Janet Cramb & Company/LAER Realty Partners



Posted by Janet Cramb on 4/28/2021


Photo by Scott Webb from Pexels

Potential new homebuyers have the choice of buying a starter home or a forever home. The details mean something different to everybody, but a starter home is usually regarded as a short-term living situation if you can’t afford your dream home yet. Some choose to wait until they can afford their forever home—the home they imagine living in for the rest of their lives. How do you know which option is best for you? Here we’ve put together some pros and cons of buying a starter home so you can contemplate the choice.

Pros of Buying a Starter Home

Affordable - Price is among the most common reasons new homebuyers go with a starter home. These homes are lower priced, which allows you to purchase right away instead of saving up for a much more expensive home. Depending on the area a starter home might have lower property taxes.

Lower Commitment - The whole idea of a starter home is to only live in it temporarily, which takes some of the pressure out of the decision for first-time homebuyers. Homeownership is a big change from renting and it can be a hard change. A starter home can provide a sense of ease—after all, you can always move somewhere else in a few years. That’s the whole idea!

Potential Future Investment - If you buy a starter home, you can keep it as an investment property even after you move out into a larger forever home. You can rent out the property to generate extra side income and potentially help the home appreciate in value.

Cons of Buying a Starter Home

Smaller - Starter homes are smaller than forever homes. This is related to the lower price, but also the idea that the homeowner might just be starting a new life. Maybe you don’t have any kids but are planning on it far enough in the future that you don’t need multiple bedrooms. Maybe you are buying a home to share with housemates for a shorter time due to work opportunities. Whatever the reasons may be, the smaller size of a starter home will make it difficult to grow your family or for situations where you might need more space down the road.

More Work - Starter homes are often older and in need of some maintenance. This also contributes to a lower price. You might find that buying a starter home also means buying a lot of home improvement projects. This can be expensive, time-consuming and stressful for new homebuyers. It’s important to get an inspection before making the purchase so that you can identify any serious maintenance red flags.

Hard to Sell - Some starter homes can be a challenge to sell when you’re ready to move. Whether it’s because of the condition of the home or because it’s in a less than desirable location, there’s a chance it might take some effort (and some money put into improvements) to sell.

If you’re not sure about whether to go for a starter home or wait for a forever home, consider your future and priorities. You can’t plan for everything, but the more you look ahead the better decisions you can make for your first home.





Posted by Janet Cramb on 5/27/2020

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood from Pexels

Are you in the market for your first home purchase? If so, congratulations! This is an amazingly exciting stage of life, and we know you must be excited.

Many first-time buyers run into issues that can turn their new home into a source of stress. Here are three common pitfalls you should watch out for as you purchase your first home.

Biting Off More Than You Can Chew

Far and away the most common pitfall that first-time home buyers run into is with setting realistic expectations. It’s a tough market for first-time buyers, and many are tempted to jump in deeper than they can manage. Just because you can get a mortgage without a full down payment doesn’t necessarily mean that you should, for example.

Your mortgage payment is going to be a reasonable percentage of your take-home pay, but don’t let it get too high. Many experts recommend 25 to 30%. And consider what your financial situation will look like if in a few years you add a child or two to the mix.

Everyone’s situation is different, but none of us have infinite money. Take the time to calculate what you can truly afford, and then stick to those figures. You may well tour your dream home as you look at available properties, but living there won’t be dreamy at all if it puts you in financial distress.

Not Considering Non-Mortgage Costs

If you’ve been renting all of your adult life, you need to be prepared for some non-mortgage costs that you probably haven’t had to pay yet.

First, understand that all repairs to your new home and property are your responsibility. If you have a $2,000 sewer repair crop up in the first 2 months of living there, do you have a way to pay for it? When you’re budgeting for your home purchase, make sure there’s enough left over to cover unexpected issues like these.

Second, if you’re bringing a full down payment to the table, there’s one more non-mortgage cost that could catch you by surprise: property tax. Make sure you know before you buy what property taxes are like on similar homes, and save 1/12th of that amount each month.

Making a Purchase Decision Too Quickly

A third pitfall for first-time homebuyers is rushing the purchase decision. Don’t get us wrong, we want you to buy a house! But your house is a long-lasting investment. Get to know various parts of your city, and take your time surveying what properties are available in your price tier.

Most first-time homebuyers won’t be in a position to sell and move up in house for at least five years. So don’t rush the purchase decision. Be sure before you commit.




Categories: Uncategorized  


Posted by Janet Cramb on 6/26/2019

While buying a home is a huge decision that should entail a lot of planning and preparation, applying for a mortgage can be surprisingly easy. Just like with other lenders and creditors, a mortgage lender will want to know that letting you borrow money will be a safe investment. Applying for a mortgage is all about ensuring just that.

In today’s post, we’re going to breakdown the home loan application process to help you have the best chances at a smooth and successful mortgage approval. We’ll also define some of the common terms used in mortgages that might leave you scratching your head so you have a better idea of what your options are.

Prequalification and Preapproval

Getting prequalified and preapproved for a mortgaged can both be helpful steps toward securing your home loan. The two terms mean two entirely different things, however.

In order to be prequalified for a mortgage, you typically need to only fill out a simple form (sometimes directly through a lender’s website). On this form, you won’t need to provide specifics or official documents.

Why is this process so simple? Well, that’s because getting prequalified for a loan doesn’t ensure that you’ll actually receive one. Rather, it is simply the first step toward finding out what type of mortgage and interest rates you could receive.

