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You Don’t Need 20% Down and Seven Other Myths That Are Getting in the Way of Homeownership

Think you need to come up with 20% for a down payment in order to buy a house? It might surprise you to know that the median down payment for first-time buyers last year was just 7%, per the National Association of Realtors®. And there are plenty of loan programs out there that require far less. The 20% myth is just one of the things that’s keeping homeownership out of reach. We’re digging in to seven others.

You need to be well-established in your forever career
There has been a lot of discussion about how millennials are waiting longer and longer to purchase homes. “As a result of their consequent struggle to save, millennials are delaying major life milestones like getting married and buying a home,” said Business Insider.

Nonetheless, there are still millennials jumping into the market because, even know their name isn’t yet on the door, they’re excited to have a home in their name. Having a stable job, a comfortable salary, and the desire to own a home may just be enough.

Sure, you might not be ready to buy the house of your dreams or move to the neighborhood where you can imagine raising kids and, someday, retiring, but that doesn’t mean you’re completely out of the game. A smaller place closer to work or an attached property can, quite literally, get your foot in the homeownership door and allow you to start earning equity.

You have to be completely out of debt
Recent data shows that nearly half of all undergraduates are delaying homeownership because of student loans. “According to a recent Federal Reserve study, a $1,000 increase in student loan debt lowers the homeownership rate by about 1.5%, equivalent to an average delay of about 2.5 months in attaining homeownership,” said Clever Real Estate. “For the average college debt holder with $37,000 in debt, that ends up being about a 7.7-year delay in their path homeownership.”

Regardless of your debt, whether it’s from student loans or credit cards, it may still be possible to qualify for a mortgage and afford the payments, especially because rents are often comparable to mortgage payments. Mortgage underwriters don’t expect homebuyers to be debt-free; In fact, having no debt might actually work against you. They like to see responsible credit use and management.

You need to have a family
Yes, many would-be homebuyers hold off until parenthood is looming, because they’re not ready to move to the suburbs, get married, and have kids. But, a third of today’s new homeowners are unmarried, according to CITYLAB. “The shift is detailed in a new working paper from Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, in which researchers crunched demographic data from HUD and from American Housing Surveys taken every other year between 1997 and 2017. Perhaps the most notable departure from 20 years ago is the marital status of new homeowners. According to the paper, the share of married buyers declined from 61 percent in 1997 to just over half by 2017. Meanwhile, 35 percent of first-time homebuyers in 2017 had never been married.”

You need a 30-year conventional loan
There are tons of different loans that can help you purchase your first home, make payments more affordable and/or give you the flexibility you need to make homebuying affordable. FHA loans are among the most well-known and most popular loans for first-time buyers because they require just 3.5% down and have low credit score requirements. Other loans worth looking into depending on your circumstances include: government VA loans for veterans; USDA loans for properties in rural areas; and loans like Fannie Mae’s HomeStyle Renovation loan, which gives buyers bundled funds to purchase and make improvements to their home.

You need to have great credit
If your score isn’t in the 800s, or even the 700s, it doesn’t mean you’re going to be living that apartment life forever. You might be surprised to see the credit score minimums for some loans. “While there is no official minimum credit score for a home loan approval, the minimum FICO credit score for conventional loan approval tends to be around 620,” said Credit.com.

It has to be your primary home
“Some rich urban millennials are choosing to rent in the city and buy a vacation home instead of a primary residence,” said Business Insider. Meanwhile, some other savvy investors are continuing to rent and plunking down money to purchase homes in tourist-friendly locations so they can take advantage of the AirBNB craze. “According to Priceonomics, hosts on Airbnb are earning more than anyone else in the gig economy and are raking in an average of $924 a month,” said Travel & Leisure. “Airbnb hosts make nearly three times as much as other workers…with some hosts making more than $10,000 per month.”

Position Realty
Office: 480-213-5251

9 Ways Becoming A Homeowner Can Change Your Life

Homeownership. It shifts so many things. If you’re coming from an apartment, you may experience conveniences like direct-access garages and walls that aren’t shared for the first time. If you’ve been renting a home, you will probably feel a new sense of security and peace of mind once the mortgage is in our name. Not to mention the itch to repaint, re-imagine, and redo at least a few dozen things.

Want to know just how becoming a homeowner can change your life? Read on.

1. Financial Security
“The largest measurable financial benefit to homeownership is price appreciation,” said Investopedia. “Price appreciation helps build home equity.” Added Real Estate ABC: “The principle you pay on the mortgage is like putting money in the bank, in the form of equity.”

