Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Building, and affording, a new home

For years, the process to build a new home was simple: hire a builder, apply for a loan and move in. Period.

It's not that easy any longer. Lending institutions have put a clamp on money that used to flow out the door. Appraisals are becoming more of an exact science than an afterthought. Getting the "necessary" value out of a home today to obtain financing has proven more difficult than many people ever remember.

When it comes time to build your home, don't let the "market" scare you away; there are still a number of viable options for you to obtain financing. Most people hire an experienced home builder or general contractor when deciding to build their dream home. There are certain things that you must keep in mind when building a home, some of which are outlined below.

Finding Land / Lot

Finding the right spot to build on can be a daunting task. Many builders have lots available that they will sell you, you can look for undeveloped lots that have flooded the market recently or you can go acquire land that suits your needs. Whatever the case, make sure you consult with your builder and/or architect to make sure that the home you want will fit on the land you're looking at. There is no worse feeling that things not "fitting" together like you'd hope. Finally, consider the purchase price of the land into the final price of your project. There are costs associated with purchasing the land that may play a part in the viability of the project.

Obtaining a Mortgage

Just because you choose to build a home, instead of buying one, doesn't mean you have to seek alternative methods to fund such a purchase. A mortgage is the most traditional method of financing a personal asset, such as a home. Many banks, credit unions, mortgage companies and other lending institutions are available to speak with. Shopping for the package that suits you best will help you discover the lowest rates and payment terms you need.

Making a Down Payment

Just a reminder to keep in mind: many financial institutions will require you to make a down payment on your loan, as a sign of your "devotion" to the project.

Providing your Financial History

Your lender is going to want to know everything about you: your work history, your credit scores, your current debt, your current assets, your payment history, employment records...everything. Be prepared to shell this information out and make it readily available to them.

Paying Property Taxes

Taxes aren't cheap. Finding a lot you love and building the home of your dreams sounds like a great idea, until you get a tax bill that you weren't expecting. Be sure to do researching into what your bill will run each year so you can adequately prepare yourself.

Paying Cash

Very few people can do it, but keep in mind that paying cash for a home will save you a large sum in the long run. As an example, making interest payments on a 5% mortgage for 30 years adds up quickly.

At the end of the day, building a home allows you to get all of the features you desire. Don't rule it out. Many builders are looking for business these days and are willing to make a deal with you. Don't discount your ability to build, finance and afford a new home built just for you.

Shea Whitmire is the President of Whitmire Homes, a Georgia custom home builder. The Whitmire family has been building luxury homes for more than 30 years and has a proven track record of helping people find a way to make their dream home a reality. 

Monday, August 16, 2010

5 Bills you can Cut to Eliminate More Debt

When you think about getting out of debt, the first thing that comes to mind is money and it’s for good reason. You’re going to need money to fight off any debt that you may have. Now, the problem that I see with many people is that think about making more money, rather than cutting costs on bills over at home.

While you can still keep the job that you may have, you’re going to find that when you cut some bills in half or get rid of them, they will really help you with fighting your debt efforts.

I wanted to give you five bills that you can cut today that you more than likely have. By cutting back on these bills each month, you should be able to have money leftover so that you can throw it at all of your debt balances.

#1 Your cable bill: This is honestly a bill that you can get rid of 100%. If you have the Internet, kill the satellite or cable. Instead, subscribe to a Netflix package, where you can stream movies online, as well as TV shows. You can also watch all of your favorite shows on the main networks as well. This should easily save you at least $30-$100 a month.

#2 Your phone: If you have the iPhone or some crazy data plan that is setting you back $115 a month, you should really get rid of this. It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have a phone, but instead, think about getting a simple basic plan such as Walmart’s new plan called Common Cents Mobile where you’re charged per minute. This can save $50 - $100.

#3 Eating out: I loved eating at restaurants but I found with my family was that I was spending more than $25+ every time we ate out. Even if we ate at a fast food joint like McDonald’s, we were still spending a lot of money. Make it a habit to eat out maybe once a month and try to cook as many meals at home. Yes, while eating out isn’t really a bill, it can add up without you realizing it.

#4 Your utilities: When you’re not using a light, turn it off. Purchase a programmable thermostat and be sure to program it to use less air / heat when you’re not at home. For example, when I was at work, I would set the house down to 62 in the winter. I would have it boot up to 70 an hour before I got home. Then at night, I would set it back down to 62. I saw a huge different in my heating bills.

#5 Transportation: If you drive to and from work, see if you can car pool with someone. If you’re close enough, think about riding your bike, or even using public transportation. Another way to save is to do all your errands on one day, rather than spread out throughout the week.

When you save money on bills like these, you’re going to find that you can have a good chunk of change leftover. You will find that by eliminating bills like this, you can easily save $200 to even as much as $600! Try out these cost saving measures today and see how much you can save.

This is a guest post written by Liz Cutten. She contributes to FindSecuredCards, a secured credit card/debt blog helping consumers fight their way out of debt.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Listing Your Home on the Internet

When potential buyers search the Internet for homes, will they see your property listed? The majority of them will be working with a real estate agent but they are also actively involved in the home buying process and will still continue to browse online for new listings they may have missed.

If you have not already done so, find out if your real estate agent sets up buyers with an automatic MLS search which will search for new listings that meet their requirements on a continuous basis. This will provide visibility for your home to numerous potential buyers who may be interested in what you have to offer.

A virtual tour of your home for sale has been proven to increase interest for visitors who are then able to see many of the rooms and get a “feel” for the house.

Your agent should also post listing information on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. A relative or friend of someone seeking a home may see your property listed and pass on the information.

An ad for your home should also be listed in the top real estate advertising sites such as Trulia, Yahoo, Oodle and Zillow. Craigslist, too, is a popular website listing homes for sale.

To see for yourself how your home is listed for sale in the above mentioned major websites, do a search and also “Google” your street address placing quotation marks around the street such as “123 Main Street”.

Author Bio: Tasha is an experienced Dallas real estate marketing professional. Feel free to visit Highland Park real estate page to view hot new listings.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Why Are People Not Buying Homes?

A lot of people in the economic community are wondering if the economy will take a "double-dip" in the latter half of this year. Economic numbers have not been strong to this point. Last quarter's GDP number was revised down and the home sales numbers are heading back down. The expiration of the first time homebuyer credit has not helped the housing market, but not many people chose to take advantage of the program after it was extended.

The reason why people are not buying homes is simply they cannot afford them at today's prices. The combination of the homebuyer credit, low mortgage rates, and low prices made homes affordable for many, and those people purchased homes. There still is a tremendous amount of inventory left in the market, yet the remaining people cannot afford homes at these prices. This means prices have to go lower. Although the government has done a great job supporting the housing market, they cannot continue to do so forever. They have already stopped purchases of mortgage backed securities.

Currently, falling prices have made an excellent opportunity for investors who have purchased homes, condos, and multifamily units and have converted them into rental, income producing properties. The Miami condo market is showing strong signs of recovery as low prices have brought in a wave of all-cash international buyers. Unfortunately, these two groups of individuals are not reliant on the mortgage market for their capital, and would gladly like prices to head lower.

In my opinion, the government will not allow a substantial double dip in home prices, as they will continue to find creative ways to support the housing market. One idea that is being thrown around is relaxing some of the requirements to refinance your loan. Presumably if we have looser requirements for a refinance, people will take advantage to get more money in their pockets. Only time will tell with this and other solutions.