A Buyer’s Market
Is the real estate section of your local paper filled with stories about how slow the real estate market in your area is? Is it taking months to sell the homes on the market? If this description fits your area, and you have been waiting for the perfect time to buy a house, now is the time!
This kind of market is referred to as a “buyers’ market” for good reason–it is an opportunity for buyers to select from a large number of homes that could satisfy their needs. Everyone involved is ready to bend over backwards to make it possible for you to buy your dream home. Most sellers are highly motivated and so are the local real estate agents, loan officers, title companies, and other professionals involved in the transaction. It is important to remember that the real estate market runs in cycles, and conditions can change without a lot of warning. This could be the perfect time to contact a good real estate agent to discuss your needs and to explore the possibilities available to you.
Choosing A Lender
When you are buying a new home or refinancing your present one, it is wise to do some comparison shopping among lenders. A low interest rate isn’t the only criterion by which to evaluate a loan. You should also consider the terms of the mortgage, what your closing costs will be and the reputation of the lender.
Real estate agents are a good source of information about loans and lenders, whether you are buying a home or just refinancing your present home. The companies with the lowest rates sometimes have very conservative underwriting guidelines, and may not be willing to make loans on certain types of property or to buyers who are marginally qualified.
Credit Card Common Sense
You need to establish a reasonably good financial foundation before a lender will approve you for a mortgage loan. Lenders look for a good credit rating, sufficient funds to make the initial down payment and pay the closing costs, and a stable employment situation.
People who have just qualified for a mortgage loan are usually in better-than-average financial shape. If you have recently purchased a new house, don’t be surprised if you receive numerous offers from retail stores and other credit card companies offering you pre-approved revolving credit.
Be careful about accepting these offers! New home owners often use most of their savings in the process of financing the transaction, and they need everything from linens to furniture to get settled in the home. With all of the immediate credit available, it may be very tempting to just say “charge it.” If you’re not careful, you could be “up to your ears” in debt very quickly. It takes discipline to reach the goal of home ownership–and it takes that same kind of discipline to maintain financial health after you leave the closing table.
Locate Your Lifestyle
If you are looking for a new home, it is important to communicate with your real estate agent about any special aspects of your lifestyle that will influence your choice. This information will help your agent to locate the perfect home for you and your family.
Are you a gourmet cook who loves giving lots of parties? Do you want space to accommodate hobbies such as painting, photography, or woodworking? Will your decision be influenced by the accessibility of a community gym, a golf course or tennis courts? Does your son need space to rehearse with his rock band? Do you need a home office? Are you planning to enlarge your family? Is there someone in your household who cannot climb stairs?
Knowing the significant factors that will influence your housing decision helps us to narrow the selection of homes on the market.
Time to Buy?
We are experienced in working with first-time buyers and are well-versed in the creative financing that can make dreams become realities. If you are low on cash, there may be a mortgage assistance program to help you purchase a home with limited funds. Your real estate agent is familiar with these programs, which have variable guidelines. A little creativity can often help you enjoy the freedom and security of owning your own home and building up equity as your property increases in value.
Understanding the Bottom Line
An important part of buying a house is sitting down with your real estate agent or a mortgage lender to get a clear idea of how much you can afford. They will add up all of your monthly expenses, the mortgage payment, insurance, real estate taxes, homeowners or condo association fees–and the grand total can throw you into shock!
The important thing to remember is that the grand total isn’t really the bottom line. When you add your tax savings to the equation, you may be pleasantly surprised. During the early years of your loan, almost all of the mortgage can be deducted from your state and federal income tax. The same is true of your real estate taxes. If you use part of your house as a home office, you may be able to qualify for additional tax savings. In some areas, homes with ground floor apartments are popular for offsetting part of the mortgage and offering even more tax savings.
When you make calculations about the monthly costs that include the tax savings, you may find that owning your own home is less expensive than renting a house or apartment of comparable size.
Shelter is a very basic human need which most people accommodate by renting or buying a house or apartment. Rental property is often less-than-perfect. Tenants usually experience a rent increase every year or so and feel somewhat at the mercy of the owner. They don’t necessarily feel a strong commitment to the property or the community.
Making a decision to buy a house is a major commitment, and the decision has both economic and emotional implications. Instead of paying the landlord’s mortgage every month, homeowners pay their own mortgage and build up equity in their investment. When they paint, plant flowers or make improvements, their family reaps the benefits of a more beautiful environment. Homeowners are much more selective than renters about finding the perfect home, and their sense of personal satisfaction heightens the pride of ownership.