Taking out a mortgage to buy a house is a huge step. The amount and terms of the loan will have a major impact on your financial picture for decades. That’s why you should choose a lender carefully.
What to Do Before You Apply
In order to qualify for an attractive interest rate, you need to prove to lenders that you are a good risk. That means you need to get your financial house in order before you start applying for a mortgage. The first step is to get copies of your credit reports and have any errors corrected. If you have a lot of credit card debt, work to pay down the balances and lower your debt-to-income ratio.
Take a hard look at your budget and figure out how much you can afford in monthly mortgage payments. A lender may approve you for a bigger loan than you can realistically handle....
How many times have you heard the story about people who move into their dream home only to find out that there’s a huge plumbing issue or noisy neighbors next door? Learn from their mistakes, and reconsider certain factors before signing on the dotted line. Here’s a comprehensive checklist for homebuyers when it comes to deal breakers:
- Plumbing: If the plumbing isn’t working, guess who has to spend money fixing it? You got it: the person who signs on the dotted line. Plumbing issues can be even harder to address in older homes that have an outdated set-up. Be sure your inspector conducts a thorough evaluation before closing.
- Electrical System: Whatever’s not there has to be added, and whatever is not working has to be fixed. And...
Moving is a massive undertaking that many people dread. The day of the week you choose can have a significant effect on your overall experience. If you have some flexibility, consider the pros and cons of moving on a weekend vs. a weekday.
Many families choose to spend the weekend moving because it’s often impossible for parents to take time off during the week without losing money or falling behind on important projects. Since most people move on a weekend, moving companies tend to fill up their schedules quickly and charge higher rates. If you need to move on a weekend, call around to compare prices and book a moving van as far in advance as possible. If you move during the week and save money on the cost of the moving van and workers, you can use the money you save to pay them to...
You’ve handed over a sizable chunk of cash in return for those shiny new keys—and in the first flush of happiness over owning your own home, you want to be ready to show it off. But money may be tight, and you are facing bills—like water and trash pick-up—that you’ve never had to pay before. The financial advice team at Investopedia.com suggests five steps new homeowners should take:
Watch your wallet. Don’t overspend on furnishings or remodeling during your first few months as a homeowner. Give yourself time to adjust to a new budget and to rebuild your savings. Friends and family will understand if you take your time to fix-up and decorate—and the stores will still be filled with new furniture when you are ready to spend.
Don’t ignore maintenance...
Thanks to a glam Hollywood treatment and an influx of design and reno shows, the world of real estate can look like a pretty sweet deal. You tour some high-end houses, sign some papers, close a few deals and you’re set. Right? In real life, it’s a little more complicated than that. From emotional sellers to DIY disasters, real estate agents deal with challenges just like any professional. Here’s what they wish you knew about the job:
“Reality” television isn’t that real. Shows can make it seem simple and fun to buy a fixer upper, gut the place and sell it to make a profit, all within a short timeframe. In reality, these projects take much more time and often encounter more complications. Make sure you speak with both a real estate agent and a contractor before deciding...
When people buy a house, they’re hoping to find their dream home, but that doesn’t mean the place is perfect.
Many new homeowners buy a house knowing they are going to want to make some renovations in rooms like the kitchen and bathrooms. This would most likely require the services of a contractor, and picking an honest, fair and talented contractor is of the utmost importance.
With a little research, you can find the right contractor for you. Start by following these steps:
Read online reviews. Websites like Yelp and Angie’s List offer insights from people who share the experiences they had with all sorts of businesses, including contractors. They can be a great resource, but it helps to be a smart reader. Be wary of reviews that pile on praise to a degree that seems over-the-top, and, likewise, don’t...
Financially, there’s more to buying a home than the purchase price—sometimes much more.
After the down payment, and once your closing costs and monthly mortgage payments are added up, it can be easy to forget some of the costly and hidden costs of owning a home. Take these added charges into consideration:
Property taxes are set and collected by the state, county and local agencies. Sometimes multiple agencies collect funds through a property tax for services such as water, sewer, schools and fire and police departments.
The taxes can go up annually in some areas, depending on a city’s services, so the following year’s cost may be difficult to predict. You’ll still want to find out what the current property taxes are on a home before buying....
Many renters, especially young couples planning to settle down and start a family, debate whether to keep renting an apartment or buy a home. Depending on your financial situation and long-term goals, though, one option may be better than the other. To determine if it’s the right time for you to start searching for a house, consider the following:
Some renters think they’re throwing away money on rent. It’s true that you might be able to find a monthly mortgage payment that is similar to, or even lower than, your current rent; however, be careful not to overlook the additional costs of homeownership.
As a homebuyer, you’ll need to save up thousands of dollars for a down payment and closing costs. After the purchase, you’ll also need to budget for the mortgage, insurance, property taxes and maintenance,...
The kitchen is one of the busiest rooms in a house, yet it’s the room people will focus on most when shopping for a home. Keeping it presentable for showings while your home is on the market can be tricky. Here are some things you can do to keep your kitchen looking its best at all times:
- Clean the oven, counters and appliances after making meals, and keep the table free of clutter.
- Clear out the cabinets, the pantry, the area under the sink, drawers and anywhere else a buyer may look. Investigate your silverware drawer—you’ll be surprised at how dusty it has become. Cleaning it and organizing your forks, spoons and knives will make the drawer look appealing and make a positive impact on a potential buyer.
- After you’ve cleared out the cabinets, take stock of what you really need. You’re sure to find spices you...
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) acquires properties from lenders who foreclose on mortgages that it insures. These properties are then available for sale to potential homeowner-occupants and investors only through a licensed real estate broker. HUD will pay the broker’s commission up to 6 percent of the sales price.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) also acquires properties as a result of foreclosures on VA-guaranteed loans. These acquired properties are marketed through a property management services contract with a federal bank that then lists them for sale with local real estate agents.