Bob Barcelos' Blog
It’s a difficult time to be a first-time home buyer. Post-recession buyers are wary--and for good reason--of how and when to save money for a down payment on a house. One thing to remember, however, is that it’s always a good time to start saving.
In this article, we’re going to cover the four most useful methods of saving for a down payment on your first home. That way you can feel confident in taking the first and most important step toward homeownership.
Choosing the right savings account
Unlike riskier investments, a savings account is a safe and proven way of building interest and saving for a home. However, not all savings accounts are created equal.
Typically, brick and mortar banks offer interest rates that are low--the current national average is only about 0.06% annually. While these banks offer conveniences such as in-network ATMs and check-cashing, their physical locations make them expensive to run.
Enter the online bank. Since online banks don’t have all of the costs associated with running branches, they can afford to offer better rewards--namely, high-interest returns on your savings accounts.
So, should you take all of your money out of your current savings account and transfer it to an online bank? Maybe. But let’s talk about the benefits of having multiple savings accounts.
Open a dedicated account with automatic deposits
Saving isn’t just difficult due to financial reasons. Managing money also takes time and effort. To simplify this process, it’s preferable to direct deposit or automatically transfer a percentage of your weekly income into your down payment savings account.
While it may seem like pinching pennies at first, even small weekly deposits add up, and within a few years the compounding interest can earn you enough for a higher down payment than you thought possible.
Prioritize high-interest debt now
Have student debt or a car loan that’s keeping you from focusing on saving for a down payment? Oftentimes the best coarse of action is to aggressively pay off high-interest loans. In the long term, this will save you money that can then be used toward a down payment.
For debt that will take several years to pay off, consider refinancing for a lower interest rate, or consolidating your student loans. Speaking with a student loan adviser or financial planner is a good first step to take toward managing your debt.
Make a real budget
Most of us think of a verb when we hear the word “budget.” However, it’s more useful as a noun.
Creating a real budget, whether it’s in Excel, Google Sheets, or with the help of an app, having a budget you can refer to once a week is vital to making good savings decisions. It will help you monitor your spending and stay on top of your savings goals.
Applying for a mortgage is one of the biggest decision that an individual can make in his or her lifetime. As such, it is important for a first-time homebuyer to dedicate the necessary time and resources to employ the best mortgage lender – without exception.
So what does it take to hire the ideal mortgage lender? Here are three tips to help a first-time homebuyer quickly and effortlessly choose the right mortgage lender.
1. Consider a Variety of Lenders
There is no shortage of top-notch lenders in cities and towns across the United States. Thus, a first-time homebuyer can meet with a variety of credit unions and banks to explore all of the mortgage options at his or her disposal.
Spend some time learning about lenders in your area. Look at each lender's experience and reputation, and you may be better equipped than other homebuyers to select the ideal lender based on your individual needs.
Furthermore, conduct face-to-face meetings with lenders. These meetings will allow you to learn about a wide range of mortgage options and will make it easy for you to make an informed decision.
2. Ask Plenty of Questions
When it comes to getting a mortgage for the first time, there is no need to leave anything to chance. Instead, ask plenty of questions as you consult with assorted lenders, and you can gain the insights you need to pick a lender that matches or exceeds your expectations.
Remember, there is no such thing as a "bad" question, particularly when it comes to mortgages. If you meet with various lenders, you can get all of your mortgage concerns and queries addressed without delay.
A first-time homebuyer who asks lots of questions may be able to avoid potential financial pitfalls down the line too. In fact, this homebuyer should have no trouble selecting a great lender who can fulfill his or her mortgage needs for years to come.
3. Consult with a Real Estate Agent
Let's face it – selecting a lender may prove to be exceedingly difficult. Fortunately, a real estate agent is happy to provide honest, unbiased advice to help you find the right lender in no time at all.
A real estate agent understands the challenges of obtaining a terrific mortgage, and as a result, will do everything possible to help a homebuyer discover a lender that can provide outstanding support day after day. Plus, a real estate agent can even help a homebuyer alleviate stress as he or she searches for the right lender.
Let's not forget about the support that a real estate agent can provide throughout the entire homebuying journey, either. Typically, a real estate agent can keep a homebuyer informed about new residences as they become available, set up home showings, negotiate with a home seller on buyer's behalf and much more.
Get the right mortgage any time you choose – use the aforementioned tips, and a first-time homebuyer can streamline the process of selecting the ideal lender.
