What to Include in a Homebuying Checklist

If you want to buy a house, it pays to enter the real estate market with a checklist in hand. That way, you can streamline the process of going from homebuyer to homeowner.

Now, let’s take a look at three things to include in your homebuying checklist.

1. Your Budget

Your budget will dictate whether you’re able to afford a condo, luxury home or something in-between. As such, you’ll want to assess your finances closely as you determine exactly what type of house that you can afford.

Oftentimes, it helps to get a copy of your credit report. You are eligible to receive one free copy of your credit report annually from each of the three credit reporting bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). If you know your credit score, you can determine whether now is a good time to enter the real estate market, or whether you should improve your credit score first.

You may want to consult with several banks and credit unions too. These financial institutions can teach you about various mortgage options and help get pre-approved for a mortgage. Then, once you have a mortgage, you’ll know exactly how much you can spend on a house and tailor your home search accordingly.

2. Where You Want to Live

Living in the suburbs is very different from residing in the city. Therefore, you’ll want to consider where you want to live so that you can search for a home in specific areas.

For example, if you prefer the peace and quiet of a small town, you may want to consider houses in small towns in the state of your choice. These towns may feature dozens of available homes. Plus, in many instances, small town houses are priced lower than big city residences.

Or, if you enjoy the hustle and bustle of the big city, you can search for residences in any city, at any time. These houses likely will ensure that you’ll have quick, easy access to a variety of big city attractions and landmarks.

3. Real Estate Agent

There is no telling whether you’re about to enter a seller’s or buyer’s market, as the housing sector often fluctuates. Fortunately, if you hire a real estate agent, you can increase the likelihood of a quick, successful homebuying experience, regardless of the current housing market’s conditions.

A real estate agent is committed to your homebuying success and will do what it takes to help you find the right home, at the right price. He or she will learn about your homebuying goals and offer expert insights into the real estate market. Also, if you ever have homebuying concerns or questions, a real estate agent is available to address them.

For those who want to streamline the homebuying process, it helps to hire a real estate agent. And if you hire a real estate agent today, you can get the assistance that you need to make your homeownership dream come true.

Get started on your homebuying checklist, and you can simplify the process of acquiring your ideal residence.

4 Factors for Homebuyers to Consider Before They Make an Offer

The real estate market is filled with many high-quality residences, and after a comprehensive search, you’ve found a residence that fits your personal needs and budget perfectly. However, you may need to think twice before you submit an offer on this residence.

There are many factors that homebuyers should consider before they make an offer on a house, including:

1. Neighborhood

Ideally, you’ll want to find a home in a community filled with friendly neighbors. But in many cases, homebuyers may focus exclusively on a residence and ignore the neighborhood entirely.

Taking a walk around a neighborhood often allows you to get a better feel about what it is like to live in a neighborhood and may give you a chance to meet some of the neighbors as well. Also, a simple walk around the block will provide you with a better idea about whether a house’s value may rise or fall in the foreseeable future.

For instance, a neighborhood filled with houses with well-maintained front lawns, nearby parks and schools and other local amenities may prosper for years to come, and home values may rise in this neighborhood over the next few years.

2. Crime

No one wants to live in an unsafe area, and you can learn about crime near a prospective home before you submit an offer on a residence.

Contacting a local police station usually is a great idea for homebuyers who want to find out about crime statistics in a particular area.

Furthermore, your real estate agent can provide insights into crime in a specific area and help you determine whether a particular house is the best option.

3. Traffic

Although your dream home features all of the amenities you want, it might fail to provide you with quick, easy access to your office day after day.

For example, traffic can be a problem if your house is located in or near a major city. And if you need to travel to work every day, it is important to understand how traffic could affect your daily commute.

To better understand traffic patterns in a particular area, try driving to a residence at different times during the day. By doing so, you can learn about traffic patterns near a house and be better equipped to make a more informed decision about whether to submit an offer on a residence.

4. Taxes

You’ve been pre-approved for a mortgage and have established a monthly budget for a new home, but taxes may vary depending on where you move. Thus, you’ll want to learn as much as possible about potential taxes that you could face at a new residence before you submit an offer.

Taxes may add up quickly, but homebuyers who budget accordingly can minimize the risk that they’ll fall behind on tax bills. And with support from your real estate agent, you can learn about taxes that you may encounter if you purchase a particular residence.

If you’re fully satisfied with a residence after you consider the aforementioned factors, you’ll be ready to submit an offer and move one step closer to moving into your dream house.

