Amy Uliss' Blog
Buying a home, especially for the first time, might feel a little scary—notably if you've learned the home you’re considering for purchase is a zombie property. Even a pro at buying property may flinch when they initially hear this term.
No worries, a zombie property is not as frightening as it sounds. It’s a common term used in the housing industry, originating back to the 2007-08 housing crisis when tens of thousands of these homes were left behind because their owners couldn’t afford to make their mortgage payments.
What is a Zombie Property?
A zombie property creeps up when no one retains accountability for it. It usually occurs when homeowners leave their homes after receiving a foreclosure notice and incorrectly believe they must immediately vacate the property. They often don't realize there is an entire foreclosure process, one that doesn’t happen overnight. In most instances, they believe the lender that sent the notice will take over responsibility for the property, so they move out. In some cases, they do know they can stay but choose not to delay the inevitable and cut loose in search of greener pastures.
Meanwhile, the lender, for whatever reason, doesn’t complete the foreclosure process they initiated and the property stands abandoned. Since the homeowner has already walked away not realizing they still technically own the property, and the lender also doesn’t assume ownership, no one takes responsibility for the home. It essentially sits in a state of limbo—hence it being referred to as a “zombie.” Its ownership is not quite alive (abandoned), but not yet dead (foreclosed upon) either.
Pros of Purchasing a Zombie Property
The primary benefit of purchasing a zombie property is the price. Most of these properties are typically sold below market value, sometimes at rock bottom prices. Because some of them are eyesores, or have the potential to become attractive to squatters, municipalities and towns are eager to get these homes rehabbed and inhabited. This means buyers who are handy with repairs or who have the investment money available to fix up and flip the home for a profit can make out handsomely with this type of sale.
Cons of Purchasing a Zombie Property
While the financial benefits associated with zombie homes are lucrative, there are some potential pitfalls to be careful of when considering a purchase. In most instances, the original owner still retains the title to the home, so this legal detail will need to be addressed. Buyers also have to consider these homes may have deterioration, unsafe conditions or be unsanitary. This is especially a concern for properties that have been abandoned for a long period of time. Additionally, it takes more effort to navigate a zombie property purchase than a traditional foreclosure since no one is actively involved with the property.
Many potential buyers intentionally or inadvertently overlook zombie properties, but if you’re in the market, it’s not an option you should automatically discount. Don't let the zombie moniker fool you. If you perform your due diligence and find ways to mitigate any drawbacks, you could potentially land yourself a great home, rental investment, or profitable house-flip.
While buying a home is an exciting time, many buyers actually regret their home purchase. One of the biggest regrets that people have is the size of the house they purchased. People either pick a home that’s too large or too small. It may be hard to imagine that you can make a mistake on the size of the home that your purchase. You go into the home buying process knowing how many bedrooms you need and what type of home you might like. Once you begin living in the house, you could find a different story. You may not have enough space for all of your family’s belongings. On the flip side, you could find the amount of space in your home as overwhelming.
Buying a home isn’t like buying most other things. You can’t easily return it, and there’s quite a bit of an upfront investment that must be made in order to make the purchase. It’s not simple to make a change if you buy the wrong house. The wrong purchase could set you back in making a move for years to come.
The best thing to do when shopping for a home is not only to see the home in its current state but what type of potential the house has. Can you add on to the home? Would you be able to make use of all the space the home has? Is there enough storage in the house? Are there ways to quickly add storage? These are a lot of things to consider when shopping for a home but they’re all important questions. Once you move into the home, other than doing a complete overhaul, you may be out of options to improve it without looking for these areas. Of course, the ideal situation is to find a home that already has everything you’re looking for in it.
Don’t Buy Until You’re Ready
Another mistake that people make is they try to go from renting to owning before they’re ready. Living in an apartment or rental allows for a bunch of advantages that owning a home may not afford you. Owning a home takes commitment, and some people just aren’t ready. Just because it’s widely known knowledge that buying a home is a smart financial decision, doesn’t mean it’s always the best decision for you. You may not be able to afford a house that’s the right size for your family. You may not even know what the right size home will be for you. When these questions remain, you could end up buying a property that’s the wrong size. Don’t worry if you need to take a few more years to save up for a house. On the contrary, don’t worry if you don’t think buying a home is the right decision for you at all.
We all know that buying a home is a significant decision that comes with a great deal of financial planning and preparation. However, few of us are taught the ins and outs of actually obtaining a mortgage to make your dream of homeownership come true.
Mortgages are a complicated business that is always changing, both with fluctuations in market rates and with policy decisions.
But, if you’re hoping to buy a home in the near future, it’s important to understand all of your options when it comes to mortgages.
In today’s post, we’re going to address the 20% down payment myth, where that number comes from, and what your options are when it comes to applying for a mortgage.
Where does the 20% down payment number come from?
For most people, 20% of a house is a serious amount of money that would take years to save up. If you’re a first-time homebuyer and don’t have any equity to use from selling another house, 20% may seem like an impossible amount to save within the time you want to buy a home. Fortunately, there are several ways to buy a home without having 20% in cash saved up.
But first, let’s understand where that number comes from.
Most mortgage lenders will want to ensure that lending to you is a safe investment of their money. They want to know that they’ll earn back what they’re spending. To do this, they use several methods.
First, they’ll check your credit history to see how often you pay your bills in time. Then, they’ll want proof if your income and financial stability. Finally, they’ll ask for either a down payment or a guarantee that you will pay them back. Here’s where that 20% comes in.
