Karen Lawley's Blog
The factor that has the most impact on your home search is your finances. You’ll need to save a significant amount of money. It’s not easy to save when you have continuous monthly bills and responsibilities. Read on for tips on how to get your finances under control in order to save the amount of money it takes to buy a home.
Do A Budget
Once you have decided to buy a home, the first thing you should do is take a good look at your finances. A budget is critical when you buy a house because it tells you how much you’ll have to spend on your mortgage. Doing this ahead of time will allow you to maximize your income and make adjustments ahead of time as needed. Don’t forget that even though you’re buying a home, you still need some savings in addition to all of your other monthly expenses. Your budget should be outlined as follows:
- Monthly utility spending
- Insurance bills
- Entertainment expenses
- Grocery spending
Basically, you want to write down how much money is coming in and where all of the money is going. That’s a budget in a nutshell. See where you can cut back. What you’re left with is the amount you can save each month. You may want to do this on a percentage basis rather than a flat dollar amount.
Get A Separate Account
The most straightforward things to do when you start saving for a home is to put all of your money for your house fund into a separate account. This way you can automatically transfer money in, and you’ll be less likely to spend any of the money if you don’t see it.
Sacrifice The Small Things
Can you take some hand me downs for your kids? Maybe you can start packing a lunch for work instead of buying lunch. Can you cut the cord on cable? It may be hard to sacrifice small luxuries, but these expenses can add up. If you cut these out of your budget, you’ll have a little more wiggle room to save for a home purchase. You’ll be surprised how much money you can save just by doing little things. Your morning latte is probably around $5. You could save at least $25 per week by merely making coffee at home! That’s a saving of over 1,200 per year!
While saving for a home can seem overwhelming, if you take it in small chunks, you’ll be see the results of your efforts rather quickly.
Property owners got clobbered in the Great Recession of 2008, but that was the exception rather than the rule. Real estate typically weathers hard times well compared to other investments. Still, there’s always the possibility you could get squeezed if property values drop or if your personal or business income takes a hit. Whether you’re an individual homeowner with perhaps a second home or a rental or two, or you have significant investments in many kinds of real estate, here are a few thoughts about readying yourself for a recession.
Preserve and Increase Liquidity
A big recession risk is that your income will decline (either real estate rentals or unrelated income) and you’ll have trouble meeting mortgage payments or other expenses such as upkeep and taxes. You may be forced to sell property at an unfavorable time. Having cash, or assets easily converted to cash, helps you meet your obligations. In addition, there will be others eager to sell and bargains to be had, and if you have cash on hand you’ll be able to take advantage.
If you suspect hard times are on the horizon, consider some these options:
Get rid of low-performing assets. This includes selling real estate that produces inadequate return or is at risk of depreciating. It might also be time to rebalance your non-real estate portfolio toward more recession-friendly assets.
Defer major expenditures. Put off buying that vacation home or taking that expensive vacation. Don’t get in a position where you hold assets that are hard to turn into dollars.
Be prepared to reduce your good tenants’ rent. They may be struggling too, and getting something from them is better than if they move out and give you nothing at all, or if you acquire problem tenants in their place. The goodwill you generate may pay off.
Own the Right Kind of Real Estate
All properties are not equal when the economy retracts.
The most hard-hit are vacation rentals, industrial properties, office buildings and hotels.
Apartments will generally continue to do well. Also multi-family units such as duplexes, triplexes, and multiplexes. In many parts of the country there are high occupancy rates and demand for your apartments could actually increase. Student apartments in college areas are another good bet.
Self-storage units do well when families have to downsize and store belongings.
REITs and crowdfunded real estate follow the same patterns. Those investing in apartments and multifamily dwellings are the best positioned.
Invest based on cash flow rather than hoped-for appreciation. You may be in for a few years where cash flow is all you get.
When the next recession comes, it’s unlikely that real estate will bear the brunt, but that doesn't mean you can pooh-pooh the risk. However, if you have access to enough cash and own recession-friendly properties, you have a good chance of coming through in solid shape.
The VA home loan program allows qualified veterans and active-duty members of the military to get an affordable home loan with a minimal down payment. If you're planning to use this loan program, you can take specific measures to improve your chances of approval. These tips will take you from house hunting to homeownership quickly with an affordable VA home loan.
1. Get Your Certificate of Eligibility
The Certificate of Eligibility (COE) shows your lender that you are approved for the program. If you get this document before you apply for the loan, you'll know whether or not you qualify. You can request the COE from the VA through the eBenefits portal or in person at the VA Regional Loan Center.
2. Check Your Credit
One of the benefits of the VA home loan program is the fact that it has less stringent credit requirements than other loan types, but that doesn't mean your credit has no role to play. Your credit rating directly impacts the interest rate on your VA loan, and if your credit is too low, you may not get approved. Check your credit, and if needed, make changes to raise your score.
3. Establish Reliable Income
Even with the VA home loan program behind you, a lender is not going to loan you money if you don't have a reliable, stable income. Most lenders want to see that you have held a job with enough income to cover your payments for at least two years. If you have recently changed jobs, ask your lender what you need to show to prove your reliability as an employee.
