home buying http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/7934/all en-US 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/8-ways-to-reduce-mortgage-closing-costs">8 Ways to Reduce Mortgage Closing Costs</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-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-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-house-hunting-red-flags-you-cant-ignore">12 House-Hunting Red Flags You Can&#039;t Ignore</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/3-hidden-dangers-of-refinancing-your-mortgage">3 Hidden Dangers of Refinancing 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/choosing-the-right-mortgage-loan-15-or-30-years">Choosing the Right Mortgage Loan: 15 or 30 Years?</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-7"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/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/these-are-the-7-features-home-buyers-want-most">These Are the 7 Features Home Buyers Want Most</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/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-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-things-you-need-to-know-before-buying-your-first-house">7 Things You Need to Know Before Buying Your First House</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-buy-a-house-with-a-pool-until-you-can-answer-these-7-questions">Don&#039;t Buy a House With a Pool Until You Can Answer These 7 Questions</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/score-your-dream-home-with-the-perfect-offer-letter">Score Your Dream Home With the Perfect Offer Letter</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-simple-way-to-decide-how-much-rent-you-can-really-afford">The Simple Way to Decide How Much Rent You Can Really Afford</a></span> </div> </li> <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/9-college-expenses-you-arent-saving-for">9 College Expenses You Aren&#039;t Saving For</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/11-unexpected-things-covered-by-homeowners-insurance">11 Unexpected Things Covered by Homeowners Insurance</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/growin-home-how-much-house-do-you-really-need">Growin&#039; Home: How Much House Do You Really Need?</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-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-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-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/score-your-dream-home-with-the-perfect-offer-letter">Score Your Dream Home With the Perfect Offer Letter</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/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-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-buy-a-house-with-a-pool-until-you-can-answer-these-7-questions">Don&#039;t Buy a House With a Pool Until You Can Answer These 7 Questions</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-things-you-need-to-know-before-buying-your-first-house">7 Things You Need to Know Before Buying Your First 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-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/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-2 views-row-even"> <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-3 views-row-odd"> <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-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-lessons-from-tax-day-to-remember-for-next-year">7 Lessons From Tax Day to Remember for Next Year</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-when-your-tax-preparer-makes-a-mistake">What to Do When Your Tax Preparer Makes a Mistake</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-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> <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-smart-ways-to-lower-your-monthly-mortgage-payment">4 Smart Ways to Lower Your Monthly Mortgage Payment</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-qualify-for-a-mortgage-with-a-small-downpayment">5 Ways to Qualify for a Mortgage With a Small Downpayment</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/3-ways-to-finance-a-tiny-house">3 Ways to Finance a Tiny 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/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-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/score-your-dream-home-with-the-perfect-offer-letter">Score Your Dream Home With the Perfect Offer Letter</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/these-are-the-7-features-home-buyers-want-most">These Are the 7 Features Home Buyers Want Most</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/is-a-buying-a-foreclosed-home-ever-a-good-idea">Is Buying a Foreclosed Home Ever a Good Idea?</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> <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-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-money-moves-to-make-for-tomorrows-mortgage">6 Money Moves to Make for Tomorrow&#039;s Mortgage</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/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-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-to-buy-a-house-without-a-mortgage">4 Ways to Buy a House Without a Mortgage</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/whats-faster-for-mortgage-payoff-100-month-extra-or-1-payment-year-extra">What&#039;s Faster for Mortgage Payoff: $100/Month Extra or 1 Payment/Year Extra?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/everything-you-need-to-know-about-freddie-mac-and-fannie-mae">Everything You Need to Know About Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing credit reports home buying homeowners house hunting lenders mortgages real estate agents Thu, 19 May 2016 09:30:24 +0000 Dan Rafter 1712868 at http://www.wisebread.com Be a Smarter Home Buyer by Avoiding These 12 House Hunter Cliches http://www.wisebread.com/be-a-smarter-home-buyer-by-avoiding-these-12-house-hunter-cliches <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/be-a-smarter-home-buyer-by-avoiding-these-12-house-hunter-cliches" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple_dream_home_000044030686.jpg" alt="Couple being smarter than people on HGTV&#039;s House Hunters" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>HGTV is like brain candy for anyone who's thinking about buying a house, and no show is as riveting at this stage of life as <em>House Hunters</em>. Too bad the people featured on <em>House Hunters</em> usually appear clueless about how to select the right home.</p> <p>Go ahead and enjoy the virtual tours of homes in different parts of the country &mdash; just don't use the featured families as role models for your own house hunt. Too many of the comments uttered on the program are shortsighted, severely unimaginative, or simply ridiculous.</p> <h2>1. &quot;I could live with any commute for this house.&quot;</h2> <p>The biggest misconception <em>House Hunters</em> creates is that searching for a house is all about the house itself, not about the neighborhood, the schools, or the distance from your job. Those other things might not make good TV, but there's a reason the phrase &quot;location, location, location&quot; has never disappeared from the real estate conversation. For one thing, a long commute can <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-ways-your-commute-is-killing-you-and-what-to-do-about-it">literally kill you</a>. For another, if you have children and the local public school doesn't work for you, you'll end up spending as much or more as your mortgage payments on private school tuition.