Vanessa Duguerre's Blog
Up to 9.2 million Americans will purchase their first home in 2020. Homeownership is a wonderful and sometimes overwhelming experience. It's exciting to have a place that you can personalize and call your own. However, owning a home can quickly become a burden if you don't plan carefully. Keep in mind these five tips to make your first-time home-buying experience a success.
Essential tips for first-time homebuyers
1. Save until you have a 20 percent down payment.
Paying cash for a home is out of reach of most families. However, there are big advantages if you have at least a 20 percent down payment to offer. This automatically means that you won't have to pay for private mortgage insurance (PMI), something that generally adds a full one percent to the cost of your loan. In addition, a sizable down payment means you'll likely have equity in your home when it comes time to sell.
2. Get pre-approved for a loan.
When shopping for your first home, it's easy to fall in love with a property that may be a little beyond what you can comfortably afford. Getting pre-approved for a loan lets you know what you can safely pay for home payments. Plus, the sellers will know that you're serious about buying and that financing won't be a problem for you.
3. Get your agent's advice on how much to bid.
Real estate markets vary dramatically around the United States. Your local real estate agent is well-suited to help you navigate the market in your particular region. In some high-demand areas, you may need to offer more than the listed price, but in most areas, a seller is likely to accept an offer below the listing price, especially if the property has been on the market for a few months.
4. Be prepared for closing costs.
Closing costs, the money that you'll owe at closing for property taxes, title insurance, the title company's fee and other related costs, can be a surprise to a first-time homebuyer. These costs can vary between 3 and 5 percent of the total purchase price. The average closing costs for a single family home is $3,700 and is due when you sign the purchase papers, usually between 30 and 45 days after your offer is accepted.
5. Make sure you have an emergency fund.
While it may be tempting to sink your all of savings into your new home, what with a deposit, closing costs, insurance and doing any necessary remodeling, it's important to put a few months' mortgage payments in an emergency fund just in case life throws you a curveball. Many things can affect even the most responsible homebuyer's ability to pay their mortgage, things such as illness, job loss or a reduction in work hours. Plus, you'll sleep better at night knowing that you have that financial cushion.
The perfect home is not the only thing you'll need to shop for when you want to become a homeowner. In order to get the best terms, the lowest monthly payment and a reasonable interest rate, start doing some homework now -- before you even attend your first open house.
1. Check Your Credit Score
Checking your credit score should be the first thing you do when you're considering the purchase of a home. Why? Because every lender you speak to will use it as a benchmark for determining the likelihood of you being able to pay off the debt. The better your credit score, the more favorable terms and interest rates a lender might offer you. The earlier you know your credit score, the more time you have to address any issues that might be contained in it. Remember, you're entitled to one free credit report from each of the three reporting agencies each year. Take advantage of this service and keep tabs on your credit score.
2. Have Steady Employment
Being able to demonstrate that you are gainfully employed will go a long way toward qualifying for a mortgage loan and being offered attractive interest rates. Aim for at least two years of unbroken employment. Be ready to back up your claims regarding the duration of your employment and the dollar amounts you bring home.
3. Offer a Sizable Down Payment
Come to the negotiating table with a lender and with a solid down payment, you'll be able to enjoy lower monthly payments. There's no fast rule regarding the amount of a down payment. That being said, most lenders like you to have at least 20 percent of the home's purchase price as the down payment. There are some lenders, however, who accept less than 20 percent. If your lender accepts down payments that are less than the standard 20 percent, expect to have to purchase private mortgage insurance. This can be anywhere from .05 percent to 1 percent.
4. Know Your Debt To Income Ratio
The debt to income ratio demonstrates your ability to pay off the mortgage as agreed upon. Most lenders like to see that your monthly debt payments are equal to or less than 43 percent of your gross monthly income.
In a seller's market, there might be several people vying for the same home. Addressing the items above can make you look more attractive compared to some of the other potential home buyers.
It may be tempting, when buying a home remotely, to jump at the first great deal that fits your checklist. But, number of beds and baths aren't everything. Location matters, too. So does the school district if you have school-age children. Don't be afraid to delve deeply into a property that you're thinking of buying sight unseen, because failure to do so could lead to some serious buyer's remorse. Here's the checklist of items to cover and questions to ask before you buy a home long-distance.
Neighborhood Crime Statistics
Sites such as ADT.com and Cityrating.com can help you learn about crime rates in your potential new neighborhood. The local police department or sheriff's office is a good resource, too. All are easy to find online once you know the address of the home or county in which it's located. Find registered sex offenders living nearby and whether your new neighbor has a collar for burglary.
Costs of Getting There
If you're searching remotely for homes that are close to your new job location, ask your employer about job relocation assistance. Sometimes employers have packages in place to help with the logistics involved in relocating for work. A package might include financial assistance for multiple items, including:
Having financial help to get you and your family settled in before your first day of work at your new job is a great perk. It goes a long way toward alleviating the stress of relocation.
