Tips for Buying a House in a 55+ Community

Buying a home in a retirement community can be a great investment in the next chapter of your life. Retirement communities are a good option for people who want to live with other retirees in a neighborhood that is catered specifically to their needs, especially social needs.

But the nuances that come with buying a home in a retirement community can make the experience overwhelming. Here are some things to consider as you evaluate your needs for retirement and also for the future. [Read more…]

Buying a House for a Growing Family

Sometimes longtime apartment dwellers become first-time homebuyers when their family expands. And sometimes a couple with a young child has been content living in the perfect starter home and realizes they need more space as they add kids to the mix. Or maybe a third child comes along and the family just has to have another bedroom.

Regardless of your current situation, adding a child to your family often means that you have to rethink how you utilize your current space. And sometimes, you’ll decide that you need more space or that you want to live in a different neighborhood or school district. Here are some things to consider as you decide what kind of house best suits your changing family. [Read more…]

Simpler Mortgage Disclosure Forms Coming

Buying a home means a lot of complicated paperwork that usually includes terms and conditions that are difficult to understand. But a recent change to loan paperwork, announced by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau at the end of 2013, is due to roll out in August of 2015.

Standardized, redesigned forms will give you a clearer picture of the terms of your mortgage and will help you make a more informed decision when buying a house. Read on to find out what these changes entail and how they will help you as a borrower. [Read more…]

Things to Consider When Buying an Older Home

Brand-new houses are tempting—what’s not to like about being the first one to live in a home? But chances are good that when you buy a home, you’re going to be buying a pre-existing home instead. Over ninety percent of home sales in the United States are for homes that have had previous owners.

Despite the appeal of a gleaming new house, there are some real advantages to buying an existing home. But there are also some important potential downsides to consider. Here are some things to think about as you look for the home that’s right for you. [Read more…]

Changes to FHA Loans Coming in September

The HUD is introducing a new underwriting handbook on June 15, 2015. The new guidelines will apply to all FHA case numbers that are obtained on this date or after.

The new handbook is designed to combine existing handbooks, notices, and letters into a simpler, clearer format. Although there are over forty differences between the old handbook and the new, there are only a few major changes. They will have both positive and negative effects on future FHA borrowers. Here’s a look at the most significant changes and how they may affect you in the future. [Read more…]

How Online Home Valuations are Calculated

We’ve all spent time looking at how much homes are worth on websites like Zillow. But it’s not immediately clear how these estimates are calculated or just how useful they are to buyers and sellers.

A quick look at how websites come up with their home valuations can be helpful for everyone. These numbers, designed to add some transparency to the home buying process, should be used as nothing more than a starting point. [Read more…]

Why You Should Hire a Real Estate Agent

You know the type. Coupon-cutter. Penny-pincher. DIY enthusiast. 2-for-1 fanatic. Clearance rack junky. This might even describe you. Many of you readers out there like a good deal, and love to save money. Hey, I get it. It’s practical. It’s life. Given the fact that a home purchase is one of the most expensive transactions you will ever complete in your life, savers might be tempted to cut corners in the home purchase or sale and try to save a few dimes along the way. Some people might even consider cutting the real estate agent to save some cash.

But you shouldn’t. Even in the age of Zillow and Trulia, the real estate profession is still strong. Why? Especially given the fact that travel agents and other professions have been vaporized by the internet, why are real estate brokers still so important? The short answer is that they are an integral part of any home deal, and a good real estate agent can save you time, worry, and yes, even money. Here’s why you should hire an agent to help you if you are buying or selling a home instead of doing it yourself. [Read more…]

Being the Best Buyer in a Seller’s Market

You want to buy and they want to sell. Perfect, right? Well it would be perfect if there were only the two parties in the equation. We’re gearing up for the peak selling seasons and if you’re in the market to buy, you will have a lot of other competition out there making it so your dream home slips right through your fingers at the last minute.

