Real Estate and Housing http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/4810/all en-US You're Ready to Make an Offer on a House: Now What? http://www.wisebread.com/youre-ready-to-make-an-offer-on-a-house-now-what <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/youre-ready-to-make-an-offer-on-a-house-now-what" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple_new_house_94290869.jpg" alt="Couple learning what they need to know about making an offer" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You've found the home of your dreams. Now the hard work starts: It's time to make an offer, and hopefully, close the deal that will make the home yours.</p> <p>If you've never made an offer on a home before, the process can be intimidating. Fortunately, there is a formula here. Knowing that formula should at least remove some of the uncertainty from making an offer.</p> <h2>The Purchase Offer</h2> <p>Once you've found the home that you want to buy, you'll work with your real estate agent &mdash; or on your own if you're buying without an agent &mdash; to fill out a <em>purchase offe</em>r form. Most agents use a standard form. You'll fill in your name and the address of the home you want to buy.</p> <p>You and your real estate agent will also fill in the price you want to pay and provide an expiration date for the offer. Usually, you'll give the sellers and their real estate agent two to three days to respond, though you can set any expiration date you'd like.</p> <p>The purchase offer will also include information on how you will pay for the home, indicating that the offer hinges on you qualifying for a mortgage loan or that you are going to pay for the property in cash. The offer will also state a date by which the sale must close if the sellers accept the offer.</p> <p>How much you offer for the home is up to you. Your real estate agent will recommend a price for your first offer. If you really want the home, and you're worried that another buyer will make an offer, too, you might offer to pay the home's full list price. In some particularly hot markets, buyers even offer more than list price to make sure they don't lose the home.</p> <h2>The Seller's Move</h2> <p>After your real estate agent submits the offer to the agent representing the seller, it's your turn to wait. Sellers can accept your offer as is, make a counteroffer or reject your offer without making a counteroffer, effectively ending any future negotiations.</p> <p>You and your agent will review any counteroffers together. Usually, sellers will make a counteroffer based on the price you submitted. The sellers might have listed their home for $300,000 and you might have offered to pay $280,000. The sellers' counter offer might request that you pay $290,000 instead.</p> <p>Don't panic when you receive a counter offer. There is no limit to how many times you and the sellers can go back and forth. You and your agent can keep submitting offers until the sellers either accept one, or you or the sellers finally decide that the sale isn't going to happen.</p> <h2>The Sellers Accept &mdash; Now What?</h2> <p>When the seller accepts your offer, you'll sign a contract. The contract states that you intend to buy the home, as long as the property meets certain contingencies. The sellers can't entertain other offers for the home now unless your deal falls through.</p> <h3>Earnest Money</h3> <p>You'll supply earnest money with the contract. This money, which can range from a couple hundred dollars to thousands of dollars, tells the sellers that you are serious about buying their home. The money is held in an escrow account maintained by the title company handling the real estate closing. If you back out of the home sale for a reason not allowed in your sales contract, the sellers get to keep the earnest money deposit.</p> <p>If you go ahead with the sale, the earnest money that you already supplied is usually applied to the closing costs of the mortgage loan or the down payment on the house. If you supplied an earnest money deposit of $1,000, say, and you are providing a down payment of $10,000, you could use the earnest money so that you'd only need to provide $9,000 for that down payment.</p> <h3>Appraisal</h3> <p>After you and the sellers sign the contract, your mortgage lender will require that you pay for an appraisal to make sure that the home you are buying is worth at least what you are paying. If the appraisal comes in too low &mdash; say the appraiser says that the home you are buying for $250,000 is only worth $200,000 &mdash; the lender might rescind its offer to loan you mortgage dollars. This could scuttle the deal, though in most instances you will have your earnest money deposit refunded.</p> <h3>Inspection</h3> <p>You also have the opportunity to schedule a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/thinking-of-skipping-the-home-inspection-heres-what-it-will-cost-you">home inspection</a> after signing the contract, and you really should. An inspector will tour the home and point out any problems with the property. You then can ask the seller to fix the problems, reduce the sales price of the home, or provide you with the money you need to fix the problems yourself. Your contract will also state how serious these problems have to be before you can cancel the sale. For instance, your contract might state that you can walk away from the home sale if the inspector turns up needed repairs that are equal to $10,000 or more.</p> <p>If the appraisal and the inspection go well? It's time to move to the closing table, where you'll sign a stack of papers that will officially transfer ownership of the home to you.</p> <p><em>If you've ever bought a home, how did your offer and negotiation go?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/youre-ready-to-make-an-offer-on-a-house-now-what">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-process-for-purchasing-a-house-with-cash">The Process for Purchasing a House With Cash</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/23-hidden-costs-of-buying-an-old-house">23 Hidden Costs of Buying an Old House</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-evaluate-a-neighborhood-before-you-buy">How to Evaluate a Neighborhood Before You Buy</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-only-5-rules-of-home-buying-you-need-to-know">The Only 5 Rules of Home Buying You Need to Know</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-cost-of-a-free-ride-why-not-to-use-a-buyers-agent-submitted-by-ken-rick">The cost of a free ride - why not to use a buyer&#039;s agent</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing buyers buying a house counteroffers escrow house hunting inspection purchase offers Fri, 29 Jul 2016 10:30:10 +0000 Dan Rafter 1757852 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Dumb Ways to Scare Off Potential Homebuyers http://www.wisebread.com/10-dumb-ways-to-scare-off-potential-homebuyers <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-dumb-ways-to-scare-off-potential-homebuyers" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_pink_wallpaper_65405345.jpg" alt="Woman finding dumb ways to scare off homebuyers" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When the time comes to put your home on the market, you will go from being a homeowner to a home seller. Make no mistake, the two are very different, and if you don't want to scare away the buyers, you will need to make a few sacrifices. However, if you avoid the following dumb mistakes, and keep your eyes on the prize, your home will be sold before long. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-hidden-housing-costs-new-homeowners-dont-expect" target="_blank">10 Hidden Housing Costs New Homeowners Don't Expect</a>)</p> <h2>1. Family Photos and Kids' Drawings Everywhere</h2> <p>It may seem odd to think this is a way to scare people off, but look at it this way: When anyone comes to look around the home you're selling, they are trying to picture themselves, and their family, living there. It's very difficult to do that when the home is clearly one that belongs to another family, with personal evidence of that in every room. If you have framed photos covering every wall, drawings over the fridge and up the staircase, and other shrines to your beloved family and friends, you need to take most of them down. Don't worry; it's not forever. In fact, if you do it, it will take you less time to sell your house, and put them up in your new home.</p> <h2>2. Unusual Smells and Stains</h2> <p>No home can stay new-looking forever. Homebuyers expect the house to be lived in, but what they don't want are odd smells and ugly stains. You may not notice them as you have lived with them for years, but you need to look at your home through fresh eyes. Do a walk-through, and examine every wall, ceiling, and floor in every room. Stains can easily be covered with paint, or shampooed out of carpets. If it's very stubborn, you may have to replace the carpet or rug. Smells, well, the cause needs to be tracked down. If it's mold in the corner of the basement, get it treated. If it's something rotten in the garage, dump it. Your home should look clean and smell fresh. Don't try and mask smells with air fresheners, as they will only make it worse (the sweet smell of vanilla and mold is not a nice combination).</p> <h2>3. Your House Is Stuck in the Past</h2> <p>It's one thing to keep your home in great condition. It's quite another to keep it in the exact same condition that it was in when you first acquired it. If you bought the home 20 years ago, it should not look that way, inside or out. Ideally, you will have performed upgrades over the years to modernize the look and feel of the place. New paint, new carpet or flooring, new appliances, updated cabinets, perhaps even a few additions or a finished basement, can all help with the appeal. Very few people want to move into a home that looks and feels dated. It is a sign that they will have a lot of work to do, and money to spend, to bring the home roaring into the present.</p> <h2>4. It's Dirty and Messy</h2> <p>One of the simplest ways to make a used car sell for more money is to detail it, inside and out. It can literally add thousands to the value. The same is true of your home. If the kitchen is dirty, and the sink is full of dishes, you are sending the wrong message. You are also putting a barrier in front of that potential buyer, and it's your job to remove them. You don't want them to have to imagine how it would look when it's clean and tidy. Show them. Every room should be clean, organized, and free of clutter.</p> <h2>5. You Have&hellip; Wallpaper!</h2> <p>What's wrong with wallpaper? Well, the chances are, it took you a long time to find the wallpaper you really liked. You scoured the pattern books, you mulled it over for days, and when you finally took the plunge, it was no easy task to put up. In fact, most people opt for a professional to do it. So, what are the odds that your perfect wallpaper is also the perfect match for someone who wants to buy your house? Exactly. When they see wallpaper, they see a chore. They see hours of steaming, scouring, scraping, and sweating. Removing wallpaper is about as pleasant as scrubbing the bathroom floor, only it takes 10 times as long. So, get rid of it. Scrape it off now, and put neutral paint in its place. It will vastly improve your chances of getting a buyer.</p> <h2>6. You Follow the Buyer Around</h2> <p>The easiest way to make the buyer feel really awkward, uncomfortable, and pressured, is to be the tour guide for your home. You know the feeling yourself, especially if you've tried to look at a car on the lot and the salesperson is breathing down your neck. This is a huge purchase, and buyers want time and space to look at everything without a chaperon. So, if you can, make sure you're not at home when the buyers come. If you have to be there, confine yourself to just one room, and leave that room when the buyers enter. Go out into the garden or yard, or even the garage.</p> <h2>7. Anything Broken</h2> <p>A door that won't close properly. An appliance that doesn't work well. A piece of tile that has come away from the wall. A cracked window. The list is endless, but whatever it is that's broken in your home, fix it before you put it on the market. Big things, like the roof or siding, that's a no-brainer. But it's the little things that you may have simply gotten used to that can be really off-putting to potential buyers. If they have to jiggle the handle in just the right way to get into the garage, that's not good. If they have to step over the broken piece of concrete in the backyard, they're going to remember that in a negative way. Do a thorough check of the home, and get everything fixed. You do not want to send a signal that you did not do a good job of maintaining your house.</p> <h2>8. Setting the Asking Price Way Too High</h2> <p>It may be a seller's market, but don't take that beyond the limits. If you start at the maximum price you could hope to get, you're excluding a vast number of buyers from ever taking a tour. They may have a maximum amount they want to spend, and your high starting price means they cannot afford to get into a bidding war. Remember, the Internet has given buyers a wealth of information about homes for sale, or recently sold, in your neighborhood. They can do their own comps, and quickly come to the conclusion that you are asking way too much. Now of course, you also don't want to ask too little for the home, because it's possible only one buyer will bite, and you may be stuck with that asking price. So do your homework. See what homes of the same size, age, and condition have sold for in your area, and price accordingly.