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5 Ways to Not Get Divorced During the Homebuying Process
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image of a couple fighting on a bench

Even the most level-headed couples can go a little crazy when hunting for a home. If not careful, stress levels can suddenly shoot through the roof.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Most homebuying decisions swirl around major life changes: marriage, a new baby, job relocation, retirement, and downsizing. Those are tectonic shifts in one’s life, and adding a hefty down payment and a 30-year mortgage to the mix doesn't ease the burden.

Tensions don’t end there. A home isn’t just an investment; it’s a place you’re tethered to for years. You’re literally shaping your future by the neighborhood you choose.

In such an emotional situation, people easily become overwhelmed. In fact, a U.K. report found that 70 percent of respondents thought buying a home was a critically stressful time in their lives. Only one other life event was ranked worse: getting a divorce.

Yet it’s not practical to live in the same place forever. In other words, it’s up to every couple to rethink the way they handle the house-seeking experience, starting with preparing themselves for the reality of the situation.

Decisions, Decisions, and More Decisions!

Any homebuying newbie can relate to how complicated the process can be. When two people are involved, however, the strain amplifies. Luckily, knowing a few upfront expectations and being prepared to make tough decisions can ease the pressure.

First, understand the substantial financial burden. You must openly talk about your expenditure expectations with your partner. Partners can have significantly different ideas of what they are willing to spend to have a comfortable, safe home.

You must also accept that both of your priorities won’t necessarily align. For example, you drive east for work, and your spouse drives west. Whose work is more important if you can’t find a house centralized between the offices? In addition, what if the new home allows your partner to be 10 minutes from relatives, while you have a two-hour trek to visit yours? Until these considerations are aired out, a couple will be far from acing the homebuying process.

5 Ways to Keep Your Marriage Intact During Homebuying

Overall, communication is essential. In fact, with a few steps, you can turn looking for the perfect house into a way to strengthen — not wreck — your relationship:

1. Stick to a budget

Ironically, people often discuss stretching their budgets before they’ve even set them. Take a pragmatic approach, and know your budget first. A fast way to figure out your top monthly payment is by multiplying your combined monthly income by 0.25. For example, if you two make $10,000 a month, your mortgage payment with taxes and insurance shouldn’t be more than $2,500.

At that point, you can work backward. Use a mortgage calculator, like the one provided by Zillow, to figure out that a $2,500 monthly payment equates to a $500,000 house. Don’t even consider asking your mom to co-sign a loan to get more money. Instead, acknowledge the fact that you two can only afford what you can. Accepting this will help you both make decisions logically.

2. Start with the “good,” and work up to “best”

You know you can afford a $500,000 house, but don't initially schedule showings in that price range. The first three homes should be listed at about 20 percent below your budget. As you walk through the homes, notice what you like and what you don’t. For your next house, go up to the $450,000 level. Jot down what you love and hate. Finally, step into a $500,000 home. Is it tremendously better than the $450,000 one? Are its advantages worth an additional $50,000?

By starting at “good” options and moving toward “best” choices, you gain control over the process, and both partners have a chance to air out their objections. But be warned: If you flip the order and start with a $500,000 listing, anything less would seem subpar.

3. Quantify what’s important

Try to quantify preferences to put a more rational tenor on the process. An example is weighing the objective value of school districts and home prices. Typically, a home in a stellar school district will cost up to 25 percent more than comparable homes. Thus, for your money, you would have to get a smaller home to live in a preferred community.

Talk about this not as a way to “steal” opportunity from your kids but as a way to look at the pros and cons of each decision. For example, if you have 15 percent less of a house, your kids could attend a better school. This is a more rational approach than blaming your partner for not caring about your children's education. Quantifying priorities allows both of you to look at the big picture.

