Amy Uliss' Blog
Being in the market for a new home can be both an exciting experience and a scary one! It not only represents a huge financial commitment, but it also forces you to step out of your "comfort zone."
That's especially true if you're a first-time home buyer. When you make the switch from being a renter to a home owner, you no longer have the "luxury" of depending on your landlord for repairs, yard maintenance, or help with plumbing emergencies. Now, when the AC quits or the furnace conks out, the responsibility (and cost) of getting it fixed rests squarely on your shoulders!
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to minimize the possibility of incurring major expenses during the first couple years of owning a home. While there are (usually) no guarantees that household mechanical systems won't fail or that other crises won't befall you as a new homeowner, there are choices you can make that will reduce the chances of being saddled with unexpected expenses.
Buying a home with a newer roof, energy-efficient appliances, updated HVAC system, and a dry basement are four ways you can sidestep many predictable problems down the road. Wear and tear will eventually take its toll on everything from hot water heaters to microwave ovens, but if you can postpone having to replace appliances, roofs, and climate-control systems for several years or more, it will be a lot easier on you and your budget!
So all things being equal, home ownership will be more pleasurable and affordable if you choose a home with recent upgrades, replacements, and improvements -- preferably, those done within the past five or ten years. Besides comparing the maintenance history of houses you're considering, there's also the essential step of hiring an experienced structural inspector. When you've narrowed down your house-buying possibilities to one preferred home, a property inspector can help you identify "red flags" and potential problems before you close on that house.
As your real estate agent will probably tell you, if any major problems are identified in the home inspection process, you may be in a position to renegotiate the agreement or withdraw your offer, entirely. Since legalities are often complex and every real estate transaction is different, however, it's always essential to consult with an experienced real estate attorney whenever questions, problems, or complications arise in a real estate purchase or sale.
While it's a good idea to "expect the unexpected" when purchasing and moving into a new home, it pays to work with a team of trusted advisors. Working with a seasoned real estate agent, a knowledgeable real estate attorney, and a reputable property inspector will help make sure that your experience is both satisfying and relatively problem free! Knowing what you want and being adamant about what matters most to you should also serve you well in the house buying process.
If you’re ready to buy a home, you probably have done a lot of research. One thing is sure: You know you need to get pre-approved for a mortgage. It’s perhaps the most critical step in the process of buying a home for a variety of reasons. There’s down payments and debt-to-income ratios, and other financial issues to worry about. You need to know what type of mortgage you should get. To help you understand what kind of mortgage you need, you should get pre-approved.
Understand The Pre-Approval Process
There are many misconceptions about pre-approvals. First, buyers need to understand that there is a difference between a pre-qualification and a pre-approval. A pre-qualification merely scrapes the surface of your financial state, while a pre-approval goes through everything a mortgage company will need to grant you a loan. You may be pre-qualified for a much higher amount than you can actually afford, for example.
A pre-approval is a lender’s written commitment to a borrower. The approval states that the lender is willing to lend a certain amount of money for a home. The lender obtains the following from the buyer:
- Employment history
- Credit report
- Tax returns
- Bank statements
The time and effort that it takes to get a pre-approval is worth it because everything will be ready for the lender to grant the mortgage once an offer is made on a home. It also gives the buyer an upper hand in finding the home of their dreams. Many sellers require a pre-approval with an offer.
When To Get A Pre Approval
As soon as you know you’re serious about buying a home and are ready to start the house hunt, you should get pre-approved. Pre-approvals do expire after a certain amount of time, but lenders can renew them with proper notice.
The Importance Of The Pre-Approval
Many buyers feel that they can skip the pre-approval process altogether. It has many benefits. Besides giving you a better look at your finances and how much house you can afford, pre-approvals can:
- Give you the insight to correct your credit score and help you correct credit problems
- Help to avoid disappointment when you find a home you love
- Allow first-time buyers to see all of the costs involved in buying a home
A pre-approval is a handy thing to have, and it’s not just because the experts say it’s essential. Getting pre-approved for a mortgage can help you to be more on top of your finances going into one of the most significant purchases you'll ever make in your life.
If you're looking to buy a new home, there's no reason you should be limited by your geographic area. In today's digital world, buying a home in another city, another state or even in another country has never been easier or more convenient. Additionally, when you buy a home remotely, you're not limited by property values in your own area. This may be especially beneficial to home buyers who currently live in high-value areas but who are looking to downsize or to lower their monthly mortgage payments.
By conducting your home search remotely, you can find the most house for the lowest price, regardless of where it's located. We've compiled the top three reasons why you might want to consider conducting your next home search from the comfort of your easy chair.
Moving Closer to Family
Getting out and on your own may have been a dream right out of college, but once you begin having children of your own, and work responsibilities begin piling up, having family living just down the street can be a lifesaver. Moving closer to family may also be more convenient for home buyers whose parents are aging and increasingly in need of help. By conducting your home search remotely, you can view all available homes near loved ones without ever leaving your house.
