Cynthia Owens - Five College REALTORS ®



Posted by Cynthia Owens on 8/1/2019

Buying a home tops your long-range goals list, but are you ready? As a first-time buyer, you have loads of questions and concerns. After all, a home loan is an obligation for years into the future. You want to make savvy decisions and be comfortable that you’ve negotiated the best deal. On top of that, learning all about credit scores, how to pre-qualify and the difference between pre-qualification and pre-approval. And what are options and closing costs?

Fannie Mae, the Federal National Mortgage Association (FNMA) government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) that serves the mortgage industry, knows what you need to know about buying a house. They’ve put together a course for new homebuyers called HomePath Ready Buyer Education Program.

Enroll now

The online course lets you attend from the comfort of your sofa. After completion, a “graduate” may qualify for assistance up to three percent of the closing cost of purchasing a qualified HomePath property. You won’t end up with an education loan either. Tuition is just $75, and Fannie Mae says it could even reimburse your tuition during closing on your new home. Now that’s a deal!

What you learn

Because the course design has new buyers in mind, you’ll learn to determine how much you can afford to buy and ways to figure out what home is best for you. Making the deal and learning about down-payment options will get you on your way. Finally, you’ll learn to avoid the pitfalls, and all the navigate the paperwork required to close the deal.

How long does it take?

The entire course is nine 30-minute sessions, so along with the quiz at the end (no final exam though), the total class takes about four to five hours. Designed to be intuitive and self-directed, you can work your way through the course over a few evenings, on your lunch hour, or even during your morning commute (provided you’re not the driver, of course!).

How you benefit

In addition to the three percent closing cost assistance and tuition reimbursement, your Certificate of Completion may qualify you up to take advantage of the First Look program. By giving first-time homeowners an exclusive "first look" at newly-listed foreclosed properties, this innovative program serves new home seekers and promotes neighborhood stabilization.

Fannie Mae relies on real estate professionals to follow through on the home-buying process. For more information, express your interest in the HomePath program to your real estate professional.





Posted by Cynthia Owens on 7/18/2019

Nothing can quite compare to the emotional cocktail of excitement, fear, and anxiety of being a first-time home buyer. Being a homeowner is made out to be a huge milestone in life, and rightly so. Have you ever signed your name 37 times in a row? It's enough to intimidate anyone. By the end of the entire homebuying ordeal, you will have signed your name so many times that you'll feel like you should have just made yourself a signature stamp. You're in for quite the bumpy road being a first-time home buyer, some highs, some lows and everything in between. 

The lows? 

Oh boy, where to start? Did you know your credit score before you started looking for a home? Sure, maybe you have a credit card you keep some line of credit in your name. However, a house? It’s a whole different ball game! What is a good credit score? They did not teach us this in high school, but thank goodness we all know the order of math operations as P.E.M.D.A.S. (parenthesis, exponents, multiplication, division, addition, subtraction) right? What’s an escrow? What if the inspector missed something? When is my first mortgage payment due? You’ll have so many questions about being a first-time homebuyer, so do yourself a favor and get a realtor who can adequately answer all those questions! A great realtor can make the entire process feel like a cool Island breeze.

The highs? 

House shopping honestly is so much fun! Getting to figure out your unique taste in the architecture of your home is a fantastic experience. Sure, there are things that you must specifically look for to fit your needs, after all, you'll be spending the next 20-30 years of your life in this house if you do it right. The day you close on your home is exciting as well, disregarding the whole signing your name a thousand times. The moment comes with a sense of pride and accomplishment that you'll feel on closing day. Looking for your first home can be a long process, and sometimes can take months to years depending on the market. So, when it finally happens, and all the stars line up you can't help but feel a great sense of accomplishment. High five yourself on that day, cause all the stress and worries that you had in buying your first home are finally coming to a close. Now you can focus attention on the fun part: home improvement! 

 Being a homeowner can be such a fun-filled adventure, but hold on, because it will be a bumpy ride. Let your professional realtor navigate those bumps for you.





Posted by Cynthia Owens on 1/4/2018

One thing that you’ll need to think about when you’re buying a home is that of property taxes. Many first-time homebuyers don’t even consider the property taxes in the midst of their excitement of buying the perfect home. There’s many different kinds of tax issues that homebuyers might face when they purchase a home. We’ll educate you on how to tackle the issue of property taxes. 


Do Your Research


You should most definitely research property taxes before you buy a home. You don’t want to be surprised to find out that your new home will have special assessments or a huge tax rate increase in the near future. Some things to look out for:


  • Tax rate increases
  • Home reassessments
  • Supplemental tax bills


The first question that you should ask your realtor is “What is the current tax bill?” This will give you a good starting point for your property tax research. 


Supplemental Tax Bills


A supplemental tax bill is basically a new homeowner’s overlapping bill of the previous owner’s taxes. Sometimes, this can include construction or additions made to the home that have increased the property value. This is also known as a “reassessment of property value.” Work with your realtor to discover whether this will be an issue.  


Multiple Taxes For One Property


Depending upon where you are, you could face more than one kind of property tax. Special taxes imposed by states, counties and districts, as well as water and sewer can create additional fees. 


Why You Have An Escrow Account


Homeowners are often required to have an escrow account. This will set aside funds for these types of expenses. The loan company will give an estimate of the amount of taxes and insurance due. Then, costs such as taxes and insurance are taken out of this account. If you are paying these fees through an escrow account, you should keep a close eye on it. Sometimes, payments fail to be made on time. You as the homeowner are then responsible for any late fees. You want to avoid these problems by checking the account frequently.   


How Property Taxes Are Calculated


Property taxes are generally based on the value of the home. Each state and city uses their own formulas in order to calculate these fees. This is what can make property taxes a bit unpredictable. Property taxes can increase or decrease over time due to these factors that are included in each municipality’s formula.               


Tax Credits


A tax credit is a rebate that’s provided by the city or state. This could be in the form of an income tax credit. As home values have risen, so haven’t property tax bills, so these credits are welcome in today’s economy. 


Tax Deferrals


Some people are eligible for property tax deferrals. This allows the homeowner to pay all or part of the property tax until a later date when a home is sold. Many deferrals are geared towards low-income homes and senior citizens. These people would most benefit from this type of savings. Be careful though if you fall into one of these categories. Some states have much higher income taxes than property taxes, so the fees end up evening out. 


The most important thing you can do when it comes to property taxes is your research. Once you have numbers, you can make a more informed decision about purchasing a property.







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