Archive for the ‘Home Buyer Tips’ Category

Questions to Ask When Buying New Construction

June 14, 2018

Questions to Ask When Buying New ConstructionBuying a new home is exciting. Buying a brand new home can be even more so with the realization of being the first owner and possibly being able to choose your own layout and finishes.

The prospect of owning new construction is definitely exciting, but it doesn’t come without its own set of questions. If you’re in the market for a new home, and considering new construction, make note of the questions below when you begin your property search.

What are the long term plans for the community?

Unless you’re looking at custom homes on acreage, it’s likely new construction in your area will be located in a new development or in a master planned community. With this in mind, feel free to ask about the plans for the community. If it’s a large area, find out if any subdivisions are planned.

If there are only a few houses built so far, it’s likely to mean lots of construction in the months to come – which means a lot of noise and construction traffic. Also ask about the builder – if they’re well known and respected, it’s unlikely they’ll lose funding and the community will likely continue on as planned.

What are the homeowners association’s rules and regulations?

Many new developments and master planned communities come with a set of rules and regulations set by a homeowners association. If you’ve never lived in a community with a HOA, it’s important to find out the rules before investing in it. The bylaws and the CC&Rs will let you know what is and isn’t allowed in the community (especially when it comes to the exterior of your home).

You’ll also want to find out when the HOA fee begins – in some communities, it can start before the home is even finished.

Do you offer any buyer or financial incentives?

If the community or development is still in the early stages, there might be incentives (like a buyer discount, builder upgrades or other financial incentives or freebies) for buyers. Sometimes these offers come with a catch – where something is expected from the buyer in return for the incentive – but it’s important to ask about any offers that may be available, especially if the community is still up and coming.

Do you provide warranties?

New homes often come with different warranties. Ask if a workmanship and structural warranty come with the home. A workmanship warranty (or builder’s warranty) is a warranty for newly constructed homes that offer limited coverage on workmanship and components of the home like windows, siding, roofs, doors, plumbing, electrical and HVAC.

Traditionally, a workmanship warranty will cover a one or two year period; another likely warranty is a structural warranty, which covers the structure of a home. If a warranty is provided, make sure you know exactly what is and isn’t covered and how much you’re responsible for in case of any issues.

Can you connect me with some current homeowners?

Just as you would check reviews before buying an item online or booking a service, the same can be said for a home builder. Just because the product that’s being offered is a shiny new home doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do your due diligence and check references before making a large investment.

While it’s likely that the builder will provide glowing reviews, checking reference and review websites and even knocking on the doors of current homeowners will provide additional information and give you a wider understanding of the builder and its practices. Talking to current homeowners will provide information about the actual community.

New construction is exciting, but you want to make sure you have all pertinent information before you go through with a home purchase.

Contact your trusted home loan professional to get your pre-approval started today.

 

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What To Know When Looking At Active Adult Communities

June 7, 2018

What To Know When Looking At Active Adult CommunitiesFor many Americans, retirement age is fast approaching or already here: Baby Boomers account for nearly 75 million individuals in the United States.

Retirement can present a lot of opportunities, especially when it comes to relaxation, activities, and the enjoyment of life with those of a similar age. More and more Americans are looking to 55+ communities to fulfill those wants and needs.

Active Adult Communities

55+ communities, also known as an active adult or age-restricted communities, are becoming increasingly popular throughout the U.S. because of what they offer and can provide. Traditionally thought to be only in warmer climates, active adult communities can be found in almost every state, and with more people retiring, new communities are being added every year.

Just like buying in a regular neighborhood or a master-planned community, there are a number of things to know or understand when it comes to investing in an active adult community and lifestyle. If you’re considering selling your current home and relocating to a 55+ community, here are some important things to consider before the big move.

Location

Location is an important consideration. Active adult communities can be found all throughout the U.S. While Florida and Arizona are known for their 55+ communities, it’s very likely there’s a community close to where you currently live.

Location is more than just where the community is located – location includes the proximity to towns or cities. Some may want a community that is cut off from large cities; others may want to be close to large metropolitan areas for what they can offer.

Location also includes things like local taxes – some states are much friendlier to retirees than others when it comes to taxes.

It’s also important to note the community’s location relative to an international airport if you plan on traveling a lot, medical centers, and other amenities that may be frequented daily or weekly.

Size

The size of the community is an important part of the community experience for residents. Communities will range in size, from just a couple hundred residents to thousands. The larger the community, the more residents.

Larger communities may offer more activities and amenities while smaller ones may be able to offer more comfort and relaxation with the reduced number of residents. If you’re interested in maintaining an active lifestyle and making friends, a larger community may be a better choice than a smaller one.

