RE/MAX Advantage I



Posted by Mark Consolmagno Michelle Curran Team on 6/24/2020

If this is your first time buying a home, you might be worried that you aren’t asking enough questions. Or maybe you’re concerned you’re not asking the right questions--the things that matter the most when making a financial decision as important and life-changing as buying a home.  

While everyone’s situation is unique when buying a home, there are some questions that all buyers could benefit from asking. These questions will help you learn more about the home, how competitive the house is, and how much work you’ll need to put into it.

Since time is usually of the essence for people buying a home, it makes sense to ask questions early on so that you don’t waste too much time exploring an option that isn’t ideal for your situation.

In this article, we’re going to give you 5 important questions to ask when you talk to a seller and their agent so that you can be prepared to make the best decision for you or your family.

1. How flexible is the asking price?

While few sellers or agents will outright tell you if they’d accept a lower offer, it’s still a good idea to ask this question, as it will open up a conversation about the seller’s feelings toward the home and whether they’re pricing high with the hopes of receiving slightly lower offers.

2. How many offers has the home received?

It may seem counterintuitive, but most agents and sellers will be quite happy to tell you if they’ve received other offers. They know that once you know the current offer you’ll have to either come up with a higher offer or move on. It’s a win-win for you and the seller, as it equips both of you with information you need to make the best choice.

3. Why are the sellers moving away?

This question can be personal, so if you receive an answer that suggests it’s a family matter, don’t press for too many details. However, some sellers and agents will let you know exactly why the house is for sale. From this simple question, you can learn the seller’s timeline for making the sale, details about the schools or neighborhoods, and any other reason that might drive someone to move out of the neighborhood.

4. Are there any problems with the house that you know of?

Although you’ll have an inspection contingency in your contract if you do decide to make an offer on the home, it’s better to know if there are any issues with the home before going through the bidding process.

Most sellers understand this and will be upfront about any problems with the home, including repairs that need to be made now or will need to be made soon after you move in.

5. What is the average cost of utilities?

Buying a home comes with a lot of added costs and fees. However, many people forget about the changes in the cost of utilities that comes with buying a home--especially if you’re moving from an apartment where some utilities may have been included.

The seller will be able to give you a good estimate on the cost of electricity, garbage removal, internet, heat, and more.




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Posted by Mark Consolmagno Michelle Curran Team on 4/1/2020

The US government has been helping Americans achieve their goal of homeownership for decades. Through programs offered by the Federal Housing Authority, the USDA, and the Department of Veterans Affairs, millions of Americans have been able to afford a home who would have otherwise struggled.

The focus of today’s post is one such service: loans offered through the USDA Rural Development program.

If you’re hoping to buy a home in the near future but are worried about being able to save up enough for a down payment or build your credit score in time, USDA loans could be a viable option.

Let’s take a look at some of the common questions people have about USDA loans:

Do I have to live in the middle of nowhere to get a USDA loan?

The short answer is “no.” rural development loan eligibility for your area is laid out on a map provided by the USDA. Most of the suburbs outside of major cities, as well as nearly all rural areas, are covered by the rural development program.

Can I qualify for a USDA loan if I’ve previously owned a home?

Yes. You may be eligible for a loan as long as you’re not the current owner of a home that was purchased through the rural development program. So, for example, if you own a home financed through the USDA and wanted to buy a second home and rent out the first one, you wouldn’t be able to finance your second home through the USDA.

How does the USDA loan guarantee work?

When you buy a home, a lender asks you to make a down payment. If you don’t have a down payment, the government (USDA, VA, or FHA) insures the down payment on your home rather than you paying it up front.

Will I have to pay mortgage insurance?

Unlike other subsidized loans, rural development loans require a “guarantee fee” rather than PMI (private mortgage insurance). The guarantee fee is 1% the total mortgage amount and this can typically be financed into the loan (so you don’t have to pay up front). In addition to the guarantee fee, USDA loans also charge an annual premium for the lifetime of a loan.

What are the qualifications for a USDA loan?

To find full eligibility information, complete the survey on the USDA’s eligibility website to find out if you qualify. However, the general qualifications are:

  • U.S. citizenship

  • Buying a home in a qualifying area

  • 24 months of income history

  • A credit score of 640 or higher for streamlined processing

  • Income high enough so that your monthly payments do not exceed 29% of your monthly earnings

What is the direct loan program?

The USDA really offers multiple urban development loans. The guarantee program, for which most single families utilize, and the direct loan program. Direct loans are designed for families who have the greatest need. You can also find out if you’re eligible for a direct loan by filling out the questionnaire on their website.







Posted by Mark Consolmagno Michelle Curran Team on 3/25/2020

If you want to buy a house, it helps to plan ahead as much as possible. That way, you can increase the likelihood of a fast, seamless homebuying journey.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you prepare to enter the housing market, and ultimately, ensure that you can enjoy a speedy homebuying experience.

1. Focus on Specific Cities and Towns

Consider what you want to find in your dream house. Then, you can fine-tune your dream home criteria and narrow your house search.

For example, if you prefer small town living to life in the big city, you may want to search for houses in various towns in your state of choice. Or, if you want to buy a house near your office in the city, you can browse residences in or near the city itself.

Differentiating your dream home must-haves and wants can make a world of difference too. Because if you know exactly what you want to find in your ideal residence, you can streamline your house search and accelerate the homebuying journey.

2. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage

The process of filling out a mortgage application and getting approval from a bank or credit union can be long and arduous. And if you submit an offer a house without financing in hand, you may face a time crunch to get a mortgage as well.

When it comes to home financing, it pays to be proactive. If you start searching for a mortgage today, you may be able to save time down the line.

