Ready to Buy Your First Home? Don’t Forget to Check Your Credit Score – Here’s Why

Ready to Buy Your First Home? Don't Forget to Check Your Credit Score – Here's WhyWhether you’re just out of college, recently married or simply haven’t jumped into the market yet, buying your first home is an exciting prospect. It can also be an expensive one, which is why most people will take out a mortgage to help finance the cost.

If you are planning on engaging with a mortgage lender, you’ll need to have your finances in order. In today’s post, we’ll share a few key reasons why you’ll want to check your credit score well in advance of buying your first home.

Your Credit Score Is A Signal For Lenders

As you know, mortgage lenders have a responsibility to lend to those individuals and families who are at a low risk of default. So when a mortgage lender starts to dig into your financial background, they are looking at your credit history and credit score to help them assess that risk.

Note that having a low score doesn’t necessarily mean you have bad credit. If you’re still in your 20s and have only had a credit card, your score might be low even though you are fully capable of managing a mortgage.

Your Score Impacts Your Mortgage Interest Rate

As mentioned above, your credit score helps to signify your risk. If your credit score is in a lower range, perhaps a 640 or 660, you’re presenting a greater risk than someone with a score of 760 or 800. Because of this, the interest rate that you pay on your mortgage will in part be determined by your credit score. Those individuals who present a higher risk pay a higher rate to compensate. And vice versa, if your credit is spotless you can expect to pay a lower interest rate.

You’ll Need Time To Challenge Any Issues

Finally, you’ll need to give yourself some lead time to challenge any irregularities with your credit report. The credit reporting agencies aren’t perfect and they do make mistakes. There may be some old, retired credit card or other debt sitting on your report which is holding the score down. Even worse, there may be some incorrect delinquency or other error which ends up as a big red flag for potential mortgage lenders.

As you can see, it’s worth spending the time to check your credit score. You get to check it for free once per year, so take advantage of the opportunity. And when you’re ready to discuss buying your first home, contact your trusted mortgage professional. We’ll share how to navigate the credit score and mortgage process so you can land the home of your dreams.

Expecting Children: How to Quickly Move into a Larger Home Before a Baby Arrives

Expecting Children: How to Quickly Move into a Larger Home Before a Baby ArrivesStarter homes are incredibly popular for young couples who plan to have a family in the future but don’t need a large place yet.

Life moves pretty fast sometimes and many couples find themselves expecting children before they have begun to look for the next home. This shouldn’t be a problem, as moving into a larger home before the baby arrives can be a lot easier than it appears.

Always Move Before The Baby Is Born

There is a choice when upgrading a home for children: moving beforehand and settling down in advance of having kids or waiting until after having the child and dealing with a move later on.

It may be tempting to wait until the stress of a pregnancy is over to move into a larger home. After all, selling and buying houses can be a tiring process for anybody, let alone expectant parents. Just remember, no matter how difficult or stressful the move is it will be one hundred times worse after having kids.

Work With A Professional To Help Coordinate The Move

There is nothing wrong with rushing through a purchase or the sale of a home, as long as everything is done correctly. A situation like this is never the right time to assume control and responsibility for every aspect of the move.

A real estate professional, once told of the situation, will know exactly how to handle everything. From preparing a current home for sale to finding a larger house in the right price range, a professional will have experience in coordinating the process.

Prepare For The Move In Stages

The best way to go about facilitating a quick move is to go in steps. Everything in the house that is not necessary to the staging should be boxed up and moved into temporary storage before the home is shown.

This is beneficial because it removes all clutter from the house and helps to make a quick sale and also allows for many personal items to be moved into the new house without having to wait for the current home’s sale to close. Instead of one gigantic move, the process can be broken down into several smaller moves to relieve some stress.

When there is a deadline on a move, you can increase your chances of selling your current home and buying a new one by using the services of a real estate professional. When things are done fast they need to be done right and a professional with experience can facilitate the entire process while making sure nothing slips through the cracks.

3 Key Reasons Why Buying Your First Home Is Like Planning a Wedding

3 Key Reasons Why Buying Your First Home Is Like Planning a WeddingYou may not see the connection right away, but buying a home and planning a wedding are two experiences that require certain skills and challenge you in similar ways. Check out the three key similarities below!

1. Budget

Whether you’re buying your first home or planning a wedding, you are likely facing one of the biggest financial obligations of your life. That’s why, in both cases, it is essential that you pick a realistic budget and stay within it.

Sounds simple, but in either case it can be difficult! Unexpected obstacles may force you to spend more than you planned, or you may find yourself wanting to overspend as you find things that would be “just perfect” additions even though they don’t fit your budget. These temptations can be expected, but it’s important to remember the big picture. When it comes to your budget, pick it and stick it.