</p> <h2>2. &quot;The appliances/wall colors/bathroom fixtures are deal breakers.&quot;</h2> <p>When you view a house, focus on the features that would be very expensive or impossible to change, such as the number of bathrooms or the square footage. You can change a room's color for a few hundred dollars &mdash; less if you paint it yourself. It's not a factor.</p> <h2>3. &quot;We absolutely need a master suite.&quot;</h2> <p>Although a large bedroom with its own bathroom and living area has become <em>de rigeur</em> in high-end and even mid-range houses, <a href="http://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/trouble-in-paradise-new-ucla-book">these spaces are hardly used</a>, according to UCLA's Center on Everyday Lives of Families. Researchers recorded where family members really spent their time, and found that people spend the most time in the kitchen and family room. So a spacious kitchen should be a higher priority when house hunting than a master suite.</p> <h2>4. &quot;How can we both get ready in the morning without his-and-hers sinks?&quot;</h2> <p>An unscientific survey of couples I know revealed that barely any of their schedules have them both brushing their teeth at the same time in the morning. While I can see the attraction of not having to use a sink that someone else left toothpaste gobs in, it's not as if a partner who doesn't wash a shared sink is going to wash a private sink.</p> <p>One realistic friend put it like this: &quot;Who needs to clean toothpaste off of two sinks?&quot;</p> <h2>5. &quot;I don't want to do any work on the house at all.&quot;</h2> <p>It's true that remodeling is a pain. But keep in mind that a home with a brand new kitchen and other up-to-the-minute updates will all be done with someone else's taste in mind &mdash; and you won't want to spend money changing a perfectly good kitchen just because you would have preferred a different style of sink or a different countertop.</p> <p>There is no time more convenient to make changes than before moving in, so why not keep an open mind and look at houses that need some updating?</p> <h2>6. &quot;We need a big yard for the dog/kids.&quot;</h2> <p>There's no doubting that a lot of outdoor space can be a plus, but don't ever imagine that pets and children can't live without it. In the city of San Francisco, where most residents don't have yards, <a href="http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/S-F-S-BEST-FRIEND-Where-pooches-outnumber-2555688.php">there are 120,000 dogs</a> (more dogs than kids, as a matter of fact). These dogs seem perfectly happy taking advantage of dog parks and city strolls.</p> <p>As for children, the Center on Everyday Lives of Families found that even in temperate LA, neither kids nor their parents spent much time in the yard &mdash; even those that had been expensively upgraded.</p> <h2>7. &quot;We really want a private pool!&quot;</h2> <p>When the target is a vacation home, shoppers favor houses with their own swimming areas over those with shared community pools. But private pools come with responsibilities and risks. You rarely hear families on the show include the cost of pool cleaning, replacing parts, or liability insurance in their cost comparisons.</p> <h2>8. &quot;I want vintage charm and an open floor plan.&quot;</h2> <p>Whether they are naive or just inventing conflicts to make the show interesting, the many <em>House Hunters</em> families who wish for these two things together are living in a fantasy world. Older homes weren't built with kitchens that open up into family rooms; the kitchen was the domain of servants. Sure, you may find a vintage home that has been remodeled to feature an open floor plan, but chances are that plenty of those charming details were lost in the process.</p> <h2>9. &quot;It doesn't have enough storage space for all our stuff.&quot;</h2> <p>If your possessions take precedence over your family's needs in choosing living space, isn't it time to pare down?</p> <h2>10. &quot;We can (or can't) afford this house based on the listing price.&quot;</h2> <p>It's so silly that couples on the show pretend to have serious financial discussions based on the asking price, a number that in many markets bears little relation to what the house will actually sell for. This reality is revealed at the end of many episodes, when the realtor is able to negotiate a supposedly unaffordable house into the buyer's price range. On the other hand, where I live in the San Francisco Bay area, everyone knows that a home's final price will be as much as $100,000 above asking.</p> <h2>11. &quot;The washing machine is in the kitchen? Weird!&quot;</h2> <p>This is said on almost every episode of <em>House Hunters International</em>. It's not weird. It's the norm in most parts of the world. If you're going to live abroad, accept that your washing machine may well be in your kitchen and move on.</p> <h2>12. &quot;I want to soak up the culture of Italy with the amenities we had in Texas.&quot;</h2> <p>Another gem from the international version of the show. If you are not willing to let go of having an &quot;American-sized fridge&quot; or a big yard, you're probably not going to end up steps from a piazza with a charming cafè. And if maintaining your American lifestyle is the most important thing, tell me again why you're moving abroad?</p> <p><em>What comments on House Hunters have irked you?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carrie-kirby">Carrie Kirby</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/be-a-smarter-home-buyer-by-avoiding-these-12-house-hunter-cliches">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/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-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/score-your-dream-home-with-the-perfect-offer-letter">Score Your Dream Home With the Perfect Offer Letter</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-pros-and-cons-of-paying-cash-for-a-house">The Pros and Cons of Paying Cash for a House</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/whats-faster-for-mortgage-payoff-100-month-extra-or-1-payment-year-extra">What&#039;s Faster for Mortgage Payoff: $100/Month Extra or 1 Payment/Year Extra?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <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> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing Clueless deal breakers hgtv home buying homeowners house hunters Fri, 29 Jan 2016 16:00:04 +0000 Carrie Kirby 1646403 at http://www.wisebread.com 7 Penalty-Free Ways to Withdraw Money From Your Retirement Account http://www.wisebread.com/7-penalty-free-ways-to-withdraw-money-from-your-retirement-account <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-penalty-free-ways-to-withdraw-money-from-your-retirement-account" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/ira_401k_000006195210.jpg" alt="Learning ways to withdraw from your 401k without penalty" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>While it's true that 401Ks have a higher contribution limit ($18,000 in 2015) than traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs ($5,500 for most people or $6,500 if you're age 50 or older in 2015), it would be a mistake to dismiss traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs as part of your retirement strategy.