Ready to Buy Your First Home? Don't Forget to Check Your Credit Score – Here's WhyWhether you’re just out of college, recently married or simply haven’t jumped into the market yet, buying your first home is an exciting prospect. It can also be an expensive one, which is why most people will take out a mortgage to help finance the cost.

If you are planning on engaging with a mortgage lender, you’ll need to have your finances in order. In today’s post, we’ll share a few key reasons why you’ll want to check your credit score well in advance of buying your first home.

Your Credit Score Is A Signal For Lenders

As you know, mortgage lenders have a responsibility to lend to those individuals and families who are at a low risk of default. So when a mortgage lender starts to dig into your financial background, they are looking at your credit history and credit score to help them assess that risk.

Note that having a low score doesn’t necessarily mean you have bad credit. If you’re still in your 20s and have only had a credit card, your score might be low even though you are fully capable of managing a mortgage.

Your Score Impacts Your Mortgage Interest Rate

As mentioned above, your credit score helps to signify your risk. If your credit score is in a lower range, perhaps a 640 or 660, you’re presenting a greater risk than someone with a score of 760 or 800. Because of this, the interest rate that you pay on your mortgage will in part be determined by your credit score. Those individuals who present a higher risk pay a higher rate to compensate. And vice versa, if your credit is spotless you can expect to pay a lower interest rate.

You’ll Need Time To Challenge Any Issues

Finally, you’ll need to give yourself some lead time to challenge any irregularities with your credit report. The credit reporting agencies aren’t perfect and they do make mistakes. There may be some old, retired credit card or other debt sitting on your report which is holding the score down. Even worse, there may be some incorrect delinquency or other error which ends up as a big red flag for potential mortgage lenders.

As you can see, it’s worth spending the time to check your credit score. You get to check it for free once per year, so take advantage of the opportunity. And when you’re ready to discuss buying your first home, contact your trusted mortgage professional. We’ll share how to navigate the credit score and mortgage process so you can land the home of your dreams.

The Top Tips For Finding The Right HomeIf you are in the process of looking for a new home, you have probably realized that there are lots of options available. It can be very difficult to decide which home is right for you, but there are several important tips you should keep in mind. They include:

1. Make A List Of Your Wants And Needs

First, make a list of what you need to have and what you want to have. It is very difficult to find the perfect home, but if you have a list that allows you to prioritize what is most important, the process will get easier.

2. Consider Home Improvements

Next, take a look at some of the most important home improvements that homeowners have done. Think about what matters to your lifestyle. Then, look for those home improvements during your housing search.

3. Check Out The Neighbors

Pay close attention to the neighbors. You will have to live next door to them, so you want to get along with them. Do you want neighbors who keep themselves? Or, do you want neighbors who are outgoing?

4. Consider The Kids

Do you see a lot of kids playing in the street? If you have children, you might want to make it easier for them to make friends. Having other kids in the neighborhood is important.

5. Think About The Commute

What is your drive to work like in the morning? How much traffic are you willing to deal with? Pay attention to how much time you will have to spend in the car.

6. Consider The Schools

What is the school system like? Even if you don’t have kids, a quality school system can make a significant difference in the value of your home.

7. Look At The Crime Numbers

How much crime is in the area? Much of this information is public, so take a look at the municipal police department website to see what the prime numbers are like.

8. Consider Your Future

What is your future going to be like? Do you think the home will still be right for you in a few years? Try to find a home that you will stay in for a while.

9. Look At The Days On Market

Are there a lot of homes in the area selling quickly? If the homes sell fast, it is a sign of a desirable neighborhood.

10. Don’t Forget The Amenities

What are some of the changes taking place in the local community? Are there new shops and restaurants opening up? If so, you have probably found the right home. 

 

Expecting Children: How to Quickly Move into a Larger Home Before a Baby ArrivesStarter homes are incredibly popular for young couples who plan to have a family in the future but don’t need a large place yet.

Life moves pretty fast sometimes and many couples find themselves expecting children before they have begun to look for the next home. This shouldn’t be a problem, as moving into a larger home before the baby arrives can be a lot easier than it appears.

Always Move Before The Baby Is Born

There is a choice when upgrading a home for children: moving beforehand and settling down in advance of having kids or waiting until after having the child and dealing with a move later on.

It may be tempting to wait until the stress of a pregnancy is over to move into a larger home. After all, selling and buying houses can be a tiring process for anybody, let alone expectant parents. Just remember, no matter how difficult or stressful the move is it will be one hundred times worse after having kids.

Work With A Professional To Help Coordinate The Move

There is nothing wrong with rushing through a purchase or the sale of a home, as long as everything is done correctly. A situation like this is never the right time to assume control and responsibility for every aspect of the move.

