5 Questions to Help Resolve Your Rent or Buy Dilemma

The decision to buy a home, one of the biggest financial investments you’ll ever make, can be empowering and exciting.

While a study by the National Association of Realtors showed that 80 percent of consumers believe buying a home is a good financial decision, it’s not always easy to know when the time is right to take the leap.

Choosing to become a homeowner takes not only a financial commitment but also the emotional maturity to create a plan and a timeline that suits your lifestyle and your budget.

Here are some of the factors that should be part of your decision to rent or buy a home:

Are You Emotionally Ready To Buy A Home?

One of the benefits of renting an apartment is that you typically only commit to a lease for one year. If you’re buying a home, you’ll need to choose a neighborhood and a home where you want to live for the next several years while you recoup the cost of buying and build equity.

Do You Have a Five-Year Plan?

While no one knows with absolute certainty what will happen over the next 5 or 10 years, if your plans include switching careers or moving out of state, you’re probably better off renting. If you plan to start a family in the next few years, you should take that into consideration when developing a budget and choosing a home.

Are You Ready to Take Care of a Home?

Along with the joy of decorating your home and changing it to meet your needs, you need to budget at least 1 to 3 percent of the home price each year for repairs. Whether you can handle work yourself or need to hire contractors, you should be prepared for the time and expense of maintaining your property so that it can keep its value and avoid more costly repairs in the future.

Do You Have Any Savings?

While there are loan programs available to some borrowers with a down payment of 3.5 percent and sometimes less, you’ll need some cash for a deposit, a down payment, closing costs and an emergency fund when you buy a home.

What Does Your Credit Profile Look Like?

Request your free credit report to check for errors and any negative information on your report. For a small fee you can get your credit score. Lenders typically require a minimum credit score of 620 or 640 and higher for government-insured loan programs, but for the lowest mortgage rates you need a credit score of 740 or above.

Your answers to these questions and consultations with professionals such as a lender and a Realtor can help you make the right choice and determine if you’re ready to buy now or need to wait a little longer to become a homeowner.

Best Things About Buying a House in the Fall

If you’re in the market for a home, you’re probably wondering if you missed the boat by not purchasing a home during the spring or summer. After all, that’s the best time to buy a property, right? Not necessarily.

The cooler days are starting to set in and the days are getting shorter, but fall may be a good time to go house hunting. In fact, Fall is a season filled with great deals.

Still not convinced? Here are 4 reasons why fall can be a great time to buy a house.

Less competition

Real estate market ebbs and flows just like the season. Potential buyers start looking at houses as the sun comes out and slows down by the end of the summer. At this point, families who want to be home before school starts are no longer shopping. That means that there aren’t as many buyers as there were in spring and summer.

With fewer buyers out there, you don’t have to go on a bidding war just to get the home you really want.

Home for the holidays

The holidays are coming quickly. While some people are busy with their holiday shopping, you might want to take this time to go house hunting. Getting settled in your new home for the holidays can height your holiday mood. Since you have a new home, why don’t you host this year’s event and invite your family and a few friends over?

Year-end tax break

Buying a property during this time of the year allows you to take advantage of tax breaks, including property tax deductions, prepaid interest deductions, FHA and PMI mortgage insurance premium deduction and mortgage interest deductions.

More attention from your agent

With the reduced activity at this time of the year, you can enjoy additional attention from your agent. They can respond more quickly and spend more time discussing about certain things as their client load starts to dwindle down.

4 Ways to Relieve Moving Stress with Kids

4 Ways to Relieve Moving Stress with Kids

Moving to a new home can be difficult for everyone, especially for the children. You might be prepared for some whining, crying and door slamming once you tell your kids that you are moving across town or across the country and that they have to say goodbye to their friends.

Try these tips to help dial down the drama and make the process less stressful for everyone.

Discussing the move with kids

Prepare your kids by informing them early about the move. Let them know when things are happening and why. If possible, tell them about the move several months in advance. That gives enough time to process the information.

Share information about your new home, state or town and encourage questions. Try to answer them completely and truthfully. It is also a good idea to visit the new home and town with your kids before the move.

Focus on the positive

Children tend to think about the negative side of moving. This is especially true if the relocation means separating from someone they love and depend on – friends, relatives, teachers and coaches. This often results in feelings of sadness, anxiety or even anger.

To make the move easier, try to focus on the positive aspects of what awaits in your home. Tell them that is a great opportunity to meet new people and make new friends. It is also a chance to learn and live in a new city and be exposed to new cultural traditions.

Allow their angst

When children deal with moving, they often become sad or angry. You shouldn’t attempt to hype a move in the hopes of distracting the kids from their negative feelings.

