Student Loans vs. Down Payments: 3 Ways You Can Manage Both and Buy a New Home

Student Loans vs. Down Payments: 3 Ways You Can Manage Both and Buy a New HomeThe idea of paying off your student loans and buying a home at the same time can seem like an impossible feat given the impact on your Debt-to-Income (DTI) ratio. However, there are ways it’s possible to have enough funds and good enough credit to make your dream of home ownership come true a little more quickly. If you’re currently considering how to manage both, here are some options you might want to consider.

Decrease Your Debt

Lenders will be looking at your DTI ratio in order to determine whether or not you’re a solid financial bet, so before throwing yourself into the market, it can be a good idea to minimize your debt load. While this doesn’t mean paying off all of your student loans, try putting more down over a period of a few months so you have additional wiggle room. By making a budget plan that you can stick to, you’ll slowly eat away at the principal and have a little more room to invest when the time comes.

Add Another Income

You’re probably working pretty hard in your post-student life to make ends meet and pay off debt, but one of the best ways to pay off two loans is to bump up your income. Whether you decide to find something part-time on the weekend or hone one of your skills for freelance profit, a little bit of extra money each month can make a huge dent in the amount you owe in no time at all.

Consider A Starter Home

It’s entirely possible that you’ve got your eye on your ideal home, but if you’re dealing with student debt there’s a pretty good chance that the monthly payment will be unattainable. Instead of choosing a home that’s out of your league, make your dream of ownership come true by picking something that will be affordable month to month. While it might not be exactly the house you’re dreaming of, you’ll still be putting equity into something so you’ll have money to invest down the road.

It’s certainly not an easy feat to take on student loans and mortgage debt at the same time, but by improving your income and paying down as much as possible before investing, you may be able to do both at once.

Feeling ‘Priced Out’ of Your Local Market? Here’s How You Can Still Buy a Great New Home

Feeling 'Priced Out' of Your Local Market? Here's How You Can Still Buy a Great New HomeIf you’re trying to buy a new home, few things are more frustrating than a hot real estate market. When home prices are climbing fast it can feel like you’ll never be able to save enough for your down payment. In today’s post we’ll share a few ways that you can get in – even if you’re feeling priced out.

Start Smaller And Upgrade Later

If you’re a single professional or a young couple, it might be wise to start with a smaller starter home. While a townhouse or condo might not feel as large as a detached house, they are more affordable options. Starting small allows you to build equity in your home. This, plus your increased earning power as you work for longer, can open up more home options later.

Another benefit of starting small is that you’ll already have a home. If the local real estate market experiences a quick change, you won’t need to scramble. You can plan to buy a larger home – that ‘perfect’ house – when the time is right.

Bring In Family As Investors

Do you have family members who might be willing to provide a loan or financing? If so, start the conversation with them to see if they are willing to co-invest in your new home.

There are many ways to bring in family as investors when you buy. They can provide a straight loan of funds to increase your down payment. Or if they want to be less involved, they can co-sign your mortgage, which will allow you to borrow a larger amount. In many areas, a family member or investor can also be a legal co-owner of the house or the property it sits on.

Make Use Of Experienced Professionals

Finally, don’t forget to ask the local experts for more advice. Real estate agents and mortgage brokers are in-tune with the local market. They spend each day helping buyers like you with understanding their options. If you’re short on ideas, a real estate professional is a great place to start.

It can be tough to stay positive when you’re feeling priced out of the local real estate market. But with a little ingenuity and planning, you can get out of the rental market and into a great new home.

Buying a Home on a Single Income? 3 Budgeting Tips That Will Make Things Easier

Buying a Home on a Single Income? 3 Budgeting Tips That Will Make Things EasierAre you thinking about buying that perfect new home? Whether you’re buying for yourself or a new home for a family, there will be many costs involved. Let’s take a look at 3 budgeting tips that will help make home ownership on a single income easier.

Get A Full Picture Of Home Ownership Costs

Buying a home is never as simple as paying a mortgage payment each month. So, as with most budgets the first place to start is a full consideration of everything involved.

On top of your mortgage, what other monthly costs will come up? Consider utilities like electricity, phone, cable, water and others. You’ll be responsible for property taxes, so find out how much other local owners are paying. If you’re buying into a community, you may have to pay monthly fees to a homeowners’ association.

When you’re visiting open houses and talking to owners, be sure to get a full picture of their monthly costs. It will help you build a responsible budget.