The last thing you want to have happen is taking the time to tour a home, deciding that it’s the one for you, and being outbid, or unprepared to make an aggressive offer. So how can you be prepared in a seller’s market? How can you woo the seller? What do you have to do to beat out the competition and, like a TV dating reality show, win the ultimate prize, leaving the other competitors in the dust? Here are 3 ways that you can’t afford to miss out on to be a good home buyer. [Read more…]

Survive Your Relationship: Home Buying Edition

Has anyone ever given you relationship advice? As well-meaning as it may be, most of it ends up being inapplicable at best and at worst, damaging. Someone once told me to never, I mean NEVER, go house shopping as a newlywed. To wait a few years. The reason? Nothing will wear down that honeymoon feel like realizing that you and your partner have very different tastes.

Now I’m not a counselor, or a psychologist, but I can tell you that many-a-couple has successfully found a home that suits both partners’ needs. Can negotiating different architectural, location, and design preferences be tricky? Yes. But it can most definitely be done. Those that can learn how to communicate and plan before home shopping have a better experience overall as they are looking to buy their first home. Let’s not call it relationship advice per se, but instead, read on to learn some valuable tips and tricks to keep both you and your partner happy while home shopping. [Read more…]

To fix it or to adjust it?

Imagine you’re on a horse-riding adventure. After an initially slow start the terrain flattens and the pace picks up. “Steady, girl!” you call. “Steady!” You ride all day, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly, always trying to steady her out. Or, maybe the opposite happens. The horse travels at a stable pace throughout your trip—even when you try to slow down to catch a beautiful vista or speed up to get through a rough patch, the horse plods along at her own pace regardless of your prodding.

I think we can all agree that paying off a mortgage is quite a journey—and before you get started you’ll want to do some serious thinking about just how steady of a ride you’re looking for. What kind of horse, and what kind of trail you choose is akin to deciding if a fixed rate mortgage or an adjustable rate is better for you. Though fixed and adjustable are the two main mortgage types, how much do you really know about each one? Are you ready for a ride that’s variable, or for steady, plodding Nelly? Following is invaluable information to help you plan your mortgage journey and pick the right “ride” to home ownership.


Like a steady steed, a fixed rate doesn’t change. Your monthly payments will remain the same for the 15, 30, or however many years you’ve financed. Your interest rate is locked in. Obviously, the predictability of this loan is its draw. It’s dependable (you know exactly how much you’ll be paying each month) and it doesn’t change with the “terrain” of the market like an adjustable rate would. Regardless of the wider economic field, your interest rate and monthly payment will remain constant. This is good if you buy when interest rates are low, but could be problematic if you purchase when they are on the decline because you’ll be stuck with a higher rate while those who purchase after you might qualify for a lower rate.

Fixed rates are desirable for those who don’t want to be surprised by their monthly bill and who feel uneasy thinking that their payments are attached to a sometimes volatile market. You do pay for the certainty, though. Overall, if you choose a 30 year fixed rate mortgage you’ll most likely pay more interest over the span of the loan than someone who chooses an adjustable rate—mostly because those who choose adjustable rates generally also choose a shorter payment span to guard against the shifting market. And shorter payment span = less interest.


Like a bucking bronco, an adjustable rate can be a wild ride. But it doesn’t always have to be dangerous and there are actually some really great reasons to choose this loan type. Adjustable rate loans have a fairly low payment at the beginning of the loan span—below market rate, actually. These low payments remain fixed for a time. They then “adjust” to the market throughout the rest of the loan time frame, usually on a yearly basis. When and how this happens depend on many factors, so you’ll want to talk to your lender for the details.

Adjustable rates tend to attract those looking for larger loan amounts and, if you borrow as interest rates are falling, you get the lower interest rates without refinancing. It can also be attractive to those who don’t plan on owning a property for very long. They purchase, enjoy the lower rates, and then can sell before the payments rise.

The downsides include not knowing how much you’ll be paying each year—and a rate that could potentially skyrocket depending on the market.

Whichever rate you choose you’ll have to do some thinking about what kind of a payment you can afford and how long you plan on owning the property in question. After scoping out your financial landscape you’ll be able to make a better decision about which loan will work for you. Both loan types appeal to different riders—so saddle up, cowboy, and ride into that sunset!