Homeownership is a lifestyle choice. Therefore, choosing homeownership isn’t a decision made overnight. The decision often takes careful planning for how the purchase of a home will fit into your life now and in the future. Additionally, the decision will take financial planning for how to pay for the home of your dreams. How will you know if you are ready? Follow along as we explain the fundamentals of preparing for homeownership so that you know when the time is right for you.
When renting, you usually don’t have to worry about maintaining the property, making repairs, or remodeling the home. Are you ready to take on those responsibilities as a homeowner? If so, are you ready to be tied down to one place? Renting offers a bit of flexibility because leases are renewed on a regular basis allowing you ease of relocation. As a homeowner you’ll need to spend time and money selling or renting out your home before relocating.
As a renter you never gain any long term savings in the form of home equity. As a homeowner, the longer you are in the home the more equity you can expect to gain. You can get a better idea of why by the explanation in our article, Is It Better to Buy a Home or to Rent One?.
A couple of good questions to ask yourself if you are considering becoming a homeowner are:
If you needed to move in a couple years, would you feel comfortable renting out your home or selling it?
Could it potentially bring in a cash flow?
As a homeowner you are ultimately responsible for paying the mortgage. Are you financially stable enough to not default on your loan?
Most importantly, becoming a homeowner means putting down roots. Are you and your household emotionally ready to make that change and commitment?
If you answered yes to the above questions, you are on your way to homeownership. Let’s dig a little deeper to see if you are financially ready to take the leap:
Do you know how much home you can afford?
There are a lot of factors that play into knowing how much home you can afford. Of course, there is the price of the home, but you must also consider interest rates as they play a significant role in your monthly mortgage payment. For a good demonstration of the effect of interest rates on your monthly mortgage payments check out this article, Rising Mortgage Rates. Furthermore, what many first-time home buyers forget to consider in addition to the down payment and monthly mortgage payments are closing costs, moving expenses, inspection fees, property taxes, and homeowners’ insurance just to name a few. A great agent will connect you with a lender that will walk you through how these will affect your payment and if they pertain to your loan. Don’t have an agent? Connect with us here to get paired with the perfect agent for you. Identifying how much you can afford is not a task to do alone. You must connect with a lender. They will look at your financial position and get you pre-approved for a home.
Are you working to reduce your debt-to-income ratio?
Lenders know that it is not realistic to have no debt. Therefore, lenders are looking to see that you are making progress towards paying down your debt. Demonstrate your plan to get your debt paid off. Your lender can help you determine the best course of action so connect with them sooner rather than later.
Are you prepared for a downpayment?
Lenders recognize 20% down payments as a demonstration of financial stability. 20% down payments decrease the initial risk to the lender and benefits the buyer by not having to pay PMI when they put 20% down. You can read more about those benefits here. However, we know not everyone can afford 20% down, but everyone needs a place to live. Therefore, there are different programs and flexible options that make owning a home attainable even when you do not have funds for a 20% down payment. It is important to talk to your lender to determine which fits your unique needs.
Maybe you already got a pre-approval letter, but you aren’t satisfied with the limits. You have several options. Provide your agent and lender with a clear expectation of your wants and needs. If you aren’t exactly sure what you want, try reading 6 Reasons to Attend Open Houses to solidify your desires. You can use this form to help identify your wants and needs to share with your agent and lender. Once you have a clear list your lender can help create a financial plan to reach your desired goal. Your agent can simultaneously watch the market for homes meeting your criteria and help you understand the dynamics of the local market. Knowing the market can help you understand your purchasing power. Your agent can help you understand the difference between a buyers’ and sellers’ market and help you understand what to expect and how to leverage the market to your advantage.
If you are ready to buy or still unsure, you should begin talking to an agent. If you don’t already have an agent, you are in luck! We have incredible agents and connections with lenders who can guide you through your unique situation and help you know when you are ready to purchase a home. Connect with us here.
When it comes to buying a home, choosing the right lender is an important decision that can have a significant impact on your home buying experience. While it’s possible to work with a lender from anywhere, working with a reputable local lender in the area you are purchasing provides many benefits that make the process smoother and more enjoyable. In this article, we will share five reasons why you should consider using a reputable local lender for your next home purchase.
5 Reasons to Use a Reputable Local Lender:
1. Personal Connection:
A local lender provides the opportunity to have a face to face conversation and build a personal relationship, which can be especially helpful when dealing with complex issues. How much better is it to have the ability to sit down face to face with someone and discuss, ask questions, smile and laugh with or even cry if necessary? It is so much better than trying to solely do things over the phone or email with someone hundreds of miles away. When the going gets tough, you (or your trusted real estate broker) can go directly to the office and discuss the issues in person to figure it out rather than be put on hold.
