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.

Do You Need Mortgage Insurance Even If It’s Not Required By Your Lender? Let’s Take A Look

Do You Need Mortgage Insurance Even if It's Not Required by Your Lender? Let's Take a LookFinding a proper mortgage loan and understanding the processing procedures behind the loan is the basis of good research. The down payment on a mortgage loan is typically significant when dealing with mortgage insurance.

Most loan applications with less than 20% down payment are required to include mortgage insurance with the loan. However, mortgage insurance may still be required even if it’s not typically required by your lender.

Underwriting Requirements

Most home mortgage applications undergo a strict set of standards for approval. These standards are known as underwriting and make up the bulk of time spent on a mortgage application. Unique situations in employment or credit history may require an additional down payment percentage to avoid PMI or private mortgage insurance.

Most underwriting requirements require adequate information on the borrower’s credit and employment history for complete application. Self-employed individuals or those with alternative forms of credit may need a few additional hoops to jump through when dealing with mortgage insurance requirements.

Lender-paid Mortgage Insurance

Lender-paid mortgage insurance is a popular option with potential homeowners that seek to avoid the cost of a PMI or FHA-backed insurance on a home loan. Most lenders incorporate payment of private mortgage insurance in exchange for a slightly higher interest rate.

This is one example of the points system on a mortgage application that eliminates the cost of PMI. The increase in interest rate may or may not warrant the need for a lender-paid mortgage insurance arrangement.

What’s Involved With Risk Assessment?

Strict lending requirements and banking policy now limit the number of mortgages with zero down payment options. Conventional mortgages and FHA both require private mortgage insurance if it is less than 20% down payment. However, FHA loans can be more flexible with the initial down payment requirements with adequate credit. FHA mortgage costs are now for the life of the loan. Lenders will look at mortgage insurance as risk protection.

The risk protection process may or may not require mortgage insurance in your home loan. For example, VA and USDA loans do not usually require mortgage insurance if the borrower’s credit and employment history are adequate.

Conventional loans have a reduction in risk once there is at least 20% equity in the home compared to the principal of the mortgage. Don’t hesitate to contact your trusted mortgage professional about potentially dropping mortgage insurance in the future to reduce overall loan costs.

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.

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.

Don’t Miss Out On How To Handle Common Home Buying Pitfalls

Don't Miss Out On How To Handle Common Home Buying PitfallsThe process of buying a home can be riddled with obstacles. However, you can avoid many of the most common home buying pitfalls with some advanced preparation. Below are some of the most frequent problems home buyers face, as well as tips for avoiding them. 

You Can’t Qualify For A Mortgage 

Nothing is more frustrating than learning that, even though you make enough money to afford your dream home, you cannot qualify for the mortgage you need. This may happen because your credit score is low or because you cannot verify your income in a way that satisfies your lender. To avoid this pitfall, investigate lenders’ requirements before you begin the application process and make sure you meet them all. 

You Discovered Problems With The Home After You moved In

In some cases, a home may seem perfect at first glance, but problems may be hiding in plain sight. You may move into the home and find that it has a pest problem, leaks, or a broken furnace. The best way to guard against this pitfall is to ask for a home inspection before you buy the property. 

The Appraisal Amount Isn’t High Enough 

Some homebuyers make an offer on a property and hope to get a mortgage to cover the purchase price, only to learn that the property doesn’t appraise for the amount of the requested mortgage. This is more likely in cases where the homebuyer is rolling closing costs into the mortgage. When this occurs, you can either pay the difference, ask the seller to lower the purchase price, or cancel the sale altogether. You can avoid this pitfall by investigating home values before you make an offer, or by saving up a large downpayment that would allow you to pay the difference. 

You End Up With Bad Neighbors 

Chances are that sellers will not be upfront about any problems they may have with neighbors, since these problems could potentially cause you to pass on the home. For this reason, it is always wise to do your own research before you move into any neighborhood. Consider driving by at night to look for any activity that might make you unwilling to live next door. 

The Closing Takes Too Long

It can be incredibly frustrating when it takes weeks or even months to close on the property you love. In some cases, this pitfall may be unavoidable. However, you can reduce the risk of a long closing by having all of your loan documentation ready in advance and avoiding the purchase of homes that may have an extra-long closing process, such as real estate owned properties and short sales. 

Buying a Home? What to Do if Problems Are Found During the Final Home Inspection

Buying a Home? What to Do if Problems Are Found During the Final Home InspectionAs a home buyer, you may go through a number of different steps to ensure that the property that you purchase is in great condition. For example, you may complete an initial walk-through or even several home tours before you make an offer. You may also order a property inspection and even negotiate for the seller to make some repairs on your behalf.

A day or two before your closing date, you may set up a final home inspection to ensure that the home is still in the same condition as the initial walk-through. In most cases, there will be no problems with the final inspection. However, in the event that there is a problem with the final inspection, you will need to know how to handle it.

