Alysha Glazier's Blog
177 Gay Road, Groton, MA 01450
A condo can be a great resource in expanding your property search for a home. Condos allow the same benefits of traditional single family home ownership with slightly less hassle. If you have been juggling the idea of buying a condo versus a traditional home, you may be in luck. The first thing you should worry about is whether or not your needs will actually be met by condo living. Do you want a big yard? Are you comfortable having neighbors super close by? Most importantly, you need to make an informed decision that will help you to find the kind of property that’s right for you.
If you want a secure space and living that provides you with easy upkeep, a condo is really a great option. Condos provide many advantages that people may have not even thought of until now.
Condo living has different perks than that of traditional homes. Your condominium complex can include things like a swimming pool, a clubhouse, community events, tennis courts, fitness centers, and more. You won’t get all of these little extras living in a single family home. It can be a great environment for both single people and families alike.
Condos often offer either a gated community or security staff on the premises. These features allow you to feel a lot more secure in your home environment. Security will keep rowdy kids from roaming the property and only allow owners and their visitors. This feature alone may be worth it for many home buyers when shopping for a place to live.
If you’re the type of person who doesn’t enjoy yard work and is not a DIYer, condo living could be for you. Included with your condo fees is the ability to have different things in and around your home taken care of. Although the fees include different extras from place to place, Living in a condo is definitely less work as far as home care goes than a traditional house.
Although condos do include additional fees, the price point of most condos is much lower than that of a traditional home. If you are just starting out, a condo is a great way to ease into homeownership without needing to save up an exorbitant amount of money for a downpayment.
While condo living has many different advantages, they do carry some disadvantages for people. These include:
- HOA Fees
- Lack of privacy
- A difficult sell if you want to move
- You live under management rules
These points can be deal breakers for some buyers. While many relish their freedom from maintenance responsibility, others just want to do as they please with their yard without needing approval. A condo could be a great choice for you in your own situation, you just need to step back and look at the pros and cons.
We know that location matters when you’re trying to find the right home to buy, but why? First, buying a home you like in a location that matches your needs is a sign of a solid, long-term investment. Finding the right home isn’t always the answer to your property search woes. Many times, finding a house that needs a little TLC in the right neighborhood can give you a better return on your investment than finding a move-in ready house in the wrong neighborhood. You want to think in terms of finding a home that will be easy to sell if you so choose to sell it. Most importantly, you want to feel comfortable in your home and in your surroundings. What are the signs of a good location? Below, you’ll find the most important things you should look for when searching for a home.
Everyone wants a safe neighborhood, and you certainly know a sketchy neighborhood when you drive through it, but what denotes a neighborhood as “safe”? First, if you see people up and walking around a place, you know it’s a good start to finding a safe neighborhood. People who are outside, interacting with one another give a neighborhood a community feel. You will feel like your neighbors have your back in a neighborhood like this.
the better the school district is, the higher the property values in the area are. If you don’t have kids, this may not be much of an issue for you. However, if you’re thinking that you may want to sell your home anytime in the future, keep in mind that a less than reputable school district can really dip into property values.
You Can Easily Access The Things You Need
If you can access the shops, restaurants, and other conveniences easily from your neighborhood, that’s the sign of a good location. No one wants to have to drive 45 minutes in order to get to the grocery store. Many people who are looking for homes like to be in or very close to the action and have easy access to the things they need. Think in terms of convenience when it comes to location.
A View And Nature
A home with a view is always a sign of a great location. whether you’re near the water or near the mountains, it’s nice to have something scenic and peaceful near your home to enjoy. Property values near the water are also always a bit higher than those further inland.
Access to public transportation is key in many neighborhoods. You want to be able to easily get to and from where you need to go without waiting around. If the area is more suburban or rural, access to freeways and main roads is key. Adding precious time to your commutes is never pleasant. Many times location and commute times come down to a simple matter of balance and planning when searching for a property.
Vacant land is a hot commodity – especially for builders. If you’re searching for a home, you may find one in an area that’s growing in population but still offers great lots. Interestingly enough, these areas that look like thriving cities could be zoned in an area deemed “rural.” If so, you may qualify for a rural home loan.
What’s a Rural Home Loan?
