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Simple Ways to Save A Downpayment

by Fontaine Family

A Dollar A Day...
That's all it takes to start saving for the downpayment on your new home!

Approximately 60 percent of homebuyers financed their home using a 6 percent – or less – down payment, according to data from the National Association of REALTORS®.
With the most recent median existing-home price clocking in at $258,300, a 6 percent down payment is $15,498.

Here are some simple suggestions from NAR on how potential buyers can cut costs and save for that down payment.

Are you considering buying a home this fall?  We can help you get started! 
Give us a call to get started today! 
One of our talented buyer agents will walk you through the process...step by step.

Auburn: (207)784-3800
Scarborough: (207)289-3830

5 Tips for Spring Home Buying

by Fontaine Family

5 Tips for Buying a Home in the Spring Market

Spring in the Real Estate Market is typically the busiest time of year.  There are more buyers out there looking and properties are selling fast!  The market is more competitive in the spring than in other times of the year.  That is why it is so important to be prepared when you plan to buy a home in the spring market. 


Here are a few tips to help you buy your new home this spring:

Get Preapproved By A Local Lender 
Shop around and find out who can offer the best program for your situation and then get a pre-approval.  Having that in hand will make your offer more attractive to sellers.  Most banks will not even consider an offer on a short sale or a foreclosure property without a pre-approval or a proof of funds letter.

Hire A Buyer Agent 
Choose an agent who knows the area and who you are comfortable with and then sign an agreement to have the represent you.  If you are just calling around to the listing agent, there is nobody looking out for you during one of the biggest purchases you will ever make.  In most cases the fee for the buyer agent is paid by the seller anyway so why wouldn't you have someone working for your best interests? 

Accept That There Is No Perfect House 
Decide what your most important "must-haves" are and what you are willing to compromise on.  No house is perfect...they might need some work, might not have a room as big as wanted, might have less land, or might not be in the perfect location.  What is most important to you?

Prepare To Move Quickly 
When you fall in love with a house, be prepared to make an offer quickly.  In the spring market, properties can sell quickly so if you don't make an offer quickly...someone might beat you to it.

Don't Be Opposed To Negotiating 
This time of year it is common to have multiple offers on the same property.  If you get stuck on getting the house for less that it is listed for, instead of what it is worth, you could miss out on a great house.  Negotiating on closing date can also be attractive to a seller. 

Buying a home is a big decision.  Being prepared and having the right agent to advise you along the way will make the process much easier and give you a better chance at finding your dream home!  Are you ready to start your search? 

Call us today to meet with one of our experienced buyer's agents.

- See more at: http://www.brendafontaine.com/Newsletter#sthash.6cpqD2tr.dpuf

You Need a Professional on Your Team When Buying A Home

by Fontaine Family

You Need a Professional on Your Team When Buying a Home

Many people wonder whether they should hire a real estate professional to assist them in buying their dream home or if they should first try to do it on their own. In today’s market: you need an experienced professional!

You Need an Expert Guide if You Are Traveling a Dangerous Path

The field of real estate is loaded with land mines; you need a true expert to guide you through the dangerous pitfalls that currently exist. Finding a home that is priced appropriately and is ready for you to move into can be tricky. An agent listens to your wants and needs, and can sift through the homes that do not fit within the parameters of your “dream home.”

A great agent will also have relationships with mortgage professionals and other experts that you will need in securing your dream home. 

You Need a Skilled Negotiator

In today’s market, hiring a talented negotiator could save you thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of dollars. Each step of the way – from the original offer to the possible renegotiation of that offer after a home inspection, to the possible cancellation of the deal based on a troubled appraisal – you need someone who can keep the deal together until it closes.

Realize that when an agent is negotiating their commission with you, they are negotiating their own salary; the salary that keeps a roof over their family’s head; the salary that puts food on their family’s table. If they are quick to take less when negotiating for themselves and their families, what makes you think they will not act the same way when negotiating for you and your family?

If they were Clark Kent when negotiating with you, they will not turn into Superman when negotiating with the buyer or seller in your deal. 

Bottom Line

Famous sayings become famous because they are true. You get what you pay for. Just like a good accountant or a good attorney, a good agent will save you money…not cost you money.

Low Interest Rates Increase Home Purchasing Power

by Fontaine Family

How Historically Low Interest Rates Increase Your Purchasing Power


According to Freddie Mac’s latest Primary Mortgage Market Survey, interest rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage are currently at 3.47%. Rates have remained at or below 3.5% each of the last 16 weeks, marking a historic low.

The interest rate you secure when buying a home not only greatly impacts your monthly housing costs, but also impacts your purchasing power.

Purchasing power, simply put, is the amount of home you can afford to buy for the budget you have available to spend. As rates increase, the price of the house you can afford will decrease if you plan to stay within a certain monthly housing budget.

