Thomas Beauchemin'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.
Ready to submit an offer on a house? Before you present a proposal to a seller, it is important to plan ahead as much as possible. That way, you can increase the likelihood of an instant "Yes" from a seller, as well as boost your chances of a quick, seamless homebuying experience.
Now, let's take a look at three steps to follow before you submit a homebuying proposal.
1. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage
What good is a homebuying proposal if you lack the necessary financing to purchase a house? If you get pre-approved for a mortgage today, you can ensure that you will have the home financing that you need to make your homeownership dream come true.
To get pre-approved for a mortgage, you'll want to meet with several local banks and credit unions. These financial institutions can offer full details about a variety of mortgage options and help you select one that matches or surpasses your expectations.
Also, if you are unsure about the differences between assorted mortgage options, don't hesitate to ask for assistance. Banks and credit unions employ friendly, knowledgeable mortgage specialists, and these professionals are happy to teach you about various mortgage options.
2. Define a "Competitive" Offer
If you want to acquire your ideal residence, it pays to put your best foot forward with your homebuying proposal. Because if you submit a "lowball" offer, you risk missing out on the opportunity to purchase your dream house.
A "competitive" offer generally accounts for the condition and age of a house, along with the current real estate climate. Thus, if you evaluate a wide range of housing market data, you may be better equipped than ever before to submit a competitive offer on any home, at any time.
Take a look at the prices of recently sold houses in your area. This data can paint a picture of the current state of the local housing market.
Furthermore, find out how the home that you want to buy stacks up against similar houses that are available in your city or town. With this information, you can further refine your homebuying proposal.
3. Consult with a Real Estate Agent
A real estate agent is a must-have, regardless of where you are on the homebuying journey. In fact, this housing market professional can help you can make the best-possible choices at each stage of the homebuying journey.
Prior to submitting a home offer, it often helps to collaborate with a real estate agent. This housing market professional can help you determine exactly what to offer on a home. And if your initial proposal is rejected, a real estate agent will make it simple to reenter the housing market and discover your ideal home.
When it comes to submitting an offer on a house, it usually is a great idea to prepare. If you follow the aforementioned steps, you should have no trouble providing a homebuying proposal that is sure to capture a seller's attention.
We all know that buying a home is a significant decision that comes with a great deal of financial planning and preparation. However, few of us are taught the ins and outs of actually obtaining a mortgage to make your dream of homeownership come true.
Mortgages are a complicated business that is always changing, both with fluctuations in market rates and with policy decisions.
But, if you’re hoping to buy a home in the near future, it’s important to understand all of your options when it comes to mortgages.
In today’s post, we’re going to address the 20% down payment myth, where that number comes from, and what your options are when it comes to applying for a mortgage.
Where does the 20% down payment number come from?
For most people, 20% of a house is a serious amount of money that would take years to save up. If you’re a first-time homebuyer and don’t have any equity to use from selling another house, 20% may seem like an impossible amount to save within the time you want to buy a home. Fortunately, there are several ways to buy a home without having 20% in cash saved up.
But first, let’s understand where that number comes from.
Most mortgage lenders will want to ensure that lending to you is a safe investment of their money. They want to know that they’ll earn back what they’re spending. To do this, they use several methods.
First, they’ll check your credit history to see how often you pay your bills in time. Then, they’ll want proof if your income and financial stability. Finally, they’ll ask for either a down payment or a guarantee that you will pay them back. Here’s where that 20% comes in.
If you don’t have 20% of the mortgage amount saved for a down payment, you will typically have to pay something called private mortgage insurance. This is an extra monthly fee, on top of your mortgage payments with interest, that you pay to ensure the lender that they’re seeing a return on their investment.
Most homeowners put much less than 20% down
If you’re feeling bad about the amount of money you have saved for a down payment, don’t be! In fact, most first-time homebuyers put, on average, just 6% down on their first home.
Since first-time homeowners don’t have the benefit of equity they’ve accumulated by making payments on their previous mortgage, they often have to come up with down payments out of pocket.
Other options besides a 20% down payment
There are several ways to secure a mortgage without putting 20% down on the home. First, check to see if you are eligible for any loans that are guaranteed by the government. These can come from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), or the USDA single-family home program.
The third option is to take on private mortgage insurance until you’ve paid 20% of your mortgage payment.
Private mortgage insurance can be paid to an insurance company or to the federal government in the case of FHA loans, you can put down as low as 3.5%.
