The new year is right around the corner, and many people are starting to think seriously about their New Year’s Resolutions. And while the most popular resolutions aren’t going anywhere (eat healthy, work out, spend less time in front of a screen), if you’re looking to buy a home next year, at least a few of your resolutions should be of the financial variety.
Starting the new year off on the right financial foot by making financial resolutions can set you up for success and help you get closer to your goal of buying a home. Here are four financial resolutions you should consider making if you want to buy a home in the new year:
It’s impossible to get a handle on your financial situation if you don’t know what this situation actually is. Which is why your first financial resolution needs to be to track your spending.
Tracking your spending will give you a clear picture of how much money you’re spending, where you’re spending it, and where the opportunities to cut back are.
The key to successfully tracking your spending is to track every single cent you spend. You can create a spreadsheet and manually input every purchase or you can use a money monitoring app like Mint; Mint connects to your debit and credit cards and then tracks and categorizes your purchases throughout the month.
Once you’ve tracked your spending for a month, it’s time to dive into the numbers. How much of your income are you spending on necessities (like living expenses and utilities)? How much is going towards paying down debt? How much are you saving?
It’s only when you have a clear idea of your financial situation that you can determine if you’re ready to buy a home — and, if so, just how much home you can afford without putting yourself in a financially challenging situation.
A great side effect of tracking your spending is that it allows you to see opportunities to cut back. Which leads into resolution #2: cut out any unnecessary expenses.
If you’re serious about buying a home, you need to rein in unnecessary spending and pad your savings account as much as possible. Are you spending a significant amount of money every month eating out at restaurants? Commit to eating out one or two times a month and making meals at home the rest of the time to save some cash. Is your coffee habit costing you $5 a day? Brew a cup in your kitchen before you leave for work. Are you spending a fortune on a gym membership you barely use? Cancel and use free workout videos on YouTube to get your exercise. Do you pay for premium cable when you’d be fine with basic? Downgrade and lower your bill.
Now, keep in mind — even though you’ll want to go into savings mode before you buy a home, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t spend any money on yourself. If you don’t spend any money on fun and entertainment, it can actually make it harder to stick to your budget. Allot a certain amount of money per month you can use as you please; that “fun money” will make it easier to stick to your budget the rest of the time.
The more unnecessary expenses you cut out of your budget, the more you’ll have to put in your savings account — and the faster you’ll be able to make your dream of owning a home a reality.
Another financial resolution to make if you want to buy a home? Clean up your credit.
Your credit score plays a huge part in determining if you get a mortgage and, if so, how competitive your interest rates. A good credit score can save you thousands (even tens of thousands) of dollars over the course of your loan, which is why it’s important to get it as high as possible before you purchase a home.
First, you’ll want to get a copy of your credit report and check for any errors. Errors are more common than you’d think, and even a small mistake can drag down your score. If you find an error on your report, you’ll need to contact the credit bureaus to have it removed.
Once your report is error free, it’s time to do everything you can to boost your credit score. Paying down debt, paying all your bills on time, and keeping the percentage of credit used low can all help to increase your score — which will help you get a better deal on your mortgage when you apply.
There are plenty of resolutions you can make in order to hit your goals in the new year. But if your goal is to buy a house, these financial resolutions are the key to getting there.
HGTV’s House Hunters was one of TV’s first real estate-focused reality shows—and, 20 years later, it’s still going strong.
Over the past two decades,House Hunters(which showcases real buyers as they tour different properties in search of their dream home) has lifted back the curtain of the homebuying process, giving viewers invaluable lessons into how to successfully find and buy the right home.
Choose three criteria for your wish list.In a perfect world, your home would have everything on your wish list. But the chances of finding everything on your wish list is slim to none—so narrowing down your list to three key criteria (like four bedrooms, updated kitchen, and at or under-budget) will help you focus on what’s really important.
Be realistic about your budget.If you don’t understand the market—and what your budget will get you in said market—you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. Research the area where you want to buy (and what your money will get you) so you can be realistic about your budget.
Don’t get caught up in the staging.So many homebuyers get turned off by aesthetic details (like paint colors or odd furniture layouts) that can be easily changed. Make sure you’re looking past the staging and aesthetic issues and are seeing the full potential of the home.
Bottom line? Reality shows might not have a reputation as being educational—but if you’re buying a home, there are definitely lessons to be learned from the past 20 years of House Hunters episodes.
So, what do these trends mean for you? If you’re thinking about selling your home, keeping your finger on the pulse of what’s going on in the design space is crucial; embracing some of the most up-to-date design trends can help increase your home’s appeal to buyers—and ultimately help it sell.
Check outdoor lighting. Inspect all the wiring and light bulbs on your outdoor lighting. With less daylight, proper lighting outside can help ensure safety and security. There are new, LED, outdoor lighting options that can help save energy.
Check your timers. Outdoor lighting timers, pool pumps and yard sprinklers need to be seasonally adjusted. Pools in the cooler seasons only need to be on an hour or two to circulate chemicals.
Save energy. According to the Department of Energy, upgrading to energy-efficient light bulbs and motion-sensing light switches in places like walk-in closets, dim pantries and hallways consumes 25-80 percent less energy than traditional light bulbs, saving you money on your monthly utility bills.
Local program offered by Freedom Realty of Texas gives back to the heroes of the community that are looking to buy or sell their home. Dawn Selix, owner & broker of Freedom Realty of Texas, has been giving a significant portion of her commission to local heroes since 2007 as a way to say "Thank You" to those that protect, serve, and many times lay their lives on the line for our community & our country. In 2015, the Helping Heroes Home program was created!
