Talking Real Estate - February 2019

BHHS Stein & Summers Real Estate

HOMEOWNER ADVICE

Extend the Lifespan of Home Fixtures and Appliances

Something goes wrong with the air conditioner or the toilet clogs when you least expect it. Unless you’re Mr. or Ms. Fixit, you’ll have to go to the expense of calling a plumber, electrician or appliance expert to solve the problem. Unless a part has worn out, pilot error (that’s you or someone in the household) caused the malfunction.

Appliances and fixtures can be temperamental because they’re only designed to work under certain conditions, so take time to learn a little about how each product functions. Even if you don’t think you’re handy, you can do a little preventive maintenance and quick fix to handle minor problems.

To extend the life of your appliances and systems, here are 10 helpful suggestions:

  • Keep all booklets, warranties and operating instructions for every system and appliance in one convenient place.
  • Follow suggested scheduled maintenance, such as bi-annual checkups for air condition systems.
  • Keep supplies on hand – a plunger, drain cleaner, filters, etc.
  • Change heating and air filters once a month.
  • Clothes need room to tumble to get clean, so don’t overload washers.
  • Empty dryer filters with every load.
  • Don’t put potato peelings, fibrous vegetables such as celery, cooking oil or grease down any drain or disposal.
  • Run water before during and after using the disposal.
  • Put a mesh trap in your shower drain to catch hair and soap buildup.
  • Paper towels, Kleenex, baby wipes and cat litter can quickly clog a toilet, even if the box says the contents are safe to flush.

HOMEBUYERS’ ADVICE

Fall in Love With the Right Home

You’re ready to fall in love with your first home. As you write your wish list, you may find that it grows longer than you’d imagined. You want more living space, a place to do your art and crafts, enough bedrooms to expand your family or accommodate relatives and friends, a separate master suite, and an entertaining area that will impress. All in the best neighborhood, of course!

Welcome to the first lesson of homebuying – you won’t find the perfect home, but you’ll find one that’s perfect for you right now, and that may mean doing without a swimming pool or hilltop view. Choose three essentials to begin your search, so your Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices network professional can show you homes that best match your needs. 

  1. Price range – Your lender will prequalify you and tell you how much you can afford, based on your down-payment, credit history and debt-to-income ratio. If your limit is $300,000, it won’t benefit you to look at homes that are $400,000.
  2. Neighborhood preference – Choose neighborhoods based on a radius of where you want to be, whether it’s in a certain school district, close to work, or near family and friends.
  3. Bedroom and bath requirements. Start with three bedrooms and two baths, typical for a starter home.

By sticking to basics, you’ll find you have plenty of homes to consider. You’ll narrow your selection more quickly if you’re not distracted by showy or unnecessary features, and ultimately, you’ll be more satisfied with your new home.

MORTGAGE ADVICE

Mortgage Applications for the Military

If you’re active military or an armed services veteran who’s ready to buy a home, a Veterans Benefits Administration (VA) home loan allows you to transact with no down-payment, no minimum credit score, and a better interest rate than you’d otherwise qualify for because the VA is guaranteeing the loan for the mortgage lender.

You’ll need a Certificate of Eligibility that you can acquire online or through your lender, along with social security numbers, pay stubs and debt obligations to give the lender. 

Your loan approval requires an appraisal provided by a VA qualified appraiser. VA and FHA loans have stricter housing guidelines, so if the appraiser notes a health or safety issue that has to be repaired, installed or remedied, and the seller agrees to the scope of work, a follow-up compliance inspection will be necessary to insure the work has been completed. 

You’ll have to order your own property inspection to ascertain the working order of the home’s operating systems and installations not obvious to the naked eye, which is a different focus from the appraisal.

Your lender will explain which fees are paid at closing as you’ll be responsible for any fees that aren’t VA-approved. Expect to pay about one percent of the loan as a loan origination fee, plus “reasonable and customary fees” such as hazard insurance, credit reports and other items.

Your VA home loan benefit is not a one-time thing; you can use it to refinance or buy your next home.

MORTGAGE ADVICE

Is Love Co-signing Your Child’s Mortgage Loan?

Young homebuyers have a rough time compared to their parents when they were first-time homebuyers. They have more student debt, slower wage growth and are building wealth later in life than their parents did at the same age.

With so many hurdles to cross, parents like you may be thinking of co-signing so your son or daughter may have a home of their own. This would be a true act of love, but it doesn’t come without risk.

According to The Lenders Network, a co-signer can only help if the principal borrower’s income-to-debt ratio is too low, or has a shallow credit history. And if your child has a poor credit history, co-signing won’t help at all, as lenders will use the lower credit score to make their lending decision.

Adding your income will improve the ratio, but you will be as liable for the loan as your child without having any ownership or equity in the home because your name won’t be on the title and deed, unless you structure the purchase that way. Sharing this debt will also raise your debt-to-income ratio, which may make it more difficult or expensive for you to obtain other loans. And, in the worst case, you’ll have to make any monthly payments your child misses.

So what are the advantages? Making the payments on time and in full will improve your child’s credit scores. Once your child’s financial situation improves, he or she may refinance the mortgage loan to their name only.

©2019 BHH Affiliates, LLC. Real Estate Brokerage Services are offered through the network member franchisees of BHH Affiliates, LLC. Most franchisees are independently owned and operated. Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices and the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices symbol are registered service marks of HomeServices of America, Inc.® Information not verified or guaranteed. If your property is currently listed with a Broker, this is not intended as a solicitation. Equal Housing Opportunity.

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