Posts Tagged ‘buyer’s agent’

The Best Advice for First-Time Homebuyers

Friday, August 30th, 2019
Advice for first-time homebuyers
First-time homebuyer? Here’s some of the best advice for first-time homebuyers!

If you’ve entered the real estate market as a first-time homebuyer, you may be feeling a little overwhelmed. And that’s totally understandable. It is the biggest purchase you’ll ever make after all! But where do you start? What should you know before investing in homeownership? Here’s the best advice for first-time homebuyers. Read on and put your mind at ease.

Advice for First-Time Homebuyers

In a seller’s market, inventory is low. That means bidding wars are going to happen. And the seller ends up selling for a higher price than what the house was initially listed for. That’s great for the seller! But this means you as a buyer need to be prepared and available to act quickly. You should also be prepared to lose out on a few homes before purchasing the home you really want.

1. Find Out How Much Home You Can Afford

Speak with a mortgage broker (preferably several) and find out how much you can afford to pay for a home. And don’t forget to allow for the monthly costs of homeownership. There’s more to owning a home than paying the monthly mortgage. Owning a home means electricity, water, gas, sewer, and maintenance.

2. Know Your Credit Score

First-time homebuyers need to know their credit score before doing anything. Lenders set their own credit score requirements and may require a minimum score higher than 580.

3. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage Loan

While knowing how much you can afford is your very important first step, sellers will be much more receptive to potential buyers who have been pre-approved. You’ll also avoid being disappointed when going after homes that are out of your price range.

With pre-approval, the buyer actually applies for a mortgage and receives a commitment in writing from a lender. This way the seller knows immediately that you are a serious buyer for that property.

Costs for pre-approval are generally nominal and lenders will usually permit you to pay them when you close on your loan.

4. Hire a Buyer’s Agent

Reach out to and hire a buyer’s estate agent, someone who is looking out for your interests, not the seller’s. It’s free.

5. Communicate Clearly Your Lists of Needs and Wants

Make two lists. And be as specific as you can be. The more specific you are, the more your real estate agent can help you in finding the home that’s perfect for you.

The first list should include items you must have (the number of bedrooms you need for the size of your family, a one-story house if accessibility is a factor, etc.).

The second list is your wish list, things you would like to have (pool, den, etc.) but aren’t absolutely necessary. Realistically, you probably won’t get everything on your wish list as a first-time homebuyer. But the lists will keep you on track for what you are looking for.

6. Stay Focused and Be Organized

Keep the following items handy. They’ll help you maximize your home search efforts.

  • Maps – One or more detailed maps with the areas you’re interested in highlighted
  • File – A file of the properties your agent has shown to you and ads you have collected
  • Notebook and Pen – Take notes on each home you walk through
  • Camera – A camera or video camera will help refresh your memory on individual properties, especially if you’re visiting more than five homes

7. Look at a Property with the Eyes of a Seller

Look at a potential property as if you are the seller. Would a prospective buyer find it attractive based on school district, crime rate, proximity to positive and negative features of the area? Think access to shopping, parks, freeways or abandoned properties, garbage dumps, noise, heavy traffic.

8. Visualize the House Empty and with Your Décor

Will the home meet your needs now as well as three to five years from now? Are the rooms laid out in a way that the home will accommodate your family? Is there enough light? What about outlets and storage space?

9. Be Objective

Instead of thinking with your heart when you find a home, think with your head. Too often, first-time homebuyers succumb to their emotions and allow themselves to become attached to a less than desirable property.

Spend time researching the local market trends and make sure your finances are suitable for a home purchase.

Purchasing a property should never be a rushed process. There are many houses on the market. Don’t make a hurried decision that you may regret later.

10. Be Thorough

A few extra dollars well spent now will save you big expenses in the long run.

  • Include inspection and mortgage contingencies in your written offer
  • Have the property inspected by a professional inspector
  • Request a second walk-through to take place within 24 hours of closing (Check to see that no changes have been made that were not previously agreed upon. For example, a nice chandelier that you assumed came with the sale has been replaced with a cheap ceiling light).

