Preparing to buy a home requires more than just a down payment. Before you purchase property, take time to understand your available mortgage options and balance your debt load. Thorough planning and smart budgeting now can help you avoid running into high debt or repayment problems down the road.
Farhaneh Haque, director of mortgage advice at TD Canada Trust, says that first time home buyers should answer three important questions before they start hitting any open houses this season.
• Do I understand the process? It never hurts to meet with a mortgage specialist to learn more about the home buying process and the different mortgage options available, such as fixed versus variable rate mortgages, flexible repayment schedules, and even mortgages that offer cash back. Before falling in love with a home, consider getting pre-approved so you know what you may be able to afford and avoid getting disappointed by falling in love with a home that is outside your price range.
• What is my personal debt load? If you have other obligations like a car payment or student loan, ensure you are taking on a mortgage that you can manage within your total budget. Try using an online debt management calculator to help determine how much debt you can reasonably take on based on your income, current debt payments and expenses.
• Can I afford my mortgage and save for the future? Sometimes home buyers take on more debt than they can manage and quickly find themselves "house poor" – with no money left for future savings or a rainy day. Before you take the leap into homeownership, crunch the numbers to ensure your budget reflects the lifestyle you want after you move into your new home, and you are clear on what sacrifices you may need to make to continue to live comfortably and save for your future.
Mortgaging is kind of like a collectivized loan that can affect you and your family for a long time if it is not worked out properly. People generally fall for deceptive advertisements boasting about best mortgage rates, so you need to be cautious.
Many people who have fallen into the trap of companies offering the best mortgage rates have experienced problems down the road. It is very important to go through each and every piece of the mortgage deal that you are making. Do not get carried away by those deceptive advertisements that would make your life a disaster. A small mistake, or one wrong signature, and you could end up paying installments for your mortgaged property for the rest of your life.
A thorough study of the entire plan, and all its terms and conditions, is necessary if you want to go for a safe mortgage plan with the best mortgage rates. Buying a home is the biggest investment that you will make in your life, and you would not want anyone to fiddle around with it. Mortgaging is an option for people who cannot afford to pay entire amount in a single go, and thus they look for deals with mortgage rates suitable for their pockets.
Always try to understand the power of credit limits that you can impose on yourself. There have been many examples from the market where people have actually gotten deals with great mortgage rates, but due to their negligence and insufficient funds, they have created traps for themselves and fallen in.
If your relations with your bank are good, then they would also offer you some interesting deals with a good mortgage rate. If you are one of their privileged clients, then you might be entitled for special discounts on mortgage rates. If you go into your loan search with a high credit score and a clean credit record, you would also have better bargaining power.
If you have stains on your record, you should try to get them cleaned up before going into negotiations. If you can afford to, hire a financial advisor who can help you out with the deal, making the best possible negotiation for you with the mortgaging company, credit union, Investment Company or banks with which you are dealing. Each person should play carefully in the mortgaging business, even if he is getting the best mortgage rates for his deal.
Always prefer fixed mortgage rates for your deals. This will be beneficial and score great mortgage rates with no regrets. Interest rates can bounce around, but if your deal has a fixed rates, then it is one less thing for you to worry about. Proceed in your deal with sound mind and alert eyes and nothing will go wrong.
It’s a sobering truth of real estate that sellers often have to spend money to make money. Even if your home is relatively new, you still face costs associated with getting it ready to show, such as repainting interior rooms or hiring professional cleaners and stagers. If your home could use some TLC and updating, spending as little as $5,000 on key upgrades could improve its appeal for buyers – and ensure a speedier sale at a better price.
Here are five upgrades you can make for under $5,000 to help put your home at the top of every buyer’s must-see list.
1. Upgrade your entryway – Replacing an old, dated or worn entry door can be a cost-effective way to ensure buyers get a good first impression when they walk in your house. Whether you choose a fiberglass, wooden or steel model, installing a new entry door can cost a few thousand dollars, yet the return on investment at the time of resale can be significant. A fiberglass entry door returns about 72 percent of its investment, while a steel door recoups more than 100 percent of its value, according to Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value report.
Enhance your new door with attractive plantings, fresh paint and clean windows around the entryway to create a memorable, attractive entry for just a few thousand dollars.
