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PrimeLending – Six Ways to Transform Your Basement

PrimeLending – Six Ways to Transform Your Basement - From media rooms to home offices, there are several ways homeowners can transform their basements. When deciding how to design your basement, you have to focus on what you want to use the space for most. There really is no right or wrong way to set up the space, but knowing exactly what the main purpose of the room will be will make the transformation process much easier. If you have a basement, but no idea what to do with it, our team of mortgage professionals is here to help. Listed below are six different ways homeowners can transform their unused basement spaces.

From media rooms to home offices, there are several ways homeowners can transform their basements. When deciding how to design your basement, you have to focus on what you want to use the space for most. There really is no right or wrong way to set up the space, but knowing exactly what the main purpose of the room will be will make the transformation process much easier. If you have a basement, but no idea what to do with it, our team of mortgage professionals is here to help. Listed below are six different ways homeowners can transform their unused basement spaces.

 
Media Room
 
Several homeowners choose to transform their basements into large multipurpose media areas. If you have always dreamed of having a home theater, an unused basement provides the perfect layout. Here are a few helpful tips to get you moving in the right direction towards a mega media room.

 

  • Don’t put the viewing screen or TV across from a window; the darker the space, the better. If you absolutely must put the screen across from a window, install black-out shades or dark, heavy curtains.
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  • Don’t fear if your basement has low ceilings, you will be seated the majority of the time you spend in there.
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  • Platform seating is a great, yet inexpensive, touch to add to any home theater. While theater seating can really add up, placing a platform under your second row of seats elevates the back row, providing optimal viewing without draining your wallet.

 
Personal Fitness Facility

 
Before setting out to purchase fitness equipment to fill the basement, measure the space’s dimensions. Be aware that low ceilings may cause certain pieces of fitness equipment to not fit properly in the space. Therefore, measure the room and measure the equipment before purchasing. Also, make sure the equipment can make it down the stairs. If it is welded together or does not disassemble, you may have trouble making a sharp 90-degree turn when moving it down the stairs.

 
Home Office

 
A home office should ideally be the same size as a guest bedroom. It is important to note that if you add a closet, your home office will be considered an extra bedroom according to code and you will be required to install a window. If you are concerned the space will feel cramped, use a double set of French doors on a basement office to maximize natural light and create a feeling of openness.

Guest Bedroom

 
As previously mentioned, if you decide to turn your unused basement into a guest bedroom, building code will require you to have an egress window no more than 44 inches from the ground. You are permitted you create a step-up or enlarge the window to meet code.

 
If you want to create a guest suite, place the bathroom adjacent to the bedroom with a direct entrance from inside. Make sure if you install a shower there is enough clearance for your guest to lift their arms above their head without hitting the ceiling. Lastly, you will need a fan to exhaust to the outside.

 
Bar and/or Wine Cellar

 
Before you begin picking out countertops for your new bar, it is important to set a budget. Installing a bar is extremely similar to installing a new kitchen without the appliances, so your expense will be comparable.

 
If you don’t have a large budget, there are other alternatives for the space that provide the same effect. Consider adding in a horizontal section of cabinets that can also be used as a buffet and leave room for a fridge. Also, purchasing cabinets from a big-box or modular furniture store rather than installing custom cabinets can save you a considerable amount of money.

 
If you absolutely must have a classic bar or wine cellar, it is best to determine your maximum budget and work backward. Make a list of items you want to include in the space with your must-haves prioritized on top. This will help you determine which features you can and cannot live without.

 
Basement Apartment

 
Are you looking for a new stream of monthly income? If so, consider turning your unused basement space into a rental unit. Transforming the space into an apartment is no different than transforming it into anything else. Before beginning the renovation process, verify that your neighborhood is zoned for multifamily residences. Hiring a general basement contractor for this type of project is highly recommended. They will ensure that the right permits are produced and all construction components meet building code.

 
This article was brought to you by Oklahoma Mortgage Bank. Oklahoma Mortgage Bank offers a wide array of mortgage programs to eligible borrowers nationwide. Click here to visit our website.

