Posted by Mary-Lou McDonough on 10/2/2017

Finding a mortgage lender should be easy, particularly for homebuyers who want to purchase a high-quality residence without having to worry about spending too much. However, many mortgage lenders are available nationwide, and the sheer volume of lenders can make it difficult to choose the right one.

Lucky for you, we're here to help you streamline the process of selecting the ideal lender.

Now, let's take a look at three tips that homebuyers can use to accelerate the process of choosing the perfect lender.

1. Know Your Credit Score

Your mortgage interest rate may vary based on your credit score. As such, you should learn your credit score before you begin your search for the right lender. This will enable you to boost your credit score if necessary – something that may help you get a preferred mortgage interest rate.

You are eligible for one free copy of your credit report annually from each of the three major credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). Request a copy of your credit report, and you can find out your credit score and map out your search for the ideal mortgage lender accordingly.

2. Meet with Several Mortgage Lenders

There is no shortage of mortgage lenders in cities and towns around the country. Therefore, you should allocate the necessary time and resources to meet with several credit unions and banks to explore all of your mortgage options.

Each lender can provide details about fixed- and adjustable-rate mortgages, how these mortgages work and other pertinent mortgage information. This information can help you make an informed decision about a mortgage.

In addition, don't hesitate to ask questions when you meet with a mortgage lender. If you obtain plenty of information from a mortgage lender, you'll be able to understand the pros and cons of various mortgage options and make the best choice possible.

3. Review a Mortgage Closely

A mortgage may enable you to secure your dream residence, but it is important to understand all of the terms and conditions associated with a mortgage before you select a lender.

For example, if you decide to purchase a condo, your mortgage might only cover the costs of your property. Meanwhile, you still may be responsible for condo homeowners' association fees that total hundreds of dollars each month, so you'll need to budget properly.

Of course, you should feel comfortable working with a mortgage lender as well. The ideal mortgage lender should be available to answer your concerns and questions at any time and help you stay on track with your monthly mortgage payments.

If you need extra assistance as you consider the mortgage lenders in your area, you can reach out to a real estate agent for additional support. This housing market professional can provide insights into mortgage interest rates and may even be able to connect you with the top local lenders.

Take the guesswork out of finding the right mortgage lender – use these tips, and you can move one step closer to getting the financing you need to buy your dream residence.




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Posted by Mary-Lou McDonough on 2/27/2017

Let's face it – buying a home is rarely simple. As such, you may need extra help along the way to ensure you understand the ins and outs of purchasing a house. So what does it take to become an expert homebuyer? Here are three homebuyer education options that are available to homebuyers nationwide: 1. Family Members and Friends Did a family member or friend recently purchase a house? If so, you may be able to lean on this individual for support as you explore the real estate market for the perfect home. Typically, a family member or friend can serve as a reliable source who can share his or her past homebuying experiences. This individual also might be able to recommend a real estate agent who provided outstanding support to him or her in the past or suggest areas where you may be able to find a home that fits your budget. Family members and friends, of course, can help you minimize stress throughout your search for the right home, too. Thus, you should be able to rely on them for a helping hand as you explore the housing market. 2. Networking Groups and Workshops Did you know that networking groups and workshops may be available that can empower you with insights you need to find the right home immediately? That's right, and in many cases, there are no costs to participate in these groups and workshops as well. Usually, a networking group serves as a collection of homebuyers with a common mission – to discover a great house at an affordable price. It is important to note that networking groups are scattered across the country. And in order to find the right networking group, you may want to search websites like Meetup and Facebook. Homebuyer workshops occasionally are held at various locations nationwide by homebuying experts who are happy to share their knowledge. In many cases, cities and towns also will host free homebuyer workshops, enabling you to learn what it takes to purchase a house quickly and effortlessly. 3. Real Estate Agents When it comes to becoming an expert homebuyer, there may be no better resource at your disposal than an experienced real estate agent. Because with the right real estate agent at your side, you'll be able to explore a broad assortment of high-quality houses any time you choose. To hire the right real estate agent, you should be prepared to meet with several real estate professionals and discuss your homebuying needs with them. By doing so, you'll be able to find a real estate agent who you are comfortable working with and possesses the skills and expertise needed to ensure you can find your dream home without delay. Purchasing a house can be a stressful, time-consuming process, but receiving homebuyer education from multiple expert sources ensures you are better equipped to buy a house that fulfills your needs. Utilize the massive collection of homebuyer educational resources that are available, and ultimately, you can improve your chances of purchasing a home that you can enjoy for years to come.





