Donna Coffin - ERA Key Realty Services - Distinctive Group



Posted by Donna Coffin on 1/18/2019

Saving for a down payment on a home is a long process that requires discipline and organization. But we all know that with so many other things going on in our lives it can be hard to spend enough time focusing on your budget.

Fortunately, there are several tools available to soon-to-be homeowners who want to keep track of their spending and make sure they meet their down payment goals. In this article, we’re going to talk about some of the best budgeting apps, websites, and other tools to help you keep yourself accountable so you can be living in your new home as soon as possible.

Why budget for a down payment?

If you’ve saved money in the past for a purchase without a budget you might be wondering why you should go through the effort of creating one now.

However, there are many reasons to have a budget, especially if you’re planning on making an investment as large as a home. Here are just a few:

  • Keeping an accurate budget will let you know almost exactly how much you can expect to save for a down payment

  • Budgeting helps you locate and cut out expenses that would be better used in your savings account

  • Budgeting will give you peace of mind along the road to saving for your down payment

Now that we’ve talked about the importance of making a budget, let’s talk about some of the best ways to get it done.

YNAB

You Need a Budget, often shortened to YNAB, is one of the most useful tools for learning about and creating a budget. I don’t know about you, but I was never formally taught how to budget in school. But, it would have been a useful class to have!

YNAB combines budgeting tools with educational materials to help you save while you learn more about managing money. It can be easy to feel lost when it comes to learning about personal finance--that’s what makes YNAB so great.

Their basic precept is that you “give every dollar a job,” meaning there won’t be any money in any of your accounts or in your paycheck that doesn’t have a purpose. That doesn’t mean you can’t spend money on yourself every once in awhile, just that you’ll have planned ahead for moments so you can manage them.

You Need A Budget is available for Apple, Android, on Alexa and in your browser.

Saving with your spouse

Planning a budget yourself is complicated as it is. But planning together with a spouse can be even more confusing. However, there are ways to effectively make a family budget to save for a down payment.

First, you should both make sure you have individual budgets to make sure you know how much money from each of your incomes can go into savings. Opening a joint savings account and having a certain percentage of your paycheck direct deposited into that account is a good place to start.


From there, monitor your savings for a month to see if you need to alter this number, and try to stick to your monthly savings goal.




Tags: budgeting   down payment  
Categories: Uncategorized  


Posted by Donna Coffin on 1/11/2019

Preparing to buy a home is a long and stressful process for many. You’ve spent months, or even years, saving for a down payment, planning your future, and building your credit to ensure you get the best possible interest rate on your loan.

Then you find out, when getting preapproved for a mortgage, that your credit score dropped by a few points. So, what gives?

There’s a lot to understand about how credit scores affect mortgages and vice versa. In today’s post, I’m going to attempt to cover everything you need to know about how applying for a mortgage can affect your credit score so you’ll be prepared when it comes time to buy a home.

Prequalification, preapproval, and credit checks

There are a lot of misconceptions about what it means to be preapproved or prequalified for a loan. Some of it is due to the jargon that is used in real estate transactions, and some of it is just a marketing technique on the part of lenders.

So, what does it mean to be prequalified and preapproved?

The short version is that getting prequalified is a quick and easy process to determine whether you’re eligible to lend to and how much you’re likely to receive. It involves a quick review of your finances, and often includes either a self-reported or soft credit inquiry.

A “soft inquiry” is the type of credit check that employers typically use for a background check. It doesn’t affect your credit score, as you are not applying to open a new line of credit. In fact, many lenders’ process for prequalification is a simple online form that doesn’t even require a credit check. We’ll talk more about the difference between soft inquiries and hard inquiries later.

The simplicity of prequalification makes it a simple and easy way to get started. But, it isn’t always accurate in how well it predicts the type of mortgage and loan amount you can receive. That’s where preapproval comes in.

When you get preapproved for a loan you fill out an official application (you often have to pay for these). This will request documentation for your finances and assets, and will ask your approval to run a detailed credit report.


These credit reports are considered “hard inquiries” and are a vital step in getting approved or preapproved for a mortgage. However, they also, at least temporarily, lower your credit score.

Why hard inquiries lower your credit score

When any creditor, be it a bank or credit card company, is determining whether to lend to you, they want to know that you are a safe investment. To determine this, they want to know how frequently you pay your bills on time, how much you owe to other creditors, and how financially stable you are right now.

