If you're house hunting, then you need to know how to boost your chances of winning that perfect home. Follow these home-buying tips to stop another buyer from running away with your dream home.
When you're searching for a home, understand the housing market is competitive. You can increase your chances of winning your dream home with the help of an experienced real estate agent who will help you place an attractive purchase offer using these home-buying tips.
You may hear all kinds of conflicting advice from friends, neighbors, and relatives. If you do your research, you can get a better understanding of what is actually involved in the home-buying process. Here are the truths about four common home-buying myths:
Don't believe everything you hear. Sometimes the "truth" couldn't be more wrong!
Buying your first home is a big milestone in your life, but if you aren't careful, the process can cause some serious headaches. Here's what newbies wish they knew before purchasing a house.
Know what to do before you buy.
Life is filled with amazing journeys, and buying your first home should be one of its best. No matter what your budget, age, or your motivation for buying, there are a few simple steps that every first-time buyer should follow. These steps will go a long way and help you approach your home-buying journey with confidence.
Know exactly how much money you'll need to spend.
That might sound obvious, but it's actually a complex question because you need to know your budget backward and forwards before buying a house and taking on mortgage payments.
Don't leave it to your lender to decide how much house you can afford. They may approve you for a much larger dollar amount than you actually want to spend. Don't forget to take into consideration additional money above and beyond the purchase price of your home for things like a down payment, closing costs, furnishings, and repairs.
Track your expenses for a few months.
Before you start making offers on homes, make sure you've spent a few months tracking your expenses and gathering information about your debts, spending patterns, assets, and income.
How much do you make after taxes, and how much is left over? Make sure you can answer specific questions such as how much are your monthly expenditures for things like groceries, car payments, student loans, and other debts. It's better to overestimate than underestimate, but if you link your accounts to a budget tracking app, you'll have more exact figures. As a general rule, buyers shouldn't spend more than 30 percent of their monthly income on housing costs, but those costs include insurance, taxes, interest, utilities, and other expenses after your mortgage.
Consider listings that leave room for competitive offers.
After you've figured out the highest price you can afford, lower it a little and then start looking. You may be tempted to look at properties at the tip-top of your price range, but other potential buyers may have more flexible budgets.
Even if you're not searching in a red-hot housing market, there will probably be other buyers interested in every property you consider, so try to leave room for competitive offers. But just remember: even if most houses in the area are selling over the listing price, you don't necessarily have to pay more to stay competitive. You can add escalation clauses to the contracts you submit, which means the price only gets raised if other people have higher offers too.
Congratulations on the start of this life-changing adventure. Surround yourself with experienced, trustworthy experts, and you'll be buying a house and making your move in no time.
Finding a home — especially your first home — can be a wonderful experience. You feel excited, energized, and a little confused too. Maybe it's the neighborhood, the potential in the home, or the fact that the home is move-in ready that appeals to you. With so many different variables, you want to make sure you're choosing the right house that fits your needs.
Whatever the reason for your interest in a particular home, you may still have some doubts. Use these tips to help you determine if you've found your dream home.
Searching for "The One"
Before you can determine if a house is "the one," you have to know what "the one" looks like. Think of it like any relationship: there are ideals and deal-breakers. Start with a list — things you have to have, things you want to have, and things you don't want at all.
For some people, the list focuses on location rather than features. This means they want to be near work, good schools, or within walking distance of town. Others want the chef's kitchen or a big backyard for the kids and pets to run around in. The list will help you decide what the most important items are and what you're willing to compromise on a bit. You'll also want to decide if you're willing to fix things up or if your "one" should be complete, with only basic maintenance on the horizon.
Signs You've Found the Perfect House for You
There is a lot of anticipation in buying a house, but there can be a slight hesitation as well. The pause often comes from wanting to be sure the house you're looking at buying is the right one for you. Luckily, there are a few signs that let you know when something is right:
Buying a House
Once the signs say you've found "the one," it's time to leap into action. You don't want to wait too long to buy a house that works for you. Gather your agent, and your resources, and make an offer.
Buying a fixer-upper offers you an amazing investment opportunity and provides an endless assortment of projects for those who like to work with their hands.
No matter if you plan to flip the property quickly or live there for some time, you shouldn't cross a fixer-upper off your list when buying a house. Still, we all know that buying a house can be a complex challenge and fixer-uppers add a bit more for you to think about.
So... What do you really need to know when buying a fixer-upper?
Get off to a running start with these five tips:
Buying a house can be the greatest step you ever take for your peace of mind, financial security, and yes — your enjoyment. The choice to make that house a fixer-upper can be considered a bold one. Still, for some people, there's simply nothing better.
Use our tips, and you'll find it's easier than you ever imagined to make the right decisions for buying a house. In just a matter of months, your very own fixer-upper could become the home of your dreams. If you go in with a clear view and realistic expectations, you can't lose!
Buying a house exposes you to a large number of variables, including industry-specific jargon and abbreviations. HOA is one of these terms. It refers to a Homeowners Association.
What is a Homeowners Association?
An HOA is a regulatory group set up to manage shared property. This group collects regular dues and is then responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of community property. Common examples of this property may be a shared rooftop garden at a condo or a playground and picnic area at a townhome complex.
The more amenities an area offers, the more things there are that will need to be managed, and subsequently, the higher the HOA dues might be. HOAs are also responsible for establishing the covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs) of an area. Essentially, HOAs make the rules for the homeowners living in this group. These rules can reach beyond city laws and establish guidelines for pet ownership, property appearance, and even noise disturbance. Copies of these rules should be available to anyone buying a house in the HOA area.
So should you shop for HOA-qualified homes? It's a balance of choices between amenities and individual choices. For some this is an excellent answer.
When you're buying a house, the preparation you do ahead of time plays a major role in the end result of your home search. During this time, there are a few things more important than your credit score. An excellent credit score can ultimately help you save big on interest payments over the life of your mortgage. Start by understanding these steps to building great credit.
No matter where you're starting from, it really is possible to clean up your credit before buying a house, and the payoff is more than worth the effort. The key is to make sure you understand how your credit score is calculated, where your score could use improvement, and the steps you need to take to achieve your credit goals. With the right credit plan in place, you'll be well on your way to achieving your home-buying goals, as well.
Watch for these red flags that could be signaling "Buyer Beware" during your house hunt.
Remember, your job when you're buying a house is to do your due diligence to ensure you know exactly what you're getting. Watch for these red flags, and you can protect yourself from making a poor purchase decision.
Moving into a new home is never an easy thing — especially for the youngest members of your family. While parents are making big decisions about buying a house, it is critical for kids to feel included in the part process too. Here are a few simple steps to ease into the transition and help make every member of your family feel more comfortable — and even excited — about your upcoming adventure.
A Family Affair: Keeping Your Kids Involved in Your Move
For children, fear of the unknown is one of the biggest factors in stress related to moving. They will be in a new place, surrounded by new people and away from the security of their current social group. The keys to dealing with that fear are keeping the kids involved in the move and helping them get familiar with their new hometown before you actually make the move.
Perhaps more than anything else, the most important thing is simply to listen to the needs of your children when planning a move. Ask for their feedback, make them feel involved, and look for ways to get them excited about buying a house. It's not an exact science, but it's more than worth the effort — kind of like the rest of parenthood.
Buying a house is a big step in your life, whether it's your first home or the perfect place to retire. You've probably given a lot of thought to the amenities your new home should have, but you may not have put as much thought into finding the neighborhood that best fits your needs and budget. Here are some tips on finding the right neighborhood for you.
With these tips and help from your real estate agent, you'll be able to find a neighborhood that fits all your needs.
Every buyer-to-be knows searching for a home can be a challenge. However, your house hunt doesn't have to mean chaos if you start with an organized plan. Streamlining your search starts with a healthy dose of preparation by including a great real estate agent, setting a budget, creating a wish list, and reviewing real estate listings that meet your requirements.
These six tips can keep you organized and focused as you search for your new home.
Creating a plan before you start your search for a home gives you the chance to enjoy the process and to make an efficient, informed decision when it's time to place an offer on your new house.
Open houses serve many purposes, but one of the main functions is to answer a buyer's questions. Listing agents or sales associates are usually on hand to give insights about the home. Before attending your next open house, it's helpful to know what questions you want to ask before you go.
A Room-by-Room Guide of Questions:
Work with a Real Estate Agent that Knows What to Ask
It's easy to forget to ask a question while visiting an open house. A good real estate knows to ask about everything from the cost of utilities to why a seller has listed their home for sale. One of the best steps you can take when buying a house is to work with an experienced real estate agent who knows what to ask.
The more information you have up front, the fewer surprises you'll have down the road. If you have questions regarding a home for sale, have your list ready before your next open house.
If buying a house is on your bucket list, there's no time like the present to "get into training" for your house hunt. Here are seven steps to follow so you can hit the ground running this year:
With these tips, you'll be in perfect shape to buy your new dream home.
Whether you're moving across town or across the country, it's tough to feel like the new kid on the block — regardless of your age. Here are five great ways to make friends with your new neighbors and make the move into your new community.
When you buy a house, there's plenty to be excited about during the packing and moving processes. Once you're settled in, roll out the welcome wagon and meet your new neighbors. Your new house and neighborhood will soon be feeling just like "home sweet home."
A Veteran's Administration loan is one of the most generous benefits offered to America's military veterans. In fact, many veterans find the VA loan a better proposition than conventional real-estate loans and even other government-funded mortgages.
Perhaps the major advantage of a VA loan is that there's no need for a down payment. Generally, conventional loans call for a down payment and may cover only 80 to 85 percent of a home's value.
A VA loan can allow veterans to buy homes when they don't otherwise qualify for a conventional loan. Backed by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, these loans let homebuyers get lower rates and qualify for a more expensive home than they would otherwise. Further, veterans can qualify with lower credit scores, and will not have to pay Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI).
An additional bonus for veterans who receive monthly disability benefits is that they don't need to pay the VA funding fee, which can be from 0.5 to 3.3 percent of the overall loan.
Here's a look at who can qualify for a VA loan, and how to go about it.
Eligibility for a VA Loan
Who is eligible for a VA loan? A Certificate of Eligibility, or COE, will be given to veterans or family members who meet one of these requirements:
Requirements for Getting a VA Loan
As mentioned above, veterans with lower credit scores can qualify for a VA loan. Nevertheless, there are some requirements for getting a VA loan, such as these:
Find a Real Estate Agent Who Knows VA Loans
Homebuyers seeking a VA loan should see real estate agents who are familiar with the VA loan process. This is particularly important when it comes to the fees involved with VA loans. The VA funding fee is a one-time payment. It is owed by the veteran on a VA direct home loan or a VA-backed loan. This fee helps lower the cost of the loan for U.S. taxpayers since the veteran doesn't have to pay down payments or monthly mortgage insurance. In most cases, veterans with disabilities are exempt from this fee.
What's more, an agent with VA loan experience won't waste your time with purchases that you can't buy with your loan. They can also have an advantage when it comes to negotiating with the seller's agent. They may be in a position to explain a veteran's story and appeal to the heart of a seller weighing several offers.
You of course can also look at other loans, either through the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which includes the mortgage-loan lenders Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. There may also be some government-funded loans to pursue through agencies such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture or the Federal Housing Administration.
Good luck on your road to homeownership. If you're a veteran and are ready to pursue a VA loan, consult your VA Benefits Advisor today.
Many people can close their eyes and tell you what their dream home looks like. For some, it's a palatial estate, and for others, it's a three-bedroom Cape Cod with a white picket fence. Depending upon a person's finances and stage in life, their definition of their dream home can change. To help you define the home of your dreams, here are seven easy steps to set you on your journey.
Talking to your real estate agent is one of the best first steps in securing your dream home. They'll help you find options that fit into your budget and have all the features you want.
When you're budgeting to buy a home — especially your first home, saving for a down payment is probably at the top of your list. Then comes your monthly mortgage (principal, interest, taxes, and insurance). At this point, many homebuyers start thinking they're in the clear. Not so fast!
The truth is — there are far more costs involved you might not have thought about that will affect your overall budget. And those costs, if not added in, can be enough to throw a monkey wrench into your home-buying plans.
Here are five hidden costs that can really add up:
If you're buying your first home, don't be discouraged by these hidden costs. With the right planning and the right real estate agent, you'll be able to find your dream home and make your purchase without any major setbacks.
After buying a house, it's time to relax (for a second), take a deep breath, and plan your next move. Getting your new house ready for your arrival will take some work, but this is the sort of work you've been looking forward to from the moment you decide to purchase a home. We'll cover the details ahead, with ten important tasks for preparing to move in after buying a house.
There's plenty of work to be done after buying a house, but we have a feeling that you're going to enjoy every minute of it. Follow our ten tips for moving into your new home, and you'll already be off to a great start.
Buying a home — whether it's your first home or fiftieth — can make you want to scream. Two-story or ranch... open houses... budgets. So much to do and so many choices. What's a home buyer to do?
You're more than likely making the biggest financial decision of your life. It's natural to feel stressed and overwhelmed until everything falls into place. The good news is that there is plenty you can do to alleviate the stress and keep your focus on the main goal — buying your dream home.
Here are six steps to ease home buying stress:
Buying your first home can be a wonderful journey with the right plan. Following these steps can help you feel calm and confident when closing day comes.
When you are buying a home, your credit score is an important part of the overall process. Most home buyers will need a mortgage loan to complete their purchase. If your credit score has taken a few hits, it may be hard to get a loan with the terms you want. Here are five tips on how to boost your credit score as you begin your house hunt.
Learning how to improve your credit score is a valuable tool as you start your search for a new home.
It's a hot seller's market, as anyone trying to buy a home these days must know. Many would-be homeowners are getting frustrated, making offers on homes and then losing out when someone else snatches them up. In the real estate world, this has become the new normal, but it's no less upsetting for disappointed home buyers, who expend time and energy trying to find just the right home.
You may think a clever way to snag your dream home would be to make multiple offers on different houses. However, this option may not be allowed where you're shopping, and even if it was, you want to avoid this practice, as it's generally considered unethical. We'll explain why as well as give some tried-and-true methods for how you can increase your chances of securing that home you've been eyeing.
Why Making Multiple Offers on Homes Is Not Cool
At first, it seems to make sense. After all, if you don't make offers on two or three homes, you tell yourself, you may not ever be able to get an offer accepted.
But think about it. With each offer, you're likely going to have to put down an escrow deposit. Typically, an escrow deposit will be between 1 and 3 percent of the cost of the house. And, as you probably know, these days you should put down as much as possible, or you risk your offer being rejected. Let's say you're looking at a house priced at $275,000. At 3 percent, the deposit would be $8250.
But picture having to put down an offer on three houses simultaneously. Say the houses are all priced close to $275K. You could end up having to come up with escrow deposits of $24,750. Ouch! Then, in a worst-case scenario, all three sellers accept your offer. What do you do?
You will lose the escrow deposit on two of the houses. Further, you can take credit for causing two sellers hardship they didn't need. Since you presented yourself as someone with a serious offer, they likely thought you wanted their houses. What if they were under a lot of stress to sell a house — say, because of an impending move?
What's more, you and your significant other no doubt will be thinking about what you could do with that lost money: save for college, buy furniture, make some renovations, or take a vacation.
Avoiding Multi-Offer Pain
One way to avoid this multi-offer jam-up is to put down a serious offer on your no. 1 preferred home. Ask your agent to communicate that you need an answer that day and that if you don't hear back, you will have to put an offer on another home tomorrow. That way, the seller can't waste your time because they're delaying a response while waiting for a better offer than yours. So you won't lose a chance at your second choice of a home because you delayed too long making an offer.
If you need more advice about making offers for the home you have your sights on, don't hesitate to reach out to your real estate agent. They have the expertise you need to make the process go as smoothly as possible.
The Multiple Listing Service (MLS) is one of the most powerful resources at the disposal of your real estate agent. No matter whether you want to buy or sell a home, it's essential to your success. But exactly what is it, and why is it so important?
The MLS is a huge database of home listings. Although the implementation is modern, the concept has been around since all the way back in 1907. Back then, real estate agents would gather in large offices and discuss properties on the market to connect with the right buyer or seller through their network.
These days, the MLS is conducted entirely online. It takes the form of 580 different regional databases all working together. Every regional MLS has its own listings, and agents pay dues to access them. So, getting the most reach on a home for sale means having an agent with plenty of MLS access.
Partner with a Real Estate Agent to Enjoy the Benefits of MLS
The MLS is the key to getting the best results on the market!
Sellers can't post a home on the MLS directly, because only dues-paying real estate agents can open a listing on the system. Sellers who don't realize this – and go the "for sale by owner" route — are at a major disadvantage when it comes to attracting a qualified buyer for their home.
As a buyer, the power of the MLS is at your fingertips. Your real estate agent will let you know all about the local MLS so you can review the newest listings. Of course, you don't have to do it all on your own.
One way a real estate agent helps is by curating those listings.
For example, many real estate agents will send you a weekly email round-up of all the different homes that may meet your needs. When you click through to the listing, you may be visiting your agent's site directly, but you can rest assured all the facts about the home come right from the MLS.
Since the MLS is used everywhere, it's an extra layer of verification that listings are factual.
Getting the Most from the MLS by Working with Your Agent
Let's consider some of the ways the MLS can help make your buying journey easier:
The MLS is one of the most valuable tools in the world of real estate. While you always have the power to browse listings in your area, it's a wise idea to reach out to a real estate agent as soon as you can. The right agent in your corner means smoother sailing to closing day and a home you'll love.
The follow-up to the Millennial generation, the eldest members of Gen Z are aged 25 today. Research shows most of this up-and-coming cohort see buying a home as a major goal — one they plan to achieve earlier than their parents and grandparents.
Although they're an exciting new generation, Gen Z is in some ways a blast from the past. They think of homeownership as an important way to build wealth, just as their grandparents did. On the other hand, many Millennials remain wary of buying, especially among the older set.
Both older Gen Z and younger Millennials made a strong showing in the seller's market of 2021. There are many would-be buyers aged 25-35 who haven't settled on a property just yet, but their dreams are within reach. They just need to take the right steps to get there!
So, how can you buy a home in your 20s or early 30s?
