Buying a Home in a Fire Risk Area: Here’s What You Need to Know

Buying a Home in a Fire Risk Area: Here's What You Need to KnowOutside of the significant financial responsibility of delving into home ownership, there can also be a lot of other risks involved that you may not have thought about before investing in a home. You’ll need to protect your home against theft or burglary. And homeowner’s insurance to protect your home and belongings is almost a requirement. But there are other less common occurrences you may not have thought about. If you happen to be living in an area that’s at high risk of fire, here are some things to consider beforehand.

Defining “High Risk”

It’s easy to be swept away by a beautiful home and forget about what the natural landscape around it consists of. Many homes across the United States are built in areas close to trees and shrubs, which can be dangerous in times of high temperatures, so it’s important to do your research. While hot spots can occur in many different areas, California and the southwest region are particularly vulnerable in times of drought.

What It Means For Your Mortgage

Nearly all homes can be adversely affected by a fire so it’s important to realize that buying in a high-risk area will not impact your ability to get a mortgage. It can, however, impact some of the costs associated with investing in your home. While homeowner’s insurance is a requirement of buying a home and it will generally cover you in the incidence of a fire, it can be a bit pricier. Fortunately, you may be able to guard against some of the additional costs by purchasing a home with materials that are more fire resistant.

In The Event Of Fire

If the worst happens and your home incurs damage from a fire, you’ll want to assess the extent of the damage before making a decision. For a home that is minimally impacted, you may want to use insurance to repair the property. However, if the property is significantly or completely destroyed, a payout may be required in order to pay off the mortgage. Before purchasing a home in a fire-prone area it’s best to be aware of all aspects of your insurance policy so you can be prepared.

It’s a more significant risk to buy a home in a fire-prone area, but you can be prepared for the worst by knowing your options. If you’re currently considering purchasing a new home, contact your trusted mortgage professional for more information.

Buyer Beware: Three Major Red Flags to Watch for When Visiting Open Houses

Buyer Beware: Three Major Red Flags to Watch for When Visiting Open HousesAn open house is a good opportunity to get out and about to see what kind of home you’re looking for and if it will work for you. Fortunately, they can also be a good opportunity to find out some things about the house you’re looking at that might not be listed on the website and may be less than flattering. If you’re wondering what red flags to watch out for, pay attention to the following things the next time you’re at a showing.

Strong Odors

Many home sellers try to engage the senses in order to entice buyers by baking cookies or spraying air freshener. However, a lot of air freshener or scent can also be a means of hiding less than pleasant smells that are a giveaway for big problems. If you notice a lot of scents when visiting an open house or if there’s an odor, you may want to look for mildew or mold as this can mean a huge house-owning hurdle to deal with down the road.

An Abundance Of Fix-Up

A small maintenance issue here and there may not be a big deal, whether it’s a doorknob that doesn’t catch or peeling paint on the wall. Unfortunately, an abundance of small issues can signal a certain attitude towards general maintenance that should be approached with caution. While it may just be a few details that were forgotten about, it’s important to pay attention as there may be a lot of more important maintenance issues that are not being taken care of if the minor ones are visible.

Issues With the Foundation

There are many issues that will hopefully come to the forefront at the home inspection, but it’s not worth it to get invested in a home only to back out due to a failing foundation. Instead of leaving it up to the due diligence of the home inspector, check for large gaps in the home’s foundation to unveil any issues on this front. The foundation can be a huge issue if it requires a fix-up, and it’s one you probably won’t want to deal with in your new home.

Open houses can provide a great sense of what it’s like to live in a home, but they can also be a good opportunity to take note of any major issues with a future home. If you’re currently preparing to buy a home, contact your trusted mortgage professional for more information.

Location, Location, Location: How to Ensure You’re Buying a Home in the Right Community

Location, Location, Location: How to Ensure You're Buying a Home in the Right CommunityWhen investing in a home, one of the most important things is buying a place that you and your family can feel comfortable in. However, while a place you can envision yourself in is important, it’s not worth neglecting the neighborhood you’ll be moving into for the perfect home. If you’re wondering what you should be looking for in the neighborhood you choose, here are a few things to consider before making an offer on a home.

Is It Safe?

It may be common to feel bowled over by a home and want to invest immediately, but the right home in the wrong neighborhood may not be the best choice for many reasons. Part of feeling comfortable in your home is being safe among its streets, so ensure you research the neighborhood and its history, and check in on the crime rate. You may even want to consult with your agent or some local neighbors to see what information they can provide about the area’s history.

