Andy Weiser Fort Lauderdale Realtor Blog

Homebuying Tips If You Are In Your 30s

According to a recent report by credit bureau Experian, the average age of the first time homebuyer is 34 years old. Buying a home in your thirties tends to be easier as you have had more time to save for a down payment, establish good credit and have a better idea of your life’s path. Here are some helpful tips to consider if you are nearing a home purchase. 

Consider Timing

There are just a couple of primary concerns that one should ask themselves when they get close to being ready to purchase a home. For one, can the buyer commit to any location for the next five years. You may not want to buy if you are debating a relocation from a job or growing family soon. Next, you will want to forecast typical ownership costs of upkeep. See if you can comfortably afford what will be necessary to invest in the home regularly. 

Is This Your First Home?

If you already bought a starter home in your twenties then you may be in a good position to upgrade. Take a look at your mortgage balance and weigh that out to what you anticipate clearing if you were to sell. In today’s market you may have a good amount of equity to help put towards the next home.

Consider Home Needs

A lot of change can happen in one’s thirties. This is a time when careers change and families grow so ask yourself some of these questions. Will the home accommodate you if you work from home? Will it have enough space or be in a good school district if you plan on kids? Or ask yourself if it offers a good location to all of the conveniences in your regular lifestyle for the things you like to enjoy.

Go Big

“You’re in a growth stage in your 30s,” adds Haub. “In your 20s, you buy an affordable home just so you can get a stake on the market, keep control of your expenses, and build your savings. In your 30s, you need to buy what you need to raise a family.” says Danielle Hale, chief economist for Realtor.com.

If you can afford a slightly larger home then go for it so you can grow into it. However, if you are spending more than a third of your income on your home then it may be too much for you to afford comfortably.

 Financial Considerations

The first place you should start is to consult with a professional mortgage broker. Only a mortgage broker will be able to review your entire financial situation from income, debt and credit to alert you to just how much you can afford. While they will tell you “on paper” what you can secure for a home loan, you will then have to be realistic with yourself and see how comfortable you will be with taking on the home purchase as you factor in your lifestyle and personal spending habits.

 

Key Purchase Contract Items To Address

Home shopping can be exciting and fun as you tour properties seeing if they are the right fit for you. Seeing different layouts, amenities and features can really get inspiring as you picture yourself making the home truly yours. Once you get to the offer stage then the deal becomes real and it is important to pay special attention to your legal documents. Here are 4 key items to make sure are clearly spelled out in your purchase contract.

The Home Inspection

Even if you plan on gutting and rehabbing a lot of the new home, a home inspection is very important as you can look for things that may be more serious, structural red flags. Trained professionals will help you identify what is what so you know more clearly what you are about to get yourself into. Be sure to have a contingency clause that speaks to the home inspection that covers you should any issue be unearthed that may be more than you are willing to take on.

Financing 

If you are not paying cash for your new home then you will need to seek out financing. You will need to properly do this with a mortgage lender and see what you can get for a loan based on your credit and financial profile. Pay close attention to any dates that financing needs to be completed by. Then this type of loan should be specified in your contract so that sellers can see your financial ability. Furthermore, if you are in fact paying cash that should also be recorded as most sellers prefer it as there are fewer snag possibilities. This actually makes your deal stand out. 

Closing Costs

Closing costs are all of the expenses associated with the purchase including escrow recording, title search, notary fees, title insurance and transfer tax. These items should also be listed out with who is paying for them. It is somewhat common, especially among first time buyers, for the seller to pay a portion of the closing costs.

Closing Date

The closing date is when ownership of the property is finally transferred. This date should be established up front to provide the buyer with plenty of time to complete all the necessary steps. Any other conditions should also be recorded such as a contingency of the buyer’s to sell their current home or the seller needing to find suitable housing before closing. 

