Home Inspector

An inspector checks the safety of your potential new home. Home inspectors focus especially on the structure, construction, and mechanical systems of the house and will make you aware of any repairs that are needed. The inspector does not evaluate whether or not you're getting good value for your money. Generally, an inspector checks (and gives prices for repairs on): the electrical system, plumbing and waste disposal, the water heater, insulation and ventilation, the HVAC system, water source and quality, the potential presence of pests, the foundation, doors, windows, ceilings, walls, floors, and roof. Be sure to hire a home inspector that is qualified and experienced. It's a good idea to have an inspection before you sign a written offer since, once the deal is closed, you've bought the house "as is." Or, you may want to include an inspection clause in the offer when negotiating for a home. An inspection clause gives you an "out" on buying the house if serious problems are found, or gives you the ability to renegotiate the purchase price if repairs are needed. An inspection clause can also specify that the seller must fix the problem(s) before you purchase the house.
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Adjustable Rate Mortgages

Payments increase or decrease on a regular schedule with changes in interest rates; increases subject to limits. Types: Balloon Mortgage - Offers very low rates for an initial period of time (usually 5, 7, or 10 years); when time has elapsed, the balance is due or refinanced (though not automatically). Two-Step Mortgage - Interest rate adjusts only once and remains the same for the life of the loan; ARMS linked to a specific index or margin. Advantages: Generally offer lower initial interest rates; Monthly payments can be lower; May allow borrower to qualify for a larger loan amount.
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Fixing Your Credit History

Simple mistakes are easily corrected by writing to the reporting company, pointing out the error, and providing proof of the mistake. You can also request to have your own comments added to explain problems. For example, if you made a payment late due to illness, explain that for the record. Lenders are usually understanding about legitimate problems.
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HUD Help

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, also known as HUD, helps people by administering a variety of programs that develop and support affordable housing. Specifically, HUD plays a large role in homeownership by making loans available for lower- and moderate-income families through its FHA mortgage insurance program and its HUD Homes program. HUD owns homes in many communities throughout the U.S. and offers them for sale at attractive prices and economical terms. HUD also seeks to protect consumers through education, Fair Housing Laws, and rehabilitation initiatives.
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As Is Homes

A home for sale "as is" often means repairs will be necessary. Don't write these properties off, the work may not be as bad as you expect, especially if you are the handy type. But approach them carefully, and get a thorough home inspection.
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New Buyer Loans

Conventional mortgage loans usually can't be assumed by new buyers, but FHA and VA loans can be. The borrower must qualify for the loan and come up with a large enough down payment to cover the purchase, but for buyers able to clear those hurdles, the lower overall origination costs can make this an attractive option.
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Insurance Savings

Homeowners' insurance policies typically insure the contents of the home for a percentage of the structure's replacement cost. But chances are your furnishings and other "stuff" haven't increased in value as rapidly as your home has appreciated over the past three or four years. As a result, you may be able to shave something off your escalating insurance premium by reviewing the inside coverage amount.
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Truth in Lending

The Truth in Lending Act gives homeowners three days from the day the account was opened to cancel their credit line. However, the homeowner must inform the lender in writing within those three days. According to the FDIC, the lender then must cancel its security interest in the home and return all fees paid.
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Maximum Loan Amount

The lender considers your debt-to-income ratio, which is a comparison of your gross (pre-tax) income to housing and non-housing expenses. Non-housing expenses include such long-term debts as car or student loan payments, alimony, or child support. According to the FHA, monthly mortgage payments should be no more than 29% of gross income, while the mortgage payment, combined with non-housing expenses, should total no more than 41% of income. The lender also considers cash available for down payment and closing costs, credit history, etc. when determining your maximum loan amount.
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Inspection Etiquette

Do I need to be there for the inspection? It's not required, but it's a good idea. Following the inspection, the home inspector will be able to answer questions about the report and any problem areas. This is also an opportunity to hear an objective opinion on the home you'd like to purchase and it is a good time to ask general maintenance questions.
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