HAPPY FRIDAY!

In today’s entry, I’d like to discuss the growing real estate segment for first time buyers. First-time buyers are benefitting from incredible deals, favorable lending conditions and move-in ready dream homes available for moderate prices, and I’d like to share some great tips to get you started on the road to home-ownership.

This is especially relevant to my fellow 20- and 30-somethings around the country who were lucky enough to avoid (or financially unable to enter) the real estate rush of the past few years, and are now in the position to buy. Your patience has paid off because now’s the perfect time to buy.

Since I’m currently in this position myself, I figured I could pass along some stuff I’ve recently learned about this topic and encourage those of you who are considering buying to conduct some research of your own, and seriously consider the opportunities that are out there. I’ll provide some useful tips and links, and as always welcome suggestions for additional material from readers.

The current glut of housing stock has led real estate agents, banks and brokers to reduce listing prices of overvalued homes, putting formerly unattainable properties within reach of first-time buyers. Previously hard to find situations like foreclosures and short sales abound in today’s real estate market.

Here are five quick tips to get you started down the road of home-ownership

  1. Where do I start? Check your credit score!
    ■ Today’s minimum score for first-time buyers is still 620! A great score is 740+.
    ■ Need to improve your score? – never pay for credit repair…ask your mortgage broker for free assistance!
  2. What type of loans are available in this economy?
    ■ There are still Government loans with as little as a 3.5% down payment with great fixed rates!
    ■ Sellers can still pay for your closing costs!
  3. How much can I afford based on my income?
    ■ A good rule of thumb is having your total mortgage payment at no more than 31% of your gross income.
    ■ With historically low rates – you can qualify for more house for less money!
    ■ Family members can still help with down payments too!
  4. Why should I buy now?
    ■ Rates are temporarily at historic lows!
    ■ The Government is offering an $8000 credit to first-time homebuyers! (Be sure to ask your mortgage broker for more details on this)
    ■ Great home prices! Sellers are more than willing to reduce their prices to sell!
    ■ There are plenty of Short-Sales and Foreclosures available that are well below market value!
  5. With so many mortgage companies available, who do I choose? …who do I trust? …what do I compare?
    ■ Always check with a few mortgage brokers to compare – regardless!
    ■ Always ask for a Good Faith Estimate – this will show the rate and estimated closing costs. Use this to compare offers.
    ■ Always meet your mortgage broker face-to-face!
    ■ Check with someone who just purchased a home – see if they would recommend the mortgage broker they used!

If you do find the home of your dreams for the right price, don’t forget to keep it, and your family, safe by preparing your emergency kit. Have at least three days of supplies in an easy-to-carry evacuation kit, with additional supplies on hand.

Your list of supplies should include:

■ Water
■ Food
■ First Aid Supplies
■ Protective Clothing and Bedding
■ Tools
■ Special Items

Remember to check your kit and replace the stock every six months.Store your disaster supplies in sturdy yet easy-to-carry containers, in a place that is easily accessible. Keep a smaller version of the kit in your vehicle. If you become stranded or are not able to return home, having some items with you will help.

Make sure your emergency disaster supply kit is stocked and ready. Create your own, or buy a starter Supplies Kit from the Red Cross online store or by calling 1-800-33-SAFETY.

That’s it for today’s edition. For those of you in the market for a home, I wish you luck. For those of you considering this step, I suggest you do some research, but take this seriously. Either way, be prepared and get a kit – it could save your life.

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