How Long Will It Take To Close On My First Home?

Do you ever wish that they taught a class in high school called, “Things You’ll Actually Need to Know In Life?” You’d learn how to prepare your taxes, what investing is, and how to buy a home.

Unfortunately, all of these important life lessons tend to be self-taught; you pick them up along the way and learn from your mistakes.

However, it needn’t be that way. Our goal today is to give you an accurate idea of what to expect when you’re buying your first home. We’ll go over a typically home buying timeline and discuss how long each step can take. This will give you a better idea of how long it will take to close on your first home.

Step 1: Build credit and save for a down payment

Estimated time: 2+ years

The first step of buying a home is to make sure you’re financially secure enough to do so. While there are ways to purchase a home with low or no down payments (See FHA, USDA, and VA loans), generally it’s wiser to wait until you have a sizable down payment saved. This will save you money in interest and mortgage insurance in the long run.

Next, you’ll need to start working on your credit. If your credit score took some hits due to late payments when you were younger, now is the time to start fixing those mistakes by making on-time payments and paying off outstanding balances.

Step 2: Have a plan for the next phase of your life

Estimated time 6+ months

One of the most important, and least talked about, parts of buying a home is understanding what it means to own a home. If you have a spouse, partner, or family, you’ll need to be in agreement that you’re prepared to stay in one place for the next 5 or more years.

Buying a home is expensive and you won’t want to go through the process of closing on a home if you aren’t sure you’ll stay. This means making sure your career won’t bring you elsewhere in the near future.

Step 3: Get prequalified and preapproved

Estimated time 1-3 days (depending on how much initiative you take)

Getting prequalified for a mortgage takes minutes. You simply fill out an online form and the lender will give you an idea of the type and size loan you could qualify for. Be forewarned: they’ll also use this information to call and bother you about getting a mortgage from them.

Once you’re prequalified, it’s just a matter of working with the lender to provide the correct documentation for pre-approval.

Getting preapproved takes a bit longer (1-3 days), since it requires a credit check and some work on your part–namely, gathering and sending income verification.

Once you’re preapproved, you can safely start shopping for homes without worrying that you’re wasting time looking at homes that are overbudget.

Step 4: House Hunting

Estimated time: 30+ days

It’s a seller’s market. So, if you’re buying a home right now there is competition out there. You’ll need to dedicate a substantial amount of time to researching homes online, contacting sellers’ agents, and following up on calls. Like before, the amount of effort you put into this process determines how quickly and smoothly you’ll get through it.

Step 5: Making an offer and closing

Estimated time: ~50 days

Average closing times for buying a home has grown to 50 days according to a recent study. However, by securing financing ahead of time and acting quickly, you can drastically cut down the time of these process to as little as two weeks.

What to Do If a Seller Rejects Your Offer to Purchase

If a seller rejects your offer to purchase his or her house, there is no need to panic. At this point, there are many things you can do, including:

1. Craft a New Offer to Purchase

If at first you don’t succeed, try again. Remember, if you find your dream house but your initial offer to purchase is rejected, you can always create a new homebuying proposal. And if you submit a new offer to purchase that falls in line with a seller’s expectations, you may receive an instant “Yes.”

For those who decide to submit a new offer to purchase a residence, it is important to avoid making the same mistake twice. Thus, you should analyze the home you want to purchase, along with the current housing sector. Because if you use a variety of real estate market data, you could submit a competitive offer to purchase your dream house.

2. Reenter the Housing Market

A seller may reject your offer to purchase his or her house, and as such, you may need to continue your home search. Fortunately, quality residences are available in cities and towns nationwide, which means there are lots of great houses at your disposal.

Of course, you may want to put together a homebuying budget, too. If you have a homebuying budget in hand, you can search for houses that match your price range.

To craft a homebuying budget, you should meet with banks and credit unions. These financial institutions can offer home financing insights and help you get pre-approved for a mortgage. And once you have a mortgage, you will know exactly how much you can spend to acquire your ideal house.

3. Consult with a Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent is happy to help you determine the best course of action after a seller rejects your offer to purchase. In fact, he or she will do everything possible to help you streamline the homebuying journey.

Typically, a real estate agent will learn about you and your homebuying goals. He or she then will create a homebuying plan designed to help you achieve your desired results. Next, you and a real estate agent will work together to transform your homebuying vision into a reality. And as you navigate the homebuying journey, a real estate agent will provide comprehensive housing market insights you may struggle to obtain elsewhere.

