First Time Home Buyers: Downpayment Options

I feel like one of the major concerns, especially with first time buyers, is saving up for their down payment. Yes, saving for a down payment is a lot of money but there are SO many options out there to help. Of course, the actual amount you need to have depends on the type of loan you are getting and the purchase price of the home.

I wanted to highlight a little bit of an article from The Mortgage Reports that talks about how much money you need for a down payment with different types of loans. If you want to read the entire article, which I highly recommend, please click here.

How Much Downpayment Is Required To Buy A Home?

As a first-time home buyer, you have access to a wide range of mortgage loans and mortgage loans can be customized to meet your needs.

Your loan amount is one of your choices.

The downpayment can be as large as you wish, or as small — so long as you make the minimum investment required by your lender.

The five most-common low- and no-downpayment mortgages used by first-time home buyers are the FHA loan, the VA loan, the USDA loan, the Conventional 97, and the HomeReady™ mortgage.

Each is described below.

The FHA Loan

FHA loans require a downpayment of 3.5% of a home’s purchase price, at minimum.

These products are popular with first-time home buyers because the program allows below-average credit scores.

FHA mortgage approval standards are considered to be the most friendly toward first-time buyers.

The VA Loan

VA loans are available to members of the U.S. military and veterans of the Armed Services.

These mortgages provide a 100% financing option, and VA mortgage rates are often lower than those of other programs.

The USDA Loan

Rural Housing  or USDA loans also allow 100% financing. The program is available for homes in rural areas and less-dense suburban neighborhoods nationwide.

USDA mortgage rates are often as low as VA mortgage rates.

The Conventional 97

The Conventional 97 is available to home buyers with above-average credit scores. A Conventional 97 loan allows buyers to receive cash gifts for their downpayment, which is only 3%.

This program has a loan size limit of $424,100.

The HomeReady™ Mortgage

The HomeReady™ mortgage is another 3% down program. This program is geared toward multi-generational households, but all home buyers are welcome to apply.

Home buyers using HomeReady™ get access to discounted mortgage rates, and can use the income of boarders and other household residents to help get mortgage-qualified.”

 

If you are in the market of buying a home,  I highly suggest talking with a lender and discussing your options. Get a plan for your downpayment, get a pre-approval letter and let’s find you a house!

If you have any questions or don’t know where to start give me a call. 360-483-6490

FIVE Mistakes to Avoid When Making An Offer

The National Association of Realtors just put out this article this month and I feel like it deserves to be shared. It is a great article that discusses five mistakes a lot of buyers are making in the current market. It is definitely a sellers market  here in Whatcom County. Most homes are flying off the market, receiving multiple offers and buyers are getting into bidding wars. By avoiding these five mistakes buyers can be sure to make their best offer.

For the full article click here.

Delaying

“Time kills deals,” says Andrew Sandholm of BOND New York Properties in New York. “Dragging your feet means you could wind up paying more in a bidding war situation or missing out on the property altogether.” Buyers need to be ready with their paperwork, such as bank statements, a preapproval letter, and documents supporting proof of funds, from the day they begin house-hunting mode. That way they can pounce quickly with an offer when they do find a home they like.

Making an offer for their preapproved amount

Smart buyers are getting preapproved to show a seller they’re financially able to purchase a home. However, Chuck Silverston, principal at Unlimited Sotheby’s International Realty in Brookline, Mass., warns buyers against using that document to come up with an offer amount.

“Many buyers come in with a preapproval for the exact offer price, but when you’re competing against other offers, including cash offers, you want to show financial strength,” Silverston says. “An exact preapproval could make a listing agent nervous because not only does the buyer not have any wiggle room to negotiate, but they might no longer qualify if interest rates rise.”

Submitting a lowball offer

Lowballing a seller often backfires, particularly in a seller’s market. “A lowball offer that isn’t backed up with math or comparable sales data is disrespectful and could turn off the seller and possibly mean you will miss out on the property completely,” Sandholm says.

