Tag Archives: Home Buyers

Your Comprehensive Guide to Picking the Perfect Neighborhood

Key Takeaways:

  • If you’re thinking about buying a home, it’s important to choose the right neighborhood, especially if you care about resale value.
  • Certain neighborhood features can increase your home value—and make you feel right at home in your new community. 
  • When it comes to your home search, we have some features to keep in the forefront of your mind to make sure you pick the perfect (and most profitable) community! 

Here’s What Affects Your Home Value Every Time

When it comes to your home search, finding a house in the ideal neighborhood is half the battle. Your future community is going to decide how close you are to nearby conveniences, what qualities your home possesses, and the people who are going to be your neighbors. 

A home’s value is determined by how much prospective buyers in the market are willing to pay for your property, but we understand that each buyer is unique. While one buyer may prioritize nearby employment opportunities, another might place more weight on local entertainment or neighborhood amenities. However, property values are always impacted by one component—where they’re located. 

If you’re on the hunt for your next neighborhood, consider this your step-by-step guide on how to pick the perfect community!    

Location, location, location

aerial view of neighborhood homes

You’ve probably heard this before, but it’s so important that we have to repeat it—location is everything when it comes to making a good investment in your next home. Think about it: typically, all the homes in a neighborhood, regardless of size or condition, fall within the same price range. Therefore, when it comes to valuing a property, location matters more than even the home’s characteristics.

When an appraiser is assigning a value to a property based on its location, they look at three primary factors—the reputation of local schools, employment opportunities, and proximity to entertainment. In addition to these factors, a home’s distance to everyday necessities, such as highways and public transit systems, play a crucial role in increasing its value.     

Neighborhood amenities are must-haves for more value 

enjoying an outdoor dinner

What could be better than having a host of amenities available right outside your front door? Neighborhood niceties such as community clubhouses, golf courses, and pools are often at the top of buyers’ wishlists when searching for a new home. All these features and more foster a fun, inclusive environment of community involvement. Plus, a spacious clubhouse serves as the prime venue to host events that are sure to bring the neighborhood together! 

In addition to a neighborhood’s current conveniences, you can research any future upgrades your community has coming through its digital planning documents. These documents should outline what improvements are planned for your neighborhood—like nearby shopping centers, schools, or parks—and when they’re going to be completed. Plus, it’s always a good idea to check and see if a neighborhood has a homeowners association. Your HOA will have a hand in maintaining and enhancing the community’s value over time. 

Other conveniences you should consider…

woman smiling on phone

At this point, you’ve probably considered some basic factors like nearby attractions, commute times, and all the amenities a neighborhood has to offer—but what about the everyday conveniences? To take your home search to the next level, you have to think about the seemingly small details. When evaluating your neighborhood’s location, cover your bases by mapping out the distances to the nearest medical centers, airports, and grocery stores—believe us, you’ll be thankful for this when you forget to buy eggs. 

In terms of expenses, everyone has to pay utility bills, so you can save money by looking at who your local providers will be ahead of time. And speaking of planning, we recommend working with your agent to determine how your area’s property taxes will fit into your home-buying budget. 

Ready to Find Your Perfect Fit?

All these features are things you should be on the lookout for during your home search—and remember, the surrounding community is equally as important as the individual home when it comes to finding your perfect fit. As your local real estate agents, we’d be happy to help you find your dream home in just the right neighborhood—all you have to do is give us a call! 

The Time to Buy New Construction Is Now

Key Takeaways:

  • Buying a new build is the best way to craft a home that fits all your needs, and you’ll get the customization you crave. 
  • Material costs are on the rise, and you shouldn’t wait for them to come down—invest in new construction now to lock in your preferred price. 
  • We have the knowledge and network of connections you need to get started on your new construction project. Give us a call and we can discuss your options! 

What if Your Dream Home Doesn’t Exist Yet?

The past year has made many homeowners redefine what their dream home looks like, and it’s something different for everyone. If you’ve spent time searching the real estate market but can’t find an existing home that suits your specific needs, you should consider new construction. Whether it’s a custom-built home, a recently renovated older property, or a spec home in a newly constructed neighborhood, there are tons of options available right now. And luckily for you, we have all the knowledge you need to bring your dream home into existence.  