The chart below shows what impact rising interest rates would have if you planned to purchase a home within the national median price range, and planned to keep your principal and interest payments at or about $1,100 a month.

How Historically Low Interest Rates Increase Your Purchasing Power | Simplifying The Market

With each quarter of a percent increase in interest rate, the value of the home you can afford decreases by 2.5%, (in this example, $6,250). Experts predict that mortgage rates will be closer to 4% by this time next year.

Act now to get the most house for your hard earned money.

 

You might also enjoy reading:

Is it Time to Buy Your Dream Home?

by Fontaine Family

4 Reasons to Move Up to Your Dream Home This Spring | Simplifying The Market

4 Reasons to Move Up to Your Dream Home This Spring

Spring is in full force; the summer months are right around the corner. If you are debating moving up to your dream home, here are four great reasons to consider listing your current home and moving up to your dream home now, instead of waiting.

1. Buyer Demand is High & Inventory is Low

Recent numbers show that buyer demand is at the highest peak experienced in years, and inventory for sale is at a 4.5-month supply, which is still markedly lower than the 6 months needed for a historically normal market.

Demand in many markets is far exceeding the supply, and more properties in March sold in less than 30 days (42%) than in any month since last July.

Listing your home today can greatly increase exposure to buyers who are out in force and ready to act.

2. Prices Will Continue to Rise

CoreLogic recently released their latest Home Price Index in which they predict that national home values will appreciate by 5.3% by this time next year.

The bottom in home prices has come and gone. Home values will continue to appreciate for years. Waiting for your current home’s value to increase before selling could price you out of your new home if you aren’t careful.

3. Mortgage Interest Rates Are Still Near Record Lows

Interest rates have remained below 4% for some time now and are substantially lower than the rate previous generations paid when getting a mortgage.

The Mortgage Bankers Association, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac & the National Association of Realtors are in unison projecting that rates will rise over the next 12 months.

An increase in rates will impact YOUR monthly mortgage payment. Even an increase of half a percentage point can put a dent in your family’s net worth. Whether you are moving up or buying your first home, your housing expense will be more a year from now if a mortgage is necessary to purchase your home.

4. It’s Time to Move On with Your Life

The ‘cost’ of a home is determined by two major components: the price of the home and the current mortgage rate. It appears that both are on the rise. But, what if they weren’t? Would you wait?

Look at the actual reason you are buying and decide whether it is worth waiting. Have you always wanted to live in a certain neighborhood? Would a climate change be just what the doctor ordered? Would you like to be closer to your family?

Bottom Line

If the right thing for you and your family is to move up to the home of your dreams this year, buying sooner rather than later could lead to substantial savings.

Are you ready to find your dream home?
Call us today at (207)784-3800 or (207)289-3830!

Home Buying Tips for the Spring Market

by Fontaine Family

5 Tips for Buying a Home in the Spring Market

Spring in the Real Estate Market is typically the busiest time of year.  There are more buyers out there looking and properties are selling fast!  The market is more competitive in the spring than in other times of the year.  That is why it is so important to be prepared when you plan to buy a home in the spring market. 


Here are a few tips to help you buy your new home this spring:

Get Preapproved By A Local Lender 
Shop around and find out who can offer the best program for your situation and then get a pre-approval.  Having that in hand will make your offer more attractive to sellers.  Most banks will not even consider an offer on a short sale or a foreclosure property without a pre-approval or a proof of funds letter.

Hire A Buyer Agent 
Choose an agent who knows the area and who you are comfortable with and then sign an agreement to have the represent you.  If you are just calling around to the listing agent, there is nobody looking out for you during one of the biggest purchases you will ever make.  In most cases the fee for the buyer agent is paid by the seller anyway so why wouldn't you have someone working for your best interests? 

Accept That There Is No Perfect House 
Decide what your most important "must-haves" are and what you are willing to compromise on.  No house is perfect...they might need some work, might not have a room as big as wanted, might have less land, or might not be in the perfect location.  What is most important to you?

Prepare To Move Quickly 
When you fall in love with a house, be prepared to make an offer quickly.  In the spring market, properties can sell quickly so if you don't make an offer quickly...someone might beat you to it.

Don't Be Opposed To Negotiating 
This time of year it is common to have multiple offers on the same property.  If you get stuck on getting the house for less that it is listed for, instead of what it is worth, you could miss out on a great house.  Negotiating on closing date can also be attractive to a seller. 

Buying a home is a big decision.  Being prepared and having the right agent to advise you along the way will make the process much easier and give you a better chance at finding your dream home!  Are you ready to start your search? 

Call us today to meet with one of our experienced buyer's agents.

