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When you have a very patient friend who is also your real estate agent, you are doubly blessed! This entire process of prepping to sell and selling Mom's house was made much easier thanks to your guidance and patience - again, the "p" word. From letting me know what to expect, to determining what "fair" means, and all the other minute in between. I relied on your experience and advice. You did not once let me down. Thanks for not only being the trusted consummate professional, but for being a great family friend. Best always, Marianna Marianna Voiselle, February 6, 2018
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7 Things to Know About Getting a Mortgage

 

A home is probably one of the largest purchases (if not the largest) we will ever make. It’s probably safe to say that very few of us start out with enough money to buy one outright. And that’s where mortgages come in.

A mortgage adds significant financial liability to the purchase price of a home, so it makes sense to find out everything we can about getting financing that’s the best possible to meet our budget and criteria. How do we do that?

Well, first and foremost, a mortgage is a loan, so the overall financial environment is crucial to parameters such as interest rates and home prices. As demand rises, so do home prices and interest rates, and right now a strong economy means greater demand.

Here are some important things to keep in mind about getting financing that’s right for you:

 

Your Credit Rating.

The first objective assessment of qualification for financing is your credit score. It is important to both understand your score and to know what (and why) items appear on your credit report.

Here’s a tip: Look over your credit report very carefully because it is not uncommon for items to appear there in error. If there are erroneous items, get to work to have them resolved. If you’re going to be shopping for a mortgage, use credit carefully. Keep revolving balances to a minimum and limit the number of revolving accounts you have.

Be Realistic About What You Can Afford.

The best case scenario is to select a home in a price range that allows for a reasonable down payment (10-20%) with a resultant monthly payment that accounts for about 30% of your monthly net income. A simple affordability calculation is a home that is about 2.5 times your annual income.

Tip: Many financial institutions offer ‘mortgage calculators’ that (1) help you gain insight into what you can afford, and (2) account for specific options offered by specific lenders. Take some time to check out a few and compare and contrast the deals.

The Down Payment.

Although it is possible to buy a home with no down payment, it’s usually better to plan ahead so you’ll have some security on hand when the time comes to approach lenders. The amount you’re qualified to finance is a function of the Loan-To-Value Ratio (LTV), which is calculated using the amount you’re financing over the value of the property. The higher the LTV the better. And, in most cases, 80% LTV is the rule. Most lenders will require that you obtain private mortgage insurance (PMI) for an LTV ratio below 80%, which is another potential hit to your overall expenses.

Savings.

Many of us, especially first-time buyers, become ‘house-poor’ after purchasing a home. Long-term planning for your house purchase should include having significant savings on hand in addition to money for a down payment.

 

  • You’ll have closing costs to cover.

  • You may need money for small repairs and decorating.

  • Nearly every home requires maintenance and upkeep which can cost upwards of a few thousand dollars each year.

  • You’ll want to ensure you are able to cover your mortgage payment(s) in the event of loss of income, although many mortgage groups are willing to work with their clients under special circumstances.

Pre-Approval.

Keep in mind that pre-approval is different from being pre-qualified. Pre-approval means a lender has evaluated your financial position via your credit report and any institution-specific qualification process. This requires credit inquiry, so make sure you’re ready prior to applying for pre-approval.

Mortgage Options.

Mortgages are offered for various terms, i.e., the length of time required to repay the loan. There are also programs for first-time home buyers like Federal Housing Administration (FHA) insured loans. Loan options are there to give you flexibility in choosing the plan that best meets your individual needs. Be sure to evaluate all the options available to you carefully.

Consider all the factors, especially the costs, of each option. Remember that a shorter loan term means you pay a lot less interest, but the pressure of a higher monthly payment may not be a desirable trade-off. On the other hand, minimizing your costs today generally means you’ll pay a lot more in interest in the long run.

Employment and Income.

