How to Save for a Down Payment

Do you have enough for a down payment?

You’re ready to leave your rental behind but don’t have enough down payment yet. Here’s how to start saving today to get you closer to moving into a home of your own.

Begin Saving Early

The sooner you’re able to start saving the better, especially if you’re able to invest some of your savings. The more you have saved, the more options you’ll have when looking for a home.

Follow a Budget

If you’re disciplined and able to stick to a budget, you should be able to set aside a specific amount of your paycheck to savings every month. You may have to cut expenses or seek additional income, but you will save in the long run by having lower monthly mortgage payments.

Save Windfalls of Cash

Start saving any extra money you come across. Tax returns, gifts and bonuses are perfect sources for your down payment. If you’re able to grow this money through investments, it will get you that much closer to your long-term goals.

Use Interest to Grow Your Savings

If you’re able to utilize high interest savings accounts or certificates of deposits (CD’s) you’ll automatically be putting your money to work for you. Seek out the best resources for earning more for your money.

If you’re wondering how much you need to save for a down payment, use this easy mortgage calculator

How Credit Score Information is Calculated

Calculating your credit

Your credit score affects your ability to borrow money and influences the interest you’ll pay on that loan. Most people don’t know how these scores are calculated. Here’s what you need to know.

All Credit Scores are Not the Same

People often assume their credit score is a single three-digit number. In truth each of the three major credit bureaus, Experian, Equifax and TransUnion, score you differently since they don’t have the exact same data. Be clear where your ratings come from when sharing your scores. 

Closing Accounts Won’t Always Boost Scores

Closing old or inactive accounts may inadvertently lower your credit score because your credit history appears shorter. If you want to simplify, close newer credit accounts first.

Paying Off a Debt Doesn’t Remove it from Your History 

Once a debt goes to collection, or you’ve established a history of late payments, your credit score is impacted even if you pay off what you owe. While your score will get a boost if you pay off an old debt, it may not be by as much as you think. The best way to increase your credit score is to make payments on time every month.

Co-signing a Loan Impacts Your Scores

When you co-sign for someone else’s loan, you are ultimately responsible for the debt. If the person you’re co-signed with does not pay, your credit score will be impacted. Determine ahead of time if the person you’re co-signing with can afford the loan and if it’s worth the risk to your own credit score.

Not sure who to trust when making decisions that could affect your credit score? Refer to a Mel Foster Co. agent for guidance.

Preparing to Buy in the Competitive Summer Housing Market

Home Buying Tips

This summer will be a competitive season in the housing market where demand will be higher than supply. If you’re planning on buying a home, here are some tips to help you prepare.

Get Your Finances in Order Ahead of Time

Before you begin looking for houses, make sure you’re financially prepared to be a homeowner. This includes doing a credit check, gathering your employment and salary history, getting a current bank statement that shows savings and checking balances, making a list of your debts and anything else that could contribute to your net worth.

Be Prepared for High Prices

If you see a house you love, chances are someone else loves it too. Many sellers are receiving multiple offers and will often receive offers close to their asking price. Be prepared for firm prices and difficult negotiations. Determine your needs vs. wants when it comes to selecting a home and be willing to compromise so you can act and make an offer quickly.

Work with a Professional Real Estate Agent

Having a real estate agent on your team can make a big difference. An experienced agent can recognize what might make or break a deal. Your agent will offer the sellers your whole package and not just an offer number, making your offer more appealing to the seller. Your agent’s ability to negotiate on your behalf gives you peace of mind that you’re getting the most out of the deal.

To contact a Mel Foster Co. agent today visit our website.

What to Expect When it Comes to Personal Property and Buying

What is included in your purchase?

Don’t assume everything is included in your home purchase. It’s important to get everything in writing so you’re not left feeling cheated. Here are some common house features buyers think are included in the deal, but aren’t necessarily automatically included.

  1. Appliances

It’s not always the norm when buying a home that all appliances are included in the sale. Things like refrigerators, washers and dryers, dishwashers and microwaves may be going with the seller. If you want a specific appliance left behind, make sure to clarify in writing that it’s a condition of the sale.

