Am I Really Ready to Buy a House?

Q: I’ve saved a down payment, narrowed my choices of neighborhoods and drawn up a wish list of what I’m looking for in a home, but I’m getting cold feet. How do I know if I’m really ready to buy a house?

A: It’s perfectly normal to feel hesitant about going through with what may be the biggest purchase of your life. To help put you at ease and to make sure you’re really prepared for this purchase, we’ve compiled a list of questions to ask yourself before buying a new home.

Man and woman looking at lady using laptop in office setting.

Can I afford to buy a house?

Before viewing properties, remember that purchasing a new home will cost more than just the down payment. Buyers also need to cover closing costs, which typically run at 2-4 percent of the total purchase, as well as moving costs, and possibly new furniture and renovations for their new home.

Can I afford the monthly mortgage payments?

Most lending companies will grant a loan to a home buyer if the monthly mortgage payments do not push the buyer’s debt-to-income (DTI) ratio above the recommended 43 percent. This means that the total monthly debt the buyer carries, including their mortgage, credit card, loan, and car payments, do not exceed 43 percent of their monthly income. You may want to work out the total for your pre-mortgage debt before applying for a loan so you have an idea of how much house you can afford.

When determining whether you can actually afford your monthly payments, though, remember that there’s more to home ownership than a monthly mortgage payment. Be sure to include calculations for taxes, insurance and a possible increase in utility bills. A mortgage lender should be able to provide some of these numbers for you.

Am I ready to settle down? 

The average length of time that homeowners in the U.S. live in a house is only seven years. Buyers who don’t plan on staying in their homes long-term may end up incurring a loss. Consider factors like your career, family planning, changing demographics of a neighborhood and more when trying to answer this question. Experts advise buyers to only purchase homes they plan on living in for a minimum of five years.

Does buying a house in my neighborhood make financial sense? 

Many Americans view home ownership as a rite of passage into adulthood, but that doesn’t mean purchasing a home always makes financial sense. In some neighborhoods, rentals are relatively cheap while houses sell for far more than they are actually worth. In these neighborhoods, buying a home may not be the logical choice, even if the buyer can easily afford the purchase.

Is my credit score high enough?

A fairly decent credit score is necessary to qualify for a home loan. Most lenders will only grant a home loan to borrowers with a credit score of 650 or higher. A score that doesn’t make the cut can be increased by being super-careful about paying all bills on time, not opening new credit cards in the months leading up to the home loan application, paying credit card bills in full each month and keeping credit utilization low.

Do I have a plan in place for repairs? 

When a renter has a leaky faucet, they call the landlord and the problem becomes theirs. When a homeowner has a leaky faucet, it’s their own problem. They can either fix it or hire someone to do the job, but it’s a good idea to have a plan in place before the first thing in a new home needs fixing. If you’re handy enough to handle repairs on your own, you’ll need to be ready and willing to give up some of your free time on weekends to tend to things around the house.  Otherwise, it’s best to have a tidy sum put away to pay for necessary repairs before purchasing a home.

Sometimes, an appliance or a system in the house will be broken beyond repair and will need replacing. Homeowners need to have enough money stashed away in their emergency fund or rainy-day account to cover these purchases, too.

Buying a first home is an exciting milestone that only happens once in a lifetime. If you think you’re ready to take this step, first make sure this purchase is the right choice for you at this time on a financial and practical level.

Your Turn: How did you know you were ready to buy a house? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.

7 Reasons Not To Skip A Home Inspection

Shopping for a new home can be an exciting blur of listings, neighborhood scouting andinspection open houses. There’s so much to consider! You want a house in the perfect neighborhood with that gorgeous kitchen and great yard, all within your budget.

And then, it all finally comes together and you think you’ve found your dream home. But don’t go “under contract” just yet! First, be sure to have an inspection contingency included in your contract. Doing so can save you a ton of aggravation and thousands of dollars in the long run.

