Four Mistakes to Avoid When Making an Offer for Your Dream Home

Four Mistakes to Avoid When Making an Offer for Your Dream HomeYou’ve scoured the new home listings, been to all the open houses and have finally found the home of your dreams. It is now time to draft an offer and begin the negotiation process. Below we’ll share four mistakes that you will want to avoid when making an offer on your dream home.

Mistake #1 – Not Working With A Professional

The first mistake that home buyers make is trying to buy a home without using the services of a real estate professional. Buying a home is a significant financial transaction and one where the seller and their agent are working hard to ensure they come out ahead. Having experienced representation on your side of the table ensures that you won’t be taken advantage of.

Mistake #2 – Skipping The Home Inspection

The second mistake – and one that is more common than you think – is skipping the home inspection. There are countless instances of home buyers thinking that the house looks great on the outside without realizing that there are issues with the roof, the foundation, the plumbing, inside the walls or some other area that’s tough to see. Having the house professionally inspected before tabling an offer ensures that issues are fixed up before the transaction is complete. Alternately, if you’re willing to move ahead regardless, you can ask for the price to be reduced as compensation.

Mistake #3 – Not Being Pre-Approved For Financing

The third mistake in our list is making an offer on a home without being pre-approved for the amount of mortgage financing you will need. Regardless of how good your credit is, the mortgage application process is one that can present challenges. Also, many home sellers will require evidence of financing pre-approval before accepting an offer, so it’s best to come prepared.

Mistake #4 – Taking On Other Debts

Once you’ve decided on the home you want to purchase, you will want to avoid taking on any other debts which can affect your credit score. Don’t buy a car, open any new credit cards or do anything else which will show up on your credit report. Once you are pre-approved for your mortgage, you’ll want to keep your credit as spotless as possible to ensure that nothing goes wrong.

If you’re prepared and clear-headed, the offer process will go smoothly and you’ll soon be moving into your dream home. When you’re ready to explore financing options, contact us today.

How to Get a First Time Home Buyer FHA Loan

first time home buyer fha loan

Are you looking to own your part of the American dream? Want to have a place to call your own?

About 32% of all residential sales in 2016 were first-time home buyers.

Buying a home is a huge step in life. As a first-time home buyer, chances are you’ve already started the search for your perfect house. But before you can purchase a home, you’ll need a lender.

One loan to consider is the first time home buyer FHA loan. FHA loans are attractive because of the low down-payment requirement. These loans also offer more flexible qualification requirements.

Want to apply and get approved for the first time home buyer FHA loan? If so, keep reading! We’ll cover 3 tips that will increase your chances of getting approved.

1. Know What’s Affordable

As a buyer, your mantra should be to buy a home that’s financial comfortable for you. While you may want a huge home with a lot of land, being strapped for cash because of your mortgage payment isn’t ideal.

With FHA financing, your mortgage payment cannot be more than 31% of your monthly income.

Before you start shopping, know what you can afford. Use a mortgage payment calculator to combine your existing expenses with a home payment.

When determining your price point, ensure you have money to set aside. As a homeowner, there’s always the risk of appliances breaking. Your monthly budget should allow you to set money aside in an emergency fund.

2. Know & Improve Your Credit Score

As with any mortgage loan, your credit score impacts interest rates. It will also impact down payment percentages as well as loan amount.

FHA loans can be approved with a down payment as low as 3.5%. But, to get approved for this percentage, your credit needs to be above 580. A score of 579 and below requires a down payment of 10% or more.

Before applying for an FHA loan, be sure that your credit is in good standing. To maintain or improve your credit score:

  • Pay down credit card balances
  • Pay bills on time
  • Fix any errors
  • Clear up any collection accounts

Once you’ve applied for a loan, you’ll want to avoid applying for any other loans or lines of credit. Otherwise, your score will drop.

3. Save Towards a Down Payment

With the first time home buyer FHA loan, you’ll need to come to the table with a down payment. The amount will depend on the total cost of the home as well as the approved percentage.

