Posted by Steven Sawyer on 4/12/2020

If you believe you are coming close to the time to buy your first home, you'll want to be informed. Itís never too early to begin preparing for a home purchase. The more organized you are, and the better you have your financial situation in order the better off youíll be when it comes to the home search. Where should you start? Below, youíll find some key things that you can do to maximize your chances of finding and securing your first home.


Check Your Credit


Your credit score is one of the most critical pieces of your financial picture. A FICO score ranges from 300 to 850. The higher the number, the better off you are. When youíre getting a mortgage, you want to have good credit. If your credit score is above 740, youíll be eligible for the best interest rates. If your credit score needs help, a higher score will get you the best interest rates available. Once you get your credit score, (Itís free to get through a variety of services.) aim to improve your score. Pay your bills on time. Use less of your available credit (target to use 30 percent or less of your total available credit.) The bottom line is that a low-interest rate will save you a significant amount of money over the life of your loan. 


Refrain From Opening New Accounts


If youíre in the market to buy a home, itís probably best for you to stay away from opening new accounts. Every store has their credit card and offers deals to open an account in store. While it could save you some money on your purchase, opening new accounts has a negative impact on your credit score in the short term. A car loan, for example, will also affect your credit score because it brings your debt-to-income ratio up, which can put a damper on your chances of getting a mortgage for a low-interest rate.


Save, Save, Save


If you want to buy a home soon, youíll need to save up a significant amount of money. These savings will go towards a downpayment, closing costs, and furnishing your new place. Every chance you get, you should be putting money away. Include gifts, bonuses, and any other income thatís outside of your average take-home pay. 


Itís also a good idea to set up a second bank account dedicated to saving for the home. Set up an automatic transfer each month that will go into that account from your primary earnings. You can d this based on how your employer pays you.


Look For A Real Estate Agent


Your real estate agent will be a crucial part of your home search. They will help in everything from finding the property of your dreams to negotiating the deal to sitting by your side at closing. You should do a bit of research to help you find a real estate agent who can assist you in finding the right property for you. 


Ask family and friends for recommendations of agents. You can search for the real estate agentís name online and see what kind of reviews the agent has and contact different agents. From there. You can make a decision.          


Now, good luck with your home search! 





Categories: Buying a Home  


Posted by Steven Sawyer on 3/31/2019

Buying your first home is a big endeavor, both financially and personally. Homeownership means taking on new responsibilities and bills, but it also means true financial independence.

If youíre hoping to buy a home in the near future, you might be wondering what you should be doing now to put yourself in the best position when it comes time to buy a home. Well, youíre in luck. Todayís post is a simplified list of all of the things you can be doing today to start making your way toward your ultimate goal of homeownership.

1. Pay off small debts

The first thing youíll want to do to start saving for a down payment is to make sure youíre not pouring money down the drain to credit card companies for interest rates. If you owe small amounts of money (or less than $1,000), now is the time to aggressively pay down those debts.

The goal here is to get your credit cards to a place where you pay off your balance in full each month, avoiding interest while still earning rewards and building credit.

2. Speaking of creditÖ

One of the most important aspects of buying a home is your credit score. Take the time to learn about the 5 main things that contribute to your credit score and then work on ways to improve your score in those areas.

3. Donít open any new accounts if you can help it

Once you start getting closer to applying for a mortgage, you wonít want any new inquiries on your account that are temporarily lowering your score. If you need to open a new account to lift your score, then do so well in advance of applying for a mortgage.

4. Get serious about saving for a down payment

There are a few ways to proactively save for your down payment; none of them include setting money aside when you feel like it. Start by opening a dedicated account and direct-depositing a portion of your pay into that account each week.

If you have an emergency fund in place, you might be in a position to use a CD or certificate of deposit. These give the highest earnings from interest out of any form of savings. The catch? You canít withdraw from the account until you reach your savings goal without a penalty. If you know you wonít need to dip into these funds before theyíve matured, a CD is an excellent way to save.

5. Find out how much house you can afford

Homes are expensive. but, if itís your first home, you might need to borrow the maximum amount form the bank to find a house that youíll love. To find out what is a reasonable amount to spend on a home, youíll need to consider your monthly mortgage, bills, taxes, insurance, and any other expenses. Leave yourself room for savings, emergencies, and to live a little. You wonít be able to enjoy your home much if you have to spend your days struggling to afford it.

6. Career planning is vital

A good career is a balance between stability and upward mobility. Donít be afraid to be on the lookout for new positions with higher pay and better opportunities, even if youíre happy with your current job.

If youíve been in your position for a while, consider asking for a raise. Research salaries for other people in your position and go to your boss equipped with data to show that show you deserve a raise.





Posted by Steven Sawyer on 11/25/2018

When you decide to make an offer on a home, your mind may be flooded with dozens of questions and concerns -- several of which may involve money matters, while others are about the condition of the house.

However, if you've had the house professionally inspected and made sure your income is sufficient to absorb monthly expenses, than you've already taken steps to prevent or at least minimize future challenges.

Since buying a home is such a big investment and there are so many emotional factors that could influence your decision, it's essential to stay focused, adhere to a budget, and be aware of what you need in order to be satisfied with your purchase.

The Financial Side of Things: Even though a mortgage broker or loan officer may approve you for a large mortgage, only you can determine whether you'd be comfortable making those monthly payments. In  addition to the cost of your mortgage, property taxes, and school taxes, there are also other expenses to consider and include in the equation. If you're moving into a larger house, for example, the cost of heating and/or cooling your home may be higher than you're used to. Poorly insulated houses can also have a negative impact on home energy costs.

