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5 Qualities to Look for in a Realtor

Realtor Showing Hispanic Couple Around New Home

Realtor Showing Hispanic Couple Around New HomeThe process of buying a house is not as simple as searching through the real estate listings, contacting the seller, and putting your money on the table. In fact, there is a lot more to the whole process, which will be challenging if you lack the help of a professional realtor. From submitting an offer to attending open house tours, the stages of buying a home should not be rushed.

When investing in a home with a helping hand from a broker, a realtor will keep a percentage of the final sale price. After all, he or she must make money in some way or another! This commission will be well deserved if the realtor is good at what they do. Feel confident when choosing a realtor by assessing their qualities.

If he or she boasts the following attributes, you are onto a winner:

  1. Great Communication Skills – The way in which a realtor communicates with his or her clientele will have a direct effect on the realtor’s success in the property industry. The real estate agent must know what you, the buyer, is searching for specifically. From the location to the budget and the interior/exterior design, a realtor will be a good listener. Furthermore, they will keep the client(s) up-to-date with the latest information regarding best offers and real estate market trends.
  2. Full Time Real Estate Agent – Understanding the local housing market is absolutely essential for a realtor to perform their job properly, make a commission, and satisfy the buyer. The most successful real estate agents will be self-motivated and have the ability to hustle in a fast-paced environment. With the local housing market changing on a daily basis, it is crucial that the realtor is able to solve problems with tenacity and attention to deal. Hiring a full time realtor allows the buyer to communicate with the agent whenever need be. Hiring a part-time realtor can potentially cause communication and scheduling issues.
  3. Knowledge of Current Real Estate Market – Not only will a good real estate agent have knowledge of the property but also, the area. From the future developments that are expected to take place in the future to the conveniences, schools, and transport in the local area, a realtor must do their homework.
  4. Honesty and Integrity – Never buy a home with the help of a realtor who does not possess these critical qualities. An honest realtor will have your best interests in mind and not just have the commission in mind. Trustworthiness is absolutely essential and in order to get a true understanding of a realtor’s integrity.
  5. Negotiation Skills – Dealing with tricky situations is all part of a realtor’s job. Focus on how well the real estate agent is able to build rapport when you meet with them for the first time. Can they solve problems and eliminate misunderstandings before they arise? Ask yourself these questions to ensure you choose a realtor who can negotiate the best deal on your dream home.

Experience is absolutely paramount for a real estate agent to help you find your ideal home for the best price. In addition to their level of experience, it is crucial that you find out how many years the realtor has worked in the industry. Preferably, he or she will have gained the title of professional realtor at least five years ago. A realtor who has a lot of contacts in the industry is someone worth teaming up with for a house hunt.

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The Benefits of a Home Warranty

Plumber Fixing Domestic Washing Machine

Plumber Fixing Domestic Washing MachineA home warranty plan is something that every real estate investor ought to be thinking about ahead of buying a property. This type of warranty will protect your finances in the event of something going wrong with the property, whether it is an appliance fault or the wear and tear of a boiler system. Do not get home warranty confused with homeowner’s insurance because an insurance plan does not offer the same kind of coverage.

In fact, if you don’t have warranty in place, you will not be covered for the cost of repairing/replacing home system components. Also known as HSA, home warranty offers a whole host of benefits for both the buyer and the seller.

Let’s look into into the perks associated with this type of coverage:

  1. Protection Against Costly and Unexpected Repairs - Although you will have the chance to inspect the property for any damages or underlying problems during the open house, this does not mean that a problem will not surface in the near future. Wear and tear from using appliances, such as the lights, heating, and air conditioning, is inevitable. Rather than digging deep to fund unexpected repairs, you can rely on home warranty to cover the costs. Most major systems and appliances are covered on the standard plan.
  2. Full Replacement - There may come a time when the technician is unable to resolve the problem and make the appropriate repairs. In the event that this does happen, a full replacement will be provided with the costs covered by the home warranty plan. What’s more, the contractors are guaranteed to be completely professional and licensed to perform the job, so you can feel confident that the end result will be satisfactory.
  3. Small Service Fee – When you have no option but to contact a technician to visit your home and perform a repair or service on your home appliances, the fee will not leave you strapped for cash. Considering you will be paying a monthly fee for warranty coverage, the service fee will be considerably less than it would be if you weren’t investing in coverage.
  4. Annual Renewal - Once your yearly coverage is up, the home warranty plan can be renewed. It is completely up to you whether or not you go ahead and renew the plan, but since you have the opportunity to call for service as many times as you wish, chances are you’ll want to renew the plan before it actually expires.