It’s also important to note that a larger community may offer more deals or incentives to those looking to buy within the community.

Amenities

Amenities are incredibly important when considering buying a home in an active adult community. A larger community will likely have a number of amenities and events while a smaller community may be limited in terms of what it can provide to homeowners. 

When looking at communities, ask about the amenities provided within the community: is there a golf course, tennis courts, clubhouse, rec center, or arts and crafts studio?

Are there any clubs, group activities, or social events?

Does the community provide ample amenities to maintain an active lifestyle?

It is important to ask whether a membership is required to partake in any activities (especially with things like golf, tennis or the use of a clubhouse or rec center). If so, a membership structure within the community may add extra costs to the community.

HOA

Homeowners Associations have become increasingly popular within planned communities, and 55+ communities are no different. An HOA may have additional say on things within the community than in a regular neighborhood.

While maintaining the general areas, an HOA in an active adult community may also dictate whether a homeowner can grill outside, park a car on the street rather than in a garage, and some may go as far as to dictate the time of day a homeowner can have a conversation on a patio or deck.

While an HOA helps maintain the look and feel of a community as a whole, an overbearing HOA or homeowners board can possibly make living in a retirement community not very enjoyable for some individuals.

Living In Place

Another option to consider is whether the community offers a “living in place” option. This is still a relatively new concept but it is becoming more and more popular.

Living in place options offer homeowners the ability to buy a home in a community when they’re still active and able to live without accommodations. Then, should one’s health change or it becomes more difficult to live independently, the homeowners are able to move to a fully furnished apartment or condo within the community where cleaning, cooking and other services are provided.

These options allow homeowners to stay in one community through each phase of their retirement. More expensive than traditional active adult communities, they are a viable option for those planning for the long run.

Retirement is an exciting time. Finding a community that supports retirees and provides a place for relaxation is important for many people. If you’re looking at active adult communities, reach out to your trusted real estate agent to get more information about local communities in your area.

A 55+ community can be a great choice for those looking to enjoy retirement with other retirees. Happy hunting!

5 Important Questions to Ask When Buying New Construction

May 15, 2018

Questions to Ask When Buying New ConstructionBuying a new home is exciting. Buying a brand new home can be even more so with the realization of being the first owner and possibly being able to choose your own layout and finishes. The prospect of owning new construction is definitely exciting, but it doesn’t come without its own set of questions.

If you’re in the market for a new home, and considering new construction, make note of the questions below when you begin your property search.

What Are The Long Term Plans For The Community?

Unless you’re looking at custom homes on acreage, it’s likely new construction in your area will be located in a new development or in a master planned community. With this in mind, feel free to ask about the plans for the community.

If it’s a large area, find out if any subdivisions are planned. If there are only a few houses built so far, it’s likely to mean lots of construction in the months to come – which means a lot of noise and construction traffic.

Also ask about the builder – if they’re well known and respected, it’s unlikely they’ll lose funding and the community will likely continue on as planned.

What Are The Homeowners Association’s Rules And Regulations?

Many new developments and master planned communities come with a set of rules and regulations set by a homeowners association. If you’ve never lived in a community with an HOA, it’s important to find out the rules before investing in it.

The bylaws and the CC&Rs will let you know what is and isn’t allowed in the community (especially when it comes to the exterior of your home). You’ll also want to find out when the HOA fee begins – in some communities, it can start before the home is even finished.

Are There Any Buyer Or Financial Incentives?

If the community or development is still in the early stages, there might be incentives (like a buyer discount, builder upgrades or other financial incentives or freebies) for buyers.

Sometimes these offers come with a catch – where something is expected from the buyer in return for the incentive – but it’s important to ask about any offers that may be available, especially if the community is still up and coming.

Are Warranties Provided?

New homes often come with different warranties. Ask if a workmanship and structural warranty come with the home.

A workmanship warranty (or builder’s warranty) is a warranty for newly constructed homes that offer limited coverage on workmanship and components of the home like windows, siding, roofs, doors, plumbing, electrical and HVAC. Traditionally, a workmanship warranty will cover a one or two year period; another likely warranty is a structural warranty, which covers the structure of a home.

If a warranty is provided, make sure you know exactly what is and isn’t covered and how much you’re responsible for in case of any issues.

Can you connect me with some current homeowners?

Just as you would check reviews before buying an item online or booking a service, the same can be said for a home builder. Just because the product is a shiny new home doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do your due diligence and check references before making a large investment.