Waiving inspection contingencies

“I don’t care whether it’s new construction or even your mom’s house you’re buying from her – get it inspected,” urges Joshua Jarvis of Jarvis Team Realty in Duluth, Ga. Further, if you waive the inspection contingency in your offer, you may lose the earnest money if you later back out of the deal.

Not presenting yourself well enough

In a seller’s market, buyers need to take steps to make sure they look good in the eyes of the seller. “In today’s highly competitive environment, the listing agent is trying to determine which buyer will be the easiest to deal with,” Silverston says. Buyers may want to avoid pointing out every defect, making nitpicky queries, or questioning the seller’s tastes.

“Basically buyers who act less than enthusiastic will see themselves at a competitive disadvantage when sellers are comparing multiple offers,” he says.”

I hope this article helps your decision making the next time you decide to write an offer on a home. It also helps using a Real Estate agent who has been in multiple offer situations before and can help you write your BEST offer from the very beginning.

Please call me if there is a home you don’t want to miss out on.

Danielle @ 360-483-6490

Roar & Soar 5k

 

Are you participating in the Lynden Roar & Soar 5k? I look forward to seeing you Saturday Morning. Please stop by the Bellwether Tent after the race! We will be passing out some refreshments as well as balloons for the kiddos!

Can’t wait to help out the Lynden Kids and see some familiar faces!

 

Appraisal Myths

With the current housing market, appraisals are especially important and very unpredictable.  Just recently I have dealt with a home that under appraised and a home that over appraised.  I thought it would be a good idea to inform buyers & sellers on a few Appraisal Facts. I came across this great article that discusses some of the biggest myths regarding Appraisals. This article is written by Cathie Ericson, for the full article click here. 

“Myth No. 1: An appraisal is the same thing as a home inspection

Although both the appraisal and the home inspection are used as safeguards for the buyer (and the buyer’s lender), don’t confuse the two. Home inspectors and appraisers have completely different jobs. Sure, they both poke around your home. But the inspector’s job is to uncover everything that’s problematic—or could potentially become problematic—with the home, while the appraiser’s job is to find the objective market value of the property. Got that?

To do the job, the appraiser will use comps (the same thing you used to determine your list price), but that’s just for starters. Appraisers take into account a home’s condition, square footage, and location. Appraisers also note the quality and condition of the plumbing, flooring, and electrical system. With data in hand, they make their final assessment and give their report to the lender.

Myth No. 2: The appraiser works for the buyer

The buyer pays for the appraisal, but the appraiser works for—and is hired by—the lender. It doesn’t matter if you and the buyers have agreed on a price. The buyer’s lender needs to be on board because it’s the lender’s investment, too.

But don’t fear: Even though the appraisal is meant to protect the buyer’s lender from a bad deal, appraisers are trained to be unbiased and ethical. In fact, it’s a crime to coerce or put any pressure on an appraiser to hit a certain value.

Myth No. 3: An appraisal will give you the magic number of what the buyer will pay

The appraisal process isn’t an exact science. In fact, the appraisal is only one opinion of what your home is worth. It doesn’t dictate how much the buyer should pay, or how much the seller should accept.

So what happens if the appraisal doesn’t match the contract price?

If your home is appraised lower than the price you and the buyer agreed upon, the lender isn’t going to pony up more money to make up the difference. Instead, it’ll be up to you and the buyer to figure out who pays for the shortfall. Can the buyer throw in more? Or do you, as the seller, need to cover the difference just to make the deal go through? Well, let the discussions begin.

“The seller and buyer can agree to negotiate a new purchase price to match the appraisal, or a seller might consider finding someone willing to offer cash, which doesn’t require an appraisal,” says Roberta Loughman, a real estate agent with Shorewood Real Estate in Colorado Springs, CO.

“Buyers can pay any price they determine for the house, regardless of the appraisal,” adds Janice Buchele, senior vice president of residential operations at the William Fall Group, a national provider of real estate valuation and analysis services in Toledo, OH. “The report simply provides guidance for the lender.”

Myth No. 4: The bigger the house, the higher it will appraise

Consider a supersized home built on an average-size lot in an otherwise modest neighborhood. Although the home might dwarf its neighbors, that doesn’t mean it will be appraised for that much more than neighboring homes.