Once you’re under contract, you’ll need to have your future home professionally inspected by a certified engineer or a licensed inspector. The inspector will carefully examine the entire house from top to bottom, checking its systems, structure and equipment for functionality and potential problems.

A home inspection will set you back several hundred dollars, but it can easily save you thousands down the line. Before you officially become the new owner of the house, learn all you can about its general condition.

Here are 7 reasons you don’t want to skip a home inspection:

1.)   Find deal-breakers

A house can look fantastic, but have major structural or technical issues with its wiring, roof, HVAC system, plumbing and more. A quality home inspection will give you the inside scoop on a house before it becomes your home. If the inspection reveals any large problems that would require heavy maintenance or expensive repairs, you may want to back out of the deal. Having an inspection contingency in your contract gives you a way to opt out even after you are officially under contract.

If the inspection reveals major problems, but you like the home too much to back away, you can ask the seller to fix the problems before the closing date. Sellers will usually agree to cover any major repairs or to offer the buyer a credit toward overseeing the repairs themselves.

2.)   Safety concerns

An inspection can reveal the presence of harmful substances like radon, carbon monoxide and mold. Look for these hazards before the home is officially yours. You don’t want any unpleasant surprises after it’s too late.

3.)   Anticipate future costly repairs

A home’s systems and equipment may appear to be working perfectly when they’re actually on their last legs. A professional inspector will be able to determine the age and condition of the home’s systems and equipment, and then forecast when they may need to be repaired or replaced. This might not be a big enough deal for you to back out of the contract, but it will help you budget for a major repair several years down the line. Alternatively, you may be able to use it for price negotiation.

4.)   Reveal illegal additions

The awesome rec room you love in the basement of your potential new home might have been illegally built. An inspection will check for rooms, garages and basements that were added or finished without following legal codes or obtaining the proper permits. Having an illegal addition in your home means owning property that does not officially exist. This can get you into trouble with home insurance and property taxes, and can make it difficult to do more work on these areas in your home.

If a home inspection reveals any illegal additions, you can ask the seller to obtain the proper permits now, use this information as a bargaining chip or choose to back out of the deal.

5.)   Obtain insurance easily

Lots of home insurance companies will not insure a home if it has not undergone a certified inspection. Insurance companies don’t want to take a chance covering a home that’s going to need costly repairs in the near future.

6.)   Learn how to protect your investment

If possible, arrange to follow the inspector around the home as they complete the job. They will be an invaluable source of information for you, providing tips and knowledge on how best to maintain your home, its systems and equipment. Knowing how to properly care for your home can save you thousands of dollars over the years.

7.)   Negotiate

Most home inspections will reveal several problems. If these problems are minor enough to keep you interested in buying the house in its present condition, you can use them as bargaining chips to renegotiate the purchasing price of the home.

No matter how perfect your dream home looks, it’s never a good idea to skip a home inspection.

Are you in the market for a new home? Call, click or stop by Destinations Credit Union today to ask about the fantastic home loan options we have for you!

Your Turn: Has a home inspection saved you from a possible horror story? Share it with us in the comments.

SOURCES:
https://www.ahit.com/news/why-home-inspections-are-important.htm

https://www.investopedia.com/financial-edge/0511/10-reasons-you-shouldnt-skip-a-home-inspection.aspx
https://www.veteransunited.com/futurehomeowners/5-key-reasons-to-have-a-home-inspection-before-you-buy/
http://www.homeinspectionexpertsraleighnc.com/5-reasons-to-get-a-home-inspection-on-a-new-home/

Why Do I Need To Get Preapproved For A Loan?

Q: I’m in the market for a new home, and everyone I talk to, from friends to financial Home with Sold Sign in frontadvisors, suggests I get preapproved for a mortgage before I start house hunting. Why is this so important?

