Monthly Archives: July 2015

Should Married LGBT Couples Buy a House Now?

Posted on July 24, 2015 in Buying a Home

Many LGBT couples have gotten married in the past weeks following the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges.  If you’re one of them, you may want to immediately do all of those things that you never expected you’d be able to do: get on your now-spouse’s insurance, legally adopt their biological children without a fight, and buy a house together as equals.  But when it comes to buying real estate, should you immediately jump into this investment?  Gay and lesbian realtors recommend you look at your credit before you do.

Home Ownership

Make Sure Before You Jump Into Buying a Home, You Check Your Credit and Fix Necessary ProblemsLGBT couples have purchased homes together as two individuals for years.  However, like all single people who purchased property with at least one other single person, they were considered tenants in common, not joint tenants.  This meant that if one person died, the other did not automatically receive full ownership of the property.  This lead to some legal battles and, in the end, meant that LGBT couples needed to do the additional paperwork to make certain there was no issue in who owned the home.  That’s no longer an issue since married couples hold property as joint tenants, so in this regard, it’s much easier to buy a house now.

Your Credit as a Couple

However, some LGBT couples are jumping into the mortgage process without stopping to think about their credit as a couple.  Two individuals who applied for a mortgage were evaluated as two separate people.  If both people have good credit, it’s fairly easy to get approved for a loan.  When going into this process, both individuals usually take a good look at their credit beforehand, and it’s somewhat easy to get a good idea of how the application will be taken based on the lower person’s credit.

However, married couples are not seen as two separate people; instead, they’re viewed as one applicant.  But the lender will still pull both people’s credit reports and evaluate them.  This means that the two are combined using some formula that’s more difficult to guess.  Will one spouse’s large amount of student loans counterbalance the other’s spotless credit card record?  Will a missed payment on one person’s credit be too much of a red flag?  It’s more difficult to determine the outcome of the loan.

Assess Your Credit First

If one of you has some credit issues or flags on your credit report, it may be best to wait on purchasing a home for a few years in order to work on dealing with those issues.  This is also a good time to assess your finances.  Can you afford a down payment, closing costs, and a mortgage?  It’s important to ask these questions before jumping into home ownership.

City Vs Suburb: Which is Best for You?

Posted on July 17, 2015 in Buying a Home

The quintessential “American dream” home is a large house with a white picket fence nestled in the bosom of suburbia. However, other people may have a different ideal which consists of flashing lights and constant activity that can only be found in the big city.

If you’re confused about which one to pick, use this helpful guide that weighs cities and suburbs against each other using the five criteria most important to homebuyers – safety, schools, space, culture, and convenience.

Each Person Has Their Own Opinion Whether a City or Suburb Is the Ideal Place to Live Out Their Version of the American DreamSafety

The biggest flaw that cities have is crime. This concern only rises the larger the city becomes. If you’re thinking of starting a family and you don’t make a bit more money than average, it’s almost always in your best interest to move into your city.

If you have enough income to move to one of the richer parts of a city, then you may not need to worry about the crime as much. Be aware that you’ll always get more safety for the value in the suburbs however.

Schools

Suburbs typically have better educational institutions for the average student. Smaller class sizes combined with less crime causes standardized test scores to rise and student incidents to plummet. However, certain city school districts may have hyper-specialized schools that cater to gifted children. You can generally discern the quality of the local schools by the unemployment rate and average home value of the homes in that district.

Space

Space is a premium in the city. It’s not uncommon to pay a similar amount for an apartment in the city as you would for a full size house in the suburbs. If you value raw square footage over everything else, the suburbs are your best bet.

Culture

If you’re after culture, then choose the city whenever possible. Suburbs tend to be insular. This fosters a sense of community, but they can also end up being pretty one-note. In the city, you’ll be exposed to many different cultures and have a front row seat to any festivities.

Convenience

Unless you’re lucky enough to work from home, commute times are a serious concern when moving. Traffic may be an issue in the city, but that’s usually where the jobs are located. If you live in the suburbs, you’ll have to brave that traffic anyway on top of the commute from your more remote home. There are also some cities where you may be able to go without a car entirely such as New York.

Remember that these are only generalizations. Not all cities are unsafe and not all suburbs have good schools. It’s imperative that you tell us your concerns so we can tell you the specifics of your situation!