The value of the home is measured as if it were similar to others in the area that would commonly be expected on that same lot, Buchele says. In fact, some people might consider the bigger home more of a burden—after all, there’s more to be heated, cooled, insured, and maintained.

Myth No. 5: The more bells and whistles, the higher the appraisal

Wait a minute: What do you mean your $100,000 investment in fancy appliances isn’t worth $100,000 extra in the appraisal? OK, take a step back. This situation can be hard for sellers to wrap their heads around. But if you’ve overly improved your space with amenities that don’t exist in surrounding homes, there’s no nearby sales data the appraiser can use to decide just what those amenities are worth.

“If no one else in the neighborhood has a home theater, then typical buyers in that neighborhood probably don’t demand a theater,” Buchele points out.

And that goes for your décor, too. You might think your home is worth more because of the impeccable vibe that you—or your stager—have given the house. But appraisers ain’t got time for decorating divas. They make a straight value judgment on the quantifiable aspects of the house—that is, the square footage, number of rooms, and other measurable data.

Myth No. 6: All amenities are created equal

If you’ve equipped your home with an in-law suite, a sexy Tiki bar, or a home exercise space that actually makes you want to work out—well, we applaud you. But if you converted your garage to do so, don’t expect the home appraiser to give you props.

Your house has a garage for a reason, points out Austin Fernald, a home appraiser in Orange County, CA. “Most people want to park their cars where they are safely protected from the elements and break-ins,” he says.

The moral of the story? Be careful any time you remove one amenity in order to add another—it might come back to bite you in the appraisal.

 

Do you have any other questions regarding Appraisals? Please let me know, I would be more than happy to help answer any questions!

0 Oertel Way, Blaine

 

New Vacant Land Listing in Blaine

~$115,000~

Over 1/2 acre lot with bay vies in coveted northwest facing side of Semiahmoo! Ready to build w/ approved plans, soil testing, water/electric in street – just need septic. Just minutes from all of Semiahmoo’s amenities, gorgeous sunsets & beaches, yet within private quiet neighborhood. Plans available for review upon request.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Important is Curb Appeal?

The first impression you have on a person or place definitely make a lasting impression on you. So, it should come as no surprise that buyers rate a home lots of times based on their first impression and the first thing they are going to see is the outside of the home. That is why curb appeal is so important. Angela Colley wrote a great article on Realtor.com that describes six curb appeal disasters to avoid. Here it is:

“It’s difficult to put a dollar value on your curb appeal. No one can quite agree on exactly what you’ll get for slaving away in the front yard a few weekends before you put your home up for sale.

Some estimates claim that a well-landscaped lawn could increase the value of your home by 5% to 20%. But other return on investment estimates are even larger—anywhere from 100% to even a whopping 1,000%. Whoa!

Doesn’t it make you want to break out the gardening gloves and hop to it? Good! Because if you skip bumping up your curb appeal before putting your home on the market, the only person who shows up to your open house might be your real estate agent.

Curb appeal is your home’s first impression on prospective buyers and, as we all know, first impressions matter. Make a big mistake in the presentation, and you’ll have a hard time getting buyers through the door.

But how do you know if you’re making a big mistake? It depends. Check out how close you are to these curb appeal disasters.

1. The outside doesn’t match the inside

Ugly Infill in College Hill

Paul Sableman/Flickr CC

Chain-link fence, overgrown lawn, no landscaping … even if your house is gorgeous inside, potential buyers might not be able to see its beauty if they need a weed whacker to get to the front door.

We’ll repeat it: First impressions matter. No matter how great your personality is, you wouldn’t go on a first date without brushing your teeth and hair and putting on pants (we hope). So you shouldn’t put your home on the market without a little TLC, either.

“There is nothing worse than seeing pictures of a home’s beautiful interior online only to find that they completely neglected the outside of their home,” says Liz MacDonald, Philadelphia-based home stager and host of the web series Shelf Help.

