DJ Richmond's Blog
Let's face it – the homebuying journey may prove to be an expensive experience. If you're not careful, you risk overspending to acquire your dream house. On the other hand, if you purchase a home without identifying underlying structural problems, you risk costly home repairs down the line.
Ultimately, it helps to establish a budget for the homebuying journey. If you have a budget in place, you can increase the likelihood of having the necessary funds on hand to overcome many potential homebuying hurdles.
You should have no trouble creating a homebuying budget, either. In fact, here are three tips to help you put together a budget for the homebuying journey.
1. Assess Your Financial Situation
If you intend to purchase a house in the foreseeable future, you'll want to take a close look at your finances. By doing so, you may be able to reduce your monthly spending and use your savings to accelerate the homebuying journey.
It often helps to assess your daily, weekly and monthly expenses. Then, you may discover bills that you can cut from your everyday budget.
For example, you may enjoy dining out regularly, but cooking at home may prove to be more cost-effective. And as you reduce your dining expenses, you can save money that you can use toward the down payment on a new house.
2. Obtain Your Credit Score
Believe it or not, your credit score can make a world of difference in your quest to acquire a house. If you check your credit score, you may be able to find ways to improve your credit score prior to kicking off a house search.
You are eligible to receive a free copy of your credit report from each of the three reporting bureaus (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion). Take advantage of this perk, and you can learn your credit score in no time at all.
Remember, your credit score may have a major impact on your ability to land a favorable mortgage. And if you find that you have a below-average credit score, you then can pay off outstanding debt to improve it before you start your search for a new home.
3. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage
Pre-approval for a mortgage is ideal. With a mortgage in hand, you can enter the real estate market with a budget for buying a house.
To get pre-approved for a mortgage, you should meet with banks and credit unions. These financial institutions can offer insights into a variety of mortgage options and help you make an informed mortgage selection.
Lastly, as you prepare a homebuying budget, you may want to collaborate with a real estate agent. This housing market professional can help you hone your home search to residences that fall within your price range. Perhaps best of all, a real estate agent will make it simple for you to avoid spending too much to acquire your dream house.
Get ready to buy a house – use the aforementioned tips, and you can establish a successful homebuying budget.
Today’s home buyers see hundreds if not thousands of real estate photos when they’re in the market. Odds are that they’ll eliminate a number of homes from their search before ever even setting foot in them.
As you can imagine, that makes your home listing’s photographs all the more important to securing solid leads on your house.
In spite of the importance of photographs, a number of sellers get them wrong. To ensure that your home listing’s photos make a great first impression, we’re going to take a look at some of the common mistakes to avoid in your listing photography.
1. Not taking enough photos
In the age of digital photography, you can never take too many pictures. Experiment with different lighting, setups, and angles, and don’t be afraid to take as many photos as necessary to get the shots you want.
2. Going overboard with the uploads
It might be tempting to upload all of the pictures you took of your home, but it could hurt your overall presentation. Sort carefully through your pictures and pick one or two photos that best showcase each room and another one to three photos of the home’s exterior and land.
Visitors to your listing will get bored and click away if you have a slideshow with hundreds of images. Make it easy for them to find exactly what they’re looking for by limiting the number of total photos of your home.
3. Avoid close-ups
Your home should be spotlessly clean and tidy when taking photos. However, that doesn’t mean you need to get up close to each object in your home to take photos. Try to take wide shots that make your home feel spacious and welcoming.
4. Look out for mirrors and reflections and other distractions
If there’s one way to ruin an otherwise serene photo of your home, it’s when you spot the photographer accidentally showing up in the shot. Plan your angles so that you don’t get any flashes, glare, or reflections in your photographs.
And, while we’re on the topic of distractions, it’s a good idea to take your pets out of the room before your start shooting. Remember, potential home buyers don’t love your dog or cat like you do.
5. Don’t settle with your first shots
The different (or lack) of lighting your home receives throughout the day can make or break your photos. Try taking photos of your home at midday, when there are the least amount of shadows. Then, shoot some photos at golden hour (just before the sun sets) to capture warm tones. Finally, right after dusk, turn the lights on in your home and take some shots from outside. These photos give the illusion of a warm, cozy place where the light is always on.
As a home seller, receiving the first offer on your residence can be an exciting experience. However, the initial offer on your home may prove to be insufficient for a number of reasons, including:
1. The offer fails to meet your expectations.
Ideally, a home seller will allocate the necessary time and resources to fully analyze a house before adding it to the real estate market. This will enable a home seller to establish realistic expectations for his or her house and price it accordingly.
Conducting a home appraisal offers a great starting point for a home seller to determine the true value of a residence. This appraisal ensures a home inspector will examine a residence's interior and exterior. Then, the inspector will provide a report that details a house's strengths and weaknesses.
With a home appraisal report in hand, a home seller should have no trouble establishing a "fair" price for his or her residence. And if an initial offer falls short of this price, a home seller can politely decline the proposal and wait for additional offers.
2. The homebuyer has submitted a "lowball" proposal.
In some instances, a homebuyer may submit a "lowball" offer in the hopes of acquiring a terrific house at a budget-friendly price. If a home seller cannot differentiate between a reasonable offer and a lowball proposal, he or she risks missing out on an opportunity to optimize the value of a residence.
An informed home seller should examine the prices of available houses that are similar to his or her own. By doing so, this property seller can see how his or her residence stacks up against the competition and map out the home selling journey accordingly.