</p> <h2>9. Poor Landscaping</h2> <p>There is something called curb appeal, and it's literally judging a book by its cover. Your home may be something out of <em>Architectural Digest</em> on the inside, but if it looks like the Addams Family did the yard work, you are not going to inspire people to come and look around. This is the first impression, and it has to count. This also applies to the backyard, too. If it's a bunch of weeds, rocks, rusted cars, and an eyesore called an &quot;above ground pool,&quot; you have your work cut out. People want to see a well loved landscape, front and back, that has green grass, healthy trees, flowering plants, and clean rocks. If it's anything less than that, you may never get the buyer through the front door.</p> <h2>10. Bizarre or Eccentric Features</h2> <p>You may have thought that decorating an entire wall of the den with hubcaps was cool, but potential homebuyers probably won't like it. Anything that is exclusive to the point of being weird or strange is not going to help you sell the home. Maybe the kids wanted a room that was like a forest, complete with lots of fake trees and a dark green carpet. Or perhaps the gray Batcave was something that you just had to have. All well and good when it's your own place, but you cannot expect buyers to share your passions. If you have something that is truly original, it may be time to take it out and go neutral. And in the case of this guy, who <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NoInb9JGamA">built a roller coaster</a> through his house to try and sell it, well&hellip;that's not recommended!</p> <p><em>What's the scariest thing you've ever seen at an open house?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-dumb-ways-to-scare-off-potential-homebuyers">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-tourist-towns-that-are-actually-great-to-live-in">6 &quot;Tourist Towns&quot; That Are Actually Great to Live In</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-to-improve-your-curb-appeal-for-next-to-nothing">6 Ways to Improve Your Curb Appeal for Next to Nothing</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/big-lessons-from-the-tiny-house-movement">Big Lessons From the Tiny House Movement</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-i-sold-my-house-in-48-hours">How I Sold My House in 48 Hours</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-really-easy-ways-to-unclog-drains">10 Really Easy Ways to Unclog Drains</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Home Real Estate and Housing cleaning decorations dumb mistakes housing market landscaping moving pricing selling home Tue, 26 Jul 2016 10:00:11 +0000 Paul Michael 1757121 at http://www.wisebread.com Thinking of Skipping the Home Inspection? Here's What It Will Cost You http://www.wisebread.com/thinking-of-skipping-the-home-inspection-heres-what-it-will-cost-you <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/thinking-of-skipping-the-home-inspection-heres-what-it-will-cost-you" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/70578731.jpg" alt="Learning what a skipped home inspection will cost you" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Buying a home is a lengthy process, and most likely the biggest financial decision you'll ever make. Even if you score a great deal on the cost of your home, there are several other fees that sneak in, like closing costs, private mortgage insurance, broker fees, and more.</p> <p>It can be tempting to want to forego the home inspection, especially since it's one more cost to handle. But even if your prospective home looks immaculate, you should still get an inspection. Doing so can potentially save you thousands of dollars.</p> <h2>Don't Take the Seller's Word</h2> <p>A few months ago, we bought a new home. Our home buying situation was a little unique, considering we were buying from a relocation company. The relocation company had gotten a home inspection before listing the house, and they were slightly put off by the fact that we wanted our own home inspection.</p> <p>The home inspection ended up finding about $2,500 worth of repairs that were invisible to the naked eye. Shingles need to be replaced on the patio cover, the plumbing wasn't covered correctly in the attic, and the patio lighting wasn't done properly and posed a fire hazard. These were all things we would have never noticed without an inspection &mdash; but could have caused serious issues if left unfixed.</p> <p>The company made the costly repairs right away, which saved us quite a bit of money. If we had foregone the inspection, then a number of things could have happened with the shoddy electrical wiring or uncovered plumbing lines. It was easily worth the $450 we paid for the inspection.</p> <h2>Prepare for Future Costs</h2> <p>With a home we bought in 2012, the inspector pointed out that we should keep an eye on the water heater, but he didn't write it in his report. Because of that comment, we opted for home warranty insurance, which cost about $400, and called in an inspection of the water heater within a few months of moving in. The home warranty covered the costs, saving us $400&ndash;$500, overall.</p> <p>See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-things-you-need-to-know-about-a-home-appraisal?ref=seealso">9 Things You Need to Know About a Home Appraisal</a></p> <h2>Forgo Bribes to Skip the Inspection</h2> <p>If a seller offers a discounted price or cash back for skipping the home inspection, walk away from the deal. This could be a huge red flag. A home inspection takes only a few hours and the cost is footed by the buyer. Therefore, the seller is not really inconvenienced when it comes to the home inspection, and there is no reason to persuade buyers against it, unless there are critical issues with the home.</p> <p>Chicago homeowner, Lisa Keefe, experienced this when she and her husband put an offer in on a rehabbed cottage. &quot;The sellers offered us a $5,000 break on the price if we would forgo the inspection,&quot; she said. They chose an inspection, instead.</p> <p>Their inspection turned up a wide variety of issues, because the home was redone by the owner's inexperienced brother-in-law. A load-bearing wall was removed in the kitchen, the support beam was rotting, there were zoning issues with the basement, the roof was unstable, and the foundation was sinking. All of these issues were very serious and would have cost the Keefe's a lot of money, but thankfully they walked away from the cottage purchase.</p> <h2>What to Look for in a Home Inspector</h2> <p>You want to hire a home inspector that has many years of experience and the proper certifications and licenses. You also want an inspector that is thorough and will go into the attic, through the basement, and on the roof.</p> <p>We had the same inspector for both of our home purchases, and he noted the big stuff, as well as the minor issues. Not only did he tell us about the faulty electrical on the patio, but he also mentioned minor things, like the fact that the shower grate needed to be screwed down and the hot and cold water for the kitchen sink were switched. When it comes to your new home purchase, it is better to have too much information than not enough.</p> <h2>Should You Be There for the Inspection?</h2> <p>Home inspections are not mandatory, but it is a good idea to be there. Some inspectors are happy with you following them around asking questions, while others want to do a thorough search first, and <em>then</em> a walk through with you. Make it a point to meet with the inspector and walk through all of his findings. Be sure to look thoroughly through his report afterward too. You are paying for his time, so don't hesitate to ask several questions.</p> <p>Even if your home inspection turns up clean, it is nice to have that peace of mind. It can seem like an unnecessary expense, especially when your new home purchase is already squeezing your budget. However, the cost of a home inspection is worth it. It is better to pay $400&ndash;$500 for a report you don't need, than to skip it and pay $3,000 for a new roof within a year of buying your new home.</p> <p><em>Ever have a home inspection? Do you think it was worth the extra cost?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-eneriz">Ashley Eneriz</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/thinking-of-skipping-the-home-inspection-heres-what-it-will-cost-you">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-is-private-mortgage-insurance-anyway">What Is Private Mortgage Insurance, Anyway?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-things-you-need-to-know-when-renting-to-own-a-home">5 Things You Need to Know When Renting-to-Own a Home</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-hidden-housing-costs-new-homeowners-dont-expect">10 Hidden Housing Costs New Homeowners Don&#039;t Expect</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-process-for-purchasing-a-house-with-cash">The Process for Purchasing a House With Cash</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-cost-of-a-free-ride-why-not-to-use-a-buyers-agent-submitted-by-ken-rick">The cost of a free ride - why not to use a buyer&#039;s agent</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing bribes buying a house costs home inspections new homeowners repairs Wed, 13 Jul 2016 09:30:33 +0000 Ashley Eneriz 1748330 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Things You Need to Know When Renting-to-Own a Home http://www.wisebread.com/5-things-you-need-to-know-when-renting-to-own-a-home <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-things-you-need-to-know-when-renting-to-own-a-home" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/house_hand_coins_88170549_0.jpg" alt="What you need to know about renting-to-own a home" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Your credit scores are too low. Or maybe you've run up too much credit card debt. Whatever the reason, you can't qualify for the mortgage loan you need to buy a home. But there is hope: You can enter into a rent-to-own agreement and begin living in a home today &mdash; one that you might eventually be able to buy.</p> <p>Just be careful: David Reiss, professor of law and research director for the Center for Urban Business at Brooklyn Law School, said that consumers need to be careful when entering rent-to-own arrangements. Often, these agreements end up with tenants losing money that they didn't need to spend.</p> <p>&quot;Potential homebuyers should be very careful with rent-to-own opportunities,&quot; Reiss said. &quot;They have a long history of burning buyers. Does the law in your state provide any protection to a rent-to-own buyer who falls behind on payments? Could you end up losing everything that you had paid toward the purchase if you lose your job?&quot;</p> <p>These worries, and others, are why you need to do your research before signing a rent-to-own agreement. And it's why you need to know these five key facts before agreeing to any rent-to-own contract.</p> <h2>1. How Do Monthly Rent and Final Selling Price Relate?</h2> <p>In a rent-to-own arrangement, you might pay a bit more in rent each month to the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-reasons-you-shouldnt-buy-a-house-yet" target="_blank">owner of a home</a>. These extra dollars go toward reducing a final sales price for the home that you and the owner agree upon before you start renting.</p> <p>Then, after a set number of years pass &mdash; usually anywhere from one to five &mdash; you'll have the option to purchase the home, with the sales price lowered by however much extra money you paid along with your monthly rent checks. Not all companies that offer rent-to-own homes work this way. Some don't ask for more money from tenants each month, and don't apply any rental money toward lowering the eventual sales price of the home.</p> <p>This latter option might be the better choice for you if you're not certain that you'll be able to qualify for a mortgage even after the rental period ends.</p> <p>&quot;A pitfall is if the tenant buyer signs into the program but will never be approved for financing, thus never purchases the house,&quot; said John Matthews, president of operations of Chicago Lease to Own. &quot;That is how the scammers out there have used rent-to-own to hurt people. They sell it to those who should never have been in the program and take their portion of the rent every month used 'for the purchase of their home' knowing that the tenant will never qualify to buy the home.&quot;</p> <p>Make sure you know &mdash; and are comfortable with &mdash; the home's final sales price and monthly rent payments before you agree to a rent-to-own arrangement. And if you don&rsquo;t want to pay extra in rent each month for a home that you might never end up buying? A rent-to-own agreement might not be for you.</p> <h2>2. What Is the Timeline?</h2> <p>To start the rent-to-own process, you and the owner of a home sign a contract listing what the home's final sales price will be after the rental period ends. The contract will also list how long you will rent the home before you have to decide whether to buy the property. The document will state, too, how much you'll pay in rent each month, and how much of that money will go toward lowering the home's final sales price.</p> <p>These are all key facts to learn before you rent-to-own. You don't want too little of your monthly rent going toward a home's final sales price. If it does, you'll barely make a dent in that final sales price.</p> <h2>3. What's an &quot;Option Premium&quot;</h2> <p>After you and the homeowner sign the contract, you'll pay what is known as an option premium. This premium is what gives you the right to purchase the home after the rental period ends. Be aware that this premium is nonrefundable, even if you don't decide to buy the house after your rental period comes to a close. You can expect to pay about 5% of the home's final sales price for your option premium.</p> <h2>4. What Happens to Your Extra Money If You Don't Buy?</h2> <p>If you don't end up buying the home after the rent-to-own period ends, you'll most likely lose the extra money that you paid each month to your landlord. Most landlords will include a provision in their rent-to-own contracts stating that tenants lose the extra rent they send in every month if they pass on their option of purchasing the home.