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5 Exotic & Affordable Summer Home Locations

by Lakeshore Realty

 

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Whether you enjoy outdoor recreation, beachside lounging, or wine tasting while gazing spectacular vineyard views, here are some of the most sought after (and affordable!) summer home locations to consider.

1. Lake Tahoe, United States

Nestled in the majestic Sierra Nevadas lies Lake Tahoe, the largest alpine lake in North America. Lake Tahoe’s pristine waters and sweeping mountain views are what make this one of the most grandiose and beautiful places in the country for a summer residence. Tahoe offers a variety of recreational activities for residents and visitors alike, especially in the warmer months. Summer outdoor adventurers enjoy hiking, biking, and a variety of watersports.

If you choose to call Lake Tahoe home for the season, be sure to obtain your boating license online and maximize your time on the water.

2. Puglia, Italy

Ever dreamed of spending your summer days wandering the beautiful cobblestone streets of Italy, weaving through the lively mercato, while enjoying a refreshing gelato? If so, Puglia, Italy is the perfect place to live “la dolce vita."

Housing prices are significantly lower in comparison to the popular regions of Tuscany and Umbria, and small towns surrounding the area are known to have a low crime rate, low unemployment rate, and a strong sense of community. Puglia has a long coastline and many options for seaside real estate, and with its Mediterranean climate, summers are long and annual rainfall is scarce—making it an ideal getaway all around.

3. Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

The Pacific Northwest is one of the most beautiful regions of North America, with its multifaceted terrain of mountain ranges, island archipelagos, beautiful coastlines, and lush flora. Vancouver, BC, is a great city for a summer home, and has been consistently voted the most livable city in the world, due to its high ranking in overall quality of life.

The area has many housing options, whether you fancy a condo in the city’s downtown or a craftsman home in a more rural setting. In Vancouver you get the best of both worlds—experience the cultural excitement of the city while still enjoying easy access to nature, outdoor recreation, and adventure.

4. Mendoza, Argentina

If you are a wine enthusiast and have always dreamed of owning a vineyard, Mendoza, Argentina may be the perfect place for you. The vineyard prices in Mendoza are significantly less than other popular wine regions, like Napa. Situated in the desert, the region experiences little rainfall, though a highly-efficient irrigation system developed during the pre-Hispanic era keeps the region surprisingly green.

The Latin culture is colorful and vibrant, yet a laid-back lifestyle is embraced by all.

5. Dominican Republic

Find your island oasis at a bargain price in the Dominican Republic. The island nation is becoming increasingly popular among retirees and second-home owners, due to its accessibility and affordability. Some of the more popular vacation home destinations include the areas of Punta Cana, Puerto Plata, and the Samana Peninsula—all are incredibly safe, well-developed, coastal locations.

You've either been furiously cleaning or you need to be. You've either been maniacally planting flowers or you're way overdue for a trip to Lowe's. You've either been redecorating your home or staring at all the things you haven't had a chance - but are dying to - change.

Yes, spring is the time we start coming out from the cold–literally—and tidying up, changing up, and lightening up. Our homes reflect that change of season with a bright, sunny outlook. But before we know it, breezy, light sweater days are replaced by sweltering afternoons. The season is short, albeit sweet. So how do you design for today and tomorrow? Better yet, how do you take the flirty romantic lilt of spring and transition it to the sultry stickiness of summer.

1. Use your nose

Introducing a fragrance into your home is one of the best ways to inspire the senses. And it's easy to do.

"Burning a delicately fragranced candle is easily the most luxurious way to fill your home with scent," said The Independent. "Adding instant romantic light, warmth and fragrance, it can help set a mood and help you to unwind."

Check out some of their favorite summer scents, from "fresh and uplifting or more sensuous and moody," and ranging from Japanese cherry blossoms to French luxury Lily of the Valley, pepper and tangerine, to mandarin and patchouli, here.

