What Happens After Making an Offer on a House?

Making an offer on a house feels like a reason to celebrate. You’ve applied for financing, worked with your agent to search for available listings, put in time attending open houses, and have found the place you’re ready to call home. However, celebrating at this stage in the buying process could leave you heartbroken if your offer isn’t accepted.

So, what happens after you make an offer on a house? Revealing what goes on behind the curtain in this critical stage of the buying process will help you understand what to expect next. First, let’s take a look at the three ways a seller can respond to your offer.

What Happens After Making an Offer on a House?

The seller rejects your offer:

If a seller rejects your offer, your agent may be able to relay information from the listing agent as to why it was insufficient. This can serve as a learning opportunity for the next time you prepare an offer.

The seller makes a counteroffer:

Counteroffers can make buying a home feel like a chess match. This is an indication that your offer has piqued the seller’s interest. Once you receive a counteroffer, it’s a matter of ironing out the finer details to reach a deal. Sellers will typically request alterations like a higher price, a modification to your contingencies, or an adjustment of closing dates.

You can accept or reject the counteroffer or come back with a counteroffer of your own, which may continue for multiple rounds until the two parties reach an agreement. Prepare for counteroffers ahead of time with your agent by discussing your price limit, how much you’re willing to budge on your contingencies, your flexibility around closing dates, etc.

The seller accepts your offer:

The smoothest result after submitting your offer is the seller accepting it, but that doesn’t mean you’ve crossed the finish line yet. Once the seller formally accepts your offer, you’ll be “under contract,” meaning both parties have agreed to move forward with the deal. Before closing, any contingencies attached to the offer must be met.

This explains why you’ll occasionally see properties listed as “under contract.” It means the seller has accepted an offer and there’s a good chance the deal will go through, but because the sale is not yet final, the property is technically not off the table. Other interested buyers will make backup offers in case the first offer falls through.

 

Image Source: Getty Images – Image Credit: Ridofranz

 

After your offer has been accepted, you’re officially in the homestretch of the buying process. Once the purchase agreement is signed, it becomes legally binding. Backing out of a real estate transaction has varying consequences, depending on the timing of the withdrawal and its level of compliance with the attached contingencies. Learn more here:

If you intend to move forward with your purchase, finalizing the deal is a matter of completing the following steps before you can claim your new home:

The Home Buying Process: Closing

  • Next, you’ll deposit your earnest money in an escrow account. This deposit of funds lets the seller know you’re serious about closing on the home. In return, the seller agrees to take the home off the market. When the sale closes, the money goes toward the down payment or closing costs.
  • The timeline for inspections during the closing process vary state to state. Getting the home inspected allows you to ask the seller that certain repairs be made, request seller concessions, and renegotiate your offer. If you included an inspection contingency in your contract, you could walk away from the deal with your earnest money if you decide the property’s issues are too much to handle.
  • Contact your mortgage lender to relay the final details of the purchase so you can go about securing financing. Getting pre-approved early on helps to streamline this part of the closing process.
  • A title search will generate a report for you and your lender detailing the history of the home you’re buying to ensure there are no legal barriers against purchasing it.
  • Now you’re ready to close! Several legal documents are prepared, leading to the transfer of ownership from seller to buyer. You’ll also pay closing costs at this time. Once closing is finalized and the funds in escrow have been distributed, the home is yours!

For helpful information on the buying process from start to finish, tips on working with an agent, moving checklists, and more, visit our home buying guide:

The post What Happens After Making an Offer on a House? appeared first on Windermere Real Estate.

Managing Expectations as a First-Time Home Buyer

There’s a first time for everything. As a first-time home buyer, navigating the uncharted territory of the home buying process can be challenging to say the least. Although every home purchase is unique, there are certain knowns that can help you manage your expectations. Once you’re ready to buy, knowing a bit more about how to approach the market will have you well on your way to getting the keys to your first home.

Managing Expectations as a First-Time Home Buyer

Local Market Conditions

Your local housing market conditions will loom large in the buying process. In a competitive market (i.e. a seller’s market), prices are being driven up by demand, sellers have the leverage during negotiations, and it may take a long time to find the right home. In such a market, you can expect to compete against multiple buyers where everyone is trying to sweeten their offer to make it stand out. This usually takes the form of waived contingencies, escalation clauses, and all-cash offers. Buying in a competitive market is challenging for any buyer, let alone a first-time home buyer. Having greater buying power and getting pre-approved for a mortgage are two key paths to bolstering your financial standing and improving your chances of submitting a winning offer.

