Winning Home Buying Strategies from Industry Insiders

Winning Home Buying Strategies

Winning Home Buying Strategies and Secrets from Industry Insiders

Thinking about buying a home? Since it’s likely the single biggest investment you will ever make, being prepared will help you make a smarter purchase decision. Don’t make an offer until you read and understand these real estate insider tips.   Download PDF

Know your buying power

What is buying power? It is the combination of how much you can realistically pay for a home and your credit-worthiness. You’ll need money saved for the down payment — which is typically between 10% – 20% of the price — as well as cash for closing costs, such as transfer tax, PMI, title insurance, and legal fees. For ongoing mortgage and maintenance, your monthly obligation shouldn’t be more than 36% of your monthly gross income.

A good credit score is usually 720 or above. A loan professional can help you figure out your buying power and give you a clearer idea of if your score is in the ‘good’ range. Have them check your score for you so that you don’t inadvertently lower your score by checking it yourself. You want to clean up your credit as soon as you can, and definitely before you get a mortgage pre-approval.

Don’t try to time the market

Even within a city’s limits, there can be micro markets that are increasing or decreasing in value. A knowledgeable buyer’s agent can provide you with a buyer’s market analysis report, outlining which neighborhoods are still up and coming — with potential for increased property value — versus those that have peaked with inflated home prices.

There’s never a perfect time to buy a home, even if you’re in a hot market. It can take a while to know what you like, and you may need to see 10 or more houses before you decide. Another good reason to be patient: you might find a better deal. Look for expired listings, which may offer more price flexibility and accept a lower-than-list offer. Don’t bother with FSBO (for sale by owner) listings though — since they’re not represented by a professional, they are often overpriced.

Be ready to make a stand-out offer

If you love it, make the offer. Otherwise, that dream home may disappear faster than you think, and especially if you’re buying in a hot market. Have your buying agent contact the listing agent before you submit an offer so that they can decide what’s important to include in the offer. If you’re serious about putting in an offer, you want to increase the chances that it’s accepted.

Show that you’re serious about the purchase by creating a buyer’s offer packet. It should include your lender’s preapproval letter, a screenshot of your down payment money in your bank account, and comps that support the rationalization of the offer you are presenting.

Once you’re in the negotiation process, have the inspection conducted before it’s too late to back out of a deal. If there are any major structural issues, you may be able to make the seller repair them as a contingency to your offer. Minor issues that you can repair on your own may be points for negotiating a lower offer.

Work with a professional for insider exclusives

If you’re thinking about buying a home soon, or even in the near future, let me know the details. I may have just what you’re looking for in an exclusive listing not available to the general public – so get in touch today!

This post has been authored by Eric Slifkin, REALTOR® serving South Florida’s Treasure Coast. You can reach me at 888-288-1765, or visit my Web site. As your resource for information on new or resale homes throughout the Treasure Coast, please be sure to contact me about any home you may find on the Web, yard sign or ad and I will research the property, arrange showings and handle all the details.

Is It Smart to Buy A Fixer-Upper as Your First Home?

Contributed by William Giakoumatos
Buying your first home can be very exciting. Among all the decisions you’ll have to make when you seek that home is whether you want to buy one that’s ready to move into and live in as is, or one that needs a little work. Many people buy fixer-uppers because of the lower cost, but sometimes those kinds of homes can end up costing you a lot more in the long run. Here are some things to consider when you’re trying to decide whether it’s smart for you to buy a fixer-upper or not.

1. What can you get in your price range?
Many first-time homebuyers are on tight budgets. They don’t have a lot of money to spend, and they want to live in a good area. Overall, location is more important than the house, because the house can be changed. If you can’t get into a good area without buying a fixer-upper, it may be worth considering. Just be sure you’re really buying in a location you like and one that you want to remain in for a while so you can get the best deal and turn your house into a solid investment. Look at several houses, both fixer-uppers and finished, before deciding.