</p> <p>One of the major advantages of having an IRA is that it offers much more flexibility when it comes to taking distributions before age 59 1/2. Under most circumstances, early distributions from a 401K trigger a 10% penalty fee from the IRS on top of applicable income and capital gains taxes. But IRAs are subject to far fewer limitations in many cases &mdash; often, they're free from the 10% penalty for early withdrawals.</p> <p>Here are seven circumstances under which you can withdraw money before age 59 1/2 from an IRA without triggering an IRS penalty.</p> <h2>1. Health Insurance Premiums During Unemployment</h2> <p>If you're unemployed and can't jump on somebody's health plan for coverage, you're probably going to be stressed out about meeting your monthly premiums. Fortunately, once you've been unemployed for at least 12 continuous weeks, the IRS lets you take a penalty-free early distribution from your IRA to cover your health insurance monthly premiums. (To avoid any doubts about how you're using your IRA monies, consider opening a new bank account to handle deposits from your IRA and payments to your health provider.)</p> <p>Some additional points to remember are that the IRA distributions need to take place during either the year you received the unemployment compensation or the following, and that the IRA distributions need to take place no later than 60 days after you have been reemployed.</p> <h2>2. Large Medical Bills</h2> <p>Uncle Sam also gives you a break when you use an IRA withdrawal to pay for unreimbursed medical expenses greater than 10% (or 7.5% if you or your spouse was born before January 2, 1950) of your adjusted gross income for the year of the distribution.</p> <p>While the IRS doesn't require you to itemize your deductions to take advantage of this exception, you should keep a record of all of your medical, dental, and prescription expenses that weren't reimbursed or paid by others. Remember that you can't include the cost of non-prescription drugs (except insulin) or other purchases for general health, such as vitamins, diet foods, or health club dues. Costs of cosmetic procedures aren't eligible, either.</p> <p>However, you can include 23.5 cents per mile that you drove your car for medical reasons. Refer to the Schedule A of Form 1040 to find out the entire list of eligible expenses that you can use to calculate your total unreimbursed medical expenses.</p> <h2>3. First Home Purchases</h2> <p>If the dream property for which you've been waiting so long finally becomes available and you're up to $10,000 short on the down payment, you can tap into your IRA without a penalty.</p> <p>As long as your total IRA withdrawal for first-time home buying is not greater than $10,000, you can even split your withdrawals over more than one year. Not only can you use these monies to buy your own home, but also to pay qualified costs of buying, building, or rebuilding a property. Just make sure that those qualified costs are paid within 120 days after receiving your IRA distribution.</p> <p>Attention couples: If you keep separate IRA plans, each one of you can withdraw up to $10,000 without penalty to pool at total of $20,000 for a first home purchase.</p> <h2>4. Higher Education Expenses</h2> <p>Whether it is for your own education or that of your spouse, children, or grandchildren, you can take a penalty-free withdrawal from your IRA to cover qualified higher education expenses, including tuition, fees, books, supplies, and equipment required for the enrollment or attendance at an eligible educational institution.</p> <p>Other eligible education expenses include the cost of room and board for individuals that are at least half-time students and special needs services in connection with enrollment or attendance. While there is no limit to the amount of your withdrawal free from the 10% penalty tax, keep in mind that your monies may count as income for the student, and may thus impact their eligibility for financial aid.</p> <h2>5. Debts to the IRS</h2> <p>Uncle Sam wants so badly to collect on your unpaid taxes and arrears that he's willing to forego the 10% penalty tax on your IRA withdrawal. However, as in all other scenarios in this list, you do have to pay applicable income taxes, including capital gains.</p> <p>While using part of your IRA balance to pay all or part of your tax debts may not sound that great, it's better than trying to avoid a levy. Under the second scenario, you may have no bargaining power.</p> <h2>6. Rollovers From Traditional IRAs to Roth IRAs</h2> <p>Unlike traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs are funded with after-tax dollars. This means that you don't owe any taxes on withdrawals after age 59 1/2. Plus, once your Roth IRA has been open for at least five years, you can withdraw your contributions at any time without penalty (note that earnings on your contributions <em>are</em> subject to IRS penalties).</p> <p>If you were to transfer funds from your traditional IRA to a Roth IRA, you would pay applicable income taxes now, but no 10% penalty tax on contributions if you wait five years to withdraw those funds from your Roth IRA. Each transfer has its own five-year waiting period and you can only do one IRA rollover per year.</p> <h2>7. Periodic Income Distributions</h2> <p>Last but not least, you can take penalty-free distributions from your IRA by taking a series of substantially equal periodic payments (SEPP) over your life expectancy or the life expectancies of you and your designated beneficiary. The IRS website offers a useful list of frequently asked questions on <a href="http://www.irs.gov/Retirement-Plans/Retirement-Plans-FAQs-regarding-Substantially-Equal-Periodic-Payments">setting up a SEPP plan</a>.</p> <p>If you're planning to set up a SEPP for early retirement, remember that there maybe some financial risks involved. So, before taking your first periodic income distribution, consult your accountant or financial advisor to check your calculations. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-reasons-early-retirement-might-be-financially-risky?ref=seealso">4 Reasons Early Retirement Might Be Financially Risky</a>)</p> <h2>The Bottom Line</h2> <p>Taking an early distribution of your IRA may be a last resort to make your financial goals, such as a first home purchase, happen. As you can see from these seven examples, there are ways for you to take an early withdrawal from an IRA without the 10% tax penalty. While these strategies may not be for everybody, some of them can be true game changers. Consult IRS Publication 590-B for more details.</p> <p><em>Have you used your IRA to take early withdrawals without a penalty? Share with us how you did in the comments section.</em></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/7-penalty-free-ways-to-withdraw-money-from-your-retirement-account">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/the-penalty-free-way-to-withdraw-retirement-money-early">The Penalty-Free Way to Withdraw Retirement Money Early</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-how-your-taxes-will-change-when-you-retire">Here&#039;s How Your Taxes Will Change When You Retire</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-questions-to-ask-before-you-borrow-from-your-retirement-account">5 Questions to Ask Before You Borrow From Your Retirement Account</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/3-ways-more-money-in-retirement-might-cost-you">3 Ways More Money in Retirement Might Cost You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-choose-a-roth-401k-or-a-regular-401k">Should You Choose a Roth 401k or a Regular 401k?