Buying a Home

How to Find a Home with the Perfect Backyard BBQ Spot

Summer is in full swing, and if you ask me, there’s nothing better than an evening with burgers and brats on the grill, neighbors over to play yard games and dogs romping in the yard. If outdoor entertaining is also a priority for you in your new home, here are four things to look for:

1. Space

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4 Steps to Win a Bidding War

Housing inventory is tight across the country, and many homebuyers find themselves in a bidding war with other buyers. RE/MAX has some pointers to help you act fast during the bidding process to gain the seller’s attention.

1. Have a "Dream Team"

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5 Things to Think About When Buying Your First Place

As a renter, you have the luxury of choosing a place that meets your needs at the moment. Buying a home is a much bigger commitment, both in terms of finances and the length of time you’ll likely live there. When seeking out your first place – whether a house or condominium or anything in between – it’s important to do your homework.


Here are 5 things to consider as you begin the process of purchasing your first place.

1. The growth...

4 Potential Surprises When Buying a Home

You can’t control all the variables when purchasing a home, but being aware of them can certainly help you along the way.

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1. Low inventory means you have to act fast ...

First-time Homebuyers: You're Closer To A Down Payment Than You Think

For many first-time buyers, saving for a down payment is the most difficult step in the home-buying process. However, it's a common misconception that you always need 20 percent down to buy a home.

Here’s the lowdown on the most popular low-down alternative payment options:

FHA Loan

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Don’t Push Your Luck – 4 Signs To Go With A Pro

Even with St. Patrick’s Day, finding the right place to call home requires more than luck. It requires the skill and insight of a professional. If you're in the process of buying a home, here are 4 signs for when it's time to call in an agent.

1. You realize the inaccuracies of the internet

While you can view tons of listings online, not all of the information is accurate or up-to-date. You'll find outdated comps, conflicting forecasts and different ratings. With access to the MLS and insight on properties about to hit the market, a Realtor can provide the latest and most accurate data.

2. You're juggling a hectic schedule

You don't need to spend time sorting through listings and contacting sellers. An agent will do the research on your behalf to find the homes that best fit your needs and price range.

3. The biggest thing you've negotiated lately was your kids' bedtime (and you lost)

As professional negotiators with years of experience, Realtors know how to create, present and negotiate the best offer. Remember, you'll be going up against another professional negotiator: the seller's agent.

4. You’re unfamiliar with a neighborhood

A local agent can give you the scoop about market developments and changes that you won’t find online. He or she will also analyze the context of larger forces that could impact the future value of a home.

Don’t push your luck in your home search. I’m happy to help you eliminate the unknowns and variables – so you can find your perfect place. 

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5 Reasons School Ratings Matter (Whether You have Kids or Not)

Schools can have a big impact on property value and quality of life. If you're buying a home, here are a few reasons local school ratings matter – even if you don't have kids.

1. The next buyer will consider school ratings, too

According to a recent ?National Association of REALTORS Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers???, 25 percent of homebuyers listed school quality and 20 percent listed proximity to schools as deciding factors in their home purchase. Another survey conducted by Realtor.com showed that 91 percent of the people surveyed included school district boundaries in their decision-making process. You may be surprised to learn that not all of the shoppers involved in the studies had kids.

2. More money spent on schools means more money spent on homes

There's a correlation between school expenditures and home values in any given neighborhood, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research. Their report, "School Spending Raises Property Values," found that for every dollar spent on public schools in a community, home values increased $20.

3. Higher school ratings equal higher home values

A Brookings Institution study looked at the 100 largest metro areas in the country and found an average difference of $205,000 in home prices between houses near high-performing and low-performing schools.

4. And good school...

5 Things You Should Love About Your Home Before You Commit

Before you make an offer, be sure you love these five traits about your potential new place

You gaze longingly at the curb appeal and your heart flutters at the open kitchen, but is the home you're considering buying really The One? Before you make an offer, be sure you love these five, hard-to-change traits about your potential new place.

1. Square footage

Too small and you may quickly outgrow your new space. Too big can mean unnecessary energy bills and money spent furnishing space you never use. Aim for "just right."

2. Drive time

Be sure your daily commute won't leave you sitting in traffic, rethinking your relationship with your house. Consider driving to work from your potential home a couple times during rush hour to know what you're getting into.