2. Peace of mind
If you worry every time your lease comes up for renewal, those days are gladly over. Unless you refinance or take cash out once you have enough equity, your house payment is your house payment.

3. Pride of ownership
The feeling you get when you come home to your place – the place you scrimped and saved for and the place that represents a lifelong dream – well, there’s just no substitute.

4. Stake in your neighborhood
Pride of ownership extends to the homes and area around your house as well. Whether or not you move to a neighborhood with a homeowner’s association, buying a house will undoubtedly make you more invested in what’s going on around you. And that can mean increased property values if neighbors band together for common improvements.

5. Increased interest in HGTV. And DIY channel. And weekends at Home Depot.
Don’t be surprised if you start quoting Drew and Jonathan Scott or using terms like “mitered corners” and “refaced cabinets.” Which is good news, because the changes you make to your home won’t just mean greater enjoyment while you live there, but also potentially greater profit when you go to sell.

“Home ownership means you have free rein in the aesthetics of the home. When renting, you do not have the advantage of changing your environment to please you,” said Real Estate ABC. “You may be able to paint a room, but need to repaint back to the original color scheme when you move. Owning your own home means you can do whatever you please to make your environment both personalized and, in the process, add value to the home.”

6. Your honey do list may increase
But so will your satisfaction.

7. Tax breaks
“The second largest financial benefit of owning a home is tax savings,” said Investopedia. “The biggest of these is the ability to deduct the annual interest paid on a mortgage from income. Private mortgage insurance may also be a write off, on addition to fees paid at closing. If you have paid points, either discount or origination, you can deduct these as well.”

8. Expert knowledge of interest rates, neighborhood home prices, and area sales trends
When you’re in the process of buying and after you close escrow, you’re more likely to be tuned into what’s going on in the market and in your neighborhood. This can help you to make smart decisions about updates, upgrades, and refinancing, and can also make you a trusted resource among your friends who want to buy.

9. More financial responsibility in other parts of your life
With a home to take care of, you may be more clued in to other long-term investments and less wiling to spend frivolously.

Position Realty
Office: 480-213-5251

How Buyers Can Navigate a Seller’s Market

Most analysts would say that currently, we are in a seller’s market. The summer of 2020 has been an interesting time. While the coronavirus has negatively impacted much of the economy, real estate has been surging.

Much of this is likely due to the low interest rates, hovering below 3%. There are other factors too, including pent up demand following strict lockdowns during the spring, and for some people, there’s a focus on moving to the suburbs and away from bigger cities.

If you want to buy, there are a lot of factors in your favor right now, but also challenges because it is what you would characterize as a seller’s market.

In June, the median home price nationwide rose to $295,300, which was in part not only because of the factors named above but also because of low inventory.

Also, while we’ve talked a lot about unemployment over the past few months, we have to consider that many people didn’t lose their jobs. In households where people stayed employed, they may feel like they’re financially secure enough to buy a home.

Sellers are finding that they’re getting multiple offers and offers well above ask.

So what can buyers do during this time?

Be Decisive
If you’re going to jump into a seller’s market headfirst, you’re going to have to be decisive. Time is critical in these situations, and sometimes getting the home of your dreams is as simple as being first.

If you want to see a home that goes on the market, don’t wait until the weekend for a showing. Try to get a showing as soon as you can, or if that’s not possible, do a virtual showing.

Along with being decisive and ready for what’s coming, choose a great real estate agent. You don’t want a real estate agent who you’re playing phone tag with during a seller’s market, because you’re losing precious time. You want someone sharp and responsive.

Submit a Clean Offer
During a seller’s market, it’s not a good idea to give an offer with contingencies. This might actually mean the difference between offers for a seller. A seller might be more interested in finishing things up quickly rather than getting a higher price for their home.

If you can give up some of the traditional contingencies, then a seller might think your offer is more appealing because these provide you with chances to back out.

You can still protect yourself, even without contingencies. For example, maybe you get your loan completely underwritten. This means you go through the full loan process before you make an offer.

Let Go of Perfection
The inventory is really limited right now, and demand is high. This makes it even less likely that you’re going to find the perfect home, and that’s okay.

It’s sometimes better to buy a good home and then make it perfect rather than waiting for perfection to hit the market. There’s a very strong chance that even when inventory expands, there still won’t be a perfect home.

Be Disciplined with Your Budget
When bidding wars are possible, and things are competitive among buyers, it’s easy to get carried away. You may get so emotionally attached to a house that you’re willing to go well beyond your budget. Emotions are also heightened when you’re buying a home anyway.

