Condo Vs House: Which Is Best For Your Lifestyle?

Condo vs House: Which is Best for Your Lifestyle?Some people love living in condos, while others swear by detached homes. When it comes to deciding between the two, however, you can’t always rely on someone else’s word.

Sometimes it’s as simple as understanding and assessing your lifestyle to make the best choice, since condo living and home ownership are two radically different experiences, and thereby serve two very different types of lifestyles and personalities.

Here are a few considerations if you’re trying to decide whether you should invest in a house or a condo.

House: Best If You Have A Furry Friend

Do you have a furry friend or two that are an integral part of your family? Depending on their size and species, you may want to consider a detached house over a condo, simply for the amount of space available.

If you have dogs, you should consider that many condominiums don’t allow certain numbers, sizes, or breeds, and this could be just another reason you opt for a house. Having a backyard for your dogs to play in, and being able to avoid the daily elevator rides, are just more reasons to add to the list.

Condo: Best If You’re A Busy Business Person

If you’re a busy businessperson who’s rarely ever home, you may want to consider condo-style living. You will be able to save on mortgage costs, which will certainly help you reach your financial goals, and you will have fewer worries involved than you would if you owned a detached home.

Full size houses require significant upkeep, which is a major time investment. In contrast, a condo is a turnkey living space that gives you the amenities you need without the responsibilities of home ownership. If you hardly entertain and would like a space to enjoy yourself during your off time, living in a condo might be just the perfect setup for you, the busy business-minded individual.

House: Best If You Like Privacy And Control

If you’re someone who adores your privacy and likes to be in complete control of the maintenance and care of your home, a detached house is certainly the best option for you. Having your own detached house means living with added privacy, as you won’t have neighbors as close by as would be the case if you were living in a condominium.

You’ll also be pleased to be the sole decision maker when it comes to the upkeep and maintenance schedule of the various aspects of your home. Rather than ask a strata manager for permission to, say, paint your front door, you can simply paint your front door.

Condo: If You’re A Single Minimalist

Condo living can be great for single people and minimalists. If you prefer to live on the lighter side, with fewer responsibilities and chores, a condo setup can be extremely rewarding. All of the big stuff will likely be taken care of, and all you’ll have to worry about is the minimal space inside of your four walls.

If you decide to travel for an extended period, it’s much easier to find short-term tenants for condos than for houses.

It can be difficult to decide whether a house or a condo is best suited to your lifestyle. Don’t be shy to ask your friends and family what they think of your personality, and do your due diligence to discover which home is best to accommodate your daily life. Once you’ve made your decision, contact a real estate professional and find the home that fits your lifestyle.

3 Considerations When Making A Down Payment

3 Considerations When Making A Down Payment One of the challenges you will face when deciding how much money to put down on your new home is whether to put down a larger down payment or to take a bit of money from your down payment and use it to pay “discount points” to lower your interest rate.

There are pros and cons to doing both and each borrower’s situation will be different so it’s important to understand which option is best for your individual need.

Some Factors You Should Consider Include:

  • Cost Of Borrowing – generally speaking, to lower your interest rate will mean you pay a premium. Most lenders will charge as much as one percent (one point) on the face amount of your loan to decrease your mortgage interest rate. Before you agree to pay discount points, you need to calculate the amount of money you are going to save monthly and then determine how many months it will take to recover your investment. Remember, discount points are normally tax deductible so it may be important to talk to your tax planner for guidance.
  • Larger Down Payment Means More Equity – keep in mind, the larger your down payment, the less money you have to borrow and the more equity you have in your new home. This is important for borrowers in a number of ways including lower monthly payments, potentially better loan terms and possibly not having to purchase mortgage insurance depending on how much equity you will have at the time of closing.
  • Qualifying For A Loan – borrowers who are facing challenges qualifying for a loan should weigh which option (discount points or larger down payment) is likely to help them qualify. In some instances, using a combination of down payment and lower rates will make the difference. Your mortgage professional can help you determine which is most beneficial to you.

There is no answer that is right for every borrower. All of the factors that impact your mortgage loan and your overall financial situation must be considered when you are preparing for your home mortgage loan.

Talking with your mortgage professional and where appropriate your tax professional will help you make the decision that is right for your specific situation.

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.

The ‘Debt to Income’ Ratio and How It Affects Your Home Purchase

Real Estate Terms: The 'Debt to Income' Ratio and How It Affects Your Home PurchaseThe real estate market is rife with terminology that can make a home purchase seem more than a little complicated. If you’re currently looking for a home and are considering your loan options, you may have even heard the term ‘Debt to Income’ ratio. In the interest of simplifying things, here are some insights on what this term means and how it can impact your home investment.

Determining Your ‘Debt to Income’ Ratio

It’s important to consider what exactly your DTI ratio is before your home purchase as this will quickly determine how much home you can actually afford. To calculate this number, take your monthly debt payments – including any credit card, loan and mortgage payments – and divide them by your monthly gross income to get a percentage. In the event that your monthly debt is $700 and you make $2800 in income, your DTI is 25%.

