Carla Ness' Blog
Your credit score is a fundamental component of a mortgage lender’s decision to approve you for a loan. It can also affect the interest rate and loan amount you can secure.
Along with your income history and down payment, a solid credit score is one of the three most important things you’ll need when it comes to buying a home.
Credit scores themselves, however, can be a complicated business. And finding out what score you need to buy a home and how to achieve that score can also be a complex topic.
So, in this post we’re going to break down some credit score basics as they relate to buying a home.
Types of credit scores
You may have heard of the three main credit bureaus, TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. Each of these bureaus keeps a detailed credit history for everyone in America (except for those who have yet to open a line of credit or take out a loan).
Since each credit bureau may have slightly different information available data to draw from, your credit scores from each company may vary.
However, when it comes to buying a home, most lenders use a standard scoring model called a FICO score to ensure that all mortgage applicants are treated fairly when they seek a loan.
Things are further complicated by the fact that there are several different FICO scoring models designed for different types of credit. So, if you’ve seen your FICO score when applying for an auto loan, it may be a different score than you will see when applying for a mortgage.
Build credit; raise your credit score
All of the types of credit scores and scoring models can be confusing. But what you mostly need to worry about is how to boost your score.
Your credit score will be based on five main factors:
Making on-time payments
The percentage of available credit (not maxing out your cards)
Having diverse types of credit (auto loans, student loans, credit cards, etc.)
Not opening new lines of credit frequently (a red flag that you’re struggling financially)
The length of your credit history, or how long you’ve been consistently paying your bills
What score do you need to buy a home?
There are several different mortgage types available for buyers. First-time homeowners, veterans, people seeking to buy a home in a rural area, and any other number of circumstances can help you qualify for mortgages even if you have a low credit score.
A general rule, however, is that it’s always better to apply for a mortgage with a high credit score to help you secure the best possible interest rate.
Some programs do have minimum credit scores that they will accept for a mortgage. FHA loans are one common example. The Federal Housing Authority guarantees loans for people across the country who are hoping to buy their first home (or who haven’t owned a home in the last three years). Their guarantee is what enables lenders to safely approve mortgages for borrowers with low credit scores. The current requirement for an FHA loan is a credit score of 580 or higher for a mortgage with a 3.5% down payment. You can secure an FHA loan with a lower credit score, but you’ll have to make a larger down payment.
There are several other options available for hopeful homeowners when it comes to mortgages. But, if you aren’t planning on moving in the next few months and your credit score could use some work, now is the time to start focusing on building credit.
Buying a new home can be an exciting but anxiety-inducing experience. With so many things to consider, it can be difficult to keep track of the things that matter most to you.
This process is complicated further when you discover a second or third home that you like as much as the first and you’re trying to decide which one to make an offer on.
In today’s post, we’re going to talk about how you can effectively compare houses to ensure that you’re making the most sensible, long-term decision for you and your family.
It’s all about the spreadsheet
Today, our method isn’t going to rely on any fancy new apps or paid tools. Everything you need to accomplish your spreadsheet is a tool like Google Sheets (it’s like a free version of Excel) or a simple pencil and notebook.
The columns of your spreadsheet will be made up of the factors that will influence your decision. This will include the obvious details like the cost and square footage of the home, but also finer details like its proximity to key places in your life.
The rows of your spreadsheet will be the properties you’re comparing. Now, it may be tempting to start listing every house on your radar in the columns of your spreadsheet. However, I think it’s more time-effective to only include the homes that you’re likely to make an offer on. This means doing some hard thinking and having a conversation with your family about your realistic goals for buying a home.
What is most important to you in a home and neighborhood?
Let’s turn our attention back to the top row of your spreadsheet. We want to fill that section with around 10 factors that are most important to you in a home and the location the home will be in.
In this section, you can include the estimated cost of the home and the estimated monthly expenses for owning that home (utilities, taxes, etc.).
Here’s the secret weapon of our spreadsheet, however. Rather than listing the actual cost of the home in this row, we’re going to give it a rank of 1 to 5. A score of 1 means the house is a lot more expensive than you want. A score of 5 means the house is the ideal cost. A 3 would be somewhere in the middle.
We’re going to use this 1 to 5 ranking system for all other factors on our spreadsheet as well.
Next to these costs, you’ll want to add other important factors to your home buying decision. Does it have the number of rooms you’re looking for? If a backyard is important to you, does it provide for that need?
In terms of upgrades, how much work will you have to do on the home to make it something you’re satisfied with? For DIY-minded people with time to spare, home improvement might be a welcome concept. For others, it simply would take too much time to accomplish everything you want. So, when you fill out the “Upgrades” column of your spreadsheet, make sure you determine a system for ranking the homes that suits your needs.
House location shouldn’t be overlooked
It’s a sad truth, but in today’s busy world, the average homeowner spends most of their time away from home, whether they’re at work, commuting, or bring their kids to and from after school activities.