</p> <p>If you're not certain that you will end up buying the home &mdash; and after five years or so of renting a home you might decide that the property or neighborhood is not the right one for you &mdash; be wary of entering a rent-to-own arrangement. You might be throwing away all those extra dollars each month.</p> <h2>5. How Strong Is the Local Real Estate Market?</h2> <p>It pays, too, to study the market in which your rent-to-own home sits. Are housing prices rising in value each year? Or is the market a sluggish one? This is important information to know. What if the home in which you are living loses value during the five years you are renting it? Will you still want to pay that higher final sales price that you negotiated with your landlord?</p> <p>If you signed a contract, you won't have any recourse but to pay more than what the home is worth or to walk away from the deal, meaning that you threw away all that extra rental money you sent your landlord every month.</p> <p>Renters need to be careful, too, when negotiating a home's future sales price. A landlord might ask for a price that is unrealistically high for a specific market.</p> <p>&quot;The landlord will greatly inflate the purchase price of the home when the tenant can buy it,&quot; said Mark Ferguson, founder of Invest Four More in Greeley, Colorado. &quot;The home may be worth $120,000 today, but in a year or two, the price for the tenant will be $140,000 or more. The landlord will justify this because prices always go up. Landlords won't tell you that the average appreciation of homes is 3% to 6% a year, and their price is 20% or 30% higher a year.&quot;</p> <p>It pays to meet with a real estate agent or to study the local housing market on your own. You can never guarantee that a home won't fall in value, but by doing your homework, you can at least increase your odds of renting a property that has a chance to increase in value during the rental period.</p> <p><em>Have you bought a home via rent-to-own? What was the process like for you?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-things-you-need-to-know-when-renting-to-own-a-home">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ask-yourself-these-5-questions-before-buying-a-home">Ask Yourself These 5 Questions Before Buying a Home</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-why-a-30-year-mortgage-is-a-smart-financial-choice">Here&#039;s Why a 30-Year Mortgage Is a Smart Financial Choice</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-prepare-for-a-home-purchase-in-2010">How to Prepare for a Home Purchase in 2010</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/everything-a-first-time-home-buyer-needs-to-buy-a-house">Everything a First-Time Home Buyer Needs to Buy a House</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-dumb-ways-to-scare-off-potential-homebuyers">10 Dumb Ways to Scare Off Potential Homebuyers</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing financing housing market landlords mortgages new homeowners rent to own scams Tue, 12 Jul 2016 09:00:09 +0000 Dan Rafter 1741716 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 "Tourist Towns" That Are Actually Great to Live In http://www.wisebread.com/6-tourist-towns-that-are-actually-great-to-live-in <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-tourist-towns-that-are-actually-great-to-live-in" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_bike_beach_93011895.jpg" alt="Man living in tourist town that&#039;s actually fun to live in" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>It's not uncommon to vacation somewhere spectacular and instantly become overwhelmed by the feeling that you never, ever want to leave. But, unless you're rich, relocating to Hawaii, Southern California, or Martha's Vineyard is probably not a very viable option.</p> <p>Alas, not every tourist town is overrun with millionaires and glitz. In fact, some destination enclaves are well-equipped with not just superior scenery, but also job opportunity and housing priced within reach. Read on for our roundup of tourist towns that you just might be able to afford to call home.</p> <h2>1. Virginia Beach, Virginia</h2> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5171/virginia_beach_4432781.jpg" width="605" height="340" alt="" /></p> <p>Best known for its vibrant boardwalks and sandy beaches, Virginia Beach is also flush with many of the qualifiers that make a community a great place to call home: Good schools, low crime, very low tax rates, and a slowly, but steadily improving post-recession economic climate, to name a few. And let's not forget those warm summers and mild winters.</p> <p>The area is also riding high on a ranking by U.S. News &amp; World Report as one of the <a href="http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/real-estate/articles/2009/08/19/americas-10-best-places-to-grow-up.html">best places to grow up</a>. In the wake of the Great Recession, Virginia Beach's housing market is slowly rebounding. Right now the median home sales price falls around $235,000. Yet as the city's population grows, employment opportunities remain plentiful. The agribusiness, military, and tourism sectors are thriving, while active industrial and office space development continue to lure in new industries.</p> <h2>2. Flagstaff, Arizona</h2> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5171/flagstaff_arizona_scene_80790977.jpg" width="605" height="340" alt="" /></p> <p>Full of Old West flavor, Flagstaff is a friendly Arizona mountain town with 288 days of sunshine, a mild climate (by southwest USA standards, anyway), and easy access to top-of-the-line camping, rock climbing, hiking, and skiing. Bonus: Grand Canyon National Park is just 90 minutes away.</p> <p>What you may not know is that Flagstaff is also a <a href="http://www.chooseflagstaff.com/doing-business-here/city-profile/">quaint college </a>town with an affordable rental market, thanks to nearly 25,000 students who call Flagstaff home. Homeownership, on the other hand, can be a bit more pricey &mdash; but not altogether out of reach. The median price of a home in greater Flagstaff currently hovers around $319,000. Overall, the <a href="http://www.flagstaffchamber.com/economic-development/cost-of-living/">cost of living</a> in Flagstaff is slightly above the national average. With an average household income of $70,000, Flagstaff is also a hub for bioscience, tech, and manufacturing. Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff Medical Center, and the medical device manufacturer W.L. Gore &amp; Associates are the top employers here.</p> <h2>3. Palm Beach, Florida</h2> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5171/palm_beach_florida_86138281.jpg" width="605" height="340" alt="" /></p> <p>Six million visitors descend on Palm Beach every year for its beaches, boating, world-class shopping, and more than 160 golf courses, including some of the most acclaimed greens in the U.S.</p> <p>But did you know that this Florida resort region also has a blossoming technology industry, with app developers and web innovators carving out a new innovation hub? Or that Palm Beach County school district has eighth-highest graduation rate in the nation? Or that wages here are higher than most other parts of Florida? And, in addition to some of the world's most tantalizingly beautiful multimillion dollar waterfront homes, Palm Beach has <a href="http://realtime.blog.palmbeachpost.com/2016/03/23/top-10-palm-beach-countys-busiest-new-home-developments-have-nothing-for-middle-class-families/">middle class housing options</a> &mdash; they are not plentiful, but they do exist. The median price of an existing house sold in Palm Beach County is currently about $295,000.</p> <h2>4. Coeur d'Alene, Idaho</h2> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5171/brewster_massachusetts_23888034066_553f4fc369_z.jpg" width="605" height="340" alt="" /></p> <p>Situated on a gorgeous natural lake by the same name, this Idaho Panhandle city boasts more than 100 miles of shoreline as well as a renowned parkway that's perfect for cycling, jogging, or walking. An enviable vacation destination, affordable housing, and favorable corporate tax laws also make Coeur d'Alene a great place to live.</p> <p>The median home price in Coeur d'Alene hovers around $188,000 and the cost of living is nearly 7% below the national average. There's also ample opportunity for jobs. The mining, health care, tourism, and food service industries all have a notable presence here, which has helped earn the city slot number 14 on Forbes list of best places for business and careers.</p> <h2>5. Brewster, Massachusetts</h2> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5171/brewster_massachusetts_windmill_50072494.jpg" width="605" height="340" alt="" /></p> <p>Great schools, low unemployment, moderate housing prices, and easy access to museums, state parks, and beaches make Brewster one of the most livable small towns in Cape Cod. Bustling during the summer season, Brewster and the rest of the Cape fall quiet in autumn through spring, offering residents peace, quiet, and beautiful natural landscapes without the crowds.</p> <p>This region full of artists, small business owners, mariners, and outdoorsmen has a median home price of about $396,000 &mdash; and climbing. Yet while there are cheaper Cape towns, Brewster is worth the extra chunk of change for families and those who prize access to educational institutions and low crime.</p> <h2>6. Tampa, Florida</h2> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5171/tampa_florida_beach_69509291.jpg" width="605" height="340" alt="" /></p> <p>Prized for its favorable weather, shoreline beauty, lively night life, and casual lifestyle, Tampa is a modern paradise that's all-too-often overlooked as place to set a welcome mat outside the front door. Tampa real estate is tens of thousands of dollars below the national average, with a median home price of less than $170,000. What's more, Tampa is <a href="http://www.bizjournals.com/tampabay/news/2016/04/15/tampa-bay-region-ranks-second-in-job-growth-first.html">experiencing rapid job growth</a>. Other considerations: Tampa has the <a href="http://www.bizjournals.com/tampabay/news/2016/01/25/tampa-metro-cost-of-living-lowest-in-florida.html">lowest cost of living in Florida</a>, and there is no state income tax.</p> <p><em>Have you considered relocating to one of these &mdash; or other &mdash; &quot;tourist&quot; towns?</em></p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <p style="text-align: center;"><a href="//www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F6-tourist-towns-that-are-actually-great-to-live-in&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F6%20-Tourist%20Towns-%20That%20Are%20Actually%20Great%20to%20Live%20In.jpg&amp;description=6%20%26quot%3BTourist%20Towns%26quot%3B%20That%20Are%20Actually%20Great%20to%20Live%20In" data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-config="above" data-pin-color="red" data-pin-height="28"><img src="//assets.pinterest.com/images/pidgets/pinit_fg_en_rect_red_28.png" alt="" /></a> </p> <!-- Please call pinit.js only once per page --><!-- Please call pinit.js only once per page --><script type="text/javascript" async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/6%20-Tourist%20Towns-%20That%20Are%20Actually%20Great%20to%20Live%20In.jpg" width="250" height="374" alt="" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/brittany-lyte">Brittany Lyte</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-tourist-towns-that-are-actually-great-to-live-in">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-dumb-ways-to-scare-off-potential-homebuyers">10 Dumb Ways to Scare Off Potential Homebuyers</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-incredible-world-cities-you-can-afford">5 Incredible World Cities You Can Afford</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-6-best-cities-for-single-millennials">The 6 Best Cities for Single Millennials</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-reasons-you-should-always-hire-a-moving-company">6 Reasons You Should Always Hire a Moving Company</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-forget-to-budget-for-these-unexpected-moving-expenses">Don&#039;t Forget to Budget for These Unexpected Moving Expenses</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing Travel housing market job market moving relocating tourism tourist towns us cities Wed, 06 Jul 2016 09:30:26 +0000 Brittany Lyte 1745833 at http://www.wisebread.com Best Money Tips: The Most Affordable U.S. Cities of 2016 http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-the-most-affordable-us-cities-of-2016 <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/best-money-tips-the-most-affordable-us-cities-of-2016" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_city_bridge_87855925_0.jpg" alt="Woman living in most affordable city in the U.S." title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Welcome to Wise Bread's <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/topic/best-money-tips">Best Money Tips</a> Roundup! Today we found articles on the most affordable cities in the U.S., how the Brexit vote will affect the cost of travel, and ways to cook dinner in the dishwasher.</p> <h2>Top 5 Articles</h2> <p><a href="https://blog.mint.com/consumer-iq/top-17-most-affordable-cities-us-2016-062916/">Top 17 Most Affordable U.S. Cities of 2016</a> &mdash; The cost of living in Grand Rapids, Michigan is 11% lower than the national average, and the cost of housing is 31% lower! [mintLife]</p> <p><a href="http://www.csmonitor.com/Business/Saving-Money/2016/0628/How-will-the-Brexit-vote-affect-the-cost-of-European-travel">How will the Brexit vote affect the cost of European travel?