home buying http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/7934/all en-US 7 Ways to Vet Your Mortgage Lender http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-to-vet-your-mortgage-lender <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-ways-to-vet-your-mortgage-lender" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/applying_for_morgage.jpg" alt="Applying for mortgage" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Buying a home is one of the biggest purchases most consumers ever make. And yet many of us put little to no thought into getting a mortgage loan or the lender we'll work with during the process.</p> <p>This attitude can cost you. In 2015, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found that 47 percent of mortgage borrowers didn't shop around for lenders. The CFPB also found that those applying for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage could qualify for interest rates that varied by more than half a percent. This may not sound like much, but the CFPB noted that the difference between 4 percent and 4.5 percent could result in savings of $60 per month, or $720 per year.</p> <p>So how do you make sure that the mortgage lender you choose will offer you the best deal and the best service? You need to vet these financing professionals.</p> <h2>1. Ask your real estate agent, but also shop around</h2> <p>Real estate agents work with plenty of lenders and should be able to recommend a mortgage loan officer. Because they want their clients to refer them to other buyers and sellers, they tend to recommend loan officers and lenders who provide good service and prices.</p> <p>But don't automatically take your real estate agent's recommendation. Talk to friends and family members who recently took out mortgage loans. Did their lender do a good job for them? Do they wish they'd worked with a different one?</p> <p>Search mortgage comparison sites such as LendingTree, too. LendingTree lets you put in your basic financial information and receive preliminary offers from lenders seeking your business. Just be aware that there is no guarantee that these preliminary offers will match the final offers lenders make should you formally apply.</p> <p>Once you have a list of lenders and loan officers, contact them. It's now that you can ask them questions to help determine if they are worth working with.</p> <h2>2. Do some rate and fee comparisons</h2> <p>When interviewing lenders, ask them how much their borrowers typically pay in closing costs. These are the fees that lenders and other third-party providers, such as real estate attorneys and title insurance companies, charge to originate your mortgage loan. These fees can quickly add up, often totaling 3 percent or more of your loan amount. Ask the lenders you are interviewing, too, what interest rate someone with your finances can expect to be charged.</p> <p>Be careful, though: Some lenders might quote you a lower interest rate, but charge you a higher closing fee at the same time. Make sure to consider both the rate and fees. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-whats-included-in-a-homes-closing-costs?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Here's What's Included in a Home's Closing Costs</a>)</p> <h2>3. Ask about closing times</h2> <p>Originating a mortgage loan takes time. You can expect to wait 30 days or more between the moment you apply for a loan and the day you sign the papers. But some lenders are faster than others. Ask your lender how long it takes borrowers on average to get to the closing table. If most lenders say 30 days, but one says 60? You might want to skip working with the outlier. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-long-does-it-really-take-to-close-on-a-house?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How Long Does It Really Take to Close on a House?</a>)</p> <h2>4. Ask your lender to explain the entire lending process</h2> <p>Most of us aren't familiar with how the mortgage-lending system works, so it's important to work with lenders who can explain this often-complicated process clearly. If the lenders you are interviewing can't or won't do this, find a new one to vet. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-homebuying-questions-youre-embarrassed-to-ask?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Homebuying Questions You're Embarrassed to Ask</a>)</p> <h2>5. Ask to speak to past clients</h2> <p>Ask your lender to provide you the names and contact information of at least three past clients. When you get a hold of these referrals, pick their brains. Ask if the lender responded quickly to phone calls, if the closing costs they charged were higher than expected, and if they fixed any problems that popped up during the lending process. If lenders balk at providing referrals, don't work with them.</p> <h2>6. Do your online research</h2> <p>Once you've found a lender you like, do some online research. Check out sites such as Yelp or Zillow to find online reviews of the lenders you are considering. If a lender has an overwhelming number of negative reviews, you might want to steer clear.</p> <h2>7. Get preapproved</h2> <p>During the preapproval process, a lender will run your credit and verify your income. You help the process along by sending copies of financial documents such as your recent paycheck stubs, bank account statements, and income tax returns. Your lender will use this information to determine how much loan money they are comfortable giving you, and will send you a letter stating the results.</p> <p>The best thing about preapprovals is that they are free. If you find three lenders you like, get preapproved with all three. You aren't obligated to work with any lender that preapproves you. But you might discover that one lender approves you for $200,000 while two others approve you for loans as high as $250,000. This could influence which lender you finally choose.</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/7-ways-to-vet-your-mortgage-lender">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-mortgage-details-you-should-know-before-you-sign">5 Mortgage Details You Should Know Before You Sign</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/stop-believing-these-5-home-refinance-myths">Stop Believing These 5 Home Refinance Myths</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/heres-whats-included-in-a-homes-closing-costs">Here&#039;s What&#039;s Included in a Home&#039;s Closing Costs</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-surprising-things-lenders-check-besides-your-credit-score">4 Surprising Things Lenders Check Besides Your Credit Score</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-mortgage-secrets-only-your-broker-knows">4 Mortgage Secrets Only Your Broker Knows</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing closing costs fees home buying interest rates lenders mortgages realtors reviews screening vetting Fri, 20 Apr 2018 08:30:09 +0000 Dan Rafter 2131426 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Ways to Get Financially Fit for Homebuying Season http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-to-get-financially-fit-for-homebuying-season <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-ways-to-get-financially-fit-for-homebuying-season" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/happy_woman_holding_keys_to_her_new_house_1.jpg" alt="Happy woman holding keys to her new house" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The housing market is a competitive one right now. The National Association of Realtors reported that there were 1.52 million existing homes for sale at the end of January 2018. That might sound like a lot, but that figure is 9.5 percent lower than it stood a year ago, when 1.68 million homes were for sale.</p> <p>What does that mean for you? It means that if you're planning on buying a home this year, you need to be financially fit and ready to act fast. Here are the steps you can take to get ready for homebuying season.</p> <h2>1. Check your credit reports</h2> <p>When you apply for a mortgage to finance the purchase of a home, your lender will check your credit reports. You have three of them, one each maintained by Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. These reports list your loans and credit card accounts. It also lists any financial missteps you might have taken, such as missed payments, late payments, bankruptcy declarations, and foreclosures.</p> <p>You can get one free copy every year of each of your three reports from AnnualCreditReport.com. Once you get your reports, look them over carefully. You want to know what lenders will see. If you spot any mistakes &mdash; such as a late auto payment that you know you paid on time &mdash; correct the mistake with the offending credit bureau, either by phone or email. Finding and correcting incorrect information can provide an immediate boost to your credit score, which will set you off on the right foot for buying a home. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-read-a-credit-report?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Read a Credit Report</a>)</p> <h2>2. Check your credit score</h2> <p>Your credit score is a key number when you're ready to buy a home. Your lenders will study your credit score to determine how likely you are to pay your mortgage on time each month. Most lenders consider credit scores of 740 or higher to be strong ones, while scores under 640 make them nervous. If your score is too low, you probably won't qualify for a loan. If you do, you'll be charged higher interest rates.</p> <p>It's important to know your credit score before you apply for a mortgage. You can pay to receive your score from any of the three credit bureaus, which will cost you between $10 and $15. Your credit card provider or bank might provide you with a credit score for free, but be careful: This free score might not be an official FICO score, and might not be the same one that lenders see when you apply for a loan.</p> <p>Once you know your credit score, you can determine if you need to take steps to improve it. If your score is too low, it might make more sense to wait until it rises before you start hunting for a new home. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-to-increase-your-credit-score-quickly?ref=seealso" target="_blank">7 Ways to Increase Your Credit Score Quickly</a>)</p> <h2>3. Start a new history of paying all your bills on time</h2> <p>The best way to build a strong credit score is to pay all your bills on time every month. If you pay certain bills late &mdash; credit cards, mortgage, auto loan, student loan, and other forms of installment loans &mdash; your credit score could drop by 100 points or more. A bill is considered officially late and reported to the credit bureaus if you haven't paid it by 30 days or more past its due date.</p> <p>Rebuilding your credit this way takes time. Depending on how weak your score is, it could take months or more than a year of on-time payments to increase it to a level that will qualify you for lower interest rates. The work, though, will pay off in the form of lower monthly mortgage payments. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/all-the-ways-minimum-payments-are-evil?ref=seealso" target="_blank">All the Ways Minimum Payments Are Evil</a>)</p> <h2>4. Pay down your credit card debt</h2> <p>Another way to boost your credit score and gain approval for a mortgage loan is to pay off as much credit card debt as possible. You'll know you're ready to take on the homebuying process when your credit card balances take up no more than 30 percent of your available credit.</p> <p>Paying down your debt is important, too, after you buy a home. Your mortgage payment is a big financial responsibility. Having as little additional debt as possible will ensure that these new payments are not an overwhelming burden. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-fastest-method-to-eliminate-credit-card-debt?ref=seealso" target="_blank">The Fastest Method to Eliminate Credit Card Debt</a>)</p> <h2>5. Build up your savings</h2> <p>Buying a home is expensive. You'll have to come up with a down payment, of course. But you'll also have to pay for closing costs on your mortgage loan, and don't forget the added expenses of paying for movers, new furniture, and any repairs that your new home might need.