home buying http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/7934/all en-US 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-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/4-home-buying-habits-we-can-learn-from-millennials">4 Home-Buying Habits We Can Learn From Millennials</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/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/4-surprising-things-lenders-check-besides-your-credit-score">4 Surprising Things Lenders Check Besides Your Credit Score</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-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-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/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-3 views-row-odd"> <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-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-only-5-rules-of-home-buying-you-need-to-know">The Only 5 Rules of Home Buying You Need to Know</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-why-your-house-is-not-an-investment">Stop Thinking of Your House as an Investment</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 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-9"> <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 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-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/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/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-overcome-these-5-worst-homeownership-fears">How to Overcome These 5 Worst Homeownership Fears</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-questions-to-ask-before-signing-a-lease">10 Questions to Ask Before Signing a Lease</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 4 Home-Buying Habits We Can Learn From Millennials http://www.wisebread.com/4-home-buying-habits-we-can-learn-from-millennials <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/4-home-buying-habits-we-can-learn-from-millennials" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/new_home_owners_with_key.jpg" alt="New homeowners with key" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Millennials entered the housing market later than their baby boomer and Generation X predecessors. They chose to rent for longer, and are just now starting to flood the housing market.</p> <p>But just because millennials have been slow to embrace homeownership doesn't mean that they don't have anything to teach others about buying a home. In fact, despite their late jump into the housing market, millennials have demonstrated plenty of smart home-buying behaviors. Here are a few smart homeownership habits we can all learn from this younger generation.</p> <h2>Don't rush</h2> <p>Ellie Mae, a software company that works with mortgage data, says that millennials &mdash; young adults from the ages of 18 to 34 &mdash; are currently the largest group of homebuyers in the housing market. According to the company, in January of 2017, these young buyers took out about 45 percent of all the mortgage loans used to buy homes. But homebuying is a recent trend for this age group.</p> <p>Economists have long observed that millennials waited longer than older generations to jump into the housing market, just as they have also waited longer to get married and have families.</p> <p>This isn't necessarily a bad thing. Buying a home is expensive. You'll need money for a down payment and the closing costs on your mortgage loan. This will run you thousands of dollars.</p> <p>As millennials show, there's nothing wrong with waiting until you have a more established job and reliable income to buy a home. Having that economic stability will eliminate some of the stress of covering that mortgage payment each month.</p> <h2>Don't break your budget</h2> <p>You don't want to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-make-ends-meet-when-youre-house-poor?ref=internal" target="_blank">overspend on a home</a>. And today, that's getting easier to do because housing prices continue to rise. The National Association of Realtors says that the median price for a home sold in March of 2017 hit $236,400. That's an increase of 6.8 percent from March of 2016, when the median price was $221,400. This March also marked the 61st consecutive month in which home prices rose on a year-over-year basis.</p> <p>One of the most often-cited reasons for millennials' slow entry into the housing market is the student loan debt they face. According to Student Loan Hero, the average college graduate of the class of 2016 has $37,172 in student loan debt, up 6 percent from the previous year. Taking on the added debt burden of a mortgage can be intimidating when you already owe tens of thousands of dollars in student loans.</p> <p>Millennials know about debt. It's why so many of them are cautious about overspending. And this wariness is a good habit to acquire. Just because a mortgage lender approves you for a mortgage loan of $250,000, doesn't mean you must buy a home costing that much. It's OK &mdash; and is, in fact, fiscally smart &mdash; to buy a home that costs less. This will leave you with money leftover and an easier time making those housing payments each month.</p> <h2>Be realistic about the American dream</h2> <p>Buying a home has long been a part of the American dream. But millennials understand that this American dream can easily turn into a nightmare.</p> <p>Many millennials saw their parents lose their jobs and struggle to make their mortgage payments during the Great Recession. Some saw their parents lose their homes to foreclosure. Others watched as their parents' homes steadily lost value, leaving them underwater &mdash; owing more on their mortgage loans than what their homes were worth.</p> <p>Millennials learned that buying a home wasn't the only way to be happy in America. They learned that it could, in fact, be one way to be unhappy in America.</p> <p>The good habit here is that you should never jump into owning a home just because everyone else seems to be doing it. Owning a home isn't the right choice for everyone, which brings us to one last habit.</p> <h2>Don't think that renting comes with a stigma</h2> <p>Millennials are less averse to renting apartments later in life than both baby boomers and Gen Xers. In fact, the apartment market around the country is in the middle of a boom, with more people of all ages choosing to rent instead of owning a home.</p> <p>Renting has become a preferred way of living for a growing number of people. Need proof? Landlords keep increasing monthly rents to historic levels, something they'd struggle to do if the renters weren't coming. Apartment company Abodo said that in March of this year, the median monthly rent of a one-bedroom apartment across the United States stood at $1,005.</p> <p>In major cities, where many prefer to rent, monthly rents are especially high. Abodo reported that in San Francisco the median monthly rent stood at $3,415 in March 2017, while it hit $2,705 in New York City and $2,549 in San Jose, California. Other markets with high monthly rents include Boston ($2,398); Washington, D.C. ($2,097); Los Angeles ($2,030); and Oakland ($2,009).</p> <p>If you prefer to rent &mdash; and you aren't interested in the yard work and upkeep that come with owning a home &mdash; don't feel pressured to make the move to owning. You'll have plenty of company when it comes to renting an apartment.</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%2F4-home-buying-habits-we-can-learn-from-millennials&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F4%2520Home-Buying%2520Habits%2520We%2520Can%2520Learn%2520From%2520Millennials.jpg&amp;description=4%20Home-Buying%20Habits%20We%20Can%20Learn%20From%20Millennials"></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/u5180/4%20Home-Buying%20Habits%20We%20Can%20Learn%20From%20Millennials.jpg" alt="4 Home-Buying Habits We Can Learn From Millennials" 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/4-home-buying-habits-we-can-learn-from-millennials">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/rent-your-home-or-buy-heres-how-to-decide">Rent Your Home or Buy? Here&#039;s How to Decide</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/8-biggest-regrets-of-new-homeowners">8 Biggest Regrets of New Homeowners</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-build-equity-in-your-home">How to Build Equity in Your Home</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing American Dream apartments home buying homeownership lessons loans millennials mortgages renting Wed, 28 Jun 2017 09:00:12 +0000 Dan Rafter 1970390 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Times Buying a Home With Cash Is Bad for Your Budget http://www.wisebread.com/5-times-buying-a-home-with-cash-is-bad-for-your-budget <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-times-buying-a-home-with-cash-is-bad-for-your-budget" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/house_building_insurance_housewarming_loan_real_estate_home_concept.jpg" alt="House building, insurance, housewarming, loan, real estate, home concept" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Buying a home with cash is usually considered a smart financial move, if you can swing it. That's because taking out a mortgage loan to finance your home requires you to pay a ton of interest, even in today's low-interest rate environment. With cash, you don't have to worry about interest at all.