11. Know the Home-Buying Process

 Review the home-buying process with your real estate agent

  • timing of a purchase
  • costs you need to be prepared for beyond closing costs
  • whether the market is a seller’s market or buyer’s market

The Most Important Advice for First-Time Homebuyers

Above all, the best piece of advice for first-time homebuyers is to choose a real estate agent with these three qualities:

  • Trustworthiness
  • Excellent communication
  • Quick responsiveness

Charles D’Alessandro is a real estate agent you will connect with personally and professionally. You feel comfortable confiding in and trusting him with the most expensive purchase of your life.

Need advice for first-time homebuyers? Contact Charles D’Alessandroyour Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate. Call (718) 253-9600 ext. 206 or email [email protected] and get your questions answered. He is the Brooklyn Expert connecting clients with Brooklyn homes for over 30 years. He knows the Brooklyn area inside and out.


Charles D’Alessandro
Your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent
718-253-9600 ext. 206
[email protected]

Answers to Questions When Buying A Brooklyn Home ! Page 3

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

37. WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF 15- AND 30-YEAR LOAN TERMS?

30-Year:

 - In the first 23 years of the loan, more interest is paid off than principal, meaning larger tax deductions.
 - As inflation and costs of living increase, mortgage payments become a smaller part of overall expenses.

15-year:

 - Loan is usually made at a lower interest rate.
 - Equity is built faster because early payments pay more principal.

38. CAN I PAY OFF MY LOAN AHEAD OF SCHEDULE?

Yes. By sending in extra money each month or making an extra payment at the end of the year, you can accelerate the process of paying off the loan. When you send extra money, be sure to indicate that the excess payment is to be applied to the principal. Most lenders allow loan prepayment, though you may have to pay a prepayment penalty to do so. Ask your lender for details.

39. ARE THERE SPECIAL MORTGAGES FOR FIRST-TIME BROOKLYN HOME BUYERS?

Yes. Lenders now offer several affordable mortgage options which can help Brooklyn  first-time home buyers overcome obstacles that made purchasing a home difficult in the past. Lenders may now be able to help borrowers who don’t have a lot of money saved for the down payment and closing costs, have no or a poor credit history, have quite a bit of long-term debt, or have experienced income irregularities.

40. HOW LARGE OF A DOWN PAYMENT DO I NEED?

There are mortgage options now available that only require a down payment of 5% or less of the purchase price. But the larger the down payment, the less you have to borrow, and the more equity you’ll have. Mortgages with less than a 20% down payment generally require a mortgage insurance policy to secure the loan. When considering the size of your down payment, consider that you’ll also need money for closing costs, moving expenses, and – possibly -repairs and decorating.

41. WHAT IS INCLUDED IN A MONTHLY MORTGAGE PAYMENT?

The monthly mortgage payment mainly pays off principal and interest. But most lenders also include local real estate taxes, homeowner’s insurance, and mortgage insurance (if applicable).

42. WHAT FACTORS AFFECT MORTGAGE PAYMENTS?

The amount of the down payment, the size of the mortgage loan, the interest rate, the length of the repayment term and payment schedule will all affect the size of your mortgage payment.

43. HOW DOES THE INTEREST RATE FACTOR IN SECURING A MORTGAGE LOAN?

A lower interest rate allows you to borrow more money than a high rate with the some monthly payment. Interest rates can fluctuate as you shop for a loan, so ask-lenders if they offer a rate “lock-in”which guarantees a specific interest rate for a certain period of time. Remember that a lender must disclose the Annual Percentage Rate (APR) of a loan to you. The APR shows the cost of a mortgage loan by expressing it in terms of a yearly interest rate. It is generally higher than the interest rate because it also includes the cost of points, mortgage insurance, and other fees included in the loan.

44. WHAT HAPPENS IF INTEREST RATES DECREASE AND I HAVE A FIXED RATE LOAN?

If interest rates drop significantly, you may want to investigate refinancing. Most experts agree that if you plan to be in your house for at least 18 months and you can get a rate 2% less than your current one, refinancing is smart. Refinancing may, however, involve paying many of the same fees paid at the original closing, plus origination and application fees.