Though finding the right home is never a cakewalk, the conditions of a buyer’s market will be in your favor. In such market conditions, sellers are competing for the attention of a limited pool of buyers and are more flexible during negotiations. With less competition around you, you can afford to be more patient and selective when pursuing available listings.

7 Signs You’re Ready to Buy a Home

Which homes can you afford?

It’s easy to fall in love with a home based on its listing photos, but one look at the price tag can break the spell. By knowing which homes are in your budget, you’ll be able to focus your time and effort on listings that are financially feasible. And remember, there are a myriad of costs to buying a home beyond the listing price to include in your budget.

To get an idea of what you can afford, use our free Home Monthly Payment Calculator by clicking the button below. With current rates based on national averages and customizable mortgage terms, you can experiment with different values to get an estimate of your monthly payment for any home price. By using the Home Monthly Payment Calculator, you can make a well-informed estimation of whether it’s the right time to buy.

 

A young woman does paperwork on the floor of her living room.

Image Source: Getty Images – Image Credit: damircudic

 

Working with Your Agent

Fortunately, you don’t have to take on the home buying process on your own. A buyer’s agent will help to manage your expectations from start to finish by helping you look for homes, make an offer, negotiate with the seller and their agent on your behalf, and provide clarity on the closing process. Beyond their ability to get down to brass tacks and help you purchase a home, your agent will be there to answer your questions, validate your emotions, and connect you to their network of helpful resources.

To begin the process of buying your first home, connect with an experienced, local Windermere agent today:

The post Managing Expectations as a First-Time Home Buyer appeared first on Windermere Real Estate.

What Is a Bridge Loan?

With so much in flux during the period between selling a home and buying a new one, short-term financing can provide some calm among the storm. With the fate of two properties up in the air, those who are selling a home will often look to secure a bridge loan to bridge the gap between the sale of their existing home and the purchase of a new one. So, is a bridge loan right for you? The following information is meant to help you decide whether it is a fitting solution.

What is a bridge loan?

Bridge loans have shorter terms—generally up to one year—than mortgages and often come with higher interest rates. Bridge loans allow buyers to borrow a portion of the equity in real estate they already own (usually their current primary residence) to use as a down payment on the purchase of a new residence. Borrowers will commonly package the two loans together, in which they borrow the difference between the amount they owe on their current home and a percentage of the home’s value (often 75% or 80%). Just like a home equity loan, a home equity line of credit (HELOC), or a mortgage, bridge loans are secured by your current home as collateral.

 

Image Source: Getty Images – Image Source: Natee Meepian

 

Bridge Loans: Pros

  • Once your home sells, you can use the proceeds to pay off the bridge loan, leaving you with only the mortgage for your new home.
  • Bridge loans can get you cash quickly to expedite the transition from one house to another.
  • With a bridge loan, you can expect a shorter application and loan-approval process than a typical mortgage.
  • A bridge loan offers you the opportunity to buy a new house before your current one sells. As a buyer, this allows you to make a contingency-free offer on a new house, meaning you can still make the purchase without having to sell your current home first. This can be a useful resource in a seller’s market, where sellers may view an offer without contingencies as favorable amongst the competition.

Bridge Loans: Cons

  • If your home doesn’t sell in the allotted term, you’ll be left with making payments on your current home’s mortgage, your new home’s mortgage, and the bridge loan.
  • Bridge loans usually come with higher interest rates than a typical mortgage and come with their own set of costs, including interest, as well as legal and administrative fees.
  • Having a low debt-to-income ratio, a solid credit score, and a considerable amount of equity in your current home are all required to secure a bridge loan, so qualifying may be out of reach for some homeowners.

Alternatives to Bridge Loans

Home equity loans, home equity lines of credit (HELOCs), and personal loans are all viable alternatives to bridge loans that can still create a pathway to purchasing your new home. Be sure to compare the costs associated with each line of financing before making your decision.

For more information on how to handle the transitory period between selling your current home and buying a new one, connect with a local Windermere Real Estate agent today:

The post What Is a Bridge Loan? appeared first on Windermere Real Estate.

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. 

The post 10 Costs Associated with Buying a Home appeared first on Windermere Real Estate.