2. Pay attention to textures

Sexy textures can be a bit of an oxymoron when it comes to summer. Soft and warm doesn't mesh well with hot and humid. Instead, think gauzy. Swap out your heavy window coverings for something that will dance in the breeze. Strip the beds of heavy blankets and instead dress them with something like this crisp white lightweight blanket in cotton muslin from BCBlankets.

3. See the light

The right lighting can create - or kill - a mood. With more sunlight coming into your home during the longer days, you may not need such bright lights in your gathering spaces. Now would be a great time to install some dimmers, which have gotten much better looking over the past few years.

And while changing out a regular old light switch for dimmers might seem like a task for the electrician, it's actually a pretty simple DIY project. "Replacing a standard light switch with a single dimmer is a pretty simple do-it-yourself project," said Lutron. "In about 15 minutes you'll have the ability to adjust the light in a room for any activity - and you'll save energy." You can check out a how-to video here.

4. Clean up!

Dirt and clutter create chaos, and it's hard to feel fanciful and free when you're in a chaotic environment. Ready to turn over a new clutter-free leaf? See some great tips, like sorting mail directly over the trash can, here.

5. Through the looking glass

If you're in an area that has had some harsh spring weather, or if you simply haven't gotten out the squeegee for a while, it's time to get out there and clean those windows. It's an easy fix that will make a world of difference when you can gaze out your window and get a glimpse of nature instead of grime. Grime never made anyone feel sexy.

6. Take it to the bedroom

If your bedroom is more blah than bodacious, it's time to address the issues. Mismatched furniture can be made over with a can of paint. Same goes for dirty or dated walls.

For color, almost anything goes, as long as it makes you feel good. But, said Elle Décor, stay away from a few signature hues. "Avoid green or yellow: No one looks good in a green reflection; yellow can make skin appear jaundiced," they said.

If you've got money for one splurge in the bedroom, Elle Décor recommends spending it on the bed. "Even if you're watching your wallet, the place to spend the money is the bedding," they said. "Crisp white sheets in thread counts ranging from 450 to 650 create the sexiest tactile experience in terms of bedding. Keep the sheets plain; go no fancier than a top sheet with embroidery. And don't go overboard with too many pillows."

North Lake Tahoe April 2015 Real Estate Sales Comparison

by Marius Poltan
  • North Lake Tahoe April 2015 Real Estate Sales Comparison

The charts bellow reflect Incline Village real estate sales for the month of April in the past 5 years. These reports we're created individually for Residential Home sales and Condominium Sales.

  • Residential Home Sales Report


Click here for larger image

- Please note that the report above was created using data extracted from the MLXChange System and reflects Residential Home sales.

  • Condominium Sales Report

Click here for larger image

- Please note that the report above was created using data extracted from the MLXChange System and reflects Condominium sales.

To access all the Incline Village and Lakeshore Realty listings please click here. You can also contact us by email or call us at 775-831-7000. If you are in Incline Village, please visit us at 954 Lakeshore Blvd. Incline Village, NV 89451.

Stretch Your Money: Worthwhile Rental Property Home Improvements

by Lakeshore Realty

Whether you bought the property with the intention of renting it out or if it was a family home that you can't bear to part with, rental properties are an investment, so you need to have a clear plan of how you will make money. The cost of improvements needs to be weighed against the income potential. Here are five areas to focus your budget and get the most for your money:

Roofs Are Mandatory

Compared to the other improvements, maintaining a roof is not an option but an essential. A leaky roof can destroy the structure of the home, rendering it unlivable. If you already have tenants in the property, you may be liable for damages to their property or to their health as a result of roof damage. Roof repair or replacement can be costly, depending on the type of roof, but there are several ways to spread it out to avoid high out-of-pockets expenses. In most cases, financing against the equity of the home is one of the best options. Most banks and mortgage lenders have some form of loan for roof repair. Some of the larger, reputable roofing companies have financing options as well.

