Homeownership is undisputedly the Great American Dream. There is a good reason for that, especially as interest rates have dropped. And while the pandemic has changed the landscape of buying a home, with patience and the help of great real estate professionals like The Licata Group, you can make this a reality. If you’ve never walked this path before, there are a few steps you can take to help your dream come true.
Step 1: Check Your Credit Score
Your credit score is a number that gives lenders a good idea of whether you’re financially responsible. Ideally, you’ll have a score of 720 or higher. You may be able to get a loan with a credit score of 580, but the higher your credit score, the lower your interest rate. It’s always a good idea to know what’s hiding on your credit report before you contact the lender.
Step 2: Know What You Can Afford
Knowing your credit score is only part of the puzzle. You also have to figure out how much you can reasonably afford for your mortgage. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, most lenders will also consider your debt-to-income ratio (DTI). Generally speaking, you are more likely to repay your loan if your DTI is 43 percent or less. Your credit score and DTI may also determine which types of loans you are eligible to receive.
If you have very little credit, as many homebuyers do, you might want to consider an FHA loan. Often, you can put less money down and still walk away with a reasonable monthly payment. If your goal is the lowest mortgage possible, plan to put 20 percent down and stick to a 30-year loan. Fifteen- and 20-year loans are also available, and they can help you pay your house off faster, but they’ll cost more money each month.
Step 3: Find the Right Realtor
If you haven’t already, it’s time to start shopping for a reliable real estate agent. This is the person who will represent your best interests throughout the home-buying process. While it is technically possible to buy a house without this kind of assistance, keep in mind that a buyer’s agent does not charge you. Instead, barring a few exceptions, their time and expertise are compensated by the commission offered by the seller.
Step 4: Begin Your Search
Now that you have a handle on money, you can start your home search. First, determine how much home you actually need. Plan for the future and look for a home that will provide enough room to accommodate your lifestyle and space needs for the next five to 10 years. This is where the affordability factor comes into play, and your realtor will be able to steer you in the right direction. Note that on average, homes in Lake of the Woods currently sell for $335,000.
Step 5: Found It! Make an Offer
When you think you have found the perfect house, put your game face on and make an offer. Depending on your local climate, you may want to offer close to the asking price – your agent can help you make that determination. Keep in mind, however, that even after they accept the offer, things may change depending on the home inspection and appraisal.
In a normal scenario, when your offer is accepted, things will move quickly, usually between four and six weeks. However, the pandemic could have an effect on how long you wait to close. Regardless, during this time, you’ll be contacted by your lender for additional information, and you will be in close contact with your agent. If everything goes off without a hitch, you’ll find yourself sitting at the title company on closing day, holding the keys to the next chapter of your journey.
Whether you’re looking for homes for sale in Fredericksburg, Stafford, Orange, Locust Grove, Culpeper, Northern Virginia or even Maryland or DC, we are your Real Estate team committed to finding the perfect home for you! Thinking of selling? In any market condition, “what is my home worth?” is the #1 question asked by homeowners. If you wish to sell your home, it needs to be sold for top dollar, and in a timely manner. Pricing your home accurately, one of our area expert advisors will partner with you to make the selling process so much easier. Get started today by calling us at (540) 388-2541 or contact Pat Licata.
When you’re thinking about buying property, one of the
first questions that pop to mind is, “Should I do this on my own or hire
some assistance?” In a huge majority of cases, the answer is that doing
everything on your own will make the process much, much harder, and we’d also
be very surprised if you got a good deal without some assistance. In most
cases, the only real question is: “Should I hire a real estate agent or a
lawyer?” Both can be of invaluable assistance when it’s time to buy a
property, but the ways they can help differ.
You Should Hire a Lawyer
What makes a real estate agent different from a lawyer when it comes to buying a property? First of all, by law, real estate agents cannot give legal advice. While you are not obligated by law to hire a lawyer when buying a property here (unlike in some other states), you may have some legal questions that only a lawyer can answer. For example, you may want to rent a property for some time (let’s say for a year) before making the decision on whether you should buy the property or not. If the seller agrees to that, an attorney can draft this unusual contract and provide legal advice on the matter that a real estate agent could not.
A good lawyer will help you by answering all the legal questions that a real estate agent cannot lawfully answer.
