Catherine Albiani's Blog
For years home ownership has been the American dream, but, according to the Pew Research Center, a higher percentage of us are renters than at any other time in the last 50 years. Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily. For many people renting may be the right choice. Every individual and family needs to consider all the factors and make the decision that’s right for them.
The Financial Consideration
There’s a rule of thumb called the price to rent ratio. You get it by dividing the price of a house by the annual rent. For example, if you can buy a house for $300,000 or rent it for $1500 per month, the ratio is 300,000 / (12 * 1500), or 16.7. When the number is 15 or less, buying is the better choice, when it’s 16 to 20, renting becomes more favorable and when it’s over 20 renting is significantly better. However, this fails to take in factors like down payment amount, financing terms, taxes, insurance and other costs, which can vary widely. A more accurate number, telling you how long it will take to cover the up-front costs of ownership and pull even financially with renting, can be found using one of many calculators available.
The Other Considerations
While this sort of calculation is valuable, there are other questions, both financial and lifestyle-related, that the potential renter or buyer must ask.
What can I spend upfront for down payment and closing costs?
Can I afford a major repair such as replacing a furnace or air conditioner? There are insurance-like plans to defray some of that cost, but those make up another annual expense.
How long do I plan to stay? Selling a home and buying a new one is costly and time-consuming.
Which is more important to me, stability or flexibility?
Advantages of Home Ownership
As the inheritor of the American dream, the homeowner has some opportunities and privileges that the renter can’t enjoy.
Appreciation and equity. As home value rises and morgage balance drops, homeowners gain equity, which for many is their most valuable asset.
Freedom to remodel. There’s no landlord telling you what you can and can’t do with your property.
Stable monthly payments. Taxes and insurance can increase, but principal and interest payment remains the same. If you stay there long enough, eventually you’ll have no principal/interest to pay at all.
Tax advantage. For most people, it isn’t what it was before the 2017 tax changes, but interest and taxes may still be deductible.
Stability. You can become a member of your neighborhood and your children can stay in the same school system. No landlord can decide to sell and give you notice.
Advantages of Renting
No large upfront expenses.
Your landlord is responsible for major repairs.
Still some opportunity to build credit by paying rent promptly.
You have less at risk. You won’t be affected if property values fall.
Flexibility. If you choose to move you can easily give notice and do so.
Here’s one last question: which feels better, the satisfaction of owning your own castle or the freedom to change your life quickly? The answer may go a long way toward pointing you in the right direction.
It’s always a quandary: can I buy my new home and sell my old house so that the timing of both matches? Well, yes! There are several ways to do this. Here’s a breakdown of how it can work.
Buy a Home on a Contingency.
Just what is a contingency? It’s an agreement you make with the seller that your purchase of their home is “contingent” on — or based on the successful completion of — the sale of your current home. That way, if your house doesn’t sell, you aren’t required to buy the new one.
The distinct advantage is that you get what you want, a well-timed move. But if your house doesn't sell within the given time frame, you could lose out and the house you’re looking to buy goes back on the market.
The clear disadvantage is that it's a less than stellar offer to the seller. Given two proposals to consider, the seller's urgency — not your need, determines if they accept your offer or not. Look at it from their vantage point. They know nothing about the house you're attempting to sell.
Extend the Closing — On Your Offer.
A second option is to make the offer without a contingency but ask for a longer-than-normal time to close. That allows you to sell your current house during the closing period. You'll need to rely on your agent to properly market your home and price it to sell within the time allotted. This type of option works if you don't need the funds from the sale to make the purchase or to qualify for the loan.
Extend the Closing — On Your Sale.
Another way to do this is to extend the closing on the home you’re selling. To do this, you sell your home first with an extended closing; then you find a home to buy, make an offer, and time that closing to match.
In this case, you may risk not being able to close on the new home on time, but the overlap might be small enough that you could bunk with a family member or friend.
Each of these scenarios requires careful timing with your real estate agent, mortgage brokers and the market. Before embarking on any of these plans, thoroughly discuss how it needs to work with your agent but build in some leeway in case you have a few days of uncertainty.
When prospective buyers stop by to see your house, they're going to be barraged by a variety of sights, sounds, and smells. Some of these sensations will immediately capture their attention, while others may register on a subconscious level.
The encouraging thing to keep in mind is that you can control many aspects of how visitors experience your home.
