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As you start on the path of finding a home, having a real estate agent guide you in the process can make a difference.
People looking at clipboard How to Choose a Real Estate Agent
As you start on the path of finding a home, having a real estate agent guide you in the process can make a difference. About 98% of buyers who used agents viewed them as a helpful source of information, according to a recent report from the National Association of Realtors, or NAR. Because an agent can help determine how much you pay for your new abode, it’s important to find one who is right for you. SEEK REFERRALS AND RESEARCH ASSOCIATIONS Start your search by asking friends and family members for recommendations. In this way, someone you trust can verify how effective and helpful the agent was. You can also make a list of agents who sell homes in your price range and in areas where you’re looking to buy by checking online and through trusted real estate associations. Some have specialties and only work with certain clients such as first-time buyers or those looking for luxury homes. Also check for Realtors, or real estate agents who are NAR members. They follow a code of ethics in working with clients. You can also check whether any of the agents have expired or suspended licenses by looking them up on state regulatory agency websites. ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS When you have a list of candidates, start interviewing agents. Consider asking them the following: How long have you been in the real estate business in this area? What credentials do you have? You’ll want to find someone who has experience in your area and determine their specialities, if any…
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Unless you were recently selected as the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft or released a hit album, you probably won’t pay for your new house in cash. Like millions of Americans, you’ll…
Person handing keys to couple The Benefits of Mortgage Preapproval and How to Get One
Unless you were recently selected as the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft or released a hit album, you probably won’t pay for your new house in cash. Like millions of Americans, you’ll take out a  mortgage . Before you begin your housing search, try to get a mortgage preapproval, which is usually good for up to 90 days. After reviewing and verifying some of your financial information, lenders will tell you how much money they’d be willing to let you borrow. Getting preapproved can speed up the sale process and demonstrates to sellers that you’re serious about buying. Here’s a closer look at how you could benefit from a mortgage preapproval and what it takes to get one. On a very basic level, buying a home is like deciding where to go for dinner. Although the possibilities may seem endless, you’ll need to stick to your budget. Otherwise, you may end up regretting your decision. A mortgage preapproval ensures that you don’t end up wasting your time looking at homes that you can’t afford, since a lender provides you with a letter saying how much money you could get from it for a mortgage. To obtain a preapproval, you’ll need to provide your would-be lender with some financial documentation, including a copy of your credit report, tax returns, pay stubs and checking and savings account statements. This helps financial institutions determine your creditworthiness. Usually it’s free, but you may have to pay the lender’s cost to get your credit report. Getting a mort…
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Owning a home can be an excellent source of financial stability and security. Plus, you don't have to deal with those noisy upstairs neighbors anymore.
Agent showing couple a home How a Real Estate Agent Can Help You Land a Home
Owning a home can be an excellent source of financial stability and security. Plus, you don't have to deal with those noisy upstairs neighbors anymore. The actual home-buying process can be somewhat stressful, though, so like with most things, it's usually best to take advantage of all the help you can get. That's where real estate agents come in. These professionals can bring some much-needed clarity to a process that can get fairly complex. Sellers typically pay the commission Here's some good news right off the bat: The person selling the home typically covers the costs of real estate agents, who usually collect a commission of 6% of the sale price. Usually, the agent who lists the home works with the seller while a buyer comes to the table with one from a different real estate firm, and they divvy up the commission. Because an agent's paycheck is determined by the final cost of the sale, you'll need to make sure that you aren't being talked into a home that you can't afford. After all, an agent's firm may pocket about $10,000 more if your new home costs, say, $500,000 instead of $350,000. But most professionals recognize that it's in their best interest when both the buyer and seller come away from a closing happy with the deal. Ultimately, an agent's main goal will be to make a deal happen, so they'll do everything in their power to get those papers signed. If you want to ensure that you're working with someone who wants to finalize a sale and has your ba…
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Contrary to what you may think, signing up for a mortgage loan doesn’t mean you’re trapped in that rate or term. If rates change or events arise that prevent you from paying as you…
House percentage When to Refinance a Mortgage
Contrary to what you may think, signing up for a mortgage loan doesn’t mean you’re trapped in that rate or term. If rates change or events arise that prevent you from paying as you had planned,  refinancing  might be an effective way to change your monthly payments. Refinancing means paying off your existing mortgage with a new one, potentially with a lower rate or monthly payment. However, refinancing also typically involves costs such as appraisal and loan origination fees, which can add up to as much as 3% to 6% of the amount you’re refinancing. The following scenarios are ones in which refinancing could be worth considering. YOUR CREDIT HAS IMPROVED If you received your mortgage at a time when you had average credit or a short credit history and your score has since improved, you may qualify for a lower rate now. If so, you may be able to pay off the principal faster and more quickly build equity, or the difference between your home’s appraised market value and what you owe on it. INTEREST RATES DROP The market may have changed since you got your mortgage. Many experts recommend refinancing if you can get a rate that’s at least one percentage point lower than your  current rate . This can mean saving tens of thousands of dollars in interest costs overall if your current principal balance is large. YOU WANT TO CONSOLIDATE OTHER LOANS With cash-out mortgage refinancing, you take out a loan for more than what you owe on the home. For example, say your h…
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Buying a home is a common undertaking for many Americans, but it’s also one of the most complicated — not to mention costly — purchases adults will ever make.