2. How handy are you, really?
There’s a big difference between painting a room and fixing that plumbing leak. When you’re considering a fixer-upper for your first home, make sure you’re honest about your skill level. Don’t buy into more than you can fix, or than you can afford to have fixed. By getting a good, thorough home inspection, you’ll have a better idea of what kinds of improvements really need to be made. That can help you make the right decision based on the work you’re able to do on the home.

3. How much savings do you have to use for repairs?
Repair budgets rarely get adjusted downward. Typically, it will cost more than you expect to repair a home. Even if you have plenty of savings, it’s a good idea to get some repair estimates before committing to buying. That way, you’ll have realistic numbers you can look at when you’re trying to decide if that home is the right one for you. Surprise expenses can still crop up, but there will be fewer of them to contend with.

4. Do you have friends and family who can help?
If your uncle is a contractor and you have a niece in the design business, your odds of doing well with a fixer-upper just got better. When you have people who are in skilled trades and can help you work on your home, you can save a lot of money in labor costs and protect your investment more easily. It’s not a requirement to have people like that in your family when you buy a house that needs work, but it can certainly help the process.

5. How long do you plan to live in the home?
Renovating a home takes time. If you don’t plan to live in your first home for a long time, you might not want to buy something that requires a lot of work. You don’t want to get into the middle of a renovation and decide that you need to move. It can be very difficult to sell a home that’s in the middle of renovations, and you’re likely to lose a lot of money in the process. Don’t buy a fixer-upper you aren’t really committed to keeping for years.

6. How is the market where you’re looking?
If it’s a buyer’s market in your location, you may be able to get a great home for a much lower price. With that in mind, you could get into a home that needs less work and still not have to break your budget. Markets that favor the seller are going to have higher home prices, so buying a fixer-upper to get into a better neighborhood could be the way to go. There’s nothing wrong with buying a house that needs some work, as long as you’ve done your homework and are prepared to handle the changes that need to be made.

7. Are the home’s issues cosmetic or something more?
Cosmetic issues are things that can be lived with, even if you’re not crazy about the way they look. If you have structural issues, though, you can’t just leave those alone and not worry about them. They have to be fixed. Finding out which the home has and how much it will cost to correct any structural problems is very important if you’re considering a fixer-upper for your
first home.

William Giakoumatos is the current vice president of American Custom Contractors. They are a commercial and residential contractor company in the Washington, D.C. Metro area. Servicing businesses and homeowners for more than 40 years, ACC prides themselves with the added value from their work.

This post was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. Check the blog daily for winning real estate tips and trends for you and your clients.

This post has been authored by Eric Slifkin, REALTOR® serving South Florida’s Treasure Coast. You can reach me at 888-288-1765, or visit my Web site. As your resource for information on new or resale homes throughout the Treasure Coast, please be sure to contact me about any home you may find on the Web, yard sign or ad and I will research the property, arrange showings and handle all the details.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2015. All rights reserved.

6 Good Credit Habits for Buyers and Renters

Your credit score has a critical impact on your housing options, and healthy credit is essential to buying a home or renting one. “An important step to finding a home, whether you’re renting or buying, is ensuring that you have a good credit history,” says Frank Keating, president and CEO of the American Bankers Association (ABA). “A strong credit score can open doors to better homes and lower mortgage rates.”

To build a good credit history, the ABA recommends adopting these habits.

1. Request a copy of your credit report–and make sure it is correct. Your credit report illustrates your credit performance, and it needs to be accurate so that you can apply for other loans, such as a mortgage. Everyone is entitled to receive a free copy of his or her credit report annually from each of the three credit reporting agencies, but you must go through the Federal Trade Commission’s website at www.AnnualCreditReport.com or call 1-877-322-82281-877-322-8228 FREE. Note that you may have to pay for the numerical score itself.