</p> <p>Build up your savings <em>before </em>you start searching for a home. This will also help you when it's time to apply for a mortgage. Lenders usually want to see that you have enough in your savings accounts to pay for two to three months' worth of mortgage payments. That way, you can still make your mortgage payments if you hit a financial crisis.</p> <h2>6. Get preapproved for a mortgage</h2> <p>Looking for homes is fun. Getting a mortgage loan is not. But before you start searching for new homes, make sure to get preapproved for a mortgage.</p> <p>To do this, you'll meet with a mortgage lender. This lender will run your credit. You'll also have to provide this lender with copies of your last two months of paycheck stubs, last two years of W2 forms, last two years of income tax returns, and last two months of bank account statements. Lenders will study these forms to determine how much of a monthly loan payment you can afford.</p> <p>Once it analyzes your financials, your lender will provide you with a preapproval letter stating how much of a loan it is willing to give you. You won't have to waste your time searching for homes that are outside this limit. You'll also be a more attractive buyer. Sellers prefer working with buyers who already have qualified for mortgages. Deals with such buyers are less likely to fall apart because of mortgage issues.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F6-ways-to-get-financially-fit-for-homebuying-season&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F6%2520Ways%2520to%2520Get%2520Financially%2520Fit%2520for%2520Homebuying%2520Season.jpg&amp;description=6%20Ways%20to%20Get%20Financially%20Fit%20for%20Homebuying%20Season"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/6%20Ways%20to%20Get%20Financially%20Fit%20for%20Homebuying%20Season.jpg" alt="6 Ways to Get Financially Fit for Homebuying Season" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-to-get-financially-fit-for-homebuying-season">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/4-surprising-things-lenders-check-besides-your-credit-score">4 Surprising Things Lenders Check Besides Your Credit Score</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-times-you-shouldnt-rush-to-pay-off-your-mortgage">5 Times You Shouldn&#039;t Rush to Pay Off Your Mortgage</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/everything-a-first-time-home-buyer-needs-to-buy-a-house">Everything a First-Time Home Buyer Needs to Buy a House</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-money-moves-that-will-ruin-your-mortgage-application">5 Money Moves That Will Ruin Your Mortgage Application</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-reasons-you-shouldnt-buy-a-house-yet">5 Reasons You Shouldn&#039;t Buy a House (Yet)</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing credit report credit score debt financial readiness home buying mortgages on time payments preapproval savings Mon, 02 Apr 2018 09:00:06 +0000 Dan Rafter 2118490 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Research a Home's Location Before You Buy http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-research-a-homes-location-before-you-buy <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-research-a-homes-location-before-you-buy" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/paper_house_under_a_magnifying_lens_1.jpg" alt="Paper house under a magnifying lens" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When searching for the best qualities in a new a home, you've probably heard that location is everything. There's a reason for that. You can change nearly everything about a house except for where it's located.</p> <p>To make sure you're going to love where you're located, you'd best research the heck out of your future block, neighborhood, city, and region. Here are the criteria to use when evaluating home locations.</p> <h2>1. The home market</h2> <p>You need to look at current home prices in a neighborhood to figure out not only whether you can afford to buy a house there, but also whether a particular house is priced fairly. In addition to current prices, look at the direction prices have moved over the past five years. Are you buying on the upswing or the downswing?</p> <p>Realtor.com warns that neighborhoods with a number of houses lingering on the market for years, despite multiple price decreases, might be a warning sign of a bad investment. A good tool for researching an area's market history is <a href="https://www.zillow.com/home-values/" target="_blank">Zillow's Home Value Index</a>. Enter the ZIP code and get summaries of the price changes for the past five years, and a forecast for the next year. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-learn-about-your-homes-history?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Learn About Your Home's History</a>)</p> <h2>2. Crime</h2> <p>If you ask around, you'll get a wide variety of subjective impressions about whether a neighborhood is safe. But there is data out there that can give you a more realistic picture.</p> <p><a href="https://www.trulia.com/local-info/cities" target="_blank">Trulia's City Guides</a> include crime statistics and neighborhood crime maps for some of the biggest cities. Many city police departments have created their own crime data maps. <a href="https://www.crimereports.com/" target="_blank">CrimeReports</a> has consolidated data from 1,000 different departments, searchable by ZIP code.</p> <p>You can also plug an address into the <a href="https://www.nsopw.gov/" target="_blank">U.S. Department of Justice's sex offender database</a> to find out how many registered sex offenders live nearby.</p> <h2>3. Walkability</h2> <p>Whenever my family drives through a beautiful (and often expensive) mountainous neighborhood in Marin County, California, I shake my head and say, &quot;I could never live here.&quot; Why? Because I like to be able to walk out my front door to run my errands, without getting in the car or worrying about being run down on the edge of the road.</p> <p>If you're like me, check your future neighborhood's <a href="https://www.walkscore.com/cities-and-neighborhoods/" target="_blank">Walk Score</a>, which rates the proportion of your errands that can be accomplished on foot. Highly walkable cities such as New York score in the high 80s, while certain neighborhoods, such as San Francisco's Chinatown (Walk Score: 100), qualify as a &quot;Walker's Paradise.&quot; (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-evaluate-a-neighborhood-before-you-buy?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Evaluate a Neighborhood Before You Buy</a>)</p> <h2>4. Public transit</h2> <p>The Walk Score website also ranks ZIP codes by the <a href="https://www.walkscore.com/transit-score-methodology.shtml" target="_blank">availability of public transit</a>, a consideration that not nearly enough people consider when buying a house. Besides checking the score, look into how a neighborhood's transit would work for you. Does it go to your work? Would you be able to walk or bike to the train or bus, or would you have to drive there? And if you have to drive, how's the parking situation? Is there a backup form of transit if the main system is down or delayed? Get this information by looking up the websites of the local transit systems, asking locals, and &mdash; this is important &mdash; trying the commute before you commit.</p> <h2>5. Schools</h2> <p>Since I have three children, the quality of public schools has been a major factor both times we have relocated. For every house I've considered, I've looked up the local school on Zillow, and checked <a href="https://www.greatschools.org/" target="_blank">GreatSchools</a>, which provides data on test scores, student progress, equity, and disciplinary issues, as well as reviews.</p> <p>But schools are much more than just numbers. So if we got serious about a house, I'd dig deeper, researching the school by searching local parent bulletin boards and social media, asking local contacts about the school, and finally, touring the school.</p> <p>Besides the general quality of a school, you should look at whether the school offers programs that are important for your family &mdash; for instance, foreign language instruction or a gifted and talented program. Another question to look into: Are there public charter or magnet schools your child could attend if the neighborhood school doesn't work for you?</p> <p>Often, being in a better school district can explain why one house costs more than a similar house just a few blocks away. Some families may opt to take the cheaper house and use the money they save to send their kids to private school. It's all part of the equation.</p> <h2>6. Climate</h2> <p>My family once considered a move from Chicago to Montreal for a job. My husband and I figured that, having grown up in Wisconsin, we were used to snow and cold. But one statistic gave me pause: Montreal receives an average 82 inches of snow per year. That's more than twice Chicago's annual total. I realized that, while living in Chicago, not once had I wished for twice as much snow. We moved to California instead.</p> <p>If you are considering a move to another geographical region, make sure you have a realistic idea of what the weather will be like year round and how that might impact you. How will it affect your utility bills? You might have loved the weather in Florida while you vacationed at the beach, but would you love having to run the air conditioner year round if you lived there?</p> <p>One place to research weather is <a href="https://www.usclimatedata.com/" target="_blank">U.S. Climate Data</a>, which will give you the average high and low for each month of the year, as well as the average sunshine and precipitation totals.</p> <p>In this era of climate change, it's also worth considering not just the past, but the future. Check with <a href="https://msc.fema.gov/portal/search" target="_blank">FEMA's Flood Map</a> to figure out if you'll need flood insurance. And if you are anywhere near the East Coast or Gulf of Mexico, check the national <a href="https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/nationalsurge/" target="_blank">hurricane storm surge maps</a>. Also read up on natural disasters in the area in the past few years. Have there been floods? Wildfires? Ask yourself if you are prepared to deal with more intense versions of those incidents in the future. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-other-kinds-of-insurance-you-may-need-to-buy-for-your-home?ref=seealso" target="_blank">7 Other Kinds of Insurance You May Need to Buy for Your Home</a>)</p> <h2>7. Seismic risk</h2> <p>Surprisingly few people seem to consider earthquake risk when buying a home. My own home sits precariously close to the Hayward fault in the San Francisco Bay Area, which some scientists say is overdue for a major earthquake. It didn't dissuade my family from buying, but we did decide to invest heavily in seismic retrofitting, shoring up our old house's foundation and certain walls to help it survive the Big One when it comes.</p> <p>If you decide to buy in a quake-prone area, you will need to decide whether to purchase earthquake insurance. You may want an engineer to conduct a seismic inspection to see what has been or could be done to strengthen the structure.</p> <p>Another consideration in seismic activity zones is the type of earth your home sits on. When my husband and I bought our first San Francisco condo, we found out after the fact that it was in a &quot;liquefaction zone&quot; &mdash; an area where the ground could act like a liquid during intense shaking. These homes are built on loose sand or landfill, and are much more susceptible to damage than homes built on more solid ground. You can investigate an area's liquefaction risk on <a href="https://geomaps.wr.usgs.gov/sfgeo/liquefaction/maps.html" target="_blank">U.S. Geographical Survey maps</a>.</p> <h2>8. Taxes</h2> <p>Property taxes and sales taxes vary widely from one region to another &mdash; even from one suburb to another. States levy different amounts of income tax, and some (like Florida) have no income tax at all; check your <a href="https://taxfoundation.org/state-individual-income-tax-rates-brackets-2017/" target="_blank">income tax rate</a> at The Tax Foundation. Sales tax is (literally) all over the map; you can <a href="https://taxfoundation.org/state-and-local-sales-tax-rates-2018/" target="_blank">look up sales tax rate</a> at The Tax Foundation as well.