Trisha Bowen - RE/MAX Real Estate Center



Posted by Trisha Bowen on 1/11/2018

We all know that buying a home is a significant decision that comes with a great deal of financial planning and preparation. However, few of us are taught the ins and outs of actually obtaining a mortgage to make your dream of homeownership come true.

Mortgages are a complicated business that is always changing, both with fluctuations in market rates and with policy decisions.

But, if you’re hoping to buy a home in the near future, it’s important to understand all of your options when it comes to mortgages.

In today’s post, we’re going to address the 20% down payment myth, where that number comes from, and what your options are when it comes to applying for a mortgage.

Where does the 20% down payment number come from?

For most people, 20% of a house is a serious amount of money that would take years to save up. If you’re a first-time homebuyer and don’t have any equity to use from selling another house, 20% may seem like an impossible amount to save within the time you want to buy a home. Fortunately, there are several ways to buy a home without having 20% in cash saved up.

But first, let’s understand where that number comes from.

Most mortgage lenders will want to ensure that lending to you is a safe investment of their money. They want to know that they’ll earn back what they’re spending. To do this, they use several methods.

First, they’ll check your credit history to see how often you pay your bills in time. Then, they’ll want proof if your income and financial stability. Finally, they’ll ask for either a down payment or a guarantee that you will pay them back. Here’s where that 20% comes in.

If you don’t have 20% of the mortgage amount saved for a down payment, you will typically have to pay something called private mortgage insurance. This is an extra monthly fee, on top of your mortgage payments with interest, that you pay to ensure the lender that they’re seeing a return on their investment.

Most homeowners put much less than 20% down

If you’re feeling bad about the amount of money you have saved for a down payment, don’t be! In fact, most first-time homebuyers put, on average, just 6% down on their first home.

Since first-time homeowners don’t have the benefit of equity they’ve accumulated by making payments on their previous mortgage, they often have to come up with down payments out of pocket.

Other options besides a 20% down payment

There are several ways to secure a mortgage without putting 20% down on the home. First, check to see if you are eligible for any loans that are guaranteed by the government. These can come from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), or the USDA single-family home program.

The third option is to take on private mortgage insurance until you’ve paid 20% of your mortgage payment.

Private mortgage insurance can be paid to an insurance company or to the federal government in the case of FHA loans, you can put down as low as 3.5%.


Between these three options, you should be able to find a mortgage that you can afford and one that will give you the best possible financial stability in the long-term.





Posted by Trisha Bowen on 12/11/2017

If this is your first time buying a home, you might feel a bit intimidated by the purchase contract. Contracts are often filled with industry and legal jargon, making them difficult to understand for the average buyer and seller.

Contingencies in particular give some buyers cause for concern because their contract depends on the contingencies being fulfilled. However, in most cases contingencies are pretty standard and only serve to protect the interests of both the buyer and seller during a real estate transaction.

In today’s post, I’m going to give you an introduction to contingency clauses and break down some of the most common contingencies you’ll find in today’s real estate purchase contract.

Contingency clause definition

Simply stated, a contingency clause is a statement within a contract that requires a certain event takes place before the contract is considered legally valid. As a result, contingency clauses are used to cancel or invalidate a contract if certain conditions aren’t met before the sale is made final. So, if one party fails to meet the obligation of the contingency, the other party is no longer bound by the contract (or required to buy or sell the house).

Contingencies can get confusing when they are vaguely worded in the contract, making them difficult to interpret. In these cases, a court may decide the specific meaning of the clause or determine that it is too vague to be legally upheld.

The other instance in which contingency clauses can be confusing is when a party includes a contingency that is atypical for a real estate purchase contract. Buyers and sellers alike should be wary of unusual contingencies.

The main contingencies

  • Appraisal contingency. Designed to protect the buyer, appraisal contingencies require that a home is appraised at a minimum amount, which is stated in the contract.

  • Financing contingency. Another contingency geared toward protecting buyers is the financing contingency. It states the number of days that a buyer has to secure financing for the home. This allows the buyer to cancel the contract (and offer) if they’re unable to secure suitable financing for the home.

  • Inspection contingency. One of the most important and most common contingencies is the inspection contingency. It allows the buyer to have the house inspected by a licensed professional within a certain number of days. This protects the buyer against unforeseen expenses and repairs that will need to be made in the near future.

  • House sale and kick-out contingencies. A house sale contingency gives the buyer a certain number of days to sell their home before financing a new one. However, since this can be a risky clause for sellers, a kick-out clause is often included. This contingency allows the seller to keep the home on the market and entertain other offers while the buyer secures financing and sells their other home or homes.





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Posted by Trisha Bowen on 12/4/2017

Let's face it – the homebuying journey may prove to be an expensive experience. If you're not careful, you risk overspending to acquire your dream house. On the other hand, if you purchase a home without identifying underlying structural problems, you risk costly home repairs down the line.

Ultimately, it helps to establish a budget for the homebuying journey. If you have a budget in place, you can increase the likelihood of having the necessary funds on hand to overcome many potential homebuying hurdles.

You should have no trouble creating a homebuying budget, either. In fact, here are three tips to help you put together a budget for the homebuying journey.

1. Assess Your Financial Situation

If you intend to purchase a house in the foreseeable future, you'll want to take a close look at your finances. By doing so, you may be able to reduce your monthly spending and use your savings to accelerate the homebuying journey.

It often helps to assess your daily, weekly and monthly expenses. Then, you may discover bills that you can cut from your everyday budget.

For example, you may enjoy dining out regularly, but cooking at home may prove to be more cost-effective. And as you reduce your dining expenses, you can save money that you can use toward the down payment on a new house.

