10 Costs Associated with Buying a Home

Some expenses that come with buying a home are easier to account for than others. Knowing the costs associated with buying a home will not only help you budget accordingly but will also pinpoint which homes are truly affordable for you. In no particular order, here are ten costs you can expect to encounter when buying a home.

10 Costs Associated with Buying a Home

1. Down payment

The down payment is a lump sum paid by the buyer upfront. The exact amount required varies by lender and loan type, but in general, a substantial down payment will help decrease your monthly payments. Making a traditional twenty percent down payment means less risk for your lender, opening the door for lower interest rates and avoiding the need for private mortgage insurance (PMI). But if you can’t come up with that much, it’s not a dead end. PMI and its various alternatives can help close the gap and provide a path to homeownership.

2. Homeowners insurance

Once you’ve purchased a home, there’s no time to delay in protecting it. A standard homeowners insurance policy typically covers your home, your belongings, injury or property damage to others, and any living expenses in the event of an insured disaster that renders your home unlivable. Homeowners insurance policies provide coverage for the owner(s) living on the property. If you plan on renting out your home or dwellings on your property, you’ll need to purchase separate landlord insurance to cover your tenants.

3. Mortgage payment

There’s a give and take with mortgage payments—the more you pay down your home, the more equity you build. Unless you’re making an all-cash offer, you can expect to budget for mortgage payments. Use the general rule that your house payments should be roughly 25% of your take-home pay. Use an online mortgage calculator to get an idea of what you can afford.

4. Closing costs

Before your home purchase is a done deal, you can expect to pay closing costs, which usually total somewhere between 2-5% of the total mortgage value. The terms of the purchase agreement will dictate how you and the seller will split the closing costs. They include but are not limited to underwriting fees, credit check fees, title insurance and title search, escrow fees, and more. These expenses can add up, so be sure you’re prepared when it comes time for closing day. 

5. HOA fees

For those who are buying in developments governed by a homeowner’s association or are purchasing a townhouse or condo, you’ll likely have to pay HOA fees on top of your monthly mortgage payment. HOA fees, usually paid monthly, go towards maintaining the shared spaces, property, and amenities within the community. Before moving forward with your purchase, determine if the property is under the governance of a homeowner’s association and the cost of the fees. 

6. Property taxes

Your annual property tax is calculated by multiplying the assessed value of your home by the tax rate. This figure is broken down into monthly installments and added on top of your mortgage payment. Because property taxes are based on the assessed value of your home, they are subject to change. If the assessed value of your home increases over time, so will your property taxes.

7. Repairs and remodeling

Unless you’re buying new construction, your new home will likely need repairs. Even after having completed a thorough home inspection, underestimating repairs expenses can be a costly mistake. Certain repairs may require the help of a professional, and while hiring them will ensure your home is in good hands, their services come with a price. If you’re buying with the intention of remodeling, remember to leave room for the other costs on this list before breaking ground on any projects.

8. Appraisal and inspection fees 

Not only will a home inspection allow you to negotiate repairs and concessions with the seller, but it will also help you budget for the home repairs you’ll need to make in the future. An appraisal, carried out by a licensed third party, will determine your home’s appraised value—or in other words, how much the bank thinks your home is worth. Both fees can cost upwards of a few hundred dollars each. 

9. Utilities 

One of the first steps you’ll take in your new home is setting up your utilities. In general, the larger the property the more you can expect to pay in utilities. Electricity, gas, water, sewer, and trash and recycling pickup are just a few of the utilities you can expect to arrange for your new home. Get an early start on this list to avoid a situation where you need heat or running water, only to realize they haven’t been set up yet.

10. Moving costs

Often buyers can be so taken with the prospect of living in their new home that they forget to account for the costs it will take to move there. Set a timeline, take inventory of the items in your home, and stay organized throughout the process to make the moving process as efficient as possible. For more moving tips, read our guide on how to Make Your Move.

Learn more about navigating the home buying process here: 10 Mistakes to Avoid When Buying a Home. 

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Is Co-Buying Right For You?

For some buyers, purchasing a home independently may be out of reach. Co-buying is an alternative approach to homeownership where two or more individuals purchase the property together and take on a joint mortgage. Get to know the benefits and drawbacks of co-buying before deciding whether it’s right for you.

