3 Things I Wish Someone Told Me as a First Time Home Buyer

As I approach my four year “homeaversary” I decided to take a moment to reflect on all that I had on my mind as my husband and I prepared to make the biggest purchase of our lives. Here are some of the things I wish I had known sooner that I hope will help you, or someone you know, on their journey toward home ownership.

You Don’t Pay The Agent’s Commission as the Buyer

So many first time buyers wonder, “do you have to pay a real estate agent if you are buying a home?” For some, the thought of having to shell out extra cash, when they are already doing all they can to save for their down payment, is enough to make them walk away from the entire process before they even get going. Many are surprised to find out that the answer is actually no. A home buyer does not pay their agent, rather the agent earns their commission from the seller side of the transaction.*

Need help finding an agent? Take a look here.

Focus on Your Monthly Mortgage Payment, Not the Entire Thing

Getting pre-approved for a mortgage is generally the first step you should take as a first time buyer. A common mistake that people often make is focusing on the total price of the home they can afford instead of the monthly payment they will be making. You may get approved for a $350,000 home, but this may not necessarily be what you can truly afford. Think of the amount your advisor suggests you can afford as a range. There is a high end and a low end and it is your job, not the mortgage advisor’s, to figure out what you are comfortable paying each month. It is crucial that you work with your advisor to understand how your down payment amount, credit, and the current mortgage rate affect your monthly payment.

Make the Jump!

To steal a line from Nike®…Just Do It! From agonizing over the down payment to finding the “perfect” home there are a ton of moments in the first time buying process that are going to make you feel nervous. Know that it is natural and that similar to having a baby, there is never really a 100% perfect time. You are always going to wish you had more money in the bank, hope that the home had a backyard that was just a little bigger, or that you were just a little more sure what direction your life will be taking in the next 5-10 years. My advice: if you feel comfortable with the payment, love the location and “bones” of the house and will feel proud to make this house a home, then take the leap and don’t look back. That’s what we did almost four years ago and it was one of the best decisions we ever made.

*As with anything exceptions may apply. One example where this may change is a For Sale By Owner (FSBO). To be certain of what the payment structure will be, speak with your agent as soon you begin working to discuss payment/commission.

Your November Honey-Do List

This month, we’re especially thankful for home. Home is where the family comes together, where we’re protected from the elements, and where love abounds. Your home’s November Honey-Do list will make sure your home is ready for the holidays, prepared for colder weather and loved inside and out.

1. Winterize your home – For most of the country, November is the time when we can no longer deny that the colder weather has settled in. Now is the time to winterize summer tools and appliances like air conditioner units, grills and lawn mowers. Bring garden hoses indoors and check your windows and doors for drafts.

2. Make a Turkey Game Plan – No coach would head to a big game without a game plan up his sleeve. Likewise, no chef should hit the kitchen without thinking through the menu and timeline first. Determine what menu items you can make ahead, decide what responsibilities you can delegate, and take an inventory of your pantry and china cabinet. Oh, and now’s the time to clean that oven, too.

3. Polish the Silver and Dust off the China – Thanksgiving is a special meal, which deserves the best of your entertaining arsenal. Because we don’t often use our special dishes year round, it’s smart to give them a good deep clean and polish before setting the table on Turkey Day.

4. Give your living room a refresh – With the holidays ahead, your living room is sure to get plenty of use. Give the space a refresh by changing out the window treatments for a new look.

5. Use some pest control – Rodents and other pests are opportunistic and seek warmer environments when the temperatures drop. Be sure that they don’t call your house their home by implementing these 5 surefire tricks to pest control.

6. Clear out the gutters – Avoid drainage problems and damage to your home’s foundation by clearing out the gutters before snow and ice wreaks havoc. Here is an easy how-to guide to cleaning rain gutters on your home.

7. Be ready for snow – Before the first winter storm, it’s a good idea to make sure your snow shovels and/or snow blower are in proper working order. If you don't already own a snow blower, now is the time to invest in one after the brutal winter last year.

8. Start tackling the December to do list – The holiday to do list is notoriously the longest of the year. Get a head start by ordering your holiday cards, updating your address book, and making a gift wish list for each of your family members NOW. You can even start stringing twinkle lights on your shrubbery before the deep chill sets in. After all, the most important part of the holidays is taking the time to enjoy our family and friends.

