Shari Sagan McGuirk's Blog
Your credit score is one of the most important numbers to your financial picture. You know how important it is to have a high credit score. If you pay your bills on time and keep your debt down, you think that your score will be just fine, but this isn’t always the case. There are a few hidden mistakes that you could be making that are bringing your credit score down. Read on to find out what to avoid when trying to keep your credit score up and maintain it.
Too Many Credit Inquiries
Beware that every time you apply for a new loan or even just check on what type of interest rate you can get, your credit will be reviewed. You want to avoid too many credit inquiries because a high number will bring your credit score down. Always ask if a lender is pulling a hard inquiry to check your score, don’t allow too many of these credit checks.
Anything Small Can Make A Big Impact
Was there a mistake on a medical bill that you paid but it says it was unpaid? If you let this go, your credit score could be impacted. Even unreturned library books that have been turned over to collections can negatively affect your score. Stay on top of things because you never know how a small mishap can affect you.
Your Information Is Wrong
You should look at your credit report so that you can see more than just your history. You can see the information that is being reported to check for mistakes. Incorrect information can bring your credit score down. You can call the credit bureau that’s associated with any errors that you see on your credit report. It can be a little bit of a process to correct the mistakes on your credit report, but the time and effort is definitely worth it for your credit score.
Not Using your Credit
While using your credit too much is a problem, not making use of your credit at all can be a problem. Responsibly use your credit. Open a credit card and use it to make small purchases. Charge only things that you can afford and pay the balance off each month. This simple use of a card is one of the easiest ways to establish credit.
It’s important to do what you can to develop and maintain a healthy credit score. Keep all of your avenues covered to be sure that nothing hidden can negatively affect your credit score.
A home showing represents a learning opportunity for a homebuyer. If you know how to plan ahead for a home showing, you can optimize the value of this opportunity.
Ultimately, preparing for a home showing can be simple – here are three tips to help you get ready for any home showing, at any time.
1. Evaluate a Home Listing Closely
A home listing enables you to learn about a house's age and condition. It also may include pictures that highlight a home's rooms and features. Thus, if you assess a home listing closely, you'll be better equipped than ever before to determine whether a house may be right for you.
As you examine a home listing, it generally is a good idea to think about additional questions that you may have about a house. If you craft a list of questions prior to a home showing, you'll be ready to get the answers that you need to make an informed decision about a residence.
2. Make a Home Showing Checklist
A home showing allows you to examine a residence both inside and out. As such, it may be beneficial to create a home showing checklist that ensures you remember to analyze all aspects of a house.
Be sure to include assessments of an attic, basement and other house areas in your checklist. In addition, it may be helpful to consider checking out a home's proximity to parks, schools and other landmarks. Because the more information that you obtain during a home showing, the more likely it becomes that you can make the best-possible choice regarding a residence.
3. Consult with a Real Estate Agent
If you plan to attend a home showing, hiring a real estate agent is essential. A real estate agent can help you prep for a home showing and ensure you can review all aspects of a residence in no time at all.
Prior to a home showing, a real estate agent will meet with you and learn about your homebuying goals. Next, this housing market professional will offer expert recommendations to guarantee that you are fully prepared to attend a home showing.
Let's not forget about the comprehensive support that a real estate agent can provide throughout the homebuying journey, either. A real estate agent will keep you up to date about new houses that become available in your area and help you set up home showings. And if you want to submit an offer on a residence, a real estate agent will help you put together a competitive homebuying proposal.
For those who want to explore the housing market, attending home showings is crucial. If you're able to make the most of a home showing, you can boost your chances of enjoying a seamless homebuying experience.
Thanks to the aforementioned tips, any homebuyer can get ready for a home showing. Take advantage of these tips, and you can approach a home showing with the confidence that you need to succeed.
The decision to purchase a second home may be one of the biggest choices you will make in your lifetime. As such, it is important to consider all of the factors associated with a house purchase before you embark on a quest to acquire a second residence.
Now, let's take a look at three key factors to evaluate as you weigh the pros and cons of purchasing a second home.
1. Your Current House
Consider the state of your current house – you will be happy you did. If you assess your current residence, you may be better equipped than ever before to determine if now is a good time to start a search for a second house.
For instance, if your home needs a new roof or requires other repairs, you may want to complete these improvements first. After these house repairs are finished, you then can kick off a search for your second house. Perhaps most importantly, you can launch this home search with the reassurance that your current house is in good shape and likely won't require significant repairs in the near future.
2. Your Finances
If you still have a mortgage on your current house, you may want to focus on paying that off first. Once your mortgage is paid in full, you can conduct a search for a second house without having to worry about paying two mortgages at once.
Of course, if your current house's mortgage is paid in full, you should still evaluate your finances closely. Ensure you have sufficient finances to cover a mortgage for a second house, as well as your everyday expenses. By doing so, you can hone your search for a second house to residences that fall within your price range.
3. Your Immediate and Long-Term Plans
Think about why you want to buy a second home in the first place. Then, you can determine how this decision may impact your immediate and long-term term plans.
For example, if you want to return to college, buying a second home may affect how much money you have at your disposal that you can use to go back to school. On the other hand, if you hope to get a work promotion in the foreseeable future, you soon may have additional funds to help you make your dream of owning a second home come true.
