March Madness by Average Home Price: The Final Four

And at last we're at the Final Four!

Final Four

All four schools which made it to the Final Four had an impressive showing in terms of home price. The St. Mary Gaels (average home price: $1,071,735) and the Miami Hurricanes (average home price: $1,736,974) squared off in a heated matchup which ended with Miami advancing to the finals.

However, not even Coral Gables, the hometown of Miami University, could keep up with Villanova, PA. After sweeping Cambridge, MA in the semis, Villanova clinched the entire tournament with a home price of $2,407,805. The Wildcats benefited substantially from few key players including 770 Godfrey Rd., on the market for a mere $25 million, and 265 Abrahams Ln., with an asking price of $7,695,000.

We hope you had some fun with our March Madness brackets and get to watch some real March Madness in the coming weeks.

To see our first four March Madness brackets, click on the links below.

If you're looking for a Texas home loan (sorry 770 Godfrey Rd.) contact Georgetown Mortgage Bank today.


March Madness by Average Home Price: Midwest Bracket

Here's our final bracket. Check back with our blog today for the Final Four.

Midwest Bracket

Not quite as competitive as some of the other brackets, the Midwest division was dominated by St. Mary's College in California. St. Mary's is located in Moraga, California, a Bay Area suburb located 10 miles east of Oakland and 20 miles east of San Francisco. As of the 2000 census, Moraga was the 79th wealthiest town in the United States with a population over 10,000.

13 years later, it doesn't look like much has changed.  With an average home price of $1,071,735, Moraga crushed Ft. Collins, Colorado ($369,771) in the Elite Eight round and will make it's way to the Final Four.

Check back later today for the completion of our NCAA bracket as well as an in-depth analysis the championship game.

March Madness by Average Home Price: East Bracket

The next bracket in our March Madness tournament is the East.

East Bracket

While Miami easily reigned supreme, the division did have a few exciting matchups, including an early meeting between the Colorado Buffaloes and the Hurricanes. With an average home price of $1,736,974, Coral Gables, the hometown of the University of Miami, swept Boulder, one of its top competitors, with an average home price of $828,411.

Miami's largest challenge came in the final round when it went head to head against the University of California at Berkeley. With an average home price of $1,060,222 Berkeley dominated it's early matchups including an exciting face-off with LIU Brooklyn ($688,877) in the Sweet Sixteen round. In the Elite Eight final, however, not even California could keep up with Coral Gables. The Hurricanes easily beat out the Golden Bears and will continue on to the Final Four.

Looking for a home loan in Texas? Contact Georgetown Mortgage Bank today.

March Madness by Average Home Price: West Bracket

Continuing on with our March Madness brackets by the average home price, we look to the West division.

West Bracket

The biggest contest of this division didn't really come in the Elite Eight round, but in the Sweet Sixteen matchup between Harvard University and Iona College. Situated in picturesque New Rochelle, NY, Iona College had an average home price of $526,550.

However, New Rochelle was no match for Cambridge, MA, the hometown of Harvard. With its eclectic collection of bookstores, coffeehouses and arthouse cinemas, Cambridge rose to the occasion with an average home price of $898,417.

In the Elite Eight round, Harvard easily beat out Boise State which rose to the top of its bracket with an average home price of $290,657.

Looking to refinance your home to a lower rate? Contact Georgetown Mortgage Bank today,.

March Madness by Average Home Price: South Bracket

It's that time of year again! The teams have been selected and the brackets set. Over the next few weeks college basketball fans all over the country will tune in to see which teams make it into the Sweet Sixteen, Elite Eight, Final Four and National Championship.

While we won't be making any official tournament predictions, we did think we'd have a little fun this week with the March Madness brackets. Instead of filling out the brackets with the team we think will win on the court, we decided to see which college town would win if we based the brackets on average home price.

The average prices that we used were pulled from and are current as of the first full week in March. Below is the South bracket of the tournament.

South Bracket

Based on average home prices for the town, Villanova was an easy winner. The affluent Philadelphia suburb had an average home price of $2,407,805 at the beginning of March. In second place, Los Angeles had an average home price of $1,205,598.

So Villanova continues onto the final four and will face the winner of the East bracket.

Looking for a home loan in Texas? Contact Georgetown Mortgage Bank today to learn about your mortgage options.


Paying Off Your Mortgage Early

early mortgage payments, texas mortgagesFor many homeowners, the idea of paying off a mortgage early and owning a home without any debt is extremely satisfying. After all, it's one less bill to pay and could save you immensely on interest payments. But is paying off that debt really the best way to use your resources? Below we've listed a few things to consider before making an extra payment.

Credit Card Debt. Other forms of debt such as credit cards come with higher interest rates than your mortgage. It might be wise to pay these off first before you worry about your home loan.

Emergency Savings. You never know what life will throw at you and it's always wise to have a cash cushion in case you get laid-off or injured.

Retirement Plans. If you have extra money, consider saving for retirement by contributing the maximum amount to your 401(k) and IRA. Like mortgage interest payments, contributions to retirement accounts are tax-exempt.

College Savings. Got kids? Fund a college savings program such as a 529 plan. In states with an income tax, college savings are tax-exempt.

Refinancing. If you're paying a higher rate from a few years ago, you might spend your extra cash refinancing to one of the lower rates on today's market. In the long run, it could end up saving you big, particularly if you're going to hold onto the mortgage for a long time.

Other Investments. At the moment, mortgage rates are incredibly low (around 3.7 percent). Finding an investment opportunity that pays more than 3.7 percent in interest could end up earning you more money than you can save by paying off a mortgage early.