3. Walkability

Being able to stroll to shops, restaurants, parks and public transportation can really boost your quality of life. If it's important to you, check out your potential home's official walkability score at ?www.walkscore.com???.

4. Community

Does the neighborhood include features that are critical to your particular lifestyle, like yoga studios, late night takeout options or a safe playground for your kids (or pups)?

5. Planes, trains and automobiles

If you travel frequently, consider how close your potential new home is to the airport, main highways or public transportation. Not a fan of planes flying overhead – or the noise of late-night trains passing by? Keep that in mind when...

Have You Saved Enough for Closing Costs?

Have You Saved Enough for Closing Costs?There are many potential homebuyers, and even sellers, who believe that they need at least a 20% down payment in order to buy a home or move on to their next home. Time after time, we have dispelled this myth by showing that many loan programs allow you to put down as little as 3% (or 0% with a VA loan).

If you have saved up your down payment and are ready to start your home search, one other piece of the puzzle is to make sure that you have saved enough for your closing costs.

Freddie Mac defines closing costs as:

“Closing costs, also called settlement fees, will need to be paid when you obtain a mortgage. These are fees charged by people representing your purchase, including your lender, real estate agent, and other third parties involved in the transaction. Closing costs are typically between 2 and 5% of your purchase price.”

We’ve recently heard from many first-time homebuyers that they wished that someone had let them know that closing costs could be so high. If you think about it, with a low down payment program, your closing costs could equal the amount that you saved for your down payment.

Here is a list of just some of the fees/costs that may be included in your closing costs, depending on where the home you wish to purchase is located:

  • Government recording costs
  • Appraisal fees
  • Credit report fees
  • Lender origination fees
  • Title services (insurance, search fees)
  • Tax service fees
  • Survey fees
  • Attorney fees
  • Underwriting fees

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3 Questions to Ask Before Buying Your Dream Home

3 Questions to Ask Before Buying Your Dream Home

If you are debating purchasing a home right now, you are probably getting a lot of advice. Though your friends and family will have your best interest at heart, they may not be fully aware of your needs and what is currently happening in the real estate market.

Ask yourself the following 3 questions to help determine if now is actually a good time for you to buy in today’s market.

1. Why am I buying a home in the first place?

This truly is the most important question to answer. Forget the finances for a minute. Why did you even begin to consider purchasing a home? For most, the reason has nothing to do with money.

For example, a recent survey by Braun showed that over 75% of parents say “their child’s education is an important part of the search for a new home.”

This survey supports a study by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University which revealed that the four major reasons people buy a home have nothing to do with money. They are:

  • A good place to raise children and for them to get a good education
  • A place where you and your family feel safe
  • More space for you and your family
  • Control of that space

What does owning a home mean to you? What non-financial benefits will you and your family gain from owning a home? The answer to that question should be the biggest reason you decide to purchase or not.

2. Where are home values headed?

According to the latest Home Price Index from CoreLogic, home values are projected to increase by 5.3% over the next 12 months.

What does that mean...

Is Getting a Home Mortgage Still Too Difficult?

Getting a Home Mortgage

There is no doubt that mortgage credit availability is expanding, meaning it is easier to finance a home today than it was last year. However, the mortgage market is still much tighter than it was prior to the housing boom and bust experienced between 2003 - 2006.

The Housing Financing Policy Center at the Urban Institute just released data revealing two reasons for the current exceptionally high credit standards:

  1. Additional restrictions lenders put on borrowing because of concerns that they will be forced to repurchase failed loans from the government-sponsored enterprises or Federal Housing Administration (FHA).
  2. The concern about potential litigation for imperfect loans.

What has been the result of these concerns?

6.3 Million Less Mortgages

The Policy Center report went on to say:

“It was so hard to get a mortgage in 2015 that lenders failed to make about 1.1 million mortgages that they would have made if reasonable lending standards had been in place. From 2009 to 2014, lenders failed to make about 5.2 million mortgages thanks to overly tight credit. In total, lenders would have issued 6.3 million additional mortgages between 2009 and 2015 if lending standards had been more reasonable.”

In an interview with DSNews, Laurie Goodman and Alanna McCargo of the Policy Center further explained:

“Our Housing Credit Availability Index (HCAI)* measures the probability that mortgage borrowers...