A real estate professional, once told of the situation, will know exactly how to handle everything. From preparing a current home for sale to finding a larger house in the right price range, a professional will have experience in coordinating the process.

Prepare For The Move In Stages

The best way to go about facilitating a quick move is to go in steps. Everything in the house that is not necessary to the staging should be boxed up and moved into temporary storage before the home is shown.

This is beneficial because it removes all clutter from the house and helps to make a quick sale and also allows for many personal items to be moved into the new house without having to wait for the current home’s sale to close. Instead of one gigantic move, the process can be broken down into several smaller moves to relieve some stress.

When there is a deadline on a move, you can increase your chances of selling your current home and buying a new one by using the services of a real estate professional. When things are done fast they need to be done right and a professional with experience can facilitate the entire process while making sure nothing slips through the cracks.

The Best Ways To Get To Know Your NeighborsIf you recently moved into a new neighborhood, you might be looking for a way to meet your neighbors. Ideally, you will become friends with your neighbors. They can take care of your pets when you are out of town and water your plants when you are gone. On the other hand, how can you meet your neighbors without the process being awkward? There are a few great ways to do so.

Spend Time Outside

If you want to get to know your neighbors, the best way to do so is to spend time outside. Work on your lawn. Water your plans. Walk the dog. The more time you spend outside, the greater your chances of running into your neighbors. This will make it easier for you to get to know them.

Go To Some Neighborhood Events

Next, you should go to a few neighborhood events if you want to meet your neighbors. There are a lot of communities that have pool parties, barbecues, and events for children. If you go to some of these events, you will have a great chance of meeting the people who live around you, and you can make some new friends.

Ask The Neighbors For Advice

Finally, you should ask the neighbors for advice. If you don’t know when you need to put the garbage cans out, you can ask your neighbors. If you are wondering how often the recycling comes, talk to the neighbors! If you don’t know what to do with old electronics you need to throw out, the neighbors can probably help you. It can take a lot of adjusting if you move into a new area, and your neighbors can help you make the process easier. Then, you can invite them over for a beer or a party to show your gratitude.

Get To Know Your New Neighbors

It can be a bit awkward if you move into a new neighborhood. Your neighbors might appear to know each other already, but how can you get to know them as well? If you follow these tips, you can get to know them quickly, make some new friends in your neighborhood, and have someone to lean on if there is an emergency at your house.

3 Key Reasons Why Buying Your First Home Is Like Planning a WeddingYou may not see the connection right away, but buying a home and planning a wedding are two experiences that require certain skills and challenge you in similar ways. Check out the three key similarities below!

1. Budget

Whether you’re buying your first home or planning a wedding, you are likely facing one of the biggest financial obligations of your life. That’s why, in both cases, it is essential that you pick a realistic budget and stay within it.

Sounds simple, but in either case it can be difficult! Unexpected obstacles may force you to spend more than you planned, or you may find yourself wanting to overspend as you find things that would be “just perfect” additions even though they don’t fit your budget. These temptations can be expected, but it’s important to remember the big picture. When it comes to your budget, pick it and stick it.

2. Details

When it comes to a home purchase or a wedding, there are countless details to consider. It’s not a simple, pre-packaged purchase, there will always be big decisions that you have to make and if you overlook something you may regret it later on.

Some decisions that you face will be similar in both experiences: Does the location work for you? Does it work for your friends and family? What is the parking situation? Is it appropriate for the climate? Will you be satisfied with your decision in the long-term?

Other details will be more unique to the situation: Do you need a cocktail hour? Do you need a walk-in closet? What style of photography would you like? Is there too much traffic noise?

Either way you’ll have lots to think about, and you’ll become acutely aware of ‘the little things.’

3. You’ve Got Style

Both your wedding and your home say something about you, they’re a reflection of your personal style. When being presented with so many choices that are particularly catered towards your personal taste, you’ll learn what you like and what you don’t. However, you’ll also learn what it is that you absolutely need, and what you’re willing to budge on.

Whether you’re choosing a wedding dress that is both gorgeous and functional for your ceremony or deciding whether or not you need an extra bedroom in your home, you’ll learn what it is that you’d want in a perfect world, and what is absolutely necessary for your current situation.

3 Closing Costs That Most Buyers Forget to Factor in and What You Can Expect to PayIf you’re in the process of buying a home, you probably have your deposit and monthly mortgage charges in a spreadsheet, along with a chart of your other expenses and your monthly income. But when it comes to buying a home, there are lots of different costs that will come into play – and it’s easy to forget something. When you’re preparing to close on your new home, make sure you consider these three closing costs that most buyers forget.

