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How to Avoid Homebuyer’s Remorse

The magnitude of buying a house and considering all the choices involved in the process can be overwhelming. Avoid homebuyer’s remorse with these tips.

  1. Before you buy, consider these things to avoid homebuyer’s remorse in the future:
    ~The space that you need and want in a home. Think about which rooms you’ll actually use. It may seem like a formal living room is nice to have in theory, but if it’s just another room to clean that you only use once a year, you may want to re-consider. Before you buy, think about the amount of space you can realistically clean, cool, and heat. Also, figure in the size of your furniture and how it will fit into those rooms.
    ~If you can expand that house if you’d want to one day. If that’s even a remote option for the future, then make sure that house’s architecture even makes that possible.
    ~If you will grow tired of stairs (or vice versa). Will you eventually dread carrying your laundry down two flights of stairs to the basement?
    ~If you actually want that kitchen island. Some people physically work best when they’re unimpeded by that barrier in between their two counters.
    ~If there’s anything missing. Did a previous owner take something out that would normally be present? Is the bathroom missing a tub, and would you miss it if it is?
    ~If you’ll really still like that home trend a year or two from now. Don’t buy a house based around its trendy style, since trends come and go.
    ~If you’ll still be happy with that pool in the future. Pools are expensive to maintain, and they’re also time-consuming due to maintenance and cleaning.
  2. If you find a home you’re interested in, ask yourself these things to avoid potential homebuyer’s remorse:
    ~Does it include the most important things on the top of your wish list?
    ~What qualities made the house stand out from the others you looked at?
    ~Did you find other houses that met your needs, or was this one an outlier?
    ~Is it realistic to think you can find a “better” house?
  3. If you go under contract on a house, stop looking at others. You might have found things that are different from yours, but maintain your perspective of why you initially chose yours. Remind yourself of what was special about the house a few days ago, and ask yourself what has really changed about it in that short of a time.
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Questions to Ask Sellers When Looking at Houses to Buy

There are many details involved in determining the right house to buy, and these details actually communicate the overall quality of a house to you.

  1. Why are you selling?: There are many factors that can create a need for someone to move. Depending on the reason, the seller may be willing to accept a lower offer if it means they can move out more quickly.
  2. How long has the home been on the market?: Once again, putting in a lower offer could mean acceptance in this scenario. There could possibly be also something wrong with it if it’s been on the market for a while, but many times it’s simply the fact that it’s over-priced.
  3. When did you buy the home, and for how much?: This will let you know if property values have gone up or down in the local market since they bought the house. Also, it will let you know how open they might be to negotiation; if they got a good deal on the house, they may be more open to accepting a lower offer, compared to if they spent a lot on the house.
  4. What’s included in the sale?: Anything that’s attached to the house is considered a “fixture” and is included with the sale of the house if you buy it. When in doubt, ask and get the answer in writing.
  5. Is there anything wrong with the house?: Although you should find out everything in disclosures and the inspection, it’s nice to know what you’re getting yourself into beforehand.
  6. Has the house had any repairs or major renovations; if so, who did them?: Past problems can create present or future problems. Also, you need to know what past projects you should receive building permits for. You also need to know if the changed made to the house were DIY or performed by a licensed contractor.
  7. How old is the roof?: A typical asphalt roof lasts around 15-20 years. If the lifespan on this one is almost up, then you’ll be putting down a chunk of money in the near future.
  8. What’s the age of the wiring?: Depending on the age of the house, wiring can be dangerous if it hasn’t been replaced in a while (and costly at that).
  9. What’s the age of the windows; will they need to be replaced?: Old windows can have a huge impact on energy bills. Replacing windows is expensive, but it’s probably better to know about in the long run.
  10. Are there issues with the home’s foundation?: This is an important thing to know, because the structural integrity is one of the key elements of a home.
  11. Is there obvious water damage?: If there’s a basement, you can check it out to see if you think there’s been water; if it’s carpeted and doesn’t smell musty, it’s probably never had water damage, but if the utilities are raised off the ground, then it may have had damage in the past.
  12. What’s the current quality of the sewer system?: If there’s anything wrong, the homeowner (not the city) pays to fix it. Looking at the condition of the sewer lines aren’t typically part of a home inspection, so it may be good to get them checked out.
  13. Have insurance claims been made on the home?: This also lets you find out if there have been any past problems with the house. Also, if there’s a stream, creek, etc. near the house, you need to know if you’ll need flood insurance before you buy it.
  14. Where are the trees located around the house; what’s their quality?: Are any rotted, dead, and/or have the possible of falling onto your house in a storm? Will any of them block out the sun too much?
  15. Are there any current or past pest problems?: Ask, and also look around inside cabinets and moist places for pests and their traces.
  16. Does the ground slope away from the house?: The grading of your house is important; it affects the direction of the water flow around your home. Too much water directed towards the house=bad.
  17. What are the neighbors like; are there any neighborhood problems?: Bad neighbors, traffic problems, bad maintenance, bright lights, and more can all be advantageous to know about before you buy it. You can even talk to a few neighbors to gather more information about these things.
  18. Have there been break-ins in the neighborhood; if so, have you seen an increase?: Always good to know. Also important when determining if you’d need an alarm system.
  19. How much are the utilities for the house?: Sure, your usage will be different, but you can probably get a ballpark figure, and discern how many bills to expect.
  20. What surprised you when you moved in?: Because even if it’s a pleasant surprise, it’s still beneficial to know.
  21. What do you enjoy most about living here?: You’ll probably hear a perspective on something about the house or community that you wouldn’t have known otherwise.
  22. Is there anything I/we forgot to ask?: This of course gives them a chance to tell you what you wouldn’t have thought or have known to ask.
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How to Buy a Home Fast