How Does Co-Buying Work? 

Just like a traditional home purchase, lenders use the buyers’ debt-to-income ratios and credit scores to determine their mortgage eligibility and formulate the terms of their loan. The lender will use the lowest median credit score to determine whether the co-buyers qualify. Before you purchase with a co-buyer, work with a real estate attorney to flesh out the details of the agreement including the distribution of shares, the responsibility of each party for the down payment and subsequent mortgage payments, and the home’s title. There are two main options for taking title to a home with a co-buyer.

Tenancy in Common (TIC)

  • When co-buyers hold a title as tenants in common, shares of the property can be divided equally or unequally. You and a co-buyer can decide to split ownership to reflect the amount invested. However, even if these amounts are unequal, no one individual may claim sole ownership of the property. If a co-buyer dies, their ownership passes along to their designated heir. With Tenancy in Common, a co-owner may sell their shares of the property at any time, without the need for approval from other co-owners.

Joint Tenancy

  • Joint Tenancy—or Joint Tenancy with Right of Survivorship (JTWROS)—requires that all co-buyers hold an equal interest in the property and that they all come into ownership through the same title at the same time. If one co-owner dies, ownership passes to the other co-owner—this is known as Right of Survivorship. Unlike Tenancy in Common, co-owners must receive approval before selling any property shares.

Pros and Cons of Co-Buying

Pros of Co-Buying

For those who don’t have the buying power to purchase a home on their own, co-buying presents an opportunity to combine assets and enter the market. Since lenders will be factoring in both of your incomes, you and your co-buyer will increase your chances of being approved for a mortgage and securing a low interest rate. Both of you will build equity over time as you pay back your joint mortgage. Even after the down payment and mortgage payments, there are a handful of costs that come with being a homeowner. Co-buying allows you to split these costs, saving money on bills, utilities, maintenance costs, and the like.

Cons of Co-Buying

Co-buying a home means you are relinquishing some control over the homeownership costs. At the end of the day, you can’t control your co-buyer’s finances. If a sudden life change leaves them financially unstable, the burden will fall on your shoulders, and you’ll have to make up the difference. Similarly, your credit score could take a hit if your co-buyer is unable to make their mortgage payments, even if you’ve consistently made yours. 

 

Before entering a co-buying agreement, it’s important that you and your co-buyer are on the same page about the terms of ownership and your expectations as joint homeowners. Working closely together will help maintain the health of your finances, and most importantly, your relationship.

For more information on purchasing a home, visit the buying section on our blog:

Blog – Buying

To begin your home buying journey, connect with an experienced Windermere Real Estate agent on our website by clicking on the button below. 

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Should You Rent or Buy When Moving Away?

There are certain advantages to moving down the street or across town. You’ll likely have a basic understanding of the local market conditions, you’re familiar with the area, and the limited distance between the home you’re selling and the one you’re moving into makes the moving process a bit easier. But moving to a new city or state that you’re not as familiar with can lead to questions about whether you should buy a home right away or rent until you know the area better.

Weighing the pros and cons between the two options while factoring in your lifestyle, your plans for the future of your household, and your budget will help guide you toward your decision.

 

Pros and Cons of Renting

Pros

The word that comes to mind to make the case for renting when moving to a new place is flexibility. By renting, there is less pressure to take the plunge on buying a new home right away. It gives you a chance to land, get to know the area, and explore what’s available on the market. For example, if you’re moving to a new city for work but have never been there before, renting might be a fitting solution to get your feet under you until you have a better idea of where you’d want to live long-term. All in all, renting can simplify the relocation process. With renting, it’s easier to predict your monthly expenses. And, in the event that something breaks or needs repair, it’s your landlord’s responsibility to fix it.

Cons

If you previously owned a home, moving into a rental likely means you’ll have to downsize. This may put you in a situation where you have to put some of your belongings in storage, adding an expense to the moving process. If you eventually decide to buy a home, you’ll have to move again from your rental. Moving twice, especially if it’s in a short timeframe, may not be worth the stress. It’s also worth noting that as a renter, your payments help build the homeowner’s equity, not your own. Therefore, the longer you rent, the longer you delay building your own wealth. Finally, renters are at the mercy of their landlords. If they decide it’s time for a rent increase, or that they want to sell the property, you’ll have to adjust accordingly.