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Retirement Taxes 401k borrowing health insurance home buying IRA medical bills penalties sepp Thu, 05 Nov 2015 13:15:18 +0000 Damian Davila 1605093 at http://www.wisebread.com 7 Things You Need to Know Before Buying Your First House http://www.wisebread.com/7-things-you-need-to-know-before-buying-your-first-house <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-things-you-need-to-know-before-buying-your-first-house" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/7 Things You Need To Know Before Buying Your First House_PHOTO_NEW.jpg" alt="Family in front of their new home" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><em>Sponsored by Chase Mortgage Banking. <a href="http://r1.fmpub.net/?k1=cmx-metric&amp;k2=289%7C652%7C2150&amp;k3=disclaimer&amp;k4=&amp;r=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fmynewhome" rel="nofollow">Review their resources</a> to help you find and finance your home.</em></p> <p>My husband and I bought our first house when we were in our early twenties. Almost a decade later, we recently closed on our second home. We learned a great deal throughout the process, but we definitely had more confidence this time around. We were older, yes, and also wiser having gone through all the preparation, negotiations, and random struggles for the second time. But if I could go back, here are all the things I wish I had known before we signed on the line for that first deal.&nbsp;</p> <p>First-time buyers &mdash; review <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zFkXnuU2qew">these tips</a> to help you through a complicated process.</p> <p><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/zFkXnuU2qew" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <h2>Settling Isn&rsquo;t Always Wise</h2> <p>When we went around neighborhoods looking at various to-be homes, we&rsquo;d evaluate them based on a checklist. Inevitably, we wouldn&rsquo;t find absolutely everything we were looking for, so we&rsquo;d discuss if we could deal with a place that, say, didn&rsquo;t have a garage or another that had only one tiny bathroom. The old kitchen in another was hardly functional and our budget wouldn&rsquo;t allow for remodel. Eventually we did our fair share of settling and took on some not-so ideal features. These same features were &mdash; surprise! &mdash; difficult to sell when we put our place on the market last year. If you&rsquo;re not choosing a forever home, consider what's sticking out as a negative. Chances are it will delay future resale unless you have the funds to transform it.</p> <h2>Sellers Will Negotiate</h2> <p>Depending on where you live, markets can vary wildly according to location. Where we live, there&rsquo;s a glut of great houses sitting vacant at ridiculously low prices. In a college town just an hour north of us, you can&rsquo;t snag a deal unless you know a house is going to be listed weeks in advance. Then there&rsquo;s usually a bidding war. (Your agent should know this information specific to your area.) When we were buying our first house, we were so concerned with possibly insulting sellers that we weren&rsquo;t terribly aggressive with our offers despite it being a buyer&rsquo;s market. In fact, we even bid above asking price on our first house because we heard multiple offers were coming in, which may or may not have been true. We spent a good amount of time feeling like we paid too much, which is especially hard to reconcile when putting a place back on the market years later.</p> <h2>Agents Really Matter</h2> <p>Our first one didn&rsquo;t do much to guide our search or lead negotiations. At the time, we thought this was the norm &mdash; that perhaps all the agent does is give us access to see the homes we&rsquo;ve requested and to give us paperwork. Seems simple enough. Well, from our second sale and purchase, I can tell you that an experienced and politely aggressive agent can make a massive difference. Ours was a huge advocate for us and helped lower the asking price, deal with some tricky closing issues, and move the whole process ahead faster during snags. She definitely earned her commission.</p> <h2>You&rsquo;ll Fall In Love Again (and Again)&nbsp;</h2> <p>Having gone through a number of houses and potential homes by now, I assure you: You will fall in love with many properties. You might think that this or that home is the only place you can ever imagine nesting. Then something else will pop up and blow your socks off. Promise. If you&rsquo;re not getting the price or overall deal you want with a certain house, it&rsquo;s totally fine (and recommended) to walk away. Chances are it won&rsquo;t sell immediately (and you can revisit negotiations) or a place even more awesome will pop up. Just keep your eyes and ears open.</p> <h2>You&rsquo;ll Need Savings . . .</h2> <p>Even if you buy a relatively new home, you shouldn&rsquo;t deplete your savings account with your down payment. In the first year we lived in ours, we had to unexpectedly fix some plumbing issues in the bathroom. A DIY project to remove the carpeting in the kitchen turned ugly and expensive. Then the water heater died one cold January day. You see where this is going. Unexpected costs pile up, and you need to be prepared to financially deal with them. Consider this a kind warning before stretching your budget higher.</p> <h2>. . . And Some Stress Management Skills</h2> <p>At the height of the buying process, I felt like we were hemorrhaging money. We handed over a grand for our earnest deposit, a few hundred more for the home inspection and another hefty fee for this or that application. Then came the loan process as a whole. Since I&rsquo;m self-employed, the amount of documentation needed for my employment started to feel terribly invasive and almost accusatory. After that hurdle was cleared, we tried coordinating moving plans and other logistics only to discover that the closing was moved back due to a missed code issue (the deck was an inch too high and needed a railing &mdash; more money). It&rsquo;s not always this way, but it&rsquo;s best to set up a support system and maybe even some yoga classes in advance. Keep breathing.</p> <h2>Neighborhood Has Big Impact</h2> <p>We lucked out the first time around in that our house was situated in a quiet, quaint neighborhood with nice neighbors. However, we didn&rsquo;t check out any of this stuff during our search. We liked the house, rushed to the office to sign the papers and submit our deposit, and kept our blinders on until we moved in. With our second house, we spent a good amount of time researching the schools in the area, checking out the walkability score, and meeting the neighbors to ask about anything from the trash collection process to how often the fire house siren goes off in the middle of the night. If you&rsquo;re only looking at the inside of a home, you&rsquo;re only getting half the picture.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>What did you wish you knew before you bought your first house?