Home Buying Checklist: The Process of Buying Your New Home

Once you’ve made the decision to buy a home, it’s time to start thinking about what comes next.  Every buyer needs a checklist that will guide them through the process of searching for the perfect home, evaluating their choices and making a purchase.

Learn The Lingo

When you set out to buy a new home, you will need to familiarize yourself with various real estate terms, conduct research on the market value of homes in the area in which you intend to shop and learn the art of negotiation.  This information will help as you browse homes, talk with REALTORS® and get further into the buying process.

Get A Free Credit Report

Every 12 months, you are entitled to request a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies – Equifax, TransUnion and Experian.  You should make this request before you begin looking at homes in order to allow yourself enough time to identify and dispute any inaccuracies in your credit file(s).  When you approach a lender, you will need to make sure that everything is correct and up-to-date.

Get Pre-qualified

Pre-qualification is different than pre-approval in that it gives you a possible price range that you can afford, but does not guarantee you the loan.  Pre-qualification is important because it will help you narrow your search to include only homes that you can afford.  Knowing what you can pay beforehand will save you both time and disappointment in looking at homes that do not fit your budget.

Speak With A REALTOR®

Nobody knows the real estate business like a REALTOR®, so let them help you to find your new home.  Based on your specific requirements, a REALTOR® can locate a home that will suit you at a price that’s within your budget.  When he/she finds one or more possible candidates, you will be invited to tour the home.  At this point, you should take a camera for the purpose of later reviewing each house with visuals instead of relying solely on memory.

Make An Offer

Once you find the perfect home, make an offer that’s less than you are actually willing to pay.  This way, the seller can make a counteroffer that would hopefully still be within your budget.  It’s important to familiarize yourself with the art of negotiation so that can learn how to get the best deal without insulting the seller.  If you have not yet been pre-approved, make sure that your offer is contingent upon your being able to obtain the necessary financing.

Obtain a Loan

Once you and the seller agree on a purchase price, you may be required to provide an earnest money deposit that will secure the home as you obtain a loan (if applicable).  A lender will require a home inspection and appraisal for the property in connection with your loan application.  In most cases, you will know within 24 hours whether or not your application is approved, but the actual closing will not occur until the inspection and appraisal are complete.

Get Moving

Now that the papers are signed and you have the keys to your new home, it’s time to get moving – literally.  Remember to decorate your new home and add all of those special touches that reflect your personality.  After all, a house is only a house until you make it a home.

Are you taking advantages of your tax shelter?

Owning a home has significant tax advantages. Whether you are looking for a home, or living in the one of your dreams, it is a good idea to be aware of every tax deduction being a homeowner offers.

1. Write off Mortgage Interests
2. Write off Interest to Home Equity Loans
3. Home Improvements Made for Health Purposes
4. Deduct Moving Costs
5. Deduct Property Taxes
6. Deduct Home Office Expenses (Only for Qualified Homeowners)
7. Pay No Income Taxes on Most Home Sales

You would not overpay for groceries, gas or entertainment. Why overpay on your taxes? I encourage you to examine every possible deduction before completing your taxes with a licensed professional. If you need more information on how owning real estate can be a tax benefit to you, give me a call. I am happy to help you take advantage of your current or future home.

September New Home Sales Take Off

New homes, the hottest sector of the real estate market, got even hotter in September as sales hit the fastest pace in two and a half years.

Sales of newly built, single-family homes rose 5.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 389,000 units in September, according to newly released figures from HUD and the U.S. Census Bureau. This is the fastest sales pace recorded since April of 2010.

“Combined with consistent, positive reports on housing starts, permits, prices and builder confidence in recent months, today’s data provides further confirmation that a gradual but steady housing recovery is underway across much of the nation,” said Barry Rutenberg, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder from Gainesville, Fla. “Consumers who have been on the sidelines during the past few years are deciding now is the time to go forward with a new-home purchase, assuming they can qualify for a good mortgage under today’s exceedingly stringent guidelines.”

“New-home sales this year have consistently and significantly out-paced their year-ago levels as favorable interest rates, rising prices and improving consumer confidence have driven demand higher,” noted NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “Meanwhile, despite a small increase in the inventory of new homes on the market in September, the number of completed new homes for sale is now at an all-time low and the month’s supply is at its tightest since October 2005. This is an indication that builders continue to have a tough time obtaining construction credit, even as demand for new homes increases.”