Another key factor to think about when you're figuring out the affordability of a potential new home is property maintenance, the cost of HVAC service, and miscellaneous expenses, such as appliance repairs, plumbing leaks, and electrical services. Some neighborhoods, residential developments, and condos also require a monthly Homeowner Association (HOA) fee, which can potentially put a burden on your cash flow situation. A good rule of thumb, of course, is to avoid spending beyond your means. While nobody would dispute the logic of that advice, it's often a lot easier said than done -- especially on an ongoing, consistent basis.

Non-Financial Priorities: The only way to know what you truly want and need in a new home is to clarify your goals, requirements, and wishes. Making lists, discussing it with your partner, and visiting lots of homes for sale will help give you the ideas, the inspiration, and helpful points of comparison you need. Online real estate listings and home improvement websites can also provide a wealth of practical ideas.

In addition to having enough bedrooms and bathrooms to meet your family's needs, it's also important to feel comfortable with the quality of the school district, the amount of noise in the neighborhood, and the traffic level on nearby streets. Proximity to recreation, shopping, and other amenities can also make the difference between your ideal home and one which doesn't quite make the grade. Privacy (or the lack, thereof) is also a major issue which can impact your satisfaction with a real estate purchase. While it's good to approach home buying with a sense of optimism, the best time to weigh all the pros and cons is before you sign the final papers at the closing table!





Posted by Steven Sawyer on 5/27/2018

If youíre buying your first home, there are plenty of things that youíll need to know. Being informed will allow you to avoid some of the most common mistakes that first-time homebuyers make. These errors and their remedies can be found below. Don't join the crowd and make an error, know before you buy. 


They Donít Have Enough Funds


Every homebuyer plans for mortgage payments. Not every buyer plans for all of the other costs that go along with buying a home. Just because you can afford mortgage payments doesn't;t necessarily mean that you can afford the house. 


Thereís so much financially that goes into owning a home. Youíll need to plan for things like home maintenance, insurance, taxes, closing costs, and more. All of this will need to be saved ahead of time in order to buy and maintain a house. Things like property tax and insurance can go up yearly, and these costs can be very unexpected. 


Not Securing A Loan


If you donít secure a loan first and find the home of your dreams, you could be in for trouble. If you havenít been pre-approved for a mortgage, finding a home and putting an offer in is a bit riskier. Many buyers donít realize that they canít qualify for the amount of loan that they think they can. Getting pre-qualified allows buyers to understand just how much house they can afford. 


Avoiding Real Estate Agents


If buyers go it alone, they are taking a risk. The seller pays the real estate agent fees in a home transaction. You really have nothing to lose getting a professional to help you. From there, your agent can recommend all sorts of professionals to assist you in your home search including lawyers, mortgage companies, home inspectors, and others. Itís essential for a smooth home transaction to work with people who are experienced and know what theyíre doing.    



Depleting Your Savings


When you buy your first home, youíre going to need a reserve of cash beyond what you have saved for a downpayment. This cash includes an emergency fund, money for repairs, furniture, new appliances, and other unexpected expenses. If you use all of your savings on a downpayment, youíll be in a dangerous financial situation. Just make sure you have saved enough extra for a rainy day fund.


Opening New Accounts


Before your loan is closed, you should be frozen- financially frozen that is! Donít open any new accounts. It can be tempting to head out and buy a new car that will look good in your new driveway or to fill your house with all sorts of brand new furniture, but you should wait. Once you get the keys to your new home, youíre in the clear to spend again and open new accounts. You donít want to overextend your budget of course. Just be sensible!      





Categories: Buying a Home  


Posted by Steven Sawyer on 6/25/2017

Buying a home is a complicated process with a lot of opportunities to make costly mistakes. Thereís no high school class to prepare you for buying a home but there probably should be. If youíre a first time homebuyer and you came across this article looking for advice, congratulations--youíre already doing the most important thing you can when making a big financial decision: the research.

In this article, weíll cover some of the most common mistakes that first time homebuyers make when entering the real estate market. Weíll break it down by the three main phases of home-buying: saving for a home, hunting for a home, and signing a mortgage.

Saving for a home

One of the first lessons that all first time homeowners quickly learn is that being able to afford your monthly mortgage payments doesnít mean you can afford a home. Many first time buyers are often coming from living situations where certain utilities are included (water, heat, electricity, etc.). Aside from those obvious expenses, there are also things like property tax and home insurance to budget for, both of which may increase. Finally, when youíre living in an apartment and your faucet breaks, you simply call the landlord. When you own a home, especially an older home, be prepared to spend on repairs and to start learning basic maintenance skills that will save you money.

The hunt for your first home

Now that youíre aware of the costs, it might be tempting to jump in and start looking at homes. Another common mistake first time homebuyers make is to waste time looking at homes before theyíve met with a real estate agent or have gotten pre-approved for a loan. Start there, then once you know the scope of your home search, youíll have a much more relaxing hunt for your new home.

Another mistake that first time homebuyers make is to underestimate the time and commitment it takes to find a home. When you work with a real estate agent, make sure you are available at all times. Keep your phone nearby, stick to your schedule for viewing homes, and keep a list of each home youíre considering. Showing initiative and dedication wonít just help you stay organized, it will also show your agent and the home seller that you are worth their time.

Mortgage mistakes

One of the most common mistakes that buyers make when it comes to their mortgage is to fail to shop around for a lender. In fact, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found that only half of all buyers considered more than one lender for their home.

Buyers, first time and repeat, often think their credit report is set in stone. What they donít realize is that the three main credit Bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) can all make mistakes on your credit. Check your detailed credit reports and fix any errors long before applying for a mortgage to increase your chances of getting a good rate.

If you avoid these common mistakes and continue to do your research along the way, you should be able to save yourself some headaches and some money in the long term.




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