 

Image Source: Getty Images

 

Pros and Cons of Buying

Pros

Though buying a home right away is a larger financial commitment than renting, it allows you to quickly get settled in your new hometown. You won’t have to grapple with the challenges of downsizing to an apartment and you won’t have to worry about moving multiple times in the short term. Home ownership is also a gateway to building wealth over time.

Cons

If you’ve never visited your new hometown, it can be challenging to get a true feel for the area, which can lead to buyer’s remorse. Buying a home requires a significant financial commitment, especially if prices in the market you’re moving to are higher. Though the rewards of successfully buying a home are great, the process is full of intricacies and details that can add stress to the moving process, which you may not be up for right away. Furthermore, unlike renting, as a homeowner you are responsible for the maintenance of your property. Making repairs, tending to the yard, and keeping up the countless systems within the home requires time and money.

Ultimately, whether it’s best to rent or buy when moving to a new area depends on what’s right for you and your household. Are you looking to put down roots right away? Would you prefer to live in the area for a while before deciding where to live? Taking time to consider these factors and working closely with a real estate agent will help identify the right option for you.

 

To get started on finding the right home for you, connect with an experienced Windermere Real Estate agent on our website today:

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Understanding Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)

Buyers are constantly looking for ways to streamline the buying process, whether that’s working with their agent to identify how they can increase their buying power, getting pre-approved, or being as cash-ready as possible. Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI), though it is an additional expense, can be a gateway to homeownership, and for some buyers, may be their only choice to secure the required financing for a home.

 

What is PMI?

Understanding PMI begins with understanding down payments. A down payment is a lump sum payment made by the buyer early on in the process of obtaining a mortgage. The magic number lenders prefer to see paid down is usually twenty percent of the home’s purchase price. If a buyer doesn’t have that secured, the lender will typically require the buyer to purchase Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI), which protects the lender against the possibility of the buyer defaulting on the mortgage.

 

Image Source: Getty Images

 

The Benefits of PMI

Fortunately, it’s not all-or-nothing when it comes to the twenty percent down payment—if you don’t have that amount on-hand, you can still purchase a home. Private Mortgage Insurance creates a pathway to home ownership for buyers who find themselves in this situation. Although PMI can raise the buyer’s monthly costs, it allows them to move in and start building equity immediately. For this reason, PMI may be a saving grace for buyers who are looking to leave their days of renting behind them and become a homeowner.

 

Alternatives to PMI

Saving up enough money to make a twenty percent down payment is the most direct way to avoid private mortgage insurance, but a down payment of this size may not be feasible for some buyers, especially in markets where prices are on the rise. Here are some alternatives:

Piggybacking

A common alternative to PMI is to take out a second loan to pay back the twenty percent down in addition to the primary mortgage. This is known as piggybacking, which rearranges the loan into an 80/10/10 split, where the first loan accounts for 80 percent of the total property value, the “piggyback” or second loan covers the next ten percent, and the down payment covers the remaining ten percent. (There are other loan structures besides 80/10/10, this is just one example.) This can be an effective strategy for those who are ready to purchase a home but do not have the savings to make the full down payment. However, buyers should be aware that the second loan will likely come with higher interest rates.

VA Loans

VA Loans are a helpful resource for active service personnel and veterans looking to purchase a home. Not having to purchase mortgage insurance is included among the list of benefits VA Loans offer to qualified buyers, however, they require a one-time “funding fee” that functions similarly to mortgage insurance.

Lender-Paid Mortgage Insurance

LPMI may be a viable option for buyers in certain cases. Not to be confused by the name, LPMI is a restructuring of the loan in which the lender pays the mortgage insurance premium upfront. LPMI will remain in place for the life of the loan and usually comes with higher interest rates. Buyers should consider the terms of LPMI and how they differ from standard PMI to decide which is right for them.

Other

Other types of loans offer an alternative to conventional mortgages. FHA loans have their own mortgage insurance, as do USDA loans. The mortgage insurance premium (MIP) on FHA loans may be favorable, but buyers should keep in mind that in most cases they will be paying two different insurance premiums—the upfront rate and an annual fee. To be eligible for a USDA loan, there are several requirements that both the buyer and the property must meet.

