Cynthia Owens - Five College REALTORS ®



Posted by Cynthia Owens on 4/18/2019

If you’re a first time homebuyer and want to start weighing your mortgage options, you’ll have much to learn. With so much at stake, you’ll want to make sure you choose the best mortgage for you now, and one that will still suit your needs years into the future.

Sometimes, first time buyers are hesitant to ask questions they may consider too basic because they don’t want to seem inexperienced to lenders, agents, or anyone else they’ll be in contact with throughout the home buying process.

So, in this article, we’ve compiled a list of commonly asked mortgage questions that first time buyers might want to ask before heading into the process of acquiring a home loan.

What is the first step to getting a mortgage?

This question may seem straightforward, however the first step can vary depending on your financial situation. For those who already have saved up for a down payment and built a solid credit score, the first step is probably contacting lenders and getting preapproved or prequalified.

However, if you aren’t sure about your credit score and haven’t saved up for a down payment (ideally, 20% of what you hope to spend on the house), then you should address those matters first.

To find a lender, you can do a simple Google search for the mortgage lenders in your area, or you can ask around to friends and family to find out their experience with their own mortgage lenders.

What does it mean to be pre-qualified and pre-approved?

If you think of the mortgage process in three steps, the first step would be getting pre-qualified. This means you’ve given the lender enough basic information for them to decide which type of mortgage you’re eligible to receive.

Pre-approval includes collecting and verifying further details. At this step, you’ll complete a mortgage application and the lender will run a credit check. Once you’re pre-approved, your file can be moved to the underwriting phase.

What are closing costs?

“Closing costs” is an umbrella term that covers all of the various fees and expenses related to buying or selling a home. As a buyer, you are responsible for paying numerous closing costs. These can include, but are not limited to, underwriting fees, title searches, title insurance,  origination fees, taxes, appraisal fees, surveys, and more.

That sounds like a lot to keep track of, however your lender will be able to give you an accurate estimate of the total closing costs when you apply for your loan. In fact, lenders are required to give you a list of these costs within three days of your loan application in the form of a “good faith estimate” of the closing costs.

What will my interest rate be?

The answer to this question is dependent upon numerous factors. The value of the home, your credit score, the amount you put down (down payment), the type of mortgage you have, and whether or not you’re paying private mortgage insurance all factor into the interest rate you’ll receive. Interest rates also will vary slightly between lenders.

You can receive a fixed-rate mortgage that does not fluctuate throughout the repayment term. However, you also typically have the option to refinance to acquire a lower interest rate, however refinancing comes with its own costs.




Categories: Buying a Home   Mortgage   FAQ   qualify  


Posted by Cynthia Owens on 4/11/2019

Purchasing a home in a buyer's market may seem like a fast, simple process. However, it is important to realize that homebuyers constantly compete for the best residences in cities and towns nationwide. And if you're not careful, you risk missing out on an opportunity to acquire your dream house.

What does it take to secure a home in a buyer's market? Here are three tips to ensure that you can do just that.

1. Study the Housing Market Closely

A buyer's market features a large assortment of top-notch residences and a shortage of property buyers. As such, this market heavily favors homebuyers, and property buyers who examine the real estate market closely may be able to boost their chances of purchasing a terrific house at a budget-friendly price.

For homebuyers, it is essential to establish criteria for your dream residence. With homebuying criteria at your disposal, you can narrow your search for the ideal residence and accelerate the homebuying process.

Don't forget to check out homes in-person, either. If you set up a home showing or attend an open house, you'll be able to envision what it's like to own a home and determine whether a residence is right for you.

2. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage

What good is shopping for a house if you cannot afford to pay for it? Fortunately, you can get pre-approved for a mortgage to understand exactly how much you can spend on a new house.

To get pre-approved for a mortgage, you'll want to meet with several banks and credit unions. These lenders will be able to offer insights into a variety of mortgage options, respond to your mortgage concerns and questions and help you select a mortgage that suits you perfectly.

Pre-approval for a mortgage is vital for homebuyers, particularly in a buyer's market. If you have a mortgage in hand when you explore available homes, you may even be able to avoid the temptation to overspend on a residence.

3. Collaborate with a Real Estate Agent

When it comes to navigating a buyer's market, a real estate agent can deliver outstanding support.

A real estate agent can teach you about the intricacies of buying a home and help you streamline the homebuying process. He or she also will be available to respond to your homebuying questions, ensuring you can make informed decisions as the homebuying journey moves forward.

Perhaps best of all, a real estate agent can help you alleviate stress as you search for your dream home. This housing market professional will keep you up to date about new properties as they become available, set up home showings and negotiate with home sellers on your behalf. By doing so, a real estate agent enables you to focus on what's important – purchasing a first-rate house at a price that matches your budget.

