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What You Need to Know About Buying Your First Home When You Don’t Know Where to Start

Every home owner has been there. Maybe you’ve been renting for a few years in a apartment or a condo, or perhaps you’ve even rented an entire private home. You have a friend who’s recently moved into a new home they’ve purchased, and when you go out for dinner or coffee with coworkers or friends, some start discussing how they’ve looking at purchasing a new home for the first time.

 

Though renting can be great too, you’re missing out on all of the extra amenities and financial benefits that come from owning a home, especially if you’re buying a home in Blue Ridge, GA. A monthly mortgage rate can actually be less expensive and more cost effective than paying rent, and with the help of Blue Ridge real estate agents, you’re able to acquire more square footage for less money. Just the idea of starting the process to buy a new home can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be.

 

We broke down what you need to know about buying a home, especially if you’re a first time buyer (because let’s be honest, school taught you pre-calculous and how to analyze 20th century literature, but no one ever explained how buying a home actually works).

 

Use a realtor who can become your home-buying guru

 

The most important thing to know is that you do not have to go about doing this yourself. Think of it like this: working with a trusted north Georgia real estate agent is like bringing on a team captain who will walk you through every step of the home buying process and help you protect your investment. Though you have thousands of details to consider when looking at homes themselves, it’s the financial decisions and contracts that can be the most overwhelming factors. Realtors help you understand the current market in your area and will be your voice when negotiating those contracts.

 

Odds are that you’re not an expert on required home inspection services either, simply because you’ve never had to go through this process before. And that’s ok! When you’re buying a home in Blue Ridge GA, realtors are able to help you understand a timeline for needed inspections, who should be responsible for paying, and if there are any potential problem areas to be aware of in a home. The last thing you want is to purchase a home that has a hidden, costly problem that will affect you in the coming years, and having a Blue Ridge buyers agent on your side will act as an advocate for you and your purchase.

 

When we’re presented with a contract that we don’t fully understand, we might assume that there’s nothing we can do, or should do, to alter it. If I’m told by a mechanic that my car needs additional inspections, and I don’t fully understand what the inspection does or how often it’s required, I’m likely to agree to the additional costs even if it wasn’t something I needed to do. But if I had someone on my side who was an expert on the condition of my car, that person could help advocate for me and negotiate a better deal to save me money, while still ensuring that my vehicle is completely safe to drive.

 

In the same way, a realtor is going to be your expert on the local market, your home inspection and paperwork guru, and an all-around ally to lead you on your home-buying journey.

 

Understand the commitment of buying a home

 

This might seem obvious, but it’s incredibly important that you understand the full commitment that you’re making when you decide to buy a home. Yes, you can eventually resell your new home and move to a new property that better suits your future circumstances, but buying a home is not as simple as renting or leasing. Before you start the process of buying a home in Blue Ridge, GA, you’ll want to do your own research and understand the community and available housing options that best meet your needs. Only you know what your true priorities are when it comes to finding that perfect fit in a new house.

 

If you’ve already become interested in a few specific properties, put effort into researching the costs of any needed repairs or remodeling projects. Understand the full picture of what you’re taking on as a new home buyer. Your Blue Ridge real estate agent can help you of course, but buying your first home is a big deal, and that commitment is not to be taken lightly. At the same time, buying a home is a potentially a very special milestone in your life, especially if you’re looking to raise a family (but we’ll talk more about future needs later).

 

Financial security and pre-planning

 

Having a better understanding of your financial needs and what benchmarks you need to reach within your savings is also crucial in the early stages of the home search process. Even if you’re months or a year (or more) away from buying your first home, it’s never too early to start strengthening your credit score. Paying credit cards bills on time and in full will help you raise your score. Opening new cards to acquire more credit isn’t the way to do this either. Stick to using one or two cards, and always submit payments on time.

 

At the same time, it’s important for you to build a savings account, where you are able to set aside money for your down payment and any other closing costs. Do research in your area and talk with a Blue Ridge buyers agent to learn more about expected fees and estimated down payments for homes in your price range. You can also use tools online to help you in the process.

Another step in the pre-buying process is to get pre-approved for a mortgage. Getting pre-approved and working out what you can afford monthly is a significant step in ensuring you’re ready to take on this commitment and shop for a house you’re excited to fall in love with.