</a> &mdash; While exchange rates are in our favor, flights may get more expensive in the future. [The Monitor]</p> <p><a href="http://www.popsugar.com/smart-living/How-Cook-Dishwasher-35504136">Yes, You Can Cook Dinner in the Dishwasher</a> &mdash; Learn how to make wine-poached shrimp, mustard-glazed green beans, couscous, and even strawberry cinnamon compote in the dishwasher! [Popsugar Smart Living]</p> <p><a href="http://www.moneytalksnews.com/amazon-says-prime-day-will-july-12/">Amazon Says Prime Day Will Be July 12</a> &mdash; This year's Prime Day sale will feature over 100,000 deals across all departments and categories &mdash; but you need to be a Prime member to get them. Also check out the countdown deals leading up to the big sale. [Money Talks News]</p> <p><a href="http://shopperstrategy.com/2016/06/30/4-creative-ways-to-keep-your-kids-busy-this-summer/">4 Creative Ways to Keep Your Kids Busy This Summer</a> &mdash; Take advantage of the sunshine and plant a small garden in your backyard! Give your kids the responsibility of feeding, watering, and weeding the plants. [Shopper Strategy]</p> <h2>Other Essential Reading</h2> <p><a href="http://www.moneyspruce.com/4-common-household-accidents-renters-insurance-covers/">4 Common Household Accidents that Renters Insurance Covers</a> &mdash; Renter's insurance covers dog bites under the liability coverage. [Money Spruce]</p> <p><a href="http://actionecon.com/save-money-on-family-movie-nights/">Save Money On Family Movie Nights</a> &mdash; Popcorn is the go-to snack for movie nights. Microwave popcorn is easy, but you can save more by investing in a popcorn popper and getting kernels in bulk. [Action Economics]</p> <p><a href="http://www.dumblittleman.com/2016/07/thinking-critically.html">3 Unconventional Ways Of Thinking That&rsquo;ll Help You Change Yourself</a> &mdash; Cultivating good habits won't help you reach your goals if the habits are on autopilot. You also need to be engaged and mindful of the choices you make. [Dumb Little Man]</p> <p><a href="https://due.com/blog/5-tips-building-reputation-freelancer/">5 Tips for Building Your Reputation as a Freelancer</a> &mdash; Make sure to hit your deadlines. You're more likely to be trusted and recommended if you consistently turn in your work on time. [Due]</p> <p><a href="http://fitzvillafuerte.com/15-reasons-youll-remain-poor-whole-life.html">15 Reasons Why You&rsquo;ll Remain Poor Your Whole Life</a> &mdash; If you give up as soon as things become difficult, you'll never get anywhere in life. [Ready To Be Rich]</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/amy-lu">Amy Lu</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-the-most-affordable-us-cities-of-2016">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-dumb-ways-to-scare-off-potential-homebuyers">10 Dumb Ways to Scare Off Potential Homebuyers</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-what-to-do-if-you-cant-afford-your-mortgage-payment">Here&#039;s What to Do If You Can&#039;t Afford Your Mortgage Payment</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/real-estate-appraisals-ten-things-most-people-just-dont-understand-about-them">Real Estate Appraisals - Ten things most people just don&#039;t understand about them</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-pros-and-cons-of-paying-cash-for-a-house">The Pros and Cons of Paying Cash for a House</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/five-reasons-not-to-apply-for-a-loan-modification-in-the-home-affordable-modification-program-hamp">5 Reasons Not to Apply for a Loan Modification in the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP)</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing affordable cities best money tips Tue, 05 Jul 2016 09:30:29 +0000 Amy Lu 1743315 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Questions to Ask Before Buying a Second Home in Retirement http://www.wisebread.com/5-questions-to-ask-before-buying-a-second-home-in-retirement <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-questions-to-ask-before-buying-a-second-home-in-retirement" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple_house_retirement_21246021.jpg" alt="Couple asking questions before buying second retirement home" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>It's nice image: You, your children, and your grandchildren gathering every summer at the lake house you bought after you retired from the workforce. Or maybe you instead picture these same children bringing their grandchildren for long weekends at the downtown city condo you purchased immediately after heading into retirement.</p> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-retire-rich" target="_blank">Buying a second home after retirement</a> can be a reward for years of hard work. It might also be a good investment if you buy the right property; real estate, after all, has historically increased in value.</p> <p>But buying a second home in your retirement years can also be a financial misstep. These potential pitfalls are why you need to ask five key questions before you invest in that second home after you retire.</p> <h2>1. How Will You Pay for It?</h2> <p>Buying a second home is fairly simple if you plan to use cash from your savings. You still have to be careful, though, to make sure that such a big expenditure won't eventually make it more of a struggle to meet your other retirement goals. It might not be easy to take that long-awaited cruise if you've spent too much of your savings on a second home.</p> <p>If you need to finance the purchase of a second home with a mortgage, you might face an even bigger challenge. Under federal law, lenders can't reject you for a mortgage loan because of your age. They can, though, reject your application if they think you don't have enough income to afford your monthly mortgage payments.</p> <p>Lenders rely partly on your debt-to-income ratio when making mortgage decisions. Lenders want your total monthly debts, including your new mortgage payment, to equal no more than 43% of your gross monthly income. Income, of course, isn't just money you receive from a salary. You can also count Social Security payments, pension payments, monthly rent checks, money from legal settlements, and any other recurring source of monthly income. But if your income is so low that your debt-to-income ratio sails over that 43% mark, you'll struggle to get the mortgage you need to buy a second home.</p> <h2>2. Can You Afford It?</h2> <p>This, of course, is the big question: Even if you can buy a second home, can you afford the monthly expenses that go with it now that you can no longer rely on your regular paycheck?</p> <p>If you are financing the second home with a mortgage, can you afford to add those monthly payments to your existing expenses? And even if you are not taking out a mortgage, you'll have to face the normal expenses associated with owning a home: Furnaces go out, water heaters leak, and utility bills add up. If you buy a condo as a second home, are you okay with paying association dues each month?</p> <p>In short, can you afford the financial burden of owning that second home?</p> <h2>3. Who Will Maintain It?</h2> <p>Homes require regular maintenance. Someone has to mow the lawn, shovel the walks, sweep the floors, and replace fading paint jobs. Is this something you are willing to do, even as you get older? You might think your children will be happy to spend a few hours pulling weeds and mowing the lawn. But are they really okay with that?</p> <p>You might need to hire a service to handle the regular maintenance of your second home. That will ease your burden. But these companies don't come cheap. Can you afford the additional expense of hiring someone to maintain your second home?</p> <h2>4. How Often Will You Use It?</h2> <p>You might dream of spending months at your vacation home surrounded by visiting family members. But that dream might not be realistic. Your children and grandchildren have lives of their own. They might visit far less than you expect.</p> <p>And what about you? You might think now that you'd like to spend every summer at the lake house in that quaint, touristy town. But after three or four summers, you might get tired of that restaurant you've eaten at every visit or you might no longer have the appetite for all those fudge shops and antique stores. Yes, you might get bored with your second home, too.</p> <p>Instead of vacationing in the same spot, you might instead want to travel to new places each year. If so, a permanent second home might not be the best choice.</p> <h2>5. What Happens After You Die?</h2> <p>We don't like to think about dying. But when you buy a second home in your retirement, you need to consider it. What will happen to that second home after you pass on?</p> <p>You might want to leave it to one of your children. You'll have to decide, though, who gets it, without causing strife among them. What if none of your children want the home? They'll then have to go through the hassle of selling the property after you die. You'll need to determine before your death, just how the proceeds of that sale &mdash; if there are proceeds &mdash; will be divvied up.</p> <p><em>Have you considered buying a second home?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-questions-to-ask-before-buying-a-second-home-in-retirement">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/frayed-relationships-damaged-credit-and-costly-additions-what-a-multi-generational-home-might-cost-y">Frayed Relationships, Damaged Credit, and Costly Additions — What a Multi-Generational Home Might Cost You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-it-safe-to-re-finance-your-home-close-to-retirement">Is it Safe to Re-Finance Your Home Close to Retirement?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-most-important-financial-moments-of-your-life">The 7 Most Important Financial Moments of Your Life</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/when-it-makes-sense-to-apply-for-a-mortgage-loan-without-your-spouse">When It Makes Sense to Apply for a Mortgage Loan Without Your Spouse</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-things-you-need-to-know-when-renting-to-own-a-home">5 Things You Need to Know When Renting-to-Own a Home</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing Retirement condos family maintenance mortgages second homes vacation homes Fri, 24 Jun 2016 09:00:03 +0000 Dan Rafter 1737542 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Moves to Make If You Need to Break Your Lease http://www.wisebread.com/8-moves-to-make-if-you-need-to-break-your-lease <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-moves-to-make-if-you-need-to-break-your-lease" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_thinking_house_59055710.jpg" alt="Man making moves to break his lease" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Most renters understand that a lease benefits them as much as it does landlords, since it protects both parties. However, if you need to break that lease, you could be on the receiving end of some tough penalties and legal actions. Don't panic yet, though &mdash; there are moves that could save you a lot of money&hellip; and your sanity.</p> <h2>1. Find New Tenants for the Landlord</h2> <p>The biggest issue landlords have with breaking a lease is the loss of income. The landlord has overhead, including a mortgage payment, HOA costs, water, and more, and they all have to be covered even when the property is empty. This is why there are penalties for breaking a lease &mdash; to cover the landlord against loss.</p> <p>However, if you are proactive and find good tenants to replace you, it's very possible the landlord will waive the fees and let you break the lease. After all, you have brought in new tenants, saving the landlord time and effort, and in most cases, extending the time the property will be filled. (If your lease expires in July, but you bring in someone to rent from March-February of the following year, you've done the landlord a favor).</p> <h2>2. Plead Your Extenuating Circumstances</h2> <p>Landlords are people, too. If you're renting from a big property management firm, you won't have much luck. But if it's an individual, arrange a time to sit and chat, and explain the reasons why you have to break the lease. Be open, be honest, and see what happens. If you have to break the lease to move back home with an ailing parent or relative, the landlord could be very sympathetic, and may do something for you (cutting the early termination fee in half, or waiving it completely). But, don't lie. Making up some bleeding heart story could backfire, and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-questions-landlords-cant-ask" target="_blank">you don't want an angry landlord</a> as an enemy, especially when they have the law on their side.</p> <h2>3. Look for a Contract Breach</h2> <p>If you have to break the lease, you may well be within your rights to do so without any kind of termination fee &mdash; <em>if</em> the contract is, in fact, not being adhered to. Remember, the contract is for your protection as well as the landlord's, and the property should be safe and well-maintained. If you have been living with a broken refrigerator, a moldy bathroom, or any other type of problem that makes the property tough to live in, you can use it to your advantage.</p> <p>However, you cannot just ignore these issues for months and then decide to break the contract. You will need to provide evidence that you asked the landlord to address the issues. Also, take pictures, and keep copies of all correspondence. If you can show your requests for help fell on deaf ears, you will have a great case to break the lease without a fee.</p> <h2>4. Negotiate Payoff Terms for the Penalties</h2> <p>Early termination fees can be very scary. When you see a $1,500 lump sum, it can make you think twice about even considering it. However, landlords can be very flexible if they know they are going to get the money in a set amount of time. Consider asking for an installment payment plan for any early termination fees.