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​​Should you purchase your dream house first?

Gone are the days when a three-bedroom, two-bath starter home was the norm for first-time homebuyers. Today, many buyers are skipping that stage altogether and going straight for their dream homes. They're buying bigger, more expensive properties with upgraded features, and they plan to live there for the long haul.

Not sure which type of property you should look for? Here are a few things to consider:

Why are you buying?
Are you mainly looking for a way to lower your monthly living expenses, or do you want a place to raise your kids and put down roots? Do you want this to be your only purchase, or are you willing to go through the process again in a few years?

What's your budget? 
Can you buy your dream home with what you can currently afford, or would that stretch your budget too far? It's crucial to consider how much you'll need to save for a down payment and how large of a loan you can qualify for. Your credit score and the expected interest rate will also play a factor.

How long do you plan to stay? 
Do you plan to be in the area for a long time or is there a chance you'll need to move for your career, family or another reason down the line? 

Is the market favorable? 
What is the current housing inventory, and will you be competing with other buyers? Favorable market conditions mean you'll get more house for your money, making it an ideal time to purchase a forever home.

Get in touch today if you're ready to buy a new home. If you're unsure about a starter home or forever home for your family, we can discuss what options are available to meet your needs and long-term goals.

Before You Co-Sign 

When a friend or family member asks you to co-sign on a loan, it's not a decision to be taken lightly. As a co-signer you are as responsible as the main borrower to repay the debt, which could have serious consequences for you if anything goes wrong. Make sure you understand these essential facts about co-signing before you agree to help. 

Find out why a co-signer is needed. When someone needs a co-signer it's because the person can't single-handedly qualify for a loan. Whether the person doesn't have enough income, has been irresponsible with credit, or simply lacks credit history, consider the reasons carefully.

Know how co-signing affects your credit. Like any new debt, co-signed loans can temporarily lower your credit score. Late payments or non-payment on co-signed loans affect your credit as if you were personally delinquent on the account. Additionally, creditors can count the payment on the co-signed loan against your income, increasing your debt-to-income ratio, which can disqualify you from obtaining other credit. 

Remember the potential legal consequences. If a co-signed account goes to collection or the main borrower files for bankruptcy and has the debt discharged, collectors can still come after you to repay whatever remains on the loan balance. This can result in judgments against you, liens on property you own or even wage garnishments.

If you're inclined to co-sign, the following steps can help protect you and your credit rating:

  • Make sure your budget supports the minimum payment in case the main borrower falls delinquent.
  • Discuss a plan for what will happen to the collateral (such as a vehicle) should the loan fall delinquent.
  • Request monthly statements from the lender, so you will be immediately alerted to any missed payments.

Understanding these potential pitfalls before you co-sign can help keep your finances, not to mention your relationships, out of hardship.​

Sources: The Balance, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

10 keys to a successful mindset 

Studies show that successful people all exhibit a successful attitude. Here’s how they maintain that successful mindset:

Successful people are almost always optimistic.
Successful people are achievers—failure is never an option.
Successful people are not egotists—they concentrate on how they can meet the needs of others, knowing that their success can grow only by helping others.
Successful people write down and follow a business plan that is firmly focused on increasing revenue.
Successful people hang out with other successful people, who are positive and inspiring.
Successful people rarely complain—and always avoid those who do.
Successful people almost never make excuses, refusing to blame other people or outside conditions, such as the economy, for a setback they may be experiencing.
Successful people see money as a tool—and respect it for its usefulness.
Successful people keep an eye on what’s driving their income—they meticulously study their business, honing it to meet the changing realities of the marketplace.
Successful people pay close attention to what’s going into their bodies—and their minds!

Here’s to developing the successful mindset that will drive you to putting together your best year ever... Enjoy a great month!


Is This Your Situation: How Can I Avoid Common Homebuyer Mistakes?

Buying a new home is both exciting and stressful. The last thing that anyone needs is to run into issues during the purchase process or to fall into common traps. So before you buy, take a little time to understand the mistakes to which many homebuyers fall prey.

Buying with your heart, not your head

It is easy to fall in love with a house at first sight and overlook or excuse problem details. Stay businesslike and keep in mind things like repair and maintenance budgets, commute times, issues that come up during the inspection, and the history of the neighborhood. Jumping into a deal could end up with you having buyer's remorse, or even worse, overpaying for a property or being unable to resell the home. 

Thinking like a buyer, not a seller

Sometime down the line, you will have to sell this house. While it might be a place that you love and you can overlook its negatives, other buyers may not feel the same way. Also, you may be tempted to overextend financially to buy a house that you consider to be "perfect." This can also make it difficult to sell the property in the future.

Trying to do it all yourself — online

The internet has really changed the real estate market. It is much easier to search for homes and find lenders, but your most valuable resource is still having a savvy real estate professional in your corner. A good agent is familiar with the local market and can provide information on the neighborhood. Agents are also there to help you with negotiations and the legal paperwork that is necessary. Remember that it won't cost you anything as a buyer since a real estate agent's costs are paid by the seller.

Not doing your financial homework

Finances are where most homebuying mistakes are made. Before you even look at a single MLS listing, have a serious conversation with a mortgage loan officer. You will need to discuss credit scores and your debt-to-income ratio before you can determine how much of a house you can afford. Be very realistic with your money. You want to make sure that you understand what all of the closing costs will entail as well as having enough cash for unexpected expenses and your down payment.

Hint: Once you have been preapproved for a mortgage and have a house under contract, resist the urge to make major purchases like furniture. Lenders will look at your financial info again before closing.

The great news is that you can avoid each and every one of these mistakes. Enlist the help of an experienced Realtor who can provide guidance and advice as you start searching for your new home. Give us a call today for further assistance.

QUESTION: If I'm considering a home remodel project, should I be concerned about lead paint? 
ANSWER: The government banned lead paint in 1978, so if your house was built before then it's possible at least some of the paint contains lead. But that doesn't mean lead paint isn't also present in some houses built or remodeled after that year.  Breathing or swallowing any substance with lead in it, such as paint or dust from sanding and demolition, is harmful to everyone, especially children. Before you begin any project that requires sanding or demolition of painted surfaces, test for the presence of lead with EPA-approved kits like the Klean Strip D-Lead Paint Test Kit or the 3M LeadCheck Swabs. To completely remove lead paint hazards and protect your family's health, you need to hire a certified lead abatement contractor. You can contact the National Lead Information Center at 1-800-424-LEAD for help in locating certified lead professionals.
Sources: EPA, Popular Mechanics

We're always available for questions, whether it's about the market, the industry or first steps to quality housing.   Call 773-234-6014.

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