</p> <p>For example, let's say you take out a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage of $200,000 at an interest rate of 3.93 percent. You'll pay more than $140,000 in interest if you take the full three decades to pay back your loan. If you pay in cash, that $140,000 stays in your pocket.</p> <p>What could possibly be the downside of paying this way? Here are a few possibilities.</p> <h2>1. When making an all-cash offer will deplete your savings</h2> <p>If you can afford to buy that $300,000 home with cash, that's great. But if that purchase leaves you with little or no money in your savings, it can put you in financial jeopardy.</p> <p>It's important to have cash reserves to handle life's emergencies. What if you lose your job? You might wish you still had some of those savings available.</p> <p>Remember, your investment in your home is largely <em>illiquid</em>. To access it, you'll have to sell your home or take out a home-equity loan or line of credit. Neither option is as appealing as having cash reserves on hand.</p> <p>If you do have plenty of cash &mdash; but not enough to have funds leftover after buying a home &mdash; consider coming up with an extra-large down payment instead. This way, you can reduce your mortgage while keeping some cash on hand.</p> <h2>2. When your cash is earning you money</h2> <p>Are your cash savings earning you plenty of big returns? Then it might not make sense to take a big chunk of this money and invest it in a house. Yes, it's nice not to have to make a mortgage payment each month. But you'll have to determine if the return that your invested dollars are generating outweighs the savings in interest you'd get by avoiding a mortgage.</p> <h2>3. When you'll miss out on a tax break</h2> <p>Homeowners can deduct the amount of interest they pay on their mortgage loans each year. This tax break is more valuable during the earliest years of a mortgage, when homeowners are paying the most interest.</p> <p>You'll have to determine how valuable this tax break is to you. If you do need to reduce your tax bill each year, using some of your cash to come up with a bigger down payment and then taking out a mortgage to finance the rest of your home purchase might make the most sense.</p> <h2>4. When your home's value might fall</h2> <p>There was a time when no one thought homes could lose value over a seven- or 10-year period. Then came 2007 and 2008, when home values suddenly plummeted.</p> <p>There's a lesson here: There is no guarantee that your home will increase in value after you buy it. There's also no guarantee that it won't lose value.</p> <p>The hope is that after buying your home in an all-cash offer, the property will become even more valuable. When it's time to sell, you'll earn a profit. But there is no guarantee that this will happen. And if you do have to sell your home at a loss one day, that money you invested in it will be lost.</p> <h2>5. When you'll miss out on great interest rates</h2> <p>Mortgage interest rates have risen, but they are still at historic lows. The Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Market Survey says that the average interest rate on a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage was 3.89 percent as of June 8, 2017. The average rate on a 15-year, fixed-rate mortgage was 3.16 percent. Those are great rates.</p> <p>Instead of investing a big chunk of your cash in a home, it might make more sense to take that same money and make a different investment that will generate bigger returns. You can then apply for a mortgage loan with the shortest possible term and enjoy interest rates that are still at near-historic lows.</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-times-buying-a-home-with-cash-is-bad-for-your-budget&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F5%2520Times%2520Buying%2520a%2520Home%2520With%2520Cash%2520Is%2520Bad%2520for%2520Your%2520Budget.jpg&amp;description=5%20Times%20Buying%20a%20Home%20With%20Cash%20Is%20Bad%20for%20Your%20Budget"></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%20Times%20Buying%20a%20Home%20With%20Cash%20Is%20Bad%20for%20Your%20Budget.jpg" alt="5 Times Buying a Home With Cash Is Bad for Your Budget" 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-times-buying-a-home-with-cash-is-bad-for-your-budget">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-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/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> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-pay-your-mortgage-off-early">Should You Pay Your Mortgage Off Early?</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-build-equity-in-your-home">How to Build Equity in Your Home</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing down payments downsides home buying homeownership interest rates mortgages new home paying cash tax breaks Thu, 22 Jun 2017 08:30:16 +0000 Dan Rafter 1965874 at http://www.wisebread.com Best Money Tips: Ways to Save When Buying Your First Home http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-ways-to-save-when-buying-your-first-home <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/best-money-tips-ways-to-save-when-buying-your-first-home" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple_new_house_507836724.jpg" alt="Couple finding ways to save when buying their first home" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Welcome to Wise Bread's <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/topic/best-money-tips">Best Money Tips</a> Roundup! Today we found articles on ways to save on your first home, tips for building your personal brand, and when you should not DIY.</p> <h2>Top 5 Articles</h2> <p><a href="https://blog.allstate.com/3-ways-save-buying-first-home/">3 Ways to Save When Buying Your First Home</a> &mdash; Newly remodeled homes have better curb appeal and will sell faster, which means the seller will be less likely to negotiate on price. If you want to save money, be open to houses that are structurally sound but may need a makeover. [The Allstate Blog]</p> <p><a href="https://due.com/blog/building-your-personal-brand/">8 Tips for Building Your Personal Brand Faster</a> &mdash; Be accessible! It isn't enough to maintain the usual social networks; make sure you have a good website, too. [Due]</p> <p><a href="https://dyernews.com/when-is-diy-a-bad-idea/">When is DIY a Bad Idea?</a> &mdash; You're better off hiring a professional if a project needs to look, you know, <em>professional</em>. [Dyer News]</p> <p><a href="https://www.popsugar.com/smart-living/How-Help-Someone-Anxiety-42078628">7 Things You Can Do to Help Someone With Anxiety</a> &mdash; Stay calm and comforting, and don't get overexcited or agitated. Someone who is dealing with anxiety doesn't need to deal with external drama, too. [PopSugar Smart Living]</p> <p><a href="http://www.stackthechips.com/beginners-guide-cutting-cord/">A Beginners Guide To Cutting The Cord</a> &mdash; You have many hardware options for streaming, but you probably already have a device to watch your favorite programming: a computer, laptop, gaming console, smartphone, or tablet. [Stack The Chips]</p> <h2>Other Essential Reading</h2> <p><a href="http://www.frugalvillage.com/2017/05/16/how-not-to-overspend-when-remodeling-your-house/">How Not to Overspend When Remodeling Your House</a> &mdash; Rent a dumpster to hold things that can't be sold or given away, like old bulky furniture, carpeting, and waste materials from your renovation. [Frugal Village]</p> <p><a href="http://www.csmonitor.com/Business/2017/0516/Should-US-companies-get-a-tax-break-if-they-bring-offshore-money-back">Should US companies get a tax break if they bring offshore money back?</a> &mdash; Major US multinational companies want a sharply reduced taxed rate if they are forced to bring home foreign earnings. [The Christian Science Monitor]</p> <p><a href="https://www.goodfinancialcents.com/5-money-hacks-saved-4-1-million-dollars/">5 Money Hacks that Have Saved Me Over $4.1 Million Dollars</a> &mdash; You could earn $1.5 million by driving a paid-off car and investing the difference. [Good Financial Cents]</p> <p><a href="http://www.dinksfinance.com/2017/05/sell-used-books-online-extra-money/">How to Sell Used Books Online for Extra Money</a> &mdash; eBay isn't the only place to sell used books these days. Consider listing your old books on these online marketplaces that make book selling fast and easy. [Dinks Finance]</p> <p><a href="http://www.dontpayfull.com/blog/saving-money-quotes">20 of the Most Powerful Things Ever Said About Saving Money</a> &mdash; Let these money quotes steer you in the right direction! [Don't Pay Full]</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/amy-lu">Amy Lu</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-ways-to-save-when-buying-your-first-home">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-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-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-2 views-row-even"> <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-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/growin-home-how-much-house-do-you-really-need">Growin&#039; Home: How Much House Do You Really Need?