</p> <h2>9. Homeowners' association</h2> <p>If you are buying a condo or a townhome, or even a stand-alone house in some communities, you may fall under the rule of a homeowners' association, or HOA. If you've never lived in one before, you might be surprised at the amount of power the HOA has over your choices as a homeowner. For instance, certain types of landscaping or pets might be banned, or you might be required to repaint your house even if you think it looks OK. If there are shared amenities, such as a community pool, there will be monthly dues to pay as well.</p> <p>It's not enough to ask the listing agent if there is an HOA and how much the dues are. Experts recommend you request and review the past two years of meeting minutes; this is where you'll find out if the current homeowners are considering levying a big assessment for deferred maintenance, for example. You should also investigate whether the HOA's reserves are adequate. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-you-need-to-know-about-homeowners-associations?ref=seealso" target="_blank">What You Need to Know About Homeowners' Associations</a>)</p> <h2>10. Fun</h2> <p>Researching the location isn't all boring adulting. You'll also want to take a turn in the local downtown or arts district to see what's fun to do. Besides an in-person investigation, you can check a website such as <a href="https://nabewise.com/" target="_blank">NabeWise</a>, which describes individual neighborhoods in select cities, listing their top attributes and areas in which they're weak. Also look at <a href="https://www.yelp.com/" target="_blank">Yelp</a>, which can give you the lowdown on local restaurants and other businesses.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fhow-to-research-a-homes-location-before-you-buy&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FHow%2520to%2520Research%2520a%2520Home%2527s%2520Location%2520Before%2520You%2520Buy.jpg&amp;description=How%20to%20Research%20a%20Home's%20Location%20Before%20You%20Buy"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/How%20to%20Research%20a%20Home%27s%20Location%20Before%20You%20Buy.jpg" alt="How to Research a Home's Location Before You Buy" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carrie-kirby">Carrie Kirby</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-research-a-homes-location-before-you-buy">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-best-neighborhood-features-for-new-families">5 Best Neighborhood Features for New Families</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-learn-about-your-homes-history">How to Learn About Your Home&#039;s History</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-questions-real-estate-agents-hear-most-often">8 Questions Real Estate Agents Hear Most Often</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/14-things-youll-hate-about-your-next-house">14 Things You&#039;ll Hate About Your Next House</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-times-buying-a-home-with-cash-is-bad-for-your-budget">5 Times Buying a Home With Cash Is Bad for Your Budget</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing climate community crime statistics home buying location neighborhoods new home research school districts taxes transportation Mon, 26 Mar 2018 09:30:19 +0000 Carrie Kirby 2119239 at http://www.wisebread.com 9 Warning Signs You Can't Afford That New House http://www.wisebread.com/9-warning-signs-you-cant-afford-that-new-house <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/9-warning-signs-you-cant-afford-that-new-house" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/invest_in_real_estate.jpg" alt="Invest in real estate" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Buying a home is one of the most important decisions that you will ever make. A new home can provide a solid foundation for yourself and your family, and it also plays a big role in your financial health.</p> <p>Ideally, a home will help you build net worth and achieve a level of financial freedom. But if you buy a larger home than you can afford, it can become a major burden and source of stress.</p> <p>How do you know if you can't afford a house? Here are some key signs:</p> <h2>1. It's outside your budget</h2> <p>This may seem obvious, but you'd be stunned at how often homebuyers set a budget and allow themselves to go beyond it. A budget exists for a reason! Going beyond the budget means you are stretching yourself past where you previously felt financially comfortable.</p> <p>To determine your budget, calculate your current income and expenses on a monthly basis. Add in some cushion in case your expenses rise, but don't assume your income will go up. Factor in how much you'd like to actually save and invest each month. When looking at mortgage payments, any figure higher than this will place a strain on your finances and put you at risk of not being able to make ends meet. (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>2. You're making assumptions about future income and expenses</h2> <p>I've heard people say, &quot;We're getting a larger and more expensive house because we'll probably make more money in the future.&quot; This thinking is foolish and possibly disastrous. You or your spouse may never get that raise you were counting on. You may lose your job entirely. And that baby on the way? Well, you just found out you are having twins.</p> <p>It's impossible to predict your future income and expenses with any real accuracy. So when budgeting for a home, take a conservative approach based on your current income, and assume that expenses will rise if you plan to start or expand your family. Taking a conservative approach will give you wiggle room to save money, invest, and eventually pay off that house completely.</p> <h2>3. You're unable to put 20 percent down</h2> <p>There are some key advantages to putting a sizable down payment on a home. For one thing, the more you put down, the less you'll have to borrow, so you'll start off with a larger piece of equity in the home. Putting more money down also likely means a lower interest rate, and less in interest payments overall. In addition, if you don't place 20 percent down, most lenders will require you to purchase private mortgage insurance (PMI), thus adding to the cost of your loan.</p> <p>If you weren't able to save 20 percent for a down payment, ask yourself why you think you'd comfortably make the mortgage payments now. Rather than jump into buying, consider saving more for a larger down payment. Your future self will thank you. (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>4. Your interest rate is high</h2> <p>Interest rates are still quite low by historical standards, but you can end up with higher rates if banks think you are a risky borrower. If you have high debt, a low credit score, or both, you may end up with a higher-than-average interest rate, and that likely means your monthly mortgage payment will be higher.</p> <p>If your interest rate seems high, it's time to take a step back and examine why. It could be that your finances aren't in good shape, or you could be trying to buy a house that's too costly.</p> <h2>5. Your decision is heavily guided by emotion</h2> <p>It has the perfect yard. It's on a perfect street at the end of a cul-de-sac, and the school district is great. It's even got a breakfast nook. It's expensive, but it's your dream home.</p> <p>Your dream home could become a nightmare if you allow your emotions to be your only guide. Buying a home is ultimately a financial decision, though we often turn it into an emotional one. The finished basement, the two-car garage, and the granite countertops aren't going to seem so special when you have trouble making the monthly payments.</p> <p>It's perfectly fine to have certain criteria in mind when searching for a home. But affordability should be a big part of that criteria.</p> <h2>6. You have unusual mortgage terms</h2> <p>There are many different mortgage products out there. The most common type of mortgage is one in which you place a certain amount of money down, and obtain a loan with a fixed interest rate, paying it back over an agreed upon term (usually 15 or 30 years).</p> <p>But sometimes, you may not qualify for a fixed-rate mortgage. When this happens, banks will often offer different kinds of loans. These can include adjustable rate mortgages, in which interest rates may start low but increase at a later date. Or they may be negative amortization loans, in which the amount owed actually grows larger over time instead of shrinking.</p> <p>These different kind of loan products were popular about 15 years ago, but were a large driver of the collapse of the housing bubble because they allowed people to purchase homes they ultimately could not afford.</p> <p>If you are buying a home with a nontraditional mortgage &mdash; or if you don't understand the mortgage terms to begin with &mdash; you may be taking on more house than you can handle.</p> <h2>7. You are nearing the maximum mortgage that you qualify for</h2> <p>When you are applying for a mortgage, banks will often tell you that you've been approved for a mortgage up to a certain amount. It's important to remember that this is the maximum amount that you can borrow, not a guideline of what you <em>should</em> spend. In fact, the actual amount you borrow should never be close to that maximum.</p> <p>Banks are more conservative now than in the past, but still are likely to approve you for a loan that is larger than what you can comfortably afford. Don't get too excited about what the bank says. Just set your own budget and stick to it.</p> <h2>8. Your payments exceed 30 percent of your monthly income</h2> <p>For nearly 50 years, the U.S. government has suggested that renters and homeowners pay no more than 30 percent of their income in housing costs. This is not a requirement or law, but it is a helpful guideline for determining if you may be overburdened by a mortgage or rent payment.</p> <p>For people with average incomes, 30 percent is a good target to stay under, because anything higher begins to strain your ability to meet other expenses and save for the future.</p> <p>If you have a high income, you may be able to afford to spend more than this. But for most of us, 30 percent is a good rule of thumb. If you find that buying a home would put you over this threshold, consider looking for a cheaper house.</p> <h2>9. Your debt-to-income ratio is approaching 43 percent</h2> <p>In addition to the 30 percent guideline, the federal government also looks at another figure to determine your worthiness for a loan. When banks examine whether to approve you for a loan, they will add up all of your debt (including credit cards, auto loans, etc.) and compare it to your income. If that ratio is more than 43 percent, you may not be approved for the loan. And if you are close to that threshold, you are truly living on the edge financially.</p> <p>If you find that your debt-to-income ratio is on the high side, consider backing away from buying a home immediately. Take time to pay off your other debts and boost your income, if you can. By entering the home buying process with a lower debt-to-income ratio, you'll be less likely to find yourself in a house you can't handle financially.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F9-warning-signs-you-cant-afford-that-new-house&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F9%2520Warning%2520Signs%2520You%2520Can%2527t%2520Afford%2520That%2520New%2520House.jpg&amp;description=9%20Warning%20Signs%20You%20Can't%20Afford%20That%20New%20House"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/9%20Warning%20Signs%20You%20Can%27t%20Afford%20That%20New%20House.jpg" alt="9 Warning Signs You Can't Afford That New House" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tim-lemke">Tim Lemke</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-warning-signs-you-cant-afford-that-new-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-money-moves-that-will-ruin-your-mortgage-application">5 Money Moves That Will Ruin Your Mortgage Application</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/do-you-really-need-a-20-percent-down-payment-for-a-house">Do You Really Need a 20 Percent Down Payment for a House?