Home Inspection Fees: A Small Charge For Peace Of Mind

Most home purchase agreements are contingent upon a successful home inspection – and if you’re planning to buy a home, you should definitely have it inspected before you buy it. However, home inspectors don’t work for free, and you’ll have to pay a home inspector for a thorough evaluation of the premises.

Home inspection fees depend on the kind of property you’re buying, and can vary depending on your location. For a condo unit, you will typically only need to pay about $250, but a single-family home might cost up to $500. Luxury properties are often more expensive, sometimes even running as high as $1,500.

Private Mortgage Insurance: Obligatory With Small Down Payments

If you’re only planning to make the minimum down payment on your home, you’ll need to buy mortgage insurance. Mortgage insurance protects the lender in the event that you default on your loan. This is an added cost that your lender pays, and in general, almost every lender will pass the cost on to you.

You can pay for your mortgage insurance in one large payment, or you can add it to your monthly mortgage payments. Note that if your down payment is less than 20% of the purchase price, you’re legally required to buy mortgage insurance.

Lender Fees: Additional Fees to Process Your Mortgage

One category of closing costs that buyers often forget is lender fees. Lender fees are fees that your mortgage lender will charge for processing the transaction of the loan. These can include appraisal fees, credit report fees, processing and application fees, and administration fees for underwriting.

These fees can range depending on the lender, but in many cases they exceed $3,000. You’ll want to budget about $3,500 to $5,000 to be safe.

Buying a house is a major undertaking, and there are lots of ways that the process could go awry. But a good mortgage professional can help you navigate the process and get the home and the mortgage you’ve always wanted without any issues. Contact your trusted mortgage expert to learn more.

3 Reasons Why Your Closing Costs Will Vary Depending on the Type of Home You BuySavvy home buyers who are preparing to make a real estate purchase should do their research and understand that they need to save money for not only the down payment, but the closing costs as well. The closing costs can account for as much as three to five percent of the sales price in some cases, so this can be a rather sizable amount of money. Some home buyers however, may not realize that the amount of closing costs can vary considerably based on the home that is purchased. With a closer look at why this is, home buyers can make a more educated decision when selecting a home to purchase.

Prepaid Taxes And Insurance

One of the most significant closing costs relates to prepaid taxes and insurance, and both of these expenses are directly tied to the location and value of the property. Consider that the property tax rate can vary based on the city, county, and state. Real estate insurance can also vary based on the type of construction of the home, if the home is located in a flood plain, and other factors. These are only a few examples of how the location and property type can impact these fees, and home buyers should consider the costs assoicated with the tax rates and insurance when selecting a property to purchase.

Third Party Reports

There are several third party reports that are commonly paid for at closing, and these include an appraisal, a survey, a pest inspection and a property inspection. The third party reports may vary in cost based on the size of the home, the amount of land that is being purchased, and even the condition of the property. Those who want to keep their closing costs lower may consider learning more about how these fees are calculated up-front before finalizing their plans to buy a specific home.

Title Insurance Fees

Title insurance fees are another typically sizable expense for home buyers, and this insurance offers protection to the lender if the title is not clean. Title insurance can increase based on the size of the property as well as different factors that are revealed with a title search. This information can be difficult to learn with an initial home search, but home buyers should be aware that title defects can increase closing costs.

The location, size, age and construction of a property all impact the closing costs. Those who are shopping for real estate may be inclined to make a decision that keeps closing costs down, and they can reach out to their knowledgeable mortgage professional for more assistance with their particular situation.

Evaluating Neighborhoods: 4 Things to Consider Before Purchasing a HomeFrom finding the right agent to discovering the home you can truly feel comfortable in, there are a variety of things involved in the home buying process. However, it’s important not to get caught up in the home and ignore altogether the community you’ll be living in. If you’re planning a move to a new neighborhood, here are some things you should look into before putting in an offer.

Local Amenities

A peaceful, picturesque community is ideal, but if there are not a lot of resources nearby for your family, it’s possible that your new neighborhood may not be the best fit. Instead of having to get in the car and drive everywhere, ensure you research nearby community centers, green spaces and recreational spots so your family has somewhere to spend their weekends.

Research The Crime Rate

You can certainly get a good sense of the well being of a community just by looking at it, but be sure that you’re informed about exactly how safe the surrounding area is so your family will feel at ease in their new locale. While you can easily research the community and find information online, websites like Neighborhood Scout and Crime Report also make it simple to discover the less well-known details.

Transportation And Accessibility

A community you love is ideal, but if you work in the downtown core or an area far away, it will be important to determine the effect this will have on the length of your commute. In addition, you’ll want to be sure there are local transportation options like buses and shuttles that provide access all over the center in the event that it’s needed.

