Real Estate and Housing http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/4810/all en-US Sell Your House Faster With These 6 House Flipping Tricks http://www.wisebread.com/sell-your-house-faster-with-these-6-house-flipping-tricks <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/sell-your-house-faster-with-these-6-house-flipping-tricks" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-177709534.jpg" alt="use pro flipper tips to sell a house fast" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When you're ready to sell your home, there's no reason you can't sell like a professional. People who flip homes for a living know what makes a difference for a quick sale at a great price. Take advantage of their insight and tips for a better home-selling experience.</p> <h2>1. Invest in your curb appeal</h2> <p>You might be super-proud of your hardwood flooring or custom cabinetry, but what's the first thing a potential buyer sees? Your lawn. Those scraggly trees. The flower beds, or lack thereof. The front door with its faded coat of paint. All these outdoor elements create a first impression, and a good first impression sets the selling stage.</p> <p>House-flipping pros know a fresh coat of paint on the doors, shutters, and exterior trim can have a much better impact on potential buyers. It's a good idea, too, to invest in a new, stylish mailbox that matches your home's exterior.</p> <p>Other curb appeal updates can be accomplished with a little spare time and hard work. Clear out any outdoor clutter; ensure that the roof, entry, and sidewalks are clean. Clean outdoor lighting and replace any burned-out bulbs or broken fixtures. Update the landscaping by trimming trees, adding in some annuals for a punch of color, and putting down fresh mulch over all beds. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-to-improve-your-curb-appeal-for-next-to-nothing?ref=seealso" target="_blank">6 Ways to Improve Your Curb Appeal for Next to Nothing</a>)</p> <h2>2. Know your neighborhood</h2> <p>Pro flippers know how important it is to make sure a home for sale fits well into its surroundings. If your home is noticeably shabbier than its neighbors, it will stand out, and not in a good way. You run the risk of people seeing it as rundown or neglected.</p> <p>Conversely, if your home has too many luxury upgrades to fit into the price point of the surrounding area, you might price yourself right out of a sale. Potential buyers want to know they'll be able to resell the house in the future; if it stands out as too costly in an area that doesn't match, you're likely to scare them away.</p> <h2>3. Do renovations right &mdash; and highlight them</h2> <p>The 2016 <a href="https://www.zillow.com/research/zillow-group-report-2016-13279/#execsum" target="_blank">Zillow Group Report on Consumer Housing Trends</a> found that homeowners who tackled a major renovation before selling their home tended to sell for up to 2 percent above the asking price. So if there's a big, obvious project you need to take care of, whether it's a dated bathroom or a sagging roof, it's worth the time and cash to do it.</p> <p>Just make sure you do the renovations right! Skimping on materials or trying to DIY a project that's beyond your capability can reduce your home's value, not increase it. Hire the professionals you need and pay for good materials. Then highlight the work you've had done, so potential buyers see the care, thought, and cost that's gone into it. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-home-renovations-that-almost-pay-for-themselves?ref=seealso" target="_blank">10 Home Renovations That Almost Pay for Themselves</a>)</p> <h2>4. Make minor upgrades for a major difference</h2> <p>Experienced house flippers know that minor upgrades can make a huge difference in how a home's value is perceived. For example, replacing contractor-standard light fixtures, cabinet hardware, and faucets with premium and custom fixtures can make your home stand out. The custom upgrades are noticeable and differentiate your home from comparable ones on the market.</p> <p>Consider replacing kitchen appliances with used, high-end models, as well. You can score great deals on a used stove or refrigerator. Homebuyers don't know or care that it's been used by someone other than you; they just notice and appreciate the quality.</p> <h2>5. Stage for a quicker sale</h2> <p>You can <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-stage-your-home-without-hiring-a-pro?ref=internal" target="_blank">stage a house yourself</a>, or you can hire a professional stager. Since staging is somewhat of an art form, it can be worth the price to hire an experienced pro. It's hard for some potential buyers to picture themselves in a home that's already lived in. The magic of staging is that the home looks just lived in enough; it's appealing, stylish, and comfortable, but not too personal.</p> <p>Professional staging is a relatively small investment, typically costing around 1 percent of the home's listing price. You might be able to pay a little less for a one-time consultation with a professional stager who will give you ideas you can implement yourself.</p> <p>You might think that staging isn't really necessary, but you'd be surprised by the difference it can make in your home sale. According to a 2015 profile by the National Association of Realtors, many realtors have found that staging can raise a home's value by up to 10 percent. And according to the Real Estate Staging Association, staged houses sell 73 percent faster than non-staged homes.</p> <h2>6. Do some modern marketing</h2> <p>The final expert tip is to use technology to put out some great marketing for your home. Social media is easy to use, and you can approach your ideal buyers as a group instead of waiting for them to come find you. Take (or hire someone to take) great photos of your house, write up a smart description, and spend a little money on targeted advertising on Facebook or Twitter.</p> <p>Social media advertising can be very inexpensive. Even a couple of dollars a day will put your ad in front of several thousand people in a targeted group. After they see that curb appeal, upgrades, and staging, you'll be selling like a pro flipper in no time.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/annie-mueller">Annie Mueller</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/sell-your-house-faster-with-these-6-house-flipping-tricks">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/8-ways-to-stage-your-home-without-hiring-a-pro">8 Ways to Stage Your Home Without Hiring a Pro</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-unexpected-costs-of-selling-a-home">8 Unexpected Costs of Selling 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/8-questions-real-estate-agents-hear-most-often">8 Questions Real Estate Agents Hear Most Often</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-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-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-questions-to-ask-during-an-open-house">20+ Questions to Ask During an Open House</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing advice curb appeal experts flipping homebuyers list price marketing professionals remodeling renovations selling a home staging Mon, 21 Aug 2017 09:01:06 +0000 Annie Mueller 2005874 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Money Moves That Will Ruin Your Mortgage Application http://www.wisebread.com/5-money-moves-that-will-ruin-your-mortgage-application <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-money-moves-that-will-ruin-your-mortgage-application" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/housing_market_risk.jpg" alt="Housing market risk" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When applying for a mortgage, you shouldn't do anything that will cause a bank to question your ability to repay the loan. You don't need perfect finances to get a mortgage, but it's in your best interest to have a basic understanding of loan requirements. The more you know, the less likely you are to make mistakes that can ruin your application. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/make-these-5-money-moves-before-applying-for-a-mortgage?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Make These 5 Money Moves Before Applying for a Mortgage</a>)</p> <p>Here are a few missteps to avoid if you're thinking about buying a house.</p> <h2>1. Paying for everything with cash</h2> <p>Using cash for everyday purchases is one way to avoid debt. But just because cash is king in your world doesn't mean you should cast off credit cards.</p> <p>Unless you're fortunate enough to pay cash for a house, you'll need to apply for financing, which requires a credit history. And the only way to build credit is to use credit. Without any type of credit profile, a mortgage underwriter can't assess whether you're capable of responsibly managing a home loan.</p> <p>In the lending world, no credit can be just as damaging as bad credit. So before applying for a home loan, establish credit by getting a credit card or another type of loan. You don't have to drive yourself into debt with it, but you should demonstrate a pattern of timely payments and responsible borrowing. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-use-credit-cards-to-improve-your-credit-score?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Use Credit Cards to Improve Your Credit Score</a>)</p> <h2>2. Carrying too much debt</h2> <p>While it's in your best interest to have a responsible credit profile, if you start spending money on stuff you don't need and get in over your head, you could hurt your chances of a mortgage approval. Maxing out credit cards can raise your <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-one-ratio-is-the-key-to-a-good-credit-score" target="_blank">credit utilization ratio</a> and lower your credit score. Credit utilization is the percentage of your credit card debt compared to your credit limit.</p> <p>If you go overboard and accumulate too much debt, there's also the risk of falling behind on payments. Late payments are another credit score killer that can destroy any chance of qualifying for a mortgage.</p> <p>To avoid problems with a mortgage approval, get into a habit of paying off credit card balances in full every month. If you carry a balance, keep it small &mdash; ideally below 30 percent of your credit line.</p> <p>If you've already been approved for a mortgage, don't make any major purchases before closing on the home purchase. This includes buying furniture or financing a new car. New debt increases your debt-to-income ratio, which can affect your approval.</p> <p>Since you won't know your actual mortgage costs until a few days before closing, hold off spending money on new furniture or appliances to ensure you have enough cash on hand.</p> <h2>3. Co-signing for someone else</h2> <p>Co-signing a loan for a friend or relative is a noble deed (one that I do not personally recommend), but it's imperative that you're fully aware of the consequences of this decision. Co-signers are not silent partners on loan documents. By signing your name, you become a joint debt holder; as such, a co-signed debt appears on your credit report and counts toward your debt-to-income ratio. This is because you're responsible for the loan if the primary signer stops paying. (And if this happens, you could be in big trouble financially!)</p> <p>Once you are ready to apply for a mortgage, your lender takes a co-signed debt into consideration when calculating your debt-to-income ratio. Unfortunately, with a co-signed debt on your credit file, a lender might say you owe too much to take on additional debt and deny your mortgage application.</p> <h2>4. Not saving enough cash</h2> <p>You need cash for a home purchase &mdash; a <em>lot </em>of cash. Nowadays, many mortgage programs require borrowers to bring cash to the table. This includes a down payment between 3.5 percent to 5 percent or higher, as well as funds for closing (between 2 percent and 5 percent of the sale price). It doesn't matter how much you earn: If you can't show enough assets, you can't get a mortgage. Build up this cushion first before diving into the homebuying process. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-easy-ways-to-start-saving-for-a-down-payment-on-a-home?ref=seealso" target="_blank">4 Easy Ways to Start Saving for a Down Payment on a Home</a>)</p> <h2>5. Quitting your day job</h2> <p>Don't quit your day job if you're planning to buy in the near future &mdash; at least, not yet.</p> <p>Qualifying for a mortgage involves demonstrating long-term financial stability. This is why lenders require a borrower's most recent paycheck stubs and the previous year's tax returns. Self-employed people can purchase a home like anyone else, but they have to provide one to two years of profitable business tax returns, where their income either increases from year to year or remains roughly the same.</p> <p>It doesn't matter how much you're making today as a self-employed borrower. If a lender has reason to believe that your income isn't consistent or stable, you might not get a loan. So if you're thinking about buying, stick with your job until closing, and then become your own boss. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/denied-a-mortgage-heres-how-to-fix-it-fast?ref=seeaslo" target="_blank">Denied a Mortgage? Here's How to Fix It Fast</a>)</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-money-moves-that-will-ruin-your-mortgage-application">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/5-mortgage-details-you-should-know-before-you-sign">5 Mortgage Details You Should Know Before You Sign</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-surprising-things-lenders-check-besides-your-credit-score">4 Surprising Things Lenders Check Besides Your Credit Score</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-times-buying-a-home-with-cash-is-bad-for-your-budget">5 Times Buying a Home With Cash Is Bad for Your Budget</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/watch-out-for-these-5-last-minute-home-buying-costs">Watch Out for These 5 Last Minute Home Buying Costs</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/should-you-pay-your-mortgage-off-early">Should You Pay Your Mortgage Off Early?