Keep Your Credit As Strong As Possible

It might sound obvious, but keeping your credit or FICO score spotless is important. Buying a home on a single income means that you’ll need a mortgage. Depending on the home you’re buying, this might be significant. Your credit score is one of many factors your lender will use to assess you, but it’s the most important. So keep those bills paid on time and avoid any black marks on your credit report.

Plan Ahead For Unexpected Budget Shocks

Don’t forget to think ahead at events that — while unlikely — may shock your finances. Having one income means that you’re one negative health event away from being out of work. What happens if the income-earner gets sick, fired or laid off? Is there other work nearby, or would you need to move? Consider the different types of insurance you can get on your mortgage and home. And how much you’ll need to put away in a ‘rainy day fund’ each month.

While it might be a bit more of a struggle, it’s still possible to buy a home on a single income. For more tips and insight, be sure to contact your local real estate professional. They’ll be able to share how other single-income families have bought homes in your local market.

Real Estate Investment: Three Telltale Signs You’re Not Cut Out to Be a Landlord

Real Estate Investment: Three Telltale Signs You're Not Cut Out to Be a LandlordThe idea of purchasing a property and having renters can be an exciting business venture that offers lucrative financial rewards. However, there’s a lot involved in being a successful landlord and it’s important to be aware of what’s required before making the commitment. Whether you’re investing in one rental property or five, here are some questions you should ask yourself before getting involved.

Can You Do-It-Yourself?

There’s a lot more to being a landlord than taking the rental check, and one of these things is being there for the tenant when push comes to shove. If there are issues with the heating or the fridge breaks down, you’re going to be the one who has to facilitate or complete the repair, so you’ll need to have the wherewithal to fix problems effectively. While there are many situations where a repairperson can help, having some DIY skills goes a long way towards turning a better profit.

Do You Have The Time?

Weeks and even months may go by where your tenant requires little to nothing from you, but if you own an older property or have several renters, even maintaining the place can get to be quite a bit of a chore. It can be a good expenditure to have a contractor take care of these issues, but you’ll still have to use your time to find the right person and oversee the budget. If you already have a pretty full schedule, being a landlord will add a lot more to the pile.

Can You Deal With The Risk?

It can be easy to turn a profit if you have a renter, but if you happen to own property in a vacation area or a community on a downturn, it may be more difficult to find renters consistently. There may be periods of time where tenants are scarce, and this means that you’ll have to be comfortable with financial instability in order to weather the storm. While the moneymaking months can make up for the off-season, if you doubt your ability to take on the financial risk, this may not be the right choice.

Being a landlord is a considerable responsibility that will require you to take on financial risk and serve your tenants effectively and efficiently. If you’re thinking of becoming a landlord and are looking for a rental property, you may want to contact one of our real estate professionals for more information.

Buying Small, Living Large: 4 Big Pros to Buying a Smaller House or Condo

Buying Small, Living Large: 4 Big Pros to Buying a Smaller House or CondoAre you on the hunt for a more efficient living space? Whether you’re a first-time buyer or downsizing from a larger home, buying small can still mean living big. Let’s explore four positives to living in a smaller, more intimate house or condo.

You’re Going To Save Money

The first, most obvious and most exciting reason is that you’re going to save money. The home itself will cost less than a larger one, especially if there is less land or property included. Even better: the money you save on space can be re-invested in quality. Losing a bedroom or two but having brand-new appliances? It might be a fair trade.

It’s Much Easier To Customize

Are you excited to renovate and customize your home to suit your family’s tastes? A smaller space is going to be far easier to make changes to. And while you may think that this limits your options, that’s not the case. As long as you buy with renovations in mind, you’ll be all set.

Bear in mind that some upgrades won’t work with a smaller home. For example, you may not be able to add that large deck or patio you’ve always wanted. Before you buy a small home, make sure it suits your future vision.

Living Small Is More Energy Efficient

Yes, it’s true: living smaller means using less energy. Much of the energy we use in our homes is for heating and/or cooling our living space. The smaller the home, the less energy needed for either. Depending on where you live, that difference can mean a lot of energy — and money — saved.

Cleaning Is A Lot Less Of A Chore

The smaller the space, the less of it there is to clean. It’s as simple as that. Even if the difference in cleaning time is as short as an hour each week, it adds up. Over ten years, that small one-hour difference becomes a total of more than three weeks! So if you’d rather not spend extra weeks or months cleaning your home, a smaller space is a big plus.

If you want to leave a smaller footprint, a great place to start is with a smaller new home. Contact your real estate agent today to learn more about small houses and condos in your local area.

