Deborah McLaughlin's Blog
Buying a vacation home is an important goal and milestone for many Americans who want to make the most of their holidays and plan for retirement.
Vacation properties needn’t be lavish or expensive to still be a perfect way to enjoy the winter months at your home away from home. Furthermore, owning a vacation home can prove to be an excellent financial asset that increases in value over time, as more people seek to scoop up properties in your area.
In today’s post, I’m going to talk about some of the most important things to look for in a vacation home to help you kick off your search. Whether you’re months away from buying a home or the idea of a second home is still a far-off dream, this article is for you.
1. Consider locations
The most important aspect of any vacation home is that it’s located in the perfect place for you to enjoy. Whether that’s a remote getaway in the mountains or a beachfront property in Florida, your plans for the home should be your number one priority.
If it’s your ultimate goal to retire and move into your vacation home someday, consider what it would be like living in that location full time. Is it close to amenities like grocery stores? Or, if you’re moving to a coastal area, will the traffic drive you crazy?
On the other hand, if you don’t intend to ever move into your vacation home full-time, it might be wiser to choose a location that will suit your family’s vacation needs while remaining a great asset to sell down the road.
2. Spend a week at your destination before buying
Some homeowners have a dream of buying a vacation home in a place they’ve always wanted to visit or have simply heard is a great place to own a vacation home in. The problem with this is that you might find, once you arrive, that you don’t want to spend several weeks or months there after all.
It might get too crowded during vacation season or you might decide that there isn’t enough to do that will keep you busy for extended stays.
To prevent buyer’s remorse, spend a week or two in your planned vacation home destination to make sure it really is the best spot for you.
3. If you plan on renting, know what to expect
Many Americans purchase a vacation home with the intention of renting it out while they aren’t using it to earn extra income. While this can be a great way to generate income, you will need to be prepared for becoming a landlord.
Look up local rental laws in the area to make sure you understand your responsibilities. Furthermore, understand that renting out a property part-time takes work; you’ll interact with prospective renters, filter out those that you think aren’t suited for your home, and handle problems with the property as they arrive.
If you keep these three things in mind, you should be able to find the perfect vacation home for you and your family.
The definition of a "dream house" varies from homebuyer to homebuyer. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to determine if a residence is right for you.
Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you evaluate a home so you can decide whether to proceed with an offer to purchase.
1. Review a Home's Features
Think about why you are searching for a home and what you want to find in a house. For example, if you require a home that features a deluxe kitchen, you can narrow your house search accordingly. On the other hand, if you want a home that boasts an above-ground swimming pool, you can focus on houses that offer this amenity.
Consider where you want to reside too. That way, you can hone your home search to a select group of cities and towns and find a residence that is located in one of your preferred locations.
2. Examine a Home's Price
The cost of a home depends on a number of factors, including the residence's age and condition. Of course, the housing market itself plays an important role in a house's cost as well, so you'll want to examine the real estate sector closely. By doing so, you can differentiate a buyer's market from a seller's market – or vice-versa – and determine if a home's price falls within your budget.
In a buyer's market, there may be an abundance of quality houses available at budget-friendly prices. If you shop for a home in a buyer's market, you may be able to purchase a house at or below a seller's initial asking price.
Comparatively, in a seller's market, there is a shortage of premium houses, and top-notch homes that become available may be in high demand. In a seller's market, you may need to act fast to acquire your dream home. Plus, you may need to submit an offer to purchase that exceeds a seller's initial asking price so you can purchase your ideal residence without delay.
3. Consult with a Real Estate Agent
A real estate agent is a home selling expert, and he or she is happy to help you weigh the pros and cons of buying a house. In fact, a real estate agent will go the extra mile to ensure you can make the best-possible decisions throughout the property buying journey.
With a real estate agent at your side, you can receive lots of support so you can enjoy a seamless homebuying experience. A real estate agent first will learn about you and your homebuying goals and help you search for a residence that matches your expectations. Next, a real estate agent will help you craft a competitive offer to purchase your dream home. And if your homebuying proposal is approved, a real estate agent will help you finalize your house purchase.
Use the aforementioned tips, and you should have no trouble deciding if a house is right for you.
You can ask any homeowner-buying and owning a home is expensive. Mortgage payments, property taxes, utilities, and other bills quickly add up.
If you want to buy a home but don’t have a large down payment saved, odds are you’ve discovered something called private mortgage insurance (PMI).
PMI is an extra monthly payment that you make (on top of your mortgage payment) when you don’t have enough to make a large (20%) down payment on your home.
However, if you want to buy a home and don’t want to tack on an extra monthly payment for PMI, you have options. In today’s post, I’m going to talk about some ways to avoid paying PMI on your mortgage so you can save more money in the long run.
Before we talk about getting rid of PMI, let’s spend a minute on what to expect when you do have to pay it.
PMI typically costs 0.30% to %1.15% of your total loan balance annually. That means that your PMI payments will decrease a moderate amount as you pay off your loan.
Furthermore, once you have paid off 22% of your loan, your PMI will be cancelled and you’ll only be responsible for your regular monthly mortgage payments.
