Category: Home Buyer Advice

What You Should Know About Adjustable-rate Mortgages

Adjustable-rate mortgages (or ARM loans) get a bad rap in part because they fueled the subprime mortgage crisis in 2008 and 2009 (90% of subprime loans during this time were adjustable-rate loans). But they’re not all bad.

Believe it or not, adjustable-rate mortgages can be a good choice for some types of home buyers. Here’s what you need to know about adjustable-rate mortgages when you’re shopping for a home loan. Continue reading “What You Should Know About Adjustable-rate Mortgages”

New Mortgage Forms Make Shopping for a Mortgage Easier

There has traditionally been a lot of confusing paperwork that goes along with buying a house, at least if you needed a mortgage. New mortgage forms and regulations were supposed to be implemented on August 1, but to give people more time to prepare, they will roll out on October 1, 2015. You may have heard these changes referred to as TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosures (TRID) changes.

Standardized and simpler forms will make it much easier for buyers to understand the terms of their mortgages and then make a more informed decision. Additionally, it will be far easier to compare loan offers, which used to be one of the most difficult parts of mortgage shopping. Find out what these new changes are and how they will help you the next time you apply for a mortgage. Continue reading “New Mortgage Forms Make Shopping for a Mortgage Easier”

Tips for Buying a House in a 55+ Community

Buying a home in a retirement community can be a great investment in the next chapter of your life. Retirement communities are a good option for people who want to live with other retirees in a neighborhood that is catered specifically to their needs, especially social needs.

But the nuances that come with buying a home in a retirement community can make the experience overwhelming. Here are some things to consider as you evaluate your needs for retirement and also for the future. Continue reading “Tips for Buying a House in a 55+ Community”

Buying a House for a Growing Family

Sometimes longtime apartment dwellers become first-time homebuyers when their family expands. And sometimes a couple with a young child has been content living in the perfect starter home and realizes they need more space as they add kids to the mix. Or maybe a third child comes along and the family just has to have another bedroom.

Regardless of your current situation, adding a child to your family often means that you have to rethink how you utilize your current space. And sometimes, you’ll decide that you need more space or that you want to live in a different neighborhood or school district. Here are some things to consider as you decide what kind of house best suits your changing family. Continue reading “Buying a House for a Growing Family”

Simpler Mortgage Disclosure Forms Coming

Buying a home means a lot of complicated paperwork that usually includes terms and conditions that are difficult to understand. But a recent change to loan paperwork, announced by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau at the end of 2013, is due to roll out in August of 2015.

Standardized, redesigned forms will give you a clearer picture of the terms of your mortgage and will help you make a more informed decision when buying a house. Read on to find out what these changes entail and how they will help you as a borrower. Continue reading “Simpler Mortgage Disclosure Forms Coming”

Things to Consider When Buying an Older Home

Brand-new houses are tempting—what’s not to like about being the first one to live in a home? But chances are good that when you buy a home, you’re going to be buying a pre-existing home instead. Over ninety percent of home sales in the United States are for homes that have had previous owners.

Despite the appeal of a gleaming new house, there are some real advantages to buying an existing home. But there are also some important potential downsides to consider. Here are some things to think about as you look for the home that’s right for you. Continue reading “Things to Consider When Buying an Older Home”

Changes to FHA Loans Coming in September

The HUD is introducing a new underwriting handbook on June 15, 2015. The new guidelines will apply to all FHA case numbers that are obtained on this date or after.

The new handbook is designed to combine existing handbooks, notices, and letters into a simpler, clearer format. Although there are over forty differences between the old handbook and the new, there are only a few major changes. They will have both positive and negative effects on future FHA borrowers. Here’s a look at the most significant changes and how they may affect you in the future. Continue reading “Changes to FHA Loans Coming in September”

How Online Home Valuations are Calculated

We’ve all spent time looking at how much homes are worth on websites like Zillow. But it’s not immediately clear how these estimates are calculated or just how useful they are to buyers and sellers.

A quick look at how websites come up with their home valuations can be helpful for everyone. These numbers, designed to add some transparency to the home buying process, should be used as nothing more than a starting point. Continue reading “How Online Home Valuations are Calculated”

Why You Should Hire a Real Estate Agent

You know the type. Coupon-cutter. Penny-pincher. DIY enthusiast. 2-for-1 fanatic. Clearance rack junky. This might even describe you. Many of you readers out there like a good deal, and love to save money. Hey, I get it. It’s practical. It’s life. Given the fact that a home purchase is one of the most expensive transactions you will ever complete in your life, savers might be tempted to cut corners in the home purchase or sale and try to save a few dimes along the way. Some people might even consider cutting the real estate agent to save some cash.

But you shouldn’t. Even in the age of Zillow and Trulia, the real estate profession is still strong. Why? Especially given the fact that travel agents and other professions have been vaporized by the internet, why are real estate brokers still so important? The short answer is that they are an integral part of any home deal, and a good real estate agent can save you time, worry, and yes, even money. Here’s why you should hire an agent to help you if you are buying or selling a home instead of doing it yourself. Continue reading “Why You Should Hire a Real Estate Agent”

Being the Best Buyer in a Seller’s Market

You want to buy and they want to sell. Perfect, right? Well it would be perfect if there were only the two parties in the equation. We’re gearing up for the peak selling seasons and if you’re in the market to buy, you will have a lot of other competition out there making it so your dream home slips right through your fingers at the last minute.

