Can You Purchase a Home Even With Student Loans?

student on laptopAs more millennials are preparing to buy a home, one issue is making it difficult for many — student loans.

The Project on Student Debt calculated that just about 7 in 10 college graduates in the Class of 2014 had student loan debt, and on average each student had about $29,000 in loans.

With mortgages often amounting to well over a hundred thousand dollars, many first-time home buyers may be asking whether they can even qualify for financing with their student debt.

So, is it possible to buy a home even with thousands of dollars in student loans? It depends.

What’s Your Debt-to-Income Ratio?

It all comes down to your debt-to-income ratio, or what percentage of your gross monthly income goes toward your total monthly mortgage payments.

Lenders recommend a debt-to-income ratio no greater than 36%, with no more than 28% of your monthly income going toward paying off your mortgage. As an example, someone who earns $50,000 in a year and has $1,500 in monthly debt payments would be right at the 36% recommendation.

calculator and finance sheetSo even if you are saddled with thousands of dollars in student loans, it is possible to obtain financing for a home if your debt-to-income ratio is right around that recommended ratio.

You Also Need to Consider Credit History

When home buyers apply for a mortgage, lenders look at whether they pay their bills on time and their employment history, for instance. If you have good credit history, that may further help you qualify for a mortgage.

You can always talk to a reputable lender about whether you can qualify for a mortgage with your student loan debt. Talk with us and we can help you get started with the mortgage pre-qualification process.

We Can Talk About Your Home Buying Plans

If you’re thinking of buying a home in the area, we can also recommend a reputable local mortgage lender so you can discuss the right mortgage for you, including interest rates and down payments. We even offer a free mortgage calculator on our website that can help you calculate monthly mortgage payments.

Contact us today and we can get started!

How to Prepare Your Home for the Holidays

dinner table with thanskgiving mealIt’s already November, but major retailers have already stocked their displays with twinkling lights and shiny ornaments, so you know what that means: The holidays are here.

Easy Holiday Home Decorating Tips

Whether you plan to host holiday get-togethers with friends, family, and neighbors or plan to visit your loved ones this year, you can prepare your home with today’s best styles to get into the holiday spirit.

Here are three ways that you can decorate your home for the holidays.

Use Seasonal Centerpieces

Nothing says “festive” quite like seasonal decorations around the table. Prepare for Thanksgiving Day meals by setting out cornucopias, small pumpkins, and autumn leaves, and exchange them for holly wreaths or tiny Christmas trees close to December.

Try Scent-Sational Decorations

Cinnamon, vanilla, gingerbread — these are the warm aromas that define the holiday season. So light a few candles in the kitchen or bake some cookies to fill your home with seasonal fragrances.

snowflake ornament with blue glitterFill Your Windows with Winter Joy

Let the sun cast its rays on your holiday decorations.

You can hang decorative snowflakes from your windows and watch your room light up with the sparkles, or choose stylish window decals to give your home the look and feel of a winter wonderland.

Let Us Be Your Real Estate Resource This Season

Are you searching for a new home during the holidays? You don’t have to find it alone. We have a variety of free, helpful home buying resources that can help you discover the perfect place to call home in the coming months.

Contact us today to learn more about the area, find homes for sale, or to schedule a showing of your dream home. We are always happy to help.

San Jose’s Top 10 Fastest-Growing Companies

Silicon Valley is acclaimed for its thriving job market and employment opportunities. But San Jose, in particular, is the site of many of the area’s fastest-growing private companies.

A Spot at the Top:

San Jose’s Fastest-Growing Companies

Inc. came out with its annual list of the fastest-growing companies in the US. San Jose proves why it reigns supreme in Silicon Valley, with its fastest-growing companies sitting on a coveted spot starting more than halfway up the list. Here are San Jose’s top 10 companies on this prestigious list:

10. Clean Solar — 2014 Revenue: $8.5 million | Growth rate: 177%

9. Richter10.2 Media Group — 2014 Revenue: $3.7 million| Growth rate: 179%

8. Malwarebytes — 2014 Revenue: $48.1 million| Growth rate: 264%

7. TechShop — 2014 Revenue: $12 million| Growth rate: 345%

6. Early Growth Financial Services — 2014 Revenue: $6.5 million| Growth rate: 436%

5. Untangle — 2014 Revenue: $18.6 million| Growth rate: 487%

4. NorCal CrossFit — 2014 Revenue: $4.3 million| Growth rate: 641%

3. Ensighten — 2014 Revenue: $19.6 million | Growth rate: 1,012%

2. 360 Payment Solutions — 2014 Revenue: $2.5 million | Growth rate: 1,865%

1. Kukui — 2014 Revenue: $4.1 million | Growth rate: 3,944%

View the interactive map below or read more about San Jose’s fastest-growing companies for the location and further details about each company on the list.

