Second-time Homebuying Experience: Lessons I’ve Learned and Buying During COVID-19

Hi there! My name is Lindsay Aratari and I have a lifestyle blog called Aratari At Home where I share everything from home to motherhood to recipes to style to wellness and more! I’m so honored to be sharing about our second time home buying experience and lessons learned on Homes.com today!

If you followed our journey last year, you may have known that we tried selling our house so that we could move closer to family. You can read all about my adventure listing my home andthe lessons I learned selling it on Homes.com’s Blog. From there, our second-time home buying adventure began and it sure was a wild ride!

family wearing masks in front of home just purchasedfamily wearing masks in front of home just purchased

Placing Offers

Back in March, when we sold our house, as we know, the world entered into the global pandemic so it wasn’t the most ideal time to be buying a new house. We held off on looking at any houses or even browsing Homes.com because we wanted to be 100% sure our house would actually go through to closing. We were slightly jaded that this would even go through because of the three failed offers we had had the year before.

Come April, we had gotten through many of the selling steps and figured this one was the real deal so we should start looking at houses. Homes.com was such a great resource for us while searching for homes. The listings were always up to date and current thanks to their Multiple Listing Service partnerships. They always had contingent/pending offers on listings so we didn’t waste our time asking our agent for more information. We could narrow down our search so easily with our new must-have items too. Homes.com made it SO easy to look for new houses!

Since we were in the beginning of the pandemic, it made things quite difficult to actually go into any houses to see them. We had to go off of zoom walkthroughs, virtual tours, and/or photos of the properties we were interested in. We never could have imagined that we would be placing offers without stepping foot in the door of the house. It was a bit scary and nerve wracking to be making such a huge life decision without being able to go into the house first.

homes.com website on computerhomes.com website on computer

Read: A Quick Guide to Virtual Tours for Buyers and Renters

We submitted six offers before we had 1 that was accepted. Even though we were living through the pandemic, houses were going like crazy in the areas that we wanted!  We were competing against tons of other offers. In fact, one offer we submitted was up against 21 other offers!

Read: How to Make an Offer Stand Out in a Seller’s Market

Lucky number seven finally worked out! Again, sight unseen, we placed the offer and it was accepted! This was mid May at this point and we were set to close on our old house at the end of May. After we had an accepted offer, we were able to view the house, however no touching anything, no opening doors, drawers, or cabinets. Still a crazy experience, but at least we got to see if we actually liked the house that we submitted an offer on! Luckily, we loved it and could see all the potential it had for our family.

If there is anything we learned from our first time buying a house it’s that location is EVERYTHING! We now have two young children and we wanted to live in a nice neighborhood setting in a great school district. What this meant is that we would be paying more and/or having a much smaller house than our first one. Our first home was beautiful and amazing, but the school district wasn’t our favorite and we didn’t have a great neighborhood setting that we wanted our kiddos to have.

looking at houseslooking at houses

Road to Closing

Let me start by saying the road to closing was not easy! This was a very drawn out process and we are so glad it’s over! So when we placed our offer, the sellers needed to find suitable housing and requested a 30-day window to do so. We were ok with that because we were planning to live with my in-laws until closing on our new house and since we had so many offers not accepted, we didn’t want to lose this house. This 30-day window kind of kept us at a stand still since we couldn’t look at any other houses or place other offers. We also had to wait for the home inspection and starting the mortgage application since we didn’t know if they would find suitable housing within the 30 days.

We were coming up to the end of the 30 days and the sellers requested an extension of 10 days because they had found a house, but needed the extra days to ensure their home inspection came back ok. Luckily, it did and that contingency was dropped so that we could start the mortgage application process!

Read: FICO’s® New Credit Scoring Method and the Effects on Mortgages

lindsay aratari on the computer with sonlindsay aratari on the computer with son

The mortgage application started out perfectly fine and normal. We sent in all the paperwork, signed all the documents, answered all the questions, etc. Again, the pandemic made this a challenge because everything was being done virtually so we were relying on emails and phone calls to make this all happen rather than seeing anyone in person.

Over the course of the next couple of months, there was a lot of back and forth with the bank and getting everything that they needed. It seemed to take a very long time and lots of items were requested multiple times. Our agent and attorney were amazing throughout this experience and were huge advocates for us in getting the bank to speed things along.

We were told closing would be August 7th as the sellers wanted a simultaneous close with their old house and new house. That worked perfectly for us and we were getting so excited! Well, come to find out, the bank was not prepared and we wouldn’t be able to close then, but were told August 10th would be our close date. That date came and went and the bank still needed more information from us. It was quite a whirlwind. We sort of felt like chickens with our heads cut off running around getting things signed, printing things out, and doing a lot of paperwork which we had already thought was done.

