Few Realtors bring the wealth of experience and professionalism to their customers like Joanie Heighes. With a professional background that stems from the world of finance and mergers and acquisitions, in both London and New York City, she has the business and financial understanding needed to help you make the best decisions when buying a new home.
Additionally, Joanie has the #1 skill required to make the buying process as easy as possible - she listens. Joanie listens carefully to understand your needs, as well as those of every person involved in the transaction. She is prepared to handle any issues that might arise, with competence and promptness. And, her negotiating skills and attention to detail ensure you will receive the exemplary service that has made Joanie one of "America's Great Real Estate Agents." (RealTrends.com)
- Where you want to live
- How much space you need/want
- How much you can afford
- Local amenities
Most people have heard that one of the most important considerations when buying a home is “location, location, location” but here are some other things to consider....
Think beyond today.
Consider what you will need long-term, including when it’s time to sell your home. Are you starting a family? Will you be taking care of your aging parents or other relatives? What kinds of buyers will be interested in your home when you go to sell it? If you’re thinking a young family may want it, but it’s in a bad school district or on a busy street, that may limit potential buyers.
Review ALL the expenses to ensure you have a realistic budget.
Most people know they are going to pay a mortgage, interest, taxes, and insurance on their home, but forget to include other budget items. How much are average utility costs for the home? How far a commute is it from work, and will you need to plan on spending more on gas each month? Is there a Homeowner’s Association with annual fees and possibly assessments?
Are there Homeowner’s Association Rules?
Some HOA’s do not allow you to park a truck in your driveway, others may not allow you to rent out your home/condo. Make sure you know the rules before you buy!
Read and understand your purchase contract before you sign it.
A house is a big purchase, so take the time to know what you’re getting into. If you don’t understand the terms of your contract, ask your real estate agent to review them with you.
Look beyond the staging.
Pay more attention to the layout of the house, the features it offers, and the structural aspects instead of the furniture and lighting that are in place when you view the home. Remember, ugly wallpaper can be changed much easier than changing wall locations, updating cabinetry, or adding more space.
Check out the neighborhood.
Are most of your neighbors renting? Are there many families? Are there train tracks, construction projects, or other loud activities nearby? Visit the neighborhood a various times of the day and evening, both during the week and on weekends before you buy so you know what a typical day looks like and whether it matches the needs of you and your family.
Use a checklist to help keep you on target.
There are numerous things to keep in mind when buying a home, and most people have items they “Must have” in their home, as well as things that “Would be nice.” Check out our Buyer’s Checklist to help you stay true to your home buying needs.Download Joanie's Tips For Homebuyers
- Are adequate shopping facilities nearby?
- Are places of worship convenient?
- Is the community well-planned?
- Are police and fire protection adequate?
- Are schools located to suit you?
- Is a hospital or medical center nearby?
- Are there adequate parking spaces and garage facilities for your needs?
- Is the land well drained?
- Is the sewage system reliable and adequate?
- Does the property require flood insurance?
The Local Neighborhood
- Do walls seem sound and smooth, floors firm and level, carpentry well-fitted and joined?
- Is the lighting good during day and night?
- Are rooms large enough for your furniture? Is the floor plan laid out well?
- Do bedrooms and bathrooms provide quiet and privacy away from the living area?
- Does the kitchen have adequate lighting and ventilation? Are there enough outlets?
- Is there ample cabinet, counter, and drawer space?
- Do windows and drawers work?
- Is heating, cooling and ventilation equipment in satisfactory condition?
Inside The Home
- Is your credit rating high enough?
- How much can you provide as a down payment?
- Is you debt-to-income ratio below 43%?
- How much can you afford each month for the mortgage?
- How much will utilites run in the new house?
- How much will property taxes and homeowner’s insurance cost?
- Do you have a budget for home maintenance including lawn, pool, cleaning, AC, etc.?
- Is there a homeowner’s association and fees?
- How many bedrooms and bathrooms do you need?
- Split-level or ranch-style?
- How much yard-space?
- Carpet, wood, or tile floors?
- New construction or previously owned?
- Pool, hottub?
- Other important features:
When you consider that most mortgages are a 30-year loan, it’s important that you understand exactly what a mortgage is.A mortgage is generally made up of three parts: Down Payment, Monthly Payment, and Fees. A review of these terms will help you understand the basics of mortgage options, and help you identify which type of mortgage you may qualify for.
Usually a percentage of the price of the house. Different banks require different down payment amounts. Determine the approximate total you want to spend on a home, then check mortgage programs to find out what percent of that total you will need for a down payment.
Your mortgage will have a monthly payment required to pay off the loan. This will change depending on the amount you finance, the interest rate, and the number of months your loan is for.
Typical Mortgage Fees:
There are a variety of fees that may be required when you purchase your home. Some will be a percentage of the loan amount, others may be a flat rate. Some typical fees include: Application Fee, Loan Origination Fee, Points, Appraisal Fee, Private Mortgage Insurance, FHA/VA/RHS Fees, Recording Fees, and more.
A fixed rate mortgage will have monthly payments that are the same throughout the term of the loan because your interest rate never changes. This is the best type of loan if interest rates are low when you get your mortgage.
An adjustable rate mortgage allows the bank to change the interest rate on your loan. If interest rates go up, so will your mortgage rate and monthly payment. If interest rates drop, so will your mortgage rate and monthly payment. Often, adjustable rate mortgages have a low initial cost, so they are appealing to budget-conscious buyers. Make sure you weigh the pros and cons based on current interest rates and trends.
Mortgage Help Programs:
There are programs that will help you get a mortgage. Check with your real estate agent to learn which programs you may qualify for.
Veteran’s Administration (VA) Loans:
The Veterans Administration offers loans to veterans who served in the armed forces on active duty during times of conflict. Eligibility requirements are available at:Dept. of Verteran Affairs
Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Loans:
FHA loans are made by a lending institution, such as a bank, but the federal government insures the loan. Learn about the lending limits and qualifications by vising the FHA website Download Joanie's Mortgage Basics