Making an All-Cash Offer on a House

The more competitive the housing market, the greater the lengths buyers will go to to make themselves stand out amongst the competition. Making an all-cash offer is one such way a buyer can differentiate themselves. In a seller’s market, listings commonly receive multiple offers, often over their original asking price. This will typically lead to bidding wars between buyers, and all-cash offers will often enter the fold. Keep the following information in mind if you’re thinking about making an all-cash offer on a house.

Making an All-Cash Offer on a House

What is an all-cash offer?

When a buyer makes an all-cash offer, it means they have the funds available to purchase the house in a liquid account and won’t need to secure a home loan. Once the buyer has shown they have enough cash to make the purchase, they will put down an earnest money deposit. The remaining amount they owe will typically be wire transferred at a later date.

Whereas financed offers are tied to an approval process with a lender, all-cash offers are not because the buyer has already proven they have the amount required to purchase the property on-hand. This can create a less risky and more streamlined selling process, which sellers may view as favorable.

How do I make an all-cash offer on a house?

First, there’s the question of how to organize the funds you’ll use to make your all-cash offer. Though it is not required, lumping your cash together into one account may help to simplify the offer process. This way, when it’s time to show the seller a bank statement proving you have the necessary funds for the purchase, you won’t have to spend additional time tracking down money from multiple accounts.

Once you’ve found the house you’d like to purchase, work closely with your agent to formulate an offer. Knowing that you’re prepared to make an all-cash offer bodes well for negotiations. Your agent may use the guaranteed money and quick closing times as leverage for driving down the price of the offer. You’ll also be able to handpick your contingencies, which can further sweeten the deal for the seller. This may come in handy in a highly competitive market, where simply making an all-cash offer may not be enough to win out. After the offer has been agreed upon and signed by both parties, it’s on to escrow and closing. All-cash offers often lead to quick sales with short closing times. So, it may only be a matter of days before you have the deed to your new home in hand.

 

Image Source: Getty Images

 

What are the pros and cons of all-cash offers?

Pros: All-cash offers essentially cut out the middleman from the buying process, allowing you to purchase a home without intervention from a lender. You’ll also save on the closing costs that would have stemmed from securing a loan. The closing process will be shorter, which can be helpful for both buyers and sellers who are looking to move quickly. Additionally, an all-cash offer may be the antidote for navigating the challenges of a highly competitive market by increasing your buying power and giving your agent leverage when approaching negotiations.

Cons: The greatest drawback with making an all-cash offer is self-explanatory—you will have less cash available to you once the purchase goes through. This means you’ll be cutting into your reserves for the myriad of expenses that come with homeownership. Before proceeding with an all-cash offer, make sure you’ve properly budgeted for closing costs, taxes, repairs, and any remodeling projects you have in mind.

 

Curious about how you can stay competitive without an all-cash offer? The first step is to get pre-approved:

The Importance of Pre-Approval.

The post Making an All-Cash Offer on a House appeared first on Windermere Real Estate.

What is a Buyer’s Market?

Much can be determined about the conditions of a local real estate market by its supply and demand. When the supply of available homes is greater than demand, it’s referred to as a buyer’s market. Reduced listing prices, longer days on market, and an increased number of re-listings are also signs of a buyer’s market. While the current market is far from favoring buyers, it’s still a good idea to understand how a shift in the conditions could impact your search for a new home when the time comes.

 

What is a Buyer’s Market?

A buyer’s market creates ideal conditions for those looking to purchase a home. With more homes on the market than buyers, sellers must compete to gain their attention. In a buyer’s market, inventory is high, which means buyers can take their time in finding the right home as there is simply more to choose from. It’s common for homes to be on the market for longer periods of time. Sellers will sometimes need to drop their price to gain a competitive advantage, a selling tactic that is not nearly as common in hotter markets. To get a gauge of your local market conditions, talk to your Windermere agent about the current home price, sales, and inventory figures in your area.

How to Approach a Buyer’s Market

It’s understood that a buyer’s market favors buyers, but how can they utilize this advantage as they explore available listings? For one, buyers can be picky about finding the right home. Unlike a seller’s market, buyers have the luxury of weighing comparative advantages between homes knowing that time is on their side.

The conditions of a buyer’s market favor the buyer when it comes to negotiations as well. With fewer people buying homes, sellers are willing to be more flexible during the negotiation process, which gives buyers leverage. This underlines the benefits of working with a buyer’s agent. Buyer’s agents deliver significant value to the clients they represent in their ability to find the right home, streamline the buying process, and handle the negotiations and offer phases of a home purchase.