Homeowner's Associations can be beneficial in keeping housing values steady in your target area, but they can be costly, as well as restrictive. Is your new home governed by an HOA? If so, expect to pay monthly dues, and read up on the restrictions before you commit. If you plan to change the color or layout of your new home, you may have strict guidelines you're required to follow.
Reputation of the Local Schools
Parents of school-age children should also be concerned with the school district they're moving into. Your real estate agent should be a good resource for the best schools in the area, but it never hurts to Google. The best schools have a low student-to-teacher ratio, strong test scores compared with the rest of the state and plenty of support programs in place for students and parents.
A little homework done from the comfort of your home office can help you score the remote home purchase of your dreams. Don't be afraid to play investigator throughout your new target neighborhood.
Rental properties are becoming extremely common in the world we live in today. Many people are realizing the huge profits they can make from rental properties, and the need for these rentals isn’t going away any time soon. If you’ve ever wanted to be a landlord and rake in some cash on the side, you’re not alone. However, buying rental property isn’t always easy and there are some things you should understand before getting the keys to your new home.
Make Sure You’re Ready
The fact of the matter is, owning rental property is harder than it looks. From insurance and laws to home repairs and dealing with tenants, it can all be a very time-consuming and stressful job owning a rental property. And if owning property isn’t your full-time gig, the process can be even more difficult. Make sure that you do your homework and that you’re prepared for anything that can happen regarding your new property. Research everything that needs to be done for a rental owner, then also look up how to manage tenants properly. Also, managing a property takes a lot of time and energy, especially if it’s your first time. It's also important to have the right schedule while managing a property. While you can still have a full-time job, you should have the flexibility to meet with the tenants and take care of repairs or issues when needed.
Keep a Proper Budget
When owning rental property, you’re owning a home that can see damage, which can be very costly. And if you don’t have the money to handle repairs and disasters when they strike, then you could have a home just sitting there with no tenants interested. This is why you should always budget for the unexpected. Some examples of what can go wrong include:
Be Cautious of a Fixer-Upper
While you’ve always had a dream about buying a fixer-upper and creating something incredible, this dream doesn’t pan out for many. That’s because many of these people bite off a little more than they can chew, and they don’t have the time, energy or resources to really build something profitable. Therefore, you should be very cautious before trying this method for yourself. It is possible to make money from a fixer-upper, but it takes tons of work and can be very difficult, especially if you’re buying your very first rental property. Dealing with one of these properties might require spending thousands on materials, hiring professionals, dealing with plumbing issues and possibly dealing with structural damage. While you may be very tempted, try looking for a property that needs a few simple renovations and one that is priced below market value.
Preparation is Key
Before you jump into buying a rental property, consider the three tips outlined above to have confidence throughout the process. This will ensure that you're well-prepared for what's to come. Fixing a home, dealing with tenants and paying for insurance can all be stressful, so it's best to understand these responsibilities before purchasing a rental property.
Requesting a home showing usually is a great idea if you find a residence you may want to buy. In addition, there are many things you can do to get the most out of any house showing, at any time.
Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you attend a home showing and determine if a particular residence is right for you.
1. Analyze All Areas of a Home
A home showing enables you to get an up-close look at all areas of a residence. Thus, you should examine each room in a house during a showing so you can envision what life may be like if you acquire this residence.
Don't forget to walk around outside a house, too. By doing so, you can evaluate a home's yard and other outdoor amenities, as well as the condition of a house's roof and siding.
2. Don't Hurry
There is no need to feel rushed during a house showing. Instead, take as much time as you need to walk around a house and perform a full property evaluation.
If you find you still want to know more about a home after a showing, don't stress, either. You can always request a second home showing to further evaluate a residence at your convenience.
3. Ask Questions
A home showing provides an unprecedented learning opportunity. As such, you may want to ask questions as you walk around a house so you can receive instant home insights from a seller's agent.
Furthermore, it is crucial to remember that there is no such thing as a "bad" question. If you are unsure about whether a house suits you perfectly, ask questions about the residence. That way, you can gain the insights you need to make an informed decision about whether to submit an offer to purchase a home or continue your house search.
As you get set to embark on the homebuying journey, you may want to collaborate with a real estate agent as well. This housing market professional can help you prepare for a house showing, along with provide insights into the homebuying journey that you may struggle to obtain elsewhere.
If you view a house with a real estate agent, for example, you can follow up with this housing market professional after the showing. Next, a real estate agent can help you weigh the pros and cons of a residence. And if you decide you have found your dream home, a real estate agent can help you put together a competitive offer to purchase this residence.
For homebuyers who are on the fence about whether to request a house showing, you may want to consult with a real estate agent right away. With a real estate agent at your side, you can get the support you need to streamline the homebuying journey. As a result, you can work with a real estate agent to find and acquire your dream residence without delay.