Home-Buyers Guide: Savings and Down Payments

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Your First Step Toward Buying a Home

When preparing to buy a home, the first thing many homebuyers do is look at the real estate ads in newspapers, magazines and listings on the Internet. Some potential buyers read how-to articles like this one. The next thing you should do – before you call on an ad, before you talk to a REALTOR®, before you shop for interest rates – is look at your savings.

Why?

Because determining how much money you have available for down payment and closing costs affects almost every aspect of buying a home – including how you write your purchase offer, the loan programs you qualify for, and shopping for interest rates.

Mortgage Programs

If you only have enough available for a minimum down payment, your choices of loan program will be limited to only a few types of mortgages. If someone is giving you a gift for all or part of the down payment, your options are also limited. If you have enough for the down payment, but need the lender or seller to cover all or part of your closing costs, this further limits your options. If you borrow all or a portion of the down payment from your 401K or retirement plan, different loan programs have different rules on how you qualify.

Of course, if you have enough for a large down payment, then you have lots of choices.

Your loan choices include such varied programs as conventional fixed rate loans, adjustable rate mortgages, buydowns, VA, FHA, graduated payment mortgages and all the varieties of each.

Shopping for Rates

A very important reason you need to have at least some idea of your down payment is for shopping for interest rates. Some loan programs charge a slightly higher interest rate for minimal down payments. Plus, the interest rates for different loan programs are not the same. For example, conventional, VA, and FHA all offer fixed rate loans. However, the rates vary from one program to another.Image result for mortgage rate

If you shop lenders by phone, the loan officer will be able to tell you which programs fit and quote your rates accordingly. However, if you are shopping on the Internet, you have to develop some idea of your loan program on your own.

Writing Your Offer

Another reason you need to have a clue about your down payment is because it affects how you write your offer to purchase a home. Not only are you required to put your down payment information in the offer, but also different loan programs have different rules that also affect how you write your offer. This is especially important when dealing with FHA and VA loans.

If you are asking the seller to pay all or part of your closing costs, you have to be certain your loan program allows what you are asking. For smaller down payments, lenders allow the seller to pay less closing costs than for larger down payments. Some loan programs will allow a seller to pay certain types of costs, but not others.

Image result for writing an offer homeFinally, your down payment also affects your ability to qualify for a loan. When you make a small down payment, lenders are fairly strict about having you conform to their underwriting guidelines. For larger down payments, they will tend to make allowances or exceptions to the rules.

Conclusion

As you can see, the down payment affects every choice you make when you buy a home. Although you should look at ads, familiarize yourself with neighborhoods, learn about prices, and read as much as you can – when you get ready to take action – the first thing you should do is figure out how much money you have available for the purchase.

What Dog Owners Should Know When Buying or Selling a Home

(Guest Blog By Medina James at DogEtiquette)

 

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Image via Pixabay

 

Whether you’re buying or selling a home, if you’re a dog owner, there are some special preparations and precautions you must take. It may be one of the last things on your mind during this busy and stressful time, but real estate dog etiquette is extremely important. Here are some tips for both buyers and sellers who have to deal with canine friends throughout the process.

For sellers – your house smells more like dog than you think

When we live with certain smells for years, we get used to them. We all know that everyone’s house has a particular scent – and if you’re trying to sell your house you don’t want that scent to be eau de pooch. The natural way to get dog odor out of carpets and furniture involves baking soda and vinegar, but there are also plenty of sprays, shampoos, and other products you can purchase to help. Plug-in air fresheners work for the final touch. Also remember to pick up any dog poop in your yard. Here is a good article about removing pet odors from a house.

For sellers – make arrangements to have your dogs out of the house

This goes for scheduled showings and for open houses. You’ll want to make arrangements to have your dogs out of the house – and not just out of the house and in the backyard. You’ll want your dogs to be completely gone. Either board them for a day or ask a friend or neighbor to watch them for a few hours.