 
If you or someone you know has questions about home financing in Oklahoma or nationwide, contact our Oklahoma mortgage team: (405) 358-3560 or (800) 308-8503.
www.OklahomaMortgageBank.com

Ten Steps to Home Ownership Series: Step 9: Close the Loan

Ten Steps to Home Ownership Series - Oklahoma Mortgage Bank - Step 9

If you go to any local courthouse you will find the property records for all the real estate ownership in your community. Sometimes the records can go as far back as a hundred years or more.

 
Why are these records important? They are essential for today’s homeowners because they provide them with proof that the property they are selling has a good, marketable, and insurable title. Just as important, these records allow buyers to supply proof of ownership if or when they decide to sell.

 
According to our Oklahoma mortgage experts, the closing process, which is also referred to as “settlement” or “escrow” depending on which part of the country you are in, is becoming more and more computerized and automated these days. A lot of the time, buyers and sellers do not even need to appear at a specific event. Often, the signed paperwork can be sent to the closing agent using overnight delivery.

 
The usual closing procedure brings together several parties who are part of the “transaction” process. For instance, the history of property ownership has already been checked but there is a possibility the records have errors or that there are unrecorded flaws or claims in the actual review. Thus, it is necessary to have title insurance. At the time of closing, it is required that all transfer taxes be paid and all other claims be settled (such as legal fees, closing costs, and adjustments). For the majority of transactions, the paperwork needed to record the loan is completed by the closing agent.

 
What you need to expect:

 
Settlement is a fairly quick process. It is where all of the required documentation for completion of the transaction is signed. Typically, closing takes place in an office setting. Sometimes both the buyer and the seller are together at the same table or other times they are assigned to separate areas to complete their paperwork. In both instances the aftermath is that the title to the property is signed over from the seller to the buyer.

 
Once completed, the buyer will receive keys to the property and the seller will receive the payment for the home. In order to pay off the existing mortgage and additional transaction costs, the closing agent will subtract money from the amount credited to the seller. Also, loan documents, deeds, and other paperwork are prepared, signed, and filed with the community property record offices.

 
What you should do:

 
One of the best aspects of settlement is that buyers and sellers do not need to do very much. Before the loan closes, buyers usually have one final opportunity to walk around and observe the property to ensure that the conditions have not changed since the sale agreement was signed. At the actual closing, all the necessary paperwork has already been prepared by title companies, closing agents, lawyers, and lenders. These documentations are a reflection of the sale agreement and also allow all parties involved to verify their share. For example, the loan is recorded in public records for the lender, buyers obtain the title to the home, and state governments acquire their transfer taxes from the property.

 
This article was brought to you by Oklahoma Mortgage Bank. Oklahoma Mortgage Bank offers a wide array of mortgage programs to eligible borrowers nationwide.
If you or someone you know has questions about home financing in Oklahoma or nationwide,
contact our Oklahoma mortgage team: (405) 358-3560 or (800) 308-8503.
www.OklahomaMortgageBank.com

10 Steps to Home Ownership Series – Step 8

Step 8: Obtain Insurance

 
Oklahoma home owners insurance

 
It is silly to think of driving a car without insurance, so the same goes for owning a home. No homeowner should be without homeowner’s insurance.

 
The main idea behind the different types of real estate insurance is to protect the owners if they find themselves in some type of unexpected tragedy. If something happens to go wrong, insurance can be the greatest decision ever made.

 
What type and what is the cost?

 
There are a few different forms of insurance related to home ownership, including the following four main types:

 
Title insurance: This type of insurance is bought at closing with a one-time fee and protects homeowners when the title to their property is found to be false or invalid. Title insurance includes “lenders” policies, which will protect the buyer up to the mortgage amount of the home. Also, it includes “owners” coverage, which protects the owner up to the purchase price of the property. In other words, the mortgage value and the amount of the down payment are protected by “owners” coverage.
Homeowners’ insurance: Fire, theft, and liability coverage are provided under homeowner’s insurance and lenders do require these policies. Surprisingly a number of different items can be covered by this type of insurance, such as wedding rings, home office equipment, and furniture.

