What is PMI?

If you’re preparing to make the transition from renter to first-time homebuyer, you’ve undoubtedly been told by wide-eyed veterans of the homebuying process (or renters who equate homebuying with certain poverty), “Watch out for that PMI.” PM what? PMI, as in Private Mortgage Insurance. It’s a fact of life for homebuyers who put down less than 20 percent on their homes (and with home prices on the rise, that’s most of us). From the lender’s perspective, PMI is a necessary protection. For homebuyers, it’s not likely to be the deciding factor that causes financial ruin; after all, you’ve got your principal and interest, which can make your PMI look like pocket change.

Nevertheless, first-time buyers often experience trepidation when they see that mortgage payment on paper for the first time, so the addition of a PMI isn’t a welcome sight. In short, the PMI adds a weighty cherry to the top of an already overwhelming sundae.
So how exactly does PMI protect your lender? First, let it be said that PMI was designed strictly for your lender’s protection and not yours.

 

Written By: Courtney Ronan. If you would like to continue reading, click here.

The Hidden Costs of Homeownership

You’ve traded in renting for owning. So now what?
You may be surprised to find out that there is more money involved in owning a house than just taking out a home loan and making your monthly payments.

What you weren’t responsible for as a renter becomes all yours as a homeowner. Property taxes, utilities, home maintenance and repairs, insurance and even decorating in any way you choose are all on you now, for better or worse. And if you live in an association or in other types of communities where special property taxes are assessed, you’ll have to contend with that, too.

Let’s break it down.

 

Written By: Diana Lundin. If you would like to continue reading,click here.

The art of house hunting

Armed with your down payment and your pre-approval letter for a mortgage loan, the next step is finding the house that will best meet your family’s needs. With realistic expectations, patience and plenty of research, you’ll be well on your way.

Once you narrow the search to neighborhoods you like, you’ll want to determine the maximum house price you can afford. Even though you’re pre-approved for a set loan amount, it doesn’t mean you can afford it. You’ll want to factor in other expenses, including retirement and college savings, vacations, and home maintenance and repairs, when you calculate how much you can afford for a monthly payment. And don’t forget to budget for homeowners insurance and property taxes. There’s also homeowner’s assocation fees, especially in newer developments.

 

Written By: Michele Dawson. If you would like to continue reading, click here.

Renting to Own

A good option for first-time homebuyers?

When Chris and Sarah Kane of Visalia, Calif. decided to purchase their first house, their hopes of becoming first-time homebuyers were nearly dashed by ever-soaring prices and a down payment out of their reach.

“We found a home we really liked for $221,000 and figured we would just have to rent it,” said Chris Kane. “But as we thought more about it, we knew we didn’t want to spend over $2000 a month on a home with nothing to show for it.”

Instead, they took a different tack with the seller.

 

Written By:Suzanne L. Coates. If you would like to  continue reading, click here.

Find the Perfect Neighborhood

Once you’ve become pre-qualified for a loan, you should be ready to put your house-hunting efforts into full gear. But don’t skip the important step of scouting out neighborhoods before you start your search for the perfect house.
The neighborhood in which you live will heavily dictate your whole way of life—things like walking to a nearby park with your kids, knowing your kids are attending good schools, feeling safe when your children play outdoors, being close to restaurants and shopping, enjoying a short commute, and knowing your home will appreciate at a healthy rate.

Of course one way to get started in your neighborhood search is to get in your car and explore, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the area. Get an idea about the neighborhoods by driving around and seeing which areas appeal to you. Walk around, explore, and talk to some of the residents.

 

Written By: Michele Dawson. If you would like to continue reading, click here.