Samson Kimani's Blog
Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or you’re upgrading to a larger house to fit your family’s needs, it’s vital to understand just how much house you can afford before you start shopping for homes.
When planning for your future home, there are two main things you need to figure out.
What is a smart amount to spend on a home for your budget
What are the key features in a home that will give you the most benefits for the cost
These two questions may seem simple, but there are quite a few factors that should go into determining each one.
So, in today’s post, I’m going to walk you through the process of determining what kind of house you can afford so you can make the best home buying decision for you and your family.
A smart home buying budget
To create an effective budget, you’ll need to gather some information and possibly create a spreadsheet with Excel (or a free alternative like Google Sheets).
On your spreadsheet, you’ll first want to add up all sources of income that your family has. This is the easy part for most people who only have one or two sources of income based on a salaried job.
Next, is the hard part--expenses. We can’t just use your current expenses to determine the new budget because we have to account for changes in several areas.
If you aren’t sure of the cost of living for the area you hope to move to, try plugging it into this cost of living comparison tool to see get a better idea of the cost of things like transportation, childcare, groceries, and more.
Likewise, it’s also a good idea to assume you’ll be paying more in utilities if you’re hoping to move into a home that is larger than your current home. Keep in mind, however, that different houses have different levels of energy-efficiency, so it’s a good idea to also ask the seller of the homes you’re interested in to determine what your costs might be.
Now, subtract your expenses from your income. The amount remaining should easily cover whatever mortgage payment you receive along with, ideally, 20% of your income going toward savings.
Deciding what you need in a home
The second part of determining how much house you can afford is to find out exactly what you’re looking for in a home. The number of bedrooms, bathrooms, location, the size of the backyard; all of these are questions that have a monetary value.
So, to really answer this question you’ll need a strong understanding of what you and your family’s goals are for at least the next 5-7 years, if not longer.
Once you have your long-term goals and a good understanding of your budget, you can start safely shopping for homes with a clearer idea of the type of home you’re looking for and just how much home you can afford.
Buying your first home is probably one of the biggest purchases you’ll make in your life. But, it does come with its advantages. Among them are tax breaks and deductions that you can take advantage of to save money if you play your cards right.
In today’s post, I’m going to cover some of the tax breaks and deductions that first-time homeowners should seek out this tax season to help them lower their tax bill.
While earning points is a good thing on the basketball court, it can be a financial drain on a mortgage. Mortgage points are what buyers pay to the lender to secure their loan. They’re usually given as percentage points of the total loan amount.
If you pay these points with your closing costs, then they are deductible. Taxpayers who itemize deductions on their IRS Form 1040 can typically deduct all of the points they paid in a year, with the exception of some high-income taxpayers whose itemized deductions are limited.
If you’re one of the many people who made a down payment of less than 20% on your home, odds are that you’re going to be stuck with PMI, or private mortgage insurance, until you pay off at least 20% of the loan balance.
The good news is that homebuyers who purchased their home in the year 2007 and after can deduct their PMI premiums. However, the state on premium insurance deductibles is something that frequently comes up in Congress, so homeowners should ensure that these deductions are still valid when filing their taxes.
Mortgage interest accounts for the biggest deduction for the average homeowner. When you receive your Form 1098 from your lender, you can deduct the total amount of interest you’ve paid during the year.
Another deductible that shouldn’t be overlooked by first-time buyers is local property taxes. Save the records for any property taxes you pay so that you can deduct them during tax season.
Home energy tax credits
Some states are offering generous tax credits for homeowners who make home improvements that save energy. There are a number of improvements you might qualify for, including things like insulation and roofs, as well as photovoltaic (PV) solar panels.
Many first-time buyers withdraw from an IRA account to be able to make a larger down payment on their home or to pay for closing costs. In most other cases, withdrawing from an IRA will count as taxable income. However, if your IRA withdrawal is used toward a down payment or closing costs, the tax penalty is waived.
Keep these tax breaks and deductions in mind this tax season to help you save money and get a larger refund.
Ready to submit an offer on a house? Before you present a proposal to a seller, it is important to plan ahead as much as possible. That way, you can increase the likelihood of an instant "Yes" from a seller, as well as boost your chances of a quick, seamless homebuying experience.
Now, let's take a look at three steps to follow before you submit a homebuying proposal.
1. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage
What good is a homebuying proposal if you lack the necessary financing to purchase a house? If you get pre-approved for a mortgage today, you can ensure that you will have the home financing that you need to make your homeownership dream come true.
To get pre-approved for a mortgage, you'll want to meet with several local banks and credit unions. These financial institutions can offer full details about a variety of mortgage options and help you select one that matches or surpasses your expectations.
Also, if you are unsure about the differences between assorted mortgage options, don't hesitate to ask for assistance. Banks and credit unions employ friendly, knowledgeable mortgage specialists, and these professionals are happy to teach you about various mortgage options.
2. Define a "Competitive" Offer
If you want to acquire your ideal residence, it pays to put your best foot forward with your homebuying proposal. Because if you submit a "lowball" offer, you risk missing out on the opportunity to purchase your dream house.
A "competitive" offer generally accounts for the condition and age of a house, along with the current real estate climate. Thus, if you evaluate a wide range of housing market data, you may be better equipped than ever before to submit a competitive offer on any home, at any time.