Here’s what you need to know about new construction

new construction home being built

Buying new construction isn’t as simple as selecting a floor plan then signing the dotted lines. There is a detailed timeline for constructing a home that you’ll need to discuss with your builder and lender. When you work with an agent who specializes in new builds, you’ll learn all the nuances that come with buying new construction—plus, you’ll have someone who will always be on your side. 

When you decide to buy a new build, you’ll likely check out model homes in the area. At these model homes, you might meet an agent who will give you a tour and tell you a bit more about the builder. In these scenarios, the agent always works for the builder’s best interest, not the homebuyer’s—this is why it’s crucial to find your own agent to guide you from the initial purchase of your new construction home to finalizing the closing documents.  

We’ve heard the rumors, too…

stacks of lumber

In the midst of today’s inventory shortage, demand for building materials is at an all-time high, which means resources like lumber certainly aren’t cheap. Almost all costs associated with construction have increased in 2021—and they aren’t expected to come down anytime soon. With this in mind, now is the time to invest in new construction before costs continue to rise.  

Partially due to the lack of existing housing supply, about one in four homes are now newly built. Whether you’re interested in a pre-built spec home with less prep work or a completely custom build with your say written all over it, you should definitely take a look at the perks that come with a new build—and customization is just the beginning. 

Design your own dream home 

designing your dream home

This time, you can have your cake and eat it too—or better yet, you can have your home built with your custom designs in mind. When you choose to build a home from the ground up, you can customize every single detail. New construction homes are meant to be tailor-made to your desires, so don’t be shy about asking your builder for upgrades or personalizations. From an open-concept floorplan to updated finishes and fixtures, the options really are endless when you choose new construction!   

Think new car smell, but better 

tailor-made kitchen

One of the top appeals of building your own home is that new, never-been-used feeling. When you buy new construction, you’ll get all brand-new appliances. In addition to all the bells and whistles in your new home, it is also likely to have green features like efficient lighting, effective insulation, and smart thermostats—all of which will save you money on your utility bills. And if your new home requires any repairs after moving in, most builders offer warranties and will get everything back in top-notch condition for free within a certain timeframe. 

Ready to Build Your Dream Home?

Now’s a better time than ever to invest in a new construction home—and luckily for you, we’re the new home experts! We have the local area knowledge and expertise in new builds to help you navigate the new construction process from start to finish. Contact us today to make your dream home a reality! 

Reap the Benefits of Your Realtor Even After You’ve Moved

Key Takeaways:

  • Our real estate expertise goes far beyond just buying or selling your home—you can rely on us for quality resources before and after you’ve moved. 
  • Whether you’re searching for the best local handyman, a notary, or something else entirely, you can trust our vetted providers to get the job done. 
  • If you ever need a real estate recommendation—today or years down the road—just give us a call for personalized advice! 

Unlock Our Exclusive Real Estate Recommendations

We like to consider ourselves real estate experts, and we love being able to share our knowledge with you! Throughout our years of working in the housing market, we’ve formed deep relationships with not only our clients, but with local trusted businesses, too. We’ve vetted these vendors ourselves so that you don’t have to play the costly game of trial and error. 

Need some personalized recommendations or strategic advice? Here’s how your agent can serve you even after you’ve moved.   

Sellers, we don’t stop at “SOLD”

couple with a sold sign

When we say we’re by your side every step of the way, we mean it—which means our services never stop at “SOLD!” Whether we’ve just listed your home or already sold it, we know there’s always more work to be done. Seemingly small details go a long way in making a house a home. We’ve worked with the best professional landscapers, painters, and cleaners in the area—all contacts you need to put the finishing touches on your space. 

We consider our clients to be one of our own, which means our exclusive buying and selling resources are always available to you. At any time, you can see if your home value has increased using our free estimator or jumpstart the buying process after you sell with our advanced search tool. Our real estate professionals have gained invaluable experience in working with our clients, so we try to return the favor whenever possible by providing in-depth insight.    

New homeowners, you’re not done with us yet

Couple holding keys to a home

We loved helping you find your dream home so much that we want to keep working with you—and honestly, we think we’re going to need each other! Homeownership is a huge investment, so you want your new place to be in tip-top shape at all times. 

