Traffic Patterns

When considering a house purchase, visit the location at different times of the day to gauge the nearby traffic patterns, congestion, on-street parking, and noise. Seasonal differences may also be a factor, especially if the house is near a school or sports venue.
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Included Items

When buying a house, make sure the purchase and sale agreement specifies all the items to be included in the sale. The seller should be clear about any items (the dining room chandelier, for example) that he does not intend to convey with the property, and the buyer should check carefully during the preclosing inspection to verify that everything that is supposed to be included is still in place.
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Builder Check

If you plan to buy a lot on which to build a home, have a builder (preferably the one you plan to use) review any properties you are considering, to help you select the best site for the home you want to construct, or to suggest the types of homes you could build on the different sites.
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Late Payment

If you are in danger of paying your mortgage late, send your payment via overnight mail. The cost of doing so is probably much less than your late payment. For example, a 5% late penalty on a $1,000 payment is $50. Sending the payment via Federal Express will cost you less than $15.
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Buying vs Renting

The two don't really compare at all. The one advantage of renting is being generally free of most maintenance responsibilities. But by renting, you lose the chance to build equity, take advantage of tax benefits, and protect yourself against rent increases. Also, you may not be free to decorate without permission and may be at the mercy of the landlord for housing. Owning a home has many benefits. When you make a mortgage payment, you are building equity. And that's an investment. Owning a home also qualifies you for tax breaks that assist you in dealing with your new financial responsibilities- like insurance, real estate taxes, and upkeep- which can be substantial. But given the freedom, stability, and security of owning your own home, they are worth it.
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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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