3 Tips for a First-Time Condo Buyer

Buying a condo may seem like an uphill climb, particularly for those who are browsing the real estate market for the first time. Lucky for you, we’re here to help you take the guesswork out of finding the right condo.

What does it take to locate a high-quality condo at an affordable price? Here are three tips that every first-time condo buyer needs to know.

1. Explore a Wide Range of Condos

The real estate market is filled with many first-rate condos, and the sheer volume of properties that are available may feel overwhelming at times. Therefore, you should allocate the necessary time and resources to find a condo that suits you perfectly.

Don’t be afraid to check out several condos over the course of a few days or weeks. By doing so, you can better understand what you’d like to find in the ideal condo.

Of course, if you fall in love with a condo, you should be ready to submit an offer. That way, you can avoid the risk of missing out on a great condo that matches or exceeds your expectations.

2. Determine How You’ll Pay for a Condo

Many property buyers get pre-approved for a mortgage, and for good reason. With a mortgage in hand, you’ll know exactly what you can afford as you review the real estate market.

Meet with a variety of banks and credit unions. These lenders will be able to provide you with multiple mortgage options and respond to your financing concerns and queries.

Also, keep in mind that the price of a condo may extend beyond your monthly mortgage payments.

In many instances, condo communities have homeowners’ associations (HOAs) in place that will charge monthly fees. Learn about any HOA fees in advance, and you’ll know exactly what you’ll need to pay each month to live in a particular condo community.

3. Work with a Real Estate Agent

No one should be forced to evaluate condos on their own. Fortunately, you can hire a real estate agent to streamline the process of finding a terrific condo.

A real estate agent with condo experience understands the hurdles that may arise during a condo search. As such, he or she will do whatever it takes to ensure you can get the best results possible as you look for the perfect condo.

For instance, a real estate agent will set up condo showings and keep you up to date about open houses. This real estate professional will even negotiate with a condo seller on your behalf, which means you won’t have to worry about breaking your budget to purchase a stellar condo.

Employing a real estate agent enables you to get expert advice at each stage of the condo buying process too. Thus, you can receive instant responses to your condo buying questions at any time.

Simplify the process of buying your first condo – use the aforementioned tips, and you can boost your chances of acquiring a superb condo at a budget-friendly price.

What to Do the Day Before You Complete Your Home Purchase

With 24 hours before you finalize your home purchase, you might feel a mix of anxiety and excitement.

What will it be like to finally own a home? How will the home closing process go? And what will I need to do to ensure everything goes seamlessly as you wrap up your home purchase? These are just some of the common questions that homebuyers consider in the hours leading up to a home closing.

It is important to prepare as much as possible before you complete a home purchase. Lucky for you, we’re here to help you do just that.

Let’s take a look at three tips that you can use to get ready to finish a home purchase.

1. Get Your Paperwork in Order

You may need multiple forms of identification and other essential documents when you close on a home. Thus, you should put together a folder of any must-have documents at least a day in advance.

If you find that documents are missing, retrieve them as quickly as possible. Also, try to get multiple copies of important documents if you can.

When it comes to getting ready for a home closing, it usually is better to over-prepare. Therefore, if you plan ahead as much as you can, you’ll have all of the documents you need to complete the home closing process without delay.

2. Finish Any Last-Minute Packing

After you finalize a home purchase, you’ll be ready to move in to your new home. As such, you should ensure that all of your belongings are packed up and ready to go.

If you’re vacating an apartment, ensure that you’ve notified your landlord and provided sufficient notice about your upcoming move. That way, you’ll be able to finish your rental agreement on good terms with your landlord.

Also, if you need extra help for your move, be sure to reach out to a moving company or family members and friends. And if you require a moving truck, don’t forget to rent one in the days leading up to your move.

3. Consult with Your Real Estate Agent

The day before a home closing can be stressful, particularly for first-time homebuyers. If you have any concerns about the home closing process, be sure to consult with your real estate agent.

Your real estate agent likely has been a life-saver throughout the homebuying process thus far and will continue to assist you in any way possible. If you have questions about the home closing cycle, your real estate agent will respond to your queries immediately.

In addition, your real estate agent can teach you the ins and outs about what will happen before, during and after a home closing. He or she will explain what to look for during a final home walk-through, what home closing forms that you’ll need to sign and what to expect after a home purchase.

Streamline the home closing process – use these tips, and you can get take the guesswork out of finalizing a home purchase.

Avoiding Obstacles to Buying a New Home

Searching for the ideal home is an exciting adventure, but it can also be fraught with setbacks, delays, and disappointments. With a little preparation, however, you can avoid many of the potential pitfalls that could happen along the way.