First things first, it’s important to change your locks when you move into your home, since you don’t know who might have a copy of your keys. Don’t know of a local locksmith? Don’t worry, we’ll open some doors for you! Don’t let a household repair linger just because you don’t know a trusted provider who can get the job done. Whether you’re looking for a handyman to lend a helping hand on a home project or need repairs for your HVAC, you can count on our personalized recommendations for the most reliable providers in the area!

And for when you’ve been watching (maybe too much) HGTV

Older couple talking about renovations

We get it, watching Fixer Upper makes you want to DIY your entire home, especially if you’re thinking about listing soon or just moved in. But for when you’re not in the mood to do it all yourself, we’ve got contacts for everything from new light fixtures to full-on home renovations. Our desire for you to live in your dream home doesn’t stop when you sign the closing documents, and we will always be available to help with any home improvements. 

Want Access to Our Preferred Vendors?

Working with a top-notch real estate agent means you’ve gained a partner for life. So when anything comes up in your buying, selling, or homeownership journey, just give us a call! 

Whether you’re at the beginning of the selling process or have already bought your dream home, you can always rely on us to connect you with the area’s best vendors. Contact us today for any recommendations you may need—and don’t forget, we’re locals too, and we love to catch up with our clients! 

The Top 4 Questions to Ask When Buying a Home with a Pool

Key Takeaways:

  • Pools are a highly coveted amenity, and having one of your own comes with quite a few perks.
  • Want to know the ins and outs of pool ownership? We’ve outlined some must-ask questions that every homebuyer should consider.
  • No matter what kind of home you’re looking to buy, you can always reach out to us for advice—give us a call to start your next chapter!

Here Are the Questions You Need to Ask Before Buying a Home with a Pool

If you’re in the market for a new home, a pool might be at the top of your wishlist—and having one comes with quite a few health, entertaining, and financial benefits! However, before you commit to buying a home with this luxurious feature, there are some questions you might want to ask first.

Want to learn the ins and outs of buying a home that comes with a pool? Here’s everything you need to know. 

What are the most common types of pools?

Pool with deck and chairs

Generally, most pools fall into two categories: above-ground and in-ground. Above-ground pools cost less to maintain and are statistically safer. However, in-ground pools blend into your yard’s natural landscape, and because they’re permanent, they may increase your home’s value over time. 

Pools can also be subdivided into a number of other categories based on their materials (fiberglass, concrete, etc.), the type of water (fresh or saltwater), and styles (lap pools, infinity pools, or spas). It’s best to do plenty of research in advance and ask your agent for more details on a home’s pool.

What should I know about pool maintenance?

Cleaning a pool

In most cases, pools cost around $100 or more each month to maintain and can require an hour of work per week depending on the season. However, this number varies based on your location and whether or not you use a professional service.

As a pool owner, you’ll be responsible for cleaning any debris, adding pool chemicals, as well as maintaining the pump and filter. You may also want to periodically test pH levels, vacuum your pool, and use cleaners to shock the water.

Over time, your pool will require more expensive maintenance, especially if a part goes bad or there’s a problem with the overall structure. If you have any concerns, your agent can be a helpful resource as you weigh the pros and cons.

Should I worry about pool safety?

If you plan on having children or pets near your pool, you want to ensure that it has the latest safety features. Fencing, mesh covers, and pool alarms add another layer of protection for all ages. If a pool doesn’t already have these upgrades, you’ll want to factor in the cost of adding them. More costly gadgets—such as alarms and fences—will set you back a few hundred dollars. 

Will home inspectors check a pool?

Checking a pool's chemical levels

Home inspectors almost always check a pool during their evaluation. However, if they aren’t well-versed in the specifics of pool maintenance, they may miss some critical issues. If you have any in-depth questions about a pool’s condition, hire a professional pool inspector before the closing. They’ll go beyond a general checklist and give you a thorough look at any problems a pool might have. Most pool inspectors will also provide an itemized list of potential repairs that can help you negotiate the final price of a home.

Want to know some of the most common red flags inspectors might point out? Be wary of any cracks in the pool’s interior, foul-smelling or off-color water, clogged filters, or broken equipment. 

