Raleigh, NC Real Estate Gina Goodsell 919-602-6644 gina@ginagoodsell.com
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Goodsell Realty, Inc.

Steps to Prepare for Home Ownership

1. Decide how much home you can afford. Generally, you can afford a home equal in value to between 2 and 3 times your gross income.

2. Determine if you have enough downpayment to qualify for a mortgage. Ideally, you should have 20 percent of the purchase price as a downpayment

3. Consider other sources of help with a downpayment. For example, if you have an IRA account, you can use money you’ve saved for buying your first home without paying a penalty for early withdrawal. Also check with your state and local government on downpayment assistance programs for first-time buyers.

4. Get your credit in order. Obtain a copy of your credit report.

5. Determine how large a mortgage you can qualify for. Also explore different loans options and decide what’s best for you.

6. Organize all the documentation a lender will need to preapprove you for a loan.

7. Determine if you have to cover your closing costs. Closing costs, including taxes, attorney’s fee, and transfer fees average between 2 and 7 percent of the home price.

8. Calculate the costs of homeownership, including property taxes, insurance, maintenance, and association fees, if applicable.

9. Find an experienced REALTOR® who can help you through the process.

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10 Tips for First-Time Homebuyers:

1. Be picky, but don’t be unrealistic. There is no perfect home.

2. Do your homework before you start looking. Decide specifically what features you want in a home and which are most important to you.

3. Get your finances in order. Review your credit report and be sure you have enough money to cover your downpayment and your closing costs

4. Don’t wait to get a loan. Talk to a lender and get prequalified for a mortgage before you start looking.

5. Don’t ask too many people for opinions. It will drive you crazy. Select one or two people to turn to if you feel you need a second opinion.

6. Decide when you could move. When is your lease up? Are you allowed to sublet? How tight is the rental market in your area?

7. Think long-term. Are you looking for a starter house with the idea of moving up in a few years or do you hope to stay in this home longer? This decision may dictate what type of home you’ll buy as well as type of mortgage terms that suit you best.

8. Don’t let yourself be house poor. If you max yourself out to buy the biggest home you can afford, you’ll have no money left for maintenance or decoration or to save money for other financial goals.

9. Don’t be naïve. Insist on a home inspection and if possible get a warranty from the seller to cover defects within one year.

10. Get help. Consider hiring a REALTOR® as a buyer’s representative. Unlike a listing agent, whose first duty is to the seller, a buyer’s representative is working only for you. And often, buyer’s reps are paid out of the seller’s commission payment.

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Top 5 Must-Ask Questions for the Beginning Investor

1. What is your current financial situation?
Before you consider investment, you need to get a realistic assessment of your current financial status. Begin by analyzing all of your assets as compared to your liabilities. It's best to catalog this information on a personal financial statement, so you will be able to review, revise, and distribute to appropriate people along the way (e.g., lenders). When you see it all on paper, you'll have a great starting point from which to assess what kind of monies you initially have available to start working with.

2. What are your financial goals?
Beyond focusing on real estate investment alone, it's a great exercise to chart out your short- and long-term financial goals. Having vision of the landscape ahead is an ideal way for quickly determining what kinds of "opportunities" that cross your path will and will not work for your investment goals. Additionally, when you combine your current financial situation with an understanding of your goals, you are much more able to independently (as well as with help of professionals) chart out your investment and financial strategies for the future.

3. How can real estate investing help you realize your financial goals?
For new investors, there is generally one proven way to determine how real estate investing can help you realize your financial goals. That one way is to meet with a real estate investment advisor. Your advisor can counsel you as to the best ways you can meet your financial goals through a balanced investment portfolio that includes real estate. With the numerous ways in which real estate can benefit you (e.g., through cash flow, equity build-up, tax advantages), it's important that you develop an understanding of your investment philosophy. For example, depending upon whether you are looking to investment for retirement or immediate income, your strategies will vary greatly.

4. How do you know if a property is right for you?
If you've answered questions 1-3 and have already found a property that you think might work out to be your first, what's the first thing you should do? That's right; contact your trusted real estate investment advisor and go over all the details. Your advisor will be able to provide you with an actual, hands-on assessment to whether or not this property figures appropriately into your investment strategies, as well as to outline exactly what purchasing this property will mean to you here and now in dollars and cents. Touching base with your advisor throughout the process will help assure you that you are on the right path.

5. What types of financing are available to you?
Similar to question 4, determining what types of financing are available to you is critical, especially when you have decided upon the first property you want to add to your portfolio. Being sure to "run the numbers" with your advisor (and lender) is vital because you want to make absolutely sure that the purchase not only aligns with your financial goals, but that you are reasonably and comfortably able to meet the terms and conditions of the financial agreements.

Be sure to remember that if the first potential property on your list doesn't cut the muster, there are many more options available to you. In addition, when it comes to financing, there are numerous ways to benefit from investing without having to carry as much financial risk. For example, investing as part of a group (e.g., with family members or friends), can provide the same financial benefits as investing alone without having the same degree of monthly financial obligation as you might have if you were to go it alone.

In the end, the key to any successful investment strategy, whether it be real estate investing or any other, is knowledge. Before you even think about putting an offer down on that first real estate property, prepare yourself with knowledge. If you prepare yourself by getting familiar with all aspects of your own financial situation, including current assets, liabilities, goals, and financing options, then you'll be ahead of the game. Availing yourself of all the great resources available on the Web, as well as consulting closely with a professional real estate investment advisor, will help your real estate dreams become a reality.
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Home Buyer's Tool Box

10 Steps to Choosing and Purchasing Your Home
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