Real Estate Investing: How to Find — and Hang on to — Great Rental Tenants

Real Estate Investing: How to Find -- and Hang on to -- Great Rental TenantsIt’s great news if you have enough financial capital that you have the option of investing in a rental property, but being able to afford it is only half the battle. Since you’ll need to find and keep the right renters in order to make a profit, here are some ways that you can ensure your property will be a financial benefit.

Price It Right

It’s important to turn a profit, but overpricing your property may mean that you’ll have limited options. Instead of making it a guessing game, take a look at the rent in the neighborhood and read through the listings to determine a potential price. This will enable you to find the ideal tenant who knows your apartment is worth what you’re charging without pricing yourself out of the market.

Keep It Clean

A lived-in home can be quite time consuming to show well, but it’s very important to clean up before potential renters see it. While a spick-and-span space that is clutter free will give viewers the sense that you’re a responsible landlord, a disorganized area full of stuff will probably lead them to look elsewhere.

Go With Your Gut

It may be one thing for a potential tenant to have good references and ample income, but it’s important to think about more than what a person looks like on paper when choosing a tenant. Instead of going for the sure bet, choose a tenant that you feel you can trust as they might just be the least likely to let you down.

Deal With The Details

There are numerous stories about bad landlords, but it’s important to attend to the needs of your tenants so that you can avoid a high turnover rate. While the wrong tenant can be difficult to deal with, the right tenant will be someone that will behave responsibly and will expect the same from you. This means you’ll have to fix minor repairs and replace leaking faucets in a timely manner, and you’ll be able to expect the same courtesy when it comes to paying on time.

Having a rental property can be a very beneficial investment, but it’s important to be a good landlord and set the right rental price so that you can retain good tenants. If you’re currently searching for an investment property, contact your local real estate professional for more information.

Buyer’s Remorse: 3 Things You Should Never Say When You’re Negotiating to Buy a Home

Buyer's Remorse: 3 Things You Should Never Say When You're Negotiating to Buy a HomeThe prospect of finding the home you’ve always dreamed of can be such an exciting prospect that it’s easy to forget all about the process of negotiating. However, it’s important to keep a few things to yourself when it comes to the art of making the deal. If you’re currently searching for the right place and are preparing to sign on the dotted line, here are a few phrases it’s best to avoid.

Declaring It Your Dream Home

There’s nothing wrong with finding the ideal home and getting enthusiastic about the prospect of owning it, but it’s very important not to say too much to the homeowner or the homeowner’s agent. While it’s certainly welcome to be a polite home viewer and mention some of the features you like, giving away too much will inform the homeowner of just how much leverage they have with you. This can mean they may request a higher price since they know how interested you are.

What You’re Willing To Pay

It might seem up front and honest to declare the price range that you’re willing to spend on a home, but if a homeowner knows what your limitations are, they’ll likely push you past them. While you may be willing to pay more for a home you truly love, it’s important that you’re investing a reasonable amount into the home and not paying much over market value for your property. Instead of being too forward, keep your offer to yourself until it’s on the table.

Critiquing Their Price Point

If you’re truly interested in a home, it can be pretty difficult to realize that it’s not within your price range. However, it’s unnecessary to mention this to the buyer as it’s entirely possible that the price is comparable to other homes of a similar style in the neighborhood. After all, there’s always a chance that the home will stay on the market and drop down in value, and this may be the point at which you can get your foot in the door.

When it comes to buying a home, the process of negotiating can be fraught with stress for many people. However, it’s important to keep your price range and your impressions to yourself so that you can get the best deal possible. If you’re currently on the market for your dream home, contact one of our real estate professionals for more information.

Thinking About Buying a ‘Fixer Upper’? Here’s What You Need to Know

Thinking About Buying a 'Fixer Upper'? Here's What You Need to KnowWith all of the home renovation and fixer-upper shows on television, the idea of completely renovating and re-doing an old home can seem like an enticing premise. Unfortunately, investing in the wrong fixer-upper can mean an awful lot of expenditure without the added financial rewards. Whether you’re considering investing down the road or are ready to dive in, here are a few things to consider first.

How Much Do You Want To Spend?

It’s easy to be swept away by possibility, but before making an offer you’ll need to sit down and determine exactly what you’re willing to invest into upgrades for your fixer-upper. By deciding what you would want to renovate, what the cost of materials and labor would be and how this figures into the market price of the home, you’ll be able to determine if the price you’re offering will be worth it.

Are Major Repairs Required?

