Buying A Home
How Much House Can You Afford?
There are several ways
to gauge how much you can afford to spend on a house. But, before you go
house-hunting, get pre-qualified for a mortgage so you'll know in what price
range you can shop. It is not unusual for first-time buyers to be somewhat
baffled about how to estimate what mortgage payment they will be able to handle
each month, plus how much money they'll need for a down payment and closing
That's why it is a good idea to get pre-qualified through a
lender before you even start to look for a home. Pre-qualification lets a buyer
know exactly how much a lender is willing to loan them. With pre-qualification
in hand, the buyer can save a lot of time-and frustration. Beacon Ridge Homes for sale.
Pre-qualification does not obligate buyers to take a loan from
the lender, nor should it involve any fees (until later, when they actually
apply for the loan). At the same time, you must understand that
pre-qualification is not pre-approval for a loan either which is a much more
involved formalized process that results in an actual letter of credit from a
lending institution for a specific loan. Depending on your unique
circumstances, you may wish to consider pre-approval as an option, but it is
not necessary-consult with your real estate professional to decide what's right
The less formal process of pre-qualifying on the other hand is a
tremendous tool for buyers to have when making an offer. Usually, pre-qualified
buyers have an edge when making a purchase offer because the seller knows that
the buyer is pre-qualified, and that there is at least one lender ready to make
it happen. In addition, it allows you the flexibility to choose the mortgage
that is best for you at the time of actual purchase-which is sometimes months
down the road. That can be important given the volatility of interest rates.
When a lender pre-qualifies, they are more concerned about the buyer's paying
ability than the price of the property.
For this reason, lenders are interested in more than just a
buyer's income. They also want to know how much existing debt a buyer has, what
their on-going financial obligations happen to be, and what the buyer's monthly
budget looks like.
Lenders use an established debt-to-income ratio, usually between .28 to 1 and
.38 to 1, to calculate the amount of the loan they are willing to give to a
buyer. For instance, a lender who uses a .3 to 1 debt-to-income ratio has
determined that payments toward debt reduction-including existing debt plus new
debt associated with buying a home-cannot be more than 30% of they buyer's
gross monthly income. North Carolina equestrian
An important factor that may influence a lender to authorize a
loan with a higher debt-to-income ratio - (where debt payments take a higher
percentage of a buyer's income) - is a larger down payment. Buyers who put a
larger percentage of the purchase price down (5%, 10%, 15%, 20%, etc.) are
considered better "risks," because the theory is that the more a
person has actually invested in the purchase, the less likely they are to
default on the loan.
Buyers usually discover that the pre-qualification process will
produce a home purchase price that is roughly 2 1/2 to 3 times their gross
annual income. The 2 1/2 -to-3 guideline is only a
general rule of thumb, however, and it doesn't take a buyer's full financial
situation into consideration. Since the lender's calculations will also
consider a buyer's actual debts and ongoing expenses, the loan
pre-qualification amount may be higher or lower. Regardless of the price
bracket a buyer targets, they should keep pre-qualification in mind.
How much should you budget to own your own
Aside from the down
payment, the three largest expenditures involved with the purchase of a home
are usually your monthly mortgage payment, insurance and taxes. Obviously, the
amount of your mortgage payment depends upon your down payment, rate of
interest and the price of the property.
Take, for example, a home that has a $200,000 mortgage. An 7% fixed mortgage for 30 years, will run approximately
$1330 per month. What about taxes? The rate will often
times vary from city-to-city, but generally you might expect your yearly tax
bill to total around 1.25% of the purchase price. That means, for a home with a
market value of $250,000, yearly taxes might run around $3125. A local real
estate agent can help prospective homeowners refine these figures.
In addition, it is important to keep in mind that there are many additional
expenses incurred with home ownership, some of the most obvious are utilities
and trash collection. Smart homeowners should also budget for one other item,
maintenance and upkeep of the home. If possible, a small amount should be set
aside each month to pay for those "rainy day" repairs such as
painting, plumbing (hot water heaters, garbage disposals), adding storm windows
(to improve energy usage), insulation (in attics), etc. Horse farms in the Carolinas.
But home ownership is not just a one way street-that is, aside
from spending money on repairs and maintenance, homeowners can profit from
their property. The most significant benefit is the tax deduction. It is no
secret that among the last real income tax deductions available to consumers
today are the interest paid on the home loan, and the property taxes. This can
amount to thousands of dollars in deductions each year. And, of course, the
primary benefit of home ownership is appreciation-equity that builds every
month. A home, aside from being a place that provides shelter, can be a profitable
investment, and the rising value of the property oftentimes provides another
So, when it comes to buying a new home, remember one thing ... the purchase of
a property requires budgeting and planning.
How do you go about finding a mortgage?