Start with these tips:
Buying a home might seem intimidating, but your real estate agent is in your corner from start to finish. Use these tips in conjunction with your agent's advice, and you will be on your road to homeownership.
While a down payment and closing costs are the two main expenses buyers face when purchasing a home, many often forget the costs associated with a home inspection.
As a buyer, a home inspection is almost always recommended in order to protect yourself from the potential unknown pitfalls associated with a particular property. Since a new home is one of the largest purchases you'll ever make, it's worth investing in a good home inspection to protect yourself down the road.
Home inspectors can vary by quality, experience, and price, so it can really pay off to do a little research on the front-end.
What Happens During A Home Inspection?
A home inspection is a non-invasive examination of all the various elements of a property. It covers pipes, water, plumbing, heating, and cooling. Home inspectors also look for structural or safety issues caused by water, insects, or hire. Home inspectors may also visually assess the condition of the roof from ground level. The whole process typically takes three to four hours, depending on the size of the home.
Why Do I Need A Home Inspection?
Buyers who add a home inspection contingency to their offer have the opportunity to back out or renegotiate the terms of the deal depending on the results of the home inspection. A home inspection is critical for protecting you from purchasing a home with material problems that weren't immediately apparent during your home tour.
If an issue is uncovered during the home inspection, you can request the buyer fix it prior to closing, or you can revisit the details of your offer.
How Much Does A Home Inspection Cost?
The cost of a home inspection varies depending on the contractor. The average price generally ranges from $250 to $500. On an average 2,000 square foot home, you can probably expect to pay around $400. If you're closing on a larger home, the price tag on a home inspection can reach $600 to $700. Generally, older homes or homes with unique features tend to raise the price tag as well.
Keep in mind a standard home inspection doesn't cover everything. Additional types of home inspections might be more invasive and include water, termites, radon, and even sewer pipes. These additional inspections carry additional costs as well.
While nobody wants to think about additional expenses when buying a house, it's important to factor in home inspection costs. If the inspection does uncover a serious issue, you'll be glad that you did. If there are no problems, you're essentially buying peace of mind.
From securing mortgage pre-approval through your lender to closing on your new home, the process of purchasing a home involves plenty of paperwork. You can make your life much easier by being prepared. Here are some of the key documents that you may need to provide or review throughout the process of purchasing your next home.
The exact documents you will need depend on your location and other factors. If you have any questions about exactly which documents will be needed in your market, your real estate agent should be a great source of advice.
Many people assume they'll buy a house after they get married, but it's really never too early to start building wealth through homeownership. While studies suggest millennials are renting more than any other generation, single home buying is actually on the rise. While married couples may have a slightly easier path to homeownership (joint income goes a long way), single home buying is certainly achievable. If you're single and looking to purchase your first home, here is how to approach it:
Assess Your Financials
Single buyers face a few additional challenges when it comes to funding and financing a home purchase. Since you're only relying on one income, it may be difficult to qualify. The only way to know for sure is to assess your financial situation carefully. How much do you have saved for a down payment and closing costs? How much of a monthly mortgage payment can you afford? You'll need to be very clear on your financial situation, so you gain a better understanding of your budget.
Don't Drain Your Savings
If you already have a significant amount saved for your down payment and closing costs, you might want to keep saving. Remember many lenders will want to see a few extra months worth of mortgage payments in your account in case of an emergency situation. You'll want to keep saving to fund home repairs or to be ready for unexpected costs.
Focus On Your Credit
Your credit score is going to have a huge impact on your ability to secure a mortgage as well as your interest rate. As a result, it's in your best interest to do everything you can to improve it. Make sure not to miss any bills or monthly payments and really focus on paying off your debt as soon as possible — especially credit cards. Credit card utilization and balances have a significant influence on your credit score.
A Co-Signer Is Always An Option
While you might not have the benefit of dual-incomes, that doesn't mean you have to go through the mortgage financing process alone. A co-signer is always an option, so if you have a close family member that is willing to help you out. Remember, a co-signer is putting their own credit on the line and is also responsible for paying off the debt, so you'll want to make sure you're aligned on payment plan.
Plan For The Future
While you may not need a ton of space now, you might in the future. Therefore, it's wise to try to weigh your current needs and future plans when deciding on a home. Do you see yourself getting married and having children? How long do you plan to live in this home? While no one can predict the future, having a plan can go a long way towards helping you find the right home.
One of the best parts about single homebuying is you can choose the exact home you want. While the process can come with some additional hurdles, careful planning will have you on the route to homeownership in no time.
There's nothing quite like the rewarding, exciting, sometimes stressful experience of buying a house, and all of those feelings are often amplified when you have children who also need to be considered throughout the process. Shopping for a home when you have children adds additional complexity and more considerations when choosing a home. Make your life easier by having a plan and including your children in the process of buying your next home.
Consider Both Present and Future When Choosing a Home
Whether you're thinking about the size, location, or layout, it's helpful to consider both present and future needs. Do you expect to add more members to the family? Do you have young children who currently share a room but will eventually need their own space? Will the neighborhood be just as appealing to your family in 5 or 10 years as it is now? Answering these questions can help you pick a home fits your family just as well in the future as it does in the present.
Research Neighborhoods and Local Attractions
Always remember that you're not just shopping for a home. Choosing the right neighborhood is a huge factor for any buyer, and it's especially important when you have kids. You want to be sure that a neighborhood is safe, has attractions that family members of all ages will enjoy, and has all of the services you need close to home.
Learn All You Can About Local Schools
The quality of local schools is also an important factor for so many parents in choosing the right neighborhood. Invest some time in researching local schools online to find a location with schools that offer everything you want for your children. The quality of local schools can influence the price of homes in the area, another reason why it's important to do your research.
Look for Safety Hazards When You Shop
Naturally, safety needs for a home are different when you have children. Things like open staircases, water features, close proximity to the street, yards without fences, and other factors can present safety hazards for the youngest residents of the home. Many of these things can be addressed with the child-proofing of hazards, but it's important to be aware of safety risks and have a plan for fixing them.
Keep Your Kids Involved in the House Hunting Process
Bringing your kids along during the house-hunting process, especially when you're scouting out neighborhoods, is an excellent way to help them overcome any fears of change and get them excited about their new neighborhood. Plan some fun family events between shopping stops, and make it an adventure for your kids.
Prepare Your Kids for the Transition to a New Home
Moving to a new location can be a scary experience for kids, especially if they will be far from their family members and current group of friends. That's why it's so important to talk to your kids about the move, answer their questions, and do the little things to make the transition easier. Make sure that they have their favorite toys, let them help you pack, and show them how they can use technology to communicate with the people they love.
There are two key things to remember about buying a home when you have children. Always keep the needs of your kids in mind when choosing a home, and involve them in the process to help ease the transition to living in a new place. Taking care of those two priorities will make life easier for every member of the family.
Your real estate agent should be your greatest advocate throughout the process of making one of the biggest purchases that most people make in a lifetime, so it's important to understand exactly how the relationship between buyer and real estate agent works. Knowing what to expect when working with an agent will help make the process as smooth as possible and make it easier to accomplish your real estate goals. Get started with our buyer's guide to working with an agent.
Throughout the process of working with an agent, always remember that they're there to help you. If you have questions about the purchasing process or the services that they provide, your agent should be a great source of answers. Clear communication will make life easier for you and your agent.
Every buyer goes into a real estate transaction hoping to win the negotiation, but not every negotiating tactic will have the desired effect. Understanding what won't work in a negotiation is just as important as understanding what will work, so let's take a closer look at a few negotiating tactics that you can leave behind when buying your next home.
In the end, it's wise to remember that every negotiation is a two-way street. Many of the tactics on our list are either confrontational or put the seller in a difficult position that leaves little room for negotiation. So often, it's easier to negotiate more favorable terms when you're respectful to the seller and aware of the realities of your real estate market.
Buying your first home is one of life's greatest moments, but the journey to get there can be intimidating. After all, there are many steps associated with the home buying process — so there can be a lot to learn for those not familiar with the real estate industry. As a result, it's not surprising that we often meet first-time homebuyers who don't know where to start.
If you're looking to buy your first home, there are a few simple steps you'll want to review before you begin the process. Here is where to start:
1. Save For A Down Payment And Closing Costs
Before you search for a home, you'll need to make sure you have cash on hand to cover both a down payment and a closing costs. A 20% down payment is required if you wish to avoid paying a monthly PMI (private mortgage insurance) fee; however, obtaining a home loan with as little as 10%, 5%, or even 3.5% down is possible depending on your income.
A down payment is only part of the story — you'll also need to save for closing costs. Closing costs can range from 4% to 8% of the home's price and are comprised of several different fees that support the closing process.
2. Obtain A Mortgage Pre-Approval
A mortgage pre-approval is basically an endorsement from a lender that signals you're eligible to finance a home. In order to obtain a pre-approval, you generally need to submit tax returns and W-2s for the last two years, your last two pay stubs, and your bank statements for the last 60 days; however, exact documentation varies by lender. You'll also need to authorize your lender to do a hard credit pull in order to obtain your consumer credit report.
Once the lender does a high-level evaluation of your financial situation, you'll be issued a pre-approval letter with a ballpark figure of what you can borrow. This letter will signal to sellers and listing agents that you're a serious shopper and are ready to transact.
3. Find A Good Real Estate Agent
As a first-time buyer, you need an experienced real estate professional in your corner to guide you through the complex process. A real estate agent will help you with your home search, draft your offer, negotiate terms, and support you through the closing. He or she is also a consultant that can answer your questions and prevent you from making mistakes. Real estate websites and contacting local brokers is a great way to find an agent; however, many shoppers find an agent through word of mouth, so don't hesitate to ask for recommendations from friends, family, or neighbors.
4. Determine Your Criteria
Once you have an agent and a sense of what you can afford, it's time to decide on other home criteria. At a high level, you'll need to decide on the location, size, condition, parking, and other amenities that are important to you. From there, your real estate agent may help you find properties that are a match, or they may set you up with an automated search on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) website, a database of properties for sale.
5. Start Shopping
As you begin to discover prospective properties, work with your agent to schedule showings or attend open houses when available. Keep in mind, shopping for homes can be an emotional roller coaster. You may encounter a number of homes that aren't quite right or that miss the mark before finding one that's a good fit.
These steps will put you on a path towards owning your first home. Just remember, doing your research ahead of time and allowing time are the best ways to reduce the stress associated with first-time home buying.
Buying your first home is no easy task, and if you're shopping for the first time, you're likely to hear a lot of advice. While your friends and family may have good intentions, don't believe everything you hear. There are so many common home buying myths out there. In order to make the right decision, it's important to separate fact from fiction — especially when shopping in a hot seller's market.
To help you along the way, we've debunked some of the most common homebuying myths:
While it's always good to hear different perspectives on the real estate market, many of the myths floating around today have little to no merit. The best thing you can do is trust your real estate agent to guide you through the process.
A new home is one of the largest purchases you'll make in your life. While searching for a new home can be complex and time-consuming, it's important to remember that real estate agents, sellers, and contractors all have a role to play in the process. In order to keep things moving as smooth as possible, there are certain unwritten rules buyers need to know before setting out to purchase a home.
Here are some tips on home buyer etiquette to consider while shopping for a home in the new year:
Buyer etiquette is an important part of the home shopping process. By following these tips, you'll find the home of your dreams and make the experience as smooth as possible for all parties involved.
We get it, buying a home is complicated. No other purchase requires buyers to juggle so many moving parts at once. In fact, with the amount of energy and time required, buying a home can feel like a full-time job. It's no wonder it's so easy to forget about important items during the process.
However, forgetting details can actually make the entire experience harder for you. It's important to try to stay as organized as possible from the moment you start your shopping process through closing. To help, we compiled a quick list of items home buyers frequently forget to consider when purchasing a home:
Buying a home is a great way to grow your wealth and generate a return. However, it does require a significant amount of work upfront. Try to stay organized through the process and lean on your real estate agent for some extra help.
If you're embarking on a journey to purchase your very first home, you might want to pay attention to your credit score. Your credit profile has a major impact on your ability to secure financing and can also influence your interest rate. Therefore, it can be well worth the time and effort to try to boost your credit score in the weeks or months leading up to a home purchase.
Most lenders require a 620 minimum credit score to qualify for mortgage financing (some are even much higher). While your credit score is influenced by healthy credit habits over time, there are still things you can do in the short term to increase it. Here is some advice:
Healthy credit habits play an important role in the home buying process. Your lender will evaluate whether or not you have a history of using credit responsibly. Practicing good habits is the best way to be prepared when it's time to apply for a mortgage.
Investment properties and vacation homes might seem like similar concepts — after all, they're both great ways to grow wealth and expand your real estate portfolio. But did you know these two terms have significantly different meanings? The distinction is actually pretty important when it comes to financing, and it really comes down to how you intend to use the property. If you've been thinking about purchasing an investment property, here is what you need to know:
What Is An Investment Property?
An investment property is a property that you purchase with the intent of generating income. In most cases, this means serving as a landlord and renting the property out to tenants. In other words, an investment property may be a business, while a "vacation home" or "second home" is another property away from your primary residence that you use for visiting or living in part-time.
While it's certainly possible to purchase a vacation home that you occasionally rent out, it's important to define the home's primary purpose when seeking financing. Trying to pass an investment property off as a vacation home for the purposes of achieving better mortgage rates can lead to severe legal consequences.
What To Look For In An Investment Property
While a second home or vacation home is often selected based on location and amenities, an investment property should be evaluated on the potential to generate a return. As a result, you'll want to consider features that can help you achieve higher rental income, such as size, parking, amenities, crime, and public transportation. Look into average rent for similar-sized properties within the same area to get a sense of how much you'll be able to charge. You'll need to have a solid business plan when applying for a mortgage on the investment property.
How To Finance An Investment Property
Financing an investment property is a bit more complicated than securing a mortgage on a primary residence or second home. For one, lenders typically require a higher down payment (at least 20%) for an investment property, and there isn't much flexibility here.
Also, because you're going to be making a profit on the property and because the transaction is much riskier, lenders won't hesitate to charge significantly higher fees and interest rates. Your lender also may require that the investment property be located within a certain distance of your primary home.
Tax Implications Of An Investment Property
Owners of primary residences and vacation homes can deduct mortgage interest from their taxes, and investment property owners can do the same. However, investment property owners have the added advantage of being able to deduct many other expenses associated with the property as they technically qualify as business expenses. However, your rental income will also need to be reported too.
Investing in real estate is a great tool for securing long-term financial stability. While financing is a bit more expensive than a vacation home, you also stand to make a larger profit if you're purely operating the property as a rental.
While asking price is usually the primary number buyers consider during the home shopping process, it's not the only cost-related figure you should consider. You'll notice most home listings also mention the cost per square foot. While this metric can be helpful, it's important to keep it in perspective.
When comparing two homes, the price per square foot and the total square feet will simply tell you which home offers more space at a cheaper price. However, this metric on its own isn't very useful. But when you're able to compare it against a larger sample size of nearby homes, you might be able to learn a bit more.
Calculating Averages and Medians
To determine the true value of a price per square foot figure, you need a good sample size to compare it to. The average price per square foot and the median price per square foot can be helpful when putting things into perspective.
The average and median cost per square foot can give you a good idea of how hot a local real estate market is within a particular neighborhood. You can easily find these metrics on most popular real estate websites.
One thing that makes calculating an average cost per square foot difficult is the lack of universal or standard laws that dictate how the figure is calculated. As a result, some homeowners may factor in unfinished basements or attics while others do not.
Why Price Per Square Foot Is Useful
Comparing the price per square foot on a listing to the average or median price per square foot within a specific area can give you additional insight into whether the home is appropriately priced relative to its size.
If the cost per square foot is above the local median, you could potentially use this as negotiating leverage. If the price per square foot is significantly lower than the median, the home might be a great deal.
Price Per Square Foot Isn't Everything
Price per square foot is just one of many factors to consider when evaluating a home. While it can tell you the price in relation to the size of the property, remember that not all homes are the same. Homes vary by features, amenities, features, and dozens of other factors that can drastically impact the sale price.
Price per square foot is an important consideration, but be sure to keep things in perspective. Your real estate agent can help you evaluate all factors of a particular property to determine if it's priced fairly and if there is any room for negotiation.
When touring a property, it's common to be naturally curious about who lives there. After all, no one has a better perspective on the property than its current residents. It might seem as if an informal discussion with the seller could uncover a wealth of information and benefit both sides.
The truth is buyers and sellers rarely meet, and this is actually intentional in most cases. Many listing agents fear that discussions between buyers and sellers could ultimately derail the deal. While a conversation with the seller might seem advantageous, you really don't need to have one, and it may ultimately cause more harm than good. Here are a few examples of what could go wrong:
Meeting with the sellers might sound tempting, but in many cases, the risks outweigh the upside. At the end of the day, you don't want to jeopardize the deal. Instead, rely on your real estate agent to get you the information you need.
House hunting in a hot market can lead to some occasional heartbreak for buyers who find their dream home just a few weeks too late. It's common to discover the perfect home online and then scroll down to see a "sale pending" status. However, all hope isn't necessarily lost. From time to time, home sales do occasionally fall apart during the closing process. If the listing is truly the home of your dreams, there are a few things you might want to do to prepare yourself if the opportunity arises.
What Does "Sale Pending" Mean?
The definition of "sale pending" can vary depending on the market; however, in a general sense, it means that an offer has been made, the seller has accepted, and the home is under contract.
Most homes that are "sale pending" do go on to close; however, there are reasons why the sale can fall apart during this stage of the process. If contingencies have not been met, there is a greater chance that the sale might not go through — as there may be issues uncovered during the home inspection, or the seller may not be able to find a new house. After all, contingencies have been satisfied; financing can still fall through.
What To Do If Your Dream Home Is Pending
If you're interested in a home that is listed as "sale pending," you need to be prepared to act in the event the sale does not go on to close. In order to be ready, here are a few things you can do:
Most real estate transactions don't fall apart during the closing process, but it does happen. Cold feet, financing issues, or home inspections are the most common reasons. In the event this happens, you need to be prepared. Buying a home that is "pending" is difficult but not impossible. If it's truly the home of your dreams, it might be worth your time to put in some extra effort in the event the sale falls through.
