Denise Dutson's Blog
A mortgage pre-approval can be a valuable tool for understanding how much you can afford to spend on purchasing a home. It can also make you seem much more attractive to sellers and help to identify any potential problems that may make it difficult to get a loan. In fact, many lenders claim that if a buyer isn’t pre-approved for a mortgage, they will have a difficult time navigating the real estate market. But what does pre-approval really mean?
What is a Mortgage Pre-Approval?
While it can sound like you’ve got a sure thing locked in when you’re pre-approved for a mortgage, being pre-approved doesn’t promise that you’ll be able to secure a loan for the home that you want to purchase. A mortgage pre-approval simply means that a loan officer has reviewed your finances and decided how much money you're allocated to borrow, what you should be able to pay each month towards your mortgage and what your interest rate will be.
Once, you’ve been pre-approved by a lender, you will get a letter that can be shown to sellers. This letter indicates that you’ve already established a working relationship with a lender. This helps to give sellers peace of mind in knowing that you’re serious about putting in an offer on their home, and they don’t have to risk wasting time with a buyer who isn’t serious.
What Are the Benefits of Getting a Pre-Approval?
A pre-approval doesn’t guarantee you’ll get a mortgage but it does offer a few key advantages during your search for the ideal home. It helps to give you confidence while looking at potential properties, as you look at homes that are within your budget. There’s no need to fall in love with a home that you can’t afford. Additionally, it establishes credibility as a buyer, showing that you have your finances under control and can help to put you on the fast-track to closing once you’ve found the perfect home.
Are Pre-Approval & Pre-Qualified the Same Thing?
Unfortunately, no. These two similar real estate terms are not interchangeable. When you are pre-qualified for a mortgage, this indicates that you have given your lender information regarding your income, debts and assets. Without doing further research, the lender then tells you that you should qualify for a certain mortgage. Pre-approval is a much more in-depth process, requiring your lender to verify the financial information provided by pulling your credit history, as well as verifying your income and assets.
The cost of buying a house extends beyond a seller's initial asking price. In fact, there are many "hidden" costs that buyers need to consider as they decide whether to purchase a house, such as:
1. Closing Costs
There are various closing costs that a buyer may encounter before he or she finalizes a house purchase, including survey, appraisal and wire transfer fees. As such, it generally is a good idea to prepare for these costs prior to launching a house search. Because if you prepare for closing costs, you can ensure that you have the finances available to cover these expenses when you are ready to complete a house purchase.
Oftentimes, it helps to meet with banks and credit unions prior to starting a home search. These financial institutions can help you get pre-approved for a mortgage and teach you about home closing costs. Best of all, after you get a mortgage, you can start your home search with the financing you need to secure your ideal residence.
2. Property Taxes
Property taxes usually are assessed twice a year, and they vary based on state and county. However, if you learn about property taxes, you can map out your homebuying budget accordingly.
Real estate property tax information is part of the public record. Thus, you can access information about property taxes related to a particular home before you purchase it. And once you have this information at your disposal, you can use it to determine whether to move forward with a house purchase or continue your search for your dream home.
Utility bills vary based on the size of a home, its location and other factors. If you devote time and resources to estimate your utility expenses, you may be better equipped than ever before to make an informed home purchase.
To assess your potential utility costs, you may want to consult with a seller's agent. This professional may be able to provide you with insights into the current homeowner's utility expenses to help you budget appropriately.
It never hurts to hire a real estate agent to help you navigate the homebuying journey, too. A real estate agent can offer expert insights into closing costs, property taxes and other homebuying fees, as well as help you quickly discover your dream residence.
Let's not forget about the comprehensive homebuying guidance that a real estate agent can provide, either. For instance, if you are unsure about whether to submit an offer to purchase a house, a real estate agent can offer recommendations and tips to help you make the best-possible decision. Or, if you have concerns or questions at any point during the homebuying journey, a real estate agent is ready to respond to them.
For those who want to buy a house, it helps to learn about all of the potential costs associated with a home purchase. If you start budgeting for a home purchase today, you could accelerate your quest to find and buy your ideal residence.
If you’re hunting for a new home, it can be tempting to make an appointment to view as many as possible. However, it can be a better use of your time to narrow down the search beforehand and eliminate houses from your list based on some at-home research. That way you can use those extra hours for fine-tuning your home search and make sure you visit only the houses that will suit your every need.
In this article, we’ll teach you some ways to research a home, neighborhood and town before you take the time to visit.
Things to Research about Your Potential New Neighborhood
So you’ve found a listing that looks nice. Your next step should be to find out as much as possible about the area the home is in to make sure it suits your needs.
A good first step is to head over to Google Maps to find out which amenities are in the area. Schools, banks, grocery stores, restaurants, hospitals, parks… the list goes on. This is also a good time to map out how long it will take you on average to drive to work from this house and to see if it will lead you through any high-traffic areas that might affect your daily schedule.
