Tina McManus' Blog
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!
If you plan to attend an open house, it usually pays to be prepared. That way, you'll know exactly which questions to ask during an open house and can ensure that you can gain the insights that you need to determine whether a residence is right for you.
Now, let's take a look at three key questions to ask a listing agent during an open house.
1. Why is this home for sale?
Although a home listing provides plenty of information about a residence, it is unlikely to explain why a homeowner is selling his or her house. Thus, you should use an open house to find out exactly why a home is for sale.
In many instances, a listing agent will be honest and forthright about why a homeowner has decided to add his or her residence to the real estate market. Once you receive an answer to your query, you can better understand whether a house matches your expectations.
On the other hand, if a listing agent hesitates or shies away from your question, you should be skeptical. At this point, you should continue to dig for more information about a residence to learn about any potential flaws.
2. Are there any home problems that I need to know about?
An open house enables you to get an up-close look at a residence. Furthermore, the event allows you to find out about a residence's pros and cons from a listing agent.
Ask a listing agent about any home problems – you'll be glad you did. The listing agent should be able to provide you with plenty of insights into a home's condition, ensuring you can make an informed decision about whether to submit an offer.
A listing agent is likely to be honest with you about any problems with a house. By doing so, this agent will reduce the risk of a homebuyer later rescinding an offer after a home inspection.
3. Have there been any offers on the house?
It is important to find out if there is any competition for a house, especially if you discover your dream residence. Thus, during an open house, you should ask a listing agent if any offers have been submitted on a residence.
If a listing agent responds "Yes" to your query, you may want to act fast to submit a competitive offer on a house. Because if you wait too long to make an offer on your dream residence, you risk losing this house to a rival homebuyer.
Lastly, if you need help getting ready for an open house, you should collaborate with a real estate agent. This housing market professional can provide deep insights into a residence before you attend an open house. Therefore, a real estate agent will help you take the guesswork out of getting the most out of any open house, at any time.
Want to optimize the value of an open house? Ask the aforementioned questions, and you can get the information that you need to fully evaluate a residence.
When it comes to buying a house, it usually pays to be flexible. Because if you take a flexible approach to the real estate market, you'll be open to checking out dozens of residences and can improve your chances of finding a house that matches or exceeds your expectations.
Although flexibility can play an important role in a successful homebuying journey, buyers sometimes struggle with stubbornness. Fortunately, we're here to help you become a flexible homebuyer who can achieve the best-possible results throughout the homebuying journey.
Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you become a flexible homebuyer.
1. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage
The real estate market constantly fluctuates, and a sector that favors buyers one day may favor sellers the next. However, if you get pre-approved for a mortgage, you can pounce at the opportunity to acquire your dream residence, regardless of when that opportunity presents itself.
Getting pre-approved for a mortgage may prove to be a quick, seamless process. Typically, you'll want to meet with local banks and credit unions and learn about a wide range of mortgage options. Once you have mortgage information, you can select a mortgage that corresponds to your finances.
Remember, pre-approval for a mortgage opens the door for a successful homebuying experience. It can help you establish a budget for your dream home by providing you with a set amount that you can spend on a residence. As a result, after you find an ideal house that falls within your price range, you'll have the flexibility to move quickly to acquire this residence.
2. Consider Houses in a Variety of Cities and Towns
Evaluate your homebuying goals – you'll be glad you did. If you understand where you want to live, you can explore houses in a variety of cities and towns that fit your criteria.
For example, if you want to live near family members or friends in a particular area, you can narrow your home search accordingly. Keep in mind that you don't necessarily have to live in the same city or town as these loved ones. Instead, you can search for houses in assorted cities and towns near your loved ones and ensure you're never too far away from them.
On the other hand, if you want to buy a home that is close to your office in the city, it may be worthwhile to consider houses both inside and outside the city itself. City living generally is more expensive than living in the suburbs, so you'll want to assess your finances closely before you buy a city house. Or, if you prefer small town living, you can always purchase a more affordable residence outside the city and take public transportation to work.
3. Collaborate with a Real Estate Agent
A real estate agent is happy to help you become a flexible homebuyer. In fact, this housing market professional will offer expert guidance during the homebuying journey. By doing so, a real estate agent will help you evaluate many houses and ensure that you can find one that suits you perfectly.
Ready to pursue your dream house? Consider the aforementioned tips, and you can enter the real estate market as a flexible homebuyer.