Lisa M. Corr's Blog
If you’re ready to buy a home, you probably have done a lot of research. One thing is sure: You know you need to get pre-approved for a mortgage. It’s perhaps the most critical step in the process of buying a home for a variety of reasons. There’s down payments and debt-to-income ratios, and other financial issues to worry about. You need to know what type of mortgage you should get. To help you understand what kind of mortgage you need, you should get pre-approved.
Understand The Pre-Approval Process
There are many misconceptions about pre-approvals. First, buyers need to understand that there is a difference between a pre-qualification and a pre-approval. A pre-qualification merely scrapes the surface of your financial state, while a pre-approval goes through everything a mortgage company will need to grant you a loan. You may be pre-qualified for a much higher amount than you can actually afford, for example.
A pre-approval is a lender’s written commitment to a borrower. The approval states that the lender is willing to lend a certain amount of money for a home. The lender obtains the following from the buyer:
- Employment history
- Credit report
- Tax returns
- Bank statements
The time and effort that it takes to get a pre-approval is worth it because everything will be ready for the lender to grant the mortgage once an offer is made on a home. It also gives the buyer an upper hand in finding the home of their dreams. Many sellers require a pre-approval with an offer.
When To Get A Pre Approval
As soon as you know you’re serious about buying a home and are ready to start the house hunt, you should get pre-approved. Pre-approvals do expire after a certain amount of time, but lenders can renew them with proper notice.
The Importance Of The Pre-Approval
Many buyers feel that they can skip the pre-approval process altogether. It has many benefits. Besides giving you a better look at your finances and how much house you can afford, pre-approvals can:
- Give you the insight to correct your credit score and help you correct credit problems
- Help to avoid disappointment when you find a home you love
- Allow first-time buyers to see all of the costs involved in buying a home
A pre-approval is a handy thing to have, and it’s not just because the experts say it’s essential. Getting pre-approved for a mortgage can help you to be more on top of your finances going into one of the most significant purchases you'll ever make in your life.
Once you’re ready to buy a home, you probably have a pretty good idea of what you want. Should you buy a new construction home, or look for an existing one? Builders may refer to existing homes as “used.” This term makes them sound much less appealing. Truthfully, there are many advantages to both new and existing houses.
Benefits Of New Homes
One of the most visible benefits of buying a new home is that it is untouched. The home is clean, and everything is sparkly new. You know that nothing in the house needs to be repaired. That is one of the most significant incentives to buy a new construction home. Having no repairs offsets some of the typical costs that homeowners incur once they buy.
Latest Technology And Amenities
One of the other benefits of new homes is that they are not dated. You’ll have access to all of the latest technologies and amenities in a new construction home. The home will be energy efficient which will save you some money on utilities. You’ll have all of the technological comforts that you need in order to keep your devices charged and your in-home entertainment on point.
You May Be Able To Select Features
If you do buy a new construction, often, you’ll have the option to choose the details of the home. Some key features, colors, and styles will be in your control, so you can’t complain about them once you move in!
There may be less competition for a new home. This is because most new homes are present in neighborhoods that are just being built. All the home on the street are most likely vacant, so people looking for new construction have a lot to choose from in one area.
The Cons To New Construction
Although buying new construction sounds fantastic, there are a few drawbacks. First, you’re pretty much relegated to one location- wherever the new homes are being built which is generally on a new street full of new homes. The area is essential especially when it comes to your home’s value increasing over time. Many times, new construction homes are built by the same construction company. All of the houses on the street look the same, and there may be little differentiation between them other than the color. If you’re someone who likes variety, this is something to consider.
Keep in mind that you can always buy an existing home that may be less expensive than new construction and do whatever it takes to make it your own. This is a practical option for many people. Your options may be a bit fewer if you do decide to look for new construction homes, so it’s good to go into the home buying process with an open mind as to all the possibilities that are available.
No homeowner wants to borrow more money. However, if you’re experiencing hard financial times or looking for a way to fund a home improvement project, there are ways to borrow money with your home as collateral.
In this article, we’re going to talk about home equity loans and home equity lines of credit (HELOC). We’ll explain how they differ and break down their benefits and risks.