A: You’re actually on the receiving end of great advice. When looking to take out a large loan, whether it’s for purchasing a home or buying a car, having that preapproval in hand before you start your search is crucial.

Depending upon the type of loan, the process of getting preapproved for a loan can take time. The lender will begin by asking for your financial history and other personal information. If you have a co-borrower, the lender will need this information about them as well.

You’ll be asked to provide your Social Security Number (SSN) and for permission to allow the lender to access your credit report. If the information you provide is satisfactory, as is your credit report, the lender will begin constructing the details of your loan. When they have determined how large of a loan you will be eligible for, they will grant you a preapproval letter. The letter will also detail your estimated interest rate on the loan, though that will sometimes also depend upon the specifics of your purchase, such as the year and condition of a car or appraisal on a home.

Having your preapproval letter will shorten the loan process significantly when you’re actually ready to take out the loan. However, that is only a small benefit of getting preapproved before you start “shopping.”

Here are some other advantages of getting preapproved for a loan:

1.) You’ll know what you can afford

Your preapproval will tell you exactly what you can afford. This way, you’ll avoid being disappointed later when you have your heart set on a certain home only to be told you can’t swing it financially. Knowing how large a loan you’ll qualify for will simplify your search and get you into your new home or car sooner.

Be sure to calculate other monthly costs, such as property taxes, home insurance and increased auto insurance rates when determining the actual amount of money you’ll need to shell out each month.

2.) Don’t get taken for a ride

Picture this scene at a car dealership:

Salesperson: So, you’re here to buy a new car! What are you looking for?

You: Well, I want something with a smooth ride and –

Salesperson: Got it. And how much of a monthly payment can you afford?

You: Weeelll, I think I can swing up to $200 a month, but I’d rather something closer to $150 if you —

Salesperson: Step right this way please! Let me show our new line of Camrys at just $205 a month! They have the most luxurious feel and the ride is smooth as butter!

What happened here is, quite simply, a salesperson looking to make the most money out of a customer. When you’re unsure about how much you can spend, the dealer will capitalize on your uncertainty and try to sell you a car that just barely skims the maximum amount you’ve decided you can afford.

Also, when you name a monthly payment you can manage, the dealer will work with that number instead of talking about the price of the car. They may try to inflate the payment with charges and fees just because they fit within your named payment amount.

In contrast, when you show up at the dealer with a preapproval in hand, the salesman will have to show you cars with price tags that fit within your loan amount.

Don’t get taken for a ride; get your preapproval before you set foot in the dealer shop!

3.) Be taken seriously

A car dealer will take you a lot more seriously when you wave that preapproval in their face, since having that information in hand shows you’re ready to buy.

When purchasing a home, the same rule holds true. A realtor will be able to assist you more efficiently when you know exactly how much house you can afford. They may also give you better service since you’re showing that you’re serious about buying a home. In fact, many realtors refuse to show homes to buyers who don’t have a preapproval in hand.

4.) Know you have financing you can trust

When you show up at the car dealership with a preapproval from your credit union, you know the deal is in your best interest. Many auto shops have access to several financing options and they’re almost always going to put customers into financing options that are in their own wallet’s best interests.

5.) Purchase your dream home

A preapproval makes you a valuable customer. It also helps you stand out from the pack. If you’re looking to buy a home in a competitive market, you may be competing with several other buyers for the same house. Having your preapproval will give you a leg up on bidding wars. A seller will be more eager to work with someone who’s already started the mortgage process. You can end your search sooner with a preapproval!

In the market for a new home or car? Don’t forget to call, click, or stop by Destinations Credit Union to hear about our fantastic rates on mortgage and auto loans!

Your Turn: Based on your own experience, why do you think it’s important to get preapproved for a loan? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!

SOURCES:
http://www.investopedia.com/mortgage/pre-approval/ 

https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/loans/advantages-of-getting-pre-approved-for-a-car-loan/
https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.zillow.com/mortgage-learning/pre-approval/amp/