Ready to Have Some Fun in the Sun?

Pools can require some effort and money to maintain, but you simply can’t beat the benefits of having your own swimming space. If you’re dreaming of buying a home with a pool, we’d love to help you track down your perfect place! Just give us a call to get started—we look forward to working with you!

Selling a home with a pool? Contact us to learn more about getting top-dollar in no time at all.

4 Tricks to Buying a Home in a Crazy Hot Market

Key Takeaways:

  • Despite the ongoing pandemic, the real estate market is more competitive than ever before—and that means buyers have to do more to get their offer accepted.
  • Want to stand out from the competition and score the home of your dreams? Our four tips can help you achieve real estate success in no time.
  • If you have any questions about buying in today’s hot market, just give us a call for even more personalized advice!

The 4 Tips Every Buyer Needs to Know in 2021

If you’ve been house-hunting for a while, you’ve probably noticed that today’s real estate market is more than just a little competitive. Low mortgage rates, high demand, and dwindling inventory have created ideal conditions for sellers—but it’s still very possible to score a fantastic deal on a home.

Want to know the secret to buying a home in 2021? Here are four tips that can help you take back control in a seller-driven market.

Get your finances in order

Calculating mortgage payments

First and foremost, you need to get your finances in order before you even consider looking at homes. Start by paying off as much debt as you can and increasing your credit score. It’s also a good idea to keep track of just how much you have saved for a down payment. Sellers are more likely to choose buyers who can put down at least 15% or pay cash.

Want to strengthen your offer even more? Get preapproved or attach a higher earnest money deposit to show a seller you’re serious about buying their home.

Know what you want

Buying a home is one of life’s most exciting milestones. However, it’s easy to get caught up in the little details—which is why it’s crucial to do your research in advance. Connect with a local agent early on to discuss your home-buying goals. A good agent will help you hone in on your budget, wants, and needs, as well as the right area or neighborhood.

Prepare for a bidding war

Negotiating a deal

According to a recent survey by Redfin, more than half of all buyers found themselves in a bidding war last year. And while the idea of competing against other home-seekers might seem overwhelming, there are a few things you can do to stand out. 

If you’re trying to score a house with multiple bids, send in your best and final offer up front. You may also want to include an escalation clause, which automatically increases your purchase price by certain increments (like a few thousand dollars at a time) so you avoid getting outbid.   

It’s also a good idea to consider homes below your budget, especially if you have your heart set on a popular neighborhood. This gives you some flexibility if you end up in a bidding war. 

Appeal to the seller

Talking about real estate

Even if you find yourself in a bidding war, it’s still possible to come out ahead. Believe it or not, sellers don’t always choose the highest offer, even if it far exceeds the original asking price. 

You can appeal to a seller’s peace of mind by limiting your contingencies, offering to pay closing costs, and letting them choose the closing date. Adding these extra bonuses might seem minor, but they can really impact a seller’s final decision.

Only Buy with the Best

Working with a top-notch agent can help you navigate 2021’s crazy real estate market with ease. So if you’re looking for some guidance, it’s time to give us a call!

Whether you’re at the beginning of the buying process or are already searching for a home, you can trust us to help you find your perfect place. Contact us today to get started; we look forward to working with you.

What Makes Today’s Real Estate Market So Competitive?

Key Takeaways

  • This year’s housing market is shaping up to be the most competitive on record, but the pandemic isn’t the only thing influencing the national real estate boom.
  • There are actually quite a few factors contributing to today’s hot market, including unfettered buyer demand, historically low supply, and steady interest rates.
  • Have questions about buying a home in 2021? Get in touch with us for even more personalized advice.

3 Factors That Make 2021’s Real Estate Market More Competitive Than Ever

If you’re planning a move, you might be wondering how the real estate market will change this year—and the predictions are pretty eye-opening. Existing home sales are expected to increase by 9%, home prices could rise by a whopping 8%, and mortgage rates should stay well below 4% for the foreseeable future. 

For buyers, this means you may have to work harder than usual to find the perfect place. However, this extra effort will pay off if you have a home to sell or want to take advantage of extraordinarily low interest rates. 