2. Knowledge of the Market:
A local lender is more likely to have a deep understanding of the local real estate market, including contractors, permit requirements, and more. It is not unheard of to have a local lender provide contact details for a roofer that can get the fix done in time for closing or the local Labor and Industries permit guy who can solve the problem faster than driving an hour to the nearest office. Reputable local lenders understand when there is delay due to septic repairs or how to get the water quality test results ASAP.
Local lenders have a reputation to uphold in their community, which can provide added accountability and ensure a higher level of service. When you run into your clients in the grocery store or watch their kids play on the same soccer team you naturally put a little more into making sure your service is impeccable. Anonymity creates distance and reduces accountability.
4. Strong Relationships with Escrow Teams:
Good relationships with local escrow teams can lead to smoother and more efficient transactions. Often the most stressful point of the transaction is right at the very end as the final underwriter is reviewing the file and potentially finding issues that need more documentation. This can lead to delays in critical milestones that need to be met to close on time. Getting the necessary documents from the lender to escrow on time can be the difference in closing as expected or experiencing costly delays and even the possibility of losing the home. You can use a lender from almost anywhere, but the escrow team is nearly always local to the property being purchased. When lenders are well known and respected by the local escrow offices you can expect excellent communication and problem solving between them. This will make overcoming obstacles to closing on time more likely.
5. Competitive Terms:
Local lenders often offer competitive terms and rates, making them a cost-effective option. When comparing lenders, be sure to compare all the terms and costs of the loan, not simply the advertised interest rate. When you do, you’ll often find the local lender has lower overall costs than national corporate lenders.
In conclusion, using a reputable local lender provides a range of benefits that make the home buying process more enjoyable and efficient. From the personal connection to the knowledge of the local market and their reputation to uphold, there are many reasons to consider using a local lender for your next home purchase. So why not choose a lender who is well-known and highly regarded in your local real estate community? Contact us today to be put in touch with a great lender on Whidbey Island!
When you purchase a home, you receive a deed to the property which typically means you have full ownership. Unfortunately, sometimes mistakes happen where hidden inaccuracies in previous deeds, mortgages, and easements might leave someone else with a claim to your property. Title insurance is a type of insurance policy designed to protect property owners from financial loss due to title defects, liens, or other issues with a property’s title. Title insurance provides peace of mind to homeowners and lenders alike, ensuring that their investment in the property is secure. In this blog, we will look at who is covered by title insurance and what risks are covered.
Who is Covered by Title Insurance?
Title insurance typically covers both the property owner and the lender. The policies can be separate policies so always check with your insurer regarding who and what is covered. The policy holder can be either an individual or a corporation, and the insurance covers their financial interest in the property. For homeowners, title insurance provides protection against any challenges to their ownership of the property, such as disputes over ownership, missing heirs, forgeries, or encumbrances that were not disclosed during the sale. For lenders, title insurance protects their investment in the property and ensures that their loan is secured by a valid title.
What Risks are Covered by Title Insurance?
Title insurance covers a wide range of risks, including but not limited to:
- Title defects: This refers to any challenges to the property’s title, such as disputes over ownership, missing heirs, forgeries, or encumbrances that were not disclosed during the sale. Title insurance protects the policy holder against these title defects and provides the necessary financial support to resolve any issues.
- Liens: Liens refer to claims or encumbrances against a property, such as mortgage loans, taxes owed, or judgements against the property owner. Title insurance provides coverage against any liens that exist and protects the policy holder’s financial interest in the property.
- Fraud: Fraudulent activities such as forgeries or false impersonation can pose a threat to a property’s title. Title insurance provides protection against any fraudulent activities that may affect the property’s title.
In conclusion, title insurance is an important investment for property owners and lenders. It provides peace of mind by ensuring that the property’s title is secure and that any issues with the title can be resolved without incurring significant financial losses. Whether you are a homeowner or a lender, title insurance is an investment worth considering.
If you are preparing to purchase a home and need help connecting with a lender or would like help answering your questions while preparing to buy please don’t hesitate to give us a call at 360.675.5953.
Mynd recently released their 2022 Consumer Insights Report that demonstrates how millennials and Gen Z’s have taken a different approach to developing wealth than previous generations.
For example, while 9% of Baby Boomers are contemplating the idea of investing in rental properties over 43% of Millennials and Gen Zs are choosing to remain in their current living environments and invest in rental properties elsewhere to build their wealth.
BUT IS IT WORKING?
This strategy is becoming increasingly popular. It allows the investor to remain living without disruption to their lifestyle in a place they may not be able to afford to purchase a home of their own. Instead of uprooting their lives and relocating elsewhere to attain the dream of homeownership the investor achieves homeownership by purchasing a home in a more affordable location with the intention of renting it out.