Flipping a house might seem like a fun side hustle and profitable real estate investment, especially with how the process is portrayed on TV and in the media. While it's true many people make big money flipping properties, it's certainly not passive income. The truth is, flipping a home is a lot of work and comes with a tremendous amount of risks.
Before embarking on such an ambitious endeavor, we recommend taking the time to understand the contingencies, risks, and complications associated with house flipping. Below are some tips to help you determine if flipping is worth it for you:
In order to profitably flip a house, you need to be able to accurately assess the home's market value before you buy it. For a home in relatively bad shape, this can be a fairly difficult task. Overestimating value will either eat into your profit or result in big losses.
Once you've estimated the market value of the house, you'll need to estimate the cost of repairs and upgrades. If you're not experienced, this can be incredibly difficult. Not to mention unexpected repair costs will undoubtedly come out of nowhere.
Bottom line — make sure you do your homework upfront and consult with experienced professionals when determining market value and repair costs.
If you're looking to flip your first home, be prepared to spend a lot upfront. Traditional lenders may be reluctant to finance a home that needs a lot of work. Other lenders may charge high interest rates. If you want to avoid expensive financing options, you'll want to try to put down as much as you can upfront.
Flipping a house is a major time investment, so it might be a while before you realize a return. In many cases, you'll need to work for several months to make necessary repairs and upgrades. Once finished, you'll need to have it inspected to ensure it complies with local code. Then, you'll have to go through the process of selling the property. A lot of the work is repeatable, so if you plan to start flipping full time, you'll ultimately be able to do it a lot faster. Just be prepared for your first few to take longer than you might expect.
One of the keys to flipping houses is having an established network of partners who can assist. You'll want to have a good real estate agent, home inspector, attorney, and insurance agent to guide you through each transaction.
When it comes to repairs, having a network of contractors is also important. Even if you're incredibly handy, chances are there will be many things you can't do on your own. Being able to rely on other professionals makes it easy to get quick quotes and predict repair costs is key. Be sure to establish a good partnership with a local roofer, electrician, plumber, carpenter, and landscaper.
Flipping a house definitely has an upside. Just keep in mind it's not usually easy. Be prepared to commit a significant amount of time, energy, and money to the process.
Buying a home and getting married are two of life's biggest milestones. But which should come first? Today, approximately 25% of couples between the ages of 18 and 34 choose to buy a home together before they tie the knot.
While there's certainly nothing wrong with this, there are a few things to consider before you can decide whether it's the right move for you.
Purchasing a home together can be an excellent way to start your future off right, and you don't necessarily need to get married first. Just make sure to be open and honest with each other as you discuss each of the items above. This is the best way to set yourselves up for a solid financial future and a lifetime of marital bliss.
After submitting an offer, a seller will work with their real estate agent to review the terms of your bid. If the seller decides to make a counteroffer, they've likely decided they aren't satisfied with your initial offer but are at least willing to negotiate.
If a seller makes you a counteroffer, it can be challenging to know what to do. However, real estate negotiations are very common, and your agent has the experience to conduct them on your behalf.
Common Reasons For A Counteroffer
There are many reasons why a seller may decide to counter your offer. They may think your offer price is too low or they may request a larger earnest deposit. However, a counteroffer isn't always about the sale price. The seller might want to negotiate contingencies, or they simply may want to move the closing date. The important thing to keep in mind is that a counteroffer doesn't mean the bid was rejected, it simply means you're going to have to reevaluate the terms.
What To Do Next
Your real estate agent will help break down the seller's new requests. Then, take the time to consider what the seller is asking for. If it's a price more than you're willing to pay, be prepared to walk away. If it's negotiating contingencies, consider what's going to work for you.
Keep in mind, you don't have to make a yes or no decision. It is possible and common to counter the seller's counteroffer. It's not uncommon for several rounds of negotiations to take place before the buyer and seller come to terms. Just be prepared to lose out on the deal if the seller isn't willing to negotiate further.
How To Respond To The Counteroffer
If you decide to accept the terms of the counteroffer, you can simply sign the form and return it to the seller. If you're planning to issue another counteroffer, your agent can pull together a new form.
Either way, you'll want to respond promptly as all counteroffers have an expiration date. In some areas, the seller may issue a counteroffer to multiple offers, in which case, the speed in which you respond can make a difference. It's always a good idea to respond to the counteroffer as quickly as possible.
It's also possible for the seller to receive a better offer while you're in the middle of negotiating. If this is the case, the seller may decide to move forward with the new offer and reject your bid. As a result, it's best to keep the negotiation moving as quickly as possible.
Real estate negotiations are very common, so receiving a counteroffer isn't a reason to lose hope. Work closely with your agent and try to determine if there is a way to make the deal work for both sides.
Looking for a way to make your offer stand out in a crowded, competitive, seller-friendly real estate market? Most homes are purchased with financing, but cash purchases do make up about 13 percent of home sales, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. An all-cash offer is sure to get the attention of any seller and offers many advantages if you can make the numbers work. So let's take a closer look at those advantages and the reasons why you might consider buying a home with cash.
Can You Buy a Home with Cash?
In this case, a cash offer doesn't mean literally paying in stacks of $100 bills — it just means purchasing a home with your own money rather than through a loan. There are many benefits that can make a cash offer worth the effort from the buyer's perspective:
With so many advantages to making a cash offer, why doesn't it happen more often? The challenge comes in saving enough money to make a viable cash offer. But if you're diligent about saving and willing to invest those savings into your next home, buying a home with cash can be well worth the effort.
In today's hot real estate market, it's easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of rushing to beat out other potential buyers. If you think you've found your dream home, you'll want to put in an offer as quickly as possible or risk the chance of missing out. But before you make that offer, it's important to take a step back and really look at all aspects of the property you're thinking about buying.
While you may love the home and the lot it's on, don't forget that every neighborhood is unique. Once you've purchased a home, you can't pick it up and move it. This makes the surrounding area just as important as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms.
Not quite sure how to research a home's neighborhood or what you should be looking for? Here are a few places to start.
While checking out your potential new neighborhood does take a bit of time and effort, it's still a good idea. Doing a bit of research now can save you from serious problems in the long run.
If you've been trying to save up for a down payment on a home, you understand just how daunting this task can seem. In moments of frustration, you may have wished there was a way to buy a home without having to come up with a big chunk of cash.
The good news is, there actually are legitimate ways to purchase a home with no down payment. But, just because you can do something doesn't necessarily mean you should. Here's a closer look at your options and the pros and cons of choosing this approach.
How to Buy a Home with No Money Down
If you're looking for a home in a small town, you may qualify for a USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) loan. These are only offered for homes in towns with a population of 10,000 or fewer. Some USDA loans offer down payments as low as 0%. They're also only offered to buyers in the low to moderate income range. However, in some areas, this is higher than you may think.
Many credit unions also offer mortgages with low or no down payment. To qualify, you'll typically need a good credit score and an income that's less than 80% of the area's average income. However, each institution has different guidelines, so it's worth it to check out your options.
A VA loan, offered by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, offers buyers the ability to buy a home with no money down and no mortgage insurance. The interest rates are typically attractive, but it's sometimes difficult to qualify. Most VA lenders require a minimum credit score of 620 and a special type of appraisal on the home. This means that even if you qualify, there's a chance the home you're looking at may not. Still, if you're an active-duty military person, veteran, or qualifying family member, it's worthwhile to check it out.
Benefits of Zero Down Payment Home Purchases
Now that you're aware of the options for purchasing a home without a down payment, you'll want to consider whether this is a smart move for you. Clearly, there are some major advantages. The largest is the ability to buy a home sooner. This is particularly attractive if you're currently paying a large sum for rent or you're in a less-than-ideal living situation.
If you don't have to make a large down payment, you'll also have the option to use the money you've already saved for home upgrades, furnishings, and to use as an emergency fund instead. While this certainly sounds attractive, there are also some potential drawbacks to consider.
Downsides of Buying a Home with Zero Down Payment
Borrowing the entire home purchasing amount does come with some downsides. First, it's important to note that because you're taking a larger loan, you'll have to make larger monthly payments for the life of the loan. Having a large mortgage payment will give you fewer options in the future. If you're injured, have to change jobs, or run into other unexpected issues, you may find that it's much harder to adapt.
When you borrow 100% of your home's value, you'll also pay more interest than you would if you made a sizeable down payment. While the rate difference might not seem like a big deal now, it can end up costing you tens of thousands of dollars over the lifetime of your loan.
In most cases, you'll also have to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI). Unless you get a VA loan, this is required if you borrow more than 80% of your home's value. This can end up costing you thousands of dollars on top of all the other expenses previously mentioned.
Finally, there's the chance that your home's value will decrease. If circumstances force you to sell your home, you could end up selling at a loss and owing the difference to your lender.
Many home buyers find that the potential drawbacks are more than they're comfortable with and decide to wait until they're able to save up at least a small down payment. However, you'll need to carefully weigh these pros and cons so you can decide which choice is best for you.
Finding the perfect home can be exciting; however, if it's located near a school, you may be having second thoughts. Homebuyers generally have a wide range of opinions when it comes to purchasing a home near a school. For those with kids, the convenience can't be beaten. For others, living near a school can be a major detractor. Ultimately the right decision comes down to your preferences. Below, we'll break down some of the pros and cons of purchasing a home near a school.
Benefits Of Living Near A School
Disadvantages Of Living Near A School
Living near a school isn't for everyone, but for those with kids, it can certainly be convenient. At the end of the day, you should evaluate the quality of the school and the neighborhood before making your decision.
So you've found your dream home, your offer was accepted, and your agent is working towards a closing day. Everything is going according to plan and you'll be moving in just a matter of weeks, right? Not so fast...
While it's usually rare for a seller to bow out of a sale, it can and does happen from time to time. Whether it's due to cold feet or an inability to find a new home, there are many reasons why a seller might want to back out of a deal. Therefore, it's wise for buyers to keep expectations and emotions in check until after the closing.
Below are 4 common ways a seller can back out of a home sale without any financial or legal consequences:
If a seller decides to back out of the sale after the deal is already under contract, a buyer can pursue legal recourse. A real estate transaction is a lot of work and very expensive for both sides, so a buyer is well within their right to seek damages. There are also real estate laws that may force the seller to honor the terms of the purchase agreement; however, laws do vary by state.
Luckily, sellers don't back out of deals very often; however, if you find yourself in this unfortunate situation, it's important to know when a seller is able to walk away without repercussion. Your real estate agent should be able to advise you on the best course of action.
Title issues are an unfortunate component of real estate transactions, and something buyers should always be aware of when closing on a property. Title issues occur when there are liens on the property, unpaid taxes, or other claims of ownership, all of which can cause havoc when it comes to a closing or can lead to future financial problems for buyers.
In order to avoid title issues, lenders will require that you work with a title company to research the property and buy title insurance to protect both yourself and the lender in the event issues come up during or after closing. Title research and title insurance policies can be complicated, and many homebuyers are understandably unfamiliar with the nuances of title law. To help you navigate this complicated area of real estate, we've compiled a list of questions you should always ask when selecting a title insurance company:
Title issues can derail a closing or lead to major headaches down the road. While insurance policy can help mitigate some of the risk, you ultimately want to work with a provider that can conduct thorough research and help you get ahead of any potential issues.
As a buyer, it's easy to become emotionally invested in a home, especially when you find one that meets all of your criteria. However, it's so important to ensure your offer includes a home inspection contingency and to keep your emotions in check until the home inspection report comes back. A home may seem like a dream come true on the surface, but the home inspection report may transform it into a nightmare.
A home inspection usually takes place within the first 10 days under contract. The report will usually outline minor defects to major structural issues and everything in between. If there are serious issues such as foundation damage, roof damage, or mold in the basement, you'll likely need to negotiate with the seller on how to remediate the issues. If your dream home fails the home inspection, that doesn't necessarily mean all hope is lost. Don't panic. Instead, your real estate agent can help guide you through these steps:
While it's true that a failed home inspection can sometimes derail a home sale, deals are more likely to fall through due to an unwillingness to negotiate on how to remediate the situation. The best thing you can do is keep emotions in check, calculate the cost of repairs, and attempt to negotiate with the seller. Depending on the cost and the severity of the repairs, there is a good chance you can come to a resolution before walking away from the deal.
Foreclosed homes can create excellent buying opportunities for home shoppers, but how do you know if it's worth the risk? Between 2008 and 2015, foreclosed homes were common on the market. While they're not nearly as common today, they do still pop up and can often be purchased at a low price. This is usually because banks are usually eager to recover their costs.
If you're planning to make an offer on a foreclosed home, there are several things you should know before beginning the process.
What Is A Foreclosure?
A foreclosed home has been seized by a bank because its owner defaulted on the mortgage. As a result, foreclosed homes are owned by banks. When you enter into a mortgage contract, lenders implement property liens, which entitle them to take over your home if you stop paying your mortgage.
3 Ways To Buy A Foreclosed Home
Risk Of Buying A Foreclosed Home
While you might be able to grab a foreclosed home at a bargain price, these homes are usually not without some degree of risk. Below are several things you'll want to keep in mind when deciding whether to purchase a foreclosure:
Should You Buy A Foreclosed Home?
The answer ultimately depends on your situation and risk tolerance. In many cases, it can be difficult to know exactly what you're walking into. Don't be fooled by the price tag. The best advice is to not invest all of your cash into the purchase of a foreclosure, as you'll need to keep a significant amount on hand to deal with repairs.
When buying a foreclosed home, you may end up getting a great property at a reasonable price. The key to mitigating the risks is to work with an experienced real estate agent who can help guide you through the process and point out potential risks.
Looking for a new home can be a very overwhelming experience, especially for first-time homebuyers. There are so many factors to consider, you might worry that you're forgetting something. In reality, it's common for homebuyers to become fixated on certain features or amenities that they may not recognize some significant red flags that could cause issues down the road or create significant repair costs. To further complicate things, today's fast-paced, competitive market means a lot of buyers don't have the luxury to take their time when evaluating a potential home.
Luckily, real estate agents are experienced, and they're more than capable of recognizing red flags or potential pitfalls that might not be apparent to homebuyers. By making yourself aware of these common red flags, you can be better prepared when touring a potential home. Keep an eye out for these common construction red flags when shopping for your new home:
Your first home is one of the most important investments you'll make, so it's important to do your homework upfront. Being aware of these red flags can help you avoid costly pitfalls in the future. It always helps to work with an experienced real estate agent who can help you identify issues.
Buying your first home is a rite of passage that many people dream of. However, before you take the plunge, it's important to make sure you're really ready. Your finances have a lot to do with it, but it's not the only thing you'll need to consider.
Here are five important questions to ask yourself before you buy your first home.
This may be the most important question of all. It's completely normal to try living in a few different areas before you're ready to put down roots. However, you won't want to consider buying a home until you're fairly sure you plan to stay where you are for a significant amount of time.
Ideally, you'll want to commit to staying in your new home for at least seven to ten years, as this is roughly one full cycle of the housing market.
It will be easier to get a home loan if you've been in your current job for at least two years. More importantly, you'll want to know you can count on your current income before you commit to buying a home.
An unexpected job loss can completely upend your life. The loss of income could potentially cause you to have difficulty paying your mortgage. You'll also need to find a new job that's reasonably close to your new home. Otherwise, you may need to sell your home before you're ready or deal with renting it out.
While it's impossible to predict the future, make sure you feel fairly comfortable about the stability of your job before you consider becoming a first-time homeowner.
When deciding whether you're ready to buy a home, you'll need to take a close look at your finances. Make sure you have enough saved up for your down payment, your credit score falls within acceptable ranges, and you have an emergency fund.
It's a great idea to meet with a lender before you start your home search. This will allow you to have a solid understanding of how much you can really afford and what you'll need to bring to the table when you close. Having a pre-qualification letter will also increase the chances that the seller will accept your offer.
Remember that you'll need additional money beyond what's necessary to purchase your home. There's also the cost of keeping up with repairs and maintenance. This may include everything from maintaining your lawn and landscaping to the occasional need for a plumber, electrician, or handyman.
Caring for a home is also a labor of love. Make sure you're willing to put the time into keeping it looking nice and taking care of any small issues before they can turn into big problems.
Buying a home allows you to settle down in a way renting simply can't. When you rent, there's always a chance your landlord could raise the price or even decided to sell.
As long as you make your mortgage and tax payments, no one can make you leave a home you own. This will give you a strong sense of security.
When you're not worried about housing, you can also put more effort into focusing on other parts of your life — like getting that promotion, spending time with your loved ones, and getting more involved in your community.
If you answered "yes" to each of these questions, congratulations! You're both mentally and financially ready to buy a home. Soon, you'll get to enjoy one of the most satisfying adventures of your life.
It'd be nice if buying a home was as easy as buying something at the grocery store, but because it's one of the largest purchases you make in your life, there's bound to be a lot of steps and fine detail during the buying process. One of those details may be a contingency offer, depending on your situation. Have you ever wondered how both buyers and sellers remain protected during a house transaction? That's exactly what a contingency offer does: it requires that the buyer (or seller) meet certain criteria in order for the sale to be finalized. This may seem like an extra hurdle, but it can actually be a saving grace. Here's how.
This is a fairly common type of contingency, and it ensures that if something wrong is found with the home, whether it be a structural or other issues, the buyer has leverage in asking for repairs and fixes. Another option the buyer might have is walking away from the sale altogether if serious issues are found. Unless you're committed to a fixer-upper, as a new homeowner you typically don't want to spend your time and money on projects the seller should have addressed, and a home inspection contingency can protect you from that.
This is another important contingency because it helps buyers avoid overpaying for a house. If the appraisal, which determines the fair market value of the property, comes back lower than what the seller has asked, the buyer can back out of the deal and keep their deposit. Paying a high mortgage is not desirable for anyone, and for most, it may not even be feasible, so an appraisal contingency can be a lifesaver.
A title contingency brings up the history of the home's ownership and checks to make sure there are no liens still tied to the property. If there is a title dispute, the last thing a buyer wants is to be slapped with legal fees, so this type of contingency can protect the buyer and leave it to the legal experts to resolve any issues.
This contingency protects both buyer and seller. You can't buy a home if you don't have the money to back it up -- or at least you shouldn't. A mortgage contingency makes sure a loan has been approved before the sale is finalized. If something goes wrong during this time, for example, the buyer isn't able to procure a loan within the specified time, the buyer can walk away with their deposit and the seller can focus on other qualified buyers.
