Category Archives: Home Buyer Tips

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.

Dodd-Frank’s Latest Gift: The Qualified Mortgage Rule

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act’s latest provision – the Qualified Mortgage rule – is going to effect on January 10, 2014.

While, like many of Dodd-Frank’s other features, its ability to protect customers remains to be seen, one of its impacts is already clear. Taking out a home loan just got harder.

The QM rule contains a set of provisions that, if followed, may protect lenders from lawsuits. They will also make it harder for customers to qualify to borrow money to buy a house.

Verifying Incomes

Lenders now have to follow stringent procedures to verify that borrowers can repay their loans. While many home loan lenders are already verifying and documenting borrower incomes, assets and debts, they will have to create additional paperwork to prove that they did their jobs.

DTI Caps

For a loan to be considered a qualifying mortgage, the borrower’s debt-to-income ratio can be no more than 43 percent. This means that if a borrower has $4,500 in gross monthly income, his total debt payments including his new mortgage cannot exceed $1,935 per month.

Previously, some lenders had been willing to go up to 45 percent.

Fee And Term Caps

Lenders will be less able to make creative loans, as well. Loans that meet the QM rule can be no longer than 30 years in length. They also cannot have closing costs and fees that exceed a cap of 3 percent of the loan’s balance.

Who Gets Impacted?

The good news is that the normal borrower taking out the normal loan might not notice the new QM rule. Borrowers that get squeezed are those that need to take out a loan that doesn’t fit the box laid out by the provisions. These include:

  • People in high-cost cities that need 40-year or interest-only mortgages to lower their payments.
  • Self-employed people and contractors that need to be able to borrow money on “stated” income without detailed verification.
  • Borrowers that can afford a loan but have other debts, like student loans.
  • Those that need non-traditional loans with high fees.

While the law still allow a lender to make a loan that isn’t a qualifying mortgage, given that the loan won’t have the same legal protections, its costs remain to be seen. This could end up pricing people with special needs out of the home loan market.

3 Considerations When Making A Down Payment

One of the challenges you will face when deciding how much money to put down on your new home is whether to put down a larger down payment or to take a bit of money from your down payment and use it to pay “discount points” to lower your interest rate.

There are pros and cons to doing both and each borrower’s situation will be different so it’s important to understand which option is best for your individual need.

Some Factors You Should Consider Include:

  • Cost Of Borrowing – generally speaking, to lower your interest rate will mean you pay a premium. Most lenders will charge as much as one percent (one point) on the face amount of your loan to decrease your mortgage interest rate. Before you agree to pay discount points, you need to calculate the amount of money you are going to save monthly and then determine how many months it will take to recover your investment. Remember, discount points are normally tax deductible so it may be important to talk to your tax planner for guidance.
  • Larger Down Payment Means More Equity – keep in mind, the larger your down payment, the less money you have to borrow and the more equity you have in your new home. This is important for borrowers in a number of ways including lower monthly payments, potentially better loan terms and possibly not having to purchase mortgage insurance depending on how much equity you will have at the time of closing.
  • Qualifying For A Loan – borrowers who are facing challenges qualifying for a loan should weigh which option (discount points or larger down payment) is likely to help them qualify. In some instances, using a combination of down payment and lower rates will make the difference. Your mortgage professional can help you determine which is most beneficial to you.

There is no answer that is right for every borrower. All of the factors that impact your mortgage loan and your overall financial situation must be considered when you are preparing for your home mortgage loan.

Talking with your mortgage professional and where appropriate your tax professional will help you make the decision that is right for your specific situation.

Beware Of Zombie Titles

With the economic downturn, anyone dealing in real estate quickly became familiar with previously little-known terms such as foreclosure and short sale. Now that the housing market is picking back up and people are moving on, a new term is coming to light — zombie titles.

The Zombie Title

This is when a home has been vacated because the owners defaulted on their loan and their bank started the foreclosure process. However, for some reason or another the bank never completed the foreclosure and sold the home.

So, when the city starts fining someone for the overgrown grass and dilapidated structure, the homeowner who thought they were finished with the property gets the bill.

A Home That Keeps Haunting

Homeowners think they don’t own the property any longer and therefore try to move on by rebuilding their credit score and finding a new place to live. It can be a rude awakening to find out that not only do they still own a home they could have been living in, but also its long vacancy has caused it to fall into disrepair.

Its Spooking The Neighborhood

These vacant homes can decrease the value of a neighborhood. If the bank or the un-suspecting homeowner are neither one taking care of the property, then it can become overgrown and an eyesore on the block. It becomes a problem with no solution because the owner won’t want to invest any money in fixing up the property when the bank could come back with the foreclosure at any time.

Nail Shut The Foreclosure Coffin

Homeowners who have foreclosed on a home should double check that their bank actually followed through to closing on a sale. They could contact their lender or check public property records just to make sure. Otherwise, they could be haunted by their housing nightmare all over again.

Don’t let the zombie title of a past property haunt your future! Check with your bank to make sure you’re free and clear of your foreclosure. If you’d like more information on zombie titles or have other questions, please contant your trusted mortgage professional.