Home Buying Tips

 

Home Buying Tips

Buying a home can be one of your most significant investments in life, so it helps to have some home buying tips. Not only are you choosing your dwelling place, and the place in which you will bring up your family, you are most likely investing a large portion of your assets into this venture. The more prepared before buying your home, the less overwhelming and chaotic the buying process will be. The goal of this page is to provide you with detailed information to assist you in making an intelligent and informed decision. Remember, if you have any questions about the process, you may contact us 24 hours a day by sending an email to info@midasrealtygroup.com 

 Have questions about buying a home? Check out this helpful information.

  • Know Your Budget
  • Interest Rates and How They Change
  • Closing
  • Costs
  • How Much House Can You Afford?
  • Choose
  • a Neighborhood

Know Your Budget

There’s no point wasting time and energy house-hunting before you know what you can afford. So your next step is to assess your finances:

  • Compare Buying with Renting
  • Find out about interest rates
  • Understand your closing costs
  • Figure out your income, debt and down payment
  • Calculate how much home you can afford

 Does it Pay to Buy a Home or Simply to Rent?

If, like most first-time buyers, you are presently renting, it’s easy to calculate your cost – simply, the monthly rent you pay. (Utilities, phone, cable, and other costs can be ignored in this comparison because they’ll be approximately the same whether you rent or buy.) But calculating the cost of homeownership is much more complicated, because income tax considerations affect your bottom line. And there is, in addition, the uncertainty about how much the value of your home will rise (or even fall) in the coming years. As a tenant, you may be taking a standard deduction on your income tax return. This is the time to judge how that standard deduction stacks up against the amount you’d be able to subtract from income if, like most homeowners, you itemized deductions instead. Once you itemize, you may be able to deduct all of the following:

  • Home mortgage interest
  • All real estate taxes on any property you own
  • Your state income taxes
  • Charitable contributions
  • Medical and dental expenses that exceed 7.5% of your income
  • Personal property taxes if your state has them; and most important
  • Certain moving expenses

At the start of a mortgage repayment schedule, when the debt hasn’t been reduced yet, almost all of your monthly payment goes toward interest. A bit goes toward reducing principal (the amount borrowed), so that the next month you’re borrowing a bit less, and owe a little less interest. That allows more of your next payment to go toward reducing principal. However, this process is very slow in the beginning and the interest portion remains high for many years. Between the mortgage interest and the property tax deductions, you can figure that Uncle Sam is shouldering part of your monthly mortgage payment – 28% of it, in fact, if that’s your tax bracket. Your state income tax bracket can also be added to that, before you calculate how much you save on income tax as a homeowner,

Interest Rates and How They Change

As you start shopping for a home loan, your first question of each lender will probably be “What’s your interest rate? How much are you charging?”

Interest rates are usually expressed as an annual percentage of the amount borrowed. If you borrowed $120,000 at 10% interest, you’d owe interest of $12,000 for the first year. With most mortgage plans you’d pay it at the rate of $1,000 a month. You would also send in something each month to reduce the principal debt you owe – and the next month you’d owe a bit less interest.

When your grandparents bought their home (putting at least half the purchase price down, by the way), their interest rate was probably around 4 or 5%. Rates stayed the same for years at a time. Then in the years following World War II, things became more turbulent. As economic changes speeded up, rates began to change several times a year. By the 180s, lenders were setting newrates on mortgage loans as often as once a week – and they still do today. When inflation hit a high in the ’80s, some mortgage loans carried interest rates as high as 17% – and those who absolutely needed to buy, paid that much.

Rates dropped gradually through the 1990s, and by 1998 had reached their lowest rates in decades. Heading toward the millennium, home buyers appear to have the most favorable conditions for mortgage borrowing since their grandparents’ days – and without 50% down payments either.

Closing Costs

On the day you actually buy your new home, in addition to your down payment and the prepaid property tax and homeowners insurance premiums, you’ll need cash for various fees associated with the purchase. These expenses are known as closing costs and are paid by both buyers and sellers.

Some closing costs you pay up-front when you apply for a mortgage loan. That includes money for a  credit check on all applicants and an appraisal on the property. Keep in mind that even if you don’t eventually receive the loan, that money is not refundable.

Other closing costs are possible and should be considered when evaluating your financial situation. These may include, but are not limited to:

  • Title insurance fee;
  • Survey charge;
  • Loan origination fee;
  • Attorney fees or escrow fees;
  • Document preparation fee;
  • Garbage or trash collection fees; and the big one
  • Points – up-front interest paid in return for a lower interest rate. Each point is one percent of the loan amount. Sometimes you can contract for the seller to pay your points.