While it’s likely that the builder will provide glowing reviews, checking reference and review websites and even knocking on the doors of current homeowners will provide additional information and give you a wider understanding of the builder and its practices. Talking to current homeowners will provide information about the actual community.

New construction is exciting, but you want to make sure you have all pertinent information before you go through with a home purchase. Your real estate professional will be able to help navigate the waters of new construction. 

New Home Buyer? Don’t Make These 3 Common Mistakes!

May 11, 2018

New Home Buyer? Don't Make These 3 Common Mistakes!Looking for your new home can feel like a daunting task, especially if it’s your first time going through the home buying process.  Sometimes, all of the choices may feel overwhelming. You want to make the best decision for yourself and your family. 

Here’s a quick list of three common pitfalls that some home buyers experience:

Choosing to Skip the Inspection

A home inspection is a necessity. This is your opportunity for a professional to uncover any potential problems in a property that you cannot see. Or even something that you might not have known to check. Your new home is likely the largest financial investment in your life, so think about your home inspection as a type of safety net to prevent you from getting repair surprises right after you move into your dream home.

Not Planning Ahead For Life Changes

Life happens in ways that cannot always be planned ahead. Sometimes home buyers get excited about looking for a perfect home that will fit their immediate needs. Alternatively, if you take the approach of looking ahead and seeing how your new home might also meet future potential changes, you can save the time, trouble and expense of moving again. 

For instance, if you are a young couple buying your first home, you might not think you want more space than you can use right away.  In the event that you are thinking about starting a family in the next few years, it can be a cost effective decision to purchase a home with extra space to accomodate your future growing family now.

Trying To Avoid Using A Real Estate Professional

A common misconception among home buyers is the idea that they can save money on the purchase of a home if they can skip utilizing a buyer’s agent in the purchase of their property.  While that may seem like it makes sense, the reality is that the buyer’s representative in a real estate transaction is paid by the person selling the home. 

Not only that, but if you were trying to negotiate a transaction directly with a seller, you might overlook very important opportunities to create a stronger offer. Your seasoned real estate agent can point that out and help you maximize your purchase power.

A buyer’s agent also has access to real-time market information through their local Multiple Listing Service (MLS) which can uncover homes that may fit your needs better than anything you can find on your own. Even with all of the property search services that have been developed over the last few years, the active, professional real estate agent still has their thumb on the pulse of your local market.

Buying a home is a big decision and finding your dream home might take some time. Don’t forget that one of the first and best things a buyer can do is find out how much house they can afford. Contact your trusted mortgage professional to get your pre-approval underway so you are ready to put in an offer when you find just the right property for you.

 

When Is the Right Time to Buy Your First Home? Use This Easy 4 Point Checklist

February 13, 2018

When Is the Right Time to Buy Your First Home? Use This Easy 4 Point ChecklistAre you growing tired of renting? Or perhaps you’ve recently graduated from college and are looking to set down some roots? Whatever the case, buying your first home is an exciting prospect. Let’s take a look at a quick and easy four-point checklist that you can use to determine if you are ready to buy your first home.

#1: Is Your Credit In Good Shape?

How is your overall financial health? Once you have your down payment saved up, you should turn your attention to your credit rating. If you are going to borrow a mortgage to help cover the cost of your home, your lender will be doing some digging into your credit history. It is best to ensure that you aren’t late with any payments and have cleared off any black marks from past credit problems.

#2: Can You See Yourself Living In This Community?

Do you love the area you live in? Or are you thinking about moving to a community that you like a bit more than your current one? Perhaps it’s the local shops, the amenities, the walking trails or just being closer to work. It is always best to ‘love where you live,’ so ensure that you are buying your first home in a community that you can call home.

#3: Is Your Job Situation Stable?

Another factor to consider is your job or career situation. Are you likely to switch companies or be transferred to another division within the next few years? Be sure to give some thought to this as it will be inconvenient to have to move shortly after buying and furnishing a home.

#4: Are You Planning To Have Children?

Finally, have you considered what your family might look like in the future? Are you planning to get married, or if you are already married are you planning to have a family? If you have children now, do you expect to have any more of them? Keep in mind that as your children grow older, they will need a bit more space. If you have a couple of young kids sharing bunk beds, each will need their own bedroom soon enough.

When you’re ready to buy your first home, our friendly mortgage team is here to help you find the perfect financing. Give our offices a call and we will be happy to meet with you to discuss your needs.

Down Payments 101: Is It Worth It to Put More Than 20 Percent Down?

