How To Prepare to Become a Homeowner

 First Time Homebuyers, The Affordable Home, Veterans  Comments Off on How To Prepare to Become a Homeowner
Jan 232017
 

START. No matter what your timeline for when you plan to become a Homeowner. START. Put “all your ducks in a row” as it were.
START. Now. Why? Too many Homebuyers wait until they’re actively looking for homes. Then it becomes overwhelming because of the lack of preparation.   

Think about it. You’re out on a Sunday afternoon visiting three open houses you saw advertised on Zillow. The first house is a wreck, and a bank foreclosure to boot (and that wasn’t in the advertisement!). But the second house, painted in a lovely yellow tone with the perfect fieldstone finish around the foundation, in great condition, and priced right…now this is a house worth considering!

So you want to put in an Offer. But you are not yet Prequalified for mortgage financing. (Preapproved? Prequalified? Same thing, no matter what the real estate agents tell you!). Oh, and you don’t even have an Attorney selected. Home Inspector? Who? What? WAIT…whoa…WOW…this is overwhelming!!!

START. Find a great Licensed Mortgage Loan Originator with a reputable Direct Lender. If you follow the “get pre-approved” link on Zillow, you’ll be referred to an excellent and local mortgage professional. But don’t stop there. For that mortgage professional, or any mortgage professional you come across in your research, do a little background checking…you know, like a “Private Detective!” You can verify the license of your mortgage professional at National Mortgage Licensing System Consumer Access HERE. When you’re on the site, click on “Self-reported Employment History.” If the mortgage person was managing a pizza restaurant three years ago, well, I’ll let you draw your own conclusions. Remember, longevity in this business is hard to accomplish and in the doing, the mortgage pro gets better and better and…yes, experience counts!

START. Get referrals to two very important members of your home-buying team: a great Attorney who specializes ONLY in real estate and a Certified Home Inspector. Interview them; review the cost; determine if you like these pros. Put them on notice you’re not yet ready to buy, but you’ll want them at a moment’s notice once you’re out there shopping for a home.

START. Credit: let the mortgage professional tell you if your credit is sufficient for mortgage financing. I meet lots and lots of consumers who—while checking their own credit reports—decide ON THEIR OWN that their credit isn’t sufficient. Except…wait for it…you don’t work for the bank! Let the bank tell you if your credit is acceptable, or not. You’ll most likely be surprised.

START. Income: here’s the basics for qualifying for a mortgage loan. 2 years consistent employment history. We’ll use your current salary to qualify (not what you were paid before you got that big raise three months ago). Unless you get lots of overtime, or bonuses are a regular occurrence, or if you are Self-Employed, we don’t need to average your income; we’ll use the current salary. For those other income situations, your mortgage pro will do the math for you based on the different loan program guidelines (FHA has different requirements from FannieMae and different from FreddieMac). If you recently graduated college with a degree, we can use the education history (in most cases) towards the two year requirement.

START. CASH!!! Here’s the thing, even if you’re buying in New York, where the closing costs are the highest anywhere, you really can buy a home with minimal down payment. Because many loan programs allow the Seller to pay your closing costs through a “Sellers’ concession.” You’ll negotiate this into your purchase price when you make an Offer.

START. Put your team together. Review your Credit, your income, your cash. Rely on a trusted mortgage professional to tell you exactly where you stand today for a mortgage loan. Focus on monthly payment. Even if you’re not going out looking for homes until next summer, preparing for that experience is one of the smartest things you can do today in your endeavor to become a Homeowner!

Do you have questions?  Click on ASK TREVOR and I’ll respond to any and all inquiries, even if you’re not buying a home in New York State.

Check out my Trulia profile HERE

Check out my Zillow profile HERE

Find me on TWITTER: @tcurranmortgage

Happy House Hunting!

NEGOTIATE Your Offer: Hit Them Like a Freight Train!

 First Time Homebuyers, How-To Negotiate, Uncategorized, Veterans  Comments Off on NEGOTIATE Your Offer: Hit Them Like a Freight Train!
Jan 182017
 

I have a client making an Offer tomorrow on a multi-family house in The Bronx. This client—a First Time Buyer and a Veteran of the Armed Forces using VA financing—has been working very hard to find the right house.

