Tips from Allison: Buying Your Home

Buying a Home

Buying a home is probably the biggest investment you will make, with long-term financial ramifications. It calls for many informed decisions and for good advice from a real estate professional. When buying a home you will benefit from the knowledge and skill of Allison Steilberg.

What can we do to help you buy the right home for you?

  • We will help you determine how much home you can actually afford. Often, we can suggest additional ways to accrue the down payment and explain alternative financing methods. We can also introduce you to a mortgage counselor and arrange to have you "pre-approved" which can improve your negotiating position and enable you to achieve your home-buying objectives faster and with less stress.
  • Providing client level services, we can work for you as a buyer's agent and help negotiate the best price and terms for you. Or, we can serve as a seller's sub-agent (or disclosed dual agent), acting as a liaison between you and the seller to present offers and counteroffers until an agreement is reached.
  • We will help you work out a realistic idea of the home best suited to your needs - size, style, features, location, accessibility to schools, transportation, shopping, and other personal preferences.
  • Allison and I have access to a listing of all available homes in the multi-list system, we can evaluate them in terms of your needs and affordability, and will not waste your time showing you unsuitable homes.
  • We can often suggest simple, imaginative changes that could make a home more suitable for you and improve its utility and value.
  • We can supply information on real estate values, taxes, utility costs, municipal services and facilities, and may be aware of proposed zoning changes that could affect your decision to buy. Our blog has up to date community information, use the link to go to JAX Real Estate Facts.
  • Although the law does not normally require an attorney to review documents or oversee real estate closings, we can provide you with a list of law practitioners to choose from if you would like to use the services of an attorney.
  • We can help familiarize you with the closing process and we will obtain closing figures in advance of closing for your review.
  • Allison and I can provide you with a list of qualified home inspectors, pest inspectors, surveyors, and help to coordinate inspection appointments.


Top 10 Tips to Successful Home Buying

Tip #1: Research Is The Key To Discovery

Home sellers won't call you with an offer to buy a maintenance-free home with a wonderful mortgage. You have to find the gems by yourself or with the professional assistance of a Realtor like ourselves! Our website has available materials to help you learn, and we'll spending time looking at different homes, schools, and neighborhoods, so you can have the home you've been working toward. Use our Property Watch tools to research properties in the neighborhoods that interest you. Property Watch allows you to save your searches and receive updates on new listings as they come on the market, and you can keep detailed notes on any homes you choose as favorites. The information you collect is just a login away!

Tip #2: Choosing The Right Time To Buy

Ownership is an excellent opportunity. Building a savings portfolio for the future is extremely important and home ownership is one of the biggest contributors. All the stars need not be aligned for you to determine the right time to buy, but there are critical components for your consideration;

You should have significant savings. The minimum down payment typically requires 3 percent to 5 percent of the purchase price, but minimums come at addtional costs. If you've been able to save 20 percent or more you'll most likely be able to secure a better interest rate and you'll have lower costs.

How stable is your life? Buying a home is a great plan for you and your family, but job loss or transfer soon after buying your home might risk your investment. As you'll discover in #4 below, prices are increasing much slower than in the past and being forced to sell too soon could make it very difficult to recoup your investment.

Check Interest Rates. Some coaching from Allison and I might be valuable to insure you get a desirable interest rate on your mortgage. Remember long term plans are effected by reoccuring small intervals over time, so every monthly payment you make is effected by the interest rate you got at the beginning. Paying to lock-in a lower interest rate might be worth it in the long run.

Tip #3: Develop A Plan That Involves Getting Pre-Qualified

We'll help you determine how much home you can afford. Developing a home buying plan can help you focus on the important factors and organize the entire process. We suggest you use a binder with sections on house hunting, home financing, service providers, etc. Loan pre-qualifying helps you determine the home price you can afford and presents you as a genuine prospect to the seller. A lender typically uses the 28% formula (your monthly mortgage can't exceed 28% of your monthly income) in approving your loan. Allowing us to help plan your actions and get you pre-qualified will keep you out of the panic mode and allow you to take advantage of opportunities. A thorough plan will save both time and money!

