It Isn’t a Race – Take Your Time
The decision to buy your first home is a major, life-changing event and should never be taken lightly or made quickly. Not only is it the most significant financial purchase you will likely ever make, but it’s also a commitment to your lifestyle and personal sense of well-being.
Certainly, a home is a valuable asset, but it is much more than a number we see on a financial spreadsheet. It’s our haven. It’s where we plan to raise our children. It’s where we will dream about our future. It’s where we will celebrate our victories and cope with the setbacks of life. There is the whole story of homeownership.
Yes, buying real estate is a big deal, and I won’t lie to you, it can be a stressful and intimidating process, especially for a first-time buyer. However, it isn’t written in stone that it will be this way for everyone. It can and should be an exciting and joy-filled process. Being financially ready is critical in making it work in your favor.
Let’s look at five positive signs that say you may be in the financial position to become a homeowner.
1. Your Finances Are Solid
One thing I know for sure is the passage of time always brings change in its wake. Fashion, food, hairstyles, home décor, and lifestyles have become extremely sensitive to trends. Some embrace change and others fight it. Whichever the case, a constant we can depend on is trends are going to come and go regardless.
Sifting Through The Mount Everest of Home Buyers Advice
Along with changes in style, there is an incredible amount of advice available about what we should hold on to and what we should let go. Real estate is no different, and it is essential that we weed through all the bits and pieces of information and discover what is still meaningful and what no longer serves us when we decide to put a roof over our heads.
Purchasing a house is the most expensive buy of a lifetime for most of us. It is predominately a joyful experience, but a certain amount of stress is inherent in the process, especially for first-time homebuyers. We want to make the right choices, so we look for advice from family, friends and the internet. But with so many tips out there, how do we know which are keepers and which we should ignore? Here are several pieces of home buying advice that have not met the test of time.
You Will Always Be Better Off Owning Than Renting
Can You Recognize a Super Real Estate Agent When You Meet One? Take This Quiz!
You have finally made the big decision to buy a home, and you’re ready to dive headlong into the real estate market! Congratulations! Given today’s market and the great opportunities that abound in the Twin Cities Metro for home ownership, I applaud your decision. But, (and yes there is always a “but,”) before you take the plunge, just like every great athlete needs a coach, or every talented artist needs an agent, you need a Realtor© by your side, advocating for you.
“Why can’t I just advocate for myself?” you say. Great question and I am so glad you asked. An honest and ethical real estate agent will steer you in the right direction, so you don’t waste time spinning your wheels. He will offer expert advice when called for, even if it might not be what you want to hear, and will put your best interest at the forefront of any transaction. Not only will he protect your interests, but also limit your liabilities and even save you money.
“Wow,” you say, “having an agent will give me an edge! I want one, but, with all...
The Fall Home Buying Puzzle
With summer in the rearview mirror, the fall home buying season is in full swing. As we move into the last quarter of the year, many disappointed summer home shoppers wonder if they should suspend their search to renew efforts in the spring.
As you ponder the question, you should take into consideration that the fall home buying season has some distinct advantages. Instead of taking a break, you may want to stay with the program and intensify your search for a home. Here are some of the perks and rewards you can expect if you decide to stay engaged in the hunt for a home.
Fall Home Buying Means Less Competition
Like most markets, real estate has seasonal adjustments. Fall home buying season is generally less busy than the spring and summer markets. The “must buy a home before school starts” mentality is one reason. Another is that some people do not want to move in the winter months.
Those who have no school-age kiddos or are more flexible about their moving timetable can take advantage of that market slowdown. They will find less competition for homes...
So You Want To Buy a Home
Taking the step from renting to homeownership is a life-altering event. Many people consider it the litmus test for adulthood. It is both thrilling and scary at the same time. It should be because not only is owning a home in itself a significant responsibility but it is the most significant purchase the majority of people will make in their lifetime. Owning a home is also a source of pride, of achievement, and for millions, still an essential component of the American Dream.
If owning a home is on your bucket list, perhaps you are waiting for the right time. The question is, how will you know when that is? There is no stock answer. There are many factors to consider, both pro and con on the subject of buying a home. For many first time home buyers, money is an obstacle. But that isn’t always the case. Nor should the considerations of when to purchase a house be strictly limited to the financial ability to do so.
There are outstanding advantages that come along with owning a home and there are detriments as well. Let’s take a look at how the pros and the cons balance each other. When we evaluate both and can get to the intersection where rewards offset risks, we will have a clearer picture of how we can proceed.
Is 2018 the Year of the Home?
When you make the transition from renter to owner, you become the recipient of many benefits, both practical ones, and emotional ones as well. For many people, homeownership is an important rite of passage on the highway into adulthood, probably second only to becoming a parent. Why? Because owning a home enables you to assume more control of two very important aspects of your life; your net worth and your personal environment. Most people would find that pretty exciting stuff! Many of us, when we become adults especially, want to have as much control over our lives as possible, or at least feel that we do!
So if 2018 is your year to purchase that downtown Minneapolis loft, starter home in the burbs, or downsize to the townhome you have always dreamed of, we have some great tips we are dying to share with you.
