You love the wood floors, chef’s kitchen, and spa-like bathroom. But remember that there’s more to a property than features and looks. Here are additional items to consider before you make an offer. Will It Be Loud? That idyllic street you saw on a Sunday open house might turn into a commuters’ cut-through during the week. Or a nearby grade crossing might prompt frequent train horns in the middle of the night. Visit the home at different times on different days to get a sense for what the noise level is like, and consider asking current neighbors about sources of significant noise and traffic. How Old Is That Really Expensive Thing To Replace? The seller’s disclosure notice may alert you to known issues with major appliances and systems, but those sources won’t tell you that the HVAC or roof is nearing the end of its lifespan. Knowing the age of certain items can help estimate when they need to be replaced. A home inspector can likely give you information about whether certain systems are deficient, but don’t count on an inspection to reveal how much life is left in a component. In some cases, the installation date may be available or visible. Can I Do It My Way? Homeowners associations can benefit property owners but they come with rules and regulations that must be followed. Be sure to review all documents from an HOA before you commit to a purchase. Likewise, city codes and ordinances restrict what you can do with your property. You don’t want to find out after you close that you can’t park your boat trailer in the driveway or paint your house your favorite shade of red. Will the View Change? That view of the hills or lake or city skyline can be a huge selling point. But will that feature remain? If you’re buying in a master planned community, check with the builder to see if there are plans to develop something that may obstruct the view. Otherwise, you can look into the area’s zoning to understand whether that scenic view might be jeopardized. Keep in mind that development plans and zoning are subject to change in the future.
Refinancing your mortgage loan can save you money. However, here are factors to consider to make sure it’s the right choice for you. Interest Rates Lower interest rates are a leading cause for homeowners who want to refinance. The goal, of course, is to lower your monthly payment. But lowering a monthly payment alone won’t always save you money. Understand the new loan’s term and any fees associated with refinancing to make sure you’re seeing the whole picture. Credit Score Your credit score played a large part in the interest rate on your existing mortgage, and it has similar influence over any refinanced loan. If your credit score has dropped and you can’t qualify for a lower rate, refinancing may not help you financially. Mortgage History Where are you on your current mortgage? If you’re towards the end of your loan term, refinancing may have not make sense. If you’re thinking about refinancing, make sure you first identify your financial goals. Then talk to a lender about how to make those goals happen.
You may not be ready to buy your first home, but that doesn’t mean you can’t prepare now. Here are three actions you can do while renting that will put you in a better position when you’re ready to buy. Test the Budget While you can’t predict all homeownership costs to the last penny, you can come up with a rough estimate of how owning a home will affect your budget. A REALTOR® can help you figure out how much you can afford, the potential mortgage payment you’d make, your local property taxes, and repair costs you might want to consider as a homeowner. Check your Credit Before you apply for a loan, request a free credit report to find out what a lender would see. If your report has errors, you can correct them before they affect your ability to qualify for a mortgage loan. And you might be able to take steps to improve your credit before purchasing a property. Create a Wish List There’s probably not a home that will offer every single amenity you desire, but you should have a general idea of what you’re looking for. So while a home with fewer than two bathrooms may be non-negotiable, perhaps you’d see the potential in one with a smaller kitchen or a not-so-appealing exterior paint job. It’s never too early to talk to a REALTOR® when you know you’re going to buy a home. A REALTOR® can answer your questions about the homebuying process and help you avoid surprises along the way.