</p> <h2>5. Use Your Security Deposit as a Bargaining Chip</h2> <p>You will have put down a substantial security deposit when you signed the lease. Usually, it's around one month's rent, and this can be just enough to cover the costs of the landlord while they find a new tenant. If the property is in a highly sought after location, it will not be empty for long, and that security deposit will more than cover any costs the landlord has. It's much easier for them to simply keep that deposit and avoid a bunch of paperwork, rather than trying to take you to court for fees.</p> <h2>6. Find a Sublet</h2> <p>Ready to become a landlord yourself for a while? Well, try subletting. Now, you may find that the contract forbids you to sublet the property, so you may have to talk to the landlord (or do it without saying anything, and hope for the best). As a general rule, landlords don't really care where the money comes from, as long as the property is well maintained and the tenants cause no trouble. And remember, if you sublet to someone who wrecks the place, that's all on you. Your name is on the lease, so the landlord is going to be reimbursed, either way.</p> <h2>7. Can You Blame the Neighbors or Surroundings?</h2> <p>Do the neighbors upstairs have parties until 4 a.m. every weekend (or worse, every day)? Do the neighbors harass you, or make life hell for you in general? Is the neighborhood itself in serious decline, and no longer a safe place to live? These are all conditions that you may be able to use to break the lease without a termination fee.</p> <p>Once again, you would have to prove that you asked the landlord to deal with the situation, and that nothing happened. But if you can prove the property became unlivable, you can argue you were &quot;<a href="http://www.brickunderground.com/blog/2011/07/ask_an_expert_breaking_a_lease_over_neighbor_noise">constructively evicted from your property</a>.&quot; This is something that can go to court, so you need to be really buttoned-up, and will most likely require legal assistance.</p> <h2>Haggle Over the Early Termination Fee</h2> <p>Landlords would rather have some money than none at all. If you are going to have to pay $2,000 to break the lease, but can only afford $1,000, talk to the landlord about a lower penalty. This is easier to do with an individual than a property management company, as the latter has the backing of corporate funds and on-staff legal counsel. But&hellip; it's always worth a try.</p> <p><em>Have you ever broken a lease? How'd you get out of it?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-moves-to-make-if-you-need-to-break-your-lease">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-questions-landlords-cant-ask">10 Questions Landlords Can&#039;t Ask</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-to-rent-an-apartment-with-bad-credit">7 Ways to Rent An Apartment With Bad Credit</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-11-best-websites-for-renting-your-extra-space">The 11 Best Websites for Renting Your Extra Space</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-smart-ways-to-get-your-apartment-deposit-back">7 Smart Ways to Get Your Apartment Deposit Back</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-simple-way-to-decide-how-much-rent-you-can-really-afford">The Simple Way to Decide How Much Rent You Can Really Afford</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing apartments breaking lease contracts landlords lease rental agreement renting sublet Wed, 22 Jun 2016 09:30:24 +0000 Paul Michael 1736373 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Reasons You Shouldn't Buy a House (Yet) http://www.wisebread.com/5-reasons-you-shouldnt-buy-a-house-yet <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-reasons-you-shouldnt-buy-a-house-yet" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_new_house_62322290.jpg" alt="Woman learning reasons she shouldn&#039;t buy a house yet" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You hate sending that rent check to your landlord every month. The neighbors living above you have a newborn baby that cries all night long. And you dream of planting your own vegetable garden.</p> <p>In short, you're tired of renting and you want to buy your first home. But wanting to buy a home and being ready to do so are two different things. Are you financially ready for the burden of a monthly mortgage payment?</p> <p>Here are five signs that you're not ready to buy a house just yet. But don't fret; even if you are struggling with these financial issues, you can still become a homeowner. You'll just need a bit of patience and improved financial skills.</p> <h2>Sign 1: You Have No Savings</h2> <p>Buying a home is expensive. You'll need money for a down payment. For most mortgage loans, you'll need at least 5% of the home's purchase price. For a home costing $200,000, that comes out to $10,000. If you are buying a home insured by the Federal Housing Administration, better known as an FHA loan, you'll need a down payment of 3.5% of your home's final purchase price, depending on your credit score. For a $200,000 home, that still comes out to a down payment of $7,000.</p> <p>Then there are closing costs, the fees that mortgage lenders, title insurers, and others charge you to originate your mortgage loan. Real estate website Zillow says that these costs can run from 2% to 5% of your total mortgage loan. If you are borrowing $180,000, then your closing costs can run from $3,600 to $9,000.</p> <p>It's true that you can get help with some of these costs. You can use gift money from relatives, for example, to pay for all or part of your down payment. You might be able to convince a home's seller to pay for all or part of the closing costs. But if you don't have any savings built up, lenders might hesitate to lend you mortgage money. They want to make sure that you have reserve funds on hand to cover your mortgage payment for at least two to three months if you should suddenly run into a financial crisis such as a job loss.</p> <h3>What to Do</h3> <p>It's best to start searching for a home only <em>after </em>you've saved enough money to cover a down payment and your estimated closing costs. Most lenders will also want to see enough money in your savings after you've paid closing costs and your down payment to cover at least two months of mortgage payments.</p> <h2>Sign 2: Your Credit Score Is Bad</h2> <p>Your credit score is a key number when you're applying for a mortgage. Lenders pass out their lowest interest rates to borrowers who have FICO credit scores of 740 or higher. But the lower your score, the higher your interest rate &mdash; and your monthly mortgage payment &mdash; will be. If your score is too low, say under 640, you'll struggle to qualify for a loan at all.</p> <h3>What to Do</h3> <p>First, order at least one of your three credit reports from AnnualCreditReport.com. You are entitled to one free copy of each of your three credit reports &mdash; maintained by the national credit bureaus of Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion &mdash; once every year. Once you get your report, read it carefully. It will list how much you owe on your credit cards and how much you owe on student loans and car loans. It will also list whether you have any late or missed payments during the last seven years. Those late or missed payments will send your credit score tumbling.</p> <p>Next, order your FICO credit score. You can do this from the credit bureaus, too, but you'll have to pay about $15 to do so. If your score is low, and there are negative marks on your credit report, it's time to start a new history of paying all your bills on time. You also need to pay down as much of your credit card debt as possible. Both of these actions will steadily increase your credit score, though it could take months or even more than a year before your score recovers enough to make you a good candidate for a mortgage loan.</p> <p>Be patient and wait to apply for that mortgage until your FICO score is over 700.</p> <h2>Sign 3: You Have a Mountain of Credit Card Debt</h2> <p>Your debt-to-income ratio is another key number when it comes to buying a home. Lenders want your total monthly debts, including your estimated new mortgage payment, to equal no more than 43% of your gross monthly income. If your debt-to-income ratio is too high, you'll struggle to earn approval for a mortgage. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-day-debt-reduction-plan-stop-waiting-for-tomorrow?utm_source=wisebread&amp;utm_medium=seealso&amp;utm_campaign=article">5 Day Debt Reduction Plan</a>)</p> <p>For many potential homebuyers, large amounts of credit card debt are what shoot that debt-to-income levels past 43%.</p> <h3>What to Do</h3> <p>Pay off that credit card debt. Always make more than your minimum monthly required payment. And wait until you've substantially reduced that debt before you add a monthly mortgage payment to your financial responsibilities.</p> <p>See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/fastest-way-to-pay-off-10000-in-credit-card-debt?utm_source=wisebread&amp;utm_medium=seealso2&amp;utm_campaign=article">This Is The Fastest Way to Pay Off Your Credit Card Debt</a></p> <h2>Sign 4: You Routinely Miss Your Monthly Payments</h2> <p>Maybe you have more than enough money each month to pay all your bills on time &mdash; you just routinely forget to pay them. Making late payments, or missing payments completely, is a sure sign that you're not ready for the financial responsibility of owning a home.</p> <p>If you miss a mortgage payment by more than 30 days, your credit score will fall by 100 points or more. If you miss enough, you could lose your home to foreclosure.</p> <h3>What to Do</h3> <p>Learn better financial habits before you apply for a mortgage. Set up reminders on your phone or computer alerting you when bills are due. Or pay those bills as soon as they arrive to make sure you don't forget them. It might makes sense to set up automatic payments through your bank. But don't apply for a mortgage until you've broken the habit of regularly missing your monthly payment due dates.</p> <h2>Sign 5: You Don't Have a Stable Job</h2> <p>You'll need a steady, reliable stream of income if you use a mortgage to finance the purchase of a home. If you're worried that you'll lose your job, or if your income is sky-high one month thanks to overtime and then low the next, you might not be ready to buy a home.</p> <p>Your monthly mortgage payment will become the biggest financial responsibility you have. What happens if you lose your job? What happens if your company goes through a dry spell in which they reduce your income for several months? Would you still be able to afford that monthly payment?</p> <h3>What to Do</h3> <p>Find a job that is reliable and that pays you a stable income each month. Don't take the risk that everything will work out. You don't want missed mortgage payments on your credit reports. And if your job is unstable? You'll greatly increase the risk of these black marks.</p> <p><em>Are you ready to buy a home? What steps are you taking to make it happen?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-reasons-you-shouldnt-buy-a-house-yet">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-5"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/everything-a-first-time-home-buyer-needs-to-buy-a-house">Everything a First-Time Home Buyer Needs to Buy a House</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-reasons-why-youre-too-old-or-too-young-for-a-mortgage-loan">4 Reasons Why You&#039;re Too Old — Or Too Young — For a Mortgage Loan</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/whats-faster-for-mortgage-payoff-100-month-extra-or-1-payment-year-extra">What&#039;s Faster for Mortgage Payoff: $100/Month Extra or 1 Payment/Year Extra?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-only-5-rules-of-home-buying-you-need-to-know">The Only 5 Rules of Home Buying You Need to Know</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ask-yourself-these-5-questions-before-buying-a-home">Ask Yourself These 5 Questions Before Buying a Home</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing credit score debt debt to income ratio down payments fha loans homeowners mortgages new home Fri, 17 Jun 2016 10:00:11 +0000 Dan Rafter 1732054 at http://www.wisebread.com Moving? Don't Skimp on These Critical Expenses http://www.wisebread.com/moving-dont-skimp-on-these-critical-expenses <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/moving-dont-skimp-on-these-critical-expenses" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_empty_box_87950015.jpg" alt="Woman learning not to skimp on moving expenses" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Moving can be an expensive, daunting experience. Worst of all, many people spend unnecessary money on moving supplies and items they simply don't need. On the other hand, you don't want to be dealing with the loss of property or issues after the move because you tried to save a few bucks.</p> <p>The trick is to keep the purchases light, while getting everything you need to safely transport your items to your new destination in one piece. That's why we're here to help you determine what you should, and what you definitely <em>shouldn't</em> skimp on.</p> <h2>Professional Movers</h2> <p>Hiring professional movers may be one of the best things you do for your move. While some people like to rely on themselves, friends, and family members to load and unload the moving truck, this can be a huge waste of time and energy that could be better spent settling into your new place. This can also be a very stressful event that causes friction with friends and family members, so just leave the dirty work to the professionals.</p> <p>Quality professional movers will carefully load your items into the truck, and should adequately protect them so that you can move with the peace of mind that your items are going to make it to your new destination in one piece. In fact, most movers will arrive with moving blankets and padding to further protect any fragile items.