preparing to buy a house

7 Steps To Buy A Home

7 Steps To Buy A Home

Seven steps to buying a home in the Twin Cities. Buying a home in Minnesota is an adventure; however, you need a plan before you dive into the housing market. Buying real estate is a journey, and the road to homeownership is rarely a straight line from point A to point B. Often the route is a winding mountain road with hills and valleys, twists and turns but worth the effort to reach the top. Having your path mapped out from start to finish will help you avoid obstacles and delays. Completing each portion of the journey before proceeding to the next will build confidence in the process. Here are my 7 Steps for a successful home buying experience.

Shop For a Mortgage 

Now it’s time to find a lender. Of course, your first instinct is to secure a mortgage at the lowest possible rate. Don’t get me wrong that is extremely important. But customer service also matters. The variety of programs offered will make finding a loan that meets your particular financial situation easier.

Obtain a Pre-Approval

A mortgage banker will review your financial documents and run your credit. Then she can tell you how much you can borrow, the rate, terms, and estimate of closing costs. You are going to gather two years of tax returns, 1-2 months of pay stubs, 1-3 months of bank statements, other asset documentation, debt statements, a copy of your driver’s license, proof of residence of the last two years for your appointment. Hopefully, you will walk out with a preapproval so you can start shopping for a home.

Choose the Best Real Estate, Professional

There is no good reason for a buyer not to work with a professional when buying a home. Find one with experience, ...

Before Buying a Home in MN

Numbers to Know Before Buying a Home MN

Recently a friend told me she was never good with finances and never really cared until the day she wanted to buy a home and discovered she didn’t qualify for a mortgage. For her, it was a great wake-up call, and she got up to speed pretty quickly. About a year later, she moved into her condo. Today, she not only knows all her financial statistics, but she tracks them regularly.

So just what are these numbers we should know, and why are they important? As you plan for your future, these vital financial statistics will show you where your finances are healthy and the areas where your finances need improvement. If your life plan includes buying a home, putting your kids through college, or retiring early, these numbers will be the guideposts along your path.

Before you Buy a Home, Know Your Credit Score

What exactly is a credit score? It is a snapshot of an individual’s entire credit history translated into a numeric value. Lenders use this number to help them determine if you are creditworthy. The score is calculated by FICO (Fair Isacc Corporation) using data provided by the three credit reporting bureaus, Experian, Transunion, and Equifax. In addition to your FICO Score, another commonly used is a Vantage Score.

Why is this score important? Like your shadow, it follows you everywhere. It is not only a major determining factor in getting a mortgage approved but also getting a car loan, a credit card, cell phone service, internet, cable, and utilities. Landlords use it to decide if they want to rent to you and how large a security deposit they will require you to pay. When you insure your car, the insurance company will use it to calculate your premium....

Homebuyers Take a Closer Look Before Making an Offer

Look Past the Pretty Package

When a buyer looks at a beautifully staged home that fits their criteria, emotions rule. Fall in love with a particular house, and almost immediately, the heart works against our own best interest by suppressing our better judgment. You know what I mean, that little voice inside your head saying, "but what about those battered floors?"

Consider the facts first.

The more you know about a home before making an offer, the better. The condition of the house should be a significant consideration. Hopefully, unless expensive, unforeseen repairs are part of your plan, you will have a professional home inspection as a contingency in the offer. But, before you even make that offer, you can do your preliminary evaluation of the home's condition yourself. 

Don't set the stage today for financial regrets later.

There is no way to say that refinishing floors, painting, or other minor repairs should be dealbreakers. But if too many items fall on the fix list, added altogether, they may prove to be a tipping point on the no-sale side or affect the dollar amount of your offer. Even when a home checks off all the needs boxes and many of the nice-to-haves, costly repairs can quickly lead to regret.

Look before you leap.

Here is a suggested list of items you can check before you take that first step by offering to purchase. A second visit to the property is preferred. Still, given the competitiveness of the housing market at the lower price brackets, this is also something you can do on the initial tour of the property.

Warning signs to look for inside the home.

  • Floors – squeaks or sponginess, or worn-out carpet or wood that needs refinishing.
  • Walls –water stains, cracks,  bulging areas
  • Ceilings – water stains, damages, or sagging
  • Windows – open and close all the windows. Look for cracked panes, condition, and age of storm...

Home Buying Advice MSP

Home Buying Advice MSP

One thing I know for sure is the passage of time always brings a 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 that trends will come and go regardless.

Sifting Through  Home Buyers Advice

Along with style changes, there is an incredible amount of advice about what we should hold on to and what goes off. Real estate is no different, and we must 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 seek advice from family, friends, and the internet. But with so many tips out there, how do we know which keepers 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

Bad Advice. There are occasions when renting is a far better option than buying. If you plan to move in less than five years, you may not recoup what it will cost you to buy and sell your home. Renting may be a better fit for someone who would resent doing home chores like mowing the lawn and seasonal maintenance. Perhaps you travel a great deal for business, and renting a small apartment makes more sense personally and financially.

Good advice: One size does not fit all when it comes to the question of should you rent or buy. Evaluate your situation, personal preferences, and work-life balance, and make a decision based on what will work for you now.

Never Buy a House in Winter

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Passive Saving - Like Giving Yourself a Raise!

Passive Saving Puts More Money in Your Bank Account

Sadly, Americans are not good savers.  A survey done last year by GOBankingRates found that 69% of us have less than $1000 in savings while 34% live paycheck to paycheck and have no savings whatsoever.  This holds true for Millennials as well and considering the fact that approximately 66% of them have a student loan to pay with an average balance of $40K, we need to do better. 

By the time we reach adulthood, saving should be a regular habit in our lives. We will need money to purchase our first home, then to save for our children’s education, and for our retirement. But given the statistics stated above, it is evident that for way too many of us saving money is not easy.  When we think of saving, it conjures up words like austerity, frugality, deprivation and we make a face like we just bit into a lemon. What if I can show you there is a way to start saving that is painless. It’s called “passive saving” as opposed to “active saving”. 

“What exactly is passive saving?” you ask skeptically, feeling sure I am about to scam you into leading a life of sacrifice. Passive saving is not changing your consuming habits or lifestyle. It means not giving up pleasures or activities you currently engage in or those nice things you like, but it does mean making changes in how you purchase them and from whom.  Once you initiate the changes you will never notice the difference except that you will have more disposable income every month which should go directly into your savings. Need more convincing? Here are some suggestions to get you started.    

Improve Your Credit Score

If your eyes just glazed over at the mention of the words “credit score” pay attention. This number called your FICA score follows you everywhere you go through life and will decide not only whether...