4. Speak magic words

Couples involved in buying homes often forget to incorporate productive, positive phrases into their conversations. Even if it doesn’t come naturally, emphasize how grateful you are for your partner throughout the process. Talk about how you appreciate that he or she has helped make it possible to look at better homes. Or admit that you’re blown away by the flexibility you’re seeing in your partner’s willingness to incur a longer commute to work.

While it isn’t an easy feat to be affirmative, you'll end up with better long-term results. You’re starting a new chapter together, after all. Don't you want your partner to know you are here for him or her in this journey? All it takes is a sprinkling of gratitude.

5. Invest in a little reflection

Whether or not you’re religious or spiritual, make time for reflection before signing on the dotted line. This will ground you and your partner and create a sense of much-needed calm. Ask yourself: “Is this really the direction for us? Is this where we’re supposed to be?”

In addition, vow not to bicker about dollar amounts after making your choice. Rather, use your home as a launching pad for the next page of your relationship.

Who has time to heap additional stress into their lives? Avoid the price of a divorce lawyer, and focus on the exciting possibilities ahead that come with buying a new home. The homebuying process might not be a cake walk, but your marriage doesn't have to pay for it.

An entrepreneur at heart, CEO Mike Kalis leads the team at MarketplaceHomes.com, a Detroit-based brokerage that specializes in new construction sales and property management. If you purchase a new home through Marketplacehomes.com, we'll agree to buy yours. Marketplace Homes has sold more than $3 billion in new construction homes through its unique home trade-in system and manages more than 3,500 single-family properties for investors who have 1 to 10 properties. It also offers new-construction homebuyers a guaranteed lease on their previous properties for up to six years.

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Everything You Need to Know About Budgeting As a Freelancer
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Take the proper steps to thrive while you're self-employed.

The post Everything You Need to Know About Budgeting As a Freelancer appeared first on Discover Bank - Banking Topics Blog.

BlueVine Business Checking Account Review – The Simple Dollar
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How to Retire in the Dominican Republic
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Do you dream of spending your retirement on a sunny Caribbean beach with a cool drink in hand? There are many alternatives, but one that you may want to consider is the Dominican Republic. From affordable housing to adventurous activities, … Continue reading →

The post How to Retire in the Dominican Republic appeared first on SmartAsset Blog.

How to Retire in the Dominican Republic
By admin | |

Do you dream of spending your retirement on a sunny Caribbean beach with a cool drink in hand? There are many alternatives, but one that you may want to consider is the Dominican Republic. From affordable housing to adventurous activities, … Continue reading →

The post How to Retire in the Dominican Republic appeared first on SmartAsset Blog.

Compounding Your Savings For Retirement | Discover
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Saving for retirement with IRA CDs early in life allows you to take advantage of the benefits of compounding interest.
What Is a Mortgage Refinance? 5 Ways to Know If It’s a Good Idea
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Jason says:

Hi, Money Girl. I’m interested in refinancing and getting a lower interest rate on my mortgage; however, I may need to sell my home and relocate in a year or so. In that case, does a refinance still make sense? If so, what factors should I consider?

Jason, thanks for your question! It’s a perfect time for homeowners to consider refinancing because interest rates are at historic lows.

If you’re a homeowner, your mortgage payment is probably your largest monthly expense, so it’s wise to stay alert for opportunities to reduce it by refinancing. Plus, your financial circumstances and needs today may be very different than they were when you originally got your mortgage.

It’s a perfect time for homeowners to consider refinancing because interest rates are at historic lows.

I'll answer Jason’s question by reviewing what a mortgage refinance is, explaining common reasons to consider doing one, and covering five ways to know if it’s a good idea for your situation.

What is a mortgage refinance?

Refinancing is when you apply for a new loan to pay off an existing loan balance. The new loan could be with your same institution or with a different lender. The idea is to swap out a higher-interest loan for a lower-interest one, which decreases the amount of interest you have to pay and may also reduce your monthly payments.

When you take out a mortgage to buy a home, various factors determine the interest rate you get offered. While your credit, down payment, and income history are critical, lenders base mortgages on the prevailing interest rates. 

