Gardner ReportHomeReal EstateStats February 3, 2022

The Gardner Report: Q4 2021

HomeReal Estate July 5, 2021

Set Yourself up for Success by Doing These 7 Things When Buying Your First Home

Buying your first home can be easy when you are adequately prepared and you have a good agent on your side. But where to start and what actions are most important? We will get you pointed in the right direction. Let’s get started!

  1. Know your credit score.

Many first-time homebuyers fail to recognize that one of the most important factors in getting approved for a mortgage is their credit score. The health of the score determines not only the interest rate but also whether they will be approved for a mortgage in the first place. Some people wonder why the interest rate really matters. The truth is that the slightest difference in rate can mean big money over 30 years! As the chart below demonstrates,  a lower interest rate helps buyers afford a higher-priced house and still pay less monthly. Check out this article to learn more about Credit score rankings and what they mean. 

Buyers Power, Interest Rates, First time Home Buyer, Renter, Set Yourself up for Success by Doing These 7 Things When Buying Your First Home

  1. Set a clear budget and stick with it.

Another big mistake first-time homebuyers make is not budgeting realistically and then finding out they cannot really afford the house they chose. A great way to get an idea of how much you should realistically spend on a mortgage is to determine your debt-to-income ratio. This number can be calculated by adding all your monthly debt payments (mortgage, credit card bill, car payment, etc.) together and then dividing by the gross monthly income. A conservative percentage of your income spent paying down debt would be 20-25%, a medium would be 25-30%, and a high would be 30-38% (or higher when using gross income vs. net).

Click here to use a prequalification calculator that can help you determine your debt-to-income ratio while offering an idea of what you might qualify for. 

  1. Remember there are other fees other than the mortgage payment.

Homeownership comes with fees and other bills that you may not have as a renter. In addition to principal and interest on the mortgage payment, there will be real estate taxes and homeowner’s insurance. Check to see if the home is part of a homeowner’s association as there may be annual or monthly dues for that (a great agent will let you know about this). These fees typically show up as part of the mortgage payment. However, what is often forgotten or inaccurately calculated is the utility bills like water, sewage (or septic inspections/pumping), garbage, and energy bills. Furthermore, unlike renting if a pipe breaks or roof leaks there is no maintenance man that just shows up to repair it. Remember to budget for the maintenance of the home. This includes mowing the lawn… do you have a lawnmower yet?

  1. Leave a cushion.

As discussed, buying a home has a lot of upfront costs. A bank account that seemingly had a plethora of cash can quickly be drained after the down payment, closing costs, moving expenses, and furnishing a new home. Having a healthy emergency fund is so critical as a homeowner.

Check out this helpful article by Dave Ramsey. 

Set Yourself up for Success by Doing These 7 Things When Buying Your First Home

  1. Once steps 1-3 are completed get pre-approved.

Don’t just meet with any lender, be sure to find a highly reputable local lender that the top listing brokers recommend (this will give you a competitive advantage). Not only does the pre-approval give buyers a realistic idea of how much they can borrow, but it can also be the defining factor of whether or not they get the home. Let us explain. A pre-approval speeds up the process and demonstrates the person is a serious buyer, not just a lookie-loo. When it comes down to multiple offer situations, as we see so frequently now, it is critical to have the most well-presented offer. Showing the seller that you are not only serious but that you have been pre-approved for the funds needed to buy with a lender they respect sends a strong message that you are the one the seller should choose! Check out our local lenders here. 

Set Yourself up for Success by Doing These 7 Things When Buying Your First Home

  1. Ask questions about your options!

Not everyone’s situation is the same. Similarly, loans are uniquely created to fit individual needs. Historically, it has been thought that buyers need to come to the table with at least a 25% down payment. Today that is just not true. While it is always good to have money for your mortgage down payment, there can be alternative options if you don’t. VA mortgages can be secured for 0% down and conventional mortgages for as little as 3%. Check out these different mortgage types meant to uniquely fit your life. 

Set Yourself up for Success by Doing These 7 Things When Buying Your First Home

  1. Hold off on any spending spree and do not take out a line of credit.

Remember that “debt-to-income ratio” mentioned above?  Your mortgage approval is linked heavily to this number. This is not the time to go out and buy a new sportscar, purchases new appliances, and or upgrade your electronics. Borrowing money after getting pre-approved increases the debt-to-income ratio, and this will be re-checked just prior to the loan being approved. Applying for a new loan or credit card will also likely decrease your credit score. If either of these things happen prior to closing it could mean losing the mortgage and the interest rate you locked in. So, hold off on spending or even giving out your social security number to anyone!

We hope this helps point you in the right direction. We would love to be your guide as you prepare and navigate the path to homeownership! Call us today and we can connect you with an expert Buyers Broker! 360.675.5953.

If you enjoyed this you might also like: 

5 Most Affordable Neighborhoods Near Oak Harbor & NAS Whidbey

 

PlacesUncategorized June 10, 2019

Blonde Lawns on Whidbey Island

Blonde Lawns on Whidbey Island

Hello Summer! Can you believe it’s here? That beautiful time of year filled with beach walks, swimming lessons, trips to Kapaws Iskreme and so much more! Here on Whidbey we have countless summer traditions we treasure greatly. From our Old Fashioned 4th of July Celebration to the Whidbey Island Fair, there is so much to cherish about this time of year. One tradition you may be unaware of is actually more of a movement.

Blonde Lawns.

Through the course of the summer months you can watch the emerald grass of this evergreen island fade to a sandy shade. Before you know it, this rock will be rocking a brand new blonde look.

What’s with the lack luster lawns? Well, it all has to do with conservation.

It’s no surprise to anyone that Whidbey tends to be a rather environmentally conscious. We love taking the extra step to ensure the beauty and resources we enjoy today will be around for tomorrow. One of those resources we care deeply about are our aquifers.

Aquifers:

Aquifers is the scientific term for ground water. Deep below the grass you walk on are pockets of “permeable” soil which store water that can then be tapped into for use. Annually these aquifers are recharged by the rain that falls to the ground.

According to Island County, Whidbey Island’s sole source of potable water comes from the ground.1 Sounds great, right? I mean, it’s Washington and it rains here. We should be good.Whidbey Island

Unfortunately, not all is good in the aquifer hood.

According to a report released by the Washington State Department of Ecology, “increasing demands for water from ongoing population growth, declining stream flows and groundwater levels… have put Washington’s water supplies at risk.” Whidbey is by no means immune to this water depletion; in fact, seawater intrusion and our lack of rain fall in comparison to the rest of Western Washington puts us in a pretty tight spot.

So, what does this have to do with the blonde lawns of Whidbey (I think you can guess).

The summer months, when there is little rain, poses a particularly difficult dilemma for island aquifers. Between keeping ourselves hydrated in the summer sun, watering plants, animals, and filling the pool in the backyard we use A LOT of water.

This increase of use and lack of resource hits hard on our aquifers and our wallets! Many newcomers to Whidbey are shocked when that first summer water bill comes in. The rules of supply and demand are no strangers to Whidbey Island water.

So how can we save our aquifers (and our wallets)? By going blonde!

Grass is far more durable than people sometimes realize. More times than not the golden grass that takes over Whidbey in the summer will be green again by next spring. Blonde lawns DON’T mean dead grass.

So, save yourself time, money, hassle and save our precious resources. Let your lawn go blonde!

 

Resources:

You might also like:

Geo Caching, Whidbey Island, Discover, outdoors, Things to do on whidbey, Oak Harbor, Coupeville, Freeland, Langley

GeoCaching on Whidbey Island