8 Strategies For Saving Thousands When Buying…
You Don’t Make Money When You Sell Real Estate,
You Make Money When You BUY it!
Do you see the statement above? Someone said it was written backwards…that you only make money when you SELL real estate. “How on earth could you make money when you buy it?” he said.
But that statement is accurate. You might receive your sales proceeds when you sell your home, but it’s how well you BOUGHT your home that will determine HOW MUCH your proceeds will be.
But the story doesn’t end there. Finding the right home, and making a prudent financial investment is more involved than just “buying right.” You also need to FINANCE it right.
Even Experienced Homeowners Make Costly Mistakes
When Buying and Financing Their Home
It’s no surprise that borrowing $100,000…$200,000 or more is a lot of money. And how to FIND the right home…how much to PAY for the home…how much to BORROW…and on what FINANCIAL TERMS can literally mean tens of thousands of dollars MORE or LESS in your pocket!
If you’re like most people, the decision to buy a home involves a number of stresses and strains. For about 80% of buyers, it’s the single largest financial transaction of their lives. Mistakes in any part of the buying process can cost you thousands.
That’s why we wrote this special report…to give you a number of helpful, straightforward tips for finding a home that meets your needs, AND becomes a wise financial investment for you.
Here are eight strategies you should consider when buying your next home…
Strategy #1: Understand What You NEED In Your Next Home.
Two things you need to consider here: Your NEEDS…and your WANTS. They’re two very different things.
You may need four bedrooms because of your children, or need a 3-car garage because of your three cars.
What you’ll find is your needs are fairly basic. It’s the “wants” that take a little more time to clarify. Here is a list of needs you should consider before looking for your home:
General price range of home. We’ll cover this ahead when discussing financing options and the amount of home you can afford.
Approximate size of home (in sq. footage). Make it a reasonable range.
General location, area, or subdivision. Do you need to be close to shopping or parks for the kids?
Number of bedrooms required. Don’t forget to include any home offices or guest rooms.
Number of bathrooms you need. Frequently determined by the number of children you have.
Style and layout of home. Do you want a more formal plan, or a contemporary plan with great room designs, etc.
School requirements or districts.
Strategy #2: Understand What You WANT In Your Next Home.
A great way to get a handle on your wants is to take a good look at your present home. What do you like about it? Do you like its open floor plan? Do you like the kitchen and eating areas? Do you like the common area layout?
List out everything you like about your present home, or homes you’ve visited.
Now, let’s take a look at what you don’t like about your home. Do you hate the flat roof? Do you hate the master bedroom layout? Are the bedrooms too small? Is the kitchen too far from the garage?
If you dislike something with your present home, you’re going to dislike it with your new home. So the better you can identify these items, the more likely you are to avoid them
Here’s a good suggestion: Take out a piece of paper and draw a vertical line down the middle. In the left column, write down everything you like about your present home. In the right column, write down everything you dislike about your present home. It’s also important you understand WHY you dislike something.
Now, from your list of “likes,” let’s compile a list of features you want for your new home. Here’s an important tip that will help you really narrow your focus.
Take out another sheet of paper and put two columns on it. On the left hand side, you will be listing out the features of your home. And on the right hand side, you’ll be listing out the benefits. For each feature, you want to list the benefit of that feature.
Features tell you what something IS: three bedroom, two bath, 3-car garage, etc. Benefits tell you what something DOES. Benefits fulfill desires.For example, a great room concept (feature) will be ideal for entertaining friends and family at special times (benefit). So on the left hand side, you would put “great room.” And on the right hand side, list out all the benefits (or reasons) for the “great room” design: family entertaining, business entertaining, Thanksgiving holidays with the family, etc.
Understand What Each Other is Looking For, and WHY
If you’re a husband and wife looking for a home, this exercise will eliminate many disagreements down the road. You will both understand what the other wants, and WHY they want it.
We recommend you RANK each feature in terms of its importance to you and your spouse. You’re both going to live in the home, so you better understand what the other is looking for.
For example, a well designed gourmet kitchen (remember, list ALL the features of the kitchen you’re looking for) may rank high with a woman, while having a workshop may rank high with a man. Try to understand each other’s priorities.
Most People Have More Dreams Than Money
Ranking will also show you areas you may need to eliminate because of price constraints.
And by having each person rank the importance of the features they want, you won’t be eliminating a high priority item and putting additional stress on an already stressful time.
Strategy #3: Understand How Much Home You Can Afford.
Like it or not, there are two guidelines bankers and mortgage lenders use to determine how much loan you can afford.
The first guideline is the Payment To Income Ratio. This guideline compares your income, or your total household income, to the amount of mortgage payment you’re considering.
