Len and Leslie Marma's Blog
Buying your first home is a big decision; one that involves a lengthy process of saving money, building credit, and planning the next phase of your life. However, owning a home comes with one major payoff: home equity.
Simply put, home equity is the amount of your home that you’ve paid off. However, it does get more complicated when we bring in factors like the market value of your home and how it shifts over the years.
In this article, we’ll discuss home equity and what it means for you as a homeowner. This way, you’ll have a better idea of what to expect when you finally make that last payment on your home or when you decide to sell.
Home equity and market value
As I mentioned earlier, home equity is more than just the amount you’ve paid toward your mortgage. Like most markets, the housing market shifts over time.
Most homes slowly increase in value over time. In the real estate world, this increase in value is called appreciation.
However, that doesn’t mean that your home is simply going to increase in value indefinitely until you decide to sell. As you will find out (if you haven’t yet already), owning a home can be expensive. Houses age and require upgrades. If you fail to keep up with the maintenance of your home, its value can diminish.
How to build equity
The most important thing you can do to build equity is to make on-time payments to your mortgage. Making extra mortgage payments will help you build equity even faster.
One method of paying extra on your mortgage that many people are adopting is to make bi-weekly payments. Twenty-six bi-weekly payments comes out to 13 full payments per year, the equivalent of making one full extra monthly payment.
The second method of building equity is something that you have less control over: appreciation. However, if you stick to a maintenance schedule for your home and keep it in good repair, you’ll most likely benefit from appreciation over the lifespan of your mortgage.
What can I use home equity for?
The most common way to use home equity is as a down payment or full payment on your next home. First-time buyers who don’t have a 20% down payment saved often buy a starter home and then later upgrade as their family grows and their needs change. In the years that they own their first home, they build enough equity to make a full down payment on their second home, avoiding fees like mortgage insurance.
Many homeowners planning on retiring in the near future use their equity toward their retirement home, often turning a profit in the process. If you plan on downgrading for retirement and have fully paid off your mortgage, you can often use your equity to pay for your next home in cash.
The more you know about the process of buying a house, the better prepared you'll be for doing it successfully.
How might you define "success" when it comes to purchasing a home?
There are a lot of standards that could be applied to successfully navigating the home buying process, but here are a few that immediately come to mind:
- Finding the house of your dreams: While very few people find a home that is absolutely perfect in every way, it is possible to come close to achieving that ideal. Although a certain amount of flexibility goes a long way, knowing what you want and prioritizing important features are among the main prerequisites to getting what you want. As baseball legend Yogi Berra once said, "If you don't know where you are going, you'll end up someplace else." Thanks to the variety of websites devoted to home ownership, home decorating, remodeling, and landscaping, it's easy to find pictures online that can help inspire your imagination and clarify exactly what the house of your dreams might look like.
- Minimizing setbacks and frustrations: The process of house hunting is a journey that often involves bumpy roads, detours, and dead ends. One secret to getting through it successfully is to work with an experienced real estate agent who knows the ropes and can keep you on track. It also helps to approach house hunting with a sense of optimism, resourcefulness, and commitment. Although you probably have a lot of competing priorities in your life, finding a house that you and your family will be happy in for the next few years deserves a top spot on your list!
- Avoiding unpleasant surprises: Knowing your credit score and understanding the impact it will have on getting loan approval and a favorable interest rate will help prepare you for the financial side of buying a house. The ability to get prequalified for a mortgage and come up with sufficient down payment will also set the stage for a successful home buying experience. On the plus side, a higher down payment can potentially result in a lower interest rate and not having to pay private mortgage insurance (A 20% down payment is necessary to avoid PMI.) Since many loan programs and lenders require at least a 3-5% down payment, that can be a stumbling block for first-time home buyers. To purchase a $200,000 home, for example, you'd need to come up with a cash outlay of between $6,000 to $10,000 -- not an easy feat for everyone!
As incredible the act of purchasing a home is, many buyers end up regretting their purchase. There’s a variety of reasons for this. It all comes down to being ill-informed about buying a home and the type of home needed for the most liable situation. Read on to find out some of the biggest regrets home buyers face and how to avoid them.
Buying Too Small Of A Home
The most prominent regret that many buyers face is not buying a larger property. Many people want to live in a specific location or type of home that they overlook the size altogether. One reason that people end up buying a home that’s the wrong size is that they rush to find a property in a particular area. If you branch out on your search, you’ll have a better shot at finding the right size home. The area might not matter as much as the space you’re living in, s keep that in mind.
Not Doing Your Research
People tend to skip out on the research phase of buying a home. It’s critical that buyers understand things like mortgage rates, fees, credit reports, how much needs to be saved, and more. There are so many things that go into buying a home that you could easily miss out on something if you don’t know what you’re in for ahead of time.
Not Saving Enough
Your home will be one of the largest purchases you make in your entire life. There is a lot more to the cost than just the monthly mortgage payment. You’ll need a lot of money upfront when you buy a home including a downpayment along with other closing costs and fees. Plus, you’ll need to set some money aside for any repairs or replacements you need to do in the home once you move in. It’s also a good idea to have an emergency fund available just in case. Life happens, and you don’t want your savings to be depleted because you bought a house.