Set a budget, and don’t let yourself go above it, no matter what the other offers may look like.

Sure, offering too much may get you the house, but it’s going to create financial stress for you for years to come.

Offer More Earnest Money
Earnest money is something like a deposit and you provide it alongside your bid. It’s a way to show the seller you’re serious, but if the deal doesn’t go through you can get that money back.

Usually, you’ll see buyers offering around 1%, but during a hot market, think about offering more. It shows that you’re more invested in the deal and less likely to let it slip through your fingers.

If you have the option to pay with cash, that’s almost always going to win you favor. Cash offers take out the element of financing contingencies, and they make for a simpler transaction, which is beneficial for buyers. A cash buyer also tends to be more serious, and when you buy with cash you’re not beholden to the lender through the closing process.

Finally, if you do enter the market and find that it’s not working for you, or maybe you’re nervous about the prospects, consider waiting. It’s easy to get carried away even in a buyer’s market. A seller’s market can be even more likely to lead you to make a poor financial decision.

Of course, it’s tough to time the market, but if you do have some flexibility in when you buy, consider holding off.

Position Realty
Office: 480-213-5251

Can’t Afford to Buy a Home? Have You Looked Into Down Payment Assistance?

What’s the No. 1 reason renters fear taking the leap to homeownership or don’t even think the leap is possible? That pesky down payment. Even with an FHA loan that requires a minimum of only 3.5% down, the idea of setting aside several thousand dollars is daunting at the least (and, in many cases, darn near impossible).

A survey from Apartment List shows that most millennial homebuyers can’t come up with the funds for a down payment. “Seventy-two percent of millennial renters who plan to purchase a home cite affordability as a reason that they are delaying homeownership, with 62 percent pinpointing a lack of down payment savings specifically,” they said. “Forty-eight percent of millennial renters have zero down payment savings, while just 11 percent have saved $10,000 or more.”

Down payment assistance programs can fill in the gap, but many buyers don’t even know they exist. “Down payment assistance can come from many different sources— including federal, state, county, city and nonprofit agencies—and aren’t always well-publicized,” said U.S News & World Report. Anyone who is interested in down payment assistance is encouraged to check with their real estate agent or lender, but doing your own research is key.

How to find down payment assistance:

1. Do a national search.
You’ll be surprised how many programs you can find. “Do you even know that down payment assistance (DPA) programs exist? You’re in good company if you don’t,” said The Mortgage Reports. “These programs help homebuyers with loans or grants that reduce the amount they need to save for a down payment. And there are more than 2,000 of them nationwide.”

2. Check out statewide programs.
From the HUD site, you can search by every state plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands to see which programs are available for you.

3. Now take it local.
Don’t forget to check for programs in your city. The City of Phoenix the Home In 5 Grant Program offers a 5% down payment grant if you have a 640 credit score and annual income up to $108,920. Receive an additional 1% if you’re veteran, teacher, US military or first responder. Home + Plus also offered a 5% down payment grant if you have a 640 credit score and annual income up to $109,965. There are many more programs available.

4. Search by your profession.
If you’re a current or former member of the military, you likely already know about VA loans. Did you know they require no down payment?

The Neighbor Next Door Program is another good one. This program for law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, and teachers requires only a $100 down payment for eligible homebuyers. Because the program is tied to the idea of revitalization, homes in these communities are offered to eligible buyers at a 50% discount. Buyers must commit to living in-home for at least three years.

Position Realty
Office: 480-213-5251

Why Price Shouldn’t Be the Only Driver in the Search for Your First Home

Buying your first house? You’re likely driven mainly by budget, but there are some other important considerations you may not have thought of that can help you find the perfect place. Not only can these tips help you find a home that really suits your lifestyle, but also helps you afford to live there comfortably.

Can you afford to heat and cool it?
You may only be thinking of home size in terms of the number of rooms or square footage you want. But, in many cases, a larger home costs more to maintain. More space means more space to heat and cool. Although, a home that’s newer or that has updated systems can help defray costs because it’s more efficient. Your real estate agent may be able to get an idea of the monthly utility costs so you can have this information up front.

Who’s going to mow the lawn?
If you’ve never had your own lawn or garden, you may not know if you have a green thumb or if you’ll regard the time it takes to care for it as a pleasure or a bummer. Then again, if you’re already dreading the idea of having to spend a couple hours out there each week, perhaps a single-family home isn’t for you. Yeah, you could pay someone else to do it, but you’re already stretching to buy your own place, right? Perhaps the lower-maintenance lifestyle offered by a condo or townhome is the best option for you.