  1. Window Coverings.

Sometimes there are shades or drapes in the home during showings. The shades may be fully fitted for the window and attached, but the seller may be planning on taking them once they sell the home. If you don’t see it written anywhere, get the inclusion of window coverings in writing. Specify you want the existing window coverings either included or removed if you don’t like them.

  1. Mounting Materials

It’s common for homes to have TV’s mounted on the wall with a bracket supporting it. Be sure to ask. It may not actually be included with the sale of the home.

  1. Lawn Care Equipment

If the lawn at the home you are buying is large, you may want to negotiate with the sellers for any lawn care equipment you need. If the lawn requires a riding lawnmower the previous owners may be willing to include it in the sale.

Find more tips for buying in the Mel Foster Co. blog.

Three Ways to Make your Home Appeal to Millennials

What we look for in a home.

It can be difficult to appeal to millennial homebuyers’ tastes, but recent polling has provided some insight into what they’re searching for in their first home.

  1. Leave Room for Improvement

Many millennials are looking for a fixer-upper for their first home due to their limited budgets. HGTV has made remodeling more accessible than ever, and millennials want to renovate their houses into their own dream homes. In 2017 first-time homebuyers spent an average of $33,800 on home renovations.

  1. Have a Separate Laundry Room

Millennials are willing to sacrifice comfort for extra square footage dedicated to a laundry room. Every year surveys taken on millennials’ buying choices point toward this trend. It’s a small change that can make your home significantly more attractive to this group of buyers.

  1. Be Environmentally Friendly

Offer a house that includes green features. Millennials look for LED lighting, double paned windows or even solar panels. You don’t have to make a major investment, but even updated, energy-efficient appliances will attract buyers. It’s not only trendy and good for the planet, but will also save money in the long run.

Want more expert advice on how to market your home to the most buyers? Ask a Mel Foster Co. agent.

 

Why You Should Buy During the Winter

Buy in the Winter.

House hunting during the colder months may not be the most popular time of year to look, but there are several upsides to consider.

  1. You Face Less Competition in the Winter

Approximately 50% of homes sold during the year are sold during summer months. If you purchase in the winter, you may avoid stressful bidding wars and sellers can be more eager to close quickly as they have fewer offers to choose from. They may also try to sweeten the deal with additional incentives when you buy during this time frame.

  1. Sellers are Motivated

A motivated seller is great news for the buyer. If they’re trying to sell quickly due to relocation or other time constraints, they’ll be more flexible when it comes to price. It’s also possible the house has been on the market for an extended period of time, maybe since last summer, meaning the seller is ready to close as quickly as possible.

  1. Interest Rates May Increase

Interest rates can have an impact on your budget when buying a house. The direction of interest rates is never certain, but many analysts think the rates will increase, maybe even multiple times in the year, due to a strong economy. Consider that the sooner you buy, the further your money will go.

  1. Housing Prices are Rising

Housing prices on average have steadily increased the past several years. This upward trend is expected to continue according to real estate analysts.

Find a Mel Foster Co. agent in your town.

Don’t Forget about Property Taxes!

Property Tax Time
Property Tax Time

Many first time buyers don’t take into account the cost of property tax on their new home and are surprised by their first tax bill. Make an informed decision when buying a home by understanding these property tax basics.

What are Property Taxes?

Property taxes vary from home to home, and are used to pay for various government programs like schools, libraries and emergency services. Property taxes are based on the market value of the home, not the price you paid for it.

How are the Taxes Assessed?

A home value assessment is usually conducted at the time of sale by a government tax assessor. You should ask the seller when the last assessment was done and what value the home was given. Be prepared for tax assessors to stop by throughout the year, especially if you’ve made improvements to your home.

Am I Eligible for Any Deductions?

There are several deductions applicable to property tax. There are deductions for military personnel, senior citizens and energy efficient homes. Deductions vary by location so the best thing to do is talk to a real estate agent to determine your options.

You can find the annual tax due for homes you are considering purchasing on the Mel Foster website. Just look under general features in the description of the home listing.


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