 

To navigate the process of home financing and learn about the options around obtaining Private Mortgage Insurance, it helps to work closely with a great real estate agent who can help their clients identify lenders in their network that they know and trust to secure the right loan. For more information on purchasing a home, visit the buying section of our blog: Windermere Blog – Buying

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5 Mistakes to Avoid After Pre-Approval

Getting pre-approved is a great first step for buyers, but there can be a number of hurdles in the process. Here are a few cautionary steps that can be taken to make the experience as smooth and worry-free as possible.

 

Pre-Approval

Getting pre-approved has many benefits for buyers: it strengthens their buying power, assists in identifying their price range, helps communicate their preparedness to sellers, and, once their offer is accepted, helps to speed up the closing process.

Pre-approval is broken down into two steps: pre-qualification and pre-approval. During pre-qualification, buyers will share their financial information with their bank or lender to understand the approximate loan amount they can expect to qualify for. The pre-approval process is a little more involved, as the lender will conduct a thorough review of the buyer’s financial health to give them a more detailed picture of how much they can borrow, estimated monthly costs, and what interest rate they can expect on their loan.

 

Image Source: Getty Images

 

Mistakes to Avoid After Pre-Approval

Being pre-approved doesn’t mean buyers are all set. There are certain mistakes that can throw buyers off course, and in some cases, lead to a denial of financing. Here are five common mistakes that can do just that:

  1. Large Purchases

    Any large purchases—credit or cash—made after getting pre-approved can easily cause trouble for buyers. Making a large credit purchase equates to increasing debt, which raises a buyer’s debt-to-income ratio. Large cash purchases decrease a buyer’s cash-readiness from the time when they were pre-approved. In both scenarios, the lender may call into question a buyer’s ability to make their mortgage payments.

 

  1. Quitting or Changing Jobs

    Knowing that a buyer has a stable source of income is important to lenders. Accordingly, it is best for a buyer to wait until after the home loan process is complete before taking steps to change their employment. Not only could changing jobs potentially put their mortgage pre-approval at risk, but it could also delay their settlement, since it takes time to prove a new salary.

 

  1. Unpaid Bills

    Missing bill payments can be especially harmful to a buyer’s candidacy in the time between getting pre-approved and closing on the home. During pre-approval, lenders are using your ability to pay bills on time to help them paint a picture of your finances and it’s important to keep that picture consistent.

 

  1. New Credit

    Opening new credit accounts will likely change a buyer’s credit score, which may cause adjustments in their interest rate. Lenders, upon seeing a new line of credit, even a store credit card, may elect to review the buyer’s risk of non-payment.

 

  1. Paying Off Debt

    While most people would think paying off debt is a good thing, if a buyer pays off any significant loans or credit card debt after pre-approval, their lender will want to know where the money came from. The decrease in debt will also have an effect on the buyer’s debt-to-income ratio, which may alter their creditworthiness.

 

The period of time between pre-approval and closing on a home can be a tedious one for buyers. Before making any significant financial decisions, it’s helpful for buyers to speak with their lender to get an idea of how it may impact their financial standing. The complexities of this process also highlight the importance of working with an experienced agent.

For assistance planning a home purchase, connect with a Windermere Real Estate agent here: Connect With An Agent

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Moving Into a Vacation Home

For some homeowners, purchasing a second home – or a vacation property – provides a place where they can have a change of scenery and an escape from day-to-day living. Since the start of the pandemic, a number of homeowners have chosen to move into their vacation homes to do exactly that on a longer-term basis. However, certain aspects of buying and moving into a vacation home differ from a traditional home purchase, so it’s important to work with a buyer’s agent who understands the nuances of both.

 

Before You Buy

One of the first things to consider before buying a vacation property is whether you are financially ready to take on everything that comes with managing and maintaining another home. If you’re still in deep with your primary residence’s mortgage and are not cash-ready, it may not be the best time to purchase a second home.