To calculate the “payment” part of the formula, the lender will take the mortgage payment (principal + interest) and add to it property taxes and insurance. Hence the term “PITI” (principal, interest, taxes, and insurance). Usually lenders will loan up to a payment amount of 28% of your total household income. But before you think you’re home free, there’s something else you need to know…
It’s called the Debt To Income Ratio. Debt refers to ALL the major monthly payments other than your mortgage payment (PITI). To arrive at this amount, the lender will consider…
• Your car payment.
• Your credit card debt and payment.
• Any IRS liens or payments due.
• Any other payments and debts you have (boat, second home, etc.)
Then, they’ll compare your total debt to your ability to make current payments with your new home loan added into the equation.
Now, here’s the “stickler.” Each mortgage company sets different limits on your Debt To Income ratio, which is why it’s critically important to find a MOTIVATED LENDER.
Think about this…If you spend two or three days to find a loan that saves you $40,000 to $150,000 over its term, your time is WELL WORTH SPENT! Doing a little homework on your own will literally save you thousands over the term of your loan.
Strategy #4: Save A Bundle When Financing.
Your ability to afford a home will be related to a number of items. They are:
The PRICE of the home.
Your DOWN PAYMENT on your home, and thus the amount financed.
The INTEREST RATE and POINTS of your loan – the amount a bank charges you for the money.
The TERM of your loan: 10 year, 15 year, 30 year.
The overall TYPE of your loan. Most common is fixed vs. variable rates, but there are hundreds of loan packages from which to choose.
And just in case you were looking for a specific “rule of thumb,” for financing your home, you should know that…
There Are NO General Rules Of Thumb About Financing Your Home
Each case is different, and your personal financial circumstances will have an impact on how much home you can afford.
However, you MUST understand the relationship and impact interest rates, term of loan, points, and type of loan can have on your overall financial picture.
Now, let’s talk about the impact Term and Interest rate will have on your overall financial picture… How INTEREST RATE and TERM can make or COST you THOUSANDS!
To illustrate the impact interest rates can have on your overall financial picture, we’ve presented a sample table below showing the interest you pay over the term of a 30 year, $150,000 loan at 8%, 7% and 6%.
And here’s the clincher: Just ONE percentage point on a $150,000 loan can cost you almost $37,000 over the term of the loan! TWO percentage points will cost you over $72,000!!
Now this loan from 6% to 7% may be only a matter of $99 a month in payment, but look at the impact in the long term.
Loan Amount Interest Rate Monthly Pmt. Interest Paid Savings
$150,000 8% $1,101 $246,233 – - -
$150,000 7% $988 $209,263 $36,970
$150,000 6% $899 $173,757 $72,476
That’s money taken out of your pocket if you don’t look for good rates!
And if you think interest rate has an impact on your overall financial picture, take a look at what modifying the TERM of your loan can do.
Here’s another example of a $150,000 loan at 7% interest. But this time, we examine the total interest paid when you select a 30-year vs. a 15-year vs. a 10-year amortization:
Term Interest Rate Monthly Pmt. Interest Paid Savings
30 Year 7% $998 $209,280 - – -
15 Year 7% $1,348 $92,640 $116,640
10 Year 7% $1,742 $59,040 $150,240
The “bottom line?” Estimate the maximum amount of payment you can afford, and adjust TERM and INTEREST RATE of your loan to minimize the amount of total interest you’ll pay.
Now, we know that the interest you pay is tax deductible, but think about this: If you’re in the 28% tax bracket, for every dollar in interest you pay, you only save 28 cents. Don’t go spending a dollar to save 28 cents if you can help it!
Here’s How To Instantly Know How Many Points You Should Pay…
Another consideration in the formula is the amount of POINTS you can pay on your loan.
You can spend 1% of your loan amount to bring your interest rate down .25%. (this can vary, of course, depending on your lender) This may sound like a great thing, but let’s take a look at how this works in the long run:
If your loan is of $150,000 is at 7%, your monthly payment will be $997.95. If you pay 2 points (2% of loan amount), that brings your interest rate to 6.5% and your payment down to $948.10. But you’ve thrown in $3000.00 cash into the pot. (Unless you have asked for the seller to pay for your points) So….
The difference in monthly payments is $49.85 per month.
That would be a savings of $598.20 per year.
You’ve spent $3,000 to get this amount of savings, so it would take you 5.02 years to break even and get back the money you spent on points. ($3,000/$598.20)
IN CONCLUSION: If you are going to stay in your home for over 5 years (in this example), paying for points may be a good strategy. But if your future is not certain or you don’t expect to stay in your home longer than those 5 years, paying for points may just be a waste of your resources.
Are you starting to see how important it is to understand your home’s financing? How important it is to shop for the best rates, terms, and points?