Here are a few quick tips for making your home as appealing as possible:
Flower arrangements can add a touch of freshness and eye appeal to both the interior and exterior of your home and property. They can also infuse the air with an appealing fragrance, which can make a positive impression on potential buyers. One cautionary note is that wilted or tired-looking floral displays are not going to have the same positive impact as fresh, vibrant ones. Also keep in mind that some flowers smell more appealing than others. Most people generally prefer subtle fragrances, rather than overpowering smells! If the season and your climate permit it, placing hanging baskets of colorful flowers on your front porch and other locations can add immensely to the visual appeal of your property.
Make sure all surfaces are sparklingly clean! Imagine a prospect reaching for a house flyer or information sheet about your home, and finding that the paper was stuck to the kitchen counter! You also don't want them feeling a sticky or wet sensation when they touch or lean their elbow on a counter, tabletop, or refrigerator handle! The same rule-of-thumb can be applied to floor surfaces. If there are sticky spots, stains, or visible spills on the floor, you can be sure that's going to negatively impact a prospect's opinion of your home. It's not easy to keep your home spotless when it's on the market (or at any other time), but if you prioritize areas like floor, countertops, and sinks, then you'll be much less likely to overlook common problem areas. Eliminating pet odors, laundry smells, mold, and mildew will also make your home a much more inviting and appealing place for house hunters, real estate agents, and other visitors.
Reduce household noises whenever possible. Noises, such as squeaky hinges, loud HVAC systems, or rumbling garage doors can imply several things to prospective home buyers -- all of which are undesirable! Low-cost, DIY solutions to these problems are often available, although in some cases, it might be necessary to call a repairman or service person to check out your operating systems and make needed adjustments.
There are a lot of things to be aware of when you sell your house, but if you approach different tasks in a systematic, methodical way, you'll be much more likely to remember the important stuff and avoid sticky situations that could undermine your chances for getting your house sold quickly!
Want to make your homeownership dream a reality? Get pre-approved for a mortgage, and a first-time homebuyer can move closer than ever before to acquiring his or her ideal residence.
Ultimately, there are many reasons to receive pre-approval for a mortgage, including:
1. You can establish a realistic homebuying budget.
Entering the housing market for the first time can be challenging. In fact, many first-time homebuyers struggle to establish realistic expectations before they begin their home search. And as a result, these homebuyers may end up spending too much for a house.
Fortunately, getting pre-approved for a mortgage enables a homebuyer to enter the real estate market with a budget in hand. This ensures a homebuyer can avoid the temptation to overspend on a residence.
Pre-approval for a mortgage also allows a homebuyer to map out his or her homebuying journey. With a plan in place, this homebuyer may be better equipped than others to acquire a top-notch residence that matches or exceeds his or her expectations.
2. You can speed up the homebuying journey.
Although a first-time homebuyer can always submit an offer on a home without a mortgage in hand, doing so may be tricky. In some cases, it may even slow down the homebuying process, especially if a homebuyer has to allocate significant time and resources to find a mortgage lender.
On the other hand, a homebuyer who gets pre-approved for a mortgage should have no trouble accelerating the property buying cycle. This homebuyer will know exactly how much money is at his or her disposal, and as a result, can speed up the homebuying journey.
3. You can gain a competitive advantage over rival homebuyers.
In many instances, a home seller may be more likely to accept a proposal from a first-time homebuyer who has been pre-approved for a mortgage versus an offer from a buyer who still needs to obtain a mortgage.
A homebuyer who has a mortgage likely won't have to wait too long to acquire a house. Conversely, a homebuyer who needs to apply for a mortgage after an offer has been submitted may need to wait many weeks or months to complete a home sale.
Clearly, there are many great reasons for a first-time homebuyer to receive pre-approval for a mortgage. For homebuyers who want to ensure the best results possible, it certainly helps to collaborate with an experienced real estate agent too.
An experienced real estate agent understands the ins and outs of the housing market and will do whatever it takes to help a homebuyer streamline the property buying journey. This housing market professional will set up home showings and negotiate with a home seller on a property buyer's behalf. Plus, he or she is happy to provide honest, unbiased recommendations to help a homebuyer make his or her homeownership dream come true.
Take the next step to acquire your dream residence – get pre-approved for a mortgage today, and a first-time homebuyer can get the necessary financing to purchase his or her ideal house.