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Filed Under Home Ownership, Real Estate News, Savannah Area

Buying a home for the first time can often seem harder than it has to be. Use these 10 tips to help make the process as smooth as possible, putting you that much closer to making your dream of home ownership come true! With the right knowledge and preparation on your part (and the right agent), the first-time home buying process can be fun, eductional, and a process you'd welcome again!

Last week I provided Part 1 with the first 5 tips for first-time home buyers. Here are the remaining 5!

6. Do All Inspections - Even if you're buying a home that comes with a home warranty and all appears to be great on the surface, having the proper home inspections done before you buy will save you a lot of trouble later...trust me! There are so many aspects of a home that can go unnoticed, so you want to hire a professional to dig deeper than you can see to point out areas of uncertainty. From the foundation to the attic, it is in your best interest to know exactly what you're buying.

7. Don't Focus on Visual Appeal - When you're looking at a home you're considering buying, you must look further than the way a home looks - whether it's good or bad. Remember, cosmetic things like paint color, wall paper, and even the size of some rooms can all be changed. On the other hand, don't get caught up with work that has already been done to make the home look better than it actually is. Again, this is where your home inspection will benefit you. Just because a home appears to be updated and in good shape, doesn't always mean there aren't underlying issues or that the updates were done correctly.

8. Know What You Want - Before you begin narrowing down your choices for your first home, if you're buying with a partner, whether it be a spouse or significant other, make sure you're both in agreement about what is really important to have in the home. This will avoid problems and arguments down the road.

9. Consider Re-sale value - Chances are good that your first home will not be the only one you purchase...meaning you'll need to sell this one at some point. Always consider how easy or hard it may be to sell in the future. Review items like:

  • How long the home you're considering has been on the market.
  • Are there other homes for sale in the immediate area and why.
  • Are you buying a home on a main street or high traffic area.
  • Will you be able to improve the home in order to sell for a good price later.

10. Keep Your Emotions in Check - I highly recommend not buying the first home you look at, even if you "fall in love" with it. You need to see more than one to make the best decision. Also, remember your budget. Don't over extend yourself just because this "may" be the perfect home. Homes are listed for sale every day you will find the one that's just right for you!

If you're a first-time home buyer, what questions do you have?

10 Tips for First Time Home Buyers, Part 1

My name is Helen Miltiades and I am an experienced Realtor in Savannah, Ga.  Please don't hesitate to contact me for any Real Estate or vacation needs and questions. Connect with me on my Facebook Page for even more events and happenings in the Savannah area, as well as home ownership tips, real estate market updates, and so much more!

If you are moving to the Savannah, Ga area, any one of the many homes for sale could just be your dream home!

Filed Under Home Ownership, Real Estate News, Savannah Area

Buying a home for the first time can often seem harder than it has to be. Use these 10 tips to help make the process as smooth as possible, putting you that much closer to making your dream of home ownership come true! With the right knowledge and preparation on your part (and the right agent), the first-time home buying process can be fun, eductional, and a process you'd welcome again!

1. Your Credit Score - Before the process of buying your first home can even begin, you have to have a good credit score. In order to be eligible for the lowest interest rates possible, mortgage lenders are expecting to see a credit score in the 700 or higher range. Improving your credit score should start with knowing where you currently stand.  From there you will need to make sure you are paying bills on time and lowering your debt to income ratio as much as possible. Visit this link for tips to improve your credit score, provided by Experian.

2. Find the Best Agent for Your Situation - Not every Realtor is right for everyone and their situation. Choosing a Real Estate agent that will work best with you doesn't have to be hard, you just need to ask the right questions. The first step is to talk to friends and family who will give you an honest recommendation about someone they've worked with. Again, not every Realtor is right for every situation, so take your time when choosing who will become the person to help make your plans a reality!

3. Have a Budget and Get Preapproved - Before you take the step of getting preapproved, you have to determine what monthly payment you're comfortable with. Remember though, if you use on-line mortgage calculators, the taxes you have to pay are not included. For example, a mortgage calculator will give you a number based on the purchase price and an interest rate, but when you deal with a mortgage lender, the number you'll get from them can include taxes, so your monthly payment will be higher. Another tip -- you may qualify for more than you can actually afford. Take all of your expenses into account and look at the dollar amount you actually have to spend each month to set your home buying budget.

Getting preapproved by a mortgage lender is a must BEFORE you start house hunting. You'll know exactly price range you should be looking in, and in many cases, preapproval is needed to even make an offer on a home.