Relocating for Your Career
You've worked hard for your career, and the most irresistible promotions often involve relocation. When the time comes, you won't have to trust the company to find you suitable accommodations. With a remote home search and the help of a local real estate agent, you can easily find the home of your dreams regardless of where work sends you.
Purchasing an Investment Property
Flipping houses requires know-how, experience, and a large serving of luck. And when you find that perfect property that's selling for peanuts, timeliness matters. When it's not possible to fly out and look at a prospective income property, buying remotely is the only other option. Better still, it gets your foot in the door fast -- maybe even before local investors have time to make an offer.
If you've been thinking of moving out of state, across town, or to the other side of the world, consider doing a remote home search to see what pops up. You'll be surprised at how easy it is to work with an experienced real estate agent over the phone or through email. You may find that housing values in your target area are much more affordable than they are where you're currently living, and that's a win-win for everyone involved, regardless of why you've decided to buy.
When you’re buying a home, it’s important to offer a good price to be able to land the property of your dreams. You also don’t want to overpay for the house you’re buying. If you want to know for sure that you’re paying a good price for a home, you’re going to need to do some price comparisons. Take a look at recently sold homes in your neighborhood of choice and see what the going rate is. If all of the homes are similar in the area, it will be easy to find out how much the home you’re buying is worth. There are a few ways that you can do comparisons to make it easier for you to determine the right price for the home you want to buy.
Take A Look At The Neighborhood
There are certain features that attract nearly everyone to certain neighborhoods. From the safety and friendliness of an area to the schools that are nearby, to the stores, and public transportation access, people are attracted to what makes their lives easier and more enjoyable. The bottom line is the more desirable the neighborhood, the higher the price of the homes in it.
Check Out Public Records
With the Internet, it’s pretty easy to access public records these days. You can take a look at what properties have been bought and sold for in recent times int the area of the homes that you’re looking at. You can even take a peek at some historic information to help you see if the area is up-and-coming.
Is The Neighborhood Going To Become Trendy?
Sometimes, you can find a great property for less in a neighborhood that hasn’t quite reached it’s full potential yet. If there’s a slot of new construction going on, that’s a good sign that the neighborhood is moving on up! Especially attractive features in a neighborhood are new schools, new shopping centers, or new parks.
There Is A Tipping Point To Growth
If it seems that a neighborhood is growing a bit too much, it may actually decrease the value of your home. Huge commercial developments can actually be detrimental to the value of a property. Where there’s a lot of people, there’s also a lot of noise and traffic. That’s usually not a desirable factor in a neighborhood.
Meet In The Middle
When you’re looking at the price of properties, the best bet is to meet somewhere in the middle for what is reasonable. While you don’t want to buy the highest priced home in the neighborhood, you probably don’t want to lowest price for that neighborhood either. Working with a more average number is a good option because your home helps any home lower priced than yours, while any higher priced homes help to increase the value of your home. It’s a win-win situation when you choose a property based on price and keep this strategy in mind.
Your thirties are a time of many important financial decisions. Many people are starting families, buying homes, and getting settled into their careers by the time they turn thirty. The following ten years are often marked by salary increases, moving into larger homes, and saving for retirement.
It’s vital to have a solid grasp on personal finance in your thirties, as it is in many ways the foundation of your finances for the decades to come. So, in this article we’re going to give you some advice on buying a home and managing your money in your thirties.
Straighten out your credit
If your twenties were a volatile time of incurring debts from student loans, car loans, and other expenses, then it’s paramount to get your credit in order in your early thirties. Having a high credit score can secure you lower interest rates on a home loan or let you refinance your loans at lower rates.
Start by making sure your bills are on auto-pay, and be sure to settle any older debts from your younger years. You can also use a credit card for recurring expenses, such as gas to get to work or groceries, and then pay them off in full each month. This way, you’ll build credit and avoid accruing interest at the same time.
Reevaluate your lifestyle and long term goals
A lot can change from the time you turn 25 to the time you turn 35. Your goals might shift from finding a home near the ocean to finding a home near a good school district for your children. You might also have the shocking realization that your children will be heading to college sooner than it might seem, and that you’re still working on paying off your own student debt.
Consider things like the size house you’ll need for your family, where you want to live and whether that involves being close to aging parents, and reallocating money depending on your retirement goals.
Rethink your insurance coverage
Gone are the days when all you needed was a car insurance policy to get by. As you age and your responsibilities grow, you’ll need to think about the future for you and your family. That may include a more comprehensive health insurance plan for your family, a life insurance policy for yourself, or increased covered for home and auto insurance.
Automate the headaches away
With all of these growing responsibilities, it can be easy to get frustrated with the time you’re losing to keeping your finance in order. Fortunately, there are many tools at your disposal in the internet age that will make all of those responsibilities an afterthought.
First, get a budget planning app, like Mint or You Need a Budget (YNAB). Next, set up your bills to auto-pay if you haven’t yet. Then, put reminders in your phone to periodically check your credit score and reassess whether you need to pay for certain monthly services (do you still watch Hulu?). Finally, if you haven’t yet, make sure you have your paychecks direct deposited into the accounts you’d like them to enter so you don’t have to worry about them.