How Can Homebuyers Gain a Competitive Edge?

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.

Know This Before You Buy a Short Sale

In this market, short sales can sometimes be a good deal for a buyer but they also come with some potential pitfalls. A short sale is when a seller needs to sell their home for less than they owe on their mortgage. In order to get a bargain and not a headache you will need to do your homework. Here are some tips for protecting yourself before buying a short sale.

1. Use experts

It is important that before you buy a short sale you assemble a team of experts. During the initial phase you will need help identifying which homes are being offered as short sales. The nature of short sales are different, you will also need help determining a purchase price and what to include in your offer.

A real estate attorney who is knowledgeable in short sales is also key. Navigating the process of a short sale can be tricky so you will need an experienced short sale attorney to help deal with the potential of multiple liens, mechanic’s and condominium liens, or homeowners association liens. Often homes that are in short sale have these issues and without help will be harder to purchase.

2. Prepare emotionally

If you want a good deal on a short sale you will probably have to be in it for the long haul. It is important to stay patient, and remain unemotional during what can sometimes be a lengthy and emotionally difficult process. You may even want to consider a title search upfront. This could weed out properties with multiple liens if you are under a time crunch.

3. Know the market

In order to successfully purchase a short sale you need to know the marketplace. When a lender agrees to a short sale, they are agreeing to losing money on the loan they made to purchase the home. A short sale can be a good deal but it usually not a steal. The lender also knows the fair market value of the home and wants to minimize their losses. If your offer is too low, you chance it being rejected. During the process we will determine a price range that works with your budget and is hopefully one that the lender will accept.

4. Know the Process

The short sale process is different than that of a standard sale. The agreement to sell the home for less than is owed is actually made between the seller and the lender, not the seller and the buyer. The seller must first gain approval from the lender before the sale can be finalized.

First, you would make an offer on a home and the sellers must consent to your offer to purchase. Then the sellers must submit the offer to their lender. The seller also sends along documentation to the bank as to why they need to sell the home for less than is owed. The seller should also have an attorney to help them with this process.

Lenders typically do not move quickly on this process. It can often take weeks or months to get an answer. This is why is often best to put a competitive offer first. If several lien holders are involved; each can make a counteroffer or just reject your offer.

5. Firm up your financing

Lenders don’t just look at the amount you are willing to pay for the home; they will also weigh your ability to close the transaction. If have a strong offer lenders will look more closely at your offer. You will want to make sure you are pre-approved for a mortgage for any consideration. Other factors that could influence the decision in a positive way are: having a large down payment, ability to close at any time, and flexibility. They will often not consider your offer if you have a contingency.

Reasons for Homebuyers to Listen to a Real Estate Agent

Do you need to hire a real estate agent to help you find your dream home? The choice is yours, but ultimately, your decision to hire a real estate agent to guide you along the homebuying process may determine whether you’re able to find your ideal house quickly and effortlessly.

Your real estate agent can provide plenty of tips as you search for homes. In fact, there are many terrific reasons to listen to your real estate agent throughout the homebuying process, including:

1. Comprehensive Resources

Although you may have a vast array of online resources at your disposal, your real estate likely can provide additional insights you won’t find elsewhere.

For instance, your real estate can collaborate with a home seller’s real estate agent to better understand a seller’s preferences. This may allow you to find out whether a seller is looking for a quick sale, how much this seller would accept for his or her residence and other “insider” information.

Your real estate agent is happy to provide you with extra resources as well. This professional can send you regular email updates of home listings in particular areas, set up a home showing as soon as a new residence in a specific city or town becomes available and do whatever it takes to ensure you can find your ideal home immediately.

2. Extensive Negotiating Skills

Don’t enter a home negotiation without a real estate agent at your side. With a real estate agent who understands what it takes to handle a high-pressure negotiation, you should have no trouble striking a fair deal with a home seller.

Your real estate agent likely understands how to stay calm, cool and collected in even the most stressful negotiation. Meanwhile, this professional can pass along tips to help you confidently submit an offer on a home and await a seller’s response.

Ultimately, the negotiating tips and support you receive from your real estate agent can make a world of difference in your efforts to buy a high-quality residence. And in the end, the guidance that your real estate agent provides may help you secure your ideal home.

3. Honesty and Reliability

Sometimes, it can be tough to trust a real estate agent. But if you do your homework and hire a real estate agent who is both honest and reliable, you can enjoy consistent support throughout the homebuying process.

Employing a first-rate real estate agent ensures you’ll be able to receive unbiased feedback as you search for your dream home, too.

For example, an honest real estate agent won’t be afraid to point out both the pros and cons of a particular home. This feedback will enable you to make a more informed decision and may bolster your chances of purchasing a residence that you can enjoy for years to come.

Listen to your real estate agent throughout the homebuying process – you’ll be happy you did! By doing so, you can receive expert tips to ensure you’re able to buy your dream house at a price that fits your budget.

How to Secure the Best Possible Mortgage Rate

Securing the best mortgage for your home may seem challenging, particularly for those who are first-time homebuyers. Fortunately, we’re here to help you get the best possible mortgage rate, regardless of the real estate market.