The next step after prequalification is preapproval. To get preapproved, you’ll have to fill out an official mortgage application. Your lender of choice will request a few pieces of information from you, including tax returns, proof of employment for the last two years, and a list of your debts. The lender will also perform a credit check to determine your loan eligibility.

Credit report

At this phase, lenders will also run your credit report. This is a type of “hard credit inquiry” that details your payment history, the number of accounts you have open, and other factors that help make up your credit score.

To secure the lowest interest rate possible, it helps to have a high credit score. So, in the years and months leading up to your mortgage application, focusing on building credit will pay off.

To increase your credit score, you’ll need to focus on paying your bills on time each month. You should also avoid opening new accounts within a few months of applying for a mortgage because this will count as a new credit inquiry. New credit inquiries--including applying for a mortgage--lower your score temporarily, so it’s best to avoid them when possible.

Additional paperwork required for mortgage applications

Not every mortgage application will be the same. Depending on the type of income you receive, you may need to provide different forms of income verification.

Each person will also have to claim different debts and assets. When buying a home with a spouse or partner, it’s important to consider your debts, assets, and credit scores to determine if it’s better to apply jointly or separately.





Posted by Janet Cramb on 10/25/2017

We’re not taught much about homeownership when we’re young. Like paying bills and taxes, it’s something we’re all expected to pick up along the way. But with something as important and expensive as buying a home, there should be a guide to help first time homeowners determine if they’re ready to enter the real estate market.

Today, we’re going to attempt to provide you with that guide. We’ll offer some of the prerequisites to homeownership to help you determine if you’re ready to buy your first home.

A rite of passage

Buying a house is a significant moment in anyone’s life. It’s often a precursor to starting a career, a family, and settling in a part of the country you will likely call home for a large portion of your life.

It’s also overwhelming.

There’s much to prepare for before buying your first home. You’ll be calculating a lot of expenses, thinking about jobs and schools, and learning new things about home maintenance. Here are some things to think about before buying your first home.

Can I afford it?

The most obvious question first time buyers ask themselves is whether they can afford a home. What many don’t ask, however, is if they can afford all of the unexpected expenses that come with homeownership.

Everyone knows they’ll be making mortgage payments. But to decide if you can really afford a home you’ll have to make a detailed budget. Here are some other expenses to consider:

  • Mortgage closing costs

  • Property tax

  • Home insurance

  • Maintenance and repairs

  • Home improvement

  • All utilities

  • Moving costs

Do I plan on staying in the area?

When you buy a home, you’re not just committing yourself to the house itself, but also to the area you live in. Typically, it only makes sense to buy a home if you’re planning on staying in it for a number of years (usually five or more). Ask yourself the following questions to determine if you can truly commit yourself to your area.

  • Could my career lead me to transferring to another location?

  • Could my spouse’s career lead them to transferring?

  • If children are in the present/future, is the local school district what I’m looking for in terms of education for my child?

  • Will I want to move live to family?

  • Will I have to move soon to care for aging parents?

  • Do I like the weather and culture in the area?

Is my income stable?

Owning a home is much easier when you have a stable income or two stable incomes between you and your significant other. It help you get preapproved for a mortgage and help you rest easy knowing that you can keep up with the bills each month to maintain or build your credit.

Stability doesn’t just mean feeling comfortable that your company won’t get closed down or that you’ll be dismissed from your job. It also means that there are frequent openings in your field of work in the area you choose to live. So, when planning to buy a home, make sure you factor in the potential travel distance to cities or places you could potentially work.

Am I prepared to put in extra work?

If you currently rent an apartment, you’re most likely not responsible for maintenance outside of basic cleaning. Owning a home is a different story. You’ll be taking care of the house inside and out. That means learning basic maintenance and buying the tools for the job.

It also means mowing the lawn, cleaning the gutters, shoveling snow off of the roof, and other menial tasks that you’ll need to make time for.





Posted by Janet Cramb on 6/12/2013

Being a first time home buyer has it's benefits when it comes to financing. The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) has loans tailored specifically to you! Lower down payments and lower closing costs help newbies make the jump into home ownership. With a FHA first time home buyer loan you can get interest rates as low as 3.5%, which can really save money on the life of your loan and keep your monthly payments lower. Your down payment is also lower than a traditional mortgage; instead of putting 20% down, you can put as low as 3.5% down if you qualify. While a lower down payment will increase your monthly payment (since you are taking a loan out for more money), it will help with the burden of needing a large amount of money up front. With FHA loans you can also include most of the closing costs and fees into the loan, again helping with the money needed at the time of purchase. You can even add in the costs for repairing a home that needs a good deal of fixing up. Regardless, you will need to have enough money for the down payment, some closing costs, and inspection. Since you would be putting less than 20% down, FHA loans require that you also have private mortgage insurance (PMI), which is a percentage of your loan. This will be added to your monthly mortgage payment, and the bank will pay it out of your monthly. Being a first time home buyer probably means you need some help on getting through the process. The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has housing counseling agencies that can give you advice on buying a home, avoiding foreclosure, and fixing your credit. You can find your local agency at http://www.hud.gov/offices/hsg/sfh/hcc/hcs.cfm. Lastly, you can also find local buying programs to help with buying a home, including helping with your down payment at http://www.hud.gov/buying/localbuying.cfm. If you never thought you would be able to afford a house, think again. With programs out there to help you buy your first home, you could be moving into a place before you know it!




Categories: Buying a Home