Are There Local Amenities?

If you’re used to getting in the car to run errands, it might not be a big deal to not have a grocery store or pharmacy nearby. However, if there are no amenities you use frequently close by, it can start to be a bit of a drain on your lifestyle. While you don’t necessarily need to have the trendiest restaurants or best shopping, it’s important to have a few choice places in case you run out of something and need to make a quick run to the store.

What’s Your Neighborhood Style?

It might seem like a strange thing to ask yourself, but the neighborhood you live in is going to become a big part of your life and that means you’ll have to see yourself in it. If you want neighbors you can trust and community-mindedness, you’ll want to seek out an area with these qualities. On the flip side, if you happen to prefer a busier urban atmosphere that offers more independence, this may be the way to go. There are a lot of things that go into finding the right home, but it’s important not to forget about the neighborhood you’re living in and what it will mean for your lifestyle. If you are interested in purchasing a home in your dream neighborhood, contact your trusted mortgage professional today.

One-stop Shopping: The Quick and Easy Guide to Buying a Home the First Time You See It

One-stop Shopping: The Quick and Easy Guide to Buying a Home the First Time You See ItMost people peruse the real estate market for a while before they bite down and decide to invest in a home. However, whether you’re in a rush or you think you’ve found the ideal place, it’s possible you may be ready to put in an offer on the first visit. If you’re trying to determine how you can get the home you’re looking for the first time around, here are a few things to be aware of when going in.

Are There Any Maintenance Issues?

If you’re planning on putting in an offer right away, it’s imperative to take a look around at any maintenance issues that jump out. You may not be able to notice all of the things that might be in need of fixing, but watch out for things like peeling paint, windows drafts and small fix-ups that haven’t been completed. This will give you a sense of what the overall home maintenance is like and may be a good sign of whether the home is a solid bet.

What Are You Willing To Pay?

Many people have an idea of what they want to spend, but it often flies out the window as soon as they see their dream home. It’s important, however, to keep in mind what kind of offer you want to put down and not stray too far from it. This will ensure that you pay a reasonable price for your home and won’t be stretching your monthly budget. It’s just important to be ready to negotiate!

What Do You Really Want?

It’s easy to get swept away by the excitement of investing in a home, but if you’re planning to buy you’ll need to know exactly what you’re looking for so you can avoid buyer’s remorse. Instead of making a split decision, write down a list of the things that you absolutely must have and the things you can do without. If you find a great place, you might be willing to let go of them in the moment, but review the list before making an offer to ensure it’s the right choice.

3 ‘Hidden’ Costs You’ll Uncover Buying Your First Home – and How to Plan for Them

3 'Hidden' Costs You'll Uncover Buying Your First Home – and How to Plan for ThemAre you about to become a first-time home buyer? If so, there’s a lot to get excited about. You’ll soon be a home owner, able to customize and improve your living space as you see fit.

Of course, buying a home is an investment unlike any other. To get the best deal on your home, you’ll need to be diligent. Let’s have a look at some of the hidden costs you may uncover when buying your first home.

#1: The Home Inspection (And What It Finds)

A major step before buying any home is the inspection. A licensed inspector will go over the home from top to bottom, looking for current or future issues. The inspection itself isn’t very costly. But any unresolved issues that come up may lead to expensive problems later.

If possible, try to ensure that the seller pays for any necessary repairs. When you take possession of the home, it should be in top condition.

#2: Taxes And Fees You’ve Never Even Heard Of

You already know about the major taxes, such as sales taxes that apply to a home’s sale price. Or property taxes, charged by local governments each year and based on your home’s assessed value. But depending on where you live, there may be a whole host of other taxes and fees involved. Many of which you’ve never even heard of!

For example, you may be subject to a Land Transfer Tax or Property Purchase Tax. These are taxes charged when a property changes hands. If you’re taking out a mortgage loan, the lender may require you to pay land survey or appraisal fees. These costs help the lender to ensure the risk involved with the mortgage is appropriate.

#3: Insurance, Insurance And More Insurance

Finally, don’t forget the cost of insurance. On top of regular home insurance, you may need mortgage insurance, title insurance, extra life insurance and more. It’s worth booking some time with an insurance professional to find out what kind of coverage you will need.

These are three of the possible costs involved in closing the purchase of a new home. For more information about closing costs, contact your trusted mortgage professional. We have the data and insight to help you make the best decision.