</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/4-home-buying-habits-we-can-learn-from-millennials">4 Home-Buying Habits We Can Learn From Millennials</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing best money tips home buying Wed, 17 May 2017 08:30:13 +0000 Amy Lu 1948477 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Times You Need to Walk Away From Your Dream Home http://www.wisebread.com/8-times-you-need-to-walk-away-from-your-dream-home <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-times-you-need-to-walk-away-from-your-dream-home" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-647168754.jpg" alt="Woman learning when to walk away from her dream home" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You think you've found the perfect house. But before you plunge into homeownership, you need to watch out for any warning signs this sale isn't meant to be. Ask yourself whether any of these things apply to you. If so, buying the home of your dreams may just have to wait.</p> <h2>1. You can't afford 20 percent down</h2> <p>The house may have everything you are looking for, but you need to make sure that the sale price isn't beyond your means. Ideally, you want to make a down payment of at least 20 percent. This may be a substantial amount of money, but without that down payment, your lender will likely ask you to pay for <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-is-private-mortgage-insurance-anyway?ref=internal" target="_blank">private mortgage insurance</a> &mdash; which can add hundreds of dollars a year to your homeownership costs.</p> <p>Moreover, the more you can put down up front, the smaller your monthly mortgage payments will be. If you are in the market for a home but can't hit that 20 percent mark, consider holding off on buying until you have a larger sum saved. (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>2. Your mortgage payments would restrict your ability to save</h2> <p>Even if you have the ability to put 20 percent down on the house, you may find that the monthly mortgage payments are higher than you can reasonably afford. The U.S. government recommends spending no more than 30 percent of your gross monthly income on housing. That means if you earn $3,000 per month before taxes, you shouldn't spend more than $900 per month on your mortgage.</p> <p>You may get approved for a loan much bigger than you expected, but don't use this as an excuse to buy more house than you can afford. If your payments are too high, you will find it harder to live comfortably or save money for anything besides housing costs. If you have to go into additional debt in order to make house payments, then your &quot;dream home&quot; could become more of a financial nightmare. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-make-ends-meet-when-youre-house-poor?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Make Ends Meet When You're House Poor</a>)</p> <h2>3. You didn't get a favorable interest rate</h2> <p>There are two key things that impact how much you'll end up paying for a house: the sale price, and the interest rate on the mortgage loan. Even if the sale price is within your predetermined budget, you may find your monthly payments to be onerous if the interest rate is too high. A modest difference in interest rate can mean thousands of dollars in extra costs over the lifetime of a loan.</p> <p>Your past financial history, debt load, and credit score impacts the interest rate that banks are willing to offer. The worse your credit, the higher the rate will be. If your credit score is low, you may be better off in the long run financially if you take time to pay off debt and make yourself more attractive to lenders. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-improve-your-credit-score-fast?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Ways to Improve Your Credit Score Fast</a>)</p> <h2>4. Your income situation may change for the worse</h2> <p>You may have found your dream home, but your ability to pay for that house may be based on income that's no longer a sure thing. Have you recently lost your job, or are you on the verge of a layoff? Were you counting on income from investments that have not performed as well as expected?</p> <p>If your income situation is unfavorable, consider waiting to buy a home. You don't want to exacerbate a difficult financial situation by taking on more expense than you can handle at that moment. (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> <h2>5. It's a money pit</h2> <p>You're not opposed to a fixer-upper, but this house has more needed repairs than you bargained for. You also learned that it's horribly inefficient when it comes to heating and cooling. On top of that, there are sizable homeowners association and community fees that you hadn't taken into account. All of this adds up to a house that busts through your budget, and it may be a good idea to walk away. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-signs-the-house-you-want-to-buy-is-a-money-pit?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Signs the House You Want to Buy Is a Money Pit</a>)</p> <h2>6. There are signs that housing prices may drop</h2> <p>It's hard to predict where housing prices will go, but if the market is inflated, you may be better off waiting to see if prices come down. There are countless people who purchased homes during the housing bubble around 2005, only to see home prices drop precipitously. Many of these homeowners ended up underwater on their loans, and some even ended up losing their homes altogether.</p> <p>If you feel like the housing market is overheated and you are willing to be patient, you may save money on the purchase price if you wait for prices to drop. One big caveat to this is that it's also important to pay attention to interest rates. If interest rates are on the rise, it may be better to buy sooner rather than later.</p> <h2>7. The seller wants you to waive an inspection</h2> <p>During the housing boom more than a decade ago, competition for homes was so fierce that sellers often viewed a request for an inspection as a deal breaker. No matter how desperate you may be to land that perfect home, waiving an inspection is a risky proposition that could backfire on you. Without an inspection, you have no way of knowing if a home will be in dire need of repairs, now or down the road. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/thinking-of-skipping-the-home-inspection-heres-what-it-will-cost-you?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Thinking of Skipping the Home Inspection? Here's What It Will Cost You</a>)</p> <h2>8. The seller wants you to waive a title search</h2> <p>A search of a home's title is a crucial aspect of the homebuying process. This is where a buyer may uncover things about the history of the home, including when it was built, who has owned it, and whether there are any tax liens. It's extraordinarily risky to waive this contingency, so if a seller insists upon it, consider it a red flag and run. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/yes-you-need-home-title-insurance-heres-why?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Yes, You Need Home Title Insurance &mdash; Here's Why</a>)</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tim-lemke">Tim Lemke</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-times-you-need-to-walk-away-from-your-dream-home">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-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/8-ways-to-reduce-mortgage-closing-costs">8 Ways to Reduce Mortgage Closing Costs</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/why-i-didnt-pay-my-mortgage-off-in-full">Why I Didn&#039;t Pay My Mortgage Off In Full</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-signs-youre-paying-too-much-for-your-mortgage">8 Signs You&#039;re Paying Too Much for Your 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-a-home-sale-could-fall-through">5 Reasons a Home Sale Could Fall Through</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing home buying home loans inspections interest rates mortgage private mortgage insurance red flags title search warning signs Tue, 25 Apr 2017 09:00:12 +0000 Tim Lemke 1931276 at http://www.wisebread.com Score Your Dream Home With the Perfect Offer Letter http://www.wisebread.com/score-your-dream-home-with-the-perfect-offer-letter <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/score-your-dream-home-with-the-perfect-offer-letter" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-639309248.jpg" alt="Couple scoring dream home with perfect offer letter" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>In a hypercompetitive housing market, buyers need to seize every advantage possible. In addition to a strong credit score, loan preapproval, and reasonable offer, a well-crafted offer letter can tip the scales in your favor. If you've found your dream home but are facing some stiff competition, it's time to put pen to paper. Here are eight tricks to writing the perfect offer letter.