8 Tips Every First-Time Homebuyer Should Know

Happy Covelle & Cohen homebuyer at closing

So, you’re ready to purchase a home? Congrats! As Suze Orman says, “Owning a home is a keystone of wealth — both financial affluence and emotional security.” There’s no place like a home of your own, but for the first-time homebuyer, what follows the decision to buy can be both overwhelming and intimidating. Here are some tips and tricks to consider before you start house hunting.

1. Hire The Professional

You’re about to execute the biggest investment of your life. Work with an expert who can guide you through the process! You’ll need someone who understands current market conditions and can evaluate a property, negotiate, walk you through the paperwork, and more. Professional buyer’s agents have the tips and tricks to help you save the most money, and they often don’t cost the homebuyer anything. (Pssst! We can help you.)

2. In a Few Years, Everyone’s Going to Wish They Bought Now

Interest rates are at a historical low — mortgage loan rates are currently at 4 percent! Now’s the time to buy because those rates might soon go up. And Steve Murray, owner of Real Trends, reports that homes will steadily appreciate in the next 8 years. Consider your new home a smart investment.

3. Getting Pre-Approved Should Be Your First Step

How much home can you afford? Many potential homebuyers overestimate the down payment and credit scores they’ll need. Pre-approval will tell you how much you can afford and give you confidence to dive into competitive markets. Plus, you’ll need an ironclad pre-approval letter for a winning offer. If you can’t find a bank willing to lend to you, consider an FHA loan. The Federal Housing Administration insures the mortgages of many first-time homebuyers. And, they’ll only require a down payment of 3.5 percent.

4. You Should Buy Smart (Buy the Ugly House)

Buying smart is buying good location, flow, light, amenities, and space for the price. The homes your realtor takes you to see aren’t always going to look like Pinterest masterpieces. If you can see past clutter and outdated decorating, there’s a good chance you’ll buy into property with more equity after minor cosmetic overhauls. Visit those sloppy listings that other buyers are overlooking, and have vision!

5. Sometimes, Speed is Key

If you come across a well-priced property, don’t hesitate to put in an offer. Hesitation opens the door to competition from other potential buyers, and when someone else wants it, the seller’s more likely to raise the asking price.

6. Strengthen Your Good Faith Deposit

When you execute a purchase contract as a homebuyer, it will specify how much you’ll initially put down to secure it and show “good faith.” In other words, it’ll show the seller how badly you want this property — and how serious your offer is. Increase your good faith deposit from the usual $1,000 to as much as $10,000.

7. Be Aware of Additional Fees

Yes, you’ll need to put a deposit down of about 5 percent. But did you know you might also need to pay for additional closing costs? Home inspection, appraisal, oil left in the home’s tank, one year of homeowner’s insurance, seller adjustment for taxes and condo fees, and next quarter’s tax payment can all add up. You’ll want to have extra cash for home improvements, surprise fixes, and furniture to make that house a home. Before buying, pay down your debt and have money in the bank.

8. Be Flexible — and Realistic

We’re fortunate to live in Greater Boston, a hot market where there’s continuously a demand for real estate. That being said, certain towns have extreme competition! If you’re uncomfortable paying tens of thousands over asking price, be open to shopping in a more gentle market. Don’t commit to more than you can financially handle.

Ready to buy? Using cutting edge strategies, Erica & Mike help buyers save money. We’re happy to guide you home. Contact us here or call 857.529.SOLD (7653).

30 Luxury Home Design Trends And Features Adorning 2017

Originally posted over on Inman

What high-end homebuyers seek, and sellers should consider…

Key Takeaways:

  • Luxury buyers look for anything but cookie-cutter, while convenience, style and recreation opportunities make the top of their wish list.
  • A ranch-style featuring a designer kitchen, blended living space and mixed-metal trimmings — such a house would embody 2017 luxury, so long as it was also decked out in smart home technology.
  • That’s according to twin brothers Jonathan and Drew Scott, co-founders of Scott Brothers Entertainment and Scott Living.
  • The duo and HGTV hosts — real estate agent (Drew) and fixer-upper transformer (Jonathan) — launched their first book this year, New York Times’ best-seller Dream Home: The Property Brothers’ Ultimate Guide To Finding & Fixing Your Perfect House, along with a luxury home project in Las Vegas: Dream Homes by Scott Living.
  • The project offers well-to-do buyers the chance to snag a new build from their portfolio of customizable original designs.
  • What do the brothers have to say about this year’s biggest luxury design trends, features and homebuyer requests? Which investments add value, and where should the top 1 percent of sellers refrain from splurging?

