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Singles,Single Parents & 1st Time Buyers Real Estate 101


*The information provided is useful for any kind of Home Buying or Selling experience.  It is intended to educate you to make a wise decision and built confidence in the Home buying process.   

                                     

                                          

Single/single parent             1st Time Home Buyers  

 
Build a Plan of Action and Get Ready....

Buying a home in El Paso Texas will probably rank as one of the biggest personal investments one can make. Being organized and in control will contribute significantly to getting the best home deal possible with the least amount of stress. Is important to anticipate the steps required to successfully achieve your housing goal and to build a plan of action that gets you there.

Before you can build a plan of action, take the time to lay the groundwork for your decision-making process.
 
First, ask yourself how much can you afford to pay for a home. If you're not sure on the price range, find a lender and get preapproved. Preapproval will let you know how much you can afford so that you can look for homes in your price range. Getting pre-approved helps you to alleviate some of the anxieties that come with home buying. You know exactly what you qualify for and at what rate, you know how large your monthly mortgage payments will be, and you know how much you will have for a down payment. Once you are pre-approved, you avoid the frustration of finding homes that you think are perfect, but are not in your price range.

Second, ask yourself where you want to live and what is the best location for you and/or your family. Things to consider:

*convenience for all family members
*proximity to work, school
*crime rate of neighborhood
*local transportation
*types of homes in neighborhood, for example condos, town homes, co-ops, newly constructed homes etc. 


Items You Need for When Applying For a Loan
Have These Items Ready When You Apply For a Loan

It used to be that lenders mailed out verifications to employers, banks, mortgage companies, and so on, in order to verify the data supplied by borrowers. Nowadays, the interest is often in speed and getting answers quickly, so "alternate documentation" has become more widely used. Alternate documentation means that underwriting answers can be obtained with information supplied directly from the borrower instead of waiting around for verifications to come back in the mail.

The following is required for most standardized loans as part of alternate documentation processing. Items may differ according to whether your loan is a conforming (Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac), non-conforming (jumbo) loan, government loan, or a portfolio loan.

Verifications are still mailed out, but usually as part of quality control procedures.

These are the things you need to supply to your lender to get a quick approval using alternate documentation:
Income Items

  • W2 forms for the last two years
  • Pay stubs covering a 30 day period
  • Federal tax returns (1040's) for the last two years, if:
    • you are self-employed
    • earn more than 25% of your income from commissions or bonuses
    • own rental property
    • or are in a career where you are likely to take non-reimbursed business expenses
  • Year-to-Date Profit and Loss Statement (for self employed)
  • Corporate or partnership tax returns (if applicable)
  • Pension Award letter (for retired individuals)
  • Social Security Award letters (for those on Social Security)

    Asset Items
     
  • Bank statements for previous two months (sometimes three) on all accounts. All pages.
  • Statements for two months on all stocks, mutual funds, bonds, etc, etc.
  • Copy of latest 401K statement (or other retirement assets)
  • Explanations for any large deposits and source of those funds
  • Copy of HUD1 Settlement Statement on recent sales of homes
  • Copy of Estimated HUD1 Settlement Statement if a previous home is for sale, but not yet closed
  • Gift letter (if some of the funds come as a gift from a family member)
  • Gifts can also require:
    • Verification of donor's ability to make the gift (bank statement)
    • Copy of the check used to make the gift
    • Copy of the deposit receipt showing the funds deposited into bank account or escrow

      Credit Items
       
  • Landlord's name, address, and phone number (for verification of rental)
  • Explanations for any of the following items which may appear on your credit report:

    • Late payments
    • Credit inquiries in the last 90 days
    • Charge-offs
    • Collections
    • Judgments
    • Liens
  • Copy of bankruptcy papers if you have filed bankruptcy within the last seven years


         Other

  • Copy of purchase agreement (if you have already made an offer)
  • To document receipt of child support (if you desire to show it as income)

    • Copy of Divorce Settlement (to show the amount)
    • Copies of twelve months canceled checks to document actual receipt of fund

    FHA Loans
     
  • Copy of Social Security Card (or other documentation of social security number)
  • Copy of Driver's license

  • VA Loans
     
  • Copy of DD214

  • Refinances
     
  • Copy of Note on existing loan
  • Copy of HUD1 Settlement Statement on existing loan
  • Name, address, phone number, loan number of existing loan/lender

    Your Savings and Down Payment
  • Your First Step Toward Buying a Home

    When preparing to buy a home, the first thing many homebuyers do is look at "homes for sale" ads in newspapers, magazines and listings on the internet. Some potential buyers read "how-to" articles like this one. The next thing you should do - before you call on an ad, before you talk to a Realtor, before you shop for interest rates - is look at your savings.

