Here’s a quick way to check out home sales near you.

When you sell or purchase a home, its appraised value is based largely on recent sales of similar properties nearby. Looking at recent sales can help you better understand the value of your own home or one you may someday hope to purchase.

 

Here’s an online resource that will allow you to check sales prices in your area. Listed transactions are up to one year old and fall within a maximum three-mile radius of the address you search. You can follow the link next to each property to see more details.

 

If you find this resource useful, I invite you to share it with others. When you have questions about home values or home financing, please reach out. I’ll be glad to help.

 

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4 Tips To Save For That Down Payment

In order to save up a huge amount of cash for the down payment on your first mortgage, you need a solid savings plan!

When you take out a mortgage on your new home as a first time homebuyer, the more you can pay as a down payment the better. The down payment on a mortgage reduces the principle of the loan and means that you will be paying tens of thousands less in interest payments over the life of the loan.

Most financial experts recommend that you should save up at least 20% of the value of the home as a down payment. Depending on the value of the home that you want to buy, this can be a serious chunk of money.

The conventional saving tricks of skipping your morning latte and eating dinner at home just aren’t going to cut it when saving up this much money! You will need some strategies for saving big.

Here are some tips to help you get closer to that down payment:

Make A Separate Savings Account

No matter how much you have already saved for your down payment, create a new savings account to put the money in. When the money is in your personal account it is so much more tempting to spend it on day to day expenses. Also, a savings account will give you a better rate of interest so that you can help you money grow.

Pay Off Your Credit Cards First

If you have credit card debt, you will be paying interest charges to the credit card company every month. These charges can really add up, especially if you are only paying the minimum on your loans. If you can pay down this debt you will have extra money every month to put into your savings instead.

Get A Part-Time Job

If you want to accelerate yourself towards having your down payment saved up, you could consider taking on a part-time job in addition to your full-time job on a few evenings and weekends.

It doesn’t have to be something that you do forever, but even sticking with it for six months to a year will give you thousands in extra income that you can put straight towards your down payment.

Make A Backwards Budget

Do you find that after you have paid all of your bills and your living expenses, there is nothing left over to save? Rather than calculating all of the money that you use on your monthly expenses and then saving whatever is left afterwards, why not make your budget the other way around?

Start off with how much you want to be able to save per month then subtract that amount from your net income. The number you have left is what you have to live off.

You will find that you naturally change your habits to make this amount of money work for you and if it if not enough you can increase your income by getting a side gig. These are just a few ways that you can save up for a down payment on your first home in order to save money over the years on your mortgage.

5 Great Questions To Ask At An Open House

5 Great Questions To Ask At An Open HouseAn open house gives you a great opportunity to look more closely at real estate you might be interested in buying. It also affords you the chance to chat with the owner or real estate agent so you can bring up any issues or hesitations you have with the home.

Knowing what to ask can be difficult, so below are examples of questions to ask at the next open house you attend.

Why Has The Seller Decided To Sell Now?

If you ask why the seller is moving, you could learn valuable information to help determine your offer or possibly whether or not you want to buy the home.

Knowing whether the owners are about to go into foreclosure, have experienced trouble in the neighborhood, or if they’ve retired and completely paid off the home can help you understand how urgently they need to sell their property.

Has The Seller Had Any Other Offers?

Don’t forget that you are not only negotiating with the seller for a price, you are also competing with other potential buyers. It really helps to know what you are up against.

It is important to understand that you might not get a 100% straight answer to this question as most sellers know that competition or perceived competition can cause a potential buyer to move forward more quickly and at a higher price.

If you’re comfortable in this discussion, you might want to try and see if you can find out the details of any other offers.

Does The Property Have Special Ownership Costs?

Ask the agent or owner about the other costs associated with owning the property, such as Home Owners Association fees within a condo complex or a gated community. It’s important to know about these extra expenses in advance so you can make an informed offer.

You may also want to ask about any pending litigation concerning the property. Litigation is not always a deal killer, but it’s better to know the details before you sign closing documents.

What Furniture And Appliances Are Being Sold With The House?

Most of the time, a seller will include their major appliances such as the refrigerator, stove and dishwasher with the home, but this isn’t always the case. If you don’t already have these items, it’s important to know whether they are included in the purchase price.

Is There Anything Else That You Want To Leave With The Home?

This is an important question to ask. Especially if there are specific things in the home that you have a strong interest in. Perhaps there is custom art work or a pool table that fits perfectly in the game room.

The seller may be eager to part with those items and include them in the sale of the home or sell them at a large discount. The open house is a great opportunity to learn more about a home before making the decision to buy it, so be sure you ask the right questions.

Pitfalls And Warning Signs Of Making A Down Payment

Pitfalls And Warning Signs Of Making A Down PaymentWhen you already have a home, you may be interested in determining if a refinance is a good option. You will not have to worry about restrictions on down payments or some of the problems that can occur with a down payment.

