While Inventory is Down, Increase Your Competitive Edge

The most recent Beige Book, the Federal Reserve’s comprehensive look at current economic conditions in 12 U.S. districts, revealed positive economic activity in many Atlanta economic sectors including travel, tourism, commercial real estate, manufacturing – and residential real estate! Despite increased home sales and construction levels, low inventory is continuing to negatively affect the industry. To avoid aggressive, ugly bidding wars, hopeful buyers need to sharpen their competitive edge to be more appealing to sellers. Having a few charming and financial (while ethical) savvy tricks up your sleeve can help you land your dream home.

Kathy Gyselinck is Executive Vice President for Southeast Mortgage

Kathy Gyselinck is Executive Vice President for Southeast Mortgage

Cash is King

According to McClatchy data, paying in cash for home sales is more popular than ever. Prior to 2008, less than 10 percent of home sales were in cash. Today, it’s at 33 percent. Cash is an efficient route for sellers who don’t have to wait on a buyer to gather a down payment or gain mortgage approval. Sellers will pick the most hassle free option among fiercely competitive bidders. So if you have the means, consider offering cash.

Come Qualified

If you don’t have the means or feel safe offering thousands of dollars in cash, gain pre-approval for a mortgage. By having a pre-approval letter, sellers and Realtors know that you’re serious, thus they are more assured they won’t be wasting their time on you, and should you accept the offer, there is a higher chance of successful closing on the home. To gain pre-approval, the buyer will need to provide financial information such as W2 statements, federal tax returns, bank statements and more. While a seemingly lengthy process, you’ll have to gather proof of all these documents to apply for a mortgage anyways.

Stay a Step Ahead

Just last month, Zillow announced Coming Soon ­– a sneak-peek feature that will allow hopeful homebuyers to preview homes that are not yet on the market, but are expected to be listed within a month. Buyers and Realtors that find a property they’re interested in on Coming Soon will be able to contact listing agents directly. The platform is designed to help buyers in areas of inventory crunch and sellers who are hoping to sell their home quickly.

“By offering a glimpse into a market’s future housing inventory, home shoppers can rest assured they have the broadest possible view of the local market to find the right home, and sellers can feel confident their home is being marketed as widely as possible,” said Jeremy Wacksman, vice president of marketing and product management at Zillow.

Appeal to Emotions

Using emotions as a viable mode of persuasion stems all the way back to Aristotle’s use of ethos in 350 B.C. A modern day model from Zillow recommends writing a personal, handwritten letter of emotional appeal to the homeowners of homes that you’re interested in. If there are multiple offers on a property it wouldn’t hurt to let the owner know why the home is so important to you, if it evokes memories from your childhood home or why the home is so perfect for your family.

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Looking For A Home? Look To Your Phone

In February, we revealed the top home improvement and maintenance applications for smartphones, computers and tablets. In addition to improving your own home, there are dozens of apps that can aid in the selling and buying process. As the inventory crunch eases, we discuss the best real estate apps that can make your home search more efficient, fun and less stressful.

Jeff Brown, Senior Vice President of Southeast Mortgage

Jeff Brown, Senior Vice President of Southeast Mortgage

Trulia

The online residential real estate site Trulia has four free apps in the App Store and on Google Play to aid in many aspects of real estate for renters, buyers and Realtors.

  • Trulia Real Estate allows you to search for homes, apartments or open houses on this top-rated app while you’re pumping gas, on the treadmill or watching television. Each home comes with a fact sheet of property information and vivid photographs. Interactive maps give alerts when a new home comes on the market, provides local information such as school zones and crime, allows you to save homes, connects users to agents and much more.
  • Trulia Rentals works the same way as Trulia Real Estate with rental properties.
  • Trulia for Agents points agents to prospective buyers and sellers and allows agents to close a deal from anywhere.
  • Trulia Mortgage’s easy-to-use mortgage app provides extensive financial insight into the complex mortgage process. Users can use the affordability calculator to determine which home price they can afford, view a refinancing calculator and use a mortgage calculator that will break down monthly payments factoring in interest, property taxes and insurance.

Homesnap

Homesnap is a creative, social and easy way to receive real estate information when looking to purchase a home. The free app was recently named “Best Mobile Tool” by Realtor Magazine and “Most Addictive Real Estate App” by HGTV Magazine. Though the Internet is filled with thousands of online listings, many people still prefer driving around in their preferred areas looking for red for-sale signs. Using the Homesnap app, powered by real-time MLS listings, users snap a photo of a home and are then greeted with valuable information like home values, interior photos, property taxes and school information. If users aren’t in front of a home, they can also browse through for-sale homes in the directory.