As lawyers charge an hourly fee,
before buying a property and moving in with the help of experienced
professionals from dumbomoving.com,
it’s a good idea to make a list of all the legal questions you may have and arrange
a meeting with an attorney. Then, you can ask everything you need, as well as
make arrangements on all the additional services you may need that a real
estate agent can’t help you with (drafting the contract from the previous
paragraph, for example).
You Should Hire a Real Estate Agent
While a lawyer will help you with
some specific parts of the home buying procedure, you’ll still need to hire a
real estate agent as well. A real estate professional will be with you every
step of the way, acting as a sort of a guide to your home buying process. And
if you’re buying a property, you’ll be pleased to learn that sellers are the
ones who will pay the agents of both parties. The commission is usually 10
percent of the arranged home price, divided equally between the two agents. The
logic behind this rule is that sellers will be receiving a lot of money, and so
they should be the ones to pay all agents who will take care of the buying-selling
So, if you hire a real estate agent, your wallet won’t have a problem with that; you will basically get an invaluable service for free. And what exactly does that service entail? Buying a property is a complex procedure – lots of paperwork will need to be done, inspectors will need to be hired, a comparative home prices analysis will need to be prepared, etc. While some lawyers will try to convince you that they can do everything on their own, that is most often not the case. Real estate professionals will be better at all of these tasks, simply because they have dedicated their lives to buying and selling real estate; they have much more experience and they know how to use it.
Apart from many other ways that a real estate agent can help you, he or she will be able to find a perfect house for you in the specified neighborhood.
This gives them an edge in all sorts
of home-buying tasks. Apart from the ones we have already mentioned, they are
also much better at negotiating. Let’s say that, for example, some parts
of the home will need to be fixed. You’ll need to determine whether you or the
seller will be the one who has to make these repairs. In this case, a good real
estate agent will help you negotiate an arrangement that is better for you
financially. What’s more, an experienced real estate agent who is a good fit
for you will be acquainted with the neighborhood where you’re looking for your
dream home. He or she will know just what to look for based on your
Things to Have in Mind
So, should you hire a real estate agent or a lawyer? The answer is – why not both? Combining the individual strengths of these two professions will get you the best deal. Rely on attorneys for legal advice that a real estate agent cannot offer, and hire a real estate agent for everything else.
Before you hire a real estate agent and a lawyer who will seal the deal, you’ll need to have some things in mind. Alt text: A man signing a contract.
Sometimes, it may so happen that an opportunity to share a real estate agent with the seller emerges. In our opinion, that would be wrong to do. As real estate agents make a living off of commissions, they might be looking for the sellers’ best interest in this situation and not yours. Ethical agents who won’t do this certainly exist, but it’s best to be on the safe side anyway.
Real estate agents may press you to offer a higher price because of similarly unethical reasons. The more you pay, the larger their commission, after all. What’s more, some of them will be afraid to negotiate because doing so might mean that they won’t get to close the deal. If it seems that your agent doesn’t respect your opinion and is only looking to close the deal as soon as possible, it is best to find a different agent. Doing research on your own regarding home prices in the given neighborhood will help you avoid such unpleasant situations.
Most lawyers prefer to be hired and paid only after the home buying process is complete. However, it may suit you more to only pay for one consulting session or one or two specific tasks. That can be arranged, just have the arrangement in writing (better safe than sorry).
Whether you’re looking for homes for sale in Fredericksburg, Stafford, Orange, Locust Grove, Norther Virginia or even Maryland or DC, we are your Real Estate team committed to finding the perfect home for you! Thinking of selling? In any market condition, “what is my home worth?” is the #1 question asked by homeowners. If you wish to sell your home, it needs to be sold for top dollar, and in a timely manner. Pricing your home accurately, one of our area expert advisors will partner with you to make the selling process so much easier. Get started today by calling us at (540) 388-2541 or contact Pat Licata.
Along with the excitement
that buying your first home brings comes the apprehension about the
decision. Millions of questions come to mind making your decision even harder
to make. The best tip that you can get is to get informed. But, do you
know what you have to get informed about? If you are thinking of buying your
first property ever, take a deep breath and start reading through the most
common mistakes first-time homebuyers make so that you can avoid making the
Starting a House Hunt Without a Financial Plan
Since you are buying your first home, it is understandable that you are very excited about the idea and impatient to find the right one. However, that doesn’t mean that you should start your search completely unprepared. You should at least know what price range to look at. Since the real estate market is quite competitive and demand is almost always higher than supply you should come prepared. That means that you should be pre-approved for a loan before looking at listings. Then you will be more acquainted with your financial prospects and you will know what you can hope to find. By the way, there are so many facts you should know about mortgage before you apply, so do not rush it.
