5 Tips for First-Time Home Buyers

julian-gentilezza-351164-unsplashSo, you’re considering making your first home purchase? Congratulations! The home buying process provides both thrilling and nerve-wracking experiences at the same time. Although it’s difficult to know what to expect, we gathered a few tips to help you smoothly achieve your home ownership dream.

  • Ready your finances

One of the most important factors in purchasing a home includes your credit score. This single number determines not only the loan rate but contributes to determining the loan amount as well. Obtain a copy of your credit report. Comb the report thoroughly for mistakes, unpaid or collection accounts. Resolve any discrepancies as quickly as possible. You also will need to line up a down payment. Larger down payments help you qualify for lower rates and larger loans.

  • Consider ALL expenses

When budgeting for a house, many first-time homebuyers underestimate the expenses involved. Typically, mortgages include principal, interest, taxes and insurance. Beyond the mortgage, consider how much utilities, commuting and upgrades will cost. Common utilities include sewer, gas, garbage, electric and internet. Ensure that you budget for all of these expenses when determining if you can afford a particular house.

  • Explore options

Research everything from loan options to agents. Many loan options exist to help a variety of homebuyers including conventional, FHA, VA and more. We recommend exploring alternative finance options such as grants along with state and local assistance programs as well. The right agent, one who truly advocates for you, will make navigating all of your options much easier.

  • Acquire preapproval

Although being preapproved isn’t a guarantee, the letter does show that the mortgage lender checked your credit and verified your income to determine the amount you qualify to borrow. Some lenders even give full underwriting preapprovals that do guarantee the loan. Preapproval letters give you an edge over the competition with sellers seeking smooth, quick deals.

  • Hire the right agent

You will be working closely with your real estate agent through out the entire purchasing process. It is essential that you find someone who works hard for you and that you get along with well. The right agent should be highly skilled, experienced, motivated and knowledgeable about your desired neighborhoods and the current market. Give us a call today. We’re happy to help find the perfect fit for you!

4 Down Payment Tips

canstockphoto16986987The process for saving a down payment when purchasing a home may seem overwhelming at first. Never fear, we’re here to help. Breaking the process into small, actionable pieces might just help you afford a home sooner than you expected.

Calculate what you can afford

Your first step in saving for a down payment includes deciding what you can afford what you are looking for in a home. Start by making a list of basic requirements including size, location, school districts, etc. When determining affordability, calculate the potential monthly payment plus homeowners’ association fees, taxes, insurance, utilities, maintenance and other related expenses. We recommend using one paycheck to cover all homeowner expenses if you’re one half of a dual income partnership.

Determine how much a down payment you need

We recommend saving at least 20 percent of the purchase price. Lenders require 20 percent or more down for a conventional loan. Although, other loan options exist which require much smaller down payments, some as low as 3.5 percent. However, these loans require that you pay mortgage insurance. This insurance protects lenders if borrowers default on their loans. Once you know the price range you can afford, use this down payment calculator to get started saving.\

Create savings plan

One tip to help you save includes automating portion of your income. Options vary from choosing a fixed amount to choosing a percentage from either your paycheck or checking account. Whichever option you choose, deposit the portion into a separate cash savings account. You also can try the $5 bill savings plan where every time you receive five dollars as change you set it aside. Also, consider setting aside raises, bonuses and tax refunds. Combining all of these tips will help you get into your new home that much quicker.

Build your equity

After all of the scrimping and saving, you deserve a congratulations for making your home purchase, but the benefits don’t stop there. As you make your mortgage payments each month, you own more and more of the property that builds equity over time. Equity that you can later use for a larger down payment on your next home or for an investment property. Either way, building equity ultimately builds your wealth.

Spring Time Means Listing Time

canstockphoto9975867Spring is the perfect season to sell your house. The flowers are in bloom and buyers are coming out of hibernation. You also will get a completely new buyer pool as more and more millennials join the home buying party each year. Here are a few pointers to get you started:

Think 60 seconds

In just one minute, buyers will decide if they want to consider your home. Consider your curb appeal. You don’t want to turn buyers off before they even get inside. Start with trimming trees and bushes, washing the driveway, front walk, house and patio. In addition, buyers often linger at the front door while waiting for their agent to open the lock box. A fresh coat of paint on the door could be your chance at a great first impression.  

Too much stuff

Your belongings have a special place in your heart, but not the buyer’s. One mistake many sellers make is that their stuff is taking up space that makes their home look smaller. Clutter will turn off buyers, as will large and awkward furniture pieces. Start by going through all of your furniture and closets with a discerning eye. Toss what you can and pack up the rest. Stripping your closet and home down to the bare necessities will highlight the space and storage your home offers.

List at the right price point

Today’s buyers are savvy shoppers. They think there is something wrong with a home priced too low while high prices turn them off. Furthermore, overpriced homes that stay on the market for more than 90 days are extremely difficult to sell. Ensure pricing your home right the first time by being reasonable. Even though prices are rising in many areas, make sure to compare your home to similar properties on the market in your neighborhood. You also should compare similar homes that have recently sold.