 

Think “big picture” and long-term lifestyle

 

Your Blue Ridge realty team wants you to have the best possible home buying experience, and as a first-time buyer, you’re going to have dozens of questions along the way. When you’re considering homes on the market, remember to think about the bigger picture. How might your lifestyle change in the next decade? What kind of a home layout would best fit your future needs as an individual or as a growing family? A home that may seem like it fits your needs now, may not be right for you in a few years. Take this “big picture” mindset into consideration when looking for homes and touring them with your north Georgia real estate agent to ensure it’s the best possible fit for you.

 

Though buying a home may still seem daunting, by doing research on homes in your area, strengthening your credit score, understanding what you want in a home, and meeting with your realtor, you will enjoy being able to shop the market and find the perfect house to name your home.

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Lifestyle & Views in Blue Ridge GA

The Real Estate market in the Blue Ridge GA area is continuing to grow. This is a great time to buy or sell a home as we roll into the winter months with many people looking to sell properties before the end of year and others looking to purchase in the same time frame.

There are so many ways to enjoy the area! To make the best of your move there are a few things to think about.

Blue Ridge Lifestyle

Most people when looking for Real Estate in Blue Ridge GA assume the only styles are traditional “cabin” and log homes. This is not the case! In Blue Ridge there are a variety of properties for sale to include lake front, mini-farms with rolling pastures, Toccoa River front, and so much more. These are all terrific options for buying real estate in the Blue Ridge area. All of these property types are part of the Blue Ridge lifestyle which is that of relaxed yet still modern living. Blue Ridge has a variety of outdoor activities such as rafting, tubing, hiking, boating, and scenic tours. This is only a small part of the Blue Ridge lifestyle as the community and city of Blue Ridge are equally as beautiful and full of adventure. Be sure to check out all of the restaurants & boutique shops – all are unique to this area. A great resource for where to eat, what to do, and where to stay is the Fannin County Chamber of Commerce.

Are you looking for lake front properties?

Lake Blue Ridge is accessible from both Morganton and Blue Ridge making it an ideal area for a variety of budgets and styles. The Lake Blue Ridge eastern side, primarily accessible from Old Highway 76 and Aska Rd., are typically modern rustic cabin style homes featuring a variety of amenities including gated access and deeded lake access. These properties are as unique as the leaves being built by a variety of custom home builders including Big Dawg Builders and High Country Builders.

The western side of Lake Blue Ridge, located primarily in Morganton, is an excellent option for those looking to purchase rental investments or live full time in a more budget friendly area. These homes are a variety of styles ranging from traditional to modern rustic cabins – a property type for every preference and budget range.

Lakefront properties while varied in style typically are on the market for very short times due to the limited availability and gorgeous views.

Are you looking for a creek or river view?

Sometimes creek front and river front properties, while still on the upper end of prices, are the most affordable type of waterfront real estate in Blue Ridge. These typically cabin style homes make for excellent investment properties having a high rental value due to the versatile nature. Creek and riverfront cabins make excellent honeymoon destinations and weekend fishing getaways. The Blue Ridge creeks and rivers range from small branches up to the Toccoa River and Fightingtown Creek – both of which are perfect for outdoor activities and peaceful rushing water life.

While property on Lake Blue Ridge is limited and nearing 100% developed there are hundreds of lots available on the variety of rivers and creeks. Land/Lots/Acreage can range from less than $50,000 to well over $150,000 depending on the proximity to town and what type/area/length of water feature is available. Many of the homes located on Fightingtown Creek and the Toccoa River are within 5-15 miles from downtown Blue Ridge yet boast privacy and seclusion.

What qualifies as a mountain view?

Most Real Estate in Blue Ridge GA feature some time of feature or view – the most coveted being the long range mountain view. Mountain views in Blue Ridge GA while plentiful are becoming more and more scarce for purchase as vacant lots are being purchased by investors and building companies to build new cabins. These views are classified as year round, seasonal, long range, and traditional.

The best combination for beautiful serene living are year round long range views which feature boundless mountain tops often extending into Tennessee and North Carolina. Most long range mountain views are found toward the top of a mountain but do not necessarily need to be far out of town. A great example of of property close to Blue Ridge with an endless view is 352 Endless View Rd – Check out the listing by clicking here. You can also see the Matterport virtual tour here!

Traditional and long range year round mountain views usually incur a higher price tag due to their highly coveted nature. An excellent way to stay toward the lower end of your budget while still getting a gorgeous home is to look for properties with limited mountain views such as seasonal or less than 30 degrees field of view.