Like any home purchase, there are pros and cons to owning a vacation home. Vacation properties are likely to retain their value depending on where they’re located. They also allow you to experience the never-ending vacation lifestyle. However, owning a vacation property can come with its own set of unique expenses. Not only will be you responsible for all the maintenance work that you might normally leave to a property management company, but if the vacation home is located on the water or a steep hillside, you can also expect higher homeowner’s insurance costs.

 

Moving In

Any moving process presents unforeseen challenges and moving into a vacation home is no different. Whereas previously the home provided accommodation for relaxing, moving in will require it to meet the demands of everyday living. It may be high time to make repairs or upgrades to the home, which could drive up your move-in costs.

Before moving in, assess the condition of all furnishings to get an idea of what needs replacing. Making the home your main residence will put added strain on your appliances, so what may have previously worked well for short-term stays won’t cut it for full-time living. Check your refrigerator, dishwasher, and washer and dryer to see if they need updating before moving in.

If you’ll be working remotely in your vacation home, think about your desired work conditions before putting together your home office. Having a designated workspace will help balance your home and work life.

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Working with a Buyer’s Agent

What is a Buyer’s Agent?

 

A typical real estate transaction involves a buyer’s agent representing the buyer and a listing agent representing the seller. A buyer’s agent helps the buyer identify potential homes to pursue, advises them on negotiations, and helps navigate any hurdles during the buying process. Once they are under contract, the buyer’s agent will work to close the sale, monitoring all the key dates and deadlines along the way. Once the transaction is complete, buyer’s agents split the commission of the sale with the listing agent.

 

Advantages of Working with a Buyer’s Agent

Find the right home

A buyer’s agent not only possess expert knowledge of local market conditions, but they also have access to tools that will help their clients see the widest array of available homes, and eventually, find the right home. By exploring the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), they can access the vastest network of available listings, and receive up-to-date alerts on open houses. They are usually the first to know when a home hits the market and are sometimes aware of homes that are scheduled to list in the near term.  Buyer’s agents can advise their clients on how a home’s outstanding repairs and improvements could affect their decision to purchase, whether the home is in need of an inspection, and discuss the necessity of a home warranty.

 

Save time

Buying a home takes time, but a buyer’s agent will help streamline the buying process. This includes paying close attention to their client’s budget and preferences in order to focus their home search to only those listings that match their needs. Buyers can then decide which homes they would like to view in-person and their agent will contact the corresponding listing agent to set up showings. Buyer’s agents are founts of knowledge, able to provide or track down information a buyer may not be able to readily access on their own. Additionally, they are connected to a network of professionals and can produce references for mortgage brokers, real estate attorneys, inspectors, and more as needed.

 

Making an Offer

Once you’re ready to make an offer on a home, the importance of working with a buyer’s agent kicks into high gear. There are many different elements that impact an offer’s success, and this is where a good buyer’s agent’s specialty lies. Through their expertise, they can help their clients craft a more competitive offer and negotiate as needed. Sometimes the most competitive offers are not just about the price. Offers can win when a buyer’s agent has researched the seller’s needs and pulled together an offer that speaks to those needs. Any advantage buyers can gain to make their offer stand out will strengthen their case. This is especially important in competitive markets when multiple competing offers are on the table.

Throughout the process of making an offer on a home, a buyer’s agent is there to answer any questions that may arise and pore over the details so that nothing goes unnoticed. This is critical since sellers will likely toss aside any offers that come in with missing documents, errors in the contract, and other inconsistencies. When buying a home, buyers often fear that they will miss something during the buying process, that they are going to pay too much, that there will be something wrong with the house after they buy it, or that they’ll lose the home to another buyer. Buyer’s agents help to alleviate these stresses and make sure the buying process runs smoothly.

 

When determining which agent to work with, it’s important to ask questions to gain an understanding of their expertise, see their personality, and get a gauge of how well they understand what you’re looking for in a home. If you would like some help connecting with an agent, you can get started here: Connect with An Agent

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What to Consider Before Buying an Equestrian Property

Buying a horse property is a very different experience from a conventional home purchase. The first and most important step is to work with an experienced equestrian specialist, but there are some additional items you should also consider before buying.

Location, Location, Location

When looking at equestrian properties, one of the most important things to consider is location. You want to make sure the property is near resources you will need like feed and tack stores, local vets, and more. You should also consider everyday needs, such as groceries, gas, shopping, and community amenities.