You can also research other homes in the area to see if the house is selling higher or lower than average. This will give you a question to ask the real estate agent if you choose to reach out for further information.
Another step to take on Google for this home is to look up statistics for things like neighborhood crime, ratings for the school district, and the state of local businesses.
Is the area up-and-coming with healthy businesses and low crime? If so, it could be worth pursuing further.
If you’re planning on having children or already do, the quality of the education could be of importance to you.
Finally, get an idea of the local tax rates so you know how much you’ll owe the government for your property and excise taxes.
Researching the house itself
If you’re comfortable with the town and neighborhood, there’s still some research you can do online before you schedule a showing.
See if you can find out if the house belongs to a homeowner’s association. Look up their rules and fees to see if they’re agreeable to you and your family’s lifestyle and plans for the future.
Look up the sale history for the home. If there are several recent sales, this could be a sign of problems with the home or neighborhood. Similarly, if the price has increased or decreased dramatically more than nearby houses, consider asking the real estate agent why this is.
Finally, see if you can view the number of days the home has been on on the market, commonly abbreviated as “DOM.” This will give you some insight as to how desirable the home and neighborhood are.
Once you have all of the information at your disposal, you’ll be in a position to decide whether or not to schedule an appointment to view the home.
Although being a first-time buyer can seem overwhelming, there was one advantage to the entire process: You didn’t need to sell another property. If you would like to move out of the home that you’re currently living in and are in the process of buying a new place, your life is about the get complicated! Hold tight to your realtor and get ready for quite the ride.
Since it’s often unrealistic to pay two mortgages at once, there’s a certain way that you must complete the transactions so as not to cause a huge financial headache when moving from one place to another. Unfortunately, you’re going to have to deal with buying a new home and selling your current one simultaneously in most cases.
The good news is that it can be done! Read on for tips to find out how you can make the process go as smoothly as possible.
First, you’ll want to understand the housing market that you’re in. You’ll know what strategies you need to employ if you understand the type of market that you’re dealing with. If the two homes are in completely different areas, this research will be even more important to you.
While you’re searching for a new home and selling your current one, you’ll want to leave your options open. That means not locking yourself down to just one home. Of course, you’ll only put in one offer at a time, but knowing what’s out there for you to buy is important in case the purchase falls through on the first prospective home. This way you won’t have much chance of being “stranded” once your old home sells.
You want your home to be sold in a timely manner. This means that your old home should be well-priced and ready to sell. Work with your realtor on staging, pricing, and holding open houses. The more effort that is put into marketing your home, the better chance you’ll have of selling it. Extra time on the market means that you’ll have a bigger headache when it comes to buying your new home. Selling quickly is not a bad thing so long as you have some other place to live. You can also put a contingency in the sale stating that you need to find suitable housing before you can move. Realtors can do a lot when their sellers are cooperative and proactive.
Should You Buy First?
If you sell your home first, you’ll have an easier time getting a mortgage on a new home. The problem here is that you’ll need to find some sort of temporary housing before you even head out on the house hunt.
If you buy a home fist, your buying power may be less than if you sold your current home. Your debt-to-income ratio will be higher, giving you less money to spend on a new home.
While buying and selling a home simultaneously can be complicated, if you strategize correctly, you’ll be able to go through the entire process with ease.
In today’s world, everything is online. You probably have started your home search online as well. It’s plain fun to look at real estate. You can dream of living in a place you can’t afford. You might never see any of those listings that you’re browsing in person. Should you?
No matter when your home search may become a reality, there are a few benefits to seeing houses in person.
You’ll See What Your Money Can Get You
What you want and what you can afford may be far apart. You won’t understand the reality of the housing market unless you see it firsthand. By looking at what’s available on the market at a given time, you will be able to see how much house your dollars will buy you. Knowing what you can afford will help you to keep your expectations in check when you do head out to search for a home. Looking at what homes are on the market can actually help you to help your real estate agent find you something that will suit your needs. There’s nothing worse than telling your agent that you want a home that’s impossible to find.
You’ll Meet Real Estate Agents
By going to open houses, you’ll be able to meet different real estate agents. Through this process, you could very well meet the agent who will help you to find your dream home. If you like the way an agent is helping to sell a home, you’ll very likely get along with them as a buyer.
You Will Know How Much Competition You Have
If you’re attending open houses and find that there are many other people there the same time as you, it could be a sign that the market has tight competition. A lot of open house attendees means that prices are higher because the competition is fierce. You may have to offer above asking price in order to secure a deal on a home.
You’ll Learn Different Areas
Open houses can bring you to places you may have never thought of living before. You’ll get a sense of what different neighborhoods are like if you spend some time exploring through attending open houses.
You’ll Learn What You Can Live With
It’s easy to have a concrete picture in your mind of what you want in a home and what you can deal with. When you see houses firsthand, you may be able to open your mind a bit as to the type of home you’re seeking.