The Importance of Paint

A new coat of interior paint has both tangible and intangible value. A clean, fresh-looking unit will allow you to charge more for rent. It also shows that you are receptive to tenant needs. Research by Harvard University shows that rental improvements fluctuate erratically over time, unlike new construction that matches national economic indicators. Painting the inside of the house or apartment should be a routine task after any long-term tenant moves out.

The Perennial Plant Value

A yard full of lush grass and thriving plants increases curb appeal and creates a sense of community. These are both significant factors in a prospective tenant’s decision-making process. Landscaping maintenance is also beneficial for tax purposes. According to IRS guidelines, a new landscape installation is a capital expense and not a deduction. Normal upkeep of landscaping is a maintenance expense and can be subtracted from the net income of the property.

Lighting To Make The Home Look New

Upgrading light fixtures and ceiling fans has a two-fold purpose. Ornate brass fixtures can make even the most well-kept home look dated and drab. Upgrading to modern fittings gives the entire space a refreshed look and feel. Lighting also plays a vital role in the visual appeal of the home. Soft lights can make a house seem dark and uninviting. Instead, use brighter lights to drive away the shadows that can make a space feel small. Spotlights also work to focus a potential tenant on key features of the home.

Pests That Eat Your Money

Like roofing, pest control should also be managed at the first sign of an issue. On the onset, a cockroach or rat can be a deal-breaker when renting or selling a home. More significantly, an infestation can harm the structure and value of the property and your tenants have rights of compensation if this happens. Not only should you have the home regularly maintained by a licensed professional exterminator for normal pests like termites, roaches, and vermin, but you should also have him look for any bedbugs, fleas and ticks around the property.

Bring The Spring Into Your Home!

by Rodenhiser Heating and Air Conditioning

Now that the snow has melted, the trees begin to bud, and the flowers start to sprout, you're probably itching to get your spring-cleaning on. But before you break out the rubber gloves, here are some ways to make sure your home's air is fresh, clean, and pleasant, just like the new season upon us!

1. Open up those windows: This may be an obvious tip, but it's easy to forget when you're rushing to work during the week with little time to do anything else. Don't save cracking open those windows until the weekend when you're free, try making a habit of opening some windows when you first wakeup and closing them before you leave. Something this simple can lower concentrations of toxic chemicals and carbon monoxide.

2. Move smoking outside: The smoke exhaled after smoking a cigarette contains more than 4,000 different chemicals, which are then released into the air. The only way to keep your home toxic free from cigarettes is to step outside or to even ask guests that smoke to go outside. Secondhand smoke is also a higher risk when smoke is contained in the air in a home rather than outside.

3. Keep it Clean: Practicing daily and weekly cleaning habits can improve the air quality of your home tremendously. Not only will your home smell fresh and clean, but it will also have cleaner, and higher quality air. Try dusting, mopping, and vacuuming at least once a week to improve your home's air.

4. Trade in Synthetic for Natural: Some air fresheners that you use to "freshen" up your home may create an inviting smell, but can also release harmful gasses. Excessively using an air freshener as your only means of getting rid of odor can decrease the quality of the air in your home. Try using simple products such as baking soda, lemon slices, or fresh flowers.

5. Monitor the Humidity: Keeping the humidity of your home between 30 and 50 percent can limit mold growth and dust mites that may pollute the air. Dehumidifiers can usually help with this, and even just making sure there are no water leaks in your home is a good start.

6. Grab some Green: Houseplants are a great way to bring some lively decor into your home and improve the air quality at the same time. Some great houseplants for this include, Chrysanthemums, Snake plants, Peace Lily's and English Ivy's. Although the plants' pollutant removal rate is small, every little bit helps!

Keep these tips in mind so that you can rid your home of the stuffy winter air and bring in the sights, sounds, and smells of spring. Not only will your home be cleaner, and safer, but it will also be a much more enjoyable environment for family and guests. You beat the winter blues, time to celebrate with some fresh air and sunshine!