Work With Your Real Estate Agent

As a first step, you should discuss the issues with your real estate agent. Your real estate agent may have some strategies or ideas that can be used to help you overcome the issue in the best possible way. Minor issues may be resolved with a last minute negotiation to the sales contract. More significant issues may need to be rectified prior to closing, and you may need to delay the closing by a few days or longer until any issues are resolved.

Consider Walking Away

It may be rare for a property to have issues during the final home inspection, and most issues that do arise at this late stage in the buying process may be resolved through negotiations between the buyer and seller. However, in the event that the seller plays hardball and refuses to work with you to resolve the matter, or in the event that the issue is so significant that you are not comfortable with it, it may be an option to walk away from the property.

In most sales contracts, wording is present that requires the property to be delivered to the buyer in the same condition as it was when the contract was signed less general wear and tear. Walking away may not be ideal, but it may be the best option in some cases.

Making a final home inspection is not a requirement, but it is advisable. It can ensure that the home your purchase is in the same condition as it was when you did the initial walk-through, and you can apply these tips if you discover that the home is not in the same condition.

Home Buying Horror Stories: How Buying a Home Can Go Wrong – and How to Avoid These Mistakes

Home Buying Horror Stories: How Buying a Home Can Go Wrong - and How to Avoid These MistakesWhen you buy a home, you may have dreams of settling into a beautiful new space that meets your needs and that your family can feel comfortable in. While many will enjoy this vision of domestic tranquility after taking ownership of their dream home, others have had their dream turn into a veritable nightmare due to some simple mistakes or oversights on their part. By understanding these mistakes, you can avoid making them yourself.

Paying Too Much For The Property

One the surface, the main cost of buying a home relates to the sales price, and it is true that your monthly housing payment may be the primary related expense. However, other expenses such as homeowners insurance, property taxes, repair and maintenance costs, utilities and more will all need to be factored into the cost of home ownership. Some buyers believe that because an online calculator or a lending professional tells them that they can afford a high priced home that it is the case. You can review your budget and estimate all related home expenses to determine how affordable a specific property is for you.

Finding Out That The Location Is Undesirable

There are many things that can make a location undesirable, and you should take time to become comfortable with the location before making an offer. Consider, for example, if the neighbors like to throw loud parties on the weekend or if there is a teen driver that likes to speed down the street. If you are buying a property with open land or vacant buildings around it, consider researching zoning, and think about future uses for these properties that could influence value and desire.

Discovering That Your Property Is In Bad Condition

Some home buyers discover after purchasing a property that it is not in the best condition, and some even learn that their home needs tens of thousands of dollars of repair work or more. Even properties that appear to be in great condition on the surface may have hidden issues with the foundation, structure, roof, pipes or electrical work, to name a few. You can order a property inspection to learn more about the true condition of a property.

These are among the most common issues that can turn a dream home into a nightmare. When you work with a local real estate agent when buying a home, your agent can help you to avoid unpleasant and costly mistakes such as these.

Do You Need a Real Estate Attorney to Help Close Your Home Purchase? Let’s Take a Look

Do You Need a Real Estate Attorney to Help Close Your Home Purchase? Let's Take a LookWhen buying a new home, you may have a close eye focused on your budget and expenses, and your goal may be to keep related expenses to a minimum. However, you may also be well aware that a real estate purchase is a legal transaction, and you may be wondering if you need to pay for legal services from a real estate attorney. With a closer look, you can make a better decision that is right for your home buying plans.

The Legal Forms Used With A Typical Transaction

The majority of real estate contracts will be written using standard legal forms. These are legally binding forms with clauses that protect buyers and sellers alike. While they are standard forms, you do want to read the forms in their entirety and understand your obligations before signing the contract. Keep in mind that you are not required to use these forms, and you can request an attorney to prepare a separate contract for you. However, these are commonly used forms that real estate agents typically will use.

The Services Of A Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent is not a legal professional, and your agent likely will not be licensed to practice law in the state. However, the agent can explain your obligations with a standard contract so that you have a better understanding about what you are committed to. Your real estate agent may refer you to a real estate attorney if you require a special contract to be drawn up or if you are not comfortable with different clauses in the standard forms.

When Special Situations Arise

The standard real estate contracts will typically be feasible for use with most transactions, but there are special situations that may arise from time to time. For example, you may only want to purchase a portion of a large estate. While the seller would need to subdivided, your attorney would need to review special documents to ensure the transaction is legal. Perhaps you want to purchase real estate in a corporation or under another entity, or you want to protect your rights when purchasing property with a partner who you are not legally married to.

While real estate agents are not legal professionals, they are able to prepare standard contract forms for you and explain them to you. Because of this, many people will not need to pay for additional legal services, but each situation is unique. When you speak with your trusted mortgage professional about your upcoming purchase, he or she can help you to learn more about services an attorney may provide that your real estate agent may not be able to.