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing cash co-signing credit history credit utilization debt debt to income ratio home buying homeownership money mistakes mortgages quitting Wed, 16 Aug 2017 08:30:07 +0000 Mikey Rox 2003615 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Questions Real Estate Agents Hear Most Often http://www.wisebread.com/8-questions-real-estate-agents-hear-most-often <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-questions-real-estate-agents-hear-most-often" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/real_estate_agent_showing_a_family_a_house_closer_in.jpg" alt="Real estate agent showing a family a house, closer in" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>As a first-time homebuyer or seller, you'll probably have a lot of questions. This is par for the course, especially if you have zero knowledge of the real estate process. More than likely, you'll drill your real estate agent with queries as you navigate the buying or selling of your home. And, one of these common questions is bound to come up. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-things-your-real-estate-agent-wishes-you-knew?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Things Your Real Estate Agent Wishes You Knew</a>)</p> <h2>Buyers</h2> <p>As a buyer, you are probably most interested in what you're getting yourself into.</p> <h3>1. Is the neighborhood safe?</h3> <p>It's an interesting question, because we all have different thresholds for safety. Your licensed real estate agent is not allowed, however, to comment on the safety of the neighborhood. If you want a better understanding of the actual criminal activity in the area, you'll need to do your own research. You can use online tools to <a href="http://www.bestplaces.net/crime/" target="_blank">compare crime statistics</a> between cities for a more accurate outlook.</p> <p>Emile L'Eplattenier, real estate marketing and sales analyst, makes another solid point: &quot;Always remember that crime can happen anywhere, and there is a very big difference between feeling safe and actually being safe.&quot;</p> <h3>2. How much will the house cost to renovate?</h3> <p>Your real estate agent can't give you a roundabout number on what your fixer-upper will cost to renovate, because they're not a contractor and they have no idea how expensive or inexpensive your taste may be. Joan Kagan, sales manager of a real estate listing site, often suggests to clients that they bring along a trusted contractor to help find a ballpark for this figure. Your agent may know someone who fits the bill, or, if you have a handy person in your own circle, invite them on your next walk-through to discuss your vision. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-home-renovations-that-could-hurt-your-homes-value?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Home Renovations That Could Hurt Your Home's Value</a>)</p> <h3>3. What do you think this will be worth in five to 10 years?</h3> <p>When Kagan is asked this question, she provides a democratic response: &quot;The best way of predicting the future is to look at the past. History repeats itself. I can show you data on the average prices for over the past 10 years. Would that be helpful?&quot;</p> <p>It may be helpful, but as we all know, real estate is up and down and in between more than ever. It's probably best not to worry about the resale value in a specific time frame as much as getting the best deal you can right now.</p> <h2>Sellers</h2> <p>Sellers are most likely interested in what they can get out of it.</p> <h3>4. What is my home worth?</h3> <p>If you've decided to put your home on the market, the first question you'll have is, how much is the house worth? Unless you're being forced out by circumstance, your main goal should be to make a bit of money off your investment or at least break even.</p> <p>&quot;Before determining a listing price, sellers should take the time to go online to research local comps to help gain an understanding of their property's market value,&quot; says Michael Lissack, a Massachusetts real estate agent for Owners.com. &quot;In addition, it's important to reach out to a trusted real estate agent who can help sellers understand their market and evaluate their home and what is it worth. For example, if a seller remodels their kitchen or adds a bedroom, agents can account for that when they are evaluating the home's value.&quot;</p> <p>A good initial resource for you to size up what your home is worth is the real estate site Zillow. It allows you to search addresses in your neighborhood to see the &quot;Zestimated&quot; value of the homes. This can give you a head start, especially if you're comparing similar houses, both inside and out, to yours.</p> <h3>5. Why can't I just sell my house on my own?</h3> <p>Selling your own house may seem like an ideal solution to those trying to avoid commission fees and other associated expenses, but some things aren't worth the trouble. Realtor and attorney Sammi Massie points out we pay for lots of professional services. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/fsbo-how-to-sell-your-home-on-your-own?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Sell Your Home on Your Own</a>)</p> <p>&quot;Would you cut your own hair, fix your own car, argue your own case in court, or anything else that there are professionals for?&quot; she asks. &quot;Let the professional handle the sale of the most valuable possession you have; that's what they do best.&quot;</p> <h3>6. Why do agents get paid so much money?</h3> <p>It can be a tough pill to swallow when you consider how much of your home's sale price will go toward paying your real estate agent. Most agents take a 5 percent to 6 percent commission from a home's sale: So if your home sells for $200,000, you can expect to pay your agent between $10,000 and $12,000.</p> <p>Still, Massie makes a good case for why agents get paid as much as they do.</p> <p>&quot;With the amount of driving, marketing, and other fees that we have to pay in order to be agents and to sell real estate, the commission is not as much as it appears,&quot; she says. &quot;Especially if we, as agents, are still paying into our company; they take a portion of our commission with each sale.&quot;</p> <p>Also consider that your home may not sell right away. If an agent spends weeks (sometimes months!) trying to find the perfect buyer, they deserve to be compensated fairly for finally making the transaction happen.</p> <h3>7. How's the market?</h3> <p>In many markets, there's a shortage of inventory and rising home prices, making it a great time to sell. But most people who sell also want to buy, and they have to be realistic.</p> <p>&quot;The same conditions that make it a great time to sell may also make it difficult to buy,&quot; Lissack explains. &quot;And with the competitive market conditions, both buyers and sellers are seeking opportunities to save money. Consumers should look toward online brokerages that can help sellers save thousands in traditional agent commissions through flexible listing packages, and in select markets, provide a buyer's rebate of up to 1.5 percent at closing.&quot;</p> <h3>8. How do I know if my timing is right?</h3> <p>You can keep an eye on local home prices, mortgage rates, and other factors to can help you decide when the time is right to sell your home, but often sellers can't wait for everything to fall perfectly in line. For many, there is no &quot;right time.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;Timing is determined by what is happening in that person's life &mdash; if they need a new home right away, the timing is right regardless of the market,&quot; Lissack says. &quot;The agent's job is to build a relationship, help them understand what's happening in their market, and support their client through one of the largest transactions they'll ever make.&quot;</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-questions-real-estate-agents-hear-most-often">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/6-questions-to-ask-before-selling-your-house">6 Questions to Ask Before Selling Your 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/sell-your-house-faster-with-these-6-house-flipping-tricks">Sell Your House Faster With These 6 House Flipping Tricks</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/20-questions-to-ask-during-an-open-house">20+ Questions to Ask During an Open House</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-reasons-fall-is-a-great-time-to-house-hunt">5 Reasons Fall Is a Great Time to House Hunt</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-most-expensive-zip-codes-in-the-country">10 Most Expensive Zip Codes in the Country</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing commissions home buying housing market neighborhoods real estate agents realtors renovations selling a home Fri, 11 Aug 2017 09:00:06 +0000 Mikey Rox 1999912 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Sell a Home Without a Traditional Agent http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-sell-a-home-without-a-traditional-agent <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-sell-a-home-without-a-traditional-agent" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-509463801.jpg" alt="Family selling a home without a traditional agent" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Selling a home with a traditional real estate agent isn't cheap: Most agents take a commission of 5 percent to 6 percent of your home's final sale price. That means if your home sells for $200,000, you'll pay your agent between $10,000 to $12,000 from the proceeds of the sale.</p> <p>That commission can take a serious bite out of your profits. If you don't have much equity in your home, your agent's commission might even eat up most of the money you're making on your sale.</p> <p>Sellers can avoid all or much of this commission by either selling their homes on their own, or working with a discount broker. In both arrangements, sellers will keep a greater share of the profits that they make when selling their home.</p> <h2>For sale by owner</h2> <p>The most common way to sell a home without a traditional agent is to go the for-sale-by-owner, or FSBO, route.</p> <p>You will not have to pay anyone a commission, but marketing your home on your own can be tricky. When you list with a traditional real estate agent, that agent places your home's information on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). Once your home is listed on the MLS, it'll also show up on Realtor.com, one of the most popular sites people use to search for homes for sale.</p> <p>The MLS does not allow FSBO listings. This means that you also won't be able to get your listing on Realtor.com, severely limiting the number of homebuyers who will see it online. You <em>can</em>, however, list your FSBO property on other real estate websites such as Zillow and Trulia. You can also put an FSBO sign in your front yard.</p> <p>Real estate agents do a lot of work to earn their commissions. If you're going full-scale FSBO, you'll have to do that work on your own. This includes setting the right price for your home &mdash; which you can do by checking out recent comparable sales in your neighborhood on Realtor.com &mdash; staging your home so it looks its best, scheduling showings of your home, and negotiating a final sale price with potential buyers. You'll also have to handle the paperwork involved in closing a sale and work with home inspectors and appraisers.</p> <p>Even if you choose not to work with a real estate agent, you might consider hiring a real estate lawyer to help you with the documents you'll need to close your home's sale.</p> <h2>Flat-fee brokerages</h2> <p>If you want some help selling your home, but you want to avoid the 5 percent to 6 percent commission, you might consider working with a flat-free brokerage. These companies will list your home with the MLS, market it to potential buyers, schedule showings, and negotiate on your behalf with potential buyers. They'll just do it while charging a flat fee instead of taking a percentage commission.</p> <p>The brokerages that offer this service will charge varying rates. You might find a flat-fee brokerage that charges $2,500 for its services. Another might charge less, another more.</p> <p>Just make sure you understand what you are getting for the fee. The flat-fee brokerage with which you work should list its services and prices clearly. You don't want to spend a flat fee of $2,000, for instance, if the brokerage won't list your home on the MLS or won't schedule showings &mdash; two of the most important factors in selling a home.</p> <h2>Discount brokers</h2> <p>Discount brokers are similar to flat-fee brokerages in that they charge less to help you sell your home &mdash; but their payments are based on the traditional commission structure. They just charge smaller commissions.</p> <p>A good example is Redfin. This brokerage charges a listing fee of just 1.5 percent of your home's sale price. Be aware, though, that this isn't all that you'll pay. Typically, the agent representing a home's seller and the agent representing its buyer split a total commission of 5 percent to 6 percent of a residence's final sale price. In a Redfin transaction, sellers pay their listing agent just 1.5 percent of the home's final sale price instead of 2.5 percent or 3 percent.</p> <p>These sellers will still have to pay an additional commission to the agent representing their home's buyers, out of the profits of their home sale.