Tina McManus' Blog
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.
Setting up and completing a home inspection may seem like a long, arduous process. However, an inspection is a must-have for any homebuyer, at any time.
With a comprehensive home inspection, you can identify any potential problems with a house. And if you don't like what you find in an inspection report, you can always ask a home seller to complete improvements or reduce his or her asking price. Or, if you prefer, you can walk away from a home sale altogether.
Ultimately, there are several steps that you'll want to follow to conduct a home inspection, and these are:
1. Find an Expert Home Inspector
When it comes to a home purchase, there is no need to leave anything to chance. Fortunately, if you hire an expert home inspector, you can avoid the risk of missing possible issues during a home inspection.
Not all home inspectors are created equal, so you'll want to evaluate all of the options at your disposal.
To kick off your search for a home inspector, browse the web. This will enable you to find dozens of home inspectors in your area and assess online client reviews.
Also, don't hesitate to ask a home inspector for client referrals. If you obtain client referrals, you can better understand whether a home inspector can match or exceed your expectations.
2. Attend Your Home Inspection
Although homebuyers are not required to attend a home inspection, it generally is a good idea to walk with a home inspector as he or she examines your residence. By doing so, you may be able to gain home insights that might not be included in a home inspection report.
A home inspector may notice home problems that range from minor to severe. The inspector's job is to identify a problem and include it in a home inspection report.
If you attend a home inspection, an inspector may be able to provide you information about potential home problems, along with an estimate about how much assorted home repairs may cost. That way, you are better equipped than ever before to determine whether potential home problems could deter you from buying a house.
3. Evaluate the Home Inspection Report
A home inspection report can play a key role in the homebuying process. If you evaluate this report closely, you can learn about a home's strengths and weaknesses and decide whether to proceed with a home purchase.
If you have questions regarding a home inspection report, you can always follow-up with the inspector that provided the assessment. This will allow you to obtain the insights that you need to make an informed homebuying decision.
Lastly, it certainly helps to collaborate with a real estate agent before, during and after a home inspection. A real estate agent will guide you along the homebuying process and ensure that you can get the best possible results.
Follow the aforementioned steps, and you should have no trouble conducting a home inspection.
Renting is a great short-term housing solution for millions of Americans each year. And, for those who don’t want the responsibilities of homeownership, it can also serve as a longterm lifestyle for those uninterested in equity. However, if you do hope to someday purchase a home, there are several reasons it is one of the best financial decisions in the long run.
Finding out when is the right time to buy a home is a difficult question to ask yourself. You’ll have to consider your current budget and future financial goals, your employment situation, and personal lifestyle preferences.
In today’s post, I’m going to discuss several of these considerations to help you determine if now is the time to buy a home or if you should continue renting for the time being.
Mortgage rates through history
One of the features of homebuying that is largely out of your control is the historical average mortgage interest rates.
While your specific rate will be based on things like your income and credit score, as well as the type of mortgage you choose, real estate trends will also have an impact on the rate that lenders use.
Rates are, on average, lower in the last five years than they were throughout the 80s, 90s, and 00s. With rates under 4%, these levels are unprecedented in the last 3 decades. However, last year did see a slight increase to 4.1%.
What are your long and short-term plans?
Many people who are considering buying their first homes are more concerned with whether it’s financially feasible than if it fits into their life and career goals.
Before you start shopping for houses and contacting lenders, it’s a good idea to sit down with your family or significant other and start thinking about a timeline.
First, are you prepared to live in your next home for 5-7 years? This a good baseline for the amount of time you need to stay in a home to make it worth the costs.
Next, would you have better career or education prospects if you were to move elsewhere in a few years?
Of course, these questions are not objective--you may never know for sure which is the best decision. However, having the conversation is vital to moving forward.
Are you prepared for the extra workload?
Homeownership is work. Aside from just having to mow the lawn and take out the garbage, you’ll also be responsible for repairs and maintenance that previously your landlord was required to do.
The good news is you can learn most things on YouTube. However, some repairs can be costly and require calling in a professional. Just like owning a car, homeownership has it’s associated upkeep expenses.
However, with that added responsibility comes independence. You can paint and change your home how you see fit without worrying about losing a security deposit.