</p> <h2>1. Write it yourself</h2> <p>Don't delegate this one. Your offer letter should be penned by you, not your real estate agent. As a prospective buyer, it's up to you to connect emotionally with the seller and authentically express why you're drawn to the property.</p> <h2>2. Explain your interest</h2> <p>Details matter. Writing that you &quot;simply love the house&quot; is a good start, but it won't get the job done. What about the home appeals to you? Is it the gleaming hardwood floors? The big front porch? The way the sun shines through a stained-glass window? Including a few well-considered details accomplishes two things: First, it flatters the seller (as he or she may be responsible for many of the features you're drawn to). Second, it establishes a sense of shared appreciation and implies that you're well-suited to be the home's new steward.</p> <h2>3. Put your heart into it</h2> <p>Selling a house isn't just a business transaction; it's an emotional one. For sellers who've owned their home for decades, leaving may be bittersweet. Make it easier for them by tapping into the emotional side of your story. Discuss why you think the home is perfect for your family and what memories you hope to make within those walls.</p> <h2>4. Be cheery, not dreary</h2> <p>Though adding a bit of emotion to your offer letter is helpful, keep the emotions positive. Referring to a divorce, long-term illness, or the death of a loved one can cast a shadow over the transaction. Make the tone of your letter hopeful and joyful.</p> <h2>5. Skip the remodeling plans</h2> <p>Since sellers are understandably attached to their homes, avoid phrases like &quot;rip out,&quot; &quot;total gut job,&quot; and &quot;down to the studs&quot; in your letter. While remodeling may be part of you plans, focus on what you love about the home right now &mdash; not your vision to redo it.</p> <h2>6. Give buyers something to bank on</h2> <p>Remember, your offer letter is your moment to shine in every way possible. Show that you can make good on your offer without unnecessary delays and drama. Along with your loan approval documentation, briefly discuss what you do for a living, how established you are in your career, and the strength of your credit score. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/everything-a-first-time-home-buyer-needs-to-buy-a-house?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Everything a First-Time Home Buyer Needs to Buy a House</a>)</p> <h2>7. Don't rush</h2> <p>Your offer letter is an important document that can save you thousands of dollars and months of continued house-hunting. Though you may not have the luxury of time in a hot market, write the best letter possible. Consider your approach carefully, write simply and sincerely, and proofread thoroughly to catch any spelling and grammar mistakes.</p> <h2>8. End with a thank you</h2> <p>Your mom was right &mdash; a simple thank you can work wonders. Wrap things up with a humble and heartfelt &quot;thank you for the opportunity to view and bid on your beautiful home.&quot;</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kentin-waits">Kentin Waits</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/score-your-dream-home-with-the-perfect-offer-letter">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-5"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/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-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-reasons-a-home-sale-could-fall-through">5 Reasons a Home Sale Could Fall Through</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/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/5-mortgage-details-you-should-know-before-you-sign">5 Mortgage Details You Should Know Before You Sign</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing advice buyers home buying new house offer letters sellers writing Thu, 20 Apr 2017 09:00:07 +0000 Kentin Waits 1930341 at http://www.wisebread.com Don't Buy a House With a Pool Until You Can Answer These 7 Questions http://www.wisebread.com/dont-buy-a-house-with-a-pool-until-you-can-answer-these-7-questions <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/dont-buy-a-house-with-a-pool-until-you-can-answer-these-7-questions" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-469932560.jpg" alt="Asking questions before buying a house with a pool" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Having a built-in pool on your property comes with plenty of perks &mdash; like providing respite from the summer heat and elevating your kids' social status. But this luxury isn't all splash battles and cannonballs. Pools, among other things, require costly maintenance while also introducing a laundry list of liability and safety concerns into your life. Keep your head above water when considering buying a house with a pool by asking these eight important questions.</p> <h2>1. Does everyone in the family know how to swim?</h2> <p>This may seem like a silly question to ask yourself before buying a house with a pool, but you might be surprised at how many pool-owners either can't swim themselves, or have children who can't swim. Both of these scenarios could end in tragedy. And if you can't swim, there's <a href="http://www.usaswimming.org/DesktopDefault.aspx?TabId=1796" target="_blank">only a 13 percent chance</a> your child will learn how to swim. Not the best odds to have when a life is on the line.</p> <h2>2. Does everyone in your family know CPR?</h2> <p>If you're planning to own a pool, it's a wise decision to be trained in CPR. The few minutes' time between on-the-scene CPR and that which is administered by EMTs, who may take several minutes to arrive, is literally life and death.</p> <h2>3. How old is the pool?</h2> <p>Keller Williams Real Estate agent Jen Teague provides a few important construction questions to ask, including:</p> <ul> <li>What company installed the pool and is it still in business?</li> <li>Is it under warranty?</li> <li>Has there been any major work done to the pool over the last year?</li> <li>Are there any consistent issues (leaks, etc.) the owner has had with it?</li> </ul> <p>You're specifically looking to find out how much longer the pump life is, as well as any maintenance that may be needed for the liner or granite. After a while the chlorine wears down the liner and it will be more prone to tearing. Granite cracks over time as well.</p> <p>Three-decade pool industry veteran Michael Kern of MGK Pool Service in Lowell, Massachusetts adds, &quot;Cement pools need to be replastered every six to nine years; above ground pools need the liner replaced every four to eight years; and in-ground pools need the liner replaced every 15 to 20 years.&quot;</p> <h2>4. Is the pool surrounded by a fence?</h2> <p>A fence around your pool isn't to keep your kids in, but rather other people out &mdash; like wandering toddlers and even pets. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission's (CPSC) Pool Safely campaign, which focuses on drowning prevention and water safety (a <a href="https://www.poolsafely.gov/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Safety-Barrier-Guidelines-for-Residential-Pools.pdf" target="_blank">must read</a> if you're planning to become a pool owner!), suggests that the fence stands at least four feet high, surrounds the pool on all four sides, and includes a self-closing, self-latching gate. Adding an alarm to the door is an extra layer of protection so you're alerted to unauthorized visitors.</p> <h2>5. Does the pool have a safe drain cover?</h2> <p>The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool &amp; Spa Safety Act, named after a little girl who died in 2002 when the suction from a spa drain trapped her under water, mandates drain covers for public spas and pools &mdash; but homeowners also should practice this safety measure. A pool technician can tell you whether or not your drain cover needs updating, which is generally about every five years. The ZAC Foundation, an organization working to strengthen pool safety legislation and educate children on water safety, <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CULPxBSa_10" target="_blank">explains the difference in drain covers</a> and why having a compliant drain cover is important.</p> <h2>6. How much will maintenance cost?