Four Mortgage Misconceptions to Watch For

The process of buying a house feels like trying to finish a level on Super Mario World—one minute you’re bumping along on Yoshi and the next minute you miscalculate and sink into a bottomless pit. Here are four things to watch out for before you run out of lives.

  1. Your credit score doesn’t matter for anything other than approval. Ouch! That’s not a Koopa but it’s close—your credit score determines not just your approval but your rate. The rate you’re going to have to live with for the duration of the loan. Make sure your credit score is looking healthy using these tips. (link)
  2. Your payment is 30% of your income, next level! Not so fast. The rule that your mortgage payment should not equal more than 30% of your income is more complex than it seems. Think of it this way—there’s more to home ownership than just the mortgage payment. There are maintenance expenses, taxes and homeowner’s insurance. If you fail to calculate those expenses into this thirty percent, you will be putting yourself in a sticky financial situation.
  3. You don’t really need a down payment. While this may be factually true—you aren’t required to put down 20% –it’s not a good idea for long term financial house. If you don’t put down a down payment, you will be required to purchase private mortgage insurance, which can be a substantial extra cost in your monthly mortgage payment.
  4. A traditional 30-year mortgage is the way to go. The 30-year mortgage is certainly the most common choice for mortgages, but it may not be the best choice. If you can afford a larger monthly payment for a 15-year loan, you will end up spending a lot less money over the life of your loan. Adjustable rate mortgages can be a good option if you are in a vigorous housing market and only plan to be in a house for a few years—before the rate resets, you will have moved.

We don’t all have to fall into the bottomless pits—in many cases a good real estate and mortgage broker can help you get through these levels and rescue Princess….I mean, buy the house of your dreams.

 

Photo by Cody Hughes @clhughes21

Five Ways to Improve Your Credit Score

Your credit score can sometimes feel like your weight after a long weekend of indulgence. If you never step on the scale, it never happened. Unfortunately, for both our jeans and our credit score, we all know simply refusing to know, doesn’t change the facts. Buying a home, leasing a car, or even getting a job requires a credit check—the step on the scale—and obviously, we want our credit to be in good shape so as to not risk our future. Here are a few tips to achieve a healthy score. Some of them may surprise you!

  1. Keep credit card balances under half of the total credit limit.  Halfway and under says you know how to use credit without abusing credit. If you have more than that on your balance already, make getting under half your first financial goal.
  2. Stop using so many credit cards. Pay off credit card balances on small cards and use one or two cards for all purchases. Start with cards you only use once in a while and are easy to pay off, like store credit. Request a lower interest rate on the one or two cards you decide to keep. Bonus, you have an excuse for a smaller (new) wallet (budgeted, of course).
  3. But don’t get rid of old debt and good accounts. You can’t have good credit, if there isn’t any credit at all. Keep stable, low interest, high reward accounts open. The history of being able to use credit and repay, is what counts. Keeping these accounts can help illustrate a long repayment history.
  4. Pay bills on time. Many late payments will negatively impact your score.
  5. Review your credit report once a year in January. If you notice any errors, report these problems to each of the three major credit bureaus—Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax.

If you follow these small steps to steadily improve your credit, it will never come as a nasty surprise right when you don’t need it. Your pants on the other hand….there’s no guarantees.

Four Steps to Get Ready to Buy

Buying a home in Charlotte’s real estate market can sometimes feel like watching the news footage on Black Friday sales. Homes are selling within hours and everyone else seems to know to run for the TV in the back, while you’re still trying to get through the door. Having a trusted voice to cut through the noise is the first thing you need, but here’s what else you need to know so you’re ready to buy in Charlotte.

  1. Save: We all know to save for a down payment. What you don’t know is that lenders are also looking for a prospective borrower who has several months’ mortgage payments saved up. A prospective borrower who is only looking for loans that will allow them to put as little down as possible, sometimes 3%, not the typical 20%, is not going to be as competitive as someone with a down payment and savings. Lenders will give a borrower a little wiggle room if they have a lot of savings, but not much for annual earnings or credit score.
  2. Check your credit score: The higher your credit score, the lower your down payment and/or monthly mortgage payments could be. Tips for improving your credit score? Hack away at credit card debt, don’t apply for any new lines of credit for a few months prior to your home purchase, and avoid closing out any accounts. Wait to make any large purchases like furniture, TVs, etc. until after the closing date of your home.
  3. Get pre-approved: Sellers are getting multiple offers nowadays, and this is a great way to set yourself apart from the competition. Get pre-approved, not simply pre-qualified. This means your loan officer will collect financial information, run a full credit report, and give you a clear price range based off a mortgage amount that won’t overextend you on a monthly basis.
  4. But before you buy:. You need to prepare to move on from your current situation. Do you need to sell a home before you can purchase your next property? If you need to sell your home first, you’ll need to get your property ready for the sale. Like yesterday. A real estate agent will help you through this process—see here for how to pick an agent that is the best fit for your situation. If you don’t currently own, is your lease term up in a few months? If so, how much time do you need to find a home? If you’re renting, does your lease convert to a month-to-month term at the end of the lease? If so, how much notice do you need to give your landlord or property manager?

Regardless of the situation, be prepared so you’re not left outside while everyone else manages to grab the good stuff.

 

Photo by Cody Hughes @clhughes21