Should You Refinance Your Home?

As mortgage rates hit a historical low, you may be wondering whether or not you should begin the process of refinancing your mortgage. At Frank B. Pallotta Law Firm, we are here to walk you through your options and guide you in the best way we can. 

Benefits of Refinancing

There are multiple advantages to refinancing your mortgage loan. If mortgage rates are exceptionally low to the point that it would lower your monthly mortgage payment, this would be a great opportunity for you to move forward with the refinancing process. 

Another great reason to refinance your mortgage is to shorten your loan term from a 30 year loan to a 15 year mortgage loan. This could seriously accelerate your goals to having your home completely paid off. 

If you have an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM), refinancing your mortgage could give you more predictable payments with a fixed-rate loan to lock in your rate for the remainder of the loan. 

You Should Refinance If…

If you’re facing a cash flow issue then a cash-out refinance issue may be the best plan for you. You can read more about this option in our latest blog post. Since mortgage loans usually have lower interest rates and are tax deductible, this might be a good option for you.

If you have reached 20% equity in your home then it is time to refinance to eliminate the lender-paid mortgage insurance (PMI) premium that is built into your loan.

Lastly, if you need to remove a person from your mortgage usually due to a divorce or to remove a co-signer no longer needed, the only way to accomplish this is by refinancing. 

What To Expect When Refinancing

Before you begin the refinancing process, there are a few things you’ll want to check first. Make sure you have at least 20% equity in your home. If you will still have to pay PMI even after you refinance for a lower interest rate, you will want to crunch the numbers to see if refinancing even makes sense for you. 

You’ll also want to check to make sure your credit score is at least 760 and your debt-to-income ratio is 36% or less. This will give you the best chances to get the lowest interest rate. 

Last but not least, be sure to calculate the break-even point and how refinancing will affect your taxes.

Ready to Call Your Real Estate Attorney?

If you think refinancing is the best next step for you or if you have more questions about what your options are, we are here to help you. Give us a call today and let our expert team guide you. With videoconferencing still in effect under COVID-19 Executive Orders, Frank B. Pallotta Law can make your refinance closing even easier.

What You Should Know About Home EQUITY

We can set all the right plans for our future but no one could predict things like a global pandemic, an economic recession or a natural disaster. When those things hit, it’s important to know what options you have to get your hands on some cash if you need it.

If you need a cash-out refinance or a home equity line of credit, there are some important things to know about the process and how that will impact you long term. 

What is a Cash-Out Refinance?

When you have a cash-out refinance, you are borrowing against your home equity to obtain funds. With this type of refinancing, you receive your check at closing and the amount of this loan is then added onto the mortgage that you owe. Since mortgage rates tend to be lower than other types of debt and are tax-deductible, this route can be a very cost-efficient way to borrow.

Doing this results in a new mortgage loan which may have different terms than your original loan. These terms could range from a different type of loan, a different interest rate or a longer or shorter time period for paying off your loan.

Before your check is cut, proceeds are first used to pay off your existing mortgage and any closing costs or prepaid items. You can expect similar closing costs to your original mortgage at your cash-out refinance closing.

What is a Home Equity Line of Credit?

Home equity line of credit (HELOC) is taken out in addition to your existing mortgage. Since this is considered a 2nd mortgage, it will have its own term and repayment schedule separate from your 1st mortgage. However, if your house is already paid for and fully owned by you (no mortgage), some lenders allow you to open a home equity line of credit and the HELOC will be your 1st and only mortgage.

With a HELOC, you can withdraw from your available line of credit as needed during your draw period, which is usually about 10 years. During this period, you’ll make monthly payments with principal and interest. After the draw period ends, the repayment period begins with 20 years to repay the outstanding balance.

HELOC usually has no (or relatively small) closing costs.

Ready to Call Your Real Estate Attorney?

If you’re in need of taking any equity out on your home, the best next step is to call Frank B. Pallotta Law today. Our expert team will guide you through your current situation and make you feel confident in choosing the right decision between a cash-out refinance or a home equity line of credit. And with videoconferencing still in effect under COVID-19 Executive Orders, Frank B. Pallotta Law can make your refinance closing process entirely stress free. 

Why Home Buyers Should Hire a Real Estate Agent

When searching for a new home in Georgia, you may not be aware that you could technically do it on your own. Georgians are not legally required to hire a real estate agent to assist in finding and purchasing a home. However, if you ask anyone at Frank B. Pallotta Law, the first thing we’re going to recommend is to start interviewing realtors. 

Interviewing real estate agents may sound like a daunting task but, most of the time, all it takes is simply asking your friends and family if they know a good realtor and you’ll probably end up with a longer list than you anticipated. If that comes up with little to no results, we would be happy to provide recommendations of real estate agents in Cobb, Cherokee, Fulton and surrounding Metro Atlanta counties. 