Sticking to One Mortgage Lender Only
A mortgage is also a product
that you buy and can find at different prices with different sellers. Do
not make a mistake by not comparing the quotes before committing. Choose at
least three lenders and compare the estimates that you get. Remember, you are
looking for a good deal as well as the lowest rates you can get. You cannot
find those if you only consult one bank or lender. The same goes for finding skillful movers who can relocate your home – you need to make a list and then choose one company that
suits you best.
Not Paying Attention to Your Credit Reports
Your credit reports are extremely important to a bank or lender that you are considering taking a mortgage from. They will analyze every single detail of it, so you need to make sure that they like what they see. A credit report that contains errors may result in higher interest rates for you, so it is in your best interest to keep it as accurate as possible. The good news is that you can get a free credit report from any of the main credit bureaus at the end of a year so that you can correct any errors that you come across. The lenders need this report at pre-approval and before final loan approval. In the meantime, you shouldn’t be opening new credit cards and you should do your best to pay your bills on time every month.
Thinking That You have to Make a 20% Down Payment
When you start calculating how much
money you need for your down payment, you will probably ask yourself whether buying real estate is a good investment
at all. Twenty percent of your future
property’s worth is a lot of money to prepare before you even start
searching for a home. Luckily, there are some loan programs that allow
you to make a down payment as low as 3.5% or even 0%. It goes without saying
that a bigger down payment means that you can get a smaller mortgage, so you
will have more money left in your budget every month.
On the other hand, while you are
saving money for your 20% down, the property prices continue to grow along with
the mortgage. So, the decision is all yours and you need to make sure that you
set a monthly payment that you can actually provide. And, do not forget that
you are obliged to pay the mortgage insurance in case your down payment
is less than 20%.
Not Considering Special Programs for First-Time Homebuyers
There are some special programs for
first-time homebuyers that offer low down payment loans. You should inform
yourself whether such programs exist in your state and learn about the
FHA loans –
the down payment can be as low as 3.5%. Besides this obvious
rebate, the Federal Housing Administration is not so strict about
credit reports. But, once you commit to this loan, you will have to pay
for mortgage insurance as long as you have the mortgage to pay, which
means even after your equity is more than 20%.
– if you are planning to buy a property in a rural area, the chances are
that you qualify for zero percent down and 100% financing – a
program offered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. If you opt for this
program, you will have to pay the guarantee fee instead of mortgage
– mortgages offered by the US Department of Veterans Affairs to
people who have served in the military. These loans allow veterans to put
a down payment of zero percent and get 100% financing. A funding
fee has to be paid instead of mortgage insurance.
Falling in Love With the Property and Failing to See its Faults
This can be a huge mistake. It often
happens that we like the house, but it turns out that its neighborhood is not a
place where we would like to raise our children. You should always visit the place
at least two or three times, at different times of day and week, before you
make a decision to buy. If you notice that there is something the seller is
trying to hide, that should be a red flag to look for.
Wasting All Your Savings On Your First Property
This is one of the common mistakes
first-time homebuyers often make. They do this to add to the sum for a down
payment and lower the monthly payment rate. However, you still need to have
an emergency fund (three to six months of living expenses) because there
are so many things that can go wrong when you buy a property. It is better to
pay for mortgage insurance and still have your emergency fund untouched, just
Not Knowing About the Hidden Costs of Ownership
There are many costs of ownership that first-time homebuyers do not know about. Property taxes, insurance (mortgage, hazard, and homeowners), repairs, maintenance, and utilities are just a few of them.
Whether you’re looking for homes for sale in Lake of the Woods VA or Waterfront property in Virginia we are your Real Estate Advisors for Stafford, Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania, Locust Grove, Central Virginia, and Greater Virginia. Thinking of selling? In any market condition, “what is my home worth?” is the #1 question asked by home owners. If you wish to sell your home, it needs to be sold for top dollar and in a timely manner. Pricing your home accurately, Pat will partner with you to make the selling process so much easier. Get started today by calling us at (540) 388-2541 or contact Pat Licata.
