Worried That Your Past Student Loan Debt Might Delay Buying a Home? Here’s What to Do

Worried That Your Past Student Loan Debt Might Delay Buying a Home? Here's What to DoWhether you are just about to graduate college or you have been out of school for a few years, there’s a good chance you’re carrying some amount of student loan debt. It seems that news headlines are regularly pointing out that the nation’s graduates are suffering from the stress of student debt. Moreover, that pressure can be even worse for those who are looking to buy a home and start putting some roots down in the local community.

Are you worried that past student loan debt will affect your chances of buying a home? Let’s run through a few tips that can help put your debt worries at ease.

Start A Budget And Embrace Using It

The first and most important step anyone with debt can take is to commit to a monthly budget. Managing your debts means living within your means. In turn, that requires careful examination of your income and expenses to ensure your debts are being paid down.

Also, in most cases, interest is being charged on outstanding student loan debt which makes it a high priority for repayment. The faster you can pay your student loan debt off, the less interest you will pay on top of it.

Check In With An Expert Advisor

If all of this seems confusing, you’re not alone. The good news is that there are expert debt and financial advisors that can help you to make sense of it all. They will help you to understand exactly where your money is going each month and what kind of financial discipline you’ll need to clear the path to home ownership. Many are provided by local or state governments at no cost, so be sure to check out your local options.

Reach Out To Friends And Family

Don’t forget that friends, colleagues and family members can be a great source of advice and support. Close family members may also be willing to lend a hand financially to get you out of renting and into your own home. Also, be sure to check in with former college classmates who have gone on to buy homes in the area. They’ll be a great source of information.

While past student loan and other debts can crimp one’s finances, they are no reason to put off home ownership indefinitely. For more information and to view affordable starter home options in the area, contact your local real estate professionals.

Let’s Talk Closets: Why a Walk-in Closet Is a Must Have for Any New Home Buyer

Let's Talk Closets: Why a Walk-in Closet Is a Must Have for Any New Home BuyerAre you in the market for a new house or condo? Whether you’re looking for something luxurious or intimate, you’ll want to ensure that you have enough space for all of life’s necessities. Many home buyers focus on bedrooms, bathrooms and living areas as their top priorities. But have you given any thought to your closet space?

In today’s blog post we’ll explore why a spacious walk-in closet should be high on your list of “must-haves” for your new home.

Enough Storage For A Stylish Couple

An upgrade in storage space is the main reason to have a large walk-in closet – and for good reason. Today’s working professional needs a large wardrobe to store suits, work outfits, social attire, shoes, accessories and more. It’s almost impossible to cram everything needed in a small closet with one large hanging rack and a shelf or two. And even if you do decide to fill a smaller closet until it’s bursting at the seams, you’re stuck with having to try to organize it regularly just to be able to find anything. Forget it!

A Showcase For Clothes, Shoes And Accessories

A walk-in closet isn’t just for piling a ton of clothes into. It’s a showcase for your wardrobe and all of the items in it. Most walk-in closets are designed with numerous shelves, racks and other display areas. Take advantage of these to show off the best pieces in your collection. For example, are you particularly proud of that oxblood leather bag that you found while traveling Europe? Or the hat that you wore to last year’s Kentucky Derby? Your walk-in closet is the right place to show it off.

Room For Elegant Touches Like A Dressing Island

Finally, if you have enough space in your walk-in closet, you’ll be able to add some elegant touches. A dressing island with built-in shelves is the perfect feature for storing accessories and shoes. You can also add matching jewelry boxes on top to store frequently-used items. An ottoman is another elegant touch that can help make your walk-in closet feel more roomy and comfortable. And don’t forget to include a couple of mirrors for checking your look from multiple angles before you leave the house.

These are just a few of the (many!) reasons why a walk-in closet is an absolute must-have for any new home. When you’re ready to explore local real estate opportunities – including those with incredible walk-in closets – contact us. Our professional team is happy to assist you.