Heroes that sign up not only receive a portion of the commission paid to Freedom Realty of Texas, but they also receive discounts on other services needed throughout the home buying & selling process. Several inspectors, surveyors, home repairmen, and others have agreed to offer discounts as well through the program. Wanting to BUILD A HOME instead? There are a handful of builders that Dawn works with that have agreed to offer her heroes a special gift, closing cost credit, or another type of incentive.
Maria Garcia & boys
Brazos County 9-1-1 Dispatcher
The only qualification to receive the discounts of the program is that you or your spouse is or was a "HERO". There are NOT any income qualifications, special paperwork, or any other hidden requirements.
The program is offered exclusively through Freedom Realty of Texas, so if you are already working with another REALTOR, unfortunately you cannot take advantage of these savings through this program.
Oh... there is one other request, and most heroes are excited to do so... taking a picture with the Helping Heroes Home BIG CHECK.
Paul Stearns & Gabriela Zambrano
Elementary Teacher @ Bryan ISD
So who qualifies, you may ask! If you or your spouse are one of the following, YOU QUALIFY FOR HUGE SAVINGS!!!
EMT / Paramedics
Educators (including principals, school nurses, & other paid school employees)
Active, retired, & veterans qualify.
SIGNING UP FOR THE PROGRAM IS EASY!!
And signing up should be your 1st step when getting ready to buy or sell a home. Dawn Selix will help you through the whole process, from getting pre-approved, and/or credit repair to finding the perfect home. She's there for you long after closing, and even has home repair & maintenance contacts that have agreed to offer you discounts EVEN AFTER CLOSING!!
Fill out the form at www.TexasHeroSavings.com or on the Freedom Realty of Texas website. You will be contacted within 24 hours by Dawn herself and/or by her preferred lender if you are ready to get pre-approved. NOT QUITE READY YET? Sign up to receive updates or visit the facebook page to meet other heroes who have already been through the program!
When applying for a home loan, your lender will ask you for more than just an application. Beingprepared with the items listed below will help ensure a hassle-free and on-time closing. With today's mortgage regulations, your lender is required to verify all the information you have provided on the loan application including, but not limited to, your income, assets, credit, and other real estate you may own. Depending on the type of loan you are applying for, your lender may need some or all of the following paperwork for each borrower on the loan.
Most recent pay stubs covering the last 30 days of earnings with YTD totals
If you own 25% or more of any company or have rental property, Personal Federal Income Tax Returns for the past two years
All W-2s, K-1s or 1099s for the past two years
If self-employed and/or you own 25% or more of any company, all pages of business federal tax returns for the past two years
YTD Profit and Loss Statement and Balance Sheet for each company you own
Awards Letter from Social Security Administration for all social security
Letter regarding pension/retirement income amount to be received for the year
All pages of checking and savings account statements for the past two months (All pages even if they are blank.)
For any large, unidentified deposits, a letter of explanation for the deposit and a copy of the item(s) that were deposited (we will let you know the threshold on this)
If the money transferred from another account, all pages of the statements for that account as well
All pages of the most recent statement for any other assets, such as bonds, stocks, cash value life insurance or money saved in retirement programs that will be used for cash to close or reserve funds
If using retirement account funds for the loan, the generic “terms of withdrawal” for the account along with the loan or withdrawal documentation
Copy of current mortgage statement(s) for all real estate you already own: current home, rental properties or vacation home. If these mortgages are not escrowed for taxes and insurance, provide the most recent annual tax bill and insurance declaration page with premium as well. Also, if the property has HOA dues, a copy of the most recent HOA dues bill.
If any part of the down payment or closing costs are coming from a gift from an eligible source, a Gift Letter along with proof of receipt of gift funds
Driver’s license(s) or passport
All pages of separation agreement, divorce decree or court order, if applicable
Name and phone number of your current landlord, if applicable
Most recent student loan statement(s) listing the minimum monthly payment amount. If you are currently in deferment (no payments due), proof of the payment amount(s) once they come out of deferment.
All pages of bankruptcy, foreclosure, short sale or deed in lieu of paperwork
Homeowners insurance agent’s name and contact info
Homeowners’ association information with contact information if property is a condo or part of a homeowners’ association
Purchase Contract for current home being sold
Copy of first mortgage statement on current home
If you have a second mortgage or equity line, copy of statement, note/equity line agreement
Copy of title insurance policy from previous closing or HUD-1 Settlement Statement
Copy of your homeowners insurance declarations page
Because every file is a little different, this is not an all inclusive list of items. Upon review of your file, your lender may ask for additional documentation. It's completely normal to be asked for items up to the day you receive the CLEAR TO CLOSE. A good lender will explain the steps of the loan process with you and keep you updated on the loan progress. Their job is to guide you through the lending experience for the best possible result.
Ready to get pre-approved, find out what you qualify for, see if you qualify for any down payment assistance programs, grants, etc, contact Realtor/Broker Dawn Selix with Freedom Realty of Texas at 979-575-6174 for a list of preferred lenders.
Law enforcement, fire fighters, military personnel, dispatchers, 1st responders, medical professionals, educators, and other local heroes qualify for the HELPING HEROES HOME Program in the Bryan/College Station, TX and surrounding areas. To claim your discount, sign up at www.TexasHeroSavings.com if you are not currently in a buyer's rep agreement with another Realtor. Helping Heroes Home program is offered exclusively by Freedom Realty of Texas Realtors.