Three weeks ago he was moments away from signing a contract to buy a home. He had done the home inspection and there were serious concerns about the property. He presented these concerns to the Seller through the Seller’s Agent, notably, a very bad roof and a serious water and mold problem in the basement. The Seller’s response: not gonna fix it. Have a nice day. Home inspection fee of $550 out the window; in the garbage; down the drain. Not really. “Money well spent,” I told my client. “You found out for minimal cost the potential money-pit-nightmare this house could become for you. Walk away.”

And walk away he did. Yesterday he saw another house he really likes. This time, I suggested we go at the Seller like a freight train bearing down on him.

Hit ’em hard. Provide a clear and concise layout of the price and terms of your Offer. Let me, the Mortgage Banker, speak to the Realtor about how well-qualified you are and the rapid timeline for an approval and closing. Put it all in writing. Have all your “ducks in a row” with the Offer spelled out with price and closing timeline, Attorney information, date for the home inspection, and your Prequalification Letter for VA mortgage financing.

As if that isn’t enough of a speeding train on the tracks, give the Seller a deadline: just over 24 hours to respond. Present your Offer mid-day Thursday; require a response by 3pm Friday. Tell the Seller’s Realtor you have appointments to look at other houses starting Saturday morning.

WOW. FREIGHT TRAIN!

Listen, anyone, any Buyer anywhere can do this. You need two things to see this through. One, have your Prequalification letter and your “team” lined up: Attorney, Home Inspector, Mortgage professional. Two, just DO IT. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. You’ll find out if the Seller is serious; if they really want to have a constructive dialogue with a Buyer; if the Realtor is a serious professional.

Line ’em up on the tracks, make your Offer, run at them like a freight train and hit ’em hard. I promise you, this method WORKS.

Do you have questions?  Click on ASK TREVOR and I’ll respond to any and all inquiries, even if you’re not buying a home in New York State.

Check out my Trulia profile HERE

Check out my Zillow profile HERE

Find me on TWITTER: @tcurranmortgage

Happy House Hunting!

Can You Use a VA Loan to buy a CONDO in New York?

 First Time Homebuyers, The Affordable Home, Uncategorized, Veterans  Comments Off on Can You Use a VA Loan to buy a CONDO in New York?
Jan 172017
 

Yes it is possible to use a VA loan to purchase a condo in New York. BUT…the condo must be a VA approved condominium. If the condo is not on the list, you cannot use a VA loan to purchase the condo.

Find VA Approved Condos HERE.

Everyone wants an affordable home…but there are other considerations you must take into account when considering a Condo.

As an advocate for First Time Buyers, I always give this advice to clients who are considering purchasing a condo. First, consumers often have the mistaken impression that condos are “cheaper” or have lower monthly payments than you would have for a home purchase, say of a Single Family Home.

While this may be true on the overall price of the property, in terms of the monthly payment, a condo can often be nearly equal to that for a single family home. This is because the monthly expense for a condo is not only Principal, Interest, Insurance and property taxes (and mortgage insurance depending on the loan program if other than VA), but also the monthly expense for the Homeowners Association. This “HOA” cost can be prohibitively expensive. When I prequalify a client for a condo in NY Metro area, I use an average monthly HOA expense of $650. Obviously HOA fees vary from one condo to another, but this is a fair average cost based on my experience.

So,when factoring that $650 into a monthly housing expense, the overall monthly expense for a condo can be almost or exactly equal to that of a single family home.

Therefore, I advise first time buyers to look at the other aspects of condo living to make a determination as to whether this is a good “fit” for their home buying experience. If a condo is considered as a “starter home” experience, then I would caution a first time buyer that a single family home is probably a more reasonable property to accomplish that goal.

Other factors to consider with condos:
When real estate markets turn “down” Co-Op, Condo, and 3 & 4 Family homes tend to suffer first in the potential for resale. So, if you own one of these properties, and you MUST sell, but the market has turned south, you will face significant challenges in getting your home sold.

-Living in a condo means you will often be living “up close and personal” with your neighbors. Very much similar to living in an apartment building, even if the condos are townhome style properties.

Condo living comes along with restrictions—more often than not—on what you can and cannot do to your property.