Before the bubble
Before the financial crisis of 2007-2008, many homeowners were borrowing readily based on the equity of their home. Interest rates were low on home equity loans, encouraging homeowners to leverage their portion of homeownership.
During the recession, however, all of that changed. People owed more money on their mortgages than their homes were worth, and banks became reluctant to lend.
In recent, years, however, house prices have been creeping back up, and banks and homeowners alike have gained confidence in the equity of their home.
As a result, a growing number of homeowners are turning back to home equity loans and lines of credit as a source of low-interest financing.
So, what exactly are these loans and credit lines?
The difference between a home equity loan and a line of credit
A home equity loan is a lump sum of money that you borrow which is secured by the value of your home. Typically, home equity loans are borrowed at a fixed rate. Lenders take into consideration the amount of equity you have in your home, your credit history, and your verifiable income.
A home equity line of credit (HELOC) is a bit different. Like a credit card, you are able to borrow money as you need it via a credit card or checks. HELOCs often have variable interest rates, which means even if you’re approved for an initial low rate it could be increased. As a result, HELOCs are better suited for borrowers who can withstand a higher leverage of risk and variation each month.
Is now a good time to borrow?
If you’re a homeowner, there’s an understandable temptation to use the equity you’ve built over the years to your advantage. In some cases, home equity loans and HELOCs can earn you better interest rates than other forms of borrowing.
However, as with other loan types, it’s important for homeowners to realize that HELOCs and home equity loans are not the same as having cash in your savings account.
Another danger that borrowers face is the potential for foreclosure if things go badly. While most lenders won’t seek foreclosure after a few missed payments, your home has been put up as collateral for repaying the loan. Most lenders will choose to sell a defaulted loan to a collections company rather than seek foreclosure.
Ultimately, the best course of action is to avoid borrowing unless it will help you out financially in the long term. However, for those with high home equity who may, for one reason or another, need to borrow, a home equity loan or line of credit might be the best choice.
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Home automation is a budding industry. From tiny buttons to order more laundry detergent, all the way up to fully-integrated home security systems that you can run from your smartphone at work, home automation has never been more comprehensive.
Deciding which, if any, home automation systems are right for you can be difficult. As new technologies are constantly being manufactured, you’ll want to buy a product that will last. It isn’t uncommon for a product in a new industry to become obsolete just a year after purchase.
In this article, we’ll help you understand the latest home automation tech and give you some advice on which ones are likely to remain useful in the coming years.
The Amazon Dash
Amazon Dash buttons are a simple but genius idea. It’s a button that you can fix to your washing machine, or the inside of your pantry cabinet. The buttons are available for a number of common household items that you won’t want to run out. Things like trash bags, dish soap, laundry detergent, coffee, bottled water, and more.
The Dash connects to your wifi and the battery can last up to 1,000 presses so you won’t have to worry about recharging. The other benefit is that you can customize which product the button orders. So if your cat only likes a specific flavor of Meow Mix, they’ve got you covered.
One downfall of the Dash button is that its function can easily be replaced by a home assistant like the Amazon Echo or the Google Home. However, if you don’t care for all of the added features of a home assistant, the Dash buttons might be a good option for you.
The latest devices in home automation are assistants like the Amazon Echo and Google Home. Since these products are new and undergoing rapid innovations, it’s likely that we’ll see several models from different manufacturers in coming years. It’s rumored that Apple is also entering the fray with their own home assistant device.
Home assistants generally come in the shape of a small speaker that you can place in your living room. They are voice activated and will begin listening if you say the magic words (“OK Google” or “Alexa” in the case of the Alexa-powered Amazon Echo).
These products can set alarms, control lights, order products, search the internet, give you directions, play music, read the news, and more.
Smart home security
Security systems have come a long way in the last few years. When you once had to approach your security keypad to set alarms, you can now do it right from your smartphone.
Also new to these devices is the full integrated of other electronic systems in your home. You can control the thermostat, lights, door locks, and more right from an app on your phone.
There are several designs on the market which has made them less expensive and more accessible to the average consumer. That also means there are several online reviews comparing the different systems which make it easier to do your research to find the best system for you.
If you don’t want a full system, there are other smart security products that you can buy à la carte. These include smart locks that you can unlock with your phone, or by using a security PIN.