If you are selling a home while looking to purchase, you likely have the opportunity to make your offer contingent on the sale of your existing home, whereas in a seller’s market, there is a low chance of getting a contingent offer accepted. Contingent offers can be tricky, but when done correctly, it means that you don’t have to buy if you can’t sell.

When an agent sees that a home has been on the market for quite some time, that will fuel their ability to negotiate a lower price. In these market conditions, the chances are low that buyers will enter a bidding war or that a home will suddenly sell overnight to a competing offer. However, once buyers have identified their top candidate home, they should work with their agent to form a strategy for making a successful offer.

Sellers will be doing the most they can to make their homes stand out amongst the high number of available listings. It’s common for them to make repairs, upgrades, and other improvements to their homes before placing them on the market to entice buyers. Accordingly, a buyer’s leverage in negotiations carries through to contingencies, where they can work with their agent to negotiate repairs—a proposition that sellers will be more open to, given the limited number of buyers.

 

The conditions of a buyer’s market put the buyer in a favorable position as they go about finding the right home. For more information on how to increase your buying power, talk to your Windermere agent. If you are interested in understanding more about your local market conditions, or are looking to purchase a home, connect with a Windermere agent here:

The post What is a Buyer’s Market? appeared first on Windermere Real Estate.

Buying and Selling a Home at the Same Time

Successfully selling a home and buying a home are significant accomplishments on their own, but when their timelines cross it can be difficult to manage both. If you’re thinking about doing both simultaneously, it’s equally important to understand the steps you can take to make the process go smoothly as it is to have a backup plan in case it doesn’t. Above all, the balancing act required to pull off both deals highlights the importance of working closely with a trusted and experienced real estate agent.

Do I buy or sell first?

One can imagine a perfect world in which the two transactions go through one right after the other. However, this is not usually the case. So, should you list your current home first or start by putting in offers on a new one? There are pros and cons to both.

Selling your current home first allows you to make offers on a new home with cash in your pocket, increases your buying power, and avoids having to juggle two mortgages simultaneously. On the other hand, it creates a gap of residence, often leaving homeowners wondering where they’ll stay until they move into their new home or whether they may need to rent before they can buy again. Sellers may also negotiate a rent-back agreement with the buyers, allowing them to rent the house from the new owners before they move in.

Buying before selling solves the need for any temporary housing and makes the overall moving process much easier. Having a residence established ahead of time means you’ll only have to move once, which can save you some serious stress during this time of transition. Oppositely, buying a new home before you sell your current one will put an added strain on your finances. Having two concurrent mortgages equates to taking on more debt, which could result in less-than-favorable loan terms for purchasing your new home. Without the lump sum generated by a home sale in your pocket, coming up with enough money for a down payment may be a challenge and obtaining private mortgage insurance (PMI) may be in the cards. Finally, buying before selling comes with an obvious assumption—that your current house will sell.

Ultimately, the order of operations depends on your situation. Perhaps you’re moving due to a change of employment, and you need to direct all your energy toward buying a new home by a certain date before you can even think about selling your current one. No matter which route you take, it’s important to communicate your timeline to your listing agent or your buyer’s agent so they can strategize accordingly.

Buying and Selling a Home at the Same Time 

Local Market Conditions

Buying and selling at the same time will come with a certain duality: at each step in the process, you’ll have to balance your responsibilities as both a buyer and a seller. For example, when assessing your local market conditions, you’ll be looking at not one, but two housing markets.

  • Seller’s Market: Selling in a seller’s market means that that you’ll need to be prepared to move once you list, since you could be looking at a short selling timeline. However, relying too heavily on the assumption that your house will sell quickly could make things dicey down the road. If you’re buying in a seller’s market, finding a new home may take longer than expected. You could potentially be waiting weeks or months for an offer to get accepted.
  • Buyer’s Market: Selling in a buyer’s market typically means that homes stay on the market longer. If you proceed with a new home purchase just after you’ve listed your current house, know that it may take a while to sell. If you’re buying in a buyer’s market you can afford to be picky, knowing that time is on your side. With fewer people buying homes, sellers will be more flexible, giving you leverage to negotiate your contingencies.