4. The Neighborhood is as Important as the House - Before you can narrow down your choices for your first home, you'll want to see the areas during different times of the day and days of the week. Drive around to get a feel for what you could expect should you move into that neighborhood. Doing a bit of research on potential neighborhoods is a great way to determine what area is best for you. Take Savannah for example; if you're looking for a neighborhood that is more family friendly than commercial, Ardsley Park would be a better option for you than the Victorian District. Here's more about Savannah's neighborhoods.

5. Be Ready to Buy - Don't start looking at homes until you are actually ready to sign on the dotted line. If your finances are not in order, you're not preapproved, or have a low credit score, you put yourself at risk of losing a house you find you really want.

This is part 1 in a two-part series of tips for first-time home buyers. Next week I'll post Part 2, with 5 more items that should be on your checklist! Do you have questions about any of the tips in this section?

My name is Helen Miltiades and I am an experienced Realtor in Savannah, Ga.  Please don't hesitate to contact me for any Real Estate or vacation needs and questions. Connect with me on my Facebook Page for even more events and happenings in the Savannah area, as well as home ownership tips, real estate market updates, and so much more!

If you are moving to the Savannah, Ga area, any one of the many homes for sale could just be your dream home!

Filed Under Home Ownership

The weather is just about perfect here in Savannah during the Spring season, making it the perfect time of year to boost the visual appeal of your home and make sure you are maintaining it. Annual upkeep should be at the top of every homeowners to-do list. It will always be less expensive to maintain your home rather than have to fix major problems that could have been avoided by keeping up to date with minor repairs.

Leave your cabin fever behind and get into the home maintenance mood!

SPRING HOME MAINTENANCE CHECKLIST

1. Clean out the Gutters - You'd be surprised at how much debris can collect in your gutters if they are not protected.  Break out the ladder (or hire a professional) and clean them out.

2. Inspect the Windows - If you have outdated windows, Spring is the perfect time of year to replace them with energy efficient ones.  Not only will you save on your electric bill, but you'll be eligible for tax savings too!  If not replacing windows, be sure to give them a good cleaning, using newspaper instead of paper towels.  While you're at it, take down the window treatments and clean them too.  Also check the screens to make sure they are not ripped and are securely in place.

3. Power Wash - You can either rent a power washer or hire a professional, but either way, concentrate on removing debris from the driveway, sidewalks, pavers or other outdoor space, and the exterior of your home.

4. Replace Batteries in Smoke Detectors - This one doesn't need any explanation!

5. Change Air Filters - Every year you should replace the filters in your heating and cooling systems to get the most out of the units.  This will not only help to prolong the life of the system, but will help keep allergens to a minimum.

6. Check the Roof - Take a look at your roof to make sure you haven't lost any shingles over the course of the year, which could cause leaks.

7. Get Outdoor Items Season Ready - Before you use the grill for the first time, CLEAN it!  You don't want to cook a steak on last year's leftover food residue.  Also wash your outdoor furniture, especially if you had it tucked away in the shed.

8. Refresh the Mulch or Stone - No matter what you use as the surroundings for plants and flowers, giving it a fresh layer will have it looking its best.

9. Get Organized - Use the next rainy day to clean out the closets and get organized.  Start by taking everything out, take stock of what you have and what you need to keep, then use colorful totes or clear containers to store your items.

Giving your home an annual inspection to check for damage is the best way to keep overall costs to a minimum and have your home looking its best.

What other things would you add to this checklist?

Related Home Ownership Articles

My name is Helen Miltiades and I am an experienced Realtor in Savannah, Ga.  Please don't hesitate to contact me for any Real Estate or vacation needs and questions. Connect with me on my Facebook Page for even more events and happenings in the Savannah area, as well as home ownership tips, real estate market updates, and so much more!

If you are moving to the Savannah, Ga area, any one of the many homes for sale could just be your dream home!

Filed Under Home Ownership, Real Estate News

Did you know that according to a study conducted by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and the American Society of Home Inspectors (also known as ASHI) found that a home inspector evaluates four out of every five homes that are sold and 84% of buyers request a home inspection?

You want to make sure that your house is “dressed for success” and it’s rather easy to accomplish. If your home isn’t yet on the market then hire an inspector to evaluate the situation and if there are any issues that need to be addressed. Here are some tips to spruce up your home for those buyers!

