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Why Every Home Buyer Needs A Pre-Approval Before Home Shopping

Why Every Home Buyer Needs A Pre-Approval Before Home ShoppingThere are many people who are considering buying a home because the current market is so attractive. With the ability to carry out virtual tours, this makes it even easier for people to find the home of their dreams.

While the fun part is looking at houses, it is important to get pre-approved for a home loan first. There are a few reasons why everyone must get pre-approved before they start the process of shopping for a home. 

This Provides A Chance For People To Get Their Finances In Order

Buying a home is a major decision. For many people, this is going to be their biggest investment. For this reason, it is critical for everyone to have their finances in order.

Of course, some people might think that their finances are fine when, in reality, this might not be the case.

For example, someone might be self-employed and think they are doing well; however, many lenders will not accept self-employment income as “reliable” unless they see at least two years of tax records. Furthermore, because those who are self-employed often take large tax deductions (due to business expenses being deductible), their gross taxable income is also lower.

This can be a problem for lenders who want to make sure their borrowers have a high gross taxable income to pay back the loan.

Increases The Attractiveness Of An Offer

If someone finds a house they love, there is a strong chance that someone else has fallen in love with the home as well. The seller wants to make sure that whoever is providing an offer on a home is a serious candidate. With a pre-approval letter, this makes the offer far more attractive.

This is because the seller knows that nothing is going to hold up the sale. If someone isn’t pre-approved, there is a chance that they might make an offer on the home only to have it stonewalled by the lender. This can be frustrating for someone who is trying to sell a home.

Avoid These Problems By Getting Pre-Approved

In order to avoid these problems, everyone must get pre-approved before they start the process of searching for a home. By getting pre-approved, people can expedite the home buying process.

The Basics Of A Mortgage

The Basics Of A MortgageThe vast majority of people who are interested in buying a home are not going to be able to pay cash for the home. Even for those who can buy a home in cash, they often would rather take out a loan to avoid pulling money out of their investments where they would have to pay capital gains taxes.

Those who take out a loan to buy a home will apply for something called a mortgage.

Simply put, a mortgage is a loan that someone uses to buy a home. Mortgages are very specific to the real estate industry; however, they are similar to other loans. People borrow money to cover the difference between the down payment and the cost of the house.

Then, they pay back the loan over a specified period of time with interest. For those who are buying a home, it is important to understand the basics of a mortgage.

Qualifying For A Mortgage

First, anyone buying a home has to qualify for a mortgage. Most lenders will have a set of criteria they use to approve someone for a loan. Some of the factors include:

  • Many borrowers will have to meet a minimum credit score which lenders see as a reflection of someone’s ability to pay back a loan on time
  • Lenders will also need to see that someone has a proof of income (or proof of assets) so that they know the individual can afford to pay back the loan
  • Finally, lenders will also want to see what other debts someone is carrying such as a car loan, student loans, or credit card debts

The lender is taking on risk by providing a mortgage to someone. They want to make sure the borrower is going to reliably pay the loan back.

The Terms Of The Mortgage

Once someone has been approved for a loan, they need to figure out what the terms of the mortgage will be. Some of the variables include:

  • The length of the loan
  • The size of the monthly payments
  • The total amount of the loan
  • The down payment required for the loan
  • The interest rate on the mortgage
  • The presence (or absence) of private mortgage insurance, or PMI

It is critical for everyone to talk with an experienced professional to make sure they understand the terms of the mortgage.

4 Surprising Things That Might Increase Your Home’s Value

4 Surprising Things That Might Increase Your Home's ValueYou’ve probably heard that living near excellent schools or having curb appeal can boost the value of your home. However, a home’s value is dependent upon a lot of different factors. Some of these things are more obvious than others. Things that might seem insignificant can have an impact on your home’s worth. Here are some surprising things that can affect the existing value of your home or how much a buyer is willing to pay for it.

#1 A Blue Kitchen or Bathroom

Painting your home is an easy and cost-effective way to update your home. Just make sure that you select the right colors. Based on recent research, walls that are painted cool neutral colors like blue are more likely to appeal to buyers. According to a 2017 study by Zillow, homes with blue bathrooms sell for an average of $5,500 more than expected. Houses that had blue kitchens sold for $1,809 more compared to similar homes that had a white kitchen.

#2 How Close You Are To A Supermarket

Being next to a well-known supermarket can increase the value of your home. If the supermarket is considered upmarket, then the increase in value is even higher. According to “Zillow Talk, The New Rules of Real Estate,”  homes that are near a Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods grocery store appreciate up to 40 percent faster than other homes. The presence of a popular store like Trader Joe’s has a positive effect on market values over time.