2. Overflowing (or visible) trash cans

whiteday

Charles Wagner/Flickr CC

Trash, shockingly enough, is a nonstarter for most home buyers. Obviously, garbage spilling over your lawn is a big no-no. But even the sight of trash cans on the curb can be a turnoff.

“Make sure to keep those trash bins out of sight and as empty as possible at all times,” MacDonald says. “The last thing you want buyers to think about when making a first impression is the trash.”

If you need to move out before the home sells, make sure to check in on things regularly (or have a friend or neighbor do it for you). Movers may leave stuff behind or the neighbor’s trash may blow into your yard—things happen—just don’t let buyers see it.

3. The half-finished house

Fenton-Mi-half-painted-house

Joffre Essley/Flickr CC

Unless you’re selling your house as is or as a tear-down, don’t leave any outdoor home improvement projects incomplete. If the first thing that buyers see is an unfinished paint job or patchy roofing, odds are good they’ll assume the inside is unfinished as well and just keep on driving.

4. An overly unique sense of style

Ugly

Chad Miller/Flickr

Love your bright violet front door? Think your flock of pink flamingos is delightfully kitsch? Are you certain your giant dinosaur-shaped mailbox is so you? We get it. Being able to display a style all your own is one of the best aspects of homeownership.

That is, until you go to sell your house.

“Keeping items like lawn art or ornaments is too specific to appeal to the masses,” MacDonald says.

Rein it in on the inside and the outside, otherwise potential buyers will just see a whole lot of weekend work ahead.

“Your best bet is to go neutral to appeal to the broadest range of buyers,” MacDonald says. That means no bright colors, no unusual trim choices, and no DIY garage-door mural (even if it is kind of adorable).

5. The barren wasteland

IMG_4294

Carolyn Williams/Flickr CC

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to do nothing at all. No matter how clean, updated, and sellable your house is, there’s something extremely off-putting about not having any landscaping.

Houses with nothing green going on just seem, well, naked. And you don’t even have to do much—or spend much—to make your yard pop.

“Modern and minimal is always the way to go,” MacDonald says.

Add some simple shrubs that are native to your area, a few flower beds or fruit trees for some color, and voila—you’ve got curb appeal.

6. The overcrowded porch

Lawn Ornaments Gone Wild

Karen Apricot/Flickr

A big, comfy porch is like catnip to buyers on the prowl, but only if you’ve done it right. If your porch is overflowing with large chairs, planters, and hanging baskets, buyers are going to feel claustrophobic—not cozy.

“Keeping it simple is key,” MacDonald says. “You want to showcase the space without any clutter or extra pieces of furniture that don’t function specifically for the purpose of enjoying your porch.””

If you are getting ready to list your home this Spring, I suggest taking the time to make sure the outside of your home is just as inviting and show ready as the inside. Maybe even add a couple hanging baskets or potted plants to give a pop color for Spring. If you are thinking about selling your home and would like some advice on curb appeal, feel free to contact me.

Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

2118 Shortcake Lane, Lynden

 

2118 Shortcake Lane, Lynden

$469,900

Like new custom designed modern home on quiet cul-de-sac w/LARGE fenced in lot. This beautiful home is sleek & modern w/durable high quality finishes throughout. Gorgeous laminate wood flooring, floor to vaulted ceiling tiled fireplace, gleaming white kitchen w/stainless steel apps, sparkling quartz counters, & open inviting great room. Master retreat w/walk-in tiled shower, sep soaking tub, & ginormous walk in closet. 4 bdrm, 3 full ba floor plan w/bonus rm in maximizing layout. Must see!

Open House Weekend!

Join me for an Open House this Sunday April 9th 1:00-3:00 at 708 Poplar Drive Unit #3, Bellingham, WA.

~RARE opportunity to own one of Lake Whatcom’s Lakeside North condos! Prime location on N Shore w/breathtaking panoramic views of the land & mountains. This tastefully updated end unit boasts dream gourmet kitchen, vaulted ceilings, large private patio, new heat pump, furnace, flooring & more. With 400′ of private waterfront, 2 docks w/boat slips & no bank lake access you are all set for a year-round getaway. Enjoy kayaking, boating, entertaining & water sports to name a few. This won’t last!~

Spring Cleaning!