Overall costs for a condominium can increase dramatically if the condo is poorly-managed, or if an unexpected major incident—such as a heating system failure or roof collapse—occurs and winds up costing the condo monies in excess of their “capital reserve” account. If a condo association needs to increase its capital reserve account for any reason, this means a special assessment for the individual condo owners, maybe as much as several hundred dollars a month.

I often say to first time buyers that Condo living differs from owning a single family home not in the monthly payment, but rather by asking this question: “Do you mind shoveling snow?”

BOTTOM LINE: Approach a CONDO purchase by reviewing ALL variables in the experience and don’t focus solely on cost.

Read about the Basics of VA loans HERE.

Do you have questions?  Click on ASK TREVOR and I’ll respond to any and all inquiries, even if you’re not buying a home in New York State.

Check out my Trulia profile HERE

Check out my Zillow profile HERE

Find me on TWITTER: @tcurranmortgage

Happy House Hunting!

In Motion

 First Time Homebuyers, How-To Negotiate  Comments Off on In Motion
May 172016
 

You’ve made your counter-offer to the counter-offer. Now is the time to continue moving because everything is in the hands of the Seller. This is the best place for you to be in a negotiation: leaving the decision to deal, or not to deal, on the other party.

When you have made your best effort to negotiate by making a prompt and reasonable Offer, with all your details set in place, and with arriving at your best price you’re willing to pay for a home, then you leave it alone and stop thinking and worrying about it. If the Seller is truly serious about selling the home in a reasonable manner (that includes price and terms and knowing the market activity), then you’ll get your response in a positive way.

Playground

Plenty of homes out there!

If the Seller is not serious then you have just avoided a potentially difficult situation buying a home under the wrong price and terms.

 

Motion on green meadow in nature

Motion 

 

 

 

 

 

Stay in motion: continue looking at other homes, asking your Realtor to schedule appointments.

 

Never fall in love with the house. Be prepared to walk away. Keep moving, keep house hunting. It works, I promise.

abstract-speed-motion_7yKstZ

Do you have questions?  Click on ASK TREVOR and I’ll respond to any and all inquiries, even if you’re not buying a home in New York State.

Check out my Trulia profile HERE

Check out my Zillow profile HERE

Find me on TWITTER: @tcurranmortgage

Happy House Hunting!

May 182015
 

inspector 1You definitely want to be present at the inspection; budget anywhere from 2 to 5 hours for the inspection. Dress as if you might get dirty; bring a flashlight. You’ll go through the house side by side with your Inspector. After the inspection, your Inspector will discuss with you any major issues you need be aware of to discuss with your Attorney. You’ll get a written report shortly after the inspection day.

Typically your Home Inspection will alert you to problems in five key areas, and these key areas directly relate to the contract of sale in a New York home purchase:

1. Foundation: sound and solid
2. Roof free of leaks
3. Plumbing working and leak-free
4. Heating system sufficient and operating
5. Electrical system sufficient and up to code

image w definitions

If there is a serious problem with any of these five items, typically the Seller has a responsibility under the terms of the contract of sale to repair the problem at their expense, not the Purchaser’s expense. Sometimes a Purchaser will receive a credit at closing to repair one of these items (assuming the home and the defective issue has not compromised the Lender’s appraisal). When the Purchaser receives a credit at closing, the amount of the credit is based upon legitimate estimates for repair and negotiations between the Attorneys representing each party.

Other items you discover are in need of repair/upgrade (i.e. dishwasher not operating properly; air conditioner on second floor inoperable, etc.) can be negotiated for a repair credit or replacement at the Seller’s expense. Again, these negotiations are typically handled by the Attorneys.

It is not as common as you might think that a purchase price is reduced due to repairs from a Home Inspection. Best to consult with your Attorney for more detailed information in this area.

 

 
Do you have questions?  Click on ASK TREVOR and I’ll respond to any and all inquiries, even if you’re not buying a home in New York State.

Check out my Trulia profile HERE

Check out my Zillow profile HERE

Find me on TWITTER: @tcurranmortgage

Happy House Hunting!

Apr 132015
 

tax refundIt’s tax time and many homeowners receive large tax refund checks. Here’s some advice I’ve put together for you on different ways to use that money.

This article is part of my series “The Affordable Home.”  In the series I seek to focus on the intangible benefits of homeownership by making them, well, tangible.  I believe the affordable home is the sensible and proper approach to homeownership; so many new homebuyers today specifically focus on the affordability of the mortgage loan instead of the “HGTV” aspects of a house. I find this attitude refreshing for two reasons.