</p> <h3>Contact at Least Three Moving Companies</h3> <p>While you will need movers, you want to be careful about who you entrust with all of your possessions. Not all movers are created equal (which you hopefully won't find out the hard way). Carefully research movers to ensure that you're getting what you're expecting. Ask neighbors for recommendations, check Yelp and the Better Business Bureau for customer reviews and complaints, and do your due diligence to find the best movers at the best value in your area.</p> <p>It's usually a good idea to contact at least three reputable moving companies so that you can compare their services and costs. You can also ask them to do an in-home estimate. This will ensure that you get a more accurate quote and it will allow you to gauge whether it's really a company you want to be working with. Make sure to carefully read the estimate or contract to verify what is included with the moving services before signing anything.</p> <h3>Additional Services Offered by Moving Companies</h3> <p>Some moving companies will also help you pack, but this is one expense that you may want to skip. If you are hard-pressed for time, or your move is quickly approaching, then it may be worth the investment to have your moving company help with the packing. Otherwise, roll up your sleeves and get to work, because it can save you big money in the end.</p> <p>Some moving companies will also offer free storage for up to 30 days, which can be very valuable to you if your new place isn't ready yet. If you think you'll need storage, it may be wise to look for a moving company that offers it for free, rather than hiring a separate moving and storage company, which will likely cost you more money and a bigger headache in the end.</p> <h2>Moving Insurance</h2> <p>Accidents happen, which is why you should be prepared for them. Moving insurance is an absolute necessity. It will provide you with peace of mind, and in the event that the unthinkable happens, you can receive full or partial reimbursement for your damaged or lost items. Just as you wouldn't skimp on health or auto insurance, you shouldn't skimp on moving insurance.</p> <p>Most moving companies will offer some form of general insurance, but this generally tends to be about $0.60 per pound. This means that if you have a 48-inch television that only weighs 25 pounds, if the movers should drop it and you have not paid for additional moving insurance, you would only be entitled to a reimbursement of $15.</p> <p>As another example, the typical two-bedroom home usually weighs in somewhere around 4,500 pounds. Say the truck is completely destroyed (along with all of your property) &mdash; you would only be reimbursed $2,700. Your lifetime of saving and carefully choosing what to spend your money on is only worth $2,700 to the moving company. Unless you think you can refurnish an entire two-bedroom home for $2,700 (along with all of your clothing and personal possessions), you can clearly see the need for supplemental moving insurance.</p> <p>On the plus side, moving insurance is usually very affordable, particularly if you choose a higher deductible. The price will vary depending on how much insurance you need and the declared value of the items you want to insure. In most cases, you need to arrange moving insurance at least 48 hours before your move, so this isn't something you can procrastinate on.</p> <h2>Packing Supplies</h2> <p>More important than the quantity of packing supplies is the <em>quality</em>. The last thing you want to do is save a couple of bucks by buying cheap packing tape only to find that the heavy boxes split open on moving day. Don't skimp on tape or packing material for antiques and particularly valuable items.</p> <p>When it comes to glass, porcelain, or ceramic, packing paper or newspaper should work fine. You can also save some money by placing one foam dinner plate in between two glass plates. This will protect the plates during the move and make it easier for you to unpack.</p> <p>You'll also need things like a marking pen, cushioning material, scissors or a utility knife, and a tape gun, but you shouldn't have to spend a lot on these items. You also shouldn't need to spend much on boxes, if anything at all. You can typically find free boxes at your local grocery store or recycling center. Just make sure the boxes are in good condition and can safely transport your heavy items. The last thing you want is to pack your valuables in an old cardboard box that rips open on moving day or crumbles under the weight of other boxes. The cost to replace these items will likely be much higher than what you would've spent on quality boxes.</p> <h2>Don't Forget Your Tax Deductions</h2> <p>On the plus side, if your move is related to work, you can write off part of the move on your taxes. That means the movers, moving truck and supplies, and other must-have essentials might be deductible at the end of the year. Just make sure your move meets the <a href="https://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc455.html">IRS's time and distance test requirements</a> in order to safely deduct any reasonable moving expenses.</p> <p><em>Do you know of any other overlooked or unnecessary moving costs?</em> <em>Please share your thoughts in the comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/andrea-cannon">Andrea Cannon</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/moving-dont-skimp-on-these-critical-expenses">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-save-100s-on-your-next-move">How to Save $100s on Your Next Move</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-reasons-you-should-always-hire-a-moving-company">6 Reasons You Should Always Hire a Moving Company</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-hidden-housing-costs-new-homeowners-dont-expect">10 Hidden Housing Costs New Homeowners Don&#039;t Expect</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-places-it-pays-to-relocate-to">6 Places It Pays to Relocate To</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-forget-to-budget-for-these-unexpected-moving-expenses">Don&#039;t Forget to Budget for These Unexpected Moving Expenses</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living Real Estate and Housing expenses insurance movers moving new house packing relocation tax deductions Fri, 17 Jun 2016 09:30:28 +0000 Andrea Cannon 1732051 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Homebuying Questions You're Embarrassed to Ask http://www.wisebread.com/5-homebuying-questions-youre-embarrassed-to-ask <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-homebuying-questions-youre-embarrassed-to-ask" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_realtor_house_91129695.jpg" alt="Couple asking homebuying questions they&#039;re too embarrassed to ask" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You're ready to buy your first house. But you have questions. Lots of them. And some you think might be too embarrassing &mdash; too simple &mdash; to even ask out loud.</p> <p>Here's the truth: Buying a home is a complicated process. It's normal to have questions. And you should never be embarrassed to ask any of them. Here are answers to five such common questions. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-only-5-rules-of-home-buying-you-need-to-know?ref=seealso">The Only 5 Rules of Home Buying You Need to Know</a>)</p> <h2>1. How Much Will My Real Estate Agent Charge Me?</h2> <p>The short answer: nothing.</p> <p>It's true. When you work with a real estate agent to <em>buy </em>a home, you won't pay a cent to that realtor. Your real estate agent gets paid by the <em>seller</em> of the home that you buy. When the home sale closes, your real estate agent is paid a commission from the proceeds.</p> <p>Typically, the agent representing the home's seller charges a commission of 6% of the home's sale. If a home sells for $200,000, the seller's agent receives $12,000. That agent then typically splits the commission 50/50 with your agent. Your agent in this example would receive $6,000 for helping you buy a home while the seller's agent would also receive $6,000.</p> <p>But none of that commission money will come out of your pocket.</p> <h2>2. What Is a Buyer's Agent?</h2> <p>An exclusive buyer's agent is a real estate agent who only represents buyers. They are different from dual agents, who both represent buyers and work with sellers. An exclusive buyer's agent never takes on listings from sellers.</p> <p>If you work with a dual agent, that agent will show you all the for-sale homes that meet your criteria, and will still work with you to negotiate a lower sales price. But this agent <em>might </em>show you a home he or she has as a listing, too. This can be tricky. Is your dual agent going to negotiate hard on the sales price if that agent is also representing the person selling the home?</p> <h2>3. What Is Pre-Approval and Why Does It Matter?</h2> <p>Your real estate agent might ask you to get pre-approved for a mortgage loan from a lender. During the pre-approval process, your lender will run your credit and ask for copies of documents that prove your income, such as your last two paycheck stubs, last two months of bank account statements, and last two W2s.</p> <p>Once a lender has this information, it can calculate how much of a mortgage you can afford. The lender will then give you a pre-approval letter &mdash; that lasts a certain number of days, such as 30 or 60 &mdash; stating that it has approved you for a mortgage loan of a certain amount.</p> <p>Getting pre-approved is important because it tells you how much home you can afford. It also makes you a more attractive buyer. When sellers receive multiple bids for their homes, they're more likely to choose a buyer who is pre-approved. Such buyers are more likely to be able to actually close the home sale.</p> <h2>4. What Is Earnest Money?</h2> <p>Earnest money is a deposit that you make after you and a seller sign a contract. It shows the seller that you are serious about purchasing the home.</p> <p>After you and the seller agree on a sales price and each of you signs the sales contract, you'll deposit a certain percentage of the home's final sales price into an escrow account. The title company that handles your mortgage closing will usually manage the account. When the final mortgage documents are signed and the home sale officially closes, your earnest money is removed from the escrow account and used to cover part of your closing costs.</p> <p>How much earnest money the sellers request varies. Some sellers will require 1% of the home's final purchase price. Others will require just a few hundred dollars.</p> <p>Be careful with earnest money. If you back out of the sale because you can't come up with the mortgage dollars you need to finance the home, the contract might state that you lose your earnest money deposit. However, if you back out of the sale because a home inspection turns up serious problems with the home, the seller will usually return your earnest money deposit.</p> <h2>5. Do I Really Need a Home Inspection?</h2> <p>Yes. After you sign a sales contract for a home, you need to schedule a home inspection of the property. An inspector will tour the home and search for serious problems. Usually, the homebuyer attends the inspection, too.</p> <p>If the inspection turns up serious problems, you have options. You can ask the seller to repair the problems before the sale closes. You can request that the seller lower the agreed-upon asking price to free up money that you can use to fix the repairs yourself.</p> <p>If the problems are too severe, you can also back out of the sale. Your agent and the seller's agent will then negotiate what happens to your earnest money deposit. If the problems with a home truly are serious, and expensive, in most cases, you will receive a refund of your earnest money deposit.</p> <p><em>Any fundamental questions we've overlooked?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-homebuying-questions-youre-embarrassed-to-ask">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-sell-your-house-in-24-hours">How to Sell Your House in 24 Hours</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-pros-and-cons-of-paying-cash-for-a-house">The Pros and Cons of Paying Cash for a House</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/selling-your-home-17-ways-to-prepare-your-house-for-inspection-success">Selling Your Home: 17 Ways to Prepare Your House for Inspection Success</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/when-it-makes-sense-to-apply-for-a-mortgage-loan-without-your-spouse">When It Makes Sense to Apply for a Mortgage Loan Without Your Spouse</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-things-you-need-to-know-when-renting-to-own-a-home">5 Things You Need to Know When Renting-to-Own a Home</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing buying a home earnest money escrow home inspection mortgages pre-approval questions selling a home Fri, 10 Jun 2016 09:00:05 +0000 Dan Rafter 1727884 at http://www.wisebread.com 9 Things You Need to Know About a Home Appraisal http://www.wisebread.com/9-things-you-need-to-know-about-a-home-appraisal <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/9-things-you-need-to-know-about-a-home-appraisal" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple_home_appraisal_63336927.jpg" alt="Couple learning about home appraisals" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The first time you purchase a home, you may worry whether you are paying too much. Fortunately, assuming you are applying for a mortgage, there is a value check built into the purchase process: the home appraisal.