Buying Tips, Choosing An Agent- Buyer, First Time Buyer, Renting vs. Buying, Researching to Buy, Tips For the Buyer, Uncategorized

Before You Start House Hunting

Consider…..​

  1. Is owning a home right for you?​
  2. Have you determined the desired location? ​
  3. What is your lifestyle? Condo / Single Family / 55+​
  4. Are you financially prepared for the purchase? ​
  5. Have you considered the costs of home ownership​
  6. Have you established credit & credit history?  ​
  7. Have you planned on a down payment? 20% is a misconception! Beyond a down payment, you will need prepaid items & closing costs (seller concessions can help to offset the closing costs) ​
  8. What are your current & immediate future needs?​
  9. What is your current situation- Renting / Own / Family​
  10. Speak to a mortgage professional! They can let you know if your credit history / score is sufficient (and guide you if it isn’t)!  They will calculate your affordability based on debt to income ratio (and guide you if you need to improve it to obtain a higher budget)!  They will assist you… ​
  • By reviewing documents & getting you Pre-Approved !​
  • Advise of down payment needed & cash for closing ​
  • Provide estimated monthly mortgage payments​
  • Advise you of mortgage types that exist and what you qualify for​
  • Advise on the conditions of the loan that you will need to satisfy prior to closing​
  • Your closing time frame​
  • Remain in constant contact with you through your purchase!​
  • Advise you on what to do and NOT to do during the purchase – ie change jobs, make large purchases, open new credit accounts, etc.​
  • Be a KEY part in your purchase! ​
  • Help you with all of your mortgage needs!​
First Time Buyer, Renting vs. Buying, Uncategorized

Tax Deductions for First-Year Home Owners

Congratulations — you’re a homeowner! Now that you’ve moved into your new digs, you’ll need to:

  • Decide what color to paint the living room

  • Sort through those last few boxes (eventually)

  • Learn about tax deductions for new homeowners

Even before you sign on the dotted line, you can get a mortgage credit certificate (MCC), which is intended to help lower-income buyers afford homeownership.

If you qualify, you can claim the credit each year to cover part of your home’s interest. The only catch: You must get an MCC before you get a mortgage and buy a home. Contact your state or local housing finance agency for more information.

You’re eligible for a host of tax deductions the minute you get the keys to your front door. Like all homeowners, you can subtract real estate taxes and mortgage interest from your tax tab. Even if you bought a home in December, it’s worth getting a few dollars off your IRS bill.

The year you buy your home, you can also deduct any money paid towards mortgage points. The term “points” refers to charges paid by a borrower to get a mortgage, and can also be called loan discounts, discount points, origination fees or maximum loan charges.

You must meet these criteria to qualify:

  • You are buying (not refinancing) a primary residence. Your loan must be secured by the home you live in most of the time.

  • Your overall cash paid at closing exceeds the points charged. This can include money from you, or points paid by the seller. You can’t deduct points you paid for with borrowed funds from a lender or mortgage broker.

  • You’re not using the points to avoid traditional closing costs. If you paid points in lieu of closing costs, like title insurance and attorney’s fees, you can’t get a tax credit.

If you meet that criteria, the amount on your settlement statement that’s listed as “points charged for the mortgage” can be deducted from your taxes.

Always consult your tax advisor. For more information about home mortgage points, visit the IRS Web site.

http://www.hgtv.com/design/real-estate/tax-deductions-for-first-year-homeowners

Buying Tips, First Time Buyer, Renting vs. Buying, Researching to Buy, Uncategorized

Big Signs You Should Buy Instead of Rent

When deciding if this year is the right time for you to purchase a home there are four personal signs that signal now’s the time to buy.

 

1. You want to save at tax time

Mortgage interest and property tax payments are typically deductible.If you itemize deductions at the 25% tax bracket) regardless of whether you own or rent, buying is 44% cheaper.Without itemizing, meaning you’re just taking the standard deduction, buying is still 35% cheaper than renting.

 

2. You’re planning to stay local for a while

Staying put longer lowers the relative cost of owning.The combined cost of buying and then selling a home can easily total more than 10% of the home’s value.Staying put longer means, in effect, spreading those costs over more years.Buying is 44% cheaper than renting if you stay put for 7 years, 37% for 5 years and 20% for 3 years.

 

3. You want a low mortgage rate

Higher mortgage rates mean a higher cost of owning, but prices today are low enough relative to rents that buying would beat renting even if mortgage rates rose two full points.While today, buying is 44% cheaper than renting with a 3.5% mortgage, buying would be 39% cheaper than renting at 4.5% and still 33% cheaper with a rate of 5.5%.