</em></p> <script type="text/javascript" charset="utf-8" src="http://vc.cdn.fm/video_conversationalist/system/published/opportunity/88244652/289_2150.js"></script><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-marcin">Ashley Marcin</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-things-you-need-to-know-before-buying-your-first-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-appraisal-facts-that-could-save-you-big-money">5 Appraisal Facts That Could Save You Big Money</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/score-your-dream-home-with-the-perfect-offer-letter">Score Your Dream Home With the Perfect Offer Letter</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-times-you-need-to-walk-away-from-your-dream-home">8 Times You Need to Walk Away From Your Dream Home</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/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/dont-buy-a-house-with-a-pool-until-you-can-answer-these-7-questions">Don&#039;t Buy a House With a Pool Until You Can Answer These 7 Questions</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing chase home buying Mon, 13 Jul 2015 11:00:13 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1368899 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Money Moves to Make for Tomorrow's Mortgage http://www.wisebread.com/6-money-moves-to-make-for-tomorrows-mortgage <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-money-moves-to-make-for-tomorrows-mortgage" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/house_keys_000044377414.jpg" alt="Money moves to Make for Tomorrow&#039;s Mortgage" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Borrowers who start preparing for a mortgage loan long before they're actually ready to apply for one are making the right move. They can identify potential trouble spots early enough to resolve them before lenders start picking apart their financials. Prepping for your mortgage application as long as a year ahead of time? That's not a bad plan, say mortgage lenders.</p> <p>Here are six steps you can take today to get ready for that mortgage application tomorrow.</p> <h2>1. Study Your Credit Report</h2> <p>Your first move should be to order your free credit report from <a href="https://www.annualcreditreport.com/index.action">AnnualCreditReport.com</a>. You are allowed one free copy of your credit report from each of the three national credit bureaus &mdash; TransUnion, Equifax and Experian &mdash; every 12 months. Don't order your reports from anywhere else. Other sites might try to charge you or provide their own reports rather than those from the big three bureaus.</p> <p>Once your report arrives, study it carefully. Your report will list basic information such as your name and address. But it also lists your open accounts. If you owe $10,000 on a car loan, your report will list it. If you owe $5,000 on a credit card, that information will be there, too.</p> <p>Your report will also list any negative judgments against you. This could be something big, like a foreclosure or past bankruptcy filing. This section will also list late payments on student loans, car loans, credit cards, and other debt. These negative judgments can all <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-surprising-ways-to-negatively-affect-your-credit-score">cause your credit score to drop</a>.</p> <p>If you find any errors &mdash; maybe you never did make that late payment on your car loan, or maybe you paid off and closed that credit card account years ago &mdash; make sure to ask for a correction. This is easier today: <a href="http://www.experian.com/disputes/main.html">Experian</a>, <a href="https://www.ai.equifax.com/CreditInvestigation/home.action">Equifax</a> and <a href="http://www.transunion.com/dispute">TransUnion</a> all let consumers dispute report information online.</p> <h2>2. Get Your Credit Score</h2> <p>The information in your credit report is used to determine your credit score. Lenders rely on credit scores to determine the interest rates they charge consumers. And if your score is too low, you might struggle to qualify for a mortgage at all. Lenders today generally consider a FICO credit score of 740 or higher to be an excellent one.</p> <p>Unlike your credit report, your credit score usually isn't free. You can order your score from any of the three credit bureaus. If your score is low &mdash; say, under 700 on the FICO scale &mdash; it's time to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-use-credit-cards-to-improve-your-credit-score">take some steps to boost it</a>.</p> <h2>3. Pay Down Your Debt</h2> <p>If you are using too much of your available credit, your score will suffer. Pay down as much of your credit card debt as possible before you're ready to apply for a loan. But be careful. It often doesn't make sense to completely close a credit card account. If you close a credit card &mdash; and take away that available credit &mdash; the percentage of your credit that you are using could automatically soar. Better to pay off your credit cards but not close them.</p> <p>Framarz Moeen-Ziai, senior vice president of national sales and production for San Ramon, California-based Commerce Home Mortgage, says that credit card management is key for consumers preparing for a mortgage application.</p> <p>&quot;Some people live their lives on mileage cards. They charge everything because they want to earn their miles. Then they pay off the entire balance at the end of the month,&quot; Moeen-Ziai says. &quot;That's fine. But what if we get your credit information at the same time you have $7,000 or $8,000 worth of charges on a card with a balance of $10,000?&quot;</p> <p>Moeen-Ziai says that he's seen big credit swings because of balance management.</p> <p>&quot;If your balance is zero, your score is 770. If it's nearly maxed out, it might fall to 700,&quot; he says.</p> <h2>4. Pay Your Bills on Time</h2> <p>The other big drag on your credit score? Missed or late payments on credit cards, auto loans, student loans, and other forms of revolving credit. Resolve now to never again make a late payment. Your score will gradually rise as the months of on-time payments pass by.</p> <h2>5. Calculate Your Debt-to-Income Ratio</h2> <p>Lenders prefer to work with customers whose debt-to-income ratios are 43% or lower. What does this mean? That your total monthly debts, including estimated monthly mortgage payments, equal no more than 43% of your gross monthly income. If your debt-to-income ratio is higher than 43%, it's time to either boost your monthly income or pay down as much debt as possible.</p> <h2>6. Talk to a Lender</h2> <p>You might think you're wasting a lender's time if you're not prepared to apply for a mortgage loan in the next three, six, or even 12 months. Stop thinking that way. The sooner you speak with a mortgage lender about your finances, the more time you have to prepare for a mortgage. And just because you talk to a lender, doesn't mean you have to actually take out a mortgage loan with that professional.</p> <p>&quot;My advice is to call a lender as early in the process as you want to,&quot; says David Atis, senior loan officer with Home Point Financial Corporation in Parsippany, New Jersey. &quot;You want to work with someone who is ready to go on the journey with you, not someone who refuses to work with someone who isn't going to close in the next 30 days.&quot;</p> <p><em>Did you prepare for a mortgage application in advance? What steps did you take?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-money-moves-to-make-for-tomorrows-mortgage">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-terrible-things-foreclosure-does-to-your-credit">3 Terrible Things Foreclosure Does to Your Credit</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/when-it-makes-sense-to-apply-for-a-mortgage-loan-without-your-spouse">When It Makes Sense to Apply for a Mortgage Loan Without Your Spouse</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-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/how-to-prepare-for-a-home-purchase-in-2010">How to Prepare for a Home Purchase in 2010</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/whats-faster-for-mortgage-payoff-100-month-extra-or-1-payment-year-extra">What&#039;s Faster for Mortgage Payoff: $100/Month Extra or 1 Payment/Year Extra?