Employment history and income stability are large considerations for lenders. Having a stable (at least two or more years) job gives lenders a degree of confidence that equates to favorable consideration for financing. All borrowers must be prepared to show proof of income (bank statements, pay stubs), and self-employed or commissioned employees are no exception. This simply reinforces that having a strong financial position as you begin the home purchasing process is ideal.

Finally, if all of these other considerations haven’t frightened you away, there is one last important step: Be ready to act fast. Once you’ve found the right home, it is imperative to move decisively in order to get it. This is best accomplished through planning and preparedness.

Having your financial affairs in order up front is the best way to ensure you’re ready when it’s time to buy. The process of getting financing for your dream home doesn’t have to be a nightmare!

 

Related Resources

Bankrate How To Get a Mortgage

lendingtree Today’s Minimum Mortgage Requirements

 

 

6 Ways to Catch the Drive-By Homebuyer’s Eye

Many times, a homebuyer is inspired to take a more serious look at a home on the market when driving by it.This is why it’s important that your home exudes ‘charm’ from the outside.

Keep in mind that these days, a ‘drive-by’ may be online. When choosing photos of your home for listing services (such as MLS), don’t skimp on the outside shots. Potential homebuyers’ first impressions are a reality of the home sale market, so it’s best to prepare yourself with some great ideas to improve your home’s appearance.

Here are some of the best ways to help make your home stand out to drive-by homebuyers:


Bright colors. Painting your entry door, trim, shutters, etc., makes a great first impression of your home’s exterior. Consider adding colorful plants and/or flowers in strategic places, such as the corners of the garage and end of the driveway, that further accent your home. You may also want to add a seasonal flag or banner on your porch to further capture a potential homebuyer’s eye.

The little things. Have you ever not been able to find a number on a house? It’s frustrating.  If you haven’t already, you should consider installing a new house number in a visible place such as next to the door or on the curb. Updating the exterior lighting fixtures can make a big difference for nighttime visibility and safety. And finally, don’t forget to take a serious look at the mailbox since a well-maintained mailbox can also make a good impression.

Repairs/Maintenance. Make sure every part of your house that’s visible from the street looks neat and orderly, This includes gutters (no leaves hanging over, no sagging) and the roof. Shingles showing obvious wear or with lichens/moss growing on them indicate a lack of proper maintenance. New sealant on the driveway is an economical way to improve the overall look of your home and make a good impression.

Cute and cozy sells. An inviting front porch will grab attention. Keep it clean and free of clutter including bikes, skateboards, and toys. Add a table and chairs to make visitors feel welcome. Flowers and plants also add to the charm. Touches such as these will help your potential homebuyers imagine themselves happily sitting out front while the kids play in the yard or just watching the world go by.

The yard. Take time to neatly trim up any bushes, mow the lawn, edge around the sidewalk/driveway, and add mulch to gardens and beds. Reseed any bare spots in the lawn and rake and remove leaves and twigs to give the lawn a fresh look. Consider adding updated outdoor lighting around landscaped areas, near the entrance, and along the walkway.

Keep it open. Open shades, curtains and blinds and, if the weather allows, the windows. Be sure to wash the outside of the windows to add extra sparkle and shine to your house from the street.

We place a lot of weight on first impressions for good reason. We make judgments based on what we see and feel within a few seconds -- whether we realize it or not. Keep the tips above in mind when preparing your home for sale and you’ll easily catch the drive-by homebuyer’s eye and make a great first impression.

Related resources

diy network: 6 Ways To Get Instant Curb Appeal For Less Than $100

HGTV: 10 Curb Appeal Ideas From The Pros
 

Basic Home Staging Tips to Appeal to Home Buyers

The good news is you’re ready to sell your home! However, you may be feeling a little anxious about staging your home so it’s attractive to home buyers without breaking the bank.

So, what’s the secret to successfully staging (and ultimately selling!) your home? Believe it or not, the secret is really not so secret! The most important thing to remember with home staging comes down to a simple principle: Your home is your “castle,” but only when you’re living there; one person’s ‘cozy’ is another’s ‘cluttered.’

