7 Reasons to Get Pre-Qualified before House Hunting

Question: I want to start looking for a home, but several people suggested agents won't take me seriously without a pre-approval letter. I understand the pre-approval must be updated every 30 days, and a credit check hurts my credit score. How do I avoid being punished for planning ahead and beginning my search far in advance of the target move date?

Answer: A pre-approval from a mortgage lender has gained more importance in real estate transactions than ever before. There are many reasons that reward you, not punish you, for making the effort toward mortgage loan pre-approval.

It is a wise move to start your search early. You do not have to update your pre-approval status if your circumstances to not change, and the effects of a lender verifying your status while you shop for a mortgage will have little impact on your credit score.

A formal loan application for a loan on the property you ultimately chose, subject to financing, is the only other time you will have to circle back....

Eight Steps to Buying Your Home

1. Decide to buy
Although there are many good reasons for you to buy a home, wealth building ranks among the top of the list. We call home ownership the best accidental investment most people ever make. But, we believe when it is done right, home ownership becomes an intentional investment that lays the foundation for a life of financial security and personal choice. There are solid financial reasons to support your decision to buy a home, and, among these, equity buildup, value appreciation, and tax benefits stand out.

Base your decision to buy on facts, not fears.
If you are paying rent, you very likely can afford to buy
There is never a wrong time to buy the right home. All you need to do in the short run is find a good buy and make sure you have the financial ability to hold it for the long run
The lack of a substantial down payment doesn't prevent you from making your first home purchase
A less-than-perfect credit score won't necessarily stop you from buying a home
The best way to get closer to buying your ultimate dream home is to buy your first home now
Buying a home doesn't have to be complicated, there are many professionals who will help you along the way...

Creating Your Home Wish List

Before the home search begins, your real estate agent will want to know as much as possible about the features and amenities you desire. To help your agent better serve you, analyze what you want and what you need in a home’s features and amenities.

Features:
Age - Do you prefer historic properties, or newer ones?
Style - Do you have a special preference for ranches, bungalows, or another style of construction?
Bedrooms - How many?
Bathrooms - How many? Are they updated?
Living and Dining Areas - A traditional, formal layout, or a more open, contemporary plan?
Stories - How many?
Square feet - How much space?...

Posted on October 2, 2014 .

Location, Location, Location

Where you buy not only affects the home’s current and future value, but it also affects your lifestyle. Your agent will be able to conduct a more targeted home search if you outline your preferences in neighborhoods and nearby amenities. Here’s a checklist of items you should consider and communicate to your chosen real estate agent.

* Urban, suburban or rural
* Commute time
* School districts
* Desirable neighborhoods
* Proximity to the airport
* Proximity to restaurants and retail...

Posted on October 2, 2014 .

Opting For New Home Construction?

Whether to buy an existing home or have one built is yet another decision to make during the home-buying process. If you decide to go with new construction, a real estate agent can be a powerful advocate in your corner as you negotiate upgrades, a move-in date and other terms with the home builder.

Below are some basic pointers to prepare you for the journey ahead:

Selecting a builder
Shopping for a large production or custom home builder can be a daunting task. Start by defining what architectural styles appeal to you and then seek out the builders in your area who offer those styles. Due diligence is essential. Ask friends for referrals to get firsthand accounts; verify the builder’s state license status, if applicable; and check whether they’re certified by the National Association of Home Builders.

The builder representative and your real estate agent
A builder representative’s ultimate goal is to sell you a home. His or her role is to provide a wide range of information to help you in your decision-making, from building restrictions, roads and easements to inspections, warranties, rebates and upgrades. A real estate agent knowledgeable in new-home construction will be able to help you wade through all the data and point out the downsides and upsides of each line item. Your agent also can look out for your interests in reviewing the builder’s contract, which often contains more legal jargon than consumer-friendly language...

Posted on October 2, 2014 .

Eight Important Questions To Ask Your Agent

Qualifications are important. However, finding a solid, professional agent means getting beyond the resume, and into what makes an agent effective. Use the following questions as your starting point in hiring your licensed, professional real estate agent:

  1. Why did you become a real estate agent?
  2. Why should I work with you?
  3. What do you do better than other real estate agents?
  4. What process will you use to help me find the right home for my particular wants and needs?
Posted on October 2, 2014 .

Contract Tips

1. Request E-Mail Listings & Updates

Most buyers don’t know that the information that they are looking at online may be dated for many different reasons. To avoid wasting your time, ask us to register your e-mail address so you can receive daily MLS changes of reduced prices and new listings. This is one way to gain access to the same data agents receive.

2. Tour Price Reductions

If you’re like most buyers, you will want to offer less than asking price. It’s just human nature. But if you plan to offer less then you’ll probably be unsuccessful at getting that type of offer accepted if the home was recently listed. Choose homes that have had recent price reductions or have been on the market for at least 30 days or more. These sellers are more likely to be receptive to lower offers...

Posted on October 2, 2014 .

Deciding How Much House You Can Afford

Your lender decides what you can borrow but you decide what you can afford.

Lenders are careful, but they make qualification decisions based on averages and formulas. They won’t understand the nuances of your lifestyle and spending patterns quite as well as you do. So, leave a little room for the unexpected, for all the new opportunities your home will give you to spend money, from furnishings, to landscaping, to repairs.

Historically, banks use a ratio called 28/36 to decide how much borrowers could borrow. An approved housing payment couldn’t be more than 28 percent of the buyer’s gross monthly income, and his or her total debt load, including car payments, student loans, and credit card payments, couldn’t be more than 36 percent. (In Canada lenders apply similar formulas to determine how much a buyer can afford...

Posted on October 2, 2014 .