Auburn: (207)784-3800  
Scarborough: (207)289-3830

The Real Cost of a Fixer-Upper

by Fontaine Family

How to Assess the Real Cost of a Fixer-Upper House


By: G. M. Filisko

When you buy a fixer-upper house, you can save a ton of money, or get yourself in a financial fix.

Trying to decide whether to buy a fixer-upper house? Follow these seven steps, and you’ll know how much you can afford, how much to offer, and whether a fixer-upper house is right for you.

1.  Decide what you can do yourself.

TV remodeling shows make home improvement work look like a snap. In the real world, attempting a difficult remodeling job that you don’t know how to do will take longer than you think and can lead to less-than-professional results that won’t increase the value of your fixer-upper house. 

  • Do you really have the skills to do it? Some tasks, like stripping wallpaper and painting, are relatively easy. Others, like electrical work, can be dangerous when done by amateurs.
  • Do you really have the time and desire to do it? Can you take time off work to renovate your fixer-upper house? If not, will you be stressed out by living in a work zone for months while you complete projects on the weekends?

2.  Price the cost of repairs and remodeling before you make an offer.

  • Get your contractor into the house to do a walk-through, so he can give you a written cost estimate on the tasks he’s going to do.
  • If you’re doing the work yourself, price the supplies.
  • Either way, tack on 10% to 20% to cover unforeseen problems that often arise with a fixer-upper house.

3.  Check permit costs.

  • Ask local officials if the work you’re going to do requires a permit and how much that permit costs. Doing work without a permit may save money, but it'll cause problems when you resell your home.
  • Decide if you want to get the permits yourself or have the contractor arrange for them. Getting permits can be time-consuming and frustrating. Inspectors may force you to do additional work, or change the way you want to do a project, before they give you the permit.
  • Factor the time and aggravation of permits into your plans.

4.  Doublecheck pricing on structural work.

If your fixer-upper home needs major structural work, hire a structural engineer for $500 to $700 to inspect the home before you put in an offer so you can be confident you’ve uncovered and conservatively budgeted for the full extent of the problems.

Get written estimates for repairs before you commit to buying a home with structural issues.

Don't purchase a home that needs major structural work unless:

  • You’re getting it at a steep discount
  • You’re sure you’ve uncovered the extent of the problem
  • You know the problem can be fixed
  • You have a binding written estimate for the repairs

5.  Check the cost of financing.

Be sure you have enough money for a downpayment, closing costs, and repairs without draining your savings.

If you’re planning to fund the repairs with a home equity or home improvement loan:

  • Get yourself pre-approved for both loans before you make an offer.
  • Make the deal contingent on getting both the purchase money loan and the renovation money loan, so you’re not forced to close the sale when you have no loan to fix the house.
  • Consider the Federal Housing Administration’s Section 203(k) program, which is designed to help home owners who are purchasing or refinancing a home that needs rehabilitation. The program wraps the purchase/refinance and rehabilitation costs into a single mortgage. To qualify for the loan, the total value of the property must fall within the FHA mortgage limit for your area, as with other FHA loans. A streamlined 203(k) program provides an additional amount for rehabilitation, up to $35,000, on top of an existing mortgage. It’s a simpler process than obtaining the standard 203(k).

6.  Calculate your fair purchase offer.

Take the fair market value of the property (what it would be worth if it were in good condition and remodeled to current tastes) and subtract the upgrade and repair costs.

For example: Your target fixer-upper house has a 1960s kitchen, metallic wallpaper, shag carpet, and high levels of radon in the basement.

Your comparison house, in the same subdivision, sold last month for $200,000. That house had a newer kitchen, no wallpaper, was recently recarpeted, and has a radon mitigation system in its basement.

The cost to remodel the kitchen, remove the wallpaper, carpet the house, and put in a radon mitigation system is $40,000. Your bid for the house should be $160,000.

Ask your real estate agent if it’s a good idea to share your cost estimates with the sellers, to prove your offer is fair. 

7.  Include inspection contingencies in your offer.

Don’t rely on your friends or your contractor to eyeball your fixer-upper house. Hire pros to do common inspections like:

  • Home inspection. This is key in a fixer-upper assessment. The home inspector will uncover hidden issues in need of replacement or repair. You may know you want to replace those 1970s kitchen cabinets, but the home inspector has a meter that will detect the water leak behind them.
  • Radon, mold, lead-based paint
  • Septic and well
  • Pest

Most home inspection contingencies let you go back to the sellers and ask them to do the repairs, or give you cash at closing to pay for the repairs. The seller can also opt to simply back out of the deal, as can you, if the inspection turns up something you don’t want to deal with.

If that happens, this isn’t the right fixer-upper house for you. Go back to the top of this list and start again.