With that principle in mind, let’s take a look at some basic home staging tips that will appeal to home buyers:

Remove the clutter.  

An obvious turn-off to potential buyers is clutter, so it’s best to just get rid of it. Moving is a great opportunity to take a good hard look at what to keep and what to toss. If you really must keep it all, consider boxing it up and placing it in temporary storage. Because many buyers will probably open drawers, cabinets, closets and the garage, there is nowhere to hide it completely.

Furniture Placement.

Open up space in your rooms and makes them look larger by placing furniture efficiently. For example, you might try moving furniture away from walls to ‘add space’ to a room. You may also consider relocating various pieces around the house, such as putting an armchair in the master bedroom, to create a sense of balance in each room.

Lighting.

Many homes, especially older ones, have improperly - not to mention inconveniently - placed lighting. Not to worry though if your budget does not allow for the installation of brand-new fixtures or modern recessed lighting. You can strategically use your existing lighting fixtures in ways that will best enhance the best aspects of your home. Easy fixes include increasing the wattage in existing fixtures and properly mixing ambient, task, and accent lighting.

Neutral Colors.

Remember, ‘neutral’ doesn’t have to mean white or ‘cream’. Pleasing hues extend into soft browns and tans, grays, and even pastel-like blue-greens. Consider painting small adjacent areas (such as the entryway and the living room, or a galley kitchen with a connected dining area) in a single color to make them appear more continuous and larger. Accenting interior walls with a darker shade makes a room look deeper and draws attention to a room’s more striking features like a fireplace or an integrated bookcase.

Creative Art.

Face it, most of us aren’t interior decorators. We tend to place wall hangings and art at constant eye-level and encircle our rooms with them. Boring. Place art creatively with spacing and placement that will make it stand out, not blend in.<

Freshen up.

Spring is the busiest time of year for selling (and buying!), so take advantage of the flowering trees and bushes by cutting fresh branches and placing them in vases around the house. They look pretty, save money, and add color and aroma. A natural setting is almost always appealing.

Serenity Sells.

Certain spaces within a home, such as the bedrooms, dens, and studies are designed to invoke an atmosphere of serenity. Enhance the aura of tranquility in these rooms by making sure the beds look tidy and comfortable, with fresh (or at least clean) comforters and spreads. Window treatments are also beneficial for bedrooms, whether buyers are thinking about using light/sound-blocking shades at night or opening them up to brighten up the room each morning.

Keeping Up With Repairs.

We all have flaws in our home which might seem insignificant to us, but may loom large in a buyer’s mind. Take time to make sure all cosmetic repairs are identified and completed and be sure leave little-to-no trace of them when it’s time for walk-throughs. Such impressions could loom large when a buyer makes an offer or compares your home to another.

Clean and polished.

Tile, sinks, floors, and all other surfaces (even within cabinets and drawers) in the kitchen and bathrooms must look immaculate. Accessorizing in bathrooms creates appeal. You may also wish to burn scented candles, add accent towels and organize linens for maximum effect.

Here are a few other home staging ideas to consider:

  1. Place accessories on tables in groups of three. Arrange them in shapes rather than lining them up. Mix colors and textures to add a matching, yet random, feel to the room.

  2. Clean and deodorize the fireplace, then place candles in attractive holders there.

  3. Keep your home’s exterior as tidy and uncluttered as the interior. Arrange porch and patio furniture to create a relaxed, welcoming feel.

  4. Minimize the appearance of personal items and remove family photos.

  5. Although you might think your pets create an appealing picture for a home, others may not. Make sure you remove all unpleasant traces (especially smells) that indicate you have pets in the home.

Think of the process of staging your home for sale as being similar to setting up a stage for a play. Create the scene, set your marks, and...action! It’s time to shine!

 

Related resource: HGTV.com 15 Secrets of Home Staging

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Welcome! Thank you for visiting today. If this is your first visit, take your time and look around. I have plenty of information and resources available to you. If you are a return visitor, thank you. I would love to hear from you and tell you how I can serve all your real estate needs.