Here are three tips that you can use to get the best mortgage rate at any time:

1. Find Ways to Improve Your Credit Score.

Your credit score likely will influence your mortgage rate. However, those who track their credit score closely can improve this score over an extended period of time. That way, when the time comes to secure a mortgage for a new home, you’ll be in great position to get the best mortgage rate possible.

Try to check your credit score regularly. You can do so quickly and easily, as you’re entitled to one free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each of the three nationwide credit reporting companies (Equifax, Experian and Trans Union).

To improve your credit score, focus on paying off any outstanding debt. This will help you enhance your credit score without delay.

2. Take Advantage of a Shorter-Term Mortgage.

Although you may consider a variety of mortgage options, a shorter-term mortgage may allow you to pay a lower mortgage rate for a shorter period of time.

Remember, just because you choose a 15-year mortgage over a 30-year mortgage does not mean you will wind up paying twice as much for your mortgage payment each month.

For example, selecting a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage over a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage may prove to be a viable option for many homebuyers.

A 15-year fixed-rate mortgage will have higher principal and interest totals than a 30-year counterpart, while the insurance and tax fees associated with both types of mortgages will remain the same.

3. Look at All of the Lending Options That Are Available.

It sometimes can be overwhelming to look at all of the banks, credit unions and other lending options that provide mortgage assistance. Diligent homebuyers, however, will dedicate the time and resources necessary to explore all of the lending options at their disposal to make an informed decision.

Ideally, you should try to get multiple quotes from a variety of lenders. This will enable you to see exactly what each lender has to offer and improve your chances of making the best decision possible.

Lastly, don’t forget to lock in your mortgage rate in writing. By doing so, you’ll be able to verify you have the mortgage rate you like and the loan you need to secure your dream home.

Understanding the ins and outs of landing the ideal mortgage rate can be difficult. And if you ever have concerns or questions along the way, your real estate agent may be able to point you in the right direction as well. Because this agent boasts comprehensive real estate sector experience, he or she may be able to provide guidance and tips to ensure that you can find a reliable lender and land a great mortgage rate.

Find a mortgage rate that works for you, and you may be able to save money over the life of your mortgage.

Looking For a Condo

When it comes to searching for a home, there are a lot of factors that you have to consider. This is especially the case if you are shopping for condos, as you will be sharing a lot of common space with your neighbors as well. The first thing to look into is the overall interactivity that goes on within the block of condos you are considering to make your home. In most cases, it is always better to find a condo that has an interactive community, because this in turn means that you never have to worry that someone might not be doing their part in keeping the block of properties maintained and in good condition.

One thing to be careful of is that some communities do not allow pets, and so if you are looking for a condo for you and your pets, then you need to make sure that the community has no problem with this. In the end, you have to find a condo that is able to be comfortable to live in, and where there is the least amount of stress. While it can be very beneficial to live in a community, it can at times be stressful if you are not one to go by strenuous rules. For some people, the idea of owning a home means that they have the freedom of choice to do what they want in their property.

One of the most important things to look into when buying a condo is the condo fees. What are they and what will they be down the road? Are they set condo fees, or could they become too costly to pay down the road? Some condos fees go up to the point that makes the great price you got on the condo not look so great because of what you are paying in taxes and condo fees. One of pluses of a condo is no maintenance and a lot of people really like that especially in your later years when you don’t want to mow the lawn or shovel the sidewalks. A condo is a great option for many buyers and you can generally get into a condo for a fair price.

Mortgages Made Easy for the Self-Employed

Getting a mortgage these days can be tough and it is even tougher for small-business owners. Potential self-employed borrowers usually have variability in their income streams. Today, banks are requiring more financial documentation from all buyers, and self-employed borrowers tend to face more scrutiny.

Small-business owners may have a smaller income because they are typically knowledgeable about tax deductions and credits. This often reduces the amount of taxable income they have. Reducing the amount of taxable income on your tax returns means to the lender there is less income to qualify for a loan.

There are ways self-employed borrowers can increase their chances of getting a home loan, however. Here are a few tips:

What is the lenders history?

Find out if the lender has a history of working with self-employed borrowers. Self-employed borrowers should focus more on finding a lender that will understand their situation rather than shop the loan rate. There are individual loan officers who will be able to think out of the box or come up with solutions. The lender you choose is key.

Consider portfolio lenders.

Portfolio lenders have more flexibility in originating loans because they don’t have to sell the loan to Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae. Portfolio lenders hold their own loans. That makes a big difference in their ability to loan. Another option may to consider credit unions. Many credit unions also keep a good portion of loans on their books.

Boost your income.

Show you make as much money as possible on your tax return. You might need to amend your tax returns. Some lenders will look at a loan application again if they have sent in amended returns to the government. Sometimes by rethinking deductions and credits on income taxes, a borrower can increase his qualifying income. Of course, with this strategy, the borrower would also face a new tax bill.

Get Off the Fence

Whether you are a buyer or a seller it is time to get off the fence. Despite years of bad news surrounding the real estate market, the time has come when it is both a good time to be a buyer and a seller.

