Before Buying Your First Home…Read This!

Are you one of the many Millenial Americans dreaming of Buying Your First Home, but don’t quite feel ready? People delay homeownership for many reasons; some are unsuredream home where to settle down, some have poor credit and fear they won’t get approved. As a Mortgage Loan Officer, I understand that every person has a different path to homeownership. If you foresee a home purchase in the next few years, now is the best time to start preparing, and I’m here to help!
Just as with any project, your preparation will set the stage for your success. Think of your First Home Buying experience as your largest personal project yet!

Step One: Identify Your Goal
*Phew*, that one was easy! You’ve already completed step one, your goal is to purchase a home.

Step Two: Research
Have you made a choice about where you’d like to live? Researching towns is an important part of the process. You will want to evaluate average home prices for the neighborhood, consider potential property taxes, crime rates, and school ratings, and, more personally, determine the proximity to amenities that are important to you.

Step Three: Set a Timeline
Just like registering for a race inspires a runner to kick start their training, establishing a home buying timeline can help a prospective homebuyer kick start their preparation! Most importantly, be sure to set a realistic and achievable goal. If your aim is to purchase a home within two years, think about what you will need to do over the next 24 months to make that a reality. Are you allowing enough time to improve your credit score? Is there enough time and money each month to save for an ideal down payment?

Step Four: Take Action
With a prospective closing date in mind, do your best to stay on track toward your goal:
•   If you haven’t yet, you should check your current credit score. It is wise to figuregood-credit-vs-bad-credit this out as soon as possible. Once you know, you will be able to see where you need to do work to improve it. Whether it is paying down credit cards, or enlisting the help of a credit repair service, your credit score is crucial to the mortgage application process. It is best to start preparing now!
•   It is wise to start saving what you can, even though there are loan products that offer little or no down payment options. Remember that there will be closing costs, Family Financesmoving expenses, as well as repairs and furnishings to include in your budget. For a goal of collecting $20,000 over the next two years, you would need to save $833 each month. If you can’t find room in your budget to set that aside every month, consider extending your timeline a bit longer. If someone in your life will be gifting you funds to assist in the home purchase, try to discuss what that amount will be, so you can adjust your own savings plan accordingly.
(If you plan to use gifted funds, you will need to have a gift letter documenting it; as your Mortgage Loan Officer I will be happy to assist you with preparing one.)

Step Five: Talk to your Mortgage Loan Officer
Following these preparatory steps, you will be in a good place when you are ready topre-approval-2 start the official home buying process. When the time is right, reach out to Me to talk about your mortgage options and to take advantage of my FREE Jumpstart Mortgage Pre-Approval service.

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Five Neighborhood Red Flags

Neighborhood Red Flags

red flagsThere is no such thing as a perfect neighborhood and every zip code has pros and cons. You might love a house, but if it’s in a troublesome area, it may have a negative impact on your day-to-day life, as well as the resale value of the home. Here are Five Neighborhood Red Flags to be aware of while checking out a potential new neighborhood.

  1. Too many houses on the market?
    A neighborhood with an abundance of homes for sale indicates there may be housessomething causing homeowners to leave. It could be something about the neighborhood itself, such as social issues like increased crime or falling school ratings, or gentrification of the area raising living costs and reducing affordable housing options. Alternatively, there could be many houses up for sale because of the homes themselves. If a neighborhood was developed all around the same time period and the homes appear very similar, it could be evidence that the houses were constructed by the same builder. Therefore, the homes will age at the same rate and may run into similar repair issues. Multiple homes for sale in this type of development could indicate they were built with poor quality. Think about this when wandering through a potential neighborhood!
  2. Are the homes and yards in good condition?
    A well-maintained property is a sign that homeowners care about where they live. It doesn’t matter if the homes on the street are 1,500 square feet or 10,000, it is obvious to see when a community cares about their neighborhood and its perception. If you feel that all the other homes on a street are in disrepair and the yards are dead or overgrown, you may want to avoid moving into this area. It’s likely that a neighborhood such as this may lead to falling home values as well, so think about your investment before making a purchase.
  3. Less-than-stellar school ratings?
    Have you taken a look at ratings of the surrounding schools? Just like the previous red flag, you can tell a lot about a potential neighborhood by looking at the nearby schools. A shrinking school system may suggest an aging population, or it could signify school quality and the community’s attitude toward public services in general. If you have children or are thinking of starting a family, you will want to pay special attention to school ratings online or ask on community social media pages.
  4. Where are all the people?
    If you attend an open house in the neighborhood where you are thinking of moving, take note of how many people are out and about. Did you see any kids playing in a yard or residents spending time on their front porch? This could demonstrate the culture of the neighborhood, or it could indicate that residents do not feel safe spending time outside in this area.
  5. How are the streets and sidewalks?
    It is common for residential streets to have some potholes or crumbling sidewalks in areas, especially if your region experiences harsh seasons. However, an excess of infrastructure issues could indicate a town or city is lagging in public services. If house hunting in the spring or summer, you won’t necessarily know how the town will maintain the roads in the middle of winter. If a street light goes out and you call the city works department, will they see to a repair, or neglect this neighborhood? See if you can talk to any potential neighbors to ask these questions.