 
Flood insurance: The federal government issues flood insurance and can supply as much as
$250,000 in coverage for single-family households and an additional $100,000 for contents. This insurance is usually required for homes in high-risk flood-prone areas. Speak with you realtor to find out which locations require such coverage.

 
Home warranties: If something goes wrong after the completion of a new home, buyers want the assurance that the builder will be available to them to make repairs. But what is the builder goes out of business or even refuses to do the necessary work?

 
If the home warranty is bought by the property from a third party, several forms of protection are generally provided. These can include mechanical defects such as wiring and plumbing for the first two years, workmanship for the first year, and structural problems for as much as ten years.

 
The home warranties for existing homes are usually bought by the seller and contain a one-year service agreement. The warranty company will make a repair or cover the cost of a repair in the event of a covered breakdown of defect.

 
Each insurance policy or warranty will have separate limitations and each individual program will have different types of deductibles, coverage, and costs. Speak with a realtor, home builder, or insurance broker today to find out all the necessary details.

 
Where should you look?

 
Home insurance is often supplied by realtors and insurance brokers also provide policies.

 
How does one obtain insurance?

 
The right time to get warranty coverage and insurance is at closing, so prior to closing make sure you talk with a realtor or insurance broker. During your meeting it is important to ask about costs, limitations, deductibles, and “endorsements” (further forms of coverage that may be accessible to you).

 
This article was brought to you by Oklahoma Mortgage Bank. Oklahoma Mortgage Bank offers a
wide array of mortgage programs to eligible borrowers nationwide.
If you or someone you know has questions about home financing in Oklahoma or nationwide,
contact our Oklahoma mortgage team: (405) 358-3560 or (800) 308-8503.
www.OklahomaMortgageBank.com

Ten Steps to Home Ownership Series – Part 7

Oklahoma mortgage lending - extending an offer

Step 7: Extend an Offer

 
During the mortgage process, a lot of time is spent thinking about offering prices but a proposal to buy contains both the price and the terms. This is extremely important to know because in some circumstances the terms can add up to thousands of dollars in added value for buyers or just additional costs. With this in mind, your terms should be carefully reviewed. Our team of Oklahoma Mortgage experts has created a list of the most frequently asked home offer questions and provided their answers.

 
How much should I offer?

 
People always say that you should offer a certain percent below the seller’s asking price or a different
percent less that you are actually willing to pay. This makes sense in theory but in practice the offer relies on the simple laws of supply and demand. If numerous buyers are competing for certain homes, the sellers will most likely receive full-price offers and sometimes even more than that. If the demand for homes is low, then offers that fall below the asking price may be accepted.

 
How is an offer made?

 
The process for which one can make an offer varies nationwide. In an average situation, you and your realtor will complete and offer that he or she will later present to the owner and the owner’s representative. In response, the owner may accept, reject or make a counter-offer.

 
It is extremely important for buyers to stay in close contact with their realtors during the negotiation
process since counter-offers are very common. Any change in an offer can be deemed a “counter-offer” and these changes need to be quickly reviewed by a realtor.

 
What inspections are necessary?

 
Most required inspections are common to residential realty transactions. They include but are not limited to termite checks, appraisals to decide on a value for lenders, surveys to determine property boundaries, structural inspections, and title reviews.

 
Structural inspections are one of the most important. During these checkups, an inspector visits the property to determine if the home contains any material physical defects or if heavy repairs and replacements are seen to be required in the near future. For a single-family home, these inspections usually require anywhere from two to three hours for completion. Buyers should definitely attend because it gives them an opportunity to learn about the property in depth and see more than is possible with an informal walk-through. Buyers are able to examine the property’s structure and mechanics as well as ask any questions they may have.

 
This article was brought to you by Oklahoma Mortgage Bank. Oklahoma Mortgage Bank offers a
wide array of mortgage programs to eligible borrowers nationwide.

