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Posted by Joyce Torelli on 10/24/2018

Buying a home is a lengthy process that requires months or even years of planning. The end result, however, is to have a home you can truly call your own and to own equity that you can then use later down the road.

Figuring out the right time to buy a home can be difficult for prospective homeowners. You’ll need to have a firm grasp on your finances and personal goals for what you want your life to look like for the next 5 or more years.

Buying a home in more than just a financial commitment. It also means you take on all of the responsibilities of owning that home. Maintenance, both inside and out, can take up a significant amount of your time.

Furthermore, owning a home ties you down to one area. You’ll need to determine if you’re ready and able to settle in one area for the next 5-7 years. This has implications for careers and for family life. Will your job bring you elsewhere? If you change jobs, are there ample opportunities where you live? These are just a couple of the questions you’ll need to ask yourself before deciding whether you’re ready to buy a home.

To simplify the process, I’ve created a checklist for some of the things you’ll need before you’re ready to buy a home. While this list does cover the basics, there may be other factors unique to your circumstances that you’ll have to take into consideration.

So, if you’re thinking about buying a home sometime in the near future, read on for the checklist. And, keep in mind that these are not necessarily mandatory before buying a home. But they will give you the best chance of making a solid investment and securing financial stability.

The home buyer’s preparedness checklist

  • Raise your credit score to 750 or more. A score in the “excellent” range will help you get the lowest possible interest rate on your mortgage. It’s possible to get approved for a mortgage with a score that is much lower, but a high score is ideal and can help you avoid PMI and a high interest rate.

  • Have an emergency fund saved. You don’t want to buy a house and then suddenly find yourself needing money for an emergency. Save a month’s worth of expenses before your down payment.

  • Have an active budget plan for saving up your down payment. Creating a dedicated savings account that you automatically have a portion of your pay deposited into is a good way to ensure that you meet your savings goals.

  • Bolster the case for your financial stability. Lenders will want to see that your income is predictable and regular. Keep records of your income, tax returns, and anything else that can help show that you’re making more than enough money to safely lend to.

  • Have open conversations with your family. If you’ll be buying a home with a spouse and/or children, discuss what you’re looking for in a home. This can include location, size, etc. It’s a good idea for everyone to be on the same page before you ever start shopping for a home.

  • Get preapproved. Getting preapproved for a home loan will make you a better prospective buyer in the eyes of sellers.

  • Run the numbers again. Aside from your mortgage payments, you’ll also have to pay utilities, trash removal, property taxes, and any other expenses related to the home. Make sure you can comfortably afford these while still contributing to savings.




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Posted by Joyce Torelli on 8/22/2018

A home showing represents a valuable opportunity for a property buyer. However, there may be instances in which a buyer is unsure about whether to attend a house showing. Lucky for you, we're here to help you weigh the pros and cons of scheduling a home showing.

Now, let's take a look at three questions to consider before you attend a house showing.

1. Is a home the right size for me?

Take a look at a home listing and find out the square footage and number of rooms in a house. That way, you'll be able to determine whether a house is the right size for you without setting foot inside the residence itself.

Of course, you should consider your immediate and long-term plans as you evaluate a home's size. If you plan to start a family soon, for example, you may want to search for a home that offers sufficient space for you, your spouse and your children. Or, if you intend to retire in the foreseeable future, you may want to pursue a small home that requires minimal maintenance.

2. Is a home located in one of my preferred cities and towns?

Think about where you want to reside. Oftentimes, it helps to make a list of preferred cities and towns and narrow your home search to these areas. And if you find a home you want to check out in one of these cities or towns, you then can schedule a property showing.

In addition, it is important to remember that a big city home may prove to be more expensive than a comparable residence in a small town. If you decide to pursue a house in a big city, you may face increased competition for city homes in comparison to small town residences too.

3. Could a home be my dream residence?

Ultimately, if there is even a small chance that a home could be your dream residence, it may be beneficial to set up a showing. If you attend a showing and find a residence is your ideal house, you can submit an offer to purchase this home. On the other hand, if you attend a showing and find a residence falls short of your expectations, you can simply continue your pursuit of your dream house.

As you conduct your search for your ideal residence, it generally is a good idea to hire a real estate agent. This housing market professional will set up home showings, keep you informed about new residences that become available in your preferred cities and towns and much more. Plus, if you ever have concerns or questions during the homebuying journey, a real estate agent is ready to respond to them.

Consider the aforementioned questions before you schedule a home showing – you will be glad you did. And if you decide to attend a house showing, you will be better equipped than ever before to determine whether a particular home is right for you.




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Posted by Joyce Torelli on 3/21/2018

If you’re looking to buy a new home anytime soon, getting your finances in order is an excellent first step to getting the keys to your dream property. No matter where you want to buy a home, your financial picture is the most critical aspect of buying a home. Read on for some tips to get you financially prepared to buy a house.


Set A Savings Goal


Buying a property will require a significant amount of money up front. From closing costs to the down payment, you need to set a specific amount to save up before you even get out on the house hunt. 


Break your savings goal down by month over a yearly number if you have multiple years before you buy. 


Have A Specific Account For Savings


If you don’t see it, you won’t spend it. Tuck all of your savings in one account. Use automatic transfers to make saving from your paycheck easier and seamless. Before you even check your account, you’re on your way to your savings goals. You may not want to keep your money in higher yield accounts. These may not allow you to take the money out when you need it. Take the time to shop interest rates on savings accounts at different banks. Some may even offer a bonus. Just remember always to pay yourself first. Don’t be tempted to spend the money that you have saved.    


