Tina McManus' Blog
If you’re hoping to buy a home in the near future there are several financial prerequisites that you should aim to meet. Ideally, you’ll want a sizable down payment, a verifiable income history, and a good credit score.
It takes time to build credit. For most people, it can be several months or even years before they see a double-digit change in their credit score. However, if you have a low credit score and want to give it a quick boost, there are ways you can make a big difference.
But first, why should you focus on your credit score?
Credit scores and mortgages
When you apply for a mortgage there are several factors that your lender will take into consideration. One of their top concerns will be your credit score. This score is like a snapshot of your financial reliability. It tells lenders how much risk is involved in lending to you.
As a result, lenders will increase your interest rate if you are high risk and lower it if you are lower risk. To be a low risk homeowner, you’ll want your score to be in the high range, (usually 700 or above).
Credit change potential
Depending on your financial history, it can be more difficult to raise your score in a shorter period of time. If you are young, don’t have a long credit history, or haven’t had many bills to pay in your lifetime, your score will be more malleable than someone who has had low credit for years due to late payments.
In the United States, you have to be eighteen to open up a credit card or take out a loan by yourself (this is different from getting a loan co-signed by a parent or guardian). You can also ask your parents or guardians to add you as an authorized user of their credit cards. This will let you build credit without having to settle for the high interest rate credit cards you would be eligible for.
If you happen to have a low score (anywhere between 300 - 600), the good news is you can achieve a larger change over a shorter amount of time than someone who already has a high score.
So, how do you achieve that change?
One of the easiest ways to quickly improve your score is to check for errors in your credit report. You can get a free report each year from the three main credit bureaus--Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian.
Look out for bills that have been mistakenly put under your name and for collections that shouldn’t be on your account.
Avoid new credit
One thing that can do short-term harm to your credit score is opening or attempting to open new lines of credit. That can be a store card, a loan, or getting your credit checked by a lender.
If you want to build credit quickly, making several inquiries could land you with a lower score than where you started.
Pay your regular expenses with credit
A good way to gain credit points in a few months is to pick a monthly expense to use your credit card for. Pay off your full balance at the end of each billing cycle to earn the most points while avoiding building up too much interest.
Buying a home will likely be one of the largest financial decisions you will make in your lifetime. While this may seem scary at first, it’s worth noting that buying a home can also be a valuable financial investment.
When it comes to preparing to buy a home, many people just wait until they run out of room in their apartment before deciding that they need to upgrade to a home. A better approach, however, would be to start planning for your first home a year or more in advance.
Saving for a down payment is a vital step to making the best long-term financial decision. A larger down payment can help you pay off your home sooner, pay thousands or tens of thousands less in interest, and start using your home equity as an asset.
But, saving for a down payment is easier said than done. So, in this post, we’re going to talk about some of the ways you can aggressively save for a down payment so that, when the time comes, you can achieve long-term financial security from your investment.
Setting your savings goals
The first thing you should be thinking about when saving for a down payment is what your goals are in a home. Setting realistic goals in this phase will make saving for your down payment more feasible and less discouraging.
Think about what you really need from a home at this point in your life and compromise where you can.
Remember that on top of your monthly mortgage payments, you’ll likely also be paying for taxes, insurance, utilities, homeowners association fees, and more.
Save on a timeline
When setting your savings goal, make sure you’re aware of the timeframe you’re working with. If you want to buy a home next year, you’ll need to focus on short-term savings options. However, if you’re okay with renting for the next 5 years, investing your money could be a better option.
Lock away your savings
Treat your down payment savings like an emergency fund. Open a separate account, automatically deposit a portion of your pay into the account, and never withdraw from it. To do this, you will, of course, need to already have an emergency fund with a month’s expenses in it.
However, once you’ve established your emergency fund, start immediately depositing into your savings account.
Pay off credit cards
It may seem like saving for a down payment is more pressing than paying off old debt. However, the numbers will show that making interest payments on your credit cards is essentially throwing away money that could have been used toward your down payment savings.
Adjust your spending habits
While it isn’t easy to start spending less once you’ve built a standard of living, there are ways to spend less money and still lead a fulfilling life. Think about where your money goes each month, including bills and services you might pay for.
Now could be the best time to cut the cord and start using a service like Hulu to save $50 or more each month.
Time for a raise?
If it’s been some time since your last pay raise, now could be an ideal time to speak with your employer. To improve your chances of success, don’t discuss reasons outside of work that might be influencing your decision to ask for a raise (such as saving for a down payment). Rather, back up your request with evidence of your accomplishments at work.