As an FHA borrower, you can use various funds as part of your down payment. For example, you can use money from your savings account. Aside from your own money, you can also use funds from:

  • A state or local grant
  • Cash gifted from a family member or close friend
  • A charitable organization

With gifted funds, a letter must be provided. The letter has to state that there is no expectation of repayment. The letter must also disclose the nature of the relationship.

First Time Home Buyer FHA Loan: Wrap Up

The FHA first time home buyer loan is an attractive option. To best position yourself to get approved, follow the tips above.

Of course, you don’t want to go through the home buying process on your own. You’ll need a real estate agent to show homes. You’ll also need a lender who can help you throughout the mortgage loan process.

If you want a committed team of mortgage professionals, look no further than Benchmark Mortgage.

We’re experienced in FHA loans as well as VA, USDA, and conventional loans. As a first-time home buyer, we know how confusing the process can be.

Our team will make home buying easy!

Now’s your chance to start your American dream. Contact our team today to discuss your needs.

5 Things First-time Home Buyers Should Know Before Signing on the Dotted Line

5 Things That First-time Home Buyers Wish They Knew Before They SignedWithout a doubt, it can be both overwhelming and exciting to find your dream home and be able to put the money down for it. However, there are a lot of things to know before signing on the dotted line so you can avoid buyer’s remorse. Instead of going it alone, here are a few tips to keep in mind before you decide to commit to your new home.

A Good Agent Is Important

Many homeowners want to find the right place on their own, but having an agent along to assist you in the process can go a long way towards finding your ideal home at the right price. Instead of risking it, choose an agent that comes highly recommended and has an abundance of experience in the business.

Is The Price Right?

It’s easy to be taken in by a beautiful home, but before putting money down you’ll want to calculate your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio to make sure it’s within reach. You may feel like you can make it work, but paying a high mortgage will become a drain over time and may ruin the happiness of your home investment.

What’s The Potential?

When it comes to first-time buying, many homeowners go into it with unrealistic expectations. However, demanding too much of your investment can mean you miss out on the gems that have a lot of hidden potential. Instead of saying ‘no’ right away, consider what you can improve for little cost.

Researching The Neighborhood

The focus for many homeowners is definitely the house, but ‘location, location, location’ is a cliche for a reason. Instead of focusing only on your home, ensure you’ll be living in a neighborhood where you can feel safe and will have access to all the amenities you need.

Investing In An Inspector

A home inspection may feel like a formality, but it’s important to have the right inspector so they will notice maintenance items that can hugely impact your finances. While little items that need to be fixed-up are not a big deal, issues with the foundation or the roof can cause major grievances if they’re not detected.

There are a lot of things to keep in mind when it comes to buying a home. But by doing your research and being aware of your financial outlook, you’ll be well on your way to a good investment. If you’re currently in the market for a home, please contact us for more information.

How to Determine Your Home Loan Eligibility

home loan eligibility

Are you looking to take that next step in your life? Have you finished browsing the net looking for that perfect place to call home?

Are you ready to become a homeowner?

Before you can actively start looking to purchase a property, the first sensible thing to do would be to check out your home loan eligibility.

Why?

Because knowing how much you can borrow not only helps you understand your own financial situation but also it stops you from getting your heart set on a place, only to find it out of your budget.

Let’s take a look at the best ways to check on your maximum home loan potential.

Calculate your Home Loan Eligibility Early To Set Your Search In the Right Area

When it comes to a home loan, the math is actually quite simple. You look at what you have coming in – your income – and you deduct your outgoings each month – your expenditure. The rest is just a matter of seeing how much you can realistically afford to pay back each month.

There are plenty of home loan calculators out there that can help you get a ballpark figure.

The main criteria that get looked at when applying for a home loan are:

Age – As harsh as it sounds, age plays a role in your home loan calculations.

Employment Status – if you are in a stable full-time job, then that is a big check in the plus column because a regular income shows the bank that you are in good standing to make your payments every month. The amount you are earning will also directly influence the amount you can borrow.

Credit Rating / Credit Card History –  If you have been living a debt free life, or at least maintaining your credit card by paying off your purchases in a simple large lump sum each month, then you score maximum points. The better managed your credit card history, the better image you produce for the banks looking to lend you money.