San Jose Has a Hot Real Estate Market, Too

Since the city is such an attractive place to work, San Jose has an attractive real estate market.

Are you relocating to San Jose for work? Want to find the perfect place to live that’s convenient to your place of employment? Let us help you find your dream home in San Jose or the surrounding areas.

Search through the homes for sale in San Jose by your price range and find out more about the community, and when you’ve found the perfect property to call home, contact us and we can schedule a showing.

Unique Ways to Decorate Your Home for Halloween

Halloween is just around the corner. Have you thought about decorating your home this year?

It might seem like all of the options for Halloween decorations are the same year after year: carve a pumpkin, light the luminaries, and set out a bowl of candy for trick-or-treaters. But with just a little paint and creativity in the right places, you can really make your Halloween decorations stand out.

3 Easy Twists on Traditional Halloween Decorations

Looking to modify your Halloween decorations this year? Here are a few simple twists on your traditional choices.

pumpkin carved with geometric designsCarve Patterns Into Your Pumpkins

Who said pumpkins always had to have faces? Light up the night with swirls and stars from your illuminated pumpkins, and let your friends and neighbors admire your unique creation.

You can carve your pumpkin with as simple or intricate designs as you want. It’s all up to you.

Make Mason Jar Monsters

Turn your ordinary glass jars into simple yet spooky decorations with just a little bit of paint and cloth. You can paint a Mason jar orange with black eyes and a mouth to look like a jack-o’-lantern, or wrap a jar with gauze and stick on two eyes to look like a mummy.

And let your creations glow in the dark. Light a tea candle or put a battery-operated tea light into your Mason jar monsters and set it on a table or window sill to give your room a spooky effect.

Welcome Trick-Or-Treaters with Goody Bags

Turn the typical treat stop at your front door into a fun experience for both you and the trick-or-treaters — you’ll have fun decorating individual goody bags, and they’ll have fun choosing among delicious treats.

a pile of jelly beansFill a small Ziploc bag with orange jelly beans and draw on eyes and a mouth to make pumpkin treat bags, or draw a hairline and eyes on a bag filled with green jelly beans to create Frankenstein’s monster.

Or, if you want a spookier effect, you can make hand-shaped goody bags. Just fill transparent plastic gloves with candy or popcorn.

And if you’re selling your home this month, you don’t have to save these sweet tips for Halloween night; leave small goody bags for home buyers during a showing. It’s a great way to treat them.

Selling Your Home This October?

Let Halloween be the only spooky time that you encounter this month. We’re your real estate experts and are happy to help you stage your home, answer your questions, and determine a competitive listing price for your property, giving you peace of mind while selling.

Give us a call today and we can talk about your home selling timeline.

Mountain View May See a Permanent LinkedIn Campus

Real estate is in high demand in Silicon Valley.

And earlier this year, Mountain View city officials decided on building rights for a prime area of real estate, North Bayshore.

Development in North Bayshore

Mountain View’s North Bayshore neighborhood has been a magnet for high-tech employers, and the North Bayshore development plan envisions it as an area that meets the city’s development needs while preserving its natural landscape.

A New Campus for LinkedIn

up-close view of bicycle gearsLinkedIn was awarded 1.45 million square feet of available space in North Bayshore, where it plans to expand and build a new campus mixing work with play — new offices, shops, restaurants, an athletic club, a theater, and a hotel. A key feature of this new development would be the bike-friendly and pedestrian-friendly campus, with a central pedestrian avenue and bike bridge.

The campus proposal received praise from city officials a few weeks ago, and the proposed project’s first phase has a future completion date set for 2019.

Let’s Talk About Mountain View

Relocating to Silicon Valley and looking for a home in Mountain View? Let us be your guide to this great city — ask us for Mountain View real estate listingsour guide to having fun in Silicon Valley, and comprehensive home buying resources.

Have your dream home in mind? Call us at 408-357-4611 and we can schedule a showing.

Are You Attending Our Sunnyvale, CA Client Appreciation Event?

ComedyTicket_ResizedWe here on the Gary & Robert Real Estate team don’t just like to say that we appreciate our clients, we like to show them as well.

That’s why each year, we hold a Client Appreciation Party to say “Thank You” to all of those clients who have chosen to work us when buying or selling real estate on the Sunnyvale, CA area real estate market.

Interested in going? If so, here’s all of the information you’ll need to know:

  • When: 7 p.m. on Nov. 14
  • Where: Rooster T. Feathers Comedy Club in Sunnyvale
  • Who: Past Clients of the Gary & Robert Real Estate Team
  • RSVP: As soon as possible at

We’re Your #1 Sunnyvale, CA Real Estate Experts

Often our Client Appreciation Party is quite a momentous occasion. Why? Because over the years, we’ve helped scores of home buyers and home sellers just like you secure a successful outcome on the local real estate market. And these kinds of great professional relationships last long after the final closing.