Let's face it – clutter is an eyesore that all home sellers can live without. However, removing clutter before you list your house may prove to be difficult, particularly for those with limited time and resources at their disposal.
Fortunately, we're here to help you streamline the decluttering process. That way, you can speed up the process of improving your house's appearance and get your residence show-ready.
To better understand how to effectively declutter your home, let's take a look at three best practices for decluttering:
1. Organize Your Belongings
Old electronics, broken exercise equipment and other items can take up lots of space in your home. If you take a look at all of your belongings, you can differentiate clutter from items that you'd like to keep.
If you haven't used an item in several years or an item simply takes up space in your house, this item likely is clutter. As such, you should eliminate this item from your premises as soon as possible.
On the other hand, items that you use regularly or items that have sentimental value may prove to be keepers. With these items, you should store and maintain them properly to reduce the risk of deterioration.
2. Get Rid of Items That You No Longer Need
There may be a wide range of clutter scattered throughout your house. Although your first instinct might tell you to throw out excess items, it is important to consider whether these items could be sold or donated.
Even though a particular item no longer serves your needs, you may be able to sell this item to the highest bidder. Thus, if you post an item online or host a garage sell, you could earn extra cash by selling your clutter.
In addition, many charities will accept items that you no longer need. If you have excess items that are working properly, reach out to local charities, and these organizations may be able to pick them up at your convenience.
3. Consult with a Real Estate Agent
If you plan to list your home in the next few weeks, consulting with a real estate agent is ideal. This housing market professional can offer expert decluttering recommendations and help you get your house ready for the real estate market.
Typically, a real estate agent will meet with you, evaluate your house and learn about your home selling goals. He or she also will explain the home selling process and ensure you know what to expect before you list your residence.
In most instances, a real estate agent will set up home showings and open houses, notify you about offers on your house and provide various home selling recommendations and suggestions. Plus, if you ever have questions about decluttering your home or other home selling topics, a real estate agent can provide immediate answers.
Simplify the process of decluttering your house – use the aforementioned tips, and you can remove clutter from your residence in no time at all.
As a first-time home seller, it is important to avoid shortcuts. By doing so, this home seller may be better equipped than others to reduce the risk of accepting a "lowball" offer on his or her residence.
A lowball offer is something that every home seller would like to avoid. Yet a home seller who lacks real estate knowledge and insights may struggle to identify a lowball offer, particularly if he or she is listing a residence for the first time.
Ultimately, there is no need for a first-time home seller to settle for a lowball offer. Lucky for you, we're here to teach you how to identify a lowball offer in any real estate market, at any time.
Now, let's take a look at three tips to help a first-time home seller identify and address a lowball offer on his or her residence.
1. Learn About the Housing Market
The housing market often fluctuates, and a real estate sector that favors home sellers today may morph into one that favors homebuyers tomorrow. As such, a first-time home seller should allocate the necessary time and resources to monitor real estate market patterns and trends closely.
To learn about the housing market, it is essential to analyze available houses in your city or town. Furthermore, don't forget to assess available houses that are similar to your own.
Housing market data can provide pivotal insights that a home seller can use to stir up substantial interest in his or her residence. Plus, these insights can help a home seller establish a competitive price for a home, thereby reducing the risk of receiving a lowball offer on his or her house.
2. Understand Your Home's Value
For first-time home sellers who want to avoid lowball offers, a home appraisal is ideal. In fact, a home appraisal can make it simple for a first-time home seller to understand what his or her property is worth based on its current condition.
As part of a home appraisal, a property inspector will assess a house both inside and out. After the appraisal is completed, the inspector will provide a home seller with a report that outlines his or her findings. Then, a home seller can use the report findings to review a house's strengths and weaknesses and complete home improvements as needed.
A home appraisal can help a home seller uncover ways to bolster a house's interior and exterior. In addition, the appraisal can provide insights that highlight a home's true value and help a home seller minimize the risk that he or she will accept a lowball proposal.
3. Collaborate with a Real Estate Agent
A first-time home seller may be uncertain about how to proceed with an offer. Fortunately, real estate agents can provide unparalleled insights into the housing market and help home sellers make informed decisions.
In most instances, a real estate agent is happy to discuss an offer with a home seller. This housing market professional can offer honest, unbiased home selling recommendations to ensure a home seller can differentiate between a lowball offer and a strong proposal as well.
Avoid the danger of accepting a lowball offer on a residence – use the aforementioned tips, and a first-time home seller will be better equipped than ever before to accept the best proposal for his or her house.