Five reasons why buying a home is still a good idea


(ARA) – A still murky economy and uncertain real estate market may have you wondering if buying a home is a good idea. Whether you’re thinking about buying, or already have and just need some affirmation, you may find it comforting to know there are still plenty of good reasons for financially stable people to buy a house. Here are a few:

* Homeownership can help make good credit even better. If your credit is in poor shape, you’ll want to monitor it before seeking a mortgage. But if you have good credit, live within your means, and consistently make good financial decisions, a mortgage can be the kind of “good debt” that helps your overall financial health. Making regular payments on a mortgage shows potential lenders that you’re a less risky candidate for a home loan. Before you begin home shopping, it’s a good idea to check your credit. Enrolling in a product like freecreditscore.com can help you better understand and leverage your credit.

* A mortgage can function like an automatic savings plan. By now, you’ve read the news reports about how little we Americans save these days. Well, every year you pay on your fixed-rate mortgage, is a year of building equity, and equity is like money in the bank. When it’s time to sell – whether you’ve stayed in your home seven years or the full 30 year term – you’ll have created equity and should be able to sell your house for more than you owe.

* Homeownership comes with plenty of financial perks, including an income tax credit for property taxes you pay on your home. For detailed information on tax breaks check out IRS.gov. Buying a home also affords you the opportunity to halt your housing costs. Rent will always go up from year to year, but if you have a fixed-rate mortgage (avoid adjustable rates) your biggest annual expense – housing costs – will be locked-in.

* Mortgage interest is a good deal when stacked up against other types of interest that don’t do much for you – such as high credit card interest rates or low rates on savings accounts and CDs. Mortgage rates are low right now, meaning you can pay less over the life of a loan than at practically any other time in recent history. Plus, it’s the only kind of interest that you can deduct from your taxes.

* Prices are still relatively low and inventory is high. It’s been a buyer’s market for a long time, but that’s going to change. The question is: when will the market start to improve in your area, taking home prices with it? You’ll have to do some legwork and astute research to determine when is the best time for you to buy.

If you monitor your credit and are on a sound financial footing, buying a home can still be a good idea. And now is as good a time as any to make your purchase.

Avoid These Eight Mistakes When You Buy Or Sell A House

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By : Gary Torrell    99 or more times read
For most people, buying or selling their primary home, vacation property or rental property can be among their most important and expensive business transactions. This article offers advice to avoid some common mistakes, but does not cover the process and challenges of obtaining a loan to buy the property, which is often a critical step as well.
    1. Rely Exclusively/Primarily On A Broker. Real estate brokers are often helpful. They are experts at suggesting the initial asking price, marketing the property, and finding potential buyers. However, since brokers typically get paid only if a sale closes, they are biased towards closing the sale. This bias influences their advice, recommendations and guidance. Almost always, brokers will try to convince the buyer to offer more, the seller to accept less, and both parties to agree on key terms, so the sale closes and they receive a commission. For this reason, do not rely exclusively or primarily on the broker for objective advice, especially with the availability of online tools and experts to assist you.
    1. Sign Real Estate Contracts Without Consulting A Lawyer. Most real estate contracts come on pre-printed forms prepared by broker associations, such as the California Association of Realtors (“CAR”). While the CAR forms contain the minimum legal terms necessary, they are also designed to protect the broker from potential liability and ensure the broker receives the commission. You should retain a lawyer to review and revise the contracts and advise you of the meaning and legal consequences of the key terms.

      We often advise clients to negotiate changes to the standard CAR contracts, and reasonable changes are often accepted. The broker will want the seller to sign an exclusive listing agreement, which is often quite generous to the broker. A qualified lawyer can help you negotiate better terms in the contracts. Beware of any broker who discourages you from having a lawyer review the contracts before you sign them. Although there is a cost to retaining a lawyer, that cost will pale in comparison to the large sum paid or received in this significant transaction. Using a lawyer will also minimize the potentially disastrous consequences of signing contracts you do not fully understand, or contracts that do not protect your interests.

    1. Retain Third Party Vendors Based Solely Upon The Broker’s Recommendation. Brokers often have relationships with third party vendors, including mortgage brokers, lenders, home inspectors, building contractors, appraisers, insurers, home warranty companies, and escrow and title companies. Brokers often refer buyers and sellers to vendors that are supposed to act in your best interest, but are often grateful for the referral and want to help the broker receive the sales commission.

