Christina Martinez - WEICHERT, REALTORS® - Briarwood Real Estate

Posted by Christina Martinez on 3/15/2018

Ready to buy a new home? Not so fast! You'll first want to establish a budget to understand exactly what you can afford month after month.

What does it take to set up a homebuying budget? Here are three tips to help you establish the right homebuying budget.

1. Consider Your Monthly Expenses

How much do you spend on food, electricity and other monthly essentials? You'll want to consider these costs closely before you begin your search for the perfect home.

Ultimately, your monthly expenses can play an important role in your ability to afford your dream house. And if you can assess your monthly expenses, you can map out your home costs accordingly.

Make a list of your monthly expenses versus your monthly earnings. Then, consider if there are non-essential items that you can remove from your monthly budget.

Remember, if you save money now, you may be better equipped to land your dream house when you kick off you your home search. If you can cut non-essential items from your monthly expenses, you can start saving for a down payment on a new house.

2. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage

Banks and credit unions across the United States offer a wide range of mortgage options. Review all of the mortgage options at your disposal, and you should have no trouble getting pre-approved for a mortgage that meets your needs.

Adjustable- and fixed-rate mortgages are two of the most common mortgage options for homebuyers. However, if you discuss your financial needs with a bank or credit union, this lender may be able to provide you with additional mortgage options as well.

After you are pre-approved for a mortgage, you will be able to set a price range for your home search. As a result, you can narrow your search and accelerate the process of finding the perfect home at the best price.

3. Consult with a Real Estate Agent

Real estate agents are available to assist you throughout the homebuying journey. These real estate professionals can put you in touch with lenders, keep you informed about new homes that fall within your price range and even offer tips to establish a homebuying budget.

Perhaps best of all, real estate agents will make it easy for you to explore a broad array of homes that match your budget. These real estate agents can help you determine which homes you can afford – and which ones you can't – and ensure that you can stick to your homebuying budget.

Your real estate agent is committed to helping you get the best results, and he or she is happy to respond to any homebuying queries. That way, you can receive expert guidance as you start your search for your ideal residence.

When it comes to buying a home, there is no reason to browse the real estate market on your own. Instead, work with an experienced real estate agent, and you can find a great home at a budget-friendly price.

Categories: Uncategorized  

Posted by Christina Martinez on 2/15/2018

Have you heard the term “earnest money” but really aren’t sure what it means? Once you have found the perfect home and are all set to make an offer, there’s one more step that you need to take. That’s to make a deposit on the home you want to buy. This is known as an “earnest money deposit.”  

The Purpose Of The Deposit

The deposit shows the seller that you’re serious about buying the home. It’s a measure that allows the seller to have some faith in you as a buyer that you’re truly moving forward with your decision; you’re ready as a buyer to make the financial commitment. This deposit allows the deal to begin on a solid basis without much question. 

Is The Deposit Required Legally To Buy A Home?

From a seller’s perspective, a deposit keeps a buyer from changing their mind. If there is a significant amount of money involved, the seller sees the deposit as a way to keep the buyer locked in. This makes it easier for sellers to accept an offer. 

How Much Is Expected For An Earnest Money Deposit?

These deposits don’t quite have a standard amount. The general rule is that they range from 1% of the home price up to 5%. The more expensive of a home that’s being purchased, the larger the earnest money deposit should be. In some cases, the seller may even ask for a certain amount of a deposit to ensure that buyers are serious. How much money you pay at once is often negotiable. You may be able to pay part of the money at one time and the other part at a later date.

New Construction Can Require Large Deposits

New construction homes can require large earnest money deposits- up to half of the purchase price of the home. This is because the construction costs need to be paid upfront and the bank wants proof that the units being constructed with loan money are being sold to buyers who can pay for the home. 

New construction homes are often customized as well. It would be detrimental to a developer to make special changes to a home only for a buyer to walk away. 

Getting The Deposit Refunded

As with everything in real estate, you’ll have a contract. If you don’t follow the terms of the contract, you risk losing your earnest money deposit. Two main reasons for buyers to walk away are a flopped home inspection or financing that falls through. Read your contracts carefully. Sellers sometimes state that deposits are nonrefundable after a certain number of days. 

You need to be sure that you are covered as a buyer in the purchase and sales agreement. If you back out of a home purchase without good reason like a contingency included in the agreement) you could be out of luck when it comes to getting your deposit back.    

Tags: Buying a home   finances  
Categories: Uncategorized  

Posted by Christina Martinez on 1/18/2018

For homebuyers, it is paramount to remain patient as you explore the real estate market. At the same time, it is important to understand that the real estate market moves quickly. Thus, if you wait too long to submit an offer on a house, you could miss out on your dream home.

Lucky for you, it is easy to prepare to buy a house in a fast-paced real estate market – here are three tips to ensure that you can do just that.

1. Make a Competitive Offer

If you find a house that you like, don't wait to submit an offer on it. Instead, submit a competitive offer from the get-go, and you may be able to secure your ideal home immediately.

An informed homebuyer is a smart shopper who understands what a "competitive" offer means for both a homebuyer and home seller. Ultimately, a homebuyer who assesses the condition of a property and the current state of the real estate market should have no trouble submitting a competitive proposal.

2. Track the Housing Market Closely

As a homebuyer, you'll want to stay up to date on new homes as they hit the real estate market. By doing so, you'll be better equipped than other homebuyers to check out these properties and find houses that match your budget and lifestyle perfectly.

New homes become available daily, so be sure to track properties online. Also, if you understand exactly what you want from a residence, you can narrow your search and improve your chances of finding a home that suits your needs.

3. Work with a Fast-Paced Real Estate Agent

When it comes to purchasing a house in a fast-paced real estate market, there is no need to leave anything to chance. Fortunately, you can hire a real estate agent who can help you discover your dream home quickly and effortlessly.

