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Home Buying Tips

Premier Properties is a full service real estate firm with over 30 years of experience assisting home buyers in the Michigan area. With superior market knowledge and a wide range of services, our exceptional agents maximize the efficiency of your home search and serve as a trusted guide before, during, and after your move.

Before you start looking for a home you should ask yourself a few questions:

  • Where do you want to live? Do you want to be close to schools, shopping or work?
  • What kind of house would you like (need)? Are you looking for a particular style? How many bedrooms and bathrooms do you want? Do you want a yard?
  • How much house can you afford? Have you consulted a Realtor or mortgage lender to determine the size of the mortgage you would qualify for?

Here are a few tips to help you get organized:

  • Pull a credit report on yourself and make sure the information is accurate. If you find any errors take steps to correct them immediately.
  • Browse through real estate advertisements in the newspaper and here on ppmichigan.com. This will give you a good feel for the types of homes that are on the market and what they cost.
  • Visit open houses on the weekend. It doesn’t cost anything to look, and looking at a few different homes might give you ideas for things you’d like in a house but haven’t considered.
  • Start saving money – you’ll need to have cash on hand for a down payment and closing costs.
  • Don’t incur any additional debt. Pay down your credit cards – and don’t apply for any new ones. Don’t make any major purchases on credit – buy the furniture or car later.
  • Contact a Premier Properties sales associate at one of the offices in your area . Your Realtor can help you determine how much you can afford, and they can provide you with information on homes that may interest you. The sales associate will also help you complete all of the necessary forms when it comes time to make an offer.

Answers to these financial questions will help you get a basic understanding of the financing process. Of course, your Premier Properties sales associate can assist you in finding all the information you need to know to make a sound decision on the purchase of a new home.

Q. What is the difference between “prequalified” and “preapproved”?
A. A prequalification consists of a discussion between a home buyer and a loan officer. The loan officer collects basic information regarding the customer’s income, monthly debts, credit history and assets, and then uses this information to calculate an estimated mortgage amount for the home buyer. The prequalification is not a full mortgage approval, but estimates what a home buyer can afford.

A preapproval, on the other hand is a comprehensive approach using basic information as well as electronic credit reporting. Preapprovals, in most cases, are true mortgage commitments. The lender commits to financing your home and indicates the total mortgage amount available to you.

Q. What types of mortgage programs are offered?
A. Currently, there are over 50 different mortgage products available, including, but not limited to:

  • 15, 20, and 30-year fixed rate loans
  • Adjustable rate loans
  • New construction financing
  • VA and FHA loans
  • 5 and 7-year balloon loans

All mortgage products have their own benefits and disadvantages. Talk to your financial institution to discuss which product is best for you.

Q. How long does it take to process a mortgage application?
A. Usually about 30 to 60 days, although it can take as few as seven days and as long as 90 days for some transactions. The actual time depends on how quickly the lender can get an appraisal of the property, a credit report and verification of employment and bank accounts.

Q. What documents will I have to provide?
A. Be prepared to provide a verification of income (including a pay stub and recent tax returns), bank account numbers and details on your long-term debt (credit cards, auto loans, child support, etc.). If you’re self-employed you may also be required to provide financial statements for your business.

Q. Could anything delay the approval with my loan?
A. If you provide the lender with complete, accurate information everything should go smoothly. You may face a delay if the lender discovers credit problems – a history of late payments or nonpayment of debts, or a tax lien. You may then be required to submit additional explanations or clarifications.

You should also be sure to notify your lender if your personal or financial status changes between the time you submit an application and the time it is funded. If you change jobs, get an increase (or decrease) in salary, incur additional debt or change your marital status, let the lender know promptly. You may also be delayed if the home you selected fails to appraise for the agreed purchase price.

Q. What’s included in my house payment?
A. Principal and interest on your loan. Depending on the terms of your loan, the payment may also include homeowners insurance, mortgage insurance and property taxes.

Q. Can I pay those other things separately?
A. Not if it is an FHA or VA-insured loan. With most other loans you can pay your own taxes and insurance if you borrowed no more than 80% of the purchase price or appraised value of your home. Check with your lender to be sure.

Q. What do the closing costs include?
A. Closing costs cover processing and administration of your loan. In addition to a loan fee, you’ll usually be asked to prepay interest charges, to cover the partial month in which you close, and impounds for your property taxes, hazard insurance and mortgage insurance.

Q. When do my mortgage payments start?
A. Usually about 30 days after closing. The actual date of your first payment will be included in your closing documents.

