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Four Mistakes to Avoid When Making an Offer for Your Dream Home
By Peta-Gay
November 8, 2017

You've scoured the new home listings, been to all the open houses and have finally found the home of your dreams. It is now time to draft an offer and begin the negotiation process. Below we'll share four mistakes that you will want to avoid when making an offer on your dream home.

Mistake #1 – Not Working With A Professional

The first mistake that home buyers make is trying to buy a home without using the services of a real estate professional. Buying a home is a significant financial transaction and one where the seller and their agent are working hard to ensure they come out ahead. Having experienced representation on your side of the table ensures that you won't be taken advantage of.

Mistake #2 – Skipping The Home Inspection

The second mistake – and one that is more common than you think – is skipping the home inspection. There are countless instances of home buyers thinking that the house looks great on the outside without realizing that there are issues with the roof, the foundation, the plumbing, inside the walls or some other area that's tough to see. Having the house professionally inspected before tabling an offer ensures that issues are fixed up before the transaction is complete. Alternately, if you're willing to move ahead regardless, you can ask for the price to be reduced as compensation.

Mistake #3 – Not Being Pre-Approved For Financing

The third mistake in our list is making an offer on a home without being pre-approved for the amount of mortgage financing you will need. Regardless of how good your credit is, the mortgage application process is one that can present challenges. Also, many home sellers will require evidence of financing pre-approval before accepting an offer, so it's best to come prepared.

Mistake #4 – Taking On Other Debts

Once you've decided on the home you want to purchase, you will want to avoid taking on any other debts which can affect your credit score. Don't buy a car, open any new credit cards or do anything else which will show up on your credit report. Once you are pre-approved for your mortgage, you'll want to keep your credit as spotless as possible to ensure that nothing goes wrong.

If you're prepared and clear-headed, the offer process will go smoothly and you'll soon be moving into your dream home. When you're ready to explore local real estate options, contact our team and we'll be happy to show you around.

About the Blogger - Peta-Gay Lewis, ABR®, CMR®, MRP®, PSA® is Founder & Principal of Property Locators, LLC™. She is a licensed Property Manager & REALTOR in DC, MD, and VA with Douglas Realty, LLC (8585 Fort Smallwood Road Pasadena, MD 21122). Her contact information is 202 683-0158 (c), 410 255-3690 (o) or agent@propertylocatorsllc.com

How Much Is the Right Amount to Commit to Your Down Payment? Let Us Take a Look
By Peta-Gay
October 25, 2017

Are you thinking about buying a new house or apartment? If you are going to take out mortgage financing, one consideration you will have is your down payment, which is the amount you pay up front in cash to cover some of the purchase cost. Let's consider a few points that will help you to decide how much is the right amount for your down payment.

How Much Do You Have?

The most obvious question you will need to answer is: how much do I realistically have to place as a down payment? Keep in mind that your down payment is money that you aren't going to see again until you sell your home. While you want to invest a significant amount for reasons we will share below, you still need to maintain a cash cushion of a year's salary or so in case you fall ill or lose your job.

More Down, Less Monthly

The main case for putting as much as you can into your down payment is that the more you invest, the less you must borrow. This means that over time, you will pay less interest and you will also have lower monthly payments. Keep in mind that with today's low interest rates it's a bit less of a burden to carry a large mortgage. However, these rates may swing upwards over the years, which will increase your costs.

The Need For Private Mortgage Insurance

If you're going to put less than 20 percent down on your home, you're almost certainly going to be required to purchase mortgage insurance. There are numerous options available to you, including those offered by the Federal Housing Administration or FHA. Your mortgage lender will share this and other private insurance policies that will protect you.

Don't Forget About Lost Opportunity Cost

Finally, don't forget to factor in the lost opportunity cost that comes with investing a large down payment. Unless you have a terrible money manager, your mortgage interest rate is likely to be less than you would be able to make investing the difference in your financial portfolio. If you're thinking about putting an extra $50,000 in your down payment, consider that you might be able to make 5 to 10 percent on that over the next decade. There are no guarantees in investing, so speak with a professional for further guidance.

It's not easy to choose the perfect amount for your down payment but speaking with the right lender will make the decision easier.  We're happy to share our experience working with different lenders to help you with the purchase of your new home.

About the Blogger - Peta-Gay Lewis, ABR®, CMR®, MRP®, PSA® is Founder & Principal of Property Locators, LLC™. She is a licensed Property Manager & REALTOR in DC, MD, and VA with Douglas Realty, LLC (8585 Fort Smallwood Road Pasadena, MD 21122). Her contact information is 202 683-0158 (c), 410 255-3690 (o) or agent@propertylocatorsllc.com

Understanding the Differences Between Prequalified And Preapproved For a Mortgage
By Peta-Gay
October 16, 2017

Are you in the market for a new home? If you are going to rely on mortgage financing to cover some of the purchase cost, you will need to start the application process as soon as possible. However, what if you just need to know how much you will be able to borrow so you can start finding homes in your price range?

Let's take a quick look at the difference between being 'prequalified' and 'preapproved' for mortgage financing.

The Process Starts With Prequalification

The first step in obtaining mortgage financing is to speak with a mortgage professional to get prequalified. After sharing some quick information about your financial assets, income and any debts, your advisor will share a range of financing options and amounts that you may qualify for. Prequalification is typically done free of charge and either in person or over the phone.

Note that your mortgage lender will not be doing any digging in the prequalification stage. There's no credit check and no hard look at your assets. Don't get too excited if you are prequalified for a large mortgage as you will still need to be approved.