Having a Backup Plan

If only you could wave a magic wand and make both transactions go through as planned. That’s why it’s important to have a backup plan in place to right the ship should things go sideways at any point in the buying or selling process. Talk to your agent about which options may be right for you. Here are a few:

  • Sales Contingency: Buying your new home with a sales contingency allows you to opt out of the purchase contract if your home doesn’t sell by a specified date. Purchasing contingent on the sale is rare in highly competitive markets.
  • Bridge Loan: If your current home hasn’t sold yet and you’re not able to afford the down payment on a new home, a bridge loan may be a fitting solution. Bridge loans can be used to cover the down payment on a new house and are repaid once your existing home has sold.
  • Rent-Back Agreement: A rent-back agreement is a clause in the sales contract that allows the seller to rent their old home from the buyer for an agreed-upon period of time before the buyer moves in. This can be especially helpful in situations when the seller is having trouble finding a new home.

For more information on buying and selling a home at the same time, connect with an experienced Windermere Real Estate agent today by clicking on the button below.

The post Buying and Selling a Home at the Same Time appeared first on Windermere Real Estate.

Relocating for Remote Work

As the ubiquity of working from home continues, many homeowners are making the decision to move. Whether the motivation for relocating is to lower the cost of living, to be closer to family, or simply a fresh start, there are various factors to keep in mind when relocating for remote work.

Before You Relocate

Before you make the jump to a new life in a new place, making time for some strategic planning will help ensure your relocation goes as smoothly as possible. A logical first step is to consider the financial impact of your move. Depending on your company’s policy, there may be adjustments to your pay when you relocate. If this is the case, factor in your pay change as you form your relocation budget. Research the cost of living in your new hometown to understand how a compensation adjustment may affect your home search and your lifestyle once you move.

If you are moving out of state, relocating could affect your benefits and your taxes as well. There’s a chance that your employer’s health insurance plan does not offer coverage in the state you’re moving to. Talk to your employer to discuss your options. Before moving out-of-state, find out whether the two states have a reciprocal tax agreement, especially if you’re moving between states that have differing income tax regulations.

Your New Home for Remote Work

Working remote has given homeowners the freedom to choose their desired location, unbound by a work commute, especially if their company has indicated that there are no clear signs of returning to in-person work anytime soon. Knowing your desired work environment will help to tailor your home search. If you’re looking for peace and quiet while you work, explore listings in rural areas. If the hubbub of city life is your idea of a comforting backdrop, direct your attention to metropolitan areas.

For the remote worker, it’s more important than ever that your home accommodates your working needs. As many homeowners have experienced throughout the pandemic, you spend a great deal of time in your home office, so finding the home with the best workspace for you should be a priority. If you desire a private area where you can focus, a home with an open floor plan may not be the best choice. Instead, you may want to look for homes with a separate bonus room or extra bedroom.

Once you’ve moved into your new home, it’s time to put together your home office. Whether your previous home office was a professionally curated environment or a makeshift workspace in the corner of a room, a new home means a fresh start for your remote work. Like many homeowners, by now you’ve likely got a solid grasp on what your ideal home office looks like. Keep those elements alive when you relocate and enjoy productive workdays in your new home.

The post Relocating for Remote Work appeared first on Windermere Real Estate.

Ways to Save Money by Going Green

Contrary to popular belief, going green does not have to be hard or cost money, in fact it can even save you money.  There are many small things that you and your family can do within your home to save money while reducing landfill waste and the use of natural resources. Discover a few ways to go green and save some money by choosing a green home.

 

Compost Bin

Composting is free and can provide you with rich soil to garden with. You will never have to buy soil and can easily grow plants and vegetables.  To create your own bin, get a large trashcan with a locking lid, then drill about 25 holes all around the bin and attach the bin to small platform (allows it to drain).  Once you start putting approved items in the bin go outside and roll it around in the grass every few days.

 

Energy Efficient Light Bulbs

You can save approximately $75 dollars a year by replacing your traditional incandescent with energy efficient light bulbs.  On average energy efficient light bulbs typically use way less energy and can last much longer, not needing to be replaced as much.

 

Laundry

There are quite a few options to save money and energy when it comes to laundry.  Here are a few: wait till you have a full load of laundry to wash, line dry your clothes, wash your clothes in cold water and when it comes time to get a new washer and dryer buy an energy efficient one.

 

Weather-Strip & Caulk

One of the main ways we use a lot of energy, especially in hot and cold climates, is through air-conditioning and heating. One way to reduce the use of heating and air-conditioning is to properly weather strip and caulk all windows and doors keeping your home cool and warm when needed.

 

Reuse and Reduce

Use items more than once when you can to avoid throwing them out; this might mean buying quantity over quality.  Another way is to join The Freecycle Network or Buy Nothing group on Facebook you can swap used goods with neighbors for free and also keeping more waste out of landfills.