Mountain view properties in Blue Ridge GA can be found in most every area and property type! This is great for buyers because you’ll find homes in most every price range and style. A couple great areas to check out are Cherry Log, Cashes Valley, and Cohutta Ranch!

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Buying A Cabin in Blue Ridge GA With Resale Value in Mind

Buying a cabin in Blue Ridge GA is one of our biggest investments and some of us are doing it more than once during our life – that is surely something to be proud of! Like many things in our life that have changed dramatically, so did our home style preferences and every day life. Most of us don’t stay in one house for the full duration of our lives whether it be due to career or life changes.

Our modern dynamic life style and economy, calls for flexibility, mobility and frequent changes. People are following their jobs and careers even if it means moving from one side of the nation to the other. Others are needing to get away from the suburban lifestyle and retire or vacation in a more remote, close knit mountain community like Blue Ridge GA.

When we decide to buy a cabin in Blue Ridge GA we need to think in terms of sort to medium range periods of time and that should bring us to consider the resale value of our home in the future. Buying a home with good resale value might take a little longer, and it might take a bit more work on your part, but you’ll love the payback later, when it sells quickly and puts extra money in your bank account. It is also important to consider the opportunity to make an investment in a Blue Ridge cabin for the use on rental programs. Rental cabins in Blue Ridge GA have an extremely high rate of return and contrary to many other cities they stay booked 60%-90% of the time, we have found.

The first consideration should be your family needs but it’s good to keep an open mind about what might suite future buyers or rental opportunities as well.

The most important three factors are: location, location and location…!

Indeed, it’s first thing to consider when looking for a home. So, what makes a good location?

There are some general elements which are obvious like:

  • Does the area have easy and fast access to the downtown Blue Ridge areas, hiking, fishing, biking, and other outdoor adventure areas?
  • It’s wise to pick a cabin that is located relatively elevated above the area, that can provide two advantages: a flow of good air and a nicer view.
  • How many neighbors are adjacent to you and/or across you in proximity, off course the less the better.
  • A cabin located at the end of the access road will suffer less noises from the neighbors and their guests, but have a harsher access type, such as gravel or dirt roads.
  • A cabin with a eastern or western mountain view will receive sunlight at different times of the day, which can be very bright. A mountain top Blue Ridge cabin may have more light and air.

The size of the lot, its shape and the square footage of the cabin itself:

  • The majority of buyers in the Blue Ridge area are 2nd home or retirement, so consider a cabin with an open mountain view or a river view.

There are many other environmental aspects to consider with respect to personal preference like a high mountain top area vs. close proximity to the City of Blue Ridge, quality of amenities in the neighborhood, and proximity to outdoor activity hobbies.

In addition to these external considerations there are many important internal elements that can make a cabin quality higher and buyers are always looking for, such as:

  • Closets, lots of closets and with as much additional storage space as possible.
  • Light and bright – Homes with lots of natural lighting are very popular.
  • Split bedroom plans, with bedrooms on each end of the home, are increasingly popular with buyers.
  • If you live in a scenic area, having a view can help you sell.
  • Plenty of bedrooms and bath rooms.
  • Large and convenient kitchen with as many cabinets and as much cooking space as possible.
  • The tendency to work from home calls for a suitable room to be set as a home office, as well as a stable internet connection.
  • Laundry and dryer machines located at the same level as the bed rooms.
  • A master bedroom on the main floor is often important.
  • A spacious basement is a plus.

Features to avoid

  • One bath homes sell for significantly less than homes with at least two baths and they take longer to sell, unless the cabin is setup to be a romantic getaway vacation cabin rental in Blue Ridge GA.
  • Electric baseboard heat and electric ceiling heat are not as desirable as central heating systems. A fireplace in the living room is a plus, especially when real wood. Most buyers prefer real wood fire places in traditional Blue Ridge mountain cabins.
  • Tubs and showers in outdated colors, or scratched from years of improper cleaning, might be hard to change without ripping out doors or walls. The preferred style is a stone or neutral tile colored walk in shower.
  • Popcorn ceilings date a cabin , you know, those bumpy ceilings that were so popular in the 1970’s. Vaulted ceilings with visible wood runners and roofing structure are often a popular style in Blue Ridge cabins.