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing credit reports credit scores home buying loans mortgages Fri, 08 May 2015 11:00:08 +0000 Dan Rafter 1410183 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Appraisal Facts That Could Save You Big Money http://www.wisebread.com/5-appraisal-facts-that-could-save-you-big-money <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-appraisal-facts-that-could-save-you-big-money" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/5 Appraisal Facts That Could Save You Big Money_PHOTO-605.jpg" alt="Looking closely at home appraisals" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><em>Sponsored by Chase Mortgage Banking.&nbsp;<a href="http://r1.fmpub.net/?k1=cmx-metric&amp;k2=289%7C652%7C1879&amp;k3=disclaimer&amp;k4=&amp;r=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fmynewhome" rel="nofollow">Review their resources</a>&nbsp;to help you find and finance your home.</em></p> <p>An appraisal is a professional&rsquo;s opinion of your home&rsquo;s market value. Lenders will order an appraisal for home purchase loans to make sure the home is worth the price being paid. Often appraisals are <a href="http://www.bankrate.com/finance/refinance/pros-and-cons-of-refinance-appraisals-1.aspx">needed to refinance</a> as well. Here are five things you should know about the appraisal process, whether you are buying, selling or refinancing.</p> <p>The appraisal takes dozens of factors into account. Learn more about them in the <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UuD3rVCaoQw">video below</a>.</p> <p><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/UuD3rVCaoQw" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <h3>1. Your Property is Not the Only Thing the Appraiser Will Look At</h3> <p>&ldquo;When I inspect a home for an appraisal, the inspection is really the &lsquo;tip of the iceberg&rsquo; of the work I do,&rdquo; San Francisco Bay Area appraiser Ann O'Rourke writes on her web site, <a href="http://www.appraisaltoday.com/nonappr.htm">Appraisal Today</a>. Before arriving at your home, the appraiser has probably already obtained a plat map and researched the zoning and public records. After checking your property against the map, and noting any improvements and damage, the appraiser will compare your home to others that recently sold to formulate an estimate of its value.</p> <h3>2. You Can Educate the Appraiser About Your Home</h3> <p>If an appraiser visits your home, this is your opportunity to show it at its best. <a href="http://homeguides.sfgate.com/steps-before-having-home-appraisal-2491.html">Complete any small repairs</a> before the appraisal date. Clean up the yard and house. Even though appraisers aren&rsquo;t supposed to take clutter into account, they are human, and no one feels upbeat when faced with a mess. Besides, cleaning <a href="http://www.realestate.com/advice/how-to-get-a-high-house-appraisal/">shows that you take good care of the home</a>. While the appraiser looks, let them know about improvements you may have done (New furnace? Bathroom renovation?). You can also give him or her a written list and may even want to provide receipts to show what you have invested in the home.</p> <h3>3. A Low Appraisal Can Stop the Sale or Reopen Negotiations</h3> <p>If the seller has researched the market and set an appropriate price, the appraisal is likely to come in at close to the agreed-upon price. But sellers should beware that if the appraisal comes in low, the deal will probably not proceed as agreed. Since the buyer most likely <a href="http://www.investopedia.com/articles/pf/12/home-appraisals.asp">won&rsquo;t be able to get a mortgage for a house priced above appraisal</a>, the deal may fall apart or the seller may have to agree to a lower price.</p> <h3>4. You Can Challenge a Low Appraisal</h3> <p>So the worst has happened and your appraisal came in below the selling price. All is not lost. You can request a copy of the appraisal and review it with your real estate agent. Pay special attention to the comparable homes the appraiser selected. If those homes sold for less because they lack updating or some other feature that your home has, you can have your agent <a href="http://www.trulia.com/blog/12-steps-fight-low-appraisal/">submit a list of more appropriate homes for comparison</a>. You can also write a letter listing improvements and features that the appraiser may have overlooked. <a href="http://www.biggerpockets.com/renewsblog/2013/02/27/low-appraisal-challenge/">The Bigger Pockets Blog</a> has advice on how to keep the letter non-confrontational, and even offers a template for download.</p> <h3>5. As a Buyer, Guard Against Inflated Appraisals</h3> <p>Once you&rsquo;ve agreed to pay a certain price, you naturally hope that the appraisal will back that up. But in reality, appraisers are protecting both the lender and the buyer against inflated prices. So it&rsquo;s a good idea to ask the same questions about an appraiser that a seller would: Is she licensed and local? Did he really visit the home?</p> <p>Request a copy of the appraisal, not only to check for accuracy, but as an information source to make sure you know all about your future property&rsquo;s strengths and weaknesses.</p> <script type="text/javascript" charset="utf-8">if ("" === document.location.pathname) { var fm_custom_kvs = "fm-post=88244"; }</script><script type="text/javascript"> (function(i,s,o,g,r,a,m){i['GoogleAnalyticsObject']=r;i[r]=i[r]||function(){(i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o),m=s.getElementsByTagName(o)[0];a.async=1;a.src=g;m.parentNode.insertBefore(a,m) })(window,document,'script','//www.google-analytics.com/analytics.js','ga'); ga('create', "UA-47115411-1", {'name': 'fmTracker'}); ga('fmTracker.set', 'dimension1', '289'); ga('fmTracker.set', 'dimension2', '88244'); ga('fmTracker.set', 'dimension3', '1879'); ga('fmTracker.send', 'pageview'); </script> <p><img class="tracking" width="0" height="0" src="http://r1.fmpub.net/?k1=cmx-metric&amp;k2=289|652|1879&amp;k3=&amp;k4=&amp;img=true" alt="" /><img class="tracking" width="0" height="0" src="http://pixel.mathtag.com/event/img?mt_id=424466&amp;mt_adid=120808&amp;v2=s289&amp;v3=n101&amp;s1=c88244" alt="" /></p><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carrie-kirby">Carrie Kirby</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-appraisal-facts-that-could-save-you-big-money">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-things-you-need-to-know-before-buying-your-first-house">7 Things You Need to Know Before Buying Your First House</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-steps-to-finding-your-mortgage-lender">4 Steps to Finding Your Mortgage Lender</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/12-crucial-things-homebuyers-overlook-at-open-houses">12 Crucial Things Homebuyers Overlook at Open Houses</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-credit-mistakes-that-could-hurt-your-mortgage-application">8 Credit Mistakes That Could Hurt Your Mortgage Application</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/watch-out-for-these-5-last-minute-home-buying-costs">Watch Out for These 5 Last Minute Home Buying Costs</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing appraisals chase credit cards home buying home sale Mon, 20 Apr 2015 11:00:06 +0000 Carrie Kirby 1368848 at http://www.wisebread.com Denied a Mortgage? Here's How to Fix It Fast http://www.wisebread.com/denied-a-mortgage-heres-how-to-fix-it-fast <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/denied-a-mortgage-heres-how-to-fix-it-fast" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple-real-estate-agent-talking-house-Dollarphotoclub_65072638.jpg" alt="couple real estate agent" title="couple real estate agent" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you're applying for a mortgage, be prepared to fulfill a long list of guidelines set by the lender. You need acceptable credit, sufficient income, a consistent work history, and cash for mortgage-related expenses. If you're missing any piece of the puzzle, the lender might turn down your request. But getting denied for a mortgage doesn't mean that you have to give up your dream of owning a home. It is your inalienable American right, after all.