 
If you or someone you know has questions about home financing in Oklahoma or nationwide,
contact our Oklahoma mortgage team: (405) 358-3560 or (800) 308-8503.
www.OklahomaMortgageBank.com

Ten Steps to Home Ownership Series – Oklahoma Mortgage Bank – Step 3

Oklahoma Real Estate Lender
 
The third step in Oklahoma Mortgage Bank’s “Ten Steps to Homeownership” is to find a real estate agent. The decision to buy a home is probably one of the most important financial decisions most of us make; however, we often put very little, if any thought into selecting the real estate agent that best suits our needs. There are currently over two million people in the United States who have earned their real estate licenses. While the real estate business may seem simple, buying and selling real estate is actually an extremely complex matter. There is much more to the process than just looking at local online picture books of properties and prices because every property is unique in some way, shape or form. Every home is different, as are their contract terms, financing options, inspection requirements and closing costs. Choosing the right real estate agent in the beginning can save you time and effort in finding your future home at a price you can afford.
 
Ask your friends for referrals.
 
Although we do not suggest selecting a real estate agent solely based on your friend’s experiences, their recommendation will provide you with a starting point. A friend’s referral will give you some knowledge about the agent’s personality and while our team of experts do not suggest going with an agent based on just personality alone, you do want an agent that you get along with and can work with.
 
Select the real estate agency or broker first.
 
Choose a real estate agency or broker that has a good reputation within the community. Once you have selected the agency, ask them to recommend a couple of their best agents. Beware choosing a real estate company or broker based solely on their national reputation and advertisement campaign. It is important to note that just because a real estate company or broker is well-known nationally, does not mean the particular community branch of the company is strong.
 
Consider choosing an agent who is a Realtor.
 
Both real estate agents and Realtors are licensed by the state to sell real estate. However, Realtors
belong to the National Association of Realtors, a group of approximately one million brokers and salespeople bound together by a strict code of ethics, extensive training and an abundance of community information. Realtors also have access to something called Multiple Listing Services (MLS), a service that allows members to share listings and have access to several more properties than non-members. Click here to locate a Realtor in your area.
 
Steer clear of “dual agencies.”

 
Dual agencies are real estate agencies that represent both the buyer and the seller. The reason we advise clients to steer clear of these types of agencies is because it is difficult for one person to equally represent both sides of the process.
 
Go with an agent that handles properties in your price range.
 
Some real estate agents specializing in high properties won’t give their best effort on properties under a set value. Also, a real estate agent who typically specializes in fixer-uppers probably isn’t best suited for helping you purchase a high-end property.
 
Choose an agent who is willing to walk you through every step.
 
Real estate transactions can be difficult and the terminology confusing. It is extremely important, especially if you are a first-time homebuyer, to find an agent who is willing to walk you through and carefully explain each step of the real estate transaction. While it is important to find a well-trained, professional agent, you want a person whose personality you like and feel comfortable around.
 
Select an agent who is willing to work with your schedule.
 
If you are only available to look at homes on nights and weekends, then find an agent who is willing to show you properties and meet with you at those times. If an agent tells you that they do not work when you need them, take your business elsewhere.
 
Choose an agent who is willing to go above and beyond.
 
Is the real estate agent willing to arrange a home inspection for you? Can they refer you to a
qualified lending professional or real estate attorneys?

Ten Steps to Home Ownership Series – Part 2

PrimeLending Mortgage Pre-Approval

Part 2: Getting Loan Pre-Approval

After planning out exactly what they want in a home, most future home buyers think the next step is to go out and start looking for the perfect home. Unfortunately, this is not the most ideal second step in the home buying process. Why not? Reason being, very few people pay cash for a home and if you are one of the 9 out of 10 who choose to finance a home, you have yet to set your budget. Without getting pre-approved for a mortgage, home buyers could potentially fall in love with a home that they may not be able to finance.