What’s good for resale?
Are you thinking about how easy it will be to sell your home when you’re just about to buy it? Maybe not, but, the truth it it’s always a good idea to think like a seller when buying. Chances are, this starter home won’t be your forever home, and the same questions you have about the floorplan or location are likely the questions would-be buyers will be asking when you go to sell.

As it relates to the floorplan, it’s a good idea to think beyond what you think you might want and consider what’s popular in the area. If homes with downstairs master suites sell especially well and you haven’t considered that plan, this info may make you rethink your strategy.

How close are the schools?
Dying to walk your kids to and from school every day? That’s the dream for many a parent. But what you might not be envisioning is being able to watch—and hear—every kid in the school walk by twice a day, every day. What seems like a super-convenient location right on the walking path to the elementary school may just turn out to be too much of a good thing if it impacts your privacy and peace of mind.

Did anything weird happen there?
Yes, the seller will be required to disclose physical defects and also defects that create the potential for stigmatization. “What you’re talking about is the issue of ‘psychological damage’ to a property, to be distinguished from ‘physical damage,’” said NOLO. “In some cases, the psychological damage is so great—such as after a violent or highly publicized murder or suicide, or widespread reports of haunting—that the house is considered ‘stigmatized’ and therefore less valuable. In most states, the owner would indeed be expected to disclose a defect causing the house to be stigmatized, so that buyers could adjust their expectations and purchase price accordingly.”

A natural death in the home, however, is not generally something that needs to be disclosed. If that’s the type of thing that could keep you from wanting to live there you, just ask. “If a prospective home buyer asks you outright about whether anyone has died in the home, you cannot lie (unless you want to risk being later sued for fraud),” they said. “Also, be prepared for any buyer who is interested in this issue (or shall we say obsessed by it?) to find out the information online, at a site like DiedinHouse.com.”

Position Realty
Office: 480-213-5251

6 Don’ts When Buying Your First Home

These are exciting times. You’ve finally outgrown apartment life or living with your parents or sharing a place with waaaaayyyyy too many roommates, and you’re ready to take the leap to homeownership. Now it’s time to prepare. As you embark on this journey, beware of six important don’ts that could potentially derail your purchase.

Don’t think it’s too early to get prequalified

So, you’re just going to go out “looking” at houses, you say? The time when you just expect to drive around a little and maybe visit an open house or two is obviously the time when you’re going to fall in love with a house and want to make a move on it right away. If you’re not already prequalified with a lender, you may not have a chance at it. Competition is fierce across the country thanks to low inventory, and well-maintained, move-in ready homes do not sit if they’re priced right. Talk to a lender now to make sure you can qualify – and learn your max budget – even if you just think you’re casually looking (because that can change in a hurry!).

Don’t wait to the last minute to check credit

As a continuation of the casually looking conversation…you want to check your credit the second you start thinking about buying a home. You never know what’s going to be on there. Even if you’ve never missed a payment and have always done a good job of managing your outstanding debt, there could be errors on your report that you’re unaware of or even something from many years ago that you didn’t realize had been reported to a credit agency. Those little boo-boos, accurate or not, could be hurting your score, and a low score could keep you from getting a mortgage at all. Give yourself time to correct errors or fix blemishes; every tick upward can help you get a better rate and make your home more affordable.

Don’t forget about PMI when calculating your monthly expenses

The idea of putting as little down as possible on your new home is attractive, especially if you’re not a natural saver. Today, that can mean just three percent of your purchase price, depending on the loan. For FHA loans, it’s three and one-half percent. The problem with making the minimum down payment is that you then have to pay Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI).

“PMI is a fee you pay on your mortgage until you owe 80 percent or less of what your home is worth. It’s one reason why so many experts advise homebuyers make a 20 percent down payment; if you do, you avoid the evils of paying PMI,” said Student Loan Hero. “PMI can cost between 0.3 percent and 1.15 percent of your loan annually. Depending on how much you borrow, that can mean thousands of dollars in extra costs until you can cancel your PMI.”

Don’t ignore the closing costs

Many of us micro-focus on the down payment when getting ready to buy our first home, but there is another important expense related to the purchase: The closing costs. Closing costs encompass a wide variety of fees, some or all of which may apply to you depending on where and what you’re buying. They can include everything from the application fee and appraisal to the escrow fee to the home and pest inspection to the recording fees. You’re looking at between two and five percent of your purchase price for closing fees, which can definitely add up. Many first-time buyers fail to factor this in when getting ready to purchase, and you don’t want something that could amount to a few thousand dollars or more to come as an 11th-hour surprise.