Why Hire a Professional?

A highly skilled real estate agent will help you navigate the real estate industry. They will have a team in place to guide you through one of the largest financial investments of your life. 

To make sure you know who you’re going into business with, start by researching online, ask about everyone on their “team” and learn what techniques they use to get their buyers on the winning end of every purchase. 

One question that is usually overlooked is who they use as their closing attorney. The most important phase of purchasing real estate is the moment the legally binding contracts are signed so it’s worth researching the real estate lawyer who will be processing the transaction.

Remember you are the CEO of your home search! Everyone you hire to guide you through the process, works for you.

Benefits to Hiring a Real Estate Agent

Money is the obvious benefit to hiring a real estate agent for both buyers and sellers. It’s understandable why so many people may initially think that having a middle man between buyer and seller is a waste of money but there are major financial benefits to realtors. Realtors know negotiation. As an unrepresented home buyer, you may miss huge opportunities just by simply not knowing what you can negotiate and what you cannot; what increases your home value and what does not. 

Money aside, real estate agents do a lot of the heavy lifting for you. We all know moving is a major transition and, unfortunately, the world doesn’t stop just because you are moving. You will be juggling more than usual, adding legal documents into the mix without a professional keeping you on track could get dicey. Important things that real estate agents are trained to handle might slip through the cracks. 

At the end of the day, your investment is too important to not hire a real estate agent. 

The final step in your home buying process is the closing. Behind every successful real estate agent is a highly skilled real estate attorney that takes over to process the transaction in a peaceful and fair manner after the selling price and terms have been established.

Georgia Law Requires a Real Estate Attorney 

Although Georgia does not require a realtor to buy or sell a home, all closings must be conducted by a licensed Georgia real estate attorney. Since we already know that closing on a home requires you to sign stacks of legal documents, you’re going to appreciate having that person in the room to help you understand what you’re signing and agreeing to. 

If you decide to buy your next home without a real estate agent, just note that you are still required to have a real estate attorney present at closing. Frank B. Pallotta Law would be happy to help you through that! Give us a call today and let our expert team guide you.

Selling Your Home During the COVID-19 Outbreak

The term “new normal” has been used a lot lately when describing the rippling effect the Coronavirus, COVID-19 has had on our country and the world. But there is nothing normal about empty parks, clear roads or long-term school closures. And there is certainly nothing normal about selling your home when you literally can’t be anywhere else.

So far, the real estate market in Metro Atlanta remains open for business but gone are the days of running to Starbucks to pass the time while potential buyers tour your home.

All the medical experts will advise you that the safest route right now is to hold off on putting your home on the market. The rules of the past regarding the best times to sell your home, currently do not apply.

Life, however, isn’t always that simple and you may be facing circumstances that require you to move forward with your home selling process regardless of a shelter-in-place order from your city.

It’s time to get creative and flexible…

1. Create a Video Walk Through of Your Home

Clean the house, turn on all of the lights, organize closets, remove any clutter, pick up the rugs and take down any personal photos… then start filming! You’ll want to film in a “POV” (point of view) style using a DSLR camera or the newest smart phone you have. If you’re using a phone, remember to hold it horizontally while filming.

If your realtor doesn’t have the equipment or experience to do this for you, there are so many resources available online to help guide you through the process. Here’s a great example to get started: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GWtK4berZ2s

2. Teleconference Live Virtual Tours with Realtors & Buyers

Technology is playing the biggest role in keeping our economy afloat while we navigate through this current health crisis. Be open to giving potential buyers as many virtual home tours as they request until they feel ready to make an offer. At that time discuss with your realtor about a plan for physical home showings. Discuss a plan that allows sanitizing between appointments and precautions you would like the buyers to take when in the home; i.e. No shoes inside the house, no touch policy unless wearing gloves, only the essential people attend (no children) and if anyone is having symptoms of any kind, they do not attend.

3. Move Out, If Possible

Moving out before your home sells is not an option for everyone unless you have the financial means or a generous friend or family member that can offer you a place to stay without adding any extra risk to either one of you (i.e. someone in the house is a health worker and you are immune compromised or vice versa).

If you have a parent or a grandparent who could use the extra company, it’s a win-win for the both of you! What sounds better than spending some precious time with grandma while your empty house remains open for potential buyers?

Now once you move onto the closing process, we can take it from there! All of us at Frank Pallotta Law are working day and night with real estate agents in Cherokee and neighboring counties to ensure business continues for our clients. You can read more about the steps we are taking to keep your closing process moving forward while also maintaining everyone’s health and safety in our Message To Our Clients About COVID-19 and check out our Facebook for updates as things progress.