Get ready, get set, GO – begin your home search! Wait – Stop! Are you sure you know where to begin, or what type of home you need, or where you want to live? Before rushing in and buying the first home you see, you need to do some homework. Thoughtful preparation in the beginning of your home search will help you find the home of your dreams that also fits your family’s unique needs. The key is to stay organized and focused on the ultimate goal of finding your ideal home.

Here are a few simple tips to help you pick the perfect place:

  • Make a checklist. Before walking into a single home, determine what your family truly needs in a new home. Prioritize your list and decide what features are a must have and what amenities can be sacrificed. Thinking about the positives and negatives of your current home is a great way to start your list.
  • Obtain a mortgage pre-approval. A pre-approval will give you a sense of what you can afford to spend on your new home. You will also have a realistic idea of the price range of homes you should be visiting and eventually purchasing. Plus, having a pre-approval will demonstrate that you are a serious buyer to sellers.
  • Location, location, location. Location is crucial when searching for your home. Only you can decide which location is best for you. A few considerations include: How far do you want to commute to your job? Are the community schools highly rated? Do you require nearby neighborhood services such as public transportation, shopping and senior resources? You should also think about the location’s impact on the resale value of the property if you are anticipating selling in the next few years.
  • Get on the Web. One of the best ways to start your home search is on the Internet. On Web sites such as ppmichigan.com you can search for properties, determine mortgage payments, research communities and so much more from the comfort of your own home.
  • Seek professional help. Realtors are experts in the real estate industry and can help you with everything from gathering community information to taking a home tour to finding moving services. There is no one better who can help you find the home of your dreams. Plus, Realtors can greatly reduce the amount of pressure you feel during this stressful time.
  • Take notes. While touring homes, write down a few notes about things you particularly like in the home and others that you may not. This way, when you evaluate the homes you have visited, you will have the pros and cons of each.
  • Bring along a camera. We all know “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Snapping some photos of the houses you see while on a home tour will give you a visual to jog your memory at the end of the day. Just remember to jot down which photos go with which notes.
  • Have a friend tag along. Having another pair of eyes while visiting potential homes can help you notice the strengths and weaknesses of a property, and if nothing else, can deter you from making hasty decisions.
  • Take a time out. Reserve some time for yourself and your family as you go through the buying process. Planning activities that will take your mind away from the stress will help both you and your family manage the transition.

A new city, new job, new friends, new neighborhood, and new home – an adventure is about to begin. Selling your current home and moving can be an exciting and wonderful event, but before you reach your new destination there are many things to do. And, of course, moving can be a stressful experience. However, reducing your stress level is possible with forethought, organization and planning. You should begin preparing for your move as soon as possible. Those who plan ahead, are organized, and have a positive attitude adjust much quicker to their new lifestyle and usually become active members of their community.

This moving checklist will help you prepare for your relocating adventure.

Moving Checklist

As soon as you know you will be moving:

  • Begin planning your move to eliminate as much stress as possible.
  • Contact a Realtor for selling your current property and buying a new home.
  • Reserve a moving truck. They are often booked two months in advance.
  • Find out what expenses your employer will cover.

Four weeks prior to moving:

  • Check the registration procedures for enrolling children in school. Obtain copies of children’s transcripts. Ask teachers for a statement describing the student’s achievement level and written descriptions of any unusual courses taken.
  • Request copies of all medical, dental, and veterinary records and ask for referrals.
  • Notify the post office of your new address. Send change of address cards to friends, subscription services, creditors, and insurance companies.
  • Purchase moving supplies, such as boxes, tape, and bubble wrap.
  • Begin packing seldom used items and dispose of unwanted items through charities. (Get receipts for tax purposes.)
  • Contact the IRS for forms and regulations regarding tax-deductible moving expenses.
  • Transfer or arrange for insurance in your new city to cover your home, furnishings, and automobile.

Three weeks prior to moving:

  • Arrange to have appliances, utilities, phone, Internet and cable TV disconnected. Coordinate the final readings for gas, water, telephone, etc. Check on deposits. Set up connections at your new home.
  • Review details with your mover: insurance coverage, packing and unpacking labor, arrival day, directions, shipping papers, time and method of expected payment.

Two weeks prior to moving:

  • Handle bills, stocks, investments, and banking transfers. Arrange for check cashing in the new city.
  • Make special arrangements for transporting pets.
  • Clean cupboards.
  • Plan remaining meals so you can pack what you don’t need.
  • Update your pet tags and licenses with new address information.

One week prior to moving:

  • Discontinue delivery services, such as the newspaper.
  • Clean out your safety deposit box and place all valuables and documents together. Either carry them with you or send them ahead by registered, insured mail.
  • Reconfirm your moving and delivery dates with your mover.

