THE KATTMAN TEAM / Barbara & Miah's Blog
33 Charles Street, Natick, MA 01760
When you’re searching for a home to buy, you’ll probably attend many different open houses. The open house is meant to help you get a feel for different properties. While you can’t get to know all the ins and outs of a home in a short time, you can get an understanding of some of the best things (and not so great things) about a property. Below, you’ll find some of the biggest warning signs that a property may not be all that it appears to be.
There’s A Lot Of Odor Masking Elements In Place
When you walk into an open house, you may get the smell of freshly baked cookies or a lovely candle. While these are great marketing techniques, they also can be a tactic to hide things. Perhaps there are some offensive odors in the house from mold, leaks, smoke, or mildew. You may not be prepared to deal with these kinds of problems once you move into a home.
You Notice Glaring Issues
While the home inspection will reveal many problems that may be invisible to the casual observer, you should still be on the lookout for issues on the surface of the home during the open house. These issues can include cracks in the ceiling or walls, cracks in the floor, or even squeaky floor boards. If you happen to see patchy walls in the home, that could indicate that repairs have been made several times. Be alert for these potential problems.
Does The Home Look Well-Kept?
When you pull up in front of the home is the lawn trim? Does the home appear clean? While everyone would hope that a homeowner would clean up their property before an open house, small and big things like this can indicate a bigger problem. If the home is not cared for on the surface, how many other underlying maintenance issues are there in the home? Neglected regular maintenance can cause larger problems of all kinds in a home.
Strange Cosmetic Fixes
A freshly painted wall could be suspect of a big problem. Under the paint could be mold, cracks, or other issues. Some homeowners do put fresh paint on their walls before selling in order to give the home a neutral feel. However, you should be on the lookout for other signs of problems in the home.
Channel Your Inner Detective
While you don’t need to dig as deep into a home as a home inspector does, you should be on the lookout as you scan a home for the potential livability for you. Things like glaring cracks in the ceiling, or a strong odor of cigarette smoke could be signs of future problems living in the home. The open house is your time to find a home that fits you and your life, so make the most of the opportunity.
156 Farm Street, Dover, MA 02030
If you’re planning to stay in your home as you age, or "age in place", it’s wise to begin planning to renovate your home for your future self sooner rather than later. This will save you money and headaches down the road. I know it’s not an exciting topic of conversation to discuss aging and how to make your home more accessible. However, it’s certainly an important one. And even if you never use these features yourself, they are great to have in a home even if just for visitors, such as your parents.
Renovating before retirement ensures you have the cash flow to fund each change you make to your home. By making these changes now when you don’t need them, instead of as you go, allows you time to do research on best pricing and how to add features that will look seamless in your home. Just because you are “senior proofing” your home doesn’t mean it has to look like an assisted living facility.
The best, and arguably most important, place to start is in the bathroom. This is also a room that accommodations can double as accessible and chic. For example, a lipless walk-in shower, also known as the European Wet Room, eliminates the need to step up which can result in tripping. But it also opens up the room to appear more spacious and allow natural lighting to reach every corner. When renovating choose dimensions that leave enough room for a wheelchair to enter.
You may also want to consider adding a built-in shower bench. This could be a seamless tiled addition styled like a window seat or a chic wooden seat that folds up and out of the way. Grab bars don’t need to be an eyesore either. There are so many options on the market for bars that integrate with your bathroom’s style instead of looking like an afterthought.
When house hunting for a new home, look for one-level open floor plans. Open floor plans are very on trend and a feature many buyers are looking for anyways. They come with the added bonus of having plenty of room for someone in a wheelchair or walker to get around. If a home you are looking at has any hallways measure them to make sure they are wide enough to be accessible for these kinds of mobility aids.
Choosing a home that is a one-floor plan is another subtle way you can “senior proof” your home. Stairs can become troublesome when mobility becomes limited due to arthritis for example. A lack of a staircase to climb also means never having to buy a chairlift down the line. Potentially saving your future self-money and the integrity of your home’s decor.
If you’re hoping to buy your first home in the near future, you’re likely wondering about the different types of mortgages that you may qualify for. Since the 1930s, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) has been insuring home loans for first-time homeowners across America.
This program helps people achieve homeownership who typically wouldn’t be able to afford the down payment or pass the credit score requirements to secure a traditional mortgage.
In today’s post, we’re going to answer some frequently asked questions about FHA loans to help you decide if this is the best option for your first home.
Does the FHA issue loans?
Although they’re called “FHA loans,” mortgages are not actually issued by the FHA. Rather, they’re issued by mortgage lenders across the country and insured by the FHA.
Will I have to make a down payment?
With an FHA loan, your down payment can be as low as 3.5%, significantly lower than traditional loans at 20% down payment. However, you will be required to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI) in addition to your monthly mortgage payments until you have paid off 20% of the home. So, the best case scenario would be to save as much as possible for a down payment to reduce the amount of mortgage insurance you have to pay.
What are the benefits of an FHA loan?
The three main reasons to secure an FHA loan are:
You can qualify with a low credit score
You can make a smaller down payment than traditional mortgages
Your closer costs will be less expensive
Where do I apply for an FHA loan?
You can apply for an FHA loan through a mortgage lender. You can also work with a mortgage broker to help choose a lender.
Is an FHA loan the only loan option for low down payments?
There are multiple loan programs offered at the state and federal level to help individuals secure a mortgage with a lower down payment. They can be provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs, the USDA, or state-sponsored programs. Lenders also often sponsor their own programs to attract potential borrowers. However, always make sure you compare these programs to make sure you’re making the best long-term financial decision.
Do all FHA loans offer the same interest rates and costs?
No. Since the loans are only insured by the FHA, it’s up to the lender to determine your interest rate and fees. So, it’s a good idea to shop around for the best lender.
How high does my credit score have to be to qualify for an FHA loan?
You can secure a mortgage with a down payment as low as 3.5% with a credit score of 580 or higher. However, if you can afford to make a larger down payment, you can secure an FHA loan with a credit score as low as 500.
If your score is in the 500-600 range, it’s typically a better idea to spend a few months building credit before applying for a home loan.
What information will I need to apply?
You’ll need to gather all of the same information that you would for a typical mortgage. This includes W2s from your employer(s), two years of submitted tax forms, your current and former addresses from the past two years, and your gross monthly salary.
I’ve owned a house before, can I still qualify for FHA loans?
Even if you’re not a first-time homebuyer you can still qualify for an FHA loan. However, you cannot qualify if you’ve had a foreclosure within the last three years or have filed for bankruptcy within the last two years.