5 Tips for Starting Your Home Search

Everyone wants to time their home purchase “just right.” Ideally, the picture-perfect “buyer’s market”; plenty of well-­‐priced listings, low-interest rates, and a slow-moving real estate market where the buyer has plenty of -me to decide on an offer. The reality is that the current market is a fast-paced environment where the best homes move quickly, and serious homebuyers need to be prepared to act when they find the right home.

Fortunately, starting your home search the right way is easy by following these simple tips:

  1. Find a Lender and Get Pre-­‐Approved – Know what you can afford before you start your search. By getting a pre-­‐approval letter, you demonstrate to sellers that you are serious when you write your offer, and it proves you can afford the home.
  2. Research Neighborhoods – Each community will have its own personality and advantages; before you spend time looking at homes, choose the right area for your lifestyle and family needs.
  3. Pick the Right Home Style – Learn about the various home styles available in your community. Do you want a single story? Large yard? Do you like older homes or historic-­‐ style properties?
  4. Make a List of Must-Have and Like-­‐to-­‐Have – There is a difference! Make a list and be ready to compromise when appropriate by ranking the items.
  5. Take Notes – Often, a home buyer can see 6-7 homes in a single day; take notes and, if possible, take pictures so you can remember the things you like and don’t like about the homes you see once you get home.

In a fast-paced real estate market, spending some time preparing for your home search will

help you move quickly when you find the right home for you and your family.

Buying vs. Renting? What is Better For You?

Homeownership is the American Dream, right? Owning a place to call home, paint the walls purple if you like, that’s what everyone wants. Isn’t it? The reality is there are pros and cons to buying a house. Understanding them can help you make the best decision for your goals.

Pros for Buying

There are three main reasons to buy a home.

  1. Financial Advantages – A home is an asset that should appreciate over time, providing wealth-building opportunities.
  2. Pride of Ownership – As a homeowner, you control the environment in which you live. If you want those purple walls or granite countertop, you can do it.
  3. Roots – Regardless of whether you have children, there is a natural desire to be part of a community: to have a local coffee shop, dry cleaners, etc.

Cons for Buying

As with all things, there are considerations which mean this isn’t the right time to buy a home.

  1. Increased Monthly Costs – While not always the case, in most instances, your monthly mortgage will be larger than comparable rent.
  2. Freedom – A renter can move from one city or state to another quickly, allowing you to move when you need or want to.
  3. Upkeep – You are responsible for the repairs and maintenance of the property. Unexpected problems can become quite expensive if you are unprepared.

There are some excellent reasons to buy a home; before you decide that it’s time to buy, give some thought to your lifestyle and goals if they are in line with the advantages of homeownership, then time to go house hunting.

5 Questions Sellers Have about the Market during the Coronavirus Outbreak Answered

There are so many questions and concerns amid the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak. The real estate market is especially hard hit and sellers are concerned. Real estate at its core is a people business. It relies on person-to-person interaction and the coronavirus necessarily limits this contact. As the spring selling season gets started, home sellers will have questions and it’s important to acknowledge concerns and offer practical advice and concrete information to help sellers make the best decision for themselves and their families. 

1. Should I still try and sell my home? – Of course, there are many aspects to this question. First and foremost, the health concerns of the sellers’ family have to be taken into consideration. Unless absolutely necessary, the elderly and those with underlying health issues should not allow unnecessary people into their homes; including buyers and agents.

If the household is essentially healthy and not considered high-risk, then this could be a great time to sell. Consider the advantages of lower inventory coupled with low-interest rates; as listings become rarer, the remaining inventory will get more attention which could create better offers. 

2. Is it safe to have people through my home? – This is certainly a concern, but there are practical steps you can take to ensure safer home showings. 

3. What can I do to protect my family during showings? – Protect the home, family and visitors alike by taking the following precautions.

a. Keep hand sanitizer at the front door to offer buyers and their agents when they enter the home. 

b. If there is a guest bathroom, keep disposable hand towels and soap for guests to use and make the request known to the showing agent. 

c. Offer disposable gloves for use with a receptacle for used gloves. 

d. Limit the showing days and hours so you can properly clean between showings. 

e. Have cleaning wipes handy. Request agents to wipe surfaces, door handles, and banisters which are touched during the showing. 

f. Ask your agent to offer virtual showings or host virtual open houses 

4. What happens if my buyer loses their job? – Most real estate contracts include a contingency for the buyer loan approval and funding. Now more than ever, it’s critical to keep that contingency in place. In the unfortunate event the buyer loses their job or can no longer qualify for the loan during the contingency deadline, the parties cancel typically cancel the contract. 

5. Will I get a higher price if I wait to list my home? – The truth is no one knows. We don’t know how long or short the crisis will be and we don’t know how the financial market will weather the outbreak. While this is a question the seller will ultimately need to decide, the old adage about a “bird in the hand” is important to remember. 

This selling season has proven to have unique circumstances – please contact your real estate agent to learn more about the current outlook and opportunities in your local market. 

What Type of Mortgage is Right for Me?

When our parents were buying their first home, there was one way to finance the purchase. You would walk down to the corner bank and asked for a 30 year mortgage. Today the average home owner moves every 5-7 years. Depending on your needs there are a number of mortgage options you might consider, each with its own advantages and disadvantages, spending some time to understand the options is the best way to choose the right loan for your needs. 

While loan programs and terms vary, the most common are: 

Conventional – A conventional loan is normally still designed to be paid off in 30 years with equal monthly payments during the term of the loan. There are currently conventional loans that require as little as 5% down, although 20-25% is still commonplace. 

FHA – An FHA loan is guaranteed by the Federal Housing Administration and is attractive for a number of reasons, especially for the first time home buyer. The down payment can be as little as 3.5% and that can be a gift. 

VA – VA (Veteran Affairs) is a loan program offered for Veterans and their spouses. While the terms can vary from 0-5% down payment, this loan may allow the borrower to finance as much as 100% of the home’s value in the loan. 

Your lender will also have more specialized options for you, such as adjustable rate loans and 10 or 15 year loans. They can also explain the additional costs that could be associated with each type of loan program. 

Part of purchasing a home is to find the right financing. Your lender will talk you through your options. If you have not already spoken to a lender, or if you need a referral, your real estate agent is a great resource for you. 

How Do You Know If You Can Afford To Buy a House?

Do you feel that you’re ready to buy your first home? Tired of paying your landlord’s mortgage? Do you want to put down roots and start building equity for yourself? There are many reasons why people decide it could be time to buy a home. The costs associated with buying and owning a home can feel overwhelming but fortunately there are simple steps you can take to see if you can afford to buy a home. 

Talk With a Lender 

The best step you can take to start your home buying planning is to find a good lender and meet to talk about your financial situation. Your lender will look at your income, savings and credit and then talk about your needs. They will help you explore the loan options available to you and the down payment, saving reserves and closing costs requirements. 

Can You Afford the Mortgage? 

Typically rent payments are less than a mortgage payment; this can feel unsettling until you understand the qualifying formula. Because mortgage interest is deductible (speak with your tax professional for exact details), most lenders look for the buyers to spend approximately 30% of their GROSS income on the loan payment and no more than 36% on all other debt. 

Ex. If your monthly gross income is $5000/month, you can spend $1500/month on your mortgage payment. 

If you think you’re ready to buy a home, find a good lender and start talking about your unique situation. Learn the costs and benefits to help you determine if you can afford to buy a new home.