4. Choose the Right Agent
Not all agents are well-versed in the VA home loan program. There are some quirks to VA loan approval that can put roadblocks in place as you look for a home. For instance, the VA has specific property requirements that the home must meet for the loan to be approved, and the appraisal process is a bit more stringent than traditional loans. Working with an agent that is VA-savvy will help speed up the process and make loan approval on the house you love easier to get.
5. Choose the Right Lender
A VA home loan doesn't come from the VA, but rather from a lender that partners with the VA. You can take some time to shop for the most affordable option, as long as you shop with lenders who participate in the VA home loan program. Remember, closing costs and fees may vary from one lender to the next, so find the one that offers the best terms for your situation.
The VA home loan benefit never expires, and you can use it again and again. As long as the mortgage money goes toward a home you're going to live in, not an investment property, you can buy a home with zero down and a fair interest rate using this benefit. With these tips, you can get the best possible loan funded quickly.
Let's face it – a first-time home seller may encounter many problems as he or she tries to navigate the home selling journey. Lucky for you, we're here to help you streamline the process of listing your residence and ensuring you can maximize your house's value.
Now, let's take a look at three common challenges that first-time home sellers might face:
1. You don't know what your home is worth.
What you paid for your house several years ago is unlikely to match your home's value today. Fortunately, a property appraisal can help you gain the insights you need to better understand your house's current value.
During a property appraisal, a home inspector will evaluate your residence from top to bottom. Then, this inspector will provide you with a report that highlights your house's strengths and weaknesses so you can plan potential home improvement projects accordingly.
When it comes to figuring out what your home is worth, don't forget to assess the prices of homes that are currently available too. With this housing market data in hand, you can find out how your residence stacks up against comparable houses.
2. You don't know how to enhance your residence's interior and exterior.
Consider the homebuyer's perspective as you examine your house's interior and exterior – you'll be glad you did. This will enable you to think about the best ways to enhance your house and ensure it will dazzle homebuyers consistently.
Remember, your home only gets one chance to make a positive first impression on property buyers. And if you allocate the necessary time to mow the front lawn, trim the hedges and remove dust and debris from walkways, you may be able to boost your house's chances of generating substantial interest from property buyers.
Don't forget to declutter your home's interior, either. By doing so, you can make it simple for property buyers to envision what life would be like if they purchase your residence.
3. You have no idea what it takes to add your house to the real estate market.
Adding a house to the real estate market should be simple, but myriad problems may arise that prevent you from listing your residence and getting the best price for it. However, if you work with a real estate agent, you can avoid any potential pitfalls throughout the home selling journey.
A real estate agent understands the ins and outs of selling a house. As such, he or she can serve as an expert guide through each stage of the home selling cycle.
Typically, a real estate agent will set up home showings and open houses, market your house to potential homebuyers and negotiate with property buyers on your behalf. This housing market professional also will be happy to respond to your home selling concerns and queries at any time.
For first-time home sellers, there's no need to panic. Use these tips, and you should have no trouble getting the optimal results during the home selling journey.
Selling a home usually requires various investments along the way. In fact, some of the most common house selling costs include:
1. Lawn Care
Maintaining a neat, tidy lawn is crucial, particularly for a seller who wants to stir up significant interest in his or her residence. As such, it generally is a good idea to account for lawn care costs as you put together a house selling budget.
Sometimes, home sellers hire professionals to mow the lawn, trim the hedges and conduct other lawn care tasks. If you decide to enlist lawn care professionals, you should explore all of the options at your disposal. That way, you can find a lawn care provider that offers a terrific mix of affordability and convenience.
You also can perform regular lawn care tasks on your own. This will allow you to eliminate the cost of a lawn care provider and ensure your lawn will impress potential buyers any time they see your residence.
2. Home Repairs
House repairs can be expensive, especially if an individual has failed to maintain his or her residence properly. If you dedicate time and energy to analyze your house, you can identify home problems and prioritize property repairs accordingly.
It may be helpful to conduct a house inspection before you list your residence. During a home inspection, a property expert will review your residence and identify any underlying issues. Then, you can use a home inspection report to determine how you can improve your residence.
Of course, you can limit home repair costs by completing property improvements on your own. On the other hand, if you want to hire a professional, there is no shortage of home improvement specialists available in cities and towns nationwide. And if you reach out to local home improvement specialists, you should be able to find one who can fulfill your requests.
If you relocate to a new house but still need to sell your prior residence, you will need to account for the latter home's water and electricity costs. Remember, a homebuyer likely will want to test a house's faucets and toilets to ensure running water is available before he or she purchases a house. At the same time, it may be tough to show a residence to buyers if no electricity is available.
As you get set to sell your residence, it may be beneficial to hire a real estate agent, too. A real estate agent is equipped to help a home seller streamline the property selling journey. Thus, if you want to learn about home selling expenses, a real estate agent is happy to teach you about them. Or, if you have questions about the home selling journey, a real estate agent can respond to them without delay.
Want to sell your residence? Consider the aforementioned home selling costs – you will be glad you did. Because if you develop a house selling budget, you can boost the likelihood of enjoying a successful property selling experience.