An innovative aspect of Homesnap is the ability to have a network of friends to collaboratively come together to assist in your search process. Every time a friend saves a home or writes a comment, the action gets sent to your newsfeed.

Credit Karma

With today’s tight lending restrictions, having a good credit score is more important than in past years. The free, simple Credit Karma app provides an estimated score from TransUnion, without entering any credit card information, unlike other credit-checking platforms. Using the score, you can determine if you qualify for a loan, at which rate and for how much. An additional bonus of Credit Karma is users can see problem areas in their credit and be able to dispute it before meeting with a mortgage lender. Another feature is free credit monitoring where users can receive daily notifications of important changes to their credit report.

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Don’t Skip Over Summer Renovations

Even though home repairs and construction is the last thing many Atlantans want to do in the scorching “Hotlanta” summer, completing home renovations can provide immediate gratification, such as saving money and increasing comfort, as well as providing long-term benefits, like increasing the resale value of your home.

Kathy Gyselinck is Executive Vice President for Southeast Mortgage

Kathy Gyselinck is Executive Vice President for Southeast Mortgage

According to Forbes, many renovations are generally cheaper in the summer than other times of the year because of the increase in availability of contractors and an overall decrease in demand. Many people choose to refrain from doing renovations in the summer while children are out of school or while on vacation, leaving greater availability of less-expensive labor and an opportunity to negotiate a better deal.

If you are considering venturing into a renovation this summer, here’s a few that are best completed during the summer and they may cost you less in the long run:

Driveway Paving

Summer is known for being the best time to repave an old driveway where weeds are poking through and cracks seem to be expanding with each passing day.   Asphalt is easier to work with in higher temperatures; giving contractors more time to evenly smooth the asphalt and avoid costly re-dos.

A word of caution … Because summer is such a popular time to repave driveways, there are many contracting scammers that will leave you with a subpar pavement job and, when the job is done, no way of contacting them. It’s not unusual to find scammers selling door-to-door luring customers with “too good to be true” prices and cash-only sales. Always check with the Better Business Bureau to learn more about a contractor’s legitimacy.

Kitchen

Out of all home renovations, kitchens often yield one of the highest returns on investment when it comes time to selling your home as kitchens are one of the first things people look at when judging a home. However, kitchen renovations oftentimes leave you without the use of your kitchen for a few weeks, meaning more meals out and expensive restaurant bills. Fortunately, you can take advantage of the warm summer weather and move the kitchen outside! Move your refrigerator to the garage and utilize a grill to cut down on restaurant bills.

Landscaping

Contrary to popular belief, you can landscape successfully during summer. Nurseries often lower their prices on leftover plants from the spring season, the most popular time to landscape. Many homeowners find they save money on groceries by being able to pluck fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs from their very own garden.

If you already have a lush garden, the summer season is a perfect time to install an automatic sprinkler system allowing you to save time, money and water. Another great summer project is to install solar powered lights on outdoor fixtures, which can save money while accentuating walkways.

In-Ground Pool

Though you won’t save any money by installing an in-ground pool during peak season, installing one during the warm months is a necessity. The ground has to be thoroughly thawed before digging can begin. Start this project in the spring so you can finish it before the hot summer hits.  Forbes recommends finding a neighbor that is also interested in building a pool to possibly cut a deal with a contractor.

“Since pools are constructed in stages, it’s more efficient and less costly to a contractor to simultaneously build more than one,” said Forbes. “The savings could be applied to installing a new deck area around the pool.”

When you’re mapping out your home improvement schedule, keep in mind that seasonal improvements are likely to be more expensive during peak season. To save money, take advantage of the off-season by fixing air conditioning units and building patios in the colder seasons and working on attic insulation in the warmer months.

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Atlanta Residential Real Estate Index Hits Record High With Across the Board Housing Improvements

Amid the summer heat, real estate in Atlanta is sizzling. Last month, the Cal-Culator, Atlanta’s residential real estate index, reached the previous record of 6.0. This month, the June index has climbed to a record high of 6.2 due to across the board improvements in home sales, builder confidence, home prices, increased inventory, foreclosures and more.

