Tag Archives: realtor in savannah

The Worst Things You Can Do Before Buying A Home . . .

10 Mar

Cynics may scoff, but getting under contract on the right home can turn even the most stoic shopper into a bit of a dreamer. From paint colors to planting a garden, picturing yourself in that property is critical for many buyers.

But leave a little room for pragmatism. Remember that getting pre-approved for a mortgage and even under contract isn’t a guarantee. That prefix is there for a reason. Loan pre-approval is not loan approval.

You’ll have more hurdles to clear before a lender legally commits to funding your home loan. Buyers who don’t know any better can inadvertently add obstacles to that path, or even kill the entire deal between contract and closing day.

Some missteps can be costlier than others. Here’s a look at five of the worst things you can do before buying a home.

1. Go Credit-Crazy

It’s almost become cliché in the mortgage industry, but the warning still bears repeating: Don’t buy a truckload of furniture until after your loan closes. The prohibition goes beyond sofas and settees,  avoid obtaining credit for any major expense, such as a car, a boat or, yes, a new bedroom set.

Be careful with even minor expenses. If you absolutely need to obtain new credit or accrue debt before closing, talk with your loan officer as soon as possible.

New payments are going to affect your monthly debt-to-income ratio (and residual income on a VA loan), and not in a good way. Hard inquiries on your credit report could also lower your credit score. That might hurt your interest rate if you haven’t locked or even knock you out of qualifying range all together.

2. Shuffle Dollars and Cents

Lenders will scour your most recent bank statement as part of the pre-approval process. It’s not like they forget about it after that. They’ll take another look at your assets and bank records again during the underwriting process.

You’ll need to explain any unusual deposits or withdrawals. Lenders will require clear documentation and a paper trail if you’re putting gift funds toward a down payment or closing costs. Stuffing a wad of undocumented cash into your account is going to raise some red flags.

3. Get Behind on Bills

Having a late payment hit your credit report before closing can devastate your deal. Payment history comprises about a third of your credit score.

One solitary 30-day late payment can clip 60 to 110 points from your credit score. Maybe not a huge deal if you had an 800 score, right?

Possibly. But if that 30-day late blemish is a mortgage or rent payment, some lenders will boot your application altogether. Many will require at least 12 consecutive months of on-time payments to qualify for a home loan.

4. Co-Sign on a Loan

Co-signing a loan is arguably a bad financial move whenever you make it. But it’s especially risky during the mortgage lending process. It means you’re financially liable for someone else’s debt.

Yes, that someone else might be the most responsible person on the planet. Lenders will still need to factor that new monthly obligation into your overall affordability profile. Adding one more debt to the list could stretch too thin your debt-to-income ratio and assets.

5. Changes in Employment

Probably goes without saying, but losing your job is going to be a big problem. Even job-hopping can present some major hurdles. Lenders crave stable, reliable income that’s likely to continue.

Lenders are likely to slam on the brakes if you take a new job in a different field. Or if you decide to start your own business. Or even if you get a promotion but see some or all of your income shift to a commission basis.

The bottom line: Any change to your employment is significant. Keep your loan officer in the loop, and ask questions when in doubt. The last thing you want is to waste time and money on a home loan you’re never going to get.

Throughout the mortgage process, it can also be helpful to monitor your credit scores for changes so you can know whether you need to address any problems. To do that, you can use a free tool like Credit.com’s Credit Report Card, which updates your credit scores and an overview of your credit report every month.

This article was written by Chris Birk and originally published on Credit.com.

Feng Shui 101

3 Mar

Whether you have been practicing Feng Shui for years or never heard of it, here are a 5 Feng Shui concepts to help a home sell.

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  • Pay special attention to the front door, which is considered the “mouth of chi” (chi is the “life force” of all things) and one of the most powerful aspects of the entire property. Abundance, blessings, opportunities, and good fortune enter through the front door. It’s also the first impression buyers have of how well the sellers have taken care of the rest of the property. Make sure the area around the front door is swept clean, free of cobwebs and clutter. Make sure all lighting is straight and properly hung. Better yet, light the path leading up to the front door to create an inviting atmosphere.
  • Chi energy can be flushed away wherever there are drains in the home. To keep the good forces of a home in, always keep the toilet seats down and close the doors to bathrooms.
  • The master bed should be in a place of honor, power, and protection, which is farthest from and facing toward the entryway of the room. It’s even better if you can place the bed diagonally in the farthest corner. Paint the room in colors that promote serenity, relaxation, and romance, such as soft tones of green, blue, and lavender.
  • The dining room symbolizes the energy and power of family togetherness. Make sure the table is clear and uncluttered during showings. Use an attractive tablecloth to enhance the look of the table while also softening sharp corners.
  • The windows are considered to be the eyes of the home. Getting the windows professionally cleaned will make the home sparkle and ensure that the view will be optimally displayed.