Buying an Older Home? Watch Out for These 3 Key Flaws That Could Spell Trouble

Buying an Older Home? Watch Out for These 3 Key Flaws That Could Spell TroubleAre you a fan of homes with a bit more character than newer, modern designs? Whether in pristine condition or more of a “fixer upper,” older homes are incredibly popular in cities across the country. However, there are some key factors to consider if you’re thinking about buying a home built decades ago before modern standards were enforced.

Let’s take a look at three key design issues that you will need to be aware of if you’re thinking about buying an older house.

Old Electrical Designs Can Be A Significant Fire Hazard

No matter when a home was built, it’s almost guaranteed to have electrical wiring running through walls to supply rooms with lighting and power outlets. However, if the wiring was run in decades past it may be with older cords that are less able to withstand a modern workload. A quick check of the circuit-breaker panel or fuse box and the wires leading from it can give an idea just how old the wiring is. As older designs can be a fire hazard, you will want to ensure the wiring is up to date.

Poor Plumbing Design Can Lead To Rot Or Worse

Plumbing can also be an issue in older houses – especially those in states that experience a cold winter. Water pipes tend to expand and contract due to temperature, which can lead to stress and leaks over time. Moreover, even though older pipes are typically made of metal, they can still wear out. The last thing you need is to wake up to a flooded basement, so be sure to have the plumbing professionally inspected.

Is The Roof And Insulation Strong Enough?

While the roof might look solid from the outside, it may not be as well put together on the inside. Even the smallest of holes or leaks in roof membrane can wreak havoc on the structural integrity of the roof. It’s worth spending some time in the attic to inspect the inside of the roof, the condition of the insulation and how well the entire structure is holding up.

While the above list might sound a bit scary, it isn’t meant to turn you away from buying an older character home. If you’re diligent in checking out the home’s history and invest in a professional inspection, you’ll stay safe. When you’re ready to explore character home options in the local area, contact our local real estate professional.

Buying a New Home? Here’s Why Mortgage Pre-Approval Should Be Your First Step

Buying a New Home? Here's Why Mortgage Pre-Approval Should Be Your First StepAre you thinking about buying a new house, condo or apartment? Whether you are upgrading, downsizing or investing, if you intend on borrowing the funds you’ll need to be pre-approved for a mortgage. In today’s blog post we’ll explore mortgage pre-approval and why this should be one of your first steps in buying a new home.

Pre-Approval Helps To Determine Your Budget

Do you know your budget? Mortgage lenders consider many factors when deciding how much they are willing to lend to a home buyer. While your employment status, salary, assets and credit rating are important, they are all pieces of a larger puzzle that help a lender to determine your risk. So regardless of how spotless your credit rating might be, you’ll want to get pre-approved for a mortgage before trying to figure out your total purchase budget.

The size of your down payment will also be a factor in determining your overall budget. If you still have a bit of time before you’re ready to buy a home, continue to put money aside for your down payment. The more you have, the less you’ll need to borrow.

Once Pre-Approved You Are Ready To Make An Offer

Once you’re pre-approved for your mortgage, you’re ready to submit an offer for the home. Note that you do not need to bid high just because you are approved for a large mortgage. Work with your real estate agent to determine the right asking price for the home. Submitting a bid that’s a bit lower than you’re willing to pay leaves you with a bit of room in case the seller makes a counteroffer.

Many Sellers Will Demand Pre-Approval

Finally, don’t forget that many sellers will require that you are pre-approved for mortgage financing before they’ll accept a bid or offer. Many listings end up receiving multiple offers, especially those in hot real estate markets or popular communities. So if you table an offer without pre-approval, you may find that it is rejected in favor of another buyer who is ready to go.

Once you’ve been pre-qualified for mortgage financing, pre-approval is the final step in the process before you’re ready to make an offer and purchase your new dream home. For more information about the home buying process and to view some amazing listings in the local area, contact us today.