Two days prior to moving:

  • Defrost and dry refrigerators and freezers.
  • Arrange for traveler’s checks for trip expenses and payment to the mover upon delivery.
  • Reconcile and close checking account and withdraw savings.
  • Conclude any financial matters relating to the lease or sale of your home.
  • Set aside items you will need immediately upon arrival – a few dishes, towels, soap, bedding, light bulbs, flashlights, and toilet paper. Clearly mark the boxes.
  • Leave forwarding address to new tenant.

Moving day:

  • Pay close attention to the mover’s paperwork. You will need to sign it upon completion of loading.
  • Supervise the movers to make sure your instructions are understood.
  • Double check your residence for forgotten items before leaving.
  • For emergency reasons, alert a close friend or relative of the route and schedule you will travel.
  • Leave keys and garage door transmitters for new owners.

You’ve bought a new home, and while you are looking forward to moving – your children may not be sharing in your excitement. Relocating can be a stressful and often scary event for children. They may feel a lack of control and are anxious about their whole lives changing.

As a parent, it is up to you to help ease your children’s stress and show them that moving can be an adventure. By setting an enthusiastic tone initially, you can make a huge difference in how your children cope with and approach relocating. The following are a few tips to help you reduce your children’s anxiety and make moving a positive experience for the entire family.

  • Keep your children informed. The best way to prepare children for a move is to tell them as much about it as you can.
  • Ask for their opinions. Consult your children about choices whenever possible. For example, find out what your children like and don’t like about your existing house and use their suggestions when looking for a new home.
  • Stress the positive. While you should share your concerns about moving, be sure not to dwell on the stress or uncertainty. Instead, highlight the positive aspects of the move. For instance, you will live on a lake and go swimming all of the time, you will be near a major league baseball park, or you will now be able to visit grandparents more often.
  • Assurance is key. Continually assure your children that they will meet many new friends and have lots of things to do in their new neighborhood and at their new school.
  • Keep them involved in the moving process. This will encourage their interest for their new home and community. One simple way to keep them involved is to give them a job, such as packing up their favorite toys and labeling them with markers and stickers.
  • Show them their new home. . Once you have decided on your new home take your children for a visit and allow them to become familiar with their new surroundings. If they are unable to visit prior to the move show them lots of pictures and videos. Also, give your children a photo of their new home and room to show it off to their friends.
  • Accentuate the activities. Before you actually move find places in your new community for the things your children like to do. For instance, if you child takes art lessons, find and share information about the new art studio they can go to.
  • Prepare your teens. Often teens are only worried about fitting in. They may be worried about making new friends and what will be different in the new school. They are curious about how the kids in the new city dress, wear their hair, and what kind of cars they drive. If possible, take pictures of all of these things to help reduce your teen’s uncertainty.
  • Research the schools. Learn as much as possible about the schools in the new community. You will want to choose an area that has schools with a quality reputation and curriculum. Carefully investigate the curriculum differences between your current school and the new school. Then, you can make the appropriate tutoring or advanced placement arrangements. Once you have gathered information about the school share it with your children. Be sure to emphasize the extra curricular activities that they would find interesting.
  • Plan to stay connected. Farewell parties give your children an opportunity to say good-bye to their friends and feel cared about. Explain that they can stay in touch with future visits, email, letters and phone calls.

Working with a professional Realtor to buy your home is a good idea for several reasons:

  • They will analyze your financial situation to help you determine how much you can afford.
  • They are familiar with the process of buying a home and can explain things to you.
  • They can easily access information on all properties listed for sale by Realtors in your area.
  • They can set up appointments for you to see homes that interest you.
  • They can help evaluate features of a property that may affect its value and future resale.
  • They will prepare a negotiation strategy for the property you have selected.
  • They will help you complete all the necessary paperwork when it comes time to make an offer.
  • They will help you arrange financing.
  • They will monitor and inform you of the progress of the purchase agreement.
  • They will be there at closing to answer your questions and make sure everything runs smooth.

Searching for your dream home can be a time-consuming experience. Working with a professional Realtor will make the process much more efficient.

Since most people spend a fair amount of time with their Realtor, it’s important to choose a Realtor you feel comfortable with, and one who is responsive to your needs. The following questions will help you decide if a particular Realtor is right for you:

  • Do they return your phone calls?
  • Do they ask you questions to determine what you want/need in a house?
  • Do they perform a financial analysis to help you determine how much you can afford?
  • Do they explain things clearly?
  • Do they suggest financing methods?
  • Do they seem knowledgeable about the community?
  • Do you feel comfortable spending time with them?
  • Call Us: (810) 359-2000