A fast-paced real estate agent will go above and beyond the call of duty to assist you. As such, this real estate professional will set up home showings and keep you informed about new properties as they become available. Plus, your real estate agent is happy to negotiate with home sellers on your behalf and ensure that you can purchase your dream home at a price that matches your budget.

Perhaps best of all, even a fast-paced real estate agent will slow down the homebuying process as needed. If you ever have concerns or questions about buying a house, your real estate agent will respond to your queries without delay.

Hiring a trusted real estate agent can make a world of difference for homebuyers in a fast-paced housing market. In fact, with a top-notch real estate agent at your disposal, you can browse the housing market closely and accelerate the process of finding your dream house.

Although the real estate market may fluctuate constantly, homebuyers who plan ahead will be able to simplify the process of acquiring exceptional properties. And if you use the aforementioned homebuying tips to your advantage, you can boost your chances of obtaining your dream home in a fast-paced housing market.

Categories: Uncategorized  

Posted by Christina Martinez on 1/17/2018

Closing costs are usually an unavoidable part of buying a home. While there are ways to reduce some closing costs and fees, they are an expense you will likely have to consider when it comes time to save for a home.

On average, buyers can expect to pay between 2 and 5 percent of the purchase price in closing costs and fees.

In this article, we’re going to break down those costs and talk about some ways to plan for, or limit, the fees associated with closing on a home.

A breakdown of closing costs

Most closing costs in a real estate transaction are paid for by the buyer. When getting approved for a mortgage, your lender is required to provide you with an estimate of the closing costs. This is called a “Closing Disclosure statement” which overviews the details of your loan.

Different lenders will charge varying amounts in fees. Some are even willing to waive certain fees. But, we’ll discuss that later.

For now, let’s focus on the closing costs buyers typically have to pay:

  • Attorney fees - a flat-fee or hourly rate depending on the attorney

  • Origination fees - an upfront fee charged by the lender for processing your mortgage application

  • Prepaid interest or discount points - a payment for the interest that will accrue on your mortgage from the time you close until your first mortgage payment is due

  • Home inspection fee - the fee that a professional home inspector charges to inspect a home

  • Escrow deposits - Usually split with the seller, this is the fee charged by an escrow agent

  • Recording fees - fees for legally recording the new deed and mortgage

  • Underwriting fees - fees paid to the lender for researching your mortgage case and determining whether or not to approve your application

These are just some of the many fees that can be due upon closing on a home. Depending on where you live, which lender you choose, and the type of mortgage you secure, your closing costs will vary, so it’s a good idea to shop around for a lender and mortgage type with reasonable closing costs.

Reducing closing costs

Some lenders offer no-cost, or low-cost mortgages. However, these savings often come with a higher interest rate which, over the lifespan of your loan, can cost you more in the long run.

You should also be aware of the different loan types that you may be eligible for. FHA loans, USDA loans, and VA loans are all designed for buyers hoping to make lower down payments on their home.

Each loan type provides different amounts due at closing. Fortunately, your mortgage lender will be able to give you an estimate of costs for each loan type.

Want to get an estimate of the closing costs you’ll have to pay when you buy a home? You can use this online calculator to see an average.

Categories: Uncategorized  

Posted by Christina Martinez on 1/17/2018

Buying a home will likely be one of the largest financial decisions you will make in your lifetime. While this may seem scary at first, it’s worth noting that buying a home can also be a valuable financial investment.

When it comes to preparing to buy a home, many people just wait until they run out of room in their apartment before deciding that they need to upgrade to a home. A better approach, however, would be to start planning for your first home a year or more in advance.

Saving for a down payment is a vital step to making the best long-term financial decision. A larger down payment can help you pay off your home sooner, pay thousands or tens of thousands less in interest, and start using your home equity as an asset.

But, saving for a down payment is easier said than done. So, in this post, we’re going to talk about some of the ways you can aggressively save for a down payment so that, when the time comes, you can achieve long-term financial security from your investment.

Setting your savings goals

The first thing you should be thinking about when saving for a down payment is what your goals are in a home. Setting realistic goals in this phase will make saving for your down payment more feasible and less discouraging.

Think about what you really need from a home at this point in your life and compromise where you can.

Remember that on top of your monthly mortgage payments, you’ll likely also be paying for taxes, insurance, utilities, homeowners association fees, and more.

Save on a timeline

When setting your savings goal, make sure you’re aware of the timeframe you’re working with. If you want to buy a home next year, you’ll need to focus on short-term savings options. However, if you’re okay with renting for the next 5 years, investing your money could be a better option.

Lock away your savings

Treat your down payment savings like an emergency fund. Open a separate account, automatically deposit a portion of your pay into the account, and never withdraw from it. To do this, you will, of course, need to already have an emergency fund with a month’s expenses in it.

However, once you’ve established your emergency fund, start immediately depositing into your savings account.

Pay off credit cards

It may seem like saving for a down payment is more pressing than paying off old debt. However, the numbers will show that making interest payments on your credit cards is essentially throwing away money that could have been used toward your down payment savings.

Adjust your spending habits

While it isn’t easy to start spending less once you’ve built a standard of living, there are ways to spend less money and still lead a fulfilling life. Think about where your money goes each month, including bills and services you might pay for.

Now could be the best time to cut the cord and start using a service like Hulu to save $50 or more each month.

Time for a raise?

If it’s been some time since your last pay raise, now could be an ideal time to speak with your employer. To improve your chances of success, don’t discuss reasons outside of work that might be influencing your decision to ask for a raise (such as saving for a down payment). Rather, back up your request with evidence of your accomplishments at work.

Categories: Uncategorized