Did You Know: Single Women Are Buying Homes Faster Than Single Men — Here’s Why

Did You Know: Single Women Are Buying Homes Faster Than Single Men -- Here's WhyWith low interest rates and uncertainty as to where the real estate market will be in the next six months, many people are opting into ownership and investing in a home. Interestingly, according to the National Association of Realtors, approximately 17 percent of homebuyers in the United States last year were women, which is a much higher percentage than the 7 percent of single men who invested in a home. While the statistics may be interesting enough on their own, here are some of the reasons why women may be opting in.

Single Parent Security

The numbers don’t lie, and it’s a fact that there are a much higher number of single mothers in the United States than fathers, which makes home ownership that much more of a benefit. With low interest rates, it’s common sense that many single mothers will be flocking towards the housing market to find stable housing for their family in a market that may fluctuate in the coming months.

Making A Lifestyle Choice

The days are long gone of women having to invest in a home when they get married, and for many women being single is a very popular lifestyle choice. This means that many single ladies are choosing to invest on their own terms and at their own time so that they can reap the benefits of home ownership. As Jessica Lautz of the National Association of Realtors says, “They really value home ownership, and they’re willing to give up a lot to have a home of their own.”

It’s In The Numbers

There are certainly more than a few reasons why single women are flocking to the real estate market, but demographics are changing rapidly. While it was once the case that most people were married or would marry, more single women are opting out of marriage and opening up a wider market for single-person home purchases. Given the low interest rates and the increasing number of women choosing to be single, purchasing a home offers a solid bet and a financial boon.

With a home offering up the benefit of security and the advantage of being a good financial choice, it’s no surprise that more and more women are turning to home ownership on their own. If you’re contemplating purchasing a home of your own, contact your trusted mortgage professional for more information about opportunities in your area.

Suffering in a ‘Low Inventory’ Real Estate Market? 3 Helpful Tips for Finding a Home to Buy

Suffering in a 'Low Inventory' Real Estate Market? 3 Helpful Tips for Finding a Home to BuyMany homebuyers struggle with finding a home that is within their price range, but many of those perusing the market also struggle when it comes to the search. If you’re currently in the real estate market and are having difficulty finding a good selection of homes, here are some ways to expand your search so you can find an opportunity you’re prepared to invest in.

Look Over The Old Listings

Whether you do it on your own or enlist the help of your real estate agent, it’s worth looking through the old listings to determine if any old opportunities are still available. There may be many formerly listed homes that have since sold, but homes that have lingered on the market may be open to offers; they may also be more aligned with the current market rates. Instead of taking the listings for granted, search for old opportunities that might turn up something good!

Consider Other Marketing Strategies

The market has changed in recent years, but the way that people choose to sell their home has changed along with it. While it’s still possible to see a sign on the front lawn or find a home on a real estate agent’s page, social media has become a very popular way to buy and sell. Aside from looking through the listings, consider searching Twitter or Facebook posts for homes that are for sale in your area. While you may not find your dream home, it’s entirely possible that an interesting detail or neighborhood that might have been missed will capture your attention.

Keep An Eye On Expensive Listings

Most homebuyers will immediately write off a listing that is out of their price range, but homes that are overpriced will often sit on the market. Fortunately, for many homeowners, this is something they can use to their advantage. Instead of avoiding pricey homes altogether, make sure to keep tabs on ones that are a little bit out of range but manage to pique your interest. It’s entirely possible that they won’t come down in price, but if they do it may be well worth the wait.

Many homebuyers struggle to find a home in a tight market, but by keeping an eye out on listings and considering all of the post-modern strategies for marketing, you may be able to find your dream home. If you’re currently searching for a home, contact your trusted mortgage professional for more information.

Buying a ‘Micro’ Home? Be Sure to Consider These Major Lifestyle Changes First

Buying a 'Micro' Home? Be Sure to Consider These Major Lifestyle Changes FirstWith the cost of a home on the rise and the concept of being sustainable becoming more popular, many people are considering moving to a smaller home to minimize their impact. It’s important, however, to consider what living small is really like before deciding that it’s the right move for you. If you’re curious about life on a smaller-scale, here are some things to contemplate beforehand.

Getting Rid Of The Excess

It’s just a fact that a smaller amount of space means a smaller amount of stuff, but many people don’t realize this works two ways. While you won’t be able to accumulate the same amount of stuff in a smaller home, you also won’t have the luxury of being able to take everything from a larger house with you. It may not be a big deal for you to pack things away or discard the old, but if you’re the type of person who likes stuff, you may want to re-consider micro.

