Category Archives: first-time home buyers

June is National Homeownership month

Homeownership is a goal of many people.

To get to that goal there are several things you should do and several things to consider.

THINGS TO DO TO REACH YOUR GOAL

When you make a plan to get yourself to your goal of homeownership, learn about first-time homebuyer savings accounts. This account, like any other, is trackable and you can see how you are building your savings toward a home purchase. NerdWallet.com has a list of of these programs available in each state and the District of Columbia.

The first step you should make in purchasing a house, before contacting a real estate agent, is meeting with a mortage loan banker who can tell you what kind of mortgage program you qualify for and what your spending limits look like.

You might find that you currently don’t qualify, but the loan officer can advise you of the steps to take that will qualify you. Check with your bank if they have a mortgage department. You already have a relationship with that bank so talk to them first about helping you purchase a home.

Search the internet for homes in your price range. If you’re purchasing in the town you currently live, drive around and familiarize yourself with neighborhoods if you haven’t already. If you have to commute to work, decide what neighborhoods are close enough that you can afford. Concerned about demographics? Search the web for information, call the local police department, contact a city or county representative. Follow the city or town’s social media pages.

Interview a few local real estate agents. Use word of mouth referrals from friends and co-workers to find your agent. Referral companies charge agents a large fee to help you. You get to pick from a pool of people who agree to pay it. Wouldn’t you rather pick from someone with a personal reference from a friend?

You’ll want to be able to work with the agent your choose and feel comfortable with them handling your personal information. Interview at least one who is C2EX Endorsed and/or has completed the e-PRO course to find out their point of difference. C2EX is the National Association of Realtors’ Committment to Excellence program. e-PRO is a certification course teaching Realtors how to protect your private information in a digital world. They are optional continuing education classes.

THINGS TO CONSIDER

As a first-time homebuyer, you will want to have a real estate agent to represent you through a transaction for the following reasons:

  1. Your agent can point out homes that you might miss on your search. Maybe the listing doesn’t say much about the property but your agent has been inside and feels it is something for you to consider.
  2. He or she belongs to an association with protocols for handling COVID-19. Whether your or the seller are concerned, agents have a responsibility to follow what you both feel is necessary.
  3. Agents are skilled in negotiating purchase pricing and earnest money, and navigating disclosures, inspections, appraisal issues, and the closing process.
  4. An agent that is not representing the seller, will have your best interest in their care so don’t be too quick to call the agent listed on the sign in front of your dream home or visit a new construction development without your agent.
  5. Real estate agents can work with FSBO sellers, too. Don’t call a FSBO, let your agent do it for you. The FSBO seller is going it alone; you shouldn’t have to.
  6. Homebuying is emotional; it’s the biggest purchase most people make and agents understand that. He or she is on your side and can help you with the joy, frustration, fear, and excitement that a first-time homebuyer can go through during a purchase.
  7. Agents make great, life-long friends.

The National Association of Realtors has a First-time Homebuyers Guide that you can watch and listen to with numerous resources to help you navigate the process to become a homeowner.

June in National Homeownership Month. Best wishes reaching your goal.

Eileen Saunders, SRES REALTOR with Tommy Morgan Realtors BOF-Oxford 2092 Old Taylor Road #101, Oxford, MS 38655  662-404-0816/662-234-5344 eileen@tmhomes.com

 

Leverage These Low Interest Rates

Many people dream of their next home. Could it be a larger home for your larger family? Maybe you want a bigger house to incorporate a home office. Do you dream of a home with more land?

Others are deciding on downsizing. Retirees who no longer care to keep up a garden, or  do not want exterior maintenance are thinking of a smaller home or condo. Empty nesters might be trying to figure out their next step to a smaller space but one the kids and grand kids and visit comfortably.

Right now, we have historically low interest rates which makes it a great time buy a new home.

If you are a new homebuyer, contact your bank’s mortgage department or find a lender in your town determine what mortgage programs work for you. What kind of rate can you get and what does a rate lock mean? Decide if you have the money for a down payment. If not, learn from your mortgage professional ways to secure one. Ask about taxes and insurance that will be added to the mortgage.

Get quotes on moving expenses and storage in case you need a short-term storage unit. Many people forget this part of the cost. Determine your budget and the price range to be searching for a house.

If the numbers work out and you find that this is the time for you to make a purchase, start your homebuying searches online by looking at neighborhoods in your price range. Keep a mortgage calculator, like one offered by Realtor.com, nearby to help you figure out the costs.