10 Terms Every Home-Buyer Should Know
Buying a home is a common undertaking for many Americans, but it’s also one of the most complicated — not to mention costly — purchases adults will ever make. It’s important to understand these 10 essential terms so you’re ready to make smart decisions with your money. Adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM):  A mortgage with an interest rate that can change over time. It typically has a low, fixed initial interest rate and then may adjust regularly either up or down depending on market conditions. It can’t exceed a set rate cap. Closing costs:  Fees from buying a house from both the lender and third parties like inspectors, attorneys, surveyors and title insurance companies. These typically add up to 3%-6% of the total home price, though some of these charges are negotiable. Down payment : When you’re buying a home and financing it with a mortgage, most lenders require you to put down a certain amount of cash upfront, usually 5% to 20% of the total price. Your mortgage covers the amount remaining after the down payment. Escrow : A neutral, third-party account that protects the money of both buyers and sellers until real estate transactions are finalized. For example, if you choose to make a deposit with an offer on a home, it would go into an escrow account first rather than directly to the seller. Once you’ve bought a home, escrow accounts are also typically used to hold money for homeowners insurance and property taxes until payment is due. FHA loan : A mortgage…
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Displaying results 1-5 (of 77)
Ways to Save on Food Costs
With your mind so muddled with details like classes, exams and papers, who has time to think about food? You might be heading into the new semester with plans to subsist solely on convenience food and packaged junk. We’re looking at you, ram…
Six times a bargain is not a bargain
In the words of writer Franklin Jones, “A bargain is something you don’t need at a price you can’t resist.” And we couldn’t agree more. With the biggest spending season of the year looming ahead, it’s time to brush up on your shopping sm…
The 20% Down Myth
Are you desperate to own a home of your own? If that’s your dream, you are likely saving up, dollar by hard-earned dollar, until you have that magic number: 20% of your dream home’s total value. That’s what all the experts say, right? For …
Ready, set, go...to college
It may seem like yesterday when you were getting your son or daughter off to preschool. And now you’re preparing him or her for college! The process of a child leaving home is a major milestone and is complex because of the emotions it gene…
Four Ways to Bring Your Dream Kitchen to Life
The kitchen is the heart of the home. It’s where we spend many hours whipping up delectable dishes to please every palate and food plan. It’s where we catch a quick morning chat over coffee and linger over dinners together in the early eveni…
Dos and Don'ts of Credit Repair
If you've recently been rejected from a credit application of any kind, you may be looking at a poor credit score for any number of reasons. You might have been late with your credit card payments, have an outstanding judgment against you or…
Five Tips for Raising a Financial Whiz Kid
Our friends at  WalletHub  have put together helpful information   on how to achieve success in teaching your kids about finance.   Odysseas Papadimitriou is CEO of the personal finance websites WalletHub and CardHub. Financial literacy i…
15 Incredible Grilling Hacks
Nothing says “summer is coming” like the mouthwatering smell of a flaming barbecue blowing through the neighborhood. Whether you churn out the best burgers on the block from a modest charcoal grill or your Weber’s been squatting on your deck…
Choosing a Credit Card: What You Need to Know
Laura Edgar is a senior writer for NerdWallet.com, a consumer finance comparison website. In some ways, credit cards have a competitive advantage over cash and debit cards. They’re safer for online and overseas purchases, and, when you ma…
Creative Tips to Make Holiday Budgeting Simple
John Gower is a writer for NerdWallet.com, a consumer finance comparison website. The holiday season is on the horizon, so it’s time to start preparing. If you’re concerned about going over budget this year, it’s important to plan ahead. …
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Displaying results 1-10 (of 77)

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