Let’s not forget about the assistance a real estate agent will provide as you get ready to submit an offer to purchase a house, either. A real estate agent will help you craft a competitive offer to purchase any home, at any time. Best of all, if your homebuying proposal is accepted, a real estate agent will help you finalize your house purchase as quickly as possible.

Clearly, there are many things you can do if your offer to purchase your ideal house is rejected. If you start planning ahead for the homebuying journey, you could boost the likelihood of enjoying a seamless property buying experience.

Avoid Delays During the Homebuying Process

Buying a house should be a fast, seamless process. However, problems sometimes may arise that prevent you from acquiring your dream house in a timely fashion.

Ultimately, it is important to be proactive to minimize the risk of encountering time-consuming hurdles during the homebuying process. Fortunately, we’re here to help you identify and address such problems before they can slow you down.

Let’s take a look at three tips to help you avoid delays as you pursue your dream residence.

1. Enter the Housing Market with a Plan in Hand

An informed homebuyer is better equipped than others to enjoy a successful homebuying journey. In fact, this buyer should have no trouble narrowing his or her homebuying criteria to speed up the homebuying cycle.

When it comes to purchasing a house, it helps to consider what you want to find in your dream residence. That way, you can enter the housing market with a list of homebuying criteria in hand and tailor your house search accordingly.

Remember, it is your duty as a homebuyer to do everything possible to find your ideal residence. If you narrow your house search, you can focus on finding a home that matches your expectations. And once you discover your dream house, you can quickly submit a competitive homebuying proposal.

2. Get Your Home Financing in Order

Getting pre-approved for a mortgage can make a world of difference for a homebuyer. If a homebuyer receives pre-approval for a mortgage, this individual will know exactly how much he or she can spend on a residence. As a result, this buyer can explore residences that fall within a specific price range, increasing the likelihood of a fast homebuying journey.

To obtain a mortgage, a homebuyer should meet with several banks and credit unions. These financial institutions can teach a homebuyer about a broad array of mortgage options. Perhaps most important, each lender can help a homebuyer weigh the pros and cons of assorted mortgage options and ensure a buyer can make an informed mortgage decision.

3. Collaborate with an Expert Real Estate Agent

There is no need to let problems escalate that otherwise could slow down the homebuying journey. Fortunately, if you hire an expert real estate agent, you can get the help you need to accelerate the homebuying cycle.

An expert real estate agent understands the ins and outs of buying a house, and as such, will make it simple for you to streamline the homebuying process. He or she will offer lots of recommendations as you pursue your dream house. Plus, when you discover your ideal residence, a real estate agent will help you submit a competitive offer right away.

The homebuying journey can be long and complex, particularly for a homebuyer who chooses to work alone. But if you employ an expert real estate agent, you can receive plenty of support as you navigate the homebuying journey.

Ready to acquire your ideal residence? Use the aforementioned tips, and you can reduce the risk of encountering time-intensive obstacles as you search for your dream home.

What You Need To Know About Titles And Mortgages

There’s numerous reasons why the name on a title to a home may not be the same as the name that’s on the mortgage loan. These reasons include:

  • Only one buyer had stable credit
  • Only one person was on the loan application
  • One person was released from the mortgage

No matter why this is the case, having your name on the mortgage but not on the title to a home can affect you and people residing in the home in different ways. 

Why Would Only One Name Be On The Mortgage?

If people are looking to get a home or refinance a home, but only one person has good credit a decision must be made. For the best possible mortgage rates, you’ll want to person with the best credit to be the primary loan holder. This may mean that you need additional legal documents in the process.  

The person with lower credit may still be able to have their name placed on the title to the home. Anyone who plans to contribute financially to a home, even if not on the mortgage, should place their name on the title. This would be one instance when a name would be on the title to a home and not on the mortgage loan. In this case, a person has property rights, but no legal-financial responsibility to the home. It’s important to agree on the home arrangement that you’re considering. This would be done through a will or a legal contract. This way, all parties are protected in regards to the ownership of the home should something happen to the individual whose name is on the mortgage.

Legal Things To Consider

Those who are listed on the mortgage are the people who are responsible for house payments. If a person’s name isn’t on the mortgage, it doesn’t release them from complete responsibility from the home. If your name is on the title to the home but not on the mortgage, the bank generally has first dibs on the home if there’s a lapse in payments. If you want to keep living in the house, you’ll have to keep making payments on the home. If you can’t make the mortgage payments, you’ll risk going into foreclosure. 