Look for a real estate agent to help you.

Ask for referrals from friends and family and the mortgage lender you are working with. Most of these people in your sphere know or have worked with an agent that they would want to recommend.

Online companies that pick an agent for you are really gathering your info and selling it to local agents; the agent you pick from this pool will have to pay a fee to the referral company for your business. If you go that route, be sure to interview several that call you. Make sure you pick an agent that you feel you can trust; one that you think you’ll get along with.

Check out non-referral companies, too, like Yelp and Realtor.com to investigate agent profiles. Do a browser search for local agents and read about the ones that populate on the search page. Find agents’ business pages on Facebook and profiles on LinkedIn.

If you want specifically to purchase short-sale or REO properties, search for agents that are educated in the process. There is significantly more paperwork and you really can’t do it alone.

A good agent will suggest more properties to visit and will walk you through the homebuying process: the contracts, addendum, inspections and negotiating for repairs including termites if they are present, attorneys, making sense of appraisals, the underwriting process, closing proceedures and more.

Use the agent you picked to help you with For Sale By Owner properties, too. You’ll want a coach and advocate to take this path with you.  FSBO sellers are only interested in their well being and generally won’t be able to help you with your questions. If you call a FSBO then you’re on your own. Once they have your name, they are not going to want to pay your agent, and your agent can’t help you any further. So let your agent call the FSBO seller for you.

Enjoy your home buying adventure.

Eileen Saunders, SRES REALTOR with Tommy Morgan Realtors BOF-Oxford 2092 Old Taylor Road #101, Oxford, MS 38655  662-404-0816/662-234-5344 eileen@tmhomes.com

 

 

 

 

Reasons People Sell Their Homes

People have many reasons for selling the home or investment property that they own. Often, buyers or other agents will ask, “why are the homeowners selling?” Unless the sellers want people to know their reason, this is confidential information.

Sometimes this question can be interpreted as “what’s wrong with the house?” Generally, if there are any issues with the house or land, it will be stated on the property disclosure statement. This disclosure answers all the questions the particular state’s laws require to be disclosed including (but not limited to), any past water damage, structural damage from natural disasters or termites, mold, lead paint, and age of roof and appliances. Many states do not require disclosure of rumored hauntings or previous death, but some do.

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If a buyer really needs to know these non-disclosure issues, they can research it themselves. Crime reports are available online or by calling the local police department. Paranormal activity and previous death in the house can be found in old newspapers or by other means of research.  Other non-disclosed items can be personal issues, for example, a dispute with a neighbor that makes it uncomfortable for the seller to stay in that neighborhood. The property might be near a commercial development and the seller no longer wants to deal with the heavy traffic it brings. A buyer might want it for the convenience.

If the planned development hasn’t started yet, you should know all you can about the plans. Ask your agent for information available about approved future plans that might affect your purchase.a-buy-me-a-coffee-987096_1920

Frankly, there are so many reasons to sell property that, unless it’s a required disclosed issue, it really shouldn’t be a concern to anyone. Often, the reason is a confidential one and it is their real estate agent’s job to sell the house, not gossip about the seller and their problems.

Here is a small list of possible reasons a seller is selling. There are plenty more, but this should give you, as a buyer, pause for thought that it really does not matter. If the house is desirable and you feel good about it, then you have a great reason to purchase it.

  • Downsizing
  • Retiring in another town/state/country
  • Job transfer
  • Need to put kids in a different school district (maybe for sports or arts program)
  • Need a larger house
  • Neighbors entertain often and are noisy
  • Neighbor children play musical instruments the seller can hear
  • Want a property to put in a pool
  • Wants a new house/new construction
  • Wants a one-level rather than a two-level house
  • Moving to assisted living
  • Moving in with family
  • Building the dream home
  • Death
  • Inherited land the recipient does not want
  • Long-held investment, time to sell
  • Illness
  • College children graduated and no longer need the condo
  • Rental property too much trouble to maintain
  • Divorce
  • Personal dispute with neighbor
  • Wants to move to a neighborhood without HOA restrictions
  • Wants a neighborhood with deed restrictions
  • Moving to the country
  • Moving closer to town
  • Land nearby is being developed and want to be away from the higher traffic it will bring

You can probably come up with more reasons to sell and move. If you are buying a house or land, you have your own reasons for doing so.  You are about to make one of the biggest purchases of your life, focus on what is great about it and how it fits into your life. Be thankful that property is available for you.