Next month we’ll cover everything you’ll need to know to make your home holiday ready.  Until then, Happy Thanksgiving!

Looking Past Sale Price When Buying a Home

As a home buyer, you may focus too much on a home’s sale price – whether it meets your budget or even if it’s a lucky number. Before you begin the home search, make sure that you take into account other factors such as your own credit. When you pay off outstanding loans and reduce debt before beginning the process of looking for a new home, you can significantly impact the interest rate you will pay and whether or not you qualify for a loan.

Cost of a Home Beyond the Sale Price

Mortgages themselves commonly involve additional costs you may forget to account for, such as mortgage insurance. Other notable expenses include the property size, location, and condition of the home. These are some of the factors which determine property taxes and maintenance expenses for the upkeep of your home. While a home in good condition may have few repair costs at first, any home is a sufficiently large and complex structure and repairs are inevitable.

Focusing too much on sale price of a home can also lead you to make an unwise decision based on your personal needs. You may become so focused on jumping on a good deal that you overlook whether a home is right for you. If you have a growing family, take into account the need for more space in the near future. In contrast, be aware that a large home for a good price may be larger than you can reasonably use.

Investigation and Closing with Your Real Estate Agent

You may want to have your real estate agent show you homes within your specified price range without telling you each individual property’s list price. This can help you make an unbiased assessment of the home and help you avoid a hasty decision for or against a property simply because of price.

When it comes time to negotiate and close a deal, keep in mind the closing costs and the cost of moving into a new home. These additional expenses might include renting a van, hiring movers, buying new furniture, replacing old items and limited repairs to rooms like the kitchen or bathroom.

Closing costs cover administrative fees, title searches, and in some cases, initial homeowners’ association fees or inspection costs.

How to Organize and Beautify Your Entry Hall in 7 Days

A neat, chic entryway gives visitors a positive first impression and makes coming home a pleasure. But between the daily influx of mail and a household’s worth of coats, shoes and bags, this space is often one of the most challenging to keep clean and clutter free. Give your entryway a fresh start with this weeklong plan to clean and declutter from top to bottom — and learn to maintain a serene space long-term.

Day 1: Address the outside.

Cleaning tasks: The entrance to your home really begins outside your front door, so let’s start here. Sweep your porch or stoop, including the siding, and wash the exterior windows at the front of your home. Using a soft cloth, wipe down your mailbox, doorbell, porch lights and front door.

Decluttering tasks: Remove everything that doesn’t belong on the porch and find another home for it. Toss dead plants and store empty pots elsewhere.

Day 2: Clear the decks.

Decluttering tasks: Think of your entryway as a busy but temporary holding area — like a train station, not a permanent storage area. Scoop up all of the mail, shoes, coats, scarves, cell phone chargers, tote bags and so on, and move them away where you can deal with them more easily.

Find a permanent home for the items you remove from the entry — you should be able to do this for nearly everything, except perhaps your keys. Even if you think you can’t find another place to store that jacket or bag, challenge yourself to find a place … anywhere but the entry!

Cleaning tasks: Once all of the stuff has been removed, cleaning will be much easier. Vacuum and mop the floors, vacuum cobwebs from the corners, clean mirrors and wipe scuff marks off the walls.

Day 3: Bring back the essentials.

Decluttering tasks: Rather than keep all your shoes and coats by the door, try keeping only the one or two you use most often. Store the rest elsewhere.

The same goes for bags, sunglasses and other accessories — if you find this difficult, try taking a picture of your entryway looking fresh and clean with only the absolute minimum amount of stuff in it, and use it as a reminder of why it’s worth the effort.

If your entry has room, your essentials may include a rug, a boot tray or bin to corral shoes, a surface for mail and keys, hooks for coats and bags, a place to sit while putting on and taking off shoes, and adequate lighting.

Day 4: Tackle a problem zone.

Decluttering tasks: If you have a large household, consider adding extra closed storage — piles of coats out in the open look messy, even when the coats are neatly hung on hooks. If you have children, make sure the storage is easily accessible and clearly marked.

Cleaning tasks: The biggest cleaning challenge in the entry is dirt tracked in from outdoors. Rugs are your first line of defense against street dirt, so make sure yours are in good shape. If your area rugs are dirty, launder them; if they are getting worn out, consider buying new ones. Instead of choosing a typical doormat-size rug by default, consider if a larger rug or runner would better suit your space — a larger rug has more dirt-trapping power.