However, if you are considering purchasing a home in or the surrounding communities, understanding down payment restrictions is important.

Gifting Of A Down Payment

There are some programs that will allow you to use a gift for your home down payment. However, before you assume this, make sure you talk to your loan officer. Generally speaking, the lender will require the person making the gift to provide a letter stating the money was a gift and does not require repayment.

Windfalls Of A Down Payment

When people hit the lottery or come into money through an inheritance, one of the first things they may consider is buying a new home. However, it is important to keep in mind that lenders will typically want to know exactly how you came up with your down payment.

Borrowers still need to show a “trail” of how they came into money. If your down payment amount has not been “seasoned” the lender may not accept your loan.

What Is A Seasoned Down Payment?

Generally speaking, your loan officer will want a “paper trail” to document your down payment. Most lenders require down payment funds to be at a minimum six months old.

For example, let’s assume a borrower did win the lottery: If they deposit the funds into their checking account and leave it there for six months or more, the funds would be considered seasoned.

Lender restrictions on down payment funds are fairly common. If you are uncertain if your funds meet the lender’s criteria, talk to your loan officer. In most cases, a lender will require at least one-half your down payment fall into the category of seasoned funds.

Some borrowers may use their retirement account or other savings to make their home down payment.

Don’t wait until the last minute to discuss your down payment with your loan officer because you may wind up disappointed. Keep in mind, every lender has different requirements and these rules may not apply to your lender.

Checklist To Buying A Home

communication,seth jacobs,maine mortgage,southern maine realtor,craig candageIn honor of the Southern Maine Spring Market and all the new buyers, I thought it would be helpful to review a standard checklist on what to expect when purchasing a home in Maine. Depending on the location and type of property will determine the finer details of purchase.  For this article, I will present a general checklist for buying a single family home:

  1. Begin by understanding your finances – you will need to know what you can afford to pay monthly as well as determining how much money you will need for a down payment.  Prepare a monthly budget to put everything into perspective.  This budget should include EVERY expense each month.
  2. Choose your Realtor – you want to choose a Southern Maine Realtor you trust.  The cost to a buyer for their service is “FREE” and they will represent you and your best interest throughout the transaction.  In many cases, your Realtor can refer you to a mortgage broker as well as other vendors throughout the entire transaction, this becomes your “Team of Professionals” that will help you along the way to successfully purchase a home you feel comfortable with.  The Realtor acts as the “conductor” of the entire process from beginning to end just like in an orchestra.
  3. Get Pre-approved before you start looking for a home – understanding what you can afford before you step into a property will make the process more smooth and straightforward.
  4. Look for a home – after meeting with your Realtor, you now should have determined what your want, how much your willing to spend and where you want to look. Start house hunting!
  5. Make an offer – working closely with your Realtor, they will help you understand what the best strategy is to offer on the property based the most recent sales in the area.
  6. Under Contract – this is the most exciting moment for the buyer! Your Realtor will guide you through the all the timeframes that are important within your contract.
  7. Inspection of home – by now, you are anxiously wondering what condition the home you are about to purchase is REALLY in.  Your Realtor should be able to have a preferred vendor list ranging from home inspectors to air/water testing and everything in between when it comes time to inspect the home.
  8. Obtain Homeowners Insurance – it is best to get a few quotes from various companies to get the most affordable and best coverage for your new home. Your Realtor should have referrals for you.
  9. Pack and Move – If you plan to use a moving company, secure this early on in the process so you know how much you are going to pack and how much the company will pack and set the date.  The rates vary depending on how much you pack yourself.
  10. Final Walk Through – either 24 hours or an hour before the day of closing, walk through the home to make sure it is in the same condition it was when you last viewed it and all the repairs have been completed to your satisfaction, if applicable.
  11. Closing – Once the title company receives your loan documents, you will receive a HUD statement which reviews in detail your fees and then amount of money needed for closing.  In most cases the money need to close  must be in the form of a cashiers check, so make sure you allow time to go to the bank prior to going to the closing.  Your Realtor will arrange with the title company the day and time of closing where you will sign the loan documents.
  12. Congratulations, you are now a home owner – After signing the documents, you get your keys and move in!  If there is any personalization you want to make to the home, its best to do it prior to moving in if possible.
  13. ENJOY!

As I have said since the beginning, please call a local  Maine REALTOR for all your real estate needs no matter how big or small.  We are trained professionals here to make your life easier. It’s best to surround yourself with the right team of professionals that can continuously give you the right advice for all your circumstances.

Craig Candage

Landing Real Estate

Mobile: 207-653-2483

craig@landinghomesmaine.com

ULTIMATE HOME BUYING TIPS

 home-buying-tips

1. Don’t buy if you can’t stay put.

If you are not sure if you will be in one place for at least a few years, then owning is probably not for you, at least not yet. With the transaction costs of buying and selling a home, you may end up losing money if you sell sooner than later.