Prepare Your Finances
If you haven’t already done so, contact a mortgage broker or banker and get pre-approved. This is the only way to know for certain how much house you can afford to buy and what amount of cash you will require for ...
Should I Buy a Home This Winter or Wait for Spring?
If you are a Twin Cities’ buyer that missed out on snaring a deal this past spring or summer, you might be asking yourself, your family, your friends and your realtor whether or not you should keep your search ongoing or simply hunker down for the winter months and venture forth again when the forsythia bloom. Maybe you just started the process and are thinking of putting it on hold until the new year arrives or wondering if there is an advantage to staying the course. As a realtor, I can tell you that I am being asked that question from many of my clients, especially the first time buyers.
Because everyone has a story and no personal situation is exactly the same, there is no right or wrong answer. But generally speaking, I tell my buyers that nobody is too cool for thermal underwear in Minnesota. Let’s get some and keep looking for that home. Patience is a virtue and tenacity pays off in the end.
To those just getting started in the process, if you have your pre-approval letter in hand start your search and if not get that preliminary work completed and...
The Twin Cities Are Filled With Real Estate Stories
Real estate is the story of buying and selling a home. Since I’ve been a Realtor for 14 years I have stories. Most end happily even though there may have been challenges along the way. But, every once in a while something goes wrong. Mistakes that could and should have been avoided happen. The only upside to mistakes is learning from them. Even better is learning from someone else’s mistake. Free advice that another paid for is like earning bonus miles.
I’m going to share three stories from three buyers who were on the home stretch to close on their dream home and then did something they shouldn’t. They had a signed contract, they had a loan, they had their closing date and all systems were go. And then they did something unthinkable that blew that deal.
Don’t Buy a Car
Alex was ready to stop renting. He was tired of the cost of his tiny apartment going up every year and knew the tight rental market was not going to loosen up anytime soon. Because he had student loans, it took him 2 years to scrimp and save and pay down his debt to a point where he would qualify for a mortgage on a modest...
New Construction vs Existing Home
When you bought your charming starter home, it was perfect. As a newly married couple living in the Twin Cities, the 950 square feet with two bedrooms and one bath felt spacious after living in a one bedroom apartment. Now, two children later and you feel like your once spacious home more closely resembles a hobbit hutch and you know it’s time to move up to something larger. Like many young potential buyers in your position, you are facing the conundrum of should you buy another used home or opt for a shiny new one? Should I buy a new construction home or buy an existing home? According to a Zillow survey, 41% of buyers responded to having a preference for a newly constructed home, but as in every incidence when you are at a crossroad, there are pros and cons on both sides of the equation. When you purchase a home, there is never a one size fits all option and depending on lifestyle and priorities one choice, new vs. existing, may be clearly preferable to the other.
Pros of New Home Construction
Buying vs Renting in Mpls and St. Paul, MN
Are you currently a renter in the Twin Cities who is thinking about buying a home but still apprehensive about making that move? A home is the single largest purchase you will probably make in your life and I applaud you for your careful consideration, that’s a good thing. In addition, maintaining a house is a large responsibility and you need to determine if you are ready to take that on. If cutting the lawn and cleaning the gutters is more than you want to deal with, perhaps a condo or townhouse is a good option for you. Let's take a look at a few good reasons which might make you decide to turn you the renter, into you the proud home owner!
Downside of Renting in The Twin Cities, MN
Experience has taught me that the quality of your rental experience is largely based on your neighbors above, below and on either side of you. If they are inconsiderate and unmindful that they are living in a community where loud music, unruly children, slammed doors, and late night parties will have a detrimental effect on the peace and sanity of their fellow tenants then you are in for an experience resembling the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. You may be unlucky and rent from an apathetic landlord who is slow to respond to maintenance requests or perhaps one only interested in temporary fixes while you, the tenant...
The difference between a Condo, Single Family, and Townhome in Mpls, MN
You, the first time home buyer have now been through the preapproval process and know how much the lender is willing to give you for a mortgage and at what rate. You also know how much of a down payment you need and your approximate closing costs. You know how you will pay for your home. Check!
You, the first time home buyer know the current Twin Cities real estate market favors the seller and competition for homes is keen at your price range. Knowledge is power and you feel confident that you will move quickly when you find “the one” because you have done the work and are fully prepared. You know how to maneuver through the Twin Cities real estate market. Check!
You the first time home buyer feel confident and prepared because you have a real estate professional at your side for each important step of the home buying journey and will use his experience...
Buying Your First Home in MN | How to buy a Home in the Twin Cities
After reading our first post in this series, The First Time Home Buyers Journey – The First Step Begins with 3 Questions, you have answered all of these in the affirmative and are anxious to buy that home! Congratulations on your decision! The enthusiasm is great! Everyone should be excited about buying their first home but let’s take a deep breath and think about the next 3 steps – knowing the market, getting lender approval and selecting a Real Estate Professional.