Need help making sense of today’s market? Here are a few reasons why real estate is more competitive than ever in 2021. 

The ongoing pandemic

Buying a home during the pandemic

A year ago, real estate experts had no idea how the COVID-19 pandemic would impact the housing market. While many predicted a crash akin to what we saw in 2008, we actually saw the opposite: a pandemic housing boom.

During last year’s lockdowns, many renters and homeowners grew unhappy with their living situations and wanted a change. This caused demand for homes to spike—and as panicked sellers pulled their listings, prices rose higher and higher.

The pandemic might slowly be coming to an end, but we’re still seeing remnants of 2020 in today’s market. And while more sellers are finally warming up to the idea of listing again, available housing supply is still at its lowest point ever.

Record-low interest rates

Dice changing rates

In late March, interest rates for 15- and 30-year mortgages hovered around 2.5% and 3.3%, respectively. Although these numbers aren’t quite as low as they were in 2020, buyers can still score a once-in-a-lifetime deal by moving now.

To put things into perspective, let’s say you’re thinking about buying a $300,000 house with a 20% down payment. Back when rates were nearing 4%, you could expect to pay around $1,200 per month for your mortgage. However, if you were to buy that same home with a 3% interest rate, your payment would drop to just $1,012—and that difference can save you tens of thousands of dollars over time.

Low inventory & unprecedented buyer demand

Sold sign

Real estate is all about supply and demand. And in today’s competitive market, an inventory shortage and swelling buyer demand have created perfect conditions for sellers. In particularly popular areas, it’s not uncommon for homes to sell just days after they’re listed, sometimes in bidding wars that go above the original asking price.

If you’re thinking about buying a home soon, be prepared to act fast. Many agents recommend getting pre-approved, limiting your contingencies, or even setting an escalation clause to automatically outbid other buyers.

Bottom Line: Now Is the Time to Move

Navigating 2021’s one-of-a-kind real estate market may seem like a daunting task, but the right agent will help you through every step of the process. Today’s buyers can capitalize on shockingly low interest rates, while sellers stand to make an impressive profit should they decide to list soon. And if you ever have any questions, we’re always here to help!

Buying or Selling Soon? Let’s Talk!

Don’t let the market keep you from making a move. If you’re ready to achieve real estate success in no time at all, drop us a line to get started. We’d love to offer you one-on-one buying or selling advice that’s tailored to your unique needs.

3 Reasons All Buyers and Sellers Should Use Listing Alerts

Key takeaways:

  • Listing alerts send new homes straight to your inbox as soon as they hit the MLS, and they’re the easiest way to keep up with the competitive market.
  • Listing alerts aren’t just useful for buyers—they can also help sellers stay up-to-date on other current and sold properties in their neighborhood.
  • Signing up for listing alerts only takes a minute, and you can always contact us to schedule a tour if you see a property you love!

Why Every Buyer and Seller Should Sign Up for Listing Alerts

Today’s real estate market is more fast-paced than ever—in fact, it’s not uncommon for a home to sell above asking price not long after it’s listed. So if you’re serious about buying, you need a to-the-minute resource to help you stay ahead of the competition.

This is where listing alerts come in handy. Just use our fully customizable filters to narrow down your search, and you’ll receive an email right when a home matching your criteria hits the market. And if you’re thinking about selling, you can also use listing alerts to scope out the competition in your neighborhood. 

Want to learn even more about the benefits of signing up for listing alerts? Here are three additional perks that every buyer and seller should know about.  

You’ll immediately see listings that match your criteria

Couple searching for a home online

Your home is likely one of the biggest investments you’ll ever make, which means it’s okay to be a little picky. Our listing alerts can be customized to your exact parameters, so you’ll know as soon as the right property becomes available. Take a look at our easy-to-use search tool to get started—we have filters for price, size, neighborhood, and even specific home features!  

You can create a portfolio of your favorite homes

Couple using a tablet to search for a home

When you sign up for our listing alerts, we’ll automatically create a personalized property organizer to help you keep track of all your favorite homes. Not only is this feature easy to use, it also allows you to save the listings you want to see in-person. You can even use your property organizer to schedule a showing, take a virtual tour from the comfort of your couch, or get in touch with a local agent for more information.