How To Revive Your Lawn That Took A Beating This Winter

by Lisa Kaplan Gordon written for HouseLogic.com
 
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Most of the U.S. endured ridiculous subzero temperatures and record snowfalls this winter. So don’t be surprised if parts of your lawn—especially in low-lying areas—are dead on arrival in spring.

“Snow acts like a cover, but ice is bad for turf,” says Chris Lemcke, technical director of Weed Man USA lawn care. “Ice freezes plant cells and crushes blades and leads to death.”

Freeze-thaw-freeze conditions are even worse for turf roots, which can become brittle and die. Road salt is also bad for lawns. The turf near streets and along driveways and paths may need resuscitation or replacement when spring grass should be greening up.

Dead or sleeping?

When snow and ice melt, your late-winter turf starts awakening from hibernation and changes from brown grass to green. If your lawn died, it won’t change color.

The best way to see if your lawn is dead or sleeping is to tug the brown areas. If the turf comes up easily, the roots have failed and the grass is dead. If there’s resistance, then there’s hope.

How to bring lawns back

When is the right time to bury your dead lawn—grass, roots, clinging soil—in a compost pile and start growing new grass?

  • After the last chance of frost
  • When night temperatures top 35 degrees
  • When soil temperatures reach 50–65 degrees

Dead patches of lawn are easy to pull up because no roots bind the turf to the soil. Cut around dead areas with a spade, then yank up the patch.

Then it’s time to reseed.

1.  Scatter seed on soil and lightly rake it in.

2.  Water daily with a light mist for 15 minutes to keep the soil moist. If the soil dries out, seed will not germinate.

3.  When seed germinates, water deeply.

4.  Feed young blades a high-phosphorous fertilizer.

5.  Let grass grow at least 3 inches before its first cut.

If you can afford sod—about 8 to 30 cents per square foot compared with $28 for a 5-pound bag of seed that’ll cover 2,000 square feet—Lemcke recommends laying sod on dead patches instead of seeding. Sod is more forgiving when it comes to watering and resists weeds better than seed.

An ounce of prevention

You can’t control the weather, but you can mitigate winter’s effect on your lawn.

  • Add topsoil to low areas of your yard to reduce the impact of ice. Then reseed or sod.
  • If you notice dead turf where you piled shoveled snow, spread out your snow pile next year.
  • To reduce salt damage, apply de-icers after you shovel snow, so salt doesn’t seep into your grass. Also, use calcium chloride-based de-icers, which do less damage than sodium chloride-based salts.

Don't Sink Money Into the Wrong Upgrades

by Craig Donofrio (updated from an earlier version by

This article is full of great information for home improvements- Chris and I, Patti Plastiras are planning on building a new home this year. We are taking down an existing property on Freels Peak and building a new smaller ONE LEVEL- (the key ingredient) home. We plan on documenting our progress as the existing property is demolished this summer and the new structure begins! 

wrong home upgradesIf you’re considering home improvements—or even just adding a few extra touches to freshen up the place—don’t rush the process. A plan is key for any successful remodeling job.

You don’t want to pay for impractical or expensive home improvements that are out of style by the time you have to hang a “For Sale” sign in the yard.

Instead, look for smart, traditional and fashionable upgrades to provide value and aesthetic beauty for years to come.

While you’re looking for upgrades, consider these following tips for remodeling.

Kitchens

  • Spacious kitchens with abundant natural light make cooking a pleasure, not a chore.
  • Light-colored kitchens can create an illusion of a bigger space.
  • Adding a skylight is another way of creating a spacious feel.
  • Multiple storage shelves and cabinets plus an extra sink will reduce counter clutter.
  • Built-in microwaves, dishwashers, six-burner ranges and convection ovens are great for utility and convenience.
  • An island range with bar stools promotes an inviting, social atmosphere.

