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What to Do Before You Make an Offer on a House

Before taking the plunge into homeownership, it’s essential to have a comprehensive checklist in hand that ensures informed decisions throughout the process.

This checklist will help you navigate the complexities of buying a house and ensure that you consider all the important factors before making an offer.

Don’t Rush Into a Decision: Take ample time to explore all of your options, from evaluating local real estate trends to learning about property taxes and insurance costs associated with owning the house.

Hire Professionals: Hiring qualified professionals, such as real estate attorneys, mortgage lenders, or inspectors, is essential to avoid potential pitfalls later down the line.  

Don’t Overspend: Make sure that the final agreed-upon price aligns within the limits defined by your mortgage preapproval. The excitement of buying a home often leads buyers to overextend themselves financially.

Your Ultimate Checklist for Making an Offer on a House

Invest ample time, seek expert advice, and thoroughly assess each aspect. With meticulous planning, you’ll be one step closer to finding your ideal home. This checklist will walk you through the necessary details to make a well-informed and advantageous decision before making an offer on your home.

Get Pre-Approved Before Making an Offer

Getting pre-approved for a mortgage should be the first step in your homebuying process. A pre-approval letter from your lender will give you the upper hand when negotiating with sellers. Plus, it saves you from the heartbreak of falling in love with a house you can’t afford. You’ll need to approach reliable mortgage lenders, providing them with necessary financial documents such as proof of income, credit history, and assets.

Consult with a mortgage lender for estimates on making monthly mortgage payments, considering interest rates and the down payment amount—factor in costs like homeowner’s association fees (if applicable), property taxes, and home insurance.

Evaluate the Current Real Estate Market

What are the current market conditions? Are homes selling above or below the asking price? How long do these properties linger on the market?

Evaluate real estate trends, including home prices, average time on the market, and selling prices compared to list prices. An experienced real estate agent familiar with your desired location can help you navigate the homebuying process. Choose a licensed agent who knows the area well.

Researching Your Desired Neighborhood

Location is a crucial factor when buying a home. Before you commit to buying your ideal residence, be sure to research the surrounding area and neighborhood. Don’t get stuck in a place where the only food source is an unreliable convenience store, or the closest school district is miles away.

Before making an offer, it’s essential to get a sense of the background of your potential home. This can be achieved by checking tax records, property appraisers’ records, or court documents.

A key part of due diligence is learning about the house’s history as much as possible. When was it built? When did the current owner buy it? What renovations were done over time? Similarly, consider future plans, too, such as proposed developments nearby, which may influence the property value significantly over time.

At Michigan Mortgage, we offer a swift and simplified pre-approval process. And when it comes to finding a qualified Realtor, our team of experts is here to assist you. We can connect you with vetted Realtors who will provide guidance throughout the entire homebuying process.

Why You Should Use a Buyer’s Agent to Buy a Home

Buying a home is one of the most significant financial decisions you’ll make in your lifetime. It’s a complex process that involves a multitude of steps, paperwork, and negotiations.

Many prospective homebuyers attempt to navigate this intricate journey on their own, believing they can save money by not hiring a buyer’s agent. However, this can often lead to costly mistakes and missed opportunities.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the compelling reasons why you should use a buyer’s agent when purchasing your dream home.

Expertise and Local Knowledge

One of the most significant advantages of hiring a buyer’s agent is their expertise and local knowledge. These professionals have a deep understanding of the local real estate market, including neighborhoods, property values, and current market trends. They can provide you with invaluable insights that you might not have access to otherwise. This expertise ensures that you make informed decisions, whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or a seasoned investor.

Access to Exclusive Listings

Buyer’s agents often have access to exclusive listings that are not available to the general public. These off-market properties can be hidden gems that align perfectly with your criteria. By working with a buyer’s agent, you increase your chances of discovering these hidden opportunities and securing your dream home.

Negotiation Skills

Negotiating the price and terms of a real estate transaction is a critical step in the homebuying process. Buyer’s agents are skilled negotiators who can help you get the best deal possible. They have experience dealing with sellers and their agents, which can be particularly beneficial in competitive markets.

Buyer’s Protection

Buyer’s agents work to protect your interests throughout the transaction. They can identify potential issues with a property, recommend necessary inspections, and negotiate repairs or concessions on your behalf. This level of protection is invaluable in ensuring your investment is sound.

Cost-Effective

Contrary to popular belief, hiring a buyer’s agent doesn’t necessarily cost you more money. In most cases, their commission is paid by the seller, not the buyer. This means you can benefit from their expertise and guidance without incurring additional expenses.

In the complex world of real estate, enlisting the services of a buyer’s agent is a wise decision. Their expertise, local knowledge, and ability to navigate the intricacies of the market can save you time, money, and stress.

Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or a seasoned investor, a buyer’s agent is your trusted partner in finding and securing your dream home. Don’t hesitate to take advantage of their services and make your homebuying journey a successful and satisfying one.

Realtor

How a Realtor Can Help You Sell Your Home

Selling a home can be a daunting and complex task, but it doesn’t have to be when you have the right partner by your side.

Hiring a professional Realtor can make all the difference in the world when it comes to selling your home efficiently and at the best possible price. In this blog post, we’ll explore the many ways a Realtor can assist you throughout the home-selling process.

Pricing Expertise

One of the most crucial aspects of selling a home is setting the right price. Overpricing can deter potential buyers, while underpricing can mean leaving money on the table. Realtors have access to comprehensive market data and can conduct a comparative market analysis (CMA) to determine the optimal price for your home. This ensures your property is competitively priced to attract the right buyers.

Marketing Mastery

Realtors are skilled marketers who know how to showcase your home’s best features. They have access to professional photography, virtual tours, and marketing materials that can make your home stand out online and in print. Their marketing efforts extend to multiple listing services (MLS), social media, and real estate websites, increasing your home’s visibility to potential buyers.

Negotiation Skills

Negotiating a real estate deal can be challenging, but Realtors are experts in this field. They can represent your interests and negotiate on your behalf to secure the best possible price and terms. Their experience and knowledge of market conditions are invaluable during negotiations, ensuring you get a fair deal.

Legal Guidance

Real estate transactions come with a myriad of legal paperwork and potential pitfalls. Realtors are well-versed in the legal aspects of selling a home and can guide you through the process, ensuring all contracts and disclosures are completed accurately and in compliance with local laws and regulations.

Market Insights

Realtors are market experts who stay up-to-date with local real estate trends and conditions. They can provide valuable insights into market dynamics, helping you make informed decisions throughout the selling process.

Hiring a Realtor is a wise investment when selling your home. Their expertise, market knowledge, and network of industry connections can make the process smoother, faster, and more profitable. From pricing your home right to negotiating the best deal and handling the complex paperwork, Realtors are indispensable partners in your home-selling journey.

So, when it’s time to sell your home, don’t hesitate to enlist the services of a professional Realtor to guide you every step of the way.

Navigating a Seller’s Market: 8 Tips for Homebuyers

The real estate market can be a complex and ever-changing landscape, with shifts between buyer’s and seller’s markets occurring frequently.

In a seller’s market, where demand outweighs supply, buyers often find themselves facing fierce competition and limited options. However, with the right strategies and mindset, you can still secure your dream home without breaking the bank.

Here are eight tips for buyers in a seller’s market.

Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage. Before you even begin your home search, get pre-approved for a mortgage. This not only gives you a clear understanding of your budget but also demonstrates to sellers that you’re a serious buyer.

Work with a Seasoned Real Estate Agent. An experienced real estate agent is a valuable asset in a competitive market. They have insights, access to off-market listings, and negotiation skills that can give you an edge.

Be Flexible with Your Criteria. While it’s important to know what you want in a home, being too rigid can limit your options. Consider being flexible with minor preferences to increase your chances of finding a suitable property.

Know Your Limits. Set a maximum budget and stick to it. In the heat of a bidding war, it’s easy to get caught up and overspend. Remember, a home is an investment, and it’s important to remain financially prudent.

Offer a Competitive Price. In a seller’s market, lowball offers are unlikely to be successful. Work with your real estate agent to determine a competitive yet reasonable offer that aligns with the market value of the property.

Consider Waiving Contingencies (with Caution). While waiving certain contingencies like home inspection can make your offer more attractive, it comes with risks. Be sure to understand the potential consequences and discuss them with your agent before proceeding.

Stay Informed About the Market. Knowledge is power. Stay updated on the latest market trends, recent sales, and neighborhood developments. This information can guide your decisions and help you make informed offers.

Remain Patient. While the sense of urgency is heightened in a seller’s market, it’s crucial to remain patient. It’s possible that you might face rejection or lose out on a few properties before finding the right one. Stay resilient and positive throughout the process.

In a seller’s market, buyers need to be strategic, well-prepared, and adaptable. By following these tips and working closely with a knowledgeable real estate professional, you can increase your chances of successfully navigating the challenges of a competitive market and finding a home that meets your needs and aspirations.

Remember, persistence pays off, and with the right approach, you’ll soon be unlocking the door to your new home.

Documents

What documents are needed to apply for a mortgage?

Are you ready to turn your homeownership dreams into reality? Whether you’re a first-time buyer, looking to upgrade, or seeking to refinance, our tailored mortgage solutions will make your journey to homeownership a breeze.

We know that gathering the necessary documentation can be overwhelming but worry not! Although documentation required may vary depending on the type of loan, generally, the following documents are needed.

