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3 'Must Know' Pieces of Advice for First-time Home Buyers
By Peta-Gay
February 3, 2016

When delving into the realities of home ownership, there can be many factors involved that make it difficult to determine what you need to know and what can wait until later. If you happen to be a first-time buyer who's looking for the best tips for purchasing a home, look no further than the following three pointers to set you on the right path.

Get Familiar With Your Credit Score

If you haven't looked at your credit report for a long time, it can be a daunting task to request this information. Fortunately, your credit report is free from AnnualCreditReport.com and it will prepare you for what lenders are going to see. By taking this important step, you will be able to determine any delinquent accounts or balances owing that have gone to collections, and hopefully have these cleaned up before they can become a problem for your mortgage.

Determine The Price You Can Pay

While you may have a price in mind for what you're willing to pay for a home, it's important to determine your debt-to-income ratio before putting in an offer. Your DTI ratio can be determined by taking your total monthly costs, adding it to what you would be paying for a home and dividing it by your monthly gross income. If it's a housing price that will work for you, this amount should equate to less than 43%.

Organize Your Housing History

If you have a good history as a tenant, the next step will probably be the easiest of all, but it's very important in order to prove you're a responsible candidate for home ownership. Once you've acquired a Verification of Rent from any applicable landlord in the previous year, you'll want to ensure that you have money in the bank. While RRSP's can make a good impression, make sure you have liquid assets available so you can convince the lender your home investment is manageable.

There are a lot of things to know when it comes to buying a home, but if you're a first time buyer the most important thing is to ensure that your finances are organized and that you're not diving into more house than you can afford. By taking the time to determine your debt-to-income ratio and looking into your credit, you can ensure a positive first-time buying experience. If you're wondering about homes for sale in your area, you may want to contact a trusted real estate professionals for more information.

About the Blogger - Peta-Gay Lewis, MRP® is Founder & Principal of Property Locators, LLC™. She is a licensed REALTOR in DC, MD, and VA with Douglas Realty, LLC (8096 Edwin Raynor Blvd Suite C Pasadena, MD 21122). Her contact information is 202 683-0158 (c), 410 255-3690 (o) or agent@propertylocatorsllc.com

Running out of Kitchen Space? 5 Storage Hacks That Will Help You Do More with Less
By Peta-Gay
February 1, 2016

With all of the things that you need to fit into the kitchen, being economical with how you use your space can be a very important part of making it work. If you're looking for some new ideas for how to use your space to maximum capacity, here are some hacks that might just make a marked difference!

Make Use of Magnets

Using magnets to hold up some kitchen essentials will not only be effective and functional, it will make for a quirky, modern space with personality. Whether you decide on a magnetized knife block for the side of the fridge or purchase some magnetized spices for easy access, this is a simple trick for storage that goes beyond the fridge.

Cue The Cutting Board Cover

One of the biggest problems with a small kitchen is the minimal counter space, but this is an easy problem to solve with a cutting board made to fit over your sink. Instead of having to move around items to make room on your counter, you'll always have a convenient place to do your chopping that will be handy when you need it.

Maximize Your Ceiling Space

Pots and pans can take up a lot of cabinet space, but the purchase of an overhead rack can easily free up some of your shelves for a different use. By hanging pots, pans and even kitchen utensils from a rack, you'll have a neat modern look that will add a twist on the traditional kitchen.

Arrange Your Drawers With Inserts

Everyone is familiar with the kinds of kitchen drawers that are in shambles, full of bottomless utensils that are hard to find when they're needed. By purchasing a drawer insert, you will be able to organize your utensils according to type and utilize all of the drawer space that's available.

Reconsider The Wine Rack

It's generally the case that a wine rack is filled with wine bottles, but to add a funky and useful twist to your old rack, consider keeping all kinds of bottles in it. By adding in water bottles, soda, and even certain perishables, you can save room on your shelves and create a statement piece!

It can often seem impossible to make room for everything in a small kitchen, but there are lots of hacks that will free up more space for the items that are required. If you're currently perusing kitchens on the real estate market, you may want to contact a trusted real estate professional for more information.

About the Blogger - Peta-Gay Lewis, MRP® is Founder & Principal of Property Locators, LLC™. She is a licensed REALTOR in DC, MD, and VA with Douglas Realty, LLC (8096 Edwin Raynor Blvd Suite C Pasadena, MD 21122). Her contact information is 202 683-0158 (c), 410 255-3690 (o) or agent@propertylocatorsllc.com

5, 10, 20 Percent or More? How to Determine How Big of a Down Payment You Need
By Peta-Gay
February 4, 2016

Whether or not you're new to real estate, there's little doubt that you've heard the term down payment as it relates to purchasing a home. There's a lot of different information out there in regards to how much this figure should be and it can be hard to determine exactly what the importance of this payment is. If you're trying to determine the ideal amount to put down, here are some things to consider.

Explaining Down Payments And Why They're Important

The down payment is probably one of the largest single payments you'll make for anything, and this is why so many people save for years. When you buy a home, the down payment is the amount of money that goes into the initial home investment, and this is taken off of the cost of the house. In essence, while this money qualifies as an asset, it is tied up in paying off the total cost of your home.

The Differing Amounts For Down Payments

It's often the case that many figures are thrown around in regards to the ideal down payment percentage, and they generally vary from 3-20% of the home's cost. If you are paying a percentage on the low side of the scale, this can unfortunately mean that you will have fewer mortgage options and will be stuck with an increased interest rate. The amount you should pay depends on your financial health and purchasing commitment, but the larger the down payment is, the more minimal your monthly payments will be.