2. Set up automatic bill pay.Payment history makes up 32 percent of your VantageScore credit score and 35 percent of your FICO credit score. The more you pay your bills on time, the better your score. Avoid missed payments by setting as many of your bills to automatic pay as possible.

3. Keep balances low on credit cards and ‘revolving credit.’ Racking up big balances can hurt your scores, regardless of whether you pay your bills in full each month. You often can increase your scores by limiting your charges to 30 percent or less of a card’s limit.

4. Apply for and open new credit accounts only as needed. Keep this in mind the next time a retailer offers you 10 percent off if you open an account. If you need a new line of credit, don’t jump at the first appealing offer; compare rates and fees offered through mail solicitation, on the Internet or at your local bank.

5. Don’t close old paid off accounts.According to FICO, closing accounts can never help your score and can in fact damage it.

6. Talk to credit counselors if you’re in trouble. Using legitimate, non-profit credit counseling can help you manage your debt and won’t hurt your credit score. For more information on debt management, contact the National Foundation for Consumer Credit by visiting www.NFCC.org.

Source: ABA.com

This post has been authored by Eric Slifkin, REALTOR® serving South Florida’s Treasure Coast. You can reach me at 888-288-1765, or visit my Web site. As your resource for information on new or resale homes throughout the Treasure Coast, please be sure to contact me about any home you may find on the Web, yard sign or ad and I will research the property, arrange showings and handle all the details.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2015. All rights reserved.

Know Before You Owe: More Homeowner Insights

By John Voket

I am always thrilled to hear when folks make the jump to homeownership. And it’s important for prospective homeowners to know about all the resources available to them to help the experience go as smoothly as possible, especially when it comes to financing.

In the first of this two-part report we clued potential homeowners in on the U.S. Consumer Finance Protection Bureau’s new (consumerfinance.gov) report that featured some revealing data – particularly that almost half of consumers do not shop around for a mortgage when purchasing a home.

Among the key findings were:

  • Almost half of consumers who take out a mortgage fail to shop prior to filling out an application for a mortgage.
  • While half of consumers shop around to see who advertises lower rates, fewer than one in four actually end up submitting a loan application to more than one lender or broker – NOT filling out applications with multiple lenders to see which one can offer them the best deal.
  • 70 percent of consumers report relying on their lender or mortgage broker a lot to get information about mortgages.
  • The survey found that among all borrowers – those who shopped and those who did not – 42 percent said having an established banking relationship with the lender is “very important.” Since most borrowers likely only have a few banking relationships, this likely inhibits shopping.
  • Consumers who are confident in their knowledge about the mortgage process are more likely to shop around prix viagra en pharmacie.
  • Consumers who are confident about their knowledge of available interest rates are almost twice as likely to shop as consumers who are unfamiliar with available interest rates. The survey found that 55 percent of shoppers said they were very familiar with mortgage rates, while 30 percent of shoppers said they were not at all familiar.

Following this report release, as part of its “Know before You Owe” mortgage initiative, the CFPB announced it was releasing “Owning a Home,” an interactive, online toolkit designed to help consumers as they shop for a mortgage.

Anyone in the process of – or anticipating buying a home in the near future can access this virtual toolkit by clicking here. 

 

This post has been authored by Eric Slifkin, REALTOR® serving South Florida’s Treasure Coast. You can reach me at 888-288-1765, or visit my Web site. As your resource for information on new or resale homes throughout the Treasure Coast, please be sure to contact me about any home you may find on the Web, yard sign or ad and I will research the property, arrange showings and handle all the details.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2015. All rights reserved.

Do You Know What Questions to Ask when Joining an HOA?

By John Voket

It's been awhile since I reported about homeowner associations or HOAs.

Neighborhood Link (neighborhoodlink.com) defines a HOA or Homeowner Association is a legal entity created to manage and maintain the common areas of a community. Typically these "common areas" consist of things like pools, clubhouses, landscaping, parks, streets and roads.