Rural home loans are issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and have specific criteria and qualifications. These loans are designed to provide homeownership to rural and suburban Americans that may not qualify for conventional financing. Here are some advantages:
- USDA guarantees all loans against default
- No down payment
- Lowest funding fee of all loans backed by the government
- No private mortgage insurance requirement
- Flexible credit guidelines
How Do I Qualify?
In order to qualify for this program, you must be a U.S. citizen or have permanent residency. Credit scores should be 640 at a minimum and proof of stable income is required. The lenders check payment history – you should have no late payments or collections, and the adjusted household income should be equal to or less than 115% of the area’s median income. The property must be the primary residence and located in a qualified rural area.
There are many places that qualify as rural that will surprise you. Gone are the days where there is nothing around and all you see is miles and miles of empty land. Obtaining a rural loan will allow homeowners to purchase in areas that provide land that’s worth the money.
The USDA Loan Process
The process has a few components involved. First, you must find a lender and prequalify. It’s best to find a lender specializing in this area to get the best benefit. The lender is going to focus on how much you want to borrow, your income and other assets and your monthly debts. In order to qualify, they will do a hard credit inquiry.
After the prequalification to determine how much you are eligible for, you go through the preapproval process which is more in-depth. The lender will require photo identification, tax returns, W-2’s, bank statements, and pay stubs. This is when they determine your debt-to-income ratio to see how much you can actually afford.
The next step is finding a USDA-approved home. This is where you work with a realtor to find properties that appeal to you. Once you find it, it’s time to sign a purchase agreement, go through processing and underwriting, and finally, the closing. Securing the loan is based on the broker, your financial situation and the property you have chosen.
Have you seen a home in a rural area that you like? Now you know the criteria involved with obtaining a USDA loan. Are you ready? The rest is up to you.
Do you ever wish that they taught a class in high school called, “Things You’ll Actually Need to Know In Life?” You’d learn how to prepare your taxes, what investing is, and how to buy a home.
Unfortunately, all of these important life lessons tend to be self-taught; you pick them up along the way and learn from your mistakes.
However, it needn’t be that way. Our goal today is to give you an accurate idea of what to expect when you’re buying your first home. We’ll go over a typically home buying timeline and discuss how long each step can take. This will give you a better idea of how long it will take to close on your first home.
Step 1: Build credit and save for a down payment
Estimated time: 2+ years
The first step of buying a home is to make sure you’re financially secure enough to do so. While there are ways to purchase a home with low or no down payments (See FHA, USDA, and VA loans), generally it’s wiser to wait until you have a sizable down payment saved. This will save you money in interest and mortgage insurance in the long run.
Next, you’ll need to start working on your credit. If your credit score took some hits due to late payments when you were younger, now is the time to start fixing those mistakes by making on-time payments and paying off outstanding balances.
Step 2: Have a plan for the next phase of your life
Estimated time 6+ months
One of the most important, and least talked about, parts of buying a home is understanding what it means to own a home. If you have a spouse, partner, or family, you’ll need to be in agreement that you’re prepared to stay in one place for the next 5 or more years.
Buying a home is expensive and you won’t want to go through the process of closing on a home if you aren’t sure you’ll stay. This means making sure your career won’t bring you elsewhere in the near future.
Step 3: Get prequalified and preapproved
Estimated time 1-3 days (depending on how much initiative you take)
Getting prequalified for a mortgage takes minutes. You simply fill out an online form and the lender will give you an idea of the type and size loan you could qualify for. Be forewarned: they’ll also use this information to call and bother you about getting a mortgage from them.
Once you’re prequalified, it’s just a matter of working with the lender to provide the correct documentation for pre-approval.
Getting preapproved takes a bit longer (1-3 days), since it requires a credit check and some work on your part--namely, gathering and sending income verification.
Once you’re preapproved, you can safely start shopping for homes without worrying that you’re wasting time looking at homes that are overbudget.
Step 4: House Hunting
Estimated time: 30+ days
It’s a seller’s market. So, if you’re buying a home right now there is competition out there. You’ll need to dedicate a substantial amount of time to researching homes online, contacting sellers’ agents, and following up on calls. Like before, the amount of effort you put into this process determines how quickly and smoothly you’ll get through it.
Step 5: Making an offer and closing
Estimated time: ~50 days
Average closing times for buying a home has grown to 50 days according to a recent study. However, by securing financing ahead of time and acting quickly, you can drastically cut down the time of these process to as little as two weeks.