Joseph D. Federico's Blog
Perhaps one of the most challenging things about buying a home is saving for the downpayment. Collecting such a large sum of money can be difficult. The truth is that most buyers actually think that they need more than they actually do to buy a home. The downpayment doesn’t need to be a barrier to your path to homeownership. There are so many programs that offer low and even no down payment home loans. Read on to learn more about down payments and programs that can help you.
First, let’s look at what a down payment is and how it can help you. If you put 10% down on a $200,000 home that’s $20,000. The downpayment minus the purchase price of the home is $180,000, and that's how much your home loan will be. The more money you can put down on the house, the lower your home loan will be and the lower your monthly mortgage payments will be. A large down payment can indeed save you in the long term. If you’re looking to move into a home sooner rather than later, saving a considerable sum isn’t always possible.
Low Downpayment Mortgages
You need to decide what type of home loan you need by the amount of downpayment you’re willing and able to put down. Some benefits go along with making a down payment, but there are some negatives.
By making a substantial down payment you may despite your savings, leaving little money for emergencies. Your mortgage rate may not be affected by a large downpayment either. It can be hard to decide what type of loan to get and just how much you really can afford.
FHA loans are among the most popular type of home loans. The downpayment that’s required is just 3.5%. The requirements are simple, and you don’t have to be a first-time homebuyer to qualify.
The drawback to an FHA loan is that you cannot cancel the monthly mortgage insurance that comes along with it unless you refinance the home. Traditional mortgage insurance is canceled when you have built up 20% equity in the house, but this isn’t the case with FHA loans.
Another positive about FHA loans is that your credit score doesn’t have to be stellar in order for you to qualify. Some lenders approve FHA loans with credit scores as low as 580.
VA Home Loans
Buyers who have current or former military service status can qualify for this zero down mortgage. These loans are benefits to veterans and current members of the Armed Forces. While no downpayment is required, buyers may put down any amount they wish. The only requirements are that buyers be members of the military either currently serving for 90 days or two years of active duty service if not an active member.
The above options are great for those who can’t afford or don’t wish to put down large down payments but still hope to be homeowners.
Aside from your realtor, your lender will be one of the people that you work the most closely with when you’re buying a home. Before you even sign on with a lender, there’s a few questions that you should ask. Don’t feel pressure from a certain lender before you understand what their areas of expertise are. You don’t want to end up with homebuyer’s remorse because you didn’t do the right research before you signed the deal on a home.
Can You Tell Me About Programs For First Time Homebuyers?
There are so many great programs for first-time homebuyers. If the lender you choose can’t help you with these programs, maybe this isn’t the right lender for you. If your lender lacks knowledge in the areas that you need, you probably want to shop around.
How Can You Help Me Qualify For The Loan I Need?
Many times, loans have very specific qualifications that you need to meet. Even if you think you might not meet those requirements due to things like a low amount of down payment or a job change, your lender can often help you to find the details in your situation to help you qualify for a loan. For example, you may have recently changed jobs, but if you have stayed in the same field, your lender can help you to explain these circumstances so that you can still qualify for the loan.
Are There Downpayment Assistance Programs Available?
There are also many programs and loan types available to help buyers get a home with less than a 20% downpayment. Some loans offer good interest rates with less than a 20% downpayment. There are also many grants and downpayment assistance plans available. It’s important to ask questions to know the right information for your loan circumstances.
What Fees Do You Charge?
Some lenders do charge an array of fees. You don’t want to sign on with a lender and then close on the loan, only to find out that you’re knee-deep in fees in addition to all of the closing costs that you have to pay along with the home purchase.
How Will You Communicate With Me
Just like your Realtor, it’s important that your lender communicates with you in a timely manner. Buying a home requires that documents and offers are in on time to secure your home. Don’t let anything fall through the cracks by hiring people on your home search that may lapse in their communication with important information.
4 Improvements That Increase the Value of Your Home
Home improvement projects add useability, beauty and convenience to your house, and those characteristics make the house more desirable to potential buyers. If you’re considering a home improvement project, here are four that will increase the value of your home.
1. An Addition Increases Square Footage
One of the most impactful home improvements you can make is putting on an addition. Whether a family room, bedroom or home office, an addition adds useable square footage to your house -- and extra space is something that every prospective homebuyer can appreciate.
While not a perfect measure because value varies with the type of room, you can roughly estimate how much value an addition would have by multiplying the average sale price per square foot in your neighborhood by how many square feet an addition is.
2. A Finished Basement Increases Useable Space
A cheaper alternative to installing an addition, finishing a basement is relatively easy and likewise increases useable space.
Exactly what constitutes a finished basement can vary. You might simply want some shelves, carpeting and a few games, or you may want a full in-law apartment that’s complete with a bathroom and kitchenette. However you finish your home’s basement, though, the project will add value because anything is more useful than undeveloped storage space.