Top Red Flags When House Hunting

It is easy to get very excited when touring homes for sale. Especially when you find that one home that appears to be a perfect fit in many ways, you may get easily distracted by the beautiful kitchen, spacious living room or the inviting pool. However, it pays to do a second run through the home with somewhat of a discerning eye. Sure you will have a home inspection, but get a jump on the whole situation by paying close attention to these following items.

Strong scent

Doing a smell test is always a good idea. If there is too strong of a scent that the seller is trying to mask, then that can be a red flag. Candles in every room, plug in fragrances everywhere and the like can tip you off that perhaps they are trying to cover something up. Also do a smell test outside to see what may be going on in the neighborhood.

Tiling

Inspect the tile work in kitchens and bathrooms. See if anything is uneven or looks to have been patched. Especially in bathrooms tiling that has been repaired may indicate there could have been plumbing issues to question. 

Foundation cracks

Most homes will inherently have these as things settle into place over time. However, there is a range that is normal for this. Check for severe cracks in the floors, foundation and even directly outside the home on abutting patios. Check to see if doors and windows open and close properly near these cracks so you know how extensive the issue is.

Deferred maintenance

Seeing a bunch of items neglected can suggest that there may be deferred maintenance on more important items. Check for things like faded paint, leaky faucets, unkempt landscaping and even the condition of an air filter.

Windows

Check the general condition of the windows. Are they old? High impact? Do they open and close properly or get stuck? Check for any bubbling paint near them too that may suggest leaks.

Water damage

Check for this visually and with scent. If it smells musty then that is a red flag. Otherwise look around for damaged paint, leak stains and even warped millwork on baseboards that could indicate there was water damage.

Cosmetic improvements

Question why one wall in a room may look more recently painted than the others. Perhaps there was a recent issue there. Also, it’s not a bad idea to lift up an area rug corner to see the condition of the floor underneath.

In the end your home inspector will catch most of this, but if there are several red flags then you may want to pass and move to the next home unless you are prepared to make significant improvements.

 

Do These 6 Things Before You Close On Your New Home

Whether you are a first time homebuyer or it has been a while since your last home purchase everyone wants to do things right to have a smooth transaction. As you approach the few days leading up to your big closing day, make sure you take care of these important items below. 

Check Your Contingencies

Most purchase and sale documents will have contingencies or things that the buyer must do before the transaction is completed. The most common ones include a home inspection, appraisal and financing contingency. These need to be completed by the buyer and often have dates that they need to be done by so it is important to adhere to them so the deal stays alive.

Check The Title

Buying a home is a large commitment so you will want to make sure the title is clear for when you take ownership. Lenders will assist you with doing a title search but ultimately you will need to purchase title insurance to protect you from any legal claims against the home. You don’t need any distant relative of the seller trying to claim ownership and getting in the way.

Check Approval of Mortgage

There are two main things that you need to follow when you go through the home purchase process with regards to financing. First, make sure that you provide the lender with any and all documents that they request from you while they secure a loan. These typically include bank statements, pay stubs and the like to prove your financial stability. Second, it is important to refrain from any large purchases that may affect your credit. Put off that new car purchase until after you close on the home.

Check Closing Disclosure (CD)

This is your master document that spells out all of what you need to pay to close on the new home. This will spell out the loan terms, closing costs, prepaid items and any other items required for the transaction. You should receive a final copy a few days before your closing so it is wise to cross check this with the initial estimate your lender provided to you earlier on. Should there be any big discrepancies this is the time to ask about them.

Complete Walk-through

Your final walk-through of the home should take place 24 hours before your closing date. This should also be done after the seller has completely vacated the property so that no moving related damages can happen. Make note that everything is in the working order that it should be and there are no surprises.  

Prepare For Closing

As you head off to your actual closing meeting, make sure you have the following items with you: Copy of homeowners insurance, copy of purchase and sale document, home inspection report, loan documents and a government issued ID where your name matches to all documents. Get ready to sign a lot of documents and then collect the keys to your new home! 