There are some things you should know before purchasing a home warranty, such as the fact that policy prices vary from $200-$600 annually and when/if you make a claim; you will be required to pay a deductible. Take it upon yourself to find the best possible home warranty plan available by browsing your options first. Generally, service agreements will last for a year or more, but this totally depends on the provider of HSA. For the best protection, consider gaining coverage from a warranty plan and a homeowner’s insurance plan.

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Add A Personal Touch When Submitting Your Offer

Business women hands working writing notebook on wooden desk, lighing effect

Business women hands working writing notebook on wooden desk, lighing effectJust because you have your eye on a property and have been shown around the premises by a professional real estate agent, it does not mean that you will be the only person interested in submitting an offer. In fact, there could be multiple people making an offer at the same time, which is why it is imperative that your offer really stands out!

It is rare for a buyer to offer the seller the asking price, with most buyers putting their haggling skills to the test in order to land their dream home for a desirable price. So, how can you peak the seller’s curiosity and improve your chances of receiving a positive response?

Capture the seller’s attention with a personal letter. A traditional tactic that has not lost its touch, personal letters can make you stand out among a sea of bidders.

How to Write the Perfect Personal Letter

Including a personal letter with your offer is known to help get an offer accepted. Below, we discuss the three main points to include in your letter:

  • Personal Information - Opening up to the seller will strike a chord with them. It will help them to get to know you, without even meeting you. Furthermore, it will allow them to make a choice based on who they would (ideally) like to transfer home ownership to. Including personal information in your offer letter that is related to your profession, your pets (if any), and your family size will make your offer stand out. Plus, the inclusion of personal information will prove to the seller that you are a serious and honest buyer.
  • Express Emotion - Connecting with the seller on an emotional level can be a challenge, but if you accomplish it, the chances of your offer being accepted are far greater. Perhaps you have decided to buy a new home so that you can use the leftover expenses to fund a relative’s surgery or a child’s college education? Maybe you want to relocate as a way of feeling safer in the neighborhood? Whatever your reason(s) for wanting to buy a particular property, don’t be afraid to express emotion in your letter.
  • Show Appreciation - It is nice to be nice! Even if the seller already has someone else in mind, this doesn’t mean that they don’t deserve some gratitude. After all, they invited you into their home and took the time to read your letter, right? Be polite and you never know – the seller could change their mind and accept your offer over someone else’s.

When you realize the difference a personal offer letter could make to your chances of being accepted for a property purchase, you won’t want to approach a seller without writing a letter ever again! A well-written letter that demonstrates your suitability for the house can be read over and over by the seller, thus enabling them to make an informed decision. After all, it is their pride and joy they are selling, so they won’t be willing to hand the keys over to just anybody.

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What is a VA loan?

little girl hugging her military father

little girl hugging her military fatherDown payments are a critical step to securing a good deal on a mortgage. The general percentage of the total amount required ranges depending on the lender and the personal applicant. In some cases, whereby the property a buyer is hunting is relatively large and expensive, a higher down payment will be requested.

Putting a big chunk of money on the table is not always achievable for people on a lower income or people with a poor credit score. This is where a VA loan comes in – one of the few loan types made available to homebuyers with an undesirable lending history.

Five Things to Remember About VA Loans

The thought of being granted that all-important loan that could transform your dreams into reality is definitely something to get excited. Since they are a lot more straightforward and easier to get granted acceptance for than unconventional loans, there is no wonder why they are such a popular option. Get clued up on the subject before you decide whether or not VA loans are right for you.

Here are five valuable and beneficial pieces of information to keep in mind ahead of the application stage:

The Fees – A variable funding fee will be required just once to set up an account of this kind.

Eligibility – The majority of people who apply for a VA loan will be approved during the pre approval phase.

Military Members – Although most applicants will be accepted, lenders prefer active veterans and Military members.

Simple Application – The fact that VA loans can be granted without mortgage insurance makes it a much more appealing choice for borrowers.

No Down Payment – Financial stress is relieved for borrowers who don’t have access to a great deal of funding.

Tips for Improving Credit Score

Taking the time to make some small changes to your finance habits will aid you in boosting your credit score. Make payments, even if they are very small, to improve lender trust. This will also put you back in the good books of lenders you failed to pay in the past. Following a budget plan is another viable option.

Do you really need to borrow?

Let’s say for example, you are planning on sprucing up a property that is currently for sale at a price that is hard to beat, the temptation to borrow will be irresistible, for sure. Nevertheless, thinking things through is crucial because you might find yourself in a spot of future financial bother if you are not capable of repaying now. Take the time to boost your credit score and approach a lender again.