If you're trying to buy and sell a home at the same time, this contingency may be right for you. However, it's not the most common type of contingency, and sellers aren't likely to go along with them. This contingency finalizes a home sale only if the buyer is able to sell their current home by a specified date. In this case, the seller has to trust that home will sell, or else they've wasted a lot of time and effort.
Some buyers decide to forgo contingency offers if they're desperate to purchase a house, for example, if it's their dream house and they're in the middle of a bidding war. But being cautious and safe is oftentimes the smarter option. A good real estate agent can help you make the most educated decisions when buying a home.
If you're new to real estate, it can be a lot to take in. Maybe you've rented a home before and you're ready to dive in and buy your first property, or maybe you have no experience with renting or buying and need some information to get started. Either way, here are some pointers for better understanding why now may be the right or the wrong time to buy your first property.
There's a myth out there that renting is a waste of money compared to buying a home since you aren't investing money into the place where you live. But the truth is living anywhere costs money; it's just that your finances and other factors of your life will determine the best living situation for you. Here are some signs you may want to hold off buying a home for a little while:
Buying a home is certainly a big decision, likely a bigger one than deciding to rent. But if it seems big and scary, don't be afraid! Experienced real estate agents make the buying and selling processes a breeze. If you're considering buying a home, these factors might make up your mind:
If you're still unsure about what's the best next step in your housing journey, a good real estate agent can help you hit the ground running. It's also a good idea to reexamine your finances and goals for the future.
A homeowner's association, commonly referred to as an HOA, is an organization of community residents that establishes and enforces community property rules. Typically, HOA members reside in a condominium complex, a planned community, or a subdivision of single-family homes. Buyers who purchase a home within an HOA community automatically become HOA members subject to rules and regulations under the HOA guidelines.
What is the Purpose of an HOA?
The main purpose of an HOA is to establish community goals that benefit residents and implement rules and regulations that provide community safety. An HOA is responsible for managing the community's business affairs and budget, overseeing community projects, and maintaining communal areas for residents.
Most HOA organizations are made up of a group of board members and community residents. HOA residents usually elect a Board of Directors that includes a president, vice-president, secretary, treasurer, and auditor. The Board of Directors is responsible for enforcing community rules and regulations under HOA covenants, conditions, and restrictions.
In smaller HOA communities, the Board of Directors may appoint a property management company or onsite property manager to handle duties and collect fees from residents. State HOA laws and community regulations mandate regular meetings to discuss association policies, budget, and finances.
What are Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions?
All HOA rules and regulations are outlined in Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions (CC&Rs), governing bylaws for HOA members. CC&Rs are legally binding documents describing guidelines on home and property modifications. Common regulations cover:
If homeowners don't follow CC&R guidelines, they are usually issued citations and fines by the Board of Directors. Typically, CC&Rs are given to all homeowners with their closing paperwork on the home's purchase.
What are HOA Fees?
All HOA communities have mandatory fees paid by residents to make sure there are available funds for special projects and regular maintenance. Depending on location, home values, and community amenities, HOA fees may vary significantly from $200 to $1,000 per month.
HOA fees are usually deposited into a special account and used to pay for regular landscaping and maintenance, trash pickup, shared utilities, community repairs, and homeowners' insurance that covers public spaces and amenities. Additional assessment fees may also be collected if the community experiences unexpected expenses for damages caused by natural disasters such as earthquakes, fires, floods, high winds, hurricanes, and tornadoes.
HOAs can periodically raise fees according to CC&R guidelines. Fees may be increased to cover inflation, rising operating costs, and necessary community projects to increase resident safety. If HOA fees increase, residents must be given at least a 30-day notice required by law.
What are the Benefits of an HOA?
Millions of homeowners prefer living in an HOA community rather than a privately-owned residence. For homeowners who want a lifestyle with more amenities and less home maintenance, an HOA community offers many benefits.
Because HOAs have regulations that promote a uniform community environment, most residents enjoy cleaner grounds, well-maintained structures, and manicured landscapes without the hassle of scheduling maintenance and repairs.
HOA communities also have shared amenities including swimming pools and hot tubs, barbecue grills, clubhouses, sports facilities, ponds and gardens, and walking paths. Many provide special events throughout the year such as cookouts, swim parties, dances, and holiday events.
Living in an HOA community may not fit everyone's lifestyle, but it may provide the perfect opportunity for homeowners who are searching for more free time, fewer outdoor tasks, and neighborhood activities.
Making an offer on that amazing house you just found requires some strategic thinking. There's almost always some negotiation involved and a little knowledge can help you come up with a good offer. The advice of an experienced real estate agent can prove invaluable during this step. Here's what you need to know to make a great offer and help get you in that new home you've been dreaming of.
Current market conditions are the biggest factor to consider in your offer. In a buyer's market, there are plenty of houses available and buyers have more negotiating power. Sellers are usually more flexible since they aren't getting as many offers and houses often take longer to sell.
In a seller's market, there are lots of buyers and not as many houses available. There is more competition among buyers and homes sell faster. Sellers are likely getting multiple offers and buyers are willing to pay more or negotiate less. It isn't unusual for homes to sell above the asking price.
There are factors other than the current market conditions that determine what kind of offer you can make. These are some instances where you might be offering more than the asking price.
Everyone wants a good deal, and there are times when a low offer can get you exactly that. The offer shouldn't be so low that the seller is unwilling to negotiate. You're still getting a deal if they counter with an offer above yours but below list. As a general rule, an offer of 20% - 25% below asking would be the bottom limit, and few sellers would accept that. But there are situations where low offers can pay off.
Making your offer appealing is important and that starts with the price. Understanding how different factors affect your offer can help you work with your real estate agent and get you into that new home.
Buying and selling a home at the same time can be a complicated process, to say the least. It's best described as a delicate juggling act, where the best possible outcome is highly contingent on timing. In an ideal world, you could sell your home, release your built-up equity, and find a new home all within a period of a few weeks. Unfortunately, these steps rarely fall in the right order.
That doesn't mean that all hope is lost or that buying and selling a home simultaneously is impossible to pull off. However, it's still a good idea to be aware of some of the less ideal scenarios that can arise from the process.
Issues With Funding
If you don't have a significant amount of cash saved up, the purchase of a new home might depend on your ability to use the equity tied up in your existing property as a down payment. In most cases, it's wise to have your total down payment amount saved up before attempting to buy and sell a home at the same time. However, there are some workarounds such as a cash-out refinance, a bridge loan, or a home equity line of credit. Just remember, if you have an FHA or a VA loan, you might not be permitted to have multiple mortgages at once.
Losing Bid to a Non-Contingent Offer
When simultaneously buying and selling a home, it's common to make an offer on your new home contingent on selling your old home. While this approach can help simplify the process, it can also open the door for another buyer to swoop in and make a more compelling offer that's not contingent on the sale of an existing property. As a result, contingent offers can sometimes put the buyer at a disadvantage.
Buying a home requires days of negotiations and hundreds of decisions along the way. When you're attempting to sell at the same time, your workload essentially doubles. Lining up closing dates, negotiating with multiple parties, and coordinating moves can require a lot of time, work, and energy. This can often result in decision fatigue and a lot of extra stress. Our advice is to always work with a good real estate agent who can help streamline the process.
It's Best To Assess Your Financial Situation
Buying and selling properties at the same time can create a number of risks. As a result, it's best to do a thorough assessment of your financial situation before deciding the best course of action. Do you have enough for a down payment? Can you afford multiple mortgages? These are important questions to ask yourself before committing to one option or another.
It's also important to work with your lender and your real estate agent. Depending on your financial situation, your lender may be willing to pre-approve you for a new mortgage depending on the value of your existing home and your credit profile.
Simultaneously buying and selling a home can present unique challenges, which is why it's essential to work with a good real estate agent so you don't have to go through the process alone. A real estate agent can bring valuable years of experience to the table and can even anticipate issues before they arise.
There are lots of factors to consider when buying a home and for most buyers, location is right at the top of that list. And with that location comes school districts. Even buyers without school-age children will take them into consideration. So what exactly goes into evaluating whether the school systems you're looking at make the grade?
The data-based factors mentioned above are a good place to start. But there are some other more subjective factors to consider that are just as important.
The school district is an important consideration when buying a home. Knowing what to look for can help you make an informed decision that will benefit your family and most importantly your children.
While shopping for your next home, you may run into the situation where you're deciding between a previously lived in house and a house that's brand new. A spotless new construction may be enticing enough to convince you to pony up the larger cost, but the decision between old versus new is more complicated than just the price tag. In fact, there are a lot more factors to consider, and there's no one answer that applies to all shoppers. Here's what you should know.
Buying a brand new home comes with some advantages over one that's housed previous families. Here are the pros for buying a new home:
Buying a new home can be a great option, but it does come with some drawbacks.
Just like with buying a new house, buying an existing one comes with its own set of pros and cons. Here are some of the advantages.
Buying an existing home of course comes with the side effects of decades of homeownership.
Buying a home, whether it's a new or an existing one, is a big decision. There's no wrong or right answer that applies to all shoppers, so it's best to find a good real estate agent who can help you make the right decision.
Fixtures are an important part of any home, especially for buyers looking to reduce expenses. If you're purchasing a home, you expect to see the same fixtures in the house you saw earlier. Unfortunately, some buyers are surprised when they move in to find the seller removed fixtures.
When you're in the market for a new home, finding one that complements your design style, existing furnishings, and lifestyle can be challenging. Since the purchase of a new home is a major expense, homebuyers often look for homes with upgraded fixtures that appeal to their sense of style and reduce the costs of new fixtures.
As a general rule, fixtures are things that are permanently attached to the home. Common fixtures that usually remain with the home include:
Get a Purchase Agreement
A purchase agreement between the buyer and the seller is important to specify which fixtures remain in the home and which ones do not. Your real estate agent should draw up a purchase agreement signed by the buyer and seller to avoid any disputes. The purchase agreement should list all fixtures that remain in the home for the new buyer. If you're buying a new home, you shouldn't just assume the fixtures you saw are included in the sale.
A purchase agreement can also specify movable items that the buyer wants to keep. Sellers often negotiate prices to leave area rugs, bookcases, wall-hung shelves, patio furniture, outdoor gas grills, and washers and dryers.
If you're buying a new home, it's important to work with a real estate agent who can draw up a proper contract with a purchase agreement. That way, moving into your new home will be a rewarding, stress-free experience.
Buying a fixer-upper home can be a great way to acquire a home in a neighborhood you might not otherwise be able to afford. Maybe you've picked out a charming older home you think just needs some tender loving care to bring out its best. That may be true, but beware of romancing yourself into a costly renovation nightmare, where you can't recover your investment once the house goes on the market.
That doesn't mean you should avoid fixer-uppers altogether. But do be aware of the possible pitfalls. Once you've weighed the pros and cons, you can make a more informed decision about investing in that sweet little mid-century modern you've had your eye on.
Consider these points before buying a fixer-upper.
DIY Skills Can Make a Fixer Upper More Affordable
So you've fallen for a fixer-upper, and you're weighing the possibilities. One of the first things to consider is how much of the work you're able to do yourself. If you love to work on old houses, you're a step ahead. But those with no DIY skills may be locked into overseeing contractors for every renovation. That can cause some headaches and will certainly cost more than if you can do the work yourself.
Renovations: Cosmetic or Structural?
Once you make an offer for a home and it's accepted, you'll need a home inspection. An inspection can help assure your fixer-upper is a good investment, or it may provide a warning that you should take a pass.
Be mindful that major repairs — foundation fixes, roof and wall renovations, plumbing, and electrical system redos — may not raise the house's value sufficiently to offset the renovation cost. Ideally, a fixer-upper should require mainly cosmetic repairs. These repairs don't cost a lot, and they raise the value of the home. They might include painting touch-ups, fixing doors, installing new light fixtures, drywall repairs, refinishing floors, and updating bathrooms and kitchens.
Also, be aware that if your fixer-upper has some differences that set it off from other homes in the neighborhood — for example, two bedrooms instead of three, or one bathroom instead of two — these may impede selling it.
Further, you will want to avoid renovations that promise to take an extraordinarily long time. By the time you finish, you may find that the home's market value has gone down.
Can You Afford It?
Add up the cost of materials and labor — that is, your labor and that of any contractors. Then, subtract that figure from the estimated market value of the home post-renovation. Compare your fixer-upper with other homes in the neighborhood to determine estimated market value. Deduct another 5 to 10 percent for extras, possible problems you may encounter, and inflation. The figure you arrive at should be your offer.
You've got several options when it comes to financing your renovation. Putting the bills on a credit card is easy, but you'll be paying high interest rates. A renovation loan lets you finance a house and improvements together. The interest rate is lower than many other financing types, and you can take longer to pay off the loan. Some types of renovation loans include:
Is a fixer-upper worth it? The answer, as with any investment, is: "It depends." For many homeowners, a fixer-upper will be the right choice. Just be sure the renovation is not more work and more expensive than you're anticipating. A good real estate agent will also help you make a more informed decision.
Are you ready to buy a house? Then it's time to start planning. The more that you plan ahead, the easier that the process will be in the long run. Part of that planning includes knowing exactly how long each step will take, so you know what to expect with each milestone in the purchasing process. Let's take a closer look at what it takes — and how long it takes — to buy a house.
When you're buying a house, it's always wise to include a little extra time to account for the unexpected. With a plan in place and the right real estate agent, you can navigate the process with confidence.
Whether you're buying a home for the first time or have navigated the process before, choosing the right home loan is key to long-term financial happiness with your next home. The number of loan options available can feel daunting to sort through, but the good news is there's a loan available to suit the needs of nearly every buyer. The trick is finding the right one for you. Get started with our guide to some of the most common types of home loans and how they might fit your needs.
Choosing the right type of home loan is a big decision, so it's crucial to gather as much information as possible and seek advice from trusted advisors. By fully understanding the options available, you can make the right choice for your financial future.
If you've been thinking about buying a house, you're probably excited to get out there and start exploring your options. However, before you begin house-hunting, there's one thing you should do first — get pre-approved by your lender. Sure, it's not the most exciting part of buying a house, but it will help things go much smoother and may save you from a lot of frustration.
Still not convinced? Here are five important reasons why you should take the time to get pre-approved before you start the process of buying a house.
You might think you know how much you can afford to spend when buying a house. However, when you get a pre-approval, the lender looks at your current financial information and lets you know exactly how much they're willing to give you. You'll also know how much you need to put down and your estimated monthly payment.
Armed with this information, you can make sure you're only looking at homes within your price range. This will help you narrow down your search, saving you both time and frustration. When you know you're shopping in your price range, you can also focus on the home's features rather than on the asking price.
It might surprise you to learn that buying a house is often a competitive process. If you end up in a bidding war with other potential buyers, having a pre-approval could increase the chances that the seller will choose your offer. Even if there aren't any other bids, showing that you mean business by coming to the table with a pre-approval can give you more negotiating power.
There are few things worse than falling in love with a home and then finding out you have credit issues or other problems that will prevent you from getting the loan you need. Going through the pre-approval process before buying a house will uncover any potential issues and give you time to fix them before you have to go through the heartache of losing your dream home.
It's smart to compare lenders when you're thinking about buying a house. Unfortunately, many buyers mistakenly think that getting a pre-approval means they're stuck with the lender that gave it to them. This isn't the case! You can still shop around and choose the lender with the best offer. Just make sure you get your quotes all within a short time period (typically two weeks or fewer), so your credit doesn't get dinged multiple times.
When you apply for a mortgage loan, you need to provide a lot of information and complete many different forms. Getting a pre-approval before buying a house means the lender will already have almost all of the information they need. You won't have to scramble to provide documents at the last minute, making the closing process go smoother and getting you into your new home faster.
These are just a few of the most important benefits of pre-approval. If you think buying a house is in your future, do yourself a favor and start contacting lenders before you're ready to begin your search. You'll be glad you did!
Thinking of giving new meaning to "home for the holidays" this year? Winter may not be the first-choice season for buying a house in the eyes of many shoppers, and that's precisely why it's an ideal time for savvy buyers to find the right home in an advantageous market. You will definitely have less competition for buying a house in the winter and may even find a better deal than during the busier spring and summer. If you've been wondering about whether now is the right time to buy, take a look at our list of reasons why buying a house in the winter can be a great idea.
Buying a house in the winter may come with some challenges, but it also offers many advantages that simply aren't available during the busiest selling seasons. If you're willing to bundle up and brave the cold, there are great opportunities to be found during the winter months.
You've been thinking about buying a house for some time now, and you've finally found the perfect home. Your dreams are about to come true, and you're thrilled! But... it's not quite done yet. Before the house is yours, you'll need to make an offer, and the seller needs to accept it. This is a critical moment, and you have an important decision to make.
Most homebuyers expect to negotiate the price down when they're buying a house. However, there are some times when offering more than the asking price just makes sense. The thought of doing this may make you wince, but if one of the following situations applies, it could be the best move.
When you're buying a house, making the right initial offer could mean the difference between finally purchasing your dream home and losing out. The stakes are high, so it makes sense to consult with a knowledgeable professional. A great real estate agent will help you analyze the situation, so you can make the smartest offer possible.
Selling your home is as much of a lifestyle decision as it is a financial decision. Like any other investment, you want to make sure that you're making financially responsible decisions every step of the way. One option that you have when selling your home is to use your current equity to finance your next move. Research shows that more and more homeowners are gaining equity in their homes regardless of state. By paying the equity in your current home towards purchasing a new home, you can achieve your real estate goals sooner than later.
What is Home Equity?
The equity in your home is its current value minus the remaining mortgage debt. As you pay your monthly mortgage, you grow the equity in your home. For instance, If you purchased your home for $200,000 using a mortgage loan and only have $50,000 remaining on the loan, your home equity is $150,000.
How Can I Use My Existing Equity?
As you consider selling your home, you likely already have another real estate goal in mind. Whether you're downsizing or purchasing a home for your growing lifestyle needs, you'll need to create a plan for how you're going to buy a new house. Instead of using your savings for another down payment, you can leverage the existing equity in your home to fund the purchase of your next home. There are a few ways that you can use your existing equity when selling your home:
As you search for a lender to secure a mortgage for a new home, they may allow you to use the existing equity in your current home as collateral. One advantage of this option is that many lenders will match the rate of your original mortgage.