Choosing the Right Home Loan for You

There is more to finding a home loan than just understanding your home loan eligibility. Loan types and duration are also deciding factors.

The core loan types you should be looking at:

Fixed Interest –  The simplest loan. All you need to do is set your interest rate for 15-30 years and simply let your payments run. A great loan for those that are buying with the intention of staying put, and want to know exactly how much they will be paying for the foreseeable future.

Adjustable Rate Mortgages – If your credit rating is working against you, then you can counter balance this to some degree by taking a flexible interest rate loan. Here, the rate is set for a shorter period of time and will then be adjusted.

Federal Housing Administration Loan – For many people, being able to save the average 20% needed for a downpayment on a home, can be tough. With FHA home loans, you can put down as little as 3.5% on a down payment and move on with a fixed interest rate.

The only caveat with this is that you need to take out mortgage insurance, which you can spread over the life of the loan. This totals to approximately 1% of the full loan value.

Buying a Home is the Biggest Decision You Will Make

Making the decision to buy a home is one of the biggest things you will do in your life. To do so without due care and attention can be problematic.

By first understanding your home loan eligibility you can get yourself started on the next phase of your life with a clean conscience, knowing that you are not getting yourself into financial trouble.

If you need help with arranging your home loan or are looking for a quote, get in touch with us today. We are here to help.

3 Helpful Benefits For First Time Home Buyers

benefits for first time home buyersDid you know a number of benefits for first time home buyers exist today?

Buying your first home is an exciting, important, and sometimes stressful process. For first time home buyers, special benefits sweeten the deal and encourage sales.

The term first-time buyer refers to individuals who’ve not purchased a home in 3 years. Most first-time buyers range from 18-34 years old, however bounce-back come in all ages.

Whichever category you fit into, you might not know about the benefits available to you. In this article, we’ll go over some of the benefits for first time home buyers.

Mortgage Interest Deductions

Tax rates favor homeowners. In fact, home ownership is often thought of as a shelter from taxes.

For many, the mortgage tax deduction benefit overshadows the intangible benefits, like pride in owning a home.

How can you qualify? Your mortgage balance must not exceed the cost of your new home. Mortgage interest proves deductible on your tax returns. This is a great benefit because interest is the largest part of a mortgage payment.

Property Tax Deductions

Property taxes for your first home are deductible for income tax purposes as dictated by the Internal Revenue Service. Vacation homes can also benefit from this tax deduction.

Capital Assets

Most people consider their first home a starter home. When you decide to move, you’ll benefit from gaining capital assets.

How does this work?

If the profit you make on your home is more than what is allotted for any tax exclusion, the profit is considered a capital asset. These profits receive special tax treatment.

Even if you profit from the sale of your home, the taxable portion of that profit remains small.

Use Your Mortgage To Build Equity

Each month that you pay your mortgage, you not only pay interest, you also pay the principal balance of the loan. The more of this you pay off, the more equity in your home you secure. This means more ownership for you.

Your Home Appreciates

The real estate market is volatile. It occurs in cycles.

Across the board, homeowners see their investment as a safeguard against inflation of the market.

First Time Homebuyer Loans

First time homebuyer loans come with low down payments, reduced interest, and limited fees. They’re offered to first time home buyers through the Federal Housing Administration.

This type of loan acts as a benefit for first time home buyers because of its minimal restrictions. Consider a first time home buyer loan a large down payment is out of reach, you cannot meet high-interest payments and fees, or your credit score is low.

All of these factors make these loans too good to miss out on for many buyers.

Benefits For First Time Home Buyers in 2017

As you can see, many tangible benefits for first time home buyers exist today. From tax deductions to an easier loan process, buying a home offers more than pride in ownership.

Starting your first home search? Contact us today to learn more about mortgage loans that work for you!

Feeling ‘Priced Out’ of the Market? Here’s How You Can Still Buy a Great New Home

Feeling 'Priced Out' of Your Local Market? Here's How You Can Still Buy a Great New HomeIf you’re trying to buy a new home, few things are more frustrating than a hot real estate market. When home prices are climbing fast it can feel like you’ll never be able to save enough for your down payment. Here are a few ways that you can get in – even if you’re feeling priced out.

