Tips from a first time homebuyer
Jun19

Tips from a first time homebuyer

Buying a home for the very first time is meant to be an exciting and life-changing venture. However with all the finances to sort, papers to sign and contractors to call, this part of life can become stressful and overwhelming. My husband, Dusty, and I recently took the step of becoming first time homebuyers and have lived in our dream home for one month now. Keep reading for our tips on how to make a smooth transition from tenant to owner. How to know you’re ready Everyone knows buying a home is a big decision and requires plenty of preparation, but looks different for each person. We knew we were ready to buy when it made sense with our finances and our lifestyle. Renting a 900 sq. ft. house worked out perfectly for us for two years but eventually we started to out grow the space and became eager to invest in a home of our own. Where to start If you haven’t already, take a look at those finances. Spending a Friday evening creating a budgeting spreadsheet may not sound like the most exhilarating project in the world, but believe me this step is so important. Here are some good questions to ask yourself when creating a budget: What are my expenses? How much do I spend on meals and entertainment? How much can I comfortably save? This article from LFW’s first time homebuyers series is a great resource that simplifies financial preparation before buying a home. Once you have an understanding of where you stand financially, it is time to take it to the bank. There are lots of options for mortgage lenders so it may be beneficial to do a little research before you choose. We went with Star Financial and were perfectly happy with the whole process. They even let us do everything online and we never even met with our lender until closing. Your lender will talk you through the pre-approval process and help you decide how much house you can afford. Remember, this number is different for everyone so refer back to the budget you made to help guide you. After you are pre-approved comes the fun part… HOUSE HUNTING! There is no shortage of real estate agents in northeast Indiana, in fact if you have already browsed Zillow or Realtor.com it is likely some agents have reached out to you at this point. Check out this article on finding the perfect home with a realtor. Our agent, Neal Stangland with Orizon, went completely above and beyond to help us find our dream home. Neal answered all of our questions without making us...

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Finding the Perfect Home with a Realtor
Feb24

Finding the Perfect Home with a Realtor

If you’ve been following along with the First-Time Homebuyer Series, you have now heard from a financial advisor and a mortgage specialist. Now, that you have your financing ready, it is time to find a realtor! 1. The first thing I always tell clients whether they are buying their first home or their tenth home, is to always ask a professional. It never hurts to ask around to friends, family members and check reviews online to make sure the person or team you are working with is working in your best interest. A good real estate professional will advise you throughout the process, take a step by step approach, point out the good and the bad and negotiate the best deal for you. Make sure to find a trusted real estate professional with the heart of a teacher, not the heart of a salesman. Some realtors are only looking for a transaction and others are looking to build a relationship. Keep in mind, for you the buyer, the realtor will not cost you anything! The commission for the listing agent and the buyer agent are paid by the seller at closing. 2. Now that we have that out of the way, let’s get the home search started. We like to get started by meeting the client and determining what they are looking for in a home. This may include the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, size of home, price range and especially the location. More often than not, we actually start to narrow down what the client is looking for after seeing a few homes. Typically, there are wants and needs, so it really helps to distinguish the difference. If you say “this home is perfect BUT”, then you know the home is not perfect. Make sure you don’t settle on something that you are not going to be happy with because this is a huge purchase/investment. Once we get a better idea, we can start looking. 3. Your realtor most likely set up an automated search using your criteria to find homes that fit what you are looking for. With technology today, you will most likely also look on your own using sites such as Realtor.com, Zillow, Trulia or Homes.com. Sometimes, there is a little bit of a delay from when the information hits these sites from the MLS (Multiple Listing Service), so some of the information may be incorrect. In the current real estate environment, the supply of homes is very low and there are a lot of buyers currently looking. With that being said, if the homes are priced correctly they have been selling quickly, so make...

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Five Smart Money Moves for First-Time Homebuyers
Feb10

Five Smart Money Moves for First-Time Homebuyers

This is the first in a series of posts for first-time homebuyers from Living Fort Wayne. So you’ve decided to take the plunge into the world of homeownership.  Congrats!  Purchasing a home is likely one of the biggest financial investments you will make in your lifetime, and it makes sense to do a little homework to make the process easier.  In my 13 years as a financial planner, I have worked with many clients to help them transition from renting to owning their home. Here are five things to do before you start looking at houses. 1 – Check your credit Your credit score will be one of the most important factors when you want to qualify for a mortgage loan. It not only affects your ability to get the loan, but your score has an effect on the overall cost as well.  In other words, the better your score, the lower your interest rate.  To get a sense of where you stand, you can go to annualcreditreport.com to get a free copy of your credit report from all three of the major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion).  Check for errors and file a dispute if there are any items on the report that are inaccurate. Just because you pay your bills on time does not mean you will have a great credit score.  Other factors like the amount of debt you have relative to your available credit limits and the age of your oldest open credit line will factor into your score as well.  Either way, you will need to have a score above 720 in order to get the best rates.  If you have any negative items, don’t worry!  You may still be able to qualify, but at a slightly higher interest rate.  Check with a mortgage officer to get the details.  They should be able to pull your actual credit score and let you know if there are any glaring issues that will prevent you from getting a mortgage.  You can also check for apps like Credit Karma that give you an estimate of your credit score, but be wary of entering sensitive information anywhere online and never enter your credit card info.  You should be able to get a score without paying for it, but there is no shortage of online vendors that will try to charge you or sign you up for some type of credit monitoring service in order to get your credit score. 2 – Evaluate your cash flow Before you get on the hook for tens or maybe hundreds of thousands of dollars, you should evaluate your income and liabilities...

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