We were finally told we would be closing August 14th at 9am. We had everything ready to go from the utilities being set up, our home insurance being set live, our POD being delivered, ending our storage unit, getting childcare for our babies, and taking vacation days from work. After working hours on the 13th of the month, our attorney had received an email requesting that we close later. It was very frustrating and stressful. 

The day we closed was wild! We didn’t think we would be able to close that day. I bet you could imagine our frustration and how upset we were! Our agent and attorney worked so hard for us on that day and after lots of back and forth emails with the bank, we finally got clear to close at 4pm. It was the best news ever!

family outside of home they just boughtfamily outside of home they just bought

Lessons Learned

We definitely learned some new things this time around compared to our first time buying a home. 

  • Make sure you love your agent and attorney. I don’t think we could have closed on 8/14 if we didn’t have both of them advocating and pushing to get this done. They were true rock stars!!!!
  • Research the bank that you will be using for your mortgage. Do some shopping around to get a bank that will work best for your family. You don’t have to go with the first bank that you research or know
  • Patience is truly a virtue. Our patience was tested so many times over these past few months. Try to stay calm and clear minded… you will eventually find a home and close
  • Place strong offers. It’s hard to test the waters in the market so be sure you have a strong offer that will stand out
  • Focus on items that are true must haves. Location, a backyard, and 3 bedrooms were some of our top 3 must haves. We didn’t settle for anything less than that. Our nice to have list we knew we could make work (open concept kitchen area, a 4th bedroom, finished basement)
  • Be sure the bones of the house are solid. This house is so different from our last one, however the bones are great! Over time, we will be able to make it our own and change a lot of it to make it feel like ours.

I’m so thankful that we are now in our new home and our kiddos can grow up living near grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. This whole process was intense and stressful at times, but 1000% worth it! I know our family will make many new memories in this home and I can’t wait to watch our babies grow up here. We are so excited to make this little house our home! I hope you will follow along and watch us transform this mid century split level house into a bit more of our style!


Lindsay Aratari

My name is Lindsay Aratari and I blog over at Aratari At Home! I live in Buffalo, NY with my husband, John Paul, our son, Dominic, & puppy, Freddy.  We live in a house built in 1900 & have slowly transformed it into our dream home. Other than being a mom; fashion, antiques, & a good DIY project are some of my favorite things.

Source: homes.com

Budget Basics: Beat the Budgeting Blues

Most of us know the importance of keeping a budget. These tips can help you stick to one.

Budget: It’s the word we love to hate. Most of us understand the importance of keeping a budget, but for a variety of reasons still haven’t found the time or energy to actually implement one. The purpose of a budget isn’t to create a complex and lengthy document, it’s to help control spending and maximize savings to ensure financial security. Keep in mind, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all budget; each individual and family is unique, and their budgets should be equally unique.

Get started on your budget by following these four guidelines.

1. Know What You Earn Vs. What You Spend

It doesn’t matter if you’re new to budgeting because all budgets start with knowing how much money you earn as opposed to how much money you spend. All budgets are designed for the same reason: so you can live within your means on a month-to-month basis. Think of budgeting this way – if you spend more than you earn, you may end up in debt, or have to dip into your savings. Spend less than your income and you get to save money. Put a few months of savings together as a result of your budgeting efforts, and you may end up with a little extra cash.

2. Create a “Zero-Based Budget” Plan

Once you have a better understanding of how your income stacks up to your expenses, it’s time to establish your budget. One simple method is called “zero-based budgeting” in which every dollar earned and spent is tracked for an entire month. Add up all your expenses including your rent or mortgage, food, cell phone bill, cable and internet, and compare them with your income for the month. The goal of the “zero-based budget” is to have zero dollars left over. Keep in mind that the purpose of creating any budget is to help you reach your financial goals.

3. Make Savings a Priority

At first, making savings a priority may be the most difficult part of budgeting. However, it will also make the biggest difference down the road. A simple habit of putting away money before spending ensures you won’t spend more than you earn, and allows you to contribute to retirement funds, rainy day funds, future vacations, car purchases and a variety of other things. When you are ready to start saving, you should consider an online bank such as Discover Bank. Online banks may allow you to save more with competitive rates because their overhead expenses are much lower. It’s also a good idea to consider a bank that offers a variety of products including savings, certificates of deposit (CDs), and money market accounts so you spend less time managing your money because it’s all in one place.

