How to Stay Within Your Means When Shopping For a Home

Watch on your mobile device >>

Too often when homeowners work out the numbers to buy a new home, they neglect to consider all the factors at hand.  Sure, there is a payment – and most listing sites online will calculate and show the home mortgage payment estimate at a very reasonable level.  But what many people fail to realize is that the mortgage payment shown on those sites does not take into consideration a lot of other expenses as well.

When buying a home, it is absolutely essential to know exactly what you can afford and to buy only within your means.  In fact, had many homeowners bought within their means several years ago when it was very easy to obtain a mortgage, we might not have millions of people facing foreclosure and short sales nowadays.

Looking Beyond Your House Payment

It is critical for homeowners or prospective buyers to consider what they can afford before shopping for a new home.  A visit to the Realtor of your choice will help guide you in terms of matching the homes that fit your requirements with the budget you have in mind. Keep in mind that aside from the actual house payment, owning a home entails homeowners insurance, maintenance costs, housing taxes, utilities and monthly private mortgage insurance for those who do not have enough for a 20% down payment.  This can add up significantly and though it may look on paper like the monthly payment is the same as if you were to be renting, the truth is the costs can be much higher than renting.

Know Where Your Credit Stands

With the heavy regulations and guidelines placed on lenders these days, banks are even more careful about handing out loans to applicants who have borderline credit ratings.  It is very important for you, as a consumer, to know and understand your credit rating.  Nowadays, for an FHA loan, banks require a minimum FICO score of at least 620 to even accept an application.  Conventional loans have an even greater minimum credit score requirement.  If your credit suffers from some damage, be sure to actively repair it before applying for a mortgage so that the chances of approval are greater.

Bring Income-to-Debt Ratio To a Good Level

The amount you earn versus the amount you owe and the corresponding ratio is called the Income-to-Debt ratio.  Banks expect that you should owe no more than about 28 to 30 percent of your income.  The types of debt they take into consideration here are student or personal loans, credit card debt or other monthly payouts such as car payments.  Here is a calculator to help determine your current ratio.

Don’t Forget the Initial Cost to Buy the Home

Too many prospective homebuyers forget to factor in the expenses needed to actually purchase their home.  From paying for home inspections, appraisals, closing costs and down payments, to lending fees, documentation fees plus the real estate agent commission, things can add up fairly quickly.  Unless you have the amount needed to get through the transaction using cash on hand, it may be useful to reconsider the purchase until you do have the funds available.

Moving and Set-Up Costs Often Get Left Out of the Equation

After all is said and done, there is the cost to move into the home.  Depending on where you are moving from these costs can get pretty high.  For some homeowners, the need for additional furniture, more household items, expenses to repair or renovate some areas of the new home and of course the cost of moving – wipes out their entire savings.  Be sure to incorporate the cost of the move-in stage into the overall equation when deciding how much you can afford.
At the end of the day, you will need to be able to afford all costs in order to get into the house and then all expenses needed to be able to maintain living in the home.  As long as you can comfortably afford it, plus other expenses of life, you can safely go ahead and sign that dotted line.

Why Wait? Buy Up, Move In and Live It Up – Before This Year’s Holiday Season

Watch on your mobile device >>

Almost everyone is aware of the ever-present news about real estate and how prices are falling, interest rates are at their all-time low and inventory levels far exceed demand.  Traditionally the peak season to sell homes, regardless of whether it is a down market or in an upswing is during the spring months and into the summer.  As we head into winter and leave autumn behind, for most people the thought of buying a house just does not occur to them.

But think again.  This is one of the best times ever to buy a home and why not seize the opportunities that exist as an extra edge by buying during the off-peak season? Here are some great reasons why now is the perfect time to be considering a new home, a buy-up, an investment property or even a first-time starter house.

I See Your True Colors

During the warmer seasons it is easy to camouflage a host of issues that may exist with homes on the market such as leaking roofs, inadequate heating and cooling systems or structural issues that are not commonly visible to most people.  But a house’s true colors are often visible when it is viewed during the cold, wet winter months because there are the elements to contend with and faults that otherwise would not show up if viewed during warmer times.

I’m Tired of Waiting

For many homeowners who might have been trying to sell their house for many months during this down market, there is a good chance that the days on market is significantly high at this point of the year.  For a buyer this presents the benefit of a worn out seller who may be willing to offer just about any concession under the sun to get that house sold.  By carefully timing your purchase, you may be able to get some great deals on your dream home – all because of buying during an off-peak time of year.  Keep in mind, the people who are selling are usually those who are in the market to buy another home and the idea of moving during the dead of winter is simply not appealing so they too want to sell before the holiday season approaches.

Things Sure Are Getting Tight Around Here

The more time that goes by the harder it is to obtain a mortgage.  This is mainly because lenders are extremely wary of potential litigation in case of default, seeing the exacerbated number of foreclosures and short sales during the past 18 months.  Lenders are exercising stricter guidelines and extremely detailed underwriting processes to make sure all the t’s are crossed and i’s are dotted. Buying now only ensures that you are getting in on the mortgage process before things heat up even more.

They’re HOW Low?

Yes, interest rates remain to be one of the strongest motivations for buyers to buy no matter what time of year it is.  And with the last reported month’s figures showing a significant increase in home sales from the previous year to this one, it only further demonstrates how many people are cashing in on these very low interest rates.  Not only that, as Freddie Mac recently reported, due to the current economic situation in the US and Europe, interest rates dropped two weeks in a row.  There is no telling how long this will last – so naturally if you are even remotely in the market to buy a new house or upgrade from an existing one, now is definitely the time before the mortgage rates start to climb back up again.

New Memories in a New Home

Imagine celebrating the holidays in your new home.  And imagine celebrating the great deal, buying more house with less money.  For savvy homeowners and prospective buyers who seize these opportunities that only come around once in a lifetime, nothing could be greater than to be able to focus on the real things that matter in life – life and living in a happy home.