Sellers can keep up with sold listings, too

Recently sold home

If you’re like most buyers, you probably have an existing home you need to sell before you make a move. That’s why we designed our listing alerts to work with both active and sold homes. All you have to do is set your desired criteria, and we’ll send over listings right when they go under contract.

Wondering how listing alerts benefit you as a seller? By scoping out sold homes in your neighborhood, you’ll get a better idea of how fast and how much your home could sell for—you might even pick up some staging tips along the way, too. As if that isn’t enough, you can also browse other current listings to get a better idea of your competition!

Get the Latest Homes Sent Straight to Your Inbox!

Ready to sign up for listing alerts? We’re here to help! Contact us today to set up your first alert—we’d be happy to guide you through the process if you have any questions. And if you’re thinking about buying or selling soon, drop us a line for even more helpful information. We’re always here to lend our expertise.

3 Reasons You Shouldn’t Use Zillow to Search for a Home

Key takeaways:

  • For years, Zillow has been one of the most popular real estate sites for buyers, sellers, and daydreamers—but it might not be the most reliable option for serious house hunters.
  • If you want to shop the hottest deals and see homes before they hit the market, it’s better to work with a local agent.
  • Need help finding the perfect home? Reach out to us today to get a head start on your search!

Why Zillow Isn’t the Best Option for Serious Homebuyers

We’ve all probably spent more time than we care to admit scrolling through listings on Zillow. While this popular real estate website might be good for daydreaming, it’s not always the best resource for buyers who are searching seriously for a home. In fact, according to a report by the Washington Post, some of Zillow’s “listings” aren’t actually on the market at all, and they could potentially contain inaccurate information.

Looking to stay ahead of the competition in today’s fast-paced market? Here’s why you should work with a local agent instead…and maybe even avoid Zillow altogether.

Zillow doesn’t always list Coming Soon or Pre-MLS homes

Coming soon home

Did you know that some homes are sold before they officially go on the market? If you’ve ever searched for listings online, you’ve likely seen at least a few properties labeled “Coming Soon.” This means they aren’t available for showings, but you can still make an offer and purchase them sight unseen. Sellers can take things a step further by advertising their home as “Pre-MLS,” which means the house might not even make it online before going under contract.

Because these types of homes don’t usually stay on the market for long, there’s a good chance they won’t be on Zillow. And if they are, they could already be sold by the time you see them! If you want to see homes before everybody else, your best bet is to ask your agent—they’ll be able to show you local listings that you can’t always find on national real estate sites.  

Zillow’s information is often inaccurate

Searching for a home on a tablet

One of Zillow’s biggest (and most infamous) claims to fame is the “Zestimate”—an algorithm-based guess of a home’s potential selling price. While the company asserts that most Zestimates fall within 10% of a home’s actual market value, that 10% can be a difference of tens of thousands of dollars. 

Some buyers use Zestimates to determine how much they should offer for a home, but this isn’t a surefire way to score a great deal. Because Zillow relies on government records and user-reported data, their Zestimates aren’t always as accurate as you might expect.

For example, if a property has undergone recent renovations or has incorrect property tax records, Zillow could price it higher or lower than what it’s really worth. Although Zestimates sometimes take into account a home’s condition, location, or other unique features, the evaluation process is entirely automated—and that could lead to even more inaccuracies.

If you ever have any questions about how much a home is worth, your agent will be able to offer more personalized (and reliable!) advice.

Real estate agents have better local connections

Real estate agent helping a couple

Countless home buyers start their search on Zillow simply because it’s one of the biggest real estate websites out there. While Zillow does have a broad reach, it lacks the personal touch and local expertise you get from working with a real estate agent in your area. 

Real estate agents know the market better than anyone else, which means they can help you gauge whether or not a listing is priced fairly. In fact, many agents offer customized search tools that can give you a better perspective on homes for sale in your target area. And if you team up with a well-connected agent, they might even be aware of off-market properties you won’t see on Zillow. 

Only Buy with the Best

Real estate has and always will be a hyper-local industry. So if you’re thinking about buying a home soon, we’d love to offer you a better experience than you’ll have on Zillow. Take a look at our handy search tool to start browsing the latest listings, and let us know if anything catches your eye. You can even sign up for customized listing alerts to get properties sent straight to your inbox!