There is a lot to think about when planning a move. Not only do you have to think about the style of the house and the number of bedrooms, but a smart homebuyer must also consider whether the neighborhood meets their needs. Do you want to live in a tight-knit community where everyone knows each other by name and your next-door neighbor would lend you a cup of sugar in a pinch? Or do you desire a more secluded neighborhood where everyone minds their own business?

If you are buying a new home, remember to look beyond just the house, and evaluate a neighborhood as a whole. Check Five Neighborhood Red Flags on this list, and if the neighborhood passes the test, it could be great for your next home!

Then reach out to Me at 860.945.9284 to discuss the right mortgage option for your family and to take advantage of my FREE  Jump Start Mortgage Pre-Approval service and be ready to make an offer on your dream home

Consider These FAQ Before Purchasing a New Home

How do you know if owning a home is right for you? Buying a home is a big step. Here are some FAQs to consider before purchasing a home.
family financeHow would a buyer know if they are ready to buy a house?
A home is a lifestyle & commitment change, which may include many factors when deciding to purchase a home. Growing a family, relocating, an extended family living together, or low interest rates are all examples that can be the deciding factor when a new buyer is ready to purchase a home. Buying a home is a good investment in your future.
What are some ways to ensure a buyer’s finances are in order before they buy a house?
The first discussion that the agent will have with the buyer is if the buyer is Pre-Approved for a mortgage. They should always be Pre-Approved by a mortgage loanpre-approval 2 officer at a local lender whom they trust. Some of the factors that are taken into consideration to be Pre-Approved are to always maintain a good credit score, income and asset verification and employment status.
It is imperative that the buyer is educated on what they should or shouldn’t do while the mortgage is in the process. Also, the buyer should never over extend themselves with a mortgage payment. A little hand holding goes a long way!
If a buyer has found a house that fits their needs, what can they do to get more information about the neighborhood?
Before a buyer signs on the dotted line they should always educate themselves on the neighborhood. They should visit during the day, night, and weekends, check out local online forums, talk with neighbors, review crime stats, and the amenities that the town offers. Location, location, location is the most important factor when purchasing a home!
How can buyers better prepare themselves for the home buying process?
The home buying process should not be stressful or problematic. It should be a great and happy experience, but unfortunately not every buyer will agree. It is a team effort… the agent, the mortgage officer and the buyer.
cooperationThe agent and the loan officer should never pass any stress onto the buyer. The agent’s responsibility is to find the buyers a home. The agent should be knowledgeable in explaining the following steps to the buyer: contract, home inspection, mortgage commitment, and closing.
The loan officer’s job is to put all the pieces of the puzzle together. He is responsible for educating and guiding the buyer through the complicated mortgage process, He must understand the details of the transaction and the buyer’s needs. He assembles all relevant documents to support the mortgage application and submits them to his underwriter for approval.
The buyer’s job is to keep the agent and loan officer informed and comply immediately with any questions or concerns they may have. When the agent and the loan officer prepares the buyer, their buying experience should be pleasant and happy. The only thing that the buyer should be worried about is packing.
What are some important things that buyers should consider when buying a home?
It is the agent’s responsibility to keep an open dialogue with their buyers and explain to them what will sell and what may not sell in the future. Location is the number one factor when buying a home, try not to purchase a home that has less than 3 bedrooms, don’t purchase near or under a highway. These are some examples buyers should think about when purchasing a home. Don’t be afraid to ask your agent and loan officer the hard questions

Rick Cignoli

Then reach out to Me at 860.945.9284 to discuss the right mortgage option for your family and to take advantage of my FREE Jump Start Mortgage Pre-Approval service and be ready to make an offer on your dream home.

