Posts tagged ‘buying a home’

February 27, 2014

How to Choose the Right Real Estate Agent

Buying or selling your home can be emotional endeavor, but with the help of a dedicated and dependable real estate agent, it can be an enjoyable and peaceful process. There are many aspects that you must consider when trying to choose the agent that is right for you. By following some of these simple guidelines, you will be heading in the right direction for a successful real estate experience.

Research & Record Your ResultsReal Estate

This cannot be stressed enough.  Referrals from family and friends are great but we still encourage you to do your research.  Go to open houses and watch an agent in action; this will help you see them in a professional and casual setting.  Another suggestion is to drive around the neighborhoods in your market place and see which agents and companies dominate the area.   Make a list of your top choices for a Realtor and Google them.  In that list, record the pros and cons from online reviews, ratings, testimonials, etc. 

Schedule Interviews & Ask Questions

This is the biggest step in the process. Keep in mind that as a seller, top agents will market your home on multiple websites and social media.  As a buyer, they will notify you as homes that meet your criteria enter the market. Find out how the agent will keep you updated and represent you during negotiations.  There are hundreds of questions you could ask, but remember to separate the good, better, and best agents by comparing the answers you get to your questions.

Lay Down your Laws with Some Simple Guidelines

Real estate transactions consist of fine details that can be missed and disrupt the whole process if you don’t have the right agent in your corner. Communication is a key aspect and you must stress that your agent needs to be available via email or phone, whichever is preferred.   Set realistic goals and stress that you and your agent must work as a productive team.

When it comes to buying or selling your home, finding the right real estate professional makes the difference!

January 27, 2014

Buying your first home?

ImageIf you are considering buying your first home, planning is essential.  If you are not prepared, the excitement of buying a home could quickly fade behind a pile of paperwork. 

 

Prepare ahead of time by gathering the proper paperwork and ensuring your financial situation is in order.  It could take weeks or even months for this process, especially if you have any credit items that need “fixed”.  Here is some helpful information to get you moving in the right direction:

 

Credit Score

Review your credit report closely.  Credit reports can be obtained for free, annually, from the 3 major credit bureaus, but you may have to pay for your actual credit score.  The score required could depend on the type of financing and price of the home you want.  Most lenders will want to see a score of at least 660.  You should start boosting your credit about a year before you want to purchase.  Try to avoid obtaining new credit cards at least 3 months before applying. Multiple credit checks can lower your score. 

 

Financial History

Having a good payment history is also taken into consideration.  Banks will want to see that you have made auto loan payments and credit card payments on time.  They will also look for bankruptcies and an excessive number of credit lines.  Clean up any history of consecutive late payments at least a year before you apply for a mortgage.  If you rent, they may request a history from your landlord.  Be prepared to show them everything.

 

Adequate Income

Will you have enough money to pay for your home, as well as, all expenses associated with it?  Typically no more than 28% of your gross income can be used for any house payments and 42% of your income must be set aside for other expenses.  Lenders will also consider the time you have been at your current job.  They usually like to see a period of 2 years, unless a job change was made to improve your financial situation.  They might make an exception in that case. 

 

Down Payment

The specifics of how much you need to put down could vary based on the type of loan you are considering.  Typically, conventional mortgages will require 10-20% down, while an FHA loan may require 3.5% -10%, based on your credit score. 

 

Closing Costs

Some areas have higher taxes and homeowner insurance rates.  You should plan on setting aside approximately 5% of the purchase price for these costs.  This may be a little high, but it’s better to have more than not enough at settlement!

 

As a first-time home buyer, being prepared is the best first step.  As soon as you start to think about buying, contact a lender to discuss each of these items in more detail and determine how they pertain to you! 

Happy home buying!

December 2, 2013

Should you buy a home over the holidays?

buying-over-the-holidaysConsidering that the cold, shorter days of winter are upon us and the holiday hustle and bustle is lurking right around the corner – would this really be a good time to buy a home?  Yes, it could be!