Your first objective is to buy a home that’s right for you, but do consider its resale value before you make the final decision, especially if you know you’ll move again within three to five years. A careful purchase now will help give you extra funds to move up with the next time you buy a home.

Home Inspections

Depending on the type of financing you choose, there should be either 2 or 3 separate inspections on the home you want to purchase. The first should be your own basic inspection, the second should be a professional whole-house inspection by a reputable person. Should you select a government loan (FHA or VA), the third inspection should come at the time of the appraisal, which to some degree amounts to a “mini-inspection.” Do not, however, rely on this appraisal as your only inspection of the property!

We cannot emphasize enough the value and necessity of an extensive home inspection. Many home purchasers, either in the desire to save the $200 to $500 that a good inspection costs, or due to simple ignorance, have spent enormous sums of money repairing items that any good home inspector would have pointed out. Any offer to purchase you make should be contingent upon (subject to) a whole house inspection with a satisfactory report. Do not let anyone not the agent, not your family or friends, and especially not the seller, dissuade you from having the property thoroughly inspected! Not only will you sleep much sounder after you have moved into the cabin, a professional inspection can give you an escape hatch from a contract on a defective cabin. If the contract is written contingent on an acceptable inspection, any defects in the home must be either repaired or monetarily compensated for.

If you are not satisfied, you have the option to cancel the contract.

Buying a Home in Blue Ridge GA

While buying a primary home, and even second home, can be a daunting and stressful task our office and team are available to walk you through the process and make home buying in Blue Ridge GA as painless as possible. Nathan Fitts has over 20 years of experience in North Georgia real estate and with an knowledgeable support staff we here to help. Don’t buy a home in North Georgia without talking to us first!

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Finding Your Ideal Home in Blue Ridge, GA

The purchase of a home in Blue Ridge GA is a exciting time in anyone’s life, especially if it is your first home. Naturally you want to find the best home that suits all of your needs, and your budget. This is a purchase that requires planning on every aspect. The last thing you ever want to do is impulse buy a home, only to find out later that there are problems with the home or that it does not suit your needs.

OK. Now its list time. Sit down with pen and paper and start planning out what you need in a home. Don’t be afraid to think big, but stay within reason. Remember if you think you need a high mountain view or Toccoa river view but can only spend $150,000.00 chances are you will be disappointed. Things like number of rooms, or a fenced yard, or proximity to work and schools should be the priority at this stage. You can also make a list of things that you would like to have in a home. In the case where you are buying a second home or rental property you should tailor your search in Blue Ridge GA to match the optimal criteria for that specific use. This is where you can let your imagination run wild.

Consider all the aspects of the Blue Ridge area. Talk to some of the people that live here, and ask if they like living in the area. The long-term residents are a great source of information, and if they are to be your neighbors, get to know them! Also be sure to find out about the schools and recreational programs in the area if you have children. Another good thing to look into is the kind of commute you can expect to deal with getting to work every day. If there are major congestion problems between the area and the home then you might want to consider a different location.

With these things in mind you can now begin to look at the available homes in Blue Ridge GA. When you have found something that suits your needs and wants, its time to start your homework on the home itself. If you’re not already working with a Buyer’s Agent it is key to do so. Having a Buyer’s Agent ensures you are being represented with your best interest in mind – strictly speaking, do not work with an agent willing to dual represent. Buying homes in Blue Ridge GA and finding homes for sale in Blue Ridge GA can be a daunting and challenging task if you’re not assisted by someone familiar with the area.

Never forget; this is likely the largest purchase you will ever make; this could also be a substantial investment opportunity in Blue Ridge GA. You can not afford to not be picky!

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No BUNNY knows Georgia’s Blue Ridge like Nathan Fitts & Team…

No BUNNY knows Georgia’s Blue Ridge like Nathan Fitts & Team. Nathan Fitts & Team will help you find an EGG-cellent deal in your dream mountain home, as well as activities for your Easter weekend! For all of your real estate needs, give us a call (877)BUY-MTNS.

EASTER EGG-SPRESS TRAIN RIDES

BLUE RIDGE SCENIC RAILWAY, BLUE RIDGE, GA

Join our friends at Blue Ridge Scenic Railway for an Easter Egg Hunt and a visit with the Easter Bunny for one of the two Easter Egg-spress train rides this Saturday, April 15, at 11:00AM & 2:00PM. Visit www.brscenic.com or call (877)413-8724 for tickets and additional information.