NOTE: Consider closing costs when choosing one mortgage plan over another.
The good news is that if your cash is limited, some mortgage plans allow the seller to pay some or all of your closing costs, such as title insurance, escrow fees, and points. Certain closing costs can sometimes be added to the amount of mortgage loan you’re receiving.

 Figuring Out Your Monthly Income

When you apply for a home loan the first question may likely be “How much is your income?” In making this determination, lenders consider the income of all parties who will be owners of the property. Be prepared to provide a monthly accounting of all sources of income.

Figuring Out Your Monthly Debt

Lenders are interested mainly in your present monthly payments because they want to be sure you can handle the mortgage payment you’ll be applying for. Different mortgage plans consider payments on any debt that won’t be paid off within, for example, six months, nine months, or a year.

 Amount of Your Down Payment

Your down payment is paid in cash and is not included as part of the loan amount. The bigger your initial down payment, the smaller your loan, which reduces the amount of your payments.

How much you’ll put down depends on the cash you have available and the amounts you’ll need for closing costs and prepaid property taxes and homeowners’ insurance.

Mortgage plans have various down payment requirements and they can range from 0% down on a  VA – Veterans Administration Loan – to between 3 and 5% down on a FHA – Federal Housing Administration Loan – to 20% down, the traditional amount for a conventional loan. In addition, special state programs for first-time home buyers may set different sums, which are usually lower than conventional financing.

If you put less than 20% down on most loans, you’ll be asked to protect the lender by carrying  private mortgage insurance (PMI). Carrying PMI ensures that the debt is repaid if you default on the loan. This adds approximately an extra half a percent onto the loan.

FHA mortgages, in return for their low-down-payment requirements, also charge for mortgage insurance premiums (MIP).
How Much House Can You Afford?

The amount of loan for which you qualify is based on two different calculations. Using what are known as qualification ratios, lenders evaluate your income and long-term debts to determine a “safe” amount for your mortgage payments. A fairly standard ratio is 28/33. Certain mortgage plans sometimes use more liberal ratios – for example, the FHA currently uses 29/41.

Here’s how it works: With a 28/33 ratio, you’d be allowed to spend up to 28% of your gross monthly income for mortgage payments. The lender will then run a different calculation. This one is your loan payment and debt payments combined, which may not exceed 33% of your gross monthly income. To calculate exactly how much you may borrow, you also need an estimate of current interest rates.

 For Example: Suppose you had $1,000 a month for mortgage payment; at 7% that would let you borrow about $160,000 on a 30-year loan. At 6% the loan amount would be nearly $175,000. If your rate were 8%, the loan amount would be a bit less than $150,000.

As part of this calculation, you also need to estimate and include the property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, and Homeowner Association fees (if applicable) you might need to pay, which are considered part of your monthly expenses
Neighborhood

Choosing a Neighborhood

With so many homes on the market you’ll never get anywhere unless you narrow your choices. You can begin this process by first identifying one or a few neighborhoods that are right for you by:

  • Consider Local Factors; and
  • Using Neighborhood Strategies

 Factors to Consider When Evaluating a Neighborhood

When evaluating a neighborhood, you should investigate local conditions. Depending on your own particular needs and tastes, some of the following factors may be more important considerations than others:

  • Quality of schools
  • Property values
  • Traffic
  • Crime rate
  • Future construction
  • Proximity to: Schools, Employment, Hospitals, Shops, Public transportation, Cultural Activities (museums, concerts, theaters, etc.), Prisons, Freeways, Airports, Beaches, Parks, Stadiums

Whether you’re moving across the country or across town, you can count on us to help you through every step of the process.

 Neighborhood Search Strategies

If you’re a first time-buyer with limited financial resources, it’s a wise purchasing strategy to buy a home that meets your primary needs in the best neighborhood that fits within your price rangeYou can maximize your home purchase location by incorporating some of the following strategies into your neighborhood search:

  • Look for communities that are likely to become “hot neighborhoods” in the coming years. They can often be discovered on the periphery of the most continuously desirable areas.
  • Look for a home in a good neighborhood that is a bit farther out of the city. If commuting is a concern, purchase a home that is close to public transportation.
  • Look at the neighborhood demand by asking us whether multiple offers are being made, whether the gap between the list price and sale price is decreasing, and whether there is active community involvement. You can also drive around neighborhoods and see how many “sale pending” and “sold” signs there are in a particular area.
  • Look into purchasing a condominium or co-op, rather than a house, in a desirable neighborhood. This way you still may be able to purchase in a prime area that you otherwise could not afford.
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