Bathrooms

  • Two-bath homes, plus a master bathroom, are optimal.
  • Many home buyers see high-end items like whirlpools, Jacuzzis, steam and jet showers, double shower heads and hand-held sprayers as essentials.
  • Large storage cabinets, freestanding or built-in, are great.
  • Avoid all-white bathrooms—splashes of color reduce the sterile feeling.
  • Bigger is better. Tiny bathrooms are out.  

Floors

Hardwood flooring increases resale value, so keep hardwood floors in top shape by refinishing them. As an alternative, laminate flooring is typically cheaper than hardwood and a nice upgrade from carpet.

Ceiling Fans

Try to install ceiling fans that make use of a remote control. This will allow you to change speeds without getting up.

High-End Home Amenities

  • Specialty rooms like media rooms, wine cellars, workout rooms and children’s playrooms can boost resale value and personalize a home.
  • Outdoor fireplaces, patio heaters, electronic insect control devices, decks and fountains are popular.
  • Outdoor kitchens can boost resale value.
  • If you live in a hot climate, an in-ground swimming pool can increase your home’s value. However, buyers in more more seasonal climates may see pools as an inconvenience. Ask a REALTOR® to see whether pools are popular in your area.

Additional Research Tips

  • Attend home improvement shows.
  • Consult with home designers, building contractors and handymen. Ask a REALTOR® for trusted references.

Ask These 7 Questions to Create a Whole House Color Palette

by Lakeshore Realty

It seems so simple, but picking a paint color is one of the biggest obstacles my clients have when updating their homes. Once they realize they're really picking an overall palette, they're positively paralyzed.

I've been part of the process in thousands of homes, and it really is easier than most people think. Answer a few questions, make a few quick decisions, and then narrow those decisions down to an ultimate choice. I usually give myself a week to make a final decision.

What Do You Like, and How Do You Want to Feel?

Flipping through magazines and websites can be a big help when you're looking for inspiration, but first, take a minute to answer two important questions that people often forget: What are your favorite colors, and how do you want to feel in your home?

Are you looking for a serene oasis from the world or a fun and funky vibe? Finding yourself on that spectrum and considering the colors most likely to take you there is where you want to start. We react to color on such a gut level that instinct will serve you well. If you're really having a tough time, head to the closet and note the colors of your favorite clothes. Check out the bedding and the art on the walls. You'll be surprised how quickly you see a pattern that resonates. Choose three colors to get started.

What Are the Elements You Can't Control?

Now, factor in the elements of the architecture and design that you can't change. Cabinets, carpet, floors and furniture are more permanent fixtures, and it's easier - and more affordable - to paint around those things rather than remodeling just to match the paint. Now, which of your three colors come off the list? Decide quickly, be brutal, and keep moving. You can do this!

Which Rooms Can You See from Other Rooms?

Even if you're not working with an open floor plan, you want to consider everything in your line of sight as you choose colors for particular rooms. This won't necessarily result in removing any of the colors from the list, but you may end up choosing a different tint or shade of the color you like for another room in your sight line.

Are You Ready to Commit? (You Still Get to Pick Three!)

Time to make a call. Start with your three main paint chips, and then choose one or two of its neighbors on either side to give you a spectrum of the colors you like. This will give you options for accent colors or for picking a broader whole-house color palette. The chips will look different in the store than they will at home, so head home and tape them up somewhere that gets some natural light, so you get a sense of how they look in all kinds of light. Remove the "non-contenders" as soon as you can until you're down to one chip for at least two of your three colors.

Can Your Choices Pass a Test?

This is a crucial part of the process. Pick up an eight-ounce sample of your chosen colors and brush some on every wall they're intended for. Depending on the light, one color will often look like two different shades when painted on different walls. Live with them for at least three days - viewing them morning, noon and night - again noting the difference in shades under different light sources, and start narrowing.

If you're still having trouble deciding, vow to eliminate one color a day. Remember, you can always change paint, and you've already chosen colors you actually like.

Do You Want a Different Look Between Upstairs and Downstairs?