The commotion of
house hunting is finally over. You found just the right house, and your offer
has been accepted. It was a great buy. Now, just one more hurdle-getting a
loan-and you're home free. Often, buyers are so eager to get this "final
detail" behind them, they rush through this
portion of the transaction, and end up with less-than-ideal terms. Borrowers,
however, have something lenders want-their business. This positions them to
negotiate the best possible price (cost of loan), terms and service.
Let's look at price, or the cost of the loan. The first thing to
do is find out what the current rates are, information
readily available on the internet, in your newspaper or from your real estate
agent. When comparing rates, figure the annual percentage rate (APR), which
includes interest, extra fees and costs amortized over the life of the loan.
Also determine the number of points, if any, that the lender will charge to
make the loan. Moore
(A point is equal to one percent of the loan amount.)
Next, consider what loan options the lender offers. There are six or seven
basic types of loans, which vary in their duration. Check how rates are
calculated (fixed versus variable), and whether charges are fully amortized
over the life of the loan, or whether you'll have to pay points up front and/or
balloon payments at the end.
Is there a prepayment penalty clause?
Which terms are best for you depends on such factors
as what changes you expect in your income and what you predict will happen in
loan rates in the years ahead. For example, if you only plan to reside in the
home for a year or two, starting with a lower Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM)
might be the best choice. If you have no plans to move, and feel that inflation
will rise rapidly, a fixed rate would obviously be better.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, consider speed and
service. Buyers shouldn't have to wait days for approval and weeks for closing
just because the lender is slow. Remember, qualified buyers are great prospects
for lenders - so give your business to the lender who demonstrates they not
only want it, they deserve it.
How difficult is it to qualify for a mortgage
if you have a past credit problem?
Credit problems can
make it harder to qualify, but it's quite possible for buyers with poor credit
to obtain a home loan.
Anyone who has had a financial problem-whether it was a
matter of late credit payment, delinquent taxes, or even a judgment that
was filed-should expect this data to be a factor when applying for a mortgage. NC Equestrian communities.
How critical a factor? Minor lapses will probably have little or no effect.
However, buyers with serious problems may still qualify for a loan, but they
may have to pay a higher rate of interest or provide a larger down payment.
There are three steps that a person with past credit problems should take
before applying for a loan.
First, request a credit profile from one of three major credit
reporting agencies. To get copies of your credit report, start at: Credit Now -
Second, the buyer should optimize his or her credit profile by citing prompt
payment of rent, utilities, and other bills not reported on the credit
Finally, the buyer should be prepared to provide comprehensive and candid
explanations for any late payments to the loan officer. This is important
because problems not reported by the buyer but discovered by the lender will
Many lenders are understanding about one-time problems such as the loss of a
job, a medical emergency, etc.
Buyers with patterns of delinquent payments might want to
consider adding six months or a year of flawless credit to their track record
before pursuing their home-buying plans. So remember-if you are thinking about
purchasing a home, but are worried about your past financial record-don't give
up. There are solutions, lenders and agents who are in business to help. NC horse farm properties.
What are the five most common mistakes made by
first-time buyers-and how can you avoid them?
A good home-buying
decision is one that fits your lifestyle and your budget-a house you'll be able
to resell when the time is right. Sound simple? Not always.
Five common mistakes frequently made by first-time buyers.
1. Looking outside your price range.
To avoid disappointment, contact a real estate agent who can help you
pre-qualify before you start looking for a home. The agent can also provide
valuable insight on taxes and other expenses associated with a home (utility
2. Buying on impulse.
Buyers-especially first-timers-may be impressed by the first two or three homes
they view. Look at a good selection. List the positives and negatives. Narrow
the prospects to three or four, and then return for a closer look. Evaluate
more than just the property. Look at the surrounding area and community
amenities. Is this what you-and your family-want and need?
3. Not planning ahead. Think
seriously about any personal changes you are planning in the next five to seven
For instance, if you are planning on having children, consider how the home
will meet both your current and future needs. If a double-income is necessary
to qualify for financing-and make your payments-do your plans foresee an income
sufficient to continue making payments?
4. Failure to focus on location.
Don't just focus on the house, examine the neighborhood. Is the area safe, well
maintained, moderately quiet and close to work, stores, and schools?
Find out about zoning and what new construction is planned on any vacant land
in the immediate neighborhood.
Will the property be easy to market when you are prepared to sell it?
5. Failure to understand the home
buying process. Once you select a home, get involved. Find a
real estate agent willing to spend time with you, and don't hesitate to ask questions.
Have them explain the negotiation, financing and escrow processes and other
elements involved in the transaction.
Home-buying involves knowing the price, and what's inside and
around the property. Consider all your options carefully. This may be the most
important financial transaction of your life. Beach condos in New Smyrna for
What's the real difference between a new home
and an old one?