Between these three options, you should be able to find a mortgage that you can afford and one that will give you the best possible financial stability in the long-term.
A home showing is a valuable opportunity for a buyer, as it enables him or her to walk through a residence and find out what a house is all about. At the same time, a single home showing may be insufficient.
Ultimately, there are many reasons why you may want to schedule a follow-up house showing, and these include:
1. You can get responses to any unanswered home questions.
A second home showing gives you the chance to gain additional insights into a residence. Thus, if you failed to get answers to certain home questions during an initial showing, you may want to schedule a follow-up showing.
Of course, it often helps to craft a list of questions prior to a showing. This list will help you learn about all aspects of a residence.
2. You can analyze any potential problem areas in-detail.
If you want to get a close look at various home issues, you may want to schedule a second showing. That way, you can assess these problems in-detail and determine your next step in the homebuying journey.
Sometimes, it helps to bring a home improvement professional with you during a house showing. If you have a friend or family member who is a home improvement expert, for example, you may want to bring him or her along for a follow-up property showing. This home improvement expert then can provide comprehensive insights into the condition of the house.
3. You can determine if a house matches your expectations.
If you are still on the fence about a home following an initial showing, it never hurts to take a second look at this house in-person. Because if you attend a second home showing and find a house matches your expectations, you then can submit an offer to purchase this residence. On the other hand, if you discover a home is not a great fit for you during a second property showing, you can continue your search for your dream residence.
As you navigate the homebuying journey, it generally is a good idea to hire a real estate agent, too. This housing market professional will go above and beyond the call of duty to help you find a terrific residence that you can enjoy for years to come.
Typically, a real estate agent will teach you about the homebuying journey and offer tips to help you prepare for property showings. He or she also will attend a home showing with you and respond to your concerns and questions. Plus, if you want to schedule a follow-up home showing or submit an offer to purchase a residence, a real estate agent is happy to help.
When it comes to navigating the homebuying journey, it usually is beneficial to err on the side of caution. Therefore, if you strive to learn as much as possible about a home after an initial showing, you should schedule a follow-up showing. By doing so, you can perform a full home analysis and determine if a house is right for you.
A homebuyer must stay focused throughout the property buying journey. Otherwise, a buyer risks missing out on an opportunity to acquire the right house at the right price.
Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you stay on course during the homebuying journey.
1. Craft a Homebuying Strategy
Creating a homebuying strategy enables you to outline the steps that you'll need to take to make your homeownership dream come true. Plus, with a homebuying plan in place, you'll be better equipped than ever before to streamline your house search.
Think about where you want to live and what you want to find in your ideal residence. Then, you can make a checklist of home must-haves and wants. And once you develop this list, you can enter the housing market with a plan in hand.
2. Get Pre-Approved for Home Financing
Home financing plays an important role in a buyer's ability to acquire a residence. If you ignore home financing as you move along the homebuying journey, you may struggle to get the finances you need to purchase your dream house.
Oftentimes, it helps to get pre-approved for a mortgage so you won't have to worry about home financing as you move along the property buying journey. To get pre-approved for a mortgage, you should meet with a variety of banks and credit unions. That way, you can learn about all of your mortgage options and select a mortgage that matches your finances.
As you review your mortgage options, don't hesitate to ask questions. Banks and credit unions employ home financing specialists who can remove the guesswork commonly associated with getting a mortgage. These specialists are happy to respond to your mortgage concerns and questions and ensure that you can make an informed home financing decision.
3. Work with a Real Estate Agent
When it comes to staying focused during the homebuying journey, it generally is a good idea to hire a real estate agent. This housing market professional can offer plenty of assistance throughout the property buying journey. And by doing so, a real estate agent will ensure that you can seamlessly navigate the property buying journey and achieve your desired results faster than ever before.
A real estate agent understands the challenges that buyers frequently encounter when they pursue houses and can help you plan accordingly. Furthermore, a real estate agent will guide you along each stage of the homebuying journey and do everything possible to help you avoid potential pitfalls.
Also, a real estate agent provides comprehensive support as you get ready to finalize a house purchase. He or she will help you get ready for a home inspection, appraisal or closing and ensure that you can purchase your ideal house at a budget-friendly price.
Don't lose focus as you pursue your dream residence. Instead, use the aforementioned tips, and you can stay on course and accomplish your homebuying goals.