An interest rate is simply the cost of money for borrowers. Rates in the U.S. fluctuate according to the monetary policy of the Federal Reserve or Fed, which is our central bank. 

A good rule of thumb is to consider refinancing when the current rate dips at least one percentage point below what you’re paying for your mortgage.

When interest rates are low, it’s like money’s on sale, as strange as that sounds! Banks should display a big banner on their front door or website that reads “bargain basement prices on dollars” or “we sell money cheap” because that’s what happens when interest rates go down. Low rates are great for borrowers, but not so good for lenders. 

The Freddie Mac website shows historical data for interest rates on 30-year mortgages since 1971. In August 2020, the average for a fixed-rate, 30-year mortgage was 2.94%. A year earlier, the same loan was 3.62%, and ten years before, it was 4.43%. 

Since interest rates change periodically, the rate you’re currently paying on a mortgage may be significantly different than the going rate. A good rule of thumb is to consider refinancing when the current rate dips at least one percentage point below what you’re paying for your mortgage.

What’s the cost to refinance a mortgage?

You need at least one percentage point between the going rate and yours because there’s a cost to do a refinance. Closing a loan means you must pay fees to various companies, including your lender or mortgage broker, property appraiser, closing agent or attorney, and surveyor. Plus, there are fees required by the local government for recording the mortgage, and maybe more costs, depending on where you live. 

The total upfront cost of a refinance depends on the lender and property location. It could be as high as 3% to 6% of your outstanding loan balance. The trick to knowing if it’s worth it is to figure out when you’d break even on those costs. In other words, when do you go from the red to black on the deal? 

If you pay for a refinance but don’t keep your home long enough to recoup the cost, you’ll lose money. But if you do keep the property beyond the financial break-even point (BEP), you’ll feel like a genius because you saved money in the long run!

If you pay for a refinance but don’t keep your home long enough to recoup the cost, you’ll lose money.

You may be able to roll closing costs for a refinance into the new loan, which means you would have nothing or little to pay out-of-pocket. But adding them increases the amount you borrow and may also increase the interest rate you pay for the life of the loan. For that reason, it’s essential to ask the lender for a side-by-side comparison of all the terms for each loan option so you can carefully evaluate them. 

So, how do you figure the BEP to know if doing a refinance is wise? Here’s a simple BEP formula: Refinance break-even point = Total closing costs / Monthly savings.

For instance, if your closing costs are $5,000 and you save $150 a month on your mortgage payment by refinancing, it would take 34 months or almost three years to recoup the cost. The calculation is $5,000 total costs / $150 savings per month = 33.3 months to break even.

For help crunching your numbers, check out the Refinance Breakeven Calculator at dinkytown.com.

Since how long you own your home after a refinance is critical for making it worthwhile, I’m glad that Jason brought it up in his question. For instance, if he finds out that he’d need to own his home for five years to break-even, but he only plans on staying in it for two years, that should be a deal-breaker.

How to get approved for a mortgage refinance

If you believe that doing a refinance could be wise, you’ll also need to consider if you qualify. Lenders have different underwriting requirements, but most require you to have a minimum amount of equity in your property.

Equity is the difference between your home’s market value today and what you owe on it. A critical ratio for refinancing is known as the loan-to-value or LTV.

For example, if your home value is $300,000 and you have a $150,000 mortgage outstanding, you have $150,000 in equity, an LTV ratio of 50%. But if you owed $250,000, that would be an LTV of 83%. 

You typically need an LTV less than 80% to qualify for a mortgage refinance.

You typically need an LTV less than 80% to qualify for a mortgage refinance. So, Jason should do some quick math to make sure he doesn’t owe more for his home than this threshold based on the current market value. Lenders may still work with you if you have a high LTV and good credit, but they may charge a higher interest rate.