</h2> <p>Most homeowners have a general budget in place for day-to-day home expenses, plus a little extra to cover emergencies. But those who have never owned a pool may not be prepared for the added expense. Be sure to ask your agent about how much annual maintenance the pool will need so you can get a good idea of whether or not you can afford its upkeep.</p> <p>This is also a good time to ask the previous owners what pool necessities will be left behind and what you may need to buy when you assume ownership.</p> <h2>7. How much will your homeowners insurance increase?</h2> <p>Your swimming pool is a liability, for sure, and your insurer will consider that when pricing your policy. Before you jump in head first, hammer out the details of the policy and its cost. Additional umbrella insurance is always recommended for homeowners with a pool.</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/dont-buy-a-house-with-a-pool-until-you-can-answer-these-7-questions">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/10-affordable-water-parks-you-can-drive-to">10 Affordable Water Parks You Can Drive To</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/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/5-mortgage-details-you-should-know-before-you-sign">5 Mortgage Details You Should Know Before You Sign</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing drowning expenses home buying homeowners insurance kids maintenance pools safety swimming Wed, 05 Apr 2017 09:00:12 +0000 Mikey Rox 1917660 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Home Listing Gimmicks to Watch Out For http://www.wisebread.com/5-home-listing-gimmicks-to-watch-out-for <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-home-listing-gimmicks-to-watch-out-for" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-83266113.jpg" alt="Finding home listing gimmicks to watch out for" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Searching for a new home? It's an exciting process, but you need to keep your wits about you to see through the smoke and mirrors. I caught up with a few real estate agents recently who revealed some of the tricky tactics some agents use to reel you in hook, line, and sinker.</p> <h2>1. They set the asking price too low or too high</h2> <p>When a home is listed for a price that is unusually high or low for the area, it's usually to manipulate potential buyers. The listing agent is telling the seller to &quot;draw in buyers to initiate a bidding war&quot; with an enticingly low asking, or to capitalize on a hot market by shooting for the stars.</p> <p>I currently have one of my homes on the market. It's priced above market value because my listing agent told me that the market is saturated with all-cash buyers who'd snap my place right up. A month later, zero offers. As such, the price reduction will now be rather significant to compete with the comps in my area.</p> <p>Don't be manipulated by a deceptive asking price. Know your market and bid accordingly.</p> <h2>2. They intentionally misrepresent the property in photos</h2> <p>All the homes I own were first on my list to look at because the listings had clear, thorough photography. But real estate photos can be tricky. I've found listings online that featured no photos &mdash; huge red flag! &mdash; and some that have even used stock photos to show a similar unit or property, but not the one that's actually being sold. That's just the tip of this iceberg.</p> <p>Mortgage broker Giustin Valnova of Just 4 Mortgages says, &quot;Another major red flag to look out for is listings that have photos that don't tell the full story. If there's a major problem area of a certain room, the seller may try to cover that up by taking strategic photos that purposely ignore parts of the room. If photos are very zoomed in on a certain area, or are taken in a way that excludes part of a room, you should start asking why.&quot;</p> <p>A good way to see if this tactic is being implemented is to look at the floor plan, if the listing includes one. You can often use that to figure out if any part of the house has been excluded, or if &mdash; for example &mdash; the kitchen photo has been taken from the center of the room and only focuses on one area. Also, anything heavily filtered, out of focus, or badly lit may be intentionally done to hide or misrepresent what it really looks like.</p> <h2>3. They use deceptively positive keywords</h2> <p>Perhaps you've found a home described as &quot;quaint,&quot; &quot;intimate,&quot; or &quot;cozy.&quot; Maybe it excitedly proclaims to have an &quot;efficient&quot; kitchen or laundry room. While these all sound like pretty appealing qualities (who doesn't like cozy?), more often than not, these are just crafty codewords for &quot;small.&quot; And this isn't the only cleverly-worded trick up real estate agents' sleeves.</p> <p>A house with &quot;charm&quot; and &quot;character&quot; may in fact have plenty of both, but prepare yourself; it's also probably really old. The same goes for &quot;vintage.&quot; A listing that describes a bathroom or kitchen as having plenty of &quot;vintage charm&quot; might just mean that room hasn't been touched since the 1950s. If a home is &quot;secluded&quot; or &quot;off the beaten path,&quot; you may enjoy some peace and quiet living there &mdash; while also having to make day trips to the closest grocery store. &quot;Custom&quot; and &quot;one-of-a-kind&quot; are other words to be wary of. They may sound fancy, but a home that was &quot;customized&quot; to the previous owner's tastes probably has some eccentricities you simply won't like.</p> <p>To be fair, no house is going to be perfect. And no real estate agent is going to list off a home's less pleasant features when they're trying to make a sale. It's up to you as a buyer to read between the lines of a listing.</p> <h2>4. They stretch the truth with bold claims</h2> <p>Listing agents will do just about anything to draw a buyer in, even if that means sometimes bending the truth. While most agents won't straight-up lie to you about a property, there are manipulative ways to make the listing seem more attractive than it really is by massaging the facts.</p> <p>For instance, &quot;Some agents will market their listing results as 'sold for over asking price,' when the asking price was artificially low,&quot; says Paul Lisanti, a Keller Williams Edge Realty agent. &quot;Many consumers assume that the asking/listing price was at/around market value when in fact it was considerably lower. This strategy can work for sellers and it can also backfire. If a property is worth $300K and listed at $250K, when it sells for $285K, who is the real winner?&quot;</p> <h2>5. They put artificial pressure to bid</h2> <p>The listing agent might tell you that they've already got bids flooding in, and the sellers are eager to make a decision in days, when it's simply not true. They are looking to close the deal even if it means that the sellers lose out on the best offer. They might also pressure the sellers to make a decision before giving it a real chance to be available on the market. This might be because they want to sell to their own client, giving themselves both the seller and buyer agent fee, or they just want their fee sooner rather than later. While you won't know for sure whether they're telling the truth, you shouldn't let an agent pressure you into making such a big decision without thinking things through.</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-home-listing-gimmicks-to-watch-out-for">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/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-2 views-row-even"> <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-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-only-5-rules-of-home-buying-you-need-to-know">The Only 5 Rules of Home Buying You Need to Know</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <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-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 gimmicks home buying home listings manipulations real estate agents sales tactics Tue, 04 Apr 2017 08:30:20 +0000 Mikey Rox 1920999 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Reasons You Should File Your Taxes as Soon as Possible http://www.wisebread.com/8-reasons-you-should-file-your-taxes-as-soon-as-possible <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-reasons-you-should-file-your-taxes-as-soon-as-possible" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-610688960.jpg" alt="Learning reasons you should file taxes as soon as possible" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>What do we want? A tax refund! When do we want it? Now!</p> <p>Here are eight reasons you should pick up the pace on your tax preparation and file well before this year's April 18 deadline.</p> <h2>1. You'll Get Your Refund Faster</h2> <p>Simple logic, folks: The sooner you file your returns, the faster you'll receive a refund (if you're owed one). The IRS says it issues nine out of 10 refunds within 21 days (sometimes less) with e-file and direct deposit. Use that money to get a head start on spring and summer home improvements, pay off debt sooner than later, or bulk up your emergency savings account.