Mortgages Made Easy: How to Choose the Right Home Loan

Key Takeaways:

  • As mortgage rates continue hovering near historic lows, many potential buyers are eager to make a move—but it can be hard to know which type of loan is best.
  • There are dozens of different mortgage options available today, and some even have low down payment or credit score requirements. This can help a variety of buyers finally achieve their real estate goals. 
  • Need help finding a lender or choosing the right mortgage for your needs? We’d be more than happy to offer a few recommendations.

Home Financing 101: The Most Common Types of Mortgages

Let’s face it—understanding mortgages can be the most complicated part of buying a home. Even experienced buyers sometimes have trouble deciding between lenders or shopping around for the best interest rate. And because there are so many options, it can be difficult to track down the mortgage that best meets your needs.

There are a variety of factors you should consider before committing to a loan, such as your income, debt, financial history, and how long you plan on staying in your new home. But if you play your cards right, you could end up scoring a great deal. Here are some of the most popular types of mortgages, as well as their pros and cons.

Fixed-rate mortgage

Mortgage scrabble tiles

A fixed-rate mortgage is the most basic and reliable type of home loan you can get. Your interest rate and monthly payment will stay the same for the entire duration of the mortgage, and you’ll likely have to put at least 20% down and have an established financial history to get approved.

Typically, fixed-rate mortgages are broken down into 15- or 30-year terms. If you want predictability and don’t plan on moving for a while, this is probably the best option for you.

Adjustable-rate mortgage

house, coin stacks, and clock

Unlike their fixed-rate counterparts, adjustable-rate mortgages offer the initial benefit of a lower rate and down payment. However, ARMs fluctuate with the market, which means your interest rate and monthly payments could increase or decrease over time.

While there is more risk involved with an adjustable-rate mortgage, it can be worth it if you plan on living in your home for a shorter period of time. Generally, ARMs have a capped introductory interest rate for the first few years, which can save you quite a bit of money compared to a fixed-rate loan.

VA loans

Member of the military

If you or your spouse are an active, retired, or veteran member of the military, you could be eligible for a VA loan. Backed by the US Department of Veterans Affairs, this unique type of mortgage lets you buy a home with little to no down payment or mortgage insurance.

Because VA loans are guaranteed (but not financed) by the government, they do have stricter requirements than other mortgages. The loan can only be used towards a primary residence, and the house you intend to buy has to meet minimum property requirements. This means you’ll have to undergo additional inspections and appraisals. 

FHA loans

Couple moving in

Backed by the Federal Housing Administration, the FHA loan is designed for first-time or lower-income buyers. While most mortgages typically require a down payment of 20% or more, the FHA loan allows buyers to put down as little as 3.5%; that equals out to around $9,000 for a $250,000 house.

FHA loans come with a fixed interest rate and can offer a path to homeownership for buyers who don’t have enough saved for a traditional loan. However, you will be required to pay for private mortgage insurance (PMI) every month, which typically costs around 1% of your total loan amount. It’s also important to remember that the government does not issue your loan—you’ll still have to shop around for the right FHA-approved lender.

USDA loans

Farmland

The USDA loan is a government-sponsored mortgage program that targets buyers in more rural areas. While the USDA does have stricter credit and income requirements than the FHA, they’ll fund up to 100% of the purchase price for an eligible home. That means you won’t have to put any money down, and you may even enjoy a lower-than-average interest rate. 

Additionally, USDA loans require mortgage insurance, and you won’t be approved if your debt-to-income ratio exceeds 41%. Before applying, you should also check the USDA’s eligibility map to see if your area qualifies for the program. 

Other loans

House on a calculator

This is hardly an exhaustive list of all the mortgages used by today’s home buyers! Depending on your financial situation, you could qualify for a more niche loan, such as a balloon mortgage, bridge loan, or jumbo loan. Many banks, lenders, and state governments also have their own programs or incentives that are worth exploring. You can even combine different types of loans to create a financing plan that’s tailored to your needs.