Acknowledge their sadness about leaving their friends behind. Encourage them to have a good cry, if that’s what’s needed.

Try to involve the in the move as much as possible

Some kids may have trouble understanding why you need to move, especially if they were not involved in the decision-making process.

Although children may not have veto power over the move, involving them in the planning can make them feel like participants. Plus, they won’t feel like it is being forced on them.

Surefire Ways to Improve Your Credit Score

You have paid down all your credit card balances. You’ve been diligent about paying your bills on time. Now, all your efforts have paid off and you are rewarded with a good credit history and a high credit score.

Having a good credit score will make your life so much easier. A high credit score is a golden ticket in our credit-driven society. The higher you credit score is, the more you can purchase and the more likely you’ll be approved when you apply for a loan.

Here are some the best benefits of having great credit.

People can get loans faster

There is so much more to having a good credit score than a 3-digit number you can brag about. This will make you eligible to get loans easily and without hassle. Lenders and other financial institutions will measure your creditworthiness with the help of your credit score.

A stellar credit history shows lenders that you have the capacity to repay the amount you borrowed and settle your debts on time.

Excellent credit card deals

A strong credit history will help you qualify for the best credit card deals. Because of the amazing deals and perks, people are encouraged to use their credit cards more often. There’s nothing wrong in using your credit card, just as long as you make payments when they’re due. It can even help you boost your credit score.

Approval for higher limits

With a good credit score, banks and lending companies are more likely to lend you a larger amount of money. A stellar credit score is an indication that you are a responsible credit card holder. Your borrowing capacity can increase significantly because of this.

Lower interest rates

If you have a good credit score, expect to get loans with the best interest rates. The difference of even just 1% on a 15 or 30 year home loan can equate to tens of thousands of dollars.

 

Tips and Tricks for First Time Home Buyers

While the thought of granite counter tops and white picket fences are dancing in your head, you don’t want to be carried away by these dreams and left with an actual bill in hand.

This could be one of the biggest purchases in your life. So, before you finally decide to buy your first home, take a look at these tips and be ready to hold the key to your new home.

Attend a seminar for first-time buyers

Before you go behind the wheels, you took some time to learn how to drive. The same principle should also be applied when buying a house. Mind you, this is a big investment. So, you might want to take some time and learn from the experts.

Here, you’ll get a few tips on what to look for when shopping for a home and how to maintain it once you’ve bought it. Most of these seminars are free. So, take advantage of it.

Determine your budget

A five-bedroom and three-bath estate may be your ideal house, but you also have to consider how much you can afford or you’ll end up disappointed.

So, before you head out and look for a perfect house, you might want to sit down and determine your average monthly budget. Then, take a look at your expenses. Now, determine how much you have left. This would be spent on monthly mortgage and home expenses. Also, don’t forget to include all the home-related expenses such as taxes, utility bills and insurance.

Pre-approved loan

This will help you determine how much you can borrow from the lender. By determining your spending range, you can narrow down your search to the houses which are within you budget.

Finding the right agent

An experienced, reliable agent could be your insider into the world of real estate. By choosing the right agent, you have a real asset by your side as you decide to buy your first home. Your real estate agent should be someone who could give you quality advice and someone you can trust.

Feel free to ask around and get suggestions from your family and friends. This might not work if you’re relocating to a new city, though.

 

First Things to Do After Moving Into Your New Home

Now that you have arrived at your new home, you probably think that the hard part is over. Not necessarily. We know that you’ve been quite busy for a few weeks now, making sure that all your personal belongings are packed away into several boxes.

Aside from unloading the truck and arranging the furniture, there are still a lot of things you have to take care of as soon as you move into your new home. Check out the list below to find out.

Start fresh

Before you start unloading your things, it would be best to give it a deep clean. Take advantage of your still-empty abode and clean the windows, baseboards, floors and wipe down all the drawers, shelves and countertops. Cleaning the house will never be this easy again. Think about it, no furniture or rugs to move, no curtains to take down etc.

Inspect your belongings

Once everything has been unloaded from the truck, the first thing you should do is to check your inventory list and make sure that everything has been delivered. Also, check the boxes that contain breakable items to check if they have survived the move.

Get your locks changed

If you are moving into a new house, this might not be necessary but if it’s a pre-owned home, it would be a good idea to change your locks as a safety precaution. Mind you, there may be a key out there floating around that would match your lock.

Enjoy a meal with your family

Moving could be stressful and tiring. So, after a long day of work, this would the perfect time to sit down with your family and unwind together. Well, you don’t have to prepare a fancy, homemade meal. You can just order something for delivery or drive to the nearest restaurant for takeout.