When you make multiple inquiries in a short period of time, it’s a red flag to lenders that you might be in trouble financially. Thus, hard inquiries will lower your credit score for 1 to 2 months.

Applying to multiple lenders: the silver lining

When borrowers apply for a mortgage, they often shop around and apply to multiple lenders. While it may seem that all of these hard inquiries will add up and drastically lower their credit score, this isn’t the case.

Credit bureaus take into account the source of the inquiries. If they realize that you are applying for mortgages, they will typically recognize this as rate shopping and group these applications together on your credit report, counting them only as a single inquiry. This means your score shouldn’t drop multiple times for multiple mortgage preapprovals that were made within a small time frame.

Now that you know more about how mortgage applications affect your credit score, you can confidently shop around for the best mortgage for you and your family.




Tags: mortgage   credit score  
Categories: Uncategorized  


Posted by Donna Coffin on 1/4/2019

After you receive an offer to buy your house, you likely will have only a short period of time to determine whether to accept this proposal. As such, pressure can add up quickly, which often can make it tough to make the best-possible decision.

Fortunately, we're here to help you analyze your options and determine how to proceed with a homebuying proposal.

Let's take a look at three steps that every home seller should take after receiving a homebuying offer.

1. Weigh the Pros and Cons

Make a pros and cons list to examine a homebuying proposal – you'll be glad you did. With this list, you can assess the advantages and disadvantages of accepting a homebuying offer and proceed accordingly.

If you accept an offer, you can move forward in the home selling process. On the other hand, if you don't feel that an offer matches your expectations, there may be no reason to accept this proposal.

2. Evaluate Your Home Selling Goals

Consider your home selling goals as you evaluate an offer to buy your house. By doing so, you can determine whether an offer falls in line with your goals.

For example, if your goal is to sell your house as quickly as possible, the amount of the offer may not matter. In this scenario, you may want to accept a homebuying proposal to accelerate the home selling process.

Comparatively, if your goal is to maximize your profits, you will need to determine if a current offer is the best proposal that you could receive. If the answer is "Yes," then you may want to proceed with a home sale. Or, if the answer is "No," you may want to reject or counter a buyer's proposal.

3. Consult with a Real Estate Agent

Let's face it – evaluating a homebuying proposal can be difficult, particularly for a first-time home seller. If you consult with a real estate agent, however, you can get the help you need to make an informed decision about an offer.

A real estate agent can offer lots of housing market data to help you understand the current value of your house. Plus, this housing market professional can provide recommendations about whether to accept, reject or counter a homebuying proposal.

Perhaps best of all, a real estate agent will serve as a guide throughout the home selling journey. He or she can keep you up to date about any offers on your house, perform deep analysis of all homebuying proposals and ensure you can determine the best course of action on any offer, at any time.

Let's not forget about the housing market expertise that a real estate agent possesses, either. A real estate agent understands there is no such thing as a "bad" question. Thus, a real estate agent will respond to any home selling queries that you may have.

Take the guesswork out of assessing a homebuying proposal – use the aforementioned steps, and you can determine whether to accept an offer on your house.




Categories: Uncategorized  


Posted by Donna Coffin on 12/28/2018

Household recycling has become easier than ever. Many towns and cities offer free recycling pickup, and even private waste management companies are implementing recycling programs.

There are a number of advantages to recycling. It helps protect the environment by reducing the amount of waste and making it easier to reuse raw materials. But, recycling is also advantageous to homeowners who don’t want to pay hefty fees for trash pickup when they can often recycle for free.

One of the more difficult aspects of household recycling is the learning curve of actually learning what is and isn’t recyclable. Homeowners might think something is recyclable because it’s made from plastic, only to find out later that it’s a specific type of plastic that can’t be recycled. On the other hand, you might be throwing some items in the garbage, filling up your bin each week when you could be recycling it instead.

In this article, we’re going to talk about some of the lesser known items you could be recycling. We’ll also cover some items you shouldn’t throw in your recycling bin, and give you tips on how to tell which is which.

Things that shouldn’t find their way into your recycling bin

It’s easy to assume that just because something looks like paper, plastic, or glass, that it can be tossed into your recycling bin. However, that isn’t always the case. Look out for these items that may not be recyclable in your area.