45. WHAT ARE DISCOUNT POINTS?

Discount points allow you to lower your interest rate. They are essentially prepaid interest, With each point equaling 1% of the total loan amount. Generally, for each point paid on a 30-year mortgage, the interest rate is reduced by 1/8 (or.125) of a percentage point. When shopping for loans, ask lenders for an interest rate with 0 points and then see how much the rate decreases With each point paid. Discount points are smart if you plan to stay in a home for some time since they can lower the monthly loan payment. Points are tax deductible when you purchase a home and you may be able to negotiate for the seller to pay for some of them.

46. WHAT IS AN ESCROW ACCOUNT? DO I NEED ONE?

Established by your lender, an escrow account is a place to set aside a portion of your monthly mortgage payment to cover annual charges for homeowner’s insurance, mortgage insurance (if applicable), and property taxes. Escrow accounts are a good idea because they assure money will always be available for these payments. If you use an escrow account to pay property tax or homeowner’s insurance, make sure you are not penalized for late payments since it is the lender’s responsibility to make those payments.

FIRST STEPS

47. WHAT STEPS NEED TO BE TAKEN TO SECURE A LOAN?

The first step in securing a loan is to complete a loan application. To do so, you’ll need the following information.

 - Pay stubs for the past 2-3 months
 - W-2 forms for the past 2 years
 - Information on long-term debts
 - Recent bank statements
 - tax returns for the past 2 years
 - Proof of any other income
 - Address and description of the property you wish to buy
 - Sales contract

During the application process, the lender will order a report on your credit history and a professional appraisal of the property you want to purchase. The application process typically takes between 1-6 weeks.

48. HOW DO I CHOOSE THE RIGHT LENDER FOR ME?

Choose your lender carefully. Look for financial stability and a reputation for customer satisfaction. Be sure to choose a company that gives helpful advice and that makes you feel comfortable. A lender that has the authority to approve and process your loan locally is preferable, since it will be easier for you to monitor the status of your application and ask questions. Plus, it’s beneficial when the lender knows home values and conditions in the local area. Do research and ask family, friends, and your real estate agent for recommendations.

49. HOW ARE PRE-QUALIFYING AND PRE-APPROVAL DIFFERENT?

Pre-qualification is an informal way to see how much you maybe able to borrow. You can be ‘pre-qualified’ over the phone with no paperwork by telling a lender your income, your long-term debts, and how large a down payment you can afford. Without any obligation, this helps you arrive at a ballpark figure of the amount you may have available to spend on a house.

Pre-approval is a lender’s actual commitment to lend to you. It involves assembling the financial records mentioned in Question 47 (Without the property description and sales contract) and going through a preliminary approval process. Pre-approval gives you a definite idea of what you can afford and shows sellers that you are serious about buying.

50. HOW CAN I FIND OUT INFORMATION ABOUT MY CREDIT HISTORY?

There are three major credit reporting companies: Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union. Obtaining your credit report is as easy as calling and requesting one. Once you receive the report, it’s important to verify its accuracy. Double check the “high credit limit,”‘total loan,” and ‘past due” columns. It’s a good idea to get copies from all three companies to assure there are no mistakes since any of the three could be providing a report to your lender. Fees, ranging from $5-$20, are usually charged to issue credit reports but some states permit citizens to acquire a free one. Contact the reporting companies at the numbers listed for more information.

CREDIT REPORTING COMPANIES

Company NamePhone Number
Experian1-888-397-3742
Equifax1-800-685-1111
Trans Union1-800-916-8800

51. WHAT IF I FIND A MISTAKE IN MY CREDIT HISTORY?

Simple mistakes are easily corrected by writing to the reporting company, pointing out the error, and providing proof of the mistake. You can also request to have your own comments added to explain problems. For example, if you made a payment late due to illness, explain that for the record. Lenders are usually understanding about legitimate problems.

