement agents and appraisal firms can remain open during this time. Rest assured we are in constant contact with state and Federal agencies as well as Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, FHA, VA about how to handle potential business disruptions.
Leveraging Our Technology:
- RMS has consistently and proactively invested in state-of-the-art technology infrastructure and tools.
- Our RMS Ready mobile app and web-portals support a full spectrum of loan application and processing capabilities – including the ability for borrowers to easily and securely upload required loan application documents all within the app itself.
- Please make use of these tools to upload documents that may be required to complete your application. Given the current situation, it is crucial that you respond to requests for documentation immediately.
You have our commitment that RMS and its employees will do our best to support and meet each borrower’s home financing needs during this extraordinary chapter in time.
We wish good health and fortune to each of you and your families and loved ones.
The RMS Team
Tips to increase the value of your home this spring
Spring is finally here and many of us are spending most of our time at home right now. Whether you were planning to get your house ready for the spring house selling market, or you are simply looking for ways to spruce up your home, now is a great time to tackle some home improvements. Your house is probably one of the largest investments that you will make in your lifetime, so show it a little love with these projects to add value to your home.
Of course the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about improving your home in these months is spring cleaning. Did you know that, in addition to making your home a safer, healthier space, cleaning and decluttering can add to your home’s resale value?
Decluttering will make your home look larger, cleaner, and give the impression that you have a lot of storage. Start your decluttering journey by setting aside a small period of time (as little as 20 minutes) each day to dedicate toward straightening things up, and sorting through your belongings to see what you are able to donate.
Once you have decluttered, it will be much easier to give your house the deep clean it deserves. Steam your carpets, scrub your floors, dust your light fixtures, wash your windows inside and out, and wash your curtains. Don’t forget to vacuum forgotten areas like your vents and behind your fridge.
Warmer months are upon us, so get some outside time by putting on those gardening gloves and working on your landscaping. Adding color and dimension to your landscaping can go a long way. Add some containers with bright flowers into your flower beds to give them a nice and layered look.
Weed your flower beds and mow your lawn regularly to keep your home looking neat and tidy from the outside as well.
Make Your Front Door Pop:
The front door is the first thing your guests or potential buyers will see before entering your home, so you want to make sure you are giving a welcoming first impression. Brighten your home by painting your front door in a color that contrasts well with the rest of your exterior. You can also add bold house numbers to your entrance and a seasonal wreath for a homey touch.
There are many inexpensive ways to add value to your home, and some of them will take you less than a weekend to complete. Take advantage of the warmer months and show your home a little love beyond spring cleaning.
The Fed rate cut does not correlate to a cut in mortgage rates. A Fed rate cut impacts short term lending rates to help stimulate the economy. We have seen some confusion on this. Here is an article that does a good job of explaining: http://www.mortgagenewsdaily.com/consumer_rates/938844.aspx
Things to Consider
Pay less in taxes with this deduction for new homeowners
Whether you have someone file them for you or you do it every year on your own, the tax return process is something that most people don't particularly look forward to. There are plenty of other things you'd rather do, as it takes time and effort just gathering all your documents - never mind the computations and manual input. And if you itemize, tax preparation is a whole lot longer. It's part of the reason why the chore is put off until the last minute - sometimes literally!
However, there's some pretty good news to report on the tax filing front, as a highly popular deduction that was originally introduced in 2007 - and rescinded - is back. Taking advantage of it can help reduce your taxable income and potentially add to your refund.
If you're unfamiliar with the mortgage insurance premium deduction, here's a little bit more about its history and the finer details so you can determine if you're eligible:
What exactly is the mortgage insurance premium deduction?
Passed by Congress in 2007 and signed into law by then President George W. Bush shortly thereafter, the mortgage insurance premium deduction allows homeowners who have a mortgage insurance policy out on their home to use those funds as a tax write-off, thus reducing the cost of homeownership. Originally included in the Tax Relief and Health Care Act, this deduction has been extended several times by lawmakers over the years, largely because of its popularity and the fact that so many people have mortgage insurance, which is generally required for those with FHA loans or who make down payments that are below 20% of a property's purchase price.
Based on the most recent statistics available from the National Realtors Association, the current down payment average among first-time homebuyers is 7%. It's more than double that - 16% - for those who have bought residential real estate previously. In 2017, an estimated 2.2 million homeowners across the country took advantage of the mortgage insurance premium tax deduction, which has slashed an average of between $1,000 and $1,550 off their taxable income, according to estimates from U.S. Mortgage Insurers.