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-times-buying-a-home-with-cash-is-bad-for-your-budget">5 Times Buying a Home With Cash Is Bad for Your Budget</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-reasons-you-shouldnt-buy-a-house-yet">5 Reasons You Shouldn&#039;t Buy a House (Yet)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/its-now-easier-to-get-a-home-loan-even-if-you-have-student-loan-debt-should-you">It&#039;s Now Easier to Get a Home Loan Even If You Have Student Loan Debt — Should You?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing debt to income ratio down payments home buying house poor mortgages private mortgage insurance Mon, 12 Feb 2018 10:00:06 +0000 Tim Lemke 2085303 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Money Moves That Will Ruin Your Mortgage Application http://www.wisebread.com/5-money-moves-that-will-ruin-your-mortgage-application <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-money-moves-that-will-ruin-your-mortgage-application" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/housing_market_risk.jpg" alt="Housing market risk" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When applying for a mortgage, you shouldn't do anything that will cause a bank to question your ability to repay the loan. You don't need perfect finances to get a mortgage, but it's in your best interest to have a basic understanding of loan requirements. The more you know, the less likely you are to make mistakes that can ruin your application. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/make-these-5-money-moves-before-applying-for-a-mortgage?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Make These 5 Money Moves Before Applying for a Mortgage</a>)</p> <p>Here are a few missteps to avoid if you're thinking about buying a house.</p> <h2>1. Paying for everything with cash</h2> <p>Using cash for everyday purchases is one way to avoid debt. But just because cash is king in your world doesn't mean you should cast off credit cards.</p> <p>Unless you're fortunate enough to pay cash for a house, you'll need to apply for financing, which requires a credit history. And the only way to build credit is to use credit. Without any type of credit profile, a mortgage underwriter can't assess whether you're capable of responsibly managing a home loan.</p> <p>In the lending world, no credit can be just as damaging as bad credit. So before applying for a home loan, establish credit by getting a credit card or another type of loan. You don't have to drive yourself into debt with it, but you should demonstrate a pattern of timely payments and responsible borrowing. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-use-credit-cards-to-improve-your-credit-score?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Use Credit Cards to Improve Your Credit Score</a>)</p> <h2>2. Carrying too much debt</h2> <p>While it's in your best interest to have a responsible credit profile, if you start spending money on stuff you don't need and get in over your head, you could hurt your chances of a mortgage approval. Maxing out credit cards can raise your <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-one-ratio-is-the-key-to-a-good-credit-score" target="_blank">credit utilization ratio</a> and lower your credit score. Credit utilization is the percentage of your credit card debt compared to your credit limit.</p> <p>If you go overboard and accumulate too much debt, there's also the risk of falling behind on payments. Late payments are another credit score killer that can destroy any chance of qualifying for a mortgage.</p> <p>To avoid problems with a mortgage approval, get into a habit of paying off credit card balances in full every month. If you carry a balance, keep it small &mdash; ideally below 30 percent of your credit line.</p> <p>If you've already been approved for a mortgage, don't make any major purchases before closing on the home purchase. This includes buying furniture or financing a new car. New debt increases your debt-to-income ratio, which can affect your approval.</p> <p>Since you won't know your actual mortgage costs until a few days before closing, hold off spending money on new furniture or appliances to ensure you have enough cash on hand.</p> <h2>3. Co-signing for someone else</h2> <p>Co-signing a loan for a friend or relative is a noble deed (one that I do not personally recommend), but it's imperative that you're fully aware of the consequences of this decision. Co-signers are not silent partners on loan documents. By signing your name, you become a joint debt holder; as such, a co-signed debt appears on your credit report and counts toward your debt-to-income ratio. This is because you're responsible for the loan if the primary signer stops paying. (And if this happens, you could be in big trouble financially!)</p> <p>Once you are ready to apply for a mortgage, your lender takes a co-signed debt into consideration when calculating your debt-to-income ratio. Unfortunately, with a co-signed debt on your credit file, a lender might say you owe too much to take on additional debt and deny your mortgage application.</p> <h2>4. Not saving enough cash</h2> <p>You need cash for a home purchase &mdash; a <em>lot </em>of cash. Nowadays, many mortgage programs require borrowers to bring cash to the table. This includes a down payment between 3.5 percent to 5 percent or higher, as well as funds for closing (between 2 percent and 5 percent of the sale price). It doesn't matter how much you earn: If you can't show enough assets, you can't get a mortgage. Build up this cushion first before diving into the homebuying process. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-easy-ways-to-start-saving-for-a-down-payment-on-a-home?ref=seealso" target="_blank">4 Easy Ways to Start Saving for a Down Payment on a Home</a>)</p> <h2>5. Quitting your day job</h2> <p>Don't quit your day job if you're planning to buy in the near future &mdash; at least, not yet.</p> <p>Qualifying for a mortgage involves demonstrating long-term financial stability. This is why lenders require a borrower's most recent paycheck stubs and the previous year's tax returns. Self-employed people can purchase a home like anyone else, but they have to provide one to two years of profitable business tax returns, where their income either increases from year to year or remains roughly the same.</p> <p>It doesn't matter how much you're making today as a self-employed borrower. If a lender has reason to believe that your income isn't consistent or stable, you might not get a loan. So if you're thinking about buying, stick with your job until closing, and then become your own boss. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/denied-a-mortgage-heres-how-to-fix-it-fast?ref=seeaslo" target="_blank">Denied a Mortgage? Here's How to Fix It Fast</a>)</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fthe-5-best-travel-adapters&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F5%2520Money%2520Moves%2520That%2520Will%2520Ruin%2520Your%2520Mortgage%2520Application.jpg&amp;description=5%20Money%20Moves%20That%20Will%20Ruin%20Your%20Mortgage%20Application"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/5%20Money%20Moves%20That%20Will%20Ruin%20Your%20Mortgage%20Application.jpg" alt="5 Money Moves That Will Ruin Your Mortgage Application" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-money-moves-that-will-ruin-your-mortgage-application">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-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-ways-to-get-financially-fit-for-homebuying-season">6 Ways to Get Financially Fit for Homebuying Season</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/should-you-pay-your-mortgage-off-early">Should You Pay Your Mortgage Off Early?</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-benefits-of-carrying-a-mortgage-into-retirement">5 Benefits of Carrying a Mortgage Into Retirement</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/watch-out-for-these-5-last-minute-home-buying-costs">Watch Out for These 5 Last Minute Home Buying Costs</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-surprising-things-lenders-check-besides-your-credit-score">4 Surprising Things Lenders Check Besides Your Credit Score</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing cash co-signing credit history credit utilization debt debt to income ratio home buying homeownership money mistakes mortgages quitting Wed, 16 Aug 2017 08:30:07 +0000 Mikey Rox 2003615 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Questions Real Estate Agents Hear Most Often http://www.wisebread.com/8-questions-real-estate-agents-hear-most-often <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-questions-real-estate-agents-hear-most-often" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/real_estate_agent_showing_a_family_a_house_closer_in.jpg" alt="Real estate agent showing a family a house, closer in" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>As a first-time homebuyer or seller, you'll probably have a lot of questions. This is par for the course, especially if you have zero knowledge of the real estate process. More than likely, you'll drill your real estate agent with queries as you navigate the buying or selling of your home. And, one of these common questions is bound to come up. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-things-your-real-estate-agent-wishes-you-knew?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Things Your Real Estate Agent Wishes You Knew</a>)</p> <h2>Buyers</h2> <p>As a buyer, you are probably most interested in what you're getting yourself into.</p> <h3>1. Is the neighborhood safe?</h3> <p>It's an interesting question, because we all have different thresholds for safety. Your licensed real estate agent is not allowed, however, to comment on the safety of the neighborhood. If you want a better understanding of the actual criminal activity in the area, you'll need to do your own research. You can use online tools to <a href="http://www.bestplaces.net/crime/" target="_blank">compare crime statistics</a> between cities for a more accurate outlook.</p> <p>Emile L'Eplattenier, real estate marketing and sales analyst for Fit Small Business, makes another solid point: &quot;Always remember that crime can happen anywhere, and there is a very big difference between feeling safe and actually being safe.&quot;</p> <h3>2. How much will the house cost to renovate?</h3> <p>Your real estate agent can't give you a roundabout number on what your fixer-upper will cost to renovate, because they're not a contractor and they have no idea how expensive or inexpensive your taste may be. Joan Kagan, sales manager of a real estate listing site, often suggests to clients that they bring along a trusted contractor to help find a ballpark for this figure. Your agent may know someone who fits the bill, or, if you have a handy person in your own circle, invite them on your next walk-through to discuss your vision. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-home-renovations-that-could-hurt-your-homes-value?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Home Renovations That Could Hurt Your Home's Value</a>)</p> <h3>3. What do you think this will be worth in five to 10 years?</h3> <p>When Kagan is asked this question, she provides a democratic response: &quot;The best way of predicting the future is to look at the past. History repeats itself. I can show you data on the average prices for over the past 10 years. Would that be helpful?&quot;</p> <p>It may be helpful, but as we all know, real estate is up and down and in between more than ever. It's probably best not to worry about the resale value in a specific time frame as much as getting the best deal you can right now.</p> <h2>Sellers</h2> <p>Sellers are most likely interested in what they can get out of it.</p> <h3>4. What is my home worth?</h3> <p>If you've decided to put your home on the market, the first question you'll have is, how much is the house worth? Unless you're being forced out by circumstance, your main goal should be to make a bit of money off your investment or at least break even.