3 Tips for Making Your Dream of Owning a Home a Reality [INFOGRAPHIC]

Some Highlights:

  • Setting up an automatic savings plan that saves a small amount of every check is one of the best ways to save without thinking much about it.
  • Living within a budget right now will help you save money for down payments while also paying down other debts that might be holding you back.
  • What are you willing to cut back on to make your dreams of homeownership a reality?

 

Posted by The KCM Crew

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Buying in 2018? 7 Steps to Take Now

With some careful prep work in the next few months, your family could be in a new home by summer.

Now is the time to get things in order for a home search next year.

If you’re thinking about buying a home in 2018, November and December are the perfect time to “warm up” for the house hunt so you can hit the ground running in the new year. And whether you’re looking in Athens, GA, or Athens, NY, the prep work is relatively the same.

We’ve asked real estate and mortgage professionals to chime in about what prospective homebuyers should do to ready themselves for buying a home. From organizing your finances to save money to finding a real estate agent and mortgage lender, there is plenty to keep you busy!

7 Steps to Be Ready to Buy a House in 2018

  1. 1. Check your credit score.

    A credit score is a numerical representation of your credit report. FICO scores range from 300 to 850, and the higher your score, the better. “Good credit is like gold when obtaining a mortgage,” says Denise Supplee, a Pennsylvania agent. Typically, you’ll get the best interest rate on a loan if your score is 740 and above. “A higher credit score should net you a lower mortgage rate,” says Lee Gimpel, co-creator of The Good Credit Game, which specializes in financial education. “That lower rate, even if it’s only 1 or 2 percent lower, can mean saving thousands of dollars per year.” If your credit score falls short, get busy repairing it. Correct any errors that might be on your report, start paying all your bills on time, and get your credit limit raised. Note, though, that you shouldn’t max out your card each month. It’s best to use 30 percent or less of your total available credit.

  2. 2. Don’t open new credit cards.

    If you think resisting taking a selfie when you’re face-to-face with your fave celebrity is a testament to your willpower, that’s sissy stuff compared with turning down every offer to open a credit card, even if you could save 20 percent (or more!) on your holiday purchases. Tempting as saving at checkout can be, opening new credit may hurt your chances of getting a mortgage, or at least of getting the best rate on a loan.

    “By opening the account, you have created another line of credit,” says Paul Anastos, president of Mortgage Master, a division of loanDepot, a nonbank lender. “That credit line, and what is borrowed, can change the application numbers and jeopardize the application.” What could save you a few dollars now could cost you far more in the long run if your mortgage payments will be higher. And along those same lines, “Don’t overspend during the holiday season,” says Dean Sioukas founder of Magilla Loans, an online lending exchange. “Especially on impulse purchases that can be tempting during the holidays.”

  3. 3. Suggest financial gifts for the holidays.

    Besides the mortgage loan, you’ll need a sizable amount of cash to buy a house. There’s the down payment to consider, closing costs, and moving costs. You should also set aside money for unexpected repairs and costs, says Brian Betzler, regional sales manager at TD Bank. Not being prepared “is probably why nearly half of millennials incurred up to $5,000 in unexpected costs during the mortgage process, according to a TD survey,” he says.

    A potential solution? Bulk up that emergency fund. “Instead of getting gifts for the holidays, [prospective homebuyers] can suggest cash instead that will be put toward their home,” says Paul Sian, a Kentucky and Ohio agent. And remember, you might be getting some money back after you file your tax return. Don’t blow it on vacation. “A tax refund is a great way to add to your cash reserves for a down payment,” says David Hosterman, branch manager of Castle & Cooke Mortgage in Colorado.

  4. 4. Interview potential real estate agents.

    If your neighbor, relative, or friend of a friend happens to know (or is) a real estate agent, that’s great. This person might be the perfect agent for you. But you owe it to yourself to shop around. “Look for [an agent] who is knowledgeable, good, integral, and can assist you in reaching the goal of homeownership,” says Chantay Bridges, a Los Angeles, CA, real estate agent. “Make sure they are not a novice, new, or just unaware of how to do a specific transaction.” The end of the year is usually a slow time for agents, so chances are they’ll be more accommodating to making an appointment on your schedule.

  5. 5. Keep tabs on interest rates.