Three out of four regions registered substantial gains in new-home sales this September, including the Northeast’s 16.7 percent increase, the South’s 16.8 percent increase and the West’s 3.9 percent increase. The Midwest was the exception to the rule, with a 37.3 percent decline.

Meanwhile, the inventory of new homes for sale inched slightly upward to a still-low 145,000 units in September, which is a 4.5-month supply at the current sales pace.

Source: Beyond Today’s News, Forecasts, Housing Forecasts, Recovery

Cleaning Tips & Tricks

To clean your home is to free it from dirt, pollutants and other elements.  Not only that, but cleaning can also translate into organization and proper storage of your possessions and eliminate your home’s clutter.  Either way you look at it, cleaning is an important task and, although not the most fun, it can be simplified with a few tips, tricks and a little knowhow.

Roll With It

When storing clothes, roll them instead of folding.  This not only prevents fold lines, but also results in your clothing taking up less space.  What does this mean for you?  Quite simply, you can maximize your storage space and still keep your clothes free of creases.

Stain Removal

If you want to remove stains from countertops, appliances, flooring or other surfaces, consider using baking soda or a vinegar/water combination.  Either one of these is less harsh than typical cleaning products and still provides a quick fix for most of your stain removal needs.  You may also consider anti-bacterial liquid soap and water for cleaning some surfaces.  It’s important to note that you should never submerge any electrical appliance into water.  Instead, spot clean it with a cloth.

Categorize & Organize

Before starting to clean, create categories for your clutter.  By separating your items by intent, such as keep, donate and discard, you will be able to move through your cleanup quickly and efficiently.

Getting Rid Of Dust

When you clean, you are likely to stir up a little dust here and there.  Regardless of how much or how often you clean, dust is a part of life and it’s bound to find its way into a few corners.  If you want to reduce the presence of dust in your home, try using a portable air cleaner in the room where you are cleaning.

Cut It Out

Instead of simply tossing out your old bills or credit card offers, shred them with a cross-cut or confetti-cut paper shredder.  This will prevent any unscrupulous crook from sifting through your garbage and discovering personal financial information.  If you don’t own a paper shredder and don’t have the extra money in your budget to purchase one, simply use a pair of scissors and cut anything with your name, address, social security number or banking information into small unreadable pieces.

Plastic Please . . .

Cleaning leads to tossing those unwanted items away, which means you may have a need for a lot of garbage bags.  You can use the plastic bags from your local grocer to line your small wastebaskets.  The handles make them easy to retrieve, tie and discard.  The next time you are asked if you want paper or plastic, say plastic please.

How to buy a home with low down payment

Purchasing a home with a low down payment is important for a number of reasons, including the buyer’s ability to have extra cash left over for closing costs, decorating expenses, upgrades and/or other essentials needed to turn their new house into a home.  Thanks to the level of competition between mortgage lenders, it’s now easier than ever to buy a home with a low down payment.

First-Time Homebuyers

There are a lot of perks to being a first-time homebuyer, including the ability to get in the door with a low down payment.  Many lenders will ask for a down payment as low as five percent (three percent for FHA loans) to those looking to purchase their first home.

A first-time homebuyer is someone who has rented their previous home(s) or has never purchased a house on a permanent foundation.  Individuals who have owned manufactured homes may also be eligible for a first-time homebuyer loan, but the final decision is up to each individual lender.

FHA Loan

This type of loan is guaranteed by the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) and allows for a smaller down payment than many conventional loans.  In addition to offering down payments as low as three percent of the total purchase price, FHA loans often carry lower interest rates and are easier to qualify for.  This type of loan is ideal for first-time homebuyers, individuals with past credit problems or even those who wish to purchase a second home.

Provide Your Land As Collateral

If you own the land that you intend to build on, many lenders will use the land in place of a down payment.  In other words, you build a house on the land that you already own, and the lender gets both if you default.  This is why individuals who own land often choose to build, while using the lot in place of a big down payment.  In addition, many lenders are more willing to approve a loan if the land is already owned by the buyer.