Although a home seller wants to enjoy a quick, seamless home selling experience, problems sometimes can arise along the way. And if a home seller is not careful, these issues may cause him or her to encounter one of the dreaded home selling worst-case scenarios.
Ultimately, there are many home selling worst-case scenarios that a seller should try to avoid at all costs, and these scenarios include:
1. A home is priced too high.
A home seller should establish a competitive price for his or her residence from the get-go. Because failure to do so could force a residence to linger on the housing market for weeks, months or years.
To determine a competitive price, it helps to conduct plenty of real estate market research. Looking at the prices of recently sold houses in your city or town can help you determine whether you're preparing to enter a buyer's or seller's market. Also, examining the prices of comparable houses in your area can help you narrow your price range.
Furthermore, a property appraisal is a viable option for all home sellers, at all times. During an appraisal, a home expert will assess your residence and provide a property valuation. Then, you can use the property valuation to price your home accordingly.
2. A homebuyer requests a price reduction or major repairs after an inspection.
A home inspection generally takes place a few days after a seller accepts a buyer's offer on a residence. If this inspection reveals a wide array of home problems, it could jeopardize a potential sale.
It often helps to complete a home inspection before listing a residence. This inspection allows a seller to identify any home problems and resolve these issues immediately.
In addition, a home seller should understand his or her options after an inspection that reveals myriad home problems.
If a buyer requests a price reduction or home repairs after an inspection, a seller can agree to the buyer's terms or counter a buyer's proposal. Or, if a seller feels a buyer is being unreasonable, he or she can walk away from a home sale and relist his or her residence.
3. A home seller hires a real estate agent who lacks comprehensive industry experience.
If a seller hires a real estate agent who lacks comprehensive industry experience, he or she risks a long, arduous home selling experience.
There is no need to hire an inexperienced real estate agent. In fact, dozens of top-notch real estate agents are available nationwide, and these housing market professionals can help you achieve your home selling goals in no time at all.
The ideal real estate agent will know the ins and outs of the housing market. Plus, he or she will be able to guide you along each stage of the home selling journey and do whatever it takes to promote your residence to the right groups of buyers.
Enjoy a fast, profitable and worry-free home selling experience – consider the aforementioned home selling worst-case scenarios, and you can minimize risk throughout the home selling journey.
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The weeks and days leading up to a home closing can be stressful, particularly for a homebuyer who is already trying to do everything possible to secure his or her dream residence. Fortunately, we're here to help you simplify the process of getting to your closing date.
Now, let's take a look at three tips to ensure you can enjoy a fast, easy home closing.
1. Get Your Paperwork Ready
It often helps to get all of your homebuying paperwork ready before you pursue a residence. That way, you can minimize the last-minute stress associated with searching far and wide for pay stubs, tax returns and other documents that you'll ultimately need to get financing for a residence.
Furthermore, you should meet with local banks and credit unions as soon as you can. If you can get approved for a mortgage prior to starting a home search, you may be able to speed up the process of acquiring your ideal residence.
2. Be Prepared to Cover Your Closing Costs
Although you might have financing to cover your monthly mortgage payments, it is important to remember that you may need to pay closing costs to finalize your home purchase. As such, if you begin saving for your closing costs today, you can guarantee that you'll have the necessary funds available to purchase your dream residence on your scheduled closing date.
Also, you should be prepared to present a cashier's check or wire funds when you close on a house. If you plan ahead, you should have no paying off your closing costs when your complete your home purchase.
3. Schedule Your Final Walk-Through Before Your Closing Date
When it comes to a final walk-through on your dream house, why should you leave anything to chance? Instead, set up the final walk-through at least a few days before you're scheduled to close on a house.
If you find problems with a house during a final walk-through, you'll want to give the seller plenty of time to address these issues. Thus, if you schedule a final walk-through several days before your closing date, you can ensure that any home problems can be corrected without putting your closing date in danger.
For homebuyers who are worried about a home closing, there is no need to stress. In fact, if you work with an expert real estate agent, you can receive plenty of support throughout the homebuying journey.
Typically, a real estate agent can explain what you should expect in the time leading up to your closing date. If you have any concerns or questions before a home closing, a real estate agent is happy to address them. Plus, when your closing date arrives, a real estate agent will help you remain calm, cool and collected as you purchase a home.
Ready to streamline the process of closing on a house? Use the aforementioned tips, and you can reap the benefits of a quick, seamless home closing.