    If you hear that interest rates are at historic lows or that interest rates are on the rise, you should not assume that you can get the rock-bottom rate. Not everyone gets the same interest rate on a mortgage loan. It depends on your financial picture and on the lender you choose. “Everyone knows that home prices are, at least to some extent, negotiable, but we find loans to be the same,” says Warren Ward, CFP with WWA Planning & Investments in Indiana. He advises that homebuyers shop around for the lowest interest rates. Note that closing costs can vary too, so discuss with your real estate agent ways to keep yours down. “We saved $150 on the closing fees by selecting the cheapest title company,” says Ward. “I guess that’s not much, but I think most people would bend over to pick up three $50 bills if they were lying on the sidewalk.”

  6. 6. Find a mortgage lender.

    Before you even start looking for a home (and yes, we even mean browsing online listings), look for a mortgage lender to find out if you can afford to buy a home. If you can’t right now, there’s no use torturing yourself by finding your dream home that’s just out of reach. But how do you find a lender? “If you have a bank you’ve been with for years, ask them,” says Bridges. “Your [real estate agent] can also refer a good lender to you. Compare [that lender] with two others. Look at what they offer, costs, points, and how long to close.” Once you know how much home you can afford, perform your home search based on your preapproval amount or less.

  7. 7. Get preapproved.

    When a lender gives your financials the once-over and preapproves you for a mortgage, you’ll be able to show sellers that you really can buy their house. But how do you get preapproved? By preparing a few documents, which you can do several months in advance of the actual purchase. Here’s what you need to buy a house.

    • Tax returns for the past two years
    • W-2 forms for the past two years
    • Paycheck stubs from the past few months
    • Proof of mortgage or rent payments for the past year
    • A list of all your debts, including credit cards, student loans, auto loans, and alimony
    • A list of all your assets, including bank statements, auto titles, real estate, and any investment accounts

    Paul Anastos also advises not to change jobs, make big purchases, or miss any debt payments as you prepare to get a mortgage.

    Originally published October 17, 2016. Updated October 30, 2017. 

    Published by Laura Agadoni on Trulia

Buying a Home Can Be Scary… Unless You Know the Facts [INFOGRAPHIC]

Some Highlights:

Many potential homebuyers believe that they need a 20% down payment and a 780 FICO® score to qualify to buy a home, which stops many of them from even trying! Here are some facts:

  • 40% of millennials who purchased homes this year have put down less than 10%.
  • 76.4% of loan applications were approved last month.
  • The average credit score of approved loans was 724 in September.

Posted by The KCM Crew

 

6 Big Ways to Completely Botch Buying a Home

mevans/iStock; realtor.com

We all make careless mistakes. We accidentally undertip the waiter. We lock our keys in the car. We wear white after Labor Day. We press “send all.” It happens to the best of us.

But some little mistakes can create big problems, like when you’re buying a home.

A house, after all, is a huge purchase; the stakes are extremely high. With that kind of money on the line, you’d better be darn sure you can navigate the home-buying process without a hitch. And avoid self-sabotage!

To help you out, we’ve pinpointed six common ways home buyers botch their property-purchasing prospects so you can sidestep these snafus at all costs.

1. Flying solo

If this isn’t your first time on the home-buying merry-go-round, you might think: Why hire a real estate agent to hold your hand? Well, first, let us remind you: It’s generally free to use a buyer’s agent, because the seller typically pays the commission for both the seller’s agent and the buyer’s agent. And whether it’s your first home or your fifth, you probably want a professional to help guide you through the often-tricky process of writing an offer, negotiating with the seller, and making sure the deal is up to snuff.

Without an agent, you’ll soon be drowning in paperwork and at risk of making a whole bunch of costly mistakes, warns Jennifer Baxter, associate broker at Coldwell Banker RMR in Suwanee, GA.

To find a real estate agent in your area, use online tools such as realtor.com®’s Find a Realtor search, which will give you useful info such as the Realtor®’s number of years of job experience, number of homes sold, and the price of homes typically dealt with.

2. Saying too much—and undercutting your negotiating power

Be careful what you say when you’re viewing a property at an open house or home showing, Baxter warns. For instance, if the listing agent hears you say to your spouse, “I love this house, and it’s way under our budget,” the seller might try to play hardball when you try to negotiate on price. Keep private conversations private.

3. Waiting too long to make your earnest money deposit

The sales contract will specifically state when you need to cough up the earnest money deposit, which is cash you provide upfront to show the seller that you’re serious about buying the property (the typical amount is 3% to 5% of the sales price of the house).

How much time you have to provide the deposit can vary by state. For example, in Virginia the deposit must occur within five business banking days after ratification unless otherwise agreed to in writing by both parties.

