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Get Ready to Make an Offer on Your New Home

Overall, in 2022, we were in a seller’s market meaning there were more buyers searching for homes than there were homes available to sell. Because of this, there is still some pent-up demand as we head into the spring market. As homes begin to hit the market for the busy spring season, homes that are priced competitively and in good condition are likely to sell very quickly.

If you are in the market to purchase a new home in the coming months, you will want to be prepared so you can act quickly when you find the perfect home. Here are some things you can do now to help you be ready when the time is right.

  • Meet with several mortgage lenders and select the one that can provide you the best mortgage terms for your situation. Once you select the mortgage lender that is best for you, go ahead and get preapproved. When you find your dream home, providing a copy of your preapproval letter along with your offer to purchase may help your offer stand out in case there are multiple buyers interested in the same property. Some sellers will require you to show a preapproval letter, which may enable you to move faster while other buyers are calling lenders and trying to figure out which mortgage is best for them.
  • Once you are preapproved, it’s time to start looking at homes. Now that you have met with a lender, you can confidently look at homes knowing what you can afford. Before you actually look at any homes, make a list of your priorities to help you focus while you shop. It is very easy to get caught up in the process of looking for a home and fall in love with a beautiful home that doesn’t meet your needs. Things to consider are the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, amount of land, garage, style of home and the location. Having a specific list of criteria you are looking for will not only keep you from wasting time looking at homes that don’t meet your needs but also allow you to narrow down the selections when you are viewing homes.
  • As soon as you start looking at homes, go ahead and ask your real estate agent for copies of the contracts you will need to complete when you find the right home for you. When you find the right home, you may need to act very quickly and familiarizing yourself with the contracts (and asking questions of your agent ahead of time) will allow you to move forward more quickly and with less stress when you find the house for you.
  • Another thing to consider when preparing to buy a home is your overall household budget. Now is the time to get this in order not after you own the home. Just because a lender says you can have a mortgage for a certain amount doesn’t mean you have to spend that much money. Make sure your mortgage amount will fit into your overall budget along with the other items you allocate monthly funds too without leaving you feeling anxious each month.

Taking all of these steps in advance will make the homebuying process much faster and smoother for you. The most important thing you can do is ask questions and educate yourself so you can make good decisions when the time is right. Contact me today at 817.690.0976, I would be happy to answer any questions you have about finding your dream home!

Pam Snowden

Realty World Professionals

817-690-0976 (cell)

Pam@pamsnowden.com

www.PamSnowden.com

Image courtesy of tkoch/pixabay.com

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How Much Do You Need to Save Before You Buy a Home?

If you are thinking about buying your first home, you may be wondering how much money you need to have saved before you will be able to buy a home. There is a lot that you will need to determine before you can answer this question but the fact that you are thinking about it is a step in the right direction. A lot will be determined by the kind of mortgage you plan to get and this will be based on what you will qualify for. When you are ready to get really serious, you will definitely want to talk to a mortgage lender and probably more than one.

A lender will be able to ask you specific questions about your income, savings and other debt as well as take a look at your credit to help you determine the best kind of mortgage for you. Based on this conversation and the kind of house you are looking for, the lender will then help you determine how much money you will need to save for your down payment. In addition to having enough money for a down payment, you will also want to have additional savings for other expenses related to buying a home like insurance, closing costs and money for the unexpected after you buy your home.

Once you are a homeowner, when something breaks, you can’t call the landlord to fix it so you will need to have money set aside to use for repairs and maybe one day for making updates to your home. In addition to your down payment and savings for the unexpected, you will need additional funds when you buy your house to pay for closing costs. Closing costs include a lot of different things and can such as inspections, property taxes, insurance, homeowner’s association dues, title, recording fees and other items as well. All of these may seem like small things but can add up to thousands of dollars even if you are buying a small home.

Now that you know a little more about what you will need to pay for when you buy a house, it is time to reach out to a lender and discuss specifics. If you don’t know a mortgage lender, your bank can more than likely help you and I can offer recommendations of my favorite local lenders as well. Once you sit down with a lender to talk about your specific situation, you will have a much better idea of how much money you need to save and once you know that, you can develop a plan to help you reach that goal.

Saving enough money to buy your first home may take a while but it is definitely a goal that will be well worth it when you are able to move into your very own home. Contact me today at 817.690.0976, I would be happy to answer any questions you have about finding your dream home!