Home sellers tend to avoid this time of year due to the weather and holidays, but also because conventional wisdom says that buyers are otherwise occupied.  Those sellers who do attempt to sell are usually highly motivated.  Determined house-hunters can take advantage of this urgency and could find the home of their dreams at a fabulous price.  Read on to discover some other great reasons…

Home inventory could work for or against you.  At this time of year the inventory of available homes is less than at other times of the year.  If you are very particular, you might have trouble finding the right house.  Should you be lucky enough to find your dream home, less competition from other home buyers and typically lower winter-market prices might mean you have more room to negotiate for a great deal!

Better interest rates, means better mortgage terms for you.  The drop in demand this time of year (December thru January), results in fewer requests for mortgage money.  In response to this slowdown, Lenders will sometimes offer lower rates and quite possibly even cancel a few of their normal fees.  Do your homework, shop around; find a lender who is willing to work for you!

Speaking of working, the same applies to the real estate professional you choose.  Carefully select a Realtor who will be highly-motivated and available to help you accomplish your goal before the end of the year!

Faster home closings are historically more conceivable in November and December.  Fewer overall transactions and lenders, who want to close their books at the end of the year, could be the inspiration needed to close transactions more quickly for people buying homes at this time.

A tax deduction for your mortgage interest can be another valid reason to buy a home before the year end.  Speak with a tax professional to determine if a mortgage interest deduction may be applicable to your circumstances.

Planning and effort is what creates your future.  Complete some of your holiday tasks ahead of time, focus on your year-end home shopping.  Find your new home and settle in before the holidays have passed.  When the spring and summer buying frenzy hits for everyone else, you’ll already be relaxing and enjoying your new home!

Begin your home search now!

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 Tips for home buyers - http://www.prudentialhomesale.com/find-a-home/buyer-resources

October 18, 2013

Quick Tips for Selling Quickly

Sell-your-house-fast-nutleyPatience is a virtue for just about any circumstance including selling your home. Yet sometimes you must sell quickly when a job opportunity arises or you face an abrupt lifestyle change. Assuming your home is in good condition and free of liens, here are several tips to help expedite a sale.

1. Price your house correctly: Working with your agent, choose a price that’s somewhat lower than what you’re seeing in the market, but not too low that it will send up red flags. Let your agent establish a price he or she feels will make your house the buzz of the neighborhood. The amount may not be what you had envisioned—remember, the market has changed substantially over the last five years—yet when priced slightly below comparable sales you should attract serious buyers.
Many Prudential Homesale agents use the Prudential Value Range Marketing SM as an additional pricing resource. Instead of setting a specific price, a value range is selected enabling sellers to entertain offers in a defined range.

2. Be flexible, compromise: know your basement price and don’t be offended by offers within those parameters. Consider negotiating housewares and fixtures that may appeal to prospective buyers, such as those expensive new drapes you just installed, the dining-room chandelier or that slick, washer-drier combo. Conduct a complete inventory of household features to determine what you can and can’t live without.

3. Remove the clutter from your home: This must be done regardless of time frame. Throw away anything you won’t be taking with you and pack in storage items that you won’t miss during the sale process. Consider renting a storage pod that can be picked up and eventually moved to your new home.

4. Offer incentives: One popular incentive for a fast closing is to share or pay for your buyer’s closing costs. You may also offer higher commissions for a fast sale, which may lead to even more showings.

5. Rent to buy: If there’s interest in your home but no one is willing to step up to meet your timeline, offer prospective buyers the chance to rent your property with the right to buy it in six months or a year. Both parties win, as buyers can experience the home and neighborhood firsthand while you transition with cash flow to cover expenses.
Indeed, home-selling requires time and patience yet there are several things you can do to help expedite the process, if necessary. With flexibility and creativity, you can increase your chances of a quick sale.

October 2, 2013

Real Estate: Buy or Sell First?

buy-or-sellWhen it comes to home buying, the ideal situation would be to find a new home, just as you receive an offer on your existing home. You would then be able to close concurrently and move into your new home a few days prior to closing on your previous home. This does happen more often than not, but anyone looking to buy a new home needs to consider all the possible scenarios.