If you have an existing FHA or VA mortgage, you may qualify for a “streamlined” refinance program that requires less paperwork and less equity than a conventional refinance. Check out the FHA Refinance program and the VA Refinance program to learn more.

Reasons to consider refinancing your mortgage

There are a variety of reasons why it may make sense for you to refinance a mortgage. Here are some situations when doing a refinance may be a good solution.

  • Rate-and-term refinance. This is when you get a new loan with a lower interest rate, a different term (length of the loan), or both. It’s probably the most common reason why homeowners refinance their mortgages. 

    Example: If you have a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage at 5%, you could refinance with a 30-year mortgage at 3%. That would reduce your monthly payments and the amount of interest you pay over the life of the loan.
     
  • Cash-out refinance. This is when you get a larger loan than your existing mortgage, so you walk away from the closing with cash. 

    Example: Let’s say your home’s market value is $200,000, and your mortgage balance is $100,000. If you need $25,000 to pay for college or renovate your home, you could do a cash-out refinance for $125,000. After paying off the original mortgage of $100,000, you’d have $25,000 left over to spend any way you like.  

     
  • Cash-in refinance. This is when you pay cash at the closing to pay off an existing mortgage balance. That could be necessary if you don’t have enough equity to qualify for a refinance, or you owe more than your home is worth. 

    Example: You might do a cash-in refinance if having a lower LTV qualifies you for a lower mortgage rate or allows you to get rid of private mortgage insurance (PMI) payments. Read or listen to How to Avoid PMI on Your Home Loan for more information.

You may also need to refinance a mortgage if you want to remove a co-borrower, such as an ex-spouse, from your loan. But if one spouse doesn’t have sufficient income and credit to qualify for a refinance on his or her own, your best option may be to sell the property instead of refinancing the mortgage.

5 ways to know if it’s the right time to refinance

Here are five ways to know if doing a rate-and-term refinance is a good idea.

1. You have an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM)

Buying a home with an adjustable-rate mortgage comes with lots of advantages like a lower rate, a lower monthly payment, and being able to qualify for a larger loan compared to a fixed-rate mortgage. With an ARM, when interest rates go down, your monthly payments get smaller. 

Instead of worrying about how high your adjustable-rate payment could go, you might refinance to a fixed-rate loan.

But when ARM rates go up, you can feel panicked as your mortgage payment increases month after month. There are caps on annual increases, but your rate could double within just a few years if rates have a significant spike.

Instead of worrying about how high your adjustable-rate payment could go, you might refinance to a fixed-rate loan. That move would lock in a reasonable rate that will never change and make it easier to manage money and stick to a spending plan.

2. You could get a lower interest rate

If you bought a home when mortgage rates were higher than they are now, you’re in a great position to consider refinancing. As I mentioned, you need to do your homework to understand the cost and BEP fully. 

I recommend shopping for a refinance with the lender who holds your current mortgage, plus one or two different companies. Let your mortgage company know that you’re shopping for the best offer. They may be willing to waive specific fees if some of the necessary work, such as a title search, survey, or appraisal, is still current for your home.

3. You don’t plan on moving for several years

Once you know what a refinance will cost, make sure you’ll own your home long enough to pass the BEP, or you’ll end up losing money. For most homeowners, it typically takes owning your home for at least three years after a refinance to make it worthwhile.

4. You have enough home equity

As I mentioned, you typically need at least 20% equity to qualify for a refinance. If you have less, you may still find lenders that will work with you. However, unless your credit is excellent, you’ll typically pay a higher interest rate when you have low equity.

Also, if you don’t have 20% equity, lenders charge PMI. Adding that to your new loan could cut your savings and give you a much longer break-even point. 

5. Your finances are in good shape.

The higher your income and credit, and the lower your debt, the better your refinancing terms will be. If you’re unemployed or your credit took a dive due to a hardship, wait until your overall financial situation has improved before making a mortgage application. Good credit can save thousands in mortgage interest.