</p> <h2>2. Filing Online Is Easy</h2> <p>If your taxes aren't complicated &mdash; and they shouldn't be if you don't have multiple sources of income &mdash; filing online should be a walk in the park. Using <a href="http://www.tkqlhce.com/click-2822544-12747133" target="_blank">TurboTax online</a>, for example, is almost effortless, and it will help you submit an accurate return while also saving you money. Best of all, you can do it on your own time and in the comfort of your own home.</p> <h2>3. You'll Have Extra Time to Pay the Taxes You May Owe<strong> </strong></h2> <p>Filing early doesn't mean you have to pay the taxes you may owe immediately. In fact, it'll give you a decent window to figure out how to cover that cost, especially if you don't readily have it available. If you submit your tax return in February, for example, you still have until the April deadline to come up with payment.</p> <h2>4. Your Accountant Can Spend More Quality Time on Your Return<strong> </strong></h2> <p>I'm an entrepreneur, and I own a business that requires a decent amount of accounting at tax time. Admittedly, this is not something I want to handle on my own, which is why I have a CPA. I usually schedule my annual meeting with him mid- to late-February &mdash; before he's bombarded with his other clients' returns &mdash; so he can give mine the TLC it needs. If you have a lot of components to your own taxes, this is definitely a strategy to consider. You don't want to lose out on refund money because your accountant was in a hurry.</p> <h2>5. You Can Spend More Quality Time on Your Return</h2> <p>Even if you're handling your taxes on your own, it's still wise to give yourself ample time to prepare. A lot of information goes onto a return, and you need to ensure that everything is correct. Tax mistakes can be costly, but they can also be avoided if you plan ahead instead of trying to beat the clock at the last minute. Triple-check your numbers and personal information for accuracy. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-common-tax-mistakes-we-need-to-stop-making?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Common Tax Mistakes We Need to Stop Making</a>)</p> <h2>6. You'll Reduce the Chance of Identity Theft</h2> <p>Identity theft is a major concern with regards to your finances, and even your tax return is at risk. Scammers can file fraudulent returns in unsuspecting taxpayers' names, but the chances of that happening are reduced the earlier you file. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/beware-these-6-phony-irs-calls-and-emails?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Beware These 6 Phony IRS Calls and Emails</a>)</p> <h2>7. It'll Make Your Home-Buying Process Easier</h2> <p>I've bought several homes over the years, and it's very stressful. For one, the mortgage company needs every last piece of your financial information that they can get their hands on &mdash; and then some. Your homebuying process will go much smoother this time of year if you've already filed your taxes.</p> <h2>8. You'll Have Time to Help Advise Your Working Dependent Kids<strong> </strong></h2> <p>Your working children can also make mistakes on their own returns, filing as independents when they're clearly still dependents. Have a discussion with your kids about this designation &mdash; especially important to remember if they're away at college and filing on their own &mdash; so you don't miss out on deductions that <em>you </em>deserve.</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-reasons-you-should-file-your-taxes-as-soon-as-possible">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-tax-return-mistakes-even-smart-people-make">8 Tax Return Mistakes Even Smart People Make</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-most-common-tax-questions-for-beginners-answered">The 7 Most Common Tax Questions for Beginners, Answered</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/get-your-money-sooner-by-starting-2016-tax-prep-now">Get Your Money Sooner by Starting 2016 Tax Prep Now</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/top-three-tax-facts-to-know-for-2016">Top Three Tax Facts to Know for 2016</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/3-tax-deductions-you-can-never-take">3 Tax Deductions You Can Never Take</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Taxes accounting dependents e-file home buying identity theft IRS kids refunds tax returns Tue, 28 Feb 2017 10:00:21 +0000 Mikey Rox 1897587 at http://www.wisebread.com Watch Out for These 5 Last Minute Home Buying Costs http://www.wisebread.com/watch-out-for-these-5-last-minute-home-buying-costs <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/watch-out-for-these-5-last-minute-home-buying-costs" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/money_cash_grass_13020597_0.jpg" alt="Finding ways to watch out for last minute home buying costs" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>In 2015, 5,250,000 existing homes and 510,000 newly constructed properties were <a href="http://www.realtor.org/field-guides/field-guide-to-quick-real-estate-statistics">sold in the U.S</a>. And as Wise Bread predicted back in December 2015, homes have been one of the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-necessities-that-will-be-cheaper-in-2016">necessities that are cheaper in 2016</a>, boosting the percentage of first-time homebuyers entering the market.</p> <p>But unexpected costs toward the end of the buying process can leave prospective buyers scrambling at the last minute or, even worse, unable to land the home of their dreams. Let's take a look at five pesky home buying costs that could appear at the eleventh hour.</p> <h2>1. Lower Property Appraisal</h2> <p>The seller told you that the home is worth $350,000 and you earnestly believed that valuation. So, you went to the bank and applied for a mortgage based on the market value of $350,000. To meet compliance requirements and to do its due diligence, the bank includes an appraisal contingency in your mortgage application. This clause requires that a third-party appraiser verifies that the home is actually worth $350,000.</p> <p>If the appraisal requested by your bank were to come under the $350,000, then somebody would have to come up with the difference for the bank to approve the loan. Depending on several factors, including the number of days the house has been on the market and the skill level of your real estate agent, the seller, her agent, or your own agent may help you with the difference. In the worst case scenario, you'll have to come up with the difference or have to say goodbye to that home.</p> <p>In the event that you believe the third-party appraiser may have provided an inaccurate estimate, you could hire another appraiser, submit that new estimate to the bank, and let the bank re-evaluate the mortgage. However, you would be most likely responsible for the cost of that second appraisal.</p> <h2>2. Mortgage Insurance</h2> <p>Let's imagine that you are in the process of saving for a decent down payment for your first home. Two years before you reach your savings goal, a home is finally available in your dream neighborhood. Your broker is confident that a similar home won't be available for another five years, so he suggests that you buy. The catch: You can't come up with at least 20% of the home value for a down payment.</p> <p>When you pony up less than a 20% down payment to buy a home, you'll have to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI). The <a href="https://www.federalreserve.gov/boarddocs/supmanual/cch/hpa.pdf">Homeowner's Protection Act</a> requires homebuyers who finance more than 80% of a new home's value to purchase PMI. Keep in mind that this is protection for the lender (not you!) in case you default on your mortgage.</p> <p>The average PMI payment ranges from 0.5% to 1% of the total value of the home loan. Still, this cost isn't small potatoes. In 2015, the average value of a mortgage in the U.S. was $172,341. Assuming a 1% PMI, the average PMI payment in 2015 was about $1,723. That would be one cost that you would have to pay year after year until your loan value reaches 78% of the original market value of the secured property.</p> <p>Still, your lender may have a strong case to continue requiring the PMI in the event of a dramatic price drop in the market value of your home, an existing home equity line of credit (HELOC) on your property, or a long string of late monthly payments within the last two years.</p> <h2>3. Dramatic Change in Financial Situation</h2> <p>When you're in the process of buying a home, you should keep a consistent financial picture, especially with your credit score. So, delay buying all those expensive new kitchen appliances, pieces of furniture for your living room, and blue period art pieces on credit until you have the keys in hand. A dramatic change to your credit score is a major red flag for the lender and the financial institution may decide to offer the mortgage at a higher interest rate than originally expected &mdash; or turn down the loan entirely.