There are a lot of factors that can make the process of buying a home seem years-long. However, there definitely are certain ways to speed up this process.

  1. Check your credit reports and your credit score so you know what you’re working with. This will let you know if you need more time to build your credit, or to fix any mistakes.
  2. Choose an expert team. Your Realtor/s, closing attorney, mortgage banker, and whomever else will be assisting you in the process of buying your home, should be top notch.
  3. Get familiar with your chosen Realtor. They’ll know more about the market, both nationally and regional, and they will be able to tell you the best schools, neighborhoods, and help you with anything that comes up along the way. They’ll also generally have connections- to vendors, and to sources of knowledge about the newest constructions, etc.
  4. Get pre-approved for a home loan, not just pre-qualified. This could even put you at an advantage over a cash buyer who could be offering less money. So gather your paperwork and go get pre-approved so that you look like a serious, trustworthy buyer. They’ll need your W-2s, 1099s, and more.
  5. Search for homes in areas with high inventory. It takes less time to close in the process of buying a home when there’s less competition.
  6. Have a solid of list of what you want and what you don’t want. You’ll waste less time viewing houses trying to figure out what you like and don’t like.
  7. Sell your house before you buy another one. The separate processes will be easier than trying to handle both at the same time. Also, you’ll have a nice amount of equity in the bank, and flexibility with your closing date, which can put you above other buyers. If you can just temporarily put your things in storage and rent on a month-to-month basis, you can do this. You’ll also be mostly packed before you move!
  8. Be available to reply quickly to your agent and to any other cog in the process of buying your home.
  9. Your lender makes a difference. Many banks take around 45 days now, but 30 days is usually typical. Another factor that affects how fast the lender can work is when you get the inspection. It’s recommended to get it taken care of soon after you go under due diligence. The sooner this is taken care of, the sooner the lender can work their magic.
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What to Avoid as a Homebuyer

Buying a home is a definite process; one that works best if you’re an informed homebuyer  and know what to avoid.  There are things that can go wrong, but there are also things that can go right, leaving you with your dream home.