Pam Snowden

Realty World Professionals

817-690-0976 (cell)

Pam@pamsnowden.com

www.PamSnowden.com

Image courtesy of nattanan23/pixabay.com

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8 Tips for a First-Time Homebuyer

House Exterior

The thing about buying a home for the first time is pretty simple; it’s not always something tells you how to do or what to look out for. Which is fairly ironic given that home ownership is what the American Dream was initially founded upon.

So, we’re going to help you out a bit and show you eight things you absolutely have to know when you’re ready to purchase your first home.

  1. Know your budget. Paying your mortgage is a bit different than paying rent. You now have to figure in escrow, applicable taxes, insurance, and homeowners’ association fees (location dependent). Make sure you’re choosing a house you can afford, because it can be stressful if you’re living “house poor.” It’s recommended you spend no more than 28 percent of your income on housing costs.
  2. Find a well-informed, knowledgeable realtor that knows your area well. Knowing if an area is too high or about to fall can save you thousands of dollars. Moreover, knowing how home prices in the area are comparable to what you’re looking at will help you make a better, more informed decision. Check your local multiple listing service (MLS) with your realtor!
  3. Prepare for closing costs, they could cost you a pretty penny. These costs include origination, title, and settlement fees, as well as taxes and prepaid items such as homeowners’ insurance or homeowners’ association fees.
  4. Credit score matters. Just because you have a qualifying credit score, doesn’t mean you have the best score to help land you the best rate. You should start cleaning up your credit at least a year in advance of making a home purchase, just to make sure you’ve crossed your T’s and dotted your I’s when it comes to financial matters. Get your credit report and start combing through it before it’s too late.
  5. Along with your credit score, it’s good to get all your paperwork in order. Get pay stubs, past W-2s and tax returns, bank statements, and previous address information ready because you’re going to need them. Lenders are going to want to see a lot of your personal stuff before they’ll give you a sizable loan.
  6. Speaking of lenders, you should always get preapproved. This gives you more bargaining power when it comes to landing that house you just fell in love with.
  7. The government has some programs to help. The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) has a program that insures mortgages for many first-time homebuyers. This will help sway those lenders to back you, and the FHA reduces most 10-20 percent down payments down to 3-3.5 percent. That’s a pocket full of help right there.
  8. Make sure that home buying is the right choice at the right time. Contact me today at 817.690.0976, I would be happy to answer any questions you have about finding your dream home!

Pam Snowden

Realty World Professionals

817-690-0976 (cell)

Pam@pamsnowden.com

www.PamSnowden.com

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Modern Ways to Decorate Your Home for Halloween

If you’re the type of person who likes to decorate for every holiday but you want to try something more grownup and modern, here are a few ideas to prepare your home for Halloween this year. Whether you’re expecting the neighborhood kids, hosting a grownup party or just want to get in the spirit, these suggestions are fun and easy to do. Plus, they make your home look festive to buyers if you’re selling.

White Pumpkins

Put a modern spin on the traditional pumpkin by painting it white. Regular craft paint or spray paint will work. Paint three or four pumpkins or gourds and arrange them together with pinecones and other fall items. This adds a sophisticated touch to your front porch or entry. You can also go with all black or all gold or mix it up with a pumpkin of each color.

Halloween Tree

Make your own variation of The Nightmare Before Christmas tree. Take a tree or just a branch and paint it black. Hang bats, pumpkins and other scary creatures from the branches. This makes a fun welcome by your front door, in an entry or even as the focal point for your living room.

Decorate in Black and White

Instead of the traditional orange and black colors for Halloween, use black and white for a more grownup look. White candles with black votives or white flowers in a black vase add an elegant touch to any table. Serve all black and white foods for your holiday party (or open house). A black and white striped tablecloth will draw attention and continue the theme.

To create an unforgettable centerpiece for your table, spread white spider webbing around candles and across the table. Place a silver tiered tray in the middle with gourds spray-painted black displayed on each tier. To make your design stand out even more, you can add a small touch of orange with a few strategically-placed items.

Halloween doesn’t have to be just for kids. If you love to decorate and change your décor based on the season, these ideas will create a fun yet sophisticated space that both you and your visitors will enjoy.