For buyers – ask ahead for dog visits

Some pet owners want to take their dog to a potential new home to see how they interact with it. Older dogs with mobility issues may have trouble with certain design elements of a home, and you may want to see if they can handle stairs, decks, porches, etc. before committing to purchase. If you want to do this, you need to ask. It’s rude to bring a dog into someone’s home without first clearing it. People have allergies, fears, and even other pets you must consider.

For both – think about moving day

Moving day is stressful for your pets, so it may be best to board them (here are some tips on that) or have them stay with a friend. If you can’t arrange this, it’s smart to put them in a “safe room” in your house and instruct the movers to move that room last. This is simply safer for the movers and for your dog.

For both – it’s best to leave your dog out of the process (no matter how cute)

You love your dog. Strangers may also love your dog. Most everyone you meet may love your dog. But somewhere there is someone who just doesn’t like dogs. Maybe they’re afraid or maybe they’re allergic. Whatever the case may be, some people just aren’t dog people. So why take the risk that a potential buyer/seller is in this small minority? Even if your dog is incredibly well-behaved and cute, it’s best to leave them out of the process altogether. Ask a friend to watch your dog, or hire a dog walker if the dog just needs to be out of the home briefly for a single showing.

Even dog lovers don’t really want to deal with other people’s animals during the home buying process. It’s not only considerate of others to leave dogs out of the process, but it’s better for your dogs too. Many dogs are stressed out by tons of strangers and new environments, so it’s best to protect them from the chaos that is buying or selling a home.

7 Need to Know Tips for Millennial Home Buyers

 

“How can I purchase a home?” is the question many millennials are asking themselves. Millennials  have been forced to look at the purchasing of real estate in a very different lens than the generations before them. The recent real estate recession is still all too fresh in everyone’s memory, and when coupled with student loan debt, high unemployment, and much tighter loan requirements, the very idea of owning a home can seem very unnerving, or even impossible.

Well great news — it isn’t. Those in their 20’s and 30’s that have considered buying a home are in a position to capitalize on extremely low interest rates. Historically real estate has been a very safe investment that has benefited many people. And just like every recession before this past one, the market always bounces back to a varying extent.

Owning a home can be a long term investment that will really pay off for you later in life. Take a look at our 7 need to know tips before you start your home search!

1. Seek help from a professional: If you are in your 20’s and are thinking about buying a home, you are already very ahead of the game. To get the most out of your home buying decision, you should hire a professional. A great example of this is that if you buy a home with road noise, it may not disturb you at all, however it will be much harder to resell in the future and might yield less of a profit. While living in an internet-centered world means that also any information you need is right at your fingertips, this is one life decision you don’t want to do alone.

2. Pick an agent who you can trust:  Although most millennials are very knowledgeable about the internet and are used to researching anything they need to know, a good real estate agent is invaluable during the home buying process. While you can certainly research homes you want to see with the click of a mouse, your agent has the industry experience and negotiation skills that will help ensure you get the best price for your dream home and that the transaction is as smooth as possible. Selecting an agent you trust is of the utmost importance and you should interview several agents before deciding on one. This may seem like common sense, but many home buyers go through family, friends, or a google search. While this may provide comfort in the short term, it could end up being a hindrance in the long term. Be sure to read online reviews not only on the agent’s website, but also independent review sites like Zillow or Trulia. Choose wisely!

3. Identify great locations and neighborhoods: A lot of first time buyers don’t realize just how important location is in real estate. It is the single most important factor that not only affects value, but determines how easy it will be to sell your home at some point down the road if / when you choose to do so. You may love the attributes of a particular home, but not have the foresight required to know that it might not be a smart investment.

4. Understand immediate and long term costs: There are many different costs that factor in to buying a home such as the mortgage application, mortgage insurance, home inspection costs and much more, which can add up quickly. Aside from these short term costs, many first time home buyers don’t budget properly for long term costs and expenses that come with owning a home. With knowledge of all the various costs and fees, you can plan more effectively.