The option allows you to pocket the equity as cash to put towards the new home. Prior to selling your home, you may have refinanced your mortgage. This option works similarly, allowing you to use as much as 85 percent of the home's appraised value in equity.
A HELOC, or a Home Equity Line of Credit, gives you a set balance that you can use as much as necessary. For instance, if your HELOC is for $20,000, you can choose to only use $10,000 of it. This is beneficial because you'll only pay interest on what you use, not the full amount.
A mortgage lender may allow you to accept a loan for 80 percent of the purchase price and then take out a home equity line of credit for the remaining 20 percent. After selling your home, you'll then use the profits to pay off that home equity line of credit.
Is using your equity to fund a new house purchase the right decision when selling your home? That depends on how much equity you have and how much you need to finance for a new home. Speak with your real estate agent to determine if leveraging your equity when selling your home is right for you.
Buying a house? Worried about the real estate market slowing down during the holiday season?
Getting a transaction done in December can be challenging … for the sellers, that is. They need to work extra hard to advertise a home and make sure it's in great condition for showing. Sometimes that means adjusting their holiday plans or scaling back their usual decorations so the home's great features will shine through.
But buying a house is very different, and the holidays are no reason to put off your plans.
In fact, staying in the market throughout winter can actually make buying a house easier.
Let's look at some of the biggest reasons why:
Buying a house can be a great adventure and an important life milestone. If you end up exploring the real estate market near the holidays, don't fret. Connect with a trusted local real estate agent who can help you navigate the twists and turns. As a buyer, you have nothing to lose by seeing what's out there. And before you know it, you might just discover that buying at this time of year was one of your best decisions.
There's nothing wrong with renting your home. In fact, in certain circumstances, it's the smarter choice. However, if you've been renting for what seems like forever, you might have started thinking about wanting to get out of the "rental rut."
While it's nice to know you can call the landlord any time there's a problem with the home, there are some major advantages to buying a house of your own. If you've been on the fence about finally taking the leap into home-ownership, consider these important benefits.
If you've been thinking about buying a home, now is a great time to do it. However, the inventory of homes for sale has also reached record lows. Since there are fewer houses on the market, it might take you longer to find your dream home. Starting the process of buying a house sooner, rather than later, will give you the best chance to take advantage of these optimal conditions and finally get out of that rental rut.
Buying a house is one of the most significant financial decisions of your life. Many first-time buyers believe such a decision involves going "all-in." Buying a house does not mean you have to overextend your finances. There are many ways that you can buy a home without busting your budget. With a little patience, research, and practical consideration, you'll be on your way to buying your dream home.
Buying a house doesn't need to wipe out your bank account. With a little planning and preparation, you can buy a home without busting your budget.
Buying a home is one of the greatest feelings, but it can also seem like one of the most stressful and confusing processes. As one of the largest financial purchases an individual will ever make, homebuyers must be as informed as possible. Unfortunately, many facts aren't readily known by most buyers entering a real estate transaction for the first time. If you're considering buying a home for the first time, here are ten essential things that you should know:
Buying a home may seem overwhelming, but detailed knowledge of the process can make it much less stressful. Learn as much as you can about buying a home before you place an offer and always consult your agent for advice.
Real estate's traditional touchpoints are helpful when buying a house, but most people want to avoid all of the face-to-face contact in today's world. To continue offering excellent service, more real estate pros are introducing virtual tours.
A virtual tour provides you with the opportunity to walk through a home using streaming video. Because of its crisp, live visuals and high interactivity, it's a step up from a static "tour" that uses property photos to create a panoramic view of a home's interiors.
Touted as "the next best thing to being there," a virtual tour can actually be better than an in-person walkthrough in some surprising ways. And yes, it is a tremendous asset when you're buying a house!
Here's how to make the most of a virtual tour for your decision-making:
What's the key to success? Don't overlook the value of a virtual tour – but be sure you get the information you need from the experience. Buying a house is one of the biggest decisions you'll ever make, and a good virtual tour can help you get there faster.
Sometimes, you just know. Perhaps it's the location, the layout of the home, the backyard, or more likely a combination of many factors. But when you know that a home is the one, it's time to get serious about buying a house you love. Before you can make a competitive offer, it pays to be prepared. That's why you should do these five things when you find a house that you love.
Every negotiation is unique when buying a house, but taking the right steps after falling in love is key to landing your dream home. Learn as much as you can about the property; make sure your finances are in order and make an offer that separates you from other buyers.
Luxury home buying is vastly different than traditional real estate purchases. Everything from the way that you search for these properties to how your sales associate assists you through the process is significantly different. It should come as no surprise that many first-time luxury homebuyers often fall victim to these five mistakes:
Owning a luxury home is a reality, but you must be aware of potential pitfalls along the way. Avoid these mistakes by enlisting the help of a knowledgeable and experienced luxury real estate agent.
Buying a beachfront property is a lifelong dream for people of all ages, and for good reason! There's nothing like the feeling of salt air in your hair, a cool breeze coming off the water on a hot day, or a pleasant summer evening spent on a patio with waterfront views. But beachfront properties typically come with a premium price tag, so picking the right property is crucial.
Buying a house on the beachfront truly can be a dream come true, but there are usually some obstacles to navigate in order to find the right match for your needs. With enough research, a willingness to shop in different areas, and a commitment to finding the property that works for your budget, you can find a beachfront property you'll truly love.
Buying a house that needs renovations can be a great way to find a deal, but the choice between a move-in ready home and a fixer-upper is about more than just the purchase price. The cost of renovations, the time you have available to tackle DIY tasks, your timeline for moving in, and your risk tolerance all play an essential part in making the right choice. If you have what it takes to tackle a fixer-upper, you may be able to customize your home and save some money on the purchase price.
While there are risks involved, buying a house that needs work can allow you to maximize your budget and customize your new home to your preferences. The key is to be honest with yourself about whether a fixer-upper fits your needs, and set clear goals when buying a house.
Does owning a luxury home sound like a dream? For some owners, it's actually a painful reality. While the elaborate designs and dazzling amenities of a luxury property are appealing, buying a luxury home includes the same number of pros and cons that you'd weigh when buying a more modest piece of real estate. Before you set your sights on owning a lavish living space, take a moment to consider a few of the advantages and drawbacks that these homeowners face.
Owning a luxury home is the ideal living situation for some families. For others, it can be a headache and ultimately a bad investment. Be sure to consult with a luxury real estate professional to determine if buying a luxury home is the right decision for your lifestyle.
The coronavirus pandemic has had a major impact on real estate markets across the country, but that doesn't necessarily mean that you need to put your home-buying plans on hold. Residential real estate sales have been ruled essential services, and the industry has adapted so that you can shop for your next home from the safety of your current residence. There are deals to be found in many markets, for buyers who are willing to adapt to the temporary new normal in real estate. Learn how to find your next home in our guide to buying a house during COVID-19.
While the process may look different from what you'd expect traditionally, buying a house during COVID-19 is certainly still possible as long as you're comfortable handling things digitally. Remember to always check your local coronavirus regulations so you know what to expect when you start shopping.
Buying a house is a complicated process no matter how many times you've done it, but the right real estate agent can make life much easier.
Any buyer's agent can tell you that they'll have you covered, but the best agents will earn your business by showing it. They anticipate your needs in advance, guide you through each step of the purchasing process, answer questions, and help you with every milestone on the path to buying a house. With the right agent, you can approach the home buying process with confidence.
If you're still searching for the right buyer's agent, then interview multiple agents that can help you get an idea of what each has to offer.
Do you think that buying a house is a bit easier than others make it seem? Perhaps you're right. After all, many homeowners put their homes For Sale By Owner and likely just as many buyers that choose to forego traditional real estate advice and attempt to purchase the home using only an escrow agency. Many buyers believe that they have the wit and luck to negotiate the sale themselves — even without any prior experience in selling or buying a house. Are these investors coming out on top when buying a home, or are they missing out on the knowledge and experience of a qualified real estate agent who can potentially save them thousands?
For anyone who has watched potential buyers negotiate a home sale on television or in the movies, spoiler alert, it isn't that simple. While some aspects of a real estate transaction are pretty cut and dry, we caution buyers to attempt price negotiations alone. Money is subject to buyers, and sellers often take it personally. A buyer may be offended by what they perceive as an unreasonable asking price while a seller may be insulted when receiving a lowball offer.
What many buyers fail to realize is that the price negotiations when buying a home involve much more than the listing price. The "price" of a home is all of the expenditures involved on the buyer's side, financial and otherwise. A seller may agree to pay the price of the closing costs, but the buyer may need to pay the "price" of renovations or furnishings that require an investment after the home purchase is finalized.
While some buyers may balk at the thought of paying a broker to perform a service that they believe they can do themselves, these individuals typically don't understand how much an experienced and knowledgeable agent can save them in the end. Real estate agents are expert negotiators who know not only how to approach this conversation, but also know which aspects of the sale can and should be negotiated for the buyer.
For example, a buyer may be able to talk a seller down a few thousand dollars on their own, only to realize that they need to replace their roof within a year of the home sale. In contrast, a real estate agent can order a roofing inspection from a certified roofing company and negotiate a replacement roof installation before the sale. The investment of a few thousand dollars ends up saving the buyer upwards of tens-of-thousands of dollars on the roofing and potential damage expenses.
Can a buyer negotiate buying a home on their own? Absolutely. Some even come out on top in the end. However, this is not a wise decision for most buyers, especially those who are entering into their first real estate transaction. By hiring an experienced real estate agent, buyers have the potential to save more than they ever could have entering into negotiations alone.
Many first-time homebuyers don't realize that they will be responsible for certain expenses that are due at closing. In addition to a down payment, closing costs are often divided between the seller and buyer. These expenses are a normal part of the home buying process, some of which are traditionally placed under the responsibility of the seller or buyer. Let's define several standard closing costs and identify which party is typically responsible for this expense.
Common Closing Costs Explained
Those buying a house should anticipate paying an additional two to five percent of a home's selling price in closing costs. Those selling a property should anticipate paying roughly six to ten percent of the home's selling price in closing costs.
Common closing costs buyers take on when buying a house include:
Common closing costs sellers take on when selling property include:
In some situations, buyers may be able to negotiate with sellers to relieve themselves of various closing costs. For example, sellers who desire a fast sale may be willing to cover certain costs or buyers may be willing to accept a lower counteroffer if the seller agrees to absorb some of these expenses. If you're interested in buying a house, we suggest that all buyers anticipate these additional costs and save accordingly.
To update a famous saying, time and tide wait for no man--nor pandemic. If you're buying a house, you may not have the luxury of waiting until things get back to "normal" or some semblance of it.
But social distancing doesn't have to bring your plans for buying a house to a halt. Use these six tips for incorporating safe and healthy practices when you move.
Buying a house is rarely easy, and moving during a pandemic can up the uncertainty. Accept the fact that these are unusual times, plan your move with caution instead of fear and enjoy peace of mind in your new home.
Do you daydream about a waterfront home where you and your family can get away from the stress of daily life on a whim? Forget the worries about availability, fees, or restrictions. As a bonus, you can cover costs by renting the home out periodically.
If owning a vacation home is part of your American dream, here's some useful information to help you make it a reality.
Businessman Arnold Glasow once said, "The average vacation is one-tenth playing and nine-tenths paying." With some clear-eyed planning, you can change that ratio with a smart investment in a vacation home that provides endless enjoyment.
Do you think that buying a house is a bit easier than others make it seem? Perhaps you're right.
Many people believe that they have the wit and luck to negotiate the sale themselves — even without any prior experience in selling or buying a house. Are these investors coming out on top when buying a home, or are they missing out on the knowledge and experience of a qualified sales associate who can potentially save them thousands?
For anyone who has watched potential buyers negotiate a home sale on television or in the movies, spoiler alert, it isn't that simple. While some aspects of a real estate transaction are pretty cut and dry, we caution buyers to attempt price negotiations alone. Money is a subject buyers and sellers often take personally. A buyer may be offended by what they perceive as an unreasonable asking price while a seller may be insulted when receiving a lowball offer.
What many buyers fail to realize is that the price negotiations when buying a home involve much more than the listing price. The "price" of a home is all of the expenditures involved on the buyer's side, financial and otherwise. A seller may agree to pay the price of the closing costs, but the buyer may need to pay the "price" of renovations or furnishings that require an investment after the home purchase is finalized.
While some buyers may balk at the thought of paying an associate to perform a service that they believe they can do themselves, these individuals typically don't understand how much an experienced and knowledgeable professional can save them in the end. Real estate agents are expert negotiators who know not only how to approach this conversation, but also know which aspects of the sale can and should be negotiated for the buyer.
For example, a buyer may be able to talk a seller down a few thousand dollars on their own, only to realize that they need to replace their roof within a year of the home sale. In contrast, a real estate agent can order a roofing inspection from a certified roofing company and negotiate a replacement roof installation before the sale. The investment of a few thousand dollars ends up saving the buyer upwards of tens-of-thousands of dollars on the roofing and potential damage expenses.
Can a buyer negotiate buying a home on their own? Absolutely. Some even come out on top in the end. However, this is not a wise decision for most buyers, especially those who are entering into their first real estate transaction. By hiring an experienced real estate agent, buyers have the potential to save more than they ever could have by entering into negotiations alone.
When it comes to parenting, teaching home skills is considered a major part of the job. But while their kids may know how to cook a steak or fix a leaky pipe, the basics of actually buying a house are frequently overlooked.
For most people, a home is the biggest and most significant purchase they'll make. Are you ready to take that step? Here are ten lessons your parents never taught you about buying a house.
Buying a house is serious business, but it doesn't have to be scary. As with most worthwhile activities, preparation makes all the difference.
Based on the size of the investment, the intricacy of legal documents and the potential for second-guessing, buying a house is one of the most intimidating decisions most of us will ever face. With so many moving parts and the amount of technical knowledge involved, how can anyone be expected to make the right call?
To borrow a popular expression, buying a house is like eating an elephant: take it one bite at a time. Plan your strategy with this practical list that demystifies the steps of the homebuying process.
And just like that, the elephant is gone. When you follow these steps, buying a house becomes a lot less overwhelming and a lot more fulfilling.
Buying a house is one of the biggest investments you'll ever make. It's easy to get excited about moving into a new home; however, too often we do not pay attention to the details that lead up to that long-awaited move-in day.
There's a long list of things that you need to do to ensure a smooth transition, and one of them is transferring your utilities. You don't want to spend your first night in your new home without electricity, water, or gas. Ahead, we take a look at five things to remember about setting up your utilities when moving into your new home.
Finally, don't forget to have your utility providers come to your house and do a final reading of your electric, water, and gas meters before moving. Make a copy of the meter reading reports for your files just in case you receive any unexpected bills. Generally, moving can be stressful, but using this checklist will help you switch utilities to your new home with minimal hassles.
Are you buying a home? Consider a condo!
A condo can be a great way to get a first home, downsize without losing amenities, or build value for the future. However, there are a few details about condo living you might not realize.
When you're house hunting, if buying a single-family residence doesn't meet your needs, a condo can be just the thing. With these six questions in mind, you'll be equipped to make the best choice for you.
Baby Boomers have led the way in many areas, and now they're redefining what retirees want in a new home. Unlike the generation before them, Boomers, who are between ages 55 and 73 in 2019, are not ready to live the easy life. They want homes that support their active lifestyles without sacrificing other amenities.
The following are some of the attributes Baby Boomers are looking for when they're buying a house:
Baby Boomers have different priorities than their parents, and other generations have had at a similar age. They're usually still quite active, and they're looking to spend their time on leisure pursuits and possibly their profession rather than on chores at home. As a result, they're focused on buying a house that makes it easy for them to age in place with what they value.
The ability to get around without a car can really make a neighborhood feel like home. Not to mention walking is good exercise, relaxing, convenient, economical and better for the environment. With all those benefits, it's no wonder living in a walkable neighborhood is something homebuyers really want. Here's what to do when buying a house in a walkable neighborhood.
If finding a walkable neighborhood is one of your top priorities when buying a house doing a little research will go a long way toward finding the right neighborhood for you.
In general, a lowball offer is anything 15% or more of the seller's asking price. However, this depends on the seller's perceptions. If a price is at the low end of what a seller hopes for, just about anything could be thought of as low.
That said, making a lowball offer isn't the end. It's always better to try!
Talking to a seller's agent early on can clue you in that a lowball offer is worth making:
Even if none of these situations apply, that doesn't mean it's time to give up. Several techniques make buying a house with a modest offer easier. Here's how you can get it done right:
Consider a lowball offer a golden opportunity: If you move forward with confidence, you might just save yourself tens of thousands of dollars when buying a house. Remember: The worst they can do is say no.
We spend a lot of time talking about how to buy the right home, and for good reason! Buying a house is a complicated process, and the right advice can have a big impact on your bottom line. But... don't you ever wonder what it would take to buy the wrong house? Sometimes knowing what not to do is half the battle, and that's certainly true when buying a house. So without further ado, we present to you the perfect plan for buying the wrong house – AKA what not to do when shopping for a home.
Buying the wrong home may feel like it takes a lot of work, but nobody said it would be easy. Or you could do the opposite of these tips and find a home you'll love long-term... but where's the adventure in that?
Becoming a homeowner is about more than finding a great house. In a perfect world, your dream home will also be located in your dream neighborhood. And while it may not always be a perfect world, that doesn't mean you can't have both.
When you're looking at homes, it's important to consider the surroundings as well as the amenities of the house itself. Here's how to make sure your new home is in the perfect neighborhood for you.
Whether you're looking for your next home or your first home, a lot of different considerations come into play. Be sure to look beyond the walls of your house itself, and find a neighborhood that you can call home for years to come.
Technology changes everything, from the way we communicate to the way we experience the world. It would be impossible to count the ways in which technology has changed real estate in recent years.
But the real question isn't how has technology changed the game, it's how can you use it to help you win. If you're gearing up to buy a home, it's essential to use technology to your advantage. Luckily, there are a lot of ways to do just that.
When you're ready to become a homeowner, technology is one of your greatest assets. Learn to use it to your advantage, and you already have a leg up on the search for your dream home.