Figuring Out a Repayment Plan

The importance of understanding if you are able to commit to regular mortgage payments cannot be stressed enough. Getting in touch with a lender is the best way to figure out how much you can realistically afford to repay. The calculations will be based on a few factors, such as:

– Your incomings

– Your outgoings

– Your reliability with previous payments

Don’t worry too much about that last one, because even if you have been unreliable in the past, some lenders will consider you based on other determining factors. To improve your chances at obtaining a VA loan from a trusted lender, aim to make a fee changes. For example, try to reduce existing debt as a way of improving credit score.

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5 Questions to Ask During an Open House

Home for sale

Home for saleOne of the longest standing real estate traditions is an open house. If you are new to buying properties, take a moment to understand what an open house is and how it could aid you in making a purchasing decision. A way of generating traffic and luring in interested buyers for a potential sale; open houses are usually organized on weekends. The real estate agent will do a number of things to prepare for an open house, such as create ads in the local newspaper, put signs up in the surrounding area, and even embellish the property with banners and balloons to capture the attention of passers-by.

It’s not just the real estate agent who has a duty during an open house, however. As someone who is considering investing in a property, it is your duty to ask questions at this stage. Below, we expand on the five main questions you should be asking prior to purchasing a commercial or residential property.

  1. Why do the sellers want to move? - By asking this question face-to-face, rather than over the phone, you can get an honest answer from the seller or the seller’s realtor. Should the homeowner be transferring ownership of the premises due to relocation, work-related issues, or finances, you needn’t worry. If the seller is transferring home ownership because of constant repairs or if the area or schools are unsafe, you should think about this decision further.
  2. How long has the property been on the market? – The longer a property has been on the market, the more questions you should be asking. A desirable piece of real estate will not be on the market for long before it is snapped up. If a home has been on the market for a while, be sure to check the market value and condition of the home. Some seasons attract more buyers than others, so take this into account as well.
  3. How many offers have been made? - When you know you are competing with other offers, decide whether or not you want to proceed or walk away. Asking this question is essential because it gives you an idea of what the seller deems a reasonable offer. Additionally, it enlightens you about how much interest the property is getting.
  4. Are there any issues with the home? – Not every property featured on the real estate market will be perfect. In fact, a lot of buyers will be on the hunt for properties that they can acquire for a discounted price and renovate. If you are looking for a home that doesn’t need too many repairs, be sure to ask major repair questions, such as when the roof was last repaired.
  5. When was the house last updated? – You can figure out if the property is worth the asking price based on how often it has been maintained and/or updated over the years. If you are looking to avoid making updates down the road, we suggest finding a property that has been recently updated.

Take your time looking around when you attend an open house and try your hardest to envision yourself living in the home. Think about how your furnishings will look inside each room, and if the price of the home falls within your budget. Don’t forget to factor in the closing costs, to avoid unexpected surprises.

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How to Understand the Impact of your Debt-to-Income Ratio and How It Affects the Loan Process

Businessman's hands with calculator and cost at the office and F

Businessman's hands with calculator and cost at the office and FGearing up for a loan application can stir up a mixture of emotions, from euphoria to anxiety about the entire process. All that is required for a plain sailing experience is knowledge on the subject and in particular, on the topic of debt-to-income (DTI) ratios. Many loan applicants will be unaware of the fact that this is considered by a lender before the applicant is accepted for a loan.

What is considered a good debt-to-income ratio?

Dividing your total gross income with your recurring monthly debt is the easiest way to understand what your DTI income ratio is. Once you are aware of this, you can take a step forward and arrange a meeting with a lender. By doing so, you can discuss your loan options and talk about whether your DTI is good or could do with some improvement.

The Negative Impact on Financing

Put it this way: if a lender looks at a borrower who has a DTI of 50% or above, you are instantly in the red. In many cases, they will not give you a second look since you will be deemed “dangerous” in their strict book of lending. This can make it a struggle to obtain financing. On a brighter note, there are multiple lending options out there now that consider applicants with a poor credit history and DTI.

Tips for Being Approved for a Loan

Fear not if you fall into the red category when it comes to calculating DTI because it does not mean that your chances of loan approval have gone completely out the window. In fact, the following tips could actually teach you how to handle your finances overall:

– Pay off any debts you have accrued.

– Reduce your DTI by paying in affordable amounts.

– If you are able, settle high-interest debts.

– Stop spending so much and start saving more.

– Write a monthly budget and stick to it.

– Cut off direct debits or subscriptions that you no longer require.

Improving the Debt-to-Income Ratio

Sit down and really get stuck into your finances. It will be worth it when you get one step closer to being accepted for a loan, despite having a low DTI at the beginning. Pay attention to the higher debts on your list, if possible. Paying off larger amounts faster will ensure that your credit rating boost at a quicker rate. This will also lift that credit rating arrow from the red spot to the amber or, if you really commit, close to the green.

