Ready to Buy (and Sell)

We have been sharing quite a bit about first time homeowners. But what about those of you who are ready to embark on a new journey- the second (or third) home. As a current homeowner, there are a few more steps involved than just getting a mortgage and finding a house.

Yes, you got it- you also need to handle the sale of your current home.

Just showing your home (or, rather, hiring someone to manage showing your home) is more involved than it may seem. And we have a few tips for getting your home ready to sell. While you may be moving out, you want your home to look appealing for someone to move in to.

As you may be thinking, the first step is to clean. And, of course, it is. A clean home is much more appealing than one with peanut butter on the kitchen counter or a floor covered in muddy paw prints and dirt. But cleaning your home to show is a bit more involved than your ordinary Saturday morning clean up. Wipe down baseboards, clean out any cobwebs hiding in the corner. Once you’ve finished cleaning the inside, clean the outside. Clean out the gutters, pick up toys and sticks lying around. You can even wash the siding. Remember- the outside of your house is the first thing someone is going to see. If the lawn is cluttered with children’s toys, leaves from last fall and an assortment of other things, the first impression is not guaranteed to be a good one. Both inside and out, a clean home will look brighter, more appealing, and well-maintained: all things that a potential buyer wants to see as they walk through your home.


One thing that goes hand in hand with a clean home is functional appliances. Having kitchen (and other) appliances that are 100% functional will only make your home easier to sell. Think of it this way: as you’re going to buy a home, do you also want to budget out money to purchase new appliances? Even if those purchases wouldn’t happen for a year or two? Most people’s answer to that question is NO! Little updates, general maintenance and fixing issues as they arise is a great way to stay on top of the functionality of appliances.

Now, as a part of that cleaning process, it is essential to declutter. Pick up stray things lying around on tables or the floor. Put away some of the odds and ends that you love putting on display but are not essential to your daily life. There are many realtors who even state that putting away personal photos is a good idea. If there is furniture or other things that you aren’t currently using, it may be a good idea to box them up and store them in the basement. Having a decluttered home- one without every end table or countertop filled with personal items- will look well-maintained. And decluttering will also help you during the packing process! Less for you to do when it comes time to actually make the move.

Curb appeal is also something that will help with the (quick) sale of your home. But this does not need to be a large or expensive undertaking, especially since you are moving out. Freshening up the yard with new mulch, sharpening the lines of your flower beds, and even planting bright colored flowers will add a bit of life to your yard. Additionally, weeding, pulling some patio furniture out from storage, or painting the mailbox will all add to the overall “polished” look of your lawn.

While you’re working outside, don’t forget about the front door. Yes, it is the first thing people walk up to. If yours is covered in cobwebs and finger smudges, it can take away from the polished look you’ve been trying to achieve with the front lawn. Wipe it down, sweep off the porch, hang a flower pot out front. Again, this doesn’t need to be an expensive venture- just taking the time to make your home look inviting is all that you need.

Next on the list: organize, organize, organize. And, yes, we will tell you right now that it does take a little bit of time. Organize closets, countertops, drawers, and even the garage. Taking the time to organize these things will make spaces look bigger, more put together, and more polished. One tip we have learned over the years is to put like things together. So, take your bathroom counter. Buy a small basket or container to put all the little “things” you have sitting out. While technically you are still keeping things out on the counter for everyday use, it gives the appearance of being more organized and allowing for more space. And, think of it this way, you can take all of these things to your new home to help keep you organized there too.

We mentioned it before, but we will mention it again- organize the garage. Sure, everyone has a message garage. Sometimes it becomes the place where things without a place go (usually to stay for quite some time). It may be beneficial to start packing up those things in boxes. Having neatly stacked moving boxes in your garage has a much different look than piles of things sitting on a shelf or even on the ground.

One final tip- make the home look nice, open, and appealing- without too much of a personal touch. Think of your home as a big canvas. You want people to see the potential in each room for their OWN life (not yours).  By cleaning, organizing, and removing some of the clutter, you will give people that opportunity- to see themselves moving into your home.

So, yes, it does take a little bit of work to get your home ready to sell. But that extra work you put in will definitely assist in the sale of your home in the long-run. Not to mention, make it significantly easier for you to move out.

Total Home LendingBy Natasha Mason



Ready to Buy (and Sell)2020-09-28T15:14:21+00:00

So, You’re A 1st Time Home Buyer

Top Tips for First Time Home Buyers

You’re on the hunt for your first home. It is an exciting milestone in your life. Not to mention one of the largest financial decisions you may ever make. Don’t fall into the “rookie” home-buyer category. Our advice? The more you know about the process, the easier (and less daunting) it is going to be.

