Buying a Home

What to Expect at Closing

Long after first seeing the home of your dreams and deciding to buy it, and just before getting the keys to it, comes the closing process.

It sounds ominous, but it’s a simple enough process where several professionals help walk you through the steps to complete the home buying transaction. It will likely include your real estate agent, title and mortgage company officials, and possibly the seller and your attorney, if you have one.

Here are some things to expect at the closing table:

A walkthrough of the home
Before the closing, your real estate agent and possibly the sellers and their agent, will walk through the property to ensure the condition is as it should be and as specified in the contract.

This can include making sure the windows...

Credit Union vs. Bank: Know the Difference

Interest rates remain low, though that’s no reason to stow your money under your mattress.

Hiding your money at home won’t earn you any interest, and that’s one of the benefits—no matter how small—that banks and credit unions can offer customers. But banks and credit unions have different benefits and drawbacks, and knowing how each works can make it easier to decide where to put your cash.

Here are some differences between credit unions and banks:

Profit vs. no profit: The first thing to note when comparing banks to credit unions is that banks are in business to make money and credit unions are not for profit. This can allow credit unions to offer better interest rates, which we’ll get to shortly.

Credit unions are...

Title Insurance and Why You Need It

Title insurance can be one of those things that someone says you need when you buy a home, but you don’t understand why.

Without it, you could be left with a nagging question in the back of your mind: “Does the seller really own the property?” If the answer is no, it could be bad if you don’t have title insurance.

Some people or companies other than the title owner may have rights to the property. For example, the property owner may have sold mineral, air or utility rights to someone else. Or a bank with a mortgage on the property may own an interest in it. The government can also have a lien on the property for unpaid taxes.

What does title insurance do, exactly? Basically, it covers events related to the title that have already happened. It doesn’t...

4 Signs You’re Not Ready to Be a Homeowner—and What to Do About It

Buying a home is a major life milestone, right up there with snagging a dream job or finding true love. Your heart might be set on becoming a homeowner, but red flags might indicate you’re not yet ready to make the leap.

For many, particularly millennials, homeownership represents much more than a financial investment. In a recent survey on millennial attitudes toward home-buying, 74 percent of millennials equate homeownership with stability. Although it will likely take them longer to meet their goal, 68 percent of millennial respondents said they’re likely to buy a home at some point in the future, the survey found.

Whether it’s too much debt, a lack of savings or a roving lifestyle, there are several reasons why potential homeowners might want to delay a home purchase. Here are four of them—and...

Affordable Upgrades for Your Starter Home

You’ve just moved into your starter home—congratulations! But spare cash is limited, and you are eager to show your new home off.

Start with a few cosmetic changes, advise the money editors at, who offer five easy upgrade projects that can help spruce up a tired living space for a few hundred dollars or less:

  1. Start with a power wash. It won’t cost much, but having your home’s exterior professionally power-washed will give it a fresh, bright look—and since curb appeal counts, make sure the lawn is edged, hedges are trimmed and weeds are pulled.
  2. Freshen the front doorA new fiberglass door can cost $1,000 or morebut you can get a snazzy new look by simply painting the old door...

How Much Money Do You Need for a Down Payment?

Buying a home often requires years of saving for a down payment, which is money that a buyer pays upfront toward the cost of a house. This is the immediate equity that a buyer has when purchasing a home. Unless buying with cash funds, the rest of the money comes from a loan. Different lenders require different amounts of money down based on a variety of factors. Lenders refer to a down payment in terms of a percentage of the purchase price.

Private Loans
Private lenders typically prefer that buyers put down 20 percent. Some will accept lower down payments, but those borrowers are considered a higher risk. Lenders want a guarantee and require borrowers with lower down payments to pay for mortgage insurance. This is a policy that pays the lender if the borrower defaults on the loan and the house winds up in foreclosure....

Why Your Credit Score Matters

Credit scores are a crucial factor weighed in on some circumstances. Do you know all the scenarios in which your score plays a role?

The most important according to the American Consumer Credit Counseling is:

1. Buying a home - Your credit score impacts your ability to take out a mortgage for a home. If you have poor credit, a lender may deny the loan.

2. Renting an apartment - Landlords have the option to check a potential renters credit score when considering an application. A prospective tenant with a low credit score may be required to have a co-signor on the lease or may even be denied.

3. Interest rates - Banks often agree to approve loans for those with low scores. But in most cases, they come with higher interest rates.

4. Homeowners insurance - Your state...

Expert Insights: What Else Should I Take into Account When Buying a New Home?

You can find out more about an existing property and neighborhood before you buy than you can a new home in a newly developed community.

When the home is on the outskirts of town, ask the developer about future access to public transit, entertainment venues, shopping centers, churches and schools. Also review local zoning ordinances. A remote area can quickly turn into a fast food haven.

You want to ensure the neighborhood will not spiral out of control and lose its residential appeal.

Other things to consider:

-Ask homeowners already living in a development about the builder. If none currently live there, find out where the builder has previously built and speak to those owners to find out if the builder followed through on promises and needed repairs.

-Ability to make changes. Most homes in a development...

Things You Shouldn’t Say to a Seller’s Agent as a Buyer

Going to open houses as a homebuyer can be fun. You get to look at homes you’d like to potentially buy, imagining how you’ll live there and where your things will go.

You can speak with the real estate agent monitoring the open house to find out more about the property and the price, but there are some things you don’t want to say. After all, the agent is paid to represent the interests of the seller and not yours.

Here are some things you don’t want to say to a seller’s agent:

You Love the House
This seems like a natural and polite thing to say at an open house, but your outward love could prevent the current owners from lowering their price. Their agent may try to get you to pay more than the asking price because you’ve already shown how much...

Rapid Rescoring for a Faster Home Loan

Home shoppers who haven’t checked their credit report months before applying for a home loan may be in for a shock when they visit a loan officer. A host of problems could pop up: Their credit score could be a little too low to qualify for the best rate on a mortgage, they’re using a high percentage of their credit, or a credit card payment they sent on time is shown by the creditor as arriving late.

A rapid rescore can help if you’re in the middle of the process of buying a house. And it can help with a quick mortgage approval, having a days-long turnaround instead of a month if the issues can be resolved quickly.

How Rapid Rescoring Works
A rapid rescore is a process done by a lender or mortgage broker to quickly fix credit report errors that can hurt a credit score. It’s a process that can only be done...