Day 5: Improve the flow.

Decluttering tasks: Step outside your home for a moment and come back in through the front door, taking the time to really notice how you naturally move into the space. Is your furniture arranged in a way that is convenient, or do you nearly bump into something on the way in?

Would it be easier to toss your keys on a floating shelf by the door instead of taking four steps to a bigger table down the hall? Today is the day to try something new.

Day 6: Beautify.

Cleaning tasks: Wipe down surfaces; polish wood furniture.

Decluttering tasks: Pay attention to what is kept out in the open in your entryway and what is behind closed doors. You can choose to keep your cutest rain boots and cheery umbrellas on display, and hide the less attractive gear. Add something fresh and pretty, like a bouquet of flowers, to bring your space to life.

If you don’t have a closet or cupboard for hiding utilitarian items, use baskets. But beware of going overboard and providing too much storage — it will only get filled up and then overfilled.

Sometimes a minimalist setup actually helps reduce clutter, because it forces you to put things away where they actually go instead of plunking them down in the entry. Strike a balance that feels right to you.

Day 7: Master a daily routine.

Cleaning tasks: A quick daily sweep will help keep dirt from accumulating in the entry. Storing a broom and dustpan or a small stick vacuum in the closet nearest the door will make things easier.

Decluttering tasks: Get in the habit of opening your mail as soon as you walk in the door, while standing over the recycling bin. At the end of each day, put away anything sitting around in the entry that doesn’t belong.

Tell us: What is the biggest cleaning or decluttering challenge you face in the entry?

Stages of Buying a Home

It may be a goal you have had since childhood. Perhaps, you have rented for most of your adult life and now want to experience the joys and satisfaction of home ownership. Buying a home is a big step and requires a lot of important decisions along the way. With some advanced planning and research, you can be sure your home purchase is something you feel good about for many years ahead. Here are the basic steps that lead you to a successful transaction.

Understanding What You Can Afford
This is different from qualifying for a loan. This is calculating how much of your budget you will devote to your home and how much money you want for other things. For a person who values travel, they can afford more house than they should buy. Some of their money will go toward accommodations on the road or other travel expenses. If you love fishing, boating, or a hobby such as restoring classic cars, factor the required budget for your preferred pastime into your overall household budget. With that in mind, think twice about buying a home the bank says you can afford. You will be happiest in the home that allows you to enjoy life to its fullest.

Review Your Credit Report
Know your credit score prior to meeting with any loan officers or mortgage brokers. A lower score will result in a higher interest rate and possibly prevent you from qualifying for the loan you want. It can take several months to correct any errors in your report. By reviewing your report a few months before home shopping, you could save yourself several thousands of dollars over the life of your loan.

Choosing Your Professionals
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) advises potential home buyers to attend a homeownership education class prior to choosing a mortgage. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was established to help protect consumers from predatory lending and mandates all required information about your loan and real estate transaction be written in clear, easy to understand wording. It is an excellent resource for home buyers.

Take time to interview several loan professionals before signing with one. You can be pre-qualified by your bank or any loan company. That does not obligate you to choose them for your home loan. Discuss your goals with a Coldwell Banker® brand agent. They are here to consult with you at each step of the process. Also, it is a good idea to know who will be your attorney for the closing. Many builders want you to close the transaction with their attorney. As the home buyer, it is your right to choose the attorney who will represent you in the closing.

Choosing Your Home
Once you are pre-qualified, you are ready to begin shopping for your new home. For most buyers who plan to purchase with a standard 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, there are few restrictions on the houses they view. If you will be using a FHA loan, USDA home loan, or other special financing, you can only consider homes that qualify for these programs. HUD has incentives for first-time buyers and community servants like firefighters, teachers, and lawenforcement officers. To see if you qualify for special financing, and to learn if there are any Good Neighbor Next Door homes available in your area, consult with a Coldwell Banker® brand agent.

Take your lifestyle and future plans into consideration as you view homes. If you plan to move in a few years, you may want to choose a simple, easily affordable home that will always be in demand and fairly easy to sell. It is best to have a second and third choice in mind that you can go to if you have to walk away from negotiations on your first choice.

Negotiating the Contract
Buying a home is an emotional experience. Trust your home buying expert with Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC for guidance. They work with lenders, home sellers, and other real estate agents every day. They will advise you on negotiation strategies and be there to provide objective advice that protects your best interest in the transaction. Most contracts have contingencies, and the negotiation is not complete until all contingencies are met.

