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Debbie Olson
North Woods Realty, Inc
Phone: 707-218-8055

340 Highway 101 North
Crescent City, CA 95531
Email: northwoodsrealty@gmail.com
BRE# 01126988

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Consumer Tips

What Is PMI? Private Mortgage Insurance, Explained


If you need a mortgage to buy a house but lack the funds to make a 20% down payment, you might end up paying an added fee called private mortgage insurance, or PMI.

So what exactly is PMI? In the same way homeowners insurance protects you in case of problems in your home, PMI protects your lender in case you default on your loan.

Who needs private mortgage insurance?

There are two types of mortgage insurance: private and government. If you have a government-backed loan, such as an FHA loan, you pay mortgage insurance to the government. If your loan is not government-backed, you pay private mortgage insurance (PMI) to a corporate entity.

Lenders typically require PMI of home buyers if they put down less than 20% of the home’s value. The reason: Lenders see buyers with less money invested in a property as more likely to default on their mortgage and go into foreclosure, so these lenders are trying to protect themselves from that. It’s the trade-off for being able to buy a home with as little as a 3.5% down payment (which is the minimum required for an FHA loan).

In case you do default on your mortgage, PMI pays benefits to your lender to cover the loss.

How much private mortgage insurance costs

Expect your PMI payment to range from about 0.3% to 1.15% of your home loan. The most common way to pay PMI loan premiums to your lender is in monthly installments, but you may also be able to make your PMI payments in an upfront cost at your home closing, or roll it into the cost of the loan. Ask your lender for its PMI options. Then do the math for both the long term and short term, and compare it with your homeownership plans.

How to get rid of private mortgage insurance

Once you have at least 20% equity in your home, you can ask your lender to cancel your PMI. Once you have 22% equity, the lender is required to automatically cancel the coverage.

However, if you have an FHA loan, mortgage insurance payments will last the lifetime of the loan. But these payments last that long only if you keep the loan through its entirety—you can still refinance out of an FHA loan into another PMI-free mortgage when you have at least 20% equity.

How to avoid private mortgage insurance

If your loan isn’t government-backed, PMI payments are not necessarily an absolute. You may be able to avoid PMI payments by doing the following:

  • Paying a higher interest rate. This is known as lender-paid PMI. Keep in mind this can’t be canceled and you’ll need to refinance to get a lower rate.
  • Using a piggyback loan to cover all or part of the down payment. Piggyback loans come with a higher interest rate, so use caution and do the math.
  • Reappraising your house if you think property values and updates have boosted your equity (be aware you’ll need to foot the appraisal bill).


Finally, some lenders may not require PMI for certain loan programs even if the buyer has less than a 20% down payment. These loans usually require sterling credit and other requirements. Consult your lender for more details.

A note on private mortgage insurance tax deductions

PMI has been tax-deductible since the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007—and it’s still tax-deductible today! Yes, you’ll have to itemize your deductions; but if you do, here’s a ballpark figure of how much you’ll save: If you make $100,000 and put down 5% on a $200,000 house, you’ll pay about $1,500 in yearly PMI premiums—and cut your taxable income by $1,500.

Updated from an earlier version by Laura Sherman

The post What Is PMI? Private Mortgage Insurance, Explained appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

7 Home Improvement Tools That Are Far More Deadly Than You Think

7 Home Improvement Tools That Are Far More Deadly Than You Think


As the classic horror flick “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” made all too clear, home improvement tools can be helpful (cutting down trees) or very, very harmful (cutting down humans). But even if you aren’t wielding a chain saw as you dabble in a few upgrades around the house, that doesn’t mean you’ll get through unscathed. The reason: A whole host of home improvement tools can cause serious injuries. As proof, check out this list to learn which ones could send you on a surprise trip to the emergency room.

1. Power washers

Don’t underestimate the power of water. In this forum post, a guy recounts his experience power washing a deck, and accidentally passing the intense stream over his pinky.

“The impact only lasted about a second, but the damage ended up being significant,” he recalls. “My finger immediately swelled up to at least double its normal size. … The bottom third of my finger was so crooked that I was sure that it was broken. After about a minute, my skin ruptured from the pressure and blood began to pour out.”