One of the secrets of successful house hunters is to adopt a positive attitude, but temper it with a dose of realism.

Flexibility is also important, but it pays to be steadfast about your absolute requirements, also known as your “must have” list.

To help ensure a successful house hunting experience, here are a few of the key attitudes and qualities that are worth taking inventory of and cultivating.

Persistence: Although it does happen, it’s unlikely that the house of your dreams is going to show up at the beginning of your search. As seasoned house hunters know, it’s not unusual to have to look at dozens of houses for sale before finding just the right one. But even when you’ve reached that turning point, there still may be obstacles, hurdles, and challenges to deal with. The perfect example is a bidding war. What if you’re all ready to make an offer on the ideal house, but it turns out that one or more other buyers have their sights set on that same house? That can not only be stressful, but it can stretch your housing budget to its outer limits (and beyond)! On one hand, you have to be willing to walk away from a property that would leave you “house poor”, but on the other hand, you may want to consider pursuing a real estate deal that’s on the high end of your budget, but financially doable. Working with a knowledgeable real estate agent who’s a skilled negotiator can help give you an edge when you’re confronted with a so-called “bidding war.”

Optimism: If you view house hunting as a process which will eventually produce your desired outcome, then you’ll be a lot more motivated to go the distance, rather than lower your standards or give up entirely. A positive attitude will help you overcome setbacks, identify workable solutions, and recognize opportunities when they present themselves.

Organization: Whether you prefer the idiom “The devil is in the details” or “God is in the details,” the lesson is still the same: Small details can have a big impact. Staying goal-oriented and organized can help propel you forward and avoid frustrations. Knowing your credit score, establishing a realistic housing budget, and scheduling meetings with mortgage lenders will help you stay on course, be prepared, and steer clear of unnecessary delays. It also helps to take notes, create lists, and follow a daily or weekly action plan.

Buying a house is an important priority which can affect the quality of your life in many ways. By staying organized, focused, and positive about your search, your chances of success will be enhanced many times over.

Avoid Making a “Lowball” Offer on a Home

After a thorough review of the real estate market, you’ve found your dream home. Now, you just need to submit a fair offer that the home seller will accept.

Regardless of whether you’re shopping for a home in a buyers’ market or a sellers’ market, you’ll want to avoid the risk of submitting a “lowball” offer, i.e. an offer that a home seller will turn down immediately.

Remember, if you want to land your ideal home, you’ll likely need to submit an offer that is attractive to a home seller. And if you know what it takes to minimize the dangers of submitting a lowball proposal, you’ll be better equipped to secure your dream house quickly.

Making a fair offer on a home is simple – here are three tips to ensure you can avoid the dangers of submitting a lowball offer:

1. Review the Real Estate Market.

As a diligent homebuyer, you’ve probably checked out dozens of residences in your search for the perfect home. Along the way, you might have even noticed that home prices vary depending on the size and condition of a residence.

The real estate market remains in a constant state of flux, and what a home is worth today is unlikely what it is going to be worth in five years. However, a homebuyer who evaluates real estate market trends as well as prices of similar homes in a particular area should have no trouble submitting a fair offer on his or her dream house.

2. Evaluate the Condition of the Home.

Keep in mind that the condition of the home may impact its short- and long-term value. Thus, you should try to submit an offer that accounts for the overall condition of a residence.

For instance, a home’s old furnace may need to be replaced in the near future, and doing so could prove to be both costly and time-consuming. But if you consider the cost of a new furnace installation in your proposal, you may be able to justify submitting an offer that is below a home seller’s initial asking price. Or, in some cases, you may be able to convince the home seller to repair or replace this furnace to seal the deal.

3. Understand Your Budget.

You’ve been pre-approved for a mortgage and know your budget for a new home. When you submit an offer, you should keep your budget in mind and ensure you’ll be able to make the mortgage payments if a home seller accepts your proposal.

A homebuyer who understands his or her budget can explore residences within a set price range. And ultimately, this homebuyer will be able to eliminate the chance of submitting a lowball offer on a house that he or she may be unable to afford down the line.

When in doubt, don’t be afraid to discuss your options with your real estate agent, too. This professional can offer insights into how much similar homes in an area have sold for recently, along with other housing market resources and tips to help you secure a house at a fair price.

Avoid the dangers of submitting a lowball offer on a home, and you’ll be better equipped to land your dream residence without delay.

Factors for Homebuyers to Consider Before They Make an Offer

The real estate market is filled with many high-quality residences, and after a comprehensive search, you’ve found a residence that fits your personal needs and budget perfectly. However, you may need to think twice before you submit an offer on this residence.