Start Smaller And Upgrade Later

If you’re a single professional or a young couple, it might be wise to start with a smaller starter home. While a townhouse or condo might not feel as large as a detached house, they are more affordable options. Starting small allows you to build equity in your home. This, plus your increased earning power as you work for longer, can open up more home options later.

Another benefit of starting small is that you’ll already have a home. If the local real estate market experiences a quick change, you won’t need to scramble. You can plan to buy a larger home – that ‘perfect’ house – when the time is right.

Bring In Family As Investors

Do you have family members who might be willing to provide a loan or financing? If so, start the conversation with them to see if they are willing to co-invest in your new home.

There are many ways to bring in family as investors when you buy. They can provide a straight loan of funds to increase your down payment. Or if they want to be less involved, they can co-sign your mortgage, which will allow you to borrow a larger amount. In many areas, a family member or investor can also be a legal co-owner of the house or the property it sits on.

Make Use Of Experienced Professionals

Finally, don’t forget to ask the local experts for more advice. Real estate agents and mortgage brokers are in-tune with the local market. They spend each day helping buyers like you understand the options available. If you’re short on ideas, a real estate professional is a great place to start.

It can be tough to stay positive when you’re feeling priced out of the local real estate market. But with a little ingenuity and planning, you can get out of the rental market and into a great new home.

3 Things You Should Never Say When Negotiating On A Home

Buyer's Remorse: 3 Things You Should Never Say When You're Negotiating to Buy a HomeThe prospect of finding the home you’ve always dreamed of can be such an exciting time that it’s easy to forget all about the process of negotiating. However, it’s important to keep a few things to yourself when it comes to the art of making the deal. If you’re currently searching for the right place and preparing to sign on the dotted line, here are a few phrases it’s best to avoid.

Declaring It Your Dream Home

There’s nothing wrong with finding the ideal home and getting enthusiastic about the prospect of owning it. But it’s very important not to say too much to the homeowner or the homeowner’s agent. While it’s certainly welcome to be a polite home viewer and mention some of the features you like, giving away too much will inform the homeowner of just how much leverage they have with you. This can mean they may request a higher price since they know how interested you are.

What You’re Willing To Pay

It might seem up front and honest to declare the price range that you’re willing to spend on a home. But if a homeowner knows what your limitations are, they’ll likely push you past them. While you may be willing to pay more for a home you truly love, it’s important that you’re investing a reasonable amount into the home and not paying much over market value. Instead of being too forward, keep your offer to yourself until it’s on the table.

Critiquing Their Price Point

If you’re truly interested in a home, it can be pretty difficult to realize that it’s not within your price range. However, it’s unnecessary to mention this to the buyer as it’s entirely possible that the price is comparable to other homes of a similar style in the neighborhood. After all, there’s always a chance that the home will stay on the market and drop down in value, and this may be the point at which you can get your foot in the door.

When it comes to buying a home, the process of negotiating can be fraught with stress for many people. However, it’s important to keep your price range and your impressions to yourself so that you can get the best deal possible.

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Investing in a Fixer-Upper: What You Need to Know

Thinking About Buying a 'Fixer Upper'? Here's What You Need to KnowWith all of the home renovation and fixer-upper shows on television, the idea of completely renovating and re-doing an old home can seem like an enticing premise. Unfortunately, investing in the wrong fixer-upper can mean an awful lot of expenditure without the added financial rewards. Whether you’re considering investing down the road or you’re ready to dive in, here are a few things to consider first.

How Much Do You Want To Spend?

It’s easy to be swept away by possibility. But before making an offer you’ll need to sit down and determine exactly what you’re willing to invest into upgrades for your fixer-upper. By deciding what you would want to renovate, what the cost of materials and labor would be and how this figures into the market price of the home, you’ll be able to determine if the price you’re offering will be worth it.

Are Major Repairs Required?

It’s one thing to consider a nice paint job and new tiling in the kitchen. But if there are serious problems with the home, it can create huge financial issues to put money into it. Because foundational issues or water damage throughout the home can be expensive items to repair and will take time and resources, fixing these issues may cost more than the money you’ll make. If you’re uncertain about what you’re getting into, it may be a wise decision to bypass the investment all together.