Good! Now, let’s move on to another important secret for buying your home…
Strategy #5: How You Evaluate Homes Will Save You Thousands of Dollars And Heartaches!
One of the biggest mistakes people make when buying homes is they rely solely on “local neighborhood market analysis information” to determine the right price to pay for a home.
Before you buy or refinance your home, INSIST on seeing a “total market overview” of exactly what is going on in the ENTIRE market. Then narrow your analysis to local market information.
Why do we say this? Because you want to know two things: 1) What is the ENTIRE market doing with values? Are they going up? And by how much? 2) What is the specific area doing with market values? How does it compare to what the total market is doing? Are the growth rates the same, lower, or higher than the overall market? Understanding these parameters will save you thousands of dollars when you make an offer on a home.
OK, so let’s say you’re now pre-qualified with financing, and you’ve also found a number of homes to preview.
The Way You Inspect A Home For Sale Can Save You
Enormous Amounts Of Money And Time
It’s now time to find not only a home that fits your needs, but a home that will be a good investment. What are some of the things you should look for?
Well, the first thing we always look for is “siting.” Siting involves evaluating three areas: Location, Lot siting, and Home siting. The general location of the home you’re considering could determine how happy you’ll be living there, and what kind of an investment you’re buying. Here’s an important tip that will almost always make you money…
Buy The Midrange Home In The Best Neighborhood You Can Afford
Why do we say this? Because the better the neighborhood, the better the appreciation for you over time. And if you buy the midrange home, the home will “generally” appreciate faster and greater than a higher priced home in the same area. Plus, you will most certainly spend money updating or decorating your new home, and you don’t want to get “upside down” on your home’s value after spending money for improvements.
Now the second area you need to consider is Lot siting. Lot siting has to do with WHERE your particular lot is located in the subdivision you’re considering. Now take a look at where your home’s lot is located in the subdivision.
Is it near a common area? Does it capture better views than other lots in the area? Is it more private, or shaped better than other lots? Is it near a loud street? Lot siting in a neighborhood will give you a basis for knowing how well the home will appreciate vs. other homes in the neighborhood (assuming the home is reasonable).
Finally, you want to look at the Home siting. How well did the builder take advantage of all the amenities the LOT offers a home? Are the views great? How’s the curb appeal? Is there a balance between front and back yards? Do you see any drainage problems because of where the home has been located on the lot?
Think through these things as you visit each home.
Now, as you approach your home, there are other things you want to keep in mind…
What is your initial reaction of the home as you approach it from the street? This is called “curb appeal,” and it has a great impact on the value of the home. Is the home sited right on the lot? Notice the areas around the home? Are they well maintained? Is the landscaping groomed?
Take a look at the structure of the home? As you go through the home, windows and doors should be square, and they should close correctly. Look around windows and doors for cracks. Check corners of rooms for sloping or tile/wood cracks. These may reveal foundation or water problems.
Now think about the floor plan of the home. Is it functional? Do the common areas flow the way you want them to? Are the halls narrow and long, or are they open? How far will you have to carry the groceries from the garage? Are the rooms the right size and height for your desires? If there have been any additions, were they done professionally? Do they fit with the flow and style of the home?
Now, check the roof and ceilings. Is the roof the type you prefer? Is it in good condition? When was the last time the home was roofed?
Now make a basic check of the plumbing, mechanical, and electrical systems. Do drains and toilets work correctly? Is the property connected to sewer, or will you have to deal with a septic system? Is the electrical wiring up to code? And are the mechanical systems working properly? Make sure you get these systems inspected by a licensed contractor or inspector BEFORE you close any deals.
Strategy #6: Save Thousands of Dollars Writing Your Offer And Negotiating Your Deal
Years ago a real estate expert told us that the party who is less motivated almost always gets the better deal. The ONE single element that will determine how well you negotiate your offer is…
How MOTIVATED Is The Seller, And How MOTIVATED Are YOU?
If the home has been on the market for over a year, perhaps it’s because the seller hasn’t been motivated enough to sell. Or perhaps the home hasn’t sold and he/she is very motivated.
And if you’ve been looking for four months, your kids are late for starting school this year because you haven’t found a home yet, and you now have found the right home, YOU may be very motivated to buy!
Nevertheless, here’s a tip you MUST bring to any real estate transaction…
Move Heaven And Earth To AVOID Emotional Attachment
To The Home You’re Considering
If you’re all giddy about the home. If you can’t hold back your emotions when around the home, then you’re going to get clobbered when negotiating the purchase.
That’s just ONE reason why you need a REALTOR® representing you during any transaction. The middle person alone will help save you money.
So let’s say you have a REALTOR® representing you, and you’re ready to write an offer. What’s the single best piece of information you can have?