To see available Lake of the Woods properties, please visit our site.
Everybody loves talking about mortgages. They’re fun, easy to understand, and a great icebreaker, right?….Wrong. Thanks to their lengthy process, technical jargon, and confusing options, mortgages have a bit of an intimidating reputation—but it doesn’t have to be that way!
If you’re in the process of buying a new home and dreading the mortgage application process, here’s what you need to know to keep things running smoothly.
Know How Much You Can Spend
If you’re feeling antsy about getting started and want a general idea of how much loan you might qualify for, consider the 28/36 rule, or the Debt-to-Income ratio—AKA what most lenders use to help calculate your mortgage.
Essentially, the 28/36 rule means that your monthly mortgage payment shouldn’t be more than 28% of your gross income. Additionally, your outstanding debts—like mortgage, car loans, student loans—shouldn’t account for more than 36% of your gross income.
Get Your Finances in Order
Not seeing the numbers you were hoping for after calculating your Debt-to-Income ratio? Then, hopefully, you’ve given yourself a little time to shift things in your favor. Paying off loans, improving your credit score, avoiding big purchases—these will all help you change those numbers.
Of course, completing those tasks is a little harder to do in practice than in theory, so you may have to take a look at your budget and see where you can cut out some extras—at least temporarily!
What You’ll Need to Apply
In the weeks before you plan on applying for a mortgage, you should start collecting all of the documents you need. Since a lender will be telling you exactly how much money they’re willing to loan, they’ll need a comprehensive understanding of your finances beforehand. Start gathering things like:
Your two most recent pay stubs
Current and prior addresses
Asset information (retirement funds, 401(k), stocks and bonds, other investments)
Depending on the lender you choose, you may need additional documents, so consider calling in to double-check beforehand.
Find the Right Mortgage
Once it’s time to start thinking more concretely about applying for a mortgage, you have several options to consider. While all the mortgage options out there could easily fill a whole blog post on their own, here’s a quick rundown to give you a general idea:
Conventional/Fixed-rate: The interest rate of a fixed-rate loan won’t change over time, making it a popular choice for its predictability. Conventional loans typically require a 20% down payment or mortgage insurance for smaller down payments.
Adjustable-rate: The interest rate of adjustable-rate mortgage will fluctuate over time, sometimes lower than fixed-rate, sometimes higher. There is a cap in place so the rate doesn’t get too out of control, but ARMs are typically more popular with those who plan to refinance.
FHA: If you are struggling to come up with a down payment, you may have options with an FHA mortgage. Provided by the Federal Housing Administration, these loans come with a low down payment requirement and built-in mortgage insurance.
USDA: Live in a rural area? Then check out your USDA eligibility! A surprising amount of areas qualify for USDA loans, even if you aren’t living in the countryside. Plus, USDA loans don’t require a down payment and offer lower insurance premiums.
These aren’t the only options you’ll have, just the most common. If none of these sound right or you aren’t sure which to choose, just ask your lender!
Choose the Right Lender
When it comes time to decide who to work with, you’ll have to do your research. Each lender is different, meaning they’ll likely offer you different rates, charges, and loan options.
Luckily, we’ve been working in real estate around the area for years, so we know exactly which lenders are right for which buyers. If you need a few suggestions before you kick off your search, just let us know!
Still Have Questions?
That’s okay—we get it. Applying for mortgage is confusing and challenging, especially if it’s your first time. If you have any questions about the process, we’re here to help.
Ready to start looking at a few homes in your price range? We can help with that, too! Check out our specialized search tool to narrow down your options, and give us a call to start seeing a few in person!
Whether you’re looking for homes for sale in Lake of the Woods VA or Waterfront property in Virginia we are your Real Estate Advisors for Stafford, Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania, Locust Grove, Central Virginia, and Greater Virginia. Thinking of selling? In any market condition, “what is my homeworth?” is the #1 question asked by home owners. If you wish to sell your home, it needs to be sold for top dollar and in a timely manner. Pricing your home accurately, Pat will partner with you to make the selling process so much easier. Get started today by calling us at (540) 388-2541 or contact Pat Licata.
To see available Lake of the Woods properties, please visit our site.