Good credit can save thousands in mortgage interest.

If you investigate doing a refinance and decide that it’s not worth the cost, another strategy to save money is to ask your lender for a mortgage modification on your existing loan. You may be able to negotiate modified terms, such as a lower interest rate, without having to pay for a full-blown refinance.

If you’re unsure how much home equity you have or know that you have very little, don’t let that stop you from inquiring about your refinancing options and saving money. Getting advice and refinancing quotes from your lender is free and will help you understand your range of financial options.

Buying Your First House? 7 Tips for Millennials and Other Generations
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Buying your first house is a big decision. Not only is it a major financial investment, but the location of your home determines your community, neighbors, and perhaps where your children go to school. Becoming a homeowner isn’t for everyone—but if it is one of your financial goals, I recommend that you begin preparing as far in advance as possible.

In this post, you’ll learn 7 key home-buying tips to get prepared, save money, and become a happy homeowner. Plus, I’ll cover some generational trends and challenges that Millennials, Gen Xers, Baby Boomers, and the Silent Gen may face when buying a home.

7 Tips for Buying Your First House

  1. Know when to stop renting. 
  2. Focus on building credit. 
  3. Check into first-time home buyer programs. 
  4. Estimate how much down payment money you’ll need. 
  5. Save your down payment in the right place. 
  6. Get preapproved for a mortgage. 
  7. Be a savvy negotiator.

Generational Trends for Buying a Home

According to a National Association of Realtors study, 36% of home buyers are Millennials or Gen Y, who are age 37 or younger. And 65% of these buyers are first-timers who are also married couples. They’re increasingly buying single-family homes in the suburbs.

Gen X buyers, who range in age from 38 to 52, make up 26% of home buyers. The NAR report shows they are ethnically diverse, in their peak earning years, and purchase more expensive homes compared to other generations. They’re the most likely to choose homes based on convenience to work and the quality of school districts. 

Younger Boomers from age 53 to 62 make up 18% of home buyers. They typically move for a job or to downsize after their kids leave home. Older Boomers in the 63 to 71 age range make up 14% of home buyers. They’re more likely to move the longest distances for retirement, to downsize, or to be closer to family and friends.

Those age 72 to 92 are part of The Silent Generation and make up just 6% of home buyers. Most have already retired and have the lowest income compared to other age groups. They’re more likely to purchase a residence in a senior-care facility than a detached home.

The process of buying a home is largely the same no matter your age. But keep reading for tips to overcome some generational challenges you may face and how to get the best home deal possible.

Tip #1: Know When to Stop Renting

Most of us start out renting because it doesn’t require a big upfront financial investment. But the downside to renting is that your monthly payments are a pure expense. In other words, once you pay rent, that money is gone forever.

When you own a home, it comes with some nice financial perks, including:

  • Amortization, which slowly reduces your outstanding loan balance with every mortgage payment you make (if you have a fixed-rate mortgage) and helps build equity in your home.
  • Appreciation, which allows you to build equity as the market value of your home rises over time.
  • Tax deductions for mortgage interest and property taxes. You can deduct interest on up to $750,000 of mortgage debt on a primary or secondary home. Plus, you can claim a maximum of $10,000 per year for state and local taxes (SALT), which includes property taxes.

Additionally, when you own a home, you can have the lifestyle you want, spread out, and express your personal style.

But depending on where you live, renting may be more affordable than owning a comparable home. This is usually the case in big cities, such as New York and San Francisco.

Renting also comes with a convenient lifestyle, especially if you don’t like dealing with maintenance, doing yard work, or you travel frequently. So, no matter your age, knowing if you should buy a home really depends on:

  • Where you want to live. 
  • The lifestyle you prefer.
  • How stable your future income is likely to be. 