</p> <p>Still, there are a number of reasons why a lender rejects an application, and depending on the reason for your denial you may be able to resolve the issue quickly and get approved. Here are five things you can do to undo a mortgage rejection.</p> <h2>1. Renegotiate With the Seller</h2> <p>Getting pre-approved before shopping for a house is a smart move. A pre-approval lets you know early on if you even qualify for a mortgage, and how much you can expect to receive. You can wait until after submitting a bid to apply for a mortgage, but then you risk bidding on houses you can't afford. If you need more than a bank is willing to lend, the lender has no choice but to deny the mortgage request. To keep the ball in your court, you can go back to the seller and renegotiate the deal. If the seller can reduce the price to an amount that's affordable for you (remember &mdash; you ain't too proud to beg), the mortgage lender may approve your application.</p> <h2>2. Bring More Cash to the Table</h2> <p>In today's fickle housing market, many home sellers aren't walking away with a ton of cash. They might sell a house for exactly what they need to break even and pay realtor commissions. For that reason, going back and re-negotiating a lower sale price might not be an option. But this doesn't mean you've lost the battle. If the bank rejects your mortgage because you don't qualify for the sale price, you can make a bigger down payment and cover the difference out-of-pocket. This only works if you have a sizable cash cushion. For example, if you need $200,000 to purchase a house, but you only qualify for $190,000, give the seller a 5% down payment instead of 3%.</p> <h2>3. Pay Off Existing Debt</h2> <p>Don't underestimate the consequences of too much debt.</p> <p>A mortgage lender will examine your credit report to see how much you owe elsewhere. The bank looks at your credit card balances, auto loans, student loan debt, and any other loan payments you may have. And unfortunately, a high debt-to-income ratio can be the kiss of death when applying for a mortgage. An underwriter may deny the mortgage if you're juggling too many expenses and your income can't support another monthly payment.</p> <p>If you don't have a cash reserve, a high debt-to-income ratio isn't something you can fix overnight. You'll have to develop a debt-payment strategy and slowly pay down balances. But if you do have a cash reserve, immediately paying off your credit cards or loans might save the deal. Typically, mortgage lenders don't want an applicant's total debt payments &mdash; including the mortgage payments &mdash; to exceed 36% to 43% of gross monthly income, depending on the type of mortgage.</p> <h2>4. Rapid Rescoring</h2> <p>You might not know about this trick, but if you're denied a mortgage because of errors on your credit report, <a href="http://www.foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/2012/06/29/rapid-rescore-can-fix-your-credit-score-in-hurry/">rapid rescoring</a> can fix these issues in a matter of days. Errors on your credit report can pull down your credit score. Although you can dispute these errors, it can take weeks or months for the bureaus to investigate and delete negative information from your file.</p> <p>Rapid rescoring can correct errors faster than disputing the traditional way. There's a fee for each corrected item, as much as $25 to $30 per account, depending on which rescore company you use. Proof of errors are expedited to the credit reporting agencies, and removal takes place within three business days. A mortgage lender can put you in contact with a rapid rescore company.</p> <h2>5. Apply With a Different Bank</h2> <p>Just because one bank denies your mortgage request doesn't mean another bank will. Many banks have different credit score requirements. For example, one financial institution may require a minimum credit score of 700 for a conventional loan, whereas another bank only requires a 680 credit score. Find out why a lender denied your mortgage, and if it had anything to do with your credit score, you might have a different outcome working with another bank.</p> <p><em>Were you ever denied for a mortgage? How did you fix it in your favor?</em></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/denied-a-mortgage-heres-how-to-fix-it-fast">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/8-times-you-need-to-walk-away-from-your-dream-home">8 Times You Need to Walk Away From Your Dream Home</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-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/things-i-wish-i-knew-before-i-bought-my-second-house">Things I Wish I Knew Before I Bought My Second 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/buy-the-same-house-twice-for-less-than-buying-it-once">Buy the Same House Twice for Less Than Buying It Once</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/6-interesting-ways-technology-can-help-you-buy-a-home">6 Interesting Ways Technology Can Help You Buy a Home</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing credit credit repair home buying mortgage Thu, 05 Mar 2015 12:00:08 +0000 Mikey Rox 1316790 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Interesting Ways Technology Can Help You Buy a Home http://www.wisebread.com/6-interesting-ways-technology-can-help-you-buy-a-home <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-interesting-ways-technology-can-help-you-buy-a-home" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple-looking-at-houses-on.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-size: 13px; line-height: 1.7em;">In the early dot-com days, my husband and I used an online real estate agency to buy our first home. I liked the idea of a Palm Pilot-toting agent who would keep me updated via e-mails and an online calendar. I felt pretty cutting edge.</span></p> <p><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-size: 13px; line-height: 1.7em;">That was in 2000. The Internet today offers an array of even more amazing capabilities. Whether you use a traditional or an online agency, using the web is a helpful, even fun, part of your homebuying process. In fact, in a recent <a href="http://investorrelations.discoverfinancial.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=204177&amp;p=irol-newsArticle&amp;ID=2010824http://investorrelations.discoverfinancial.