The Twin Cities Metro Housing Market
First, let me say that as a first time home buyer I have good news for you. Second let me say, I also have some bad news. Let’s start with the good news. Interest rates are the lowest they have been in the last 3 years. Right now, with excellent credit, it is possible to get a rate as low as 3.5 percent. Want to hear more good stuff? You do not have to have a 20 percent down payment. As a matter of fact, with good credit, you may be able to get a conventional mortgage with only 3 percent down. Credit not so good or you still need down payment assistance? FHA might be the way to go. So now for the not as good news.
For anyone purchasing a home under $500,000, the twin cities is a seller’s market. The dynamic causing this is basically far more demand than supply, and the lower the price range the less inventory of housing you will find. According to data published...
The First Time Home Buyers Journey In the Twin Cities Real Estate Market
Spring in The Twin Cities metro is about temperatures rising, flowers blooming, green lawns, residents hitting the biking and walking trails in large numbers and the real estate market in full swing. There are plenty of buyers out there and if you are one that has decided to take the plunge and buy a home I applaud you for beginning the journey towards home ownership. For those of you who have yet to take that first step but are seriously thinking about doing so, I’d like to help.
First let me say I fully understand the decision to transition from renter to owner is not an easy one. The purchase of a home is for most adults the largest financial investment of resources in their lifetime. It’s not a small deal, it’s a big deal and should never be minimized. Not to mention that buying your first home can be a very scary thing, and believe me you don’t have to be a virgin home buyer to get those jitters. There are the practical considerations that need to be explored such as your personal financial situation, market conditions, and future plans. You will also need to ask yourself some hard questions about how much change to your lifestyle in terms of responsibility you are ready to embrace. ...
Spring has arrived in the Twin Cities Metro and the housing market is in full swing! The onset of warmer temperatures has caused buyers to shed their boots and mittens and start house hunting in earnest. Traffic at Minnesota Property Group Open Houses has been brisk. We are seeing many more first time buyers, move up buyers, and buyers who are coming back after going through foreclosure or short sale experiences, (dubbed boomerang buyers) as well.
According to data published by The Minneapolis Association of REALTORS©, March showed an increase in pending sales of 30% over last year and was the highest level for that month since 2005. Additionally new listings were up 21% over March 2014, but due to avid buyer activity the market advantage is still tipping towards sellers. So, it’s a strong market, an active market, and what I would describe as a “snooze and you lose market” with desirable properties often selling within days or even hours of being listed.
Incredibly low mortgage interest rates are holding steady at least for now, so this is really an awesome time to make your move. However be aware that competition among buyers for desirable properties can be stiff, so as a buyer, to get the edge you need to be prepared to make your move when you find that dream property. Here are my 3 best do’s and...
Do you want to buy a home but don't have enough saved for a down payment? For some, saving equals sacrifice. Granted, to save you need to spend less but there are ways you can cut expenditures in the short term that you won’t miss and over the long term can help you realize your dream of home ownership. So whether you are a veteran saver or just getting your down payment fund off the ground, consider my 5 painless, no-anesthesia-necessary ways you can start saving today.
1. The Double Play - Improve Your Credit Score
The health of your FICA or Vantage Score has a direct effect on your interest rates. The higher your score, the lower the rate of interest you will pay to borrow money. Individuals with good scores can often negotiate lower rates on credit cards and generally also pay lower auto insurance rates. As an additional incentive, if you are thinking of buying a home, an excellent credit score will not only save you thousands over the life of your mortgage but make it easier to be approved for a loan when the time comes. So in terms of buying your dream home, this is a double play!
2. Evaluate Your Auto Insurance Coverage
Speaking of auto insurance, if you have not reviewed your policy recently, now is a great time. One way to save on monthly premiums is to raise the deductible limits. If your car is older and you own it, perhaps you...
Winter is a Great Time to Buy
Can you believe it's February? It seems the days since we welcomed in 2015 have passed faster than the Starship Enterprise at warp speed! But the year is still young so If home ownership is one of your New Year's Resolutions, now is a great time to begin the journey. Yes, I know, it’s darn cold here in the Twin Cities and you are happy enjoying your warm fires and cozy corners but don’t wait until the tulips are in bloom to start looking for a home. Pull on your boots and dig out your scarfs and mittens because here are 5 great reasons to buy a home now.
1. Less Competition
Spring brings droves of buyers out of winter hibernation looking for homes. As a wiley winter buyer you will face less competition for available homes, tipping the scales in your favor. Even though there are more listings to choose from in spring, chances are the home of your dreams may very likely be the dream home of other buyers as well. When this happens, you may find yourself in a bidding war or at the very least feel pressured to offer a higher price and make more concessions to the seller than you had planned in order “to get” that house before your competition steps in with a better offer.
2. Winter Buyers Enjoy Lower Prices and More Leverage
Spring rains cause rivers, creeks and home prices to rise. Historical data supports higher listing prices for homes in spring and summer months. It is not uncommon for a seller with a desirable property to receive more than one offer which results in less opportunity for you the buyer to negotiate price and conditions of the sale. In winter however, fewer buyers in the market inspire sellers not to let a good one off the hook by haggling over...