Don’t forget to factor in all the monthly expenses

New-home communities often quote a monthly payment that looks quite affordable and that can entice buyers who don’t look more closely. That’s because the payment is based on principal and interest only (Typically, you’ll see a star next to the payment that tells you there’s a disclaimer at the bottom of the page.). If you take a look at the small print, you’ll see that there are also taxes and insurance to factor in. In some cases, there is also a homeowner’s association fee. That monthly payment may not be looking so good anymore.

If you’re buying your first home and coming from an apartment or other rental property, you may not have worked things like a gardener into your monthly budget. You’ll also want to consider that if you’re going up in square footage, there could an increase in your utilities, and you may be taking on payments for things like water and trash that were covered by your rental. It’s best to have a true idea of what your monthly expenses are going to look like when buying your first home so you don’t end up in over your head.

Don’t think you can go it alone

Can you buy a home without an agent? Sure. Is it a good idea? Not usually. It could be that you are looking to buy a home that is for sale by owner. “In the industry, we call these types of sellers unrepresented,” said The Balance. “Beware if you are trying to buy a home directly from an unrepresented seller. Odds are the seller won’t know what she is doing or she might be taking advantage of you; either way, it could be problematic.”

Unless you are a real estate attorney or are otherwise connected to the industry and aware of the laws, contract issues, etc., it’s best for you to have representation, regardless of what type of home you are buying.

Position Realty
Office: 480-213-5251

Home Inspections Can Save You Money In The Long-Run

If you’re hiring someone to inspect the home you want to buy, or you’re a seller trying to find out if there are any hidden problems that need fixing before you put your home on the market, here are five things you need to know:

1. You can choose your home inspector.

Your real estate professional can recommend an inspector, or you can find one on your own. Members of the National Association of Home Inspectors, Inc. (NAHI), must complete an approved home inspector training program, demonstrate experience and competence as a home inspector, complete a written exam, and adhere to the NAHI Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics.

2. Home inspections are intended to point out adverse conditions, not cosmetic flaws.

You should attend the inspection and follow the inspector throughout the inspection so you can learn what’s important and what’s not. No house is perfect and an inspection on any home is bound to uncover faults. A home inspector will point out conditions that need repair and/or potential safety-related concerns relating to the home. They won’t comment on cosmetic items if they don’t impair the integrity of the home. They also do not do destructive testing.

3. Home inspection reports include only the basics.

A home inspector considers hundreds of items during an average inspection. The home inspection should include the home’s exterior, steps, porches, decks, chimneys, roof, windows, and doors. Inside, they will look at attics, electrical components, plumbing, central heating and air conditioning, basement/crawlspaces, and garages.

They report on the working order of items such as faucets to see if they leak, or garage doors to see if they close properly. Inspectors may point out termite damage and suggest that you get a separate pest inspection. The final written report should be concise and easy to understand.

4. Home inspectors work for the party who is paying the fee.

The NAHI Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics clearly state that members act as an unbiased third party to the real estate transaction and “will discharge the Inspector’s duties with integrity and fidelity to the client.” A reputable home inspector will not conduct a home inspection or prepare a home inspection report if his or her fee is contingent on untruthful conclusions.

The inspector should maintain client confidentiality and keep all report findings private, unless required by court order. That means it is your choice whether or not to share the report with others. If you’re a seller, you don’t have to disclose the report to buyers, but you must disclose any failure in the systems or integrity of your home.

5. Inspectors are not responsible for the condition of the home.

Inspectors don’t go behind walls or under flooring, so it’s possible that a serious problem can be overlooked. Keep in mind that inspectors are not party to the sales transaction, so if you buy a home where an expensive problem surfaces after the sale, you won’t be able to make the inspector liable or get the inspector to pay for the damage. In fact, you may not be entitled to any compensation beyond the cost of the inspection.

As a buyer, you need the home inspection to decide if the home is in condition that you can tolerate. You can use the report to show the seller the need for a certain repair or negotiate a better price. You can also take the report to a contractor and use it to make repairs or to remodel a section of the home.

One thing you should not do when buying a home is skip having the home inspected because of cost or undue pressure by the seller. A home inspection is reasonable, it can save you money in the long run, and it’s required by many lenders, particularly for FHA loans. There’s a reason why buyers should beware, and a home inspection gives you the information you need to make a sound buying decision.

Position Realty
Office: 480-213-5251

Should You Buy A Home For Your College Kid?