“If you don’t turn in the EMD in accordance with the contract, the contract is void,” says Baxter.

Read: You can kiss the home goodbye if you dillydally for too long.

4. Not bothering to read property disclosures

Even if you plan on having a home inspection, you should still read the home seller’s property disclosures in full, advises Seth Lejeune, a real estate agent with Berkshire Hathaway in Collegeville, PA.

“Property disclosures can be long, but that’s where you’re going to find whether the seller knows if there are any pre-existing issues with the house,” Lejeune says.

Most home buyers will receive a property disclosure statement after their offer has been accepted, says Atlanta real estate agent Bill Golden.

Look for major issues like a faulty foundation, leaky roof, HVAC issues, or pest or mold infestations. If you spot something on a disclosure statement that you don’t understand or that raises concerns, have your real estate agent bring it up with the listing agent. The seller might have an explanation that puts you at ease (e.g., “We had bedbugs back in 2012 but hired an exterminator and have been free and clear ever since”). But if the issue makes you seriously question whether you want to move forward, this could be an opportunity to renegotiate the sales price to compensate for the added risk you’re taking on buying this home.

5. Damaging your credit score while you’re under contract

Unless you’re buying a house with all cash, you mortgage still has to go through underwriting to get approved. Since this process typically happens shortly before closing, you don’t want to do anything while you’re in contract that’s going to hurt your credit score. That includes buying a car, boat, or any other large purchase that has to be financed.

One less obvious mistake, however, is applying for a new credit card. Doing so—even for a store credit card like Target’s or Macy’s—triggers a hard inquiry on your credit report, which can ding your score by up to 5 points, says Beverly Harzog, a consumer credit expert and author of “The Debt Escape Plan.” That might sound like a small hit, but it could make a big difference if you’re on the cusp of qualifying for a mortgage.

6. Trusting a verbal agreement

“Some home buyers don’t realize the importance of putting everything in writing,” says Baxter. Unfortunately, that can come back to bite you, hard. For instance, let’s say a seller promises he’ll replace the water heater before closing. Well, if it’s not agreed upon in writing, the seller isn’t required to do it.

“I see this issue come up a lot when people buy new construction” and don’t use a buyer’s agent, says Baxter. “The builder’s agent is always looking out for the builder’s interests.”

This is another reason why you should work with a buyer’s agent rather than trying to muddle through this alone.

 

Posted by Daniel Bortz on realtor.com

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Don’t Disqualify Yourself… 52% Of Approved Loans Have A FICO® Score Under 750

The results of countless studies have shown that potential home buyers, and even current homeowners, have an inflated view of what is really required to qualify for a mortgage in today’s market.

One such study by the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania revealed that many millennials have not yet considered purchasing homes simply because they don’t believe they can qualify for a mortgage.

A recent article about millennials by Realtor.com explained that:

About 72% of aspiring millennial buyers said they’re waiting because they can’t afford to buy…

The article also explained that 29% of millennials believe their credit scores are too low to buy. The problem here is the fact that they think they will be denied a mortgage is keeping them from even attempting to apply.

Ellie Mae’s Vice President Jonas Moe encouraged buyers to know their options before assuming that they won’t qualify for a mortgage:

“Many potential home buyers are ‘disqualifying’ themselves. You don’t need a 750 FICO® Score and a 20% down payment to buy.”

So, what credit score is necessary?

Below is a breakdown of the FICO® Score distribution of all closed (approved) loans in July from Ellie Mae’s latest Origination Report.

Over 52% of all approved loans had a FICO® Score under 750. Many potential home buyers believe that they need a score over 780 to qualify.

Bottom Line

If owning a home of your own has always been your dream and you are ready and willing to buy, or if you are a homeowner who wants to move up, find out if you are able to! Meet with a local real estate professional who can help you determine if your dreams can become a reality sooner than you thought!

Posted by The KCM Crew

Home Buying Myths Slayed [INFOGRAPHIC]

Some Highlights:

  • Interest rates are still below historic numbers.
  • 88% of property managers raised their rent in the last 12 months!
  • The credit score requirements for mortgage approval continue to fall.

Posted by The KCM Crew

Buying a Home Can Be Scary… Know the Facts [INFOGRAPHIC]

Some Highlights:

  • 36% of Americans think they need a 20% down payment to buy a home.
  • 44% of Millennials who purchased a home this year have put down less than 10%.
  • 71.8% of loan applications were approved last month.
  • The average credit score of approved loans was 731 in September.

Posted by The KCM Crew

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