For whatever reason, lawmakers decided not to extend the deduction beyond 2017 when it came to a vote and has sat dormant since. However, thanks to its reintroduction by California Rep. Julia Brownley and enthusiastic support of legislators on both sides of the political aisle, the mortgage insurance premium deduction has returned - much to the delight of homeowners and housing authorities.
"Mortgage insurance has helped millions of middle income Americans become homeowners and for nearly 10 years, the tax deductibility of MI premiums has helped to reduce the cost of homeownership," USMI President and Executive Director Lindsey Johnson explained, shortly after the extension was made official. "In a bipartisan manner, our elected lawmakers in Congress demonstrated today their commitment toward helping low down payment first time homebuyers by keeping mortgage insurance tax deductible."
Cost of homeownership still an issue
Affordability of homes has been an ongoing problem for the past several years, largely due to the balance between supply and demand, as builders can't quite keep up with the pace at which people are buying. In December, for instance, purchase activity for existing homes rose 3.6%, according to NAR data. This contributed to the 14.6% dip in total housing inventory, which now stands at three months as of the end of December, at the current sales pace. Additionally, for the 94th month in a row, median existing-home prices across the U.S. climbed, with the typical property selling for $274,500.
Every extra dollar saved helps, and supporters of the mortgage insurance premium tax deduction are hopeful that its return will provide extra breathing room for new, repeat and would-be buyers.
How to determine if you're eligible
The mortgage insurance premium tax deduction is much like most others in the tax code - certain restrictions apply. It's designed for middle-class families, specifically those whose annual income before taxes is less than $100,000. Given the typical American household earns a yearly salary of $63,179, according to the latest figures published by the U.S. Census Bureau, the vast majority of homeowners in the U.S. should be able to take advantage of this deduction if they so choose. Roughly 40% of borrowers with mortgage insurance earn a salary of $75,000 or less, based on USMI calculations.
Another caveat of the mortgage insurance premium deduction when it comes to eligibility is when you actually first bought the house you currently reside in. Given the original deduction wasn't in the tax code until the late 2000s, the tax break only applies to those who applied and were approved for a home loan by Jan. 1, 2007 and afterward.
But let's say that you bought a house in 2018, which was one of the rare years in which the mortgage insurance premium deduction wasn't in effect. Does that mean you're out of luck? To the contrary. The IRS generally allows you to amend your tax return retroactively for the past three years that you filed. This means that you should be able to take advantage of it well after the fact.
How you can go about claiming the deduction
Although tax filing is increasingly paperless, the same can't be said for forms - there are loads of them. To claim the mortgage insurance premium deduction, you'll need Form 1098. If you haven't already received this from your lender, be sure to ask them for it, as you'll need it to enter the appropriate data. As noted by The Balance, what you actually spent in mortgage insurance premiums can usually be found in Box 4 and reportable on line 13 of Schedule A. If you're doing your own tax preparation with a software program, be sure to itemize rather than using the standard deduction method.
As Tax Day fast approaches, you should consult a tax advisor for further information regarding the deductibility of the mortgage insurance premium. Thus, ensuring you can take advantage of the deduction allowing you to fully realize the ongoing benefits that derive from your wise investment
Change the batteries in your carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms:
Did you know that the risk of dying in a home fire is cut in half in homes with working smoke alarms? Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors save lives, but you need to make sure that you change the batteries and test your alarms in order to protect you and your family. Change your batteries when you change your clocks for Daylight Saving time, and make sure you are testing your alarms monthly.
- Make sure that there are smoke alarms in every sleeping room in the house, every hallway and every additional level of your home including the basement.
- All smoke alarms should be interconnected so when one goes off they all do.
- Smoke alarms that are mounted on the wall should be 4” from the ceiling. Smoke alarms that are mounted on the ceiling should be mounted 4” from the wall.
- Avoid putting your Smoke alarms within 10 feet of cooking appliances to avoid false alarms.
- Replace the entire alarm every 10 years
Carbon Monoxide Detectors:
- Carbon monoxide detectors should be installed in every sleeping room and every level of the house including your basement.
- Carbon monoxide detectors should ideally be at knee level, but they can be installed at chest level if you have children.
- Carbon monoxide detectors should not be blocked by curtains or furniture.
- Replace the entire alarm every 5 years.