5. Decide on what type of housing makes the most sense / Thinking towards the future: A major decision many face is deciding between buying a condo or a home. This requires planning for both the now and the future, which is what makes this stage rather difficult. You need to weigh your current life with the life you will most likely want to cultivate in the future. What does your 5 or 10 year plan look like? That influences everything from where to buy (good schools or not), what to buy (house with lots of extra rooms), and what kind of mortgage to get (30-year fixed vs ARM). Someone who’s buying a house for their family to grow up in looks different than someone with no immediate plans and different still from someone who is buying now, but is on track to make a lot more money in 5-10 years…they might consider moving up in 5-10 years before those kids ever really factor in the picture. Because San Diego can be expensive, it’s very important to make a good move now to set yourself up well for the future.

6. Choosing a fixer upper or a turn-key home: Another thing home buyers need to think about is what they will want to do with their property. Do you want something that will be just as you like it right when you move in? Or maybe you’ve always had dreams of designing your own home. This is a factor that many first time home buyers don’t consider, and should have some serious thought put into it.

7. Be patient: This may go without saying, but buying a home is a major life decision and needs to be treated appropriately. You should do copious amounts of research and really think about what you want, both now and in the future. Taking your time to familiarize yourself with the home buying process will allow you to make much more knowledgeable decisions. And remember, you can look at as many houses as you want to, and can make offers on ones you are interested without actually committing if you are unhappy with even the slightest detail. You only want a house that you will be truly happy with!

Wherever you are in your home buying process, we are ready to help answer any questions you may have!

How to Know If You’re Ready to Buy Your First Home

Buying your first home is a big endeavor; it’s an exciting and fun time. If buying is something you’re thinking about, think about these next few considerations to determine if you are ready!

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Consider your Finances

A home is an important investment. Annual income should be the first consideration in buying a house. Most lenders will recommend a budget between three to five times your annual income if you plan on putting down a 20% down payment. There are also a few other financial factors to consider. Existing loans or debts, as well as poor credit scores, can make the buying process more difficult. If your financial state is stable and can handle the event of purchasing home, you are ready to buy.

 

Consider the Cost

Many consider the price of the monthly mortgage when considering buying a home, but many forget about the other costs involved. Property taxes, insurance, HOA Fees, and utilities will all add to the cost of owning a home. You will also need to make sure you have money leftover after all of that as an “emergency fund” to pay the repair man in case your roof starts leaking, your pipes burst, or your refrigerator breaks down. If you are able to manage those costs as well as the monthly mortgage, you are ready to buy.

 

Consider your Lifestyle

Most experts agree that buying a home makes financial sense if you know you’re going to stay for a minimum of 5 years. A lot of different factors can influence where you call home. Do you have a secure job? Does your company transfer often? Do you have an expanding family? If your employment situation feels secure and you are content with the size and location of the home you would be purchasing, you are ready to buy.

 

The process of buying your first home is more time-consuming than it may seem, but the end result is worth all of the efforts put in!

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What You Actually Need to Buy a Home in San Diego

Have San Diego’s perfect weather, delicious Mexican food, beautiful beaches, and amazing sunsets convinced you to stay? Are you dreaming about buying a home in sunny San Diego? These eight steps will help make that dream a reality!

 

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Step 1: Become Familiar With The Real Estate Market

According to an April 2016 article from Time Magazine, San Diego is predicted to be one of the hottest real estate markets over the next five years. Home prices are expected to increase modestly over the next few years. Low inventory has us in a competitive seller’s market, meaning that buyer’s have to compete for the few available homes, especially in the entry-level price ranges.

 

Step 2: Build Strong Credit

Simply put, the better your credit, the better rate you’ll get on your mortgage. A great credit score is evidence that you are a “good investment” for the bank.

If your credit is less than stellar, you will want to work to improve it.

  • Pay your bills on time.
  • Don’t take out more credit cards than you need.
  • Don’t max out your available credit on the cards you do have each month.
  • Pay down credit card debt.
  • Check your credit report for inaccuracies and get them corrected.
  • Raise your credit line when able. This increases your debt-to-credit-limit ratio.