Taxes

An issue that can come up if your name is not on the mortgage is that you cannot use the home you’re living in as a tax deduction. Even if you make payments on the home, in order for you to get tax benefits, your name must be on the mortgage stating that you’re legally responsible for the home. If you are paying for the mortgage because your name appears on the title to the home, you aren’t legally entitled to pay, giving away your rights to tax benefits. If you’re married, filing jointly, and only one name appears on the mortgage, however, you can use this as a tax deduction. This becomes an issue if two unmarried people buy a home together.  

Ask For Legal Assistance

Whenever you have an issue with the title of your home or with names on the mortgage, it’s good to consult legal counsel. The attorney can assist you in determining who is legally responsible for the home and if the people listed on the title of the home are correct. This can help save you from trouble at a future date.

Since credit scores and loans can get messy at times during the home buying process, it’s good to understand all the implications of home mortgages and titles.

Is There A Prime Time To Buy Or Sell A Home?

If you’re planning on buying a new home sometime in the near future, you may be wondering when the best time of year to buy a home really is. There’s many theories about when the best time of year to buy a home is. It’s widely known that inventory on homes available for sale picks up in spring. That means that inventory increases, but so too does the volume of competition for people who are buying homes. Just because spring is busy, in real estate that doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily the best time to buy. 

Spring is, however, a great time to sell your home. The same goes for the summer as the buying frenzy continues right into the fall for most home buyers. As a buyer or a seller, you’ll want to have a good understanding of the housing market no matter what time of year you’re making your property transactions. Whether you’re buying or selling, you’ll want to know how to get the best bang for your buck. While many people are ready for a change after the long winter months, yet, many people can hold out through other times of the year. 

The Market Changes With The Seasons


As the seasons change, so too do the number of people selling versus the number of people who are looking to buy. If you don’t mind the competition and know what you’re looking for, any time is a good time to buy. As a buyer, you’ll either be facing low inventory, tough competition, or a combination of the two. If you’re scoping out the type of home you’d like to live in, you’ll want to browse in the spring. Have your pre-approval ready just in case you find a home you love at the right price. If you’re not in a rush, spring shopping can give you a good idea of what’s out there for you. You’ll be able to narrow down the type of home you want and where you’d like to live when the time is right.

There’s Really No Golden Rule For Timing

When it comes to buying and selling real estate, there is no sweet spot during the year as to when you’ll have better luck. Being prepared and understanding the trends in your area are a good start. When you hire the right real estate agent, they can be your advocate throughout the process of either buying or selling. Agents can research different trends from the time of year that properties are sold in a certain neighborhood right through to the correct pricing for a home just like yours or the one you are looking for.

3 Tips for Buying a Home in Summer

The summer real estate season provides a valuable opportunity for homebuyers across the United States. And with the right homebuying strategy, you should have no trouble securing your dream home at a price that fits your budget.

What does it take to discover a wonderful home in summer? Here are three tips to help you purchase a great home during the warmest months of the year:

1. Know What You Want from Your Dream Home

Although you may allocate substantial time and resources to browse the real estate market, your best efforts may not be enough to find your dream residence. As such, you’ll want to go above and beyond the call of duty to transform your homeownership dream into a reality.

Make a checklist of must-haves for your dream residence before you browse homes that are available in summer. By doing so, you’ll be able to better understand what you want from your dream house and plan accordingly.

In addition, getting pre-approved for a mortgage usually is an excellent idea. With pre-approval, you’ll know exactly how much you can spend to acquire your dream house.

2. Take Advantage of Vacations and Long Weekends

For many people, summertime offers extended breaks from the hustle and bustle of day-to-day life. Meanwhile, homebuyers who take advantage of extra time may be able to commit additional resources to complete their search for the perfect house.

Summer vacations and long weekends can be a time to relax. However, if you have time to spare, feel free to browse the real estate market. By doing so, you can check out a broad array of houses and even set up home showings at your convenience.

When it comes to checking out homes in summer, don’t forget to enjoy the beautiful weather, either. For example, if you spend an afternoon viewing homes, you may want to reward yourself with a trip to the amusement park in the evening. Or, if you’re checking out a home that is located near a beach, feel free to plan a beach trip after the home showing is finished.

3. Hire an Experienced Real Estate Agent

Navigating the real estate market may seem impossible at times, particularly during summer. Fortunately, hiring an experienced real estate agent ensures that you can streamline the process of securing your dream residence.