Learn About The Locals

There’s something to be said for the perfect home, but you’ll also need to feel a certain sense of comfort in the place you live so ensure you choose a place with nice neighbors and a community feel. This may seem hard to determine before buying a house, but try visiting the local community center or knocking on a few doors for a quick impression of what the locals are like.

It can be easy to throw everything else out the window as soon as you’ve found the perfect home, but it’s important that your home is situated in a neighborhood you’ll feel comfortable in. Contact your local mortgage professional for more information.

How to Determine How Big of a Down Payment You NeedWhether or not you’re new to real estate, there’s little doubt that you’ve heard the term down payment as it relates to purchasing a home. There’s a lot of different information out there in regards to how much this figure should be and it can be hard to determine exactly what the importance of this payment is. If you’re trying to determine the ideal amount to put down, here are some things to consider.

Explaining Down Payments And Why They’re Important

The down payment is probably one of the largest single payments you’ll make for anything, and this is why so many people save for years. When you buy a home, the down payment is the amount of money that goes into the initial home investment, and this is taken off of the cost of the house. In essence, while this money qualifies as an asset, it is tied up in paying off the total cost of your home.

The Differing Amounts For Down Payments

It’s often the case that many figures are thrown around in regards to the ideal down payment percentage, and they generally vary from 3-20% of the home’s cost. If you are paying a percentage on the low side of the scale, this can unfortunately mean that you will have fewer mortgage options and will be stuck with an increased interest rate. The amount you should pay depends on your financial health and purchasing commitment, but the larger the down payment is, the more minimal your monthly payments will be.

Deciding The Perfect Percentage

Saving up 20% of a home’s total price may seem like a lot of time and effort, but this can be the ideal amount to put down. In addition to lowered monthly payments and a better interest rate, you’ll also be able to avoid Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI), which is required if you put down less than 20%. There is no right answer to the question of how much to put towards a down payment, but you may end up spending less in the long run if you can invest more in the beginning.

There are many figures thrown around when it comes to real estate, but the amount of a down payment should be economically feasible for you and enable you to make your monthly payments consistently. If you’re planning on purchasing soon and are looking for home options, you may want to contact your trusted mortgage professional for more information.

Condo vs House: Which is Best for Your Lifestyle?Some people love living in condos, while others swear by detached homes. When it comes to deciding between the two, however, you can’t always rely on someone else’s word.

Sometimes it’s as simple as understanding and assessing your lifestyle to make the best choice, since condo living and home ownership are two radically different experiences, and thereby serve two very different types of lifestyles and personalities.

Here are a few considerations if you’re trying to decide whether you should invest in a house or a condo.

House: Best If You Have A Furry Friend

Do you have a furry friend or two that are an integral part of your family? Depending on their size and species, you may want to consider a detached house over a condo, simply for the amount of space available.

If you have dogs, you should consider that many condominiums don’t allow certain numbers, sizes, or breeds, and this could be just another reason you opt for a house. Having a backyard for your dogs to play in, and being able to avoid the daily elevator rides, are just more reasons to add to the list.

Condo: Best If You’re A Busy Business Person

If you’re a busy businessperson who’s rarely ever home, you may want to consider condo-style living. You will be able to save on mortgage costs, which will certainly help you reach your financial goals, and you will have fewer worries involved than you would if you owned a detached home.

Full size houses require significant upkeep, which is a major time investment. In contrast, a condo is a turnkey living space that gives you the amenities you need without the responsibilities of home ownership. If you hardly entertain and would like a space to enjoy yourself during your off time, living in a condo might be just the perfect setup for you, the busy business-minded individual.

House: Best If You Like Privacy And Control

If you’re someone who adores your privacy and likes to be in complete control of the maintenance and care of your home, a detached house is certainly the best option for you. Having your own detached house means living with added privacy, as you won’t have neighbors as close by as would be the case if you were living in a condominium.

You’ll also be pleased to be the sole decision maker when it comes to the upkeep and maintenance schedule of the various aspects of your home. Rather than ask a strata manager for permission to, say, paint your front door, you can simply paint your front door.

Condo: If You’re A Single Minimalist

Condo living can be great for single people and minimalists. If you prefer to live on the lighter side, with fewer responsibilities and chores, a condo setup can be extremely rewarding. All of the big stuff will likely be taken care of, and all you’ll have to worry about is the minimal space inside of your four walls.

If you decide to travel for an extended period, it’s much easier to find short-term tenants for condos than for houses.

It can be difficult to decide whether a house or a condo is best suited to your lifestyle. Don’t be shy to ask your friends and family what they think of your personality, and do your due diligence to discover which home is best to accommodate your daily life. Once you’ve made your decision, contact a real estate professional and find the home that fits your lifestyle.