There are many factors that homebuyers should consider before they make an offer on a house, including:

1. Neighborhood

Ideally, you’ll want to find a home in a community filled with friendly neighbors. But in many cases, homebuyers may focus exclusively on a residence and ignore the neighborhood entirely.

Taking a walk around a neighborhood often allows you to get a better feel about what it is like to live in a neighborhood and may give you a chance to meet some of the neighbors as well. Also, a simple walk around the block will provide you with a better idea about whether a house’s value may rise or fall in the foreseeable future.

For instance, a neighborhood filled with houses with well-maintained front lawns, nearby parks and schools and other local amenities may prosper for years to come, and home values may rise in this neighborhood over the next few years.

2. Crime

No one wants to live in an unsafe area, and you can learn about crime near a prospective home before you submit an offer on a residence.

Contacting a local police station usually is a great idea for homebuyers who want to find out about crime statistics in a particular area.

Furthermore, your real estate agent can provide insights into crime in a specific area and help you determine whether a particular house is the best option.

3. Traffic

Although your dream home features all of the amenities you want, it might fail to provide you with quick, easy access to your office day after day.

For example, traffic can be a problem if your house is located in or near a major city. And if you need to travel to work every day, it is important to understand how traffic could affect your daily commute.

To better understand traffic patterns in a particular area, try driving to a residence at different times during the day. By doing so, you can learn about traffic patterns near a house and be better equipped to make a more informed decision about whether to submit an offer on a residence.

4. Taxes

You’ve been pre-approved for a mortgage and have established a monthly budget for a new home, but taxes may vary depending on where you move. Thus, you’ll want to learn as much as possible about potential taxes that you could face at a new residence before you submit an offer.

Taxes may add up quickly, but homebuyers who budget accordingly can minimize the risk that they’ll fall behind on tax bills. And with support from your real estate agent, you can learn about taxes that you may encounter if you purchase a particular residence.

If you’re fully satisfied with a residence after you consider the aforementioned factors, you’ll be ready to submit an offer and move one step closer to moving into your dream house.

Best Practices for Creating a Homebuying Budget

If you want to purchase a home, it pays to establish a homebuying budget. By doing so, you can enter the housing market with a budget in hand and narrow your search for your dream house.

Now, let’s take a look at three best practices to help you create a homebuying budget.

1. Look at Your Finances

Your finances will play a major role in your ability to purchase a home. Thus, you should evaluate your current financial situation closely so you can map out an effective homebuying journey.

Request a copy of your credit report – you’ll be glad you did. You are eligible for a free copy of your credit report from each of the three reporting bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) annually. Take advantage of this complimentary perk, and you can gain deep insights into your outstanding debt.

If you have outstanding debt, try to pay this down as much as possible. That way, you can boost your credit score, which ultimately will help you improve your chances to acquire your ideal residence.

2. Meet with Banks and Credit Unions

When it comes to buying a home, meeting with banks and credit unions usually is a great idea. That way, you can learn about your home loan options and get pre-approved for a mortgage.

Apply for a mortgage from several banks and credit unions. Then, you can receive various mortgage quotes and select one that suits you perfectly.

Also, don’t hesitate to ask plenty of questions during a lender consultation. Banks and credit unions employ friendly, knowledgeable mortgage professionals – all of whom are happy to help you make an informed mortgage decision. Therefore, if you’re unsure about whether to proceed with a 15- or 30-year mortgage or can’t decide between an adjustable- or fixed-rate mortgage, you can ask these mortgage professionals for expert advice.

3. Consult with a Real Estate Agent

A homebuying budget is tricky to establish on your own, especially if you are entering the real estate market for the first time. Fortunately, a real estate agent can help you plan ahead for all stages of the homebuying cycle.

During a real estate agent consultation, a housing market professional will learn about your homebuying goals. Next, this professional will help you establish realistic homebuying expectations and ensure you can discover a great house at a budget-friendly price.

Of course, let’s not forget about the world-class support that a real estate agent provides after you kick off a home search, either.

A real estate agent will set up home showings, keep you informed about open houses and offer homebuying recommendations and suggestions. Perhaps best of all, a real estate agent can negotiate with a seller’s agent on your behalf to help you get the best price on a house.

Ready to begin your search for your dream home? Use the aforementioned best practices, and you can craft a homebuying budget and start your homebuying journey.

How to Be a Responsive Homebuyer

Do you have what it takes to be a responsive homebuyer? Ultimately, your ability to respond to requests from home sellers and others may dictate your homebuying success.