#3 A Joanna Gaines’ Aesthetic

Joanna Gaines’s urban farmhouse aesthetic is more than just chic; it can have a surprisingly positive effect on the value of your home. According to a Zillow analysis of home sale descriptions from 2016, houses that had the keywords “farmhouse sink” and “barn door” sold quicker and at a premium compared to similar homes. Listings that had the words “barn door” sold 57 days quicker and for 13.4 percent more than similar homes. For sale listings that included a “farmhouse sink” sold for 8 percent more. So, if you plan to make interior updates in your home, you might want to watch a couple of episodes of “Fixer Upper” for inspiration.

#4 Your Proximity to Starbucks

Do you live within a quarter of a mile from a Starbucks? If so, then you are in luck? A study released by Zillow in 2015 found that homes that were within a quarter of a mile from the Seattle-based coffeehouse increased by 96 percent on average from 1997 to 2014. This number is well above the average of 65 percent of all U.S. homes.

Whether you are in the process of buying a new home or updating your existing home, think about the above factors as they may play a role in the value of your home.

How Does A Home Appraisal Work?

How Does A Home Appraisal WorkWhether you’re a buyer or a seller, a home appraisal is a critical component of the home selling process. An appraisal is also required in situations where a home is gifted to a family member, so it’s important to have a clear understanding of what it entails. 

What Is A Home Appraisal?

A home appraisal is an unbiased estimate of a home’s fair market value conducted by a professional appraiser. All 50 states require that appraisers be licensed and/or certified and demonstrate knowledge of the specified area. The purpose of a home appraisal is to determine whether the home’s asking price is appropriate based on its location, condition, size, and amenities.

Appraisals are done in almost all purchase, sale and refinance transactions, with the exception being when a buyer uses cash and doesn’t have a mortgage. They are typically coordinated by the mortgage lender to ensure the loan isn’t too large in relation to the home’s value.

How Are Appraisal Values Determined?

Licensed appraisers calculate a home’s value based on comparable recent sales in the area and current market trends. Factors such as the home’s floor plan, size, number of rooms, and any upgrades or amenities are also considered. Upgrades and amenities could include things such as a pool, an expanded garage, or a remodeled kitchen.

The appraiser conducts a visual inspection to appraise a home, noting the home’s condition and whether any major repairs are needed. It’s important to note that this differs from a home inspection in that the appraisal assesses a home’s value, while an inspection assesses its condition. In an inspection, the home inspector actually makes repair recommendations. During an appraisal,the appraiser notes any necessary repairs but does not make recommendations.

When Is An Appraisal Done?

After an offer is made, an appraisal is one of the first steps in the closing process. Everything will proceed as planned as long as the appraisal value comes in at or above the price in the contract. If it appraises for below that amount, closing can be delayed or canceled altogether.

What Does A Home Appraisal Cost?

Costs vary based on the mortgage type, but a home appraisal generally costs $300-500. It is almost always paid for by the borrower as part of closing costs.

Some Millennials Are Finding Home Buying Overwhelming

Some Millennials Are Finding Home Buying OverwhelmingMany millennials are reaching the age where they are thinking about buying homes for the first time. It turns out that many members of this generation are finding this process challenging. Even though the housing market is great for those looking to buy, surveys indicate that this generation also finds the process overwhelming.

Reports have been published showing that many millennials are planning to buy their first home in the next year, showing that owning property is still a strong part of the American dream. Furthermore, many millennials also know that this is a great time to buy. Why are millennials finding this process so challenging?

Student Loan Debt

One of the biggest reasons why millennials are having issues purchasing a home is student loan debt. When someone is looking for a home, any potential lender is going to take their existing debt into account. It is no secret that student loans are a major issue right now.

With numerous millennials saddled with student loan debt, this makes it hard to qualify for a mortgage. While other forms of debt are easier to pay back, student loan debt is not. Some millennials have student loan debt that looks like a mortgage. 

A Poor Understanding Of Costs

Even though millennials may look at their rent payments as a solid barometer for their mortgage payment, there are other costs that millennials need to consider. These include real estate taxes, HOA fees, homeowners’ insurance, and potential repairs. Therefore, they might need to reset their expectations.

Comparison Is A Dangerous Temptation

Finally, too many millennials are tempted by what they know. Many millennials end up moving back into their parents’ house after they finish school. The job market can be tough and they think this is a great way to save money. On the other hand, this also means they might end up looking for a house that is similar to their parents’. 

Many millennials have set the bar high for their first home. A property like their parents’ simply isn’t within the budget. An unwillingness to accept this makes it harder to find a home. On the other hand, there are affordable homes out there. Millennials simply need assistance to find them.