4. Be Flexible

Your budget isn’t going to be perfect. Unexpected expenses and emergencies happen to all of us, more frequently than we’d like. So don’t be unrealistic with your expectations. Understand that changes in your budget will happen, and they’ll happen frequently. The important thing is that you remain flexible and maintain your “zero-based budget”. For example, let’s say your car is having problems and you need to take it to the mechanic; you may need to cut back on your recreational expenses in order to cover the repairs.

This isn’t an exhaustive budgeting list, but it’s a good starting point. Remember that your budget is unique to you, so do what works best for you and your family. The most important thing is that you implement the budget; you won’t regret it.

Source: discover.com

How the 2020 Pandemic is Affecting Credit Scores

How COVID-19 is Impacting Credit ScoresThus far, during the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses and individuals have felt the heat and are left struggling. Children are out of school and learning virtually in many parts of the nation, restaurants are closed, sporting events are canceled, bars are closed, and the entertainment industry is absolutely demolished. As a result, credit scores are at risk or taking a hit. This impact on credit scores may be felt for much longer than the pandemic ends up lasting.

Credit is an essential part of life and a huge financial tool. In purchasing homes, taking out loans, buying or leasing cars, or even getting an apartment, your credit plays a part in decisions banks make on whether or not to lend to you and at what interest rate.

The Financial Strain

Sure, all qualified individuals received a stimulus check to assist financially in the beginning month of the pandemic. However, with children not in school, because many school districts are deeming the pandemic to be too much of a risk to send children back full time, many parents are struggling to find child care and are forced to stay home and out of work.

Others have lost their jobs altogether, not to mention unemployment benefits are a struggle to obtain and may not be enough to cover their cost of living. Many have been furloughed, temporarily laid off, or laid off altogether. Work is scarce to come by, as the competition for a job is a little tougher with so many applicants.

As a result, many families and individuals have turned to use credit cards as a safety net, putting their finances at further risk. In fact, according to a survey conducted by Bankrate, 33% of cardholders have made at least one credit misstep during COVID-19 – which, in turn, has negatively impacted their credit scores.

The Impact on Businesses & Credit Scores

The huge drop in business revenue as many storefronts are closed and the loss of work altogether is making an impact. Many are turning to put necessities on credit cards and it is beginning to stack up. It is not a myth that the interest rates on plastic tend to be higher than those from bank loans. This just creates more of a problem as that debt to income ratio that highly affects your credit score goes up.

Wallethub, a large financial advisory website, conducted a survey: The Coronavirus Credit Score Survey. They found that 87 million people nationwide are fearful for their credit score as we endure the pandemic in 2020. According to Wallethub, the total US credit card debt was already at $1 trillion.

Prioritizing Your Finances to Avoid Damaging Your Credit Score

It only makes sense that priorities are maintaining your mortgage and keeping food on the table. Doing so without income can prove to be difficult, and paying credit card bills is last on the list for many Americans. Missing payments negatively affects credit scores. It is said that the longer you wait to pay the bill, the more the credit score drops. With no end in sight for the pandemic, credit scores are at risk for many.

It is a common misconception that being unemployed can negatively impact your credit score. This is not true. The fallout from unemployment, leading to missed payments, and high balances on cards and loans are what do the damage to credit scores.

Stay Informed & Find Ways to Protect Your Score

It is true that every component of people’s lives is affected right now, and credit scores fall into that. A “CARES Act” has been put into place to offer assistance in protecting coveted credit scores. Requesting creditors for “accommodations” allows you to possibly put a loan into forbearance, or some creditors may allow partial payments. CARES stands for Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security and is aimed to provide Americans with economic assistance during the pandemic.

The best thing you can do to prevent a negative impact on your credit score is to stay informed and continue to check your credit. Do research on any assistance you may be able to acquire. Knowledge is power.

For Credit Counseling and Repair, Contact Credit Absolute today for a free consultation.

Source: creditabsolute.com

The New Must-haves of Homebuying: What Buyers are Looking for

At the start of COVID-19, homebuyers felt uncertain about applying for a mortgage during a time filled with so much uncertainty. Now, as the pandemic and restrictions become more “normal,” we’re seeing demand grow and housing inventories shrink. But, what new homebuyers this year are likely to find are larger houses with smaller kitchens, master baths and garages. They’ll also find fewer models with open floor plans, too, as builders rework their square footage to accommodate home offices, gyms and other specialty rooms. And, buyers will likely have to venture further out from major metros to find what they’re looking for.