2. Increase natural light – More buyers are becoming aware of the mood- and productivity-enhancing benefits of natural light, and homes with big, bright windows have always been in demand. Adding windows to a room can be a costly, time-consuming affair. Not so with adding a skylight. For well under $5,000 and in just a day or two, a professional can install an Energy Star qualified, solar powered no-leak fresh-air skylight, like those from Velux America. Professional installation costs nationally ranges from around $900 to $2,325, with an average of $1,400, according to HomeAdvisor.com.
The low installation cost will leave you plenty of budget to enhance the skylight upgrade even further with energy efficiency-boosting solar-powered blinds. The skylight and blinds are operated by remote control and the blinds are available in designer colors and patterns to enhance your décor. The products, as well as installation costs, are eligible for a 30 percent federal tax credit to further reduce the cost of the improvement.
The most popular rooms in the home for fresh air skylights are baths, where they provide privacy in addition to natural light, and kitchens, where they vent cooking odors and humidity naturally while brightening this much-used workspace.
3. Beautify a master bathroom – Bathrooms and kitchens sell homes. Making a few cosmetic upgrades to even a small master bath can help increase a home’s appeal and value. For less than $5,000 you can easily repaint, upgrade faucets, replace old cabinet hardware and add decorative touches like designer towels.
If you’ve already done all that, take a look at the floor or countertops – two cost-effective upgrades that can wow buyers. Since counters don’t make up that much square footage in most bathrooms, replacing them with granite can cost just a couple thousand dollars. Tile flooring is also a relatively inexpensive way to improve a bathroom’s look and usability.
4. Heat things up in the kitchen – Kitchen remodels can offer high ROI for sellers, but a full remodel may be outside your budget. If you’ve already done the obvious – like repainting and decluttering – it’s time to look for a few more cost-effective improvements that will appeal to buyers.
Just as in the bathroom, swapping old faucets and cabinet hardware with new designer options can enhance the appeal of a kitchen. Shabby, outdated appliances can hinder a speedy sale, so consider replacing them with new ones. You don’t necessarily need to install top-of-the-line, high-priced appliances to make a good impression, either. Newer, Energy Star qualified appliances represent savings for buyers down the road.
5. Lavish landscaping – No single aspect of your home has a greater impact on a buyer’s first impression than the landscaping. A great front yard sets the tone for the rest of the home, appealing to buyers on a number of levels, including beauty, practicality and savings.
With $5,000, you can accomplish a lot in terms of landscaping. You can sod a small front yard, add decorative planting beds to a lush lawn, or even install shade trees that will both beautify the yard and enhance the home’s energy efficiency in summer. Decorative concrete stamping of walkways and driveways is another cost-effective way to improve a home’s curb appeal.
Whether it’s a buyer’s market or a seller’s market, no one wants to see their home linger long before selling. A few simple upgrades can help ensure your home gets plenty of attention this season.
GET YOUR CREDIT SCORE AS HIGH AS YOU CAN
Pay off credit cards and only use 10% of your limit moving forward. You can sell large things, but don’t make any major purchases (like a car). Don’t cancel any lines of credit and don’t open any new lines of credit. Stay current on all of your bills and remember, no major purchases!
You’ll need money for the down payment (if you need to), inspection, and closing costs (eg:lawyer fees, taxes, etc.)
CHOOSE A REAL ESTATE AGENT
A good real estate agent will guide you through the next steps so that you don’t make any errors. It’s also important to have an understanding of how your real estate agent is going to market your property (i.e. email, social media, MLS, etc).
CHOOSE A LENDER
If you don’t already have one in mind, your real estate agent can provide a list of preferred lenders. The lender runs your credit and gives you mortgage options and estimated rates. The lender also calculates how much you can spend on a house based off of your debt to income ratio.
DECIDE WHAT FEATURES ARE IMPORTANT AND VISIT HOMES
Make a list of features most important to you before you start looking. Your real estate agent will book showings for houses that match your list. Visit the homes and take notes and photos.
Make sure to test the commute, consider resale value for the home, and finally make a decision!
MAKE AN OFFER
Offers are often contingent on many things, including, home inspections, financing, and insurance. Your real estate agent will help you decide what conditions are important in your purchase.
FINAL WALK-THROUGH AND CLOSE
Make sure the house is the way that it should be, as this is your final moment to speak up if something is wrong. Bring your closing money to the lawyer, and get ready to sign paperwork!
Congrats and enjoy your new home!