Steve Warren, Realtor®'s Blog
If you’re a first time homebuyer and want to start weighing your mortgage options, you’ll have much to learn. With so much at stake, you’ll want to make sure you choose the best mortgage for you now, and one that will still suit your needs years into the future.
Sometimes, first time buyers are hesitant to ask questions they may consider too basic because they don’t want to seem inexperienced to lenders, agents, or anyone else they’ll be in contact with throughout the home buying process.
So, in this article, we’ve compiled a list of commonly asked mortgage questions that first time buyers might want to ask before heading into the process of acquiring a home loan.
What is the first step to getting a mortgage?
This question may seem straightforward, however the first step can vary depending on your financial situation. For those who already have saved up for a down payment and built a solid credit score, the first step is probably contacting lenders and getting preapproved or prequalified.
However, if you aren’t sure about your credit score and haven’t saved up for a down payment (ideally, 20% of what you hope to spend on the house), then you should address those matters first.
To find a lender, you can do a simple Google search for the mortgage lenders in your area, or you can ask around to friends and family to find out their experience with their own mortgage lenders.
What does it mean to be pre-qualified and pre-approved?
If you think of the mortgage process in three steps, the first step would be getting pre-qualified. This means you’ve given the lender enough basic information for them to decide which type of mortgage you’re eligible to receive.
Pre-approval includes collecting and verifying further details. At this step, you’ll complete a mortgage application and the lender will run a credit check. Once you’re pre-approved, your file can be moved to the underwriting phase.
What are closing costs?
“Closing costs” is an umbrella term that covers all of the various fees and expenses related to buying or selling a home. As a buyer, you are responsible for paying numerous closing costs. These can include, but are not limited to, underwriting fees, title searches, title insurance, origination fees, taxes, appraisal fees, surveys, and more.
That sounds like a lot to keep track of, however your lender will be able to give you an accurate estimate of the total closing costs when you apply for your loan. In fact, lenders are required to give you a list of these costs within three days of your loan application in the form of a “good faith estimate” of the closing costs.
What will my interest rate be?
The answer to this question is dependent upon numerous factors. The value of the home, your credit score, the amount you put down (down payment), the type of mortgage you have, and whether or not you’re paying private mortgage insurance all factor into the interest rate you’ll receive. Interest rates also will vary slightly between lenders.
You can receive a fixed-rate mortgage that does not fluctuate throughout the repayment term. However, you also typically have the option to refinance to acquire a lower interest rate, however refinancing comes with its own costs.
Want to sell your home? Like many home sellers, you're probably on the lookout for a real estate agent who can help you get the best price for your house.
Choosing the right real estate agent usually will require you to perform comprehensive research. You'll need to examine the credentials and skills of many real estate agents in your area. Plus, you may want to sit down and chat with various real estate agents to find one who can simplify the home selling process.
Ultimately, there are several questions you should ask a real estate agent before you hire him or her to sell your house, including:
1. What is your home selling experience?
No two homes are identical, and much in the same way, no two real estate agents are exactly alike. As such, you should learn about a real estate agent's experience to ensure he or she possesses the expertise necessary to sell your house.
For example, if you're selling a condo, you may want to hire a real estate professional with condo experience. Or, if you're looking to sell your home as quickly as possible, you should find a real estate agent who knows how to promote a home across social media and other platforms.
2. How will you keep in touch?
What good is a real estate agent if this professional fails to keep you informed throughout the home selling journey?
With the right real estate agent at your side, you'll be able to stay up to date along each stage of the home selling process. In fact, this professional will provide you with updates about offers on your home, requests to view your residence and much more.
Furthermore, your real estate agent should be easily accessible via phone and email. This means if you need support at any point during the home selling journey, your real estate agent will be able to assist you.
3. Can you provide references?
An expert real estate agent should have no trouble connecting you with past clients. That way, you can find out how this real estate professional has helped previous home sellers accomplish their goals.
If you connect with a real estate agent's past clients, you can get a better idea about how this real estate professional responds to various home selling challenges. As a result, you'll be better equipped to determine if this real estate agent is the right person to help you sell your house.
4. How will you market my house?
A real estate agent should go above and beyond the call of duty to market your house to the right groups of homebuyers. This professional typically will allocate extensive time and resources to learn about you and your home selling needs and help you plan accordingly.
Finding out how a real estate agent will promote your home is essential. With this information, you can understand whether a real estate agent will do everything possible to showcase your residence to potential homebuyers.
Use the aforementioned questions, and you can select the right real estate agent to help you sell your home.
If houses with unique architecture are at the top of your wish list while house hunting consider planning to renovate an attic space into an additional room. An attic room is truly one of a kind and will have all of your family and friends wanting to move in too. You’ll also maximize the space in your home and even increase the value of your home.
The first, and most important, step you’ll want to take is to ensure that you can legally renovate your attic. Do some research on your local building codes and contact an inspector for a professional opinion. It’s important to make sure your home has the right support in place to support the added weight your renovations will add to its structure. I can’t stress how critical this step is for both your family’s safety as well as your home’s value.
Okay, so you’re armed with building code knowledge and approval from an inspector. Now you just need a vision to start your planning. Part of what makes having usable attic space so appealing is its unexpectedness as well as the cozy atmosphere that can be created from its nooks and crannies.
A bedroom, either for yourself, a family member or guests, might be where your mind first turns to. Can’t you just imagine waking up each morning to a magazine spread worthy room? You could also create a room dedicated to entertainment. Think a playroom, reading nook, home theater or game room. You could even simply design a better storage solution.