 

4. You can’t let your dream home slip away

March 2016 data from the National Association of Realtors showed housing inventory dropped almost 20% in the past year.  That means the likelihood of finding your dream home is quickly on the decline and the best buying opportunities might be slipping away.  Buying now is a great move for those who want to make sure they get a serious say in which home they’ll spend the next 30 years in and don’t end up ch

 

 

Brought to you buy Melissa Christopher, owner of The Best NJ Realtor Blog, bringing you New Jersey Real Estate tips and advice for buying and selling an NJ home.  Working as an Ocean County NJ Realtor providing service throughout the state.  Located in Lacey NJ & Manahawkin NJ

 

Buying Tips, Choosing An Agent- Buyer, First Time Buyer, Renting vs. Buying, Researching to Buy, Uncategorized

The Worst Home-Buying Advice People Actually Believe

If you’re looking to buy a house, you’re bound to have well-meaning friends and family pull you aside and say, “Let me give you some advice.” After all, they’ve been there, done that. Or they’ve watched an ungodly amount of “House Hunters.”

We know they’re trying to be helpful, but just because people have an opinion doesn’t mean they’re informed. And when it comes to buying a house, that seemingly friendly direction can send you down the wrong path.

So to keep you from jumping into the market armed with half-baked “wisdom,” we’ve gathered the worst home-buying advice people have heard and explain why these maxims are myth rather than gospel.

 

‘Hold off, home prices are going down’

Why you might hear this: The predictions have been going on for years: The housing bubble is going to burst again; income is stagnant; the zombie apocalypse will free up stock.

Why it’s bad advice: Sadly, we have yet to find a Magic 8 Ball that’s spot-on when it comes to predicting the future. So if you want or need to buy a home, the time isn’t someday—it’s now. And “with a lack of inventory and the busiest time of the year approaching, home prices aren’t going down anytime soon,” says California Realtor® Tracey Hampson.

‘You don’t need to use a real estate agent’

Why you might hear this: See a home you like, then make an offer—how hard can it be? Cut a buyer’s agent out of the picture entirely and you’ll do just fine. Plus, with no agent to collect a commission, you’ll be able to negotiate a better deal with the seller. Right?

Why it’s bad advice: In a market where houses are moving so fast it’d give you whiplash, a real estate agent is indispensable. Not only will your agent know about properties long before you do, he or she can also guide you through mountains of paperwork, pointing out potential problems that could cost you big-time down the road.

“Also, though you may consider yourself a great negotiator, an agent’s knowledge and experience will help you get the house you want at the best price,” says Atlanta-based Realtor Bill Golden of Re/Max Metro Atlanta Cityside.

‘Just use the listing agent to represent you’

Why you might hear this: While listing agents work for the seller, they might offer to help you, too. What’s wrong with that? It certainly seems to cut down on the number of cooks in the kitchen, and maybe it’ll give you an edge in a competitive bidding situation.

Why it’s bad advice: You need someone in your own corner with a water bottle, cool towel, and an eye on getting you the best deal.

Put simply, “the seller’s agent represents the seller,” says Evelina K. Vatkova, associate partner at Partners Trust in Beverly Hills, CA. It’s akin to going to court with just one lawyer—one who’s working both sides of a case. You want someone who has your interests in mind, first and last.

‘Make a lowball offer and negotiate up from there’

Why you might hear this: Someone read Donald Trump‘s “The Art of the Deal” (while moving their lips, most likely) and thinks everything is a negotiation.

Why it’s bad advice: Making a major lowball offer can very often start negotiations off on the wrong foot with the seller. Worse, “you end up paying more in the end than you would [have] had you been more reasonable to start with,” says Golden. Serious buyers and sellers know what homes are worth. Which leads to our next piece of bad advice…

‘Never pay full price’

Why you might hear this: Because only losers pay full price, right? (See: “The Art of the Deal.”)

Why it’s bad advice: There’s no such thing as absolutes in real estate.

“If a home is overpriced, you don’t want to pay full price,” says Golden. “However, if it seems that the house is well worth the money after carefully studying the comps your Realtor provides, paying full price may be the only way to get it, especially in a seller’s market.”

‘Remove contingencies to make your offer stronger’

Why you might hear this: A house has tons of bidders, and you want to be the most attractive to the seller.

Why it’s bad advice: In a competitive market, it’s tempting to feel pressure to cast off contingencies—you know, those safeguards where you agree to buy the home only if certain requirements (e.g., passing a home inspection or title clearance) are met. Of course sellers dislike contingencies, because they’re designed to protect you against utter catastrophe—say, your buying a home riddled with toxic mold or liens that will cost you thousands of dollars.