Read: The Future of Homebuying: Questions to Ask in a Post-pandemic World

Larger Homes for Post-pandemic Buyers

For the last four years, the size of new, single-family houses has been trending downward as builders added entry-level houses to their mix in an effort to boost supply. But, the National Association of Home Builders says its members might reverse course as buyers seek more space as a result of the pandemic, perhaps to accommodate extended families or those aforementioned extra rooms.

Spring has arrived in a residential neighborhood of ChicagoSpring has arrived in a residential neighborhood of Chicago

Actually, there already are signs of the shift. In this year’s first quarter, the Census Bureau found that the median of single-family floor area ticked up to 2,291 square feet; up from 2,252 in last year’s fourth quarter. But, while a June survey by John Burns Real Estate Consulting found that some recent buyers moved because they disliked the layout of their previous homes, many wanted more space.

Even before the pandemic struck, size was important to many buyers, according to a poll of nearly 1,800 people in late February and early March by Michigan-based builder Lombardo Homes. Price was paramount, of course, but size was more important than the house’s layout, schools or even property taxes.

Moving to the Suburbs is on the Radar

Buyers are likely to find houses with more space in the suburbs, exurbs and distant outposts. Already, the NAHB is seeing construction expand at a more rapid rate in smaller cities and rural areas. Before the pandemic hit full throttle in March, the builder group found activity increasing at a higher rate in inner and outer suburbs than in high-density places. And while the pace of construction was increasing everywhere prior to the lockdown, the outlying suburbs registered the strong growth.

The Rise of the Home Office

What is the extra space likely to look like? With the movement to work from home, count on more square footage for a home office, whether it be a room dedicated as such or a converted extra bedroom. “For years, people were scared of working from home,” said one Urban Land Institute member during a recent digital happy hour. “Now they are seeing it can and does work.”

Comfortable workplace with computer near wooden wall in stylish room interior. Home office designComfortable workplace with computer near wooden wall in stylish room interior. Home office design

Read: Working from Home? Create a Home Office from Any Small Space

The same goes for employers, who have since discovered their workers can be just as productive working from home, if not more so. More and more companies are joining the likes of Twitter, American Express and Morgan Stanley, all of which have told their employees they can work from home, either through the end of the year or forever. “Some companies,” offers Tim Sullivan of Meyers Research, “may never go back to office space.” Families also need space for children or college students who are learning for home. Only 17% of parents feel prepared for the upcoming school year, so a home office is important for those families to best feel ready for fall semesters.

Studies by the NAHB have shown that many buyers have always wanted an home office. In a 2018 survey, for example, 65% said it was a key feature on their shopping lists, and the builder group says that percentage is likely to grow.

The Forgotten About Home Gym

Another strong possibility: An in-house gym, or certainly at least a dead-end hallway that has been dubbed the “Peloton® room” where an exercise bike can be parked. Of course, there’s “only a finite amount of space” with which builders can work before the cost of their products becomes prohibitive, Dan DiClerico of HomeAdvisor points out. Consequently, he and others believe there will be a major “redistribution of space” in newer models.

The End of the Open Floor Plan?

Younger buyers, in particular, “displayed a clear preference for flexible spaces in their next home” in the latest national survey by Atlanta-based home builder Ashton Woods.

“Instead of rooms dedicated to just one purpose, home buyers now want a living, breathing floor plan that can flex as their lives change,” says Jay Kallos, the firm’s senior vice president for architecture. “They want it to adapt easily for when they’re newlyweds, starting a family, becoming empty nesters and even inviting family back into the home later in life with aging parents or boomerang kids.”

Spacious kitchens going forward could be less so. “Fewer people are going to want the great big open rooms that include the kitchen, with more now wanting the kitchen to return to having some separation to hide the smells, mess and noise,” suggests Bill Ramsey of the Denver architectural firm, KTGY.

Big master bathrooms also could become smaller, too. And builders may be taking space from large garages. Even though most people don’t park their vehicles in their garages, two-car pads are the norm nowadays. Nearly two out of three new houses sold in 2019 had two-car garages, and 19% had three bays or more.

While things continue to change in the world of homebuying and building, one thing remains the same. Homes.com is your go-to resource for everything buying, selling, renting, or financing. From our popular search tools that let you find a home you love in an instant to an optimized mobile app to take homebuying on the go, there’s not much you can’t find. For more resources, visit Homes.com’s Blog or our How-to Section if you’re looking for tips, advice, and guidance on all things home-related.


Lew Sichelman

Syndicated newspaper columnist, Lew Sichelman has been covering the housing market and all it entails for more than 50 years. He is an award-winning journalist who worked at two major Washington, D.C. newspapers and is a past president of the National Association of Real Estate Editors.