</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/how-to-sell-a-home-without-a-traditional-agent">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/5-times-youre-better-off-without-a-real-estate-agent">5 Times You&#039;re Better Off Without a Real Estate Agent</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-reasons-your-home-isnt-selling">7 Reasons Your Home Isn&#039;t Selling</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/8-questions-real-estate-agents-hear-most-often">8 Questions Real Estate Agents Hear Most Often</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-to-fire-your-real-estate-agent">How to Fire Your Real Estate Agent</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-fiduciary-rule-is-under-review-how-will-this-affect-your-investments">The Fiduciary Rule Is Under Review — How Will This Affect Your Investments?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing brokers commissions flat fee brokerage for sale by owner fsbo multiple listing service real estate agent selling a house Thu, 10 Aug 2017 08:30:10 +0000 Dan Rafter 1998640 at http://www.wisebread.com What You Need to Know About Homeowners' Associations http://www.wisebread.com/what-you-need-to-know-about-homeowners-associations <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/what-you-need-to-know-about-homeowners-associations" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/handing_over_the_key_from_a_new_home.jpg" alt="Handing Over the Key from a New Home" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When my husband and I were thinking about <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-reasons-you-shouldnt-buy-a-house-yet" target="_blank">buying a house</a>, we toured a lovely home that was on the lower end of our budget. It was gorgeous. It had high-end appliances and the owners had completely updated it. We couldn't believe the price, or that it had been on the market for weeks.</p> <p>We told the realtor we were interested and were ready to make an offer and that's when she told us that the house was part of a homeowners association (HOA). She pulled out a massive binder with the HOA's rules, including what kind of grass we could plant, what kind of fencing was permitted, and what colors we could paint our home.</p> <p>Finally, she dropped one more bomb: The monthly HOA fee was a staggering $600 a month. We quickly gave up any idea of buying that home, but it was a well-learned lesson.</p> <p>Our experience isn't unique. HOAs are increasingly common, and they can be costly. Here's what you need to know about HOAs before buying a home. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-deal-with-a-rude-neighbor?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Deal With a Rude Neighbor</a>)</p> <h2>HOAs can be costly</h2> <p>HOAs are residential governing bodies that provide certain services to the owners in the community. They are most commonly seen in condominium complexes or townhome communities, but some single-family home neighborhoods may have an HOA, too.</p> <p>HOAs can be very expensive. According to Investopedia, the average monthly HOA fee is $200, yet it can easily reach as high as $700 a month. That amount is completely separate from your mortgage payment, taxes, and homeowners insurance. An HOA can dramatically increase your monthly housing bill.</p> <h2>HOAs vary from community to community</h2> <p>In some communities, HOAs provide many valuable services. They may cut your lawn, maintain building exteriors, provide a community pool, and set rules about community appearance.</p> <p>Other HOAs are more bare-bones; they may only maintain common areas and you're responsible for your own landscaping. Because they can vary so widely from community to community, it's important to do your research and understand what's included in your fee.</p> <h2>HOAs may affect your mortgage application</h2> <p>When you're ready to buy a home, you will need to include the home's information in your mortgage application. Besides factors like your income, down payment, and the home's sale price, the mortgage lender will also ask you about HOA fees.</p> <p>Mortgage companies will include the HOA cost in their evaluation of your application. If the HOA fee worsens your debt-to-income ratio, they won't give you a loan.</p> <h2>What happens if you fall behind on HOA payments?</h2> <p>Depending on where you live, the consequences for falling behind on your HOA payments can be severe.</p> <p>When you first miss a payment, your HOA may charge you a late fee. If they still don't receive payment, they may send your debt to collections, which can damage your credit report. They can also ban you from using community amenities, such as the neighborhood pool or fitness center, until you pay what you owe.</p> <p>An HOA can also file a lien on your property. That means if you sell the home, the HOA gets their share before you get any of the money from the sale.</p> <p>Some states also allow an HOA to evict homeowners if they become delinquent on their payments. And in some areas, they can even foreclose on your property.</p> <p>These consequences can have long-lasting effects, and can cost you thousands in late fees, interest charges, and even legal fees. That's why it's so important to ensure the HOA payment is well within your budget before buying a home.</p> <h2>Do your research</h2> <p>Buying a house is a huge decision. Besides factors like price, school district, and taxes, make sure you research the community's HOA and its rules. Depending on your area, your HOA fees can add thousands to your housing costs and can cause plenty of headaches.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kat-tretina">Kat Tretina</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-you-need-to-know-about-homeowners-associations">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/house-hunting-these-features-will-save-you-big-over-the-long-haul">House Hunting? These Features Will Save You Big Over the Long Haul</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/why-you-should-be-saving-big-with-bi-weekly-mortgage-payments">Why You Should Be Saving Big With Bi-Weekly Mortgage Payments</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-money-moves-that-will-ruin-your-mortgage-application">5 Money Moves That Will Ruin Your Mortgage Application</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/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-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/yes-you-need-home-title-insurance-heres-why">Yes, You Need Home Title Insurance — Here&#039;s Why</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing amenities buying a house community debt to income ratio expenses fees HOA homeowners association homeownership house hunting mortgage Wed, 09 Aug 2017 09:00:06 +0000 Kat Tretina 1986885 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Mortgage Details You Should Know Before You Sign http://www.wisebread.com/5-mortgage-details-you-should-know-before-you-sign <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-mortgage-details-you-should-know-before-you-sign" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-475902363.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Taking out a mortgage is a big financial commitment. Not only are mortgage loans expensive, they also represent the biggest monthly payment for most consumers' budgets.</p> <p>That's why it's so important to ask the right questions before signing the documents that officially close your mortgage. Here are five key questions you need to ask your lender when looking over your mortgage documents.</p> <h2>1. What are my closing costs?</h2> <p>Taking out a mortgage isn't free. Your lender and several third-party service providers will charge you what are known as closing costs, the fees you'll have to pay for your mortgage loan. You can expect to pay from 2 percent to 5 percent of your home's purchase price in closing costs.</p> <p>This means for a home costing $200,000, you can expect to pay between $4,000 and $10,000 in closing costs. That's a lot of money, and often consumers roll the amount into their final loan, which can slightly increase their monthly payment.</p> <p>Fortunately, uncovering your closing costs is an easy process. Your lender must send you a form known as a loan estimate within three business days of receiving your loan application. This form includes a list of your estimated closing costs. At least three days before closing your loan, your lender will provide you with another form, the closing disclosure. This form lists your final closing costs.</p> <p>It's important to study both of these forms to make sure your closing costs are what you expected them to be.</p> <h2>2. What is my interest rate?</h2> <p>When you pay a mortgage loan, a good chunk of your monthly payment will go toward interest. In fact, during the earliest years of your mortgage, a far larger percentage of your monthly payment will go toward interest than toward paying down your principal balance.</p> <p>That's why getting the lowest possible interest rate makes such a difference in both the amount of interest you'll pay during the life of your loan, and how much you'll pay each month.</p> <p>Here's an example: Say you take out a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage loan for $200,000 at an interest rate of 3.76 percent. Your monthly payment &mdash; not including property taxes and homeowners insurance &mdash; would be about $927.</p> <p>If on that same loan your interest rate was 4.76 percent, your monthly payment would shoot up to $1,044, not including taxes and insurance.</p> <h2>3. What is my monthly payment?</h2> <p>Your monthly payment doesn't just include the amount you pay in interest and principal. Most lenders require that you pay extra with each payment to cover the yearly cost of your homeowners insurance and property taxes.</p> <p>Your lender will then take this extra money and deposit it into an escrow account. When your taxes and insurance come due each year, your lender will use this money to pay these bills on your behalf. This can add hundreds of dollars to your monthly payment, so knowing this ahead of time is important.</p> <p>Don't be fooled into thinking that your mortgage payment <em>only</em> includes your mortgage loan. Your property taxes and insurance make a big difference in your monthly bill.</p> <h2>4. What type of loan do I have?</h2> <p>There are several types of mortgages out there. The most common are fixed loans, usually with terms of 30 or 15 years. With these loans, your interest rate remains the same until you pay off the loan, sell your home, or refinance it.</p> <p>You might also opt for an adjustable-rate loan. With an adjustable-rate mortgage, the interest rate remains fixed for a set period &mdash; usually five to seven years &mdash; and then adjusts according to whatever economic indexes your loan is tied to. Your loan's interest rate could adjust every year or it could adjust every five years. It all depends on your loan's specifics.</p> <p>Consumers choose adjustable-rate loans because their initial interest rates are usually lower than those you'd get with a fixed-rate loan. But adjustable-rate loans do come with more risk: When your loan adjusts, your new rate could be higher than the rate you would have had if you had gone with a fixed-rate loan.</p> <h2>5. Is there a penalty for paying early?</h2> <p>They're not as common as they once were, but some loans come with a prepayment penalty. This means that you'll have to pay a penalty &mdash; often about 2 percent of your loan's remaining balance &mdash; for paying off your mortgage before it's due. Often, lenders who charge prepayment penalties assess them if you pay off your loan in the first two to five years.</p> <p>You might not worry about such a penalty. After all, you'll never pay off your mortgage loan in two to five years, right?</p> <p>But a prepayment penalty may also kick in if you decide to refinance your loan or sell your home during the penalty phase. Because of this, it's best not to sign onto a loan with a prepayment penalty.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F5-mortgage-details-you-should-know-before-you-sign&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F5%2520Mortgage%2520Details%2520You%2520Should%2520Know%2520Before%2520You%2520Sign.jpg&amp;description=5%20Mortgage%20Details%20You%20Should%20Know%20Before%20You%20Sign"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/5%20Mortgage%20Details%20You%20Should%20Know%20Before%20You%20Sign.jpg" alt="5 Mortgage Details You Should Know Before You Sign" width="250" height="374" /></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-mortgage-details-you-should-know-before-you-sign">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-long-does-it-take-break-even-with-a-home-refi">How Long Does it Take Break Even With a Home ReFi?</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-surprising-things-lenders-check-besides-your-credit-score">4 Surprising Things Lenders Check Besides Your Credit Score</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/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-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-times-buying-a-home-with-cash-is-bad-for-your-budget">5 Times Buying a Home With Cash Is Bad for Your Budget</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-money-moves-that-will-ruin-your-mortgage-application">5 Money Moves That Will Ruin Your Mortgage Application</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing closing costs home buying home loans homeownership interest rates lenders monthly payments mortgages penalties questions Fri, 04 Aug 2017 08:00:06 +0000 Dan Rafter 1990976 at http://www.wisebread.com How Living in a Hotel Can Be Surprisingly Affordable http://www.wisebread.com/how-living-in-a-hotel-can-be-surprisingly-affordable <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-living-in-a-hotel-can-be-surprisingly-affordable" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-520654062.jpg" alt="Couple living in a hotel and saving money" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Since the housing bubble of 2008, people are more reluctant to take out a mortgage and get themselves tied to a specific location and 30 years of payments. A house is usually an asset that appreciates, but property values can drop for a variety of reasons, and homeowners can get hit with expensive repairs at any time.