Knowing Your Needs

Having a clear vision of your specific needs is a very important step when buying an equestrian property. For example,  a casual rider doesn’t require the same capability and organization as a professional equestrian, and similarly, a professional will often need a horse property with strict specifications.

Property Features and Facilities

Something to consider is the soil type on the land you’re looking at. There are 12 different soil types and some of the best for horses are sandy, loamy, organic soils. Not only is this the best option for your animals, but these characteristics will also impact the quality of grasses for pasture growth. Whether you decide to pasture or hay feed, ensure there is adequate hay storage, especially for winter months when, depending on what part of the country you live in, grass may not be as ample.

Other important features to consider are:

  • Does it have indoor stalls?
  • Does it have multiple fenced pastures for rotating your livestock? This will ensure the ultimate health of your pasture and the grass that is produced.
  • Are riding trails nearby or will you have to trailer to get to trails?
  • Is there an indoor or outdoor arena? These are important for training, breaking, and even veterinary care, at times.
  • Does it have a secure tack room that rodents cannot penetrate?

Accessibility

Accessibility is another important factor to consider. This includes the convenience of your land but also important resources like water. Each horse will drink approximately 5-10 gallons of water per day; therefore, readily available potable water is vital. The accessibility of your horse property is crucial for bringing in vets, food supplies, and getting around quickly in emergencies. The navigation around your property should be easy to swiftly get from the home to the barn or other facilities. Suitable access to the barn with wide turnaround driveways is essential, which may include grading an additional access road.

Flexibility is Key!

The more specific your property criteria, the more challenging it may be to check everything off your wish list. While it’s important to know what you want from the property, it’s equally important to be open minded and realize that the property may require some extra work to meet all your needs.

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The Importance of Pre-Approval

To set yourself up for a smooth and successful home purchase, getting pre-approved is perhaps the most productive first step you can take. It strengthens your buying credibility, informs your home search, and speeds up the closing process.

 

The Pre-Approval Process 

There is an important distinction to made between two important steps of your mortgage application process: pre-qualification and pre-approval. They are similar in that they both help to inform your financial standing, but there are key differences between the two.

Pre-qualification

Pre-qualification is the first step in your mortgage application process. It will help you to understand the approximate loan amount you can expect to qualify for. You’ll begin by sharing your financial information—debt, income, assets, etc.—with you bank or lender. After reviewing the information, the bank or lender will give a loan estimate. The process is relatively simple, only taking a few business days to process.

Pre-approval

The pre-approval process is more involved than pre-qualification. After submitting a mortgage application, your lender will require all the necessary info to conduct a thorough credit history check and review of your financial health. Getting pre-approved will give you a better idea of how much you can borrow, estimated monthly costs, and what interest rates you can expect on your loans. Mortgage pre-approvals are typically valid for 60 to 90 days.

 

Benefits of Pre-Approval

Credibility

The truth is, each home on the market can only go to one buyer. To maximize the chance that your offer is accepted, sellers need to know that your offer is serious. Getting pre-approved shows that you are financially prepared and, in the event that your offer is accepted, there will be no hold ups in obtaining your mortgage. This assurance is what sellers want to know about their potential buyers, especially in a seller’s market.

Home search

Not only does pre-approval help to bolster your case as a buyer, but it also Indicates your affordable price range. By knowing your budget, you will be able to hone your home search and start preparing offers, eliminating any potential wasted time looking at houses you can’t afford.

Closing process

Once your offer is accepted, you’ll be counting down the days to move-in. Unfortunately, the closing process can often drag on, leaving buyers feeling like they’re in post-purchase limbo. Pre-approval will speed up the closing process, since the mortgage approvals have already been taken care of, allowing you to focus on next steps like appraisals and inspections.

 

When to Get Pre-Approved

Being financially prepared for a home purchase is a solid indicator that you’re ready to go about getting pre-approved, but what does that look like? Buying a house means taking on serious debt, so it’s important to either have your remaining debt paid off or have a clear path to becoming debt-free before getting pre-approved. Having adequate savings for a down payment is a sign that you’re ready to make your offer. For any questions about the pre-approval process and to get connected to a mortgage professional, contact your Windermere agent.

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