What To Ask A Home Inspector

As part of the homebuying process it is always a wise idea to have a home inspection completed by a reputable professional. Even if the home is on the newer side it is a good idea to know exactly what you are getting into. Before you go into this blindly, here are some key questions to ask the inspector before, during and after the inspection. You should also always attend the inspection so you can see things first hand.

 

Pre-Inspection

 

What do you and don’t you inspect?

A home inspection is supposed to be as thorough as possible with reviewing everything from top to bottom. However, there are some limitations where they are restricted to visual inspection. For example holes won’t be cut into walls to dive in deeper to things. 

What do you charge and what is your experience?

These are very important questions you should ask up front. Find out what it is going to cost for the size of home you are purchasing and do some research on the inspector’s experience. In some areas some inspectors are also more savvy with certain types of homes like a historic one by example.

How long does it take?

Relay the size of the home to the inspector to gauge a ballpark time frame for planning purposes. The average inspection is a couple of hours. Of course add more time should the home be larger than normal or older.

 

During the inspection

 

Question the scope of the findings

Sometimes an inspector may point something out that you may not totally understand so be sure you ask questions. Plan on taking some thorough notes on your end so that you can remember everything in detail. It is a good idea to also ask the inspector how big of an issue something is when it comes up. You can even rate these items in your notes as well – it may just be many more minor repairs.

Ask what the biggest concerns were

Similar to each issue’s importance in the grand scheme of things, ask the inspector which issue they felt was the biggest concern. They sometimes will even provide a ballpark estimate of cost of repairs if it is something they are familiar enough with and the issue appears clear enough.

 

Post the inspection

 

Ask if another expert is needed to follow up

If there is a repair item needed that requires more of a specialty like electrical or is of larger significance like a roof then you may want to consider calling in an expert for that item. These professionals are going to be the ones that will provide a more accurate estimate for your budgeting and planning.

Ask about what is needed in order of importance after you take ownership

Finally, when you have the report in front of you and know all of the potential items that need to be addressed it can’t hurt to ask the inspector to rank some of the top pressing items in order of importance. This will also help you plan and organize what you will need to do once you close on the property.

 

What To Do Before Making An Offer On A Home

The home search process is almost always filled with a little bit of anticipation and some excitement. Especially when you have located a home that seems to check off all of the boxes it is very tempting to rush into making an offer – especially in today’s market conditions. However, there are definitely some things that you will want to consider before you submit that offer. Some that may affect your offer and some that may affect your quality of living should you get the home. Here is a closer look at these items. 

Home History and Finances

Finding out more about the seller and their positioning can be insightful and even help your offer. Do some digging to see things like how long the home has been on the market, how long they have lived there, what the mortgage status is and what the sale or listing history has been. It is also helpful to know why the seller is moving. This can help assess their level of motivation and craft a fitting offer. 

Permits

Do a little probing with building department data and see what kinds of permits have been pulled. If the seller is promoting certain items it is helpful to see if they were done with a permit.

Estimate Taxes

You don’t always want to base what you will be paying for taxes by what the seller pays now. While you will pay them in arrears you will pay their rate the first year but the second year they may jump quite a bit depending on what they paid for the home. Do some calculations to forecast what they will eventually be so you are not caught off guard.

Research Fees

When you are planning on buying within a community with a Homeowner’s Association (HOA) and dues then you will want to dig in some more. Find out how much they are, what they cover and how often they get assessed. This will help you plan your budget overall. 

Insurance and Utility Estimates

Get an idea of what the seller currently pays so you have a ballpark estimate for yourself. See what other factors may play into the premium costs too such as age of roof and type of windows. For homes in flood zones it is a good idea to find out what the seller is paying for that as well. General costs for utilities and maintenance are helpful to know as well as some homes are more efficient than others. 

Way of Life

Beyond the condition of the home there are other factors that you should investigate. These include things like proximity to local services, school ratings (even if you don’t have kids this can affect property values), HOA rules and even how your regular commute will be.