5 Reasons Why FSBO Is a Bad Idea

Posted on July 10, 2015 in Buying a Home

Putting your house up as FSBO (For Sale by Owner) may seem like an attractive option for a number of reasons, such as having full control over every part of the selling process and saving money on the commission you normally have to pay an agent at closing time. However, these paltry benefits pale in comparison to the potential risks that come along with venturing into the real estate market on your own. Here are 5 reasons that make selling by owner a terrible idea regardless of the circumstances.

You Can’t Weed Out Window Shoppers

FSBO is Great For Some People, But It Tends to Be Problematic for Most PeopleAs your realtor, we are able to verify your buyer’s pre-approval status to make sure that they are seriously interested in the house, and actually able to pay for it at closing time. This is probably something that you are unable to do on your own. This means that you’ll have dozens of unqualified buyers that monopolize your time just for the fun of it. Even worse, you could have a buyer that’s all set to close and the bank denies their loan at the final stage. Having pre-approved buyers minimizes that risk, allowing you to close on the sale of your home successfully.

You’re More Vulnerable to Slick Agents

No matter how you look at it, real estate is a competitive business. Unless you have some serious real-estate knowledge on your own, a realtor with any decent negotiation experience will be able to chip you down to a fraction of your asking price regardless of how good of a negotiator you think you are.

You’re More Vulnerable to Criminals

Sadly, powerful realtors aren’t the worst thing that can happen to you by a long shot. There are plenty of criminals in the world who see your FSBO status as an open invitation to help themselves. A realtor can provide an additional layer of protection such as having the personal information of visitors on file or simply being an extra set of eyes to catch anything strange.

Statistics Show You’ll Close for Less

The biggest downside of selling your home on your own is that statistically you are very likely to sell your home for 15% less than you could have if you had used a realtor. In addition, you will lose much more time and expend much more effort trying to sell the house without any help.

Agents Don’t Cost a Lot

Overall, real estate agents don’t cost much at all. The typical charge is 5-7% of the total price of the house when it is sold. This means that our fees come out of your home, not your pocket at any point.

There’s really no good reason not to have a realtor, call us today to help you get started on the sale of your home!

Pros and Cons of Buying a Vacation Home

Posted on July 2, 2015 in Buying a Home

Most Americans seem to hold the incorrect assumption that a vacation home is strictly for the richest and most elite among us. However, what if we told you that buying and owning a vacation home is attainable for those of us with average incomes? What if we also told you that it could even be financially beneficial?

There Are Quite a Few Perks to Having a Vacation Home, Other Than the Great Views and RelaxationThere are many benefits of owning a vacation home. The following highlights the largest benefits:

It’s a Home Away From Home

As families grow and age, it’s only natural that the individual members spread out. Under ordinary circumstances, it may mean the end of large family celebrations such as Thanksgiving or Christmas; however a vacation home that’s equal distance from your relatives may be able to sustain cherished family traditions.

It Makes Retirement Easy

Waterfront properties or properties in warm, sunny places make for an attractive retirement destination. If you think far enough ahead and purchase a vacation home now, you can eliminate the issue of your retirement location in the future.

It Can Be Financially Lucrative

Renting out a vacation home during the off seasons can net you some serious cash if you maintain it long enough. The best part about this is that you can pass this property on to your family effortlessly in the event that you pass away or don’t want the property anymore. Also, in general, the value of your home will appreciate if you buy it in a touristy area like the West Coast.

However, in spite of these glowing benefits there are still a few problems that are unavoidable if you buy a vacation home, including:

It Requires Upkeep

Just because you’re not there doesn’t mean that the home does not need maintenance. Things will break and deteriorate whether you’re there or not. If you obtain tenants you’ll have to manage any issues for them as well. This can be especially annoying if you don’t live anywhere nearby, which most people don’t.

Financing Can Be More Difficult

The rules for financing a vacation home can be stricter than when you bought your first home. Your down payment may be larger, your credit score must be quite good, and lenders may be less willing to provide lending than they would with a primary residence.

Of course, buying a vacation home should be reserved for those of us that have a bit of disposable income and a house that’s already mostly paid off. The perfect age for buying a vacation home is between 40 and 50 years old; however it’s always an idea worth considering if you have the disposable income!