If you’re ready to enter the market anytime soon as a buyer or seller, we encourage you to connect with us at The Gary & Robert Real Estate Team. We would love to help you every step of the way!

Until next time,

Gary & Robert

“Know Before You Owe”: How New Rules Could Impact Closings

house icon on grassIf you’re a home buyer, changes to the closing process are coming in just a few days.

New regulations go into effect on Saturday, October 3rd, providing new loan disclosure forms that are designed to help you better understand the terms of your home mortgage before you close on your new home. That means if you applied for a loan on or after that date, you will receive the easier-to-understand forms.

What You Need to Know About the New Closing Disclosures

To summarize, these new rules combine mortgage loan disclosures from both the Truth-In-Lending Act (which informs consumers about loan terms) and the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (which deals with closings) into one simplified set of disclosure forms for home buyers who are getting a mortgage.

The official title to these regulations is a mouthful — Truth-In-Lending Act / Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act Integrated Disclosure Rule— so the regulations are just referred to as TRID. (The enforcement agency, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, also calls it Know Before You Owe.”)

“Know Before You Owe” is designed to help borrowers clearly understand the costs and terms of their home mortgages. Here are the changes that you can expect from these new regulations, from the number of forms you’ll need to fill out to the time requirements that can alter your closing date.

You’ll Have Two Forms Instead of Four

If you’re getting a mortgage, you’ll receive two forms under “Know Before You Owe.” The first, a loan estimate, based on your financial information. You’ll receive the loan estimate 3 business days after applying for your mortgage. The second, a closing disclosure, which outlines all of the costs you will need to pay. You’ll receive that form 3 business days before closing.

These two new forms are more user-friendly, and are replacing four separate forms that home buyers received before — two Truth-In-Lending statements, the loan estimate, and a list of itemized fees.

With these new regulations, you will have time to review the terms of your mortgage well before closing, so you can understand exactly what fees there will be. You can read the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s full guide to the loan estimate and closing disclosure forms here.

There is a 3-Day Review Period Before Closing

Under the new “Know Before You Owe” rules, mortgage lenders must send you easier-to-understand information about your loan — the Closing Disclosure form — 3 business days before closing on your home, giving you time to review the terms of your mortgage.

However, some changes to the mortgage terms — like changes to your interest rate or the loan product itself — will mean that you will need another 3-business-day review period, possibly delaying your closing date. If you would like an overview of the details, the CFPB highlights the instances where the 3-day review period would be affected.

We Can Answer Your Questions About “Know Before You Owe”

If you are buying a home and have questions about these new regulations, and what it might mean for closing on your home in the future, contact our real estate experts today and we will be happy to answer your questions in detail.

Where to Find the True Value for Your Home

woman surrounded by question marksEver wondered what your home is worth?

Want to know where to start looking?

Whether you’re just curious or are eager to find a competitive listing price, using the best resources to find your property’s value is crucial.

Today, we’re going to be talking about two types of home evaluation tools: neighborhood sold reports and comparative market analyses.

Comparing Your Home with Your Neighbor’s

A neighborhood sold report is a detailed list of homes that have recently sold in your area. They include information about the square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, address, neighborhood, and, of course, the sold price.

Since sales prices are determined in part by your home’s location, as well as a neighborhood’s housing supply and demand, honing in on your own neighborhood real estate market is the best way to determine what the housing market is doing and how it can affect your listing price.

How much did your neighbor receive for his 4-bedroom, 3-bathroom house down the street? Is your listing price thousands of dollars more?

If your home is priced too high, you’ll know immediately by looking at the comparisons in the neighborhood sold report. It’s better to learn sooner rather than later, when your home is on the market and you’re feeling frustrated by the lack of home buyer interest. The same goes with pricing your home too low.

Your Home’s Value in Today’s Market

pair of glasses on a white deskA comparative market analysis, often called a CMA, is a fantastic tool to help you determine your home’s value. This report can include anything relevant about the current real estate market in your area, such as:

  • recent neighborhood home sales
  • withdrawn home listing prices
  • unique property features

The important distinction between neighborhood sold reports and comparative market analyses is that the CMAs are more detailed, and can take into account any home improvements or unique property features that buyers would be more interested in (and therefore, would pay more for).

The bottom line: CMAs help you find that sweet, sweet selling price that’s fair to you but still attracts potential home buyers.

Don’t Settle for Estimates

If you’re serious about selling your home, the market value of your property is what you’re after. Don’t settle for estimates based solely on your address or outdated information.

You’ll want to do considerable research on the current state of your local real estate market to help you determine the best listing price for your home. If you need help along the way, our real estate experts are always happy to offer assistance.