2. Obtain Your Credit Score

Believe it or not, your credit score can make a world of difference in your quest to acquire a house. If you check your credit score, you may be able to find ways to improve your credit score prior to kicking off a house search.

You are eligible to receive a free copy of your credit report from each of the three reporting bureaus (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion). Take advantage of this perk, and you can learn your credit score in no time at all.

Remember, your credit score may have a major impact on your ability to land a favorable mortgage. And if you find that you have a below-average credit score, you then can pay off outstanding debt to improve it before you start your search for a new home.

3. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage

Pre-approval for a mortgage is ideal. With a mortgage in hand, you can enter the real estate market with a budget for buying a house.

To get pre-approved for a mortgage, you should meet with banks and credit unions. These financial institutions can offer insights into a variety of mortgage options and help you make an informed mortgage selection.

Lastly, as you prepare a homebuying budget, you may want to collaborate with a real estate agent. This housing market professional can help you hone your home search to residences that fall within your price range. Perhaps best of all, a real estate agent will make it simple for you to avoid spending too much to acquire your dream house.

Get ready to buy a house – use the aforementioned tips, and you can establish a successful homebuying budget.




Tags: budgeting   Buying a home  
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Posted by Trisha Bowen on 10/11/2017

Are you a productive homebuyer? If not, you may miss out on an opportunity to acquire your dream residence.

A productive homebuyer understands the ins and outs of the real estate market. As such, this individual may be better equipped than others to purchase a top-notch residence at a budget-friendly price.

Ultimately, operating as a productive homebuyer may be easier than you think – here are three tips to ensure that you can become a productive homebuyer in no time at all.

1. Narrow Your Home Search

If you know what you want to find in a dream home, you can maximize the time and resources at your disposal.

For example, if you prefer a home in a big city, you can start searching for houses in the city of your choice. Or, if you enjoy the unparalleled serenity of small town life, you may want to focus exclusively on houses in various towns.

You also should consider your day-to-day activities as you kick off your home search. If you attend college classes every day, you may want to find a house close to school. Comparatively, if you regularly take the bus to work, you may want to consider homes that provide quick, easy access to public transportation.

2. Establish a Price Range

Although you know that you want to buy a home, you may have no idea what it will cost to obtain your dream home. However, if you enter the housing market with a home price range in hand, you can quickly and effortlessly navigate the homebuying process.

Meet with banks and credit unions in your area. That way, you can learn about myriad home financing options and choose a mortgage that complements your finances.

Don't forget to ask bank and credit union professionals for mortgage recommendations and suggestions as well. These mortgage specialists are happy to teach you about many mortgage options and ensure that you can make an informed home financing decision.

3. Work with a Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent is a homebuying expert who will do everything possible to help you optimize your productivity. If you collaborate with a real estate agent throughout the homebuying process, you can increase the likelihood of getting the best possible results.

A real estate agent will set up home showings, negotiate with a home seller's agent on your behalf and help you get the best price on a home. By doing so, this housing market professional will ensure that you can enjoy a seamless homebuying experience.

Let's not forget about the advanced housing market knowledge that a real estate agent possesses, either. A real estate agent understands the challenges of buying a home and will help you identify and overcome these difficulties. He or she will even answer any homebuying questions, at any time.

Become a productive homebuyer today – use the aforementioned tips, and you can maximize your productivity as a homebuyer and reap the benefits of a quick, efficient homebuying journey.




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Posted by Trisha Bowen on 9/23/2017

If you want to own a home, it may be a good idea to enter the housing market sooner rather than later. That way, you can go from homebuyer to homeowner in no time at all.

Ultimately, there are three steps to buy a home:

1. Conduct an Extensive Home Search

The home search, aka "the fun part" of the homebuying journey, enables you to select a residence that matches or exceeds your expectations.

During a home search, you'll want to attend open houses and home showings. These events will allow you to take an up-close look at a variety of residences.

Of course, don't forget to check out many home listings as well. These listings offer lots of details about a home and can help you differentiate an ordinary residence from your "dream" house.

You also may want to get pre-approved for a mortgage before you kick off your home search. If you receive pre-approval for a mortgage, you can enter the real estate market with a budget in hand and narrow your home search accordingly.

2. Submit an Offer

If you find a house that you want to own, there is no need to wait to submit an offer. Because the longer that you hesitate to make a proposal, the more likely it becomes that a rival homebuyer will swoop in and acquire your dream house.

Prior to submitting a home offer, it often helps to conduct plenty of housing market research. Look at the prices of recently sold houses that are comparable to the residence that you'd like to buy. Then, you can put together a competitive offer that accounts for a house's condition as well as the current state of the housing market.

It is important to note that a seller has the right to accept, reject or counter your home offer. But if you submit a competitive initial offer on a house, you can increase the likelihood of an instant "Yes."

3. Finalize Your Purchase

After a home seller accepts your offer, it may be only a few weeks until you finalize your home purchase. At this time, you'll want to conduct a home inspection to identify any potential problem areas and address such issues as soon as possible.

When it comes to buying a home, there is no need to forgo a home inspection. If you fail to complete an inspection, you risk buying a house that has underlying issues that you may need to mitigate down the line.

In the weeks leading up to closing day, you will want to have a trusted real estate advisor at your disposal. Fortunately, real estate agents are available who can help you discover a great home and streamline the process of getting to closing day.

A real estate agent is happy to keep you up to date throughout the homebuying cycle. And if you ever have homebuying concerns or questions, this housing market professional is happy to address them.

Purchase your perfect home – use the aforementioned steps, and you can make your homeownership dreams come true.




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