If you’re about to send your child to college, you’re undoubtedly suffering from sticker shock. And it’s not just from the cost of tuition and mandatory fees and books and a meal plan and parking, but also from housing. Maybe, especially, from housing. The mouse – hole your dorm – bound child will live in for at least the next year come August or so might as well be the Taj Mahal for what it costs to shelter them in much less extravagant environs.

The high cost of student housing – not just in the first year when they are typically living in on – campus housing – is just one of the reasons people are increasingly looking to purchase property for their college kids to live in. Is this a consideration for your family? We’re breaking down the particulars.

Financial savings

Yes, it may be that buying a property for your college kid to live in is a smart financial decision. “Average prices per year for housing are more than $9,000 in college towns,” said U.S. News & World Report. “In highly desirable college towns outside major cities, housing costs can be much higher. Monthly housing prices in Berkeley, California, home of the flagship of the University of California system, can reach more than $3,000, making the price tag for the academic year more than $27,000. In Cambridge, Massachusetts, outside of university – rich Boston, the four – year price for housing can exceed $100,000 as well.”

If that has you getting ready to search for homes for sale RIGHT THIS SECOND, “Don’t forget to factor in the additional costs of homeownership besides the mortgage, like maintenance expenses, homeowners’ association fees, insurance and taxes,” they said. You may find that buying a home doesn’t make as much financial sense as you think.”

Tax savings

You can enjoy a tax write – off on a second home, which could make a college town purchase much more affordable in the long run, but you have to be careful about how the property is used and the way it is reported on your taxes. “Many homeowners look forward to purchasing a second home that can be used for vacations, rental income, investment purposes or as a primary residence during retirement. Current tax laws offer several tax breaks that can help make second – home ownership more affordable,” said Investopedia. “If you already own, or are thinking about purchasing a second home, it will be in your best interest to understand the tax breaks and how they work. Different tax rules apply depending on how you use the property, for either personal or rental use, or a combination of the two.

As long as you use the property as a second home – and not as a rental – you can deduct mortgage interest the same way you would for your primary home. You can deduct up to 100% of the interest you pay on up to $1.1 million of debt that is secured by your first and second homes (that’s the total amount – – it’s not $1.1 million for each home).”

That would mean adding rent – paying tenants/roommates to the mix would be off the table. Keep in mind also that you can deduct property taxes on a second home. You will want to talk to your tax advisor about the tax situation in the state in which you are considering making a purchase.

Appreciation

Is your child attending college in an area that is appreciating nicely? It might be a good investment to purchase a property that you can sell after graduation for a nice profit, or hold onto for passive income by turning it into a rental for future college students.

Depreciation

Then again, there is the chance that entrusting your child, and your child’s future roommates and friends, with a property you own could spell financial disaster if the home is not maintained. Worried about college parties that trash the place and/or illegal activities like drug – taking in the home, which could endanger your child’s future? If you’re thinking about buying a property for your child (and possibly other people’s children as well) to live in, you need to have an honest conversation with him or her, and with yourself, about the responsibilities involved. Is your offspring responsible enough to make smart decisions and properly care for a home?

To roommate or not to roommate

There are additional questions and potential concerns around the roommate issue. Yes, allowing your child to live with friends will provide companionship that is important for college students and will cut down on your monthly costs – and perhaps even provide some monthly income. But consider these questions from Bader Martin:

“If your child will have roommates, how much do you plan to charge them and can they be depended upon to pay their share of the rent on time each month? What will you do if a roommate – renter moves out and how long are you willing to carry the mortgage without replacing the roommate? And will your child and roommates occupy the property all twelve months of the year or only during the school year? What are your potential liabilities if a roommate is hurt on the property or loses personal possessions in a robbery or fire? Are you adequately insured?”

Retirement strategies

Individual real estate markets differ widely, and what seems like a good investment in one city may be totally undoable in another. Having an alternate or future use for the property in question can tip the scales. In some cases, parents purchase a condo or townhome in the city for their college student child to live in, with the intention of keeping it in the family for the child post – graduation, for another child intending to attend the same college, or even as a place for themselves. Another growing real estate trend has parents following their child to the city in question as part of their retirement plan.

“Increasingly, parents are also considering the move as part of a long – term plan in which they also participate,” said U.S. News & World Report. “If your child goes to school in a city whose lifestyle and cultural offerings are pleasant to you as well, why not retire there? Schools from Berkeley and Cambridge to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and Bellingham, Washington, can be pleasant places to retire. The property you purchase could thus be part of your long – term retirement strategy.”

Stability

Having to find a new place and move every year, find storage, and put down new deposits is a drag for anyone. Buying a home that your child can live in for his or her entire college experience provides stability as well as a fixed expense they (and you!) can count on.

