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How to's and money-saving tips from resident homeowner and mortgage professional, Cathy West

What is a fixed-rate mortgage?

,  Posted in - ( The Mortgage Process )

A fixed rate mortgage can help buyers afford their next home.
When purchasing a home, buyers have plenty of options in the house hunting process. Once they make their decision, they face an important course of action: financing the home. Homebuyers have plenty of choices on what type of loan to buy. A common type of home loan, a fixed-rate mortgage, can help homebuyers afford their new space.A fixed-rate mortgage has a static interest percentage throughout the whole term of the loan. Even if buyers face difficult times, like divorce, losing their jobs or a rocky economy, these loans stay the same. Because homebuyers like this stability, fixed-rate mortgages are the most popular type ...

What to expect when closing on a home

,  Posted in - ( Purchasing a Home )

Closing on a home is a crucial step in the home-buying process.
Moving into a new home can be exciting. It might be a first home, a fresh start, an upgrade or a downsize. Regardless, changing addresses is the beginning of a new chapter. Despite the excitement of buying a home, closing on one isn't quite as enjoyable of a process, though it is imperative that this process goes smoothly. The National Association of Realtors reported that 31 percent of home sales in August of 2018 were from first-time buyers who have probably never experienced a closing before.Between price negotiation, home inspections and contract-signing, both parties can get burnt out by the end of the homebuying process. Althou...

How to buy an off-market house

,  Posted in - ( Purchasing a Home )

Buying a home before it hits the market can put buyers ahead of the competition.
Homebuyers with their eyes on specific homes, or ones who want to be at the front of the line when homeowners make the decision to sell, might try to find their ideal properties before they hit the market. Interested parties might hear about an off-market opportunity through the grapevine, or perhaps they leave a letter in their dream home's mailbox, informing the homeowners of their interest should they decide to sell the property. Just as sellers have different motivations for moving, buyers often have various tactics for pursuing desirable properties. In 2016, only 8 percent of home sales in the U.S. were off market, accordin...

Reasons to buy an old home

,  Posted in - ( Purchasing a Home )

Buying an old home means investing in charm in history. However, antique houses aren't right for everyone.
When shopping around for a place to live, homebuyers might take the neighborhood, aesthetic and features of a home into consideration. One factor that might seal the deal or scare away prospective buyers is the age of a home. Many people view older homes as a challenge and a steal, while others see these properties as a red flag. Deciding if you should purchase an old home depends on a variety of factors, including a look at the benefits and drawbacks of aged properties.The median cost of a new home in Jan. 2018 was $329,600, according to the United States Census Bureau. This contrasts the median price of an existing home during this sam...

Mistakes to avoid as a first-time homebuyer

,  Posted in - ( kb1 )

Mistakes to avoid as a first-time homebuyer
The home buying process can be extremely complicated and occasionally drawn out, even for shoppers who have been through it before. As a result, it's understandable that first-timers would have more difficulty in dealing with these issues, and can occasionally make mistakes. Fortunately, it doesn't have to be that way.There are plenty of common mistakes among first-time buyers but most of those are extremely avoidable. Here are just a few:Aiming too highOne of the biggest issues for first-timers is believing they can afford to buy a more expensive house than is reasonable based on their finances, according to NerdWallet. Before g...

What’s the difference between a listing agent and selling agent?

,  Posted in - ( Purchasing a Home )

Listing and selling agents offer helpful expertise to homebuyers and sellers.
Home sellers and homebuyers might work directly with listing and selling agents. Although people often use these terms interchangeably, these two types of real estate agents serve different purposes.Listing agentsSometimes in television shows and movies, a real estate agent will bake cookies in a home immediately before an open house to leave the space with comforting, mouth-watering scents. This individual is known in the real estate world as the listing agent. This agent is in charge of helping home sellers market their properties. According to the National Association of Realtors, 89 percent of home sellers used real estate agents in 2016....

How much home is ‘too much?’

,  Posted in - ( kb1 )

How much home is 'too much?'
Cost is perhaps the most important consideration when it comes to buying a home because of just how much people have to invest - both up front and over the course of decades - in making a purchase. Typically, this is going to be the single most expensive purchase of a person's life, and it looms large over personal finances for years. As such, it's important for buyers to make sure they're buying a home they can actually afford, and are careful to avoid talking themselves into buying "too much house."There are a few basic rules of thumb that will help people avoid buying a home they can't really afford, and the simpl...

What to watch for in investment properties

,  Posted in - ( Purchasing a Home )

Prospective landlords should research their investment property before making a down payment.
Individuals looking to profit from land ownership might consider buying a residential rental property. For first-time landlords, navigating the rental market can be overwhelming. Investing in the right real estate can be lucrative, but buying the wrong building can turn into a financial burden. Before purchasing a rental complex, investors should investigate several factors.LocationThe town or neighborhood of a rental property might impact the types of tenants choosing to reside there. An apartment complex near a college might attract an abundance of students, and a building in the downtown area of a city may attract professionals workin...

What is a closing disclosure?

,  Posted in - ( kb1 )

What is a closing disclosure?
When first-time shoppers are working toward completing the home sales process, there may still be many questions they have about what's required of them or what they'll need to know. The fact is that there's a lot of jargon that goes into every step of obtaining a mortgage, bidding on a home and closing a sale, so if people have questions or are unsure of certain things, it's important to get the answers sooner rather than later.One of the big questions people may have as they move toward wrapping up a sale is what is meant by "closing disclosure." In short, it's a five-page document that provides all the details...

What is a good faith estimate?

,  Posted in - ( The Mortgage Process )

Documents like good faith estimates and Loan Estimates encourage borrowers to seek multiple loan rates.
A good faith estimate is a three-page document that breaks down the costs owed when closing on a mortgage loan. This paperwork allows homebuyers to understand the full costs involved with taking out a mortgage loan. Zillow lists the terms included in a GFE:Loan amount.Interest rate.Term.Prepayment penalty (if applicable).Origination charge.GFEs don't include the costs of homeowners insurance or property taxes.Good faith estimate vs. loan estimateAccording to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, buyers applying for a mortgage after October 3, 2015 receive a loan estimate instead of a GFE. If they applied for a mortgage before thi...