An ER visit revealed a ruptured artery with a tear “almost down to the bone.”

Apparently water spewing out at 4,000 pounds per square inch can do that. As another commentator put it, “4000 psi is enough to cut your arm off with water. That’s pretty much it.”

If you have any other doubts about the power of a power washer, watch this video:



2. Nail guns

Nail guns are fun to use, and don’t come with the headaches and thumb aches of hammering. And yet, every so often, nail guns just might nail you, too. People hurt themselves with these things an awful lot, drumming up about 37,000 ER visits each year. Most of the injured are construction workers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but 32% are your regular DIYers—including the guy in the video below, who nailed his foot to a board. (Warning to the squeamish: There’s a bit of blood.)

So here’s a little tip: Use a nail gun with a sequential trigger—reportedly, it can reduce injuries by half. And if a hammer can do the job, just use it. And, um, don’t play with the darned things.


3. Staple guns

Like nail guns, staple guns can shoot inches of steel into your body with one simple squeeze of the handle. And staples can easily bore through bone.

In 2011, a Dallas man accidentally bumped his head into his buddy’s staple gun, which discharged a 2.5-inch staple directly through his skull and into his brain. (Miraculously, the 27-year-old survived without permanent damage.)

Another injury published as a 2010 medical report details a carpenter who had a 5-centimeter staple shot into his eyeball. Eww. So, treat that staple gun with the respect it deserves—and keep the safety on when not in use.


4. Power drills

Data on just how many injuries handheld power drills cause each year are sparse, but freaky and frightening tales abound online.

In 2012, one workman in Oxford was standing on a bucket to drill a hole high up but then lost his balance—and fell onto the drill he was holding, which burrowed into his chest and caused his death. Tragedies of this type are more common than you might think.

When using power drills, take a tip from science class and tie your hair back (you don’t want it to get snared by the actual rotating drill bit). And lest you lose your balance, always use proper ladder safety. Losing your balance while holding a whirring power drill is a terrible combination.


5. Lawn mowers

Just about every homeowner has a lawn mower of some kind. But who knew these things could be death traps? Lawn mowers are the cause of over 80,000 ER visits per year. Children are especially subject to lawn mower wrath and account for over 17,000 of those ER visits.

According to NPR, many lawn mower accidents are due to rocks and sticks being spat into the operator’s eyes, so clear the yard first and use safety goggles if you want extra protection. And wear closed-toe shoes. Generally, keep the kids indoors, and far away from all these drills, saws, and choppers. Oh, and as this video below makes all too clear, use it only outdoors.


6. Table saws

Table saws cause over 34,000 hospital visits each year, including 4,000 amputations. Amputations! A lot of that is also due to kickback, as you can see in this video: The wood gets picked up and pulled into the blade after being cut. Just imagine if he weren’t using a push stick.

If you want to read some gruesome personal anecdotes of table saw injuries, head over to sawaccidents.com. They might incline you to buy a SawStop (which can actually detect human skin and stop spinning) or, at the very least, use a splitter or protective wear such as goggles.


7. Chain saws

Everyone knows chain saws are dangerous, but they might be fuzzy on exactly how these accidents happen.

I can speak from personal experience: In the seventh grade, Mr. Niles, my math teacher, told a funny story about cutting down a tree. While his buddy slowly chewed through a tree with a chain saw, for some reason Mr. Niles had to get to something on the other side of the machine. Rather than circling around his friend, he stepped over the chain saw, which bit into his leg. Oh, how we laughed.

Apparently this isn’t uncommon. According to a 2004 study, chain saws cause over 28,000 injuries annually, and another study says roughly 116,000 people made ER visits from 2009 through 2013 due to the power tool. Most aren’t fatal and occur in the hands and lower extremities, although an unlucky 10% of those injuries occurred to some hapless fellow’s neck or head.

So don’t be like my seventh-grade  math teacher: Walk around the chain saw, and wear some protective gear such as helmets and visors.