Start considering these questions now and in due time you’ll have a better understanding of your current and future goals. This way, you’ll be able to choose the best possible time to buy a home.
An open house can be a life-changing event for a homebuyer. If you plan ahead for an open house, you should have no trouble determining whether a residence matches or exceeds your expectations. And if the answer is "Yes," you can proceed quickly to submit a competitive offer to acquire a house.
What does it take to prep for an open house? Here are three open house preparation tips that every homebuyer needs to know.
1. Understand Your Budget
Before you attend an open house, you should find out how much money is at your disposal. Thus, you may want to meet with banks and credit unions to see if you can get pre-approved for a mortgage. That way, you can kick off your home search with a budget in hand.
Although you know that you have only a certain amount of money to spend on a residence, it may be worthwhile to consider attending open houses for residences with initial asking prices that are above your price range. Because in some instances, a home seller may be willing to accept an offer that falls below his or her initial asking price.
2. Create a List of Questions
A home is one of the biggest purchases that a person can make, and as such, it pays to be diligent. If you craft a list of questions before an open house, you can get immediate responses from the showing agent. Then, you can determine the best course of action.
When it comes to an open house, there is no such thing as a "bad" question. As a homebuyer, it is paramount to get as much information as possible about a residence to determine whether a house is right for you. Therefore, if you create a list of questions in advance, you can improve your chances of getting the most out of an open house.
3. Consult with a Real Estate Agent
If you're uncertain about how to approach an open house, you're not alone. Fortunately, real estate agents are available nationwide who are happy to teach you the ins and outs of the real estate market. By doing so, these housing market professionals will make it easy to take an informed approach to any open house, at any time.
A real estate agent will always keep you up to date about new residences as they become available. Also, if you are interested in homes in a particular city or town, a real estate agent will notify you about open houses in this area. And if you need extra help prepping for an open house, a real estate agent is happy to assist you in any way possible.
Let's not forget about the support that a real estate agent provides throughout the homebuying journey, either. A real estate agent will help you submit an offer on a house, negotiate with a seller's agent on your behalf and much more.
Be diligent as you get ready for an open house – use the aforementioned tips, and you can fully prepare for an open house.
Whether you're looking for your first house, a vacation home, or a retirement condo, there's always an element of excitement in finding a new place you can call your own!
Although buying and selling real estate can be stressful, especially if you've never done it before, being prepared and knowing what to expect can help keep things on an even keel.
Similar to planning a vacation or a cross-country trip, you'll want to avoid missed connections, frustrating delays, and wasted time. When it comes to buying a home, a little research, planning, and expert advice can go a long way toward ensuring a smooth journey. Here are a few specifics:
Check your credit score: Your credit rating has a major impact on your ability to successfully apply for a mortgage and be offered a relatively low interest rate. Knowing your credit rating can help you understand your options, avoid unexpected surprises, and take action to correct errors in your credit report or improve your credit profile.
Prepare a wish list: One of the keys to getting what you want in a new home is to clarify and prioritize the features that matter the most to you. Your checklist can include everything from lot size and architectural style to the reputation of the school district and proximity to stores. Some house hunters also place a high value on features like a fireplace, screened-in porch, and an open floor plan.
Find a good real estate agent: A buyers' agent can provide you with an immense amount of help in finding properties for sale that meet your specifications. They can also provide assistance, advice, and guidance on the many steps involved in going from loan applicant to new home owner. An experienced agent can also negotiate the best possible deal, in terms of price, seller concessions, and other advantages.
Meet with mortgage lenders: A crucial step in preparing to become a homeowner is understanding the mortgage application process, knowing how much banks would be willing to lend you, and determining an affordable price range. Meeting with lenders is also the first step to comparing interest rates and choosing a financial institution that would best suit your needs. Here's a helpful tip from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: "Getting a preapproval letter helps you show sellers that you are a serious buyer – but it doesn’t commit you to a lender."
When it comes to searching for and buying a house, probably the best advice anyone could give you is "stay the course!" Let's face it: It's easy to give up, get discouraged, or settle for a home that's less than what you really want. However, when you adopt a "stay the course" mindset, you'll do a better job of staying motivated, focused, and well organized until you find just the right home for you, your family, and your future!