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=204177&amp;p=irol-newsArticle&amp;ID=1990390">survey</a> commissioned by Discover Home Loans, more than three quarters of recent homebuyers reported that technology made them smarter buyers, and nearly half said tech tools helped them save money. </span></p> <p>Based on my experience, the Internet has changed homebuying for the better in at least six key ways.</p> <h2>1. Neighborhood Reconnaissance</h2> <p>When moving to a new neighborhood or city, the web can help you zoom in on target neighborhoods before you visit. According to the survey, 72% of homebuyers used online maps to explore neighborhoods.</p> <p>When my family considered an international or cross-country move three years ago, I started my research by visiting official city websites and reading Wikipedia entries about neighborhoods.</p> <p>I also looked at each area's <a href="https://www.walkscore.com/">Walk Score</a>, a commute report that shares the different transportation types and what is &ldquo;walkable,&rdquo; checked police department crime maps, and evaluated potential public schools for my children if we lived there.</p> <p>Finally, I used <a href="https://www.google.com/maps/views/streetview?gl=us">Google Street View</a> to virtually stroll down the street around the property. I eliminated several properties based on Street View, which can provide more of a feel for the environment than any statistics or neighborhood association description.</p> <h2>2. Agent Search</h2> <p>Back in 2000, my online real estate agency assigned us an agent without any input from us. Nowadays, similar to an online dating site, you can select an agent with sites such as <a href="https://www.redfin.com/real-estate-agents">Redfin</a>. Or if you're using one of the still-dominant traditional agencies, you can read the agent's profile on their agency site or on <a href="http://www.realtor.com/realestateagents/">Realtor.org</a>. In addition,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.trulia.com/directory/">Trulia</a>, an online real estate site for homebuyers and sellers, also provides reviews and allows you to see an agent's track record.</p> <p>Past homebuyers can serve as great resources as well. You can reach out to your Facebook or other social network friends for recommendations, or ask other local buyers for tips and advice in an online forum.</p> <h2>3. Property Search</h2> <p>The number-one way the Internet has changed home shopping is by making the Multiple Listings Service (MLS) available to prospective buyers online. Browsing online listings has become so easy that many of us get sucked into spending too much time doing it. In fact, 67% of respondents in Discover Home Loan's survey &mdash; and 78% of millennials &mdash; reported that looking at listings became addictive.</p> <p>Before, homebuyers depended on their agent to share and search for potential homes, but now you can browse homes instantly yourself by using sites such as <a href="http://www.mls.com/">MLS.com</a>, <a href="http://www.zillow.com/">Zillow.com</a>, <a href="https://www.redfin.com/">Redfin.com</a> or from a number of home search sites.</p> <p>The survey also found that while most homebuyers still work with agents, technology is helping us become more and more involved in the homebuying process, something that rings true from my own experience. Nearly half of buyers felt they were better at finding potential properties than their agents.</p> <h2>4. Price Research</h2> <p>This is another area in which shoppers used to be more dependent on agents. A great agent will still have the best data about trending neighborhood prices to help you make the best offer, but you also can search recent home sales in the area yourself by checking the local newspaper website or sites like Zillow.com for this data.</p> <h2>5. Mortgage Application</h2> <p>I always use Bankrate.com to check prevailing rates before applying for a home loan. Many mortgage lenders also list the most recent home loan rates if you want to do your own research.</p> <p>My own bank&rsquo;s website was also helpful and made it easy to gather the personal financial information needed to apply for a home loan. By logging into my account, I was able to print out balances, past activity and anything else needed. I was also able to save these pages as PDFs and email them directly to my mortgage lender.</p> <p>Many online mortgage companies also provide great tools that make the financing process convenient. Wise Bread&rsquo;s editor-in-chief Lynn Truong had a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/my-experience-with-discover-home-loans-great-service-and-rewards-programs">great experience using Discover Home Loans</a>. Lynn enjoyed the personalized customer service, the 24/7 online access to check the status of her loan, the helpful <a href="https://www.discover.com/home-loans/mortgage/affordability-calculator/">online calculators</a>, and the lightning-fast responses that helped her secured her loan to purchase her dream home.</p> <h2>6. The Transaction</h2> <p>Some agents still do everything on paper, but others are equipped with online applications that make signing all the documents needed to complete a transaction easier, especially if you are geographically distant from the agent. E-signature programs, which are my favorite, are convenient tools that allow you to sign a document electronically and alert you if you've missed a signature or initial, so you don't lose time sending incomplete documents back and forth.</p> <p>These are just a few ways technology has made homebuying a faster and likely easier process. Real estate buyers and sellers are likely to continue to become more comfortable using Internet-based research and tools to help them find properties and secure loans. At the same time, those tools are likely to become more robust and more responsive. Maybe in another few years we&rsquo;ll be viewing homes via Google Drones and signing mortgage documents with thumb scans on our iPads.</p> <p><i>Have you taken advantage of technology in your homebuying process?</i></p> <p><em style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; line-height: 22.1000003814697px;"><a href="https://www.discover.com/home-loans/LP-SF-ds-hl/?sc=H000000000009GT&amp;amp;cmpgnid=ds-hl-H000000000009GT">Discover&nbsp;Home Loans</a> has provided me with compensation for&nbsp;my&nbsp;time and efforts on this article. As always, all&nbsp;opinions&nbsp;are 100%&nbsp;my&nbsp;own.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carrie-kirby">Carrie Kirby</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-interesting-ways-technology-can-help-you-buy-a-home">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-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/8-times-you-need-to-walk-away-from-your-dream-home">8 Times You Need to Walk Away From Your Dream Home</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-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/things-i-wish-i-knew-before-i-bought-my-second-house">Things I Wish I Knew Before I Bought My Second 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/buy-the-same-house-twice-for-less-than-buying-it-once">Buy the Same House Twice for Less Than Buying It Once</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/why-i-didnt-pay-my-mortgage-off-in-full">Why I Didn&#039;t Pay My Mortgage Off In Full</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing Discover Discover Home Loans home buying home buying technology millennials mortgage redfin survey results Zillow Mon, 02 Mar 2015 12:00:08 +0000 Carrie Kirby 1316188 at http://www.wisebread.com