Buying Your First Home? Simple Tips to Keep the Process Running Smoothly

While buying your first home can be nerve-racking, paying attention to the following items will go a long way toward putting your mind at ease as you make your way through the process.   
 
Get your finances in check. Just because you have money in the bank doesn’t mean you will qualify for a mortgage. Meet with a financial advisor and get a handle on what you can truly afford. If you want to do the numbers yourself, make sure to create a comprehensive list of every possible expense—loans, student debt, monthly expenses, etc.—and don’t rely on your lender to figure out a total for you. Lenders look at your debt-to-income ratio and not necessarily your day-to-day spending habits.
 
Choose an agent. Buying a new home will likely be one of the biggest decisions of your life, therefore, it’s important to take your time when choosing an agent. Not only do you want someone who is willing to communicate on your terms, you want to be sure your agent knows the neighborhoods you’re interested in. Whether it’s the most experienced agent—or an eager up-and-comer—do your homework before choosing an agent to guide you through the process.  
 
Get pre-qualified. Once you know how much home you can afford, be sure the bank agrees by getting pre-qualified for a loan. While the pre-qualification process is not a guarantee that the lender will offer you funding, it does take into consideration your credit score and income level in order to determine how much the lender might be willing to offer through a mortgage program. The next step is to get a prequalification letter so that when you find your dream home, you can offer proof that you can get the financing to buy it.
 
Shop for lenders. Mortgage rates are still low, but that doesn’t mean you should jump at the first one that comes along. Compare and contrast at least three to five lenders to find the one that best serves your interests. It’s also important to disclose that you’re a first-time buyer, as it could potentially make a difference in the types of programs a lender offers you.
 
Seek out first-time homebuyer programs. There are a slew of programs specifically designed to assist first-time homebuyers with benefits such as down-payment assistance and no closing costs. Others offer first-time buyers competitive interest rates that are designed to make borrowing easier. Be sure to understand the various resources that are out there to help you.
 
To learn more about buying your first home, contact me today.

Easy Home Staging Tips

For most of us, our home is the biggest investment we will ever make. When it comes time to sell, treating your home as such will help you get a bigger return on your investment. You want it to look it’s very best when potential buyers come through or view your photos online. First impressions matter, which is where home staging comes in. Home staging emphasizes its strengths and minimizes its weaknesses. This is important for your marketing photos and when potential buyers are trying to visualize a life there.

Here are a few tips to help you get your home ready to sell.

Declutter

One of the first things you want to do is declutter. Clutter takes up space and space is what sells. Make your home look bigger and more desirable by editing down to just the basics.

De-personalize

De-personalizing goes hand-in-hand with decluttering. You want potential buyers to be able to picture their things in the house. Go room-to-room and clear off the countertops, desk tops and shelves of all personal items. This includes your family photos. In this case, less is always more.

Clean

Cleaning goes a long way to improve the look and feel of your investment. A deep clean before you list the home is a good idea, but then set aside time each week to give the floors and bathrooms a once over.

Spackle and Paint

Now that your home is decluttered, de-personalized and clean, it’s a good time to spackle and paint. Filling in the holes and applying a fresh coat of paint will freshen the look of the house. Using lighter colors like white or beige will make the room feel bigger.

The National Association of REALTORS took a look at the value staging a home brings to the selling process, the return on investment or ROI. Here is what it determined.

  • 83% of buyers’ agents say that staging makes it easier for buyers to visualize the property as their future home.
  • 44% of buyers’ agents say that staging a home increases the dollar value offered
  • 53% of sellers’ agents say that staging a home decreases the amount of time a home spends on the market
  • 95% of agents recommend that sellers declutter their home before putting it on the market.

When it comes to the return on investment, a staged home will sell faster and for more money than a non-staged home. The results of a recent Coldwell Banker survey show staged homes sell for more than 6% above the asking price. For a $200,000 listing, that’s $12,000 extra in the seller’s pockets.

AimeeHartwigRealEstate.com / 541-579-9213 / aimeehartwig@bhhsrep.com

From Fixer Upper to Fabulous

Photo courtesy of: Laurie Schuler, CMPS, Stearns Lending

From Fixer Upper to Fabulous! We’ve all seen the shows on HGTV. It’s trending nationwide and there’s a reason for it. Home buyers get the customized home they want for less and typically have thousands of dollars in built-in equity by the time the deal closes.

In Lane County, 80% of the homes on the market are 15 years or older. With a lack of housing, and a lack of affordable housing in general, renovation loans are a perfect option for buyers who want more bang for their buck.

“Putting families in, with an equity base, is a great place to start for them.”

Alan Martin, Branch Manager, Stearns Lending

Did you know there are loans out there that allow home buyers to couple the purchase of their fixer upper with a renovation budget to customize it into their dream home? Well, there are!!! These programs have been around for a long time, they’ve just been under utilized.

What if you could take a house from this…

Photo courtesy of: Laurie Schuler, CMPS, Stearns Lending

To this…

Photo courtesy of: Laurie Schuler, CMPS, Stearns Lending

The first step is to find a real estate broker, like myself, who can help you find a great deal on a home that needs some work, or even A LOT of work. With the current loans available, no job is too BIG, so long as the house appraises. Depending on the scope of the project you could walk away with anywhere from $10k to $100k in built-in equity by the time it’s completed.

Unfortunately, in this market, getting into a starter home can cost you $250k, but what if you found a fixer upper for $150k and put $100k in renovations into it to create your dream home? It’s possible. I have a network of lenders and potential contractors that can turn a fixer upper into your dream house before you ever move in.

And, you have to admit… the before and afters are amazing!

Kitchen

Bath

Outdoor Space

If this is something you’re interested in learning more about give me a ring or drop me an email and we can chat about your options and getting you into your dream home.

Aimee Hartwig: aimeehartwig@bhhsrep.com or 541-579-9213 or aimeehartwigrealestate.com.