52. WHAT IS A CREDIT BUREAU SCORE AND HOW DO LENDERS USE THEM?

A credit bureau score is a number, based upon your credit history, that represents the possibility that you will be unable to repay a loan. Lenders use it to determine your ability to qualify for a mortgage loan. The better the score, the better your chances are of getting a loan. Ask your lender for details.

53. HOW CAN I IMPROVE MY SCORE?

There are no easy ways to improve your credit score, but you can work to keep it acceptable by maintaining a good credit history. This means paying your bills on time and not overextending yourself by buying more than you can afford.

FINDING the RIGHT LOAN for YOU

54. HOW DO I CHOOSE THE BEST LOAN – PROGRAM FOR ME?

Your personal situation will determine the best kind of loan for you. By asking yourself a few questions, you can help narrow your search among the many options available and discover which loan suits you best.

 - Do you expect your finances to changeover the next few years?
 - Are you planning to live in this home for a long period of time?
 - Are you comfortable with the idea of a changing mortgage payment amount?
 - Do you wish to be free of mortgage debt as your children approach college age or as you prepare for retirement?

Your lender can help you use your answers to questions such as these to decide which loan best fits your needs.

55. WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO COMPARE LOAN TERMS BETWEEN LENDERS?

First, devise a checklist for the information from each lending institution. You should include the company’s name and basic information, the type of mortgage, minimum down payment required, interest rate and points, closing costs, loan processing time, and whether prepayment is allowed.

Speak with companies by phone or in person. Be sure to call every lender on the list the same day, as interest rates can fluctuate daily. In addition to doing your own research, your real estate agent may have access to a database of lender and mortgage options. Though your agent may primarily be affiliated with a particular lending institution, he or she may also be able to suggest a variety of different lender options to you.

If you would like to follow this series of questions and answers about buying your New Brooklyn Home Check it out here

If you’re looking for an experienced, energetic, resourceful  Brooklyn real estate agent or just have a few questions, give me Charles D’Alessandro your Brooklyn Realtor® with Fillmore Real Estate a call at (718) 253-9600 ext.206 or email me at [email protected]

More Questions & Answers About Buying Your Brooklyn Home

Saturday, April 23rd, 2011

25. DO I REALLY NEED HOMEOWNER’S INSURANCE?

Yes. A paid homeowner’s insurance policy (or a paid receipt for one) is required at closing, so arrangements will have to be made prior to that day. Plus, involving the insurance agent early in the home buying process can save you money. Insurance agents are a great resource for information on home safety and they can give tips on how to keep insurance premiums low.

26. WHAT STEPS COULD I TAKE TO LOWER MY HOMEOWNER’S INSURANCE COSTS?

Be sure to shop around among several insurance companies. Also, consider the cost of insurance when you look at homes. Newer homes and homes constructed with materials like brick tend to have lower premiums. Think about avoiding areas prone to natural disasters, like flooding. Choose a home with a fire hydrant or a fire department nearby.

27. IS THE HOME LOCATED IN A FLOOD PLAIN?

Your real estate agent or lender can help you answer this question. If you live in a flood plain, the lender will require that you have flood insurance before lending any money to you. But if you live near a flood plain, you may choose whether or not to get flood insurance coverage for your home. Work with an insurance agent to construct a policy that fits your needs.

28. WHAT OTHER ISSUES SHOULD I CONSIDER BEFORE I BUY MY BROOKLYN HOME?

Always check to see if the house is in a low-lying area, in a high-risk area for natural disasters (like earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, etc.), or in a hazardous materials area. Be sure the house meets building codes. Also consider local zoning laws, which could affect remodeling or making an addition in the future. Your real estate agent should be able to help you with these questions.

29. HOW DO I MAKE AN OFFER?

Your real estate agent will assist you in making an offer, which will include the following information:

 - Complete legal description of the property
 - Amount of earnest money
 - Down payment and financing details
 - Proposed move-in date
 - Price you are offering
 - Proposed closing date
 - Length of time the offer is valid
 - Details of the deal

Remember that a sale commitment depends on negotiating a satisfactory contract with the seller, not just Making an offer.

