Laurie Cappuccio's Blog
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Getting a mortgage is one of those things that everyone seems to have quite a bit of advice about. While people surely have good intentions, it’s not always best to take the buying advice of everyone you meet. Below, you’ll find the wrong kind of mortgage advice and why you should think twice about it.
Pre-Approvals Are Pointless
Getting pre-approved for a mortgage can give you an upper hand when it comes to putting in offers on a home. Even though a pre-approval isn’t a guarantee, it’s a good step. It shows that you’re a serious buyer and locks you in with a lender so they can process your paperwork a bit more quickly when you do want to put an offer in on a home.
Use Your Own Bank
While your own bank may be a good place to start when it comes to buying a home, you don’t need to get your mortgage from the place where you already have an account. You need to compare rates at different banks to make sure you’re getting the best possible deal on a mortgage. You’ll also want to check on the mortgage requirements for each bank. Different banks have different standards based on down payment, credit scores and more. You’ll want to get your mortgage from the bank that’s right for you and your own situation.
The Lowest Interest Rate Is Best
While this could be true, it’s not set in stone. A bank with a slightly higher interest rate could offer you some benefits that you otherwise might not have. If you have a lower credit score, or less downpayment money, a bank offering a higher interest rate could be a better option for you. Low interest rates can have some fine print that might end up costing you a lot more in the long term. Do your research before you sign on with any kind of bank for your mortgage.
Borrow The Maximum
Just because you’re approved for a certain amount of mortgage doesn’t mean that you need to max out your budget. It’s always best to have a bit of a financial cushion for yourself to keep your budget from being extremely tight. When life throws you a curveball like unexpected medical bills or a job loss, you’ll be glad that you didn’t strain your budget to the end of your means. Even though the bigger, nicer house always looks more attractive, you’re better off financially if you’re sensible about the amount of money you borrow to buy a home.
While they have become ubiquitous with the emergence of suburban neighborhoods and townhouses, homeowners associations (HOA, for short) are a relatively new phenomenon.
In modern America, there are many ways to live: apartments, condominiums, houses, townhouses, and now even “tiny houses” are gaining traction. But it wasn’t until the late 1900s that property owners began to experiment with alternative ways of living that revolved around share, “common spaces.”
What constitutes a common area?
Whether you live in an apartment, a house, or in your RV you likely experience common areas every day that are owned by the government. Roads, bridges, and parks are all common areas in that they are used by multiple people and their upkeep is paid for with taxes.
If you take that analogy and apply it to the greenways and lobbies of a condominium, or the streets and sidewalks of a gated community, there are few differences.
What is a homeowners association?
When a developer plans a new community they will often create a homeowners association that will be managed by the people who move into the houses or condominiums. Once a certain number of people have moved into the development and joined the HOA the developer will typically hand over ownership to the HOA and relinquish their legal rights and responsibilities of the land. From there, the HOA typically has complete control over management. Though it should be noted that states have their own HOA related laws with varying levels of oversight.
What does an HOA do?
The most common thing we associate with HOAs is fees and rules. People who move into a community governed by a homeowners association are typically required to join the HOA and are therefore obligated to pay fees and adhere to the guidelines set down by the HOA board.
The fees you pay will go towards maintenance and development of the common areas of your community. That usually amounts to landscaping, maintaining pools and fitness complexes. Fees can range from anywhere between $200 and $450 per month depending on where you live.
HOAs also enforce regulations that homeowners must follow. These vary depending on the community but often include building restrictions for things like fences and additions, as well as other ways that homeowners can customize their homes such as paint and vinyl color. Some homeowners associations go so far as to regulate whether or not a homeowner may fly the flag on their favorite sports team over their door.
Advantages and disadvantages
So what are the advantages and disadvantages you can expect when you belong to a homeowners association? Let’s start with the clear disadvantages. If you are a tinkerer or someone who relishes the freedom to do what they want with their property, living in an HOA-run community might not be right for you. If your salary isn’t quite what you’d like it to be, the cost of living in an HOA neighborhood, along with the monthly fees, might be a bit more than you’re comfortable with.
What about the advantages? First, you can expect that the neighborhood will be well-maintained. This brings about another advantage in that you can expect your property value to grow or at least remain stable thanks to the quality of the neighborhood being carefully managed.
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Finding and purchasing a home sometimes can be difficult, particularly for an individual who encounters assorted challenges throughout the property buying journey. Lucky for you, there are several shortcuts that a homebuyer can use to streamline the property buying process. These shortcuts include:
1. Narrow Your Home Search
If you know you want to buy a home, you should consider where you want to reside and what features you want in your ideal residence. That way, you can avoid the danger of committing time and resources to analyze houses that fail to meet your expectations.
Oftentimes, it helps to craft a list of preferred cities and towns. This list will help you hone your home search to specific areas and ensure you can accelerate the homebuying journey.
Think about what you want to find in your dream house and create a list of home must-haves and wants too. With this list in hand, you can further accelerate your search for your ideal home.
2. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage
Some homebuyers apply for a mortgage after they find their dream residence, but doing so may prove to be problematic. Because if a buyer submits an offer to purchase a home without a mortgage at his or her disposal, this individual likely will need to move quickly to get home financing. Or, if a buyer provides a homebuying proposal but cannot secure a mortgage, this individual risks missing out on the opportunity to acquire his or her dream house.
To get pre-approved for a mortgage, you can meet with banks and credit unions and explore a wide range of mortgage options. Then, once you select a mortgage, you can kick off your home search and know exactly how much you can spend to purchase your ideal residence.
3. Hire a Real Estate Agent
A real estate agent is a homebuying expert who will guide you along the property buying journey. He or she can help you identify potential homebuying hurdles and overcome these issues before they escalate. Best of all, a real estate agent will do everything possible to ensure you can acquire a great home at a budget-friendly price.
In addition, a real estate agent will work with you throughout the property buying journey. He or she first will learn about your homebuying goals and help you craft an effective property buying strategy. Next, a real estate agent will help you put your homebuying plan into action and ensure you can discover a house that matches your expectations. And once you discover your ideal home, a real estate agent will help you put together a competitive offer to purchase this residence.
As you prepare to kick off the homebuying journey, you should try to plan ahead as much as possible. By taking advantage of the aforementioned shortcuts, you can prepare for the homebuying journey and speed up the process of finding and purchasing your dream residence.