Look for dangerous materials in older homes

There is something charming about an older home. Perhaps it has some architectural elements that aren't often seen in modern home construction, or maybe it has an interesting homeownership history. However, it's important for prospective homebuyers to understand the structures they're looking at and know what risks they're taking by investing in a home that's been around for more than a few decades. Before signing a residential mortgage for an older home, homebuyers should know how safe their future house is, especially if they plan to remodel it in any way.

According to Money Crashers, homes are considered new if they were built in the '90s or later, and a house built before the '30s can be considered antique. Zillow reported that in 28 states plus the District of Columbia, most homes were constructed prior to the '90s. The District of Columbia is the only place in the country where '20s-era construction is most common, but the '50s, '70s and '80s hold a large presence in much of the country.

Outdated, dangerous materials

Over the decades, it has been discovered that certain commonly used materials for construction aren't the safest to be around. However, homes built before these discoveries were made - and laws banning them were put into action - are likely to still have remnants of these dated practices in their walls.

Asbestos is one example of this. Thanks to its effective properties for insulation, the material was used in many homes and buildings until the mid-1970s. However, evidence that breathing in the material's fibers can lead to lung cancer prompted legislation banning its use. These laws weren't put into effect until the late '80s, so any home built before then should be tested for the insulation.

Another example is lead. When allowed into the bloodstream, this element can have detrimental effects on a child's IQ and ability to pay attention in school. Lead was widely used in paints and pipes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, lead paint wasn't banned until 1978. Therefore, all homes built before the '80s should be tested for the presence of lead.

Water Conditioning & Purification Magazine reported that all homes built before 1986 likely included lead fixtures in their plumbing systems. Additionally, homes in the Midwest have the largest concentration of lead pipes still in use today. Zillow noted many Midwestern states are densely populated with homes built in the '50s, at which time they were likely fitted with lead pipes.

If you're looking at an older home, be sure to have a thorough inspection that looks for potentially dangerous substances like asbestos or lead.


4 features to look for in a neighborhood

When searching for the perfect home, it can be easy to get caught up in the details of a residential mortgage. Though a home loan is certainly vital, there is more to the ideal dwelling beyond just the price and interest rates attached to it. Here are four features to consider:


One of the most important aspects of a neighborhood to keep in mind, especially if moving with children, is safety. U.S. News and World Report suggested checking to read up on crime in your potential new home's area.

School Districts

For parents moving their children to a new school, it's important to know the quality of the school district. Everyone wants their kids to get a good education, and moving to a neighborhood that's within a good school district is one step in that direction.

However, even homeowners who don't have school-aged children or plan to homeschool can benefit from moving to a good school district. Trulia pointed out that homes located in good school districts retain their value better than homes in lower-quality districts. These homes are also quicker to sell, creating less of a headache if and when the decision is made to move out. 

Local Parks

According to, parks are among the top amenities for homebuyers. A good park is great for homebuyers with children. However, it's important to note the quality of the park. If it looks run-down, unkempt or surprisingly vacant on a sunny Saturday afternoon, it could be a sign it isn't cared for.

"Parks are among the most telling signs of the condition of a neighborhood," explained John Gutman, the director of sales and acquisitions at Mack Companies, a company that redevelops single-family homes in the Midwest. "In areas where the infrastructure is strong, and where residents are involved and take care of the neighborhood, you'll be able to see it through the condition of the park."

The Commute

When considering a home, take into account how far away it is from other important locations, including:

  • Your place of work
  • A grocery store
  • An urgent care or health care facility
  • A cafe

If you love a home and the neighborhood, but going to work every morning is stressful due to a long commute, you may end up regretting your purchase. Take a test drive once or twice to see if it's something you can manage before you finalize the deal. Once you find the right home in the right location, you'll be happy you took the time to do a little research on the neighborhood.

Now Is the Time to Make Your Dream Come True With an Academy Residential Mortgage


If there was any lingering uncertainty over whether now is a good time to buy a house, it may be squashed after the release of several favorable housing reports over the last several weeks.

Low Interest Rates

According to an early May Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Market Survey, U.S. home mortgage rates continue to decline. Perhaps most importantly, the rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage is at the lowest level this year.

High Optimism

A recent report from Fannie Mae revealed that most Americans are indeed feeling optimistic about the housing market. In the April 2014 National Housing Survey, the portion of respondents who said they think now is a good time to sell a house rose to an all-time high of 42%. If more people are thinking of selling their homes this spring, that would be great news for buyers. The larger the housing inventory, the more pull buyers have.

Plenty of Options to Choose From

Your Academy Loan Officer can help you take advantage of these favorable conditions for purchasing a home. With Academy's broad portfolio of residential mortgage products to choose from, he or she can customize a solution for you to best meet your lending needs.

  • Conventional Mortgages are popular with homebuyers who have excellent credit and money to put down. Academy's Conventional Mortgages include Fixed-Rate Mortgages, Adjustable-Rate Mortgages, and Jumbo Mortgages.
  • FHA-Insured Financing can be an ideal solution for those with less-than-ideal buying power. With flexible qualification guidelines, Academy's FHA-Insured Loans are designed to benefit first-time homebuyers and buyers who don't have perfect credit or a lot of money to put down.
  • USDA Home Loans are government-backed, affordable loans for buyers looking for a home in a rural development area.
  • VA Home Loans provide favorable loan terms and interest rates for active-duty military personnel and veterans.
  • State Housing Agency Loans provide affordable housing for low- and moderate-income households, underserved minority populations, people with disabilities, and the elderly.

Today is the day to make your dream home come true.

More single women enter the housing market

According to Bloomberg Business, single females will likely become a more substantial demographic entering the housing market. Historically, single women have bought more homes than single men. 

"A lot of people, myself included, take pride in owning a home," said Katie Abbott, a lawyer from Portland who invested in a new home, according to USA Today."There's no reason that it (homebuying) should be limited to only if you're married."

Zillow reported that only 40% of today's first-time homebuyers are married. Two decades ago that statistic was 52%. More individuals are putting off marriage, but that doesn't necessarily mean they are also putting off the purchase of a new home. Many single people feel they are prepared to invest in a home of their own, independent of their marital status. And as it turns out, women are driving the market. 

Single female homebuyers will likely bolster the housing market. Following the housing market crisis in 2008, the percentage of single women purchasing new homes fell from 21% in 2009 to 15% in 2015. However, experts believe women will become an important demographic moving into the new year. 

Traditionally many of these buyers have stretched budgets when applying for a U.S. home mortgage. According to Zillow, first-time buyers are purchasing houses worth 2.6 times their incomes. 

"They are making sacrifices financially because they have a really strong desire to be a part of a community," noted Jessica Lautz, the managing director of survey research for the National Association of Realtors®. 

However, higher wages and an improving job situation support individuals looking to purchase homes. 

As a higher number of these single women decide to invest in real estate, the market could benefit from greater buyer demand. 

In addition, historically low interest rates, despite the Federal Reserve's recent decision to raise rates, make investing in a new home more appealing than ever. For those who are considering this substantial investment, now is a great time to secure a low rate to achieve their own American Dream. 

Academy Mortgage is one of the top independent purchase lenders in the country as ranked in the 2014 CoreLogic Marketrac Report. Give us a call today and find out why!