Posted by JoAnn M. Drabble on 5/1/2018

If you plan to buy a home in the near future, there is no harm in attending an open house. However, for those who want to get the most out of an open house, it helps to plan ahead as much as possible.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you get ready to attend an open house.

1. Review the Home Listing

Although you may have already reviewed a home listing, it may be a good idea to take a second look at it. That way, you can double-check to ensure that a residence matches your expectations prior to attending an open house.

As you review a home listing, think about your short- and long-term plans too. If you believe a home corresponds with these plans, now may be the right time to check out this residence in-person.

2. Examine Your Homebuying Budget

When it comes to preparing to attend an open house, it may be beneficial to assess your homebuying budget. By doing so, you can ensure a residence falls within your price range.

Oftentimes, it helps to get pre-approved for a mortgage before you launch a home search. If you have a mortgage at your disposal, you'll know exactly how much you can spend on a home. And as a result, you can set up home showings and attend open houses for residences that match your budget.

3. Prepare a List of Questions

An open house provides an opportunity to walk around a residence and decide whether it is right for you. It also enables you to receive comprehensive insights into a home. Thus, you should put together a list of questions to ask during an open house.

Remember, there is no such thing as a "bad" question, especially if you're on the fence about buying a particular home. And if you enter an open house with a list of questions in hand, you'll be better equipped than ever before to determine whether to submit an offer to purchase.

Lastly, as you prepare to pursue your dream home, you may want to hire a real estate agent as well. Because if you have a real estate agent at your side, you can obtain expert guidance throughout the property buying journey.

A real estate agent can help you prepare for any open house, at any time. He or she first will meet with you, discuss your homebuying options and help you map out a homebuying strategy. Next, a real estate agent will set up home showings and keep you informed about open house events for residences in your preferred cities and towns. And if you discover your dream home, a real estate agent will help you craft a competitive offer to purchase.

For those who want to take the guesswork out of buying a home, it helps to work with a real estate agent. Contact a local real estate agent today, and you can receive plenty of assistance as you search for your ideal residence.




Categories: Buying a Home   Open House  


Posted by JoAnn M. Drabble on 4/24/2018

When you find a home that you love, you probably already have been pre-approved by a bank for a certain amount that will enable you to buy a home. Once you put in an offer on the home and itís accepted, however, you may need to take a step back. The appraisal can help you to know what the value of the home actually is. The bank may decline your loan based on the appraisal This is one of the most important steps to obtaining the financing that you need to purchase a home. 


What Is An Appraisal? 


In a nutshell, an appraisal protects the bank from investing in a property thatís worth less than what theyíre paying for it. This process also protects you as a buyer from buying a property thatís worth less than what youíre expecting it to be worth. 


Although the appraisal makes sense financially, it doesnít mean that the process wonít be emotional for you as a buyer and for the sellers as well. The appraisal can in fact make or break the purchase of what you consider as your dream home. Thereís a lot of data thatís collected for the appraisal, which can cause nerves to be shot on both sides while the value of the home is being calculated.     


Whatís The Difference Between The Inspection And The Appraisal?


A home appraisal is much different than an inspection. The home inspection is important in its own right. As a buyer, you hire a home inspector to find any potential problems or hazards that could be big issues for you in the future as a homeowner. While property appraisers will make note of glaring issues, they wonít check out the nuts and bolts of the home like a home inspector will. The home inspector checks out everything from the air quality to the chimney to the toilet and sinks. Thereís many things that will affect your home appraisal. In other words, if youíre a seller, you want to get major issues fixed before you put your home on the market. Home inspections will be very important for different reasons to you as a buyer since it will be valuable to you in the future. Appraisers may request an inspection if they notice something serious within the home, but they are more interested in the value of the property than the direct problems that are within the home. 


Who Will Pay For The Appraisal?


Generally, the seller will pay for the home appraisal along with the closing costs. This can be a few hundred dollars. In certain circumstances the buyer may agree to pay for the appraisal, however.   


What Goes Into Calculating The Worth Of A House?


Appraisers look at many different factors including: 

  • The square footage of the property
  • The number of bedrooms
  • How many bathrooms the home has
  • The condition of the home
  • How much have comparable properties have sold for in the area
  • Safety issues
  • Other factors pertaining to health and safety            


The appraisal process can seem complicated, but once youíre educated on the matter, youíll be prepared when it gets to that point in the home buying process.





Posted by JoAnn M. Drabble on 3/13/2018

When you buy a home, you may wonder what the benefits of having your own realtor to represent you are. If youíre a first-time homebuyer, you probably will have a lot of questions. If youíre a second-time homebuyer you may still have a lot of questions! Buying a home can be a long, tedious process. Itís very helpful to know that you have a knowledgable realtor by your side to represent you and help you through the home buying process. If youíre looking to buy a home in a tough market, hiring your own realtor to represent you as a buyer is especially important. 