Should you buy or sell first? There are many schools of thought on this subject. Ultimately, it depends on you and your situation. For instance, can you afford to pay two mortgages in the event your previous home does not sell by the time you move? Would you consider a bridge loan (a short-term, high interest loan that let you borrow against the value of your old home to covers the bills until you secure the new, larger loan)? Are you willing to move twice to find the home of your dreams if you sell first and can’t find the dream home fast enough?

This is where the advice of a real estate sales professional is invaluable. Real estate sales professionals know the current market conditions. They are trained and experienced in working with home buyers and sellers to determine an ideal time to buy and sell.

It is generally less stressful to sell your home first, because you won’t have to worry about owning two homes at one time. The market will dictate how long it will take your home to sell, as will your location and the time of year. As a rule of thumb, it is a good idea to put your home of the market as far in advance as possible when purchasing a new one. But, since interest rates are low and confidence is returning to the market, there’s a good change your home will sell faster if priced properly. (Again, your real estate professional’s advice is critically important here.) In that case, you may want to purchase a new home first.

What if your present home sells before you find a new one, putting pressure on you to find the right house for you more quickly? You may then decide to make an interim move or request to rent back your home for a specified amount of time as you continue to look for your new home. Those may be worthwhile options if you have your heart set on a specific location or type of home or if you are purchasing a home that is under construction.

If you buy a home before selling your present home, you may end up with two mortgages. Under those circumstances, you may be able to apply for a bridge loan to assist you in making two mortgage payments until you sell your first home. Your real estate sales professional can assist you in finding a lender.

So should you buy or sell first? This is a challenging question regardless of real estate cycles, yet your own circumstances and a knowledgeable real estate professional will help you make the right decision.

 

AskHomesale.com Provides tips for Homeowners, Home buyers and Home Sellers

September 27, 2013

Down Payment Tips

downpaymentMany people dream of owning a home but don’t think it’s possible because they lack the resources for a down payment and closing costs. Here are tips for securing that down payment.

1) Borrow from your retirement account: Many people have been investing in a 401(k) plan or traditional IRA for years and first-time homebuyers may borrow up to $10,000 for their down payment without incurring a penalty. For those self-employed or if your employer allows it, you also can borrow up to $50,000 from your current 401(k) and pay yourself back over five years at a low interest rate.

2) Ask family: Sure, you may be too proud to ask for money, but if relatives can help you and your family move into that dream home, isn’t it worth it? If you do get help from a family member, the lender will ask you to sign a gift-letter form, attesting to the relationship. The lender may also require your relatives to explain where they got the money and prove that they are financially able to make such a gift.

3) Look for down payment assistance grants: Down payment assistance and community redevelopment programs offer affordable housing opportunities to first-time homebuyers, low-income and moderate-income individuals and families who wish to own a home.

4) Come to a lease/purchase agreement: Homeowners who can’t sell their homes in this market may consider a lease/purchase agreement, where you rent the home you want to buy and a percentage of your rent is applied toward the down payment. If you go this route, make sure you get a contract outlining all the details so both parties are protected.

5) Add it to the wedding registry: Several mortgage companies allow those getting married to set up a down payment registry. This is a great way to celebrate the joining of two people in matrimony.

6) Cut back and save: If none of the other ways will work for you, there’s always the old fashioned “saving for a rainy day.” Try putting aside 10% of each paycheck and make your meals instead of going out for them. If you’re married, save the money you would spend on birthday, anniversary and Christmas presents and put it toward your house. You also may need to forget that vacation this year.

These sacrifices may seem significant but they will be worth it once you’re inside your own home.

DId you enjoy this article? Find more tips for home buyers at the link below.

http://askhomesale.com/category/for-buyers/

July 25, 2013

Home Ownership Matters

July 2013_Ecard

Home ownership does matter. It has a significant impact on net worth, educational achievement, civic participation, health, and overall quality of life. Plus, it helps create jobs, lots of them, right in your community. Did you know that for every two homes sold in the U.S., one job is created?

A few more perks of home ownership:

Increased Equity
As you pay down your mortgage, you own more of an increasingly valuable property. Sometimes you can borrow against this equity for home improvements or other investments.

Appreciating Investment
The real estate market does fluctuate, but over time the value of your property could appreciate.