It is hard to believe that Spring is almost here! With all the snow and rain we have gotten this year it seems like Winter has lasted FOREVER! With all the harsh weather we had it is even more important to check off these Spring Cleaning items for your home. One of the best ways to maintain your home’s value is to take care of it and keeping up with annual maintenance.

Here is a great Spring Cleaning Checklist from Home Advisor. For full article click here.

Spring Maintenance Checklist

  • Gutters and downspouts: Pull leaves and debris from gutters and downspouts. Reattach gutters that have pulled away from the house. Run a hose on the roof and check for proper drainage. If leaks exist, dry the area and use caulking or epoxy to seal the leak.
  • Siding: Clean siding with a pressure washer to keep mold from growing. Check all wood surfaces for weathering and paint failure. If wood is showing through, sand the immediate area and apply a primer coat before painting. If paint is peeling, scrape loose paint and sand smooth before painting.
  • Exterior caulking: Inspect caulking and replace if deteriorating. Scrape out all of the eroding caulk and recaulk needed area.
  • Window sills, door sills, and thresholds: Fill cracks, caulk edges, repaint or replace if necessary.
  • Window and door screens: Clean screening and check for holes. If holes are bigger than a quarter, that is plenty of room for bugs to climb in. Patch holes or replace the screen. Save bad screen to patch holes next year. Tighten or repair any loose or damaged frames and repaint. Replace broken, worn, or missing hardware. Wind can ruin screens and frames if they are allowed flap and move so make sure they are securely fastened. Tighten and lubricate door hinges and closers.
  • Drain waste and vent system: Flush out system.
  • Hot water heater: Lubricate circulating pump and motor.
  • Evaporative air conditioner: Clean unit, check belt tension and adjust if needed. Replace cracked or worn belt.
  • Heat pump: Lubricate blower motor.
  • Foundation: Check foundation walls, floors, concrete, and masonry for cracking, heaving, or deterioration. If a significant number of bricks are losing their mortar, call a foundation professional. If you can slide a nickle into a crack in your concrete floor, slab or foundation call a professional immediately.
  • Roof: Inspect roof surface flashing, eaves, and soffits. Perform a thorough cleaning. Check flashings around all surface projections and sidewalls.
  • Deck and porches: Check all decks, patios, porches, stairs, and railings for loose members and deterioration. Open decks and wood fences need to be treated every 4-6 years, depending on how much exposure they get to sun and rain. If the stain doesn’t look like it should or water has turned some of the wood a dark grey, hire a deck professional to treat your deck and fence.
  • Landscape: This is a natural for spring home maintenance. Cut back and trim all vegetation and overgrown bushes from structures. Limbs and leaves can cut into your home’s paint and force you to have that side of the house repainted. A little trimming can save a lot of money and time.
  • Sprinklers: Check lawn sprinkler system for leaky valves, exposed lines, and improperly working sprinkler heads. If there is an area of your yard that collects too much water or doesn’t get enough, run the sprinklers to figure out the problem. If it’s not something you can fix yourself, call a professional before your lawn needs the water.

 

Remember, it’s better for your home and pocketbook to prevent a problem and be ahead of it then try and fix a disaster later on. Is there any Spring Cleaning items you do every year for your home that didn’t make this list? Let me know what they are!

Thanks for reading & happy Spring Cleaning.

1917 Emerald Way, Price Reduction!

1917 Emerald Way, Lynden

$549,900

~Gorgeous custom craftsman home in Homestead Golf Course community on coveted west side of town. With over 3,600 sq ft, every room in this home is spacious & well designed. Inviting great room w/soaring vaulted ceilings & stone fireplace open to gourmet kitchen & large dining room. Main floor master boasts fireplace, huge walk-in closet, & full ensuite w/walk-in custom tile shower & garden soaking tub to relax. A/C, irrigation, extra large garage, large covered back patio – too much to list!~

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