Source: homes.com

Are You Unscorable? – Lexington Law

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The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, act as legal, financial or credit advice. See Lexington Law’s editorial disclosure for more information.

The topic of credit repair is a broad one, and while it mostly focuses on recovering from past mistakes, it can also encompass credit creation.

Consumers who are new to the credit realm are often tagged with the term “unscorable” because the credit bureaus do not have enough information to create a credit file in their name. For example, an unscorable consumer usually falls into all of the following categories:

  • A new adult or American citizen with no credit experience
  • No credit cards
  • No bank account
  • No mortgage or auto loan
  • No personal (or reported) rental, utility, or cable accounts

Even those with previous credit histories can fall off the map if they close all accounts and fail to use credit for more than six months. There are a few things you can do to build your credit file and establish a positive score:

  • Order your credit reports. It’s impossible to know your credit status without contacting the credit bureaus. Every consumer is entitled to free annual copies of their TransUnion, Experian and Equifax credit reports via AnnualCreditRepair.com. Order yours to see where you stand.
  • Assess your accounts. The average consumer isn’t getting the full benefit of “alternative” credit data, also known as unreported data. For example, suppose you rent an apartment, have cell phone service and a cable package, and yet, none of these accounts appear on your credit reports. In general, these types of lenders fail to report histories to the bureaus unless a problem exists, costing you credit score points in the process. Contact your lenders directly to learn more about their policies. A simple request to report could lead to fast and easy credit creation.
  • Open a credit account. The concept of credit can be overwhelming without the right perspective. Rather than viewing credit and debt together, consider using credit as a tool to help you create a positive future. Start slow by opening one of the following accounts:
    • A secured credit card. Consumers with no credit history may find it difficult to get approved for a standard line of credit. Consider applying for a secured credit card first. This type of card requires pre-loading funds before use like a debit card, however, your activity is reported to the bureaus like a regular credit account. Steady use will also allow you to convert the card to standard credit after a period of six months to a year.
    • Personal loan (with a cosigner). Applying for a small personal loan, e.g., a line of credit at the local bank or a federal student loan can help you establish credit with necessary funds and a manageable repayment schedule. Ask a close family member to act as your cosigner and remember that your actions affect their credit health as well. Pay your bill in full and on time to avoid taking advantage of their generosity.
  • Remember the Five Factors. Losing the “unscorable” label takes time, and it’s important to establish healthy habits from the very beginning. Click here to review the Five Factors that determine how your credit is calculated. Understanding the facts is your first priority.

The bottom line: A world of opportunity waits for those who take the right steps. Begin your journey with knowledge and planning; the result will help you achieve the credit score you deserve.

Source: lexingtonlaw.com

Are You Unscorable?

shutterstock_219783385

The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, act as legal, financial or credit advice. See Lexington Law’s editorial disclosure for more information.

The topic of credit repair is a broad one, and while it mostly focuses on recovering from past mistakes, it can also encompass credit creation.

Consumers who are new to the credit realm are often tagged with the term “unscorable” because the credit bureaus do not have enough information to create a credit file in their name. For example, an unscorable consumer usually falls into all of the following categories:

  • A new adult or American citizen with no credit experience
  • No credit cards
  • No bank account
  • No mortgage or auto loan
  • No personal (or reported) rental, utility, or cable accounts

Even those with previous credit histories can fall off the map if they close all accounts and fail to use credit for more than six months. There are a few things you can do to build your credit file and establish a positive score:

  • Order your credit reports. It’s impossible to know your credit status without contacting the credit bureaus. Every consumer is entitled to free annual copies of their TransUnion, Experian and Equifax credit reports via AnnualCreditRepair.com. Order yours to see where you stand.
  • Assess your accounts. The average consumer isn’t getting the full benefit of “alternative” credit data, also known as unreported data. For example, suppose you rent an apartment, have cell phone service and a cable package, and yet, none of these accounts appear on your credit reports. In general, these types of lenders fail to report histories to the bureaus unless a problem exists, costing you credit score points in the process. Contact your lenders directly to learn more about their policies. A simple request to report could lead to fast and easy credit creation.
  • Open a credit account. The concept of credit can be overwhelming without the right perspective. Rather than viewing credit and debt together, consider using credit as a tool to help you create a positive future. Start slow by opening one of the following accounts:
    • A secured credit card. Consumers with no credit history may find it difficult to get approved for a standard line of credit. Consider applying for a secured credit card first. This type of card requires pre-loading funds before use like a debit card, however, your activity is reported to the bureaus like a regular credit account. Steady use will also allow you to convert the card to standard credit after a period of six months to a year.
    • Personal loan (with a cosigner). Applying for a small personal loan, e.g., a line of credit at the local bank or a federal student loan can help you establish credit with necessary funds and a manageable repayment schedule. Ask a close family member to act as your cosigner and remember that your actions affect their credit health as well. Pay your bill in full and on time to avoid taking advantage of their generosity.
  • Remember the Five Factors. Losing the “unscorable” label takes time, and it’s important to establish healthy habits from the very beginning. Click here to review the Five Factors that determine how your credit is calculated. Understanding the facts is your first priority.