Are You Willing To Work?

Most home fixer-uppers that people buy can be financially lucrative because the buyer is interested in doing a lot of the work themselves. However, if you’re thinking of hiring people to do the work for you, this can end up costing a lot more money and eating any profits the renovations might have created. It’s also important to realize that renovations can go over budget. Instead of being idealistic about a fixer-upper, be certain it’s what you really want so that you’re not stuck with a home you don’t want to invest your efforts into.

The idea of digging in and getting your hands dirty with purchasing a fixer-upper may be endearing, but if you’re not truly prepared for the responsibilities it can be a drain on your time and finances.

What To Watch Out For In A Real Estate Contract

Understanding Real Estate Contracts and What You Can Expect to FindThere are a lot of things that go into the successful sale of your home, but many people are unfamiliar with the intricacies of the contract. Whether you consult with your real estate agent or plan on diving in on your own, it’s important to be clear on the terms. If you’re wondering what you can expect when it comes to the contract, here are some pointers on what to watch out for.

Real Estate Jargon

A real estate contract would not be complete without the professional terminology, so you’ll see words like amortization, price-to-income ratio and title that may impact the meaning of your contract. Instead of going it blind, search the Internet for terms or consult with your real estate agent to provide a clear explanation.

Specifics On The Sale

Information regarding the specifics of your property will be present in the contract, and it’s important to check this information before signing on the dotted line. While the address and location of your home are important, it’s also critical to verify the purchase price that has been decided upon, the closing date on the property and any other items that have been negotiated and agreed upon.

Be Aware Of Withdrawal Terms

It can be easy to be taken away by excitement once you’ve received the perfect offer on your home, but it’s important not to lose sight of everything that’s required before the sale has been finalized. One of the most important parts of the contract is the withdrawal terms that are laid out. Make sure you’re aware of what your rights are if you or the homebuyer decides to withdraw from the process.

Watch For Seller’s Responsibilities

If you, as a seller, do not remain committed to the terms of the contract this can be a deal breaker. Familiarize yourself with exactly what’s required of you. This may include everything from the maintenance on the property to offer negotiations. It’s important to comply with these terms.

Dealing with a real estate contract can be confusing for the layman, so it’s worth your while to have a trusted real estate agent around who will be able to explain it. From withdrawal terms to seller responsibilities, there are plenty of things you should be aware of before sealing the deal.

How to Research Local Schools Before Buying Your Next Home

Making the Grade: How to Research Local Schools Before Buying Your Next HomeThere are so many things involved in moving that it can be easy to forget about the proximity of many nearby amenities. However, if you have children, the local schools available can make-or-break the decision on whether or not to invest in a house. If you’re wondering how you can find out more about the local school, let the following tips be your guide.

Take a Web-Search To SchoolMatch.com

One of the benefits of so many things being online these days is that local schools are no exception. And SchoolMatch.com is a great resource that puts this information at your fingertips. While you’ll have to pay a fee to get the details on many public and private institutions, this resource features ratings on schools throughout the country which can make it worth the price.

Contact The NAEYC

With a wealth of information on preschools, kindergartens and elementary schools located throughout the country, the National Association for the Education of Young Children is another helpful website to visit. While the organization offers informational pamphlets that can help you decide a school’s benefits, you can also call if you want to speak with someone directly about a particular institution.

Make A Visit To The Neighborhood

While it can take a lot of time to visit the schools in the neighborhood you’re considering, this is a great way for you to get a sense of the area you’re moving to. By taking a walk through the hallways to view the building’s upkeep and even visiting the office to talk with the Principal, you’ll be able to decide whether it’s a good fit.

Talk To An Agent

It might seem a bit strange to talk to a realtor about local schools, but real estate agents are responsible for providing a multitude of information to potential homebuyers so they have to be in the know. Whether they’re able to help you with a house or not, it’s certain they’ll have some of the basic details about your neighborhood’s educational offerings, whether it’s good or bad.

There are a variety of amenities that can improve the appeal of a new neighborhood, but good schools are a necessity when it comes to the kids.

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