</p> <p>Basically, the bank will send an expert to evaluate the home you want in the context of nearby recent sales, and tell you whether it's worth the contract price. If the appraiser says it's not, the bank won't finance your purchase at that price. Either the sale is off, or you'll have to renegotiate the price or add more cash to the deal.</p> <p>Appraisal day can cause anxiety for both buyers and sellers, but understanding these key things about the process can make it less nerve-wracking:</p> <h2>1. Appraisers Aren't Making This Up as They Go</h2> <p>Appraisers are required to be licensed or certified, and they generally go through a standard evaluation process, filling in spaces on a <a href="http://www.investopedia.com/articles/pf/12/home-appraisals.asp">template from Fannie Mae</a>. Aspects of the home that affect the valuation include: square footage, number of bathrooms, number of bedrooms, and needed repairs. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-appraisal-facts-that-could-save-you-big-money?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Appraisal Facts That Could Save You Big Money</a>)</p> <h2>2. Your Home Isn't the Only One the Appraiser Looks At</h2> <p>Besides the condition and features of your home, the other important factor for valuation is the selling price of other homes in the area. The appraiser will search recent sales for homes as similar to yours as possible, and use their selling prices to estimate an appropriate selling price for yours.</p> <h2>3. The Buyer Pays for the Appraisal</h2> <p>Although the appraisal is really for the lender's benefit, and the lender orders it, the lender will typically send the appraisal bill, usually several hundred dollars, to the buyer.</p> <h2>4. The Appraisal Doesn't Substitute for a Home Inspection</h2> <p>An appraiser is looking over your house to <a href="http://homeguides.sfgate.com/appraiser-say-house-not-good-condition-62802.html">gauge its general condition</a> on a scale of 1 to 6, with the bottom half of the scale indicating that serious repairs are needed. An inspector will meticulously test every system of your home, making sure the furnace works, the water pressure is good, etc. Just because an appraiser said the house is in good condition does not mean you can skip the inspection report.</p> <h2>5. Appraisals Aren't Just for Home Sales</h2> <p>Any time you take a loan on a property, the lender will likely need an appraisal. So you may have to pay for one when you refinance your mortgage or take out a home equity line of credit.</p> <h2>6. Sometimes the Appraiser Doesn't Need to Enter the Home</h2> <p>Although less common than they were before the housing crash, <a href="http://www.forsytheappraisals.com/2015/august/292-what-do-you-get-with-a-drive-by-appraisal">drive-by appraisals</a>, where the appraiser evaluates the house by looking at the exterior and using comparable recent sales, still happen. If you had a recent appraisal, and you are refinancing, the bank might be okay with a drive-by, which will probably cost you less.</p> <h2>7. You Don't Have to Be Present for the Appraisal</h2> <p>Buyers typically don't attend a home appraisal, but it's fine for the seller to be in the home during the appraisal. In fact, it could be helpful because the appraiser may have questions for the homeowner. It might be useful for the agent to be present as well, and it's often recommended that owners provide written information, such as a list of improvements and repairs they've done.</p> <h2>8. You Are Entitled to a Copy of the Report &mdash; Read It Carefully</h2> <p>The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau requires lenders to provide homeowners with a copy of the appraisal report at no additional cost. When you get it, check it carefully for errors, especially if the appraisal came in lower than you expected. You can appeal if the appraiser missed something important, or if you feel the comparison sales they chose were inappropriate &mdash; for instance, if one of the comparisons was in terrible condition or much smaller than your house.</p> <h2>9. You Can Hire an Appraiser Before You Sell Your Home</h2> <p>There are two reasons you might consider hiring your own appraiser: You want to know how much your house is worth before listing it, or you are deciding whether to undertake repairs or improvements before listing it.</p> <p>Usually, it's the agent's job to help you set a selling price. If you doubt your agent's estimate, or if you're getting conflicting estimates from different agents, you could hire an appraiser to settle it. However, there are cons to this practice as well as pros. Don't expect the buyer's lender to use your pre-appraisal &mdash; they'll still want their own.</p> <p>As far as assessing the value upgrades might add to your home, an appraiser can be really valuable in saving you from investing dollars in the property that you won't get back. However, a knowledgeable real estate agent should have ideas about this as well.</p> <p><em>Have you ever been dissatisfied with an appraiser's report?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carrie-kirby">Carrie Kirby</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-things-you-need-to-know-about-a-home-appraisal">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-reasons-your-home-isnt-selling">7 Reasons Your Home Isn&#039;t Selling</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-dumb-ways-to-scare-off-potential-homebuyers">10 Dumb Ways to Scare Off Potential Homebuyers</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/real-estate-appraisals-ten-things-most-people-just-dont-understand-about-them">Real Estate Appraisals - Ten things most people just don&#039;t understand about them</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-tourist-towns-that-are-actually-great-to-live-in">6 &quot;Tourist Towns&quot; That Are Actually Great to Live In</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-things-you-need-to-know-when-renting-to-own-a-home">5 Things You Need to Know When Renting-to-Own a Home</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing appraisal home value housing market new homeowner selling a house Tue, 07 Jun 2016 09:00:07 +0000 Carrie Kirby 1725697 at http://www.wisebread.com The Only 5 Rules You Need to Know About Investing in Real Estate http://www.wisebread.com/the-only-5-rules-you-need-to-know-about-investing-in-real-estate <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-only-5-rules-you-need-to-know-about-investing-in-real-estate" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/000074853063.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The numbers are impressive: The median existing home price for homes across the United States stood at $232,500 in April, according to the National Association of Realtors. That's up 6.3% from the same month one year earlier, and marks the 50th consecutive month in which median housing prices have increased from one year to the next.</p> <p>This steady rate of appreciation might inspire you to invest in residential real estate. After all, the performance of the housing market during the last four years has been far steadier than that of the stock market. But be careful: Sure, investing in real estate can be profitable &mdash; but it can also be risky. Investors who don't do their homework before sinking their dollars into homes could lose a bundle of money.</p> <p>Here are five rules you must know before <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/real-estate-investing-is-cheaper-and-easier-than-you-think" target="_blank">investing in real estate</a>.</p> <h2>1. Don't Let Your Emotions Betray You</h2> <p>Jamal Asskoumi, owner of the online real estate agency CastleSmart, says that too many inexperienced investors make the mistake of falling in love with a property for the way it looks. They then invest in it without running the numbers to make sure that the home has real potential to increase in value enough to make it a sound investment.</p> <p>Falling in love with a property can also cause investors to spend too much on it upfront, making it nearly impossible for them to make a profit after their purchase.</p> <p>&quot;Unlike stocks that are numbers on a screen, property must be liked and appreciated before it can be invested in, and this is the downfall of many investors,&quot; Asskoumi said. &quot;When visiting a property, investors sometimes become attached and feel as though they have to have it, regardless of the price. They end up paying more than what is necessary and lose on the investment.&quot;</p> <h2>2. Have Enough Money to Cover Both Known and Unknown Losses</h2> <p>Investing in real estate isn't cheap. You are buying a home, after all. But the real trouble spot for investors are the unexpected costs: If you rent out your investment, you never know what damage your tenants might cause. Fixing that damage could cost thousands of dollars.</p> <p>You also have to be prepared for possible losses. Housing values can go down as well as up. You need the financial cushion to handle these fluctuations, said Rocky Lalvani, a financial coach and founder of the Richer Soul financial blog.</p> <p>You also need the money to cover possible monthly losses until your property does appreciate enough in value for you to sell it and earn a big profit. Maybe your mortgage on the property you bought is $2,000 a month but you can only rent the home for $1,800 a month. You'll essentially be losing $200 a month while you wait for your investment to appreciate.</p> <p>&quot;Be prepared for losses; it's a cost of business,&quot; Lalvani said. &quot;Real estate may lose money in the short term while your asset is building over the long term.&quot;</p> <h2>3. Don't Rent to Just Anyone</h2> <p>Finding good tenants is one of the biggest challenges in investing in real estate. The wrong tenants could damage your property, stop paying their monthly rent, and force you to evict them, a process that is long and costly.</p> <p>That's why it's so important to do your research before renting out your home. Run the credit of potential tenants to determine if they've struggled to pay their bills before. Run criminal background checks, too, on potential tenants.</p> <p>Above all, never simply buy into the promises that potential tenants make to you.</p> <p>&quot;Tenants will literally lie about anything and everything,&quot; said Eric Bowlin, a real estate investor and founder of the real estate investing blog EricBowlin.com. &quot;Assume everyone has no job, no income, and a long eviction record, until otherwise proven.&quot;</p> <h2>4. Invest in the Right Neighborhood</h2> <p>You want to invest in an area in which homes are most likely to increase in value. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that any home, even if located in a desirable neighborhood, will be worth more 10 years from now than it is today.</p> <p>But investing in the right neighborhood can at least increase the odds.</p> <p>Study what homes are selling for in any neighborhood in which you want to invest. Study, too, the average monthly rents that homes and apartments in a neighborhood fetch.</p> <p>A neighborhood that is dotted with new restaurants and shops might be a good investment. So might be one that is gaining the reputation as being an up-and-coming area. Be careful, though: It's easy to spend too much upfront in these hotter neighborhoods.</p> <p>Paul Ullman, founder and chief investment officer of Asset Based Lending in Hoboken, New Jersey, says that the key is to look at the strength of nearby schools and to target areas that have positive job growth. It helps, too, to know the neighborhood in which you are going to invest.</p> <p>&quot;Ideally, invest close to home, at least initially,&quot; Ullman said.</p> <h2>5. Know Your Limits</h2> <p>Before investing in real estate, be honest about what you can and can't do. If you're not particularly handy, you might not be able to repair that leaking dishwasher on your own, for instance, and might need a plumber to resolve the problem. That will add to the costs of your real estate investment.</p> <p>You might also want to avoid 2:00 a.m. calls from tenants complaining that the heat in their apartment isn't working. To avoid these calls, you can hire a professional property management company to take over the daily operations of your real estate investment. Hiring such a company, though, costs money, and will eat into your profits.</p> <p>&quot;I always tell people who are interested in getting into investment real estate to consider how comfortable they are with doing any kind of repairs or construction to a house or rental property,&quot; said Todd Barton with the Atlanta office of Renters Warehouse. &quot;You'll have to budget in the costs of contractors or professional property managers. Be honest with yourself upfront so that you don't get into a situation where you are overwhelmed with projects and mounting debts.&quot;</p> <p><em>Have you taken the plunge and invested in real estate? What other rules should new investors stick to?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-only-5-rules-you-need-to-know-about-investing-in-real-estate">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-7"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-tips-for-getting-your-security-deposit-back">20 Tips for Getting Your Security Deposit Back</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-worry-about-missing-the-bottom-in-houses">Don&#039;t worry about missing the bottom in houses</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/so-you-want-to-be-a-landlord-part-i">So You Want to be a Landlord? Part I</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-sell-your-home-to-pay-down-debt">Should You Sell Your Home to Pay Down Debt?