The June Cal-Culator

The June Cal-Culator

Home Sales

Pending, new and existing home sales all   saw  strong improvements in May. Existing-home sales rose 4.9 percent, with attributions to rising inventory levels, the improving job market and declining mortgage rates. Pending home sales rose “sharply” 6.1 percent, the largest increase since April 2010 when first-time homebuyers scrambled to sign contracts before a lucrative popular tax credit ended, according to the National Association of Realtors.

New-home sales posted an even stronger rebound with a nearly 19 percent increase from last month, the highest rate since May 2008, according to data released by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development with the U.S. Census Bureau.

“These numbers are in line with our recent builder surveys, which indicate that more consumers are getting off the fence and coming back into the marketplace,” said Kevin Kelly, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders.

Home prices

RealtyTrac reported that the median sales price of distressed and non-distressed U.S. residential properties rose 6 percent in May from the previous month and 13 percent from a year ago, the second consecutive month in a row with a double-digit annual increase and the biggest annual increase since prices bottomed out in March 2012.

Builder Confidence

New data from the NAHB and Wells Fargo Housing Market Index showed that builder confidence for new single-family homes rose to only one point shy of the threshold of what’s considered good building conditions. The index rose four points to a level of 49. Any number over 50 indicates the majority of homebuilders view conditions as “good” rather than “poor.”

“After several months of little fluctuation, a four-point uptick in builder sentiment is a welcome sign and shows some renewed confidence in the industry,” said Kelly.

Foreclosures

Foreclosure levels in Atlanta have continued the downward trend that has permeated the real estate industry in 2014. Foreclosures in June dropped to levels not seen since 2002. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on data from Kennesaw’s Equity Depot that 2,054 foreclosures were reported in June across 13 Atlanta counties, compared to 11,016 during the height of the housing crisis.  The Northeast and West aren’t faring as well, however, as foreclosure levels skyrocketed in May, according to Housing Wire.

Stay tuned as we release the next Cal-Culator on August 5 to see if Atlanta’s residential real estate numbers continue on their current path of rebound.

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Who are Millennial Homebuyers?

Last week, we discussed why homeownership has been a cornerstone of the American Dream for decades. This week, we discuss how the next generation behind the Baby boomers is affecting the real estate market and how they’re learning to adjust to homeownership. Though millennials, often classified as those born between 1980 and 2000, are changing jobs more than ever, getting married later in life and graduating with more debt, Gen Y is still interested in taking part in the American dream of buying a home. We offer insight into the new demographic along with some advice for those millennials that may not be quite sure how to handle homeownership among the pressures of the recession.

Shaun Graham, Vice President of Southeast Mortgage

Shaun Graham, Vice President of Southeast Mortgage

What do millennials want in a house?

A Trulia consumer survey with millennials indicates that 68 percent of homebuyers are looking to buy a home under $200,000. In the past, many home buyers believed that “bigger was better,” however, with the current economy, millenials are seeking out more practical homes that fit within their budget and their lifestyle.  A National Association of Realtors’ Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends Report reported the typical first home purchase for a millennial is a 1,800-square-foot house costing $180,000 that they plan to stay in for 10 years. When it comes to environmentally friendly features, millennials put more emphasis on commuting costs than previous generations, though only a minority is likely to live in a city, according to the report.

Why are millennials buying homes?

Though the economy is working against millennials as student debt topples nearly $1 trillion (more than credit card and automobile debt), millennials are still remaining hopeful about buying homes. A Western Union poll  found almost half of people aged 21-33 are planning to buy a home within the next five years. Young buyers are more likely to move for job relocation or wanting to upgrade to a larger living space. On the opposite end of the spectrum, unsurprisingly, older generations are looking for a smaller home or want to be closer to family and friends.

So what’s holding millennials back?

The NAR report revealed 56 percent of respondents cited student loan debt as the biggest obstacle between them and homeownership, despite market rumors that say millennials simply aren’t interested in homeownership.

What’s some advice for millennials looking to purchase a home?

Don’t go at it alone. There are countless resources to aid you in the process that millions have done before you. Though the Internet is a beacon of knowledge with seemingly unlimited listings and advice (such as this!), the Internet is no substitute for a Realtor. Realtors provide years of real estate experience that will come in handy in terms of finding the best homes, negotiating, contracts and more.

Zillow’s “5 Tips for Millennial Home Buyers” recommends that millennials ask the best resource around for advice: parents.