The bottom line: A world of opportunity waits for those who take the right steps. Begin your journey with knowledge and planning; the result will help you achieve the credit score you deserve.

Source: lexingtonlaw.com

To Buy or Sell First? That is the Question

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It may be the ultimate catch 22 – do you buy a new home first then sell your current property or sell first then search for a new one? Each approach has its pros and cons so what’s best for you?

Traditionally, homeowners prefer to sell first but in hot markets where bidding wars and multiple offers are more common, some are willing to buy their dream home first, anticipating their current one will sell quickly.

Here’s a rundown of your options:

Pros to selling first

  • You know exactly what your budget for a new property is and can hone in on homes priced right in your neighbourhood.
  • You’re able to make a firm offer on a new home with a closing date that works for you.

Cons to selling first

  • The clock begins ticking and you need to find and close on a new home before the closing date for your sold home – forcing you to potentially compromise on the kind of home you buy or the neighbourhood you and your family want to live in.
  • If you don’t find a new home in time, you’re faced with the unlikely scenario of negotiating to extend the closing date on your sold property, or finding a short-term rental to live in while you continue your search.

Pros to buying first

  • You only buy the house you love if and when you find it – you’re under no pressure to settle because time is running out on a sold property’s closing.

Cons to buying first

  • You may have to finance two homes if selling your current one takes longer than expected.
  • You could have to sell your current home for less to avoid losing a sale – that might require a larger down payment or an increase on your new property’s mortgage.

5 few more tips to help you decide

  1. If you can carry two properties temporarily with little or no bridge financing, buy the home you love first.
  2. Closing dates can be a sticking point for buyers and sellers, but if finding a new home or selling your old one is a concern, try negotiating a long closing date – like three months or more.
  3. Do your homework and connect with a real estate agent you trust well in advance of making any move so you fully understand the buying and selling realities in your area.
  4. Before you’re pressured to do so, ask yourself what you’re willing to compromise on and what’s non-negotiable.
  5. Get your home properly appraised free by an experienced agent with superior knowledge of your area.

(Sources)

http://business.financialpost.com/2013/02/02/should-you-sell-your-house-before-you-buy-a-new-one/

http://frontstreetrealty.net/buyorsellfirst.html

http://josiestern.com/faq/buying-or-selling-first/

Source: zoocasa.com

Lowering Your Mortgage Interest Rate (After Buying a Home)

Refinancing Your HomeSo, you’ve been living in your home for a few years since securing your home loan, and your credit score has increased! Now, it’s time to look into securing a better interest rate. First and foremost, it is important to understand how your credit initially impacts your mortgage rate.

Credit Score and Your Mortgage

Your credit score is a financial tool. It directly affects the ease at which you are able to secure financing. It also has a significant impact on your interest rate. It can be difficult to pinpoint what is and is not a good credit score for a low-interest rate. This is up to specific lenders, but it all comes down to the higher your credit score, the better the interest rate that you qualify for will be.

There are many calculators you can use to determine what a loan costs at different interest rates such as this one: Loan Comparison Calculator.

Mortgage Refinancing

A mortgage refinance is the process of taking out a new loan to pay off the previous mortgage loan that you took out on your house. Typically, if your credit score has improved, even by just a few points, you can qualify for a lower interest rate. This will help to save you a lot of money paid to interest over the many years of your mortgage length.

Simply put, if your credit score was low, or just lower than it is now when you bought the home, you are likely to have locked in a higher interest rate than you qualify for today. That is why many people will purchase a home with a lower credit score, make a series of on-time payments over the course of a year or two to establish the ability to pay the loan and boost their credit. This shows responsibility. They will then benefit from a refinance.

Current Interest Rates

It should be noted that it is also a good idea to take a look at the current market mortgage and refinance interest rates. Coupling an improved credit score with lower overall interest rates is a win-win. The overall goal is to lower that payment and doing so at the best time will save you cash in the long run.

You can always check the current mortgage interest rates HERE.