 

EASTER EGG HUNT 

JOHN C. CAMPBELL FOLD SCHOOL, BRASSTOWN, NC

The John C. Campbell annual Easter Egg Hunt is this Saturday, April 15, at 1:00pm. There will be three age divisions: 1-4, 5-8, and 9 & older. Please arrive early – the hunt begins promptly at 1:00 pm and doesn’t last very long! There will be live music during the event.

 

CHILDREN’S EASTER THEMED BAKING CLASS & TRACTOR SHOW

MERCIER ORCHARDS, BLUE RIDGE, GA

Mercier Apple Orchards will be hosting a Children’s Easter themed baking class this Saturday, April 15. There will be 2 classes. The children will be making a bunny cake and decorating candy apples! Classes will be held from 9AM-10:30AM and 11:30AM-1:00PM. To reserve your child a spot, contact Merciers at (800)361-7731. There will also be a tractor show from 9AM-3PM with live entertainment and some of the coolest tractors around. Free tractor rides this weekend!

 

ST. LUKE’S EASTER EGG HUNT

ST. LUKE’S CHURCH, BLUE RIDGE, GA

The 22nd annual Blue Ridge Community Easter Egg Hunt will be held Saturday, April 15 at St. Luke’s Church at 7 Ewing Street in Blue Ridge. This free hunt begins at 1:00PM; refreshments will be served, and prizes will be awarded to children finding prize eggs.

 

MCCAYSVILLE EASTER EGG HUNT

WEST TENNESSEE AVENUE BALL FIELD, MCCAYSVILLE, GA

Sponsored by the Tri-Cities Business Association, The annual “Easter Egg Scramble” will be hosted April 15th from 11AM-12:30PM. There will be over 1,000 stuffed eggs for children under 12 with prize eggs and a grand prize egg for each age group! There will also be photos with the Easter Bunny!

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We’re Not In Kansas Anymore…

When thinking of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of North Georgia, one may visualize sitting by the stacked stone fireplace enjoying the warmth of the mountain top lodge, or one may think of coming back to the waterfront log cabin after a day of enjoying the mountain trails or a day on the water. No matter the activities that one pictures, the thought usually leads back to an all wood retreat. While these homes still comprise most of the real estate market in North Georgia, we are seeing exciting new changes to mountain life dwellings. The delightful mountain environment we’ve all grown to love has not changed, but you may still be left with the feeling that you’re “not in Kansas anymore” when you take a look at these stunning getaways.

This chic two bedroom two bath state-of-the-art new construction is one of the incredible designs by Dencity, one of Atlanta’s top modern architecture firms. Bringing mountain style to a whole new level, this ultra-trendy mountaintop masterpiece overlooks stunning year-round layered panoramic mountain views, which are showcased by the walls of glass that also bring in extensive natural light. This home boasts clean and crisp living space with full custom tile bathroom floors and showers; modern cabinetry and fixtures; hardwoods throughout the kitchen, living room, and bedrooms; and it offers all main floor living and extreme privacy. With a private detached master suite and bath, you can enjoy time with your guests soaring above the mountains of North Georgia. Savor the mountain lifestyle in style.

Enjoy the best of both worlds. With a rustic exterior & privacy galore, you will delight in the mountain life and breathtaking panoramic views of the rushing Fightingtown Creek from the moment you arrive. Complete with three levels of living and decks spanning the entire backside, this home is built to last, constructed of steel beams & concrete with wood finishes, and the exterior steps even lead right into the water! Now let’s step inside to the city. Completely remodeled, this industrial chic four bedroom three and a half bath loft-style home wit exposed duct work and a blend of textures offers an open floor plan with flexibility for a full-time family’s changing needs, weekend retreat, or rental investment. The industrial materials are complemented with chic finishes and an abundance of natural light that make for a warm inviting space that connects you with the outdoors.

You will feel as though you are escaping to your own private island when you arrive to your exclusive seven bedroom five bathroom home with stunning panoramic waterfront views on the rushing Fightingtown Creek. With special elements that are sure to impress everyone, this home boasts a dramatic front entrance featuring a colorful tile waterfall & stairs that lead invitingly upstairs to the bedrooms with private balconies overlooking the water off each room. The second floor also hosts a regal master suite, complete with *Hollywood* vanity mirrors and other features that delight the eye. The design of this estate offers amazing entertaining potential and majestic outdoor living with swimming pool, decks that span the entire backside of the home, and charming sitting spots on the creek. This creek-front charmer also generates annual rental income. With the luxuries this once-in-a-lifetime estate has to offer, this is truly a spectacular experience in living.

