Jill Finkelstein - Compass

Posted by Jill Finkelstein on 2/23/2020

If you've conducted an in-depth search for your dream house but still have yet to find your ideal residence, there is no need to worry. In fact, you can revisit your homebuying strategy and revise it as needed. This will allow you to restart your house search and increase the likelihood that you'll discover your dream home sooner rather than later.

Ultimately, there are many reasons to revisit your homebuying strategy, and these include:

1. You can consider why you're searching for a house.

There are many reasons why an individual may choose to buy a home. By revisiting your homebuying strategy, you can think about why you want to purchase a house and proceed accordingly.

For example, if your initial goal was to buy a home near the top schools in a particular city or town, you may want to refocus your house search to achieve the optimal results. Or, if you now find that you'd prefer to own a house in a big city instead of a small town, you can update your house search.

2. You can evaluate your home must-haves and wants.

After attending open house events and home showings, your homebuying criteria may have changed. As such, now may be a good time to revisit your homebuying strategy so you can update these criteria.

Think about things you've liked and disliked as you've viewed various available houses. You can use your open house and home showing experiences to revamp your home must-haves and wants, and as a result, reenter the housing market with a fresh perspective.

3. You can review where you want to live.

As you've searched for homes, you may have found that houses in certain cities and towns are more appealing than other residences. Thus, you can revise your homebuying strategy to focus on residences in your preferred cities and towns. This will help you accelerate your house search and ensure you can find a home in a city or town where you want to live.

Of course, conducting a home search on your own often can be difficult. But if you hire a real estate agent, you can receive plenty of support throughout the homebuying journey.

A real estate agent understands exactly what it takes to find a great residence in any city or town. He or she can help you revamp your homebuying strategy and streamline your house search.

In addition, a real estate agent will set up home showings, keep you up to date about new houses that become available and help you navigate the homebuying cycle. Once you find your dream house, a real estate agent will make it easy to submit a competitive offer to purchase this residence. And if you ever have concerns or questions about purchasing a home, a real estate agent is ready to respond to them.

Revisit your homebuying strategy today, and you could move one step closer to finding and purchasing your ideal residence.

Categories: Uncategorized  

Posted by Jill Finkelstein on 2/16/2020

The amount of money you will need to ensure you can purchase a house varies based on a number of factors. For example, if you want to purchase a house in a big city, you may need to save more money than you likely would require to buy a residence in a small town. Meanwhile, your decision to choose a fixed-rate mortgage over an adjustable-rate mortgage – or vice-versa – can impact your monthly housing costs. And let's not forget about the costs of home utilities like electricity and water, either.

Ultimately, it helps to put together a homebuying budget before you embark on a house search. Because if you know how much money you have at your disposal, you can map out your house search accordingly. And as a result, you can minimize the risk of spending too much to acquire your dream residence.

Let's now take a look at three tips to help you craft an effective homebuying budget.

1. Evaluate Your Current Expenses

An in-depth assessment of your current monthly expenses is key. If you conduct an expense evaluation, you can find out how much you spend on various must-haves and wants. You then can take steps to reduce your monthly expenses and increase your savings for a new home.

It also never hurts to consult with a financial planner. If you have a financial planner at your side, you can gain expert insights to help you evaluate your current expenses. Plus, you can work with a financial planner to determine the best course of action so you can eventually buy your dream residence.

2. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage

Meet with a variety of banks and credit unions and explore your mortgage options – you will be happy you did. If you assess your mortgage options closely, you can find one that complements your finances. And once you get pre-approved for a mortgage, you will know how much you can spend on a house.

Generally, it is beneficial to meet with as many banks and credit unions as you can. If you consult with myriad lenders, you can receive extensive insights into many mortgage options. Best of all, you will be better equipped than ever before to find the lowest-possible interest rate on a mortgage.

3. Consider Your Down Payment Options

The down payment required for a home purchase varies, but it commonly ranges between 5 percent and 20 percent of a house's total price. If you account for a down payment as you craft a homebuying budget, you can use this total to plan ahead for the property buying journey.