Proof of Income

This includes pay stubs, W-2 forms, tax returns, and bank statements to verify your income and employment history. Generally, we are looking for at least two years of employment history.

Identity Check

You will need to provide a government-issued ID, such as a driver’s license or passport, to verify your identity. Be sure your documents are up to date and not expired.

Verify Assets

We will ask you to provide documentation of your assets. These can include bank statements or investment account statements. We want to ensure that you have the funds for a down payment and closing costs.

Self-Employed?

We understand that being self-employed comes with unique financial complexities. Our team will assist you in providing the essential self-employed documentation, including profit and loss statements and business tax returns, so you can secure a mortgage that suits your individual circumstances.

Personalized Solutions for Every Loan Type

We know that one size doesn’t fit all. That’s why we offer a wide range of mortgage options to suit your preferences. Whether you’re looking for a conventional loan, VA loan, FHA loan, or any other specialized loan, our experts will craft the perfect solution tailored to your unique needs.

By ensuring you have all the necessary documentation ready, you can expedite the mortgage application process and increase your chances of approval.

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Seven Steps to Get a Mortgage

The day has come that you are ready to start house hunting. Before you dive into the process, there are a few things you need to do before finding the perfect home.

Choose Your Lender
The first step in the mortgage process is choosing a lender. Be sure to choose a lender you can trust, and a local lender is a huge advantage because they have local experience and can provide a more one-on-one approach. Your lender looks out for your interests and provides a variety of loan options to fit your needs.

Get Pre-Approved
Most realtors do not allow you to schedule a home tour without a pre-approval letter. This is why it is a crucial part in the process before you start your search. You will fill out a mortgage application and provide the lender with your financial information, such as your income, assets, and credit score. The lender will then pre-approve you for a loan, which means they will tell you how much you can borrow and at what interest rate.

Find a Property
Once you are pre-approved, you can start looking for your dream home. Your Realtor can help you narrow down current listings in your preferred area. Once you have a list of possible homes, you can start peeking inside. Planning to set up a private tour with your Realtor can be a good option as you are able to ask more in-depth questions and have your realtor share their own options.

Apply for the Loan
You found the perfect home! Now you will formally apply for the loan. This involves providing the lender with additional documentation, such as a purchase agreement and proof of insurance. The process is quite straightforward and if your finances are in order, it should be a simple process since you have already been pre-approved.

Underwriting
One of the last steps in finalizing your loan is having your lender review your application and documentation to make sure you meet the lending criteria. This process is where an underwriter will look over every detail of your application and ensure that there are no missing pieces.

Appraisal
The lender will order an appraisal of the property to ensure that it is worth the amount you are borrowing. If the appraisal comes in over your offer price, you’re all set. However, if the appraisal comes in less than your offer price, you will need to pay for the difference upfront before the purchase finalizes or renegotiate with the seller.

Closing
One last step and the home is yours! Once the lender has approved your loan, you will need to attend a closing. You will sign the loan documents and pay any closing costs. The most important thing is to ensure you have your final costs set aside for closing day.

Tips to improve your credit score

Five Ways to Improve Your Credit Score Before Buying a House

House hunting is an exciting time, but before you leap into finding the perfect home it’s important to do the prep work. One of the best ways you can set yourself up for success is by taking a close look at your credit score. Your credit score is key to determining the interest rate you will pay on your mortgage.

Here are five ways you can improve your credit score to get the best rate possible.

Know Your Score

It is a good idea to know your credit score before you take on any big investment. After paying off debt, it can take some time to see the change reflected on your score. This is why we recommend checking your score annually.  Visit www.usa.gov/credit-reports for information on how to check your credit report.

Identify and Fix Errors

Once you have your credit report in hand, it is important to take a close look and ensure there are no errors. You want to look at your accounts and balances to verify they are at accurate amounts. Keep in mind it may take a while for balances to be updated on your credit score after a recent payment. If you notice any errors or suspicious activity on any of your credit reports, contact the credit bureau issuing that report and have them correct the information.

Pay Down Debt

Not all debt is inherently bad, but having a lot of revolving debt makes you less appealing to lenders. It is a good practice to pay off as much as you can. At the least ensure you make the minimum payment each month, and if possible, aim for a larger amount. It may be beneficial to consider asking for higher credit limits. Higher limits will improve your credit utilization — if you don’t increase your balance to match.

Don’t Miss Payments

Keeping your accounts in good standing is more important than you think. Even missing a few payments can bring down an otherwise excellent record. Setting up automatic payments using a bank account routing number is the best way to ensure no errors are made.

Limit your Credit Inquiries

It may be tempting to apply for loans and cards due to intriguing bonuses and benefits, but all these applications generate hard credit inquiries. Be mindful of inquiries you decide to opt-in for and be confident that you will be approved. It is important to remember that no matter how tempting, every single inquiry shows up on your credit report and can easily hurt your score.