2. Details

When it comes to a home purchase or a wedding, there are countless details to consider. It’s not a simple, pre-packaged purchase, there will always be big decisions that you have to make and if you overlook something you may regret it later on.

Some decisions that you face will be similar in both experiences: Does the location work for you? Does it work for your friends and family? What is the parking situation? Is it appropriate for the climate? Will you be satisfied with your decision in the long-term?

Other details will be more unique to the situation: Do you need a cocktail hour? Do you need a walk-in closet? What style of photography would you like? Is there too much traffic noise?

Either way you’ll have lots to think about, and you’ll become acutely aware of ‘the little things.’

3. You’ve Got Style

Both your wedding and your home say something about you, they’re a reflection of your personal style. When being presented with so many choices that are particularly catered towards your personal taste, you’ll learn what you like and what you don’t. However, you’ll also learn what it is that you absolutely need, and what you’re willing to budge on.

Whether you’re choosing a wedding dress that is both gorgeous and functional for your ceremony or deciding whether or not you need an extra bedroom in your home, you’ll learn what it is that you’d want in a perfect world, and what is absolutely necessary for your current situation.

3 Closing Costs That Most Buyers Forget to Factor in and What You Can Expect to Pay

3 Closing Costs That Most Buyers Forget to Factor in and What You Can Expect to PayIf you’re in the process of buying a home, you probably have your deposit and monthly mortgage charges in a spreadsheet, along with a chart of your other expenses and your monthly income. But when it comes to buying a home, there are lots of different costs that will come into play – and it’s easy to forget something. When you’re preparing to close on your new home, make sure you consider these three closing costs that most buyers forget.

Home Inspection Fees: A Small Charge For Peace Of Mind

Most home purchase agreements are contingent upon a successful home inspection – and if you’re planning to buy a home, you should definitely have it inspected before you buy it. However, home inspectors don’t work for free, and you’ll have to pay a home inspector for a thorough evaluation of the premises.

Home inspection fees depend on the kind of property you’re buying, and can vary depending on your location. For a condo unit, you will typically only need to pay about $250, but a single-family home might cost up to $500. Luxury properties are often more expensive, sometimes even running as high as $1,500.

Private Mortgage Insurance: Obligatory With Small Down Payments

If you’re only planning to make the minimum down payment on your home, you’ll need to buy mortgage insurance. Mortgage insurance protects the lender in the event that you default on your loan. This is an added cost that your lender pays, and in general, almost every lender will pass the cost on to you.

You can pay for your mortgage insurance in one large payment, or you can add it to your monthly mortgage payments. Note that if your down payment is less than 20% of the purchase price, you’re legally required to buy mortgage insurance.

Lender Fees: Additional Fees to Process Your Mortgage

One category of closing costs that buyers often forget is lender fees. Lender fees are fees that your mortgage lender will charge for processing the transaction of the loan. These can include appraisal fees, credit report fees, processing and application fees, and administration fees for underwriting.

These fees can range depending on the lender, but in many cases they exceed $3,000. You’ll want to budget about $3,500 to $5,000 to be safe.

Buying a house is a major undertaking, and there are lots of ways that the process could go awry. But a good mortgage professional can help you navigate the process and get the home and the mortgage you’ve always wanted without any issues. Contact your trusted mortgage expert to learn more.

3 Reasons Why Your Closing Costs Will Vary Depending on the Type of Home You Buy

3 Reasons Why Your Closing Costs Will Vary Depending on the Type of Home You BuySavvy home buyers who are preparing to make a real estate purchase should do their research and understand that they need to save money for not only the down payment, but the closing costs as well. The closing costs can account for as much as three to five percent of the sales price in some cases, so this can be a rather sizable amount of money. Some home buyers however, may not realize that the amount of closing costs can vary considerably based on the home that is purchased. With a closer look at why this is, home buyers can make a more educated decision when selecting a home to purchase.

Prepaid Taxes And Insurance

One of the most significant closing costs relates to prepaid taxes and insurance, and both of these expenses are directly tied to the location and value of the property. Consider that the property tax rate can vary based on the city, county, and state. Real estate insurance can also vary based on the type of construction of the home, if the home is located in a flood plain, and other factors. These are only a few examples of how the location and property type can impact these fees, and home buyers should consider the costs assoicated with the tax rates and insurance when selecting a property to purchase.

Third Party Reports

There are several third party reports that are commonly paid for at closing, and these include an appraisal, a survey, a pest inspection and a property inspection. The third party reports may vary in cost based on the size of the home, the amount of land that is being purchased, and even the condition of the property. Those who want to keep their closing costs lower may consider learning more about how these fees are calculated up-front before finalizing their plans to buy a specific home.

