Buying a Home in a Fire Risk Area: Here’s What You Need to Know

Buying a Home in a Fire Risk Area: Here's What You Need to KnowOutside of the significant financial responsibility of delving into home ownership, there can also be a lot of other risks involved that you may not have thought about before investing in a home. You’ll need to protect your home against theft or burglary. And homeowner’s insurance to protect your home and belongings is almost a requirement. But there are other less common occurrences you may not have thought about. If you happen to be living in an area that’s at high risk of fire, here are some things to consider beforehand.

Defining “High Risk”

It’s easy to be swept away by a beautiful home and forget about what the natural landscape around it consists of. Many homes across the United States are built in areas close to trees and shrubs, which can be dangerous in times of high temperatures, so it’s important to do your research. While hot spots can occur in many different areas, California and the southwest region are particularly vulnerable in times of drought.

What It Means For Your Mortgage

Nearly all homes can be adversely affected by a fire so it’s important to realize that buying in a high-risk area will not impact your ability to get a mortgage. It can, however, impact some of the costs associated with investing in your home. While homeowner’s insurance is a requirement of buying a home and it will generally cover you in the incidence of a fire, it can be a bit pricier. Fortunately, you may be able to guard against some of the additional costs by purchasing a home with materials that are more fire resistant.

In The Event Of Fire

If the worst happens and your home incurs damage from a fire, you’ll want to assess the extent of the damage before making a decision. For a home that is minimally impacted, you may want to use insurance to repair the property. However, if the property is significantly or completely destroyed, a payout may be required in order to pay off the mortgage. Before purchasing a home in a fire-prone area it’s best to be aware of all aspects of your insurance policy so you can be prepared.

It’s a more significant risk to buy a home in a fire-prone area, but you can be prepared for the worst by knowing your options. If you’re currently considering purchasing a new home, contact your trusted mortgage professional for more information.

Downsizing? Here’s What You Can Expect When You Move From a House to a Condo

Downsizing? Here's What You Can Expect When You Move From a House to a CondoWhether the kids have moved out or you just aren’t using the extra bedrooms, having a house that feels ‘too big’ is rarely fun. In today’s post, we will share a few changes you can expect when you downsize from a large house to a smaller apartment or condo.

Why Downsize At All?

As you might imagine, having too much space is the primary reason that couples and families downsize. Larger homes cost more to maintain and can feel empty if it’s just one or two people living there. In many cases, old items and clutter tend to build up as there is so much storage space. Downsizing to a smaller home helps to maintain a lifestyle that is more efficient but no less luxurious.

Ask Yourself: Are You Ready?

Another consideration that you will need to make: are you ready to move? If you are retired from work, then you likely have enough time on your hands to manage a move. Conversely, if you and your spouse are both working full-time and live near your workplace, you may want to source a smaller home nearby.

Don’t forget that if you own the house you are living in now, this might mean having to list and sell it while buying your new home. This is a common situation and isn’t a significant problem, but it will require a bit of scheduling and financial planning.

The Hardest Part: Choosing What To Keep

Ask any couple or family that has downsized their home about the toughest part, and many will share that it was choosing what stays and what goes. When space is at a premium, everything from shoes to appliances needs to be considered.

Spend some time going through each room in your house, taking an inventory of what you have. Are there any family heirlooms or other emotional items that you can’t part ways with? After that, is there anything that will be usable in your new home? Everything else should be considered fair game. Sell it, donate it or toss it out.

Moving to a smaller home can seem challenging at first, but it is a lifestyle choice that can pay significant dividends. When you are ready to make a move, contact our professional real estate team. After discussing your wants and needs, we will be happy to recommend some perfect local listings.

3 Reasons Why Your First Home Should Be a Spacious One

Go Big or Go Home: 3 Reasons Why Your First Home Should Be a Spacious OneBuying a home for the first time? One of the key considerations you’ll need to make is just how much ‘house’ you want to buy. While going minimal might seem like a good idea to save on costs, having a smaller living space can end up cramping your lifestyle in many ways. Let’s take a look at three great reasons why your first home should be roomy, spacious and luxurious.

You Might End Up With More Family Than You Think

Have you considered whether or not you want to have a family? Whether you’re a single young professional or part of a newlywed couple, there’s always a chance you’ll end up with more kids than you think. If you’re buying a home for the long haul, you’ll want to ensure that you have enough bedrooms to contain a growing family. It’s much easier to make other use of a spare room than to invent an extra bedroom if you end up with one or two more children than you had planned. Even if you don’t have kids, you may end up welcoming other family members into your home for extended periods.

Small Spaces Limit You In Just About Every Way

As you might imagine, small living spaces will limit your options. Whether you want to build out a new media room or just want more luxurious furniture, much of the time living small means living without. Buying a larger home from the start will give you all of the space needed to build your dream home. And over time, you’re far more likely to enjoy living in a home that you can tweak and customize to suit your changing tastes.

You Can Always Monetize The Extra Space

Don’t forget that extra space can always be put to good use. If you have a finished basement, you can possibly rent the suite out to a tenant. Or, you can host guests in your extra bedrooms using apps like Airbnb. If you’re more of an entrepreneurial type, you can start a small business out of one of the spare rooms.

These are just a few of the many reasons why buying a larger home is an excellent idea. For more information about purchasing a luxurious home, contact your trusted real estate and mortgage professionals today.

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.