Pam Snowden

Realty World Professionals

817-690-0976 (cell)

Pam@pamsnowden.com

www.PamSnowden.com

Image courtesy Joe deSousa/flickr.com

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Top Home Buyer Questions

The following are the most common questions I receive from first-time home buyers. If you or anyone you know is planning to buy a home, contact me today. I will be happy to discuss any of this information in more detail…

  1. I’m a first-time buyer, what is the best advice you can give me? Work with a trusted real estate agent. You need someone who has experience working with first-time buyers, and who keeps up with the latest information that could impact your home buying experience.
  2. What do I need to do first? Getting pre-approved for a mortgage is first thing to take care of in the home buying process.
  3. What about my credit score? In order to buy a home, you need a minimum score of 580. 620 and over is preferred by many lenders.
  4. How much money is required for a down payment? This depends on your credit score and type of loan you choose. Your down payment could range from 3% to 20% down or more. Most lenders require at least 3%.
  5. Are there any additional costs involved in buying a home? Yes, you will be responsible for closing costs and loan origination fees.
  6. How long is the home buying process? Consult with your lender for thorough details, though typically it takes between 30-45 days.
  7. Can you provide me with details on special loan programs? Absolutely! Contact me today and I will be happy to go over this information with you, and put you in touch with a lender.
  8. What does a real estate agent do? Any number of things including researching homes on a daily basis to find your dream home, to coordinating with the seller’s agent, lender and more.
  9. How much does a buyer have to pay a real estate agent? Nothing. That’s why it makes so much sense to work with an agent. Buying a home is free as it pertains to commissions.  
  10. So when do I get the keys to the house? You will receive the keys at closing, and you can start enjoying your new dream home right away.

Contact me today at 817.690.0976 for a consultation. I will be happy to answer any questions you may have about the home buying process, and/or help you find your dream home!

Pam Snowden

Realty World Professionals

817-690-0976 (cell)

Pam@pamsnowden.com

www.PamSnowden.com

Image courtesy of Mark Moz/Flickr.com

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What You Should Know about a Home Warranty

sold sign

More sellers are now including home warranties with the sale of their homes to entice buyers. The idea is that having a home warranty provides peace of mind for the buyer that if something breaks – usually within the first year of ownership, they won’t have to pay for it. However, homeowners can purchase a home warranty at any time. Before you decide to buy one or include it with your sale, you should understand what it is and when you need it.

What is a Home Warranty?

A home warranty covers the components of a home, such as heating and cooling systems, appliances and water heaters. It usually doesn’t include minor repairs such as plumbing leaks. It can be purchased for any age home, though the cost will increase with older properties just because of the likelihood that you’ll use it more.

With some warranties, you pay only a set amount regardless of the cost of the repair or replacement. With other programs, you pay a portion or percentage of the cost. It’s important to read the fine print before you select a warranty. Know what is included and what can be added for an extra price.

The Benefits

For the buyer, a home warranty provides peace of mind. You know you won’t rack up hundreds of dollars in repairs or use up your emergency fund for major issues. Keep in mind that the cost of just one repair can be as much as the entire annual cost.

For the seller, a home warranty may bring in more buyers, especially if the person is selling an older home. First-time buyers don’t always have a lot of money to put into the property, and a warranty would reassure them they won’t have a lot of major expenses.

The Downside

You may pay into a warranty for years and never need to use it for repairs. This is money that is lost with no rewards. You’ll most often see this case with newer homes. You also don’t need a special home warranty on a recent build if it is still covered under the builder’s warranty. For example, most appliances come with a two- or five-year manufacturer’s warranty, so you wouldn’t need a separate home warranty.

In the end, the decision comes down to you and how prepared you feel you are to pay for unexpected expenses. It also depends on how old the home is you’re buying or if you will get more offers if you’re selling. Call me today, I would be more than happy to answer any questions you might have about the home buying process, Pam Snowden 817-690-0976.

Pam Snowden

Realty World Professionals

817-690-0976 (cell)

Pam@pamsnowden.com

www.PamSnowden.com

Image courtesy American Advisors Group/flickr.com

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4 Signs You Need a New Roof

One of the biggest expenses a homeowner has to deal with is roof repairs. If you own your home long enough, you will need to replace it with a new roof. Here are four signs it may be time to talk to a roofing expert about a brand new roof.

Age

While damage may be caused by storms, older roofs often need to be replaced rather than repaired. Depending on the type of roof you have, you may need to have it replaced after 20 or 25 years. Even though timely repairs can extend the life of your roof, in time the only option will be a new one.