It’s the comparable sales and market data for the entire market and the area. Ask your REALTOR® to print out both for you to use. Now, here’s what you want to do…
You want to take a look at FOUR important “market telltale signs:”
Take a look at the currently active (for sale) listings in the area. Was the home you’re considering priced within reason to other homes? If so, you know you’re at a reasonable starting point.
Now, take a look at what the average selling price is compared to the listing price. You may notice that most homes are selling for about 3% or 4% less than their offer price. If that’s the case, you know the original offers were LESS than this amount. Take this into consideration when making your offer. And leave plenty of room for negotiating.
Now, make sure you visit several of the other listings in the area. How does your home compare to the other homes? Is the home you’re considering in similar shape? Is it better sited? Is it bigger, smaller, better style, better landscaping, etc.? These factors will help you determine how much you should pay for your home vs. how much others paid for similar homes in the neighborhood.
Now, take a look at the average market times for homes in the area. If they’re long (evaluated on a market by market basis), the market may be soft, and you might have more negotiating room with your offer.
You’re now ready to make your offer. At this point, we highly recommend you work closely with your agent to structure your offer. They will talk about strategies such as: 1) should you offer a high price and ask the owner to throw in all kinds of extras, or 2) offer a low price and skim your way into the neighborhood? The correct answer depends on your personal situation. And you need to work closely with your REALTOR® to strategize your offer.
Strategy #7: Be Financially Prepared – Ahead Of Time!
Many people go about the home finding process backwards. They go through the entire process of searching, evaluating, and writing an offer on their home, WITHOUT being financially prepared.
And it usually costs them money. Big money!
Completing a few things up front before you go searching will save you a lot of money, time, and hassles. What are those things? Here are three of them:
First, find a MOTIVATED lender.
What you want to do is find a mortgage lender who is MOTIVATED to take your loan. One who represents many different products, and can offer you many options for making your loan most affordable.
Here’s an important tip: Ask your REALTOR® to refer one or two lenders to you. Why? Because agents have power over lenders because they send them lots of clients. It’s not just YOU alone talking to them.
If they don’t give you first class service, the agent who sent you will probably refer their clients to someone else. So they’re motivated to SERVE YOU. And the minute you have a problem with your loan, you can turn to your agent…who has much more influence and leverage over the lender than you alone. After all, your agent and lender both want to see the transaction close. There’s power in numbers and influence. Use it to your advantage.
Now, the second thing you want to do is PRE-APPROVED with a lender.
Because the first question any home seller will ask when an offer is presented is “Is your buyer approved for a mortgage?”
And rightfully so! The seller doesn’t want the deal to fall through because you couldn’t get financing. When they accept your offer, their home usually comes OFF the active market. If you fall through, it costs them time and money. Plus, there’s one more reason to get pre-qualified or approved…
You Will Have Much More Power To Negotiate
Price And Terms When You’re Financially Qualified!
When you have money behind you, the seller knows you’re serious. And a serious buyer ALWAYS has more influence to negotiate. So do yourself a favor, GET PRE-QUALIFIED or PRE-APPROVED!
Now, the third way to become financially prepared is to have deposit funds available immediately. Write it out of your checking or savings account – whatever it takes to make sure those funds are available and ready. Then when you find the home that you love, you are ready to make a strong offer right there, and not have to wait a day or two to figure out how you’re going to get the earnest money or downpayment.
Strategy #8: Use a REALTOR® representing you as the buyer!
The question you have to ask yourself is… “Is this person going to represent MY interests?”
Think about this: If you had to go to court, would you use the same attorney the opposing side was using?
We think you know the answer! The agent that listed the home is obligated to treat you fairly and honestly, but he/she is also working for the seller, and thus must protect both sides of the equation. Your interests are best protected by finding a REALTOR® to work with just you as a buyer’s agent:
He/she will support ONLY your interests. This includes finding your home, helping with financing, and negotiating the best possible deal for YOU.
He/she will keep everything about you and your deal CONFIDENTIAL!
So what a good agent can do for you?
A good agent knows the area you want to buy in.
A good agent can spot trouble for you. He or she will be experienced at looking at homes and will see things you might not see.
A good agent will greatly simplify the buying process.
A good agent will give you motivated, reliable financing sources and options.
A good agent will refer you to proven inspectors and other service providers you’ll need.
We hope the information above has given you helpful advice finding, buying, and financing your next home. At this point, you’re probably pretty clear that, in order to find the right home and save money, you need someone competent and professional to represent YOUR interests.
Give us a call now at 605-391-7086 (Tristan) or 605-381-3383 (Sarah) so we can discuss more how we can help you find the home of your dreams and get a good deal while doing it!
- Tristan and Sarah