February 9, 2018

Down Payments 101: Is It Worth It to Put More Than 20 Percent Down?Are you thinking of buying a new home this spring or summer? If so, you’re not alone. Many thousands of individuals and families alike will become homeowners this year. Whether you’re a first-time buyer or a seasoned veteran of the housing market, you probably know there are significant choices to make. One of the big decisions you will have to ponder is how much you want to invest in your down payment.

With that in mind, let’s try to answer the question of whether or not it is worth it to put more than 20 percent of the home’s price in your down payment.

Ask Yourself: How Liquid Are You?

Before you can decide how much to put down, you first need to determine how liquid your finances are. That is, how much cash do you have access to? For example, if you are considering a $300,000 home, a 20 percent down payment is $60,000. If you have more than $60,000, fantastic. However, if you have less than that, you might have to do a bit of work to save up the remainder.

Even if you do have enough available cash now, you won’t have access to it once you take possession of the home. It is important to leave yourself with some cash in case of emergencies or for other uses.

Higher Down Payment, Lower Interest Rate

If you do choose to invest more than 20 percent in your down payment, it’s possible that you will gain access to a lower interest rate for your mortgage. Many lenders look favorably on homebuyers that are investing more of their own money and borrowing less. Be sure to check with your mortgage advisor to find out if you qualify for lower rates.

Lower Monthly Payments Await

Finally, choosing a down payment higher than 20 percent means that you will have lower monthly mortgage payments in the future. You are borrowing less so you will owe less. This can provide a nice boost to your monthly budget moving forward as you will have more free cash flow each month.

Try to keep in mind that there is no perfect answer to the question of how big your down payment should be. Choosing the best course of action means taking a good, long look at your current financial situation and deciding what your goals are. When you’re ready to discuss buying a new home contact us. Our professional mortgage team is happy to share our experience!

Curious About Homeowners’ Association (HOA) Fees? Here’s What You Need to Know

January 30, 2018

Curious About Homeowners' Association (HOA) Fees? Here's What You Need to KnowIf you are thinking of buying a condominium or a home that is part of a planned community, you have likely come across the term “homeowners’ association” or HOA. In short, the HOA is a coalition of local homeowners who have banded together to manage the needs of the local community. Let’s explore the concept of the homeowners’ association, why they charge fees and what you can expect from your HOA if you buy a home that is part of one.

HOA Fees Are Meant To Make Things Easier

HOA fees are meant to make your life easier. Common sense dictates that all homeowners won’t be able to commit to investing some of their time in community upkeep. So the HOA charges a monthly fee to everyone to cover the costs of keeping everything in order. Of course, some HOAs can make mistakes or foolish investments that don’t benefit all equally. But most are well-intended and do positive work.

What Do HOA Fees Cover?

Your HOA fees will be used to pay for needs that benefit all homeowners’ in the community. If you live in a building, this will be everything from elevator maintenance to keeping the doors in good order. If you live in a townhouse complex or planned community, this includes landscaping, gardening, road maintenance and more. As long as your HOA leaders are doing their job, they will use fees to maintain and improve the community for everyone.

Some Pros And Cons Of HOA Fees

The main benefit of paying HOA fees is that you are offloading your share of the responsibility for building or community upkeep. In essence, you are trading a monthly payment so that you don’t have to vacuum the common areas, change the light bulbs or worry about repairing the gate when it breaks. The main downside to paying HOA fees is that you only have a single vote as to how they are spent and you may disagree with other homeowners about the HOA’s priorities.

All things considered, whether or not you have a favorable view of your HOA generally comes down to you. If you are the type that likes to share their opinion and is willing to commit the time to improve your local community, you may want to join your HOA. However, if you are less interested in having someone spend your money, you might disagree with their approach. Whatever the case, when you are ready to buy your next home, contact our professional mortgage team. We’re happy to help you find the right financing for your new home – HOA or not.

3 Ways That Buying a New Construction Home Beats Buying an Existing One, Every Time

January 19, 2018

3 Ways That Buying a New Construction Home Beats Buying an Existing One, Every TimeAre you in the market for a new house? Whether you are a first-time home buyer or are upgrading to get more space, you will need to choose between buying an existing home or building a brand new one. As you might imagine, there are pros and cons to each kind of home. But if it is in your budget, you may want to lean towards a newer home over an older one. Let’s explore three reasons why new construction homes are better than existing homes.

Customize Every Aspect To Your Tastes

Ask anyone living in a custom-built home and they are likely to tell you that the ability to customize everything was a major deciding factor. When you build a brand-new home, your input isn’t limited to the floor plan or room layout. Your family can choose everything from the paint colors to the door hinges. Imagine having your pick of appliances, cabinets, flooring, and trim in every room – that’s what new construction is all about.