1. Repair minor outside problems such as loose steps, gutters that are disconnected, and check for rotted trim.

2. Check for any other outside items that might look neglected.

3. Check the roof and make sure there are no missing or loose shingles.

4. If you have a chimney be sure to check for any loose materials (be sure to check your vents as well!)

5. Have you neglected to give your a/c and heat system a check up? Now is the time to make sure you give it a check up to make sure it’s properly serviced.

6. Be sure to check other mechanical systems inside your house such as plumbing, electrical, leaky toilets, drippy faucets, and make sure all electrical outlets work!

7. If you have any problem that might seem “minor” to you now is the time to fix it.

8. Make sure the bathroom fan is working properly.

9. Make sure all light fixtures work (that includes making sure that the light bulbs are replaced).

10. Check windows and make sure they are not leaking or have cracks in them.

11. Make sure your gutters are clean and free of any problems.

12. Clean out basement and attic crawl space.

13. Check the toilets and be sure they are secured to the floor.

14. If your house is vacant please make sure all utilities are turned on.

15. If there is any rotting wood making contact with the house remove it so that it will not touch the home.

16. Missing or damaged window screens? Make sure that you replace them!

When the home inspector arrives at the house don’t follow them around. That can give off the impression that you are hiding an issue.

What else do you want to know about preparing for your home inspection?

My name is Helen Miltiades and I am an experienced Realtor in Savannah, Ga.  Please don't hesitate to contact me for any Real Estate or vacation needs and questions. Connect with me on my Facebook Page for even more events and happenings in the Savannah area, as well as home ownership tips, real estate market updates, and so much more!

If you are moving to the Savannah, Ga area, any one of the many homes for sale could just be your dream home!


 

Filed Under Home Ownership, Real Estate News

There are things you can do and ways to prepare ahead of time that will help you get approved for a mortgage. If you are one of the many people who want to buy a home this year, take these things into consideration and put yourself in the best possible position to be able to make the move!

What Should My Credit Score Be?
In order to be eligible for the lowest interest rates possible, mortgage lenders are expecting to see a credit score in the 700 or higher range.  Improving your credit score should start with knowing where you currently stand.  From there you will need to make sure you are paying bills on time and lowering your debt to income ratio as much as possible. Visit this link for tips to improve your credit score, provided by Experian.

Debt to Income Ratio
Your debt to income ratio is exactly what it sounds like - the amount of debt you have as compared to your overall income. Mortgate lenders use this ratio to determine whether to lend you money or extend credit. A low DTI shows you have a good balance between debt and income. Lenders like this number to be below 36, and the lower it is, the greater the chance you will be able to get a loan.

To determine your debt to income ratio, add up all of your monthly debt obligations, including your current mortgage (principal, interest, taxes and insurance) and home equity loan payments, car loans, student loans, your minimum monthly payments on any credit card debt, and any other loans that you might have. Then use this debt to income ratio calculator to determine your ratio.

Verifiable Income
Lenders need to be able to verify that your income is at least enough to cover the loan you are asking for. The easiest way for an underwriter to look at verifiable income is on your W-2.

Cash and Liquid Asset Reserves
Lenders need to see that you have available cash reserves in addition to the down payment and closing costs. Here are some allowable asset reserves:

  • Earnest Money Deposit
  • VOD
  • Checking/Savings accounts
  • Business accounts
  • Stocks
  • Bonds
  • IRA/401k and other retirement accounts
  • Gift Funds/Gift of Equity
  • Sale of Assets
  • Seller contributions

You can learn more about asset and reserve requirements here.

I hope these mortgage approval tips will help you on your way to buying the home of your dreams! Which of these tips would you like more information about?

My name is Helen Miltiades and I am an experienced Realtor in Savannah, Ga.  Please don't hesitate to contact me for any Real Estate or vacation needs and questions. Connect with me on my Facebook Page for even more events and happenings in the Savannah area, as well as home ownership tips, real estate market updates, and so much more!

If you are moving to the Savannah, Ga area, any one of the many homes for sale could just be your dream home!

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About Me

Helen is a native Savannahian. She has been a Realtor for 26 years and has been awarded the Savannah Board of Realtors Million Dollar Club for 24 consecutive years. She has earned the designations of Graduate Realtor Institute (GRI), and Certified Residential Specialist (CRS) which only 3% of all Realtors in the nation have achieved. She received her brokers license in 1988 and established Helen Miltiades Realty in 1990.

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Buying a home for the first time can often seem harder than it has to be. Use these 10 tips to help make the process as smooth as possible, putting you that much closer to making your dream of home...
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