The Easy 3-Step Guide to Get Started With Real Estate Investing

The Easy 3-Step Guide to Get Started With Real Estate InvestingAre you interested in expanding your investment portfolio with hard, long-term assets that are almost certain to grow in value? If so, you will want to consider investing in real estate. Let’s take a look at how you can get started with real estate investing in just three easy steps.

Start By Budgeting Your Time And Money

Real estate investing is just that – investing! Moreover, this, of course, means that you’ll need to commit both money and time to see results. The great news is that if you’re just getting started with real estate investing, you don’t need to start with much of either. There are fund and other investment opportunities that will allow you to get started with as little as $1,000. Once you’re more familiar with investing in real estate, you can commit larger and larger sums, expanding your portfolio.

Figure Out Which Investment Option Suits You Best

If you’re new to the game or are investing smaller amounts, you may be interested in a Real Estate Investment Trust or “REIT.” REITs are essentially investment companies which own or finance income-producing real estate. For example, you may buy into a REIT that invests in commercial buildings, like office buildings or warehouses. The REIT will take care of all of the maintenance, leasing and other upkeep while offering a return to you as a shareholder.

If you’re starting with deeper pockets, another option is to simply buy your own properties and rent or lease them out. To be successful, you will need to find houses or apartments that are of good value and will see a decent amount of rental return each month.

Start Networking And Meeting Other Investors

Now that you’re ready to get started take some time to meet and network with other local investors who are active in your community. Check on Facebook to see if there are real estate investment groups for your city, or give a few quick Google searches to see if there are any meetups. You might be surprised at how friendly and ready to share information other investors are.

Be Ready To Experience Challenges And Setbacks

One important thing to keep in mind is that you are likely to experience challenges or setbacks along the way. You’re learning about a new form of investment – one which takes some skill to master. Stay positive and accept that as you gain experience, it will get easier.

Real estate investment is an excellent way to diversify your financial portfolio and grow your personal or family wealth. For more information about local real estate opportunities, contact your local real estate professional. We will be happy to show you some investment-ready local properties.

3 Useful Tips for First-time Homebuyers Trying to Navigate the System

3 Useful Tips for First-time Homebuyers Trying to Navigate the SystemWhether you’re tired of renting, need more space or want to make an upgrade, buying your first home is the solution. However, if you have never participated in the market before it can be a bit daunting at first. Let’s explore a few useful tips that are helpful for first-time homebuyers who are new to the process of buying real estate.

Tip #1: Begin With The End In Mind

Before you start exploring local home listings and shopping around, it’s worth asking yourself both what you ‘need’ in a home and what you ‘want’ in a home. For example, are you single or married? If you are married or are likely to be in the near future, are you planning on having a family? Will you need space for pets? What area of the city is most convenient for your commute? And so on. If you start by knowing exactly what you need, it will be that much easier to narrow down your options.

Tip #2: The Market Determines The Value Of A House

The second tip to keep in mind is that your local real estate market is what determines how much a home is worth. What you can afford has nothing to do with a home’s value, nor does your opinion of its current condition. In some cities, homes will sell with the intention of being torn down after the purchase completes.

Tip #3: Go Low, Start Slow

Finally, when you’re ready to make an offer, it should be one that is as low as possible without insulting the homeowner. Buying a house is not like buying groceries or clothing. The price isn’t fixed and is certainly going to be open to negotiation. Conversely, you shouldn’t be surprised if and when the seller makes a counteroffer against yours. The more you’re prepared for a lengthy back-and-forth to hammer out a final price, the more likely you are to be successful.

When you’re ready to buy your first home, contact your trusted real estate professional and we’ll be happy to help.

Ready to Buy Your First Home? Don’t Forget to Check Your Credit Score – Here’s Why

Ready to Buy Your First Home? Don't Forget to Check Your Credit Score – Here's WhyWhether you’re just out of college, recently married or simply haven’t jumped into the market yet, buying your first home is an exciting prospect. It can also be an expensive one, which is why most people will take out a mortgage to help finance the cost.