Curling, Buckling or Missing Shingles

Take the time to inspect your roof. If you notice the shingles are curling or buckling or you see a significant number of missing shingles, it’s likely that your roof is at the end of its life. They get brittle as they dry out in the sun. Pay special attention to the valleys in the roof. Missing shingles in this area will lead to leaks, causing further damage to your home.

Shingle Granules

Notice the coloring of the shingles. If you see patches that are darker than other areas, it’s a sign the granules have worn away. This indicates the shingles have worn out and need replaced.

Soft Decking

Walk around on the roof. If you notice a bouncy feeling, it is an indication that the underlying decking material has gotten soft from moisture. Go into the attic and look for daylight in the roof or wetness in the insulation. This is a sign that there are leaks in your roof.

How to Tell If It is Time to Replace the Roof

Many times, these issues can be repaired rather than taking on the expense of replacement. However, if your roof is near the end of its life, you’ll only be putting a temporary bandage on the problem and delaying the inevitable.

Different types of roofs have various life expectancies. For example, a cedar shake roof will last around 20 years if cared for. Asphalt shingles can last for up to 25 years or even longer. Tile roofs seldom need replaced, but the individual tiles can break. Concrete should last for as long as you own the house.

Take care of your roof to prevent other issues that cost money, such as damage to the structure of your home. A regular roof inspection can tell you when you need to make repairs or replace it. Call me for a local referral, Pam Snowden 817-690-0976.

Pam Snowden

Realty World Professionals

817-690-0976 (cell)

Pam@pamsnowden.com

www.PamSnowden.com

Image courtesy Herry Lawford/flickr.com

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DIY Painting Tips

Interior painting is probably the most common update that homeowners make themselves. Even if you have never painted before, with the right supplies and some effort, you can update the paint in your home without being overwhelmed. Here are some basic tips if you want to tackle this project on your own without having to pay a professional to repaint when you are through.

  • Buy the right supplies and don’t skimp on them. You can’t expect a professional looking paint job if your supplies are of poor quality. If you aren’t sure what you need, ask when you purchase your paint.
  • Take the time to tape off the area you will be painting. There will be drips and possibly even spills. Don’t let that become a huge mess. Tape off the walls, ceilings or trim that isn’t being painted and put drop cloths on the floor.
  • Remove outlet and switch plate covers before painting. After you remove them, tape over the outlets and light switches so you don’t get paint on them.
  •  Don’t just jump into the painting. Do the necessary research to figure out what kind of prep work your walls will need to make the paint go on smoothly. At a minimum, walls will need a thorough cleaning but they may also require other steps if the walls are damaged or you are covering a dark color or rough texture.
  • At a minimum, you will probably have some nail holes that need to be filled in. This can be easily accomplished with a small amount of spackle or caulk. You will then need to let the area dry and sand it smooth. After sanding, you will need to clean the area again to remove any dust.
  • If you are painting an area that requires more than one can of paint, it is a good idea to mix the cans together into a larger bucket in case there are slight variations in the color of each can.
  • Different types of bristles on paint brushes are used to best apply certain types of paint. For water-based paint, use nylon bristles, natural bristles for oil-based paint and nylon and polyester for latex paint.
  • When selecting rollers, match the length of the nap to the type of surface you are painting. Smooth surfaces use a shorter nap while textured surfaces like popcorn ceilings will require a longer nap.
  • If you need to do more than one coat, let the first coat dry before you add a second one.
  • When you are finished, save your extra paint for touchups. A baby food jar is a great option if you only have a small amount remaining.
  • Clean your tools right away when you are finished so that you can save them for another time. If you let the paint dry on them, it will be much more difficult to get the paint off.

Now that you have educated yourself on the process, it’s time to get started if you can decide what color paint you want to use. Start small and take your time. Call me for a local referral to help with your home renovation goals, Pam Snowden 817-690-0976.

Pam Snowden

Realty World Professionals

817-690-0976 (cell)

Pam@pamsnowden.com

www.PamSnowden.com

Image courtesy of capri23auto/pixabay.com

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To Pool or Not to Pool?

Many people enjoy nothing more than a trip to the pool on a hot summer day. Swimming, lounging, playing water volleyball or getting in a full body workout are all great ways to use a pool. The idea of being able to walk out your back door and dive in the pool can be very enticing but there are pros and cons to becoming a pool owner so how do you decide what is best for you?