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-dumb-ways-to-scare-off-potential-homebuyers">10 Dumb Ways to Scare Off Potential Homebuyers</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Investment Real Estate and Housing appreciation housing market landlord neighborhoods property management renting residential real estate risks tenants Thu, 26 May 2016 09:30:22 +0000 Dan Rafter 1717920 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Questions Landlords Can't Ask http://www.wisebread.com/10-questions-landlords-cant-ask <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-questions-landlords-cant-ask" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_rental_sign_000024945777.jpg" alt="Learning which questions landlords cannot ask" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The rental market is tough these days, especially in big cities. You have to scan the classifieds, jump on opportunities, and be ready to say yes at a moment's notice. So the last thing you need is for some landlord to refuse you a lease because of questions he or she is actually not allowed to ask. Here are 10 of those questions. Getting asked any of them should give you pause.</p> <h2>1. Where Were You Born?</h2> <p>It may be an innocent enough question, especially if you have an accent and the landlord picks up on it. But it's actually against the <a href="http://www.fairhousingresources.com/Fair-Housing-Act-Full-Text.html">Fair Housing Act</a> to ask questions regarding someone's nationality. A landlord cannot ask about your parents' nationality or upbringing either, or your spouse's. This is all information that should have no bearing on your application, or your suitability as a tenant. If a landlord does ask, <a href="http://www.american-apartment-owners-association.org/property-management/tenant-screening/rental-application-question-illegal/">the penalties can be severe</a>.</p> <h2>2. Have You Ever Been Arrested for Anything?</h2> <p>If a landlord is asking this, they're probably trying to protect themselves from someone who could be trouble. But, landlords are simply not allowed to know about your arrest record. They are entitled to know if you were convicted of a crime, and that will come up on a standard background check. However, since innocent people can be arrested and then set free, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-9-most-important-lessons-i-learned-about-money-when-i-became-a-landlord" target="_blank">landlords aren't entitled</a> to arrest records.</p> <h2>3. Are You Straight, Gay, or Bisexual?</h2> <p>This has absolutely no place in the conversation, and cannot be asked by the landlord. It's a direct violation of the Fair Housing Act, and by doing so, the landlord could face severe penalties. If sexual orientation ever becomes an issue, know that it's a violation of the law.</p> <h2>4. Do You Have Any Disabilities?</h2> <p>Many landlords may be genuinely looking out for you here. They may know that the wheelchair access to the building is very poor, or that it would be a tough building for a blind person to negotiate. That is all well and good, but it's not their concern. Someone with a disability has the same rights to rent a home or apartment as an able-bodied person. What's more, every apartment or home up for rent should be made available to a disabled tenant. If the landlord steers you to one particular apartment over all others, they could actually face legal action. When it comes down to it, a person's disability, even if it's severe, cannot be brought into question when renting. It's also worth pointing out that pet policies do not apply to service animals.</p> <h2>5. Tell Me About Your Kids</h2> <p>Another big no-no. Anything relating to kids, whether it's their ages, how many you have, where they go to school, or if you're planning to have any, it's all off limits. Once again, this is all down to the Fair Housing Act. Landlords could use that information to discriminate against a tenant (especially those who believe children will just cause a lot of noise and mess), and the law just does not allow that. You may naturally bring up kids in conversation (especially if you're interested in a park in the area, or local daycare centers), and that is your right. But the landlord cannot and should not initiate it. (By the way, some landlords have found a way to skirt this by assuming you have children, and simply asking for their names on the application. You do not have to complete that information.)</p> <h2>6. So, Do You Go to Church Around Here?</h2> <p>Once again, this may seem like an innocent enough question, but probing about your religion is a direct violation of the Fair Housing Act. The landlord may not mean anything by it, but the assumption could be made that he or she is favoring Christian applicants over all others. Perhaps the landlord is biased for, or against, Muslims or atheists. None of this should have any impact on your application. Your faith, or lack thereof, is your concern, and yours only. Should any question about religion come up, the landlord is breaking the law.</p> <h2>7. Are You Married?</h2> <p>You have to wonder why that would be any concern of the landlord. After all, married people do not necessarily make for better, or worse, tenants. Some married couples are model citizens, others fights constantly and may appear on an episode of <em>Cops</em>. But none of this is relevant anyway, because the landlord is not allowed to ask you anything about your marital status. Even a statement like &quot;I see you two are engaged,&quot; which may be prompted by seeing a ring, is not kosher. You do not have to answer this question, and the landlord asking it could get in trouble for doing so.</p> <h2>8. Are You On Welfare?</h2> <p>A landlord has every right to ask about income. After all, they need to know that you can pay the rent on time, without any trouble. But where you get that income &mdash; that's different. If you are on welfare, receive food stamps, and get other kinds of benefits or public assistance, you can keep that information to yourself. The landlord cannot pry, and cannot deny anyone tenancy based on that information. If he or she does, it's cause for an investigation by the local authorities.</p> <h2>9. How Old Are You?</h2> <p>Seems like a standard question, right? And most rental applications have a &quot;date of birth&quot; section for you to fill in. But, asking about your age is another one of those protected pieces of information covered in the Fair Housing Act. It's quite possible a landlord wants to rent only to people in a certain age bracket. This is against the law. The only time age can be introduced as a factor is if your application is for a senior community or retirement home. Other than that, it's a no go.</p> <h2>10. What Race Are You?</h2> <p>Similar to the nationality question, this is a huge violation of the Fair Housing Act. Even if it's posed as a compliment, (like &quot;You have beautiful olive skin, are your parents Greek or Spanish?&quot;), the landlord is stepping way over the line. No questions about your race can be asked, and if it comes up, you can report the landlord for discrimination.</p> <p><em>Have you ever been asked any of these questions? How did you respond?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-questions-landlords-cant-ask">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-to-rent-an-apartment-with-bad-credit">7 Ways to Rent An Apartment With Bad Credit</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-moves-to-make-if-you-need-to-break-your-lease">8 Moves to Make If You Need to Break Your Lease</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-11-best-websites-for-renting-your-extra-space">The 11 Best Websites for Renting Your Extra Space</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-smart-ways-to-get-your-apartment-deposit-back">7 Smart Ways to Get Your Apartment Deposit Back</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-simple-way-to-decide-how-much-rent-you-can-really-afford">The Simple Way to Decide How Much Rent You Can Really Afford</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing apartments discrimination fair housing act illegal landlords questions renting Tue, 24 May 2016 10:30:03 +0000 Paul Michael 1715216 at http://www.wisebread.com The Only 5 Rules of Home Buying You Need to Know http://www.wisebread.com/the-only-5-rules-of-home-buying-you-need-to-know <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-only-5-rules-of-home-buying-you-need-to-know" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/family_new_house_000090470299.jpg" alt="Family learning only rules of home buying they need to know" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Buying a home can be stressful and complicated. But if you follow just five basic rules, you'll make the challenge of buying a home a bit less intimidating.</p> <h2>1. Meet With a Mortgage Lender Before Touring Homes</h2> <p>Touring homes is the fun part of buying. But before you start looking at properties, you need to meet with a mortgage lender.</p> <p>That's because a lender can pre-approve you for a mortgage loan. To do this, your lender will run your credit. You'll have to provide copies of such documents as your last two paycheck stubs, bank-account statements, W2s, and tax returns. Your lender will take this information and determine if you qualify for a mortgage loan, and how large that loan can be.</p> <p>This is important for house hunters. Once you know that a lender will approve you for a mortgage loan of $200,000, you won't waste time looking at homes that cost $300,000.</p> <p>Make sure, though, that you get <em>pre-approved</em> and not <em>pre-qualified</em>. A pre-qualification is when a lender takes down your information by phone and tells you how large of a mortgage loan you can afford. But in a pre-qualification, lenders don't actually verify your financial health as they do when pre-approving you.</p> <h2>2. Review Your Credit Reports</h2> <p>You have three credit reports, one each maintained by the credit bureaus of TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. These reports list how much you owe on your credit cards and any other loans. They also list if you've missed any payments or paid any bills late. They'll list, too, any negative judgments such as recent foreclosures and bankruptcies.</p> <p>You can order one free copy of each of your three credit reports every year from AnnualCreditReport.com. Once you do, study the reports to make sure that the information contained in it is accurate. If it's not, it could cause your credit score to fall.</p> <h2>3. Order at Least One of Your Credit Scores Before You Start House Hunting</h2> <p>Speaking of credit scores, this three-digit number is critical to anyone buying a home. Lenders rely on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-surprising-ways-bad-credit-can-hurt-you" target="_blank">your credit score</a> to determine how much of a risk you are. If your score is low, say under 640 on the FICO scale, you'll struggle to get a mortgage loan without paying an exorbitantly high interest rate. If your score is above 740, though, you'll generally qualify for the widest variety of mortgage loans and the lowest interest rates on these loans.</p> <p>To determine how strong your credit score is, you'll have to order at least one of your three reports, one each maintained by the credit bureaus again. You can order your score from Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion for about $15.</p> <h2>4. Reduce Your Debt</h2> <p>There's another number that lenders look at when you apply for a mortgage loan &mdash; your debt-to-income ratio. This ratio compares your monthly debt obligations with your gross monthly income. If this ratio is too high, you'll struggle to qualify for a mortgage.</p> <p>Lenders prefer that your total monthly debts, including your estimated new monthly mortgage payment, equals no more than 43% of your gross monthly income. If your debt-to-income ratio is too high, cut down as much of your debt as possible &mdash; maybe starting with credit card debt &mdash; before you start looking for a new home.</p> <h2>5. Interview to Find the Right Real Estate Agent</h2> <p>When you're buying a home, you get to work with a real estate agent for free. When you find and buy a home, your agent is paid by the seller, who uses part of the profit of the home sale to provide your agent with a commission. Because of this, there's no reason not to work with a real estate agent when you're buying a home.</p> <p>But you do want to work with the <em>right</em> agent, so schedule interviews with several. When you're speaking with agents, ask them some key questions: How long have they worked as real estate agents? Do they work often in the neighborhoods that you're targeting? How much of a home's asking price do they shave off on average for their buyers? Do they represent both buyers and sellers or are they exclusively buyers' agents?</p> <p>Be sure, too, to ask agents for referrals from past customers. You'll want to talk to some of these past customers to determine how responsive and effective an agent was for them.</p> <p><em>Is our list of rules too short? What other rules should home-buyers heed?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-only-5-rules-of-home-buying-you-need-to-know">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-money-moves-to-make-for-tomorrows-mortgage">6 Money Moves to Make for Tomorrow&#039;s Mortgage</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/whats-faster-for-mortgage-payoff-100-month-extra-or-1-payment-year-extra">What&#039;s Faster for Mortgage Payoff: $100/Month Extra or 1 Payment/Year Extra?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-reasons-you-shouldnt-buy-a-house-yet">5 Reasons You Shouldn&#039;t Buy a House (Yet)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-things-lenders-look-for-in-a-loan-application">5 Things Lenders Look For in a Loan Application</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/everything-you-need-to-know-about-freddie-mac-and-fannie-mae">Everything You Need to Know About Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing credit reports home buying homeowners house hunting lenders mortgages real estate agents Thu, 19 May 2016 09:30:24 +0000 Dan Rafter 1712868 at http://www.wisebread.com