      Many broker referrals are competent and acceptable, but you need to check their references and see whether another vendor may better protect you and/or provide the same service at a lower cost. For example, most brokers are affiliated with specific escrow and title companies and prefer to work with them, but you can save $500-$2,500 (or more) by price shopping independent escrow and title companies, which typically charge less than broker-affiliated companies. Often, the broker-affiliated escrow and title companies will match the lower price.

    1. Skip Or Pay Little Attention To A House Inspection. For buyers, a thorough house inspection is a key step in deciding whether to close, insist on repairs, and/or renegotiate the sales price. Almost always, you should not retain a home inspector recommended by your broker or rely upon prior home inspections. Instead, retain and pay for your own inspection by a reputable, licensed building contractor with at least ten years’ experience as a general contractor.

      Regardless, be sure to keep in mind that almost every inspection contract provides that the inspector is not liable for most errors or omissions. This means if the inspector misses something, the buyer may have little recourse against the inspector. Moreover, realize the inspector typically does not open up the structure to see the “bones” of the house. Rather, s/he only looks at what is readily visible. Be present during the inspection and ask the inspector questions as you follow him or her through the house. If the inspector offers a more thorough inspection at a higher cost, get it, because without it, you may not discover an expensive repair is needed until after you buy the house and the home warranty has expired.

    1. Rely Solely On The House Inspection Report. Even a good house inspector may lack expertise in architecture, geology, drainage and engineering. If the house inspection report, the lack of expected building permits for improvements, the age of the house, your own observations, or other disclosures suggest there may be something wrong with the structure or the land, retain and pay for a separate engineering report, architect’s report, soils/drainage/geology reports, or other expert reports prepared by a qualified specialist before you close and within the contingency period in the sales contract.

      Ironically, these specialists tend to overstate the risks they find, but provide much more detail than a general inspection report. Have the seller or broker obtain the permit file from the local building and safety department, then have a contractor or architect review it to make sure all the improvements were permitted. Unpermitted improvements can be a nightmare for a buyer.

    1. Neglect the Title Report and Title Insurance. For most home sales, a title company will issue a title report (which shows recorded liens and encumbrances), and issue title insurance. You should carefully review the title report yourself, or hire counsel to do so, and have the title company obtain copies of all recorded easements and encumbrances and make sure you understand their effect. If the lot is irregular or hilly, it is usually better to obtain an ALTA title insurance policy, which offers more coverage.
    1. Neglect Dispute Resolution Provisions. The CAR forms have provisions regarding arbitration (instead of court litigation) to resolve disputes. If you are a buyer and do not have a written agreement with your agent/broker, you will not be entitled to insist on arbitration to resolve disputes with your broker. Since disputes often involve buyers, sellers, agents/brokers and/or inspectors, the same dispute resolution procedures should be put in all relevant contracts.
    1. Pay Little Attention To Contingency Periods In The Purchase Contract. The main contract contains specific conditions to the buyer’s obligation to buy the house (e.g., the buyer must obtain financing, approve the condition of the house, and acknowledge the seller’s written disclosures) and specific time periods within which the conditions must be satisfied. These contingencies allow a buyer to cancel the sale and obtain a refund of his or her deposit. Many buyers and sellers expect their broker to follow up on these important conditions, and parties often fail to act within the express contingency periods or fail to get the contingency period extended. It is the buyer’s responsibility to act timely and have the contingency period extended if necessary, or else you may lose your deposit and/or be pressed to close on the purchase.

Please note many other issues can arise in any real estate transaction, but if you avoid the common mistakes described above, you’ll be way ahead.

Author has over twenty-five years of real estate legal experience representing buyers, sellers and lenders.

 

Find The Lowest Rate

So you’ve got your new home picked out and you’re ready to embark upon the long process of securing a home loan and ultimately taking ownership of your dream home. Armed with that excitement, you take to the Internet in hopes of uncovering a hidden interest rate nugget, that low rate that other people have overlooked and that you have found through persistence and effort. Well, as you embark on that trip, there are some things to keep in mind during the pursuit for the lowest interest rate possible.

There are probably thousands of web sites offering financial data that can be pertinent to your search, so it is important to quickly cut through them all and pick one that seems to be at least somewhat reputable and has easy-to-access information. You’ll probably want to focus your search on a 30-yeark, fixed-rate mortgage to get a barometer of the interest rate climate initially.

