Pamela McArdle's Blog
The perfect home is not the only thing you'll need to shop for when you want to become a homeowner. In order to get the best terms, the lowest monthly payment and a reasonable interest rate, start doing some homework now -- before you even attend your first open house.
1. Check Your Credit Score
Checking your credit score should be the first thing you do when you're considering the purchase of a home. Why? Because every lender you speak to will use it as a benchmark for determining the likelihood of you being able to pay off the debt. The better your credit score, the more favorable terms and interest rates a lender might offer you. The earlier you know your credit score, the more time you have to address any issues that might be contained in it. Remember, you're entitled to one free credit report from each of the three reporting agencies each year. Take advantage of this service and keep tabs on your credit score.
2. Have Steady Employment
Being able to demonstrate that you are gainfully employed will go a long way toward qualifying for a mortgage loan and being offered attractive interest rates. Aim for at least two years of unbroken employment. Be ready to back up your claims regarding the duration of your employment and the dollar amounts you bring home.
3. Offer a Sizable Down Payment
Come to the negotiating table with a lender and with a solid down payment, you'll be able to enjoy lower monthly payments. There's no fast rule regarding the amount of a down payment. That being said, most lenders like you to have at least 20 percent of the home's purchase price as the down payment. There are some lenders, however, who accept less than 20 percent. If your lender accepts down payments that are less than the standard 20 percent, expect to have to purchase private mortgage insurance. This can be anywhere from .05 percent to 1 percent.
4. Know Your Debt To Income Ratio
The debt to income ratio demonstrates your ability to pay off the mortgage as agreed upon. Most lenders like to see that your monthly debt payments are equal to or less than 43 percent of your gross monthly income.
In a seller's market, there might be several people vying for the same home. Addressing the items above can make you look more attractive compared to some of the other potential home buyers.
If you are handy with home repair, you could buy a more expensive house if you are willing to put some work into it. Many foreclosures are often sold “as is,” and require some work. The seller may also be more open to negotiating a lower price based on the number of repairs that need to be done. You could save quite a bit of money if you can do a lot of the work yourself.
The Down Payment
If you budgeted $300,000 for a home, you probably have the 20 percent down payment saved up already. Instead of putting all of that down payment on a $300,000 house, you could purchase a home that would be worth $400,000 if it didn’t need work. Instead, the sellers have listed the home for $200,000. Instead of putting $60,000 down on a home that is ready to move into, you could get a larger home and put down with a $40,000 down payment. That gives you $20,000 that you already saved to put into repairs.
Some lenders have loan programs that are specifically for fixer-uppers. They lend you the amount needed to purchase the home and extra money to make repairs to the house. However, you will have to follow the lender’s rules. The rules vary from lender to lender, but could include:
- Doing a percentage of the work yourself;
- Living on the property; and
- Completing a portion of the work within a specific amount of time.
If you already plan on doing most or all of the work yourself, you’ve met that condition. If you are required to live on the property, you could set up an RV or live in a section of the house that doesn’t need extensive repairs. You could even convert an outbuilding to an in-law apartment.
The hardest part is committing to completing a percentage of the work within a specific amount of time. If you work all day, you only have nights and weekends to work on the house.
Know What Has to Be Done
Before you commit to a loan with terms for extra money to fix up a home, go through the house to make a list of everything that absolutely must be done. You might make a second list of things that you would like to do, but do not stop you from living in the house. Determine the costs of the “must-do” repairs to make sure you have enough money to make those repairs. Then, estimate the amount of time it will take you to make those repairs. You might want to pad the time since Murphy’s Law loves to interfere with your best intentions.
Once you determine that you have enough money to at least get the house habitable and can do it within the lender’s terms, you are ready to make a bid!
Before you list your house, you'll need to establish a competitive price for it. That way, you can increase the likelihood of stirring up plenty of interest in your house as soon as it becomes available.
Now, let's take a look at three best practices for pricing your home.
1. Evaluate the Real Estate Market
The current real estate market's conditions can impact your ability to sell your residence. However, if you study the real estate market closely, you can differentiate between a buyer's and seller's market and plan accordingly.
In a buyer's market, the number of home sellers exceeds the number of homebuyers. As such, you likely will need to establish an aggressive price right away to separate your house from the competition.
On the other hand, a seller's market favors home sellers over homebuyers. If you're operating in a seller's market, you may be better equipped than ever before to earn a significant profit.
To differentiate between a buyer's and seller's market, examine the prices of recently sold homes and available homes in your area. This housing market data can provide deep insights into the current state of the housing market. Plus, this data can help you understand how your residence stacks up against the competition.
2. Conduct a Home Appraisal
Ultimately, a home appraisal can make a world of difference for any home seller, at any time.
During a home appraisal, a professional appraiser will examine your house both inside and out. Then, this appraiser will offer a valuation of your property based on his or her findings.