HOAs are typically set up by the original developer of the community with a set of rules called "Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions" otherwise known as "CC&Rs". One of the primary functions of the HOA is enforce and ensure that these "CC&Rs" are adhered to by the individual homeowners.

One Boulder, Colorado real estate blog (taylorrealtygroup.net) recently posted a helpful punch list of questions to ask if you are buying a house or condo that is governed by a HOA.

According to the Boulder blog, those questions should include:
 

  • How much are the dues?
  • What is the history of the due increases?
  • Does it include building insurance or not?
  • What are the specifics of the insurance and what insurance will you be required to carry vs. the HOA carries it for you?
  • Are there HOA budget reserves for things like concrete repair, deck repair, staining/painting/etc? Also, look at maintenance contracts like landscaping, security, snow removal etc. Do they look reasonable to you? Is one of the HOA members also one of the contractors?
  • If you haven’t already—find out how much the transfer fees and capital reserve requirements are when you close and negotiate to have the seller pay for them (unless you have already agreed otherwise)
  • Find out how many units are owner occupied versus rented out. The HOA will know this. If it’s higher than about 10 percent rentals then the blog advises: don’t buy it.
  • Find out the current status of all the membership dues. How many units are in the HOA and of that, how many are past due. How much?
  • Get the minutes from the past years HOA meetings and read the to see what kind of stuff they talk about and this will tell you how picky they are and what type of violations spur actions against residents.

This post has been authored by Eric Slifkin, REALTOR® serving South Florida’s Treasure Coast. You can reach me at 888-288-1765, or visit my Web site. As your resource for information on new or resale homes throughout the Treasure Coast, please be sure to contact me about any home you may find on the Web, yard sign or ad and I will research the property, arrange showings and handle all the details.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2015. All rights reserved.

How to Buy a House with Less than 20 Percent Down

When many people start the process of buying a house they assume putting 20 percent down is required. However, this is not the case and many lenders and mortgage brokers offer options for borrowers looking for mortgages that have a small down payment. Don Frommeyer, CRMS, President of NAMB (The Association of Mortgage Professionals), shares his advice for potential homeowners searching for mortgages with less than 20 percent down payment.

“There are a couple of things you’ll want to make sure you have before researching mortgages, including solid credit standing and a steady income,” says Frommeyer. “The options are out there and exist to make sure that people have the ability to buy and invest in real estate, even in today’s competitive housing market and tight credit environment.”

Frommeyer suggests the following tips when buying a house with a low down payment:

– Maintain a Strong Credit Score: Credit score is one of the first things lenders look at when determining who is a qualified borrower. Make payments on time and keep in mind that even small mistakes may take some time to clear from credit scores.

– Look Beyond Your Local Banks: There are many options available outside of traditional bank mortgages. Mortgage brokers offer a wide range of mortgage loans with zero down payments; an example is VA Loans. Veterans of the military and qualified retired veterans are eligible to use this benefit for a 100 percent loan. They also offer FHA loans to qualified borrowers for as little as 3.5 percent down. And in rural areas, the U.S. Department of Agriculture offers low down payment options with financing to 100 percent. A good mortgage broker will have all of these options available and will have a variety of lenders that they can put these through to stay competitive in the market. And even conventional loans have the ability to do loans with 5 percent down payment.

– Document Income and Assets: Lenders look for a steady income and sufficient savings to ensure borrowers can meet monthly payments. Make sure to have all account statements ready to establish proof of funds; lenders look for savings accounts that indicate the borrower will be able to cover a few months of payments. In addition, hold jobs for at least two years or within the same industry to demonstrate longevity and stability.

– Be Prepared to Pay More Monthly: When you do loans with limited funds down, most will require some sort of mortgage insurance to complete the loan. Conventional loans require Private Mortgage Insurance on loan to values above 80 percent. FHA loans have Mortgage Insurance on all of their loans and the VA only has a funding fee.