2. Start by knowing your credit score.

Since you likely be getting a mortgage to buy a house, you should make sure your credit history is as clean as possible. A few months before you even start looking at homes, you should get a copy of your credit report.  There are several companies that can provide you with a FREE credit report.  Be sure to only use one company and only pull it once.  Having you credit pulled frequently can alter the numbers in a negative way.  Make sure the facts are correct, and fix any problems you discover.

3. Before house hunting, get pre-approved.

Getting pre-approved will allow you to better understand what your purchase power is.  You will save yourself the grief of looking at houses you can’t afford.  The difference between pre-qualification and pre-approval letters; pre-qualification is based on a quick review of your finances and pre-approval is based on your actual income, debt and credit history.  You want to put yourself in the best position to make a serious offer when you do find the right home. Get Pre-Qualified here

4. Get professional help.

Even though buyers have unlimited access to home listings on the internet, most new buyers (and many more experienced ones) are better off using a professional agent. You should find an agent who is reliable, experienced and trustworthy and sign an Exclusive Buyer Representation Agreement.  This will ensure they have your best interests at heart and can guide you through the process from beginning to close.  This is where you build your TEAM of professionals to successfully help you buy a home.  Click here for a Southern Maine Real Estate Agent

5. Purchase a home you can afford.

It is important to work closely with your mortgage lender to determine what your purchase power is.  You can also utilize one of many calculators available online to get a better handle on how your income, debts, and expenses affect what you can afford.

6. Understand there are many different types of loan programs.

There are a variety of different lenders who offer different loan programs.  When one lender says no, another can say yes! There are plenty of low-interest mortgages that require little to no down payment.

7. Buy in a town with good schools.

In most areas, this advice applies even if you don’t have school-age children. For re-sale purposes, understand that strong school districts are a top priority for many home buyers who do have school-age children, which boosts home property values. Southern Maine Property Seach.

8. Choose carefully between points and rate.

When picking a mortgage, you usually have the option of paying additional points in exchange for a lower interest rate.  Points are an upfront portion of the interest that you pay at closing.  If you stay in the house for a long time, typically 3-5 years or more, it’s usually a better deal to pay down the rate with the points which will save you more in the long run.

9. Do your homework before making an offer.

This is where you work closely with your buyer agent to understand the sales trend of similar homes in the neighborhood. So before making and offer, consider sales of similar homes in the last 3-6 months. Again, your buyer agent is the expert and can guide you with how to make a great offer.

10. Hire a home inspector.

It is imperative to have a neutral party inspect the home to help you get familiar with all the systems of the home and to determine the condition and quality of them.  Their job will be to point out potential problems that could require costly repairs down the road.

If you are looking to buy/sell a home please call me.

Craig Candage

Landing Real Estate

207-653-2483

craig@landinghomesmaine.com

Should I Shorten My Mortgage Term, Important Factors To Consider

When you first bought your home a few years ago, perhaps you started off with a 30 year mortgage. Now, you are considering refinancing and changing it to a 20 year or even a 15 year mortgage.

Shortening your mortgage term and refinancing can be a smart financial move, but before you make this decision there are a number of factors that you should consider.

Switching to a shorter mortgage will mean that your monthly payments will be higher, but you will be 100% paid off much sooner and you will save thousands of dollars in interest rates. Here are a few of the factors to consider before making this decision:

Has Your Situation Improved?

Perhaps you have moved to a higher paying position, allowing you to earn a higher income and pay off more of your mortgage every month? Or maybe you have received an inheritance, which will help you to make the payments? Perhaps your expenses have gone down and you will have more money left over from your wage?

Whatever the reason, if your financial situation has improved you might want to consider switching to a shorter mortgage. With your spare money, you will be able to make the larger payments and get your house paid off sooner.

Is The Improvement Long Term?

However, it is important to consider whether this improvement will last for the long term. Will your higher wage stay that way for the next several years? Are there any hidden expenses that you are failing to factor in?

You might be set up to repay larger monthly amounts on your mortgage at the moment, but you don’t want to set yourself up for failure in the future if your finances change.

What Are The Refinancing Costs?

Keep in mind that refinancing often comes with costs and fees, so make sure that you subtract these when you are making your calculations. It can sometimes take at least two or three years to recoup the fees, so make sure that you don’t plan on selling your home in the short term.

Can You Get A Better Rate?

One of the advantages of refinancing to a shorter mortgage is that you can sometimes get the opportunity to find a better rate. Perhaps if you have an adjustable rate you will be able to convert it to a fixed rate. Take a look at what is available and ask your financial advisor for help.

These are just a few important factors to consider when it comes to shortening your mortgage term. For more info about your home, contact your trusted mortgage professional.