Shellie Bratton's Blog
There are so many factors that go into finding and securing the financing to buy a home. While lenders require quite a bit of information for you to get a loan, you still need to be aware of your own financial picture. Even if you’re pre-approved for a certain amount of money to buy a home, you still need to dig into your finances a bit deeper than a lender would. The bottom line is that you can't rely solely on a lender to tell you how much you can afford for a monthly payment on a home. Even if you’re approved to borrow the maximum amount of money for your finances to buy a home, it doesn’t mean that you actually should use that amount. There are so many other real world things that you need to consider outside of the basic numbers that are plugged into a mortgage formula.
Run Your Own Numbers
It’s important to sit down and do your own budget when you’re getting ready to buy a home. You have plenty of monthly expenses including student loan debt, car payments, utility bills, and more. Don’t forget that you need to eat too! Think about what your lifestyle is like. How much do you spend on food? Do you go out to the movies often or spend a regular amount of cash on clothing? Even if you plan to make adjustments to these habits when buying a home, you’ll want to think honestly about all of your needs and spending habits before signing on to buy a home.
Now, you’ll know what your true monthly costs are. Be sure to include things like home insurance, property taxes, monthly utilities, and any other personal monthly expenses in this budget. If you plan to put down a lower amount on the home, you’ll also need to include additional insurance costs like private mortgage insurance (PMI).
The magic number that you should remember when it comes to housing costs is 30%. This is the percentage of your monthly income that you should plan to spend on housing. Realistically, this could make your budget tight so this is often thought of as a maximum percentage. By law, a lender can’t approve a mortgage that would take up more than 35% of your monthly income. Some lenders have even stricter requirements such as not allowing a borrower to have a mortgage that would be more than 28% of monthly income. This is where the debt-to-income ratio comes into play.
As you can see, it’s important to take an earnest look at your finances to avoid larger money issues when you buy a home.
If you've recently put your home on the market -- or are considering doing so in the near future -- home staging is a priority which will soon take front and center!
Since "presentation is everything" when trying to catch the interest of prospective buyers, it's crucial to be able to see things through their eyes.
Unfortunately, being able to accomplish that objective is next to impossible because, as a homeowner, you're looking at your home and property through a completely different lens than the rest of the world. The longer you've lived in your home, the more your objectivity is compromised.
Here are a few reasons why it's really difficult to "see the forest for the trees" when it comes to home staging:
First of all, there's the emotional aspect of owning a home and seeing your life unfold there over a period of years. That's especially true for first-time homeowners, parents of growing children, and people who have sunk a lot of money, time, and energy into improvements and customization. Once you've added personal touches to your home to reflect your own tastes, personality, and lifestyle, you're viewing your home through a unique perspective that may cloud your objectivity as a home seller.
Solution: Think Like a Business Owner
For the same reason business owners and executives hire outside consultants to tell them how to improve management efficiency or profitability, home sellers often need professional marketing guidance from a real estate agent or home staging consultant. Getting input from home decorators, landscapers, or home improvement contractors may also provide you with helpful ideas, but their recommendations may not always be the most economical and cost effective.
When staging your home to enhance eye appeal and attract the most potential buyers, a good guiding principle to keep in mind is ROI or "return on investment." While you don't want to sink more money into sprucing up and staging your home than necessary, you do want to cast it in its best possible light. Depending on how recently your home has been updated or improved, your investment in home staging may be relatively inexpensive. On the other hand, if you haven't updated, repaired, or made improvements for more years than you care to remember, the cost of making your home irresistible to buyers may be a lot higher!
One More Scenario
If your tastes could be described as eclectic, "off the wall", or otherwise out of the mainstream, you might need to consider a major overall in the look and feel of your property. Unless you're lucky enough to have it be a "sellers' market" at the time you're putting your house up for sale, it's generally advisable to make your home appealing to as wide a range of potential buyers as possible. An experienced real estate professional is usually in the best position to provide the guidance you need to accomplish that key objective.
Let's face it – even though many great homes are available, securing your dream house at the best price can be extremely difficult due to the sheer volume of homebuyers. Lucky for you, we're here to help you stand out from the competition so you can purchase your ideal home at a price that matches your budget.
What does it take to differentiate yourself from the homebuying competition? Here are three tips to help homebuyers gain a competitive edge over rivals:
1. Submit a Competitive Offer
There is no time for hesitation in a highly competitive real estate market. Thus, if you see a home that you like, be ready to submit a competitive offer immediately.
With a competitive offer, you can improve your chances of securing your dream home in no time at all. This offer shows that you are serious about purchasing a residence – something that may help your proposal stand out from others. Plus, a competitive offer will be based on housing market data and research, ensuring that your proposal will meet your needs as well as a home seller's.
Furthermore, if a home seller counters your initial offer, be ready to negotiate. Keep an open mind, and ultimately, you may be able to land your dream house quickly and effortlessly.
2. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage
Getting pre-approved for a mortgage enables you to establish realistic expectations before you begin your search for your perfect home.
Check out what various credit unions and banks have to offer prior to agreeing to mortgage terms. By doing so, you can find a mortgage that will correspond with your finances.
With a mortgage in hand, you can start your home search. Be sure to explore lots of houses that fall within your price range. And when you're ready to submit an offer, a home seller may be more likely to accept your proposal thanks in part to the fact that you have already secured financing.
3. Employ an Experienced Real Estate Agent
Real estate agents possess plenty of housing marketing knowledge and expertise. Therefore, they can help you streamline the process of securing the perfect residence.
Finding a real estate agent who understands the ins and outs of the housing market is paramount. This real estate professional will keep you informed about new houses in your area as they become available, set up home showings and even help you submit competitive offers on residences. In addition, if you're ever uncertain about how to proceed, your real estate agent can offer guidance and tips throughout the homebuying journey.
Perhaps best of all, your real estate agent will respond to your homebuying concerns and queries. He or she is happy to help you in any way possible and will ensure that you can differentiate yourself from the homebuying competition.
Hire an experienced real estate agent, and you can gain a competitive edge that is sure to serve you well in any housing market, at any time.