Buying a home can be challenging, even in a buyer's market. But with the aforementioned tips, you can simplify the homebuying process and move closer to securing a house that meets or exceeds your expectations.




Categories: Buying a Home   buying tips  


Posted by Cynthia Owens on 2/28/2019

When you’re searching for a home to buy, you’ll probably attend many different open houses. The open house is meant to help you get a feel for different properties. While you can’t get to know all the ins and outs of a home in a short time, you can get an understanding of some of the best things (and not so great things) about a property. Below, you’ll find some of the biggest warning signs that a property may not be all that it appears to be. 


There’s A Lot Of Odor Masking Elements In Place


When you walk into an open house, you may get the smell of freshly baked cookies or a lovely candle. While these are great marketing techniques, they also can be a tactic to hide things. Perhaps there are some offensive odors in the house from mold, leaks, smoke, or mildew. You may not be prepared to deal with these kinds of problems once you move into a home. 


You Notice Glaring Issues


While the home inspection will reveal many problems that may be invisible to the casual observer, you should still be on the lookout for issues on the surface of the home during the open house. These issues can include cracks in the ceiling or walls, cracks in the floor, or even squeaky floor boards. If you happen to see patchy walls in the home, that could indicate that repairs have been made several times. Be alert for these potential problems.


Does The Home Look Well-Kept?


When you pull up in front of the home is the lawn trim? Does the home appear clean? While everyone would hope that a homeowner would clean up their property before an open house, small and big things like this can indicate a bigger problem. If the home is not cared for on the surface, how many other underlying maintenance issues are there in the home? Neglected regular maintenance can cause larger problems of all kinds in a home.


Strange Cosmetic Fixes


A freshly painted wall could be suspect of a big problem. Under the paint could be mold, cracks, or other issues. Some homeowners do put fresh paint on their walls before selling in order to give the home a neutral feel. However, you should be on the lookout for other signs of problems in the home.          


Channel Your Inner Detective


While you don’t need to dig as deep into a home as a home inspector does, you should be on the lookout as you scan a home for the potential livability for you. Things like glaring cracks in the ceiling, or a strong odor of cigarette smoke could be signs of future problems living in the home. The open house is your time to find a home that fits you and your life, so make the most of the opportunity.  





Posted by Cynthia Owens on 2/21/2019

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.




Tags: Condo   Buying a home   buyer tips  
Categories: Buying a Home   buying tips   condo  


Posted by Cynthia Owens on 2/14/2019

A home is one of the biggest purchases that an individual can make in his or her lifetime. It also may prove to be expensive, particularly for those who fail to plan ahead for the property buying journey.

There is no need to break your budget to acquire your dream residence. In fact, there are many quick, easy ways to guarantee you can keep you finances in check and avoid the risk of spending too much to purchase your ideal house.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to ensure you can buy a quality house at a budget-friendly price.

1. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage

You want to buy a home, but you still have no idea how much you can spend on a residence. Thankfully, if you get pre-approved for a mortgage, you can enter the real estate market with a budget in hand. As a result, you will know exactly how much you can spend on a house and can plan accordingly.

Banks and credit unions employ friendly, knowledgeable mortgage specialists who are happy to meet with you. These mortgage specialists can review your income, credit score and other relevant financial data. Then, they can provide you with mortgage options based on your finances.

2. Narrow Your Home Search

Although most people want to buy a mansion, it is important to establish realistic homebuying expectations. Because if you narrow your home search to properties that fall within your price range, you can speed up the property buying journey. Perhaps most important, you can shop around to find a terrific home that corresponds to your budget.

Don't forget to consider homes in a variety of cities and towns too. In some instances, it may prove to be more cost-effective to purchase a house in a small town than a residence in a big city.

3. Evaluate Your Short- and Long-Term Plans

Think about your short- and long-term plans, and you may be better equipped than ever before to map out your home finances for the foreseeable future.

For instance, if you plan to raise a family in the years to come, you may want to consider the costs associated with childcare and other child expenses. This will allow you to budget properly as you search for your dream home.

On the other hand, if you recently accepted a work promotion, your income soon may rise. In this situation, you may be able to increase your homebuying budget due to the fact that extra income will be coming your way.

Lastly, as you get ready to search for a house, you may want to hire a real estate agent. In addition to helping you find a home that matches your budget, a real estate agent will offer expert guidance throughout the property buying journey. He or she will help you prepare for a home inspection, closing and other important steps during the homebuying process. By doing so, a real estate agent will help you seamlessly navigate the homebuying journey and achieve the optimal results.




Categories: Buying a Home   buying tips  




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