 

Step 3: Save for a Down Payment

Very few people have enough cash to buy their first home without a mortgage. Most need financing to afford today’s home prices. But there are many different mortgage programs out there. As a first-time home buyer you can buy a home with less than the standard 20% down, sometimes as low as 3.5-4% down, but you may have to pay Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) to the lender on top of your mortgage. For some people, that will require a budget adjustment or to wait until they can save up for a larger down payment. There are many different affordability calculators online that can help to determine an individual budget more closely. You can take a look at ours here, which will give you a rough idea of what you can afford.

 

Step 4. Choose a Real Estate Agent

Who you work with matters. Not only is it important to select an agent who is knowledgeable in the area(s) you wish to buy in, but you also want to choose someone whom you trust and who makes you feel comfortable. In most cases, your home purchase will be your largest purchase to date. When selecting a real estate agent, you’re also picking someone who will be the custodian of that transaction. You will want to interview a few agents to determine who is your best fit. Ask the agents you’re interviewing if they have reviews from buyers like yourself and/or if they can provide you with a list of their past clients. Nobody knows a real estate agent better than the people who have hired them!

At Coastal Premier Properties, we will hand-pick an agent that will be a great match for you and your real estate needs.

 

Step 5: Research & Get Pre-Approved for a Loan

Your real estate agent can point you in the direction of some great lenders who can look at your finances and determine how much home you can afford. Not every mortgage program is the same, so it’s important to talk to a few different people and look at different programs and loan types before deciding what will be best for you.

Your lender will provide you with a Pre-Approval Letter, which is key to getting a home in a challenging market place. The letter is a note that states how much home you can afford. When sellers are choosing between competing buyers, having that Pre-Approval Letter is an extra assurance that you are a legitimate buyer and if they go into escrow with you, that you have the funds to purchase their home.

 

Step 6: Narrow Down Your Search

Now that you know how much horse your can afford, where do you want to buy? Explore different neighborhoods and find the one that best fits your needs. Explore shops and dining, research commute and traffic information, look up pictures of houses in the area, and see which one feels like your perfect fit! What kind of house do you want? Create a wish list of your wants and needs for your future home. List the amount of bedrooms and bathrooms you want, a preferred house style, ideal yard size, or any specific property features you are looking for.

 

Step 7: Begin Viewing Properties

This is the fun part! Start viewing properties that fit your criteria. See what’s available! Your ideal choice may change during this process, as you explore the different options and see the market up close. Take your time and look at as many options as you want! Buying a house is a big decision, so you want to be well informed on what is available.

 

Step 8: Put Together an Offer and Buy That House!

Once you have decided on your dream home, you will need to put together an offer. Your agent will help you come up with the best offer strategy. Try to look at recently sold houses in the same neighborhood that are comparable to the one you’re looking to purchase for an idea of the price you will need to pay. Once an offer is accepted, the contract will be drawn up, and after the closing date comes, that dream house will be yours!

 

 

 

What is the Offer Process?

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Congratulations! You’ve found a property you’d like to purchase! The first step to getting into escrow with the seller is to write an offer. The offer will include such things as the price you’d like to pay for the home, any special conditions such as a longer or short term escrow, items to convey such as washer and dryer, etc. Your real estate agent will submit your offer once you are satisfied with the conditions.

Then, you will normally receive a counter-offer from the seller. Sometimes you get lucky at this point and the seller will notify that they have accepted the price and terms of your offer and you will go into escrow. But most likely the seller will have conditions of their own. Your real estate agent will review the seller’s counter-offer with you. If you are agreeable, your agent will give the seller’s agent notice that you accept their terms.

Sometimes, you may wish to submit another counter-offer of your own. These counters will go back and forth until both parties mutually accept the terms of the sale contract or you, the buyer, decide to withdraw your offer. If the offer doesn’t get accepted through negotiations, sometimes the agent can stay in contact with the listing agent and bring the negotiations back to the table at a later date. Of course, the buyer can always look for and purchase another property.