You’ve decided you’re ready to buy a home – now what? Start with these initial steps:
1. Get your financial ducks in a row.
Calculate how much money you have in savings and assets, your total annual income and your expenses. Know how much of it you can allocate toward a down payment and other expenses. Check your credit report and fix any errors. This will help you determine what type of loan you qualify for, and the price range of homes you want to look at.
2. Determine how much house you can afford.
A common rule is that your monthly mortgage payment should not exceed 28 percent of your pre-tax income. You can plug your information into an online mortgage calculator to get a starting idea of exactly how much you’ll pay each month with different interest rates and terms.
It’s important that you keep an open mind and look at a wide range of properties. Go to open houses. Cruise the Internet. Peruse different neighborhoods. As a real estate agent, I can help by finding properties that match as many of your “wants” and “needs” as possible. When you fall in love with a house and are ready to make it official, I can help you navigate the process from putting in an offer to the closing table.
For more advice on how to prepare to buy a home, contact me today! I can help you through every step of the process.
Home buying is one of the most stressful experiences in adult life (second only to getting a divorce). Why is the process so draining? Unfortunately, there are tons of things that can make a deal fall through– especially if you aren’t working with an experienced professional. Here are 10 ways you might to lose out on your dream home (and how to avoid them):
1.You don’t have enough saved up for the down payment
Surprise! Houses are expensive. The down payment for which you’ve spent so much time saving might not be enough. In addition to closing costs, there can also be unexpected fees around every corner. Make sure that you have significant cushion savings in addition to whatever you plan on putting down for your house—you never know how these things will play out.
2.You don’t have your ducks in a row
Staying organized is essential when you’re house hunting. Are you serious about the bid you’re putting down? Make sure that you’re fully aware of all deadlines, contingencies, and paperwork involved in moving forward with your home purchase.
3.You’re shopping out of your budget
Looking for houses way outside of your budget is the first way to “lose a house”—you’ll just be losing a home you never had a chance of having. When you shop above your budget you’re sure to find a dream house that’s nothing more than that: a dream.
Also plan for the strong possibility of putting in an offer above asking price. This may mean looking at homes listed a few thousand below your budget to create padding in your budget to make a higher offer.
4.You lose a bidding war
Quick, decisive, assertive—these are all...
While house hunting TV shows tour the neighborhood, close the deal and throw a housewarming party in 30 minutes, real life is not as streamlined. If you’re in the process of buying a home, here are signs it’s time to call a Realtor®.
1. You believe everything on the internet
While you can view tons of listings online, not all of the information is accurate or up-to-date. You’ll see outdated comps, conflicting forecasts and different ratings. With access to the MLS and insight on properties about to hit the market, a Realtor will make sure you’re considering all of the homes in your marketplace that fit your criteria.
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 browsing so you only visit 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 don’t know if a neighborhood is on the way up or down
An agent who knows the neighborhood can give you the scoop about local developments and changes that don’t always pop up in a Google search. He or she will also put them in context of larger market forces that could impact the future value of a home.
If you’re looking for an experienced...
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:
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.
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 possibilities...
You can’t control all the variables when purchasing a home, but being aware of them can certainly help you along the way.
1. Low inventory means you have to act fast ...
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:
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.
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 ratings help...
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.
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???.
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 scoping out...
Part One - Getting Started!
Here is Part One of our Buyer's Guide. It includes step by step information and tips to help you begin the buying process. If you would like to get a copy of the guide in its entirety, please give one of our agents a call!
Click here to download Part One of our Buyer's Guide
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
Is there any...
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 to you?...
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:
- 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).
- 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 will become...