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Sell Your Home Fast: 21 Staging Tips

Originally posted on Houzz

If you are planning to put your house on the market, it goes without saying that you are hoping to sell your home as quickly as possible and get your asking price. Set the stage for success with these 21 tips for styling and upgrading your home, and see results — fast.

Traditional Exterior by Case Design/Remodeling, Inc.
Case Design/Remodeling, Inc.

1. Boost curb appeal. This is something you always hear, and with very good reason. Many people thinking of touring your home will do a quick drive-by first, often deciding on the spot if it is even worth a look inside. Make sure your home is ready to lure in onlookers with these tips:

  • Power wash siding and walkways (How to Wash Your House)
  • Hang easy-to-read house numbers
  • Plant blooming flowers and fresh greenery
  • Mow lawn, and reseed or add fresh sod as needed
  • Wash front windows
  • Repaint or stain the porch floor as needed

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5 Basic Tips for Investing in Real Estate

According to HuffPost

If you’re just beginning to invest in real estate, you’ll find that there’s a lot to learn. Real estate investing is more complicated than investing in stocks because of the financial, legal, and extensive due diligence requirements involved. That’s why it’s a good idea to give yourself a solid education before you purchase your first investment property.

However, before you get your advanced degree, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the fundamentals. To that end, here are 5 basic tips for investing in real estate.

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Credit Score For Securing A Mortgage


How to win at the credit score numbers game.

 If you’re considering making the leap to homeownership, there’s more to think about than the curb appeal of those Springfield, IL, homes for sale—the health of your credit score tops the list. To many, a credit score seems like a random trio of numbers determined by a complicated algorithm, but it represents much more to a lender who’s considering whether to approve your mortgage loan. While you may not need a perfect credit score, it’s important to know what you can do to improve your numbers.

A low credit score can indicate you’re a risky borrower, while a high score can significantly upgrade the mortgage terms you’re offered. But even if your score teeters on the edge of dismal, there are steps you can take to speed up the credit repair process and improve your chances of landing a home with manageable loan terms.

Whats the minimum for a mortgage?

The minimum credit score required to receive a loan depends in large part on the type of loan you’re considering. FHA loans have some of the lowest credit score requirements, at 580 with a 3.5% down payment. However, that doesn’t take other applicants out of the running; FHA lenders allow lower scores with a down payment of 10% or more. Veterans Affairs (VA) loans are a bit trickier. While the VA doesn’t have a minimum credit score requirement, VA lenders do—and that number varies by lender. Some lenders require a score of 620, while others might be at 640. The good news? Getting a “no” from one lender doesn’t mean you’re out of luck. For conventional loans, most lenders will look for at least a 620 credit score, according to Chris Hauber, a mortgage loan originator with Hallmark Home Mortgage in Denver, CO. Ideally, however, applicants would need to have a 660 credit score to land a better rate and avoid jumping through additional hoops.

What is a good score?

Beyond approval for a mortgage, the range your credit score falls within can drastically change the interest rate you can lock down—and the amount you’ll pay in private mortgage insurance (PMI), if applicable. For instance, the approximate difference in rates for a conventional loan with a 680 credit score versus a 740-plus credit score could be 0.25% to 0.0375%, Hauber says. But the PMI premium in this scenario would double.

“Once you’re over 740, you’re considered to be in the ‘perfect’ range for mortgages,” adds Hauber. “If you put less than 20% down, however, you’ll need PMI. For PMI, the high bracket in terms of credit score is 760-plus—meaning you’ll pay less in monthly premiums with this score or higher.” In simple terms, a credit score below 700 is likely to be considered “fair” in the world of mortgages. The perfect credit score would be 760 or higher, unless you’re able to put down 20% and skip the PMI, in which case a score of 740 or more would suffice.


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The Perfect Credit Score For Securing A Mortgage – Trulia Blog