First, it’s an “old” attitude: in decades past the idea of buying a home revolved around diligent budgeting to save up the down payment and the concept the monthly payment should be affordable.

1950-oct-28-crop

The features of the house—granite countertops, high end appliances, paved driveways—were minor considerations and certainly did not make for sound decision-making when buying a home.  Those features could be added later, if one so desired, and those “old-timers” (I was once one of them) knew that.

Second, during the past decade, during the “Boom” the focus was on something I considered completely nuts: buy a home, an amazing home packed with big rooms, big features, and big monthly payments, at any cost.  Affordability be damned.  I struggled as a mortgage professional during those years to try to talk sense into people.

Since it’s tax-time, the advertising from folks who want your refund checks are everywhere.  There was the TV advertisement: “Just in time for your tax refund we’ve received a new stock of bamboo flooring!”

bamboo

It occurred to me that this is the time of year when many people, especially homeowners, get large tax refunds and the sharks start circling looking to take a bite out of that refund check.  To this I say, “STOP!  Take a minute to reflect on what you should do with your money!  You worked hard for it, and you bought an affordable home so you could get that refund, don’t throw it away without giving it due consideration.”

Here are my suggestions to spend your tax refund wisely:

1. Consider investing the money for your future.  My pal Nick, the owner of the Westside Steakhouse  was at one time a stock broker.  Here’s his take on wisely using your money:: “Never spend more than you make and save some money every week.”  Awesome advice and I believe that fits very handily into my concept of the affordable home.   Especially in this day and age of doubt over pensions, we consumers must be smarter and more responsible with our planning for retirement.  Follow Nick’s advice and invest your tax refund to begin or supplement your savings plan.

The New York Times “Your Money” section featured a wonderful piece recently about a new vehicle that makes it easier for us to create a sound investment strategy without all the costly bells and whistles.  Here’s the link to that article:  Financial Advice for People Who Aren’t Rich

I have long advised my clients to consider retaining a Financial Advisor to provide counsel on all things finance-related: investing, budgeting and insurance.  You can find a local Financial Advisor in the your area here:  National Association of Personal Financial Advisors

And here is sound advice from a CPA about investing not just your refund, but investing throughout the year and the tax benefits/ramifications: Fund Your Retirement Or Your Child’s College?

2. Create an Emergency Reserve.  Take some or all of that refund check and put together your emergency reserves.  Park the money somewhere it’s inaccessible by debit card!  You’ll need ease of access, but putting it within reach of a debit card is a surefire path to disaster.  pile of cash

3. Pay down debt.  This tends to be the long held standard amongst many homeowners I’ve known over the years.  I believe this is an admirable activity, but I believe taking your tax refund to pay down debt should be part of a comprehensive plan for debt management.   To take a page out of my friend Nick’s finance playbook: don’t spend more than you earn.  I advocate tending to your credit use respectfully and as part of your total family budget every month.  This way you won’t necessarily have to take your hard won refund check and pay down a credit card balance.  Of course, if, during the year you experienced an emergency and needed to access your credit to assist with that emergency, then paying off that debt at tax time is a sound strategy since it’s a one time event.

I’ve found that Consumer Action is the best site on the ‘net for sound advice on all things credit related, including how to obtain lower credit card rates and fees and great counselling on preparing and maintaining a family budget.  Find them here: Consumer Action

 Another Smart Strategy for The Affordable Home: Take home more money in your paycheck; get a smaller refund at tax time.

I hope my suggestions are useful to you at this exciting time of year.  Of course, I also advocate that you really shouldn’t get such a large refund at tax time if you’re a homeowner.  I’ve long believed that you should incorporate into your homeowners’ “network of advisors” a great tax professional or CPA.  By doing so, you can lean on your tax professional/CPA to advise you on the correct withholding throughout the year to increase your take-home pay, reduce your end of the year tax refund (and prevent having to pay!), and enjoy the benefits of homeownership every month instead of once a year. Here’s the IRS page on how to calculate correct withholding, but I recommend you do this only under the guidance of your tax professional/CPA:  IRS Withholding Calculator

Do you have questions?  Click on ASK TREVOR and I’ll respond to any and all inquiries, even if you’re not buying a home in New York State.