Lastly, you may want to collaborate with a real estate agent as you prepare to launch a home search. In addition to helping you find your dream residence, a real estate agent can put you in touch with potential lenders and offer plenty of guidance throughout the property buying journey.

Ready to pursue a home? Use the aforementioned tips, and you create a successful homebuying budget.

Categories: Uncategorized  

Posted by Jill Finkelstein on 2/9/2020

There are a number of programs, government-sponsored and otherwise, that are designed to help aspiring homeowners find and get approved for a mortgage that works for them.

Among these are first-time homeowner loans insured by the Housing and Urban Development Department, mortgages and loans insured by the USDA designed to help people living in urban and rural areas, and VA loans, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

In today’s post, I’m going to give you a basic rundown of VA loans, who is eligible for them, and how to apply for one. That way you’ll feel confident knowing you’re getting the best possible deal on your home mortgage.

What is a VA Loan?

VA loans can provide soon-to-be homeowners who have served their country with low-interest rates and no private mortgage insurance (PMI).

If you’re hoping to buy a home soon and don’t have at least a 20% down payment, you typically have to take out private mortgage insurance. This means paying an extra insurance bill on top of your monthly mortgage payments. The downside of PMI is that it never turns into equity that you can then use when you decide to move again or sell your home.

Loans that are guaranteed by the VA don’t require PMI because the bank knows your loan is a safer investment than if it wasn’t guaranteed

VA loans may also help you secure a lower interest rate, or give you some negotiating power when it comes to discussing your interest rate.

Finally, VA loans set limits on the number of closing costs you can pay in your mortgage. And, if you’ve ever bought a home before, you’ll know how quickly closing costs can add up.

Who is eligible?

There are some common misconceptions about who can apply for a VA loan? So, we’ll cover all the bases of eligibility.

If you meet one of the following criteria, you may be eligible for a VA loan:

  • You’ve served 90 consecutive days during wartime

  • You’ve served 181 days during peacetime

  • You’ve served six or more years in the Reserves or National Guard

  • Your spouse died due to their work in the military

There are some restrictions to these eligibilities. For example, your chosen lender may still have credit score minimums.

Applying for a VA Loan

There are two main steps for applying for a VA Loan. First, you’ll have to ensure your eligibility. You can do this by checking the VA’s official website. Be sure to call them with any questions you may have.

Next, you’ll need a certificate of eligibility. The easiest way to acquire one is through your chosen lender.  If you haven’t chosen a lender, you can also apply online through the eBenefits portal, or by mailing in a paper application.

Once you have a certificate, you can apply for your mortgage and you’ll be on your way to buying a home.

Posted by Jill Finkelstein on 2/2/2020

Photo by ErikaWittlieb via Pixabay

Storage is one of the biggest challenges when deciding how to decorate or plan a new home.  It's tempting to throw everything into bins and stack them someplace in your garage, their contents forgotten ever after!  If you do, though, there is a good chance you will waste money by purchasing things you already own -- and you may continue to add things until even thinking of tackling that stack of stuff you "might need someday" makes you break out into a cold sweat.

1. Sort your items.

Make a throw away, give away, and store pile for things you use infrequently or seasonally.  If you struggle to throw things away, seek a second opinion: bring a friend and promise them whatever they want in return for helping you out, whether that's leaf-raking, a batch of cookies or return the favor when they need a little help.  You can send your nicer giveaway items to a consignment shop if you wish, or head straight to a donation drop site, such as the Salvation Army or Goodwill.

2. Decide how much storage space you need.

After you're finished sorting, decide how much space you'll need for your storage.  Some options include a section of your garage, attic, one bedroom, a mudroom or under-the-stairs storage space.  Then, group your storage items by theme (seasonal clothing) or task (items for painting rooms).  Consider how many groups of items you have and how you will store that many groups.  Will you need more space for one type of item than another?  A little pre-planning goes a long way.

3. Make everything do double-duty to save on space.

Benches with flip-lids for storage are an excellent option.  Keep in mind that the seats should be comfortable without the addition of throws, pillows or pads -- you want it to be easy to get to your things, and that means no tugging throws or pillows on the floor to access your storage.  