Keep in mind that the bigger of a downpayment you make, the better off you’ll be. Even if you can buy a home with a low downpayment, you want to put down as much as possible. A higher downpayment will keep your mortgage payments lower, get you a better rate, and you may even be able to avoid paying for PMI (private mortgage insurance.) Aim to save a 20 percent down payment for the most optimal mortgage situation.
When you buy a home, there’s more to shop for than just the right place to live. Before you settle with a lender, you should shop around a bit. You want to be sure that your lender has your very best interests in mind when you’re in the midst of making one of the biggest purchases of your lifetime. Below, you’ll find some of the most important questions that you need to ask a lender while you’re in the process of buying a home.
Do You Offer Any Special Programs?
Choosing the right lender involves choosing a firm that offers the types of programs that will be helpful to your specific situation. You should look for a lender that offers a wide array of loans to suit your needs. Beware of any lender who tries to push you into a certain type of loan, especially if you don’t feel that it is a good fit for you.
Do You Understand The Terms Of Certain Types Of Loans?
If you are seeking a certain type of loan, you probably should tell your lender that upfront. Of they seem familiar with it and have worked with the loan before, you’re in good hands. If the type of loan that you’re looking for is more uncommon, then you may need to shop around carefully for the right lender who understands your needs.
Do I meet The Qualifications For Specific Loans?
The requirements for the same loan at two different lenders could be different. Things like your credit score could be a big factor. If you have a less than desirable credit score, this would also prompt you to want to look around a bit. You should know that different lenders have different terms and looking at a few lenders could be beneficial to you.
What Are The Mortgage Rates?
You’ll need a general ballpark idea of what rates will be for you when you finally secure that home loan. Keep in mind that rates fluctuate often and that an estimate will be just that. It’s not a number that will be set in stone, however, it will give you a good place to start as you shop around for a loan.
Do You Help With Down Payments?
There are many down payment assistance programs available and your lender can help you to navigate them. The more you put down, the better your interest rate will be. If the amount that you’re able to put down on a home is a factor for you, definitely discuss it with your lender.
Can You Provide Pre-Approval Proof?
In hot real estate markets, you’re going to need some proof that you’re pre-approved in order to have the upper hand once you put in an offer on a home. Your lender should be able to provide your real estate agent with a certified letter of your pre-approval and the amount.
Choosing the right lender is just as important as choosing the right realtor and the right home to buy. It’s just another part of the home buying process!
Although buying a home should be a fast, seamless process, negotiations with a home seller sometimes can slow down the homebuying journey.
Let's face it – no one wants to deal with long, arduous negotiations, particularly when they are close to acquiring their dream residence. However, homebuyers who prepare for the worst may be better equipped than others to avoid a complicated homebuying negotiation.
What does it take to prepare for a difficult homebuying negotiation? Here are three tips to help you do just that.
1. Understand the Housing Market
If you submit a competitive offer on a residence from the get-go, you may be able to avoid a difficult homebuying negotiation altogether.
Ultimately, a homebuyer who allocates the necessary time and resources to learn about the real estate market will understand how one residence stacks up against another. Then, he or she can submit a home offer that matches or exceeds a home seller's expectations, thereby reducing the risk of an extensive homebuying negotiation.
2. Analyze Your Homebuying Goals
A homebuyer who analyzes his or her homebuying goals can map out his or her property buying journey. That way, this homebuyer can assess homes that fit within his or her price range and minimize the chance of a complex homebuying negotiation.
Furthermore, if a homebuyer sets realistic expectations for a home search, he or she may be able to make informed decisions throughout a negotiation with a home seller.
A homebuyer who knows how much he or she can afford to pay for a house will be able to submit a home offer that corresponds with his or her budget. And if a home seller asks for more money, a homebuyer should feel comfortable walking away from a negotiation.
Remember, it is paramount for a negotiation to fulfill the needs of both property buyer and seller. If the negotiation favors a home seller, a homebuyer should be prepared to restart his or her home search.
3. Keep Your Emotions in Check
It is easy for a homebuying negotiation to escalate quickly. But a property buyer who understands how to control his or her emotions can take a step back during a stressful homebuying negotiation and plan his or her next move accordingly.
Stress sometimes can get the best of a homebuyer, especially if a property buyer wants to do everything possible to secure a great home as quickly as possible. If a homebuyer plans for stressful situations now, he or she may be able to reduce his or her stress levels when a homebuying negotiation begins.
Don't be afraid to take time to relax during a homebuying negotiation. Going for a walk outdoors or hanging out with family members and friends may provide a stress-relieving break from a homebuying negotiation.
Or, if a homebuyer wants extra help, hiring a real estate agent is ideal. This housing market professional understands the challenges of homebuying negotiations and will help a homebuyer alleviate stress time and time again.
Ready to acquire your ideal residence? Use the aforementioned tips, and you can get ready for a difficult homebuying negotiation.