Check out my Trulia profile HERE

Check out my Zillow profile HERE

Find me on TWITTER: @tcurranmortgage

Ask Trevor A Question

Focus On Total Monthly Payment

 First Time Homebuyers, How-To Negotiate, The Affordable Home  Comments Off on Focus On Total Monthly Payment
Apr 122015
 

WOW! What a beautiful day today here in The Bronx to be out and about House Hunting! If you’re shopping for your first home today here’s some simple advice to help you make the right decision on your home buy.

1. Wish List: Be sure to have a WRITTEN wish list of everything you want in a home. Include features, condition (how much improving are you willing to do?) and location (proximity to transportation/work and desired school districts). When you find a home that comes pretty close to your wish list, it’s a good house for you!

2. Focus on TOTAL Monthly Mortgage Payment. Your total monthly mortgage payment includes the Principal and Interest of your mortgage loan, one-twelfth of your property taxes/Homeowners Insurance/Flood Insurance/Mortgage Insurance (depending on the mortgage loan program), otherwise called “PITI.”

Your Mortgage Banker should be only a phone call/text/email/tweet away from providing you with an accurate TOTAL monthly mortgage payment. I advise this to be the best option for accurate information as opposed to online calculators. Your Mortgage Banker will be more familiar with local common and customary costs such as Homeowners Insurance and Flood Zone costs as well as local property taxes (be wary of the property taxes listed in the real estate listing for under-estimating).

If you’re qualified for a mortgage loan program that requires mortgage insurance (PMI, FHA, or VA Guaranty) those online calculators can’t correctly calculate your monthly insurance. If your Mortgage Banker isn’t available or isn’t familiar with those local common and customary costs you need to find a different Mortgage Banker!

3. Make OFFERS promptly. Nothing demonstrates that you are a serious buyer like making an OFFER on a home immediately. Don’t wait until Thursday! If a home comes close enough to your basic Wish List requirements and the total monthly mortgage payment fits your comfort zone then strike while the iron is hot!

You’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain! Sellers want to work with serious buyers, and so do their real estate agents. Get your Offer prepared in writing with your agent before you go home. Then enjoy your evening and let the real estate agents and the Seller fret, worry, and negotiate with YOU.

4. Prepare your counter-offer position. Assuming the Seller doesn’t accept your initial Offer, prepare your pricing strategy for the next highest price you’re willing to go up to. Once again, focus on Total Monthly Mortgage Payment. Never pay more than you’re comfortable with! And, prepare your “walk away” strategy, too. Some Sellers and their agents are just too unrealistic with their pricing expectations.  If they don’t respond to your Offer in a reasonably prompt manner, and with a reasonable counter-0ffer (less than 5% of List Price is NOT reasonable IMHO), then it’s time for you to walk away from the negotiating table.  Let them chase YOU.  After all, you’re a prepared and serious buyer, not a time-waster.

negotiating

5. Line up your professionals to move your deal along.  Be sure to have your ATTORNEY, your HOME INSPECTOR and, of course, your Mortgage Banker all lined-up and ready to jump on your home buying bandwagon once you and the Seller have worked out and agreed on your terms and price.  Your professional team should respond to your heads-up about your accepted Offer within less than two hours, IMHO, to help you prepare to buy your home.

Do you have questions about Total Monthly Mortgage Payment?  Click on ASK TREVOR and I’ll respond to any and all inquiries, even if you’re not buying a home in New York State.

Check out my Trulia profile HERE

Check out my Zillow profile HERE

Find me on TWITTER: @tcurranmortgage

Happy House Hunting!

 

 

 Posted by at 4:43 pm

Purchase and Renovate: ONE LOAN

 First Time Homebuyers, The Affordable Home  Comments Off on Purchase and Renovate: ONE LOAN
Apr 102015
 

It’s Sunday afternoon and you’re out there house hunting. It’s part of the process.

All of a sudden, you’ve found the right house. It’s the house you want: the price is right, the location is right, the amenities are allright. But there’s a problem with this house that is otherwise not so right: it needs a new kitchen with appliances. Oh, and the windows are ancient, ugly, drafty and in serious need of replacement.

retro k

You want this house. And you’re rather move in to your new “right” house with that a new kitchen, appliances, and windows.

