Our Real Estate Blog
You can ask any homeowner-buying and owning a home is expensive. Mortgage payments, property taxes, utilities, and other bills quickly add up.
If you want to buy a home but don’t have a large down payment saved, odds are you’ve discovered something called private mortgage insurance (PMI).
PMI is an extra monthly payment that you make (on top of your mortgage payment) when you don’t have enough to make a large (20%) down payment on your home.
However, if you want to buy a home and don’t want to tack on an extra monthly payment for PMI, you have options. In today’s post, I’m going to talk about some ways to avoid paying PMI on your mortgage so you can save more money in the long run.
Before we talk about getting rid of PMI, let’s spend a minute on what to expect when you do have to pay it.
PMI typically costs 0.30% to %1.15% of your total loan balance annually. That means that your PMI payments will decrease a moderate amount as you pay off your loan.
Furthermore, once you have paid off 22% of your loan, your PMI will be cancelled and you’ll only be responsible for your regular monthly mortgage payments.
Getting PMI waived early
With conventional loans, you can request to have your PMI cancelled once you’ve paid off 20% of the mortgage. However, many buyers with PMI are using some form of first-time buyer loan, such as an FHA loan.
With an FHA loan, you’ll be stuck with PMI for the lifetime of the loan if you don’t make a down payment of 10% or more. That’s a lot of PMI payments, especially if you take out a 30 year loan, and it can quickly add up.
If you have an FHA loan with FHA insurance, the only way to cancel the insurance is to refinance into a non-FHA insured loan. And remember--refinancing has its own costs and complications.
Making it to the 20% repayment mark
On conventional loans, the best way to get rid of PMI is to reach your 20% repayment mark as soon as possible. That could mean aggressively paying off your mortgage until you reach that point.
This can be achieved by making extra payments, or just paying more each month. However, you don’t want to neglect other debt that could be accruing costly interest in favor of paying off your loans. Make sure you do the math and find out which debt will be more expensive before neglecting other debt.
Once you do reach the 20% repayment mark, you’ll have to remember to apply to have your PMI canceled with your lender. Otherwise, it will be canceled automatically at 22%.
Shopping for a new home is difficult and time-consuming. With all of the homes listed for sale, it’s tempting to want to visit all of them. However, if you’re juggling house-hunting with your work and personal life, then you likely won’t have time to set aside many hours to visit several homes.
This is where you can use technology to your advantage. With free, modern tools online you can find out plenty about a house and the neighborhood it’s in without ever having to go and visit it. Better yet, you can do so in just a few minutes right from home.
In this article, we’re going to teach you how to become a real estate investigator from the comfort of your own couch, helping you save time while hunting for the perfect home for you.
Know what you’re looking for
While it’s okay to browse homes for pleasure, when it comes to getting serious about buying a home you’ll want to keep your search as specific as possible. Think about what you or your family need in a house and neighborhood, rather than focusing on idealized versions of those things.
A good way to do this is to sit down and make a list of your budget and the five most important things you’re looking for in a home. These could be things like distance to work, being in a certain school district, or having a certain number of bedrooms. Once you have these details in mind you can begin your search.
There are a number of search tools for locating homes near you. The key to searching, however, isn’t the tool you use but how you search. Refer to your list for things like room numbers, square footage, and location.
If you don’t come up with as many hits as you’d like, try setting up email or text alerts so you can be made aware of the new results for your area.
Once you have a list of about ten properties, you’re ready to start researching them further to see which sellers you want to contact to view the home.
Researching a potential home
Many people are surprised at the number of things you can learn about a home just from a Google search. However, Google will be an indispensable tool in your search for the perfect home.
Let’s start our search on Google Maps. Type in the address for the house you’re researching and see if there are any photos of the home that aren’t on the listing page. Next, enter the satellite view of the home to get an idea of the layout of the home and property.
While you’re in Google Maps, it’s a good idea to browse the local area for businesses, hospitals, schools, parks, and other services that might affect your decision. Then, set a driving route between the house and your place of work to find out how long it would take you to get to work if you moved there.
Once you’re done in Google Maps, head back to the Google search page and browse the results for the address. This could show you information on previous owners, prices, and crime statistics. All of this will be useful information in your search.
Repeat this search method for the rest of your homes on your list and you’ll be narrowing down potential homes to visit in no time.
Seeing your desire to buy a waterfront property through is a big accomplishment. Before you sign on the dotted lines, there are a few things that you should know about the process of choosing the perfect waterfront property for you.
Decide What You Need
The first step in finding the right property of any kind is understanding your own needs. How do you want to use the property? Will it be your year-round home, or will you be there only a portion of the year? Really map out what your priorities are when it comes to searching for waterfront properties. From here, you can figure out what areas you’d like to search in and what type of property you want to find to suit you. What types of activities will you be doing at your property? Will a lake property do the job or do you need an ocean escape? Is canoeing or kayaking a part of your dream, or is simply sitting by the water enough enjoyment for your needs? Answering all of these questions can help you to narrow down your needs for a waterfront property.
