Our Real Estate Blog
Buying your first home is a big endeavor, both financially and personally. Homeownership means taking on new responsibilities and bills, but it also means true financial independence.
If you’re hoping to buy a home in the near future, you might be wondering what you should be doing now to put yourself in the best position when it comes time to buy a home. Well, you’re in luck. Today’s post is a simplified list of all of the things you can be doing today to start making your way toward your ultimate goal of homeownership.
1. Pay off small debts
The first thing you’ll want to do to start saving for a down payment is to make sure you’re not pouring money down the drain to credit card companies for interest rates. If you owe small amounts of money (or less than $1,000), now is the time to aggressively pay down those debts.
The goal here is to get your credit cards to a place where you pay off your balance in full each month, avoiding interest while still earning rewards and building credit.
2. Speaking of credit…
One of the most important aspects of buying a home is your credit score. Take the time to learn about the 5 main things that contribute to your credit score and then work on ways to improve your score in those areas.
3. Don’t open any new accounts if you can help it
Once you start getting closer to applying for a mortgage, you won’t want any new inquiries on your account that are temporarily lowering your score. If you need to open a new account to lift your score, then do so well in advance of applying for a mortgage.
4. Get serious about saving for a down payment
There are a few ways to proactively save for your down payment; none of them include setting money aside when you feel like it. Start by opening a dedicated account and direct-depositing a portion of your pay into that account each week.
If you have an emergency fund in place, you might be in a position to use a CD or certificate of deposit. These give the highest earnings from interest out of any form of savings. The catch? You can’t withdraw from the account until you reach your savings goal without a penalty. If you know you won’t need to dip into these funds before they’ve matured, a CD is an excellent way to save.
5. Find out how much house you can afford
Homes are expensive. but, if it’s your first home, you might need to borrow the maximum amount form the bank to find a house that you’ll love. To find out what is a reasonable amount to spend on a home, you’ll need to consider your monthly mortgage, bills, taxes, insurance, and any other expenses. Leave yourself room for savings, emergencies, and to live a little. You won’t be able to enjoy your home much if you have to spend your days struggling to afford it.
6. Career planning is vital
A good career is a balance between stability and upward mobility. Don’t be afraid to be on the lookout for new positions with higher pay and better opportunities, even if you’re happy with your current job.
If you’ve been in your position for a while, consider asking for a raise. Research salaries for other people in your position and go to your boss equipped with data to show that show you deserve a raise.
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When you’re buying or selling a home, you may hear the terms, “assessed value” and “market value.” There are few things that you should know about these terms. First, they cannot be used interchangeably. The assessed value is generally much less than the market value. If you’re buying a home, you probably would rather see the assessed value of the home as a price! If you’re selling, the same holds true for the market value of the home for you.
Market Value Is Used Differently Than Assessed Value
The market value is how much your home is worth on the market currently. The definition is exactly as the term sounds the home is looked at by an assessor and given a value. The assessed value is used to determine property taxes, among other things. As you can imagine, the assessed value can become a point of contention for many homeowners especially when it comes to paying their tax bills. Many homes end up being assessed at a higher price than their current value, bringing tax bills to higher levels. The market value is what the home will sell for when it is listed for sale.
Be careful when searching for a home to buy. Many sites list the assessed value along with the price of the home or estimated market value of the home. You don’t want to get these numbers confused when budgeting and searching for the perfect house.
If you’re getting ready to sell your home, pay little attention to the assessed value of the home. That is not what your home will sell for.
The market value is a good reason to hire a realtor to help you sell your home. Realtors are experts in finding the market values of homes. They will even do something called a CMA (comparative market analysis) for you to help you determine the right price for your home to sell at. This is where comparable properties in the area are examined for their selling prices and all the perks of your home and neighborhood are considered. The market value is determined by the price of the homes that have recently been sold in the area based on the location of the home and how close it is to certain amenities like schools, parks, and the probability of future construction.
Finally, know that the market value and the appraised value of a home have a lot to do with how much a lender will give you to buy the property. Every home that is being bought must go through an appraisal, to protect the lender from overpaying for a home.
Whether you’re buying or selling a home, knowing your value terms can really be a help in understanding the sweet spot for pricing a property