If you're working with a two-story layout, you're no doubt trying to decide if you want a different color upstairs. Many of my clients do, often choosing warmer, cozier shades for their more private spaces. If possible, try to look for colors somewhere on the spectrum of your anchor color. But whatever you choose, just repeat the process upstairs.

Do You Have Any Neutral Nooks?

Stairwells that connect your two living areas, small hallways and the other nooks and crannies of the house where colors come together are often best left in a neutral shade to avoid clashing. For these spaces, look at shades of white, beige, or "greige," a taupey color that will work with just about anything. Believe it or not, our eyes want an occasional rest from color, and this is a great way to achieve that, and bring the colors you do use into more sharp relief.

Hopefully these questions will help you develop a palette that's a perfect reflection of your personality. If you have any of your own suggestions, please share them in the comments!

It's OK To Lighten Up...Your Floor, That Is

by Lakeshore Realty

After years of dark floors, we're finally lightening up again. But don't start to panic about light maple elbowing its way back into your home. The new light wood has more texture, more color variance, more beauty. And, its return to vogue may also signal an important economic trend.

"During the economic downturn, people gravitated toward the traditional dark colors. But with the economy improving, (there is) a rise in the demand for lighter tones," said the Orange County Register. "Some of these are finished to look like driftwood or washed in white to make them look beachy. The look is popular on both coasts and is growing elsewhere in the country."

The newspaper also sees "a growing popularity in what are referred to as ‘domestic exotics,' like hickory and ash. Walnut is growing in popularity, and if left natural, is much lighter than traditionally dark-stained walnut. Many of us remember the pickled light woods of 25 years ago. The gray, white and lighter multiple stain color processes of today are this generation's version of that trend.

If you're ready to lighten up, here are a few options you might want to consider.

A variegated look brings warmth and interest.

Ultra-wide planks set a beautiful foundation.

Go rustic and reclaimed.

Not unique enough? How about floors made from wine barrels?

Bring in grey tones for a modern look.

Curved wood "that follow a tree's natural growth" are a hit in Europe, said interior design firm Beasley & Henley.

Want the look without the work? Porcelain tile resembles wood without the upkeep.

You can also get a similar effect with hard-wearing vinyl planks that look like wood.

What's The Best Type Of Mortgage Loan For You?

by Lakeshore Realty

Question: We are first time home buyers. We have signed a contract to purchase an older home in a nice neighborhood, and the purchase price is $400,000. We have 45 days in which to obtain financing, and have started shopping around with different mortgage lenders. We have two questions. First, the contract states that we will put down 20 percent and obtain a mortgage loan of 80 percent (i.e. $320,000). However, we have begun to realize that there will be significant closing and moving costs, and we would prefer to put down less money. Are we committed to a 20 percent down payment, since that is spelled out in the contract? Second, what kind of loans are available and what's best for us?

Answer: Your first question is easy. Technically (or legally) speaking, you are bound by the terms of the sales contract. You must put down 20 percent -- or $80,000. However, as a practical matter, I suspect that you and your sellers can sign an addendum to the contract which modifies these terms. So long as the amendment (1) will not create any delay in the time you have to go to settlement and (2) will not cause the seller's to spend any more money than was originally called for in the sales contract, this addendum should cause the sellers no problem and indeed it can probably be signed when you actually go to settlement. I suspect that your lender will want to have this addendum in its files.