</p> <p>Here are other financial do's and don'ts until settlement day:</p> <ul> <li>Do keep a good paper trail of the source of your down payment;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Don't make large transfers between your accounts;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Do delay any other large purchases on credit, such as a car;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Don't miss any monthly payments on existing debt (they account for 35% of your credit score!);<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Do provide all documentation requested by your lender and agent within the stipulated time frame;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Don't open new credit or store cards.</li> </ul> <h2>4. Repairs</h2> <p>When you receive the report from a licensed home inspector, you may find that your dream home is not so dreamy after all. Take the comments from the inspector seriously and determine whether it's worthwhile to ask the seller to incur some of those costs, or to provide a financial remedy. After all, you'll be the one covering all of them once the home is yours.</p> <p>However, choose your fights wisely. No home is 100% perfect. Having to replace all door handles because you find them out of style isn't nearly as bad as having to battle black mold in the basement of your soon-to-be home.</p> <h2>5. Special Case: Hike in Homeowner's Association Fees</h2> <p>Last but not least, make sure to review the minutes of the meetings of the homeowner's association (HOA) for your property for at least the last six months.</p> <p>Pay special attention to two items.</p> <p>First, look for a schedule of upcoming monthly dues. In some cases, you may be welcomed with a higher-than-expected bill right off the bat.</p> <p>Second, watch out for any large projects that are under current review by the board of the HOA. For example, installing a complex system of solar panels on the roof or replacing all the windows of the apartment building because existing windows no longer meet city codes could both mean an ever-growing monthly HOA due. In certain circumstances, the HOA board could be planning to present you the option to pay your entire pro rata amount for the project or to finance the cost through the HOA's loan. Either option would put a dent on your monthly budget.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/damian-davila">Damian Davila</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/watch-out-for-these-5-last-minute-home-buying-costs">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-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-2 views-row-even"> <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-3 views-row-odd"> <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> <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-home-buying-habits-we-can-learn-from-millennials">4 Home-Buying Habits We Can Learn From Millennials</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-why-2015-is-the-year-to-buy-a-house">5 Reasons Why 2015 is the Year to Buy a House</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing appraisals hidden costs hoa fees home buying homeownership insurance last minute costs mortgages pmi repairs Fri, 18 Nov 2016 11:30:10 +0000 Damian Davila 1835252 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Most Expensive Zip Codes in the Country http://www.wisebread.com/10-most-expensive-zip-codes-in-the-country <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-most-expensive-zip-codes-in-the-country" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_96061159_MEDIUM.jpg" alt="Beverly Hills is one of the most expensive zip codes" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The biggest expense any of us face is housing. Our mortgage payment eats up a sizeable chunk of the monthly paycheck. But of course, it's not just the size of your home, but the location that can make the difference between something affordable, and something only the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-unbelievable-real-estate-tax-shelters-of-the-rich">richest of the rich</a> can afford. Here are the <a href="http://www.propertyshark.com/Real-Estate-Reports/2016/03/09/top-most-expensive-zip-codes-in-the-us/">10 hot spots in the U.S.</a> right now, and no surprise here, they're all in either New York or California.</p> <h2>1. Palo Alto, California 94301</h2> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5170/stanford_university.jpg" width="605" height="340" alt="" /></p> <p>Derived from the Spanish for &quot;tall tree,&quot; Palo Alto was named after a 1,000-year-old redwood tree. Just 35 miles south of San Francisco, and 14 miles north of San Jose, it's in a beautiful location. And the 67,000 residents who live there clearly agree. At over 100 years old, it was the place where early Spanish explorers settled, but is now considered the birthplace of Silicon Valley. It's an exciting mix of tradition and tech. Sounds great, right? Well, it better be, with a median house price of $3.15 million. The average <a href="https://www.incomebyzipcode.com/california/94301">household income in Palo Alto is $185,033</a>.</p> <h2>2. Atherton, California 94027</h2> <p>Another idyllic setting south of San Francisco, Atherton was originally known as Fair Oaks when it was founded in 1866. A quick tour of the area will soon reveal why, with a vast array of native live oaks and white oaks, bays, redwoods, cedars, and pines. It has a population of just under 7,000, and contains 2,500 households. But with a median home price of $5.9 million, it's still well out of the range of all but the 1%. However, <a href="https://www.incomebyzipcode.com/california/94027">average household income in this zip is $425,775.</a></p> <h2>3. Beverly Hills, California 90210</h2> <p>Anyone who remembers the TV series of the same name knows that this is a place of wealth, fashion, and unrealistic standards of beauty. It's also been featured in countless movies, and the renowned Rodeo Drive is right there &mdash; where you can spend a fortune on brands like Cartier, Fendi, Jimmy Choo, Prada, and Rolex. If you want to live close to that kind of luxury retail, you'll have to fork over some serious cash. The median house price for the area is $3.5 million. Average <a href="https://www.incomebyzipcode.com/california/90210">household income for this zip code is $191,087.</a></p> <h2>4. New York City, New York 10013</h2> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5170/new_york_city.jpg" width="605" height="340" alt="" /></p> <p>New York City is a big place, so let's break this down. The 10013 zip is around the Lower Manhattan and Tribeca area, and includes Columbus Park, the Tribeca Performing Arts Center, and SoHo. It's filled with incredible places to eat and drink, plus art galleries, museums, and some very chic little boutique shops. If you plan on moving there, you'll need plenty of money to make it work. The median house price in this zip code is $3.4 million. Staggeringly, average household <a href="https://www.incomebyzipcode.com/newyork/10013">income here is $220,757.</a></p> <h2>5. Sagaponak, New York 11962</h2> <p>With a population of just 321 people, Sagaponak is not exactly a hotbed of activity. This village, in the town of Southampton in Suffolk, New York, is at the East End of Long Island. If the name sounds new to you, you probably know it better as The Hamptons (which includes this and several other communities). It's picturesque, full of beautiful green grass, lush trees, and it's right there on the coast. But if you want to live there, get ready to shell out a fortune. The median sales price for a home in the 11962 zip code is a staggering $8.5 million. Celebrities including Jimmy Fallon and Billy Joel live there, although surprisingly, the <a href="https://www.incomebyzipcode.com/newyork/11962">average income for the area is $273,472.</a></p> <h2>6. Santa Monica, California 90402</h2> <p>The oceanfront city of Santa Monica includes innumerable attractions, including the Playland Arcade, the Santa Monica Pier, and a whole host of bars, galleries, restaurants and attractions. With its all-year-round perfect climate, it is a magnet for tourists and a welcome place to live. Want to move in? Well, start saving. The median home price here is a cool $3 million, but the <a href="https://www.incomebyzipcode.com/california/90402">average household income is $111,973.</a></p> <h2>7. Bridgehampton, New York 11932</h2> <p>With less than 2,000 residents, the hamlet of Bridgehampton is in the town of Southampton, on Long Island. Another community in The Hamptons, it's just what you'd expect. Spectacular views of the coastline, incredible greenery, and a plethora of activities for those with very deep pockets. If you own a yacht, you'd love it here. But of course, you'd also need to stump up the median house price of $2.96 million. The <a href="https://www.incomebyzipcode.com/newyork/11932">average household income here is $134,393</a>.