The post 7 Home Improvement Tools That Are Far More Deadly Than You Think appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

The Burglar Did What?! 5 Most Bizarre Home Break-Ins Ever

The Burglar Did What?! 5 Most Bizarre Home Break-Ins Ever


Having your home broken into is a frightening experience. And sometimes, it can end up being frightening and strange. Because while most burglars just want to nab your valuables then skedaddle without being caught, others might display far more mind-boggling behaviors. Whether you need a kick in the pants to go get a home security system or just want a laugh, check out these bizarre break-ins to get a load of burglars’ odder impulses.

1. Pizza, anyone?

Imagine arriving home to a pizza baking in your oven. Yum, right? Well, not if the pizza baker was an intruder, wearing your slippers, making dinner for his two kids (also present!).

According to Oklahoma News Channel 4, in July 2013 a man named Montego Logan slipped into a home in Oklahoma City along with his daughters, then actually welcomed home the place’s real resident, who freaked out (as expected) and called the cops. It wasn’t until they arrived and questioned him about his so-called “home” that he became violent and was arrested. Sadly, we’ll bet the homeowner will never look at pizza the same way ever again.

A pizza-baking burglar?


2. Cold (or hot) feet

In 2014, homeowners in Allentown, PA, were thrilled when they sold their home for $403,000 to John Pfeiffer Jr. But according to Philadelphia magazine, during the home sellers’ last night sleeping in the house, mere hours before closing, they caught Pfeiffer breaking into the home he’d own later that day. Um, why?

After police found two cans of charcoal lighter fluid, hickory chips, and latex gloves in Pfeiffer’s car nearby, they suspected he might have been planning to burn down the house because he didn’t have the money he needed to close the deal. So was this his weird way of saying he wanted to back out? According to court documents, Pfeiffer was charged with burglary and criminal mischief.

3. God’s work?

When you’ve known someone for 10 years, you wouldn’t think that individual would rob your home. Especially on Christmas eve. Especially not your pastor.

In 2010, neighbors called the cops after watching a woman break into the home next door; police arrived to find her carrying fur coats into her Jaguar.

According to the Dallas Morning News, this fur thief told the cops that she was merely protecting the valuables by moving them to a safer location. However, when homeowner Serita Agnew arrived home and heard what had happened, she didn’t buy it. She identified the intruder as Sandy McGriff, a 52-year-old pastor of a nearby church where she was once a member. And it turns out this woman of the cloth had a rap sheet stretching back to her youth. We highly doubt God would approve.

4. A Facebook obsession gone wrong

Apparently the threat of going to prison isn’t enough to keep some people off their Facebook accounts. Here’s proof: In 2014, Nick Wig allegedly broke into a house in Minneapolis and stole some cash, a checkbook, credit cards, and a watch, according to ABC News. He could have had a clean getaway, and yet, unable to resist the siren call of a laptop nearby, he logged in to his Facebook account … then left it open for the homeowner, James Wood, to peruse once he returned.

Wood, discovering his valuables gone, called the police and studied Wig’s Facebook page carefully. He then kept his eyes peeled while driving around town—and, as luck would have it, spotted Wig later that day walking around, wearing his stolen watch. Wig was charged with burglary, but we’re not sure if this cured him of his Facebook obsession.

5. Make yourself at home!

Ever drive by a beautiful house and think, “Wow, I wish that were my home”? Well, in September 2015, Christopher Hiscock had such a thought while cruising by a ranch in Kamloops, British Columbia. Then he decided to pull into the driveway, walk right in (the door was open), and make himself comfortable.

From there, Hiscock, 33, immediately started straightening up the place. According to CBC News Nova Scotia, he did the owners’ laundry, fed their cats and horses, then showered and shaved. He even wrote in the real homeowners’ diary: “Day one. Today was my first full day at the ranch … So much I can do here I have to remind myself to just relax and take my time.”

Oddly, Hiscock’s diary entry betrays a vague awareness that this home was not his: “I saw a picture in the basement on the wall of a man holding and weighing fish on a boat. Looking at him, I realized we look a lot alike but I think I’m more handsome. :)’”

The real homeowners found him sipping coffee and watching TV, a frozen steak thawing on their kitchen counter. The police were called, and Hiscock was arrested. Hiscock, who was later released on probation, told authorities that he had no home and might just go live in the woods.

The post The Burglar Did What?! 5 Most Bizarre Home Break-Ins Ever appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

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