Therefore, the next step we recommend in our Ten Steps to Home Ownership Series is to talk with a lender and get pre-approved for a mortgage loan. Pre-approval guarantees you a set loan amount that can be borrowed which will provide you the information needed to set a budget for your future home.

The hardest part about financing a home is finding a loan program that works for you. Oklahoma Mortgage Bank understands that potential home owners are looking for financing options that provide mortgages with the lowest costs and absolute best terms. Therefore, we suggest meeting with a lender and looking at loan programs as the second step towards home ownership so you will discover the loan option that works best for you and the total amount you can afford to spend on a home. One other reason our team of mortgage experts suggest getting pre-approved for a mortgage is the fact that purchase forms often require potential home buyers to apply for home financing within a given time period, usually only 7-10 days. Given such a short amount of time can lead to a rushed decision about a loan program that may end up not being your best option. If you meet with a lender before hand, you will have ample time to check your credit and choose the loan program that best suits your needs.

What does it mean to get “pre-approved” for a home loan?

When a potential home buyer has been pre-approved by a lending company, that borrower has actually met with a loan officer, their credit files have been pulled and reviewed, and the loan officer believes that the potential home buyer is eligible for a specified loan amount through one or more mortgage programs. When you are pre-approved for a home loan, the loan officer is agreeing to lend you the quoted amount. Once the process is completed, the lender will provide the qualified borrower with a pre-approval letter. This letter shows your borrowing power and can be very appealing to sellers when you begin looking at actual homes. Although this is not a final loan commitment, it does demonstrate your financial strength and proves to the seller that you have the finances necessary to go through with the purchase. If there are several offers on a home, having a pre-approval letter could give you the upper hand. It tells the seller that you are serious about buying and lets them know that your offer is not likely to fall through because the adequate amount of financing could not be obtained.

How can I get pre-approved for a mortgage?

Start by finding a mortgage lender you are comfortable with. You want a lender that has your best interest at heart. A good lender will work with you to find a loan program that best suits your needs and explain every step of the home buying process to make sure you fully understand the process. Once you have a lender selected, they will assess your current financial situation. This is where a credit report will be obtained and your income, debts and assets will be reviewed. Lastly, the lender will suggest loan programs that they believe will best suit your needs. Once a loan amount is agreed upon, the lender will provide you with a pre-approval letter to use in the future steps of the home buying process.

Ten Steps to Home Ownership Series

Oklahoma Home Buyer
Part 1: Are you Prepared?

Planning plays a huge role in keeping the home ownership process simple and stress-free. Not only will planning enable you to foresee the requirements from lenders, lawyers and a multitude of other professionals, but it will help you determine helpful shortcuts in the home-buying process. Our team of Oklahoma mortgage experts understand how challenging and hectic this process can be without proper preparation. Below you will find the basic questions that Oklahoma Mortgage Bank believes every future homeowner should identify and answer before purchasing a home. Thinking about these questions will help you to identify what you truly want to gain from owning a home and get you headed in the right direction towards homeownership.

Where are you looking?

Start by asking yourself where you want to buy a home. Do you need a home in a particular area for an easy commute to work? Are you moving with a family and want to live in a particular area based on the performance of their neighborhood schools? When purchasing a home, you will always buy the town first, the neighborhood second, and finally, the house third. Even with a general idea of the area you want to live in, finding an exact neighborhood or location can quickly become overwhelming. Make it easy on yourself and start by identifying what you don’t want. Find a map, make a few of copies, and grab your highlighters. A good starting point is to think about what you want your maximum commute time to be to work and circle that entire area with your highlighter. Now, you have set a boundary. You have identified an area in which you absolutely cannot make it work and an area of possibilities.

Once you have it narrowed down to a few different areas, hop in your car and drive through a couple of the neighborhoods you have highlighted. If you like the neighborhood, mark it. You can even go as far as to select a couple of streets that are your favorites in the neighborhood. If you do not like the area, mark it out on your map. Whatever the reasoning may be, knowing where you want to live can make it easier for both you and your realtor to narrow down the vast amount of homes currently on the market.