Moreover, an informed home seller will mow the front lawn, trim the hedges and do whatever it takes to enhance a house's curb appeal. This home seller likely understands the importance of making a positive first impression on homebuyers, and as a result, will perform assorted home exterior improvements to help reduce the risk of receiving a lowball initial offer.
3. The offer does not correspond to the current state of the housing market.
For a home seller, it is essential to work with a real estate agent who can provide full details about the current state of the housing market.
A real estate agent can help a home seller differentiate between a buyer's market and a seller's market. Plus, this housing market professional can provide honest, unbiased recommendations about whether a home seller should decline an initial offer on a home.
Many real estate agents are available in cities and towns nationwide, and these housing market experts are happy to help home sellers in any way they can. If you employ a real estate agent before you list your home, you can reap the benefits of unparalleled guidance at each stage of the home selling journey.
There is no reason to settle for a subpar initial offer on your residence. Instead, consider a first offer closely, and you can make an informed decision about whether to decline or accept it.
Ready to submit a home loan application? Ultimately, there are many factors to consider before you finalize your submission, and these include:
1. Your Outstanding Debt
If you have outstanding student loan, car or other debt, you should try to pay it off as quickly as possible. By doing so, you can boost your chances of securing a home loan that matches or exceeds your expectations.
Take a look at your outstanding debt and make a plan to pay down your bills. With a plan in place, you may be able to reduce or eliminate outstanding debt before you complete your home loan application.
2. Your Credit Score
A strong credit score will help a homebuyer get a terrific home loan. Conversely, an inferior credit score is unlikely to do you any favors after you submit a home loan application.
Learn about your credit score before you finalize your home loan application. Then, you can allocate the necessary time and resources to boost your credit score or correct any errors on your credit report.
You are eligible for one free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). Request a copy of your credit report, and you can understand where your credit score currently stands.
Also, if you find any errors on your credit report, contact the credit reporting bureau that provided the report immediately. This will allow you to correct any credit report mistakes and reduce the risk that these errors could impact your ability to secure a home loan.
3. Your Savings
It never hurts to save money, especially if you'd like to purchase a home in the near future. If you start saving today, you may be better equipped than other homebuyers to have the necessary finances in place for a down payment on a house.
In most instances, lenders will require you to have at least a small portion of the purchase price of a home available for a down payment. If you have thousands of dollars available for a down payment, you may be able to boost your chances of getting a "Yes" from a lender after you submit your home loan application.
Getting a home loan may seem like a long, arduous process. Fortunately, many lenders are available to help you secure a great home loan.
Meet with several lenders as you explore all of your home loan options. That way, you can learn about a broad array of home loan options and choose a home loan that matches your finances perfectly.
After you secure a home loan, you'll be able to move one step closer to securing your dream residence. Of course, if you need assistance during the homebuying journey, it never hurts to reach out to a real estate agent as well.
A real estate agent will do everything possible to help you acquire a top-notch residence at an affordable price. Thus, if you employ a real estate agent, you may be able to enjoy a fast, seamless homebuying experience.
Paying off a mortgage early is a dream of many homeowners. By making larger payments on your home loan, you can cut years off of your loan term and save thousands of dollars in interest payments that you can use toward savings or investments. But in an economy that has seen decades of wage stagnation and increasing costs of living, it can often seem like an unattainable goal.
With some planning and initiative, however, there are ways to pay off your home loan before your term limit.
In today’s post, we’re going to talk about three of the ways you can start paying off your mortgage early to avoid high interest payments and save yourself money along the way.
1. Refinance your mortgage
If you’re considering making larger payments on your mortgage, it might make sense to look at refinancing options. Most Americans take out 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages.
If you can afford to significantly increase your mortgage payments each month, you could refinance to a 15-year mortgage. This will save you on the number of interest payments you’ll have to make over the years. But, it will also help you secure a lower interest rate since shorter term mortgages typically come with lower interest rates.
This option isn’t for everyone. First, refinancing comes with fees you’ll have to pay for upfront. You’ll have to apply for refinancing, get an appraisal of your home, and wait for the decision to be made.
But, you’ll also have to ensure that you can keep up with your higher monthly payments. If your income is variable or undependable, it might not be the safest option to refinance to a shorter term mortgage.
2. Make extra payments
An option that entails less risk than refinancing is to simply increase your monthly payments. If you recently got a raise or are just reallocating funds to try and tackle your mortgage, this is an excellent option.
Depending on your mortgage lender, you may be able to simple increase your auto-pay amounts each month, streamlining the process. Otherwise, it’s possible to set up bill-pay with most banks to automatically transfer funds to your lender.
3. Bi-weekly payments or one extra payment per year
Making bi-weekly instead of monthly payments is an option that many homeowners use to pay off their mortgages early. Bi-weekly payments work by paying half of your monthly payment once every two weeks.
The vast majority of homeowners make 12 monthly payments per year. But by switching to 26 bi-weekly payments, you can effectively make 13 full monthly payments in a year without seeing too much of a difference in your daily budget.
This doesn’t seem like much savings in the short term, but let’s take a look at how much you could save over the term of a 30-year mortgage.
On a 30-year fixed mortgage of $200,000 with a 4.03 annual interest rate, you would make a monthly payment of $958.00 and a bi-weekly payment of $479.
Over 30 years of an extra monthly payment, you could save nearly $20,000 on the total interest amount and pay off your mortgage almost 5 years early.