  • Caring too much about (fixable) aesthetics: Almost everything is fixable and changeable in a house. Unless it would bust your budget to fix, don’t get too caught up in those fixable things, especially if it’s something as simple as the light fixtures or paint in a room.
  • Waiting too long to take action: If you are sure you’ve found the home you want, then don’t wait too long to make an offer, especially if it’s currently a competitive market. If too much time passes between seeing a house and and making an offer, the seller may not take it as seriously.
  • Ignoring what the seller/s want and need: Buying a house is different from any other kind of business deal in that the seller of the “product” has to choose you. Sellers have different motivations for selling a house, whether it be for money or another reason. Your Realtor will attempt to fully understand the sellers’ reasoning and what they want out of the transaction so they can help you “win” the house.
  • Talking to seller/s without your Realtor present: The other “team” is not your enemy, so try and avoid that mindset. However, it’s better to communicate with your Realtor, who then communicates with the sellers’ agent. Don’t talk with the sellers directly, because if you agree on something in person, it won’t be the same legally as it would on paper and through your agents.
  • Low-balling a counteroffer: Don’t be too stingy. The stingier you are as a homebuyer, the harder it will be to get the bid on the house; you can be rejected, or unnecessarily lengthen the process of counter-offering. The best way to go about it is to make an offer not too far off from what you would actually pay. You’ll have a more realistic and appropriate price point to go on.
  • Being rude or too emotional: We get it, once you’re comfortable with the process of seeing houses and dealing with offers and counter-offers, it may be getting easier for your feelings to just slip out. However, stay polite to the agents and other people involved in the deal when you talk about the house, the financial aspects, and really everything in general. You wouldn’t want your mood and manners (or lack of) as a homebuyer to make a deal head south.
  • Always looking for a better deal: The market is always changing, and it’s never going to be the same as tomorrow. There could be a “better deal” later on, but on the other hand, the house that you really like could be sold before you make up your mind. If you do your research about the house, the area it’s in, and have a Realtor who will make counter-offers, then you should be set to get the appropriate price for a home.
  • Falling in love at first sight: “Fools rush in”- Probably coined by a homebuyer who quickly bought a house before doing their due diligence and had to learn the hard way. Even if you  think you LOVE the first house you look at, be sure to look at at least a few more in case you don’t know what you’re missing.
  • Overpaying: This fits in with the above rule in some cases; if your emotional attachment to a certain house overshadows your sense of practicality, you can end up overpaying.
  • Assuming a short sale or foreclosure is a deal: A slashed price tag may seem like a great deal; however, you may actually overpay for a short sale or a foreclosure in the long run. Be sure to hire a great Realtor who knows their way around the current local and national housing market. They will know the appropriate price for each property.
  • Forgetting about added costs: Home maintenance, utilities, property taxes, insurance, etc. are things that you need to remember before you make  a budget for the house you’ll buy.
  • Forgetting to get everything in writing and on file: Appliances, fixtures, etc. are things that could either stay or go, depending on what’s in writing. Be careful not to just assume that you’ll own everything that was in the house after you close.
  • Skipping the inspection: First of all, know that an inspection and an appraisal are not the same thing. An inspection can save you a lot of money in the long run; many things may not be visibly in need of repair, yet would cost you lots to fix over time. Don’t be a homebuyer that misses the important details!
  • Busting your budget by buying all new things for your new home or paying for a house you can’t afford: First of all, don’t spend what you can’t afford on a house. On that same hand, don’t think that just because you bought a new house means you “need” all new furniture to fill it.
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Financial Mistakes to Avoid When Buying a House

A home is one of the largest purchases you’ll ever make, so be sure to make the most knowledgeable financial decisions you can.

  • Don’t change your job before you submit a home loan inquiry (if you can help it). Lenders want to see stability. And your paystubs.
  • Don’t change banks. This falls under the “stability” category.
  • Don’t buy a car, boat, or anything you’ll have to finance; your debt-to-income ratio is something you don’t want to worsen before you buy a house.
  • Don’t buy furniture on credit before buying. That pesky debt-to-income ratio again.
  • Don’t charge too much on your credit card, or increase your debts too much.
  • Don’t skip out on or be late on payments. This is one of the most important elements of your credit score. You need to show you can responsibly manage money.
  • Don’t make abnormally large (cash) deposits into your bank account. Two months is the amount of time lenders prefer your down payment to have already been sitting in your account.
  • Don’t lie on your loan inquiry. Be honest about all of your income, debts, and liabilities.
  • Don’t co-sign a loan for anyone. even if you’re not the one making those payments, it increases your debt-to-income ratio.
  • Don’t have inquiries made into your credit. Searching for new credit makes you look risky to lenders.
  • Don’t apply for new credit. Applying for credit can lower your credit score, which is something you don’t need right before a lender will be looking at it.
  • Don’t close an credit accounts. It may seem like the right time to get a better balance of your finances, but it can lower your credit since you’ll have a higher usage of debt compared to your limit on one card and to your overall credit availability.
  • Don’t transfer money around without having proper paper documentation. Your lender requires the most recent bank statements, and if you have any unusual deposits, they’ll need to see the origin of funds. If you can, put all of the necessary funds for your home purchase into one account before applying for a mortgage. If you can’t, make sure the funds are available somehow.
  •  Don’t give an earnest money deposit directly to the seller. A neutral party will hold that money until closing in case anything happens to deter the sale of the home.
  • Don’t forget to line up home-owner’s insurance. Your lender will want to see that you’re covered.
  • Don’t forget to have money for closing costs set aside.
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A Timeline of Things to Do Before Buying Your First Home

The home-buying process may be a bit overwhelming for those who are shopping for their first home; they don’t know what to expect yet. However, there are plenty of resources to help you out, including your Realtor.

12 Months Before

  • Check your credit score. The three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) are required to give you one free credit score per year. Sometimes there are mistakes, (and that’s why you want to request your credit score so far ahead of time) so be sure to check for these.
  • Figure out what you can, and want to, afford. Lenders usually want to ensure your debt-to-income ratio, which includes your mortgage and all other debts, is not higher than 43%.
  • Ensure what you can pay for the down payment. There are various plans and loan types available, so don’t feel too scared to figure it all out.