Tip #2: Focus on Building Credit

For the vast majority of home buyers, you’ll need to qualify for a home mortgage to purchase property. Building credit is always important, but it’s critical before buying a home. Whether you’re a first-timer or a seasoned homeowner, your credit is a primary factor that mortgage lenders consider when evaluating you.

Not only does repairing and building credit help you get approved for a mortgage in the first place, it’s the key to locking in a low interest rate that saves huge amounts of money over the life of your loan.

For example, if you get a $200,000 fixed-rate mortgage with excellent credit, you’ll pay about $145,000 in interest with a 30-year loan. But if you have average credit, you’ll pay close to $190,000 in interest for the same loan.

Having less-than-stellar credit costs you $45,000 just in interest. Even if you sell your home before paying off the mortgage, having excellent credit translates into a monthly payment that’s $125 less than if you have average credit.  

If you invested $125 per month for retirement, instead of paying it to a mortgage lender, it could easily grow into a nest egg worth over $200,000 within 30 years. Small financial habits, like how you handle credit, really add up. Read 6 Steps to Build or Repair Your Credit Before Buying a Home for key strategies to follow ahead of your home loan application.

Building credit takes time, and Millennial home buyers may have a short credit history or more student loan debt, compared to Gen X and Baby Boomers. That means Millennials should review their credit reports and make financial adjustments earlier in the home-buying process than older buyers.

Tip #3: Check Out First-Time Homebuyer Programs

There are many great programs for first-time homebuyers that may include mortgage interest subsidies or down payment assistance. But did you know that even if you owned a home in the past, you may still be eligible?

Many first-time homebuyer programs define a first-timer as someone who has not owned real estate in the past three years.

Many first-time homebuyer programs define a first-timer as someone who has not owned real estate in the past three years. So be sure to investigate and ask your mortgage lender how these programs could save you money, no matter your age or even if you owned a home in the past. 

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and one of its agencies, called the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), have helped more than 30 million people become homeowners since 1934.

These agencies don’t make loans, but they insure loans. That means lenders that give them will get paid even if the borrowers don’t make loan payments. This encourages lenders to give mortgages to hopeful homebuyers who might not qualify otherwise.

With an FHA loan, you don’t need excellent credit or a high down payment to qualify. The loan limits for a single-family home vary throughout the country but typically range from the low $100,000s to just over $200,000.

Ask your lender for details about FHA programs for first-time buyers. Or contact a HUD housing counselor for free or low-cost advice about your options.

Tip #4: Estimate How Much Down Payment Money You’ll Need

Before you can qualify for a mortgage, you’ll need to prove to a potential lender that you have enough in savings to fund a down payment. It’s a one-time cash payment you pay at the home's closing.

You must make a down payment because home lenders generally won’t finance 100% of the purchase price. The bigger the down payment you can make, the less risky the loan is for the lender.

When you make a purchase offer on a home you can request that the seller pay some or all of your closing costs.

Plus, there are closing costs in addition to a home’s purchase price. These costs vary depending on where you buy a home. But remember that in real estate, everything is negotiable.

When you make an offer on a home, you can request that the seller pay some or all of your closing costs. You can also haggle with your mortgage lender not to charge certain upfront fees.

If you do negotiate with a lender to avoid fees, just make sure that it doesn’t cost you more in the long run. They can make up for fees by charging you a higher interest rate or including fees in the total amount of the loan, which means you’d end up paying interest on your closing costs.

The money for a down payment can come from your savings or gifts from family. If you’re already a homeowner, your down payment can come from the money you make when you sell your current home.

If you can make a 20% down payment on a home, you’ll avoid paying private mortgage insurance or PMI. PMI is s a special kind of insurance that lenders typically require you to pay when you borrow more than 80% of the value of a property, even if you have excellent credit.

So, exactly how much down payment you’ll need is difficult to pin down. It depends on the price of the home, the type of mortgage you get, and customary closing costs in the market. In general, you need enough cash to cover these main costs:

  • Earnest money is the good faith deposit you make on a home when you submit an offer. The customary amount varies by market but might range from 1% to 3% of the offer price. If your offer is accepted, the funds are applied toward your closing costs. If not, your earnest money is returned to you.