Posted by Mary-Lou McDonough on 7/25/2016

As a homebuyer, you want to prepare as much as possible when you start looking at houses. By doing so, you'll be able to fully evaluate a residence based on your personal wants and needs and ensure you can find your dream house quickly and easily. However, there are many under-the-radar factors that homebuyers must consider when they check out a house, including: 1. Homeowners Association If you're evaluating condos, you should learn about the homeowners association (HOA) that manages the property. This will allow you to review HOA fees, how the HOA operates and other factors that may influence your decision to buy a home. Typically, it is simple to discover all you need to know about an HOA. To do so, you can work with a real estate agent who should be able to provide information about an HOA. Also, you can always contact an HOA directly and receive all the information you need without delay. 2. TV, Cable and Internet Service Providers Do you work from home and require a high-speed internet connection to complete your day-to-day tasks? Or, do you want to ensure you can get your favorite TV channels at all times? Regardless of your individual needs, you'll want to check out the TV, cable and internet service providers available in cities and towns where you'd like to live. This will enable you to find out if these local providers can meet your needs consistently. In addition, you should consider cell phone connectivity in an area, as this will allow you to determine if your cell service provider ensures you can enjoy clear calls in a particular city or town. 3. Attractions and Landmarks Do you enjoy spending a day at the park, checking out historic landmarks or going to concerts? No matter which activities you enjoy, it is essential to learn about the entertainment options near a home you may purchase. For instance, if a concert venue is close to a residence, it may affect nearby traffic patterns as concert-goers travel to and from this destination. Conversely, if you want a house that allows you to separate from the everyday hustle and bustle of the city, you may want to evaluate residences that are located many miles away from popular attractions and landmarks. 4. Walking Paths If you like to stay active, you'll surely want to find a house that features a wide range of safe walking paths that you can use every day. Whether it's going for a morning jog or simply enjoying a jaunt with your dog, you may be able to improve your chances of remaining active and healthy if you purchase a home with multiple walking paths nearby. Of course, a real estate agent can help you explore a vast array of homes in cities and towns nationwide. This professional will learn about your home preferences and allow you to streamline your search for the perfect house as well. Consider the aforementioned factors as you prepare to search for houses, and ultimately, you'll be better equipped to make a more informed home purchase.





Posted by Mary-Lou McDonough on 12/28/2015

It is a great time to be a real-estate investor. If you are looking to jump in the investor market low home prices and low interest rates make this a great time. According to Zillow.com. the real-estate market is starting to recover: U.S. houses lost $489 billion in value during the first 11 months of 2009, but that was significantly lower than the $3.6 trillion lost during 2008 and things only continue to look up. While the timing may be right, you will need to have all your ducks in a row. An investment purchase is different than your typical purchase. Consider your options. Have a strategy and know what kind of investor you would like to be. Ask yourself if you want to be a landlord, or are you planning on flipping or restoring and reselling properties. What types of properties are you interested in? There are many choices from land, to apartment buildings, residential housing and other commercial real estate. Partner with experience. Real estate agents experienced in investment property deals know what to look for in a deal. You may also want to consider asking a more experienced real-estate investor for advice. If you plan on becoming a landlord make sure to familiarize yourself with the local laws regarding being a landlord. Location, location, location. If you buy a property with hopes of renting it out, location is key. Homes in high-rent or highly populated areas are ideal; stay away from rural areas where there are fewer people and a small pool of potential renters. Also, look for homes with multiple bedrooms and bathrooms in neighborhoods that have a low crime rate. Also think about potential selling points for your property. If it's near public transportation, shopping malls or other amenities, it will attract renters, as well as potential buyers if you decide to sell later. The more you have to offer, the more likely you are to please potential renters. Have capital lined up. Speak to potential lenders or a financial planner about what you will need for assets and cash flow. You will need to have enough assets to handle the ups and downs that could come with investing. Most experts suggest a fallback of about six months of mortgage payments for landlords. You will need this in case or vacancy or repairs. If you're planning to fix up a home and sell it, you will need reserves to cover the costs to maintain the home while it is on the market. Becoming a real-estate investor is much different than being a residential homebuyer. A buying decision is a business decision not one based on emotions.





Posted by Mary-Lou McDonough on 7/27/2015

When you are looking to buy a home or refinance it is important that your credit is in tip-top shape. It is often a credit score that gets in the way of a home buyer and their dream home. Credit today means everything as far as your purchasing power. So if you want to be ready when opportunity knocks read on for some for smart ideas on how to keep your credit score going up.

1. Use your credit cards.

This may sound funny but it is important to have credit over having no credit. Paying in cash and over using credit cards isn’t always a good move for your credit score. Cards that are seldom used are often shut down or closed by the credit card companies. Because 30 percent of your credit score is based on your debt-to-credit-limit ratio you will want to have a high your total available credit. Having one account closed increases that ratio of available credit to debt and thus lowers your credit score.

2. Pay off your credit cards.

It may seem to make sense to pay off the highest-interest card first and save the most money in the end. But your credit score will get a bigger boost from knocking off the lowest-balance card. Instead of spreading your monthly payments equally among credit cards, pay down the lowest-balance card first and pay minimum balances on the rest. As you pay off each card, apply the money you would have paid on it to the next-lowest-balance card.

3. Don’t close cards once they are paid off.

The length of time you’ve had credit determines fifteen percent of your score. By closing your oldest account, you can shorten the length of your credit history causing a big hit to your score.

4. Keep the balance low

Much of your credit score is determined by your debt-to-credit-limit ratio on individual accounts. Maxing out one card raises your debt-to-credit-limit ratio and your credit score. So be sure to keep balances as low as possible. Try to target no more than 30 percent of your credit limit.

5. Stay away from retail-card accounts.

These are a big no-no. Retail store cards often have lower limits and higher interest rates. So running up balances on low-limit store cards affects your credit score more negatively than does using one or two bank cards. So in the long run the fifteen percent you were going to save on the one purchase will probably cost you more in the end.