“Never remove contingencies unless you are 100% positive the property is the right home for you,” say Erfan Haj, an associate partner at Partners Trust.

‘Don’t bother hiring a home inspector’

Why you might hear this: You’ll spend a lot of money on an inspector to point out a leaky faucet. Besides, the home looks fine! Um, right?

Why it’s bad advice: Oh boy. That property that looks just perfect at an open house could be rife with issues only a pro will uncover. And saving those few bucks from skimping on an inspector could cost you loads down the line. And Los Angeles stager Michelle Minch of Moving Mountains Design reminds us not to skip inspection even with a home warranty from the seller.

http://www.realtor.com/advice/buy/worst-home-buying-advice/

After reading this article, Melissa Christopher, Ocean County, NJ Realtor® Associate has the following insight:

Truly, I hope buyers do not take these home buying tips and run with them.  If you believe any of the above, you  have a great shot at a stressful home buying purchase and the aftermath.  Please, heed the advice of a real estate agent in your area!

First Time Buyer, Preparing to Sell, Renting vs. Buying, Researching to Buy, Uncategorized

Looking to get a mortgage in 2017? Here’s what you need to know

Over the next 12 months, here are some things to keep in mind as you consider your financing

The mortgage industry has gone through some changes in the last three months. If you’re looking to finance a home in 2017, it’s important that you know what the opportunities are and how to capitalize on them. Here are some things to keep in mind as you consider your financing.

Interest rates have spiked and are now sitting at over 4% on the widely popular 30-year fixed-rate mortgages. This change occurred seemingly overnight once Donald Trump was elected president. The markets saw this and rallied, marking a change that meant less regulation, with more opportunity in the investment market. Subsequently, this meant that expense bonds were driving mortgage rates higher. The market was further affected when the Federal Reserve tightened its monetary policy in December 2016. As a result, you can now expect an interest rate on your mortgage anywhere between 4% and 4.5%, depending on your credit score, the loan program and your financial stability. (If you’re not sure where your credit stands, you can view two of your free credit scores, with updates every 14 days, on Credit.com.)

Is buying a home a still worthwhile?

Buying a home is still a solid goal for many, and it is certainly still an attainable one. With higher interest rates, however, affordability will become the main thing to consider, especially the choice between being able to make a mortgage payment and continuing to save. When you qualify for a loan, an interest rate with a half percent difference can translate to around $75 to $80 a month, depending on the amount being financed. While this change may not seem significant, in the long run it is something to take in to consideration when planning to invest in a high-ticket item. Keeping your credit score as high as possible is also important for scoring a good interest rate and keeping your housing payment manageable. (Tips on how to do that here.)

What about refinancing in 2017?

The option to refinance in order to lower your interest rate might not be the best choice for the moment. Rates aren’t where they were prior to the election, so going from a 30-year mortgage to a new 30-year mortgage and expecting a lower interest rate may not be in the cards for a little while. Here are some refinance opportunities that are more accessible in today’s environment:

Cash-out refinancing: Refinancing with the intent to pull equity out of your home is a byproduct of an inflationary environment. Remember, when mortgage rates rise, it is also common for interest rates on consumer obligations such as lines of credit, student loans, and credit cards to rise as well. Cash-out refinancing can be a smart and prudent move to rid yourself of high payments that are typically associated with consumer debts. For example, if you can pull out $20,000 in a cash-out refinance and use that money to pay off your larger outstanding debts (i.e. car loan, student loan, credit cards, furniture), your mortgage payment may rise to $100 a month, but you’ll save $600 a month in obligatory debt. You can then take that extra $500 and save that money or pay down your mortgage principal.

Shortening your loan term: Long-term fixed-rate loans are expensive when you consider the total interest paid over the life of the loan. Going from a safe 30-year fixed-rate mortgage to a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage can save you a substantial amount of money. Fifteen-year and 10-year fixed-rate mortgages are both hovering in the mid-to-low 3% interest margins, marking an opportunity to pay your mortgage off in full while also perhaps planning for retirement.

Refinancing to drop mortgage insurance: This form of refinancing might mean having to pay a slightly higher interest rate on a long-term 30-year mortgage, but it also means dropping the private mortgage insurance that brings up your payments several hundred dollars a month. The key is to take the money and do something smart with your new savings.

What’s in store for mortgages this year?

Here are some things to keep in mind in 2017.