We are here to help. These are some of our “top tips” for you to remember when buying a home.


The (sometimes) forgotten credit score

The credit score. Your mortgage company, of course, will pull that score, but it is still a good number know before starting the home-buying process. If there are any mistakes or issues with your score, it is easier to remedy those before you have found that perfect home. Additionally, knowing your score in advance will allow you the opportunity to repair any minor blemishes. One more good thing to know- your mortgage banker (and us!) can sometimes provide tips on how to deal with those flaws.


Pre-approval letters are an absolute must

So, what is a pre-approval letter? It’s a letter from your mortgage lender stating what loan amount the borrower (you) is qualified for. So, yes, stating how large of a loan you are able to take out.

Now, why they are important? First and foremost, it allows you to look for homes that are in your price-range. It will save you a lot of time (and potentially a lot of stress) knowing what you can afford and searching accordingly. Then, when you do find a home you want to put an offer on, having that pre-approval letter puts you ahead of the game. While not a guarantee, sellers may take your offer more seriously since you have already been pre-approved for a loan. Not to mention, they may be more willing to lower the asking price, cover closing costs or make other allowances.


Down payments made easy

Whether you are a first time home-buyer or are looking to buy again, you have probably been thinking about that “down payment.” The larger down payment you make, the smaller mortgage you have. And, subsequently, the less you have to pay back over the course of the loan.

Is there such thing as “too big” of a down payment? Actually, yes! A 20% down payment is typically viewed as “ideal” by lenders. When you put 20% down, you don’t have to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI) which provides insurance to your lender, in the chance you default on your mortgage. Additionally, it can qualify you for a lower interest rate than someone who makes a smaller down payment.

Realistically, however, 20% is a significant sum of money, especially depending on the house you are looking at. A lower down payment does allow you to become a homeowner faster because you won’t have to save up as much money before buying.

Whether you have the 20% readily available or not, there is one important fact to remember- making a down payment is never a bad investment. Putting money into your home is lower risk than, let’s say, investing it in the stock market. It is a good idea for any homebuyer because it ultimately reduces your risk and allows for immediate home equity. If you have questions or wonder what size down payment is best for you, we recommend discussing your particular situation with your lender. They can provide insight into your unique situation.


Life happens- be prepared!

You’ve found the house. You’ve been approved for a loan. You’re good to go, right? One thing we always recommend is reserving cash for emergencies. Because, life happens! The last thing you want is to move into your new home and find yourself in dire need of money (and fast!). So, plan accordingly when making your down payment and considering your loan options. It’s better to be prepared!


Consider the resale

It’s your first home, you’re excited! You may not be planning to sell in the foreseeable future, but it is important to think about selling your home. If (or when) the time to sell your home comes, will it be easy or difficult to do so? Thinking about the preferences of the “average” homebuyer and keeping those preferences in mind while finding your own home will make reselling the home that much easier.

One huge factor is the school district. Maybe you don’t have children in your home right now, so you’re not thinking about schools. But finding a home in a desirable school district, or even one with a school of choice nearby, could be an added benefit for the resale of your home.


Full disclosure and home inspections

While most states do require sellers to disclose any potential problems with the home or the property, they may not always be aware of existing structural issues. Although most purchase agreements are dependent upon a home inspection, you should 100% demand one. Spending the money to hire a licensed professional to inspect your potential new home is the only way to guarantee there are no major structural issues with the home.

What will a comprehensive inspection include? Heating and cooling systems, plumbing and electrical systems, structural integrity of walls, floors, ceilings, foundation and roof. The condition of gutters, insulation, ventilation, major appliances, garage… Finding an issue with any of these things can be extremely costly, so discovering them before signing any paperwork is a huge money saver.

You should also be present for the inspection. Ask questions as you go through the house. Sure, houses need repairs, but there may be a chance the problems with the house will be so expensive it is no longer a home you are interested in. It may seem like a lot of money now to pay for a home inspection, but you could ultimately be saving yourself thousands in the future if the house does have major issues.


The hidden costs

Buying a home can feel like a whirlwind. But while you are thinking about a down payment, an affordable monthly mortgage payment and even realator costs, there are a few “hidden” costs that many first time home buyers forget about. Homeowners insurance, property taxes, appraisal fees, moving costs, escrow costs, tax service fee, credit report fee… Just to name a few.

Ask questions. Make sure you are aware of any and all fees, taxes and additional costs you may need to pay before the “buying” process is complete. And, finally, be prepared for just about anything. When it comes to owning your own home, there’s nothing wrong with being a little “over-prepared.”



By Natasha Mason

So, You’re A 1st Time Home Buyer2020-09-28T15:14:21+00:00
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