With no disruption to their life, they become a homeowner and investors at the same time. Their purchase not only creates monthly passive income for their pocketbooks but also builds equity over time – ultimately increasing their overall net worth.
They can later choose to continue to rent out the home, sell for an increased price, or move into the home if or when they want or need to.
READY TO EXPLORE THIS APPROACH?
If you would like to explore this idea further connect with us so we can help you build your wealth through real estate.
If you read our, “How Long Does it Take to Save For a Down Payment?” article back in October, you know you don’t need a 20% downpayment to purchase a home because there are many alternative options available to you. However, while there are a plethora of options that you might qualify for, let’s look deeper into how putting 20% down could benefit you overall. You can find tried and true suggestions for saving up your downpayment here if you don’t have 20% saved up already. Keep in mind you can connect with us at any time to get personalized suggestions for what would work best for you in your unique situation.
In this article we are going to discuss how putting 20% down can help you get a lower interest rate, pay less overall, stand out in this competitive market, and avoid paying for PMI. Let’s get started.
Lower your interest rate:
A 20% down payment vs. a 3-5% down payment demonstrates to your lender that you are financially stable and not a large credit risk. The more confident your lender is in your credit score and your ability to pay your loan, the lower the mortgage interest rate will likely be.
Pay less overall:
The larger your down payment, the smaller your loan amount will be for your mortgage. If you are able to pay 20% of the cost of your new home at the start of the transaction, you will only pay interest on the remaining 80% of the cost of the home. If you put down 3.5 %, the additional 16.5% will be added to your loan and will accrue interest over time. This will end up costing you significantly more over the lifetime of your home loan.
Stand out in this competitive market:
In a market where many buyers are competing for the same home, sellers often like to see offers come in with 20% or larger down payments. Many buyers were hoping for the typical winter “slow-down” where they could see a less competitive market but that has proven not to be the case this year. Read more in our article, “Thinking the Housing Market is Going to Slow down this Winter? Think Again!” The seller in this current scenario gains the same confidence as the lender. You are seen as a stronger buyer with financing that is more likely to be approved. Therefore, there is a significantly higher chance that the deal will go through with a 20% downpayment.
Avoid paying for PMI:
You might be asking yourself, what is PMI? Freddie Mac explains,
“For homeowners who put less than 20% down, Private Mortgage Insurance or PMI is an added insurance policy for homeowners that protects the lender if you are unable to pay your mortgage.
It is not the same thing as homeowner’s insurance. It’s a monthly fee, rolled into your mortgage payment, that’s required if you make a down payment less than 20%. . . . Once you’ve built equity of 20% in your home, you can cancel your PMI and remove that expense from your monthly payment.”
As mentioned earlier, if you put down less than 20% when buying a home, your lender will see your loan as having more risk than those who do put 20% down. PMI helps lenders recover their investment in you in the case that you are unable to pay your loan. However, this insurance is not required if you are able to put down 20% or more. In turn, this saves you from paying those extra fees.
Oftentimes, sellers looking to move to a larger or more expensive home are able to take the equity they earn from the sale of their house to put 20% down on their next home. The equity homeowners have today, creates an advantageous opportunity to put those savings toward a larger down payment on a new home.
If you are considering buying or selling or just want to talk about this in more detail, connect with us. We are here to help.
Buying property suitable for horses is no small task. It is certainly not the typical home buying experience. There is so much to consider from what kind of property best meets the needs of your horses to what kind of home will best meet your wants and needs. Speaking from experience, the horses’ needs are typically the priority.
Working with an experienced Equestrian Advisor/Realtor will also help ensure your home search and purchase go as smoothly as possible. You can find one here.
The Property has Acreage: Is it Suitable for Horses?
Any Equestrian Advisor/Realtor will be the first to tell you that, just because a property has plentiful acreage does not mean it will be a suitable property for your horses. The best property will be flat to gently sloped with good drainage, open areas with grass for grazing, with few trees, and wet areas. Horses weigh 1000 to 1500 pounds on average, which puts a lot of weight on the ground. Therefore, horses can do a lot of damage in a short amount of time.
The priority is finding an Equestrian Property with useable land – meaning not acres of unusable gullies, steep edges, or too many bodies of water. More land doesn’t necessarily mean it is better, the useability is the priority.
Housing horses and livestock on your property can be done with ease with a few convenient amenities. It is important to consider these amenities as they add value to the Equestrian Property:
- Barn – Does it have an adequate number of stalls for your needs and the right size for your type of horse? Horse stalls can measure from 10 x 10 to 12 x 12 or even larger. Does it have the capability to increase the size of the stall to make foaling stalls? Are the stalls matted? Are there runouts (sacrifice paddocks) off the stalls?