While each offers
its own style and charm, the difference usually boils down to two things:
1. How the home fits
into the buyer's lifestyle.
2. The condition of the
Homes that are 10 years old or less are generally better insulated - or have
dual-glazed windows or thermal panes - which translate into lower heating and
cooling bills. And, in today's rising energy cost environment, these
considerations are significant. Although there are some exceptions, homes that
have been built with all-electric systems, generally have higher utility bills.
Homes that range between 15 and 20 years old may be in need of new water pipes,
especially if the old ones were galvanized and if a water softener was used.
Water softeners and galvanized pipe can be deadly and, after 15-20 years, re-
plumbing is usually required. Have a plumber or general contractor inspect the pipes.
Needless to say, it can be expensive to re-plumb an entire system. Check the
built-in fixtures and appliances for any signs of damage.
Flush toilets, test all the water taps and the electrical sockets, open and
shut the windows, and try all the lights. Horse farm properties in North
A window that will not open may be a sign of a more significant
problem-for example, a wall may have shifted, or worse yet, it could indicate a
problem with the foundation itself. It is also a good idea to ask the seller
for copies of past utility bills. Examine them for some insight into what you
can expect monthly gas and electric costs to be. Although newer homes may be
free of significant physical or structural problems, there are other things to
consider in making your decision.
Generally, room size and yard size tend to be smaller in some
newer homes. While, on the other hand, they usually offer the benefit of the
latest building and design technology. Many new homes also have more windows
and natural light incorporated into their design plan, allowing for a more
spacious feel and efficient energy usage.
Should a buyer get a professional inspection for the home they
Definitely. Hiring a professional home inspector can save a great deal of grief
for buyers. The one exception would be when the home is new and carries a
written warranty by the builder. Many buyers mistakenly believe that the only
reason to have a home inspection is to make sure that the house they're buying
doesn't have defects serious enough to warrant backing out of the transaction.
But there's more to it than that. North Carolina Horse Farms for sale.
Certainly, an inspection will usually reveal major problems that
may even surprise the seller. The obvious ones are corroded plumbing,
antiquated and unsafe electrical systems, or structural and foundation
problems. And, the discovery of such problems may cause the buyer to re- think
his or her offer. Although a competent inspector can uncover deal-crushing
defects, these problems are usually not commonplace. Typically, the seller will
already have told the buyer about anything major. More often, inspections
reveal less serious problems; problems that may not be serious but can be
For instance, there could be a minor electrical defect, or
inferior ventilation of a heating system or fireplace. If so, the buyer is
usually in the position of having the purchase price reduced, or the defect
corrected. More important, it also prevents the minor problem from developing
into a major disaster a year or two down the road.
There is, of course, the possibility that the home inspection will produce
another outcome: everything is fine. In this case, they buyer gains piece of
mind, confident about the major investment he or she is about to make. That,
too, is an enormous benefit for the cost of the inspection.
Now, how does a buyer find a home inspection?
By asking their real estate agent, friends, or lender. Inspectors are also
listed in the Yellow Pages under "Home Inspection Services." But, a
word of advice, don't hire a contractor. Contractors earn their living doing
repair and renovation work, so their recommendations aren't likely to be as
objective as those of a professional inspector. Southern Pines commercial real
Is real estate a wise investment?
There are fewer
investments that have shown a better return. However, the key to investing
wisely in real estate is understanding how the industry differs from others.
For example, when the defense industry dips, it usually shows a national
decline and the stock prices of defense-oriented firms drop across the board.
The same is true of most industries. They are impacted nationally. That is not
the case with real estate, which is actually an industry and investment driven
by local conditions. One community may suddenly lose a manufacturing facility,
and almost overnight the market is flooded with properties for sale.
Obviously, the key to successful real estate investing, like
stocks and bonds, is to buy low and sell high. But, how do you know when the
"low" has been reached? Or, for that matter, how can you judge when
you property may be peaking in value? Some investors rely partially on the
media. They read the daily newspaper, watch television and follow the trends.
Although the media provides a good deal of information, remember that by the
time things are printed or broadcast, the news may be old. Beach condos in New
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For instance, you will find statistics frequently quoted in the
media that have been supplied by the National Association of REALTORS (NAR).
But, NAR statistics-like most- tell you where things have been, not where they
So what can you do? First, check local economic indicators. Also, the local
chamber of commerce can frequently help. They usually have information on which
companies are moving in and out of an area.
Logically, the relocation of a firm into a community generally
indicates that demand for real estate in that marketplace will increase-while
if firms are moving out of the area, housing demand will often shrink. Aside
from economic indicators, check real estate trends and cycles. Talk to a real
estate agent. They can provide statistics on how quickly homes have sold, how
prices have fluctuated in the past six to 12 months, and projections of future
home sales. They can show you how today's market compares to last year's. Are
sales headed up? Down? The same? The answers will not only help you determine
what the market is like in your area, but they will also be critically
important in helping you determine when and where to make your real estate
investment. Pinehurst NC land for sale.
