Waiting For The Dream House

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Once upon a time, when pork chops were a nickel apiece and people paid cash for their cars, prudent advice for young people was to wait and save up enough money until they had cash to pay for their dream house — or at least 50 percent down.

Grandparents, who probably lived through the Great Depression, may be horrified not only at today’s prices, but also at today’s financing advice.

In many areas of the country, though, it’s foolish to wait. In some areas, a young couple may wait a year to accumulate a few thousand dollars, only to find that during that year, the same house they could have bought has gone up in price by more than they were able to save.

In most states, attractive special deals are available for first-time homebuyers . Any good real estate agent who specializes in the areas you want should have information. Especially in those parts of the country where prices are rising, it’s just as well to get in immediately.

These days it’s prudent for many people to buy whatever you can comfortably afford right now. There’s no need to wait till you’re married and ready for a Ozzie and Harriet family either. Singles, single parents, unmarried couples make up a substantial part of the homebuying public these days.

Take advantage of today’s remarkably low mortgage interest rates , move in, start getting the income tax advantages of home ownership, and then save up for your dream house.

When you find it, you’ll have something to trade in, something that may well have gone up in value in the meantime.

Written by Edith Lank

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The Basics: Home Buying 101

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You need three things to buy a house — good income, good credit, and some cash. And if you lack any one of those, sometimes even if you lack two, there is often a way around it.

After all, if you have enough cash, income and credit won’t matter. You can simply pay cash for your home. If that’s your situation, in fact, you’re in a strong negotiating position and can sometimes buy at a bargain figure, because you represent a sure thing, a simple transaction, for the seller.

So what if you have good income and credit, but lack money for down payment and closing costs? Several options are open to you. For starters, veterans can obtain a VA-guaranteed loan with no down payment at all. And if you can find sellers who agree, the VA will allow them to furnish the cash outlay you need, covering everything from bank points to your prepaid property taxes.

Any buyer can apply for an FHA-insured mortgage, with down payment of less than three percent. New regulations allow the down payment to be furnished by a relative. Some of your closing costs (prepaid mortgage insurance premium for example) may be financed along with the rest of the loan. And a cooperative seller may agree to cover some of your other costs.

Or perhaps you’ll find a seller willing to “take back” financing — let you pay month by month on a mortgage, with nothing down and minimal closing costs. You’ll need a sterling credit record and really dependable income before a seller is likely to take such a chance on you, and it will help if the seller doesn’t need immediate cash. Small income properties owned by elderly landlords who are tired of managing tenants are likely bets.

In recent years, many new programs have offered special opportunities for those who can’t meet the usual credit qualifications for mortgage loans. Some of these programs are federal, others are state-sponsored or even local. Some require you to receive credit counseling and attend education seminars on how to manage money. Any good real estate agent should have information on what’s available in your area.

Written by Edith Lank

How Sellers Can Hide Things From Buyers

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Your house is on the market, and you’re a motivated owner. Translation: you REALLY want to sell. Because you have instructed your Realtor to: “Show me the Buyers! “, you are getting a ton of showings. Prospective homeowners arrive on your doorstep with a moments notice.

In addition, you are driving your family crazy. You have decreed: “No dishes in the sink, no crumbs on the kitchen counter, no dirty clothes on the floor! No one will eat, drink, sleep, or brush the dog again until this house is sold!”

Take a deep breath, sit down, and relax. While it IS true that you don’t get a second chance at a first impression, most buyers ARE human and realize that sellers have to live, too.

Just for the fun if it and because it might actually come in handy one day here are the FIVE places buyers are LEAST likely to look when viewing a house for the first time. Therefore, these are the best last minute hiding places:

  • Under the bed. You probably didn’t need us to tell you about this hiding place, and you may have trouble squeezing any more “stuff” under there. What makes this an ideal place is that it is big, and usually centrally located in the room. Therefore, clothes, toys, shoes whatever can be flung from all directions with a good chance of finding their mark. Any last minute items can usually be kicked under the bed.
  • In the washer & dryer. Buyers rarely, if ever, open a washer or dryer. This makes them ideal last-minute hideaways for toys, books, and boots, as well as dirty clothes. When utilizing this hiding place, it is a VERY good idea to tell the rest of the family. You never can tell when someone will get ambitious and turn on the dryer, or start to fill the washer.
  • Trunk of your car. This, at first glance, might seem a little drastic. But, if the Realtor is pulling into the driveway, and you are standing with two paper bags filled with household items, the trunk could come in very handy!
  • Refrigerator. Again, while this might appear far-fetched, buyers will NOT open your refrigerator. This makes it an ideal place for the last-minute stashing of anything that won’t suffer from being a little cold!
  • Behind the sofa. Another old standby that could already be seeing some active duty, the sofa usually has a wall behind.

The other side of this issue deals with those areas buyers are MOST likely to inspect during a house tour. Try not to use any of these locations for your last minute secret hiding places.

  • Oven. Do not store your pots and pans in the oven. This makes it appear as if you are short on kitchen space. If possible, the oven should be totally empty, and, of course, clean.
  • Bedroom closets. One of the things buyers tend to remember about the houses they see, and to either comment favorably or unfavorably upon, are the closets. Avoid cramming the bedroom closets with extras; the more space that shows in your closets, the better.
  • Kitchen drawers. The same buyers who would not dream of opening your refrigerator, will think nothing of pulling out a drawer. Try to keep kitchen drawers as uncluttered as possible. If need be, utilize bedroom drawers for all the kitchen utensils and junk you have to put someplace.
  • Laundry room. A nice, neat laundry room is often a pleasant surprise in a home, and something that buyers tend to remember.
  • Kitchen pantry. Like the laundry room, the kitchen pantry is often the “dumping ground” for all kinds of odds and ends. The less cluttered the pantry is, the bigger it looks, and the more buyers will remember it, favorably.

As you can probably tell, the secret to hide & don’t seek is to keep those places that are USUALLY used for storage as clear as possible. This gives the buyer the distinct impression that he/she will have plenty of room for all the stuff they need to put somewhere. In order to do this, you may need to move your items to unusual places that are not normally of concern to a buyer.

Written by Judi Wolfson and Elaine Shreiber