Once You Are Preapproved, You Are All Set

Preapproval, on the other hand, is a firm commitment to access to a certain level of mortgage financing. Your mortgage lender will require a variety of information to get an idea of your financial situation, your current and future employment, your level of risk and more. Once they have a good idea of how much mortgage you can afford, you will be provided with a conditional commitment letter. This letter outlines how much the lender is willing to offer to you as well as other vital information like your mortgage loan interest rate.

Speed Up The Process By Preparing Beforehand

Finally, it is worth a mention that you can speed up the mortgage process by having all your application paperwork ready before the initial meeting. Gather up your most recent income tax returns, pay stubs and bank statements. If you have investments or other financial assets, document those. You will also want to be up front about any outstanding debts that you are paying off. The more prepared you are, the faster the application and preapproval process will go.

Are you thinking of buying a home? Contact us today and we will be happy to assist you with getting your dream home.

About the Blogger - Peta-Gay Lewis, ABR®, CMR®, MRP®, PSA® is Founder & Principal of Property Locators, LLC™. She is a licensed Property Manager & REALTOR in DC, MD, and VA with Douglas Realty, LLC (8585 Fort Smallwood Road Pasadena, MD 21122). Her contact information is 202 683-0158 (c), 410 255-3690 (o) or agent@propertylocatorsllc.com

Real Estate Negotiations: 3 Tricks That You Can Use to Ensure Yours Is the Winning Bid
By Peta-Gay
September 27, 2017

You've toured through several listings, attended all the open houses, and have found your potential new dream home. Now the hard part begins, especially if you're working against other buyers who are keen on getting the same home as you. Let's look at three tricks that you can use to make sure the bid you submit on a home is the one that wins.

Don't Start With A Lowball Offer

First, it's important to note that the offer itself needs to be a fair one. If you approach a home seller with a low offer, you'll likely discover that they're not too interested in accepting it. Even worse, if your offer is too low, you risk the seller feeling insulted. And that might prevent you from being able to counter with a higher price to be more competitive. Instead, consider bidding on the low end of a reasonable, fair price range as your starting bid. That way the seller knows that you're serious and is more willing to entertain the conversation.

Let A Real Estate Agent Handle It

If you want to make an offer that a seller can't refuse, you'll want to work with a real estate agent. An experienced agent that has helped dozens of buyers with the purchasing process will have critical knowledge that will be useful in making the right bid. Plus, if you end up receiving a counter-offer from the seller, an agent can assist you with understanding the terms and touching up your bid to get the deal done.

Keep Your Cool And Be Ready For The Counter

Speaking of counter-offers, you'll want to ensure that you keep an open mind when it comes to negotiating with the home seller. Unless your offer is close to or over the listing price, the seller is likely to counter your opening bid. This is normal and is a sign that they're interested, so from here it's your job to ensure that you sweeten the deal just enough that they're willing to close.

These are just a few of the ways that you can ensure that the bid you make on a home is the one the seller accepts. For more tips and insight into buying a house in our area, contact one of our trusted real estate agent today. We look forward to connecting!

About the Blogger - Peta-Gay Lewis, ABR®, CMR®, MRP®, PSA® is Founder & Principal of Property Locators, LLC™. She is a licensed Property Manager & REALTOR in DC, MD, and VA with Douglas Realty, LLC (8585 Fort Smallwood Road Pasadena, MD 21122). Her contact information is 202 683-0158 (c), 410 255-3690 (o) or agent@propertylocatorsllc.com

4 Smart Money Habits That Will Help You Save up a Mortgage Down Payment Faster
By Peta-Gay
September 7, 2017

Are you ready for home ownership? The prospect of owning your own house or apartment is an exciting one, but with any financial transaction this large, there are some things to consider. The first is your down payment – that is, the initial payment you'll put against the cost of the house to reduce the amount that you're borrowing in a mortgage. Let's have a look at four habits that will help you to get your down payment saved up faster.

Build (And Stick To!) A Reasonable Budget

The first and most obvious tip is to stick to a reasonable budget. Determine how much you have coming in and going out of your bank accounts and credit cards each month. Group everything into areas like 'food,' 'utilities,' 'dining out,' 'entertainment' and more. Then, reduce each area to a reasonable amount and avoid any overspending.

Figure Out Your 'Latte Factor' – And Eliminate It

If you're unfamiliar with the term, a 'latte factor' is that one consistent purchase that you make each day which, over time, drains your bank account. For example, if you spend $5 each day on your coffee habit that adds up to almost $2,000 per year in unnecessary costs. Pay close attention to your spending habits and try to eliminate anything that you can.

Make Automatic Payments To A Down Payment Fund

If you're working a stable job and have regular pay periods, you may want to explore setting up a separate savings account for your down payment. Once you have this account opened, set up automatic deposits from your regular bank account after each pay day. This limits your ability to spend your cash while building up your down payment fund automatically.

Don't Carry Credit That You Don't Need

Finally, try not to carry credit that you aren't going to use. This includes department store credit cards, extra bank credit cards or lines of credit. While it won't necessarily harm your credit score to have available credit, if you do have it you're far more likely to use it than if you don't. You'll need to be disciplined to save up your down payment. So, don't bother with extra credit that may be too tempting to resist using.

These are just a few of the smart money habits that will help you get your mortgage down payment saved up as quickly as possible. When you're ready to look for your new home, contact our trusted real estate professionals. We'd be happy to share options that suit your budget as well as other tips for getting your down payment saved up.

About the Blogger - Peta-Gay Lewis, ABR®, CMR®, MRP®, PSA® is Founder & Principal of Property Locators, LLC™. She is a licensed Property Manager & REALTOR in DC, MD, and VA with Douglas Realty, LLC (8585 Fort Smallwood Road Pasadena, MD 21122). Her contact information is 202 683-0158 (c), 410 255-3690 (o) or agent@propertylocatorsllc.com