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 5/9/2019

If you believe you are coming close to the time to buy your first home, you'll want to be informed. It’s never too early to begin preparing for a home purchase. The more organized you are, and the better you have your financial situation in order the better off you’ll be when it comes to the home search. Where should you start? Below, you’ll find some key things that you can do to maximize your chances of finding and securing your first home.


Check Your Credit


Your credit score is one of the most critical pieces of your financial picture. A FICO score ranges from 300 to 850. The higher the number, the better off you are. When you’re getting a mortgage, you want to have good credit. If your credit score is above 740, you’ll be eligible for the best interest rates. If your credit score needs help, a higher score will get you the best interest rates available. Once you get your credit score, (It’s free to get through a variety of services.) aim to improve your score. Pay your bills on time. Use less of your available credit (target to use 30 percent or less of your total available credit.) The bottom line is that a low-interest rate will save you a significant amount of money over the life of your loan. 


Refrain From Opening New Accounts


If you’re in the market to buy a home, it’s probably best for you to stay away from opening new accounts. Every store has their credit card and offers deals to open an account in store. While it could save you some money on your purchase, opening new accounts has a negative impact on your credit score in the short term. A car loan, for example, will also affect your credit score because it brings your debt-to-income ratio up, which can put a damper on your chances of getting a mortgage for a low-interest rate.


Save, Save, Save


If you want to buy a home soon, you’ll need to save up a significant amount of money. These savings will go towards a downpayment, closing costs, and furnishing your new place. Every chance you get, you should be putting money away. Include gifts, bonuses, and any other income that’s outside of your average take-home pay. 


It’s also a good idea to set up a second bank account dedicated to saving for the home. Set up an automatic transfer each month that will go into that account from your primary earnings. You can d this based on how your employer pays you.


Look For A Real Estate Agent


Your real estate agent will be a crucial part of your home search. They will help in everything from finding the property of your dreams to negotiating the deal to sitting by your side at closing. You should do a bit of research to help you find a real estate agent who can assist you in finding the right property for you. 


Ask family and friends for recommendations of agents. You can search for the real estate agent’s name online and see what kind of reviews the agent has and contact different agents. From there. You can make a decision.          


Now, good luck with your home search! 





Categories: Buying a Home  


Posted by Cynthia Owens on 11/29/2018

When you decide to make an offer on a home, your mind may be flooded with dozens of questions and concerns -- several of which may involve money matters, while others are about the condition of the house.

However, if you've had the house professionally inspected and made sure your income is sufficient to absorb monthly expenses, than you've already taken steps to prevent or at least minimize future challenges.

Since buying a home is such a big investment and there are so many emotional factors that could influence your decision, it's essential to stay focused, adhere to a budget, and be aware of what you need in order to be satisfied with your purchase.

The Financial Side of Things: Even though a mortgage broker or loan officer may approve you for a large mortgage, only you can determine whether you'd be comfortable making those monthly payments. In  addition to the cost of your mortgage, property taxes, and school taxes, there are also other expenses to consider and include in the equation. If you're moving into a larger house, for example, the cost of heating and/or cooling your home may be higher than you're used to. Poorly insulated houses can also have a negative impact on home energy costs.

Another key factor to think about when you're figuring out the affordability of a potential new home is property maintenance, the cost of HVAC service, and miscellaneous expenses, such as appliance repairs, plumbing leaks, and electrical services. Some neighborhoods, residential developments, and condos also require a monthly Homeowner Association (HOA) fee, which can potentially put a burden on your cash flow situation. A good rule of thumb, of course, is to avoid spending beyond your means. While nobody would dispute the logic of that advice, it's often a lot easier said than done -- especially on an ongoing, consistent basis.

Non-Financial Priorities: The only way to know what you truly want and need in a new home is to clarify your goals, requirements, and wishes. Making lists, discussing it with your partner, and visiting lots of homes for sale will help give you the ideas, the inspiration, and helpful points of comparison you need. Online real estate listings and home improvement websites can also provide a wealth of practical ideas.

In addition to having enough bedrooms and bathrooms to meet your family's needs, it's also important to feel comfortable with the quality of the school district, the amount of noise in the neighborhood, and the traffic level on nearby streets. Proximity to recreation, shopping, and other amenities can also make the difference between your ideal home and one which doesn't quite make the grade. Privacy (or the lack, thereof) is also a major issue which can impact your satisfaction with a real estate purchase. While it's good to approach home buying with a sense of optimism, the best time to weigh all the pros and cons is before you sign the final papers at the closing table!







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