Tax Benefits
Interest and closing costs are big expenses. However, when you file your taxes, you may be entitled to deductions based on points and interest paid during the year. This can be a very significant benefit especially in the early years of ownership when you are paying more interest.

Successful Children
Studies show that children of homeowners are more likely to graduate from high school and college, have better overall grades, and fewer behavior problems. They are likely to someday become homeowners as well.

Stronger Communities
Homeowners are more likely to maintain their homes, become involved in solving local problems, be part of community groups, are more likely to vote, and will remain in their homes 4 times longer if they own it.

Stronger Families
Homeowners are more likely to attend church, belong to parent-teacher groups, read local newspapers, and have less alcohol and substance abuse problems.

Stability, freedom, privacy
Owning a home has a significant impact on overall quality of life, including health, happiness, and security. Homeowners tend to have a greater sense of control over their lives.

July 23, 2013

Considering a Vacation Home?

vacation-homesPurchasing a vacation home can be very rewarding – both personally and financially! Many look at vacation homes for entertaining purposes, while others simply want a home-away-from-home for annual family trips, or even a home that can be passed from generation-to-generation.

Whatever your reason may be, there are several things to carefully consider before taking the plunge!

  1. Rent First – You’ve done research, perhaps even stayed in a vacation community that you are considering for your purchase. It is definitely a good idea to rent a home in the community before you buy! If you plan to visit year-round, you will want to rent in each season to get a true feel for the home and the area. A home during the summer can be very different than a home in the winter! Also consider whether there are activities close by that your family enjoys, shops for browsing, sites to see, and restaurants to visit!
  2. Consider the Rental Potential – Even if you decide not to rent the home while you own it, it is still a very good idea to consider the rental potential of the property. Homes that can be rented are more valuable. Should your personal situation change……….you will at least have the option to rent if necessary. There are also some significant tax advantages to renting your vacation home that you may want to consider.
  3. 5 Year Plan – Real estate is not a liquid investment. To get the most out of your investment, it is recommended that you keep your personal residence for at least 5 years. This should be doubled for vacation properties! Market downturns can be much harder on vacation homes than on primary residences. It is best to have a long-term horizon so you can ride out the ups and downs of the market.
  4. Location – Your best bet is to purchase a home near a major metropolitan region. More than 80% of vacation-home buyers also make their purchase within driving distance of their permanent residence. Being close allows a homeowner to use their second-home more frequently! Buying a property in an isolated, far-off area will significantly reduce your resale potential.
  5. Budget – When creating your budget, be sure to include the mortgage costs, as well as an estimate for taxes, insurance, utilities, and maintenance. You should set aside approximately 2% of the home’s value for maintenance. (Landscaping, a caretaker, repairs, painting, etc.) Be realistic! Set aside extra funds for “surprises” and don’t forget to include the cost of traveling to your vacation home!

10 Most Popular Towns in which to buy a Vacation Home (courtesy Trulia)

1. Ocean City, NJ
2. North Wildwood, NJ
3. Kissimmee, FL
4. Ocean City, MD
5. Marco Island, FL
6. Big Bear Lake, CA
7. Lake Arrowhead, CA
8. Panama City Beach, FL
9. Gatlinburg, TN
10. Cherry Grove Beach, SC

June 10, 2013

Live in Your Dream Home Forever.

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To most, the phrase dream home brings to mind a home filled with fantasy amenities, custom trims, top-of-the-line appliances, the latest in home technology, swimming pools, and much, much more.  For smart homeowners, it now means a home that you can live in forever!  A home that can accommodate you and your young family, through a hectic mid-life, and finally to coping with the physical limitations that can sometimes accompany getting older.

Universal design, sometimes called lifespan design, is a term used to describe this type of home design. This design combines the best of accessible, ergonomic, and green design.  It creates spaces that can be used by everyone and are also appealing to all.  It doesn’t stigmatize any particular group of users.  Let’s take a closer look at some of the specifics of universal design, breaking it down by rooms in your home.