You’ll want at least one column on your spreadsheet to be devoted to location. When ranking the location of a home, consider things like commuting time, distance to schools, hospitals, parks, and grocery stores. All of these things will have a larger impact on your day-to-day life than small details of the house itself.
Ranking the homes
Now that you have the first row and column of your spreadsheet built, it’s time to fill in the details and tally up the totals. These numbers will help inform your decision as to which house is really right for you.
A first-time homebuyer often proceeds cautiously as he or she navigates the real estate market. However, if this homebuyer discovers the "perfect" home, the risk to overspend to acquire this residence may prove to be too much to resist.
It is important for a first-time homebuyer to understand what it takes to purchase a house at a price that matches or exceeds his or her expectations. That way, a homebuyer can avoid the temptation to overspend on a house and reduce the likelihood of breaking his or her homebuying budget.
Now, let's take a look at three tips that a first-time homebuyer can use to minimize the risk of overspending on a house.
1. Assess the Housing Market Closely
The housing market frequently fluctuates, and a first-time homebuyer who identifies real estate patterns and trends may be better equipped than others to pay the right price for a residence.
Having the ability to differentiate between a buyer's market and a seller's market is key. If a homebuyer understands the differences between these markets, he or she should have no trouble submitting a reasonable offer on a house based on the current housing market's conditions.
In a buyer's market, there is an abundance of available houses and a shortage of property buyers. This market favors homebuyers, and as a result, a property buyer may be better equipped than ever before to acquire a great house at an affordable price at this time.
Conversely, a seller's market favors home sellers and includes a shortage of high-quality houses and an abundance of homebuyers. In a seller's market, a homebuyer may need to submit a competitive offer on a house, or he or she likely risks losing a residence to potential rivals.
2. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage
Want to stick to a homebuying budget? With a mortgage in hand, a first-time homebuyer will know exactly what he or she can spend on a house and narrow a home search accordingly.
To get pre-approved for a mortgage, a homebuyer should meet with several banks and credit unions. This will allow a homebuyer to learn about all of the mortgage options that are available and choose a mortgage that corresponds to his or her finances.
Also, be sure to ask potential lenders plenty of questions about various mortgage options. By doing so, a homebuyer can boost his or her chances of making an informed mortgage decision.
3. Collaborate with a Real Estate Agent
A real estate agent can help a first-time homebuyer explore houses that fall within a specific price range, thereby reducing the risk that a property buyer will overspend on a house.
In addition, a real estate agent is happy to provide honest, unbiased homebuying recommendations. This housing market professional understands the ins and outs of purchasing a house, and as such, will do everything possible to guarantee a property buyer can acquire a terrific residence at a budget-friendly price.
Avoid the temptation to pay too much to buy your dream house – use these tips, and a first-time homebuyer can seamlessly navigate the property buying journey.
The weeks and days leading up to a home closing can be stressful, particularly for a homebuyer who is already trying to do everything possible to secure his or her dream residence. Fortunately, we're here to help you simplify the process of getting to your closing date.
Now, let's take a look at three tips to ensure you can enjoy a fast, easy home closing.
1. Get Your Paperwork Ready
It often helps to get all of your homebuying paperwork ready before you pursue a residence. That way, you can minimize the last-minute stress associated with searching far and wide for pay stubs, tax returns and other documents that you'll ultimately need to get financing for a residence.
Furthermore, you should meet with local banks and credit unions as soon as you can. If you can get approved for a mortgage prior to starting a home search, you may be able to speed up the process of acquiring your ideal residence.
2. Be Prepared to Cover Your Closing Costs
Although you might have financing to cover your monthly mortgage payments, it is important to remember that you may need to pay closing costs to finalize your home purchase. As such, if you begin saving for your closing costs today, you can guarantee that you'll have the necessary funds available to purchase your dream residence on your scheduled closing date.
Also, you should be prepared to present a cashier's check or wire funds when you close on a house. If you plan ahead, you should have no paying off your closing costs when your complete your home purchase.
3. Schedule Your Final Walk-Through Before Your Closing Date
When it comes to a final walk-through on your dream house, why should you leave anything to chance? Instead, set up the final walk-through at least a few days before you're scheduled to close on a house.
If you find problems with a house during a final walk-through, you'll want to give the seller plenty of time to address these issues. Thus, if you schedule a final walk-through several days before your closing date, you can ensure that any home problems can be corrected without putting your closing date in danger.
For homebuyers who are worried about a home closing, there is no need to stress. In fact, if you work with an expert real estate agent, you can receive plenty of support throughout the homebuying journey.
Typically, a real estate agent can explain what you should expect in the time leading up to your closing date. If you have any concerns or questions before a home closing, a real estate agent is happy to address them. Plus, when your closing date arrives, a real estate agent will help you remain calm, cool and collected as you purchase a home.
Ready to streamline the process of closing on a house? Use the aforementioned tips, and you can reap the benefits of a quick, seamless home closing.