</p> <p>If you live in a hotel, you'll never have to worry about finding yourself underwater on a mortgage and unable to move. You also won't have to come up with a large sum of money to buy a new furnace or replace a roof. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-hidden-housing-costs-new-homeowners-dont-expect?ref=seealso" target="_blank">10 Hidden Housing Costs New Homeowners Don't Expect</a>)</p> <p>Some people who decide not to make the commitment to buy a house choose to rent a house or an apartment instead. Living in a hotel or motel is even more flexible than renting, since most rentals require a one-year lease agreement plus a deposit. Your hotel commitment is one day at a time, or perhaps a few weeks at a time if you negotiate a long-term rate.</p> <p>Living long-term in a hotel is not ideal for everyone, but can be a surprisingly affordable option for people who want to live in an expensive location without paying high rent or a big mortgage. For example, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco is $3,600 per month. Throw in at least $100 more for basic utilities and the price works out to over $120 per night. While you won't find many San Francisco hotels for less than $120 a night, keep in mind that if you stay in a hotel, you'll also be forgoing the need to furnish an apartment and pay a deposit, which is often three months' rent in one lump sum.</p> <p>Not all locations are as expensive as San Francisco, but there are a number of places where staying in a hotel can be less expensive than the overall cost of renting an apartment.</p> <h2>Advantages of living in a hotel</h2> <p>Your living expenses become a lot more streamlined when you live in a hotel.</p> <h3>Fewer bills</h3> <p>You can avoid entire categories of bills such as utilities, property tax, insurance, repairs, and maintenance. Cable is often included, and you might even be able to get internet thrown in with it. If your hotel has a pool and a gym, you'll be able to forgo the monthly gym fees, too.</p> <h3>Minimal commitments</h3> <p>You won't have to pay a security deposit, an application fee, or have your credit checked. You can also move to another location with little or no notice.</p> <h3>Convenient locations</h3> <p>Depending on the hotel you choose, you gain access to affordable living in expensive ZIP codes and near shopping and other attractions. You can also minimize time spent commuting if your hotel is close to work. And since hotels have a full staff of housekeepers, you won't have any household chores to deal with.</p> <h2>Disadvantages of living in a hotel</h2> <p>There are some drawbacks that may rule out living in a hotel for you.</p> <h3>Less space</h3> <p>Obviously, there will be less storage for your personal items. There won't be an opportunity to grow a garden. And your kids and pets may not enjoy living in a small hotel room for a long period of time.</p> <h3>Receiving mail</h3> <p>Living in a hotel might make it difficult to receive mail and packages if you change locations a lot.</p> <h2>How to make it work</h2> <p>If living in a hotel makes sense for you, here's how get the most value from a long-term stay.</p> <h3>Negotiate for lower rates and perks</h3> <p>Hotels like to keep their rooms occupied and generating revenue, so they like to get long-term guests. Use this to your advantage to negotiate a lower rate and possible perks such as free meals or free Wi-Fi access. One tactic to negotiate a lower rate is to book a less desirable room, for example a small room or a room with a crummy view, for a long period of time. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-simple-ways-to-save-on-hotel-stays?ref=seealso" target="_blank">9 Simple Ways to Save on Hotel Stays</a>)</p> <h3>Use hotel rewards programs to save even more</h3> <p>If you stay long-term in a hotel, you can rack up a lot of rewards points that can be used for free hotel stays, saving you even more money. Join the hotel's rewards program when you check in &mdash; or before &mdash; to make sure you get all of the points you can for your stay. It's probably also worth signing up for a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-credit-cards-for-hotel-deals-and-rewards" target="_blank">hotel credit card</a> that will earn you extra points when you pay your considerable bill.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fhow-living-in-a-hotel-can-be-surprisingly-affordable&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FHow%2520Living%2520in%2520a%2520Hotel%2520Can%2520Be%2520Surprisingly%2520Affordable.jpg&amp;description=How%20Living%20in%20a%20Hotel%20Can%20Be%20Surprisingly%20Affordable"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/How%20Living%20in%20a%20Hotel%20Can%20Be%20Surprisingly%20Affordable.jpg" alt="How Living in a Hotel Can Be Surprisingly Affordable" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dr-penny-pincher">Dr Penny Pincher</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-living-in-a-hotel-can-be-surprisingly-affordable">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/5-simple-ways-to-live-rent-free">5 Simple Ways to Live Rent-Free</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/14-useful-items-hotels-usually-provide-for-free">14 Useful Items Hotels Usually Provide for Free</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/can-you-really-afford-to-live-in-your-dream-city">Can You Really Afford to Live in Your Dream City?</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/quiz-am-i-really-ready-to-buy-a-home">Quiz: Am I Really Ready to Buy a Home?</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/what-it-really-costs-to-own-a-home">What It Really Costs to Own a Home</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting Real Estate and Housing affordable housing hotel hotel living living in a hotel rental renting a hotel room Thu, 03 Aug 2017 08:30:08 +0000 Dr Penny Pincher 1994328 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Overcome These 5 Worst Homeownership Fears http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-overcome-these-5-worst-homeownership-fears <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-overcome-these-5-worst-homeownership-fears" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-644994498.jpg" alt="Man overcoming home ownership fears" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Buying a home is a big step that, in many cases, will bring you years of happiness. But there's also a long list of things that can go wrong when you buy a house.</p> <p>My husband and I bought our first home in the bliss of complete ignorance. We didn't even know enough to be afraid, but we should have. A little healthy fear of potential problems can help you prepare so you can avoid them. Here are ways to overcome five legitimate homeownership fears by employing some preventive action.</p> <h2>1. Pests</h2> <p>In my home-living experience, I have dealt with fleas, mice, ants, spiders, ladybugs, and moles. Oh, also termites. Those are the ones I know about, anyway.</p> <p>Dealing with pests is a big fear for potential homeowners, and I get it. Pests are gross and invasive and make you feel dirty. They can also make you sick. You don't want them around.</p> <p>There are two great facts about pests, however. First, dealing with pests, even at an infestation level, is doable and not necessarily expensive. And second, a thorough inspection before buying a home will ensure that you're not moving into something already infested.</p> <p>Mind you, your standard <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/thinking-of-skipping-the-home-inspection-heres-what-it-will-cost-you" target="_blank">pre-closing house inspection</a> won't necessarily alert you to pest issues. You'll need to hire a pest control specialist to do a thorough inspection before you close on a home.</p> <p>Dealing with pests when you're already<em> in</em> a home is unpleasant, but not impossible. You can use any of the many available <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-cheap-ways-to-get-rid-of-household-pests" target="_blank">DIY pest solutions</a> or call a professional exterminator. A regular pest control service (you can sign up for a monthly plan) will keep most pests at bay and alert you to potential issues.</p> <h2>2. Water damage</h2> <p>First things first: Water issues can be a big problem. You want to know if the house you're about to purchase has any now, has had any in the past, or potentially might have more in the future. Your inspector is your friend. If you notice any telltale signs of water damage, ask the listing agent outright for all the facts. And ask the home inspector to pay close attention to those areas.</p> <p>Most water damage can be prevented with a few smart moves.</p> <h3>Avoiding burst pipes</h3> <p>Winterize all your outdoor faucets to avoid the pain of a burst pipe. Buy an <a href="http://amzn.to/2tOEkhn" target="_blank">insulated faucet cover</a> (less than $10) on Amazon or at any hardware store. Put it on your outdoor spigot (takes five minutes, tops). Take it off when warm weather returns.</p> <h3>Avoiding clogged pipes</h3> <p>If you have small children, or even adults with long hair, a clogged pipe is likely to happen. Purchase a <a href="http://amzn.to/2tOs0xu" target="_blank">drain snake</a> and you can deal with most clogged pipes yourself. If it's something a little more serious (we had tree root issues), it can cost between $100 and $200 to have a nice person with a long, rotary, motorized drain cleaner come out and fix the clog.</p> <p>When you move into a home, find a nearby plumber. Ask the neighbors for a recommendation if you're new to the area. Ask the plumber the cost to do a thorough inspection of the plumbing in the house. A plumber can let you know where clogs are likely to occur and whether there is any old or worn-out plumbing that should be replaced.</p> <h3>Avoiding a flooded basement</h3> <p>Handling a flooded basement is, as with most house issues, not a lot of fun. But it's not the end of the world, either. The best news is that most flooding can be prevented by having well-maintained gutters, a sump pump, and landscaping that directs the flow of water away from your house.</p> <h2>3. Mold</h2> <p>Mold is a scary thing when you're buying a home. Mold often grows where you don't see it, and it can make you very sick. But although mold is gross, it is easy to detect and simple to eliminate.</p> <p>Most states require any known mold issues, past or present, to be included on the seller's disclosure. Mold is a potential issue for a house that is in a humid environment or that has had water issues in the past. If your potential home fits that description, and there's no mention of mold on the seller's disclosure, consider a specialized inspection. A mold inspection typically costs under $1,000 and can give you great peace of mind.</p> <p>If the inspection turns up evidence of mold, get an estimate on mold remediation and negotiate with the sellers.</p> <h2>4. Fires</h2> <p>The thought of a fire is terrifying for many homeowners. The good news is you can lessen the probability of a fire by staying on top of a few important things.</p> <p>Review the house inspection for any issues with wiring or electrical fixtures. Negotiate to have these issues fixed or to have the cost of the repairs taken off the price. Keep smoke detectors installed and test them monthly. (You'll want to have carbon monoxide detectors installed, as well.) Other common-sense fire safety tips include being smart about how you use space heaters, electrical cords, and heat lamps, as well as regularly having your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system, your dryer vents, and your chimneys cleaned.</p> <h2>5. Floods</h2> <p>If you live near a large body of water, you may be in a flood zone. Find out when floods have happened in your area and how big they have gotten. This will tell you how often flooding is a problem and how likely a flood is to reach your home. (Start <a href="https://water.usgs.gov/floods/" target="_blank">your search online</a>, and, for more detailed information, follow up with your local City Works department.) You can prevent many flooding issues with the same practices that keep your plumbing in shape: a good inspection, a good plumber, good maintenance, and good landscaping.</p> <p>Homeownership can be intimidating, but many disasters are preventable to a certain degree. Preparation and awareness are key in handling anything that comes your way.