Will You Miss The Space?

Many homeowners spend a lot of time outdoors or even travelling for work, so the size of their home may not matter that much. However, if you’re the kind of homeowner who loves to nest and have their space, the idea of lounging around a small home may not be for you. A micro-sized space can minimize costs and be easier to decorate, but if you like being able to spread out and luxuriate in a variety of surroundings, something undersized can be quite limiting.

Forget The Home Maintenance

Whether you live on a massive estate or in a studio apartment, there are minor things that need to be done to keep your space clean and clutter free. When it comes to smaller living though, there will be a lot less to do, and this can greatly impact your free time. It’s great if you’re the kind of person who has plenty of hobbies to keep them busy, but if you like taking care of the yard and doing an assortment of home maintenance duties, it may be a struggle to own a property that needs less tending.

It’s never been more popular to go ‘micro’ when it comes to home ownership, but it’s important to make sure small living is right for you before taking the leap. If you’re currently on the market for a ‘micro’ home, contact your trusted morgage professional for lending information.

How Young Is ‘Too Young’ to Buy Your First Home? Getting Started Early Has Its Ups and Downs

How Young Is 'Too Young' to Buy Your First Home? Getting Started Early Has Its Ups and DownsMany millennials are expected to enter the housing market in the next year with the interest rates still low. However, while it may be a good time, it does not necessarily mean that it’s the right time for you to make the investment. If you’re currently weighing your options when it comes to home ownership, here are some things to consider before you decide put the money down.

Are You Struggling With Student Debt

It’s possible to invest in a home when you’re still paying down student debt, but if you’re also struggling with a low-paying job and a high debt load, it may not be the right time to buy. Instead of trying to make ends meet to pay a monthly mortgage payment, it might be a better decision to pay off some of your debt, lower your interest costs and consider investing later on. This will also enable you to afford more home when you decide the time is right to buy.

Do You Have A Down Payment?

It can be a good testament to your financial ability if you want to purchase a home at a young age, but having a down payment is one of the most important things to have on hand when it comes to investing. If you’ve come up with 20% of the purchase price, this will allow you to avoid mortgage loan insurance. If you don’t have this amount, however, or much of anything saved up, you may want to create a budget in order to save up for your down payment.

Are Your Ready To Commit?

Many people romanticize the idea of buying a home since it’s something that really belongs to them, but it’s important to be prepared for the monthly mortgage payments, home maintenance and all the other fees and responsibilities associated with home ownership. It’s great if you want to invest, but if you want to travel or explore different job opportunities or even continue your education, an investment commitment may not be the best choice.

It can be a great financial benefit for your future to invest in a home at a young age, but it’s important to ensure you’re ready for the commitment by having your debt paid down and having money saved.

Going on a Nice Vacation? Protect Your Home and Valuables With These 3 Key Tips

Going on a Nice Vacation? Protect Your Home and Valuables With These 3 Key TipsIt’s always exciting to pack up and get away from your home for the sake of escape, but going on vacation also means leaving your home behind. While a good neighborhood can go a long way towards making sure your home stays safe in your absence, here are some additional tips for how to ensure you’ll be coming back from your trip without incident.

Take Care Of Your Property

Thieves will often assume that an unkempt yard and home maintenance issues are a sign of a homeowner that doesn’t care, and this will often attract them to a property. Instead of giving potential trespassers the wrong idea, ensure that your yard is well kept in your absence with no overgrown bushes, maintenance issues or items left out. It’s also important to make sure that no newspaper or mail is piling up at the door, as this can be a surefire signal to thieves that you’re away.

Talk To Your Neighbors

There’s no way even the best neighbors will be able to observe everything that may happen with your home, but having ones who will stop by and make sure things are OK is ideal. Whether your neighbors need to feed the cat or water the plants, have them check for any unlocked windows or other signs that something is afoot. One of the best guards against theft is a neighborhood watch program, so by utilizing this defense you can easily ensure the safety of your home when you’re out of town.

Invest In A Security System

Few things will provide the peace of mind that a security system does, so if you haven’t already invested in one, it might be time to start doing the research. There are many great options for security nowadays that are technologically advanced and will keep your mind at ease. There are even options for viewing your home that will enable you to check it on your mobile phone, and this can be a great means of keeping your house safe even from a distance!

Leaving your home behind to go on vacation can be nerve-wracking for the new homeowner, but by keeping your property maintained and enlisting your neighbors to check on it you can keep it safe and secure.