8 Tips for Buying a Vacation Home

A vacation home is a perfect way to relax and unwind. If you are considering the purchase of a vacation home, check the following tips to get you unwinding in no time!

  1. Consider how you’ll use the home. Will it just be for family and friends, or do you plan to rent it as well? And realistically, how many times will you use it per year?
  2. Evaluate locations. Are there enough amenities and attractions to keep you— and renters—coming back year after year?
  3. Talk to the locals. What do they love about the area? What’s changing? And what’s it like during the off season?
  4. Study local laws. If you plan to rent the home, local rules may restrict rental periods or cap the number of days you can rent each year.
  5. Calculate costs. Along with mortgage, insurance, property taxes and association or amenities fees, plan for wear and tear. (A good rule of thumb: Budget 1½ percent of home’s value on repairs annually.) And if you intend to rent, add the cost of a property manager.
  6. Talk to an accountant. This person can advise you on such issues as the tax implications of rental income and changes in federal tax laws that could impact deductions.
  7. Test before you buy. Once you’ve settled on a spot, you should rent in every season so you can gauge busy and slow times.
  8. Work with a REALTOR®. Pick someone who knows the community and who can recommend the other experts you’ll want to consult.

Sources: Bankrate.com, Money magazine, HGTV, biggerpockets.com

15 Questions to Ask when Choosing a Lender

Buying a home is a major financial commitment. Understanding what to ask when buying a house can help ease the home buying process. Explore these 15 questions before you choose a lender:

  1. What are the most popular mortgages you offer? Why are they so popular?
  2. What fees are included in a loan; and what fees will be due at closing?
  3. Are your rates, terms, fees and closing costs negotiable?
  4. Do you offer discounts for inspections, home ownership classes or setting up automatic payments?
  5. Will I have to buy private mortgage insurance? If so, how much will it cost and how long will it be required?
  6. What are your escrow requirements?
  7. What bill-pay options do you offer?
  8. What would be included in my mortgage payment (homeowners insurance, property taxes, etc.)?
  9. Which type of mortgage plan would you recommend for my situation?
  10. Who will service this loan – your bank or another company?
  11. How long will the rate on this loan be locked-in? Will I be able to obtain a lower rate if the market rate drops during the lock-in period?
  12. How long will the loan approval process take?
  13. How long will it take to close the loan?
  14. Are the any charges or penalties for prepaying this loan?
  15. How much in total will I be paying over the life of this loan?

Are you ready to buy your next home? Contact me today!

Buying a Home: Step-by-Step

Buying a property is a complex undertaking, even if you’ve been through it before. This easy-to-follow checklist breaks down the process and will guide you through each major step.

  • Step 1: Decide to buy a property
  • Step 2: Establish criteria and budget
  • Step 3: Select and agent – contact me!
  • Step 4: Select a lender (if applicable)
  • Step 5: Visit properties
  • Step 6: Make an offer & Negotiate
  • Step 7: Inspect the property
  • Step 8: Get the property appraised (if applicable)
  • Step 9: Close

I can help you during this process. Contact me today!

7 Reasons to Own a Home

If you are like most home buyers, you probably have friends, family and coworkers encouraging you to buy a home. However, you may still be wondering if buying a home is the right thing to do. Well, having reservations is normal, and getting educated is the right move (pun intended)! The more you know about why you should buy a home, the less scary the entire process will appear to you. Here are seven good reasons why you should buy a home.

  1. Tax benefits: The U.S. Tax Code lets you deduct the interest you pay on your mortgage, your property taxes, and some of the costs involved in buying a home.
  2. Appreciation: Historically, real estate has had a long-term, stable growth in value. In fact, median single-family existing-home sale prices have increased on average 5.2 percent each year from 1972 through 2014, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. The 2007-2010 housing crisis has caused some to question the long-term value of real estate, but values were up 7.0 percent on a cumulative basis in the 2010-2020 decade. In addition, the number of U.S. households is expected to rise 10 to 15 percent over the next decade 2020-2030, creating continued high demand for housing.
  3. Equity: Money paid for rent is money that you’ll never see again, but mortgage payments let you build equity ownership interest in your home.
  4. Savings: Building equity in your home is a ready-made savings plan. And when you sell, you can generally take up to $250,000 ($500,000 for a married couple) as gain without owing any federal income tax.
  5. Predictability: Unlike rent, your fixed-rate mortgage payments don’t rise over the years so your housing costs may actually decline as you own the home longer. However, keep in mind that property taxes and insurance costs will likely increase.
  6. Freedom: The home is yours. You can decorate any way you want and choose the types of upgrades and new amenities that appeal to your lifestyle.
  7. Stability: Remaining in one neighborhood for several years allows you and your family time to build long-lasting relationships within the community. It also offers children the benefit of educational and social continuity.

Questions? Contact me today!

What Does it Mean to be Pre-Qualified?

Being pre-qualified means a lender has decided you will likely be approved for a loan up to a certain amount, based on your current financial situation.

To get pre-qualified, you simply tell a lender your level of income, assets, and debt. The lender will then take that unverified information and determine how much you will likely be approved for. There are no guarantees you will actually be approved for the same amount.

Benefits of being Pre-Qualified:

  • No effect on credit score
  • Helps you estimate what you can afford
  • Good for first-time home buyers

While pre-qualification is often the first step of the mortgage process, some sellers won’t take you seriously until you’ve been pre-approved.

Questions? Contact me today!

What Does it Mean to be Pre-Approved?

Being pre-approved means you’ve actually been verified and approved by a lender for a specific loan amount. When pre-approved, you will receive a letter that states your approved loan amount.

Unlike getting pre-qualified, when getting pre-approved, you provide documented financial information (pay stubs, statements, obligations, credit report, etc.) to be reviewed and verified by the lender.

Benefits of being Pre-Approved:

  • Gives you negotiation power
  • Helps you know exactly what you can afford
  • Allows you to close faster

Keep in mind that being pre-approved doesn’t guarantee you a loan. You still have to complete an application, go through the underwriting process, and wait for final approval from a lender. However, being pre-approved indicates your intent to purchase, so sellers look fondly upon buyers with pre-approval letters.

Questions? Contact me today!

Buying a Home: First Steps

If you’re thinking about buying a home, the first thing you should do is focus on exactly what you’re looking for by establishing your priorities in the following areas.

Location: determine the neighborhood by prioritizing the importance of how close you need schools, shops, or transportation to be related to your home.
Personal tastes: consider how large a home you need and also what style of architecture you prefer. Think about how many bedrooms, bathrooms, and other features that are important to you.
Budget: how much home can you afford? Find out as soon as possible! Mortgage specialists can assist you with this; ask them for a pre-approved or pre-qualified letter, which will come in handy when you are ready to make an offer.

Want to talk about these steps? Contact me today!