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fhow-to-overcome-these-5-worst-homeownership-fears&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FHow%2520to%2520Overcome%2520These%25205%2520Worst%2520Homeownership%2520Fears.jpg&amp;description=How%20to%20Overcome%20These%205%20Worst%20Homeownership%20Fears"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/How%20to%20Overcome%20These%205%20Worst%20Homeownership%20Fears.jpg" alt="How to Overcome These 5 Worst Homeownership Fears" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/annie-mueller">Annie Mueller</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-overcome-these-5-worst-homeownership-fears">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/20-questions-to-ask-during-an-open-house">20+ Questions to Ask During an Open 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/5-money-moves-that-will-ruin-your-mortgage-application">5 Money Moves That Will Ruin Your Mortgage Application</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-mortgage-details-you-should-know-before-you-sign">5 Mortgage Details You Should Know Before You Sign</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/what-you-need-to-know-about-homeowners-associations">What You Need to Know About Homeowners&#039; Associations</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-to-consider-before-buying-a-home-when-youre-single">5 Things to Consider Before Buying a Home When You&#039;re Single</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing fears fire floods homeownership inspection mold pests prevention protections water damage Thu, 03 Aug 2017 08:30:06 +0000 Annie Mueller 1995273 at http://www.wisebread.com House Hunting? These Features Will Save You Big Over the Long Haul http://www.wisebread.com/house-hunting-these-features-will-save-you-big-over-the-long-haul <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/house-hunting-these-features-will-save-you-big-over-the-long-haul" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/happy_young_family.jpg" alt="Happy young family" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Shopping for a house is stressful. You're trying to find the best home, in the best area, for the best price. Making your budget match your wish list is overwhelming, but take heart. It's not about finding the perfect house; it's about finding a house you can make into a safe, comfortable home that isn't going to cost you loads to repair and maintain. Here are the features to look for that can save you costly headaches and give you the most value while you live there.</p> <h2>Energy-efficient features</h2> <p>An energy-efficient home is not only better for the environment, it's better for your budget. Certain energy-efficient features will save you a lot more in the long run than others.</p> <h3>Insulated ductwork</h3> <p>Ductwork often leaks out so much heating or air conditioning that it adds significantly to your utility bill. Experts say that by insulating the ducts, you can cut the cost of running the HVAC system by up to 30 percent.</p> <h3>Modern HVAC systems</h3> <p>Speaking of HVAC systems, if you purchase a home with a modern unit, it's a value-added feature. Older HVAC units (20 years or older for heating units, 10 years or older for air conditioning units) are inefficient. Newer models, even if they're not top-of-the-line, can give you a utility bill that's 10 percent to 20 percent lower.</p> <h3>Efficient windows</h3> <p>Look for newer, double-paned windows or exterior storm windows installed over the original interior windows. Windows can be quite pricey to replace, so it's best if you can find a house with efficient ones already installed. About 30 percent of your home's air conditioning and heating can disappear out of your windows. Purchasing a house with newer windows already installed can reduce your energy bill by 12 percent to 33 percent, according to the U.S. Energy Department.</p> <h3>Window treatments</h3> <p>Window treatments won't prevent air leakage, but they can reduce heat gain in the summer and heat loss in the winter. Look for exterior awnings, particularly on the south- and west-facing windows, where they can reduce solar heat gain by 65 percent to 77 percent, according to the Energy Department.</p> <p>Interior, well-fitted blinds or drapes can also help with energy costs, reducing heat gain in summer and heat loss in winter. However, it's not very expensive to install these yourself, so don't make this item a deal-breaker.</p> <h2>Design features</h2> <p>The way a house is designed and built can determine how well it ages and how costly any future repair work might be. Keep your eye on these features for the best long-term value.</p> <h3>Accessible plumbing</h3> <p>Look for plumbing that's reachable through a crawl space, basement, and outdoor access points. The more work you have to do to access mainlines, the more costly any plumbing repairs will be in the future. Inaccessible plumbing can also mean that leaks or clogs are difficult to find, which can prolong plumbing problems and add to the total cost of repair.</p> <h3>Updated wiring</h3> <p>In houses that are more than 40 years old, wiring can be outdated and dangerous. Replacing it is an expensive, involved project. In older homes, find out when the electrical system was last inspected. Find out if there is any aluminum wiring (which can become a fire hazard as connections age and deteriorate), and if there is adequate amperage in the house. Many older homes used a 60 amp standard, but most modern households need around 200 amps to keep everything running.</p> <h3>Structural soundness</h3> <p>From floor joists to support beams, structural features cost a lot to repair. Some structural problems can be covered up by unscrupulous sellers.</p> <p>In this case, it's not about the features you want, but the telltale signs you don't want:</p> <ul> <li> <p>Squeaking, uneven floors.</p> </li> <li> <p>Ill-fitted doors and windows that are difficult to open and close.</p> </li> <li> <p>Large cracks in the home's exterior, particularly if they don't follow the mortar and/or if they are larger at the top and taper down.</p> </li> <li> <p>Cracks in the interior walls above doorways.</p> </li> <li> <p>Warped or sagging ceilings.</p> </li> <li> <p>Exposed gaps between walls.</p> </li> </ul> <h2>Outdoor features</h2> <p>Just as important as the house itself is the area around the house. The yard, greenery, and hardscaping, such as sidewalks and walls, affect the value of the house and the cost of ongoing maintenance.</p> <h3>Shade trees</h3> <p>Trees will help reduce energy costs by providing shade from the hot summer sun and acting as a windbreak in cold winter months.</p> <p>There's a caveat here: You want strong, tall trees that will provide shade, but you don't want them too close to your house. Shade is good; a heavy tree branch falling on your roof during a storm is not good. Look for healthy, well-established trees. Bonus points if they're planted on the south or west side of the house.</p> <h3>Smart landscaping</h3> <p>Look for landscaping that works with the natural contours of the yard and the climate. A lush flower garden may look great, but if you have to water it daily to keep it alive in your arid, hot climate, it's not a smart choice.</p> <p>Landscaping should direct water flow away from the house as well. Drainage issues in the yard or hardscaping around the house can be very costly to fix, but failing to fix them can lead to even more costly water damage inside the house. If you're getting serious about the house, drive by or arrange a visit with your realtor after a heavy rain.</p> <h2>Lifestyle features</h2> <p>To get the most value in a house, you must know thyself. If you're an avid cook, a large, well-equipped kitchen may be worth a higher price. But if you hardly spend time in the kitchen, why spend money on a large one?</p> <p>Choose a home with the features that matter for the lifestyle you live now, not the magazine-promoted lifestyle you think you ought to live someday.</p> <p>Take inventory of how you spend most of your time in your current home. Is there an unused dining room, or a too-large bedroom just taking up space? Don't shop for a house by room count or square footage. Shop for a house that fits the way you live your life, and you'll end up with a house that brings you the most possible value.</p> <h2>What doesn't matter</h2> <p>Part of selling a house is making it look as good as possible. All too often potential buyers are wowed by the fresh paint, new carpet, and shiny new light fixtures, and miss the bigger issues. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-let-these-6-home-d-cor-flaws-ruin-your-house-hunt?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Don't Let These 6 Home Décor Flaws Ruin Your House Hunt</a>)</p> <p>Here's a short list of things that are nice to have, but shouldn't impress you with their value:</p> <ul> <li> <p>Freshly painted walls, ceilings, or trim. Paint is cheap, and with a little time and work, you can put a fresh coat on anything you want. Unless there are issues with lead paint, don't let paint impress you much either way.</p> </li> </ul> <ul> <li> <p>New or custom fittings, light fixtures, and fans. Nice touches, but they won't make your house significantly more valuable. You can upgrade these yourself for reasonable prices.</p> </li> <li> <p>Decor elements. Whether it's trim work or cabinet refinishing, decor can be upgraded on your timeline and budget without a major effect on the house's value.</p> </li> <li> <p>Smart thermostats. A good upgrade, but one that's fairly inexpensive and easy to add yourself.</p> </li> </ul> <p>You don't have to find a house with all of these features. But knowing which ones will bring you value can help you adjust your expectations &mdash; and your purchase offer &mdash; accordingly.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fhouse-hunting-these-features-will-save-you-big-over-the-long-haul&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FHouse%2520Hunting-%2520These%2520Features%2520Will%2520Save%2520You%2520Big%2520Over%2520the%2520Long%2520Haul.jpg&amp;description=House%20Hunting%3F%20These%20Features%20Will%20Save%20You%20Big%20Over%20the%20Long%20Haul"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/House%20Hunting-%20These%20Features%20Will%20Save%20You%20Big%20Over%20the%20Long%20Haul.jpg" alt="House Hunting? These Features Will Save You Big Over the Long Haul" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/annie-mueller">Annie Mueller</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/house-hunting-these-features-will-save-you-big-over-the-long-haul">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/what-you-need-to-know-about-homeowners-associations">What You Need to Know About Homeowners&#039; Associations</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/14-things-youll-hate-about-your-next-house">14 Things You&#039;ll Hate About Your Next 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/4-ways-to-buy-a-house-without-a-mortgage">4 Ways to Buy a House Without a Mortgage</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/dont-let-these-6-home-d-cor-flaws-ruin-your-house-hunt">Don&#039;t Let These 6 Home Décor Flaws Ruin Your House Hunt</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/everybodys-wrong-about-how-much-house-you-can-afford">Everybody&#039;s Wrong About How Much House You Can Afford</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing decor energy efficiency expenses features homeownership house hunting hvac landscaping new house value Windows Tue, 01 Aug 2017 08:30:12 +0000 Annie Mueller 1990800 at http://www.wisebread.com It's Now Easier to Get a Home Loan Even If You Have Student Loan Debt — Should You? http://www.wisebread.com/its-now-easier-to-get-a-home-loan-even-if-you-have-student-loan-debt-should-you <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/its-now-easier-to-get-a-home-loan-even-if-you-have-student-loan-debt-should-you" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/house_and_keys.jpg" alt="House and keys" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Student loan debt has snowballed to the point where many young people are delaying the purchase of a home. On one hand, it's hard to save up for a down payment when you're already $37,172 in debt &mdash; the average for class of 2016 graduates. On the other hand, student loan debt can make it hard to qualify for a mortgage at all.</p> <p>Fannie Mae, the nation's largest purchaser and guarantor of mortgages, recently addressed the second problem by changing two key rules for borrowers. Because Fannie Mae buys mortgages from about 1,800 lenders that follow its rules, these changes at Fannie Mae affect potential home loan borrowers all over the country.</p> <h2>Debt that someone else is paying off no longer counts against you</h2> <p>For example, your parents or your employer might be making your student loan payments. In the past, a lender would still count those payments as part of your <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-ways-student-loan-debt-can-affect-your-mortgage-application" target="_blank">debt-to-income ratio</a>, a key figure used to determine whether you can afford to make mortgage payments. But now, Fannie Mae will recognize that if you're not the one paying the bill, that loan won't actually affect your ability to pay your mortgage.</p> <p>This new rule will also apply to other kinds of debt that someone else is paying for you, such as car loans or credit card balances. To qualify, you'll need to provide documentation showing that someone else has made payments on the debt for the past 12 months.</p> <h2>Flexible payment plans are recognized</h2> <p>One of the benefits of carrying a federal student loan is that you may qualify for an income-based repayment program, lowering your monthly obligation to a certain percent of your available income. This is great &mdash; until you apply for a mortgage and find out that Fannie Mae uses the standard payment amount, not the lower amount you're actually paying, to determine your debt-to-income ratio.</p> <p>From now on, lenders working with Fannie Mae can instead use the lower, flexible payment amount &mdash; meaning that more applicants with student debt will qualify to buy a home.</p> <p>With these two changes, many more young people will qualify to buy homes &mdash; a change that is probably good for the economy and the housing market. But is it a good idea for<em> you</em>? Some questions for graduates who will be affected by the Fannie Mae decisions &mdash; and for other student loan borrowers &mdash; to ask.</p> <h2>What would you do if you had to take over your own student debt payments?</h2> <p>For people who have their loans paid by employers or others, investing in a nice house may seem like a no brainer. Say you're a young doctor practicing at a hospital that covers student loan payments as part of its compensation package. Great! You are able to buy a four-bedroom home with a swimming pool.</p> <p>But then the hospital files for bankruptcy and you are let go. You can get another local position with a private practice, but it won't pay for your student loans. Will you be able to pay your new mortgage and student loans at the same time?