  • A down payment is the percentage of the home price that you must pay at closing. The more you put down, the lower your mortgage payments will be. Some loans require you pay 10% to 20% of the purchase price. Other loans designed for first-time home buyers, such as an FHA loan, may only require 3% down.

  • Closing costs are fees you must pay at the settlement or closing. They typically include the loan origination fee, appraisal, survey, inspections, attorney fees, taxes, title insurance, and any other processing expenses. You should receive an estimate of your total closing costs from your lender, so you aren’t caught by surprise.

Tip #5: Save Your Down Payment in the Right Place

Once you begin saving money for a house down payment, you’ll probably get a little anxious about where to keep it. You might be tempted to invest it with the hope of turbocharging its growth.

But financial markets are volatile in the short term, which means you could lose all or a significant portion of your money right before you need it. Instead, tuck your down payment savings in a high-yield, FDIC-insured savings account.

That ensures your money will be completely safe, give you flexibility, and earn some interest to boot. Online banks typically offer the highest interest rates because they don’t have as much overhead as institutions with local branches. However, local credit unions can be competitive—if you qualify for membership.

Tip #6: Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage

Once you’re ready to become a homeowner, have good credit, and plenty of down payment funds, the next step is to get preapproved for a mortgage. Not only does a pre-approval tell you how much you can afford, it indicates that you’re a serious buyer who could close the deal quickly.

Depending on the seller’s circumstances, being able to close quickly could give you a huge leg up. They may accept your offer instead of a higher one that would take longer to close.

But remember that just because you’re pre-approved for a certain amount doesn’t mean you should borrow it. You’ll have other costs every month, in addition to the mortgage payment. These are called the PITI, which stands for principal, interest, taxes, and insurance:

  • Principal is the repayment of the amount you borrowed. 
  • Mortgage interest is the payment to the lender for the use of the money you borrowed. 
  • Home insurance protects you and the lender against damage from many (but not all) natural disasters, theft, vandalism, and legal hazards. 
  • Property taxes are annual city and county assessments.

Taxes and insurance can be rolled into your mortgage payment and then paid by your lender on your behalf. Additionally, you’ll have to pay utilities, maintenance, and perhaps homeowner association dues.

Don’t make the mistake of stretching your finances too far to buy a home. It may leave you house-rich but cash-poor and unable to save for other goals, such as retirement.

Tip #7: Be a Savvy Negotiator

When you make an offer on a home, use your poker face with the seller or real estate agents. As I’ve mentioned, in real estate everything is negotiable. So, be interested, but not too eager.

Most sellers expect you to negotiate on one or more factors of the deal such as purchase price, potential repairs, and closing costs. Always make a purchase offer contingent on the results of a professional home inspection, a C.L.U.E. home insurance claim report, and additional evaluations customary in your area, such as a termite report. Do your due diligence carefully.

Before the closing, you should receive the Settlement Statement, Form HUD-1 from the real estate agent, closing attorney, or title company. Review it carefully, ask questions about charges you don’t understand, and make any necessary changes.

The closing agent will have a stack of documents for you and the seller to sign. You can handle it in person or remotely through the mail. The mortgage and deed will be recorded in the county records registry and you’ll receive a copy of everything. And finally, you can celebrate becoming a homeowner.

It’s easy to get swept up in the beauty of a home, its décor, its neighborhood, or the new lifestyle that you envision there. But take a step back and view every real estate purchase as an investment, even if it’s going to be your home sweet home. 

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How I Paid Off My $400,000 Mortgage In 7.5 Years, Before I Was 32
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Rob was able to pay off his $400,000 mortgage in just 7.5 years, all before he was 32 years old. Here is his mortgage payoff story.
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