First Time Home Buyer

First Time Home Buyers in the Twin Cities

Real Estate Agent Advice for First-Time Homebuyers in the Twin Cities

Real Estate Agent Advice for First-Time Homebuyers in the Twin Cities

Spring in The Twin Cities metro is about temperatures rising, flowers blooming, green lawns, and residents hitting the biking and walking trails in large numbers—with the real estate market in full swing. There are plenty of buyers out there, and if you've decided to take the plunge and buy a home, we applaud you for beginning the journey towards homeownership.

The First Step to Homebuying in Minneapolis and St. Paul, MN

Please consider the following questions to help determine if you are emotionally, financially, and realistically prepared to begin the journey of buying a home:

  • Are You Emotionally Ready to Own a Home in MN?
  • Homeownership imparts a feeling of permanence, stability, and security. If your heart is set on owning a home, you may be emotionally ready.

  • Are You Financially Ready to Own a Twin Cities Home?
  • Understanding your debt-to-income ratio, credit score, and having savings for a down payment and closing costs are crucial first steps.

  • Are You Ready to Embrace the Responsibilities of MN Home Ownership?
  • Accepting the responsibilities of maintenance and emergency...

    Avoid These Homebuyer Mistakes and Live Happily Ever After

    Homebuying in the Twin Cities - Avoid these Mistakes

    A particular excitement surrounds buying a home that makes other major life purchases pale in comparison. Expect to be excited and joyful about the prospect. If, by chance, you are lucky enough to find a home that feels perfect as soon as you step through the door, it can be magical.

    Don't Overlook Important Considerations

    Remember that magic can also be an illusion, and reality may be around the corner, waiting to tap you on the shoulder. Don’t let the euphoria of the moment keep you from delving deeper when you are purchasing a home.

    Your relationship with your home is not a superficial one, and neither should your hunt for it be either. Here are mistakes you can easily avoid when buying a home. It will be a small investment in balancing your time with how long you may live there.  

    Failing to Research the Location

    It’s not enough to look at the properties surrounding the home you want to buy; you want to dig into the details. Start by doing a practice run on your commute to work and determine if it is doable or so far away that you will be sure to experience regret from making the drive twice a day.

    Scope out the neighborhood at different times of the day and week. Be sure to check it out in the evening as well. Is it reasonably quiet, or does a potential neighbor host band practice in his garage every Saturday night?

    Google Maps is a great tool to get a drone view of the neighborhood. Are parks and green spaces in the area or within walking distance of the home you want to buy? Is there a grocery store conveniently at hand? Is highway access nearby but not so close that you will hear eighteen-wheelers rumbling along in the wee hours?

    Not Making Safety a Priority

    AreaVibes is my favorite website for obtaining crime data on a city or neighborhood. It is a virtual wealth of information on crime, as...

    My Best Advice For First-Time Home Buyers

    My Best Advice For First-Time Home Buyers

    Joy. Joy is the first word I think of when I hear the term first-time home buyer. It’s what my wife and I felt moving into our first house. It’s what I always hope my clients feel at closing because buyer remorse has never been on anyone’s bucket list.

    The process of buying a house has a lot of moving parts and involves many people. It can be stressful and intimidating even when it’s going well. When the pieces do not fall into place as you expect, it will be frustrating and even overwhelming on occasion.

    Over the years, I have shared all those emotions with my clients on their journey to home-ownership. No two experiences are ever the same. However, it becomes glaringly evident that buyers who have the best outcomes are those that are most prepared. Knowledge is power. Here is some of my primo advice if you are buying your first home or even your last.

    Make an Appointment with a Mortgage Broker

    Before you get serious at looking for a home, you need to know if you qualify for a mortgage and how much the bank will lend you. You will also discuss what type of mortgage will best suit your financial circumstances and how you can receive the best interest rate. Shopping lenders is wise. Some offer better deals and options. A half-point or even a quarter-point less on your rate can generate significant savings over the life of your loan.

    Decide How Much You Can Afford

    The amount your mortgage lender is willing to finance may be more than you can comfortably afford. Make sure your mortgage payment and other monthly expenses...

    5 Ways to Improve Your Relationship with Money

    5 Ways to Improve Your Relationship with Money

    Our relationship with money generally begins at a very young age. That connection is very simplistic. We want stuff, and we use the cash to get things. We get the money that gets us the stuff from our parents, grandparents or any family member that happens to be handy at the moment with a few bucks in hand. We are not particular.

    Fast forward, and we grow up. Hopefully, along the way, our parents will teach us some fundamental money management skills because if, as adults, we don't have some control over our finances, they will control us. The result is mounting debt and sleepless nights worrying about how we will pay it down.

    Money Management is an Acquired Skill

    If I've just described your situation, don't take it as a personal judgment. You are not alone. Americans have a problem with handling their finances. Need proof?  Look at the 2008-2009 real estate market crash where 3.9 million Americans faced foreclosure. We collectively owe $1.5 trillion in student loans and another $1.4 trillion in credit card debt. To make matters worse, 60 percent of Americans cannot cover a $1000 emergency expense, and nearly 45 percent of baby boomers (aged 55-73) have no retirement savings.