</p> <h2>What if the government changes student debt repayment rules?</h2> <p>If your income is already so limited that you qualify for a modified loan repayment plan, it's worth pondering whether buying a home is the right move at this stage in your life. Congress could decide to end that program in order to save money. Think about if and how you could make a standard debt payment and a mortgage payment if the rules change.</p> <h2>Do you have enough saved for a down payment?</h2> <p>It used to be that buyers routinely plunked down 20 percent of a home's value upfront. Nowadays, most buyers make down payments of between 5 percent and 10 percent. If you've been making large student loan payments, you may not have this money saved up. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-easy-ways-to-start-saving-for-a-down-payment-on-a-home" target="_blank">4 Easy Ways to Start Saving for a House Down Payment</a>)</p> <h2>Will you be able to afford maintenance?</h2> <p>When working out your hypothetical budget as a homeowner, don't stop after accounting for your student loan payments and the mortgage. You need to set aside money for things that break and systems that wear out, from the doorbell to the roof. You never know when something is going to need replacing, but a rule of thumb is to budget 1 percent of a home's value for maintenance each year. So if you plan to buy a $200,000 home, make sure you can afford to set aside $2,000 annually for repairs.</p> <h2>How will you handle a financial emergency?</h2> <p>A financial emergency can be bad enough if you're renting and are forced to break your lease and move somewhere cheaper. But once you're committed to owning a home, a loss of income could mean losing the home as well. And homeowners with hefty student loan debt are that much more vulnerable.</p> <p>Before you sign that purchase contract, it's a good idea to have several months of mortgage payments in an emergency fund. If you <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/where-to-turn-for-help-when-you-dont-have-an-emergency-fund" target="_blank">don't have an emergency fund</a>, at least have a plan for how you would pay the mortgage if you lose your job. Could you turn to a relative for support? Could you advertise for roommates? Sell your car?</p> <p>Taken altogether, it's clear that there is no one-size-fits-all answer to whether you should buy a house before your student loans are paid off. Homeownership comes with a lot of benefits, such as the mortgage interest tax deduction, so it may not be something you want to put off for the years it could take to pay off the student loans.</p> <p>But rushing into homeownership before you have a stable income and emergency reserves would be a mistake for anyone &mdash; and that much more so for folks with heavy student debt.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fits-now-easier-to-get-a-home-loan-even-if-you-have-student-loan-debt-should-you&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FIt%2527s%2520Now%2520Easier%2520to%2520Get%2520a%2520Home%2520Loan%2520Even%2520If%2520You%2520Have%2520Student%2520Loan%2520Debt%2520%25E2%2580%2594%2520Should%2520You-.jpg&amp;description=It's%20Now%20Easier%20to%20Get%20a%20Home%20Loan%20Even%20If%20You%20Have%20Student%20Loan%20Debt%20%E2%80%94%20Should%20You%3F"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/It%27s%20Now%20Easier%20to%20Get%20a%20Home%20Loan%20Even%20If%20You%20Have%20Student%20Loan%20Debt%20%E2%80%94%20Should%20You-.jpg" alt="It's Now Easier to Get a Home Loan Even If You Have Student Loan Debt &mdash; Should You?" width="250" height="374" /></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/its-now-easier-to-get-a-home-loan-even-if-you-have-student-loan-debt-should-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-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/3-ways-student-loan-debt-can-affect-your-mortgage-application">3 Ways Student Loan Debt Can Affect Your Mortgage Application</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-valuable-rights-you-might-lose-when-you-refinance-student-loans">8 Valuable Rights You Might Lose When You Refinance Student Loans</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/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> <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/make-these-5-money-moves-before-applying-for-a-mortgage">Make These 5 Money Moves Before Applying for a Mortgage</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-reasons-you-shouldnt-buy-a-house-yet">5 Reasons You Shouldn&#039;t Buy a House (Yet)</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Real Estate and Housing debt payments debt to income ratio down payments emergency funds fannie mae flexible payment plans home loans mortgages rule changes student loans Mon, 31 Jul 2017 08:30:04 +0000 Carrie Kirby 1981838 at http://www.wisebread.com How Long Does it Take Break Even With a Home ReFi? http://www.wisebread.com/how-long-does-it-take-break-even-with-a-home-refi <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-long-does-it-take-break-even-with-a-home-refi" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_s_hand_putting_house_model_on_coins_stack.jpg" alt="Woman&#039;s hand putting house model on coins stack" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Refinancing your mortgage loan to one with a lower interest rate makes good financial sense &mdash; usually. It all depends on how much lower your interest rate will be, how much you owe on your loan, and how long you plan to stay in your home.</p> <p>Refinancing a mortgage isn't free. Costs vary by lender, but you can expect to pay from 1.5 percent to 2 percent of your outstanding loan balance to close a refinance. If you owe $200,000 on your mortgage loan, that comes out to $3,000 to $4,000 &mdash; no small amount. But if your monthly mortgage loan drops by enough, you'll recoup those costs quickly. Then, the savings you enjoy each month will start adding up.</p> <p>Determining how long it will take you to break even on your refinance requires a bit of math. Let's crunch the numbers.</p> <h2>Finding the break-even point</h2> <p>Say you have been paying off a $250,000 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage with an interest rate of 4.50 percent. Your monthly mortgage payment &mdash; not including the extra costs of property taxes and homeowners insurance &mdash; will be about $1,266.</p> <p>Now, say when you're ready to refinance, your mortgage balance is down to $200,000. If you refinance that balance to a new 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage with an interest rate of 3.85 percent, your estimated monthly payment, again not including taxes and insurance, will fall to about $937 a month. That's a savings of about $329 a month, or $3,948 a year.</p> <p>If you spent $3,000 in closing costs on your refinance, you'd hit the break-even point on your loan in less than a year.</p> <p>But refinancing doesn't always come with such a quick payback period.</p> <p>For example, if you have been paying off a 30-year, fixed-rate loan of $200,000 at an interest rate of 4.15 percent, your monthly payment, not including taxes and insurance, would be about $972. Say you now owe $190,000 on this loan and you refinance it to a 30-year, fixed-rate loan with an interest rate of 3.85 percent. This will drop your monthly payment to about $890, a difference of $82 a month or about $948 a year.</p> <p>If it costs you $3,000 to refinance that mortgage, it will take you a little more than three years to hit the break-even point. If you plan on living in your home and paying off your new mortgage for more than these three years, this refinance might still make financial sense. The payback period, though, won't be quite as quick.</p> <h2>Speeding up break-even</h2> <p>You can reduce the amount of time it takes you to reach the break-even point in several ways.</p> <p>First, you can shop around for a mortgage lender that charges lower fees. You are free to close your refinance with any lender that is licensed to do business in your state. You don't have to work with the lender to which you are already sending your monthly mortgage payments. Obviously, the lower your upfront costs to refinance, the quicker you'll hit your break-even point.</p> <p>Nabbing the lowest possible interest rate also will help speed up the break-even point. The lower your rate, the lower your monthly payment will be. Getting a lower rate, though, requires a strong credit score.</p> <p>Before applying for a refinance, order free copies of your credit reports from AnnualCreditReport.com. These reports won't give you your credit score, but they will show you whether you have any late or missed payments on your record. Such financial dings will lower your credit score. If you have blemishes on your credit reports, qualifying for an interest rate low enough to make a refinance worthwhile might not be possible.</p> <p>You can also order your FICO score from the three national credit bureaus: TransUnion, Equifax, or Experian. This will usually cost you about $15, but will let you know for sure how high or low your credit score is. If you want to get your score for free, you can call a lender and explain that you want to refinance. This lender will often check your current score, and can let you know immediately whether it is high enough to justify a refinance.</p> <p>Finally, the more you've paid off on your existing mortgage before you refinance, the quicker you'll reach your break-even point. Most lenders won't approve you for a refinance unless you've already built up 20 percent equity in your home. So don't run to refinance just a year after taking out your existing mortgage. Unless your home has shot up in value dramatically, you probably won't have enough equity to qualify for a refinance, or to make it financially worthwhile.</p> <h2>Other factors to consider</h2> <p>Of course, lowering your monthly payment isn't the only reason to refinance. You also want to reduce the amount of interest you pay on your loan.</p> <p>That's why you might consider refinancing from a longer-term loan to one with a shorter term. Doing so will usually increase your monthly payment because you are cutting the number of years it takes you to repay your mortgage. But refinancing from a 30-year, fixed-rate loan to a 15-year, fixed-rate loan could save you plenty in interest.</p> <p>If you take out a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage of $200,000 at an interest rate of 4.2 percent, you'll pay more than $150,000 in interest if you take the full 30 years to pay off your loan. If you instead take out a 15-year, fixed-rate loan for $200,000 at an interest rate of 3.5 percent, you'll pay less than $60,000 in interest if you take the full term to pay off this loan.</p> <p>The best move to make when considering a refinance is to go over the numbers with a mortgage lender. A lender won't charge you for a preliminary look at your mortgage and credit. But a lender will be able to tell you how long it will take to recover the costs of refinancing and whether you'll qualify for a low enough interest rate to make refinancing a viable choice.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fhow-long-does-it-take-break-even-with-a-home-refi&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FHow%2520Long%2520Does%2520it%2520Take%2520Break%2520Even%2520With%2520a%2520Home%2520ReFi-.jpg&amp;description=How%20Long%20Does%20it%20Take%20Break%20Even%20With%20a%20Home%20ReFi%3F"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/How%20Long%20Does%20it%20Take%20Break%20Even%20With%20a%20Home%20ReFi-.jpg" alt="How Long Does it Take Break Even With a Home ReFi?" width="250" height="374" /></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/how-long-does-it-take-break-even-with-a-home-refi">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/5-mortgage-details-you-should-know-before-you-sign">5 Mortgage Details You Should Know Before You Sign</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/how-to-make-ends-meet-when-youre-house-poor">How to Make Ends Meet When You&#039;re House Poor</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/should-you-pay-your-mortgage-off-early">Should You Pay Your Mortgage Off Early?</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/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-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-times-buying-a-home-with-cash-is-bad-for-your-budget">5 Times Buying a Home With Cash Is Bad for Your Budget</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing break-even point home loans homeownership interest rates mortgages payments refinance Tue, 25 Jul 2017 08:30:14 +0000 Dan Rafter 1986882 at http://www.wisebread.com 20+ Questions to Ask During an Open House http://www.wisebread.com/20-questions-to-ask-during-an-open-house <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/20-questions-to-ask-during-an-open-house" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/showing_room.jpg" alt="Showing room" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Shopping for real estate can be daunting. It takes time and discernment to know which house is right for you. To avoid wasting time on open house visits, be prepared with these key questions. If you find a house that matches your wish list, chat with the listing agent to find out all the details you don't want to overlook.</p> <h2>Before you start asking questions</h2> <p>First things first: Pick up a copy of the property information. These are often on the kitchen counter or near the entry during open houses. Many people view the house, and then look over the information. But the disclosure statements often reveal things you'll want to see while on site; maybe there was water damage, or the carpets were recently replaced. Spend five minutes reviewing the property information so you can eyeball the improvements or issues as you move from room to room.