Bob Barcelos' Blog
If you’re a first-time homebuyer, odds are you’ve thrown the words “prequalified” and “preapproved” interchangeably. However, when it comes to home loans, there are some very important differences between the two.
For buyers hoping to purchase a home with a few missteps and misunderstandings as possible, it’s vital to understand the procedures involved in acquiring financing for a home.
Today, we’ll break down these two real estate jargon terms so that you can go into the mortgage approval process armed with the knowledge to help you succeed in securing a home loan.
Let’s start with the easy part--mortgage prequalification. Getting prequalified helps borrowers find out what kind and what size mortgage they can likely secure financing for. It also helps lenders establish a relationship with potential customers, which is why you will often see so many ads for mortgage prequalification around the web.
Prequalification is a relatively simple process. You’ll be asked to provide an overview of your finances, which your lender will plug into a formula and then report back to you whether or not you’re likely to get approved based on your current circumstances.
The lender will ask you for general information about your income, assets, debt, and credit. You won’t need to provide exact documents for these things at this phase in the process, since you have not yet technically applied for a mortgage.
Prequalification exists to give you a broad picture of what you can expect. You can use this information to plan for the future, or you can seek out other lenders for a second opinion. But, before you start shopping for homes, you’ll want to make sure you’re preapproved, not prequalified.
After you’ve prequalified, you can start thinking about preapproval. If you’re serious about buying a home in the near future, getting preapproved will simplify your buying process. It will also make sellers more likely to take you seriously, since you already have your financing partially secured.
Mortgage preapproval requires you to provide the lender with income documentation. They will also perform a credit inquiry to receive your FICO score.
Mortgage applications and credit scores
Before we talk about the rest of the preapproval process, we need to address one common issue that buyers face when applying for a mortgage. There are two types of credit inquiries that lenders can perform to view your credit history--hard inquiries and soft inquiries.
A soft inquiry won’t affect your credit score. But a hard inquiry can lower your score by a few points for a period of 1 to 2 months. So, when getting preapproved, you should expect your credit score to drop temporarily.
Once you’re preapproved for a mortgage, you can safely begin looking at homes. If you decide to make an offer on a home and your offer is accepted, your preapproval will make it easier to move forward in closing on the home.
Once the lender checks off on the house you’re making an offer on, they will send you a loan commitment letter, enabling you to move forward with closing on the home.
As a responsible homeowner, home maintenance should be at the top of your list of important things to do. However, with a busy life and a lot to manage, certain home-maintenance tasks can be easily disregarded. While there are some things you may be able to get away with for a while, there are certain neglectful actions that can really hurt when you decide to sell your home.
Neglecting HVAC System Tune-Ups & Upkeep
There's a massive difference between what maintenance costs for an HVAC system and the cost of replacement. Since the HVAC system is one of the main operating units in the home, it is often one of the first things a buyer will want to know about. General maintenance checks by a professional technician will only cost you between $80 and $150; full-on replacement can be as much as $5,900 or more depending on the model. Buyers tend to shy away from homes that need major investments right after purchase, so do your part to properly maintain the unit.
Neglecting Adequate Window Maintenance
The windows bear a lot of responsibility in a home. They are openings for natural light, they (should) keep the cold and heat out and give dwellers a good view of the outside world. Windows should open and close freely, be efficient and be an attractive part of the house. Even something as simple as dirty windows can cause problems when a prospect visits the home for the first time. If the house gets inspected professionally by a prospect, they will check for:
If you've neglected your windows for a while, it is best to pick a day and whip them into shape—right down to cleaning the glass until its crystal clear.
Neglecting Small Gutter Issues
The gutters of a home are such a small, easy-to-neglect thing, but their purpose is oh-so-important. If one of your gutters is not draining, for example, it can allow water to slip down into the spaces between the exterior cladding and the interior walls. Issues with rot are common due to this simple act of neglect, and it is definitely an issue a home inspector will notice.
Work with a Real Estate Agent to Prepare Your Home for Sale
The more well-prepared your home is for the market, and the better it is maintained, the higher your asking price can be and look logical to prospects. Working with an experienced real estate agent right from the beginning will help you get your home prepared properly. Reach out to an agent to get industry insight into what helps and hurts a home for sale.
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When your family is searching for a home, it’s an exciting time for the adults, but if there are children involved, it can be a difficult task. Children don’t have to be left in the dark during a home search. Children of all ages can be involved in the process of finding a home. Read on for tips on how to make your kids feel a part of the home search process.
Preschool-aged children might seem not to be aware of the fact that your family is searching for a home, but they can still very much be a part of the process. One thing to remember about young children is that you shouldn’t give them too many options. Once you have narrowed down the homes to a few and the time to buy a home is close, it’s a good time to tell your toddler about the fact that you’re moving. While you probably don’t want to take your kids along with you on all of your home viewings, you can bring the children with you. Even the opinions of the tiniest among us can help contribute to a final decision.
Older children may be more challenging to deal with during a move. These kids are more aware of the changes to come and maybe more reluctant of the entire process. It’s best to include children this age (around 6-9 years old) in conversions about your plans. Where do you hope to move? What neighborhood will the home be? Show them pictures of potential new homes. Allowing kids this age to share their thoughts on location and the types of houses you’re looking at can help to ease fears and anxieties. Remind your kids that the final choice is up to the adults but that you appreciate and welcome their input.
Older Children And Teenagers
Pre-teens and teenagers can play a part in the house search. Make sure that they understand that there’s no pressure on them to pick a house but their input is essential to you. Teens are tweens should be encouraged to come along on house tours to help give an opinion on the properties in person.
The older the kids that are involved, the more you should value and welcome your input. Make sure that you reassure your teens, letting them know that they can continue their favorite activities. Do a little research on the new community first, or allow your kids to do a bit of research themselves.