The last thing you want to have happen is taking the time to tour a home, deciding that it’s the one for you, and being outbid, or unprepared to make an aggressive offer. So how can you be prepared in a seller’s market? How can you woo the seller? What do you have to do to beat out the competition and, like a TV dating reality show, win the ultimate prize, leaving the other competitors in the dust? Here are 3 ways that you can’t afford to miss out on to be a good home buyer. Continue reading “Being the Best Buyer in a Seller’s Market”

Survive Your Relationship: Home Buying Edition

Has anyone ever given you relationship advice? As well-meaning as it may be, most of it ends up being inapplicable at best and at worst, damaging. Someone once told me to never, I mean NEVER, go house shopping as a newlywed. To wait a few years. The reason? Nothing will wear down that honeymoon feel like realizing that you and your partner have very different tastes.

Now I’m not a counselor, or a psychologist, but I can tell you that many-a-couple has successfully found a home that suits both partners’ needs. Can negotiating different architectural, location, and design preferences be tricky? Yes. But it can most definitely be done. Those that can learn how to communicate and plan before home shopping have a better experience overall as they are looking to buy their first home. Let’s not call it relationship advice per se, but instead, read on to learn some valuable tips and tricks to keep both you and your partner happy while home shopping. Continue reading “Survive Your Relationship: Home Buying Edition”

Are You Covered?

The neighbor kid is over again. He roams around your house with his shoes on, drinks your milk out of the carton, and is always whining. On top of that, he’s constantly bouncing on the blasted trampoline. You’ve warned your kids not to do flips, but he doesn’t seem to think those rules apply to him. You watch as he jumps one, two, three times and flips…off the edge. Yep, that’s a broken arm. This time he’ll learn. Sucker!

Except that you might be the sucker if you haven’t checked out your home liability insurance policy recently. After all, if the neighbors wanted, they could sue you because their kid didn’t follow your rules and got himself hurt. Fair? Maybe not, but you’ll want to know what home liability insurance is and what your policy covers to make sure you’re insured against accidents like this one. Continue reading “Are You Covered?”

To HOA or not to HOA

When you hear Homeowner Associations, you probably immediately conjure up images of old ladies with blue hair, sitting around all day, tattling on their neighbors for breaking the rules. Like buzzards waiting for something to die, they spy on you between their blinds and the minute you hang something from your balcony, even for a minute, they’re on the phone, getting you in trouble.

Okay, that may be a bit of a dramatization on my part. Homeowner Associations do actually have inherent worth. But what is that worth? Have you ever wondered what are the benefits (and real drawbacks) of an HOA? If you ever find yourself or a friend in the market to purchase a home or condo with an HOA, trust me, you’ll want to know these little tidbits. They can weigh heavily on your ultimate decision to purchase. Here are our top 3 benefits and drawbacks of a Homeowner Association (and their fees).

Continue reading “To HOA or not to HOA”

Myths about Homeownership Keeping You from Buying?

Do you know the basics of home buying? Check! Do you consider yourself financially responsible? Of course! Do you have a rainy day fund? Um, duh. Do you think it’s a good time to buy a home? Yes! It turns out that the majority of Americans (even millennials) answer in the affirmative to all of these questions, and more.

However, in a national survey just released by Wells Fargo and IPSOS Public Affairs it’s obvious that average Americans think they know more than they really do about homes and home buying. And the result is this: myths of home buying and home ownership keep otherwise well qualified home buyers from seriously considering purchasing a house. Read on to see how much you really know!

Continue reading “Myths about Homeownership Keeping You from Buying?”

Mortgage 101: Understanding Your Debt-To-Income (DTI) Ratio

Those of us in the mortgage and real estate industry often throw around acronyms. At times, it can be a veritable alphabet soup. I often catch myself rattling off things like APR, FHA, and HUD as if everyone around me knows exactly what I’m speaking about.

While many of the times I mention these acronyms, I should simply be ignored, some of them have important meanings—meanings of which everyone should at least have a basic knowledge. One such important acronym is DTI which stands for Debt-To-Income. This article will explain what DTI is, and why it’s important in determining how much mortgage financing you might receive. Continue reading “Mortgage 101: Understanding Your Debt-To-Income (DTI) Ratio”

Eight Housewarming Gifts Under $50

Your friend just bought a new house. Hooray! Now it’s time for that housewarming party. You’re a little nervous because you consider yourself to be gift giving challenged, and tend to stress out about the details, expense, personalization and usability of what you give.

Luckily, buying housewarming gifts can be easy. We love being able to buy things from the comfort of our own pajamas and without breaking the bank. So, to help you out, here is a list of eight unique housewarming gifts under $50 to serve as your go-to guide. Continue reading “Eight Housewarming Gifts Under $50”