</p> <p>&quot;Before determining a listing price, sellers should take the time to go online to research local comps to help gain an understanding of their property's market value,&quot; says Michael Lissack, a Massachusetts real estate agent for Owners.com. &quot;In addition, it's important to reach out to a trusted real estate agent who can help sellers understand their market and evaluate their home and what is it worth. For example, if a seller remodels their kitchen or adds a bedroom, agents can account for that when they are evaluating the home's value.&quot;</p> <p>A good initial resource for you to size up what your home is worth is the real estate site Zillow. It allows you to search addresses in your neighborhood to see the &quot;Zestimated&quot; value of the homes. This can give you a head start, especially if you're comparing similar houses, both inside and out, to yours.</p> <h3>5. Why can't I just sell my house on my own?</h3> <p>Selling your own house may seem like an ideal solution to those trying to avoid commission fees and other associated expenses, but some things aren't worth the trouble. Realtor and attorney Sammi Massie points out we pay for lots of professional services. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/fsbo-how-to-sell-your-home-on-your-own?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Sell Your Home on Your Own</a>)</p> <p>&quot;Would you cut your own hair, fix your own car, argue your own case in court, or anything else that there are professionals for?&quot; she asks. &quot;Let the professional handle the sale of the most valuable possession you have; that's what they do best.&quot;</p> <h3>6. Why do agents get paid so much money?</h3> <p>It can be a tough pill to swallow when you consider how much of your home's sale price will go toward paying your real estate agent. Most agents take a 5 percent to 6 percent commission from a home's sale: So if your home sells for $200,000, you can expect to pay your agent between $10,000 and $12,000.</p> <p>Still, Massie makes a good case for why agents get paid as much as they do.</p> <p>&quot;With the amount of driving, marketing, and other fees that we have to pay in order to be agents and to sell real estate, the commission is not as much as it appears,&quot; she says. &quot;Especially if we, as agents, are still paying into our company; they take a portion of our commission with each sale.&quot;</p> <p>Also consider that your home may not sell right away. If an agent spends weeks (sometimes months!) trying to find the perfect buyer, they deserve to be compensated fairly for finally making the transaction happen.</p> <h3>7. How's the market?</h3> <p>In many markets, there's a shortage of inventory and rising home prices, making it a great time to sell. But most people who sell also want to buy, and they have to be realistic.</p> <p>&quot;The same conditions that make it a great time to sell may also make it difficult to buy,&quot; Lissack explains. &quot;And with the competitive market conditions, both buyers and sellers are seeking opportunities to save money. Consumers should look toward online brokerages that can help sellers save thousands in traditional agent commissions through flexible listing packages, and in select markets, provide a buyer's rebate of up to 1.5 percent at closing.&quot;</p> <h3>8. How do I know if my timing is right?</h3> <p>You can keep an eye on local home prices, mortgage rates, and other factors to can help you decide when the time is right to sell your home, but often sellers can't wait for everything to fall perfectly in line. For many, there is no &quot;right time.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;Timing is determined by what is happening in that person's life &mdash; if they need a new home right away, the timing is right regardless of the market,&quot; Lissack says. &quot;The agent's job is to build a relationship, help them understand what's happening in their market, and support their client through one of the largest transactions they'll ever make.&quot;</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F8-questions-real-estate-agents-hear-most-often&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F8%2520Questions%2520Real%2520Estate%2520Agents%2520Hear%2520Most%2520Often.jpg&amp;description=8%20Questions%20Real%20Estate%20Agents%20Hear%20Most%20Often"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/8%20Questions%20Real%20Estate%20Agents%20Hear%20Most%20Often.jpg" alt="8 Questions Real Estate Agents Hear Most Often" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-questions-real-estate-agents-hear-most-often">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-tips-to-sell-your-condo-fast">6 Tips to Sell Your Condo Fast</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-questions-to-ask-before-selling-your-house">6 Questions to Ask Before Selling Your House</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-to-vet-your-mortgage-lender">7 Ways to Vet Your Mortgage Lender</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-signs-youre-ready-to-sell-your-house">5 Signs You&#039;re Ready to Sell Your 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/how-to-research-a-homes-location-before-you-buy">How to Research a Home&#039;s Location Before You Buy</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing commissions home buying housing market neighborhoods real estate agents realtors renovations selling a home Fri, 11 Aug 2017 09:00:06 +0000 Mikey Rox 1999912 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Mortgage Details You Should Know Before You Sign http://www.wisebread.com/5-mortgage-details-you-should-know-before-you-sign <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-mortgage-details-you-should-know-before-you-sign" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-475902363.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Taking out a mortgage is a big financial commitment. Not only are mortgage loans expensive, they also represent the biggest monthly payment for most consumers' budgets.</p> <p>That's why it's so important to ask the right questions before signing the documents that officially close your mortgage. Here are five key questions you need to ask your lender when looking over your mortgage documents.</p> <h2>1. What are my closing costs?</h2> <p>Taking out a mortgage isn't free. Your lender and several third-party service providers will charge you what are known as closing costs, the fees you'll have to pay for your mortgage loan. You can expect to pay from 2 percent to 5 percent of your home's purchase price in closing costs.</p> <p>This means for a home costing $200,000, you can expect to pay between $4,000 and $10,000 in closing costs. That's a lot of money, and often consumers roll the amount into their final loan, which can slightly increase their monthly payment.</p> <p>Fortunately, uncovering your closing costs is an easy process. Your lender must send you a form known as a loan estimate within three business days of receiving your loan application. This form includes a list of your estimated closing costs. At least three days before closing your loan, your lender will provide you with another form, the closing disclosure. This form lists your final closing costs.</p> <p>It's important to study both of these forms to make sure your closing costs are what you expected them to be.</p> <h2>2. What is my interest rate?</h2> <p>When you pay a mortgage loan, a good chunk of your monthly payment will go toward interest. In fact, during the earliest years of your mortgage, a far larger percentage of your monthly payment will go toward interest than toward paying down your principal balance.</p> <p>That's why getting the lowest possible interest rate makes such a difference in both the amount of interest you'll pay during the life of your loan, and how much you'll pay each month.</p> <p>Here's an example: Say you take out a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage loan for $200,000 at an interest rate of 3.76 percent. Your monthly payment &mdash; not including property taxes and homeowners insurance &mdash; would be about $927.</p> <p>If on that same loan your interest rate was 4.76 percent, your monthly payment would shoot up to $1,044, not including taxes and insurance.</p> <h2>3. What is my monthly payment?</h2> <p>Your monthly payment doesn't just include the amount you pay in interest and principal. Most lenders require that you pay extra with each payment to cover the yearly cost of your homeowners insurance and property taxes.</p> <p>Your lender will then take this extra money and deposit it into an escrow account. When your taxes and insurance come due each year, your lender will use this money to pay these bills on your behalf. This can add hundreds of dollars to your monthly payment, so knowing this ahead of time is important.</p> <p>Don't be fooled into thinking that your mortgage payment <em>only</em> includes your mortgage loan. Your property taxes and insurance make a big difference in your monthly bill.</p> <h2>4. What type of loan do I have?</h2> <p>There are several types of mortgages out there. The most common are fixed loans, usually with terms of 30 or 15 years. With these loans, your interest rate remains the same until you pay off the loan, sell your home, or refinance it.</p> <p>You might also opt for an adjustable-rate loan. With an adjustable-rate mortgage, the interest rate remains fixed for a set period &mdash; usually five to seven years &mdash; and then adjusts according to whatever economic indexes your loan is tied to. Your loan's interest rate could adjust every year or it could adjust every five years. It all depends on your loan's specifics.</p> <p>Consumers choose adjustable-rate loans because their initial interest rates are usually lower than those you'd get with a fixed-rate loan. But adjustable-rate loans do come with more risk: When your loan adjusts, your new rate could be higher than the rate you would have had if you had gone with a fixed-rate loan.</p> <h2>5. Is there a penalty for paying early?</h2> <p>They're not as common as they once were, but some loans come with a prepayment penalty. This means that you'll have to pay a penalty &mdash; often about 2 percent of your loan's remaining balance &mdash; for paying off your mortgage before it's due. Often, lenders who charge prepayment penalties assess them if you pay off your loan in the first two to five years.</p> <p>You might not worry about such a penalty. After all, you'll never pay off your mortgage loan in two to five years, right?</p> <p>But a prepayment penalty may also kick in if you decide to refinance your loan or sell your home during the penalty phase. Because of this, it's best not to sign onto a loan with a prepayment penalty.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F5-mortgage-details-you-should-know-before-you-sign&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F5%2520Mortgage%2520Details%2520You%2520Should%2520Know%2520Before%2520You%2520Sign.jpg&amp;description=5%20Mortgage%20Details%20You%20Should%20Know%20Before%20You%20Sign"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/5%20Mortgage%20Details%20You%20Should%20Know%20Before%20You%20Sign.jpg" alt="5 Mortgage Details You Should Know Before You Sign" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-mortgage-details-you-should-know-before-you-sign">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-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/7-ways-to-vet-your-mortgage-lender">7 Ways to Vet Your Mortgage Lender</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-whats-included-in-a-homes-closing-costs">Here&#039;s What&#039;s Included in a Home&#039;s 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/weak-credit-you-can-still-get-a-mortgage-despite-tough-lending-standards">Weak Credit? You Can Still Get a Mortgage Despite Tough Lending Standards</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-surprising-things-lenders-check-besides-your-credit-score">4 Surprising Things Lenders Check Besides Your Credit Score</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-it-safe-to-re-finance-your-home-close-to-retirement">Is it Safe to Re-Finance Your Home Close to Retirement?