First, you should consider interviewing some prospective buyers agents in your area. Maybe you can get recommendations from friends and family as well. Learn what you can expect from a top realtor who will represent you as a buyer. 


Honesty Is The Best Policy


Your agent should be completely honest with you. While they canít tell you what you personally want in a home, they should give you every last disclosure. No agent should put a home value or their own commission above their clients. This means that thereís strict documentation that realtors must follow including a code of ethics and standards for practice. A realtor must uphold these promises.  


Judging honesty in a realtor can be difficult. An honest real estate agent will help you through the home search process, for example. This is a good place to start. If the realtor points out some of the potential issues that you may have as a buyer in a home, you can see that honesty is one of their main policies.


Good Communicator


A realtor should be in frequent communication with you. Even if your home search isnít active, they will check in, and see where youíre at in the process and if your needs have changed. 

Your realtor should alert you if offers have been made on properties that youíre interested in as well. Your buyerís agent should reply to texts, e-mails, or calls within a short time frame of receiving them. Having a realtor thatís on top of things for you is important when it comes to buying a home since, without their help and information, the perfect home could slip through the cracks for you.                  


Knowledge Of Rules, Regulations, And Best Practices


Your buyerís agent should have extensive knowledge of the real estate rules and regulations that are within your state. Each state has different practices when it comes to buying a home. Hiring a buyerís agent is especially helpful if you are unfamiliar with a state or city. Your agent will be well-informed on all of your responsibilities as a buyer, as well as how and when you should complete these tasks and signings throughout the entire home buying process.





Posted by JoAnn M. Drabble on 2/27/2018

When it comes to buying a house, it usually pays to be flexible. Because if you take a flexible approach to the real estate market, you'll be open to checking out dozens of residences and can improve your chances of finding a house that matches or exceeds your expectations.

Although flexibility can play an important role in a successful homebuying journey, buyers sometimes struggle with stubbornness. Fortunately, we're here to help you become a flexible homebuyer who can achieve the best-possible results throughout the homebuying journey.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you become a flexible homebuyer.

1. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage

The real estate market constantly fluctuates, and a sector that favors buyers one day may favor sellers the next. However, if you get pre-approved for a mortgage, you can pounce at the opportunity to acquire your dream residence, regardless of when that opportunity presents itself.

Getting pre-approved for a mortgage may prove to be a quick, seamless process. Typically, you'll want to meet with local banks and credit unions and learn about a wide range of mortgage options. Once you have mortgage information, you can select a mortgage that corresponds to your finances.

Remember, pre-approval for a mortgage opens the door for a successful homebuying experience. It can help you establish a budget for your dream home by providing you with a set amount that you can spend on a residence. As a result, after you find an ideal house that falls within your price range, you'll have the flexibility to move quickly to acquire this residence.

2. Consider Houses in a Variety of Cities and Towns

Evaluate your homebuying goals Ė you'll be glad you did. If you understand where you want to live, you can explore houses in a variety of cities and towns that fit your criteria.

For example, if you want to live near family members or friends in a particular area, you can narrow your home search accordingly. Keep in mind that you don't necessarily have to live in the same city or town as these loved ones. Instead, you can search for houses in assorted cities and towns near your loved ones and ensure you're never too far away from them.

On the other hand, if you want to buy a home that is close to your office in the city, it may be worthwhile to consider houses both inside and outside the city itself. City living generally is more expensive than living in the suburbs, so you'll want to assess your finances closely before you buy a city house. Or, if you prefer small town living, you can always purchase a more affordable residence outside the city and take public transportation to work.

3. Collaborate with a Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent is happy to help you become a flexible homebuyer. In fact, this housing market professional will offer expert guidance during the homebuying journey. By doing so, a real estate agent will help you evaluate many houses and ensure that you can find one that suits you perfectly.

Ready to pursue your dream house? Consider the aforementioned tips, and you can enter the real estate market as a flexible homebuyer.




Categories: Buying a Home   buying tips  


Posted by JoAnn M. Drabble on 1/31/2018

1. Buy for the long run. Assume youíll own your home for at least five years.

A home is a significant investment, not to mention a linchpin of stability. According to the Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report 2017, the majority of Americans who sold their homes last year had lived in their home for at least a decade before selling.

Some are even staying for the long haul. Almost half (46 percent) of all homeowners are like me ó living in the first home we ever purchased. In short: Buy a home you want to live in ó one equipped (or ready to be equipped) with the features and space you need, both now and in the future.

2. Buy to improve your life, not to speculate with your money.

Your home is more than a financial investment; itís where you sleep, eat, host friends, raise your children ó itís where your life happens.

The housing market is too unpredictable to buy a (primary) home purely because you think it will net a big short-term financial return. You will most likely be living in this home for several years, regardless of how it appreciates, so your first priority should be finding a home that will meet your needs and help you build the life you want.

3. Focus on whatís important to you. Donít be distracted by features you donít need.

Todayís housing market is short on inventory, with 10 percent fewer homes on the market in November 2017 than November 2016.