Tip #4: Value Starts In Research

The days of 10-30% annual appreciation have passed. Homebuyers in the 2000 - 2007 era benefited tremendously from what seemed like ever appreciating home prices. Nowadays, you're looking at slow growth while guarding against the possibilities of falling prices, skyrocketing ARM rates and corporate layoffs that can dramatically affect your home values. The classic rule of buying the worst house in the best neighborhood still applies and Allison and I are experts in these neighborhoods. If you buy with an eye towards improvement, you can customize the home to fit your needs. The saying, "make money buying a home, not selling one," should keep you focused on the long-term importance of the purchasing price.

Tip #5: Create And Prioritize Your Top List Of Amenities

When shopping for a home, list the features (fireplace, fenced-in yard, new appliances, etc.) that are most important to you in deciding on which home to buy. Establishing "your criteria" early on will save time shopping for inappropriate homes and may keep you from buying a home on a whim. Using the advanced criteria of our property search engine to filter your search results may help you narrow in on the properties you'd like to compare. As detailed in Tip #3, your top reason for buying a home should be the value you are getting. Some of your top 10 amenities should logically be sacrificed if an incredible value is available.

Tip #6: Which is Right For You, Fixed or Adjustable Rate Mortgages

Adjustable rate mortgages have an initial fixed rate, which is followed by a period of adjustment intervals during which the rate adjusts based on the performance of several key indexes. Typically the initial fixed rate on an ARM is slighly lower than the comparable rate of a fixed rate mortgage.

Fixed rate mortgages allowe buyers to take out a long term loan without having to worry about changing interest rates or monthly payments. Most fixed rate loans are offered in either 15 or 30 year terms.

Most buyers will be well served by a fixed rate loan, but each situation is unique. While ARM loans have become less popular in recent years, they can still be a viable option for some buyers - especially those who plan on selling again in the short term. 

Whichever loan you choose; we'll help you make sure that you've scrutinized all the closing costs. If you are required to have a mortgage escrow account and private mortgage insurance, we'll make sure you understand the terms and cancellation procedures, and make sure there are no prepayment penalties so you can utilize an accelerated mortgage plan if desired. A good mortgage reduction plan can save you tens of thousands in interest costs, and shorten your loan term, with only small extra principal payments. If you experience negative changes in your job, health, or marital status, you can revert to the standard payments in your mortgage contract.

Tip #7: Sign A Contract That Protects You

Allison and I make sure the contract you put on a house allows you to arrange financing, inspection of the home and negotiation on any problems that are uncovered. Our experience ensures that the contract you sign will minimize potential legal battles so you can swim in your new pool with your family instead of with the sharks.

Tip #8: Put Yourself In The Seller's Shoes

You are about to make one of the most important decisions that will affect both your life and the life of the seller. It's easier to allow us to obtain information from the seller so you can understand the reasons the seller bought the home, their reasons for selling, and the home improvements they have or have not made, with our service you'll be in a better position to evaluate the home and negotiate a better deal.

Tip #9: A Quality Home Inspection Enhances Your Savings

Although it is hard to believe, more people pay for inspections before buying used cars than when making the biggest investment of their lives - their homes. Paying for a qualified home inspection before you buy a home isn't just spending "a little extra" for peace of mind; it's absolutely essential for anyone who doesn't want to spend thousands of dollars for repairs.

Tip#10: Peace Of Mind: Home Protection Plans

A home warranty, or home protection plan, is a service contract, normally for one year, which protects homeowners against the cost of unexpected repairs or replacement of their major systems and appliances that break down due to normal wear and tear. This type of contract negotiated between the buyer and seller can save the new homeowner lots of headaches, as well as put a seller's fears to rest. The warranty covers mechanical breakdowns, while your homeowner insurance typically repairs the related damage. For example: if a hot water heater burst and destroyed a wall in your home, the warranty would repair the water heater and your insurance would pay to fix the wall.