Mark Twain once said, “By land, they aren’t making it anymore.” If the opportunity for land or for the house on the land comes along and you want it, do your due diligence and then go for it if it fits your needs.

Eileen Saunders, SRES REALTOR with Tommy Morgan Realtors BOF-Oxford 2092 Old Taylor Road #101, Oxford, MS 38655  662-404-0816/662-234-5344 eileen@tmhomes.com

 

How Do You Know A House Is Right For You?

House hunting can be an exhausting chore.  It is exhausting because there might be so many houses to choose from and you need to take the time to see them all and make the best decision. It is a chore because, if you have to move, it is a necessary task.

I have moved 10 times in 23 years so I know how tough it is. Sometimes my husband and I have rented, sometimes we have purchased a home. Each time, no matter what we chose to do, it was an exhausting chore.

So, how do you know when you have found the right house? How do you know when a house is right for you?

I can simply say, “You’ll know when it’s the right house.” But what does that mean?

checklist-1316848_1280I recommend you make a checklist of what is important. Each time you view a house, check off those things that it hits on your list. If you can check off a majority of them, you’ve basically found a house that meets all of your expectations. But, if it still might not feel right, consider why. Are the bedrooms in a conventional design? Is there enough room to grow? Are the ceilings too high or too low? Does the layout flow or is there something stopping that flow?  Is it move-in ready or do you have to remodel? With a checklist you can visually see which houses most fit your needs. Make notes about how you felt in the house. Was there something strange about it? Was there a happy feeling? Was there an odor? Can you raise children there? Is there room for a home office? What about a pet? Is there sufficient entertainment space? Can you add on to the house?

I hate to say it, but some people are lifetime house hunters; they will  never find the perfect house.  But you don’t have to find the perfect house; you have to find something you are comfortable in.

You will know when you find the right house. It won’t be perfect. Only you can make it perfect once you move in. So keep an open mind when house hunting.

You will know when you find the right house.

Eileen Saunders, SRES  Realtor(c) with Tommy Morgan, Inc., Realtors BOF  2092 Old Taylor Road, Oxford, MS 38655  662-404-0816/662-234-5344  eileen@tmhomes.com Equal housing

What Buyers Need to Know in a Seller’s Market

A seller’s market exists when there are more buyers and less inventory. We definitely have this going on around Oxford, MS as well as the rest of the country. 

Buyers, therefore, need to be ready on the mark so they don’t miss out.  Before looking for a new home, be prepared to actually buy.  Here’s how: 

  1. Get pre-qualified for a mortgage and have your paperwork handy. In fact, give it to your real estate agent. If you happen to decide to place an offer on a house and logistics require e-signatures, your agent will already have the pre-qualification  letter on hand to submit with the offer. If you are paying cash, have a letter from your bank ready with proof of funds available. 
  2. Hire a real estate agent. These professionals will see immediately when new listings are available and can get you a video preview (if you are out of town and can buy sight-unseen) or, can get you an immediate appointment to view the house.   
  3. Be available when your real estate agent calls. Lingering over your schedule may cost you an opportunity. 
  4. When you make an offer, limit your contingencies.  Asking the buyer to wait for you to sell your house in a seller’s market may be unreasonable. They’ll sell it to the next person in line.  
  5. Don’t wait. Even a house that may have a history of sitting on the market can be sold overnight in a seller’s market. There are plenty of reasons that house hadn’t sold quicker, such as financing falling through from a previous offer or damage repairs taking place from a storm.  Don’t think that it will be there next week for you to decide on. 
  6. Compromising on what you want isn’t a bad thing.  You might have to look outside of your perfect location or go after a home that needs a little TLC. 

 

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Merio/Pixabay

If you are shopping in Oxford, prepare for sticker shock. Our home values tend to run a bit higher than the rest of the state. Keep in mind that chances are great that you will not find a 3 bedroom/2 bath “near The Square” for $250,000 or less. Talk to your real estate agent about the various neighborhoods that are in your budget and how far from The Square these are located.  You might find a gem in your price range with easy access to football games, restaurants and shopping.  I know of at least one condo association that runs game-day shuttles and the OUT bus (Oxford-University Transit) is also available regularly to help students and year-round residents get where they need to go. 

So, ARE YOU READY to house-hunt? 