“They have been through the market before and can add value to the home search,” said the article. “They may be out of touch with social media and the technology available in the home buying process, but they likely have a solid financial opinion.”

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Why Homeownership Matters

One of the most admired and sought-after cornerstones of the “American dream” is homeownership, which is viewed as an extension of economic prosperity and security. For decades, families have worked hard to strive and have a place to call their own. Research consistently shows that owning a home has significant positive correlations in social behavior such as increased civic participation, higher test scores in children and better health as well as tangible financial benefits including increased equity and tax deductions.

J.D. Crowe, President of Southeast Mortgage

J.D. Crowe, President of Southeast Mortgage

Social Benefits

Many academic studies provide evidence that homeownership has a positive impact on health and self-worth, even after controlling factors such as income and education that would undoubtedly result in better health. A study titled “The Effects of Homeownership on Self Esteem, Perceived Control, and Life Satisfaction of Low Income People” found that low-income individuals who became homeowners reported higher life satisfaction, self-esteem, health and perceived control over their lives.

Other research studies show that crime decreases in neighborhoods that are predominately comprised of homeowners. The threat of financial loss and having a sense of permanency in the neighborhood creates more incentive to deter crime by taking proactive measures such as implementing neighborhood watch programs. As a result, lower crime is reported in such neighborhoods.

The positive effects of homeownership are arguably the most evident in children. Habitat for Humanity reported that the children of homeowners, compared to children of renters, are:

  • 25 percent more likely to graduate from high school
  • 116 percent more likely to graduate from college
  • 20 percent less likely to become teen mothers
  • Save taxpayers an estimated $34,000 in public expenditures, such as the cost of juvenile delinquency and teenage pregnancy services

Economic Benefits

The economic benefits of homeownership are evident year around, not just during tax season where homeowners can claim deductions on home improvement loans, home office use and energy-efficient upgrades. By making mortgage payments, sometimes referred to as “forced savings,” you increase your home’s equity – the amount of the house you truly own. By owing less on your mortgage, you own a little more of the house. Rather than improving your landlord’s equity as a renter, you’re increasing your own equity and assets.

Not only is homeownership beneficial to individuals, their families and communities, it’s also vital to the U.S. economy as the housing sector accounts for 15 percent of total economic activity in the country. Because of all the benefits, homeownership should continue to be revered and preserved in the U.S.

“In general research supports the view that homeownership brings substantial social benefits. Because of these extensive social benefits – what economists call positive externalities – policies that support sustainable homeownership are well justified,” according to the National Association of Realtors’ “Social Benefits of Homeownership and Stable Housing” research.

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Why Waiting to Buy a Home Could Cost You

Are you thinking about waiting to purchase a home?  Think again. According to many experts, timing is everything and those who wait could lose out on an opportunity of a lifetime. For many consumers, the stars are aligning to purchase a new home due to historically low mortgage rates, warmer weather giving way to a busier home buying season and the fact that buying is still traditionally cheaper than renting. However, these factors are shifting and missing out on homeownership now could cost you in the long run.

Kathy Gyselinck is Executive Vice President for Southeast Mortgage

Kathy Gyselinck is Executive Vice President for Southeast Mortgage

Interest Rates Won’t Stay Low Forever

Though interest rates have crept up slowly this year, they have still remained historically low. However, a recent forecast by the Mortgage Bankers Association predicts that rates for a 30-year-fixed mortgage is expected to rise to 5 percent by the fourth quarter of this year and 5.3 percent by the end of next year.

Although that doesn’t sound like much of a jump, a rise in as little as a quarter of a percentage point can mean  $100 extra per month in mortgage payments. According to Yahoo! Homes, the expected rise is because the feds will begin raising rates six months after they stop purchasing mortgage bonds, which is expected to happen next year.

Unbeatable Spring and Summer Season

The sluggish winter has finally given way to the more lucrative spring and summer seasons, typically the busiest time in the real estate industry for buyers and sellers.   Traditionally, most people avoid listing their home during the brutal winter season and instead opt to put their home on the market during the summer when kids are of out school, making it easier to move.  Therefore, if you want the largest selection of inventory to select your dream home, warm months are your best bet.

“People just know that there are most listings coming in the spring,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors.