Other ways to lower ins-insurance costs include insuring your home and car(s) with the same company, increasing home security, and seeking group coverage through alumni or business associations. Insurance costs are always lowered by raising your deductibles, but this exposes you to a higher out-of-pocket cost if you have to file a claim.

30. HOW DO I DETERMINE THE INITIAL OFFER?

Unless you have a buyer’s agent, remember that the agent works for the seller. Make a point of asking him or her to keep your discussions and information confidential. Listen to your real estate agent’s advice, but follow your own instincts on deciding a fair price. Calculating your offer should involve several factors: what homes sell for in the area, the home’s condition, how long it’s been on the market, financing terms, and the seller’s situation. By the time you’re ready to make an offer, you should have a good idea of what the home is worth and what you can afford. And, be prepared for give-and-take negotiation, which is very common when buying a home. The buyer and seller may often go back and forth until they can agree on a price.

31. WHAT IS EARNEST MONEY? HOW MUCH SHOULD I SET ASIDE?

Earnest money is money put down to demonstrate your seriousness about buying a home. It must be substantial enough to demonstrate good faith and is usually between 1-5% of the purchase price (though the amount can vary with local customs and conditions). If your offer is accepted, the earnest money becomes part of your down payment or closing costs. If the offer is rejected, your money is returned to you. If you back out of a deal, you may forfeit the entire amount.

32. WHAT ARE “HOME WARRANTIES”, AND SHOULD I CONSIDER THEM?

Home warranties offer you protection for a specific period of time (e.g., one year) against potentially costly problems, like unexpected repairs on appliances or home systems, which are not covered by homeowner’s insurance. Warranties are becoming more popular because they offer protection during the time immediately following the purchase of a home, a time when many people find themselves cash-strapped.

GENERAL FINANCING QUESTIONS:THE BASICS

33. WHAT IS A MORTGAGE?

Generally speaking, a mortgage is a loan obtained to purchase real estate. The “mortgage” itself is a lien (a legal claim) on the home or property that secures the promise to pay the debt. All mortgages have two features in common: principal and interest.

34. WHAT IS A LOAN TO VALUE (LTV) HOW DOES IT DETERMINE THE SIZE OF MY LOAN?

The loan to value ratio is the amount of money you borrow compared with the price or appraised value of the home you are purchasing. Each loan has a specific LTV limit. For example: With a 95% LTV loan on a home priced at $50,000, you could borrow up to $47,500 (95% of $50,000), and would have to pay,$2,500 as a down payment.

The LTV ratio reflects the amount of equity borrowers have in their homes. The higher the LTV the less cash homebuyers are required to pay out of their own funds. So, to protect lenders against potential loss in case of default, higher LTV loans (80% or more) usually require mortgage insurance policy.

35. WHAT TYPES OF LOANS ARE AVAILABLE AND WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF EACH?

Fixed Rate Mortgages: Payments remain the same for the the life of the loan

Types

 - 15-year
 - 30-year

Advantages

 - Predictable
 - Housing cost remains unaffected by interest rate changes and inflation.

Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARMS): Payments increase or decrease on a regular schedule with changes in interest rates; increases subject to limits

Types

 - Balloon Mortgage- Offers very low rates for an Initial period of time (usually 5, 7, or 10 years); when time has elapsed, the balance is clue or refinanced (though not automatically)
 - Two-Step Mortgage- Interest rate adjusts only once and remains the same for the life of the loan
 - ARMS linked to a specific index or margin

Advantages

 - Generally offer lower initial interest rates
 - Monthly payments can be lower
 - May allow borrower to qualify for a larger loan amount

36. WHEN DO ARMS MAKE SENSE?

An ARM may make sense If you are confident that your income will increase steadily over the years or if you anticipate a move in the near future and aren’t concerned about potential increases in interest rates.

If you would like to follow this series of questions and answers about buying your New Brooklyn Home Check it out here

If you’re looking for an experienced, energetic, resourceful  Brooklyn real estate agent or just have a few questions, give me Charles D’Alessandro your Brooklyn Realtor® with Fillmore Real Estate a call at (718) 253-9600 ext.206 or email me at [email protected]