Your second question is quite difficult to answer, since I do not have any financial information about you. You should discuss these issues with your potential lenders. Ask them to qualify you based on the highest (and the lowest) loan which you are seeking. For example, a "conventional" loan is where you put down 20 percent and borrow 80 percent. In your case, this will require that you put down $80,000. Since you have indicated that this will create a financial strain for you, you can also consider the following options:

an 80-10-10 loan. Here, you will be obtaining two loans. One in the amount of 80 percent (i.e. $320,000) and a second loan in the amount of $40,000. Under this arrangement, you will only have to put $40,000 down when you go to settlement. The 80-10-10 loan was designed to help homeowners avoid the necessity of paying private mortgage insurance (PMI). Lenders want to be sure that should you become delinquent on your mortgage payments, and the lender has to foreclose on the property, that there will be some equity left in the property. The typical benchmark is 20 percent. If you borrow more than 80 percent of the value of the house (called "loan to value ratio") you will be required to pay private mortgage premiums for a long period of time. This PMI is insurance coverage for your lender, which will cover any loss which it incurs should the house be foreclosed upon and the foreclosing price does not cover the entire mortgage balance.

However, since the lender in an 80-10-10 loan is only making a first mortgage (deed of trust) in the amount of 80 percent, no PMI is required. You should understand that you will have to sign a second deed of trust in the amount of 10 percent of the value of the house. This second trust will carry a higher mortgage interest rate than you will get for the first trust. Additionally, the second trust will probably have a shorter due date (perhaps 10 years) than your first trust.

a 90 percent loan. Here, you will borrow $360,000, and sign only one mortgage document. You will still need $40,000 cash at settlement. And private mortgage insurance will be required.

a 95 percent loan. Again, private mortgage insurance will be required, but you will only have to put down five percent (i.e.$20,000).

 

This is but a small sample of the various loan which are available. There are also variations on these various mortgages. For example:

1. Fixed thirty year. Here, the loan will be amortized over 30 years. Each and every month, you will make the same monthly mortgage payment (although if the lender escrows for taxes and insurance, the amount may change on a yearly basis depending on whether taxes and insurance premiums are increased).

2. Fixed fifteen year. Here, the loan will be amortized over 15 years. This means that although the interest rate will be lower than for a 30 year loan, your monthly payments will be much higher, since you will be paying off the loan in half the time. While some people like the idea of paying off their mortgage early -- and thus saving a lot of interest payments -- I am personally opposed to a 15 year loan. If you have the right to pay off the loan (in whole or in part) without penalty, a thirty loan gives you the right to make payments as if they are based on a 15-year amortization, but you are not obligated to make these higher payments should you decide that your money can be used for other -- and better -- purposes.

3. Finally, there are a number of adjustable rate mortgages -- called "ARMS" -- which carry different rate adjustment periods. These adjustments can be made on a yearly basis, or once every three-five-seven or even ten years. Keep in mind, that the smaller the adjustment period, the lower the interest rate will be.

4. Balloon notes. Here, your loan may require that you pay monthly mortgage payments based on a 30-year amortization. However, at the end of a fixed period (for example 7 or 10 years) the entire balance then outstanding will become due and payable. This kind of loan is typically more common for commercial or investment loans, but you should be aware that balloon loans do exist -- and you should make sure that your loan will not suddenly become due (i.e. balloon) after a number of years.

You should contact two or three mortgage lenders and ask the following questions:
•what kinds of loans do you have available?
•what are the rates for each loan?
•based on our financial situation, can we qualify for any or all of the various loans?
•is there a pre-payment penalty if we decide to refinance early, and if so, how much is the penalty?
•can we pay our real estate taxes and homeowner's insurance premiums directly, or will you require that we escrow. This means that the mortgage lender will collect, on a monthly basis, one-twelfth of the real estate tax and one-twelfth of the annual insurance premium. When the tax and the insurance comes due, the lender will make these payments on your behalf. However, when a lender requires these escrows, this means that your monthly mortgage payment will be higher. This is referred to a PITI (payments of Principal, Interest, Taxes and Insurance).

You are entitled to get information giving you an estimate of what you will have to pay when you go to settlement. You are also entitled to get full disclosures of the mortgage interest rate for your loan. For more information, go to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) website and search "Know Before You Owe".

Shopping for a mortgage loan is time-consuming, tedious and often confusing. However, it is your money at stake and you don't want to make a drastic mistake which will haunt you for years to come.

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