For instance, if you meet with a bank or credit union, you can learn about a variety of mortgage options. Next, you can select a mortgage that matches your needs, and this mortgage will allow you to enter the housing market with a budget. With this budget at your disposal, you can narrow your search to houses that fall within your price range.

3. Employ a Real Estate Agent

Let's face it – few homebuyers have the necessary time and resources to conduct a comprehensive home search. Luckily, real estate agents are available to help you discover your dream house in no time at all.

A real estate agent will learn about your homebuying goals and find out what you want from your dream house. With this information, a real estate agent can provide you with details about houses that fulfill your criteria.

Furthermore, a real estate agent is a housing market expert who will do everything possible to help you buy a high-quality residence. He or she will teach you about the housing market and provide extensive insights into real estate patterns and trends. Also, a real estate agent is happy to respond to your homebuying concerns and questions at any time.

For those who want to buy a house, there is no need to wait to enter the housing market. Instead, use the aforementioned tips, and you can reap the benefits of a quick, stress-free homebuying experience.




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Posted by Mark Consolmagno Michelle Curran Team on 3/18/2020

Your credit score can play a major role in your ability to get the financing that you need to buy a house. As such, you'll want to do everything possible to improve your credit score before you enter the real estate market.

Now, let's take a look at three quick, easy ways to boost your credit score.

1. Pay Off Debt As Quickly As Possible

Get a copy of your credit report from each of the three credit reporting bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). You are entitled to one free copy of your credit report annually from each credit reporting bureau, and you should take advantage of this perk so that you can learn about your outstanding debt.

If you have lots of outstanding debt, you'll want to start paying this off as quickly as possible. Because the less debt that you have, the more likely it becomes that you can get a favorable mortgage from a credit union or bank.

Don't wait to begin paying off outstanding debt. If you pay off even a small portion of your outstanding debt regularly, you can move closer to getting the financing that you need to acquire a terrific house.

2. Avoid New Credit Cards

A low credit score can be worrisome, and it may cause you to consider a variety of options to manage outstanding debt. However, if your credit score is low, there is no need to take out additional credit cards.

New credit cards may seem like viable short-term options to help you cover various expenses while you pay off assorted outstanding debt. But these cards are unlikely to help you resolve the biggest problem – paying off your outstanding debt to bolster your credit score.

Instead of signing up for new credit cards, it often helps to cut back on non-essential bills. For instance, if you don't need cable, you may be able to eliminate this expense and use the money that you save to pay off outstanding debt. Or, if you have first-rate items that you don't need, you may want to sell these items and use the profits to pay off myriad bills.

3. Keep Your Credit Card Balances Low

Once you have paid off your outstanding debt, you'll want to keep your credit card balances low.

It often helps to have one credit card that you can use in emergencies. If you keep one credit card and get rid of any others, you may be better equipped than ever before to maintain a high credit score.

Lastly, if you require additional assistance as you prepare to kick off a home search, you may want to work with a real estate agent. This housing market professional can help you narrow your home search to residences that fall within a specific price range. That way, you can avoid the risk of spending too much to acquire a house.

Increase your credit score – use the aforementioned tips, and you can raise your credit score before you launch a home search.





Posted by Mark Consolmagno Michelle Curran Team on 2/12/2020

An offer to purchase represents a key milestone in the homebuying journey. Ultimately, it helps to plan ahead to ensure you're ready to submit a homebuying proposal. Because if you know what it takes to put together a competitive offer to purchase a house, you can boost the likelihood that a home seller accepts your proposal.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you get ready to submit an offer to purchase.

1. Study the Housing Market

The housing market fluctuates frequently. As such, you may enter a real estate market that favors buyers but slowly shifts into sellers' favor, or vice-versa. But if you examine the real estate sector closely, you can differentiate a buyer's market from a seller's one and submit an offer to purchase that accounts for the current housing market's conditions.

If homes are selling quickly at or above their initial asking prices, you may be working in a seller's market. Comparatively, if houses linger on the real estate market for many weeks or months before they sell, you may be operating in a buyer's market. As you start to craft an offer to purchase a house, you should analyze the real estate market. By doing so, you can submit an offer to purchase that matches a seller's expectations.

2. Get Your Finances in Order

Entering the housing market with a budget in hand usually is beneficial. If you get pre-approved for a mortgage, you can narrow your house search and stick to a budget as you pursue your dream residence.

Banks and credit unions can teach you everything you need to know about fixed- and adjustable-rate mortgages. Perhaps best of all, lenders employ mortgage specialists who can respond to your mortgage concerns and questions. If you collaborate with a lender today, you can get the financing you need to buy a house. Also, you can conduct a search for homes that fall within your price range and reduce the risk of submitting an offer to purchase that surpasses your budget.

3. Avoid a "Lowball" Offer

Submitting a "lowball" offer to purchase a home may seem like a good idea at first. Yet submitting a homebuying proposal that falls short of a seller's expectations is unlikely to help you acquire your dream house.

In most instances, a seller will instantly reject a lowball offer to purchase. And if you receive an immediate "No" from a seller, you risk missing out on the opportunity to purchase your ideal residence.

Allocate time and resources to craft a competitive homebuying proposal – you'll be glad you did. Otherwise, you run the risk of putting together a lowball offer that will miss the mark with a seller and force you to look elsewhere to purchase a house.

Lastly, if you need extra assistance as you perform a house search, you may want to hire a real estate agent. By employing a real estate agent, you should have no trouble crafting a competitive offer to purchase any home, regardless of the housing market's conditions.




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Mark Consolmagno Michelle Curran Team
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