First-Time Buyers’ Guide: How To Get A Mortgage And Buy A House

When you are in the process of buying a home, there are a lot of moving parts that need to work together. It can be hard for you to keep track of everything that has to happen, particularly if you are going through this process for the first time. With this in mind, there are a few basics that you should remember when you are looking for a home loan.

Work With A Professional 

It is critical for you to work with a real estate agent who can act as a guide during this process. A real estate agent has taken plenty of individuals and families through the process of finding a home loan and purchasing a house. Therefore, he or she will be able to work with you from start to finish as the home loan process unfolds. 

Find A Loan Officer

Once you have found a real estate agent, the next step is to find a loan officer. Your real estate agent might have connections throughout the industry and can recommend a loan officer. Many real estate agents will recommend that you use a mortgage broker. A mortgage broker often works with multiple loan companies. This means that you may have multiple home loan options at your disposal. Ideally, you will be able to leverage these options against each other and find the best deal for you.

Understand The Basics Of A Home Loan

When you are evaluating your home loan options, there are a few factors that you need to consider. The most important part of a home loan is the interest rate. You want to make sure that you get the lowest interest rate possible as this is going to impact the amount of money you pay over the life of the loan. Then, you want to make sure that you can afford the down payment required. If you can’t put enough money down, you might have to purchase mortgage insurance. You want to avoid this cost if possible. 

Work With An Experienced Real Estate Agent.

During this process, it is important for you to follow the advice of your real estate agent. Once you have found the right home loan, you will be able to complete your home purchase.

Low Maintenance Landscaping To Improve Curb Appeal

Low Maintenance Landscaping To Improve Curb AppealAttractive landscaping is one of the first things that potential home buyers notice. They may see the landscaping in the photos of a home for sale or may even do a physical drive-by. The view of the property from the street is called “curb appeal.” It is important to make this be as nice as possible.

In many parts of the country, there are pressures on the water supply that make having a lush-green, living lawn very costly or even prohibited by the local regulations. Innovative technology and the use of natural ground covers, such as stone and rocks are replacing the green lawns that most people think of when considering landscaping a home properly.

Here is a guide to some landscaping that is attractive and worth considering to make a home look spectacular and require little maintenance:

Artificial Turf

Artificial turf has improved dramatically over the past few years. There is no longer the need to use the obvious green plastic covering of cheap fake grass. The newest artificial turf products look so much like real grass that it is nearly impossible to tell that they are not real. They can be installed over drainage rock and washed down with water like real grass.

Decorative Concrete

Molded concrete is now available in so many surface treatments, textures, and colors that it can represent almost any popular covering. For example, a nice European-style, cobbled-stone, street look is a popular choice for driveways and walkways. It is made out of molded, colored concrete, not stone, and installs easily.

Rock And Stone

Replacing areas of grass in the front yard with decorative rock and stone makes a nice look. It is better not to use wide swathes of this ground covering in big blocks. Instead, for a better aesthetic appeal, use natural rock and stone to create unique, eye-catching areas. For example, surrounding a wishing well with a nice circular area of rock pebbles creates a nice look.

Artificial Trees And Bushes

Advancements in the manufacturing of artificial bushes and trees developed very convincing products that are durable enough for exterior installation. Some best looking ones are the evergreen bushes.

They come in perfect heights of various sizes. They never need watering or trimming to make them look attractive. The only maintenance that they need is the occasional spray washing to remove dust and things that might fall on them like leaves from neighbor?s trees.

There are many to choose from. The modest-sized bushes are very inexpensive and usually less than $50 each. At the other end of the spectrum, are the exotic 11-feet tall artificial cheery trees that have built-in LED illumination. These are very dramatic and cost many thousands.

Summary

With these interesting ideas to consider, take a look at landscaping in a new way. Even though artificial landscaping requires an upfront investment, it can last for many years and may reduce overall maintenance costs significantly. If you ever want to sell the home, there will be much less landscaping needed to get it ready for sale.

Why Most People Use A Real Estate Agent Or Broker To Buy A Property

Why Most People Use A Real Estate Agent Or Broker To Buy A PropertyOne might wonder if the continued improvement in the access to online information about properties for sale has removed the need for working with a qualified real estate agent or broker. It has not.

The trends reported by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) are interesting. Buyers are finding a home to purchase by searching online in larger numbers than before. In the NAR survey of homebuyers, the home was found online by the buyer for more than half of the homes purchased, with only 28% of the homes purchased suggested to the buyer by a real estate agent.