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing closing costs home buying home loans homeownership interest rates lenders monthly payments mortgages penalties questions Fri, 04 Aug 2017 08:00:06 +0000 Dan Rafter 1990976 at http://www.wisebread.com 20+ Questions to Ask During an Open House http://www.wisebread.com/20-questions-to-ask-during-an-open-house <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/20-questions-to-ask-during-an-open-house" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/showing_room.jpg" alt="Showing room" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Shopping for real estate can be daunting. It takes time and discernment to know which house is right for you. To avoid wasting time on open house visits, be prepared with these key questions. If you find a house that matches your wish list, chat with the listing agent to find out all the details you don't want to overlook.</p> <h2>Before you start asking questions</h2> <p>First things first: Pick up a copy of the property information. These are often on the kitchen counter or near the entry during open houses. Many people view the house, and then look over the information. But the disclosure statements often reveal things you'll want to see while on site; maybe there was water damage, or the carpets were recently replaced. Spend five minutes reviewing the property information so you can eyeball the improvements or issues as you move from room to room.</p> <p>Some listing agents will wait near the information sheets, ready to talk to prospective buyers. If you're not ready to chat yet, say so; the agent should accommodate your desire to view the house and review the information before either of you starts asking questions.</p> <h2>General questions</h2> <p>Ask these questions to get an idea of the overall condition of the house and area.</p> <h3>What's the reason for the sale?</h3> <p>This may seem like a personal question, but it's a valid one. If the house is being sold because the owners are unhappy with its condition, need for repairs, the safety of the area, or the feel of the neighborhood, you want to know. Your goal is to understand if the reason for the sale is personal or due to an issue with the house or area.</p> <p>Don't press for personal information about the owners, of course; the agent should protect their confidentiality while giving you a top-level answer. If the agent is very hesitant, or unable to provide even a generic or partial answer, note that. If you're interested in the house, you can have your own real estate agent follow up with the listing agent.</p> <h3>What are the biggest problems with the house?</h3> <p>If you ask, &quot;Are there any major problems with the house?&quot; then the agent may say, &quot;No, it's in great shape.&quot; Phrasing matters. Every house has problems. This is the time to find out what those problems are. The listing agent wants to sell the property, of course, but they want the sale to be a satisfactory one.</p> <p>In many states a seller's disclosure is required, and should be included with the property information. You can ask for more details on any issues disclosed:</p> <ul> <li> <p>Have there been any more water problems since the sump pump was replaced?</p> </li> <li> <p>How extensive was the termite damage listed on the disclosure?</p> </li> <li> <p>Have the owners done any further mold testing?</p> </li> </ul> <p>Asking for more information will help you determine if the issues have been resolved or would require additional repair or maintenance.</p> <h3>What are the average utility costs?</h3> <p>Older houses tend to be less energy efficient, and can come with heftier utility bills than you'd expect. On the other hand, the owners may have a installed top-of-the-line HVAC system, put in double-paned windows, and invested in other energy-saving upgrades. The listing agent will know, or be able to find out, the average monthly cost for utilities. It's a good idea to ask for a typical monthly cost in the winter and in the summer, so you can compare how much the energy use might fluctuate seasonally.</p> <h3>Has the price changed at all?</h3> <p>The listing agent will know the history of the house, if the listing price has dropped or increased, and the reasons for any change in price. A lower listing price can be great news for you, but multiple drops in price should be a red flag. Was the house listed much too high for the area? Or are there major issues that are keeping buyers away?</p> <p>In your discussion on price, you can ask other questions to get an idea of the urgency of the sellers:</p> <ul> <li> <p>How long has the house been on the market?</p> </li> <li> <p>Have there been other offers on the house?</p> </li> <li> <p>Are the sellers eager to negotiate?</p> </li> <li> <p>Are the sellers in a hurry to sell?</p> </li> </ul> <p>You may not get direct answers to all these questions, but they're still worth asking. If you are genuinely interested in the property, talking with the agent can give you insight on what matters most to the sellers. If they're in a hurry to move, for example, they might accept a lower offer with a rushed closing date.</p> <h3>Is this a good neighborhood for families?</h3> <p>Maybe you don't have a family; this is still a good question to ask, because &quot;family-friendly&quot; is often code for safe, clean, and welcoming. Are there community events nearby? Is there a neighborhood association? Ask the agent about the nearest places for shopping, entertainment, and dining out. If the nearest grocery store is 10 miles away but the nearest bar is just around the corner, it may not be so family-friendly, after all.</p> <p>A discussion about the neighborhood is a good time to ask about area resources and attractions, as well as cost of living:</p> <ul> <li> <p>Are there any parks or natural attractions nearby?</p> </li> <li> <p>What do people in this area like to do for fun?</p> </li> <li> <p>What's the best restaurant nearby?</p> </li> <li> <p>Do you know what the average income is for this area?</p> </li> <li> <p>Where is the nearest hospital?</p> </li> </ul> <h2>Room by room questions</h2> <p>Some questions are room-specific. Ask the agent to walk through the house with you and discuss as you go.</p> <h3>Kitchen<strong> </strong></h3> <ul> <li> <p>Which appliances are included? How old are they?</p> </li> <li> <p>Have there been any major updates or renovations in the kitchen?</p> </li> <li> <p>Are there any water issues in the kitchen?</p> </li> <li> <p>Have there been any major repairs in the kitchen?</p> </li> </ul> <h3>Basement</h3> <ul> <li> <p>Are there any water issues in the basement?</p> </li> <li> <p>Is there a sump pump installed?</p> </li> <li> <p>Have there been any issues with mold?</p> </li> </ul> <h3>Living rooms and bedrooms</h3> <ul> <li> <p>How old is the carpet?</p> </li> <li> <p>What's underneath the carpet?</p> </li> <li> <p>Have the rooms been recently painted?</p> </li> <li> <p>Are the window treatments included?</p> </li> <li> <p>Have there been any renovations or updates done lately?</p> </li> </ul> <h3>Bathrooms</h3> <ul> <li> <p>Are there any water issues in the bathrooms?</p> </li> <li> <p>How is the water pressure? (Ask if you can check it.)</p> </li> <li> <p>How recently have the bathroom fixtures been updated?</p> </li> </ul> <h3>Yard</h3> <ul> <li> <p>Does the landscaping allow water to flow away from the house?</p> </li> <li> <p>Are there any wet or soggy areas in the yard?</p> </li> <li> <p>Have the owners done regular pest control?</p> </li> <li> <p>Are there any issues with the yard or garden?</p> </li> </ul> <h2>Open house etiquette</h2> <p>Open houses vary, but there are some common etiquette rules to follow. Don't forget to sign in; leave your name only if you prefer not to include your contact information. Be sure to greet the listing agent. Let the agent know you have questions, but don't keep them from being able to interact with other visitors. Discuss, don't dominate.</p> <p>Expect to answer a few questions about yourself, such as &quot;How long have you been looking?&quot; A good listing agent will be trying to determine who's a serious buyer and who's there for the free mints.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F20-questions-to-ask-during-an-open-house&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F20%252B%2520Questions%2520to%2520Ask%2520During%2520an%2520Open%2520House.jpg&amp;description=20%20plus%20Questions%20to%20Ask%20During%20an%20Open%20House"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/20%2B%20Questions%20to%20Ask%20During%20an%20Open%20House.jpg" alt="20+ Questions to Ask During an Open House" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/annie-mueller">Annie Mueller</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-questions-to-ask-during-an-open-house">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-added-costs-that-come-with-a-bigger-house">7 Added Costs That Come With a Bigger House</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-mortgage-details-you-should-know-before-you-sign">5 Mortgage Details You Should Know Before You Sign</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-money-moves-that-will-ruin-your-mortgage-application">5 Money Moves That Will Ruin Your Mortgage Application</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-questions-to-ask-before-signing-a-lease">10 Questions to Ask Before Signing a Lease</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-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 damage home buying homeownership listing agents maintenance open houses pests problems questions renovations utilities Thu, 20 Jul 2017 08:30:14 +0000 Annie Mueller 1986643 at http://www.wisebread.com 4 Home-Buying Habits We Can Learn From Millennials http://www.wisebread.com/4-home-buying-habits-we-can-learn-from-millennials <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/4-home-buying-habits-we-can-learn-from-millennials" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/new_home_owners_with_key.jpg" alt="New homeowners with key" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Millennials entered the housing market later than their baby boomer and Generation X predecessors. They chose to rent for longer, and are just now starting to flood the housing market.</p> <p>But just because millennials have been slow to embrace homeownership doesn't mean that they don't have anything to teach others about buying a home. In fact, despite their late jump into the housing market, millennials have demonstrated plenty of smart home-buying behaviors. Here are a few smart homeownership habits we can all learn from this younger generation.</p> <h2>Don't rush</h2> <p>Ellie Mae, a software company that works with mortgage data, says that millennials &mdash; young adults from the ages of 18 to 34 &mdash; are currently the largest group of homebuyers in the housing market. According to the company, in January of 2017, these young buyers took out about 45 percent of all the mortgage loans used to buy homes. But homebuying is a recent trend for this age group.</p> <p>Economists have long observed that millennials waited longer than older generations to jump into the housing market, just as they have also waited longer to get married and have families.</p> <p>This isn't necessarily a bad thing. Buying a home is expensive. You'll need money for a down payment and the closing costs on your mortgage loan. This will run you thousands of dollars.</p> <p>As millennials show, there's nothing wrong with waiting until you have a more established job and reliable income to buy a home. Having that economic stability will eliminate some of the stress of covering that mortgage payment each month.</p> <h2>Don't break your budget</h2> <p>You don't want to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-make-ends-meet-when-youre-house-poor?ref=internal" target="_blank">overspend on a home</a>. And today, that's getting easier to do because housing prices continue to rise. The National Association of Realtors says that the median price for a home sold in March of 2017 hit $236,400. That's an increase of 6.8 percent from March of 2016, when the median price was $221,400. This March also marked the 61st consecutive month in which home prices rose on a year-over-year basis.</p> <p>One of the most often-cited reasons for millennials' slow entry into the housing market is the student loan debt they face. According to Student Loan Hero, the average college graduate of the class of 2016 has $37,172 in student loan debt, up 6 percent from the previous year. Taking on the added debt burden of a mortgage can be intimidating when you already owe tens of thousands of dollars in student loans.