What do you want?

Once you have a general location in mind, think about what you want in your future home. Regardless of if you are a first-time homebuyer or a repeat buyer, defining what you want in terms of your future home is important. This step of the planning process is about pinpointing the size and style of your future home. One way to start doing this is to prioritize your needs. Consider what is practical for your household. Are you looking for something larger than what you currently have or are you looking to downsize? Do you need a large backyard or garage? Do you want fixer upper with unique charm in which you could really unleash your creative side or do you want a brand new, move-in-ready home where the style decisions are left up to the professionals? Again, having an idea of what you are looking for in a home can help narrow down the list of potential homes, and put you one step closer to your dream home.

Are your finances in order?

In addition to deciding what all you want in your future home, spend some time to reflect on your financing options. Buying a first home is perhaps one of the most important financial decisions most of us will ever have to make. Knowing what you afford early in the planning process of purchasing a home will save you a lot of time and frustration. A few items to take care of to help you establish your financial foundation include: getting a credit report, saving the down payment, and getting pre-approved for a mortgage. Next in the process would be securing your loan, but more on that later. If you are concerned with what type of loan program to go with, our team of Oklahoma mortgage experts are more than happy to sit-down and discuss with you the loan programs you qualify for.

How much time do you have?

Lastly, consider your purchasing time frame. Have you already sold your current home and need to move immediately or do you live in a rental property in which the lease is about to be up. If relocating for your occupation, consider when your start date is and decide a date that you must be moved in by based upon that. Also, if moving with children, giving them a little bit of extra time to get used to the new area before starting the school year can make the move easier for everyone.

Knowledge and familiarity is the recipe for a successful real estate transaction. Knowing exactly what you want and communicating it to your realtor will only make the home buying process quicker and easier.

What to Do About Mold

Mortgage Oklahoma

Before you put your home on the market, there are many steps that need to be taken in order to prepare it for potential buyers to view. In addition to making basic repairs and upgrades, it is also important to remove any mold that may have formed inside the house. While mold is a natural part of the environment, indoor mold can be problematic and quite difficult to get rid of. Not only can it cause health concerns for those who live in the home, but signs of mold will also make it nearly impossible for you to get your home sold. Whether selling Colorado condominiums or a home in Austin, it is essential to take the proper steps to get it removed.
 

Understanding Mold

Before you can start working toward removing mold, you first need to gain a greater understanding of how mold forms and grows. In short, mold reproduces through tiny spores. These spores, which are naked to the invisible eye, float through the air and begin to grow after landing on a moist surface. While there are many different types of molds, all of them need water or moisture in order to grow. Most also thrive on unmoving air and warmth. For people who suffer from allergies or asthma, the spores can be quite problematic. Those who do not suffer from allergies can also be affected, however, as some molds contain potentially toxic substances.
 

Getting Rid of Mold

While certain types of molds can be almost impossible to remove, other molds are more easily removed. It should be noted, however, that once mold has started to form in a home, you will experience recurring problems with it. This is because there is no way to completely remove all of the spores that may be in the air. Still, you can help keep mold in check and you can slow down growth by taking a few simple steps. These include:
 

  • Find and remove moisture leaks throughout the home
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  • Use a dehumidifier in your bathroom as well as other parts of your home if live in an area where humidity levels reach 70% or more.
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  • Allow fresh air and bright sunlight into your home whenever possible
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  • Open a window when taking a shower whenever possible
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  • Change the air filters in your heating and air conditioning vents on a regular basis
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  • Maintain a household temperature of 69 to 73 degrees Fahrenheit while keeping humidity levels at 54% or less
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  • Scrub infested surfaces with a non-ammonia soap or cleaner designed specifically for mold removal

When removing mold, make sure to wear a mask, gloves and eye protection in order to keep yourself protected from the mold spores that will inevitably be floating around in the air.

About The Author – Brian Kinkade helps buyers and sellers with Denver condominiums as a Realtor with The Home Cart in Denver, CO.