Becoming a responsive homebuyer can be easy – here are three tips to ensure you can do just that.

1. Learn About the Housing Market

A responsive homebuyer understands that he or she has a lot to learn about the housing market. As such, this individual will allocate the necessary time and resources to analyze the real estate sector.

Typically, a responsive homebuyer will perform comprehensive online research. This will help a homebuyer assess a broad range of residences so he or she can tailor a home search accordingly.

Let’s not forget about a responsive homebuyer’s diligence, either.

A responsive homebuyer may work with an expert real estate agent, i.e. a housing market professional who knows what it takes to land a top-notch house at a budget-friendly price. By doing so, this homebuyer can boost his or her chances of streamlining the homebuying process.

2. Be Available

Are you ready to check out houses as soon as they become available? A responsive homebuyer should have no trouble tracking the housing market and staying up to date about new residences. That way, this individual can act quickly if he or she discovers the perfect home.

An informed approach can make a world of difference, and in most cases, separates a responsive homebuyer from an ordinary property buyer.

Usually, a responsive homebuyer will study the housing market closely and track new houses daily. This property buyer also may collaborate with a real estate agent who will keep him or her informed about new houses that become available.

Perhaps most important, a responsive homebuyer will be ready to accept phone calls, emails and texts throughout the homebuying cycle. He or she will even be open to communication with a home seller – something that may help this homebuyer acquire a first-rate house.

3. Offer Positive Responses to Feedback

Although a responsive homebuyer is eager to learn about the real estate sector, he or she won’t pretend to be a housing market expert. In fact, this individual often is happy to receive feedback throughout the homebuying cycle.

A responsive homebuyer may consult with a real estate agent who can offer homebuying recommendations and suggestions. This homebuyer may not always agree with a real estate agent’s advice, but he or she also will listen to everything that a housing market professional has to say.

Becoming a responsive homebuyer may seem like an uphill climb. However, with support from a real estate agent, you may be able to accelerate the process of transforming your homeownership dream into a reality.

Real estate agents are available in cities and towns nationwide and serve as homebuying guides. These housing market professionals can help homebuyers find residences that they can enjoy for years to come.

Take the next step to become a responsive homebuyer – use these tips, and you can move one step closer to securing your ideal residence.

3 Signs That Now Is the Right Time to Buy a Home

Ready to enter the housing market and find your dream residence? Ultimately, there are many signs that indicate now may be the perfect time to buy a house, including:

1. Your family is growing.

If you recently got engaged to the love of your life, tied the knot with that special someone or have kids on the way, now may prove to be an ideal time to buy a house.

A home offers plenty of space, ensuring that you and your entire family can reap the benefits of a superb living space. Plus, many affordable mortgage options are available, making it easy for you to purchase a house without having to worry about breaking your budget.

Before you begin your home search, consult with a real estate agent – you’ll be glad you did! Your real estate agent can help you determine exactly what you’d like to find in a home, ensuring that you can purchase a house that meets or exceeds your expectations.

2. You’ve secured a new job.

Now that you’ve landed your dream job, you may want to consider pursuing your dream house as well.

With a new, high-paying job in hand, you may be better equipped than ever before to make monthly mortgage payments on a residence. Also, you can work with a credit union or bank to secure a mortgage that matches your budget.

Furthermore, if you’ve landed a job that is several hours away from your current location, you may need to relocate. And if you hire an experienced real estate agent, you should have no trouble finding a great residence quickly and effortlessly.

An experienced real estate agent understands the ins and outs of the housing market. As such, he or she can help you narrow your home search and discover the perfect home.

3. You’re ready to make a change.

Are you getting tired of your current neighborhood or living situation? Or, do you want to relocate from a cold-weather climate to a warm-weather region? If you’re ready to make a change in your life, now may be a wonderful time to purchase a house in a new city or town.

Buying a house represents a life-changing decision and should not be taken lightly. However, those who are ready to make a change may want to buy a home in a new city or town so they can settle down and enjoy life in a different part of the country.

For those who are considering a change, meeting with a real estate agent is paramount. Your real estate agent can offer housing market data to ensure that you can secure a terrific house at a budget-friendly price. In addition, your real estate agent can serve as a housing market expert who will be able to answer your homebuying concerns and questions at any time.

Employing a real estate agent can make a world of difference for a homebuyer. Collaborate with a real estate agent today, and you can explore a wide array of homebuying options.

Three Things to Consider When Buying a Home

One of the worst mistakes you can make when looking for a new home is to allow yourself to become discouraged. Once that happens, your energy level drops, your optimism wavers, and your standards slide.