Sell Your Property with Our Real Estate Experts

We offer both a neighborhood sold report and a comparative market analysis, and we can work with you to determine the best price for your property. And if you’re eager to get the results you’re looking for in your home sale, list your property with our dedicated real estate team.

Contact us today to get started!

Top 3 Reasons to Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage

Before you start your home search, you want to know how much you can afford, right?

There are two ways to do this: with a mortgage pre-qualification and a mortgage pre-approval. As a home buyer, the pre-approval is more valuable to you during your home search.

How Pre-Approval Helps You as a Home Buyer

One of the main differences between mortgage pre-qualification and mortgage pre-approval is how the lender gives you the mortgage amount.

calculator and finance sheetFor pre-qualification, you give the mortgage lender your general financial history (including debts and income), and the lender gives you a mortgage estimate. For pre-approval, the lender digs deep into your credit report and gives you the exact loan amount.

If you’re choosing between getting pre-qualified for a home mortgage and getting pre-approved, choose to get pre-approved. Here are the top three reasons why:

3. You Learn Exactly What You Can Afford

There’s no estimates in a pre-approval. The lender has looked into your credit history and you’ve given the required documentation to go through with the pre-approval process.

A mortgage pre-approval is not a commitment to the loan, but it paves the way to transition into applying for a specific property — your dream home in your price range.

2.  You Can Narrow Your Home Search

person searching online on laptopSearching through online listings can be a tedious process, especially if there are hundreds of homes for sale in the area. How do you narrow down your home search?

When you’re pre-approved, you’ll know exactly what you can afford, and tailor your home search around the mortgage amount. Now you can easily search through the listings with confidence and renewed energy.

1. The Home Seller Takes Your Offer Seriously

Home sellers like to see that you’re pre-approved — it tells them that you’re serious about buying their home.

So when you’re competing with other home buyers to make the best offer on your dream home, being pre-approved will give you the competitive edge over buyers who are not. Then you can focus on moving into your new home!

We’re Your Real Estate Experts

If you want more information about the mortgage pre-approval process or about finding the perfect home that fits your lifestyle, contact us today and we can get started. We’d be happy to answer any questions you have about the mortgage pre-approval process.

6 Simple Home Decorating Ideas for Fall

orange leaves in the fallSeptember is quickly approaching! That means it’s time to bring out the jackets, long-sleeve shirts, and denim jeans.

But what are you doing to bring your home into fall?

Here are a few easy decorating ideas you can do to welcome the cooler temperatures and beautiful colors into your home.

DIY Home Decorating Tips for Fall

You don’t have to paint your walls or buy new furniture to get your home ready for fall.

Instead, you can use some simple seasonal tricks to welcome autumn leaves and pumpkin spices into your home, and impress your visitors in the process.

1. Bring Out the Cinnamon- and Pumpkin-Scented Candles

The smell of those warm spices gently wafting throughout your home is enough to energize you for the season.

Light a few candles in your kitchen or living room, as well as other rooms that receive the most traffic in your home. Your home will be looking — and smelling — festive in no time.

2. Stick a Seasonal Flag Outside

Personalize your front yard by placing a welcoming fall flag by the mailbox, in your front garden, or hanging from your front porch. Let people know that you’re ready for autumn!

3. Swap Out Your Dining Table Centerpiece

Put the colorful summer tones away for next year and bring out your festive fall accents.

roses and flowers in table centerpieceMake a seasonal statement with the centerpiece on your dining room or kitchen table. Some simple autumn centerpiece ideas include:

  • red, orange, and yellow pillar candles
  • roses or colorful leaves in a vase
  • small pumpkins
  • old-fashioned lanterns
  • a bowl of apples

4. Hang a Festive Wreath on Your Front Door

Add some fall foliage, colorful ribbon, or burlap accents to an autumn wreath and catch the eye of your friends and neighbors.

People tend to notice your home’s decorations when they first spy your house, which is why front door accents are often included in tips for increasing curb appeal. Display your fall home readiness with a red, gold, and brown wreath on your door!

5. Decorate Your Shelves with Pine Cones and Oak Leaves

If you have a mantle above your fireplace or an empty space on a bookshelf, fill it with simple arrangements of fall foliage — pine cones, oak leaves, acorns, and pumpkins.

To truly make a statement with your decor, pair vibrantly colored leaves with a white or neutral color base, and enjoy the display capture the attention of passersby.

white fence outside house in autumn6. Put a Pumpkin on Your Front Porch

Nothing says fall as much as a round pumpkin sitting on your porch steps.

When pumpkins come in season, you can purchase one for Halloween fun or simply as a seasonal accent.

Staging Your Home for Sale This Fall?

These DIY home decorating tips work well to increase your curb appeal if you’re selling your property this season.

If you have any questions about home staging tips or about selling your home, contact us at any time. We would be happy to provide you with the answers you need.

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