  • Used paper food containers. Pizza boxes are one of the biggest culprits that end up in recycling bins when they shouldn’t be. Items like paper food containers, use paper towels, and paper plates are all soiled with grease and other food residue making them ineligible for recycling.

  • Those glossy drink cartons made from unknown materials. There’s a good chance that if you can’t find a recycling logo on it somewhere it can’t be recycled. However, a growing number of cities are accepting milk cartons, so be sure to check on the rules in your area.

  • Plastic shopping bags. Those flimsy bags that you get from the supermarket? You can’t recycle those. As a result, many cities and stores are encouraging the use of reusable shopping bags. If you forget your bags at home, however, fear not: many supermarkets now accept your used plastic bags to be recirculated.

So that eliminates a lot of common household waste from being recycled. However, there are plenty of items you might not be aware of that can be tossed into the recycling bin.

Lesser known recyclable items around the house

Even if something isn’t eligible for curbside recycling doesn’t mean you should just toss it into the trash. There are many items that you can drop off or donate. Here are just a few items that are likely sitting in your house right now:

  • Old cell phones and electronics. Our gadgets are becoming obsolete at an ever-increasing rate. That means many of us have a lot of old tech junk sitting in boxes in our basements. The good news is that several stores accept free drop-offs of old electronics for reuse and recycling.

  • Mattresses and furniture. Large items like mattresses and old furniture are a pain to get rid of. They’re also likely useful to someone out there. For mattresses and box springs, try contacting retailers to see if they reuse them for materials. Furniture that is still in usable condition can be placed on Craigslist or donated to a thrift store like Goodwill or Salvation Army.

  • Oil and ink. Run out of ink in your printer? Online retailers will often pay you for your old cartridges. Also, if you recently changed your oil, drop it off at an auto parts store to be recycling into other automotive materials.




Tags: recycle   recycling   household  
Categories: Uncategorized  


Posted by Donna Coffin on 12/21/2018

Buying a house should be a fast, seamless process. However, problems sometimes may arise that prevent you from acquiring your dream house in a timely fashion.

Ultimately, it is important to be proactive to minimize the risk of encountering time-consuming hurdles during the homebuying process. Fortunately, we're here to help you identify and address such problems before they can slow you down.

Let's take a look at three tips to help you avoid delays as you pursue your dream residence.

1. Enter the Housing Market with a Plan in Hand

An informed homebuyer is better equipped than others to enjoy a successful homebuying journey. In fact, this buyer should have no trouble narrowing his or her homebuying criteria to speed up the homebuying cycle.

When it comes to purchasing a house, it helps to consider what you want to find in your dream residence. That way, you can enter the housing market with a list of homebuying criteria in hand and tailor your house search accordingly.

Remember, it is your duty as a homebuyer to do everything possible to find your ideal residence. If you narrow your house search, you can focus on finding a home that matches your expectations. And once you discover your dream house, you can quickly submit a competitive homebuying proposal.

2. Get Your Home Financing in Order

Getting pre-approved for a mortgage can make a world of difference for a homebuyer. If a homebuyer receives pre-approval for a mortgage, this individual will know exactly how much he or she can spend on a residence. As a result, this buyer can explore residences that fall within a specific price range, increasing the likelihood of a fast homebuying journey.

To obtain a mortgage, a homebuyer should meet with several banks and credit unions. These financial institutions can teach a homebuyer about a broad array of mortgage options. Perhaps most important, each lender can help a homebuyer weigh the pros and cons of assorted mortgage options and ensure a buyer can make an informed mortgage decision.

3. Collaborate with an Expert Real Estate Agent

There is no need to let problems escalate that otherwise could slow down the homebuying journey. Fortunately, if you hire an expert real estate agent, you can get the help you need to accelerate the homebuying cycle.

An expert real estate agent understands the ins and outs of buying a house, and as such, will make it simple for you to streamline the homebuying process. He or she will offer lots of recommendations as you pursue your dream house. Plus, when you discover your ideal residence, a real estate agent will help you submit a competitive offer right away.

The homebuying journey can be long and complex, particularly for a homebuyer who chooses to work alone. But if you employ an expert real estate agent, you can receive plenty of support as you navigate the homebuying journey.

Ready to acquire your ideal residence? Use the aforementioned tips, and you can reduce the risk of encountering time-intensive obstacles as you search for your dream home.




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