Top Reasons Why You Still Need a Real Estate Agent

With a lot of information readily available online, most people think that they can save a great deal of money if they don’t hire a real estate agent and just do things on their own. While some do okay, it can make the process of buying and selling a house a lot more difficult, time consuming and stressful.

If you are one of those people who have wondered the same thing, here are some obvious reasons why you need the help of a real estate agent.

Education and experience

By hiring someone who is knowledgeable and experienced in this field, you don’t need to know the ins and outs of buying and selling properties. The key is to find the right person.

With the assistance of a real estate agent, you can get things done faster. Plus, these people have the skills to locate the hottest buys if you are planning to buy and to attract buyers if you are planning to sell.

Help in the negotiation process

With the endless negotiations between sellers and buyers, keeping your cool can sometimes be difficult.

A real estate agent provides an emotional buffer between the potential buyer and the seller. Mind you, a seller can reject an offer for a variety of reasons, especially if they felt insulted on your comment about their decorating skills. An agent can speak on your behalf and smooth things over so as to keep things from getting too personal.

Unbiased opinion

A good real estate agent will not only help you highlight the best features of your home, he/she will also pinpoint what will turn buyers off on your current abode.

If you want to sell your house fast, you’ll need to have a good first impression with buyers. Home staging is the key to building a good first impression, and an agent can help you with that.

Inside scoop on the market

Most buyers go online to search for homes for sale. Unfortunately, some sellers don’t want their home publicized. So, you’ll have to talk to an agent to get you in for a tour.

Compared to the web, a real live agent is a much better searcher when it comes to specifics like prices, office spaces, neighborhood etc.

Critical Questions You Should Ask Yourself When Buying a House

Buying a home is a big decision that should be given a lot of thought. A lot of people are thinking about buying a house, but even those people who can afford it and have a good credit score are still hesitant to take the leap.

If you wish to buy a home but aren’t quite sure if it’s the right move right now, these questions will help you reach the right decision.

Can you afford it?

Aside from your ability to cover mortgage payments on a monthly basis, there are still a lot of expenses you have to consider when contemplating whether or not you can afford to buy a home. Mortgage payments and other fees will most likely take 20-30% of your monthly income. Are you comfortable spending that much of your income to buy a home?

Is your income dependable?

Buying a property involves a long-term commitment. You may be able to afford a home on your current income, but are you confident that you’ll still be able to afford it in a few years time?

You might want to put off buying a home unless you have a strong sense of certainty about your financial future or are established in your line of work.

Do you plan to stay put?

Most first-time homebuyers do not consider whether or not they’ll be staying permanently when they buy the house. But buying a home wouldn’t make sense unless you are planning to stay there for at least 7 years. Most of the time, it takes this long to recover from all the costs of buying a home.

If you’re not planning on spending the rest of your life in the same house, then you should consider the resale value of the house.

Will you be able to maintain the house?

When you buy a house, the responsibility of maintaining the house comes with it. The hardwood floors you fell in love with are going to need basic maintenance. That floor to ceiling windows need to be washed on a regular basis. The backyard needs to be mowed and the list goes on.

If you are a busy person, it might be extremely difficult to look after those things. So, before you decide if it’s the right house for you, you also have to consider the maintenance.

 

Home Buying Myths You Need to Stop Believing

Most first-time home buyers tend to seek advice from their family and friends about the process. As a result, a number of home buying myths may have found refuge at the back of their minds.

Here are 4 home buying myths you need to stop believing.

Buying is always better than renting

This actually depends on a number of factors including the price of the home and how long you intend to stay in it.

Generally, it takes 5 to 7 years to break even with the cost of buying, owning and selling a house. So, if you are planning to buy a house, make sure that you intend to stay for at least that long.

A 30-year fixed rate mortgage is always the best choice

Fixed rate mortgages come with a low foreclosure rate, but that doesn’t mean that it’s always the best choice. Mind you, the longer you stay in debt, the more interest you pay.

Paying interest over a span of 30 years, this can easily translate to hundreds of thousands of dollars. That said, there is a great chance that you may not be able to prepare for your retirement.

You need perfect credit to buy a home

It is a well-known fact that your credit score can have a great impact on the mortgage loan approval process. But, you don’t need to have a perfect credit in order to secure an approval. Keep in mind, though, that the higher your credit score, the more likely you are to get the best deal.

Choose the lender with the lowest interest rate

For most people, cost is always a factor to consider but in this case, your lender’s reliability is what matters most. In a competitive buying market, this could make a big difference.

Also, you’ll want a lender who can work well with your real estate agent. So, don’t hesitate to ask your agent for referrals.