Why Buy?

Here are just a few reasons why you should get off the fence and buy:

1. When investors start gobbling up real estate you know it’s a good deal. In 2011, investors upped their buying by 64%.  While it is still not time to start flipping for a profit the clock is ticking down to an uptick in prices.

2. Interest rates are historically low. You have been hearing this for a while but they are hovering right around 4%.

3. First-time buyers are in a unique position. They didn’t lose money in the housing market.

4. It’s a great deal! Prices are at all-time lows. So you may be saving as much as 40% off a home if you buy now.

Why Sell?

Here are just a few reasons why you should get off the fence and sell:

1. Inventory is shrinking. Demand is up and in certain areas and price ranges there is limited inventory so putting your home on the market now will most likely result in a sale.

2. Mortgage availability has stabilized. Mortgage restrictions are loosening and especially first-time buyers are able to get mortgages as they were not affected as much by the financial crisis.

3. Unemployment is not as bad as you think. One is 30 Americans is unemployed as a result of the recent financial crisis. There are lots of able buyers out there.

4. Houses are selling and some are even going to bidding wars. Homes that are priced according to the market are selling and selling quickly.

5. Don’t wait for prices to increase. This could be a long wait.


Buy a Home and Watch Your Money Grow

Before you decide to buy a house, it is crucial that you consider various factors beforehand. Some of these factors can be as straightforward as making sure to choose a home in a good area, and making certain that the property is also in good condition. However, it is also important to consider the housing market, because it is imperative that you buy a house at the right time. For example, if you are in a market where there is a huge demand for homes for sale, then the prices of houses will generally be high, and so if you are buying a house for investment purposes, this wouldn’t be the right time for you to make that purchase. With the market starting to creep back up buyers will be looking to get a good deal before demand goes back up so selling a home right now can bring great results.

On the other hand, if there is less demand for buying houses, then the price of property will generally be very low, thus making it the perfect time to buy. Right now is a fantastic time to buy a home with the slower market interest rates at the lowest in years. Buying a home in a down market can become a great investment down the road. You can consider it like a savings account. Buy the property in a down market, and watch your money grow.

How to Prepare Buy Your First Home

You’ve been thinking about buying your first home and it is a very big decision. It is typically not a decision you make overnight instead you need to take the time prepare yourself.  Here are the basic steps that you should follow when it is time to buy a home.

  1. Ask are you ready? Home ownership is quite different than renting. It is a lot more expensive than renting. You will have added expenses and responsibility. There will be expenses like repairs, added utility costs, such as garbage and water, plus taxes and insurance related to your home. You will want to make sure to have an emergency fund, before you purchase your first home.
  2. Shop for a loan. Your first step will be to get preapproved. Knowing how much you can afford will help you to look for homes within your price range.
  3. Figure out how much you can afford. Just because you are preapproved for a certain loan doesn’t mean you can afford that in the real world. A good rule of thumb is to keep your mortgage along with your taxes and insurance between twenty five and thirty percent of your income. You don’t want to be house poor.
  4. Use a real estate professional you can trust.  A good real estate professional will listen to your wants and needs carefully. It is important that you are also educated on the process of buying a home. A good real estate professional will help meet your needs while navigating you through the process and advocating for your best interests.

Your Credit Score

When you are looking to buy a home or refinance it is important that your credit is in tip-top shape. It is often a credit score that gets in the way of a home buyer and their dream home. Credit today means everything as far as your purchasing power. So if you want to be ready when opportunity knocks read on for some for smart ideas on how to keep your credit score going up.

1. Use your credit cards.

This may sound funny but it is important to have credit over having no credit. Paying in cash and over using credit cards isn’t always a good move for your credit score. Cards that are seldom used are often shut down or closed by the credit card companies. Because 30 percent of your credit score is based on your debt-to-credit-limit ratio you will want to have a high your total available credit. Having one account closed increases that ratio of available credit to debt and thus lowers your credit score.

2. Pay off your credit cards.

It may seem to make sense to pay off the highest-interest card first and save the most money in the end. But your credit score will get a bigger boost from knocking off the lowest-balance card. Instead of spreading your monthly payments equally among credit cards, pay down the lowest-balance card first and pay minimum balances on the rest. As you pay off each card, apply the money you would have paid on it to the next-lowest-balance card.

3. Don’t close cards once they are paid off.

The length of time you’ve had credit determines fifteen percent of your score. By closing your oldest account, you can shorten the length of your credit history causing a big hit to your score.

4. Keep the balance low

Much of your credit score is determined by your debt-to-credit-limit ratio on individual accounts. Maxing out one card raises your debt-to-credit-limit ratio and your credit score. So be sure to keep balances as low as possible. Try to target no more than 30 percent of your credit limit.

5. Stay away from retail-card accounts.

These are a big no-no. Retail store cards often have lower limits and higher interest rates. So running up balances on low-limit store cards affects your credit score more negatively than does using one or two bank cards. So in the long run the fifteen percent you were going to save on the one purchase will probably cost you more in the end.