3. A Complete Kitchen Remodel
If you’re tired of cooking in an outdated kitchen, remodeling your kitchen will improve your day-to-day experience and let you recoup some of your investment. You probably won’t get the full cost of a kitchen remodel back when you sell your home, but you can regain most of the improvement’s cost if you’re wise in the changes that you make. Additionally, a remodeled kitchen can help sell your house faster if you’re in a slow real estate market.
4. A Master Bathroom Remodel
A house’s master bathroom is usually one of the three main rooms that potential homebuyers look at (with the kitchen and master bedroom being the other two). Thus, a master bathroom remodel is an improvement project that many will appreciate and be willing to pay for.
When you remodel a master bathroom, consider what high-end aesthetics and luxury features would add the most perceived value from someone else’s perspective. Then, pick the ones you think will have the biggest benefit and that you personally like.
Ask a Real Estate Agent
For help deciding how to approach any of these home improvement projects, get in touch with one of our real estate agents. We’re professionals who every day see what attracts prospective homebuyers, and we’d be glad to help you design an improvement that will add true value to your home.
One of the biggest challenges of putting your house on the market is keeping it clean, organized, and ready for the next showing!
This is no easy task, especially if you have pets, messy kids, and/or a hectic schedule. If you're like most people, you're probably contending with all three conditions!
Although it's human nature to get immersed in our own view of the world, it's helpful to try and see things through the eyes of prospective home buyers. When buyers walk into your house for the first time, they're not going to immediately know about all the improvements you've made to your property or the many ways your home has served your family's needs for all these years. They're not aware of the "big picture" and may never be. They only know what they see, hear, and smell during their brief visit to your home.
Anything which makes a negative impression can sour them on the idea of buying your house. It's a delicate balance and it doesn't take that much to tip the scales in either direction. That's why it's so important for sellers to get into a routine of keeping their house clean, orderly, and well maintained.
It's amazing what a difference 24-hours (or less) can make on the appearance and cleanliness of your home. Rest assured, if you've said or thought the words, "But I just cleaned it, yesterday!" -- you're not alone! Cleaning your house when it's on the market is a lot like shaving: It doesn't take too long for that "five o'clock shadow" to start creeping in!
Reminding everyone in your family to clean up after themselves is the first step to being ready, but it also pays to have a checklist to refer to when preparing for a real estate showing. If you don't use a task list, chances are you'll forget something important -- like wiping off the kitchen counter, sanitizing the toilets, putting away dirty dishes, or cleaning the bathroom sink. Floors almost always require a quick sweeping, mopping, or vacuuming, and waste baskets need to be emptied. Crumpled towels, bath mats, and bedspreads may also be in desperate need of straightening and smoothing out! If you own pets that tend to have "accidents" or kids who haven't quite mastered the art of cleaning up after themselves, you might also want to allow a few extra minutes in your routine to take care of the "unexpected."
While it's true that you want your house to have a "lived in" appearance, it's all-too-easy to cross that thin line into a whole different category! No reasonable house hunter will expect your home to be spotless and perfect in every way, but if it looks messy, disheveled, or neglected, then that could be a potential deal breaker!
An outdoor entrance that provides an attractive, welcoming appearance not only has the ability to enhance the curb appeal of your property, it also makes household residents and visitors with a warm visual reception to your home. You probably already know that hanging baskets and planters brimming with blooming flowers provide vibrant accents from spring through autumn, but entryways need more than flowers, particularly during late autumn, winter, and early spring. Here's what you can do to keep your outdoor entry area looking pulled together and appealing no matter what the season.
Whether you place a dwarf spruce or Norfolk pine in a planter or plant arborvitae or another upright conifer tree in the ground near your steps, some kind of greenery is usually necessary to make an outdoor entryway look fully dressed. It also helps keep a bit of color going during the cold season. As an added bonus, you can decorate your evergreens with holiday lights and other embellishments during the celebratory season.
Create a Small Seating Area
Even if all you've got is a set of steps leading to a tiny landing, try to find room for a chair or a bench. This is functional as well as welcoming because it provides a place for people to sit and remove outer footwear before entering the home or to simply sit and relax for a minute or two before going inside after a long day at work. If you've got the room, a small bistro set made from weather-resistant materials adds a nice touch and provides a fun way to enjoy a casual family meal or round of beverages.
Install an Exposed Aggregate Walkway
Exposed aggregate walkways do double duty by serving as a highly attractive introduction to your home and providing a slip-proof surface that helps keep household residents and guests safe from potentially harmful slip-and-fall accidents. You can get as creative as you like with these and use aggregates in a variety of colors or simply stick with an understated, monochromatic look. For instance, you can use agate aggregate for a multicolored effect and oyster shell aggregate for a lustrous look. Add ground-level solar lights along the sides to show it off after dark.
Other ideas for creating a fabulous outdoor entryway include hanging a decorative door with features such as carved floral accents or stained glass, putting down rustic outdoor rugs in front of the door, and placing accent items such as basketry or statuary on each side of the door. Have fun with it and don't be afraid to put some personality into it.
Please feel free to reach out to us for more advice on making the most of your home's appearance.