If you don’t have time to research all of your options, it might be beneficial to work with a mortgage broker or ask your agent for recommendations. They’ll have the knowledge to guide you in the right direction!

Want to Learn More About Mortgages?

If you’re in the market for a new home, we’d love to discuss your financing options or recommend some top-rated lenders. Contact us today to learn the ins and outs of the home buying process, from finding a loan to finally getting the keys to your new place. We look forward to helping you start your next chapter!

Busting the Biggest Home-Buying Myths of 2020

This year has been difficult for just about everyone, but if you were (or still are) thinking about buying a home in 2020, you might be feeling more than a little overwhelmed. An ongoing pandemic, the subsequent recession, and general uncertainty have forced many house-hunters to put their real estate dreams on hold. However, despite all these potential obstacles, homeownership is still a very attainable goal.

Don’t Let These Myths Keep You From Buying a Home!

Buying a home is a huge decision, and it’s one you shouldn’t make without careful planning. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of misinformation out there regarding the home-buying process and the real estate market as a whole, especially as the nation continues to navigate an unpredictable year.

Still unsure about making a move during 2020? Here are four of the most common myths that deter today’s buyers—and why you shouldn’t believe them.

It’s not a good time to move

Family packing up for a move

On the surface, this myth may seem true. Towards the beginning of the year, a majority of sellers chose not to list their homes, while many buyers didn’t feel comfortable moving during quarantine. This caused the national real estate market to experience an unusual spring slump. The good news is that the market has made substantial progress since March—actually, real estate has become one of the most stable investments you can make in 2020. 

Pent-up buyer demand has helped the market recover in record time. In fact, the number of mortgage applications, closed sales, and pending sales are up by double-digit percentages compared to last year. And if you’re still hesitant to buy during a pandemic, you’ll be happy to learn that most agents now offer virtual tours and have put social distancing measures in place to keep clients safe.

Homeownership isn’t affordable

Piggy bank and house figure

Does it seem like houses are getting more and more expensive these days? You aren’t just imagining things—home prices are about 6.5% higher than they were last year. This means a home that was worth $250,000 in 2019 could now sell for nearly $270,000.

While this may seem like bad news for buyers, you shouldn’t be deterred by rising prices. Historically low interest rates have helped to make homes more affordable, even as they continue increasing in value. Although a small change in interest rates may not seem drastic, it can actually save you tens of thousands of dollars over the lifespan of your loan.

If you already have a bit saved up in the bank for a down payment, buying a home can even be more affordable than renting. Today’s average mortgage payment of $1,275 is $188 less than the average monthly rent. That equates to a savings of over $2,200 per year!

You need a 20% down payment

Saving for a down payment

You’ve probably heard that you need at least a 20% down payment to buy a home. While there is merit to putting down as much as possible, you can still purchase your own place with as little as 0% down by using the right loan.

According to a recent study by the National Association of Realtors, the median down payment for all buyers in 2019 was just 12%, and first-timers only put down an average of 6%. You might also qualify for an FHA or VA loan, which offer down payments as low as 3.5% or 0%, respectively.

It’s worth researching different types of mortgages, as well as down payment assistance programs available in your area. They could provide the financial boost you need to finally buy a home!

You can’t buy if you have debt or bad credit

Calculating and reducing debt

The average American has accrued $38,000 in personal debt, excluding home mortgages. Even if you don’t owe quite that much, any kind of debt or a low credit score can seem like a pretty big roadblock if you’re trying to make a move. However, there are still a few options that can get you on the path to homeownership.

The easiest way to boost your credit score is to pay off your debts; consolidating your loans into one monthly payment could help you reduce your debt-to-income ratio. There are also a variety of loans tailored to buyers with lower credit scores, such as FHA, VA, or balloon mortgages.

It can take time to pay off debt and rebuild your credit, but that doesn’t mean you can’t work towards buying a home. If you have any questions about your individual situation, it’s best to contact your agent or financial advisor. They’ll have plenty of resources available to guide you in the right direction!  

Take Advantage of a Hot Market

Are you thinking about buying a home before the end of the year? Contact us today to get the ball rolling on your real estate journey! We look forward to teaming up and finding you a place that checks all the boxes.

Need to sell before you buy? We can help with that, too!