Regardless of what you desire in a home, Nathan Fitts & Team is here to help, bringing you the latest and greatest that North Georgia has to offer! (706)632-3000

 

 

 

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HOMEBUYING 101

Thinking of purchasing a home but not really sure how the process works? Nathan Fitts & Team is here to help!

 

Buying a home will likely be the largest purchase of your life, so it can be a little daunting, but, with the right support team, your journey to home ownership will be smooth and very rewarding!

So your first question may be “why should I buy a home?” There are countless advantages of buying a home. A home’s value tends to increase, you are working to secure your family’s financial future, you are building equity, and you are free to customize and increase the value of your home. Other advantages include improving your credit worthiness, tax benefits, and, most importantly, you will eventually be free of payments!

 

Now that you’re thinking a little more seriously about purchasing a home, you may be wondering how involved this process may be. The first step is to obtain mortgage approval. Following approval, you will begin your home search. Once you find the perfect home, you will make an offer. After the negotiation and acceptance of your offer, you will go through an inspection and appraisal, and then you sail on to closing and voila there are the keys to your home! Yes, it’s really that simple. Nathan Fitts & Team welcome the opportunity to be your guide throughout the home buying process. Working with countless area vendors, Nathan Fitts & Team will help you select a support team that is perfect for your situation.

 

Unless you are paying cash for your home, the first vendor is your lender, and the first step with them is qualifying for a mortgage. To get preapproval, your lender will have to verify your income and assets, as well as your debt-to-income ratio. It is a good idea to start gathering last 2 years of tax returns, last 2 years of W-2, recent pay stubs, documents to show other sources of income, complete list of creditors with balances and minimum monthly payments, and recent statements of all bank accounts and other savings accounts prior to meeting with your lender.

 

There are a variety of mortgage options. Examples of these include conventional, FHA, and VA mortgages. Conventional mortgages follow guidelines set by Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae, two government-sponsored enterprises that invest in loans to allow lenders to lend more. FHA Mortgages are mortgages that are insured by the Federal Housing Association. This type requires lower down payment than other programs, an excellent option for first-time home buyers. VA mortgages are insured by the Department of Veterans Affairs. This type of loan is available to veterans, National Guard members, active-duty personnel, and eligible surviving spouses.

 

When you obtain a mortgage, you will pay a monthly rate. You cannot choose your rate; however, you can choose what type of rate. Rate types include fixed and adjustable rates. A fixed rate means that the rate will not change over time. The only time this rate can change is if you refinance your loan. With a fixed rate, there are no surprises – your monthly principal and interest will always be the same. An adjustable rate, on the other hand, includes a fixed interest rate that lasts five, seven or ten years. After the fixed period, your rate will change each year based on market conditions. An adjustable mortgage can be a great option if you plan on moving or refinancing within a few years.

 

Once you qualify for your loan, the next step is to find a realtor, but you have already completed this task! Nathan Fitts & Team will work alongside you to help define your search criteria and begin previewing homes that may be of interest to you. Things to think about in regards to defining your home search are the neighborhood you are looking in, school district, number of bedrooms/bathrooms, acreage, style home, the age of the property, etc.

 

After previewing homes that meet the items on your wish list, and you have found “the one,” it is time to make an offer! Your offer will include information such as the address of the property, names of buyers, the price you are offering, any conditions that must be met before the home can close (contingencies), items that are included in the sale, your earnest money deposit, potential closing date, and a deadline for the sellers to respond to your offer. After your agent presents your offer to the listing realtor, the negotiation process begins and continues until acceptance. Be prepared to compromise when it comes to this step, but, remember, it is worth it! Once your offer has been accepted, it’s time to sign the paperwork with your agent.

 

After acceptance, it is time for inspection. This is the time that you will learn everything that may need to be repaired on your home. Following your inspection, your lender will require an appraisal to make sure the property is worth what you are paying for it. Once these steps are completed, you have almost made it to the finish line; it is time to close your loan!