Buying Versus Building A New Home: Which is more cost effective?

buy vs buildMany homebuyers, both first-timers and experienced movers, have wondered whether buying an existing home or building one to their specifications is a better fit for their needs. Here’s what you need to know:

THE UPFRONT COSTS
Existing Home: The price of a home varies widely depending on location, square footage, condition, amenities, and other factors.
Building a New Home: All things being equal, generally speaking, building a new home costs about $60-$70k more than buying an existing home with similar attributes. But that is not always the case. There are some instances where the cost per square foot comes out significantly less in a custom-built home than in an existing home.
How is this possible, you ask? Consider when you build, you also have the advantage of paying for only what you want to put into the house. While an existing home may have additional perks, like hardwood floors, it may not be something that you want or are willing to pay for in a custom-build.

HOME MAINTENANCE
Existing Home: Older homes require more maintenance because they have more wear and tear. Some homes may even need a big-time overhaul! As with any home purchase, never skip the home inspection and understand that even with well-maintained homes, repairs are inevitable.
Building a New Home: Maintenance on a new home is very little, and it’s one of the central benefits of building a new home. Since everything from appliances to the HVAC system is new and under warranty, you’ll enjoy several years of worry-free living.

OUTDOORS
Existing Home: A mature garden with large trees and well-established landscaping is a big plus of buying an existing home. Mature trees and landscaping not only add value to the property but can even help to reduce energy costs by providing shade and efficient drainage.
Building a New Home: Professional landscaping can cost thousands plus many years to come to fruition. The benefit, however, is that you’ll be able to design your outdoor space precisely to your liking. Depending on the project, you can have a custom-designed yard in two weeks or less.

ENERGY EFFICIENCY
Existing Home: Older homes that have had little-to-no updating use more energy. Appliances that are older than ten years, single-pane windows, and poor insulation are some updates you’ll want to consider if you buy an existing home.
Building a New Home: When it comes to energy efficiency, new construction can’t be beat. On average, new homes use about 21% less energy than older homes. However, this savings comes mostly from high-efficiency appliances. Meaning that if you purchase new, HE appliances for an existing home, you can save just as much money on energy with an existing home as you would with new construction.

APPRECIATION
Existing Home: With an existing home, you make your purchase with some context. You can see the home’s previous sale prices, the cost of similar homes in the area, and have a good idea of what the market value of your home will be in the future.
Building a New Home: New homes, especially those in up-and-coming neighborhoods, can be more of a gamble. Without any sale history or comparables to reference, you have very little to go on when thinking about the future value of your home. Of course, if this is your forever home, which is often the case with custom-built homes, then not having a history to predict the future may not matter.

pre-approval-2Whether you’re buying an existing home or building a new one, they both begin the same way –getting Pre-Approved.
Reach out to  Rick Cignoli today see which option is best-suited for you and your financial situation and to take advantage of my FREE Jump Start Mortgage Pre-Approval with Rate Assurance service

Tips on Hosting a Successful Cookout in Your New Home.

bbqSummer is here and you’ve finally moved into your First Home. It’s time to kick back and relax a bit. Cookouts are an awesome way  to begin making great memories with family and friends in your New Home. Here are some tips to a successful cookout that will keep guests wanting to come back for more. Which ones work best for you?

Lawn Games
kids-croquet
Lawn games are an essential addition to a successful cookout. They help to break the ice between guests who may not know each other, and can also create some great memories. Croquet, ring toss and badminton are fun games for all ages that can be played as teams or individually. They are also great to help pass the time while food is on the grill!

Beverages
Requesting that your guests bring their own beverages can ensure everyone has exactly what they want to drink. It can also lower the amount you’re spending and lower the chance of running out of drinks before the party is over. Remember to get plenty of ice to keep all of those beverages nice and cold in a cooler.

Music
Music always helps get the party started. Try making a playlist ahead of time, or finding the right playlist on Spotify or Pandora, to help set the tone for the evening! Pop music, or throwback songs are always a great go-to.

Don’t Light the Grill Too Lategrillin
Lighting the grill too late could mean hungry house guests. Have the grill started just as the guests are arriving, giving them time to settle in and relax. A charcoal grill takes much more time to heat up than a gas grill does, so allow at least a 45-minute window for when you wish to start cooking.