Eileen Saunders, Realtor® with Tommy Morgan Realtors, 2092 Old Taylor Road, Oxford, MS 38655. 662-404-0816/662-234-5344 Equal Housing 

Information Sourced from “Surviving a Seller’s Market: The Ultimate Cheat Sheet,” realtor.com® (April 7, 2016) 

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Copyright 2018 NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®

 

Rent vs Own

you pay for housing whether you buy or rent

Renters often are able to purchase a home but do not for several reasons.

Many feel that they can’t afford to purchase a home.

But, as a renter, what are you doing each month?  You pay for your housing. And who benefits?  Well, you do have a roof over your head, but the homeowner is really benefiting.  The homeowner is building wealth.

A smart homeowner would charge at least their monthly mortgage for the renter to pay.  So, renter, you’re paying someone’s mortgage, at least. Why not pay your own?

With each rent payment, the homeowner’s mortgage balance goes down and soon he will own the house out-right. He can sell it and make money. If he was a wise investor, he will sell his house for more than he paid for it.  But regardless, the homeowner didn’t make a mortgage payment with his own money because he had renters pay it and when he sells the house, he will make all of the money back (unless he still has a balance that he needs to pay the bank, but he’ll get the rest.)  When you, renter, move out, you’ll be lucky to get your deposit back and so you’ll basically have nothing for all of the money you paid for housing.

If  you own your house, you are paying your monthly payment and paying down your mortgage balance. When you sell your house for the same or more than what you purchased it for, you pay the bank what you owe them and you get the rest.  You’ve been paying into it, you should get something out of it.

Many don’t have enough for a down payment.

There are many mortgage programs that your mortgage banker can tell you about and she can figure out which works best for you.  Some can get you into a house with 3% down. Others can get you into a house for even less. Of course, consider you might be paying an extra percentage in interest or paying a PMI cost. PMI is Private Mortgage Insurance and you can learn about it here.

There are many apps you can use to check your credit score. There are others that tell you what your estimated payments would be for a particular property or price.

Talk to your banker about receiving gift money from a relative for  your down payment.

Mississippi and a few other states offer a First-time Home Buyer’s Savings Account. Check with your bank to get your account started and set a goal.

Many would rather have someone make repairs or pay to replace faulty appliances for them.

I hear this a lot. An old apartment or an old house will most likely have old appliances which will go out.  Who knows how the previous renter took care of the appliances also. So many renters often call their landlords for repairs.

If you purchase a new home, you have new appliances. Your home has warranties including a 1-year builder warranty in Mississippi.

Should you purchase a pre-owned home, you’ll see on the seller’s disclosure the age and condition of appliances.  If they are all old or approaching that magic year things start breaking down, you can negotiate a seller-paid home warranty for the first year you own the home.  Most service calls are under $100 for repair or replacement. If you cannot negotiate it into the purchase, warranties run around $500 per year so you can set that aside to purchase yourself.  I have one and it has paid for itself many times.

Many do not think their credit score is good enough.

You never know what you can afford or what you can qualify for until you investigate. Go see your banker or check in with a local mortgage company.  A “ding” to your credit report for mortgage purposes is not the same as a “ding” to your credit report for a new credit card or car loan. Find out now so you can plan. Or, find out now, so you can be pleasantly surprised and can start shopping for a new home.

Do Not, I repeat, Do Not make any large purchases until after you close on your new house.  An washer, a new car, a sofa charged on a credit card will change your debt-income ratio and may cause you to lose the house if you don’t still qualify for that mortgage on closing day.

The whole process of purchasing a house and all of those steps to take along the way are scary.

It is a lot of fun looking online at houses for sale in your town.  It would be a lot more fun to actually look at them in person, on a mission to purchase one. That’s why you need to get a real estate agent to help you from the start.  Once you find out your financial status, start interviewing real estate agents. Don’t settle for the first one you talk to. You are hiring someone to help you make one of the most important, emotional and stressful purchases of your life. Make sure you feel comfortable with the agent you have helping you.  The agent with a ton of sales, and therefore experience, under their belt may not have the personality you need to work with. Find one with a lot of training. Find one you can trust.

So, you pay for housing whether you buy or rent. Which would you rather do?

Eileen Saunders, SRES REALTOR with Tommy Morgan Realtors  2092 Old Taylor Road, Oxford, MS 38655  eileen@tmhomes.com  662-404-0816 or 662-234-5344 Equal Housing