There are many sites out there that will go into detail on interest rate fluctuation but finding one with graphs that can show you the trend of that rate over time will provide you with a great piece of ammunition when trying to determine what the short term market might do and what kind of interest rate would, in the end, be a good one for the time frame you’re looking at.

In addition, there are scores of financial articles written every day about the state of the real estate market and doing some reading on the current state of the market will help you greatly in your pursuit for a low interest rate. Sites like the Wall Street Journal online and other respected newspapers usually publish their full financial sections online. Google News and other outlets can additionally offer a slew of recent financial articles with a search or two.

Each loan has its own special set of financial aspects, so comparing them can be difficult at first glance. Thankfully, there are sites out there that will do it for you and doing a search for financial loan comparisons will give you a few good results. By putting in some information about you and your financial status, you can get some loan offers back that are tailored to your situation and can be compared against each other. This is a great step to help save time that might otherwise be spent deciphering the many loan options available through a multitude of lending agencies.

Finally, be thorough in your search. If you are truly looking to get a full picture of the loans available to you, contacting your local institutions (banks and credit unions) is a great step in the process and sometimes the added benefit of supporting local business or having a nearby branch office can make up for an interest rate shortcoming. It is up to you to assign priority to something like that.

Interest rates are important but while you’ve set out to pursue the lowest rate possible, you might find that there are other benefits you haven’t considered that are important as well. These aspects should also make their way into your loan comparison as things like convenience, reliability and other factors differ from lender to lender. Decide what is important to you and what concessions you would make to accommodate one of those other desires.

Finding the lowest interest rate possible is a noble goal and with the avalanche of online information at the fingertips of anyone with an Internet connection, finding that rate is easier now that in the past. However, as you go through your search, keep in mind that a mortgage is more than just an interest rate and remain open to other benefits that might offset a bit of a higher rate.

This is another original article by Joe Lane, co-owner of The Lane Real Estate Team at http://www.joelane.com/. Are you looking for an experienced Tri City WA Real Estate agency? With 20 years of service based, business experience, Joe and Colleen Lane work hard to serve home buyers and sellers for the Tri Cities of Washington’s Kennewick, Richland, Pasco, and surrounding areas.

Buying a home: Prepare by getting your finances in order

(ARA) – For those considering buying a home, the current real estate market presents some unique opportunities. One of the side effects of the economic roller coaster ride of the past few years is that home prices have gone down and more homes have gone on the market. For buyers, that means more choices and better deals.  However, those same tumultuous years also can also teach buyers a lesson: Make smart buying decisions and be wise with your finances.

Impulsive buying is never a good idea when it comes to a purchase as significant as a home, but it was something of a trend at the height of the mid-2000s. Now, with banks lending far more cautiously, you need to be absolutely certain that your finances are in order – and healthy – to be able to get the best deal on your purchase.

There are a number of steps you can take to get ready to buy a home, and you might need to work on them simultaneously. Consider that you’ll need to start saving, if you haven’t already, but you’ll also need to review your credit score and do what you can to either maintain it or work toward healthier credit. Both of these tasks will help make the home-buying process better for you.

Your credit is an important factor in determining the terms under which you can get a mortgage. Broadly speaking, the better your credit is, the more positively you’ll be viewed by lenders – and that can lead to better interest rates. And because you’ll be paying off your home for years to come, it’s important to get the best rate possible.

Start by checking your credit report. You’re entitled to one free check of your report, from TransUnion and other credit reporting agencies every year.  As much as you need to check your report to find out what shape your credit is in, it’s also essential to review it for inaccuracies or fraudulent activity, both of which can have a negative impact on your score.

If your credit health needs some work, start taking action immediately. Paying bills on time, reducing your overall debt and limiting new credit inquiries can all help to build your credit – but be patient as it can take time for your positive actions to take effect. Nevertheless, the sooner you make the effort, the sooner you’ll see results.

Making a prudent decision about buying a house comes down to an honest assessment of what you can afford. Keep in mind that you might be approved for a loan that’s larger than what is practical for you to afford. While it may be tempting to buy a pricier house, the stress of struggling to make payments could diminish your enjoyment of your new home and even put you at financial risk. One rule of thumb is that most borrowers can afford a home loan that runs about two and a half times their annual salary.

Buying a home is a complex process, but one that is ultimately very rewarding when done right. By organizing your finances well in advance, you’ll help set yourself up for success. For more information about credit and buying a home, visit www.transunion.com.