The more you know about your credit, the easier it will be to work on improving your score. Most credit scores range from 300 to 850 and rank from bad to excellent. Having a higher score shows the lender you are at a lower risk of deficiency and therefore receiving an offer for a lower interest rate. You want to aim for a credit score between 720 and 850.

Each positive action is one step closer to receiving the best interest rate possible and landing your dream home!

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What are closing costs and how much will I pay?

Closing costs refer to the fees and expenses associated with the purchase or sale of a property.

These costs are typically paid at the closing of the transaction and may include a variety of different charges depending on the specific circumstances of the transaction.

Some common closing costs include the following.

Title Insurance: This protects both the buyer and lender from any legal disputes over the ownership of the property. The cost of title insurance can vary depending on the value of the property.

Appraisal Fee: This covers the cost of having the property appraised by a professional to determine its value.

Home Inspection Fee: This covers the cost of having the property inspected by a professional to identify any potential issues or repairs that may be needed. You may be asked to pay at the time of inspection, so don’t forget to budget this cost into your purchase plan.

Loan Origination Fee: This is a fee charged by the lender to process and underwrite your loan application. Origination fees may vary depending on the lender you trust with your purchase.

Prepaid Interest: This is interest that is paid upfront to the lender to cover the interest that will accrue on the loan before the first payment is due.

Recording Fees: This covers the cost of recording the deed and mortgage with the local government.

The total amount of closing costs can vary depending on the location of the property, the price of the property, and other factors.

In general, closing costs can range from 2 – 5% of the purchase price of the property. If you are purchasing a property for $300,000, you could expect to pay between $6,000 and $15,000 in closing costs.

If you have additional questions about closing costs, don’t hesitate to reach out! Our team can help guide you in the right direction.

Spring Welcome Mat

How to Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage

In a competitive market, it pays to be pre-approved.

We strongly encourage our customers (as well as our friends and family!) to get pre-approved before they start house hunting.

To get pre-approved for a mortgage, you will need to provide some personal and financial information to your Loan Officer.

Here are some of the things you will need to have.

  • Proof of income: You will need to provide proof of your income, which can include recent pay stubs, W2s & tax returns.
  • Employment verification: The lender may need to verify your employment, so you will need to provide contact information for your employer.
  • Credit score: Your credit score is an important factor in the mortgage pre-approval process. You can get a free credit report from one of the major credit bureaus, Equifax, TransUnion or Experian, to check your credit score before you apply.
  • Debt-to-income ratio: Lenders will want to know your debt-to-income ratio, which is the amount of debt you have compared to your income. You will need to provide information on any outstanding debts, such as credit card balances or car loans.
  • Down payment and closing costs: You may need to have some money saved for a down payment on the house you want to buy. The amount of the down payment will depend on the price of the house and the loan program that’s best for your unique situation. Some programs do not require a down payment, but you may still be responsible for covering closing costs.
  • Identification: You will need to provide a government-issued ID, such as a driver’s license or passport.

Once you have provided all the necessary information, your Loan Officer will review your application and let you know if you are pre-approved for a mortgage.

After you have your pre-approval letter in hand, and you know how much you can afford to spend on a home, let the house hunting begin!

What are LLPAs?

Loan level price adjustments (LLPAs) are a form of risk-based pricing that mortgage lenders use to determine the interest rate and terms of a loan. The adjustments are based on factors such as the borrower’s credit score & down payment amount.

These adjustments can result in higher or lower interest rates, depending on the borrower’s risk profile.

For potential homebuyers, LLPAs can have a significant impact on the affordability of a mortgage. If a borrower has a lower credit score or a smaller down payment, they may be subject to higher LLPAs, which can increase their interest rate and therefore their monthly mortgage payment. Conversely, borrowers with higher credit scores & larger down payments may be able to qualify for lower LLPAs, which can result in a lower interest rate and monthly mortgage payment.

In addition to affecting the monthly mortgage payment, LLPAs can also impact the overall cost of the loan. A borrower who is subject to higher LLPAs may end up paying more in interest over the life of the loan, while a borrower with lower LLPAs may be able to save money in interest payments.

LLPAs were introduced in 2008 and have changed periodically since.

If you’ve been following industry news, you’ll know that new LLPAs were recently introduced. There’s a lot of misconceptions in our industry about what the changes actually mean, so we encourage you to take a few minutes and watch a short video. Loan Officer and Branch Manager Rob Garrison breaks down the confusion and explains the changes here.

Overall, LLPAs are an important factor for potential homebuyers to consider when applying for a mortgage. Borrowers should be aware of the factors that can impact their LLPAs and work to improve their credit score & save for a larger down payment to potentially qualify for lower LLPAs.