Are you considering a move to the country, on a lot where you can build the unique home of your dreams? There are many advantages to buying acreage, but the process is a bit different that what you may be used to when buying a house. Location is still a huge priority, and it's important to know exactly what to look for from the right piece of land. Understanding how to identify the right acreage for your needs will make it much easier to find the ideal match, whether you're buying as an investment or looking for a place to build your next home. Start the process with our six tips for buying an acreage that you'll love long-term.
Buying an acreage may be different from buying a house, but the processes also share many similarities. By choosing the right location, preparing for costs of ownership, learning the rules of the land, and relying on your real estate agent to assist you throughout the process, you can find the acreage that best suits your needs.
While renting a home is a rite of passage for most people, there comes a time when most of us get tired of stroking a check to the landlord every month. If you've started thinking about joining the 65 percent of Americans who own their own homes, you'll be glad to know that now is a great time to do it!
Not sure if you're ready to take the leap into homeownership? Check out these five huge advantages of buying a house over renting.
Buying your first home is an exciting experience, but it is also a complicated process. Learning all you can about that process before you get started is essential to reaching your end goal – buying a house you'll be proud to call home at a price you can afford. One of the most important things to learn about is how to avoid costly missteps along the way, so here are ten mistakes to avoid as a first-time home buyer:
When you're buying a house there are lots of decisions to be made. One of those decisions is whether or not you're willing to purchase a fixer-upper. You're sure to find plenty of examples glamorizing the fixer-upper experience, and it can be tempting to want in on the action. You've likely heard tons of stories about incredible deals people got because their home needed a little work. Not to mention all those TV shows where houses no one could even lives in gets turned into something worthy of a magazine spread and sold for top dollar. Fixer-uppers can definitely be an amazing find, but before you dive in head first, weigh the pros and cons to make the right decision for you.
When you're buying a house, you need to look at the pros and cons to make an informed decision. And that strategy is even more important if you're planning on purchasing a fixer-upper. But doing your homework, getting estimates and budgeting appropriately may make that decision the right one for you.
There are a lot of great real estate agents out there. But just because someone is a great agent doesn't mean they're the right agent for you. You need someone skilled, experienced and, above all, dedicated to helping you find your dream home. These are the questions you need to ask to find a great buyer's agent.
Having a great buyer's agent on your side is one of the best ways to make the process of finding your dream home much easier. There are a lot of great agents out there, and finding the right one comes down to asking the right questions.
There are a lot of things to look forward to when you buy your first home and move on to the next chapter in your life. Packing up all your things is not one of them. Still, moving day is unavoidable, and when that day comes, these simple tips will make the process easier than you thought possible.
When you're moving, countless exciting paths lie ahead. Following these ten moving tips will make the moving process much more simple and stress-free.
Are you considering a move to the country, on a lot where you can build the unique home of your dreams? There are many advantages to buying acreage, but the process is a bit different than what you may be used to when buying a house. Location is still a huge priority, and it's important to know exactly what to look for from the right piece of land. Understanding how to identify the right acreage for your needs will make it much easier to find the ideal match, whether you're buying as an investment or looking for a place to build your next home. Start the process with our 6 tips for buying an acreage that you'll love long-term.
Buying an acreage may be different from buying a house, but the processes also share many similarities. By choosing the right location, preparing for costs of ownership, learning the rules of the land, and relying on your real estate agent to assist you throughout the process, you can find the acreage that best suits your needs.
Buying a house is one of the biggest parts of the American dream, but that doesn't mean you have to wait for it your whole life. If you take the right steps, you can start on the path to homeownership right now.
Each step builds on the last, and you'll learn more about your needs and challenges as you go. If you run into something you need to reassess, advice is a call or email away. Real estate agents help first-time buyers like you every day.
Here's how to get off to a good start when buying a house:
Buying a house is a lot to wrap your mind around at first, but it's easier than it looks.
When it comes to buying a house, you need every advantage you can get. That's why honing your negotiating skills is so important. The ability to haggle is crucial to getting the right price, but the right price is just one of many things that are negotiable when you're buying a house. Here's what else you can work into the deal.
The fine art of negotiating is one of the best skills you can have when you're buying a house, and it's also important to work with a real estate agent who can bring his or her bargaining skills to the table. And remember, price is just one of many things that may be open to negotiation.
When it comes to finding a mortgage, not shopping around could mean you're leaving a lot of extra money on the table. A shocking number of first-time buyers go with the first home loan offer that comes along. But that could be a big mistake.
Shop and Save
When you consider the potential savings gained by shopping for the best mortgage rate, it's shocking how many don't put in the effort to weigh their options. The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau reports that nearly half of all mortgage borrowers don't shop around when looking for a home loan.
Buying a home is likely to be the biggest purchase you ever make, and you're going to be working at paying off your home loan for 15, 20, or 30 years. Depending on the details of your loan, the interest rate, fees, and many other factors could vary widely. Consider options from various lenders.
Most experts agree that it's best to look at at least three different lenders to make sure you're getting the best deal on your mortgage. That should include your own bank and at least one national lender.
Mortgage rates can vary quite a bit from one lender to another, and often change from one day to the next, so all that shopping around can pay off. Just a fraction of a percentage point can add up to thousands of dollars over the lifetime of your loan. Keep a few things in mind as you look for the best home loan:
Forbes recently reported that buyers who compare one extra quote could save $1,500 on their home loan and that buyers who compare two extra quotes could save $3,000. No matter how you look at it, the numbers are very clear about one thing: it pays to shop around.
Are you wondering when you should get a pre-approval for a home loan during the buying process? Here, we look at when and how far in advance of purchasing a home you should get pre-approved. We also look at why you should get the pre-approval.
When Should I Get Pre-Approved For A Mortgage?
Ideally, you want to get pre-approved for a mortgage before you start looking for houses. Doing so will help you find any obstacles to your pre-approval like having excessive debt or a poor credit score. You'll also be able to determine your home-hunting price range.
Additionally, you will become more competitive in the market in comparison to buyers who have not gotten their pre-approval. All of those aspects will help your cause when the time comes to shop for a house.
Overall, a pre-approval is a preliminary review of your financial status to determine:
The lender performs it at the moment you apply for a loan. But it can also be done before you hand in a formal application.
The pre-approval process serves two purposes:
Why Should You Get Pre-Approved Before Shopping for a House?
In most cases, it makes sense for a home buyer to get a mortgage pre-approval before they begin to shop for homes. The process of getting pre-approved for a mortgage helps you concentrate your search on the sort of homes you can afford, depending on the creditor's willingness to lend.
However, the pre-approval review process is not a substitute for budgeting. You need to review your income and expenses to establish how much you can afford in monthly payments.
The process of pre-approval comes into play later, when you are ready to shop for a property. You should have a budget in mind already before you move onto this phase.
There is also another good reason to get a pre-approval before home hunting. A house seller will give your offer priority over other buying offers that have not been reviewed by a lender. In other words, you'll be taken more seriously as a potential home buyer.
Overall, it makes excellent sense when you look at it from the seller's point of view. No seller wants to accept an offer from somebody who does not qualify for a mortgage loan. Therefore it's wise to get pre-approved before hunting for homes.
It is also worthwhile to note that preapproval is different from final approval. You can still be rejected for a mortgage even after a loan officer has pre-approved you. It is a common occurrence.
"Pre" means that it happens at the beginning of the mortgage process. For you to receive final approval from the mortgage lender, you also need to undergo a rigorous underwriting procedure. The underwriter will typically review your application and your credentials to establish whether you're an acceptable risk. If the underwriter issues a green light, then you will get final approval.
What Documents Are Necessary for a Mortgage Pre-approval?
The lender will want to confirm your identity, credit history, working history, income, and monetary assets to give a pre-approval. He or she will probably ask you to fill out a residential loan application, called 1003 ("ten-oh-three").
The 1003 application will ask for your details, financial information, and loan details, which include:
Your lender will also perform a hard credit -inquiry and might require supplemental documents based on your situation.
There's no doubt that a strong credit score makes it easier to secure a mortgage with favorable terms when buying a house. The higher your credit score, the lower you can expect your interest rates to be, which can translate to significant savings over the life of your loan. A damaged credit score, on the other hand, can lead to higher interest rates, and make it difficult to qualify for certain types of loans without repairing credit first. Understanding how credit scores impact your interest rate is an important step in securing a mortgage for your next home.
While your credit score impacts many facets of the mortgage process, the biggest key is in how it affects your interest rates. A higher credit score ultimately means lower interest rates, and that's a big win financially long-term when buying a house. Even if your credit has seen better days, there's plenty you can do to get your score in shape before pursuing a mortgage.
Buying a house is one of the most significant financial commitments most people make in a lifetime. Most home buyers don't make their purchase with one lump sum of money. A mortgage makes it possible to pay for a home over time. If you're buying a house for the first time, it's essential to understand how mortgages work, and what to expect from your loan. Fortunately, there's plenty of help available, starting with our guide to home loan basics.
Working with a lender you know and trust makes life much easier. If you're not sure where to start, your real estate agent can help you find a lender. By consulting trusted sources, doing your research, and asking key questions, you can navigate the process of securing a mortgage with confidence.
Buying a home--especially your first home--is an incredibly exciting time in one's life. When it comes to closing on your mortgage, it is important to exercise caution so as not to fall prey to scams designed to steal your hard-earned money.
According to an FBI report, Americans lost nearly $150 million to real estate scams in 2018. In fact, scams targeting the real estate industry have increased over 1,100 percent since 2015.
Scammers use a variety of tactics to get rich at your expense. While the rewards of owning a home outweigh the risks of fraud, it's wise to educate yourself about common mortgage scams as you navigate the home-buying process.
Be Aware of Phishing Scams at Closing Time
Mortgage fraud takes many forms, and phishing scams have become increasingly popular. Scammers target real estate professionals to monitor emails and identify clients nearing closing time for the purchase of their new home.
Scammers create phony emails posing as real estate agents, closing officers, or other trusted parties attempting to coax unwitting buyers to redirect their monies into fraudulent accounts by sending last-minute changes to wiring instructions.
When in Doubt, Check it Out
While it's easy to think you would never fall for this kind of scam, these emails can look almost exactly like the real thing. There are steps you can take to avoid falling prey to this crime.
How to Avoid Being Scammed
What to Do If It Happens to You
When it comes to closing on your mortgage, remember the adage that if it seems to good to be true, it probably is.
Reduce your risk of fraud by remaining aware of the latest phishing scams, working with people you trust, and seeking advice from official government resources when you think something seems "phisy." While you can't completely eliminate the risk of fraud when buying a house, vigilance goes a long way toward protecting your hard-earned money.
If you suspect you are a victim of this crime:
Closing on a new home can be one of your most memorable life moments. Take the right steps to ensure your home-buying memories are happy ones.
Buying a foreclosed home can be an excellent way to find a bargain, but there are also quite a few obstacles to overcome before landing the right foreclosure. The number of foreclosed homes available varies by area and fluctuates based on market conditions. You may be able to save significantly on the overall cost of buying a house and purchase "more home" for the same investment. Understanding exactly what you're getting into is crucial for succeeding on the foreclosure market, and we've got five tips to help you find the right home, for the right price.
Buying a foreclosure is different from buying a house on the open market, but many of the same rules still apply. Inspecting the home thoroughly, knowing the price of comparable homes, and working with a real estate agent who knows foreclosures will help you make a competitive bid for the right home. While it may take more than one try to find the right match, your preparation and patience can ultimately pay off with a great bargain.
Whether you're having trouble finding the perfect home on the market or have always dreamed of building your own home from the ground up, there are a variety of advantages to buying land to build a home. But shopping for vacant land is also a bit different than buying a house, so it's important to be prepared. That's true whether you're buying acreage in the country or a smaller vacant lot in a more urban area. Researching the process ahead of time makes it much easier to find the right piece of land for your next home, and we've got some key tips to help you achieve your goals.
While there are a variety of unique factors to consider when buying vacant land, there are also many similarities with buying a house. By choosing the right location, understanding exactly what you're buying, planning ahead, and identifying the right real estate agent, you can find land that's perfect for building your next home.
Shopping for a short sale home can present an opportunity to find a deal when buying a house, but it's important to understand exactly what to expect from the process. In a short sale transaction, the property owner's lender agrees to accept the buyer's purchase offer, even though the offer is less than the seller owes on the home. Because of the unique circumstances required for buying a house on a short sale transaction, there may be some additional hurdles to clear before you purchase the home. Short sale transactions are increasingly common, and you'll want to read our guide before taking the plunge on a short sale purchase.
If you're considering a short sale home, the first thing to remember is that the transaction takes time. By preparing for the process, researching property records, reviewing the required documentation, and working with a real estate agent who has short sale experience, you can successfully navigate the process of buying a house on a short sale.
Buying a house may look complicated, but it doesn't have to be intimidating.
Any home search is an expression of your needs and values. With the right approach, you can make sure you get what you want from the process. And, yes, it can even be fun. Here's how:
No matter what your real estate goals are, partnering with a trusted real estate agent is essential. Not only does it make buying a home faster and easier, but it often means you'll save money, too.
When the step-siblings of The Brady Bunch made their TV debut in 1969, the concept of a blended family was something of a novelty. Today, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 75 percent of divorced people remarry and 65 percent of those remarriages include children. In addition, a study by Pew Research Center indicates that 16 percent of kids under the age of 18 are living in blended families.
By definition, a blended family increases the number of household members, making it unlikely that either of the current homes is suitable options. If you're buying a house for a blended family, start off on the right note with these helpful tips.
The definition of family continues expanding to include previously non-traditional forms, but the idea of home as the center of family life remains constant. Buying a house that accommodates the needs of a blended family is the first step toward creating happy memories together.
As you're buying a house, you have two challenges:
Naturally, understanding where the seller is coming from will help. Some sellers are motivated to complete the transaction as quickly as possible. Others may be flush with offers or have time to burn. As the buyer, resist the urge to be intimidated. You hold plenty of cards!
Not all sellers price a home in a way that makes sense for their market – especially if they don't use the services of a reputable real estate agent. Other times, there might be complicating factors that change your perspective on what the home is worth. Standing your ground is best.
Keep these factors in mind as you're negotiating a price when buying a house:
Buying a house is a long and sometimes complex process. If you do not feel comfortable with the thought of having to negotiate, prepare in advance by partnering with a real estate agent you trust. He or she will support you with the skills and experience to handle negotiations.
Negotiating may seem stressful. It does, of course, add a little more uncertainty to the buying process. In the long run, though, it is the winning strategy for getting the best value possible. You may not be able to stop yourself from falling in love with a home, but you can save yourself some money!
A swimming pool can be a major perk when you're shopping for a new home, allowing you to maximize the use of outdoor space and providing plenty of warm-weather family fun just outside your door. Whether you're shopping for a new home or adding a pool to your current home, it's important to consider your options. Both in-ground and above-ground pools come with their own unique advantages and drawbacks. Choosing the right option depends on your budget, space, future plans, how you will use the pool, and a variety of other factors. Consider the most important factors to find the right fit:
In the end, the right option for you depends upon personal factors. An in-ground pool is more expensive to maintain, but also longer lasting. An above-ground pool may be more affordable to operate but doesn't always offer the same longevity or variety. Fortunately, both options offer plenty of potential for outdoor fun.
Retirement is here for many Baby Boomers. If you are one of those born after 1944, you may be deciding where you want to put down your retirement roots. Have you considered going back to college?
Living in a college town as a retiree is different than when you were eating in dining halls and spending hours in the library all those years ago. Now, you can enjoy the benefits of adulthood while also taking advantage of the diverse offerings of an area that surrounds the college.
Small Town Feel
While some colleges are in metropolitan cities, others are nestled into smaller communities that formed around the institution. These tend to be friendlier, cost less to live in, and have a lively, exciting vibe. Also, neighborhoods in these mid-size areas are quite walkable or offer reliable public transportation.
Big Adult Fun
College towns also come with plenty to do, often at reduced rates. What's your fun day out? Love sports, art, ballet, theater, or music? You can take in a game or day at the museum at colleges with ticket prices at budget-friendly levels. Some colleges bring in nationally recognized speakers. Additionally, artists of all kinds also seem to be attracted to communities near colleges, and this brings engaging exhibits, festivals, and even art-based community projects that are not necessarily attached to the school.
Along with cultural and sports activities, college towns frequently are home to unique boutique restaurants. Whether you enjoy a funky vegan eatery or a high-class establishment, living in a college town may prove to be the ticket to culinary satisfaction on a retirement budget.
Good Medical Care
If your health is a concern, large universities house high-quality medical schools, and thus, excellent hospitals. This is one of the best options for those handling long-term or complicated medical issues. Additionally, you may have access to special trials put on by such teaching hospitals.
And for the retiree that never wants to stop learning, colleges let folks take classes at reduced rates, or audit them free of charge.
Of course, before going back to school be prepared to do some homework. Take a look at the neighborhoods to determine which ones will fit a lifestyle that may be quieter than that of some of your younger neighbors. Also, as with any new place, ask questions about its crime rate and amenities for seniors.
So in considering the next chapter of your life, don't forget that making a move back to school might be the future that's right for you in retirement.
Moving to an entirely new city as an adult is both exciting, and challenging. There are so many new things to experience, but in many ways, it may feel like you're also starting over from scratch. That's why it helps to have a plan, and you can start with our guide to 8 ways that you can start over in a new city.
Every person – and city – is unique, but starting over in a new town doesn't have to be a mystery. By exploring the community, building new relationships, being open-minded to new experiences, and learning as you go, you can quickly start to make your new city feel like home.
Many homebuyers have a list of amenities they want in their new neighborhood, while others haven't given it a second thought. While you might think you don't need some of the most popular neighborhood perks, having them available will make the area more desirable and improve your home's resale value.
Not sure what types of perks to look out for? Here are the top eight that are trending right now.
Buying a house that's energy efficient is important to most of us these days. We're all so much more aware of the impact that we have on our environment, and how important it is to minimize our environmental footprint as much as we can. Energy-efficiency can also have a significant impact – for the better – on the costs of owning a home, reducing the amount of money that must be budgeted to cover those monthly utility bills. So what do you need to know about buying an energy-efficient home?
