Colleen Griffin - RE/MAX Vision

Posted by Colleen Griffin on 3/12/2018

Buying a home is a big financial endeavor that takes planning and saving. Aside from a down payment, hopeful homeowners will also need to save for closing costs and moving expenses.

When it comes to the down payment amount youíll need to save, many of us have often heard 20%, the magic number. However, there are a number of different types of mortgages that have different down payment requirements.

To complicate matters, mortgages vary somewhat between lenders and can change over time, with the ebb and flow of the housing market.

So, the best way to approach the process of saving for a down payment is to think about your needs in a home, and reach out to lenders to start comparing rates.

However, there are a few constants when it comes to down payments that are worth considering when shopping for a mortgage.

In todayís post, weíre going to talk about some characteristics of down payments, discuss where the 20% number comes from, and give you some tips on finding the best mortgage for you.

Do I need 20% saved for a down payment?

With the median home prices in America sitting around $200,000 and many areas averaging much higher, it may seem like 20% is an unattainable savings goal.

The good news is that many Americans hoping to buy their first home have several options that donít involve savings $40,000 or more.

So, where does that number come from?

Most mortgage lenders will want to be sure that lending to would be a smart investment. In other words, they want to know that theyíll earn back the amount they lend you plus interest. They determine how risky it is to lend to you by considering a number of factors.

First and foremost is your credit score. Lenders want to see that youíre paying your bills on time and arenít overwhelmed by debt. Second, they will ask you for verification of your income to determine how much you can realistically hope to pay each month. And, finally, theyíll consider the amount youíre putting down.

If you have less than 20% of the mortgage amount saved for your down payment, youíll have to pay for private mortgage insurance (PMI). This is an extra fee must be paid in addition to your interest each month.

First-time buyers rarely put 20% or more down

Thanks to FHA loans guaranteed by the federal government, as well as other loan assistance programs like USDA loans and mortgages insured by the Department of Veterans Affairs, buying a home is usually within reach even if you donít have several thousands saved.

On average, first-time buyers put closer to 6% down on their mortgage. However, they will have to pay PMI until theyíve paid off 20% of their home.

So, if youíre hoping to buy a home in the near future, saving should be a priority. But, donít worry too much if you donít think you can save the full 20% in advance.

Categories: Buying a Home   down payment   saving  

Posted by Colleen Griffin on 2/26/2018

If you're ready to pursue your dream house, it generally is a good idea to enter the real estate sector with an open mind. In fact, there are many benefits to keeping your options open as you search for your ideal residence, and these benefits include:

1. You may be able to discover a bargain.

As you kick off your home search, it helps to pursue houses in a wide range of cities and towns. Doing so can help you separate your dream home must-haves from your wants. Also, this may enable you to find an affordable residence that matches or exceeds your expectations.

There is no telling whether a real estate market will favor buyers or sellers. The housing sector fluctuates constantly, and a buyer's market today may morph into a seller's market tomorrow.

Luckily, if you maintain an open approach to buying a house, you can remain patient as you search for your perfect residence. Perhaps most important, you can capitalize on homebuying opportunities as they become available and avoid the temptation to overspend on a house.

2. You can move quickly to acquire your dream residence.

With an open approach to the homebuying journey, you should have no trouble moving quickly to acquire your ideal residence. If the opportunity presents itself to buy a great house at a terrific price, you can submit an offer and proceed accordingly.

Of course, you should always think ahead before you submit an offer on any house, at any time. If you put together a competitive offer on a residence, you may receive an instant "Yes" from a home seller. Then, you can seamlessly finalize your home purchase and move into your dream residence.

3. You can minimize stress throughout the homebuying journey.

Buying a home is a major decision, and as such, stress can be problematic throughout the homebuying journey. If you are open to new ideas as you pursue a home, however, you may be better equipped than ever before to purchase your perfect residence.

Remember, stress may force a homebuyer to make rash decisions Ė something that a homebuyer probably wants to avoid at all costs. But if you're willing to take a deep breath and step back from the homebuying cycle at times, you can look at the big picture. And as a result, you can remain calm, cool and collected as you consider all of your homebuying options.

For those who are looking for extra help in their pursuit of the perfect home, it may be beneficial to hire a real estate agent too. This housing market professional can share details about a broad array of houses in cities and towns where you want to live. Plus, a real estate agent can keep you informed about new residences as they become available, help you submit offers on houses and much more.

Make your homeownership dream come true Ė take an open approach to the homebuying journey, and you may be able to accomplish your homebuying goal faster than ever before.

Categories: Buying a Home   buying tips  

Posted by Colleen Griffin on 1/29/2018

We know that location matters when youíre trying to find the right home to buy, but why?  First, buying a home you like in a location that matches your needs is a sign of a solid, long-term investment. Finding the right home isnít always the answer to your property search woes. Many times, finding a house that needs a little TLC in the right neighborhood can give you a better return on your investment than finding a move-in ready house in the wrong neighborhood. You want to think in terms of finding a home that will be easy to sell if you so choose to sell it. Most importantly, you want to feel comfortable in your home and in your surroundings. What are the signs of a good location? Below, youíll find the most important things you should look for when searching for a home. 

Safe Neighborhood

Everyone wants a safe neighborhood, and you certainly know a sketchy neighborhood when you drive through it, but what denotes a neighborhood as ďsafeĒ? First, if you see people up and walking around a place, you know itís a good start to finding a safe neighborhood. People who are outside, interacting with one another give a neighborhood a community feel. You will feel like your neighbors have your back in a neighborhood like this. 

Quality Schools

the better the school district is, the higher the property values in the area are. If you donít have kids, this may not be much of an issue for you. However, if youíre thinking that you may want to sell your home anytime in the future, keep in mind that a less than reputable school district can really dip into property values. 