An experienced real estate agent understands the ins and outs of the housing market and will do whatever he or she can to help you find a terrific home. This real estate professional can offer information about home listings in your area and set up times to view houses. Plus, your real estate agent will be able to respond to your homebuying concerns or questions at any time.

Employ an experienced real estate agent to take the guesswork out of acquiring a home in summer – you’ll be happy you did. With support from an experienced real estate agent, you can explore a vast array of houses and find one that suits you perfectly.

Is A Homepath Property Right For You?

You may see homes listed as in a search for a home that are denoted as a “Homepath property.” You may wonder what this means and if you’re even eligible to buy the property. It is a specialized program, so you’ll want to be informed on what it means to use it and what the process is. 

Fannie Mae Programs

What was formerly known as a Homepath property is now known as The Home Ready Mortgage by Fannie Mae. With the Homepath program, people are able to find and purchase homes with a bit more ease and less financial risk. If you’re buying your first home, this could be the perfect way to get it. This program offers a list of foreclosed properties with really good deals on them. Repeat buyers can also find some great deals through this program, so it has something for everyone. It has so many benefits for anyone who is looking to buy a home.     

How To Get A Homepath Property

Fanie Mae does require that you place a bid through a realtor. The program is designed for buyers to better understand the risks with buying foreclosed homes, while giving them a better opportunity to purchase a foreclosed home. Since foreclosed homes are sold as-is, there’s a risk that the home actually has some serious damage that needs to be repaired at a high cost. This is where a realtor comes in, as they can help buyers to understand ho much work a property may need and the exact risks involved.  

Low Down Payment

  Even if a home through the Homepath program requires extensive repairs, it’s not an opportunity that you should should shoot down right away. Unlike traditional mortgages where you’ll typically need 20% down to purchase, Fannie Mae only requires that buyers place as little as 3% down. This means that with the low cost of the available homes and the small down payment required, buyers can save thousands of dollars in total. Of course, this savings can help buyers to make the required repairs to the home. 

Eligibility Requirements

There’s not many stringent requirements to be eligible to buy a Homepath property. Most people actually can be found to be eligible for these purchases. The biggest requirement is that before buyers reach the closing table, they’ll need to take an education course. This allows buyers to get assistance with the closing costs.  

Learn More About Homepath

If you’re looking to buy a home at a low cost, you should definitely talk to your realtor about the Homepath program. They can also explain more about specific eligibility requirements. It’s easy to make use of this program, so start saving right now and search for a Homepath property.

Best Practices for Buying a House

If you plan to buy a home in the upcoming days, weeks or months, it often pays to learn about the real estate market. By doing so, you can understand various best practices for purchasing a house and streamline the homebuying process.

Ultimately, there are several best practices for buying a house, and these include:

1. Become a Homebuying Expert

What differentiates a buyer’s market from a seller’s market? How do you submit an offer on a house? And what should you expect during a home inspection? These are just some of the questions that you’ll need to consider to become a homebuying expert.

As a homebuying expert, you’ll be better equipped than others to plan a successful homebuying journey.

Typically, a homebuying expert asks lots of questions and devotes the necessary time and resources to learn about the housing market. This individual also is open to expert homebuying advice and recommendations and will do whatever it takes to discover the right house, at the right price, regardless of the real estate market’s conditions.

2. Get a Home Loan

For those who plan to buy a house, it helps to save money in advance. That way, you can shop for a house and have sufficient funds available for a sizable down payment.

Furthermore, you should start searching for a home loan as soon as possible. Because the sooner that you secure a home loan, the sooner that you can kick off a home search with a budget in hand.

To obtain a home loan, you should meet with several banks and credit unions. These lenders will evaluate your credit history, income and other financial factors and make a home loan offer.

After you accept a home loan offer, you can officially start your home search. And if you find a home that you’d like to buy, you can submit an offer without having to scramble to get a home loan at the last possible moment.

3. Collaborate with a Real Estate Agent

When it comes to buying a home, hiring a real estate agent is essential. In fact, a real estate agent will provide plenty of support throughout the homebuying journey, ensuring that you can discover your dream house without delay.

A real estate agent first will learn about your homebuying goals. Then, this housing market professional can help you narrow your home search.

In addition, a real estate agent will set up home showings, submit home offers on your behalf and keep you up to date on homebuying negotiations. Perhaps best of all, if you ever have homebuying concerns or questions, a real estate agent is happy to respond to them at any time.

Buying a home can be a quick, seamless process, particularly for those who work with a real estate agent. Reach out to a local real estate agent today, and you can move one step closer to making your homeownership dreams come true.