</p> <p>Millennials know about debt. It's why so many of them are cautious about overspending. And this wariness is a good habit to acquire. Just because a mortgage lender approves you for a mortgage loan of $250,000, doesn't mean you must buy a home costing that much. It's OK &mdash; and is, in fact, fiscally smart &mdash; to buy a home that costs less. This will leave you with money leftover and an easier time making those housing payments each month.</p> <h2>Be realistic about the American dream</h2> <p>Buying a home has long been a part of the American dream. But millennials understand that this American dream can easily turn into a nightmare.</p> <p>Many millennials saw their parents lose their jobs and struggle to make their mortgage payments during the Great Recession. Some saw their parents lose their homes to foreclosure. Others watched as their parents' homes steadily lost value, leaving them underwater &mdash; owing more on their mortgage loans than what their homes were worth.</p> <p>Millennials learned that buying a home wasn't the only way to be happy in America. They learned that it could, in fact, be one way to be unhappy in America.</p> <p>The good habit here is that you should never jump into owning a home just because everyone else seems to be doing it. Owning a home isn't the right choice for everyone, which brings us to one last habit.</p> <h2>Don't think that renting comes with a stigma</h2> <p>Millennials are less averse to renting apartments later in life than both baby boomers and Gen Xers. In fact, the apartment market around the country is in the middle of a boom, with more people of all ages choosing to rent instead of owning a home.</p> <p>Renting has become a preferred way of living for a growing number of people. Need proof? Landlords keep increasing monthly rents to historic levels, something they'd struggle to do if the renters weren't coming. Apartment company Abodo said that in March of this year, the median monthly rent of a one-bedroom apartment across the United States stood at $1,005.</p> <p>In major cities, where many prefer to rent, monthly rents are especially high. Abodo reported that in San Francisco the median monthly rent stood at $3,415 in March 2017, while it hit $2,705 in New York City and $2,549 in San Jose, California. Other markets with high monthly rents include Boston ($2,398); Washington, D.C. ($2,097); Los Angeles ($2,030); and Oakland ($2,009).</p> <p>If you prefer to rent &mdash; and you aren't interested in the yard work and upkeep that come with owning a home &mdash; don't feel pressured to make the move to owning. You'll have plenty of company when it comes to renting an apartment.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F4-home-buying-habits-we-can-learn-from-millennials&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F4%2520Home-Buying%2520Habits%2520We%2520Can%2520Learn%2520From%2520Millennials.jpg&amp;description=4%20Home-Buying%20Habits%20We%20Can%20Learn%20From%20Millennials"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/4%20Home-Buying%20Habits%20We%20Can%20Learn%20From%20Millennials.jpg" alt="4 Home-Buying Habits We Can Learn From Millennials" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-home-buying-habits-we-can-learn-from-millennials">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-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/rent-your-home-or-buy-heres-how-to-decide">Rent Your Home or Buy? Here&#039;s How to Decide</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-money-moves-that-will-ruin-your-mortgage-application">5 Money Moves That Will Ruin Your Mortgage Application</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-build-equity-in-your-home">How to Build Equity in Your 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/heres-whats-included-in-a-homes-closing-costs">Here&#039;s What&#039;s Included in a Home&#039;s Closing Costs</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-benefits-of-carrying-a-mortgage-into-retirement">5 Benefits of Carrying a Mortgage Into Retirement</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing American Dream apartments home buying homeownership lessons loans millennials mortgages renting Wed, 28 Jun 2017 09:00:12 +0000 Dan Rafter 1970390 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Times Buying a Home With Cash Is Bad for Your Budget http://www.wisebread.com/5-times-buying-a-home-with-cash-is-bad-for-your-budget <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-times-buying-a-home-with-cash-is-bad-for-your-budget" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/house_building_insurance_housewarming_loan_real_estate_home_concept.jpg" alt="House building, insurance, housewarming, loan, real estate, home concept" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Buying a home with cash is usually considered a smart financial move, if you can swing it. That's because taking out a mortgage loan to finance your home requires you to pay a ton of interest, even in today's low-interest rate environment. With cash, you don't have to worry about interest at all.</p> <p>For example, let's say you take out a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage of $200,000 at an interest rate of 3.93 percent. You'll pay more than $140,000 in interest if you take the full three decades to pay back your loan. If you pay in cash, that $140,000 stays in your pocket.</p> <p>What could possibly be the downside of paying this way? Here are a few possibilities.</p> <h2>1. When making an all-cash offer will deplete your savings</h2> <p>If you can afford to buy that $300,000 home with cash, that's great. But if that purchase leaves you with little or no money in your savings, it can put you in financial jeopardy.</p> <p>It's important to have cash reserves to handle life's emergencies. What if you lose your job? You might wish you still had some of those savings available.</p> <p>Remember, your investment in your home is largely <em>illiquid</em>. To access it, you'll have to sell your home or take out a home-equity loan or line of credit. Neither option is as appealing as having cash reserves on hand.</p> <p>If you do have plenty of cash &mdash; but not enough to have funds leftover after buying a home &mdash; consider coming up with an extra-large down payment instead. This way, you can reduce your mortgage while keeping some cash on hand.</p> <h2>2. When your cash is earning you money</h2> <p>Are your cash savings earning you plenty of big returns? Then it might not make sense to take a big chunk of this money and invest it in a house. Yes, it's nice not to have to make a mortgage payment each month. But you'll have to determine if the return that your invested dollars are generating outweighs the savings in interest you'd get by avoiding a mortgage.</p> <h2>3. When you'll miss out on a tax break</h2> <p>Homeowners can deduct the amount of interest they pay on their mortgage loans each year. This tax break is more valuable during the earliest years of a mortgage, when homeowners are paying the most interest.</p> <p>You'll have to determine how valuable this tax break is to you. If you do need to reduce your tax bill each year, using some of your cash to come up with a bigger down payment and then taking out a mortgage to finance the rest of your home purchase might make the most sense.</p> <h2>4. When your home's value might fall</h2> <p>There was a time when no one thought homes could lose value over a seven- or 10-year period. Then came 2007 and 2008, when home values suddenly plummeted.</p> <p>There's a lesson here: There is no guarantee that your home will increase in value after you buy it. There's also no guarantee that it won't lose value.</p> <p>The hope is that after buying your home in an all-cash offer, the property will become even more valuable. When it's time to sell, you'll earn a profit. But there is no guarantee that this will happen. And if you do have to sell your home at a loss one day, that money you invested in it will be lost.</p> <h2>5. When you'll miss out on great interest rates</h2> <p>Mortgage interest rates have risen, but they are still at historic lows. The Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Market Survey says that the average interest rate on a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage was 3.89 percent as of June 8, 2017. The average rate on a 15-year, fixed-rate mortgage was 3.16 percent. Those are great rates.</p> <p>Instead of investing a big chunk of your cash in a home, it might make more sense to take that same money and make a different investment that will generate bigger returns. You can then apply for a mortgage loan with the shortest possible term and enjoy interest rates that are still at near-historic lows.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F5-times-buying-a-home-with-cash-is-bad-for-your-budget&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F5%2520Times%2520Buying%2520a%2520Home%2520With%2520Cash%2520Is%2520Bad%2520for%2520Your%2520Budget.jpg&amp;description=5%20Times%20Buying%20a%20Home%20With%20Cash%20Is%20Bad%20for%20Your%20Budget"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/5%20Times%20Buying%20a%20Home%20With%20Cash%20Is%20Bad%20for%20Your%20Budget.jpg" alt="5 Times Buying a Home With Cash Is Bad for Your Budget" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-times-buying-a-home-with-cash-is-bad-for-your-budget">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-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/weak-credit-you-can-still-get-a-mortgage-despite-tough-lending-standards">Weak Credit? You Can Still Get a Mortgage Despite Tough Lending Standards</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-mortgage-details-you-should-know-before-you-sign">5 Mortgage Details You Should Know Before You Sign</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-to-vet-your-mortgage-lender">7 Ways to Vet Your Mortgage Lender</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-money-moves-that-will-ruin-your-mortgage-application">5 Money Moves That Will Ruin Your Mortgage Application</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-build-equity-in-your-home">How to Build Equity in Your Home</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing down payments downsides home buying homeownership interest rates mortgages new home paying cash tax breaks Thu, 22 Jun 2017 08:30:16 +0000 Dan Rafter 1965874 at http://www.wisebread.com Best Money Tips: Ways to Save When Buying Your First Home http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-ways-to-save-when-buying-your-first-home <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/best-money-tips-ways-to-save-when-buying-your-first-home" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple_new_house_507836724.jpg" alt="Couple finding ways to save when buying their first home" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Welcome to Wise Bread's <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/topic/best-money-tips">Best Money Tips</a> Roundup! Today we found articles on ways to save on your first home, tips for building your personal brand, and when you should not DIY.</p> <h2>Top 5 Articles</h2> <p><a href="https://blog.allstate.com/3-ways-save-buying-first-home/">3 Ways to Save When Buying Your First Home</a> &mdash; Newly remodeled homes have better curb appeal and will sell faster, which means the seller will be less likely to negotiate on price. If you want to save money, be open to houses that are structurally sound but may need a makeover. [The Allstate Blog]</p> <p><a href="https://due.com/blog/building-your-personal-brand/">8 Tips for Building Your Personal Brand Faster</a> &mdash; Be accessible! It isn't enough to maintain the usual social networks; make sure you have a good website, too. [Due]</p> <p><a href="https://dyernews.com/when-is-diy-a-bad-idea/">When is DIY a Bad Idea?