Key features to look for when buying a house that's energy efficient
If your goal is to buy an energy-efficient home, features you should look for include:
Energy-efficiency claims: Verify for your piece of mind
Energy-efficiency is a big selling point in today's market, so home sellers are generally eager to hit the right "green" talking points when they're listing their homes. While most people are quite honest in their descriptions, any buyer would be remiss if they did not do a little due diligence to verify the sellers energy-efficiency claims. Good ways of double-checking include:
Taking these steps to ensure that you're buying a house that's energy efficient may add a little time and expense to the home shopping process. However, if you are planning to live in that new home for a while, shopping carefully will pay off in the long run with a smaller environmental footprint and lower energy bills.
Do you dream of living in one of the area's hottest neighborhoods, but find that all the homes are out of your price range? If you want to live in a trendy area, but also want to get the most out of your real-estate-dollar, the trick is to buy an inexpensive home in a neighborhood that's destined to be the next new hotspot.
Cities and urban areas across the country are going through a revitalization, also known as gentrification. Formerly run-down, lower-income regions are experiencing an influx of affluent residents, causing the neighborhoods to become desirable and home prices to rise. This trend is growing year-over-year as buyers have been placing more value on locations close to city centers and near their places of employment.
Up-and-coming neighborhoods tend to start as neglected and run-down areas that might have high crime rates. Purchasing a home in these areas can be risky, so you'll want to do your homework first.
How can you tell a neighborhood is getting ready to pop? Start with these six pro tips.
Multigenerational living is making a comeback. With shifting conditions in the job market, younger people are finding it more challenging to achieve immediate success on their own. At the same time, many families are choosing to make space for elders to help their quality of life while saving money.
While the conditions that gave rise to this new housing trend are far from thrilling, the choice to embrace a multigenerational household can lead to wonderful results for families.
The key to making it work is to take care of finding a place everyone can call home.
Here's how you can get it done right.
Having many generations under one roof provides brilliant opportunities for family members to bond. Young people can learn and grow with the wisdom of their elders, who get to see all their life milestones. It all begins with selecting the right home with the help of a real estate agent.
There are so many factors to consider when buying a house, especially if you're shopping for a home for your whole family. And it's about more than just the number of rooms, or even the school district where the home is located. According to a survey from SunTrust Mortgage, 55 percent of buyers with at least one child under 18 years of age say their child's opinion was a factor in their purchasing decision, and that number jumps to 74 percent with parents from the Millenial generation. So there's no doubt that kids have a huge influence on the purchasing process, and for good reason. Factoring in the needs of your children – both now and in the future – can help you identify a house that you'll be happy with for years to come.
There are two important factors to consider when shopping for a house with kids – what the children want from the home, and what you need from the home in order to make life easier for the whole family. It's also important to look to the future, and consider what your kids will need from the home in 2, 5, or 10 years. By planning ahead while considering the current needs of your children, you can find a home that fits every member of the family.
While you, of course, have the final decisions, listening to your kids can make life much easier when buying a house. Just remember that the tastes and desires of children change quickly, so it's important to use your parental powers to focus on what matters most long-term. Balance the present and future to find a home that both you and your children can love.
Buying a house might be one of the most challenging purchases you make. It's an exercise in the physical, mental and emotional. For all the effort it takes from start to finish, the energy invested will pay off with an enjoyable and practical purchase to build wealth. These five tips will help you simplify the process.
Buying a house can be rewarding at any time of life, including just before retirement.
It's never too early or too late to buy a home. Having your own home offers great peace of mind during retirement.
Still, it's important to do research and come up with a home buying strategy that makes sense for you. Buying a home in your 50s or 60s is very different from doing it in your 20s or 30s.
Let's look at ways to clear the path to the best decision – and the best home.
An experienced real estate agent is your best friend in the home buying process.
Have you heard about the way thousands of people are using weighted blankets to improve their sleep? Over the last few years, weighted blankets have increased in popularity due to their ability to benefit the body and mind. If you've heard of this product but still aren't sure what exactly a weighted blanket is and how it can improve your health, read on to discover why these resources are changing lives around the country.
Unsurprisingly, a weighted blanket is exactly what it sounds like — a blanket that is significantly heavier than even the "heavy" cozy blankets you may cuddle up with. You may have also heard them referred to as gravity blankets. These blankets get their additional weight from a variety of materials including glass beads, rice, millet, and plastic pellets. The outer material can be light like linen or heavier like Minky fabric.
Weighted blankets have been used for decades in the special needs community as a therapeutic resource. When used, they apply Deep Pressure Therapy to the individual's body which provides plenty of health benefits. Today, they're being sold commercially as a tool that has the ability to help many individuals improve their quality of life. They can be used overnight to help create a more restful sleep or during the day to calm anxiety.
Numerous studies have shown positive results from the use of weighted blankets in a variety of contexts. Many psychiatrists use them on patients who have experienced traumatic events or are in times of crisis. Those with disabilities like autism use them to help them focus their behavior and emotions. Aside from clinical use, researchers have found that these tools can also help people at home who are struggling for a number of chronic issues.
Here are a few ways weighted blankets may benefit you or your loved ones:
Equity is an oft-used term in most real estate fields and has a rather significant bearing on personal wealth and your future plans. Understanding equity in and of itself isn't difficult, but there are some things you should know that may help build equity and potentially pay off your mortgage.
What is Equity?
Equity is essentially the value of your home minus what you still owe on it. Unless you're purchasing a home up front with cash, then you will have equity on your side and a mortgage as a liability. Of course, the longer you pay your mortgage, the more equity you build and the more each incremental payment will go towards principal instead of interest.
So how can you build equity faster?
Make a Larger Down Payment
For most conventional mortgages a 5% down payment is a requirement, and most mortgages have some form of PMI or private mortgage insurance for any equity less than 20%. With that said, the larger your down payment the more equity you have at the onset of your mortgage and the shorter the duration you pay PMI.
A larger down payment will also lower your monthly payments and, depending on how aggressively you're paying your mortgage, can potentially help you pay it off faster.
Make Paying Down Your Mortgage a Priority
One of the best ways to get more equity faster is to make paying down your mortgage a top priority. Let's face it, homes and mortgages are a longterm commitment which means paying off a mortgage and building equity can take some time.
In order to prioritize paying down your mortgage, consider paying extra each month. An additional payment of as little as $25 can trim months, even years off of a mortgage and give you an extra $25 per month in equity. Additionally, you can choose to put income tax refunds, gift money, bonuses, or one-time payments towards your mortgage. Finally, consider refinancing to a shorter loan note or a lower interest rate to maximize where your payments go.
Increase Your Property Value
When it comes down to it, many homeowners living in older homes neglect the fact that they can add significant value to their property. Remember, equity is your property value minus any debt. Therefore, increasing property value will inherently increase your equity in your home.
Of course, when many homeowners think about increasing property value, they see the dollar signs following soon after with visions of pricey remodels, extensive work, and days without conventional creature comforts. And while this may be the case, how much you choose to spend will depend largely on how much value certain improvements add to homes in your local region.
Additionally, maintaining your home can be just as valuable as spending in increasing your property value. We're talking about maintaining big-ticket items such as HVAC systems, other mechanical systems, and staying on top of potential problems including exterior weathering, rot, and pest issues.
Make the Most of Your Equity
No matter what method you choose to increase your equity, make sure your efforts are not in vain. Weigh the pros and cons to attacking your equity on a variety of different fronts. It may work best to mix and match tactics and focus on long-term equity gain as well as making bigger headway in the short term.
Buying a home is a life-changing event. Where you live, the neighborhood, the attributes, and amenities of the house can affect your family for years, impacting almost every element of life. Location may change your work-life balance by extending or shortening the daily commute. Your mix of friends and social activities will likely be related to where you buy a house.
Overpaying at the outset or having extensive repairs in subsequent years can also impact your future net worth if you cannot recover your investment when you sell.
In short, the home you choose impacts your quality of life.
Research First Before Buying
Researching the market is the best place to start. Knowing existing market prices, your borrowing limit and creditworthiness, neighborhood characteristics, and location-related issues will help you to develop a sense of what, where, and how much you may be able to afford.
Also, meet with prospective real estate agents to determine who makes you most comfortable and confident of success. Discuss the market. Is this a buyers' or a sellers' market based on demand, availability, and interest rates?
In recent years, the supply of available homes for sale has fallen compared to the number of active buyers. The rate of new home construction has not kept pace with rising demand. Interest rates have been at historic lows. The inevitable result? We currently have a seller' market.
A different set of negotiation strategies may be helpful in this instance.
What is "Losing?"
Losing a home purchase negotiation can take two forms:
Ways to Gain When Negotiating
Suppose you have searched and found a home that fits your criteria in the target price range. You decide to make an offer.
Don't do the following:
Avoiding these issues should encourage prospective homeowners to take a more thoughtful, yet firm, approach to home buying.
Most importantly, listen to the advice of your REALTOR®.
So you've just bought a house, and you're excited about settling into life in that new home. What probably isn't quite as exciting is the prospect of moving all your stuff into that new home. Moving is hard work, and the process is often chaotic. The good news is that there are things you can do to reduce the stress and frustration involved in getting the job done. Here are nine pro-approved packing hacks to make moving easier:
Moving isn't fun, and it is rarely a smooth, stress-free process, but putting these tips to work for you can make it a little easier. By planning and keeping things organized for more efficient unpacking, you'll spend much less time settling in and get to the end goal more quickly – enjoying your new home.
Some think a credit score is a number that puts an arbitrarily derived value to someone's creditworthiness. This couldn't be further from the truth. Credit scores are not only important, but big business and could be the difference between getting financing, a loan, or even a job.
Just as it takes time to build credit, it can also take time to repair credit. If improving your credit score is on your to-do list for the new year, take a look at our five tips to improve your credit score.
Finding your dream home can be a lot of fun, but it's also serious business. If you've ever found yourself in a heated bidding war with another prospective buyer, then you know exactly why.
As stressful as a bidding war can be, there are plenty of ways you can turn the tables in your favor. So if you're locked in a desperate tug-of-war with another buyer, take a deep breath and use these tips to make sure you come out on top without overspending.
When you're buying your first home, of course, you'll remember to get things like a sofa, bed, and kitchen table. However, there are a ton of "little" things you might not remember come moving day. Here are eight essential items you will need for moving into your home.
With these new home essentials, you'll be well on your way to successful homeownership.
Buying your first home is one of the most exciting--and scariest--things you'll ever do. When you consider all of the steps involved from saving for a down payment to closing day, it's no wonder most people find home buying intimidating. The good news is, it doesn't have to be!
With a little bit of knowledge and preparation, you can be ready to make the jump into home ownership in no time. Here are some of the best tips to help you get started.
Buying a house comes with a lot of considerations for anyone and especially first time home buyers looking to get into the housing market. Usually, home buyers put a lot of thought into how they can afford a home but often forget about building creditworthiness or ensuring that they are a worthwhile risk for a lender.
If you're a first-time buyer, do you know the 5 Cs of credit?
According to USA Today, approximately 40 million people throughout the United States move each year. While many movers relocate within the same city, long-term lifestyle goals such as job opportunities and better climate drive large numbers of people to migrate out of state.
If you find yourself facing such a change now or in the future, finding a new home will be at the top of your to-do list. Reduce stress and uncertainty with these valuable tips for buying a house out of state.
Buying a house out of state should be the start of a dream, not a nightmare. Use these tips to streamline the transition and find a house that will truly become a home.
Buying your first home is one of the most exciting--and scariest-- things you'll ever do. When you considered all of the steps involved from saving for a down payment to closing day, it's no wonder most people find home buying intimidating. The good news is, it doesn't have to be!
With a little bit of knowledge and preparation, you can be ready to make the jump into home ownership in no time. Here are some of the best tips to help you get started.
Who doesn't love a bargain? If you find a vacant home for sale, there's a good chance it's the best deal on the block--but that low price tag could also come with potential risks. We're not saying that you should always avoid buying a vacant home, proceed with caution. Here are five things to be aware of when you're considering a vacant home.
Buying a home is a worthy objective for a single woman. It is also a significant accomplishment that involves planning, saving, and achieving a good credit score. It takes a bit more effort when you are the only source of income, so here are seven tips for the single woman interested in buying her first home.
When you're house hunting, most people have a home-buying checklist that helps determine if a place is right for them. The price, neighborhood, walkability, schools, size of home and yard top the list. One thing sometimes not considered is commute time.
Many real estate experts warn that commute time plays a huge role in your daily life, and can ultimately affect your mood and happiness--even your physical health. Statistics show that people are often happier living closer to their work. Here are buying a house and commuting.
Ultimately, the decision of where you live is up to you. If you're questioning actual commute time, take a test drive. Try the commute a couple of times, see how long it'll take, how much it will cost, and keep these factors in mind when you're making your final decision.
When you're buying a house, there's an anxiety-filled time delay between making the deal and closing day. The details usually come together, but what happens if your loan falls through?
Don't panic. If your lender refuses to finance you, it doesn't have to be the end of your home ownership dream. Here's what you can do to move forward.
If You Can't Work it Out
It's frustrating when you get so close to buying a house and lose it. If you must walk away from your dream home, you'll move forward having learned some tough lessons. Before you get back out there, take a few preparatory steps.
While it won't guarantee home financing, pre-approval gives you a potential yes. Access your three major credit reports at annualcreditreport.com and work out any problems ahead of time. Maintain career and income consistency. Both are critical to the home loan evaluation process.
When it comes to buying a house, there are many factors to consider. While the number of bedrooms, the home's layout, and price-point are essential, buyers are now paying more attention than ever to the neighborhood surrounding a potential new home.
A home's proximity to retail shops, restaurants, entertainment, and other businesses has always been an essential factor in the home-buying decision. The ability to reach these destinations on foot, also known as "walkability," is growing in popularity. Many home buyers are adding this to their list of desired features, and sellers already living in these neighborhoods are using it to their advantage.
Walkable neighborhoods usually feature a main street or public space that serves as a center for activity. The local population must be reasonably dense for these areas to thrive. You will typically find a good mix of business and residential space, with affordable housing nearby.
Pedestrians and bicyclists are typically kept in mind while planning neighborhoods. They include plenty of sidewalks, crosswalks, and bicycle lanes. Buildings are often close to the streets, with parking lots located in the back. The best walkable neighborhoods feature plenty of greenspaces for its residents.
Why Walkability is Important
The advantages of buying a house in a walkable neighborhood go well beyond simple convenience. Being able to reach most of your desired locations on foot improves your physical and mental well-being, reduces your carbon footprint, lowers expenses, and improves your home's resale value.
Improved Physical and Mental Health
Studies have found that residents living in a walkable neighborhood weigh an average of six to ten pounds less than those who live in areas where driving is necessary. Walking often also decreases your risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and other health problems.
Cities with easy access to amenities and public transportation are good for your mental health too. Residents living in walkable cities are often both happier and healthier than their counterparts living in sprawling suburbs.
Reduced Environmental Impact
Living in an area where you can reach your desired destinations without hopping into the car also reduces your carbon footprint. Buying a house in a walkable urban location can reduce your transportation emissions by as much as 70 percent, making it one of the best things you can do for the environment.
The cost of buying, operating, and maintaining a vehicle is one of the most substantial expenses in the average household's budget. Even if you decide to keep your car after moving to a walkable neighborhood, you will use it far less. Using your car loess reduces the amount of money you'll spend on gas, tolls, parking, and vehicle wear and tear.
Increased Resale Value
Those who aren't concerned with the ability to walk to their destinations can still benefit from living in a walkable neighborhood. As the trend continues to grow, homes located in these neighborhoods will become more desirable. Buying a house in an up-and-coming area now can mean a significant increase in your future resale value.
Buying a house is a rewarding, but complex adventure. The more you know about the process, the easier it is for you to find the right deal for you.
Over and over, first-time homebuyers, in particular, have mentioned there are things they wish they'd known. This list of ten common "things no one told me before buying a house" will get you off on the right foot when it's time to house-hunt!
Buying a house doesn't have to be difficult. Now, you can go into the process more informed. The only thing missing: Help from a real estate expert who can make things easier.
As you plan home improvement projects, consider focusing on fire safety. As the National Fire Protective Association explains, home fires occur more frequently during winter than any other season. Candles, open flames, and holiday decorations cause winter fires, but home heating equipment is the biggest contributor. You need fire extinguishers in your kitchen, garage, and other critical areas of your home.
Just as with any home improvement project, you have options. When you choose fire extinguishers for your home, it's essential to make the right choice. Consider these options:
Your Home Safety Plan
Fire extinguishers are a perfect idea when you're planning a home improvement project with a focus on safety. They work hand-in-hand with your smoke detectors in keeping your home and family safe.
When you decide on buying a house, there are plenty of options and factors to consider, and amidst all your excitement and anxiety, it can be all too easy to leap into the housing market before you are ready. With some careful planning on your part, the home buying experience can be fun and not-so-stressful. Consider this your to-do list as you begin the process. Your ducks will be all in a row, and your search for the perfect home will be much more productive.
Following these simple but important steps will go quite a ways in making your experience of buying a house a pleasant one. So put on your game face, do your homework, and get ready to find the home of your dreams!
When you're buying a house, you may wonder what exactly goes into determining the value of a property. In many cases, appraised value is based on an algorithm with variables including the home's actual construction, land values, location, and more.
In addition to reviewing the appraised value, you must also decide how much a home is worth to you based on your tastes and factors like neighborhood demographics, crime rates, traffic, and proximity to shopping and other conveniences.
Home buyers with and without children often wonder how much influence the area's school districts have on a home's price. Here's what you need to know.
Great Schools Matter More than Good Schools
Although some argue that certain schools perform better as a result of being in a more affluent neighborhood, rather than the other way around, it's hard to argue with statistics when it comes to the correlation between quality school districts and home prices.
A study found that the cost of homes in areas where the school districts were only average was based almost purely on the home's characteristics like size and location. In above-average school districts, however, properties are often priced well above what the characteristics of the home would have indicated. This suggests that only top-notch schools significantly impact home sale prices.
According to the National Association of REALTORS®, approximately 25 percent of all buyers are concerned with the quality of school districts in their potential neighborhoods.
40 percent of buyers at peak child-bearing age (36 and under) reported that school districts were a major influencing factor in choosing a home, as did 35 percent of those between the ages of 37 and 51. With such a large demographic citing this as a concern, it's not surprising that school districts are a factor in determining home pricing.