</p> <p>Some listing agents will wait near the information sheets, ready to talk to prospective buyers. If you're not ready to chat yet, say so; the agent should accommodate your desire to view the house and review the information before either of you starts asking questions.</p> <h2>General questions</h2> <p>Ask these questions to get an idea of the overall condition of the house and area.</p> <h3>What's the reason for the sale?</h3> <p>This may seem like a personal question, but it's a valid one. If the house is being sold because the owners are unhappy with its condition, need for repairs, the safety of the area, or the feel of the neighborhood, you want to know. Your goal is to understand if the reason for the sale is personal or due to an issue with the house or area.</p> <p>Don't press for personal information about the owners, of course; the agent should protect their confidentiality while giving you a top-level answer. If the agent is very hesitant, or unable to provide even a generic or partial answer, note that. If you're interested in the house, you can have your own real estate agent follow up with the listing agent.</p> <h3>What are the biggest problems with the house?</h3> <p>If you ask, &quot;Are there any major problems with the house?&quot; then the agent may say, &quot;No, it's in great shape.&quot; Phrasing matters. Every house has problems. This is the time to find out what those problems are. The listing agent wants to sell the property, of course, but they want the sale to be a satisfactory one.</p> <p>In many states a seller's disclosure is required, and should be included with the property information. You can ask for more details on any issues disclosed:</p> <ul> <li> <p>Have there been any more water problems since the sump pump was replaced?</p> </li> <li> <p>How extensive was the termite damage listed on the disclosure?</p> </li> <li> <p>Have the owners done any further mold testing?</p> </li> </ul> <p>Asking for more information will help you determine if the issues have been resolved or would require additional repair or maintenance.</p> <h3>What are the average utility costs?</h3> <p>Older houses tend to be less energy efficient, and can come with heftier utility bills than you'd expect. On the other hand, the owners may have a installed top-of-the-line HVAC system, put in double-paned windows, and invested in other energy-saving upgrades. The listing agent will know, or be able to find out, the average monthly cost for utilities. It's a good idea to ask for a typical monthly cost in the winter and in the summer, so you can compare how much the energy use might fluctuate seasonally.</p> <h3>Has the price changed at all?</h3> <p>The listing agent will know the history of the house, if the listing price has dropped or increased, and the reasons for any change in price. A lower listing price can be great news for you, but multiple drops in price should be a red flag. Was the house listed much too high for the area? Or are there major issues that are keeping buyers away?</p> <p>In your discussion on price, you can ask other questions to get an idea of the urgency of the sellers:</p> <ul> <li> <p>How long has the house been on the market?</p> </li> <li> <p>Have there been other offers on the house?</p> </li> <li> <p>Are the sellers eager to negotiate?</p> </li> <li> <p>Are the sellers in a hurry to sell?</p> </li> </ul> <p>You may not get direct answers to all these questions, but they're still worth asking. If you are genuinely interested in the property, talking with the agent can give you insight on what matters most to the sellers. If they're in a hurry to move, for example, they might accept a lower offer with a rushed closing date.</p> <h3>Is this a good neighborhood for families?</h3> <p>Maybe you don't have a family; this is still a good question to ask, because &quot;family-friendly&quot; is often code for safe, clean, and welcoming. Are there community events nearby? Is there a neighborhood association? Ask the agent about the nearest places for shopping, entertainment, and dining out. If the nearest grocery store is 10 miles away but the nearest bar is just around the corner, it may not be so family-friendly, after all.</p> <p>A discussion about the neighborhood is a good time to ask about area resources and attractions, as well as cost of living:</p> <ul> <li> <p>Are there any parks or natural attractions nearby?</p> </li> <li> <p>What do people in this area like to do for fun?</p> </li> <li> <p>What's the best restaurant nearby?</p> </li> <li> <p>Do you know what the average income is for this area?</p> </li> <li> <p>Where is the nearest hospital?</p> </li> </ul> <h2>Room by room questions</h2> <p>Some questions are room-specific. Ask the agent to walk through the house with you and discuss as you go.</p> <h3>Kitchen<strong> </strong></h3> <ul> <li> <p>Which appliances are included? How old are they?</p> </li> <li> <p>Have there been any major updates or renovations in the kitchen?</p> </li> <li> <p>Are there any water issues in the kitchen?</p> </li> <li> <p>Have there been any major repairs in the kitchen?</p> </li> </ul> <h3>Basement</h3> <ul> <li> <p>Are there any water issues in the basement?</p> </li> <li> <p>Is there a sump pump installed?</p> </li> <li> <p>Have there been any issues with mold?</p> </li> </ul> <h3>Living rooms and bedrooms</h3> <ul> <li> <p>How old is the carpet?</p> </li> <li> <p>What's underneath the carpet?</p> </li> <li> <p>Have the rooms been recently painted?</p> </li> <li> <p>Are the window treatments included?</p> </li> <li> <p>Have there been any renovations or updates done lately?</p> </li> </ul> <h3>Bathrooms</h3> <ul> <li> <p>Are there any water issues in the bathrooms?</p> </li> <li> <p>How is the water pressure? (Ask if you can check it.)</p> </li> <li> <p>How recently have the bathroom fixtures been updated?</p> </li> </ul> <h3>Yard</h3> <ul> <li> <p>Does the landscaping allow water to flow away from the house?</p> </li> <li> <p>Are there any wet or soggy areas in the yard?</p> </li> <li> <p>Have the owners done regular pest control?</p> </li> <li> <p>Are there any issues with the yard or garden?</p> </li> </ul> <h2>Open house etiquette</h2> <p>Open houses vary, but there are some common etiquette rules to follow. Don't forget to sign in; leave your name only if you prefer not to include your contact information. Be sure to greet the listing agent. Let the agent know you have questions, but don't keep them from being able to interact with other visitors. Discuss, don't dominate.</p> <p>Expect to answer a few questions about yourself, such as &quot;How long have you been looking?&quot; A good listing agent will be trying to determine who's a serious buyer and who's there for the free mints.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F20-questions-to-ask-during-an-open-house&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F20%252B%2520Questions%2520to%2520Ask%2520During%2520an%2520Open%2520House.jpg&amp;description=20%20plus%20Questions%20to%20Ask%20During%20an%20Open%20House"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/20%2B%20Questions%20to%20Ask%20During%20an%20Open%20House.jpg" alt="20+ Questions to Ask During an Open House" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/annie-mueller">Annie Mueller</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-questions-to-ask-during-an-open-house">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/5-mortgage-details-you-should-know-before-you-sign">5 Mortgage Details You Should Know Before You Sign</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-money-moves-that-will-ruin-your-mortgage-application">5 Money Moves That Will Ruin Your Mortgage Application</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-questions-to-ask-before-signing-a-lease">10 Questions to Ask Before Signing a Lease</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/8-questions-real-estate-agents-hear-most-often">8 Questions Real Estate Agents Hear Most Often</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/how-to-overcome-these-5-worst-homeownership-fears">How to Overcome These 5 Worst Homeownership Fears</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing damage home buying homeownership listing agents maintenance open houses pests problems questions renovations utilities Thu, 20 Jul 2017 08:30:14 +0000 Annie Mueller 1986643 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Reasons a Home Sale Could Fall Through http://www.wisebread.com/5-reasons-a-home-sale-could-fall-through <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-reasons-a-home-sale-could-fall-through" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/loan_for_house_concept_0.jpg" alt="Loan for house concept" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>It's finally happened: You've been trying to sell your home for weeks. An offer comes in and you accept it. You and the buyers sign a contract. You're now on your way to a closed sale, right? Not necessarily.</p> <p>Home sales can fall through, and it's something that's been happening more frequently: Trulia reported that 3.9 percent of home sales fell through last year, up from 2.1 percent a year earlier.</p> <p>Those numbers indicate that most home sales do eventually close after the buyers and sellers agree on a price and sign a contract, but what about the nearly 4 percent that didn't? What kept those sales from closing?</p> <h2>1. The inspection</h2> <p>Most buyers today will order an inspection of a home after they sign a contract and before they sign the closing papers that give them ownership of the residence. The home inspector tours the property, looking for problems big and small. It's the big problems that can scuttle a sale.</p> <p>When inspectors turn up major problems &mdash; such as leaky roofs or sagging foundations &mdash; buyers will ask for relief from sellers. Sellers can agree to hire contractors to fix the problems themselves, reduce the selling price of the home, or provide buyers with a credit so that they can fix the issues.</p> <p>But if sellers refuse to do this, buyers can cancel the home sale. Buyers might lose the earnest money deposit they made when signing their contract, but the home sale will fall through.</p> <h2>2. The appraisal</h2> <p>Most buyers will take out a mortgage loan to buy a home. When they do so, their lender will require them to pay for an appraisal of the residence. Problems arise when the appraisal comes in significantly less than the agreed-upon sales price.</p> <p>Say you and the buyer agree on a final price of $250,000, but the appraisal ordered by the buyer comes in at just $180,000. The odds are high that the buyer's lender won't provide a loan that is so much higher than this appraised value.</p> <p>Sellers could reduce their price. Or buyers could bring enough cash to the table to bridge the difference. But if this doesn't happen, the sale will most likely fall through.</p> <h2>3. The buyer can't get a mortgage</h2> <p>You and a buyer might have agreed on a final price and signed a contract to sell your home. But what if that buyer is rejected for a mortgage loan? When buyers can't qualify for mortgages, home sales are scuttled.</p> <p>That's why it's best to accept offers from buyers who are already preapproved for mortgages. These buyers are more likely to get the financing they need to close a home sale.</p> <h2>4. The buyer gets nervous</h2> <p>Buyers sometimes suffer immediate remorse after signing a contract to purchase a home. Sometimes that remorse passes. Other times, it's so strong that the buyers back out of their purchase.</p> <p>Sellers do have some protection here. If buyers simply change their minds after signing a purchase contract, they will usually lose their earnest money deposit. That deposit &mdash; made when buyers sign a purchase contract &mdash; is typically 1 percent of a home's final sale price. Unless there are extenuating circumstances, such as problems uncovered in the home inspection, sellers will typically keep that money if the buyers walk away from the deal.</p> <h2>5. The buyers can't sell their homes</h2> <p>Buyers often must sell a home before they can officially buy yours. That's because most people can't afford two mortgage payments at once. These buyers will make what are known as contingent offers: Their purchase of a home won't close until they can first sell their own residence.</p> <p>Typically, a contingent offer will give buyers a set number of days to sell their homes, often 30. If buyers can't sell their own homes during this time, their offer to buy your home will fall through.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F5-reasons-a-home-sale-could-fall-through&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F5%2520Reasons%2520a%2520Home%2520Sale%2520Could%2520Fall%2520Through.jpg&amp;description=5%20Reasons%20a%20Home%20Sale%20Could%20Fall%20Through"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/5%20Reasons%20a%20Home%20Sale%20Could%20Fall%20Through.jpg" alt="5 Reasons a Home Sale Could Fall Through" width="250" height="374" /></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-a-home-sale-could-fall-through">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-you-need-to-know-about-homeowners-associations">What You Need to Know About Homeowners&#039; Associations</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-ways-to-buy-a-house-without-a-mortgage">4 Ways to Buy a House Without a Mortgage</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/8-times-you-need-to-walk-away-from-your-dream-home">8 Times You Need to Walk Away From Your Dream Home</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/4-questions-to-ask-before-leaving-your-house-to-your-kids">4 Questions to Ask Before Leaving Your House to Your Kids</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/watch-out-for-these-5-last-minute-home-buying-costs">Watch Out for These 5 Last Minute Home Buying Costs</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing appraisals back out buyers homeownership inspections mortgage preapproval Sale sellers selling a home Wed, 19 Jul 2017 09:00:13 +0000 Dan Rafter 1982852 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Things to Consider Before Buying a Home When You're Single http://www.wisebread.com/5-things-to-consider-before-buying-a-home-when-youre-single <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-things-to-consider-before-buying-a-home-when-youre-single" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_with_keys_standing_outside_new_home.jpg" alt="Woman With Keys Standing Outside New Home" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>It's become increasingly common for people to buy a home by themselves instead of as a couple. According to the National Association of Realtors' <em>Profile of Homebuyers and Sellers</em>, new homeowners in 2016 were comprised of 17 percent single females and 7 percent single males.