    Maybe you are a rock star at handling your money, and you feel a bit smug. Kudos to you, and I say that with respect and sincerity. Adulting is hard work. But if you feel like inserting your head in a gallon of chocolate ice cream right now, please read on. The development of a fiscally responsible lifestyle is an acquired skill. Let's get started right now with five tips that will put you on the path to a healthy relationship with your money. 

    Establish a Consistent Income Flow

    If you do not have a steady job and cobble together an income with short-term gigs, part-time assignments, and occasional handouts from your mum, look for a full-time position with a steady income and preferably benefits....

    A FICO Score Explained By MN Realtor

    A FICO Score Explained By MN Realtor

    By the time you experience initiation into the adult world, you've probably heard the term credit score. It's a number you should be concerned about because others will be, and they will use it to judge your ability to pay back a loan.

    So who cares about your credit score exactly? Credit card companies, banks, mortgage brokers, cell phone companies, insurance companies, and landlords, to name a few. Some companies even want to look at your credit score before offering you a job to see how responsible you are.

    How is Your Credit Score Calculated

    Your credit score is a number that captures your creditworthiness based on your credit history. Three major credit bureaus, Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion, track your financial information. The Fair Isaac Corporation takes this data and uses a model to assign a number known as a FICO score. Most creditors use this score to evaluate you when you apply for a loan such as a mortgage.  

    The factors that FICO uses to calculate your score include

    • payment history,
    • amount of money you owe,
    • length of your credit history,
    • credit mix,
    • recent requests for new credit.

    Each of these categories determines a percentage of your score to create a snapshot of the state of your finances and your ability to take on more debt. Let's take a close look at each of the segments and how much weight they carry when tallying...

    Get Ready to Buy A House MN

    Get Ready to Buy A House MN

    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.

    Indeed, 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 life's setbacks. 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 of the critical factors to ensure a positive homeownership experience is stable finances. A reliable source of income that can cover your mortgage, property taxes, and homeowners insurance should not be more than 30% of your gross monthly income.

    Also, consider that debt will feel when you apply for a mortgage. If you carry a high amount of credit card debt and other consumer loans, you might want to pay that down before buying a home.

    If you are currently living paycheck to paycheck and not putting anything towards savings, you are probably not ready to buy as yet. Work out a plan to cut back on expenses or increase your income. Setting up a budget might help you achieve your financial goals.

    2. You Have a Down Payment

    Although it is most...

    Fall Home Buying Rewards

    Fall Home Buying Season

    Top Mpls MN Realtor on Buying a Home in the Fall

    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 and less chance of getting into a multiple offer minefield. Let’s face it, “I want to be...

    First-Time Buyer Mortgage Myths

    First Time Home Buyer Options in the Twin Cities

    It’s an indisputable fact that buying a home today is a complicated process. It can be especially intimidating for a first-time buyer. Also, there is a severe shortage of inventory in the category of entry-level homes making the transition into homeowner a challenge. The home buying process in the Twin Cities Metro is not as simple as searching for a house, finding one that suits you, making an offer and going to closing. Although these are indeed the basics, it is not the complete picture. There are a lot of pesky details that are not understood and become fertile ground for the seeds of mistaken beliefs.  The topic that seems to represent the most confusion is obtaining a mortgage. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most common myths about mortgage eligibility.

    First Time Home Buyer Mortgages and Myths

    Many people still believe you need a 20% down payment to buy a home in MN. No, you don't. Although a buyer needs to put 20 percent down on a home to avoid paying Private Mortgage Insurance, most can buy a house with much less money. When you look at real estate market statistics for home buyers in MN, the medium down payment is actually 10 percent. In addition, the statistics for first time home buyers in the Twin Cities is closer to 5 percent.

    Zero Down Mortgage Options in Minnesota

    In the Twin Cities Metro, home buyers can find lenders who will approve mortgages as low as 3 percent for well-qualified applicants. Another option is a loan from the Federal Housing Administration if your credit score...

    Risks vs. Rewards of Homeownership

    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.

    Rewards vs. Risks of Buying a Home

    Reward: When you walk away from the closing table with the keys to your new home, you get to make the decisions. The world is open to all the ways you can think of to customize your living space to suit your taste and needs. No more landlord is setting the rules of engagement. Grab the paint...

    Buying vs Renting in the Twin Cities

    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 deal with recurring plumbing issues or appliance breakdowns. As a renter, you will probably not have enough storage area for your stuff and have little or no options to personalize your living space.

    Buying a Home In the Twin Cities, MN Feels Good

    For most people, home ownership is still a large part of the American Dream. It is a rite of passage and the superhighway into adulthood.  It imparts a feeling of permanence, stability, and security.  Whether home to you is a small condo downtown or a single family home in the suburbs it is your personal...