Entry and General Living spaces

  • A 3’-wide gently sloping, no-step entry – allows entry for wheelchairs, strollers, walkers, etc.
  • Lever-handled Front Door – easier to grip and open
  • No changes in floor levels through main area of the home – increases safety, eliminates tripping
  • Pocket doors where possible – Provides privacy and gives sense of extra space
  • Handrails on both sides of staircases
  • Open, spacious floor plan with 5 ½’ hallways (4 ½ ft. standard)
  • Rocker panel light switches are easier to “flip”

Bedrooms / Baths

  • One bedroom and full bath located on main floor – Can serve as a study or office until later in life
  • Mirrors – placed to been seen from sitting or standing positions
  • No-slip flooring material in bathrooms
  • Curb-less shower prevents tripping and allows wheelchair access
  • Securely anchored grab bars in shower ensure safe mobility, can double as towel bars
  • Molded shower seat looks attractive, can be handy for children and seniors

Kitchen / Utility Room

  • Paddle-handle faucet – easier and more convenient to use
  • Pull-out work boards at varying heights to accommodate standing or sitting positions
  • Main floor laundry room
  • Small rolling cart for workspace and to eliminate unnecessary walking
  • D-shaped drawer pulls are easier to grasp and pull open

Mechanics

  • Keyless locks use a remote control or keypad that is user-friendly
  • Smoke detectors and carbon-monoxide alarms that provide both audible and visual signals
  • Circuit breaker panel on the main floor rather than basement or garage is easier to access
  • Universally designed appliance controls with obvious symbols and colors to help clarify written instructions
  • Switches and controls are placed at easy-to-use heights, more convenient to more people

Consider these design ideas when you are contemplating building a new home or buying your dream home, or even if you choose to remodel your current home.  A few simple design choices now can make life a lot easier later; for you, your children, aging parents, even house guests. 

May 9, 2013

Control Your Debt

control-your-debtWhen deciding if you can afford to finance a home, it is important to know how much you can afford. Lenders do not want to approve you for a loan that could potentially overload you. This is the perfect time to review your personal financial situation; comparing your monthly debt to your monthly income. You need to have the ability to cover your current bills, as well as save for the future, and pay for any unforeseen emergencies.

To determine your debt-to-income ratio, you can do a few simple calculations. Information you will need:

Monthly Income – This is any regular earned income that you can document. If you can’t document it or it doesn’t show on your tax return, then you can’t use it in your monthly income figure. There are some sources of unearned income that you can use, such as alimony or lottery pay-offs.

Something to keep in mind, gross income is what you receive before taxes are deducted and most lenders will use your gross income for their calculations. Net income is the amount after taxes, which is what you actually have the ability to spend on your expenses.

Monthly Mortgage Debt – This should include your monthly mortgage principal payment, as well as interest, insurance, and taxes. If you are unsure of what your taxes and insurance will cost, you can estimate them at approximately 15% of your mortgage payment.

Monthly Debt “load” – This includes all other monthly debt obligations like credit cards, installment loans, car loans, school loans, alimony, or child support. If it is revolving debt (such as a credit card), use the minimum monthly payment for your calculations.

(Mortgage Debt ÷ Monthly Income = ._ _ _ x 100 = _ _ %; should be less than 28%)
(Mortgage Debt + Other Monthly Debt ÷ Monthly Income = ._ _ _ x 100 = _ _ %; should be less than 36%)

Lenders may use slightly different formulas and consider other various factors when reviewing your personal financial situation. However, the general rule of thumb is that your housing expense should not exceed 28% of your gross monthly income and the combination of monthly mortgage expense and other monthly debts should not exceed 36%.

Depending on your individual situation, there may be some flexibility in these percentages. If you are able to make a larger cash down payment, the qualifying ratios will become less critical. Having a co-signer for your loan is another way to reduce the importance of the debt-to-income ratios.

Whatever financial route you choose to go, make sure it is something you will be comfortable with for many years. Don’t forget to factor in unusual expenses such as school tuition or vacation expenses; you don’t want to choose a higher loan amount simply because it is what you qualify for – You might qualify, but you could discover too late that it is more than you can realistically afford!

There are hundreds of loan programs available in today’s lending market. So take your time and shop around with the same care and consideration you use when shopping for your home!

Also check out these tips to help improve your credit score.

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