 

Your realtor and mortgage lender will help you select your closing attorney, if you do not already have one in mind. Title work will be completed, which includes checking for liens, confirming ownership, and then the closing statements will be prepared. On the day of closing you will need to have your funds wired to your closing attorney that will cover your down payment and closing costs. You will sign documents, and, last, but not least, you will obtain the keys to your new home!

 

After reading through the home buying process, you may still have questions, but don’t fret. Nathan Fitts & Team, along with First Community Mortgage Group and Kevin Panter Insurance, invite you to “HOMEBUYING 101,” a FREE home buying informational session, Thursday, April 13, at 6:00pm at 83 Blue Ridge Overlook, Suite 2. Please RSVP on Facebook Nathan Fitts & Team or call (706)632-3000.

 

Hurry! The joy of home ownership awaits.

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How to Shop for a Mortgage: A Bargain Hunter’s Guide to Home Loans

Ready to go shopping … for a mortgage? We know: It’s not exactly the kind of fun holiday shopping you had in mind. Still, your ability to sniff out a great mortgage is crucial to your financial well-being as a future homeowner, because the decision you make could stick with you for a very long time, maybe even 30 years. Gulp.

No pressure, right? All we’re trying to say is, it pays to learn how to best compare your options—which is where this latest installment in our Stress-Free Guide to Getting a Mortgage will come in handy. Like your most trusted shopping buddy, our guide will show you how to hone your bargain hunting skills and get the most for your money.

Let’s get started, shall we?

Step 1. Shop for a mortgage that fits your needs

Ideally, you should start shopping for a mortgage three to six months before you plan to buy a home. This lengthy lead time is important because you may have to invest time in boosting your credit score. You’ll need 760 or higher to qualify for the best interest rates, says Richard Redmond, mortgage broker at All California Mortgage in Larkspur and author of “Mortgages: The Insider’s Guide.” You’ll need a minimum credit score of around 660 to qualify for any mortgage at all.

If your score isn’t up to par, a mortgage lender can tell you what you need to do to improve it. This could involve getting an error removed from your credit report, which is a real possibility given that one in four Americans reported spotting errors on their reports in a 2013 Federal Trade Commission survey.

Step 2. Find low interest rates

As you probably know, one of your main goals while shopping around is to secure a low interest rate. Interest, after all, is basically a service fee charged by lenders. The lower your rate, the less money you’ll pay them back—and every quarter of a percent counts!

On a 30-year $200,000 loan with a 4% interest rate, for instance, you’ll end up paying back not only that $200,000, but an extra $143,739 in interest by the time those 30 years are up. That massive mountain of money will end up higher or lower depending on the interest rate you get.

You can compare interest rates at realtor.com/mortgage/rates, but keep in mind the rates listed there may not necessarily apply to you. What rates you qualify for depends on your credit score; better (meaning higher) credit scores merit better (meaning lower) interest rates.

But there are exceptions. Some first-time buyers may have access to lower interest rates through the Federal Housing Administration. Loans through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which are available to active or retired military personnel, enable borrowers to buy homes with lower interest rates than conventional loans as well.

Step 3. Analyze your closing costs

A low interest rate may win you bragging rights, but it’s hardly your only goal. That’s because mortgages come with sizable closing costs totaling an additional 2% to 7% of the sales price of your home. Some of these extra fees are non-negotiable, such as state transfer taxes, but some fees are negotiable, says Katie Miller, vice president of mortgage lending at Navy Federal Credit Union.

As such, aim to meet with three mortgage lenders—which could be banks, credit unions, mortgage brokers, or any combination thereof—and get what’s called a good-faith estimate, which breaks down the mortgage’s terms, including the interest rate and fees.

Also find out from each loan officer what fees are government-regulated and what fees the lender prices—then haggle on the latter, says Sylvia Gutierrez, a loan officer in South Florida and author of “Mortgage Matters: Demystifying the Loan Approval Maze.”

A caveat: When a mortgage lender processes your loan application, it runs a “hard inquiry” on your credit score, which can dock your score by up to 5 points, says Beverly Harzog, a consumer credit expert and author of “The Debt Escape Plan.” Your score will recover over time, but it may take a few months. As a result, you should limit your loan shopping to three lenders.

Step 4. Be mindful of interest rate fluctuations

Once you commit to a particular lender, it will process your loan application and you’ll receive a pre-approval letter, which is a commitment to lend you the money you need to buy a home. Although a pre-approval letter is typically good for 90 days, your interest rate isn’t guaranteed until you sign a purchase agreement with a seller, so you’ll want to keep an eye on changes in the market. However, you can opt to lock in your rate for a period of 30, 45, 60, or even 90 days, depending on your lender.