If you are planning on engaging with a mortgage lender, you’ll need to have your finances in order. In today’s post, we’ll share a few key reasons why you’ll want to check your credit score well in advance of buying your first home.

Your Credit Score Is A Signal For Lenders

As you know, mortgage lenders have a responsibility to lend to those individuals and families who are at a low risk of default. So when a mortgage lender starts to dig into your financial background, they are looking at your credit history and credit score to help them assess that risk.

Note that having a low score doesn’t necessarily mean you have bad credit. If you’re still in your 20s and have only had a credit card, your score might be low even though you are fully capable of managing a mortgage.

Your Score Impacts Your Mortgage Interest Rate

As mentioned above, your credit score helps to signify your risk. If your credit score is in a lower range, perhaps a 640 or 660, you’re presenting a greater risk than someone with a score of 760 or 800. Because of this, the interest rate that you pay on your mortgage will in part be determined by your credit score. Those individuals who present a higher risk pay a higher rate to compensate. And vice versa, if your credit is spotless you can expect to pay a lower interest rate.

You’ll Need Time To Challenge Any Issues

Finally, you’ll need to give yourself some lead time to challenge any irregularities with your credit report. The credit reporting agencies aren’t perfect and they do make mistakes. There may be some old, retired credit card or other debt sitting on your report which is holding the score down. Even worse, there may be some incorrect delinquency or other error which ends up as a big red flag for potential mortgage lenders.

As you can see, it’s worth spending the time to check your credit score. You get to check it for free once per year, so take advantage of the opportunity. And when you’re ready to discuss buying your first home, contact your local professional real estate agent. We’ll share how to navigate the credit score and mortgage process so you can land the home of your dreams.

Four Mistakes to Avoid When Making an Offer for Your Dream Home

Four Mistakes to Avoid When Making an Offer for Your Dream HomeYou’ve scoured the new home listings, been to all the open houses and have finally found the home of your dreams. It is now time to draft an offer and begin the negotiation process. Below we’ll share four mistakes that you will want to avoid when making an offer on your dream home.

Mistake #1 – Not Working With A Professional

The first mistake that home buyers make is trying to buy a home without using the services of a real estate professional. Buying a home is a significant financial transaction and one where the seller and their agent are working hard to ensure they come out ahead. Having experienced representation on your side of the table ensures that you won’t be taken advantage of.

Mistake #2 – Skipping The Home Inspection

The second mistake – and one that is more common than you think – is skipping the home inspection. There are countless instances of home buyers thinking that the house looks great on the outside without realizing that there are issues with the roof, the foundation, the plumbing, inside the walls or some other area that’s tough to see. Having the house professionally inspected before tabling an offer ensures that issues are fixed up before the transaction is complete. Alternately, if you’re willing to move ahead regardless, you can ask for the price to be reduced as compensation.

Mistake #3 – Not Being Pre-Approved For Financing

The third mistake in our list is making an offer on a home without being pre-approved for the amount of mortgage financing you will need. Regardless of how good your credit is, the mortgage application process is one that can present challenges. Also, many home sellers will require evidence of financing pre-approval before accepting an offer, so it’s best to come prepared.

Mistake #4 – Taking On Other Debts

Once you’ve decided on the home you want to purchase, you will want to avoid taking on any other debts which can affect your credit score. Don’t buy a car, open any new credit cards or do anything else which will show up on your credit report. Once you are pre-approved for your mortgage, you’ll want to keep your credit as spotless as possible to ensure that nothing goes wrong.

If you’re prepared and clear-headed, the offer process will go smoothly and you’ll soon be moving into your dream home. When you’re ready to explore local real estate options, contact your trusted real estate professional.