– Explore Options: Frommeyer suggests going to at least two lenders to be able to compare good-faith estimates. This allows you to look at two completely different options and this will help talking to more than one source when looking for a mortgage. Compare the fees, estimates, closing costs, etc. thoroughly before selecting any loan.

This post has been authored by Eric Slifkin, REALTOR® serving South Florida’s Treasure Coast. You can reach me at 888-288-1765, or visit my Web site. As your resource for information on new or resale homes throughout the Treasure Coast, please be sure to contact me about any home you may find on the Web, yard sign or ad and I will research the property, arrange showings and handle all the details.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2014. All rights reserved.

I Can Haz Real Estate?

I Can Haz Real Estate?

An Millennial’s guide to the home buying process in Stuart, Florida.

This post has been authored by Eric Slifkin, REALTOR® serving South Florida’s Treasure Coast. You can reach me at 888-288-1765, or visit my Web site. As your resource for information on new or resale homes throughout the Treasure Coast, please be sure to contact me about any home you may find on the Web, yard sign or ad and I will research the property, arrange showings and handle all the details.

How to Buy a House – As Told by Real Estate Memes

11 Questions for Home Buyers


11 Questions for Home Buyers in Stuart, Florida

If you’re thinking about buying a home, you can save a lot of time and effort by considering a few questions before you meet with a real estate agent. These questions not only give shape to your desire to buy a home, but they ensure your meeting with an agent will be productive.

1. How long have you been searching for a home?

2. When are you interested in purchasing?

3. What type of home are you looking for? Condo? Single-family? Etc.

4. What family needs do you currently have? How do you think that will change in the next few years?

5. How many homes have you seen so far?

6. What are you looking for that you haven’t found yet?

7. What is your present living situation?

8. Do you need to sell a home before you buy your next home?

9. What is your comfort zone in terms of price? Or to look at it a different way: What sort of monthly payment is within your budget?

10. Have you looked into financing at all yet?

11. Is there anything in particular you want/need to be close to? (I.e. job, other family members, major airports, etc.)

It’s OK if you don’t have answers to all of these questions. In fact, I’d be glad to walk you through any questions you don’t understand, or the implications of some of your answers. please feel free to get in touch.

 

This post has been authored by Eric Slifkin, REALTOR® serving South Florida’s Treasure Coast. You can reach me at 888-288-1765, or visit my Web site. As your resource for information on new or resale homes throughout the Treasure Coast, please be sure to contact me about any home you may find on the Web, yard sign or ad and I will research the property, arrange showings and handle all the details.

Five Top Home Buyer Credit Score Facts


Home Buyer Credit Score Facts

With mortgage rates low and prices just about perfect for buying, Iʼve had a lot of  discussions lately with first-time home buyers about what it takes to get a loan these days at a good rate. Naturally, a good credit score is important. (Typically, weʼre seeing the best rates for buyers with scores above 740.) You may not be ready to buy soon, but if youʼre thinking about it in the next couple of years, now is a great time to work on your credit score. If youʼre not familiar with how credit scores work, hereʼs what typically goes into them:

• Your past payment history = 35%. The more paid on time, the better.

• Amount you owe = 30%. The less you owe relative to your total available

credit, the better.

• How long youʼve had credit = 15%. Longer is better.

• How much new credit = 10%. Lots of new credit lowers your score.

• Kind of credit = 10%. Itʼs better to have different sources of credit.

Of course, credit score is only one part of the picture. Having a down payment of

20% or more can also influence your shot at the best rate.

If you ever have any questions about the path to home ownership or the ins and

outs of financing, please feel free to get in touch.

 

This post has been authored by Eric Slifkin, REALTOR® serving South Florida’s Treasure Coast. You can reach me at 888-288-1765, or visit my Web site. As your resource for information on new or resale homes throughout the Treasure Coast, please be sure to contact me about any home you may find on the Web, yard sign or ad and I will research the property, arrange showings and handle all the details.