A clever solution for a garage or larger storage space is to purchase two (or four) cube storage organizers.  Arrange these a few feet apart, place a tabletop between them and screw it in place: now you have under-table storage and a workspace!  A standing workspace would work especially well in a garage area.  Alternately, you can have a cube storage organizer on all four sides for maximum storage, if you place your table in the center of the room.

4. Make sure everything is within easy reach.

Use drawers, bins and stacked boxes: don't pile items and don't store things behind other items.  Everything should be removable, so that you can pull out a box, use that type of item, and put the box away.  Plastic boxes with snap-on lids are a good idea for garage storage, where there may be mice or dampness.

Another idea is to build shelving with depth and fill these with wicker baskets for storage. 

5. Place items together by the task they accomplish.

For example, if you or your family enjoy painting but do not paint every day, fill one basket with brushes, paint, a plastic cup for water, paper and everything else you'd need for the task, rather than having one drawer or basket with art supplies you'd have to hunt through or different boxes for paint versus paper.

Perhaps you need a measuring tape for construction tasks as well as for sewing.  Measuring tapes are inexpensive!  Keep a measuring tape in both boxes rather than making yourself hunt for one any time you need to accomplish a task that requires it.  

Only create such boxes or baskets for specialized tasks you perform at least a few times a year.

6. Choose your decor wisely.

There's nothing wrong with clean lines and elegant colors, but if you have a mudroom make sure that your floor is tile or vinyl so it can be wiped clean easily.  If you do choose carpet for a storage room, choose dark tans or grays rather than anything paler: otherwise you may spend your life cleaning it!  If you have white walls, keep a magic eraser nearby so you can wipe off scuffs as you find them.  Finishes on cabinetry should be shiny rather than matte, so that they are easy to wipe.  Avoid cloth and rustic, unfinished surfaces: they may look homey, but they are very hard to keep clean.

When faced with an organizational project, remember: a place for everything, and everything in its place!  

Tags: storage   Decor   Chic  
Categories: Uncategorized  

Posted by Jill Finkelstein on 1/26/2020

Ultimately, there is no surefire amount that you should spend on a house. The real estate market varies in cities and towns nationwide, and as such, the prices of houses fall across a broad range. Also, the condition and age of a house – as well as a homebuyer's budget – may dictate how much an individual is willing to spend on a particular residence.

As you search for your dream house, it helps to plan ahead as much as you can. Because if you have a homebuying strategy in place, you can determine exactly how much you can spend to acquire your ideal residence.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you get your finances in order before you kick off a house search.

1. Check Your Credit Score

Believe it or not, your credit score may have far-flung effects on your homebuying budget. And if you fail to review your credit score before you embark on a house search, you may miss out on an opportunity to purchase your dream house.

A low credit score may make it tough to get the mortgage you need to acquire your ideal residence. Thus, you may want to check your credit score and find ways to improve it before you begin a house search.

You won't have to break your budget to get a copy of your credit report from the three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). In fact, you are entitled to a free copy of your credit report annually from each of the aforementioned credit bureaus. Request a copy of your credit report, and you can learn your credit score.

Of course, if your credit score is low, you can always improve it by paying off outstanding debt. Or, if you find errors on your credit report, contact the credit bureau that provided the report so that you can get these issues corrected.

2. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage

Pre-approval for a mortgage makes it easy to enter the housing market with a budget at your disposal. If you meet with a variety of banks and credit unions, you can get pre-approved for a mortgage sooner rather than later.

Remember, banks and credit unions employ friendly, knowledgeable mortgage specialists. Don't hesitate to ask these specialists about assorted mortgage options, and you can select a mortgage that perfectly matches your finances.

3. Consult with a Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent can make it simple to pursue your dream house. This housing market professional will help you narrow the price range for your dream house and ensure you can discover the perfect house without delay. Perhaps most important, a real estate agent is happy to negotiate with a seller's agent on your behalf, ensuring you can get the best price on any home.

Ready to start a home search? Use the aforementioned tips, and you can simultaneously look for your dream house and avoid the risk of paying too much to purchase your dream residence.

Categories: Uncategorized  

Jill Finkelstein