As with any other type of home search, you should take the time to scope out the properties that you’re interested in. This means not only looking at the properties themselves but looking at the communities and neighborhoods as well. What does the area have to offer you? Is it near a town or nestled away in a secluded spot? Remember that with a typical house the size of the home is what contributes to the majority of the value of the home. With a waterfront property, the surroundings are key. The closer to the water you are, the more valuable your piece of real estate is. Consider all of the typical factors when looking at properties along with the additional concerns of being close to the amenities and natural pleasures that you crave.
Other Important Things To Consider
Other things that you should consider in finding your perfect piece of waterfront heaven are things like:
- How close is the beach?
- Does the beach or lake have easy access?
- Is there an adequate amount of privacy at this property?
- What kind of view is there?
The more breathtaking the views and the more space between you and your neighbors will give you an advantage not only in your own living situation but in renting out the property and even selling it in the future.
There are a lot of things that go into making the decision of finding the right waterfront property. Sometimes, hiring an experienced realtor in the area can be just what you need to understand all the aspects of your investment from the area to the type of home you choose. Don’t be afraid to hire an experienced realtor to help you in your search.
For many individuals, the homebuying journey often begins with getting pre-approved for a mortgage. Because if a buyer has a mortgage, he or she can enter the real estate market with a budget in hand.
Ultimately, there are many signs that now may be the perfect time to apply for a mortgage, and these include:
1. You're ready to upgrade from an apartment to a home.
If you're tired of paying monthly rent for an apartment, purchasing a house offers a viable alternative. And if you get pre-approved for a mortgage, you can move one step closer to moving from an apartment to a house.
In most instances, a home offers a significant upgrade over an apartment. Many residences are available in cities and towns nationwide that offer more space than apartments. Plus, as a homeowner, you won't have to worry about dealing with a landlord.
2. You feel good about your credit score.
If you have a strong credit score, you likely are a great candidate for a mortgage. In fact, you may be better equipped than others to get a favorable interest rate on the mortgage of your choice.
Understanding your credit score is a key part of the homebuying journey. You can request a free copy of your credit report annually from each of the three credit reporting bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). Then, once you find out your credit score, you can determine whether you are in good shape to pursue a mortgage.
3. A buyer's market is in place.
In a buyer's market, there usually is an abundance of top-notch houses and a shortage of buyers. This means a homebuyer may be able to get a wonderful deal on a house, especially if he or she performs a comprehensive house search.
To find out whether a buyer's market is in place, you should check out the prices of recently sold houses in your area. Also, you may want to find out how long recently sold houses were listed before they sold. By reviewing this housing market data, you can differentiate a buyer's market from a seller's market and decide whether now is the right time to apply for a mortgage.
If you're interested in getting a mortgage and starting a house search, you may want to hire a real estate agent too. Because if you have a real estate agent at your side, you can receive extensive support at each stage of the property buying journey.
A real estate agent will teach you everything you need to know about pursuing a house. He or she will offer insights into the local housing market and ensure that you can conduct a successful house search. And if you ever have concerns or questions along the way, a real estate agent is ready to respond to them.
Want to launch a home search? Get pre-approved for a mortgage, and you can take the first step to acquire your ideal residence.
Buying a condo may seem like an uphill climb, particularly for those who are browsing the real estate market for the first time. Lucky for you, we're here to help you take the guesswork out of finding the right condo.
What does it take to locate a high-quality condo at an affordable price? Here are three tips that every first-time condo buyer needs to know.
1. Explore a Wide Range of Condos
The real estate market is filled with many first-rate condos, and the sheer volume of properties that are available may feel overwhelming at times. Therefore, you should allocate the necessary time and resources to find a condo that suits you perfectly.
Don't be afraid to check out several condos over the course of a few days or weeks. By doing so, you can better understand what you'd like to find in the ideal condo.
Of course, if you fall in love with a condo, you should be ready to submit an offer. That way, you can avoid the risk of missing out on a great condo that matches or exceeds your expectations.
2. Determine How You'll Pay for a Condo
Many property buyers get pre-approved for a mortgage, and for good reason. With a mortgage in hand, you'll know exactly what you can afford as you review the real estate market.
Meet with a variety of banks and credit unions. These lenders will be able to provide you with multiple mortgage options and respond to your financing concerns and queries.
Also, keep in mind that the price of a condo may extend beyond your monthly mortgage payments.
In many instances, condo communities have homeowners' associations (HOAs) in place that will charge monthly fees. Learn about any HOA fees in advance, and you'll know exactly what you'll need to pay each month to live in a particular condo community.
3. Work with a Real Estate Agent
No one should be forced to evaluate condos on their own. Fortunately, you can hire a real estate agent to streamline the process of finding a terrific condo.
A real estate agent with condo experience understands the hurdles that may arise during a condo search. As such, he or she will do whatever it takes to ensure you can get the best results possible as you look for the perfect condo.
For instance, a real estate agent will set up condo showings and keep you up to date about open houses. This real estate professional will even negotiate with a condo seller on your behalf, which means you won't have to worry about breaking your budget to purchase a stellar condo.
Employing a real estate agent enables you to get expert advice at each stage of the condo buying process too. Thus, you can receive instant responses to your condo buying questions at any time.
Simplify the process of buying your first condo – use the aforementioned tips, and you can boost your chances of acquiring a superb condo at a budget-friendly price.