Getting PMI waived early
With conventional loans, you can request to have your PMI cancelled once you’ve paid off 20% of the mortgage. However, many buyers with PMI are using some form of first-time buyer loan, such as an FHA loan.
With an FHA loan, you’ll be stuck with PMI for the lifetime of the loan if you don’t make a down payment of 10% or more. That’s a lot of PMI payments, especially if you take out a 30 year loan, and it can quickly add up.
If you have an FHA loan with FHA insurance, the only way to cancel the insurance is to refinance into a non-FHA insured loan. And remember--refinancing has its own costs and complications.
Making it to the 20% repayment mark
On conventional loans, the best way to get rid of PMI is to reach your 20% repayment mark as soon as possible. That could mean aggressively paying off your mortgage until you reach that point.
This can be achieved by making extra payments, or just paying more each month. However, you don’t want to neglect other debt that could be accruing costly interest in favor of paying off your loans. Make sure you do the math and find out which debt will be more expensive before neglecting other debt.
Once you do reach the 20% repayment mark, you’ll have to remember to apply to have your PMI canceled with your lender. Otherwise, it will be canceled automatically at 22%.
If you’re a first-time homebuyer you might be worried or anxious about the process of making an offer on a home. After all, negotiating isn’t something most of us look forward to on a day to day basis and we try to avoid it when possible. When it comes to buying a home, however, negotiating is usually part of the process.
One of the benefits of working with a real estate agent is that they have the knowledge and expertise to help you out through the negotiation process. Not only will they help you formulate your offer, but they’ll also present the offer for you and handle the in-person negotiations.
Buyer’s vs seller’s market
Whether or not the odds are in your favor depends on many things. One important factor is the state of the real estate marketing. In a seller’s market, which is what we’re in right now, there are more buyers looking for homes than there are sellers trying to sell them.
However, you can still edge past the competition in a seller’s market if you plan accordingly. This is when negotiation comes into play, and when effective negotiation can get your offer accepted where others are declined.
Time is of the essence
When you’re shopping for a home in a seller’s market, you’ll need to be swift with your offer and counteroffers to stay ahead of other prospective buyers. However, being too hasty with your offers can seem imposing or reckless. It’s better to take a day longer to come up with a more effective offer than it is to make an offer that looks bad to the seller.
Be clear and concise
Just as you’re nervous making offers on a home, sellers are usually nervous fielding them. So, if you want to make things easier for you and your seller, make sure your offer is simple and straightforward.
This involves removing unnecessary contingencies and sticking to the contract basics--inspection, appraisal, and financing. If the seller receives another offer that is riddled with contingencies, they might prefer to work with you since you presented them with a simple contract.
Having your paperwork in order, getting preapproved, and making yourself available as much as possible will go a long way in the negotiation process. Now more than ever it’s important to be well-organized.
Do your homework on the house and neighborhood you’re interested in. Make sure you know if there is a lot of interest in the area and the house in particular. This will let you know how much breathing room you have.
Getting preapproved will not only help you know the limits you can offer but it will also signal to the seller that you’re a serious buyer.
If you want to buy a house, it pays to enter the real estate market with a checklist in hand. That way, you can streamline the process of going from homebuyer to homeowner.
Now, let's take a look at three things to include in your homebuying checklist.
1. Your Budget
Your budget will dictate whether you're able to afford a condo, luxury home or something in-between. As such, you'll want to assess your finances closely as you determine exactly what type of house that you can afford.
Oftentimes, it helps to get a copy of your credit report. You are eligible to receive one free copy of your credit report annually from each of the three credit reporting bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). If you know your credit score, you can determine whether now is a good time to enter the real estate market, or whether you should improve your credit score first.
You may want to consult with several banks and credit unions too. These financial institutions can teach you about various mortgage options and help get pre-approved for a mortgage. Then, once you have a mortgage, you'll know exactly how much you can spend on a house and tailor your home search accordingly.
2. Where You Want to Live
Living in the suburbs is very different from residing in the city. Therefore, you'll want to consider where you want to live so that you can search for a home in specific areas.
For example, if you prefer the peace and quiet of a small town, you may want to consider houses in small towns in the state of your choice. These towns may feature dozens of available homes. Plus, in many instances, small town houses are priced lower than big city residences.
Or, if you enjoy the hustle and bustle of the big city, you can search for residences in any city, at any time. These houses likely will ensure that you'll have quick, easy access to a variety of big city attractions and landmarks.
3. Real Estate Agent
There is no telling whether you're about to enter a seller's or buyer's market, as the housing sector often fluctuates. Fortunately, if you hire a real estate agent, you can increase the likelihood of a quick, successful homebuying experience, regardless of the current housing market's conditions.
A real estate agent is committed to your homebuying success and will do what it takes to help you find the right home, at the right price. He or she will learn about your homebuying goals and offer expert insights into the real estate market. Also, if you ever have homebuying concerns or questions, a real estate agent is available to address them.
For those who want to streamline the homebuying process, it helps to hire a real estate agent. And if you hire a real estate agent today, you can get the assistance that you need to make your homeownership dream come true.
Get started on your homebuying checklist, and you can simplify the process of acquiring your ideal residence.