</p> <h2>8. Newport Beach, California 92662</h2> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5170/newport_beach.jpg" width="605" height="340" alt="" /></p> <p>&quot;You're on the beach&quot; is a perfect way to describe this beautiful part of California. And, it definitely pushes that angle in all of the promotional materials. You can indulge in sunset cruises, surfing lessons, fishing, swimming, scuba diving, and wine-tasting events on the oceanfront. But all that will cost you. The median home price here is $2.88 million, with the <a href="https://www.incomebyzipcode.com/california/92662">average household income in 92662 being $173,072</a>.</p> <h2>9. New York City, New York 10007</h2> <p>We're back in New York City again &mdash; this time just below the area closer to the top of this list. In this part of the city, you'll see the Woolworth Building, St. Paul's Chapel, and the new One World Trade Center. With endless coffee shops, theatres, restaurants, and art galleries, it's got many of the amenities of the more expensive 10013 zip code, but at an average house price of $2.8 million, it's over half a million dollars more affordable! The average <a href="https://www.incomebyzipcode.com/newyork/10007">household income in this part of New York is $430,777</a></p> <h2>10. Shelter Island Heights, New York 11965</h2> <p>The last location on the list is another hamlet, although this time, it's not in The Hamptons. In fact, it's commonly referred to as &quot;The Un-Hamptons.&quot; There are less than 1,000 people living here, and under 500 households. It's not exactly a hotspot of frenzied activity though, with hiking, kayaking, and cycling being the most common activities for the locals. A home in Shelter Island Heights will set you back $2.97 million, and the average <a href="https://www.incomebyzipcode.com/newyork/11965">household income here is $140,380</a>.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-most-expensive-zip-codes-in-the-country">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-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-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-4-most-overpriced-us-housing-markets">The 4 Most Overpriced U.S. Housing Markets</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/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-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <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> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing expensive zip codes home buying house hunt housing market zip codes Mon, 17 Oct 2016 09:00:07 +0000 Paul Michael 1813140 at http://www.wisebread.com The Only 5 Rules of Home Buying You Need to Know http://www.wisebread.com/the-only-5-rules-of-home-buying-you-need-to-know <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-only-5-rules-of-home-buying-you-need-to-know" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/family_new_house_000090470299.jpg" alt="Family learning only rules of home buying they need to know" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Buying a home can be stressful and complicated. But if you follow just five basic rules, you'll make the challenge of buying a home a bit less intimidating.</p> <h2>1. Meet With a Mortgage Lender Before Touring Homes</h2> <p>Touring homes is the fun part of buying. But before you start looking at properties, you need to meet with a mortgage lender.</p> <p>That's because a lender can pre-approve you for a mortgage loan. To do this, your lender will run your credit. You'll have to provide copies of such documents as your last two paycheck stubs, bank-account statements, W2s, and tax returns. Your lender will take this information and determine if you qualify for a mortgage loan, and how large that loan can be.</p> <p>This is important for house hunters. Once you know that a lender will approve you for a mortgage loan of $200,000, you won't waste time looking at homes that cost $300,000.</p> <p>Make sure, though, that you get <em>pre-approved</em> and not <em>pre-qualified</em>. A pre-qualification is when a lender takes down your information by phone and tells you how large of a mortgage loan you can afford. But in a pre-qualification, lenders don't actually verify your financial health as they do when pre-approving you.</p> <h2>2. Review Your Credit Reports</h2> <p>You have three credit reports, one each maintained by the credit bureaus of TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. These reports list how much you owe on your credit cards and any other loans. They also list if you've missed any payments or paid any bills late. They'll list, too, any negative judgments such as recent foreclosures and bankruptcies.</p> <p>You can order one free copy of each of your three credit reports every year from AnnualCreditReport.com. Once you do, study the reports to make sure that the information contained in it is accurate. If it's not, it could cause your credit score to fall.</p> <h2>3. Order at Least One of Your Credit Scores Before You Start House Hunting</h2> <p>Speaking of credit scores, this three-digit number is critical to anyone buying a home. Lenders rely on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-surprising-ways-bad-credit-can-hurt-you" target="_blank">your credit score</a> to determine how much of a risk you are. If your score is low, say under 640 on the FICO scale, you'll struggle to get a mortgage loan without paying an exorbitantly high interest rate. If your score is above 740, though, you'll generally qualify for the widest variety of mortgage loans and the lowest interest rates on these loans.</p> <p>To determine how strong your credit score is, you'll have to order at least one of your three reports, one each maintained by the credit bureaus again. You can order your score from Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion for about $15.</p> <h2>4. Reduce Your Debt</h2> <p>There's another number that lenders look at when you apply for a mortgage loan &mdash; your debt-to-income ratio. This ratio compares your monthly debt obligations with your gross monthly income. If this ratio is too high, you'll struggle to qualify for a mortgage.</p> <p>Lenders prefer that your total monthly debts, including your estimated new monthly mortgage payment, equals no more than 43% of your gross monthly income. If your debt-to-income ratio is too high, cut down as much of your debt as possible &mdash; maybe starting with credit card debt &mdash; before you start looking for a new home.</p> <h2>5. Interview to Find the Right Real Estate Agent</h2> <p>When you're buying a home, you get to work with a real estate agent for free. When you find and buy a home, your agent is paid by the seller, who uses part of the profit of the home sale to provide your agent with a commission. Because of this, there's no reason not to work with a real estate agent when you're buying a home.</p> <p>But you do want to work with the <em>right</em> agent, so schedule interviews with several. When you're speaking with agents, ask them some key questions: How long have they worked as real estate agents? Do they work often in the neighborhoods that you're targeting? How much of a home's asking price do they shave off on average for their buyers? Do they represent both buyers and sellers or are they exclusively buyers' agents?</p> <p>Be sure, too, to ask agents for referrals from past customers. You'll want to talk to some of these past customers to determine how responsive and effective an agent was for them.</p> <p><em>Is our list of rules too short? What other rules should home-buyers heed?</em></p> <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%2Fthe-only-5-rules-of-home-buying-you-need-to-know&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FThe%2520Only%25205%2520Rules%2520of%2520Home%2520Buying%2520You%2520Need%2520to%2520Know.jpg&amp;description=The%20Only%205%20Rules%20of%20Home%20Buying%20You%20Need%20to%20Know"></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/The%20Only%205%20Rules%20of%20Home%20Buying%20You%20Need%20to%20Know.jpg" alt="The Only 5 Rules of Home Buying You Need to Know" 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/the-only-5-rules-of-home-buying-you-need-to-know">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-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/6-money-moves-to-make-for-tomorrows-mortgage">6 Money Moves to Make for Tomorrow&#039;s Mortgage</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-house-hunt-without-leaving-your-couch">How to House Hunt Without Leaving Your Couch</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/4-ways-to-buy-a-house-without-a-mortgage">4 Ways to Buy a House Without a Mortgage</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing credit reports home buying homeowners house hunting lenders mortgages real estate agents Thu, 19 May 2016 09:30:24 +0000 Dan Rafter 1712868 at http://www.wisebread.com