Financial Markets: If the stock market continues to improve and rally, expect mortgage rates to continue their upward climb.

Big Events: It would take something big and unexpected to cause the market to reverse course, shifting money into bonds and driving mortgage rates lower. If something like this does happen and you are eyeing a particular interest rate, act quickly.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac: Pay attention to any news from Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. If rates continue to rise, current underwriting standards might be adjusted to meet the needs of the shrinking housing market. Expect guidelines to loosen slightly to offset the higher interest rates.

If you’re looking to purchase a house or refinance one you already own, and there is a financial benefit to the terms and rate you qualify for, act on it. Let affordability be the driver of your decision to purchase or refinance a home to meet your financial goals. The market will always change and evolve, and if you can justify the opportunity, it should be something for you to seriously consider.

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/looking-to-get-a-mortgage-in-2017-heres-what-you-need-to-know-2017-01-23

Choosing An Agent, First Time Buyer, Preparing to Sell, Renting vs. Buying, Researching to Buy, Uncategorized

Top 10 real estate tips for 2017

High demand and low interest rates drove housing sales in 2016, and 2017 is shaping up to be another good year, albeit with a few minor caveats.

While home prices for starter-to-midrange homes are pushing upward toward pre-recession peaks, especially in secondary markets, they’re stabilizing in higher-priced areas.

Prognosticators see the robust markets of Seattle, Portland and Denver as 2017’s top performers, with 10 percent to 11 percent price growth. If mortgage rates rise modestly as expected in 2017, sales elsewhere may normalize with smaller price appreciation, especially as housing starts rise to fill the inventory breach.

But it sure looks like another seller’s market again in 2017, and likely in 2018, with a few localized exceptions such as the overwrought Atlantic City, New Jersey and Detroit urban markets.

As we march into the latter part of the decade, homeownership remains a practical long-term hold and self-enforced savings plan.

Here are 10 tips to adapt to the latest market conditions.

1. First-time homebuyers: Get that starter home now

Well, you’d best gyrate into action. And we mean now! More than half of the home sales (52 percent) in 2017 are expected to be to first-time buyers, and mostly to the millennial set (19 to 34 years old), many moving from urban rentals, research by the National Association of Realtors shows. That means competition — and bidding wars — could become fierce in the spring for such “starters” in desirable areas.

While there’ll be less inventory this winter, there’ll also be less competition per unit and a higher percent of motivated sellers.

2. Sellers: Hire the right agent

Oftentimes, the best investment a seller can make is time spent researching agents. A bad hire can cost sellers tens of thousands of dollars and months of worried waiting.

First, look at an agent’s’ online marketing material and listings. Is there good photography or video? Does it “pop”? Are descriptions accurate and complimentary without seeming exaggerated?

Then, look at profiles of the agents on LinkedIn, Facebook and other social media; and be sure to read web reviews. What kind of vibe is an agent sending out?

Narrow your search to three agents and interview each, ideally in person. Ask for sales-activity reports, existing listings and time-on-the-market averages, plus the requisite local comps.

A seasoned listing agent also will know the best times for open houses and how to initiate a price war if the market allows. Never consent to a listing contract of longer than 90 days in a seller’s market. You can always extend.

3. Buyers: There’s more loan money out there

Those who couldn’t get mortgages during the downturn because they didn’t have 20 percent to put down can find affordable financing again.

Borrowers with FICO scores as low as 690 are now getting conforming mortgage loans (those under $417,000).

One telling sign: About two-thirds of mortgage refinancing were getting approved in the fourth quarter of 2016 compared to just one-half of those at the end of 2014.

However, borrowers without a 20 percent down payment will still likely pay private mortgage insurance, or PMI, until they hit the 20 percent to 25 percent equity mark.

The best rates go to those with 800-plus credit scores, though 750-plussers are getting virtually the same terms.

Unfortunately, those seductive interest-only loans are also on the menu again. Avoid them. They’re affordable at first since you’re not paying principal, but then years later, well … see the Great Recession of 2008.

4. Sellers: It may be a seller’s market but …

Home sellers can do several simple things to enhance appearance, increase buyer interest and boost their home’s profile:

  • Renew selectively: Instead of wholesale renovations from which sellers recoup maybe 60 percent on investment, do light makeovers everywhere, with an eye on the kitchen and bathrooms. They’re far more cost-effective.

  • Clean, clean and clean some more: It’s hard for buyers to picture themselves living in a dirty house. Scrub floors, baths, kitchens, windows and walls, and be sure to clean, vacuum and deodorize rugs. This is simple but effective.