Take a look at the prices of recently sold houses in your area. This data can paint a picture of the current state of the local housing market.
Furthermore, find out how the home that you want to buy stacks up against similar houses that are available in your city or town. With this information, you can further refine your homebuying proposal.
3. Consult with a Real Estate Agent
A real estate agent is a must-have, regardless of where you are on the homebuying journey. In fact, this housing market professional can help you can make the best-possible choices at each stage of the homebuying journey.
Prior to submitting a home offer, it often helps to collaborate with a real estate agent. This housing market professional can help you determine exactly what to offer on a home. And if your initial proposal is rejected, a real estate agent will make it simple to reenter the housing market and discover your ideal home.
When it comes to submitting an offer on a house, it usually is a great idea to prepare. If you follow the aforementioned steps, you should have no trouble providing a homebuying proposal that is sure to capture a seller's attention.
Buying is home is a lengthy and, at times, stressful process. So, it can be discouraging when your offer is rejected.
If you’ve recently had a purchase offer rejected by the homeowner, don’t worry--you have options.
In this post, we’re going to cover some of those options so you can start focusing on your next move and potentially even make a second offer that gets accepted.
1. Reassess your offer, not the seller
You could spend days guessing the reasons the seller might not have accepted your offer if they didn’t give you a straightforward answer.
However, your time is better spent addressing your own offer. Double check the following things:
Is your offer significantly lower than the asking price?
If so, is it lower than comparable sale prices for homes in the neighborhood?
Does your offer contain more than the usual contingencies?
Once you’ve reassessed, you can determine if a second offer is appropriate for your situation, or if you’re ready to move onto other prospects with the knowledge you’ve gained from this experience in hand.
2. Formulate your second offer
So, you’ve decided to make another attempt at the house. Now is the time to discuss details with your spouse and real estate agent.
Out of respect for the seller’s time and their timeline for selling the home, you should treat your second offer as your last.
So, make sure you’re putting your best offer forward. This can mean removing those contingencies mentioned earlier or increasing the amount. However, be realistic about your budget and don’t waive contingencies that are necessary (commonly appraisals, inspection, and financing contingencies).
3. Consider including a personal offer letter
In today’s competitive market, many sellers are fielding multiple offers on their home. To set yourself apart from the competitors and to help the seller get to know your goals and reasoning better, a personal letter is often a great tool.
Don’t be afraid to give details in your offer letter. Explain what excites you about the house, why it is ideal for your family, and what your plans are for living there.
What shouldn’t you include in your offer letter? Avoid statements that try to evoke pity or guilt from the seller. This seldom works and will put-off most buyers to your offer.
4. Moving on is good time management
If you aren’t comfortable increasing your offer or if you receive a second rejection, it’s typically a good idea to move onto other prospects. It may seem like wasted time--however, just like a job interview that didn’t go as planned, it’s an excellent learning experience.
You’ll walk away knowing more about the negotiation process, dealing with sellers and agents, and you might even find a home that’s better than the first one in the process!
The homebuying journey can be long and arduous, particularly for an individual who makes mistakes along the way. Fortunately, an informed homebuyer can identify potential problems early in the homebuying journey and take the necessary steps to resolve such issues without delay.
Now, let's take a look at three common mistakes that homebuyers make, along with the best ways to eliminate these problems before they escalate.
1. A homebuyer spends too much time debating whether to submit a home offer.
The housing market moves quickly, and a homebuyer who hesitates to submit a competitive offer on a residence risks losing this house to a rival homebuyer.
Ultimately, it pays to learn about the real estate market. That way, if you fall in love with a house, you'll be better equipped than other homebuyers to submit a competitive offer before it's too late.
Check out the prices of houses in cities and towns where you'd like to live. This may help you narrow your search for the perfect home and provide housing market data that highlights how much it may cost to acquire your dream residence.
Also, take a look at the prices of recently sold houses in different areas. This will enable you to determine whether you're working in a seller's market or a buyer's one.
2. A homebuyer foregoes a home inspection.
Even though a homebuyer may want to rush through the purchase process, there is no reason to forego a home inspection.
When it comes to buying a residence, it is always better to err on the side of caution, and a home inspection offers a valuable opportunity to learn about a house's condition and uncover any "hidden" problems with a residence.
For example, a home inspection may reveal roof damage that could lead to thousands of dollars in roof repairs in the near future. On the other hand, a home inspection may show there are no major issues with a residence, thereby verifying that a house is a sound investment.
Don't forget to consider a variety of home inspectors before you schedule a property inspection. This will ensure that you can find a home inspector who possesses the necessary skills and expertise to perform a deep evaluation of a home before you finalize your purchase.
3. A homebuyer tries to purchase a house without support from a real estate agent.
For those who want to streamline the homebuying process, expert help may be necessary. Luckily, you can hire a real estate agent who can help you seamlessly navigate the homebuying journey.
Real estate agents are easy to find in cities and towns nationwide. Meanwhile, these housing market professionals are available to help you narrow your home search, submit offers on residences and much more.
If you need additional help during the homebuying journey, it usually is a good idea to hire a real estate agent. By doing so, you can receive the expert guidance and support that you need to go from homebuyer to homeowner.