Caroline Bianchi's Blog
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!
Buying is home is a lengthy and, at times, stressful process. So, it can be discouraging when your offer is rejected.
If you’ve recently had a purchase offer rejected by the homeowner, don’t worry--you have options.
In this post, we’re going to cover some of those options so you can start focusing on your next move and potentially even make a second offer that gets accepted.
1. Reassess your offer, not the seller
You could spend days guessing the reasons the seller might not have accepted your offer if they didn’t give you a straightforward answer.
However, your time is better spent addressing your own offer. Double check the following things:
Is your offer significantly lower than the asking price?
If so, is it lower than comparable sale prices for homes in the neighborhood?
Does your offer contain more than the usual contingencies?
Once you’ve reassessed, you can determine if a second offer is appropriate for your situation, or if you’re ready to move onto other prospects with the knowledge you’ve gained from this experience in hand.
2. Formulate your second offer
So, you’ve decided to make another attempt at the house. Now is the time to discuss details with your spouse and real estate agent.
Out of respect for the seller’s time and their timeline for selling the home, you should treat your second offer as your last.
So, make sure you’re putting your best offer forward. This can mean removing those contingencies mentioned earlier or increasing the amount. However, be realistic about your budget and don’t waive contingencies that are necessary (commonly appraisals, inspection, and financing contingencies).
3. Consider including a personal offer letter
In today’s competitive market, many sellers are fielding multiple offers on their home. To set yourself apart from the competitors and to help the seller get to know your goals and reasoning better, a personal letter is often a great tool.
Don’t be afraid to give details in your offer letter. Explain what excites you about the house, why it is ideal for your family, and what your plans are for living there.
What shouldn’t you include in your offer letter? Avoid statements that try to evoke pity or guilt from the seller. This seldom works and will put-off most buyers to your offer.
4. Moving on is good time management
If you aren’t comfortable increasing your offer or if you receive a second rejection, it’s typically a good idea to move onto other prospects. It may seem like wasted time--however, just like a job interview that didn’t go as planned, it’s an excellent learning experience.
You’ll walk away knowing more about the negotiation process, dealing with sellers and agents, and you might even find a home that’s better than the first one in the process!
When buying a house, especially your first home, it's all too easy to make impulsive decisions and fail to "see the forest for the trees."
Although it's impossible to ignore your emotional reactions to a house for sale, it's vital to look at the big picture and make sure there are no red flags being ignored or glossed over.
For example, if the foundation of the house looks unstable or the surrounding neighborhood is showing signs of deterioration, it's ultimately not going to matter how much you love the layout of the kitchen or the convenience of a first floor laundry room. Major problems can overshadow the desirable features of a home and have long-term implications on your finances (and sanity).
Even though the future marketability of a house may be the last thing on your mind when you're searching for your next home, it's a factor worth giving some serious thought to. When that aspect of home ownership is overlooked, it could result in headaches and possible financial loss down the road. While real estate generally has a tendency to appreciate in value over time, there are exceptions.
The good news is that many potential problems can be prevented by combining common sense with the advice of qualified professionals, such as an experienced, certified property inspector. If you're wondering what's covered in a typical home inspection, the American Society of Home Inspectors offers this overview: "The standard home inspector’s report will cover the condition of the home’s heating system; central air conditioning system (temperature permitting); interior plumbing and electrical systems; the roof, attic and visible insulation; walls, ceilings, floors, windows and doors; the foundation, basement and structural components."
So while inspectors can't look behind every wall or accurately predict the remaining lifespan of an existing HVAC system, they can provide you with a lot of valuable tips, recommendations, and insights into the condition of a house for sale. Working with a top-notch real estate (buyer's) agent will also help you avoid many of the potential pitfalls of buying a home.
While nobody wants to move into a "money pit," the likelihood of finding a home that's absolutely perfect and doesn't need any repairs, updates, or improvements is extremely low. Home buyers who are too focused on perfection may eventually realize that their standards are unattainable. A successful search for a new home hinges on the ability to distinguish between a minor cosmetic problem, such as an unappealing paint color, and a major problem, like a basement that floods regularly or a roof that's been compromised by storms, falling branches, or long-term neglect.
Although home buyers have differing expectations when it comes to repairs, remodeling, decorating, and renovations, one thing's for sure: Everyone wants to add their own personal touches to a new home and make it feel and look like their own!