Home Inspection
A thorough home inspection by a certified professional is crucial for any home purchase. You should attend the inspection and feel free to ask questions about any areas of concern. Once you have received the home inspection report, your Coldwell Banker brand agent will review it with you. You may choose to ask the seller to make some needed repairs, negotiate a lower price, or accept the report and move forward with the transaction as it is.

The Closing
The Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) requires that lenders provide home buyers with as accurate of a good faith estimate as possible and that they disclose the nature of all cost. It also prohibits kickbacks and other unlawful payments among real estate professionals and lenders. The TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosurerule combines forms required by the Truth in Lending Act, also known as Regulation Z, and the Real Estate Procedures Act, known as Regulation X, into one simple form. This new document replaces the final document required by the TILA and the HUD-1. You have three days to review and discuss it with your Coldwell Banker brand agent.

For any changes in amounts before or after closing, the lender must provide you with a corrected Closing Disclosure showing the actual amounts. All financial figures must be documented in writing and not delivered verbally. With sufficient communications prior to closing, you know the amount of certified funds (if any) you need to bring to closing. You can relax, sign the necessary paperwork, and receive the keys to your new home.

Coldwell Banker Mid-America Group, Realtors® Announces Ankeny Branch Manager & Assistant Manager

 

Coldwell Banker Mid-America Group, Realtors®  Announces Ankeny Branch Manager & Assistant Manager

 

(Des Moines, IA – October 12, 2017) – Coldwell Banker Mid-America Group, Realtors® President, Robert Burns, has named Tracey Nygren as Branch Manager of the Ankeny Office.

Tracey has been an agent with our company since 2006,” Burns said. “And I am confident that the Ankeny Office will thrive under her leadership.”

 

Nygren is an Ankeny native and graduated from Ankeny High School. She then lived in Chicago and worked for United Airlines until moving back to Ankeny in 1991. In 2003, Nygren received her real estate license and has been affiliated with Coldwell Banker Mid-America Group, Realtors® since 2006.

Tracey is currently working on winding down her very successful real estate practice and will step into the management role officially in early December.


 

“I love Ankeny and my Coldwell Banker Family,” Nygren said.  “I’m excited to take on this new role as manager and continue to build on the strong tradition of our office being a leader not only in real estate but in the community as a whole.”

Nygren has four children, Taylor, Tanner, Tess and Thomas as well as a son-in-law, Matthew, grandchildren, Aria and Ashton, and a cockapoo, Chance.

In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends and cheering on her favorite sports teams. She also loves biking, golfing, and recently, running. 

Along with the announcement of Nygren as Branch Manager, Mike Eilander has been named the new Assistant Branch Manager of the Ankeny Office.

 

Eilander is a long-time resident of Ankeny and has been affiliated with Coldwell Banker Mid-America Group, Realtors® as an agent since 2005.

 

“He brings a wealth of experience to the role and I am honored to welcome him to the Leadership Team,” Burns said.

 

 

Eilander is married and has three children, a son who is an attorney in Omaha and two daughters that live Muscatine and Houston, Texas. His wife is the Clinic Manager at Unity Point.

 

In his free time, Eilander is involved in Dollars for Scholars and helps with an annual winter coat drive at the Ankeny movie theater. He also enjoys to golf and ride motorcycles and dirt bikes.

 

“I am looking forward to this position and assisting every one of our sales associates from new agents to veterans,” Eilander said. “I want to encourage each of them to be the best they can be.”

 

Kimber Powell, current Branch Manager of the Ankeny Office, will be stepping down in early 2018. Powell intends to remain with Coldwell Banker Mid-America Group, Realtors® as an agent.

 

“Kimber is a special individual and I am grateful that our company was able to benefit from her leadership for so many years,” Burns said. “Kimber intends to spend more time focusing on her family after she steps down and we wish her the best.”

 

Coldwell Banker Mid-America Group, Realtors® is an Iowa based member of Coldwell Banker Real Estate Corporation.  Mid-America Group, a land owner and developer with over 35 years of experience, affiliated with Coldwell Banker in 1990.  By combining local ownership, market expertise and national support services, Coldwell Banker Mid-America Group, Realtors® offers a full range of premier real estate services.