New Opportunities Open Up for First-Time Homebuyers

In the coming year, more than 1.5 million consumers will purchase their first home. How do they do it — and how can you be one of them?

“First-timers now represent nearly 30 percent of all existing home purchasers,” said Ray Brousseau, executive vice president of a nationwide lender. “That’s a big percentage, but it could be a lot higher because there are many ways first-time purchasers can finance with little down and little hassle.”

Many of these buyers are able to afford a new home because they know that the mortgage marketplace has two separate ways to help them: First, there are traditional loan options. Second, there are more than 1,500 mortgage assistance plans for buyers purchasing a first home.

No Need For 20 Percent Down

The big barrier for many first-time buyers is cash. It takes cash for a down payment, and it takes cash to close. Lenders are generally looking for buyers with 20 percent down, but given that the typical home sells for more than $200,000, there are a lot of first-time homebuyers who have not accumulated the $40,000 or more that lenders prefer.

The good news: There are many ways around the 20 percent requirement with traditional loan options.

“It doesn’t take a lot of up-front cash to buy a home today,” said Brousseau. “FHA and conventional financing are all available with little down, while VA borrowers can qualify for mortgages that require no down payment.”

The way such programs work is that they substitute insurance for the 20 percent down that lenders would otherwise want:

• Conventional loans are available with as little as 3 percent down plus what is called “private mortgage insurance” or PMI.

• FHA mortgages require an up-front mortgage insurance premium (MIP), plus an annual MIP based on the outstanding loan balance. Mortgages backed by the FHA are available nationwide and typically require just 3.5 percent down.

• VA financing is available for those with qualifying service, such as military personnel, as well as officers in the Public Health Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). VA loans are available with nothing down. There is an up-front “guarantee” fee, but no annual insurance cost.

“Instead of $40,000 for a down payment, many borrowers can get a $200,000 loan with $6,000 or $7,000 down, or even nothing down if VA-qualified,” Brousseau said. “That means qualified first-time homebuyers can buy a house today instead of waiting years to save 20 percent down.”

Mortgage Assistance Plans

According to DownPaymentResource.com, there are more than 1,500 assistance plans administered by more than 1,000 agencies nationwide for would-be buyers, many aimed specifically at first-time purchasers.

In looking at these programs it’s important to understand what the term “first-time buyer” means. It typically does not mean someone who has never owned a home; instead the usual definition for program qualification purposes is someone who has not had title to a home during the past three years.

This definition is important because it provides a way for people to re-enter the housing marketplace. For instance, suppose the Smiths owned a home and sold it to move to a job in a new community. Three years later they are “first-time” purchasers under the guidelines used by most assistance plans.

“Another important point about mortgage assistance programs is that many are specifically designed to encourage local home purchases by public-sector employees such as teachers, police, firefighters, nurses, and corrections workers,” said Brousseau. “There are millions of people who qualify for such assistance.”

The benefits available through mortgage assistance plans vary. For instance, borrowers may be able to get financing at below-market interest rates. Down payment grants may be available, essentially meaning that little or nothing down will be required. Another approach includes programs that offer tax credits.

Mortgage interest is generally deductible, but a “tax credit” is arguably more valuable. With what are called “mortgage credit certificates” or MCCs, borrowers can deduct directly from their actual tax bill. For instance, if you have $8,000 in mortgage interest you might be able to directly reduce your taxes by $1,600 while the remaining $6,400 can be treated as an itemized deduction.

“Given low interest rates and a firming housing sector, this is a terrific time to consider entering the real estate market,” said Brousseau. “With today’s financing choices, many buyers can own their own home a lot quicker than they might have thought.”

This post has been authored by Eric Slifkin, REALTOR® serving South Florida’s Treasure Coast. You can reach me at 888-288-1765, or visit my Web site. As your resource for information on new or resale homes throughout the Treasure Coast, please be sure to contact me about any home you may find on the Web, yard sign or ad and I will research the property, arrange showings and handle all the details.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2013. All rights reserved.