If you've taken care of these other opportunities and don't feel comfortable investing your money into higher earning funds, then it's time to start thinking about paying down your mortgage early. To learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of paying down your mortgage early contact Georgetown Mortgage Bank today.

Questions to Ask Before Buying: Condition of the Home

texas home loan, texas mortgageMaking an offer on a home can be a bit daunting, particularly if you're new to the home buying scene. To help you navigate the process, we've come up with a few questions you might want to ask the seller about the overall condition of the house.

  • How old is the roof? Replacing or repairing a roof could cost you anywhere from $2,000 to $12,000. It's best to know beforehand if it's going to be a problem.
  • Do the faucets work? In general, you should try and get as much information as you can about the plumbing system. If it's old, you might have to replace it. If there's a leak you'll have to pay someone to repair it.
  • How much are utilities? The utility bill is a cost that many homebuyers don't think about until they have to pay it. Knowing how much you're water, gas and electric will be in advance could help you identify some potential problems with the home. For instance, an extreme heating bill could mean that the home isn't well insulated.
  • Are there any problems with the home? Texas mandates that home sellers disclose problems with the property in a seller's disclosure form. However, it could save you some time if you ask about problems up front.

To learn more about home buying, Texas home loans and the sorts of questions that buyers should ask before making an offer, contact Georgetown Mortgage Bank today.

Risks of Buying a Short Sale

texas home loan, texas short sale loanA short sale occurs when a lender allows a borrower to sell a property for less than the balance owed on a mortgage. For homebuyers, short sales can mean huge savings. However, there are some risks involved that house hunters considering a short sale should take into account.

Time is perhaps the largest risk involved with a short sale. Unlike a standard home sale between a seller and a buyer, there's a third party involved in the short sale process: the lender. Not only do you have to agree on a price with a seller, but also whoever holds their mortgage.

Getting the bank's approval can take from three to six months, during which you can't be sure if you're going to get the house or not. If the sale falls through, you've ended up wasting a lot of time that you could've spent searching for other homes. In addition, if you have to negotiate a new price, you'll also have to negotiate a new interest rate which could be higher than before.

Many listing agents will also require that you put down a deposit on the home or perform an inspection prior to the lender's approval. This essentially locks you into the home and if the lender doesn't agree on the sale, you could lose a substantial chunk of change.

Lastly, buyers need to be wary of the potential for poor property conditions in a short sale. The home is sold "as is" and most sellers don't have the money (or motivation) to pay for small repair jobs. What you see is what you get, and fixing up the property could cost you as much as you saved on the sale to begin with.

To learn more about how to obtain a Texas home loan for a short sale, contact Georgetown Mortgage Bank today.

Tax-Deductible Mortgage Insurance

As we talked about in yesterday's post, home ownership comes with some pretty nice tax deductions for homeowners who decide to itemize. One of the deductions that homeowners have taken advantage of for the past few years is the mortgage insurance deduction.

A mortgage insurance policy compensates the lender for losses in case the borrower goes into default. Mortgage insurance is typically only required for home buyers who put down less than 20 percent of the home's value. Additionally, it can be cancelled once a buyer reaches that 20 percent mark during the life of the loan.

While no one wants to pay mortgage insurance premiums, the good news is that the amount you pay on mortgage insurance is partially tax deductible.

This hasn't always been the case, however. The deduction was first passed into law by Congress in 2007. It expired at the end of 2011, but was revived again at the end of 2012 in a bill called the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, or as it is better known, the "fiscal cliff deal."
The fiscal cliff package extended the mortgage insurance deduction for two years-retroactively for 2012 and currently for 2013.

What this means for you is that when you receive a 1098 form from your lender, you'll see a little box that says "Mortgage Insurance Premiums." Whatever amount you see in there is probably tax deductible. If your adjusted gross income is less than $100,000, your premiums are 100 percent tax-free. For every $1,000 you make over $100,000 the deduction is phased out by 10 percent. For individuals who make over $110,000, the deduction isn't available.

If you paid insurance premiums in 2012, be sure to take advantage of this tax break this spring. To learn more about tax deductions for homeowners, contact Georgetown Mortgage today.

Standard or Itemized Deduction?

As a first time homebuyer you may be a bit confused when it comes to filing your taxes this spring. You've probably heard that there are certain tax deductions associated with mortgages and homeownership. But do you know what they are and how to take advantage of them?

To begin with, there are four main deductions that homeowners can claim.

  • Mortgage Interest
  • Property taxes
  • Points paid on a home loan
  • Mortgage insurance

All four of these expenses are tax deductible, meaning that they reduce how much of your income is subject to taxes. To claim them, however, you'll need to itemize your taxes on Schedule A (Form 1040).

Every taxpayer is entitled to a standard deduction set by the IRS. In 2012, the standard deduction amount was $5,950 for individuals and $11,900 for couples. For non-homeowners, it's easier and sometimes more financially savvy to simply take the standard deduction and not waste a bunch of time filling out extra forms.

As a homeowner, however, you should definitely consider itemizing your taxes. The big question is whether the amount you can deduct on Schedule A is more than what you'll get with the standard deduction. Hint: It usually is.

To calculate the amount you can deduct by itemizing, add together all the expenses on the 1098 form you received from your lender as well as any other tax-deductible expenses such as charitable donations. If your final tally is greater than the standard deduction amount, fill out Schedule A.

Note: you cannot file for both a standard deduction and itemized deductions. You have to choose between one or the other.

To learn more about the tax benefits of owning a home, contact Georgetown Mortgage Bank today to speak to one of our Texas home loan originators.