 

DIY Cleaning

Start making your own cleaning products.  Not only can you customize, make them eco-friendlier but you will also save money buying products.  On average, most DIY cleaners cost less than a $1 to make per bottle compared to $5-$15 per store bought bottle.

 

Unplug & Turn Off

Put all your major electronics on a power strip and shut off when they are not in use.  Even if your electronics are shut off, they still will continue to draw electricity thought out the day.  Another tip is to make sure you unplug your cellphone when completely charged and always power everything down while not in use to save on battery life.

 

Toilet

There is an extremely easy way to make your toilet a low flow toilet.  Simply add a brick, wrapped in a waterproof bag or take a plastic water bottle and fill it with sand putting it into your tank.  This will reduce the amount of water with every flush. Once you are ready for a new toilet purchase a low-flush toilet.

 

Shower

Change up your shower head with an energy-efficient shower head that will use half the amount of water.  These shower heads are low flow but will significantly cut your water bill down.  Another option is to install a tap aerator which will also cut down water usage without changing the water pressure.

The post Ways to Save Money by Going Green appeared first on Windermere Real Estate.

How to Increase Your Buying Power

One of the best ways prospective home buyers can empower themselves when purchasing a home is to improve their buying power. The numbers may seem daunting but identifying ways to strengthen your financial standing will help you each step of the way.

 

When visualizing your dream home, it’s common for buyers to focus on the physical characteristics. But to mortgage lenders, a home is a numbers game. The following categories related to your buying power demonstrate how lenders identify your financial standing and determine your eligibility for a home purchase. Improvements in these areas will increase your buying power, propelling the strength of your offer when you’re ready to put it on the table.

 

How to Increase Your Buying Power

 

Increase savings for your down payment

 

As the saying goes, cash is king. The down payment—often 20% of the home’s sale price—can sometimes be the deciding factor between competing offers for a particular home.

 

Try stashing away a little of each paycheck to build up your savings over time. Set a savings goal, commit a dedicated amount to each pay period, and watch the savings build as time goes on. If you prefer to keep your money separate, open a new account to which you can dedicate the added savings. Another way to save for your down payment is to generate additional income. If you have interest or experience in an area outside of your current job, explore opportunities for part-time work and dedicate the income earned to your down payment savings.

 

There are numerous benefits to offering a serious down payment. Putting 20% or more down can help your offer stand out, it may allow you to negotiate a lower interest rate on your mortgage and could remove the need for private mortgage insurance (PMI).

 

Improve your credit score

 

Plain and simple—a better credit score leads to better interest rate on your mortgage. Your payment history, amounts owed, length of credit history, credit mix, and new credit all factor into your credit score. Although improving it will not happen overnight, a higher credit score will pay dividends in the long run.

 

To improve your credit score, focus on paying down your credit cards, especially those with high interest. Refrain from opening new lines of credit that aren’t necessary and stay away from large purchases leading up to the time when you are preparing to make an offer. Keep in mind that student loans factor into your financial picture. Paying them off consistently will improve your financial standing in the eyes of lenders.

 

Stabilize your debt to increase buying power

 

When assessing what you can afford, banks will examine your debt-to-income ratio. Lenders want to know that you’ll be able to pay your mortgage on top of your remaining debt.

 

They do this by looking at your housing ratio, or front-end ratio, to determine what portion of your income will go to paying your mortgage. Your front-end ratio is calculated by taking your monthly mortgage payment and dividing by your monthly gross income. The higher the ratio, the higher risk of default.

 

Next, your back-end ratio, or debt-to-income ratio, is used to determine how much of your monthly income goes toward paying your debts. Your back-end ratio is calculated by taking your monthly debt expense (the principal, interest, taxes, and insurance of your mortgage payments, credit card payments, student loans, and any other loan payments), and dividing it by your gross monthly income.

 

Similar to your credit score, paying off credit cards, and making steady, consistent progress on your loans will help to decrease your debt and improve your debt-to-income ratios, which will increase your buying power.

 

Although these aspects of your finances don’t cover everything that goes into the purchase of a home, they do play a significant role in how lenders assess your financial standing and thereby eligibility for approval. Increasing your buying power takes time and strategy. Plan accordingly so that when you find your dream home, you’re in the best position possible to buy it.

The post How to Increase Your Buying Power appeared first on Windermere Real Estate.