Searching for just the right house for you and your family may take longer than you expect, but success is often right around the corner! In the mean time, persistence and mental focus will help you get past the rough spots and detours. If you decide to work with a real estate buyers’ agent, they will help keep you motivated, encouraged, and updated on new listings.

Although a certain amount of flexibility is necessary when you’re in the market for a new home, there are advantages to having a clear picture in your mind of what you’re looking for. There are a lot of factors that can play a role in your degree of happiness and comfort in a new home, and it’s vital to recognize exactly what those key features and characteristics would be.

Here are a few things to mull over as you visit homes for sale and compare the pluses and minuses of each.

  • Location: In addition to seeking out a neighborhood that’s convenient for shopping, commuting, and meeting your family’s needs, it also pays to keep investment value in mind. While nobody can look into a crystal ball and say with absolute certainty that property values will increase in the foreseeable future, there are educated guesses and projections that can be made based on trends and available data. An experienced real estate agent can be one of your best resources in determining whether a neighborhood is growing or declining. Very often there are telltale signs that are worth paying close attention to when evaluating different homes for sale.
  • Architectural style: While many house hunters are only interested in features like square footage, lot size, and the quality of the school district, you may have preferences for specific architectural styles. Finding a house that conforms to your architectural preferences can make a big difference in your level of satisfaction. Although there are more than thirty different styles from which to choose, many people lean toward Colonial houses, Craftsman style homes, Contemporaries, Ranch houses, Tudors, Victorians (Queen Anne, for example), Cape Cods, Art Deco houses, Split Levels, and Bungalows. Other style possibilities include Dutch Colonials, Georgian-style houses, and Spanish-influenced architectures , such as the Monterey, Spanish Eclectic, and Pueblo. While some styles tend to be mostly confined to certain areas of the country, most communities have a wide array of architectural styles available to home buyers.
  • Condition of the Home: Some of a house’s flaws are easy to spot, while others may require the expertise of a certified house inspector. The extent to which you’re willing to make repairs, updates, and renovations to a new home will be one key factor that will determine which house is best for your needs, goals, and budget.

There are literally dozens of features, characteristics, and quality standards to keep in mind when shopping for a new home, but location, structural condition, and style are three factors that are well worth including on your priority list.

Struggling to Put Aside Money for a House? Try These Simple Ways to Save

For many of us, it can seem like our paychecks are gone before we even get a chance to see them. With seemingly endless bills and expenses, both recurring and unforeseen, saving up for a house is a daunting task.

Fortunately, there are ways you can prepare yourself for those intimidating down payments and many closing costs.

In this article, we’re going to walk you through how you can start saving for a home right this moment. After all, every day is another day you could be contributing to your savings and taking another step closer to owning your own home.

Use a Budgeting Tool

The first step to saving and determining how much you can save is to start budgeting. Many people hear the term “budget” and get nervous thinking they’ll have to start counting the number of coffees they buy. However, there are less anxiety-inducing ways to budget.

From your phone, tablet, or computer you have access to a large number of free budgeting tools. Mint, You Need a Budget (YNAB), and PocketGuard are three of the top budgeting tools that will get you started.

With apps that integrate with your bank accounts and loan balances,  there is little work required on your part. Just set an amount to save each week or month, and direct the funds into your savings account.

Set up a dedicated savings account

Speaking of savings accounts–now is a great time to set up a new one. It’s almost always free to open a new account with your bank. What’s more, it’s a lot less tempting to pull from a savings account when it’s labeled something like “HOUSE SAVINGS – DO NOT TOUCH.”

Once you have your budgeting app and bank account set up, it’s time to dig into some of the ways you can save money without skipping meals.

Cutting Monthly Expenses

Rather than telling yourself you can’t buy any more fancy Starbucks drinks anymore until you have a house (don’t torture yourself), make a list of all your monthly expenses. That can include anything from Netflix and Spotify to haircuts and car washes.

A great way to make this list is to go through your credit and debit card transactions. If you have autopay set up, you might not even realize how many services are withdrawing directly from your accounts each month.

For each item on your list, determine if you can either eliminate the expense or spend less on it. Maybe you go for the deluxe car war rather than the basic. Or, you might pay for services you don’t use as much as you used to.

If you’re worried about having no entertainment if you drop Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime, you could try out your local library system. Most of the time you can have books, movies, and music shipped for free from all around your state.

When it comes to cable, cell phone plans, car insurance, and other monthly bills give your provider a call and tell them you’re thinking about switching over to a cheaper competitor. They’ll likely offer you a discounted rate. If they don’t, follow through on your promise and call other providers to see if you can get better rates.