Marianna Vis' Blog
In the rush and excitement to find the perfect home and make it yours, there are some things best learned beforehand rather than through hindsight. Here are some suggestions from first-time homebuyers that would have made the entire process less challenging.
Know where you stand.
If you plan to buy a home, even if it’s a couple years out, you need to assess your current creditworthiness so that you can move the needle to improve your credit score. Making sure that your credit reports show the correct information is not something to leave to chance.
- Order your credit reports from each of the three major reporting agencies (TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian).
- Review all the entries carefully. Sometimes, credit card accounts have different names on the credit report than on your card, so review your statements to match up accounts with their identifiers.
- If you find mistakes, request a review with the credit agency. All three have error mitigation instructions on their websites. Follow the instructions carefully.
- Review any slow pays and rearrange your payment schedules so that you’re up-to-date and on-time for everything.
Create your budget.
While this doesn’t work for everyone, a good rule of thumb is to keep your home price within two and a half times your annual income. That means if you make $80,000 per year, set your budget at $200,000 or less. If your income calculation includes dual partners or spouses, but you intend to add children to the household, consider how you might eliminate that second income. If you calculate your purchase based on one income your budget is more secure.
Determine your down payment.
First-time homebuyers typically qualify for FHA loans with just a 3.5% down payment. Others may be eligible for VA, USDA or Conventional 97 LTV programs too. But with less paid down, your mortgage payments increase because the loan is higher and includes the added cost of Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI). If you can put more down to get a better rate and reduce your mortgage payment, consider it. Conventional loans usually ask for a 20% down payment, but you’ll often get better interest rates and lower payments.
Decide on a loan term.
A fix-rate mortgage for 30 years is the norm, but not the only option. You can find loan terms for 8 or 15 years too. If an adjustable rate works for you in the short term, you’ll find those as well, but if you choose an adjustable-rate only because you couldn’t otherwise afford the home, you might want to wait or adjust your budget.
Get pre-approval from your lender.
Your bank looks at all your income, assets, credit history and other aspects. Getting the lender to give you an informal approval helps you determine if you’ll be able to borrow a specified amount of money to buy a home. Use the numbers your lender gives you to refine your budget.
When you’re ready, find a buyer’s agent to represent you in your home search and let the games begin.
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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.
Window sealants are sealing materials used to fill in cracks, holes, or openings around windows. A good seal is essential for protecting your windows’ lifespan. Gaps around a window let in the elements and end up increasing your energy bill. For home maintenance, preparing for the next season, or getting your house ready to sell, sealing your windows is a smart step.
Uses of Window Sealants
Window sealants function as a joint or point of contact between two spaces. The resulting barrier is resistant to gas, air, and also liquid. There is no one best sealant. Different sealants are necessary since each material has a specific sealant recommended for it. Metal window frames require a different sealant from a wood window or a vinyl clad window. Always check the requirements for your window type with someone knowledgeable about windows.
Types of Sealants
There are several types of window sealants commonly in use:
Silicone Sealants: A silicone sealant is mainly for use on windows in the bathroom, kitchen, shower, and toilet areas. Because they are subject to moisture that can cause the metal or wood to expand and contrast, these windows need a sealant that can also expand and contract. Also good for bonding materials that are subjected to vibration. Available in white and translucent color, it fits into your décor seamlessly.
Multi-Purpose Sealants: When two dissimilar materials join, such as wood and vinyl, metal or PVC, a multi-purpose sealant forms a bond between the two. In areas where replacement windows are set into original window frames, a multi-purpose sealant may be necessary.
Acrylic Sealant: Suitable for the connection and the sealing of cracks on brick, plaster, concrete, PVC, and wood, acrylic sealant is paintable and can be plastered to match an existing surface.
These are the common types of window sealants and their applications. They are typically available in local building materials and DIY stores. If you are unsure about which material to use for your project, seek the advice of a window installation professional.
If you don’t have a lot of cash on hand to secure a home with a sizable downpayment, you might feel stuck. It’s quite a feat to be able to save up the 20 percent cost of a home that is generally required to purchase a home. Your options may seem limited when you want to own a home. There is one option that could be a good idea to consider when you’re in this situation. That’s the idea of finding a rent-to-own property.
How Does A Rent-To-Own Property Work?
First, know that these properties are hard to find. That’s why you may not have thought of it as a first option. When you do find a property like this that suits your needs, you should know all of the ins and outs before you commit to the home. The agreement works just as it sounds, but there are always a few bits of extra text that can make the difference in any agreement in a rent-to-own property.
Lease With A Purchase Option
With this type of agreement, you’ll need to pay what is called an option fee in order to give you the right to purchase the property at a later date. The seller is then required to sell the property to you as a tenant and apply the option fee to the price of purchase. If for some reason you have paid the option fee and decide to walk away from the property after a time, the money that you have paid as an option is simply lost. The option fee is usually a percentage of the purchase price ranging anywhere from 2-7 percent of the home’s price.
Lease And Purchase Agreement Rolled Into One
In this type of rent-to-own agreement, both the tenant and the seller agree on fixed purchase price for the home, or agree that a purchase price will be determined at a later date through an appraisal. Everything is set up from the beginning including the closing date for the home.
This type of deal in a rent-to-own situation is often considered the better choice. Know that a fixed price option may put you in a better financial position than an appraisal option. You’ll have instant equity in the property when you buy it. This is especially helpful in high competition markets. In any other types of market, you may be better off with an appraisal. This ensures that you don’t overpay for the house.
How Your Rent Payments Apply
Rent-to-own gives you an advantage in that you get the added benefit of rent credits. This is where a percentage of your monthly rent payment is applied to the purchase price of the home. The amount of percentage that’s applied will be agreed upon with your landlord ahead of time.
While a rent-to-own option to purchase a property can be a bit more complicated than other ways of purchasing a home, it can be a great way for people different financial situations to become home owners. Make sure you go over everything carefully before you sign anything so that you fully understand the agreement you’re entering into.