Modern, Efficient And Convenient

A brand-new home means a home that is energy-efficient and built for convenience. Your home can be designed with as much advanced technology as you have in mind. Seamless Wi-Fi and other wireless connectivity for all your devices. A cutting-edge video security system to keep your family safe. Efficient heating and cooling that offers superior indoor air quality. And, of course, lower energy costs and a smaller carbon footprint.

If you are a fan of technology and the conveniences it can provide, a new construction home is a perfect choice.

Many Years of Trouble-Free Living

Another benefit of living in a new home is that everything around you far less likely to fail over the next few years. Moving into an older home means worrying about the roof, the electrical wiring, the appliances and a whole host of other potential problems. In a new construction home, you will be surrounded by brand-new machinery that is built with the future in mind. Also, even if you do run into any issues with your home or appliances, it should all be under warranty.

If you’re ready to discuss financing options for a new construction home, contact us today. Our professional mortgage team is happy to help.

Looking to Buy a Home in 2018 and Don’t Know Where to Start? Here’s a Few Tips

January 18, 2018

Looking to Buy a Home in 2018 and Don't Know Where to Start? Here's a Few TipsAre you a renter that has become tired of paying someone else’s mortgage and not building any equity? Or a homeowner who has a growing family and is in need of more space? Whatever the case, if you are in the market for a new home there is no time like the present. Let’s explore a few tips that will help you to prepare for the home buying experience.

Tip #1: Prepare For A Busy Spring Season

First, it should be pretty obvious that you aren’t the only house hunter on the market. Other local individuals and families alike will be searching for a new house to call their own. As you may know, the spring is generally when the local real estate market starts to heat up. So, if you are looking to buy, you may want to address your needs earlier in the spring rather than later. The sooner you can get the paperwork signed, the less of a chance you end up in a bidding war.

Tip #2: Mortgage Rates May Be Trending Up

While this is in no way a prediction, there have been some indications that mortgage interest rates may be trending higher in 2018. If this does end up being the case, the cost of buying a home is going to be a little bit more. So if you can move quickly and get your mortgage pre-approved now, you may find that you end up with a better deal than those families who wait until the summer to make a move.

Tip #3: Prepare Your Finances And Credit In Advance

Finally, it’s a great best practice to ensure that your personal finances are prepared in advance. Your real estate agent will be able to assist you with which documentation you will need to have ready. You should also check in with one of the major credit reporting agencies. They will be able to advise you as to whether you have any issues with your credit rating or FICO score.

Buying a home is always an exciting experience – one which can be relatively stress-free if you are prepared. When you are ready to discuss financing your dream home, give our offices a call.

Buying a Rental Property? These 4 Key Tips Will Ensure You Buy One That Turns a Profit

January 3, 2018

Buying a Rental Property? These 4 Key Tips Will Ensure You Buy One That Turns a ProfitAre you starting to grow bored of watching your money go nowhere sitting in a bank account? With today’s interest rates doing little to encourage saving, many individuals are looking elsewhere for new investment opportunities. In today’s blog post we’ll share four essential tips for buying a profitable rental property. Let’s get started.

Buy A Property With Year-Round Potential

Many real estate investors agree that the best rental properties are those that generate income every day of the year. The most straightforward situation to manage is one where you have stable, long-term tenants in place that aren’t going to move or change often. Browse local property listings around schools, colleges, and large employers to see if there are any suitable homes for sale.

Once you gain experience and invest in other properties, consider branching out into vacation or short-term stay homes. But to get started, aim for stability.

Predict Your Income And Expenses

Next, you will want to craft a budget. Have a look through rental listings in your target communities to see what renters are currently paying. This will give you some idea of your potential rental income for a similar-sized home. You can then compare this to your estimated monthly mortgage payment, taxes, utility costs, and repairs. It is impossible to predict precisely how much you will need, but this exercise can quickly prove whether this area is likely to be profitable.

Treat Your Rental Properties Like A Business

Since you have already taken the first steps with a budget, you might as well continue down the path to a full business structure. Most real estate investors set their portfolio up in an incorporated or limited-liability company, which reduces personal exposure. It can also be an efficient way to manage any legal issues that arise as your investments grow. Also, there will be significant tax advantages, including being able to write-off expenses such as repairs, contractor work, and renovations.

Work With Experienced Professionals

Speaking of contractors, it’s worth reminding to only work with experienced professionals who are licensed, certified and have references. Paying for quality work up-front ensures that you won’t have to deal with hefty repair bills due to shoddy workmanship.

When you are ready to invest in rental properties, give us a call. Our professional mortgage team is happy to financing options that are perfect for investment and rental properties.