Title Insurance Fees

Title insurance fees are another typically sizable expense for home buyers, and this insurance offers protection to the lender if the title is not clean. Title insurance can increase based on the size of the property as well as different factors that are revealed with a title search. This information can be difficult to learn with an initial home search, but home buyers should be aware that title defects can increase closing costs.

The location, size, age and construction of a property all impact the closing costs. Those who are shopping for real estate may be inclined to make a decision that keeps closing costs down, and they can reach out to their knowledgeable mortgage professional for more assistance with their particular situation.

How to Determine How Big of a Down Payment You Need

How to Determine How Big of a Down Payment You NeedWhether or not you’re new to real estate, there’s little doubt that you’ve heard the term down payment as it relates to purchasing a home. There’s a lot of different information out there in regards to how much this figure should be and it can be hard to determine exactly what the importance of this payment is. If you’re trying to determine the ideal amount to put down, here are some things to consider.

Explaining Down Payments And Why They’re Important

The down payment is probably one of the largest single payments you’ll make for anything, and this is why so many people save for years. When you buy a home, the down payment is the amount of money that goes into the initial home investment, and this is taken off of the cost of the house. In essence, while this money qualifies as an asset, it is tied up in paying off the total cost of your home.

The Differing Amounts For Down Payments

It’s often the case that many figures are thrown around in regards to the ideal down payment percentage, and they generally vary from 3-20% of the home’s cost. If you are paying a percentage on the low side of the scale, this can unfortunately mean that you will have fewer mortgage options and will be stuck with an increased interest rate. The amount you should pay depends on your financial health and purchasing commitment, but the larger the down payment is, the more minimal your monthly payments will be.

Deciding The Perfect Percentage

Saving up 20% of a home’s total price may seem like a lot of time and effort, but this can be the ideal amount to put down. In addition to lowered monthly payments and a better interest rate, you’ll also be able to avoid Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI), which is required if you put down less than 20%. There is no right answer to the question of how much to put towards a down payment, but you may end up spending less in the long run if you can invest more in the beginning.

There are many figures thrown around when it comes to real estate, but the amount of a down payment should be economically feasible for you and enable you to make your monthly payments consistently. If you’re planning on purchasing soon and are looking for home options, you may want to contact your trusted mortgage professional for more information.

Advice For Purchasing A House On A Single Income

Advice For Purchasing A House On A Single IncomeEven though a lot of people have two incomes they can use to purchase a house (theirs and their partner’s), this is not necessarily required. There are lots of people who want to take advantage of current interest rates to purchase a house, and some people are trying to do it on their own. Even though it can be a challenge to buy a house with only one income, it is certainly not impossible. There are several tips that can make it easier for everyone to afford a house with just a single income. 

Always Check Your Credit Score

If you want to buy a house on a single income, make sure you check your credit score first. Your credit score is a reflection of your financial health. The higher your credit score is, the better your chances of having your loan application approved. You can check your credit score for free once per year from any of the major credit bureaus. You need to know what your credit score is and you need to correct any inaccuracies on your credit report before you apply for a home loan. 

Explore Government Loan Programs

Next, if you are buying a home for the first time, you should explore government loan programs. For example, you might be able to apply for an FHA loan, which could allow you to purchase a home for as little as 3.5 percent down. That way, you do not necessarily need to save up a 20 percent down payment to buy a house. Depending on your location, there could be other government loan programs that can make it easier for you to buy a house.

Ask For a Co-Signer To Help 

Even if you plan on paying for the mortgage yourself, you may find it easier to buy a house if you have someone who can co-sign for your loan. This is particularly helpful if your credit score isn’t quite high enough to qualify for a loan. As long as your co-signer has a solid credit score, they might make it easier for you to get your loan application approved. Furthermore, you might be rewarded with a lower interest rate than you could otherwise get on your own. 

 

3 Reasons You Might Decide to Retire to a Tiny Home – and Why You’ll Love It!

3 Reasons You Might Decide to Retire to a Tiny Home - and Why You'll Love ItMany people romanticize the idea of paying off their home mortgage early so they can enjoy their home in retirement, but when it comes to the later years of life, a big house can actually be too much to handle. If you’ve started to consider a smaller home and are wondering why it might be a good decision for you and yours, here are a few things you may want to consider.

It’s Much Easier To Maintain

It is often the idea of the palatial estate with a pool that homeowners get excited about, but when it comes to reality, the larger the home, the harder it is going to be to take care of and maintain. If you don’t have a maid or a butler, a smaller home will enable you to spend a lot more of your free time doing things that you love instead of being bound to a house that is full of repairs and maintenance that needs to be completed.