</p> <p>Buying a home is a big undertaking, whether or not you're doing it as a single person. I spoke to Markus Brown, a realtor in Orange County, California, about some things to consider before buying a home by yourself.</p> <h2>1. Understand the risks</h2> <p>As a single person, is it better to pay rent or to own a home? The monthly costs of owning a home may be higher than what you pay in monthly rent when you consider costs like insurance, property tax, maintenance, and higher utility bills. You're also taking on greater risk by taking on a loan. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-i-choose-to-rent-instead-of-buy?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Why I Choose to Rent Instead of Buy</a>)</p> <p>However, according to Brown, there can be significant advantages to owning a home, the biggest of which is the ability to fix your housing costs in the future. When you own your home on a fixed-rate, 30-year mortgage, you remove unknowns such as your rent going up, being asked to move because the landlord wants to renovate or sell, and more. This allows you to make concrete plans for the future without worrying about housing.</p> <p>If you're planning to stay in the area for several years, you should consider buying a home. &quot;Historically, you need to own for at least five to 10 years before market appreciation helps you to make a profit,&quot; Brown says, &quot;[but] if you're going to be relocated in a year or two, don't buy.&quot;</p> <h2>2. Review your finances</h2> <p>Having only one income to rely on in purchasing a home can stretch you financially, so it's a good idea to go over your finances before considering a home purchase. You'll also want to take steps to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-improve-your-credit-score-fast" target="_blank">improve your credit score</a> before buying a home. Consider the stability of your income and whether you have enough savings to see you through if something happens to that source of income.</p> <p>As a single person, you will want to have a large savings buffer, because you won't be able to fall back on another person's income if yours is disrupted. The rule of thumb is that your emergency fund should have at least six months of income &mdash; nine if your income is unpredictable.</p> <h2>3. Calculate the hidden costs</h2> <p>Don't be surprised by the &quot;hidden&quot; costs of owning a home, including the closing costs, property taxes, insurance, possible homeowners association fees, utilities, maintenance, and potential renovations. Factor all these extra costs into your budget before deciding on a home that you can afford. According to Brown, many people think they can buy more than they actually can when all these costs are factored in. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-hidden-housing-costs-new-homeowners-dont-expect?ref=seealso" target="_blank">10 Hidden Housing Costs New Homeowners Don't Expect</a>)</p> <h2>4. Talk to a mortgage broker</h2> <p>As a single person, it can be more difficult to quality for a loan because you can only count on one income. If it's your first time buying, you may be able to qualify for an FHA loan, which allows you to purchase with a lower down payment (only 3.5 percent down) and lower interest rates, and doesn't require as high of a high credit score.</p> <p>Another option is the HomeReady Mortgage Program through Fannie Mae, which only requires as little as 3 percent down, and allows greater flexibility in qualifying for a loan, including income from co-borrowers, family members who are not on the loan, gifts from family members, and even &quot;boarder&quot; income from a roommate.</p> <p>Talk to a mortgage broker or financial adviser about whether it makes sense for you to pay a lower down payment. You may have to purchase mortgage insurance if you don't put enough money down, so factor those costs into your decision.</p> <p>&quot;Low down-payment loans make sense for people who have a solid job and stable income, but don't have a lot of savings because they've just started out, such as new grads or young couples,&quot; Brown recommends.</p> <h2>5. Choose the right home</h2> <p>In his experience, Brown sees single people going for condos, because the maintenance and chores are simpler and easier to deal with. Brown suggests buying only what you need at the moment and getting a foot in the market, instead of trying to buy a family home when you don't know what you'll need later. Look for a condo in a community that has other working professionals, and allows you to enjoy your single life.</p> <p>However, it's better to buy a two-bedroom rather than a one-bedroom if you can afford it, according to Brown, because it gives you what he calls &quot;future-proofing.&quot; If you lose your job or the economy tanks, you can take on a roommate to help you share the costs. On the other hand, if you get married or have your partner move in, you have enough space for the next step in building your family. Either way, you won't have to sell immediately if something changes in the future.</p> <p>In addition to potential financial benefits, there are a lot of intangible benefits to owning your own home. Pride in your own home, the ability to control things about your living situation that you couldn't control as a renter (such as decorations and renovations), and the feeling of being more settled, are all attractive reasons to buy a home as a single person.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F5-things-to-consider-before-buying-a-home-when-youre-single&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F5%2520Things%2520to%2520Consider%2520Before%2520Buying%2520a%2520Home%2520When%2520Youre%2520Single.jpg&amp;description=5%20Things%20to%20Consider%20Before%20Buying%20a%20Home%20When%20Youre%20Single"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/5%20Things%20to%20Consider%20Before%20Buying%20a%20Home%20When%20Youre%20Single.jpg" alt="5 Things to Consider Before Buying a Home When You're Single" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/camilla-cheung">Camilla Cheung</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-things-to-consider-before-buying-a-home-when-youre-single">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/make-these-5-money-moves-before-applying-for-a-mortgage">Make These 5 Money Moves Before Applying for a 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/5-times-buying-a-home-with-cash-is-bad-for-your-budget">5 Times Buying a Home With Cash Is Bad for Your Budget</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/watch-out-for-these-5-last-minute-home-buying-costs">Watch Out for These 5 Last Minute Home Buying Costs</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-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-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <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> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing buying a home credit score down payments hidden costs homeownership income mortgages qualifying single Tue, 18 Jul 2017 09:00:09 +0000 Camilla Cheung 1985091 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Turn Your Home Into a Moneymaking Star http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-turn-your-home-into-a-moneymaking-star <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-turn-your-home-into-a-moneymaking-star" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/camera_crew_director_469158247.jpg" alt="Turning their home into a moneymaking star" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>During the Golden Age of Hollywood, film studios used soundstages and sets for their movies. But in recent years, with the rise of high definition screens, film producers aim to make their films more realistic. That means they often turn to real people's homes, rather than creating a set.</p> <p>The immensely popular show <em>House of Cards</em> is one of the most recent and well-known examples. The Underwoods live in a stunning townhome in the heart of the D.C. area. That house is a <a href="http://www.orlandosentinel.com/bal-baltimore-home-used-as-underwood-residence-in-house-of-cards-up-for-auction-20170608-story.html?utm_campaign=trueAnthem%3A+Trending+Contentutm_content=593a0f3304d3010a420f8e1futm_medium=trueAnthemutm_source=facebook" target="_blank">real residence</a>, located in Baltimore.</p> <p>If you're willing to deal with film crews in your home, you can turn your abode into a lucrative source of income. The <a href="http://afrmortgage.com/blog/could-your-home-be-in-movies-how-to-market-your-property-as-a-film-location/#null" target="_blank">going rate</a> for a film is the price of your monthly mortgage payment per day. That means if your mortgage is $1,500 a month, and the film crew needs your home for three days, you'll earn around $4,500.</p> <p>Find out what renting your home out to filmmakers includes and how to get started.</p> <h2>What film producers look for</h2> <p>Filmmakers and commercial producers aren't just looking for mansions or luxury homes; they also need regular, average houses for their productions. They often need homes that reflect the character of the city they're portraying.</p> <p>For example, the home featured in <em>Breaking Bad</em> isn't a sprawling mansion. The film crew searched for a home that reflected the style of Albuquerque, New Mexico and settled on this <a href="https://roadtrippers.com/us/albuquerque-nm/points-of-interest/walter-whites-house" target="_blank">modest, '70s-style ranch</a>. Everyday homes are needed for sitcoms and films all the time.</p> <p>If the film is about the inner city, a Philadelphia row home may be the perfect fit. Or, if the film is a southern gothic, an older, Victorian-style home in Georgia may be just what they need. Homes with unique architectural details or picturesque views tend to get the most traction.</p> <h2>Other perks</h2> <p>Besides a nice check after production is over, there are other perks that come with renting out your home to a film crew.</p> <p>Sometimes, the producers will decide they need to make certain improvements to your home. They may update the appliances, put in French doors, or even replace your countertops with granite. This is done at no charge to you, and you can keep whatever additions they make.</p> <p>If you have to leave your home during filming, the production team will typically pay for you to stay at a hotel. You can get a nice mini-vacation while your home is making money.</p> <h2>Factors to consider</h2> <p>While you can make thousands by renting out your home, make sure you understand what it entails.</p> <p>Depending on the production, you may have to vacate the home during filming, which means there will be dozens of strangers in your home when you aren't. Your home could go through additional wear and tear, as production people build props, set up special effects, or simply trod dirt in and out.</p> <p>Also, make sure you know your area's rules and your neighbors' tolerance level. Your community may not welcome the added traffic, lights, and noise that a film production brings.</p> <p>Finally, know that if your home is in a film or television show that becomes popular, you will have many people stop by to take pictures of your home. You can have unexpected visitors for years after production stops.</p> <h2>How to rent out your home</h2> <p>There are many different ways to find gigs for your home. While locations like Los Angeles and New York City are often the most in-demand (and command the highest rates), film crews nationwide need homes for their shoots. You can list your home in the following ways:</p> <ul> <li>Contact your state's film commission. State film commissions maintain a listing of available homes for film producers.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>List your home with <a href="http://www.locationshub.com/" target="_blank">Locations Hub</a>. This is a national database of available homes for productions.</li> </ul> <p>Another option is to consider renting out your home for commercials rather than movies. Local businesses and advertising agencies frequently film their own commercials, and need nearby homes. You can list your home with <a href="http://www.setscouter.com" target="_blank">Set Scouter</a> to get connected with local productions. According to Set Scouter, the average rate for a 12-hour day is $1,500.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fhow-to-turn-your-home-into-a-moneymaking-star&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FHow%2520to%2520Turn%2520Your%2520Home%2520Into%2520a%2520Moneymaking%2520Star.jpg&amp;description=How%20to%20Turn%20Your%20Home%20Into%20a%20Moneymaking%20Star"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/How%20to%20Turn%20Your%20Home%20Into%20a%20Moneymaking%20Star.jpg" alt="How to Turn Your Home Into a Moneymaking Star" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kat-tretina">Kat Tretina</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-turn-your-home-into-a-moneymaking-star">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. 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