If you don’t have 20% of the mortgage amount saved for a down payment, you will typically have to pay something called private mortgage insurance. This is an extra monthly fee, on top of your mortgage payments with interest, that you pay to ensure the lender that they’re seeing a return on their investment.
Most homeowners put much less than 20% down
If you’re feeling bad about the amount of money you have saved for a down payment, don’t be! In fact, most first-time homebuyers put, on average, just 6% down on their first home.
Since first-time homeowners don’t have the benefit of equity they’ve accumulated by making payments on their previous mortgage, they often have to come up with down payments out of pocket.
Other options besides a 20% down payment
There are several ways to secure a mortgage without putting 20% down on the home. First, check to see if you are eligible for any loans that are guaranteed by the government. These can come from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), or the USDA single-family home program.
The third option is to take on private mortgage insurance until you’ve paid 20% of your mortgage payment.
Private mortgage insurance can be paid to an insurance company or to the federal government in the case of FHA loans, you can put down as low as 3.5%.
Between these three options, you should be able to find a mortgage that you can afford and one that will give you the best possible financial stability in the long-term.
Buying a home is an extensive process that comes with a bit of a learning curve. For first time buyers, this process involves making mistakes and learning from them.
While we can never be 100% sure of our home buying decisions, there is a way to increase your chances of making the best choices when it comes to buying and maintaining your first home.
In today’s post, we’re going to do just that. We’ll take a look at some of the biggest things that homeowners wish they knew before buying their first house.
1. Forgetting to research the neighborhood
It’s easy to become so enamored with your dream home that you barely look beyond its fence. However, the neighborhood your home is in can have a huge effect on your daily life. Having local parks, safe sidewalks to walk on, and road infrastructure that doesn’t drive you crazy on your daily commute are all important aspects of choosing the right home.
2. Getting pressured into making a decision
Many times, a seller will want to portray their home as being highly sought after to encourage higher and more frequent offers. Similarly, you may find that your own family has time constraints and want to make a quick decision to buy a home.
It’s when we’re under pressure that we can make choices that we aren’t happy with in the long run. So, in these situations, make sure you don’t make any snap judgments on a home. If it seems like you’re being pressured into making a decision without enough time to consider all of the possibilities, there’s a good chance you should pass on this opportunity.
3. Forgetting that you might someday have to sell this home
Sometimes homes can be difficult to sell due to things like their location and surroundings. For instance, a home that is remote or one that is located in low-scoring school districts may not matter to you if you don’t plan on having children. But, they likely will be important to a lot of your potential buyers when it comes time to sell the home.
This lesson also holds true for what you do with your home once you buy it. Making renovations or design choices that won’t appeal to the average buyer can make your home more difficult to sell and harder to get top dollar for.
4. Didn’t consider all financing options
There are several steps and several options when it comes to financing a home. Not only are the several mortgage lenders to choose from, but there are also many different types of loans available.
While there may not be one “right” decision when it comes to financing your home, it’s a good idea to do your homework and browse carefully all of the lenders and mortgage types.
Consider ways to increase your credit score or save for a higher down payment before buying if possible, so that you can secure the lowest interest rate possible.
The homebuying journey may require many weeks or months to complete. As you approach the finish line of this journey, there are lots of things you can do to ensure a seamless conclusion.
Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you quickly finalize a home purchase.
1. Conduct a Home Inspection
A home inspection generally is performed after a seller approves your offer to purchase his or her residence. At this time, a home inspector will walk through a house and identify any underlying problems. Next, a home inspector will provide you with a report that details his or her findings.
For homebuyers, it is important to review a home inspection report closely. If a home inspector identifies major problems with a residence, you may want to modify your initial offer to purchase or rescind your homebuying proposal.
You also should attend a home inspection. Although you are not required to attend an inspection, doing so may enable you to gain insights into a home that are not included in a house inspector's report. Then, you can use all of the insights at your disposal to determine whether to proceed with a home purchase.
2. Maintain Flexibility
You may want to close on a home by a specific date, yet the homebuying process offers no guarantees. Delays may happen without notice, and you need to be able to adjust your homebuying timeline accordingly. As such, you should maintain flexibility as you try to finalize your transaction.
Remember, both you and a home seller share a common goal – to complete a property transaction as quickly as possible. If you maintain open lines of communication with a seller, you can reduce the risk of miscommunications that otherwise could slow down the homebuying journey.
3. Collaborate with a Real Estate Agent
Navigating the homebuying journey is rarely simple, particularly for individuals who want to acquire a terrific house at a budget-friendly price. Thankfully, you can collaborate with a real estate agent to achieve the best-possible results throughout the homebuying cycle.
A real estate agent will learn about you and your homebuying goals and do everything possible to make your homeownership dream come true. He or she is happy to provide recommendations and suggestions as you conduct a home search. And when you find your dream residence, a real estate agent can help you put together a competitive offer to purchase it.
Of course, a real estate agent provides comprehensive assistance during the final stages of the homebuying journey as well. Reaching a home closing date may seem impossible at times, but a real estate agent helps take the guesswork out of finalizing a house purchase. Therefore, he or she will go above and beyond the call of duty to ensure you can reach your home closing date without delay.
Simplify the process of buying a house – use the aforementioned tips, and you can minimize the risk of encountering homebuying hurdles and streamline the homebuying journey.