There are plenty of ways in which you can improve your DTI, prior to applying for a loan. This will boost your chances of acceptance and will have a positive effect on your credit score as a whole. Take it upon yourself to perform a recalculation of your DTI every month, as this will paint a clearer picture of how your financial situation is changing, for the better!

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How does credit score affect your mortgage rate?

Businessman's hands with calculator and cost at the office and F

Businessman's hands with calculator and cost at the office and FAs we grow older, we become more focused on our finances. It is inevitable that this is going to happen since we are thinking not just for our futures but also, for the future of our loved ones. Millennials are growing families and settling down, while the baby boomers are setting themselves up for a comfortable retirement. Mortgage rate can affect both generations and unless you know the basic facts about credit scores, chances are you’ll be paying more than necessary.

What affects credit and what are the negative impacts?

If your credit rating is in the green, you have done pretty well. You have to be a pretty organized individual (unless you have had help from an accountant) to stay in control of what is going in and what is coming out of your bank every month. The darker the shade of your credit rating, such as red, the worse it is.

Let’s take a look at the things that can have an effect on your credit score:

– Making late payments

– Failure to make payments

– Taking out multiple loans/credit cards and failing to make payments.

When a lender looks at your credit score, they may dismiss your request to finance with a mortgage immediately. The reason for this is because you will look unreliable and will be untrustworthy for repaying in a timely manner. This is not to say that you will be turned down completely, but you will have to prove your borrowing capability to be reconsidered.

Advantages of Financing with a Mortgage

If you have discovered that your credit score is not so great, you can consider an alternative financing option. Whichever route you go down, you would be wise to absorb the pros before looking at the cons.

Here are the upsides associated with this mortgage financing option:

– Home ownership is made affordable.

– It is a cost-effective form of borrowing for mortgage financing.

– Take advantage of lower interest rates.

– Convert a variable loan rate to a fixed one.

Disadvantages of Financing with a Mortgage

Although there are advantages associated with financing a mortgage that you ought to be aware of, it is equally as important that you familiarize yourself with the disadvantages.

Here are the downsides associated with this mortgage financing option:

– The fees you pay for mortgage refinancing can cause your savings to reduce quite rapidly, depending on the lender and the circumstances.

– There is a chance that you will not be accepted if you do not meet the standard lender criteria.

No matter how bad your lending and credit history is, remember that there is always a solution. You can accomplish a number of new lifestyle-changing tasks that will contribute to your lending ability, such as paying back debts to overdue lenders, calculating your monthly mortgage payment, spend less, save more, and don’t bury your head in the sand.

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Tips to Get Your House Ready to Sell this Summer

Nice curb appeal of American craftsman style house.

Nice curb appeal of American craftsman style house.Is it time to relocate and begin making memories in a new house? If so, consider putting your property on the market this summer. Not only will you be able to present your home in the best possible way but competition won’t be as fierce in the warmer months. Real estate investors will see your house in a different light if it goes on the market when Mother Nature is looking her best. With better moving conditions and children out of school for the summer, there really is no better time to present your property to potential buyers.

The stages of selling property involve setting your sale price and staging the home to give it that lived-in look. The sooner your potential buyers can envision themselves settling into the place that you once called “home”, the faster you can expect to make a sale. Furthermore, you can guarantee that the offers you receive will be higher if you focus on enhancing curb appeal.

In order to accomplish this, your real estate game needs to be on point. Take a moment to enlighten yourself on the top tips to get your house ready to sell this summer:

  • Clean Entire Home – Put yourself in the shoes of a buyer and think about what you would expect when you are looking around a property of interest for the very first time. Cleanliness is a must! You can’t cut corners when it comes to dusting, sweeping, mopping, and everything in-between. Some buyers can be more particular than others, so put a bit of elbow grease into it and make your property sparkle!
  • Get Rid of Any Clutter – Not only will a de-clutter clear your mind, it will also give the illusion of a bigger space. You should leave some furniture in place to paint a picture of a “home”. Too much clutter will can distract the potential buyer and make the space feel cramped.
  • Take Care of Landscaping – The garden and grounds on which your property stands are the first thing a potential buyer will see. Maintain the area well with professional landscaping services or, if you have time, cut the lawn, remove weeds, and trim foliage to ensure your property is a sure-fire seller.
  • Fresh Air and Sweet Scents – Don’t forget about setting the mood with the right aroma. An incense stick, air freshener, or scented candle that smells of lavender or chamomile will instill a feeling of calm. The more relaxed the potential buyer is, the easier it will be for them to imagine themselves living in the property. Open the windows and scatter bowls of baking soda around the home to absorb foul smells.

Don’t underestimate the importance of “staging” your home for a sale. Consider keeping decor simplistic, so as not to distract from the overall design of the property, from its flooring to its ceilings. Professional home staging services might come in handy if you don’t consider yourself much of an interior designer!

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