A home appraisal involves an evaluation of the current condition of your home, your house's age and your neighborhood. Therefore, if you complete a home appraisal, you should have no trouble using the appraisal results to help establish a fair price for your residence.
3. Collaborate with a Real Estate Agent
When it comes to selling a house, there is no need to work alone. Fortunately, if you collaborate with a real estate agent, you can receive expert insights into all aspects of the home selling cycle.
A real estate agent is happy to meet with you and learn about your home selling goals. Next, this housing market professional will offer home pricing recommendations, ensuring you can make an informed decision about how to price your house.
In addition, a real estate agent will go above and beyond the call of duty to ensure you can enjoy a seamless home selling experience. This housing market professional will promote your residence to large groups of homebuyers, set up home showings and open houses and put together an engaging and informative home listing. Also, a real estate agent will always keep you up to date about any offers on your home.
Looking to list your home in the near future? Use the aforementioned best practices, and you can establish a competitive price for your residence and boost your chances of a fast, profitable home sale.
If you've recently sold your house or are preparing to list your residence, now may be the perfect time to cut down on clutter. That way, you can remove excess items from your home and earn extra cash before you move into a new residence.
Of course, selling excess items may prove to be difficult, particularly for those with limited time and resources at their disposal. But individuals who use the web to their advantage should have no trouble selling excess items.
What does it take to effectively promote a wide range of items online to prospective buyers? Here are three tips to help you do just that.
1. Take Excellent Photos
Regardless of whether you're looking to sell an old tennis racquet or a rarely used refrigerator, it is important to take outstanding photos of your items. This will enable potential buyers to get a look at what an item has to offer and decide if it is right for them.
Before you photograph an item, clean this item thoroughly. By doing so, you can ensure the item will look pristine before you post photographs of it online.
Furthermore, take pictures of an item from multiple angles. And be sure there is sufficient lighting when you capture photographs, as this will allow you to showcase the true beauty of any item, at any time.
2. Provide Relevant Information
When it comes to selling excess items online, it pays to be honest. If you provide accurate, relevant information about an item to prospective buyers, you can increase the likelihood of connecting with the right audience.
Also, don't forget to include an engaging headline in your item description. This will help your item listing stand out from others, thereby improving your chances of stirring up substantial interest from dozens of potential buyers.
3. Respond to Buyer Concerns and Questions Immediately
An alert online seller usually is a profitable one. As such, if a buyer has a concern or question about an item listing, it is important to respond as quickly as possible to boost your chances of getting the best possible results.
For example, if you publish an item listing on Craigslist and a potential buyer sends you an email, you should try to respond within the first few hours. This will allow you to connect with the buyer and reduce the risk that the buyer will become impatient and look elsewhere for the same item.
If you need help decluttering your house and listing excess items online, your real estate agent may be able to lend a helping hand. This housing market professional understands the complexities of selling a house and moving into a new residence. Therefore, he or she can help you find innovative ways to declutter and streamline the moving process.
Take advantage of the aforementioned pre-moving tips – you'll be happy you did. Thanks to these tips, anyone can declutter a residence, sell excess items online and earn extra cash at the same time.
Anytime that you move it can be both physically and financially draining. Moving with children is no exception to this rule. There are certain things that you can do in order to make the transition easier when you move with kids. Children can feel a special sort of attachment to a place, especially their home. It’s important that you help them make a smooth transition.
Tell Your Kids About The Move
While it may seem convenient to hide the fact that you’re making a big move from your little ones, it’s not a good idea. Children are pretty intuitive. Sit down and have a conversation with them explaining where you’re going. You can even throw in the why if the move is due to the fact that you need more space or need to be closer to work. It may even be in your best interest to do this over your child’s favorite meal or at their favorite pizza place in town.
Donate Anything You’re Not Using
This can be a great teachable moment for kids in the moving process. Teach them about giving things to people who are less fortunate than they are by going through their toys and clothes. Show them that you are donating items from your own collection as well.
Let The Kids Be Involved
Kids can be involved with the move in many ways. Older kids can pack their own belongings in boxes and suitcases. Younger kids may need a bit more help. You can let them decorate the boxes as they are labeled. This will be a help for staying organized throughout the move.
Emphasize The Cool Things About The New Place
If your new house has some neat features that you know the kids will love, definitely share it with them. Some things to talk about with kids about the new place you’re moving to:
- New school
- Great neighborhood park
- Bigger bedroom
- Having their own rooms
- Playroom/ game room
- Great ice cream stand
Anything that you know will be a highlight for your child in the process of moving can help them to cope with the changes ahead.
Make Your Move Less Stressful By Staying Organized
It can be easy to snap at kids when you’re stressed out. Keep all of your important documents and papers in one place. Make sure you leave ample time for packing and moving. Hire a moving company if you need to as well. If you’re selling any of your belongings from your old house, make sure that you do so well in advance of the move to avoid any undue last minute stressors. With a bit of planning, moving with kids can go quite smoothly.