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Credit:  | Dec 13, 2016

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How a Home Appraisal Can Make or Break Your Mortgage

Buying a home often requires some serious haggling between buyer and seller to arrive at a price they’re both willing to accept. But even if you reach an agreement, the negotiations may not be over. If you’re a buyer who needs a mortgage, most lenders will require a home appraisal. So that means you’ll need to get one more opinion on how much the property is worth.

Lenders require a home appraisal before they’ll provide a loan for the simple reason that the home serves as collateral. If for some reason you end up unable to make your mortgage payments, the lender will have to foreclose upon your home, then sell the property to recoup its costs. So it makes sense that it would want to make sure the property is worth that large chunk of change it’s handing over!

If all goes well, the home’s appraised value will end up the same as what you’d agreed to pay. But it could also end up higher—or lower—and this has ramifications for the whole deal.

In this fifth installment of our Stress-Free Guide to Getting a Mortgage, we walk you through everything you need to know about this crucial step and how to handle whatever news comes your way.

What appraisers do

To assess a home’s value, an appraiser considers these main criteria: location, structural condition, additions or renovations, and recent sales of comparable homes, or comps. Comps play the most important role when determining value, says Rick Phillips, an appraiser and real estate agent in Vienna, VA.

“We’re looking for homes sold within the last six months that are equivalent in the numbers of rooms, square footage, upgrades, and location to the home that’s being purchased,” he explains.

If a comp isn’t an exact match—which is typically the case—an appraiser will make adjustments in order to fairly assess the value of the property you want to buy.

For example, if a recently sold home has four bedrooms and the home being purchased has only three bedrooms, the appraiser will make a market-determined deduction on your home’s price.

A typical property appraisal costs around $300 to $500 and is usually paid for by the buyer upfront. But although the appraiser is hired by the buyer, “the appraiser doesn’t represent the seller or the buyer,” says Joe Parsons, senior loan officer at PFS Funding in Dublin, CA. And although an appraiser works to protect a lender from entering a bad deal, he doesn’t work for the lender, either. He is merely there to give an unbiased opinion about the value of a home.

How appraisals affect the sale

If the home appraises for the agreed-upon purchase price, you’re one step closer to settlement. If the appraisal comes in higher than what you’re paying, that’s even better.

For example, if you’re paying $500,000 for a home and the appraiser says it’s worth $515,000, you’ve instantly gained $15,000 in equity. But if the appraisal comes in lower than you’d agreed to pay for the home, that could cause trouble.

Low appraisals tend to occur in hot housing markets, where buyers are often forced to pay above market value for a home. The only problem is a lender won’t loan more than a home’s appraised value, which could leave the buyer to cover the difference, says Chris Dossman, a real estate agent with Century 21 Scheetz in Indianapolis. But if a buyer isn’t willing or able to do that, there are options:

  1. Negotiate with the seller. If the home doesn’t appraise for the contract price, the seller may agree to lower the sales price so the deal can go through. Dossman says this is the most common outcome.
  2. Appeal the appraisal. Sometimes called a “rebuttal of value,” an appeal involves your loan officer and real estate agent working together to find better comparable market data to justify a higher valuation. “Appraisers aren’t perfect,” says Parsons. “They make mistakes.” If you file an appeal, the appraiser will review the information and then make a judgment call on whether or not to adjust the valuation.
  3. Order a second appraisal. “It doesn’t happen very often, but it does when a buyer just absolutely has to have the property” and they believe the first appraisal wasn’t accurate, says Dossman. The initial appraisal might be significantly off base if, say, the appraiser overlooked a good comp or wasn’t familiar with the local housing market. Granted, if the seller is equally committed to keeping the deal alive, you might be able to persuade her to cover the costs of the second appraisal.
  4. Walk away. “It’s a bummer, but it may not be worth overpaying for a home,” says Dossman.

 

This is why, as ominous as the appraisal process might seem, home buyers should see it as a safety measure that keeps them from entering a bad deal.

To find an appraiser, you can ask your real estate agent for recommendations or search by ZIP code at the Appraisal Institute.

Credit: Daniel Bortz | Dec 15,2016, realtor.com