9 Months Before

  • Make a checklist of priorities you want met in your new house. If you can keep these at the front of your mind when you start searching for a home, you’ll be able to weed out what you don’t want, and communicate what you do want with your Realtor better. If you’re making these decisions with a partner or spouse, be sure to establish the things that each of you won’t bend on, and also the things that you can compromise on. It could become a point of contention later on, if it’s not established early in the game.
  • Research areas, neighborhoods, school districts, etc. (But don’t forget that your Realtor will know all of this info too as well!)
  • Start saving for extra home-buying expenses. Buying your first home might present more miscellaneous costs than you previously thought, so be aware early on. Also, It’s always beneficial to have extra money set aside for emergencies or unexpected needs that may arise. Create a home maintenance funds account for that.

6 Months Before

  • Gather your paperwork for the loan. This will include your W-2’s and personal tax returns from the past 2-3 years, bank statements, your most recent pay stubs, credit card and loan statements, addresses from the past 5-7 years, and most recent retirement account statements (like a 401K.)

3 Months Before

  • Get pre-approved. Meet with your lender, and he/she can inform you of how much you can afford, after looking at your credit score.
  • Meet with your chosen Realtor. Once you discuss the amount you were pre-approved for and what you want in a house, you can start shopping for your first home together.

2 Months Before

  • Make an offer on a house. It usually takes around 4-6 weeks to close, so this will give enough wiggle-room just in case.
  • Get a home inspection. Anything that is discovered unexpectedly can delay closing, or at least make things a bit more complicated in terms of costs.

One Month Before

  • Ensure all your financial documents and lending paperwork are correct, and in perfect order.
  • Get home insurance, and bring proof of it to the closing.
  • A couple days before closing, do a final walk-through to make sure everything looks the same as agreed upon.
  • Make sure you have the required funds to bring to the closing, such as wired money, cash, or a cashier’s check.

 

Congratulations on your new home!

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Pros and Cons of Buying a Foreclosure

There are some controversial facts out there about buying a foreclosure home. There are definitely pros and cons about buying one, but in the end it’s for you to decide if it’s the best choice for you.

Pros

  • Price: Banks usually don’t want to have to “hold” foreclosures for too long because of costs on their end. This means that the asking price will most likely be much smaller than normal.
  • Variety: There is a wide range of types of foreclosed houses, and with varying price points. It probably isn’t too hard to find one that’s what you’re looking for.
  • Fixer-Upper: You can buy a cheaper, less cared for foreclosure, spend some money to fix it up, and increase its value for the future. There are actual people who spend their lives “flipping” houses, doing just this.
  • Helping the Area: If you buy one of these houses and improve it, you are doing something for the area by increasing the value of the home and the ones around it.

Cons

  • Competing Buyers: Since they’re as cheap as they are, foreclosures usually get bout quickly. Act quickly, and be ready to bid with other people who want it. 
  • Repairs: Time, effort, and money will be spent to fix most foreclosures. If the house has been vacant for a bit, then all of these might be needed even more.
  • Secret Costs: If there’s a lien on the property or something of the sort, then you might have to pay off the past owner’s debts. If they haven’t even left yet, you may end up paying for eviction fees. 
  • Neighborhood: Areas with a higher concentration of foreclosures can be hard to appreciate in value. Lots of foreclosures can weigh market values down in one area. Also, these same areas can have higher crime rates, so do some research beforehand.
  • Emotionally Draining: More paperwork, time, and energy can be spent to sort out foreclosure proceedings. Make sure you’re prepared for this.
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Are You Seriously Ready to Buy a Home?

It’s a known fact that the process of buying a home can be stressful, confusing, and difficult in general. However, there are certain tell-tale signs of whether you’re actually serious about it and ready to buy, or if you’re just a “looky-loo”, a non-serious buyer.

You May Want to Re-think:

  • Not having an agent: There might be a multitude of reasons you don’t want an agent, or at least yet. However, they are your true guides for the whole home-buying process. They know things you most likely don’t, such as the comps for the area. They also know more about possible price variations, and how much money can possibly be saved, etc.
  • Looking all over the map: It’s better to stick to a smaller radius than a big scatter plot of homes. Usually buyers are more serious when they have narrowed their search down to the exact area they’re looking in, and know the pros and cons of the surrounding area.
  • If you’ve been looking for a long time: Yes, buying a home is one of the biggest purchases of your life. However, the longer you’ve been looking, usually the less serious you are. If you don’t have a list of your personal wants and needs to look for in a house, it will be harder to realize when you find the right (or wrong) one.
  • If you’ve seen a house three times or more: If you’re truly ready, you aren’t afraid of going for it. If you realize that you just can’t commit to any of the many houses you’ve seen, then you may not be a serious buyer.
  • Open houses are your only viewings: You may not be ready to commit if you find yourself sticking to looking at houses in a group, and nervous about making one-on-one appointments.