Save On The Big Home Bills

One of the worries associated with getting older is having the ability to maintain your lifestyle in old age, and a smaller home can actually alleviate many of the high costs that go along with having an oversized home. A smaller home will not only minimize your insurance and taxes, it can also positively impact the amount you pay each month for heating and electricity, so you’ll notice the savings right off the bat.

The Freedom Of A Downsized Lifestyle

One of the best things about downsizing to a smaller home is the huge sense of responsibility that can be left in the dust. Instead of being held back by all of the stuff required to fill a big house, a small home means there is less to worry about. This may mean you’ll have the option to go on longer vacations or can even relocate to a hot climate for the summer months, and you’ll only need someone to come by and water the plants every once in a while!

There are plenty of people that decide to downsize later in life since it can actually be a great way to save money and have a lot more freedom. If you’re considering your smaller home options and are curious about what’s available on the market, you may want to contact one of our real estate professionals for more information.

Understanding How Home Equity Works and Why Buying a Home Can Be Your Best Investment

Understanding How Home Equity Works and Why Buying a Home Can Be Your Best InvestmentWhen delving into the world of real estate and investment property, there are many terms that will come up that require further explanation. Whether you’ve never heard the phrase ‘home equity’ before or you have a little familiarity, here are the ins and out of what it means and how this asset can help your financial outlook.

All About Home Equity

Essentially, home equity refers to your portion of the value of your home, and the amount of this figure is important because it is included among your assets when determining your net worth. If this sounds confusing, think of it this way: if you have completely paid off the cost of your home, the value of your home equity is this total amount. Of course, because most people seek a lender to borrow money from when they purchase a home, their home equity would consist of their down payment and whatever amount they’ve paid down on the mortgage since purchase.

An Example Of Home Equity

To provide further clarification, let’s use the example of a house that has been purchased for $300,000. In the case that a down payment of 20% has been provided at the time of purchase, the equity in the home would be $60,000. Since this amount is the percentage and cost of the house that’s been paid down, this is the amount of the house that is actually owned and this will be figured among an individual’s assets.

How Home Equity Works

As you pay the amount that you owe on your home each month, you are paying off your total debt and thereby increasing your equity. Since this amount of money is considered an asset that belongs to you, it can be used down the road to buy another home or invest in other important things like education or retirement. While paying off the amount owed on a home is a considerable investment, if the value of your home increases, this means that you’ll still owe the same on it but your home equity will have automatically increased.

As an asset that is part of your financial net worth and can be used down the road to fund other investments, home equity is a very useful term to know when it comes to purchasing a home. If you’re on the market for a home and are considering your options, you may want to contact one of our local real estate professionals for more information.

3 ‘Must Know’ Pieces of Advice for First-time Home Buyers

3 'Must Know' Pieces of Advice for First-time Home BuyersWhen delving into the realities of home ownership, there can be many factors involved that make it difficult to determine what you need to know and what can wait until later. If you happen to be a first-time buyer who’s looking for the best tips for purchasing a home, look no further than the following three pointers to set you on the right path.

Get Familiar With Your Credit Score

If you haven’t looked at your credit report for a long time, it can be a daunting task to request this information. Fortunately, your credit report is free from AnnualCreditReport.com and it will prepare you for what lenders are going to see. By taking this important step, you will be able to determine any delinquent accounts or balances owing that have gone to collections, and hopefully have these cleaned up before they can become a problem for your mortgage.

Determine The Price You Can Pay

While you may have a price in mind for what you’re willing to pay for a home, it’s important to determine your debt-to-income ratio before putting in an offer. Your DTI ratio can be determined by taking your total monthly costs, adding it to what you would be paying for a home and dividing it by your monthly gross income. If it’s a housing price that will work for you, this amount should equate to less than 43%.

Organize Your Housing History

If you have a good history as a tenant, the next step will probably be the easiest of all, but it’s very important in order to prove you’re a responsible candidate for home ownership. Once you’ve acquired a Verification of Rent from any applicable landlord in the previous year, you’ll want to ensure that you have money in the bank. While RRSP’s can make a good impression, make sure you have liquid assets available so you can convince the lender your home investment is manageable.

There are a lot of things to know when it comes to buying a home, but if you’re a first time buyer the most important thing is to ensure that your finances are organized and that you’re not diving into more house than you can afford. By taking the time to determine your debt-to-income ratio and looking into your credit, you can ensure a positive first-time buying experience. If you’re wondering about homes for sale in your area, you may want to contact your trusted real estate professionals for more information.