In – state tuition

If your child is attending college out of state, you’re being hit with even higher expenses. “About 17 percent of students attend college out – of – state, and they pay dearly for it,” said Parenting. “The typical out – of – state tuition rate at a four – year public university is three to four times more than the in – state rate.”

For this reason, parents often explore options for in – state tuition, like purchasing a property – but with varying success. “Most states have established residency requirements designed to prevent out – of – state students who become residents incidental to their education from qualifying,” said FinAid. Buying a home in the state is a good start, but likely won’t be the only commitment that needs to be made in order to get that elusive in – state tuition. It’s a good idea to learn all you can about the requirements for the school and state in question before making a purchase for this sole reason.

Position Realty
Office: 480-213-5251

How Much Home Can You Really Afford?

So, you’re getting ready to buy your first home, and you feel like you’re at the mercy of the market. And your mortgage lender. In some ways, it might even feel like they’re working against each other – especially if you’re in a really hot market in which you can’t qualify for the amount you’d need to buy what you want.

When it comes to providing pre-approvals for would-be homebuyers, lenders today are more careful than they were in the years leading up to the market crash, and that means your financial picture will be more rigorously scrutinized to determine your credit-worthiness and develop your max approval amount. Trust us, that’s a good thing. The last thing you want is to be house poor. Having a great place to live that you can’t enjoy or furnish or even leave because you have no money left won’t be fun.

“Just because a lender says you can afford a certain mortgage doesn’t mean you should,” said TIME: Money. “Consider your take-home pay – what actually goes into the bank after taxes, health insurance, and savings for retirement and college. Then add up all your monthly bills, not just debt but also things like utilities, phone, and groceries. You want to feel comfortable that you can cover all your household obligations while still meeting your other financial goals and keeping six months of expenses in an emergency fund.”

That’s why it’s so important to consider all of your monthly expenses related to buying a home. Beyond the principal, interest, taxes, and insurance that the lender, there are other line items to weave in that will help you determine your purchasing power and also help you to be comfortable from month to month.

Increased commuter costs

Are you moving out to the ‘burbs? That hour-long commute each way is going to add to your bottom line. Of course you’ll be using more gas. Will you also incur tolls? Then there is the wear and tear on your car, which could mean additional costs. You can estimate your commuter costs here.

Higher utility bills

A larger place could mean higher utility bills. Then again, more energy-efficient appliances, windows and doors, and HVAC could potentially result in lower bills, which could be a reason to look for a newer home over something older. It’s not out of line to inquire about utility bill costs from the existing owner (through your Realtor is probably best). This information could be critical in helping to make the best decision when buying a new home.

Homeowner’s association

Your pre-approval amount is an all-in number, but that number only includes principal, interest, taxes, and insurance. If you are buying in a community that has a Homeowner’s Association, your fee will be a separate cost that needs to be considered. An HOA fee can range greatly depending on your location, the number of homes in the community, and the amenities and services included.

Home improvements

You’re likely going to have a mailbox full of credit card pre-approvals and offers from places like Home Depot and Lowe’s after you close escrow – and they can be tempting. Reeeaaallly tempting, especially if you need new appliances or countertops or flooring (or all of the above). Ditto for furniture stores, because, like Lowe’s and Home Depot, those offers are often zero-interest deals. It may make sense to take advantage of one (or more) of them to make some necessary or wanted updates to your home – if you can swing the payments. They obviously add to your monthly obligations, even at no interest. And keep in mind that if you miss, or are late on, a payment, that zero interest is replaced with a much larger number, and that means you’ll face a much larger balance to pay.

Landscaping

If you’re coming from an apartment or a rental where the outside maintenance is taken care of by someone else, get ready to either: buy a lawnmower and an edger and spend your Saturday mornings in the yard, or pay someone else to take care of it.

Warranty

If you’re buying a brand-new home, you’ll typically have a warranty provided by the builder or developer, often for one year. You have the option of extending that, or buying/extending an existing warranty on an older home, and all of those options will cost you.

8 Ways To Up Your Chances Of Buying Your First Home

Between rising prices, tough loan limits, and massive competition among other eager would-be buyers, it can seem like an impossible feat to purchase your first home. Homes in first-time buyer ranges are highly coveted and stories abound of buyers having made offers on numerous homes, only to be shut out time and again by multiple offers that drive prices up and out of their budget. But, there are ways you can put yourself ahead, even if the situation seems desperate.