Does a home warranty protect a buyer in the event something goes
wrong after they have purchased a property?
Sometimes. That's because home warranties are often times misunderstood and not
every warranty provides the same protection. All warranty companies are not
equal, either. Warranties, of course, were designed to protect buyers from
problems that emerged after they moved into a dwelling. For example, if a major
appliance breaks or the roof leaks, the ideal warranty kicks in and pays for
On the surface, this sounds simple and straight-forward. But, most of the time
it is not.
First, all warranties differ. Aside form the obvious
differences, the amount of deductible required, they may also vary as what is
covered and what is not. For instance, with some warranties if the hot water
heater works on the day of closing, but suddenly does not work six months
later, then it may be covered. And, with other policies if the water heater was
not in good working condition when the home was purchased, and it breaks a week
or two later, there is no coverage.
Warranties can be critically important when it comes to new construction, too.
Obviously, the reputation of the builder is an important consideration.
However, problems with new homes can be enormously expensive if they are not
covered by a warranty.
There are two types of defects when it comes to new homes -
patent or latent. Patent are those problems which can be seen. Cracked plaster,
a fence that is off level, etc. Latent problems develop later, and may not show
up for five or six months. Ground shifting, for example. Latent problems are
usually more expensive than patent problems. Thus, the warranty for a new home
can be one of the most important documents executed during the buying process.
Whether you're purchasing a new home or a resale, remember that warranties
definitely have a place when it comes to protection and peace or mind in the
real estate transaction, but make sure that you check them out carefully.
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Is a final walk through, an inspection of the property by the
buyer before they move in -- really important? Yes, it is. The intent of a
pre-closing inspection is to give the buyer one last opportunity to verify that
they are getting all that was promised in the sales contract. Although buyers
still have legal recourse if they discover-even after closing-that the
condition of the home is not as it should be.
The best time to identify problems is before closing, when the
seller will be motivated to correct any deficiencies in order to close the
transaction. Typically, a buyer takes possession of a property one to three
months after signing the sales agreement. But, a lot can happen before the
actual move-in. Appliances and fixtures can break down, and walls, carpets and
doors can be damaged during the seller's move-out. Sometimes the seller will
simply have forgotten that he or she had agreed to leave the refrigerator or
window coverings with the house. Whatever the reason, problems identified
before closing have the best chance of being remedied.
If possible, schedule the inspection right before the closing,
such as the day before. Ask your real estate agent to attend the inspection
with you. What should you be inspecting? Using a copy of the sales contract as
a checklist, first make sure that all items that should be in place
(appliances, built-in furniture, window coverings, fixtures, etc.) are there.
Test each appliance to make sure they work properly. Test all electrical
switches and the garage door opener, if there is one. Run the garbage disposal
and turn on every water faucet, checking under the sinks for leaks. Flush the
toilets. Inspect the floors, carpets, walls and doors for recent damage. If you
discover that something is damaged or missing, make a note of it and inform
your agent immediately. Pinehurst land for sale.
In most cases, the seller is usually able to take care of small
problems immediately, either by making a needed repair or offering compensation
to handle it. And, if there are major problems the seller can even sign a
statement acknowledging the deficiency and agree to correct it. Although
pre-closing inspections take time and may be inconvenient, they are important
and well worth the buyer's time.
What are "contingencies" and why are
"contingency," is an escape-clause that is added in-writing to a
contract which allows a buyer to back out of the transaction if certain conditions
aren't met. Some contingencies, often called `riders'-like attorney approval of
the contract, or the passing of a home inspection-are obviously designed to
protect buyers from a poorly written contract or a defective home.
Other purchase contingencies may hinge on the buyer's current
living situation, or his or her cash-flow. For example, when it comes to
contingencies many first-time buyers can be better prospects for a seller's
home than move-up buyers. Why? Because offers from homeowners usually are
contingent upon the sale of their present home. And, even if a move-up buyer
has an offer for their home in-hand, their buyer's offer may be contingent on
another contingency (or sale) and so on down the line. If one transaction in
the chain falls through, they all might. Cash offers can also be more
attractive to sellers.
Why? After all, the seller will get their money at closing
whether or not the buyer has cash or takes out a loan. True, but cash offers
don't require lender approval, and loan approval is never a certainty and may
delay or prevent closing. (Incidentally, for this reason, buyers who get
pre-qualified for a loan have an edge over other buyers. A pre-qualified buyer
is the same as a cash buyer.) Buyers offering a larger-than-customary amount of
"earnest money", (a deposit that accompanies an offer) can be more
appealing too. More money deposited with the signed contract often demonstrates
greater sincerity and motivation to close the transaction. Moore County
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