What Your DTI Means To The Bank

The DTI is a very important number when it comes to a home loan because it enables the bank to determine your financial situation. A DTI of 25% leaves some wiggle room, as most banks will allow a DTI percentage that runs between 36-43%. In the case of the above example, this means that the most debt this person could take on per month is about $1200. While banks vary on this percentage, credit history plays an important part in the DTI that will be allowed.

Paying Down Your Debt Or Purchasing A Home

In the event that you have a DTI ratio that exceeds what your bank will allow, you will need to consider your debts before moving on to investing in a home. If you’re planning on purchasing a home in the next year, it’s a good idea to tackle high-interest debt first. However, if you happen to have a chunk of money saved up that you’re planning on putting into a down payment, it’s worth considering that putting more than 20% down may slightly increase the DTI percentage your bank will accept.

There are many fancy terms that go along with the world of real estate, but it’s important to understand what they mean so you can make them work in your favor. If you’re calculating your DTI ratio and are planning a home purchase down the road, you may want to contact your trusted mortgage professionals for more information.

Thinking About Downsizing? Here’s What You Need to Know About Life in a Condo

Thinking About Downsizing? Here's What You Need to Know About Life in a CondoThe shift from home living to condo life may seem like a minor one, but there are plenty of things that will differentiate your lifestyle other than size when it comes to making a condominium purchase. If you’re contemplating this move and wondering about some of the things that this might entail, here are a few factors that are worth considering.

The Fees You’ll Have to Pay

While a smaller condo is unlikely to have the same associated costs as a large home, you will be paying a monthly condominium fee that will be covering maintenance and insurance so that many repairs and upgrades won’t have to be paid out of pocket. While this cost will not cover each and every maintenance issue that can occur in a condo, it should keep you covered for many standard home costs. When purchasing a condominium, it’s important to read about what this monthly fee entails.

The Life of Central Living

Life in the suburbs can often mean that you’re far away from the amenities of the city, but many condominiums are built in areas that are full of restaurants, pharmacies, cultural centers and grocery stores which are only a short distance away. If you don’t mind getting into the car to run your errands, this might not be that important to you, but if you enjoy the exercise and like having amenities close by this type of living situation can be a welcome change.

Less Room for Stuff & Storage

Condo life can certainly eliminate many of the responsibilities of having a home, but if you’re downsizing there’s a possibility that you may have to get rid of a large number of items to successfully fit into your new space. If you’ve thought about the decision a lot and are convinced that condo living is the right choice, it’s still worth considering how much storage space you will have in your new home so that you can plan for this change, and shift your living style to fit the demands of a smaller space.

There are a lot of things to think about if you’re planning to downsize into a condo, but if you’ve considered the space you’ll have to work with and the conveniences that will make your life easier, you’re probably already prepared for the shift. If you’re curious about condo living and are ready to look at what financal options are available for your current situation, you may want to contact your trusted mortgage professional for more information.

Trying to Save on Your Closing Costs? Here Are Three Tips That Can Help Lower Them

Trying to Save on Your Closing Costs? Here Are Three Tips That Can Help Lower ThemWhether you’re about to close on a lovely new house for your growing family or a stylish beachfront condo so you can retire close to the ocean, one thing is certain: you’re going to face a variety of closing costs. Insurance, taxes, financing fees, title fees, attorney fees and other costs will need to be paid, and if you’re a savvy buyer you’ll do everything you can to save on them.

In today’s post we’ll share three quick tips that can help you reduce your closing costs when you buy your next home.

Tip #1: Include Closing Costs in Your Negotiations with the Seller

As closing costs are a part of the real estate transaction they’re an excellent item to include in your negotiations with the seller.

For example, if you consider that closing costs might be 3 or 4 percent of the home’s value you can try to bring the seller’s asking price down to get those costs included. Or, you may be able to entice the seller with the prospect of a quick sale if they are willing to pay your closing costs in order to get you to sign on the dotted line.

Tip #2: Compare All of Your Mortgage Options

If you’re using mortgage financing to cover some of the up-front purchase cost of your home you’ll have other closing costs to pay including lender fees, mortgage insurance and more. Be sure to compare all of your options with your trusted mortgage advisor to ensure that you’re getting the best possible deal and paying the least amount in fees and interest.

You may also be able to save a bit on your closing costs by choosing a “no points” mortgage. In this type of mortgage you’ll end up saving on closing costs but you’ll be left paying a higher interest rate. Spend a bit of time doing the math to determine the best course of action.

Tip #3: Ask About Every Fee You’re Required to Pay

Finally don’t forget that you’re the customer and that you have the right to know about each one of your closing costs and why you’re expected to pay them. Being informed about all of the various items in your transaction will help ensure that you’re not paying something you could have avoided.

There you have it – three excellent tips for reducing your closing costs when you purchase your next home. For more information and advice about mortgage closing costs and how to best manage them, be sure to get in touch with your local mortgage professional.

How to Plan for a Smooth Move-in

How to Plan for a Smooth Move-inWith all of the rigmarole that goes into packing up your old home and moving into the new one, there are a lot of details that can get lost in the mix. From cleaning up the old house to handing over the keys, there’s no shortage of small tasks that need to be completed. If you’ll soon be prepping for the exciting move into your next home, here are some ways to prepare yourself for this busy time.