Menu
When most people think of cookouts, they think of hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill. Don’t be afraid to spice things up! Adding a few chicken legs with barbecue sauce to the menu is a great choice that people are sure to enjoy if they aren’t in the mood for the standard cookout foods. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Hosting a party is stressful enough without having to worry about preparing all of the food. Ask your guests to bring a few different desserts or sides for dinner. They’ll be flattered you asked for their favorite recipe.

Remember the whole idea is to have fun in your New home. Enjoy!

 

 

First Home Buyer Tips They Don’t Teach You in School

teacher.jpg
You don’t learn about how to buy a house in school. They don’t teach you  what you need to apply for a mortgage, what kind of loan you’ll need, or what PMI is (it’s called private mortgage insurance)

And let’s not mention that you need to shop around for the best deal — or you can hire somebody to do that for you.

So here are some First Home Buyer Tips to help guide you through the home buying experience. 

BEFORE YOU START LOOKING
♦  Have a conversation with your significant other about what you’re millenial 2looking for, what you need and what you can do without. Standing in the living room during an open house with your real estate agent isn’t the time to argue about wanting three bedrooms instead of four.
♦  Know your financial records. What’s your credit score? How much Low Monthly Paymentsoutstanding debt do you have? What monthly payment can you afford?
How much money did you make last year? You’re going to need to know all of this information. Have all of your paperwork ready to go.
♦  Know your limit — if you can’t afford a $450,000 house, don’t go look at $450,000 houses.
♦  Shop around. There are dozens of real estate agents, attorneys, and mortgage officers so don’t settle. These people are going to work for you, their job is to make you happy. You’re going to be on the phone and meeting with them frequently, so make sure you like who you’re working with.
♦  Do your research. When you do decide on a real estate agent, he or she isGet Pre-Approved going to want to know what your price range is, what neighborhoods you’re interested in, if you want to be close to schools, expressways, public transportation, etc. Know what you want and Get Pre-Approved! 

WHILE YOU’RE LOOKING
♦ This is the big one you’ll be glad someone told you about.
Don’t get too attached to a house, because if it the deal doesn’t work out, for whatever reason, you’re going to be devastated.
♦  Be willing to negotiate, it’s a big part of the game.
♦  This goes hand-in-hand with negotiating: put your foot down and don’t let anyone take advantage of you. If the seller is asking for way more than you’re told the house is worth, or if they’re not willing to fix something that is broken or at least negotiate the cost, you have to be ready to walk open houseaway. There will be more houses, trust me.
♦  Don’t just purchase a house by its listing. Go look at EVERYTHING. A lot of houses look different in person than they do on-line, good and bad.

First Home BuyerI have the belief that anyone that deserves to own a home should be able to do so. The American Dream is still attainable for those buyers who do their homework, establish a game plan and work hard to achieve that goal. I’m here to help.

Source: http://www.silive.com/news/index.ssf/2016/06/buying_your_first_house_things.html

It’s Not Too Late to Buy Your Dream Home This Season

Don't Sit on the Fence
Are you a Millennial? Are you a First Home Buyer? Are you thinking about moving up of downsizing? Is 2016 the year you’ve decided to get off the fence and buy that dream home?

Real estate professionals are always optimistic about the Spring Buying millenial 2Season. Sellers have finished staging their home for sale; the grass is green, flowers are blooming and curb appeal is at its peak. The Super Bowl is over; buyers are  out of hibernation and doing their on-line research to get prepared to make the biggest investment of their lives.

Spring is almost over, but it’s Not Too Late To Buy in 2016. Here are some facts to consider:
♠   Internet searches for real estate listings consistently peak in July.
♠   About half of all home sales occur between May and August making the summer months the busiest season nationally.
♠  About half of home sales occur in the “off” months of September through April. That’s a lot of traffic.
♠   Studies show that prices tend to peak in the busy Spring season. For Buyers, now is the time to buy..

The bottom line is this:  The best time to buy is when it’s best for yourGet Pre-Approved scenario. But, please don’t think your opportunity has passed. Low interest rates make now a great time for millennials to be in  the market for their First Home. Low financing costs make higher price points more affordable. Get Pre-Approved Now. Now is the time to buy!

 

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