But how to purchase the home and find the money to renovate?

Maybe Uncle Harold can lend you the money after the closing. But, do you really want to ask Uncle Harold for such a favor? Then you know you have to invite him for every Thanksgiving and every Christmas and every Fourth of July barbecue. You LOVE Uncle Harold, but EVERY holiday? Umm….

And what if the house won’t pass muster with your Lender’s appraisal? Maybe those windows and broken kitchen cabinet doors will catch the Appraiser’s attention and she’ll call for them to be repaired prior to closing. (We call that a “Subject To” appraisal: the appraisal is subject to completion of required work before the Lender will close your mortgage loan) The Seller is willing to do only minimal work to help you pass an appraisal, but do you really want to rely on the Seller’s handiwork to repair the kitchen cabinets and/or windows?

All of a sudden Uncle Harold spending all his holiday time with you is looking like your only option…

But there are several programs where your Lender can provide you the mortgage money for your home purchase and for the renovations. The beauty of it? A Purchase and Renovation Loan!  ONE LOAN and thus ONE MONTHLY MORTGAGE PAYMENT.

The first, and most commonly used, is the FHA 203k Rehab Mortgage . With this program you can actually do a full house gut-renovation if you wanted to. It all depends on how much mortgage money your Income, Assets, and Credit allow you to qualify for, AND how much the home will be worth AFTER your proposed improvements. That’s right, that same appraiser who might have “subjected-to” your “right” home will now tell you how much the home will be worth with the new kitchen, appliances and windows. Yup, definitely improves value and the “After-Improved” appraisal will reflect that. Better still, the Lender’s approval decision is based on that “after-improved” value.

The FHA also offers the FHA 203k Streamline program. You need a minimum of $5,000.00 in improvements to qualify (can you say “Appliances?”) and the maximum is $35,000 for improvements. This program offers a faster, more efficient process of approving a purchase/renovation loan. And meets your “right house” scenario of new kitchen, new appliances and new windows, unless you’re selecting crazy expensive product/services.

old k

FannieMae has a similar program for your renovation needs, too. FannieMae HomeStyle. This program is similar to the FHA 203k for purchasing and renovating that “right” home you found.

So, don’t lose hope. You can buy that house that’s so right for you. Ask me for more details by clicking “Ask Trevor.” I’m happy to give free advice all day long; it’s what I do.

new k
Do you have questions?  Click on ASK TREVOR and I’ll respond to any and all inquiries, even if you’re not buying a home in New York State.

Check out my Trulia profile HERE

Check out my Zillow profile HERE

Find me on TWITTER: @tcurranmortgage

 Posted by at 2:12 pm
Sep 072014
 

tax refundIt’s tax time and many homeowners receive large tax refund checks. Here’s some advice I’ve put together for you on different ways to use that money.

This article was the first in my series “The Affordable Home.”  In the series I seek to focus on the intangible benefits of homeownership by making them, well, tangible.  I believe the affordable home is the sensible and proper approach to homeownership; so many new homebuyers today specifically focus on the affordability of the mortgage loan instead of the “HGTV” aspects of a house. I find this attitude refreshing for two reasons.

First, it’s an “old” attitude: in decades past the idea of buying a home revolved around diligent budgeting to save up the down payment and the concept the monthly payment should be affordable.

1950-oct-28-crop

The features of the house—granite countertops, high end appliances, paved driveways—were minor considerations and certainly did not make for sound decision-making when buying a home.  Those features could be added later, if one so desired, and those “old-timers” (I was once one of them) knew that.

 

Second, during the past decade, during the “Boom” the focus was on something I considered completely nuts: buy a home, an amazing home packed with big rooms, big features, and big monthly payments, at any cost.  Affordability be damned.  I struggled as a mortgage professional during those years to try to talk sense into people.

Since it’s tax-time, the advertising from folks who want your refund checks are everywhere.  There was the TV advertisement: “Just in time for your tax refund we’ve received a new stock of bamboo flooring!”

bamboo

It occurred to me that this is the time of year when many people, especially homeowners, get large tax refunds and the sharks start circling looking to take a bite out of that refund check.  To this I say, “STOP!  Take a minute to reflect on what you should do with your money!  You worked hard for it, and you bought an affordable home so you could get that refund, don’t throw it away without giving it due consideration.”