Even so, NAR also reports that 87% of buyers made their home purchase with the help of a real estate agent or broker. This trend is increasing. In 2001, only 69% of home buyers bought a home with the involvement of a real estate agent or broker. Why the upward trend of working with a real estate professional when buying a home?

The explanation is surprising. One is the cost of buying a home that is for sale by owner (FSBO) may be very close to the price of the same type of home bought with the help of a real estate agent. An FSBO home sale may put a little more money in the pockets of the seller but little of that savings on the real estate commission goes to the buyer. Moreover, the FSBO process creates a disadvantage when trying to market a home without a real estate professional’s help. These trends are making FSBO properties decrease.

Additionally, using a real estate professional may help the transaction go more smoothly. A real estate agent handles the buying and selling of properties all the time. A homebuyer does this less often and therefore may not have the skills to manage a real estate transaction effectively.

Summary

When buying a home, it is the preference of the vast majority of buyers to work with a real estate professional. The process is likely to be easier with less chance of costly mistakes. The price paid for the home will likely be around the same as trying to close a deal without the benefit of using a real estate agent.

For sellers of a home, working with a professional real estate agent comes along with advice about market pricing, how to stage a home for better resale value, and the benefits of using effective marketing strategies that get the home seen by more prospective buyers.

For buyers and sellers, it becomes clear that working with a real estate agent is vastly preferable. This is why so many are using the services of a licensed professional to buy or sell a home.

How To Save Big Money On Your Next Home Renovation Project

Every year, homeowners spend billions of dollars renovating their homes. It almost seems expected that homeowners are going to end up going over budget on any project. On the other hand, this doesn’t have to be the case. In reality, there are a few tips and tricks that homeowners can follow to help them save big money on that next home renovation project.

Serve As The General Contractor

Many homeowners hire a general contractor to control the staffing of each individual project. While this might reduce stress levels, it also costs more money. Hiring a general contractor adds an additional middle man to the project who might charge a premium for each individual project.

Homeowners that need to renovate the kitchen, replace the roof, and find a new water heater should hire professionals to handle these individual projects; however, they don’t necessarily need to hire a general contractor. Skipping this step can save money.

Seek Out Multiple Bids On Each Project

Some homeowners don’t like making phone calls and filling out paperwork to collect bids for various projects; however, collecting multiple bids can help homeowners save money. On any given home renovation project, try to collect at least three bids. For larger projects, it is better to collect even more. 

Then, once all the bids are collected, they can be leveraged against each other for a lower price. Homeowners are often surprised by the wide range of bids on a project. Some proposals might even be thousands of dollars apart.

Take Advantage Of Sales

Just as food goes on sale at the grocery store, the materials needed to complete a home renovation project might go on sale from time to time as well. Taking advantage of sales at department stores can be a great way to reduce overhead costs. There might even be cheaper options online. 

Reduce Home Renovation Costs

These are a few of the most important tips for reducing the cost of that next big home renovation project. Home renovation projects don’t have to break the bank! Be sure to collect multiple bids and leverage inventory sales. 

4 Things Not To Do When Buying A Home

4 Things Not To Do When Buying A HomeThere is a long list of things that people need to do when they are looking to buy a home; however, it is also important for people to know what to avoid as this process unfolds. There is a lot for people to remember and it is easy for people to get carried away when they start looking at their dream homes. Even though it is great to look at a bunch of houses and imagine living there, it is critical for people to stay grounded and know what to avoid.

Do Not Make Any Large Purchases During The Home Buying Process

One of the biggest mistakes people make when they are looking at buying a home is they open their wallets too big. If people end up taking on other big purchases, they end up accruing more debt. This is going to mess up their debt to income ratio and will make it harder for people to qualify for a home loan. Therefore, try to avoid making any other large purchases during the home buying process.

Do Not Take Out Multiple Credit Inquiries

While this might not sound real, the truth sometimes hurts. The more times people pull their credit report, the worse it looks. Therefore, by making multiple credit inquiries, people could actually hurt their credit score. It is important for people to pull their credit score at least once to fix any inaccuracies that might be present; however, people should not get carried away.

Do Not Skip The Pre-Qualification Process

Many people want to avoid filling out excess paperwork; however, the pre-qualification process is a good idea. When someone pre-qualifies for a mortgage, they get a budget ahead of time and immediately look like a serious buyer. This means that their offer looks more competitive to a potential seller. Finally, the pre-qualification process could also help someone qualify for a lower interest rate.

Do Not Be Anxious

The process of buying a home can be stressful even for those who have been through it before. Just remember to ask questions along the way and individuals will be set up for success. There are trained professionals who are willing to lend a helping hand to those in need.