Real Estate Negotiations: 3 Tricks That You Can Use to Ensure Yours Is the Winning Bid

Real Estate Negotiations: 3 Tricks That You Can Use to Ensure Yours Is the Winning BidYou’ve toured through a number of listings, attended all the open houses and have found your potential new dream home. Now the hard part begins, especially if you’re working against other buyers who are keen on getting the same home as you. Let’s take a look at three tricks that you can use to make sure the bid you submit on a home is the one that wins.

Don’t Start With A Lowball Offer

First, it’s important to note that the offer itself needs to be a fair one. If you approach a home seller with a low offer, you’ll likely discover that they’re not too interested in accepting it. Even worse, if your offer is too low, you risk the seller feeling insulted. And that might prevent you from being able to counter with a higher price to be more competitive. Instead, consider bidding on the low end of a reasonable, fair price range as your starting bid. That way the seller knows that you’re serious and is more willing to entertain the conversation.

Let A Real Estate Agent Handle It

If you want to make an offer that a seller can’t refuse, you’ll want to work with a real estate agent. An experienced agent that has helped dozens of buyers with the purchasing process will have critical knowledge that will be useful in making the right bid. Plus, if you end up receiving a counter-offer from the seller, an agent can assist you with understanding the terms and touching up your bid to get the deal done.

Keep Your Cool And Be Ready For The Counter

Speaking of counter-offers, you’ll want to ensure that you keep an open mind when it comes to negotiating with the home seller. Unless your offer is close to or over the listing price, the seller is likely to counter your opening bid. This is normal and is a sign that they’re interested, so from here it’s your job to ensure that you sweeten the deal just enough that they’re willing to close.

These are just a few of the ways that you can ensure that the bid you make on a home is the one the seller accepts. For more tips and insight into buying a house in your area, contact your local real estate professional today. We look forward to connecting!

Wrapping It All Up: Don’t Forget These Important Tasks After Closing on Your New Home

Wrapping It All Up: Don't Forget These Important Tasks After Closing on Your New HomeThe negotiations are over. The seller has accepted your bid and the paperwork has been signed. Shortly, you’ll be handed the keys to your new home and you can start moving in. But of course, the work doesn’t end after the real estate closing process. In fact, it’s just beginning! In today’s article, we’ll share a few essential tasks that you’ll want to get to work on after the closing process is over.

Backup And Copy All Of The Paperwork

If you haven’t bought a house before, you’ll soon discover that there is a lot of paperwork involved in getting the deal done. From title deeds to tax documentation, the sheer number of forms that need to be read through and signed may seem endless. Once the closing process wraps up, it’s a good idea to make copies of all of the paperwork. Store these backups in a safe place where they can be referred to later if needed.

Change All Of The Locks

Next, you’ll want to change all of the exterior locks on the house. It might seem a bit overkill, but securing your home is important. Re-keying the locks is a one-time cost that can end up paying significant dividends should anyone attempt to break in. It’s also a chance to upgrade to stronger, more secure deadbolts. If you have a home alarm system or any keypad-style locks, be sure to change the codes on those as well.

Inspect The Water Heater

While it was almost certainly checked during the home inspection, take the time to have a quick look at the water heater. You’ll want to check the temperature setting to ensure it’s reasonable. Don’t forget that maintaining a high hot water temperature can be expensive over the long-term.

Give The Gutters A Quick Check

Finally, it’s worth getting out the ladder to give all of the gutters a quick inspection. Clogged gutters can end up causing significant roof damage if left unchecked. You’ll want to ensure that both the horizontal gutters and the vertical drains are clear of leaves, twigs and other debris. As long as rainwater can drain out smoothly, you’re all set. Note that safety should be your priority here. If you don’t have a suitable ladder or you aren’t comfortable with heights, consider paying a professional.

The closing process is always an exciting time. If you’re in the market for a new home or would like to know more about real estate opportunities in the local area, contact your local real estate professional.