More from HouseLogic

What you need to know about foundation repairs
Budgeting for a home remodel
Tips on hiring a contractor

G.M. Filisko is an attorney and award-winning writer whose parents bought and renovated a fixer-upper when she was a teen. A regular contributor to many national publications including Bankrate.com, REALTOR® Magazine, and the American Bar Association Journal, she specializes in real estate, business, personal finance, and legal topics.

 


Read more: http://members.houselogic.com/articles/how-assess-real-cost-fixer-upper-house/preview/#ixzz3lvevrA2Q
Follow us: @HouseLogic on Twitter | HouseLogic on Facebook

 

Visit HouseLogic.com for more articles like this. Reprinted from HouseLogic.com with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®

What is "Earnest Money"?

by Fontaine Family

Real Estate Terms - Earnest Money


If you are in the market to buy a house, you will be expected to make an earnest money deposit when you make an offer.  The thought of someone asking for more money when you are making one of the largest purchase of your life, can be frightening. 
Most buyers have some questions about earnest money..so let's talk about it!

What is earnest money? 
Earnest money is a good faith deposit meant to show the seller that the buyer is serious about buying.  It is not the same thing as your down payment.  The amount of the deposit varies and can be negotiated depending on the situation.

Does the buyer get the money back?  
In most cases the earnest money deposit is applied towards the buyer's costs at closing.  If, however, the deal falls through for some reason, the buyer may not get that money back.  One reason to work with a buyer's agent is that agent will work with a buyer client to protect their earnest money deposit.

What if the buyer decides not to buy? 
Each situation is different when a deal falls apart.  If the buyer decides not to buy for a reason that is a contingency within in the timeframe specified, the buyer will probably get that money returned. Just because the buyer doesn't buy, does not mean the seller automatically gets the earnest money.  Your agent will be able to advice you in your unique situation. 

Our best advice to protect your earnest money is to stay in close communication with your agent and to pay attention to the timeframes spelled out in your Purchase and Sale contract. 

Are you interested in purchasing a home? 
E-mail us today to have one of our great buyer's agents contact you today!


Click here to e-mail us!

Are you Waiting to Buy?

by Fontaine Family

Why Waiting To Buy Might Not Make Sense

 

Why Waiting To Buy Might Not Make Sense | Keeping Current Matters

Whether you are a first time or a move-up buyer, there are two factors that will impact the amount of house you can afford in your price range: home prices & mortgage rates.

Let’s look at what the experts are predicting over the next twelve months for these two areas:

PRICES

Over 100 economists, real estate experts and investment & market strategists were recently polled as a part of the Home Price Expectation Survey. They were asked to project where home prices are headed. The average value appreciation projected over the next twelve-month period is approximately 4.4%.

MORTGAGE INTEREST RATES

In the latest Economic & Housing Market Outlook from Freddie Mac, they predict that the 30-year fixed mortgage rate will be 4.7% by this time next year. As of last week, the Freddie Mac rate was 3.69%.

What does this mean to you?

If you are a first-time buyer currently looking at a home priced at $250,000, this is what it could cost you on a monthly basis if you wait until next year to buy:

Cost Of Waiting Spring 250K | Keeping Current Matters

If you are a move-up buyer currently looking at a home priced at $500,000, this is what it could cost you on a monthly basis if you wait a year to buy:

Cost Of Waiting Spring 500K | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line

With both home prices & interest rates projected to increase, waiting to buy could put a serious dent in your family’s wealth.

from Keeping Current Matters 2015

10 Commandments of Buying a Home

by Fontaine Family

Buying a home is exciting! 

The thought of moving into a new home, makes many people want
to make a complete fresh start and change several things
in their life....new job, car furniture. 
The problem is, doing anything that changes your financial situation, could put your mortgage approval in jeopordy. 
Your best bet is to wait until after closing
to make any major changes or purchases. 
To help your buying process go smoothly we have come up with...

The 10 Commandments of Buying a Home

1.  THOU SHALT NOT change jobs, become self-employed,
or quit your job.

2.  THOU SHALT NOT buy a car, truck, or van...
or you may be living in it.

3.  THOU SHALT NOT use charge cards excessively or let your accounts fall behind.

4.  THOU SHALT NOT spend money you have set aside for closing.

5.  THOU SHALT NOT omit debts or liabilities from your loan application.

6.  THOU SHALT NOT buy furniture.

7.  THOU SHALT NOT originate any kinds of inquiries into your credit.

8.  THOU SHALT NOT make large deposits without first checking with your loan officer.

9.  THOU SHALT NOT change bank accounts.

10. THOU SHALT NOT co-sign a loan for anyone.


If you have questions about buying a home, give us a call at 784-3800 and one of our buyer agents will be happy to help!

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Fontaine Family - The Real Estate Leader
336 Center St. Auburn, ME 04210
432 US Route 1 Scarborough ME 04074
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(207)289-3830 Scarborough
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