Buying is Still Cheaper than Renting

Throughout the majority of the country, buying has traditionally been cheaper than renting. According to Zillow, homeownership is currently cheaper in all of the 100 largest metro areas. A recent breakeven horizon analysis from the online real estate database found that nationally the breakeven horizon is only 2.1 years. In other words, after 2.1 years homeowners begin to have more money and assets than they would if they had rented the same home for the same time period.

“Many renters may ask themselves why renew a lease, when you can break even on the same home in less time in many areas,” said Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Stan Humphries.

So why buy now? It’s more affordable to buy a home today than it has been in decades, however, the market is beginning to shift which means homebuyers need to act quickly. The gap between renting and buying is decreasing as a result of rising mortgage rates and rising home prices. Currently buying is on average 38 percent cheaper than renting, although it was 44 percent cheaper last year. With homeownership linked to a host of benefits including creating equity and stability, those who are thinking about homeownership should consider taking the plunge during this period of high affordability.

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Atlanta Residential Real Estate Rebounds

After months of sluggish behavior in the Atlanta residential real estate industry, May finally demonstrated significant housing recovery. After two months of a score of 5.7, the May Cal-Culator ranks a 6.0 due to improvements across the board in pending home sales, foreclosures and home price gains.

The May Cal-Culator

The May Cal-Culator

The leading measure of U.S. home prices, the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, latest data showed that home prices in the 20-City Composite, which includes Atlanta, increased 0.9 percent month-over-month.

Foreclosure levels are a  positive trend that has been steady in 2014. According to CoreLogic’s most recent monthly report, foreclosures are down 0.4 percent month-over-month and down 18 percent from the previous year. The data also revealed April marked the 16th consecutive month of at least a 20 percent year-over-year decline in the inventory of foreclosed homes.

“We now have registered two and a half years of continuous decreases in the number of homeowners who are in some stage of the foreclosure process,” said Anana Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic. “This consistent decline means fewer Americans are experiencing the distress of delinquency and default. The recovery may be slow, but it is steady.”

RealtyTrac found in its April 2014 Residential & Foreclosure Sales Report that sales of U.S. residential properties, which include distressed and non-distressed sales of single-family homes, condominiums and townhomes, increased year-over-year by 4 percent. The report also found median sales prices of U.S. residential properties had the largest yearly increase since prices hit rock bottom in March 2012.

For the second straight month, the Pending Homes Sales Index improved, according to the National Association of Realtors. The forward-looking indicator, based on contract signings, increased 0.4 percent from the previous month. The report also indicated projected increases in home prices during the remainder of 2014.

“Higher inventory levels are giving buyers more choices, and a slight decline in mortgage interest rates this spring is raising prospective homebuyers’ confidence,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. “An uptrend in closed sales is expected, although some months will encounter a modest setback.”

Unfortunately, every month experiences some hiccups when it comes to real estate. The NAR’s Realtors Confidence Index, compiled from a survey of more than 3,000 Realtors, revealed a dip in confidence levels among Realtors about current market conditions.

“Tight credit conditions and the lack of inventory, particularly for ‘middle-priced’ homes were reported as the major roadblocks to increased sales,” said the report headed by Yun. “With a tight supply, properties were generally on the market for fewer days, and prices continued to increased in many areas although not as strongly as in 2012-2013.”

The June Cal-Culator will be released July 8 and will hopefully continue the trend of significant recovery across Atlanta and the nation.

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Mortgages from A to Z

When it comes to buying a home, there is an array of mortgage options to choose from.  This week we review the variety of mortgages available to homebuyers including fixed-rate mortgages, adjustable-rate mortgages and FHA loans and we weigh in on factors to consider when choosing a mortgage that’s right for you.

Jeff Brown, Senior Vice President of Southeast Mortgage

Jeff Brown, Senior Vice President of Southeast Mortgage

Adjustable-rate mortgage

An adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM), also known as variable-rate mortgage, is a type of mortgage that has an introductory interest rate that lasts a set period of time and adjusts with the marketplace for the remaining balance of the loan.  As interest rates rise and fall, so do consumers’ monthly payments.   The possibility of lower monthly payments makes this type of mortgage very attractive to homebuyers.  Conversely, while banks reward consumers who bear the risk of the market with an initial lower rate, the possibility of rising rates often deters many homebuyers.  However, to protect borrowers, annual and lifetime caps are set in place, which prevents rates from rising above a certain level during a time period.