Here are my suggestions to spend your tax refund wisely:

1. Consider investing the money for your future.  My pal Nick, the owner of the Westside Steakhouse  was at one time a stock broker.  Here’s his take on wisely using your money:: “Never spend more than you make and save some money every week.”  Awesome advice and I believe that fits very handily into my concept of the affordable home.   Especially in this day and age of doubt over pensions, we consumers must be smarter and more responsible with our planning for retirement.  Follow Nick’s advice and invest your tax refund to begin or supplement your savings plan.

The New York Times “Your Money” section featured a wonderful piece recently about a new vehicle that makes it easier for us to create a sound investment strategy without all the costly bells and whistles.  Here’s the link to that article:  Financial Advice for People Who Aren’t Rich

I have long advised my clients to consider retaining a Financial Advisor to provide counsel on all things finance-related: investing, budgeting and insurance.  You can find a local Financial Advisor in the your area here:  National Association of Personal Financial Advisors

And here is sound advice from a CPA about investing not just your refund, but investing throughout the year and the tax benefits/ramifications: Fund Your Retirement Or Your Child’s College?

2. Create an Emergency Reserve.  Take some or all of that refund check and put together your emergency reserves.  Park the money somewhere it’s inaccessible by debit card!  You’ll need ease of access, but putting it within reach of a debit card is a surefire path to disaster.  pile of cash

3. Pay down debt.  This tends to be the long held standard amongst many homeowners I’ve known over the years.  I believe this is an admirable activity, but I believe taking your tax refund to pay down debt should be part of a comprehensive plan for debt management.   To take a page out of my friend Nick’s finance playbook: don’t spend more than you earn.  I advocate tending to your credit use respectfully and as part of your total family budget every month.  This way you won’t necessarily have to take your hard won refund check and pay down a credit card balance.  Of course, if, during the year you experienced an emergency and needed to access your credit to assist with that emergency, then paying off that debt at tax time is a sound strategy since it’s a one time event.

I’ve found that Consumer Action is the best site on the ‘net for sound advice on all things credit related, including how to obtain lower credit card rates and fees and great counselling on preparing and maintaining a family budget.  Find them here: Consumer Action

 Another Smart Strategy for The Affordable Home: Take home more money in your paycheck; get a smaller refund at tax time.

I hope my suggestions are useful to you at this exciting time of year.  Of course, I also advocate that you really shouldn’t get such a large refund at tax time if you’re a homeowner.  I’ve long believed that you should incorporate into your homeowners’ “network of advisors” a great tax professional or CPA.  By doing so, you can lean on your tax professional/CPA to advise you on the correct withholding throughout the year to increase your take-home pay, reduce your end of the year tax refund (and prevent having to pay!), and enjoy the benefits of homeownership every month instead of once a year. Here’s the IRS page on how to calculate correct withholding, but I recommend you do this only under the guidance of your tax professional/CPA:  IRS Withholding Calculator

 

Do you have questions?  Click on ASK TREVOR and I’ll respond to any and all inquiries, even if you’re not buying a home in New York State.

Check out my Trulia profile HERE

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Market Prediction for 2014

 First Time Homebuyers  Comments Off on Market Prediction for 2014
Nov 252013
 

The Affordable Home Is Worth Waiting For.

A good friend and real estate broker made a prediction:

“Spring 2014 real estate market will be the busiest since 2005. Prices will not spike so much as the volume of transactions. That’s my take.”

That’s a LOT of homes getting sold. His prediction is based on what we both believe is serious pent up demand, both from YOU, the potential Buyers and from potential home Sellers. And again, I quote:

“Think of all the people who have waited since 2007-8. Putting off life, babies, etc until there was a recovery. The pent up demand will be a considerable influence.”

I Believe in The Affordable Home.

Prepare, prepare, prepare:
• Mortgage Prequalification
• Attorney
• Home Inspector
• Buyer’s Agent

Do your research, hit the streets and work hard shopping for a home BUT stand your ground on your price. The Affordable Home is out there waiting for you, and it’s worth the wait.

My friend the real estate broker is a great guy named Phil Faranda. You can find his words of wisdom here:
http://westchesterrealestateblog.net/the-most-compelling-economic-indicator-for-real-estate-on-earth/

 

 Posted by at 10:18 pm