Do A Spring Clean, Even When It’s Not Spring!

Spring cleaning may be something that people only do once a year, but it’s actually a great way to prep for the move you’re about to make. Instead of thinking on a smaller-scale though, you’ll want to hit every room in your house so there’s less to pack up come moving time. While no actual cleaning will be necessary until you’re moving out, this pre-clean is the perfect opportunity to discard unwanted items, shred old papers and drop off any old and unworn clothes in the donation bins.

Write And Review Your To-Do List

Whether there are supplies you need to buy before the big moving day or a few minor touch-ups that you’d like to complete on your house, start compiling a list of all the things you need to do before and on the day you’re scheduled to move. While these small details can add up to a lot of work, a list will mean that nothing is left behind or forgotten that can create extra headaches when there’s no time to deal with them.

Keep A Separate Box For Essentials

Many homebuyers get so excited about the premise of packing that they stick a lot of important items in a box and send them along on the moving truck, but a few boxes with the much needed essentials should be brought along with you. Whether its cosmetics or available food items, having the things you’ll need is the only way to ensure a bit of added comfort on your first night in your new home.

Packing up your stuff and moving into your new home is a considerable task, but by being prepared and doing a little cleaning in advance, you can make the process a little bit easier for you and your family. If you’re currently on the market for a home, you may want to contact one of our local real estate professionals for more information.

Family Matters: How to Choose the Perfect Home for a Large or Growing Family

Family Matters: How to Choose the Perfect Home for a Large or Growing Family Selecting the right home to purchase for a family is a monumental task, and this process can seem even more challenging for those with a large or growing family. A common goal may be to give everyone ample space to stretch out and feel relaxed, but some home buyers may also be focused on other factors like location, cost and even the general style of the home. While choosing the perfect home for a large or growing family is not easy, the process can be simplified by focusing on a few points.

Focus On Storage Space

There are few things that can make home life more miserable in the coming years than a lack of storage space. When a large family does not have adequate storage space in closets, the attic, the garage and cabinets, their items will likely find a home on the counters, on the floor and in other undesirable locations. Home buyers can consider looking for a home that has more storage space than is needed right now to ensure that the new home can accommodate growing needs over the years.

Think About Function Over Size

Many people who are looking for a new home will focus on finding a home that has a specific minimum square footage or a minimum number of bedrooms, but function is generally more important. For example, if a home has bar-style seating at the kitchen counter, the family may not need as large of a breakfast room to accommodate its needs. The family may also get more use out of a home that has a second living area, such as a game room, rather than a formal dining room that may rarely be used.

Choose The Right Floor Plan

In addition, consider reviewing the floor plan of the home carefully. Many prefer to have the kids’ rooms away from the master room, a study placed away from the kids’ game room or an open area where the kitchen and family room are connected so that a parent can oversee the kids while making meals. Home buyers should consider how they live and their likes and dislikes about their current space to determine which floor plan is best for them.

Deciding which home to purchase is rarely easy to do, but your trusted real estate professional can assist home buyers with this process. Those who are searching for a new home for a large or growing family can call their local real estate agent for further assistance.

Avoiding Home Buyer Remorse: 5 Tips for a Happier Homeowner

Avoiding Home Buyer Remorse: 5 Tips for a Happier HomeownerThe rush of excitement that comes with finding the home you’ve been looking for is ideal, but just because it seems like the perfect place, doesn’t mean there aren’t other factors to consider. Instead of getting hit with buyer’s remorse, here are some tips so that your home purchase doesn’t become something you’ll regret.

Forget About The Competition

If you’re contemplating a house and happen to be dragged into a bidding war, it’s important to take a step back and determine if it’s really the right home for you. It can be easy to get carried away and up your offer, but make sure you determine what the home is really worth to you.

Take A Second Look

If you’ve been to a lot of home viewings and have finally found a place you feel good about, it can be easy to overlook the minor details. Instead of trusting your memory, make sure you visit the home a couple of times before putting in an offer so you’ll be aware of any major flaws you might have missed the first time around.

Visit The Neighborhood

The instant appeal of a home that seems perfect for your family can be unexpected, but it’s worth considering the neighborhood you’re going to be living in to ensure it’s livable. A home is one thing, but local amenities and an area your family feels comfortable will come to be equally important.

Avoid A Fixer-Upper

The kind of home you can fix up might make for a fun project for the DIY person, but biting off more than you can chew in an effort to save can be a mistake. A few small renovations may not be a big issue, but a home that needs a lot of changes will likely end up being more of a burden once the deal is sealed.

Stick To Your Purchase Price

Many people get so overwhelmed when they find a unique place to settle that their price point flies out the window. However, instead of making allowances for a purchase price you can’t really swing, keep what’s affordable in mind and be sure you don’t veer too far above it.

It can be exciting to find the kind of home you’re looking for in a center you love, but it’s important to pay a price that’s affordable and get the home you really want. Contact your local mortgage professional for more information.