Adjustable-rate mortgages can be a good option for homebuyers who plan on being in the house a few years allowing them to save money on interest payments in the short run.  However, adjustable-rate mortgages aren’t for the faint of heart.  Homebuyers who have difficulty budgeting for payment fluctuations or those that may worry about unpredictable rate changes can find these types of mortgages stressful.

FHA Loan

A Federal Housing Administration loan is backed by the U.S. Federal Housing Administration (a government agency within the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.)  The administration doesn’t give loans, but rather insures loans made by private lenders who are FHA-approved. FHA loans are often the mortgage of choice for those who prefer a lower down payment, as only 3.5 percent is required rather than the traditional 20 percent. However, FHA properties must meet certain conditions and be approved by an FHA-approved appraiser. To be eligible for a FHA loan, recipients must meet a number of requirements such as a certain front-end ratio, back-end ratio and steady employment, among other requirements.

Fixed-rate mortgage

A fixed-rate mortgage, one of the most commonly recognized mortgage options, is a loan in which the interest rate remains the same throughout the payment schedule. According to payoff.com, seven out of 10 people opt for fixed-rate mortgages.

Because fixed-rate mortgages are relatively straightforward with predictable monthly payments, many people opt for this type of plan. It is ideal for consumers who plan to stay in their home for many years and those who prefer the stability of unwavering payments over unpredictable, fluctuating payments.

Unfortunately, these types of loans have their disadvantages. Consumers can’t take advantage of low interest rates and they will end up paying more in interest over the life of the loan as fixed-rate mortgages are geared toward long-term financing.

Although choosing a mortgage can be a complex process, there is an attractive array of mortgage options available that can make the process far more straightforward.   Talk to your lender about these mortgages and other available mortgages including veterans’ loans, reverse mortgages and jumbo loans to accurately gauge what type of loan is best for you and your situation.

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What You Need to Know Before Buying Your First Home

Last week, we introduced our two-part series about first-time homebuyers with “Are You Ready to Buy Your First Home?”, a look inside the factors that indicate if hopeful homebuyers are ready to make the plunge. This week, we discuss a few things that you need to know as a first-time homebuyer.

Shaun Graham, Vice President of Southeast Mortgage

Shaun Graham, Vice President of Southeast Mortgage

Do I need to be pre-approved for a loan?

A “mortgage pre-approval” is a written statement from a lender indicating that the borrower will most likely qualify for a loan at a certain rate based on income and credit information. However, the pre-approval doesn’t guarantee the loan or the rate quoted.

Though the loan isn’t guaranteed, there are multiple reasons why you should obtain pre-approval. Sellers and Realtors are more likely to engage with someone that is seen as a credible buyer and stands out in a competitive market. The pre-approval will also offer you an idea of what kind of house you can truly afford given the rate.

If you aren’t able to secure pre-approval the first time around there are things you can do to secure approval in the future, including striving to improve your credit score, decreasing your debt-to-income ratio and working toward a more substantial down payment.

What should I take with me when applying for a mortgage?

With 2014 being labeled as the “year of documentation” by HSH , consumers will need to be extra-prepared with their paperwork when applying for a mortgage. Even if you’re not a first-time homebuyer, the necessary documentation will be new to you if you haven’t applied for a mortgage in the past five years. To satisfy mortgage lenders you will need:

  • Photo identification
  • Tax returns from the last two years
  • Two recent pay stubs
  • Bank statements from the last two months
  • Proof of homeowner’s insurance
  • Rent or utility checks. First-time homebuyers will need to prove they have a history of making payments on time.
  • Verification of position and salary
  • List of credit card accounts and amount owed on each
  • List of assets such as bonds or stocks

Other forms may be need to be provided on a case-by-case basis such as 1099 forms if you are self-employed, gift letters and a signed sales contract after making an offer on a residence.

 Do I need a Realtor?

Having a Realtor is an invaluable asset when shopping for a home as outlined in our previous column “Why Enlisting a Realtor’s Assistance is Still a Necessity for Buyers.” Contracts, often up to 50-pages long, and negotiations can be extremely tricky whether it’s a buyer’s first home or fifth home. Contrary to popular belief, Realtors are bound by to law to act in the buyer’s best interest, therefore, it is highly recommended to take advantage of a Realtor’s experience and guidance.

Though buying your first home can be overwhelming, a mortgage lender and Realtor can be extremely beneficial to help ease the process. In addition, many Realtors offer first-time homebuyers seminars and workshops, often for free.

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