Finding a mortgage lender should be easy, particularly for homebuyers who want to purchase a high-quality residence without having to worry about spending too much. However, many mortgage lenders are available nationwide, and the sheer volume of lenders can make it difficult to choose the right one.
Lucky for you, we're here to help you streamline the process of selecting the ideal lender.
Now, let's take a look at three tips that homebuyers can use to accelerate the process of choosing the perfect lender.
1. Know Your Credit Score
Your mortgage interest rate may vary based on your credit score. As such, you should learn your credit score before you begin your search for the right lender. This will enable you to boost your credit score if necessary – something that may help you get a preferred mortgage interest rate.
You are eligible for one free copy of your credit report annually from each of the three major credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). Request a copy of your credit report, and you can find out your credit score and map out your search for the ideal mortgage lender accordingly.
2. Meet with Several Mortgage Lenders
There is no shortage of mortgage lenders in cities and towns around the country. Therefore, you should allocate the necessary time and resources to meet with several credit unions and banks to explore all of your mortgage options.
Each lender can provide details about fixed- and adjustable-rate mortgages, how these mortgages work and other pertinent mortgage information. This information can help you make an informed decision about a mortgage.
In addition, don't hesitate to ask questions when you meet with a mortgage lender. If you obtain plenty of information from a mortgage lender, you'll be able to understand the pros and cons of various mortgage options and make the best choice possible.
3. Review a Mortgage Closely
A mortgage may enable you to secure your dream residence, but it is important to understand all of the terms and conditions associated with a mortgage before you select a lender.
For example, if you decide to purchase a condo, your mortgage might only cover the costs of your property. Meanwhile, you still may be responsible for condo homeowners' association fees that total hundreds of dollars each month, so you'll need to budget properly.
Of course, you should feel comfortable working with a mortgage lender as well. The ideal mortgage lender should be available to answer your concerns and questions at any time and help you stay on track with your monthly mortgage payments.
If you need extra assistance as you consider the mortgage lenders in your area, you can reach out to a real estate agent for additional support. This housing market professional can provide insights into mortgage interest rates and may even be able to connect you with the top local lenders.
Take the guesswork out of finding the right mortgage lender – use these tips, and you can move one step closer to getting the financing you need to buy your dream residence.
Entering the housing market for the first time can be daunting, particularly for those who want to quickly and seamlessly buy a top-notch residence at an affordable price.
Lucky for you, we're here to help you streamline the process of navigating the homebuying process.
Now, let's take a look at three vital tips to help a first-time homebuyer acquire a residence that matches or exceeds his or her expectations.
1. Analyze the Housing Market
The housing market constantly changes, and as a result, differentiating between a buyer's market and a seller's market can be tough. Fortunately, a homebuyer who analyzes the real estate sector closely should have no trouble discovering a variety of outstanding houses at budget-friendly prices.
To assess the housing market, you'll first want to look at the prices of residences that are currently available. This will enable you to better understand the prices of homes in cities and towns where you'd like to live.
Next, you should analyze the prices of recently sold houses in your region. With this housing market data in hand, you can find out whether you're preparing to buy a home in a buyer's market or a seller's one.
2. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage
A first-time homebuyer may want to get pre-approved for a mortgage. That way, you can prepare a homebuying budget and narrow your home search accordingly.
To obtain a mortgage, you'll want to meet with several banks and credit unions. This will allow you to learn about all of the mortgage options at your disposal and make an informed mortgage decision.
Furthermore, don't forget to share your mortgage concerns and questions with potential lenders. This will enable you to choose a mortgage that won't force you to overspend to acquire your ideal house.
3. Collaborate with a Real Estate Agent
Let's face it – the homebuying journey can be long and arduous, particularly for a homebuyer who is exploring residences for the first time. But with a real estate agent at your side, you can remove the guesswork of going from homebuyer to homeowner.
A real estate agent is an expert of his or her craft, and as such, will do everything possible to help you achieve your homebuying goals.
Typically, a real estate agent will meet with you and learn about your homebuying expectations. This housing market professional also will set up home showings, keep you up to date about new residences that fall within your price range and negotiate with home sellers on your behalf.
Perhaps best of all, a real estate agent will help you alleviate stress throughout the homebuying cycle. A real estate agent understands the challenges of buying a house and will do whatever it takes to help you avoid or overcome potential homebuying hurdles.
Don't miss out on an opportunity to purchase your dream residence – use the aforementioned tips for first-time homebuyers, and you can boost your chances of acquiring a terrific house without breaking your budget.