Work with a good REALTOR®

Everyone has a real estate agent in their neighborhood or in their family or friend group (or all three!). And, while you would undoubtedly love to give business to someone you know and care for, you have to balance your sense of loyalty against your goal. This may not be the time to entrust your financial future to a brand-new agent or one who simply dabbles in the industry in his or her spare time. You’ll likely need a seasoned agent to buy your first home, especially if you’re looking in an area where the market is highly competitive. An agent with extensive experience and good industry relationships can help find you homes that may not be listed yet and then negotiate a winning offer.

Get that preapproval

It goes without saying today that you need a preapproval to buy a house. Many real estate agents won’t even take clients out to tour homes unless they have received their preapproval amount from a lender. Even if you are just casually looking, make sure you talk to a lender before you head out on a househunt. You don’t want to fall in love with something and lose out on owning it because someone else was already preapproved and you first had to start pulling your paperwork together. Nor do you want to fall in love with a house that’s out of your budget because you didn’t know what your purchasing power was.

Talk to landlords

If there are rental homes in your target area (and there probably are!), you might have an opportunity to buy a home that isn’t even on the market yet—and might not be listed for sale anytime soon. Your real estate agent should be able to locate some homes and initiate a conversation about the potential of purchasing. Some rental home owners may want to sell but be reluctant to take the steps to update the home and get it on the market. You may be able to slide right in there, which would be a win-win!

Consider a home that needs work

You might have better luck buying a home that isn’t updated and/or staged because they can tend to stay on the market longer. But, a home that’s a real fixer-upper can be a great buy thanks to the 203(k) loan, which packages the home loan and money for needed repairs.

“An FHA 203k loan allows you to borrow money, using only one loan, for both home improvement and a home purchase,” said The Balance. “203k loans are guaranteed by the FHA, which means lenders take less risk when offering this loan. As a result, it’s easier to get approved (especially with a lower interest rate).”

There are a number of improvements that can be made with a 203(k) loan, including bathroom and kitchen remodels, additions, HVAC, plumbing, and flooring, but if you’re looking to add a pool, you’ll have to do that on your own dime. “Luxury improvements” are not allowed under the terms of the loan.

Look just outside your target neighborhood

In the city of Phoenix, AZ, one of the fastest-growing cities in the nation, home prices have climbed to levels that can put even the smallest and oldest homes out of reach for many first-time buyers. In the adjacent city of Buckeye, however, home prices are lower – even though it’s also a desirable, growing city—and many of the neighborhoods feed into the preferred schools. For young families that are looking to get their foot in the door and make sure their kids have access to great schools, looking just outside your target neighborhood can be a great way to go.

Consider a transitioning neighborhood

Buying in a neighborhood that is transitioning can be tricky…you’ll have to depend a lot on your real estate agent’s knowledge and your own gut to make sure you’re buying in an area that is going to appreciate—and is also going to meet your needs now. The current state of the the neighborhood might not fit that dream home idea you’ve had in your head, but, if you’re in it for the long haul, you could be making a smart move by looking in an area that isn’t exactly top of your list in its current state. The obvious draws of buying a home in a transitioning neighborhood are: more affordability or more home for the money, and the possibility to make some money as the neighborhood changes.

Getting a lot of bang for your buck is one of the benefits of buying in a so-called transitional neighborhood. Keys to finding such a place: “The area’s proximity to public transportation is one of the most revealing factors. Pinpoint your favorite trendy neighborhood – and then take the local train or subway one or two stops past it. That’s how you’re most likely to spot emerging areas because they’re already linked to established routes of transit. Also, a neighborhood that’s adjacent to a much-desired one is much more likely to gentrify than one that’s surrounded by less prime areas. Paying attention to decreasing local crime and DOM (days on market) for real estate listings in the area, and noting whether there is a vibrant art scene in the area, are additional tips to locating an up-and-coming neighborhood.

Raise your budget

Some people get a number in their head and decide that’s the most they’re comfortable with spending. Say you’ve decided you can’t spend more than $300,000 on a home, but you’re not having any luck finding anything in your target neighborhoods and you’re not willing to look elsewhere. Consider this: Is your preapproval from your lender higher than that magic $300,000 number? If so, consider upping it. That $20,000 difference could open up your search to numerous additional properties, and would cost you only about $100 per month. Bring a lunch to work instead of eating out a couple days a week or skip one night out at the movies and dinner per month and you’ve got it covered.

Go back to your lender

If you’re already looking for homes at your max approval amount and not having any luck, have a conversation with your lender. There might be a way to reconfigure your loan options to get you more money to spend.

Position Realty
Office: 480-213-5251

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