    Why?

    Because determining how much money you have available for down payment and closing costs affects almost every aspect of buying a home - including how you write your purchase offer, the loan programs you qualify for, and shopping for interest rates.

    Mortgage Programs

    If you only have enough available for a minimum down payment, your choices of loan program will be limited to only a few types of mortgages. If someone is giving you a gift for all or part of the down payment, your options are also limited. If you have enough for the down payment, but need the lender or seller to cover all or part of your closing costs, this further limits your options. If you borrow all or a portion of the down payment from your 401K or retirement plan, different loan programs have different rules on how you qualify.

    Of course, if you have enough for a large down payment, then you have lots of choices.

    Your loan choices include such varied programs as conventional fixed rate loans, adjustable rate mortgages, buydowns, VA, FHA, graduated payment mortgages and all the varieties of each.

    Shopping Rates

    A very important reason you need to have at least some idea of your down payment is for shopping interest rates. Some loan programs charge a slightly higher interest rate for minimal down payments. Plus, the interest rates for different loan programs are not the same. For example, conventional, VA, and FHA all offer fixed rate loans. However, the rates vary from one program to another.

    If you shop lenders by phone, the loan officer will be able to tell which programs fit and quote you rates accordingly. However, if you are shopping on the internet, you have to have some idea of your loan program on your own.

    Writing Your Offer

    Another reason you need to have a clue about your down payment is because it affects how you write your offer to purchase a home. Not only are you required to put your down payment information in the offer, but different loan programs have different rules which also affect how you write your offer. This is especially important when dealing with FHA and VA loans.

    If you are asking the seller to pay all or part of your closing costs, you have to be certain your loan program allows what you are asking. For smaller down payments, lenders allow the seller to pay less closing costs than for larger down payments. Some loan programs will allow a seller to pay certain types of costs, but not others.

    Finally, your down payment also affects your ability to qualify for a loan. When you make a small down payment, lenders are fairly strict about having you conform to their underwriting guidelines. For larger down payments, they will tend to make allowances or exceptions to the rules.

    Conclusion

    As you can see, the down payment affects every choice you make when you buy a home. Although you should look at ads, familiarize yourself with neighborhoods, learn about prices, and read as much as you can - when you get ready to take action - the first thing you should do is figure out how much money you have available for the purchase.


    Hot, Normal, and Cold Markets

Hot Market -

This is an extremely competitive market, one that is advantageous to the seller. Sometimes, homes will sell as soon as they are listed or even before homes are listed. Typically, during a hot market, multiple offers will be made on each home and more often than not, homes will sell for more than their asking price. It is even more crucial to be prepared and to be ready as a buyer when the market is hot. It can be easy to get caught up in the bid for a home, but if you are prepared (pre-approved, solid in price range, realistic about your needs), it is easier to remain focused on your housing needs and price range.

Normal Market -

In a normal market, there is fairly a large number of homes available and an average number of buyers. This market does not necessarily favor the buyer or the seller. A seller may not have as many offers on their home, but he or she may not be desperate to sell either. Again, it is the buyer's responsibility to be prepared. During a normal market, the chances to negotiate are higher than in a hot market. As a buyer, you can expect to make offers at lower than the asking price and negotiate a price at least somewhat less than what the sellers are asking.

Cold Market -

In a cold market, houses may be listed for more than a year and the prices of houses listed may drop considerably. This market is advantageous to the buyer. As a buyer, you have the time to make an offer that works to your best interest. It is not uncommon to low-ball and to find that sellers are accommodating to meet your needs. Keep in mind that even though this market is a great time for buyers, you do not want to lose your dream home by being unrealistic. Your goal is to get the your dream home at the best possible price.