Mortgage Refinance Process

To refinance, take a look at where you would like to be and do your research to determine the feasibility of that number by taking into account your credit score and the current market analytics. Know what your exact credit score is. Look at what your equity in your home is in excess of what you owe the bank on your current mortgage. You can do this by checking your mortgage statements for your current balance. From here, you can work with a real estate agent to determine the current estimated value of your home.

It is important to note that after finding a lender that you would like to go with for your mortgage refinance, many lenders require an appraisal of your home. You will have a closing for this mortgage, similar to that of your first mortgage. It is not a terribly long process, but it certainly requires some assistance from the lender.

Mortgage Refinance Benefits

After all, is said and done, your mortgage refinance not only secures a better interest rate, but it helps to create more cash available to you each month after you pay your lowered monthly mortgage. You may have even been able to refinance into a lower term, allowing you to pay off the home faster. This was all made possible by boosting that credit score!

Source: creditabsolute.com

Why Sales Presentation Skills Matter

One positive impact of the pandemic is that originators have been forced to connect with customers via video conferencing. Before Covid-19 restrictions, some originators incorporated video into their sales process but many producers had not.

With the rise of remote working, video conferencing has become a primary tool for personal interaction. Even sales leaders are using video to connect with employees. While many originators are hoping that in-person meetings will eventually return, I believe video is here to stay!

Sherlock: not having an accurate view of sales performance is a recipe for disaster
Pat Sherlock

In my view, the old ways of selling are on life support. This will significantly affect how mortgage sales organizations reach out to customers and referral sources in the future. Video presentation skills will be mandatory for originators moving forward.

While face-to-face meetings have long been the standard for sales organizations around the world, how salespeople connect and generate trust has been fundamentally redefined. To understand the growing influence of online interaction, consider that 40% of couples met their partners online versus through mutual friends, according to a Stanford University 2019 study.

If finding a partner in today’s world can happen through online interaction, why can’t the same techniques apply when making the investment of a lifetime, purchasing a home?

The power of video as a sales tool is undeniable. In the past few years, demand for video content has increased exponentially. According to Nielsen’s 2018 Total Audience Report, the average U.S. adult spends nearly six hours per day watching video across a variety of devices including televisions, laptops, smartphones, and tablets. There is no question that video is a normal aspect of daily life, especially for younger generations.

While some originators may be uncomfortable with online presentations, mastering this format will be critical if producers want to connect with prospects and referral sources. When you think about it, the idea of selling online is not that unusual. If movie actors can cultivate a strong following, why shouldn’t originators be able to do the same and develop their own followers or “tribes.”

The bottom-line? Selling is moving to video whether lenders and their originators are ready or not. Sales leaders should be hiring individuals who are skilled in this medium and are willing to use it. The pandemic has only accelerated the need for originators who can deliver excellent sales presentations—both in-person and online.

Has your company embraced video sales culture? Don’t wait!

Pat Sherlock is the founder of QFS Sales Solutions, an organization that helps organizations improve their sales talent management and performance. For more information, visit https://patsherlock.com.

Source: themortgageleader.com

Acronyms of Real Estate: What Homebuyers Need to Know

Real estate is a regular smorgasbord of acronyms – everything from APR to REO. Here’s a list of the ones you’re likely to run into and what they mean when you’re buying or selling a house:

Acronyms You’ll Hear Associated with Real Estate Professionals

Real estate agents, builders and most other realty-related professions have numerous professional designations, all designed to set them apart from those who haven’t taken advanced courses in their fields. These designations don’t mean that professionals without letters after their names are not as experienced or skilled, but rather only that they haven’t taken the time to further their educations.

Read: How to Build Your Real Estate Team

Let’s start with the letter “R,” which stands for Realtor. A Realtor is a member of the National Association of Realtors, the nation’s largest trade group. NAR says it speaks for homeowners, and it usually does. But in that rare occasion when the interests of its members and owners don’t align, it sides with those who pay their dues.

Read: A Timeline of the History of Real Estate

NAR embraces a strict code of ethics. There are about 2 million active and licensed real estate agents nationwide, and 1.34 million can call themselves Realtors.

NAR members sometimes have the letters GRI or CRS after their names. The Graduate, REALTOR® Institute (GRI) designation signifies the successful completion of 90 hours of classroom instruction beyond the continuing education courses required by many states for agents to maintain their licenses. After the GRI, an agent may become a Certified Residential Specialist (CRS) by advancing his or her education even further.