It’s one thing to consider a nice paint job and new tiling in the kitchen, but if there are serious issues with the home, it can create huge financial issues to put money into it. Because foundational issues or water damage throughout the home can be expensive items to repair and will take time and resources, fixing these issues may cost more than the money you’ll make. If you’re uncertain about what you’re getting into, it may be a wise decision to bypass the investment all together.

Are You Willing To Work?

Most home fixer-uppers that people buy can be financially lucrative because the buyer is interested in doing a lot of the work themselves. However, if you’re thinking of hiring people to do the work for you, this can end up costing a lot more money and eating any profits the renovations might have created. It’s also important to realize that renovations can go over budget. Instead of being idealistic about a fixer-upper, ensure you’re certain it’s what you really want so that you’re not stuck with a home you don’t want to invest your efforts into.

The idea of digging in and getting your hands dirty with purchasing a fixer-upper may be endearing, but if you’re not truly prepared for the responsibilities it can be a drain on your time and your finances. If you’re currently considering purchasing a home in need of help in your neighborhood, contact one of our real estate professionals for more information.

Buying Real Estate vs. Buying Stocks: Here’s Why a Home Should Be Your Priority

Buying Real Estate vs. Buying Stocks: Here's Why a Home Should Be Your PriorityOnce you’re done with debt and you’ve started to save, it’s commonly the case that you’ll start hearing about the risks and rewards of investing in stocks or real estate. Unfortunately, it can be difficult for many people to know what type of investment is going to work better for them down the road. If you’re currently considering what you should put your money into, here are some reasons you may want to turn to real estate.

It’s Something You Can See

While investing in the stock market will give you the ability to invest as little or as much as you want, a home will take a monthly payment and a down payment in order to make the deal. Fortunately, this means that you’ll be investing money every month into something that belongs to you and that you can see. A home is not only something you can invest in all the time, it will enable you to avoid putting money into rent that you’ll never get back.

Saving Money On Tax Breaks

There may be a certain amount of volatility with any market investment, but when it comes to buying a home you also have the benefit of tax breaks that are designed specifically for homeowners. In addition to the ability to deduct interest on your main residence if you’ve lived in your property for a minimum of two of the last five years, you’ll also be able to sell it tax-free. Investing in a home certainly takes savings, but there are many available tax benefits that can save money.

A Sense Of Security

Many people want to invest in a home because it offers up a piece of something that they can really own. However, another appealing aspect of having a home is that you’ll be removed from the day-to-day rumblings of the stock market. Investing can make people more than a little weary, even if they’re knowledgeable about the markets, and this can cause people to sell off and lose money when the going gets tough.

Investing in real estate and the stock market both involve some degree of financial risk, but you might not be aware that there are several added benefits of buying a home. From the tax break incentives to the sense of security, real estate can often be the better financial route to take. If you’re currently considering a home, contact one of our real estate professionals for more information.

Making the Grade: How to Research Local Schools Before Buying Your Next Home

Making the Grade: How to Research Local Schools Before Buying Your Next HomeThere are so many things involved in moving into a new home in a different neighborhood that it can be easy to forget about the proximity of many nearby amenities. However, if you have children, the local schools available can make-or-break the decision on whether or not to invest in a house. If you’re wondering how you can find out more about the local school, let the following tips be your guide.

Take a Web-Search To SchoolMatch.com

One of the benefits of so many things being online these days is that local schools are no exception, and SchoolMatch.com is a great resource that puts this information at your fingertips. While you’ll have to pay a fee to get the details on many public and private institutions, this resource features ratings on schools throughout the country which can make it worth the price.

Contact The NAEYC

With a wealth of information on preschools, kindergartens and elementary schools located throughout the country, the National Association for the Education of Young Children is another helpful website to visit. While the organization offers informational pamphlets that can help you decide a school’s benefits, you can also call in if you want to speak with someone directly about a particular institution.

Make A Visit To The Neighborhood

While it can take a lot of time to visit the schools in the neighborhood you’re considering, this is a great way for you to get a sense of the area you’re moving to and what it affords. By taking a walk through the hallways to view the building’s upkeep and even visiting the office to talk with the Principal, you’ll be able to decide whether it’s a good fit.

Talk To An Agent

It might seem a bit strange to talk to a realtor about local schools, but real estate agents are responsible for providing a multitude of information to potential homebuyers so they have to be in the know. Whether they’re able to help you with a house or not, it’s certain they’ll have some of the basic details about your neighborhood’s educational offerings, whether it’s good or bad.

There are a variety of amenities that can improve the appeal of a new neighborhood, but good schools are a necessity when it comes to the kids.