So, focus on finding a home you can afford that meets your needs ó but donít get distracted by shiny features that might break your budget. Nice-to-have features often drive up the price tag for things you donít particularly value once the initial enjoyment wears off.

Make a list of your basic needs, both for your desired home and for your desired neighborhood. Stick to finding a home that meets these needs, without buying extra stuff that adds up.

4. Determine a budget and stick to it. Donít look at houses above that budget.

Itís important to set a budget early ó ideally before you even start looking at homes. In todayís market, especially in the more competitive markets, itís incredibly easy to go over budget ó 29 percent of buyers who purchased last year did.

The most common culprit? Location. Zillowís data indicates that urban buyers are significantly more likely to go over budget (42 percent) than suburban (25 percent) or rural (20 percent) buyers.

Thereís nothing inherently wrong with that. Local schools matter, and psychologists tell us that a short commute improves your life. But be realistic about your local market and about yourself. Know what youíre willing to compromise on ó be it less square footage, home repairs or a different neighborhood.

5. A 20 percent down payment is ideal. If you canít afford that, consider a smaller down payment, or lower your budget.

If you can afford it, a 20 percent down payment is ideal for three reasons:

  • Buyers who donít put a full 20 percent down pay a premium, most commonly in the form of private mortgage insurance (PMI). This is less financially punishing than it used to be, given todayís low mortgage rates. A monthly mortgage payment (with PMI) may be lower than a monthly rental payment in many markets ó but still.
  • Buyers who put more down upfront typically make fewer offers and buy faster than those who put less down. Zillow research found that buyers with higher down payments make 1.9 offers on average, compared to 2.4 offers for buyers with lower down payments (after controlling for market conditions).
  • A higher down payment reduces your financial risk. You donít want to owe more money than your house is worth if local markets dip when you need to sell.

6. Keep a six-month strategic reserve after down payment. Stuff happens.

While a down payment is a significant expense, itís also important to build up a strategic reserve and keep it separate from your normal bank account.

This reserve should cover six months of living expenses in case you get sick, face an unexpected expense or lose your job. A strategic reserve will not only save you from financial hardship in the event of an emergency but also provide peace of mind.

When we accumulated a strategic reserve, my wife and I finally felt ready to build for our future. Without it, we were living from paycheck to paycheck, anxiously managing our cash flow rather than saving or budgeting.

7. Get pre-approved, and if you want to avoid uncertainty down the road, stick with a boring 30- or 15-year fixed-rate mortgage.

The pre-approval process requires organizing all your paperwork; documenting your income, debt and credit; and understanding all the loan options available to you. Itís a bit of a pain, but it saves time later. Pre-approval also shows sellers that youíre a reliable buyer with a strong financial footing. Most importantly, it helps you understand what you can afford.

There are a variety of mortgage types, and itís important to evaluate all of them to see which is best for your family and financial situation. Those boring 30- and 15-year mortgages offer big advantages.

The biggest is locking in your mortgage rate. In short: A 30-year fixed mortgage has a specific fixed rate of interest that doesnít change for 30 years. A 15-year fixed mortgage does the same.

These typically have lower rates but higher monthly payments, since you must pay it off in half the time. Conventional fixed-rate mortgages help you manage your household budgeting because you know precisely how much youíll be paying every month for many years. Theyíre simple to understand, and current rates are low.

One final advantage is that they donít tempt you with a low initial payment to buy more house than you can afford.

8. Comparison shop to get the best mortgage.

Though a home is the biggest purchase many of us will ever make, most home buyers donít shop around for a mortgage (52 percent consider only a single lender).

I certainly didnít. This did save me some annoying phone calls and hassle, but it cost me $40 or $50 every month, for years. The difference of half a percentage point in your mortgage rate can add up to thousands of dollars over the lifetime of the loan. Itís important to evaluate all the available options to make sure youíre going with the lender who meets your needs ó not just the first one you contact.

The three most important factors to buyers are that the lender offers a loan program that caters to their specific needs (76 percent), has the most competitive rates (74 percent) and has a history of closing on time (63 percent).

9. Spend no more than a third of your after-tax income on housing (unless you live in an especially pricey market).

Itís better to regret spending too little on your home than spending too much. One-third of your after-tax income is a manageable amount. This isnít always possible if you live in a place like San Francisco or New York, but itís still a good yardstick for where to be.

10. When getting ready to buy, always be willing to walk away.

Buying a home is a time-consuming, stressful but ultimately rewarding endeavor ó if you end up closing on a home that meets your needs. But itís important to manage your expectations in case you donít immediately find a home you can afford with the features you need.

Always be prepared to walk away if the sellers donít accept your offer, the home doesnít pass a rigorous inspection or the timing isnít right. Hold fast to your list of must-haves, stick to what you can afford and donít overreach or settle.

Itís no tragedy to miss out on any particular house. Remember that youíre playing the long game. You want to be happy 10 years from now.







JoAnn M. Drabble