Rethink Your Budget


Depending on the amount that you want to save to buy a home, you may need to cut costs significantly. Take the time to do a budget and see where you may be able to cut down on costs. Should you cut the cord on cable? Are you going out to restaurants too often? Another idea is to call your phone company and other utility providers and ask about discounts. You may need to make some lifestyle and budgeting adjustments in order to get on your way to your dream home.


Use Gifts Wisely


Did you get a big Christmas bonus from work? Did a relative give you a monetary gift for your birthday? Take all of the extra cash and stash it away in the account that’s dedicated to your home savings. It will only help you to achieve your goals faster.


Keep Your Accounts Stable


Before your loan can close and the keys to your dream home are yours, you’ll need to make sure you don’t make any significant purchases. You need a paper trail for all of your money. Before you buy a home is not the time to go nuts and buy furniture or buy a car. These things can affect both your credit and debt-to-income-ratio.   

      





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Posted by Joyce Torelli on 1/10/2018

When you’re buying a home, there’s a lot to think about. Your finances probably have the biggest impact in the entire home search process. The amount of a down payment you have and the amount of loan you’re approved for help decide what you can buy. 


When you hear about closing costs, what do they entail? How much will you need to cover these costs? Many people get to the closing table for their home purchase and feel unprepared. You’ll need a certain amount of cash on hand when you finally close on a home. Learn more about closing costs, so that you understand everything that you need to know about your home purchase.    


Closing costs are spelled out pretty plainly in just about every kind of real estate contract. These costs are the fees associated with the title companies, attorney, banks, lenders and everyone else who is involved in the purchase of a home. The closing table is also the time when you provide your sizable down payment. The closing costs that are being referred to are considered a separate expense independent of the closing costs.


Closing Costs Vary


Closing costs can range from anywhere between 2 and 8 percent of the purchase price of the home. You can’t really “choose” what’s included in the closing, so you’ll need to have an idea of how much money you’ll need to write a check for. Lenders can give you an estimate of about how much closing costs will be. 


Negotiations 


Certain things like the realtor’s commission fees can be negotiated and can be paid for by the buyer or the seller. The good news is that you can roll your closing fees in with your mortgage in some cases. You may also be able to negotiate with your lender to pay the closing costs for you in exchange for a higher interest rate. 


What’s Included In Closing Costs?


Depending upon where and what type of home you’re buying, what the closing costs actually cover varies. Here’s just some of the things that closing costs cover:


  • Appraisal
  • Escrow fees
  • Credit reports
  • Title search
  • Title exam fee
  • Survey fee
  • Courier fee (Most transactions are done electronically, but in some cases this may be necessary)
  • Title insurance
  • Owner’s title insurance
  • Natural hazards disclosure
  • Homeowner’s insurance (Your first year of insurance is often paid at closing)
  • Buyer’s attorney fee
  • Lender’s attorney fee
  • Transfer taxes
  • Recording fees
  • Processing fees
  • Underwriting fee
  • Pre-paid interest
  • Pest inspections
  • Homeowner's association transfer fees
  • Special assessments


These fees vary widely by state and the type of property that you’re purchasing. Not every fee is required, but the above is just a list of many of the possible fees that could be included in on the closing of the home you choose.





Posted by Joyce Torelli on 1/3/2018

For first-time homebuyers, going from property buyer to property owner may seem virtually impossible. Lucky for you, we're here to help you take the guesswork out of buying a home.

Now, let's take a look at three questions that every first-time homebuyer needs to consider:

1. What is my "dream" residence?

One first-time homebuyer's definition of a "dream" residence may differ from another's. As such, you should consider what you'd like to find in a dream house before you begin your real estate search.

Creating a checklist of "must-haves" and "wants" in your house often serves as a great starting point for first-time homebuyers. This checklist will enable homebuyers to consider what they'd like to find in a dream home and plan accordingly.

Also, it is important to establish realistic expectations before you kick off a home search.

Many terrific houses are available in cities and towns nationwide, but no home is likely to have every feature that you desire in a dream residence.

Therefore, if you establish realistic expectations for your home search, you can avoid potential let-downs as you explore a broad array of high-quality houses.

2. How will I pay for a home?

Getting pre-approved for a mortgage is vital for a first-time homebuyer, and for good reason. With pre-approval for a mortgage, you'll know what you can afford to spend on a home before you enter the real estate market.

Many banks and credit unions are happy to meet with you to discuss your mortgage options. These lenders can outline the differences between adjustable- and fixed-rate mortgages, help you assess your credit score and ensure you can make an informed mortgage decision.

Furthermore, lenders can answer any mortgage questions that you may have. They can help you evaluate your current financial situation and enable you to obtain a mortgage that won't force you to revamp your day-to-day budget.

3. How do I begin searching for a house?

Beginning a home search is easy, particularly for first-time homebuyers who work with expert real estate agents.

An expert real estate agent understands what it takes to find a wonderful house at a budget-friendly price. In fact, he or she will do everything possible to help you navigate the housing market quickly and effortlessly.

Typically, an expert real estate agent will keep you up to date about new homes as they become available, set up home showings and submit home offers on your behalf. This housing market professional also will offer honest, unbiased recommendations throughout the homebuying journey to help you select a house that matches or exceeds your expectations.

When it comes to exploring the housing market, there is no need to work alone. Fortunately, you can hire an expert real estate agent who can help you get the best results possible during the homebuying journey.

Want to acquire your first home? Use the aforementioned tips, and you can move one step closer to owning a top-notch house.




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