</a> &mdash; You're better off hiring a professional if a project needs to look, you know, <em>professional</em>. [Dyer News]</p> <p><a href="https://www.popsugar.com/smart-living/How-Help-Someone-Anxiety-42078628">7 Things You Can Do to Help Someone With Anxiety</a> &mdash; Stay calm and comforting, and don't get overexcited or agitated. Someone who is dealing with anxiety doesn't need to deal with external drama, too. [PopSugar Smart Living]</p> <p><a href="http://www.stackthechips.com/beginners-guide-cutting-cord/">A Beginners Guide To Cutting The Cord</a> &mdash; You have many hardware options for streaming, but you probably already have a device to watch your favorite programming: a computer, laptop, gaming console, smartphone, or tablet. [Stack The Chips]</p> <h2>Other Essential Reading</h2> <p><a href="http://www.frugalvillage.com/2017/05/16/how-not-to-overspend-when-remodeling-your-house/">How Not to Overspend When Remodeling Your House</a> &mdash; Rent a dumpster to hold things that can't be sold or given away, like old bulky furniture, carpeting, and waste materials from your renovation. [Frugal Village]</p> <p><a href="http://www.csmonitor.com/Business/2017/0516/Should-US-companies-get-a-tax-break-if-they-bring-offshore-money-back">Should US companies get a tax break if they bring offshore money back?</a> &mdash; Major US multinational companies want a sharply reduced taxed rate if they are forced to bring home foreign earnings. [The Christian Science Monitor]</p> <p><a href="https://www.goodfinancialcents.com/5-money-hacks-saved-4-1-million-dollars/">5 Money Hacks that Have Saved Me Over $4.1 Million Dollars</a> &mdash; You could earn $1.5 million by driving a paid-off car and investing the difference. [Good Financial Cents]</p> <p><a href="http://www.dinksfinance.com/2017/05/sell-used-books-online-extra-money/">How to Sell Used Books Online for Extra Money</a> &mdash; eBay isn't the only place to sell used books these days. Consider listing your old books on these online marketplaces that make book selling fast and easy. [Dinks Finance]</p> <p><a href="http://www.dontpayfull.com/blog/saving-money-quotes">20 of the Most Powerful Things Ever Said About Saving Money</a> &mdash; Let these money quotes steer you in the right direction! [Don't Pay Full]</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/amy-lu">Amy Lu</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-ways-to-save-when-buying-your-first-home">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-to-vet-your-mortgage-lender">7 Ways to Vet Your Mortgage Lender</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-to-get-financially-fit-for-homebuying-season">6 Ways to Get Financially Fit for Homebuying Season</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-research-a-homes-location-before-you-buy">How to Research a Home&#039;s Location Before You Buy</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/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/denied-a-mortgage-heres-how-to-fix-it-fast">Denied a Mortgage? Here&#039;s How to Fix It Fast</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing best money tips home buying Wed, 17 May 2017 08:30:13 +0000 Amy Lu 1948477 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Times You Need to Walk Away From Your Dream Home http://www.wisebread.com/8-times-you-need-to-walk-away-from-your-dream-home <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-times-you-need-to-walk-away-from-your-dream-home" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-647168754.jpg" alt="Woman learning when to walk away from her dream home" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You think you've found the perfect house. But before you plunge into homeownership, you need to watch out for any warning signs this sale isn't meant to be. Ask yourself whether any of these things apply to you. If so, buying the home of your dreams may just have to wait.</p> <h2>1. You can't afford 20 percent down</h2> <p>The house may have everything you are looking for, but you need to make sure that the sale price isn't beyond your means. Ideally, you want to make a down payment of at least 20 percent. This may be a substantial amount of money, but without that down payment, your lender will likely ask you to pay for <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-is-private-mortgage-insurance-anyway?ref=internal" target="_blank">private mortgage insurance</a> &mdash; which can add hundreds of dollars a year to your homeownership costs.</p> <p>Moreover, the more you can put down up front, the smaller your monthly mortgage payments will be. If you are in the market for a home but can't hit that 20 percent mark, consider holding off on buying until you have a larger sum saved. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-easy-ways-to-start-saving-for-a-down-payment-on-a-home?ref=seealso" target="_blank">4 Easy Ways to Start Saving for a Down Payment on a Home</a>)</p> <h2>2. Your mortgage payments would restrict your ability to save</h2> <p>Even if you have the ability to put 20 percent down on the house, you may find that the monthly mortgage payments are higher than you can reasonably afford. The U.S. government recommends spending no more than 30 percent of your gross monthly income on housing. That means if you earn $3,000 per month before taxes, you shouldn't spend more than $900 per month on your mortgage.</p> <p>You may get approved for a loan much bigger than you expected, but don't use this as an excuse to buy more house than you can afford. If your payments are too high, you will find it harder to live comfortably or save money for anything besides housing costs. If you have to go into additional debt in order to make house payments, then your &quot;dream home&quot; could become more of a financial nightmare. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-make-ends-meet-when-youre-house-poor?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Make Ends Meet When You're House Poor</a>)</p> <h2>3. You didn't get a favorable interest rate</h2> <p>There are two key things that impact how much you'll end up paying for a house: the sale price, and the interest rate on the mortgage loan. Even if the sale price is within your predetermined budget, you may find your monthly payments to be onerous if the interest rate is too high. A modest difference in interest rate can mean thousands of dollars in extra costs over the lifetime of a loan.</p> <p>Your past financial history, debt load, and credit score impacts the interest rate that banks are willing to offer. The worse your credit, the higher the rate will be. If your credit score is low, you may be better off in the long run financially if you take time to pay off debt and make yourself more attractive to lenders. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-improve-your-credit-score-fast?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Ways to Improve Your Credit Score Fast</a>)</p> <h2>4. Your income situation may change for the worse</h2> <p>You may have found your dream home, but your ability to pay for that house may be based on income that's no longer a sure thing. Have you recently lost your job, or are you on the verge of a layoff? Were you counting on income from investments that have not performed as well as expected?</p> <p>If your income situation is unfavorable, consider waiting to buy a home. You don't want to exacerbate a difficult financial situation by taking on more expense than you can handle at that moment. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/make-these-5-money-moves-before-applying-for-a-mortgage?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Make These 5 Money Moves Before Applying for a Mortgage</a>)</p> <h2>5. It's a money pit</h2> <p>You're not opposed to a fixer-upper, but this house has more needed repairs than you bargained for. You also learned that it's horribly inefficient when it comes to heating and cooling. On top of that, there are sizable homeowners association and community fees that you hadn't taken into account. All of this adds up to a house that busts through your budget, and it may be a good idea to walk away. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-signs-the-house-you-want-to-buy-is-a-money-pit?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Signs the House You Want to Buy Is a Money Pit</a>)</p> <h2>6. There are signs that housing prices may drop</h2> <p>It's hard to predict where housing prices will go, but if the market is inflated, you may be better off waiting to see if prices come down. There are countless people who purchased homes during the housing bubble around 2005, only to see home prices drop precipitously. Many of these homeowners ended up underwater on their loans, and some even ended up losing their homes altogether.</p> <p>If you feel like the housing market is overheated and you are willing to be patient, you may save money on the purchase price if you wait for prices to drop. One big caveat to this is that it's also important to pay attention to interest rates. If interest rates are on the rise, it may be better to buy sooner rather than later.</p> <h2>7. The seller wants you to waive an inspection</h2> <p>During the housing boom more than a decade ago, competition for homes was so fierce that sellers often viewed a request for an inspection as a deal breaker. No matter how desperate you may be to land that perfect home, waiving an inspection is a risky proposition that could backfire on you. Without an inspection, you have no way of knowing if a home will be in dire need of repairs, now or down the road. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/thinking-of-skipping-the-home-inspection-heres-what-it-will-cost-you?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Thinking of Skipping the Home Inspection? Here's What It Will Cost You</a>)</p> <h2>8. The seller wants you to waive a title search</h2> <p>A search of a home's title is a crucial aspect of the homebuying process. This is where a buyer may uncover things about the history of the home, including when it was built, who has owned it, and whether there are any tax liens. It's extraordinarily risky to waive this contingency, so if a seller insists upon it, consider it a red flag and run. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/yes-you-need-home-title-insurance-heres-why?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Yes, You Need Home Title Insurance &mdash; Here's Why</a>)</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tim-lemke">Tim Lemke</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-times-you-need-to-walk-away-from-your-dream-home">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-6"> <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/5-mortgage-details-you-should-know-before-you-sign">5 Mortgage Details You Should Know Before You Sign</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-i-didnt-pay-my-mortgage-off-in-full">Why I Didn&#039;t Pay My Mortgage Off In Full</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-to-vet-your-mortgage-lender">7 Ways to Vet Your Mortgage Lender</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/denied-a-mortgage-heres-how-to-fix-it-fast">Denied a Mortgage? Here&#039;s How to Fix It Fast</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-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/4-ways-to-buy-a-house-without-a-mortgage">4 Ways to Buy a House Without a Mortgage</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-reasons-a-home-sale-could-fall-through">5 Reasons a Home Sale Could Fall Through</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-to-vet-your-mortgage-lender">7 Ways to Vet Your Mortgage Lender</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-to-get-financially-fit-for-homebuying-season">6 Ways to Get Financially Fit for Homebuying Season</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/denied-a-mortgage-heres-how-to-fix-it-fast">Denied a Mortgage? Here&#039;s How to Fix It Fast</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-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-added-costs-that-come-with-a-bigger-house">7 Added Costs That Come With a Bigger 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/6-money-moves-to-make-after-buying-your-first-house">6 Money Moves to Make After Buying Your First House</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-questions-to-ask-during-an-open-house">20+ Questions to Ask During an Open House</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-times-to-update-your-homeowners-insurance">7 Times to Update Your 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/10-affordable-water-parks-you-can-drive-to">10 Affordable Water Parks You Can Drive To</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. 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