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Home Buyers Guide

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  • THE BENEFITS OF OWNING A HOME: FINANCIAL GAIN, FREEDOM AND STABILITY, THE FIRST STEP,

Owning a home is a valued investment which can have financial advantages. Because homes generally increase in value, each payment you make is an investment in your future. And even if your home doesn't appreciate much, which is rare, you will benefit from the monthly forced savings that result from paying down the remaining balance due on your loan.

With each monthly payment, you also build home equity – the difference between what your home is worth now and what you paid for it. When you sell, your equity is your profit. This gain can help you purchase your next home, perhaps move up to a larger one. Or you can tap into the equity for college tuition loans or retirement needs at a rate which is generally lower than available on personal loans. Also making payments toward and ultimately paying off a loan is an excellent way to establish a good credit rating. FREEDOM AND STABILITY

Perhaps the most tangible yet greatest treasure of homeownership is the personal satisfaction in living in a home that you own. You are free to keep pets, plant a garden and remodel or redecorate to reflect your personal style. A home gives you and your family a feeling of stability and commitment.

A special sense of security and satisfaction comes as you begin to put down roots in a neighborhood. THE FIRST STEP

One of the single most important steps to take before you begin to purchase a home is to evaluate your assets and liabilities and monthly expenditures. Begin by examining your current monthly average spending using the financial outline below. Include everything from housing expenses and transportation to debt repayments and entertainment. As you collect your spending data, think about how a house purchase – including loan payments, insurance, taxes, repairs and maintenance – will affect your budget and ability to save. Are there areas in which you need to cut back to make more room for a loan payment and other homeownership expenses? CURRENT MONTHLY AVERAGE INCOME

(Include salaries, bonuses, interest income, dividends investments in fund or in shares, or and any other income) TAXES

Social Security Federal State and local Capital premium

HOUSING EXPENSES

Rent Utilities Repairs

INSURANCE

Homeowners/renters Auto Health Life Disability

DEBT REPAYMENTS

Student loans Auto loans Credit cards

TRANSPORTATION

Gas Maintenance Registration fees Tolls Parking Bus or subway fares

PERSONAL

Clothing and shoes Dry cleaning Haircuts and makeup

ENTERTAINMENT

Restaurants, movies, travel, etc. Hobbies Pets Health club

HEALTH CARE

Dental Vision Prescription drugs

KIDS

Daycare Child support Other

SUPPORTED FAMILY MEMBERS GROCERIES CHARITABLE DONATIONS OTHER TOTAL SPENDING TOTAL SAVED

  • WHAT CAN I AFFORD TO SPEND ON A HOME?

The answer to this question is based on two factors: (1) How much you feel comfortable spending on a monthly basis after surveying your budget and spending habits and (2) How much your lender calculates you can afford based on your income and debt obligations.

It is important to understand how a home is financed. There are three crucial elements: (1) a down payment, (2) closing costs and (3) the loan. When you know the amount of down payment, closing costs and monthly loan payments you can afford, you can better determine how much home you can afford. DOWN PAYMENT

A down payment is the money you pay up front toward the house. The higher the down payment, the lower the monthly payment and interest fees. Fortunately, home buyers today no longer have to climb a financial mountain – saving for the traditional 5 to 20% down payment – before purchasing a home. 

  • CLOSING COSTS

Closing is when ownership of your new home is officially legally transferred from the seller to you and documented locally. Sometimes sellers will pay closing costs. If not, be prepared to pay an additional two to five percent of the home purchase price. 

  • WHERE AND WHAT TO BUY: THE WISH LIST

After you've determined how much house you can afford and which loan option is best for you, prioritize your needs and wants for your new home. The two main factors are location and style of your home.

It's true. Location is the most important factor in buying a new home. It will partially determine the price of the home and will be a powerful influence on your lifestyle. Check out the amenities of the neighborhoods you're considering, and talk to the people who live in those areas. Ask co-workers and acquaintances for their recommendations. And ask an experienced real estate agent for current information on the community's economic health, schools, crime rates and stability.

Next you'll need to decide what you want in a home. The first basic choice is between a newly-constructed home and an existing one. If you're looking to own a home that nobody else has laid claim to and brings with it the latest in style and efficiency, a new home is what you're after. The downside is that new homes are usually more expensive than homes offered for resale. To many, an existing home that has been well cared for and is located in an established neighborhood is much more desirable than a new home.

You'll also need to choose between a single family home or a condominium/co-op. A single family home gives you the most privacy and is generally more spacious. Plus it comes with a yard. Condos and co-ops free you from the burden of general upkeep and provide common areas with pools and other recreational facilities. They are also usually more affordable, but monthly maintenance charges exist with these options. THE WISH LIST

Narrowing your search to homes with specific features will save you time during the house-hunting process and help your sales associate find homes just right for you. Use this list, or create your own, to define your future home. Of course, your final selection will likely require compromise. 

  • WORKING WITH A OUR REAL ESTATE AGENTS

We know that you're looking for more than just a roof over your head. You're looking for a place to express your lifestyle and values, a place to spend time with family and friends, a place to retreat at the end of the day. That's why we learn what is important to you and search until you are completely satisfied.

Selecting the right real estate office is an important decision. Our real estate agents have the skill and knowledge to supply you information on home values, taxes, utility costs, neighborhoods and financing.

Finding your new home can be a rewarding experience, especially when you have one of our real estate agent at your side, working and negotiating on your behalf. Some people choose to find a home on their own, but a real estate agent will have many up-to-the-minute listings available that may not appear in the newspaper or on the Internet, and can save you lots of time by screening for properties that best suit you.