First, let’s start with the fun parts of installing a pool in the backyard. No more treks to the neighborhood or community pool with chairs, sunscreen, snacks, drinks, towels and floats. Don’t worry about forgetting anything either because if you do, just step inside and grab what you need. For convenience, the backyard pool gets major points.

If you are looking for an easy way to work out without having to leave the house, few exercise programs offer a full body workout like swimming without an entire room of equipment. You can get a great workout with just goggles and a bathing suit and not have to worry about what time the gym closes each day. This is definitely another win. 

Pools can also be a great place to hang out. If your kids are always bored or you like to have friends over on the weekends, the pool will offer instant pleasure for kids and adults alike.

So far, it all sounds like fun but there are some negatives as well. The pool will require some extra work for maintenance and this doesn’t come without an expense. Even if you take care of pool maintenance yourself, it won’t be cheap. First, you will have to pay for water to fill it and keep it full, chemicals to maintain the balance of the water, equipment to keep it clean and possibly a cover or other accessories.

Add in chairs for the pool deck, towels for you and your guests and things can add up quickly. If your yard wasn’t already fenced, your insurance company may require this and your insurance premiums will likely increase as well because of the added liability of the pool. If you decide to install a pool heater to increase the amount of time you can use your pool, this will be an added expense as well.

While a pool party is lots of fun, it can also be dangerous if people aren’t acting responsibly and there isn’t enough supervision. Children should never swim unsupervised even if they are strong swimmers.

Pools can create a challenge when it comes time to sell your home down the road. Many people aren’t comfortable with having a pool in their backyard so they will not consider your home. There will be some people just like you that find the idea of their own pool exciting that will be interested in your home but you are extremely unlikely to get much of a return on your investment.

Don’t make this decision quickly or lightly. Take your time to weigh the pros and cons and make sure a pool will add enough benefits to your lifestyle that you don’t mind the added risks. Contact me today at 817.690.0976 for a consultation. I will be happy to answer any questions you may have, and/or help you with the home buying process.

Pam Snowden

Realty World Professionals

817-690-0976 (cell)

Pam@pamsnowden.com

www.PamSnowden.com

Photo by Angelo Pantazis on Unsplash

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Inexpensive Curb Appeal

Have you considered your home’s curb appeal? When you are selling your home, curb appeal creates that first impression that the buyer carries throughout the time they spend touring your house. It can make or break whether a buyer even decides to tour your home or not. Sellers need to do all they can to make a home’s facade the best it can be.

Curb appeal clues the buyer in to what life might be like living in your house, so taking care of these things now are a priority. The big things are obvious: mow regularly, make sure exterior paint isn’t peeling…but once you’ve done all that, there are some small and inexpensive curb appeal improvements that make a huge difference.

  • Make sure the path from your buyer’s car to the entrance is free of kid’s toys, lawn care items, fallen twigs or other debris. Stepping over or around items detracts from the flow of the tour right at the beginning.
  • A fresh coat of paint makes a door look brand new. Once the impression of “new” or “well-kept” is formed in the buyer’s mind – that impression sticks with him or her throughout the rest of the house.
  • A manicured lawn gives the impression of a carefully tended home. Grass creeping over the sidewalks doesn’t necessarily look sloppy, but an inch or two of space between the lawn and the sidewalk makes the entire yard look neat and well-kept.
  • Thin out plants that are creeping into the zone of other plants. Landscape style is trending toward openness and even minimalism, so space between plants and shrubs gives that airy and clean appearance that buyers value.
  • Add color. Bright flowers can do wonders for the facade of a home, drawing the eye where you want it. Work a few blooms into the landscape if you can. Or, if you don’t want to go digging, use strategically-placed planters and hanging baskets to greet your buyers.
  • Bring in new mulch. Mulch fades with time, giving landscaping a drab gray base. Bright mulch creates contrast with the colors of flowers and shrubbery, giving them a healthier and more appealing appearance.

Consider taking the time to complete these tasks if you are planning to sell your home. You’ll be amazed at the difference you can make in such a short time, and what an impact your home will have on potential buyers. Contact me today at 817-690-0976 for a consultation. I will be happy to answer any questions you may have, and/or help you determine the value of your home.

Pam Snowden

Realty World Professionals

817-690-0976 (cell)

Pam@pamsnowden.com

www.PamSnowden.com

Image courtesy of Briget Murphy/Flickr.com

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