School District's Impact on Home Prices
The next obvious question home buyers have: "How much more will a great school district cost me?" Economists estimate that a 5 percent improvement in a school district's test scores can increase home prices in the area by approximately 2.5 percent.
A study of metropolitan areas across the nation found that being located in top-notch school districts can add an average of up to $50 per square foot to a home's price. This means buyers of a 2,000 square foot home could be shelling out up to an extra $100,000 to be in a great district.
The Snowball Effect
When it comes to pricing homes, supply and demand is a major factor. The simple fact is that there are only so many homes available in the best school districts, and there are often more buyers than sellers. This means a bidding war may occur when a home goes up for sale in a desirable area, leading to homes being sold for well above the asking price. When the next home goes up for sale, appraisers use the most recent comparable sales to assess its value, and the snowball effect continues.
The bottom line is that buying a house in an area with excellent schools is likely to cost you more. However, as long as the district retains its status, it should continue to contribute to your home's value for years to come.
Buying a house comes with a sense of pride and accomplishment, and it can also bring a few surprises. One of the most common mistakes of first-time home buyers is forgetting to factor in the cost of utilities when searching for and purchasing their new house. The cost of homeownership involves much more than making a monthly mortgage payment, and planning for utility costs as a part of your overall budget makes finding the right home a lot less frustrating.
It's important to look at the big picture once you decide you are ready to become a homeowner. You've likely already thought about how much you can afford to spend on a mortgage payment, and you may have even obtained a pre-approval from your bank. However, there are additional factors that will affect what you have to spend each month once you close on your new home. Some home buyers take utility costs for granted assuming that the costs will be similar to what they currently pay.
If the home you are considering is larger than your current home or apartment, keep in mind that more square footage will likely mean higher bills for heating and cooling. Buying a house in a city or town could come with a water bill if the property accesses the local water system instead of a private well and sewer system. Natural gas or propane availability for heating and cooking should be considered when figuring a budget to purchase a home. The last thing you want as a homeowner is the surprise of utility bills you cannot afford after you've settled into your new house.
Your real estate agent is your biggest ally while searching for your perfect home. Be open and honest about your budget, and ask plenty of questions regarding utility costs for any home that catches your attention. Your agent can help you obtain utility costs from the seller for the past year to give you an idea of what you can expect regarding monthly expenses. You may need to adjust the figure according to personal factors such as the size of your family and the way you will use your home, but a the very least, you have a starting point to help you plan your budget.
Once you find a home that you are seriously considering, you might find ways to make the home more energy efficient to save you money on utilities for years to come. A home inspection is one of the best ways to pinpoint its areas that could be improved to make it more comfortable for your family and your budget. Windows, doors, and insulation are all areas that can make a huge difference in energy costs. Major systems in the home such as the heating and cooling system and water heater should be considered for efficiency and a possible upgrade if necessary. If your budget will allow it, addressing these repairs early on makes way for ongoing savings.
The hardest part of buying a house is, well buying a house. But just because you've signed the paperwork and gotten a key doesn't mean your job is complete. Now you have to tackle what might be the most critical part of the whole project. Time to turn that house into a home.
It's not always easy to take an empty house and make it feel like a place where your family belongs. Luckily, there are a lot of ways to transform your now digs into a homey, lived-in space where everybody feels comfortably at home.
A lot goes into buying a house and making it a home, but making that space feel like your own can be one of the most enjoyable and satisfying parts of the entire home buying process. The important thing is, in the end, to make sure your house is the kind of place where your whole family feels at home.
Last year, 16 percent of all first-time home buyers were unmarried couples. Some of these couples are of the "buy a home first, get married later" variety, while others simply have no interest in getting married, ever.
It's important that you understand the potential risks of buying a house as an unmarried couple, and it's just as important that you learn how to avoid some of the potential pitfalls.
Communication Is Key
Honesty is important in any relationship, but if you're buying a house together, you might have to discuss a few topics, both personal and financial, that you haven't had to talk about before. For example, both parties' credit histories are going to be examined when you apply for a mortgage, so if one partner has a poor credit score, that's something you'll want to bring up long before it becomes an issue.
But beyond financial matters, you'll also need to be upfront about your needs, desires, and expectations for homeownership. Purchasing a house that one half of the couple is secretly unhappy with is a recipe for disaster, so make sure all lines of communication are clear.
Sign a Prenuptial Agreement for the House
It goes without saying that no couple wants to talk about breaking up. But if you're planning on buying a house together, it's a conversation you're going to need to have. Not only that, but it's best to put down your plans in writing.
Who pays for utilities, maintenance, and repairs? What happens to the property if you split up? What if one of you dies or becomes disabled? These aren't fun topics, but it's important to discuss them all the same, preferably leading to a mutually agreed upon co-ownership contract with the help of a legal professional.
Consider Your Title Options
There are three ways a couple can own a property. Whichever you choose, you'll still both be living in the home together, hopefully for a long time. Still, it's important for unmarried couples, in particular, to consider their title options carefully:
Buying a house can be a challenge for just about anybody, but if you're a couple who are thinking about buying a house before you get married, you might be in for a few more challenges than most.
Home shoppers have a lot of choices to make. You have to carefully weigh an endless laundry list of factors, from location and price to size and style, and hope that you end up with a beautiful house that meets all your needs.
For some, knowing that a house is part of a community with a homeowners association (HOA for short) could either sweeten the deal, or it could be a total deal-breaker. Let's take a moment to go over HOAs – what they are, how they work, and their many advantages and disadvantages.
A homeowners association is usually founded by a real estate developer to manage the houses in a given area. They are most common in master-planned communities. Essentially, buying a home that is part of an HOA means that you agree to live according to the association's rules and pay a fee that goes toward the general maintenance and management of the community.
What those rules are and what you are paying for tends to vary quite a bit. Consequently, you might enjoy living in one particular homeowner's association, but find another to be oppressive, costly and unnecessary. Some homeowners love HOAs, and even specifically seek out houses that are part of one. Others refuse to be part of one, ever.
Pro: HOAs maintain common areas, which might be a big selling point if you're not into mowing lawns, trimming hedges and shoveling snow. The HOA will care for the pool, community gym, clubhouse and any other amenities that are shared by the whole community.
Con: You have to pay your dues. If you live in a community with an HOA, then membership is probably mandatory, and you'll have to pay the monthly or annual fee. Falling behind with your HOA can mean foreclosure.
Pro: HOAs handle disputes between neighbors. That means you get to contact the HOA about a noisy neighbor, a barking dog or an unkempt yard, rather than confronting the neighbor about it in person. Likewise, if someone has a complaint about you, you'll hear about it through the HOA.
Con: The HOA sets the standards for your home. Some HOAs are a lot more strict than others, but they all have some say over things like where you park your car, what color you paint your house, how often you clean your roof and mow the lawn, and how lavishly you decorate for the holidays.
Pro: They protect the value of your home. As we've said, buying a house in an HOA means you agree to live by their aesthetic and safety standards. Some find these oppressive, but they also serve to keep curb appeal high and maintain the value of your and your neighbors' homes.
Con: Rules aren't for everyone. In fact, there's a good chance that you decided to buy a house instead of rent to get away from rules. So when your HOA tells you that you can't build a new deck, have to be out of the pool by 10 pm, or can't have parties on certain nights, you might not like being told what to do and how to live.
The vast majority of home sales are successful transactions that make it to the final closing stage. However, now and then a pending sale for a home will fail to make it to the final closing stage. Failure to close out on buying a home can be the result of a wide variety of reasons, whether it is buyer's remorse or related to financial issues. Here are the top five reasons why pending home sales never make it to the final closing stage.
Purchasing a home is a lengthy process that is dependent on the completion of various steps throughout the home buying stage. Understanding these common roadblocks to pending sales can help clients overcome any obstacles and purchase a home without any complications.
For a prospective home buyer, embarking on a house hunt is an exciting adventure. You're ready to purchase a home and are anxious actually to see the homes available in your target location. Much like preparing for a vacation, there are certain things you'll want to bring along on your house hunt. Gather the following items to take with you before leaving for your house hunt.
House hunting, while somewhat stressful at times, should be a memorable and fun experience. Get your house hunting game plan together, and let's find your next home!
You know the feeling. You're headed home from the store with that big purchase you were so excited about before you bought it – only now you're not so sure.
That sinking feeling in your stomach is buyer's remorse, and it's not a good feeling. You certainly don't want to feel it right after you've bought a house. What if you've acted too quickly? What if you find a better house next week? What if you can't afford it? Here's how to steer clear of the dreaded buyer's remorse after buying a home.
Of course, the most important way to avoid buyer's remorse is buying a house that's perfect for you and your family.
When buying a house, would you prefer a home that's a fixer-upper, or one that's ready for you to move in right now? While some buyers enjoy the challenge and can manage the cost of fixing up a home, there are many who prefer the perks of move-in ready home. These home buyers would rather not worry about remodeling, extensive maintenance work, and finding contractors. They want a house that is ready to be lived in, with ample amenities, minimal maintenance issues, and everything they need to feel at home.
When you're shopping for a home, it's important to understand the benefits of a move-in ready home. The ability to move in right away, get comfortable, and hit the ground running in a new location is a huge draw for many new buyers and one you may want to take into consideration during your search.
Buying a house is a lengthy process that requires an extensive amount of preparation and paperwork before you ever get to the sign the final papers. Before you consider purchasing your first home, it is important to prepare in advance to make the process as smooth as possible. Here is a helpful real estate checklist that can help you avoid common issues and make the entire house purchasing process much easier.
Buying your first home is a daunting task for many people but using this real estate checklist can help simplify the entire process. First-time home buyers that follow these guidelines can avoid common mistakes and find their perfect dream home with the help of a highly qualified real estate agent!
Throughout history, women have been no stranger to breaking boundaries and exceeding expectations. When it comes to real estate, women have continued to raise the bar and bridge the gender gap in surprising ways. In recent years, the market has taken notice that more and more single women are buying homes.
In fact, according to the National Association of REALTORS®, single women made up 18 percent of recent buyers. This is more than twice the rate of single male home buyers. The U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics jointly sponsors the Current Population Survey which considered women who were never married, widowed, and divorced in their finding. This survey concluded that out of the 60,000 households covered by data collect, a record-breaking 22 percent of single women were homebuyers.
This awe-inspiring statistics can be attributed to a number of reasons. Single women of all ages cited ever-increasing rental costs, downsizing, divorce, and everything in between as their motivation to purchase a home. While married couples continue to dominate the largest share of the home-buying market, single women secured the second largest share of 18 percent as they surpassed the smallest share of buyers, just 7 percent, which is comprised of single men.
The NAR also reports that older women, typically 72 or older, are the primary investors in real estate. Generational trends indicate that single women are more likely to purchase a home in their golden years than men. In 2016, the percentage of females between 50-60 years old who bought a home was double that of men in the same age range.
The home buying process can certainly be a nerve-wracking process for anyone, this can be especially true for single women. Here are some smart strategies females can use to help them navigate the complex and often overwhelming home-buying process.
Let's face it - a girl wants what a girl wants. And when it comes to home, making a hasty or poor decision can lead to big trouble. As you consider your home-buying options, here are a few things you should keep in mind.
Visiting several open houses on a Saturday or Sunday is a good way to house hunt, especially since it'll give you a chance to take your time and look at everything without pressure. Use this freedom to do a little poking around, and as you browse, watch out for these red flags.
When you're ready to buy a home, you don't want the process to drag on indefinitely. Of course, you can't necessarily avoid traditional home-buying steps such as showings, negotiation, home inspection, mortgage approval, and closing. But if your mission is to minimize the time and maximize the results, you'll have to plan and organize every step.
Long before you decide to start looking for a home, you must get your financial life in order. It eases the mortgage approval process.
Figure Out What You Want
Assuming you've made peace with the idea of giving up your weekends to perform homeownership chores, the next step is figuring out what kind of home you want.
Connect with a REALTOR®
A REALTOR® can move your homeownership dream forward by first telling you if what you want exists in your neighborhood of choice.
To find the right professional, ask friends and family for referrals. Visit nearby open houses and meet the listing agent. Before you call for an appointment, consider the traits you require.
Don't Waste Your Time
If you want to maximize your results, you must minimize time wasters. Don't spend too much time evaluating a home with problems you know you won't want to deal with. Put it on your "No" list and move on. Also:
And when you find a home you love, check existing records before concluding a deal.
The best way to maximize your home-buying effort is to connect early on with a real estate professional. A real estate professional can negotiate a purchase that includes a quick closing so you can move in as quickly as possible.
If your home search involves relocation to a different state, your search can be a difficult one.
When you're house hunting in your current city or home state, you're in familiar territory. You know your way around. You have friends and family to point you in the right direction. But when you're looking for a home in another part of the country, you're pretty much on your own.
The idea of a cross-country or state-to-state move can leave you feeling anxious and alone. You can't smooth out all of the complications, but your home search will go more smoothly if you're organized and follow these "Five Tips For Buying a Home in a Different State."
The majority of homes purchased in any given year are existing homes. However, new home construction is picking up with the economy. You don't necessarily have to have a home designed yourself to move into new construction – some firms build these solely to sell them.
Lots of people, especially those who want to buy a home for the very first time, don't think much about the advantages of a new home. It's worth considering, especially if you've saved up enough money for a down payment.
Let's take a closer look:
No matter whether you're looking for new or older homes, your real estate agent is the one person in your home buying journey who is almost as crucial to the outcome as you are.
As the buyer, you call the shots, but your real estate professional is there to make sure you can make an informed decision every step of the way – and, ultimately, find your dream home.
A fixer-upper can be one of the best deals in any housing market--if you're prepared.
Many people especially first-time home buyers start their search at the top of the budget range they can afford or get financed. However, the decision to take on a fixer-upper can not only save lots of money but give you a special sense of pride as you put your mark on your future dream home.
The choice to consider a fixer-upper will open a whole new segment of the market to you.
But: It's important to take some extra precautions with this kind of "home improvement."The process of finding the right fixer-upper comes down to three big steps:
Many buyers--from first-time homeowners to "fix and flip" investors--seek out fixer-uppers all the time. Fixer-uppers are not only uniquely satisfying, they present other opportunities as well. For example, a low-priced fixer-upper might make it easier for you to obtain financing.
Whatever the case, finding the right real estate agent for you is essential. Personalized advice from an expert you can trust will make the process easier and help you avoid oversights.
When is a real estate deal truly done, and when is the last possible moment that you can make an offer on a home you love?
Ask any experienced real estate agent, and they'll tell you that the deal is never really done until closing is complete. So a home that is classified as a "pending sale" may be very far along in the process, but the deal has not been closed.
While the seller cannot enter into a contract with you while still in a contract with another buyer, there are advantages to making an offer on a property that's pending sale when looking to buy a home, and being prepared with a strong offer means you'll be ready to pounce if for any reason the original deal doesn't close.
When a home is classified as pending sale, the buyer and seller have gone a long way toward completing an agreement. Pending sale means that contingencies have mostly been met, contracts have been signed, escrow requirements have been fulfilled, and the transaction is simply awaiting the final steps of the closing process. There are a few key factors to consider when deciding whether to try to buy a home that is pending sale:
In the end, making an offer on a home that's pending sale is certainly possible, and may even allow you to buy a home that you love. It's important to remember, however, that making an offer on a pending sale is not the most likely way to land a home. It may be worth the effort if you truly love the home, because there is always a possibility that the original deal will fall through, leaving you first in line to purchase the home.
Giving an offer that is too low provides the seller with the option to refuse it and for other potential buyers to outbid you. This scenario doesn't have to be your story when you are buying a house; there are ways to make an offer that the seller can't refuse.
When you are ready to make a purchase offer, know what is motivating the seller. Look at the deal through the seller's eyes to know how to make an offer they can't refuse. A seller has typically three main issues when they set out to sell their home. Money is the first issue as they may be relying on this sale to purchase their own new home. If they are ready to move, time is another motivating factor yet there is going to be an emotional tie to the property as a third factor.
If you are working with an agent while buying a house, contact them to see if they are able to find out why the seller has decided to move. If getting the highest amount possible is their motivation, you may have to submit an offer close to the asking price for them to consider it. To know what an appropriate bid would be, work with your agent to compare recently sold homes in the area.
If the seller is motivated by terms and wants the deal to go through as quickly and painlessly as possible, you may want to give up some of the options that allow you to get out of the deal. Contingencies slow down the selling process and giving up some of these time-consuming processes may sway the seller in your direction.
If the sale is causing a lot of emotional upset with the seller and they are just having a hard time letting go and not accepting any offers, you have to prove you are not just anybody. Check with the realtor to see if writing a letter of intent to the seller expressing your love of the property and the bright future you hope to have there may sway the seller in your favor.
The faster you can submit an offer, the better your chances of a purchase are for you. If your bid is the first one received by the seller, it becomes the leverage offer and will be used against others received. If your offer isn't acted upon right away, don't panic. Sellers have a deadline for accepting bids before they can consider others. Make the offer in a reasonable time and don't sit back waiting while others may be getting consideration.
Buying a house isn't the time to become over-confident and submit an offer that is lower than acceptable just to see how the seller will react. This act may just have the seller refusing to work with you on any offer. On the other hand, do not submit an offer you cannot financially follow through. Before making an offer, know it is the perfect house for you, know how much you can afford to pay, and how far you are able to go in obtaining this for your home.
Whenever you're considering buying a house, it's best to go into the situation as prepared as you can be. An experienced real estate agent helps, but the knowledge you bring to the table is also essential.
PMI – private mortgage insurance – is one area where buyers often face confusion.
In most cases, there are several ways to improve your loan options: Adding to your down payment, pursuing government loan programs, and, yes, PMI. With personalized advice from your mortgage lender, you can make the right decision.
With low-interest rates, high demand for homes and tight inventory, there's great potential to buy a home and quickly resell it for a profit. Even so, buying a house isn't the kind of investment that should be taken lightly.
A quick glance at all the house flipping shows on TV proves just how popular the idea of flipping a house for profit has become. But a 30-minute TV segment misses a lot of important details, so if you're planning to make a killing in the flipping game, be sure to consider a few things first.