  • Depersonalize, declutter: Show the space, not the contents. Box up family photos, kids’ school papers and excess art, and store bulky and worn furniture. Organize your closets to make them look half empty.

  • Illuminate: Think bright and cheery. Open drapes and add brighter light bulbs in dark areas. Repaint where needed but use neutral colors.

5. Renters: It might be time to buy

In many cases, rents are rising faster than home values, yet mortgage rates remain low. That, and the fact that renters now account for 37 percent of households (the highest level in 50 years), seem to indicate an imminent coming-out party for renters-turned-buyers, especially if they plan to stay put for five to 10 years after buying.

There are limitless buy-versus-rent calculators like Bankrate’s calculator for renters to compare affordability. But no gauge accounts for human behavior, such as reluctance of renters to re-invest what they’ve saved from not paying property tax, insurance, upkeep, etc. Homebuying basically enforces that discipline.

6. If you’re a buyer, don’t believe the house is yours

Don’t bank on a done deal or other verbal promises from listing agents until you sign a contract.

In heated markets across the country, sales agents are giving buyers false hope and using their offers to bid up the price for preferred buyers who they think can pay more and close faster. Have other homes in mind.

Strategies such as preapproval (versus prequalification), proof of funding, closing flexibility and the always-risky practice of waiving inspection and repair contingencies can help sway buyers.

For added clout, tell sellers you’re willing to “escalate,” or exceed all offers to a certain limit. Some agents even advise buyers to write so-called “love letters” to sellers, telling them how much the home will mean to their families.

7. Sellers: The grass is always greener …

… in yards with a “sold” sign. Major presale upgrades typically aren’t needed, but a little greening outdoors is a must.

Surveys show that strong curb appeal can increase prices by 10 percent or more. Greener grass, whether derived from new sod or fertilizer and water, is a must.

New shrubs, plantings and flowers also project a welcoming feel. Sellers typically enjoy a 100 percent return on the money they put into curb appeal.

Another form of green, sustainable landscaping has become a value-add for buyers. Native plants, native grasses and perennials that require less water and attention fill that bill.

Do some local research or ask your local home-and-garden pro for simple “greening” tips.

8. Sellers and buyers: Know the state of your market

A balanced housing market is defined as one with an average inventory of 6.5 months, according to Texas A&M University Real Estate Center research. When inventory remains below equilibrium, sellers enjoy more control over prices and terms, and the area becomes a seller’s market.

When inventory lingers well above stasis, you have a buyer’s market where sellers must get more serious about price reductions, credits and throw-ins. Of course, these averages don’t necessarily reflect demand in certain desirable and undesirable submarkets.

Go to Realtor.org for such market home sales data by state or to a local agent, business journal and daily newspaper you can read online. In 2016, the U.S. housing inventory average was under five months.

9. Sellers: House going on sale in the spring?

Do some prep work now. First, grab your camera or smartphone and do an exterior autumn photo shoot, with the leaves changing colors.

It’s a much better way to showcase your home than to wait until late winter when everything is still dead and brown and mucky. Also take some landscape shots after the first snow, ideally on a sunny day, to show how cozy your place looks in winter.

Take a preliminary inventory, too. Look through your attic, closets, basement and garage to see what stored items you’ll want to keep, give away or sell in the spring. This will help you determine whether you’ll need a storage unit when your home is on the market and if there are any problem areas that need repairs or attention.

It’s also a good time to start discussing financing options with a local lender and interview prospective listing agents who also might provide additional preparation tips.

10. Buyers: Relocating near a waterfront?

You’d best consider weather and insurance realities. Major hurricanes and floods of the past dozen years, particularly Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy, have pushed the National Flood Insurance Program into a $23 billion hole, forcing flood-insurance rates to spiral.

FEMA flood-map changes are aggressively expanding flood zones, especially along the East Coast and Gulf Coast, forcing hundreds of thousands of homeowners to buy flood insurance for the first time and others to pay thousands more annually.

Parts of Florida saw 20 percent increases in 2016 and will likely see similar hikes in 2017. Insurers also are imposing coverage caps so there’s no guarantee you’ll be made whole post-catastrophe.

Some home sellers and their agents are conveniently not disclosing these realities, so buyers will have to ask pointed questions and do their own research. Go to FEMA.gov for more info.

http://www.bankrate.com/finance/real-estate/tips/

After reading this article, Melissa Christopher, Ocean County, NJ Realtor has the following insight:

This is a great article which covers both buyers and sellers no matter where you are in the transaction.  From the time you consider moving- buying or selling a home, until the keys are yours- this is a must read!