Deciding The Perfect Percentage

Saving up 20% of a home's total price may seem like a lot of time and effort, but this can be the ideal amount to put down. In addition to lowered monthly payments and a better interest rate, you'll also be able to avoid Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI), which is required if you put down less than 20%. There is no right answer to the question of how much to put towards a down payment, but you may end up spending less in the long run if you can invest more in the beginning.

There are many figures thrown around when it comes to real estate, but the amount of a down payment should be economically feasible for you and enable you to make your monthly payments consistently. If you're planning on purchasing soon and are looking for home options, you may want to contact one of our trusted real estate professionals for more information.

About the Blogger - Peta-Gay Lewis, MRP® is Founder & Principal of Property Locators, LLC™. She is a licensed REALTOR in DC, MD, and VA with Douglas Realty, LLC (8096 Edwin Raynor Blvd Suite C Pasadena, MD 21122). Her contact information is 202 683-0158 (c), 410 255-3690 (o) or agent@propertylocatorsllc.com

A Quick and Easy Guide to Using an Online Mortgage Calculator
By Peta-Gay
February 5, 2016

If you're in the market for a new mortgage, using an online mortgage calculator is a great way to determine what kind of terms you can expect to see and how they'll affect your home purchase. Visualizing what a 3.9% interest rate looks like can be difficult, which is why a mortgage calculator is so useful – it shows you exactly what a certain mortgage will do to your finances. Here are just a few ways that you can use an online mortgage calculator to learn more about your mortgage needs and find the mortgage that is best for you.

Start With A Solid Set of Sample Data

In order for your mortgage calculator to be of any use, you'll need to start the calculations with a set of sample data that is a fairly accurate representation of what you can expect to find in the market. For example, if your gross annual salary is $30,000, you won't want to look at mortgages for $1 million homes (unless you're doing so out of idle curiosity). Instead, try to represent your actual take-home earnings and interest rates available to someone with your credit as faithfully as possible.

Try Adjusting The Settings And Terms

Once you have your sample data and have done a quick initial calculation, you'll want to play around with some of the settings and terms to see how minor changes in your mortgage arrangement can affect your finances.

For instance, what happens if you keep your monthly payment the same but increase your interest rate? What happens if you change your 15% down payment to 20% and you suddenly don't have to pay mortgage insurance? When you understand how all of the different variables impact both each other and your monthly payments, you're in a better position to judge what kind of mortgage is a good fit for you.

Survey Multiple Lenders And Input Their Terms

When you use your mortgage calculator, you'll want to avoid simply using one mortgage plan from one lender. Different lenders can vary in their mortgages available and can offer you different terms, which will impact your monthly payments and possibly even what kind of home you can afford. So shop around and use different terms from different lenders – this has the dual effect of both helping you understand how mortgages work and saving you some rate shopping time later.

Online mortgage calculators are an easy way to learn how mortgages work, but you'll want to enlist the help of a professional mortgage advisor when it comes time to choose a mortgage and a lender. Contact your local mortgage professional today to get expert home buying advice.

About the Blogger - Peta-Gay Lewis, MRP® is Founder & Principal of Property Locators, LLC™. She is a licensed REALTOR in DC, MD, and VA with Douglas Realty, LLC (8096 Edwin Raynor Blvd Suite C Pasadena, MD 21122). Her contact information is 202 683-0158 (c), 410 255-3690 (o) or agent@propertylocatorsllc.com

Buying a Home? 3 Reasons Why You'll Want to Work with a Professional Mortgage Advisor
By Peta-Gay
February 10, 2016

If you're planning to buy a home in the near future, you're probably already looking at mortgages available through your bank and other lenders. But before you choose a mortgage and sign on for a loan worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, you'll want to carefully consider whether you're truly better off with the DIY approach or whether a mortgage advisor might be able to help you. Mortgage advisors are trusted professionals who work with private clients to get the best terms and rates available.

Here are just three reasons why finding an experienced mortgage advisor is in your best interests.

A Mortgage Advisor Can Give You An Independent Second Opinion

Oftentimes, when dealing with your bank, it can feel like there aren't that many options available when it comes time to find a mortgage. And although many banks do offer loyalty rewards through their mortgage offerings, that doesn't necessarily mean the mortgage itself is a good deal.

A mortgage advisor is someone who has seen hundreds of mortgage deals and knows what kinds of terms and rates you can reasonably expect. Before signing on for a mortgage, have an independent advisor review your contract to spot potential problem areas.

A Mortgage Advisor Has Access To Better Rates 

When you walk into a bank or lender as a consumer, your lending officer is going to provide you with the bank's standard market rate for the average borrower with your credit rating and income. But just because you're getting a standard rate, that doesn't mean you're getting a good rate.

A professional mortgage advisor has access to an extensive network of lenders with a variety of offerings, which means your mortgage advisor can almost certainly get you a better rate than what your bank offers. And on a purchase as large as a mortgage, every interest point matters.

A Mortgage Advisor Is A Strong Negotiator

When it finally comes time to make a deal, most first-time homebuyers simply accept mortgage terms without much second thought. After all, getting approved for a mortgage at all is great news for many. But just because you're offered a mortgage, that doesn't mean it's the best mortgage you could get.

A mortgage advisor is an experienced negotiator who knows what the banks and lenders can offer you – and knows when they're holding back. That's why you'll never want to walk into a negotiation without a mortgage advisor on your side.

Working with a professional mortgage advisor can make the mortgage process easier and help you to get a better mortgage. To learn more about how a mortgage advisor can help you, contact your local mortgage professional today.

About the Blogger - Peta-Gay Lewis, MRP® is Founder & Principal of Property Locators, LLC™. She is a licensed REALTOR in DC, MD, and VA with Douglas Realty, LLC (8096 Edwin Raynor Blvd Suite C Pasadena, MD 21122). Her contact information is 202 683-0158 (c), 410 255-3690 (o) or agent@propertylocatorsllc.com