You Can Easily Access The Things You Need

If you can access the shops, restaurants, and other conveniences easily from your neighborhood, thatís the sign of a good location. No one wants to have to drive 45 minutes in order to get to the grocery store. Many people who are looking for homes like to be in or very close to the action and have easy access to the things they need. Think in terms of convenience when it comes to location. 

A View And Nature

A home with a view is always a sign of a great location. whether youíre near the water or near the mountains, itís nice to have something scenic and peaceful near your home to enjoy. Property values near the water are also always a bit higher than those further inland.


Access to public transportation is key in many neighborhoods. You want to be able to easily get to and from where you need to go without waiting around. If the area is more suburban or rural, access to freeways and main roads is key. Adding precious time to your commutes is never pleasant. Many times location and commute times come down to a simple matter of balance and planning when searching for a property.        

Posted by Colleen Griffin on 1/22/2018

Getting a professional inspection is one of the most important parts of closing on a home. An inspection can save you endless time and money if it catches repairs that need to be made, and it can draw your attention to any problems that could be dangerous to you and your family.

Many buyers, especially those who are buying a home for the first time, arenít sure what to expect during a home inspection. They might have questions that theyíre afraid to ask the inspector, or they might feel like they should be asking questions but donít know the right ones to ask.

In this article, weíll give you the rundown on the home inspection process. Weíll explain how to get started, what to expect on inspection day, and what to do with your findings.

Contingency clauses

Before closing on a home, itís important to make sure your offer involves a contingency clause, otherwise known as a ďdue diligence contingency.Ē This section of your contract gives you the right to perform a home inspection within a given number of days.

Sellers may inform you that they have recently had the home inspected and even offer to show you the results of the inspection. However, it is best practice to have your own inspection performed with a trusted professional.

After your offer is accepted, you should begin calling and getting quotes from inspectors immediately.

Before the inspection

Once youíve considered your options of inspectors and chosen an inspector, itís time to schedule your inspection. Both you and your real estate agent should attend the inspection.

Youíll both have the opportunity to ask questions. However, itís a good idea to write down your minor questions and ask them before or after the inspection so that the professional youíve hired is able to focus on their work to do the best possible job inspecting your future home.

During the inspection

The inspection itself is pretty straightforward. Your inspector will examine the exterior and interior of your home, including several vital components and then will provide you with a report of their findings.

They will inform you of repairs that need to be made now, parts of the home that should be monitored for future repairs, and anything that poses a safety concern to you and your family.

The parts of your home the inspector will review include:

  • Roof

  • Exterior Walls

  • Foundation

  • Garage

  • Land grading

  • Plumbing

  • Electrical

  • Heating, ventilation, air conditioning

  • Appliances

There are some things your inspection wonít include. For example, mold, termite damage, and other issues that arenít easily observable without causing damage might be missed by your inspector and will require a specialist.

After the inspection

Once the inspection is complete, you will have the chance to ask any remaining questions. You can review the findings of your inspection report and make decisions about how you want to handle any repairs that need to be made.

You may choose to ask the seller to make the repairs noted in your inspection report. If they refuse, you can withdraw from your contract at any time.

Ultimately, the choice will be yours what to do with the findings from the inspection. But having one can save you immeasurable money on impending repairs that you may not have been aware of.

Posted by Colleen Griffin on 1/1/2018

For many of us, it can seem like our paychecks are gone before we even get a chance to see them. With seemingly endless bills and expenses, both recurring and unforeseen, saving up for a house is a daunting task.

Fortunately, there are ways you can prepare yourself for those intimidating down payments and many closing costs.

In this article, weíre going to walk you through how you can start saving for a home right this moment. After all, every day is another day you could be contributing to your savings and taking another step closer to owning your own home.

Use a Budgeting Tool

The first step to saving and determining how much you can save is to start budgeting. Many people hear the term ďbudgetĒ and get nervous thinking theyíll have to start counting the number of coffees they buy. However, there are less anxiety-inducing ways to budget.

From your phone, tablet, or computer you have access to a large number of free budgeting tools. Mint, You Need a Budget (YNAB), and PocketGuard are three of the top budgeting tools that will get you started.

With apps that integrate with your bank accounts and loan balances,  there is little work required on your part. Just set an amount to save each week or month, and direct the funds into your savings account.

Set up a dedicated savings account

Speaking of savings accounts--now is a great time to set up a new one. Itís almost always free to open a new account with your bank. Whatís more, itís a lot less tempting to pull from a savings account when itís labeled something like ďHOUSE SAVINGS - DO NOT TOUCH.Ē

Once you have your budgeting app and bank account set up, itís time to dig into some of the ways you can save money without skipping meals.

Cutting Monthly Expenses

Rather than telling yourself you canít buy any more fancy Starbucks drinks anymore until you have a house (donít torture yourself), make a list of all your monthly expenses. That can include anything from Netflix and Spotify to haircuts and car washes.

A great way to make this list is to go through your credit and debit card transactions. If you have autopay set up, you might not even realize how many services are withdrawing directly from your accounts each month.

For each item on your list, determine if you can either eliminate the expense or spend less on it. Maybe you go for the deluxe car war rather than the basic. Or, you might pay for services you donít use as much as you used to.

If youíre worried about having no entertainment if you drop Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime, you could try out your local library system. Most of the time you can have books, movies, and music shipped for free from all around your state.

When it comes to cable, cell phone plans, car insurance, and other monthly bills give your provider a call and tell them youíre thinking about switching over to a cheaper competitor. Theyíll likely offer you a discounted rate. If they donít, follow through on your promise and call other providers to see if you can get better rates.