- Hay Storage – What style is the barn? If it is a Monitor style barn, does it have a hayloft? How much hay can be stored in the hayloft? If there is no hayloft, is there adequate storage for hay elsewhere?
- Tack Room – Does the barn have a tack room? If so, is it insulated? It is important to be able to store tack, brushes, and other items in the tack room without them getting damp and moldy.
- Tack Area and/or Wash Bay – While one can do without this amenity it sure is a bonus to have it.
- Quality and Safe Fencing – Fencing can be quite costly (please watch for our future blog on fencing). It adds a lot of value to an Equestrian Property to have good quality and safe fencing. Equally important is how well it is laid out on the property. Is the property fenced and cross-fenced?
- Arena (Indoor and/or Outdoor) or Training Round Pen with good footing – It is a huge bonus to find a property with an arena, especially an indoor arena. Indoor arenas are getting increasingly more difficult to get approval to build and depending on the size can cost well over $100,000 to build. Outdoor arenas are great but have their challenges. It becomes difficult to manage the footing due to weather. Footing in the arena is something to really consider. Each discipline has its own preferences for footing type and depth. But any equestrian will agree that poor footing can cost you a lot – cause lameness in your horses resulting in expensive vet bills and not to mention the time to rehabilitate the horse from injury.
- Water source and location of water on the property. Are there ample spigots to the pastures/paddocks and arena?
- Electricity – Does the barn have electricity running to it?
Transitioning to an Equestrian Lifestyle is a big adjustment. Make sure you are taking your daily routine into consideration when looking at properties. Consider the layout of the Equestrian Property. Does it seem that your daily routine will be seamless i.e., bringing horses in and out from pasture/paddocks to the barn? Are there turnouts off the barn that make it easier on your daily routine? Where is the manure kept? Ultimately, as an Equestrian, you want to be able to leave your property and know that your horses will be safe and sound while you are away.
Barn(s) and Outbuildings Should be Inspected Too:
You have found your Equestrian Property. It will cost you extra, but it is important to have your inspector inspect the Barn(s) as well as the Outbuildings. Your horses are part of your family, and you want to make sure that they will be safe in their surroundings. It is important to have a professional evaluate the Barn and Outbuildings for structural issues, electrical issues, or other potential problems.
Do not assume that the property is an approved horse property just because the owners or prior owners have had horses on the property in the past. Part of the Inspection process will be to do a little research with local city, county, and/or HOA regulations for agriculture and livestock. Do not let this lack of research cut into your dreams of owning an Equestrian Property.
Let us help you make your dreams of owning an Equestrian Property a reality:
To be honest this is all just the tip of the iceberg when searching for an Equestrian Property. It helps to have someone working for you that has done this before. Let’s get you connected. It would be an honor to help you make your dreams a reality.
Saving enough money for a down payment on your first home can be one of the biggest obstacles to homeownership. Depending on your circumstance you might need anywhere from 3% – 20%. Speaking with a reputable local lender will help you find out exactly what your percentage will be.
But how long should it take, you ask!?
Follow along as we estimate the amount of time it takes a person earning a median income and paying a median rent to save up for a down payment on a median-priced home.
To accomplish this task we use the concept that homeowners should pay no more than 28% of their total monthly income on housing expenses. We use this information in combination with data from the U.S. Department of Housing, Urban Development (HUD), and Apartment List to determine our estimation.
According to the data pulled, the national average for the time it would take to save for a 10% down payment is roughly two and a half years (2.53). Looking at the diagram below you can also see that those living in Iowa can save for a down payment in as little as 1.31 years while those in California could take 17.56 years. The map below can help you determine the amount of time (in years) it can take for you to save in your state:
What if you only need to have a 3% down payment?
It is a common misconception that you need to have a 20% down payment to buy a home.
The reality is there are reasonable alternative options out there. First-time home buyers have an advantage with a plethora of down payment assistance programs available to them. You just have to find the right lender and ask. Need help finding a lender? Ask us to connect you with one here.
What if you qualify to take advantage of one of the 3% down payment programs?
If you qualify for a 3% down payment program, then you only have to come up with 3% of the total cost of the home at closing instead of ten or the typical 20% we have seen required in the past. Saving for a 3% down payment might not take you very long. In fact, it could take less than a year in most states, as shown in this map here:
At the end of the day
Wherever you are in the process of saving for a down payment, you may be closer to your dream home than you think. Connect with us to explore the options available to you in our area and how they support your plans for buying a home.