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Builders can obtain the GBI – Graduate Builder Institute – designation by completing nine one-day classes sponsored by the educational arm of the National Association of Home Builders. Those who pass more advanced courses become Graduate Master Builders, or GMBs. Remodeling specialists with at least five years of experience can be Certified Graduate Remodelers, or CGRs. And, salespeople can be CSPs, or Certified New Home Sales Professionals.

In the mortgage profession, the Mortgage Bankers Association awards the Certified Mortgage Banker (CMB) and Accredited Residential Originator (ARO) designations, but only after completing a training program that may take up to five years to finish. To start the process, CMB and ARO candidates must have at least three years’ experience and be recommended by a senior officer in their companies.

Acronyms Associated with Mortgage Lending

When obtaining a mortgage, you will be quoted an interest rate; however, perhaps the more important rate is the annual percentage rate, or APR, which is the total cost of the loan per year over the loan’s term. It measures the interest rate plus other fees and charges.

An FRM is a fixed-rate mortgage, the terms of which never change. Conversely, an Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) allows rates to increase or decrease at certain intervals over the life of the loan, depending on rates at the time of the adjustment.

Female client consulting with a agent in the officeFemale client consulting with a agent in the office

A conventional loan is one with an amount at or less than the conforming loan limit set by federal regulators on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two major suppliers of funds for home loans. These two quasi-government outfits replenish the coffers of main street lenders by buying their loans and packing them into securities for sale to investors worldwide.

Other key agencies you should be familiar with are the FHA and the VA. The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) insures mortgages up to an amount which changes annually, as does the conforming loan ceiling. The Veterans Administration (VA) guarantees loans made to veterans and active duty servicemen and women.

LTV stands for loan-to-value. This important ratio measures what your are borrowing against the value of the home. Some lenders want as much as 20% down, meaning the LTV would be 80%. But in many cases, the LTV can be as great as 97%.

Private mortgage insurance (PMI), is a fee you’ll have to pay if you make less than a 20% down payment. PMI covers the lender should you default, but you have to pay the freight. Fortunately, you can cancel coverage once your LTV dips below 80%.

Your monthly payment likely will include more than just principal and interest. Many lenders also want borrowers to include one-twelfth of their property tax and insurance bills every month, as well. That way, lenders will have enough money on hand to pay these annual bills when they come due. Thus, the acronym PITI (principle, interest, taxes, and insurance).

Real-estate owned (REO) properties are foreclosed upon by lenders when borrowers fail to make their payments. When you buy a foreclosure, you buy REO. Short sales are not REO because, while they are in danger of being repossessed, they are still owned by the borrower.

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Acronyms You’ll Hear During an Appraisal

There is no acronym for an appraisal, which is an opinion of value prepared by a certified or licensed appraiser (though sometimes other types of valuation methods are used in the buying and selling process).

A Certified Market Analysis (CMA) is prepared by a real estate agent or broker to help determine a home’s listing price. A Broker Price Opinion (BPO) is a more advanced estimate of the probable future selling price of a property, and an automated valuation model (AVM) is a software program that provides valuations based on mathematical modeling.

AVMs are currently used by some lenders and investors to confirm an appraiser’s valuation, but they are becoming increasingly popular as replacements of appraisals, especially in lower price ranges.

Other Terms to Know

If you hear the term MLS, you should know it stands for multiple listing service. An MLS is a database that allows real estate brokers to share data on properties for sale, making the buying and selling process more efficient. There are many benefits to both homebuyers and sellers utilizing an MLS, for more information on how to get your home available through an MLS, work with a real estate professional when selling.

Read: What Buyers and Sellers Need to Know About Multiple Listing Services

Did you know? Homes.com has some serious MLS partnerships, no joke! When you start your home search on Homes.com, you’ll see accurate property information quickly so you’ll never have to wonder if a home is actually available.

House tourHouse tour

However, not all properties for sale are listed on the MLS. A home may be a for-sale-by-owner (FSBO), if the owner is selling his or her property without an agent and bypassing an MLS listing. In addition, some agents fail to enter their listings in the MLS for days or weeks at a time in hopes of selling to a list of preferred clients.

Read: Advantages of Buying With or Without an Agent

Finally, you may find yourself buying into a homeowners association (HOA) when you purchase a house or condominium apartment. HOAs are legal governing bodies that establish requirements everyone must adhere to in order to keep the community it oversees running smoothly and ensure property values are maintained.


Lew Sichelman

Syndicated newspaper columnist, Lew Sichelman has been covering the housing market and all it entails for more than 50 years. He is an award-winning journalist who worked at two major Washington, D.C. newspapers and is a past president of the National Association of Real Estate Editors.

Source: homes.com