7 Bathroom Remodeling Trends

27 Feb

What’s trending in bathroom remodels? Houzz recently released its 2014 Winter Bathroom Trends Study showing the top bathroom remodel preferences of more than 7,500 home owners in the U.S. and Canada. The report shows that 60 percent of home owners are targeting the master bathroom for their bathroom remodels. The two main drivers for their remodels: To upgrade features and fixtures as well as to make space more functional.

Here are some of the growing trends that emerged from the Houzz report:

#1 Goodbye, bathtubs. The bathtub is starting to move out of the master bathroom. More than four in 10 – 43 percent – are forgoing a bathtub in the master bathroom, according to the report.

#2 Frameless glass is “in.” The majority of the home owners surveyed say they prefer glass shower enclosures and frameless glass. Glass block is “out,” according to the report.

#3 Let there be lots of light. Adding light was one of the top goal for home owners with their bathroom remodels, from adding windows to skylights to LED lights in the showerhead.

#4 Showing showerhead preferences. Rain and multiple showerheads are the clear choice for home owners under 45, while the 55-plus age group tends to prefer hand showers and sliding bars.

#5 Seeing white. White cabinets are the top choice in master bathrooms (with medium and dark wood coming in No. 2 and No. 3, respectively). Maple is the most common type of wood used, followed by cherry and oak.

#6 Silver bling. Silver-tone faucets remain the most popular, with brushed nickel topping the list. Polished chrome is also popular, while brushed bronze came in as the least popular choice for current bathroom remodels.

#7 Unique powder rooms. The powder room is getting more unique features than other bathrooms. Hardwood floors, wallpaper, pedestal sinks, and furniture-like cabinets are more commonly used in these spaces than in other bathrooms.

 

 

7 Bathroom Remodeling Trends. reposted from Realtormag.com by Melissa Dittmann Tracy

There’s No Place Like Home!

31 Dec

Shawnna is an ER nurse and is well deserving of some R-n-R in her beautiful new home. Even here in this picture she seems to be shutting her eyes and clicking her heels together…There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home! Thank you and congrats Shawnna!

shawnna

The Victorian District

27 Aug

The Victorian District

Is an area developed from 1870 to 1910. In 1869 a streetcar system was installed. The boundaries are roughly East Broad on the East, MLK on the West, Anderson Lane on the South and Gwinett St. on the North. It is here where we start to notice the lack of parks or square between the grids, and have the patch of grass between street and sidewalk, and small gardens in front of the homes. The homes here are beautifully embellished with ornate details. Sadly, with the mass production of the automobile, also cam a depression in the area as residents were able to drive out to suburban areas. However, active revitalization is underway. Prices in the area vary.

Happy Birthday Leopold’s!

20 Aug

LeopoldsIceCream1LargeUnless you have been living under a rock in the city limits of Savannah Georgia, you know who and what Leopold’s is. For those of you new-comer’s, let me explain..

In 1919, Peter, George & Basil Leopold set up shop as an ice cream shop downtown at the corner of Gwinett and Habersham. It was here that Peter refined his knowledge of ice cream making, to the delight of any American. The ice cream shop was in full swing for about 50 years, with regulars such as the famed Johnny Mercer! The centennial of Mercer’s birth is being celebrated in Savannah this year, and Leopold’s has developed a special flavor of ice cream, Huckleberry Cheesecake, in his honor.

Stratton Leopold took the helm when his father and one of his uncles passed away.  Savannah saw  a dark day, when Stratton closed Leopold’s to pursue his dream as a movie producer in Los Angeles.  After some time, Stratton was taking up residence in both cities. It was then that locals saw the opportunity to shamelessly beg for Stratton to re open the beloved ice cream shop.

And so, he did. In 2004 Leopold’s was back in business at a new location, 212 E. Broughton Street! The new store was designed by Academy Award-nominated designer Dan Lomino, who incorporated many original fixtures, including the soda fountain, at the new location.

This weekend is the Celebration! There will be specials, including 90 cent ice cream and sodas, that will be available Saturday from 11-11.  There will be birthday cake at 3:30, and live music,and dancing.

Be there, or be square!