As you decide whether to launch the search for a second house, take some time to consult with a real estate agent. A real estate agent is a homebuying expert, and he or she can provide housing market insights that you may struggle to obtain elsewhere. Plus, a real estate agent will guide you along the homebuying journey and can help you acquire a top-notch house at a budget-friendly price.
Account for these factors before you start your search, that way you can make an informed decision about whether now is the ideal time to pursue a second residence.
Do you ever wish that they taught a class in high school called, “Things You’ll Actually Need to Know In Life?” You’d learn how to prepare your taxes, what investing is, and how to buy a home.
Unfortunately, all of these important life lessons tend to be self-taught; you pick them up along the way and learn from your mistakes.
However, it needn’t be that way. Our goal today is to give you an accurate idea of what to expect when you’re buying your first home. We’ll go over a typically home buying timeline and discuss how long each step can take. This will give you a better idea of how long it will take to close on your first home.
Step 1: Build credit and save for a down payment
Estimated time: 2+ years
The first step of buying a home is to make sure you’re financially secure enough to do so. While there are ways to purchase a home with low or no down payments (See FHA, USDA, and VA loans), generally it’s wiser to wait until you have a sizable down payment saved. This will save you money in interest and mortgage insurance in the long run.
Next, you’ll need to start working on your credit. If your credit score took some hits due to late payments when you were younger, now is the time to start fixing those mistakes by making on-time payments and paying off outstanding balances.
Step 2: Have a plan for the next phase of your life
Estimated time 6+ months
One of the most important, and least talked about, parts of buying a home is understanding what it means to own a home. If you have a spouse, partner, or family, you’ll need to be in agreement that you’re prepared to stay in one place for the next 5 or more years.
Buying a home is expensive and you won’t want to go through the process of closing on a home if you aren’t sure you’ll stay. This means making sure your career won’t bring you elsewhere in the near future.
Step 3: Get prequalified and preapproved
Estimated time 1-3 days (depending on how much initiative you take)
Getting prequalified for a mortgage takes minutes. You simply fill out an online form and the lender will give you an idea of the type and size loan you could qualify for. Be forewarned: they’ll also use this information to call and bother you about getting a mortgage from them.
Once you’re prequalified, it’s just a matter of working with the lender to provide the correct documentation for pre-approval.
Getting preapproved takes a bit longer (1-3 days), since it requires a credit check and some work on your part--namely, gathering and sending income verification.
Once you’re preapproved, you can safely start shopping for homes without worrying that you’re wasting time looking at homes that are overbudget.
Step 4: House Hunting
Estimated time: 30+ days
It’s a seller’s market. So, if you’re buying a home right now there is competition out there. You’ll need to dedicate a substantial amount of time to researching homes online, contacting sellers’ agents, and following up on calls. Like before, the amount of effort you put into this process determines how quickly and smoothly you’ll get through it.
Step 5: Making an offer and closing
Estimated time: ~50 days
Average closing times for buying a home has grown to 50 days according to a recent study. However, by securing financing ahead of time and acting quickly, you can drastically cut down the time of these process to as little as two weeks.
If you decide you're ready to purchase your dream house, you should submit a competitive homebuying proposal from the get-go. Otherwise, you could risk missing out on the opportunity to acquire your ideal residence.
Submitting an offer to purchase your ideal house that meets the expectations of a property seller can be simple. Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you craft a competitive offer to purchase your dream house.
1. Examine the Local Housing Market
The price of a home in a big city may prove to be much higher than the price of a comparable house in a small town. Much in the same vein, a housing market that features an abundance of sellers is likely to be far different from a market that includes many buyers. However, if you assess the local housing sector closely, you can identify real estate market patterns and trends and craft your homebuying proposal accordingly.
Oftentimes, it helps to look at the prices of recently sold houses in the city or town where you want to live. You also may want to find out how long these homes were available before they sold. That way, you can differentiate a buyer's market from a seller's one and put together a competitive offer to purchase based on the present's real estate sector's conditions.
2. Analyze a Home's Age and Condition
A brand-new home may prove to be more expensive than an older house that is in need of major repairs. Comparatively, a recently renovated house is likely to be a great choice for buyers who want to avoid property repairs, while a "fixer-upper" home may be a top option for those who are ready to tackle property repairs on their own.
As you analyze a home's age and condition, you should consider how much you are willing to pay for this residence. It sometimes helps to consider potential home upgrades and repairs that may need to be completed. And if you evaluate possible home improvement costs, you can account for these expenses in your offer to purchase.
3. Consult with a Real Estate Agent
A real estate agent is a homebuying expert, and his or her goal is to ensure you can acquire a great house at an affordable price. Thus, if you collaborate with a real estate agent, you can put together a competitive offer to purchase in no time at all.
Typically, a real estate agent will offer housing market insights that you may struggle to find elsewhere. And when you're ready to submit an offer to purchase your dream home, a real estate agent will help you craft a homebuying proposal that is sure to get a seller's attention. Plus, a real estate agent will negotiate with a seller's agent to help you get the best price on your ideal house.
Ready to submit an offer to purchase your dream home? Use the aforementioned tips, and you can put together a competitive homebuying proposal and quickly accomplish your homebuying aspirations.