When dreaming up your new room plan to make the most of it’s one of a kind structure. Add dormers for both natural lighting and cozy nooks to tuck a chair or desk under. Create recessed storage in knee walls by adding cubbies and drawers. You may even want to design a seating solution that doubles as storage.
Another important task for your attic renovation is to ensure your attic has the proper insulation in place before becoming an inhabitable room. Attics are prone to both extreme heat and cold depending on where you live. Insulation not only helps maintain climate control but when added in the flooring it can help to reduce noise impact on the rooms below. Adding temperature controls to the room allows you to further maintain your ideal temp at all times.
Attic spaces create a fun and uniquely structured room but can easily appear to be too small and dark. Create the illusion of more space and light by choosing paint colors such as creams, beiges, and shades of white. Opt for wall sconces, table lamps, and floor lamps when overhead lighting isn’t an option. If your attic doesn’t naturally have much natural lighting consider adding dormers for more windows and space or a few skylights.
For that classic attic room coziness look to beadboard or wood paneling to add along the ceiling. Additionally, when painted white both add a more clean, modern feel to a room. Decor with natural textures such as straw baskets, leather details, and woven textiles bring in a cozy warmth. However, attics tend to be small spaces so be mindful of decor and give each piece a purpose to add a personal touch without overcrowding.
Whether you bought a new home with plans to renovate or have room in your budget for something more than a quick weekend project turning your home’s attic into an additional room maximizes space and adds a unique touch. You’ll increase your home’s value and have all of your friends and family excited to visit to check out your latest addition. And while it’s not a quick weekend project you’ll have plenty of time to kick back and relax in your new room when all the hard work is done.
After you receive an offer to purchase your house, you likely have only a short period of time to make your decision. Ultimately, determining whether to accept, reject or counter a homebuyer's proposal can be tricky. But if you plan ahead, you should have no trouble performing a comprehensive analysis of a buyer's offer, regardless of how much time is available.
Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you review a homebuying proposal.
1. Weigh the Pros and Cons
Creating a pros-cons list may prove to be ideal, particularly for a seller who is struggling to decide how to proceed with an offer. With this list in hand, you can evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of accepting a proposal and determine the best course of action.
Furthermore, it may be beneficial to assess your homebuying goals relative to an offer. If you goal is to maximize your profits, for example, you may want to accept an offer only if it matches or exceeds your house's initial asking price. Or, if your goal is to move out of your current residence as soon as possible, you may be willing to accept a proposal, even if it falls short of your home's initial asking price.
2. Assess the Housing Market
Housing market data is readily available that may help you make the best-possible decision about a home offer. If you analyze this information closely, you may be better equipped than ever before to decide whether a buyer's proposal is "fair" based on the current real estate market's conditions.
Oftentimes, it helps to conduct a home appraisal before you list your residence as well. Following a home appraisal, you'll receive a property valuation that may help you price your residence and evaluate home offers down the line.
3. Consult with a Real Estate Agent
There is no need to examine a home offer on your own. Instead, collaborate with a real estate agent, and you can receive expert recommendations as you assess a homebuying proposal.
A real estate agent is happy to work with you at each stage of the home selling process. This housing market professional will make it simple for you to list your house and promote it to the right groups of buyers. Next, a real estate agent will set up home showings and open house events to showcase your residence. And once you receive an offer on your house, a real estate agent will allocate the necessary time and resources to help you make an informed decision.
Lastly, if the first home offer that you receive fails to impress, there is no need to worry. You should not feel pressure to accept the initial offer on your house. In fact, you can always counter this proposal to set the stage for negotiations with a buyer, which could increase the likelihood of a successful home sale.
Get ready to review a homebuying proposal – use the aforementioned tips, and you can fully assess any offer that you receive.
Baking soda is something that most of us have in our homes. We use it for cooking, but have you ever thought that you can use it for cleaning as well? Baking soda is actually a fantastic thing to clean with. It deodorizes and is non-toxic, so it’s safe for kids, pregnant women, and pets. Below, you’ll find some of the household chores that you can complete using baking soda.
Scrub Down The oven
Since ovens can become really dirty, really fast, you need something that can take on the grease. Baking soda is great for this purpose. Make a paste using baking soda and water or vinegar. Let the paste sit in the oven for up to 24 hours. Then wipe the mixture down with a sponge or cloth. You can heat the oven after you do this initial cleaning to help you loosen any additional grease, grime, or food particles. Let the oven cool and wipe it down again.
Keep Drains Clear
If you notice that your drains are a bit slow, you may want to avoid harsh chemicals and start with the baking soda right in your kitchen. Pour some baking soda into your drain. Then, run some warmed vinegar down the drain immediately afterwards. After you let that mixture go to work for about 10 minutes, you should flush the drain with boiling water. This won’t work on already clogged drains, but it’s great for maintenance on your drains that may be a bit slow.
Keep Your Fridge Fresh
Your fridge can become a breeding ground for germs, crumbs, and spills. All you need to clean the refrigerator up is a simple solution made up of baking soda and dish soap. The soap will help to cut any grease that has built up in the appliance, and the baking soda acts as an abrasive to get the gunk up. Just create a paste and apply it in the refrigerator. Then wipe down the shelves with warm water and a sponge. You can even disinfect your sponge in the microwave after you do this. Just place the sponge in the microwave for 2 minutes and you have a sponge that’s like new!
Freshen Your Washing Machine
Baking soda helps to deodorize things. To deodorize your washer, just pour half a cup of baking soda into the detergent dispenser of the washing machine. Run a cycle through with hot water. Your clothes will be cleaner than they have been in months! Make sure you do this to your washer about once per month to keep it smelling fresh and deter those funky odors from building up in your laundry room. The only thing that should be smelling funky in there are dirty socks!