First Time Buyer Tax Credit: Advance Topic “Monetization”

14 Aug

creditI’m sure by now, everyone has heard about the Federal First Time Buyer Tax Credit. You know, the free $8,000 you can get back at tax time if you purchase a home as a first time buyer? There are a few other pieces of information that are worth a mention. But first, let me recap the basics of the Federal First Time Buyer Tax Credit, aka American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009:

  • The tax credit is for first-time home buyers only. For the tax credit program, the IRS defines a first-time home buyer as someone who has not owned a principal residence during the three-year period prior to the purchase.
  • The tax credit does not have to be repaid.

  • The tax credit is equal to 10 percent of the home’s purchase price up to a maximum of $8,000.

  • The credit is available for homes purchased on or after January 1, 2009 and before December 1, 2009.

  • Single taxpayers with incomes up to $75,000 and married couples with incomes up to $150,000 qualify for the full tax credit.

So now that we’ve gone through the refresher, let’s talk about some “advanced” topics regarding the credit. Have you heard of monetization? In relation to the credit, it’s the idea that we can turn the credit into actual cash money. An advance on the anticipated credit. On Friday, May 29, HUD issued Mortgagee Letter 2009-15, which outlines the requirements that must be met in order to monetize the first-time home buyer tax credit.

The tax credit can be monetized in two ways:

  • Qualified individuals (Government) may advance the anticipated credit by creating a second lien (a second “loan” against the property to be purchased).
  • FHA-approved lenders may purchase the anticipated tax credit from a home buyer.

SO LONG AS,

  • The borrower does NOT get cash back
  • The second lien cannot be greater than the sum of the down payment, closing costs, and prepaid expenses.
  • Payments to repay the advance do not have to be counted in the home buyer’s qualifying ratios as long as the payment is deferred at least 36 months from closing.

Which means  you will be able to use the advance to pay closing costs or other expenses, like escrows.

The Downside

The FHA’s required 3.5 percent minimum down payment must still come from the home buyer’s own funds and cannot include any of the money from advancing the credit. Which means you have to get together your own cash for a down payment when using an FHA loan. The only way to get around it is getting a “gift”.  That’s a whole other topic, though. 😉

So as always, I encourage you as a home buyer, to do your homework. Get with a lender and a Realtor. Realize that some people may tell you no along the way, but if you don’t A-S-K, you don’t G-E-T.

Good Luck!

The USDA Loan Program

13 Aug

USDA-RD_web

The first time I heard someone mention a USDA loan, it threw me for a loop. I thought about it for a second, and the only inference I could make is that the USDA is the government regulatory agency for farmers. So, I assumed it was a loan program just for farmers and acreage. I was wrong.  Actually, the USDA loan program is one designed to stimulate the development in “rural” areas, but it’s open to anyone who wants to buy a single family home.

By definition, the USDA loan is a government insured loan program that is designed to make qualifying areas more affordable. In relation to Savannah, anything in Chatham or Effingham County, so long as it’s West of I-95, qualifies.  Stop and think about that folks. That means that a huge chunk of Pooler qualifies, as well as Port Wentworth, Rincon, Guyton, and Springfield. Now that you know where you can get this loan, let’s look at some other qualifications.

  • The USDA loan is considered “100% financing“, which means you don’t have to put any money down. This has the potential to be great! In many cases, you can buy a home for less than what you pay in rent.
  • There is no mortgage insurance premium, like there would be with an FHA loan. ( This is money that is paid into escrow to insure your lender against loss or default on your loan).
  • There is no maximum loan amount. As long as your income and credit can support it, there is no cap on the amount of your loan.
  • Think your credit score is in the can and you can’t qualify? All you need is a credit score of 580 to qualify.
  • ALL USDA loans are 30 year FIXED at whatever the current market rate is.  Today is 5.26% for example.
  • You can purchase re-sell or new construction properties.
  • You may even get approved with Chapter 7 bankruptcy!

There are some downsides to the program:

  • There are income limitations. These limitations are based on your income, and number of people in the household.
  • Also, I think it’s wise to plan to stay in your home a minimum of 3-5 years. At that point, you may have enough equity in the home to move up.

Not to worry though. It’s a great opportunity for many people to purchase a home that aren’t cash friendly. Despite what the media reports, real estate is still a very sound investment, as long as you go about it the right way. Be responsible. Do some investigating. Speak to lenders and get the help of a Realtor!

http://eligibility.sc.egov.usda.gov/eligibility/incomeEligibilityAction.do

USDA Home Loans in Washington