You May Be Ready To Buy If: 

  • You have a lot of questions: If you find yourself asking about important questions, such as about the school systems, neighborhoods, parks, transportation, etc., then you are probably more cognizant about the buying process and every detail you need to be aware of.
  • You know what you can spend: If you have a budget, and your finances in order, you’re a (big) step closer to being a “serious” buyer. Be sure to become pre-approved as well.
  • You make appointments: If you spend more time in private showing appointments than you do at open houses, then you are probably more ready to buy.
  • Bringing other people: If you bring other people along to see houses, then you may be more serious about making that commitment to buy a home.
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Features Considered When Buying a House

There are a multitude of things to look at when you are in the process of buying a house: the architecture of the house itself, the details, the updates and renovations, and more.

  • Location: Where your house is located is important; just as important are the features shared about its location. Some buyers might be looking for public transport. Some might want great parks, nearby restaurants, or shops. Most buyers will want to find a good neighborhood. Whatever the case, buyers need to know everything there is to know about where the house is located, because different buyers want different things.
  • The Lot: Lot size is usually pretty important to buyers, but lot steepness is just as important. Would you be able to add on to your house if you wanted a patio or deck in the future? Would the level of steepness ever affect water runoff in your yard, or the house’s foundation? Another thing buyers might consider is the house’s position on the lot in terms of direction it’s facing. The lighting and bills for heating and cooling will all be affected by this. Last, the proximity of the house to the ones next to it will play into buyers’ decisions.
  • Driveway Dimensions: Buyers need to know if their car will even fit in the driveway and the garage before they buy the house. Some buyers also have multiple cars they need to fit on the driveway, so driveway size may be an important factor. Another factor is the availability of street parking, especially if the driveway is smaller than desired. Some neighborhoods and communities may have strict rules about this.
  • Senior and Handicap Friendly: Many Baby Boomers are currently down-sizing, and looking for one-story houses that would allow them to age with the house. Some buyers need wheelchair access for when their friends or family visit, and maybe a bedroom on the main floor. These things are important to list if you’re selling.
  • Stair Size: Steepness and length of stairs are to be considered by buyers. No one wants stairs that are hard to climb.
  • Storage and Organization: Buyers look for storage space, especially if they are moving from a smaller house into a larger one. Basements, garages, attics, closets, pantries, and spare rooms are important for storage needs. On the same hand, these same buyers will look for built-in shelves, closets, renovations, and generally anything that would easily allow them to have improved and better organized storage.
  • Size of Rooms: The room’s defined purpose is key here (and we already know that if you’re selling it’s important to have clearly defined room purposes), so there might be a difference between labeling something as an office and labeling it as a spare bedroom. Buyers will mentally place their furniture in the rooms to see if it fits beforehand. Following this same point, if you’re selling, the layout and flow of your rooms can have a big impact on potential buyers. They will at least subconsciously realize if there’s a “flow” to the rooms or not; the easier the rooms are to walk through on a normal path, the better. Buyers also will look for how easy the flow is of going from an indoor space to an outdoor one.
  • Height and Type of Ceilings: Some of this depends on each individual buyer; some like high ceilings, or vaulted, or maybe tray. Ceilings are especially important to consider if you or the buyer has a tall person who will live in the house.
  • Size of Windows: Some people like and look for big windows more than others, but everyone likes at least some natural lighting.
  • Bathroom Numbers: This will probably be a very important factor in buying a house. Even an extra half bath on the main can be a determining factor in buying a house.
  • Kitchen Characteristics: Many buyers will look for an updated kitchen. If you’re selling, or will in the future, your kitchen is one of the best rooms to update in terms of return on investment. However, some things are sought after depending on personal taste, such as stainless steel, double ovens, and granite counter tops.
  • Location of Laundry: Laundry is a common and necessary occurrence, especially for bigger families. Convenience of the laundry room location will most likely be important for buyers to consider.
  • Heating and Cooling: Is the house’s system up to date and running smoothly?
  • Energy Efficiency and Eco-Friendliness : Since some buyers look specifically for these, they’re important to mention if you’re selling. buying a house buying a house