5 Classic Home Buying Mistakes Millennials Make

New generation…same old financial mistakes. But it doesn’t have to be that way! Chances are good, your parents didn’t take you and your siblings aside to share the finer details of the sale or purchase of your family home when you were growing up. Hey — I get it! Mortgage terms and price-per-square-foot are details lost on adolescent minds, but now that you are ready for #adulting, it’s time to figure out how this stuff works so you can do your home purchase right. Here are 5 mistakes home buyers often make — but you can avoid!

Starting your home search before pre-qualifying for a mortgage. You check your bank balance before hitting the grocery store, right? Don’t go shopping for a home before you’ve lined up home financing. And not a guesstimate, but an official letter from a mortgage company stating your qualification to purchase a home up to $XX with XYZ terms. Don’t fall in love with a house you can’t afford, or a house you’ll lose out on to another buyer because your financing isn’t in place yet.

Shopping without a list. If you had all the time and money in the world, you could shop and shop (and shop) for your home, and wait until you find the perfect home before making an offer. In the real world, there is probably competition in the marketplace, and you should shop with a top 5 list of non-negotiable wants and needs, including factors like the number of bedrooms and/or bathrooms, square footage, location, lot size, car storage, and possibly amenities like a gourmet kitchen, finished basement or fireplace.

Buying for right now — without thinking about 3-5-7 years from now. When you are ready take your first steps as a homeowner, think beyond your housing needs this month, this year, or even next year. Ideally, you’ll purchase a home you are likely to be happy in for 5+ years. Circumstances may change, and you might move on from this home before 5 or more years have passed, but you want to buy a home to suit your needs long enough that you’ll be able to gain equity over time, and if you buy a home and end up selling it a couple of years down the road, you may miss out on the maximum equity potential of the property.

Overbuying. You might qualify for a $450k mortgage, but does that mean you should buy a house for that amount? Not necessarily. Buy the best house you can afford, that will put you at a monthly payment you are comfortable with. Don’t max out your home purchase just to spend; max out your checklist items and the long term potential of your home purchase, and make sure you leave enough wiggle room in your ongoing budget to make the updates you want to in your new home, too.

Underbuying. By the same token, if you qualify for the same $450k and buy a lackluster 1 bedroom condo in a so-so neighborhood out of fear — you are selling yourself (or is that buying yourself…) short. Run the numbers, and certainly don’t set yourself up for failure a year or two from now if you can’t pay the monthly mortgage, but if you are too conservative in your purchase, the tiny pad you buy now might not meet your needs 2-3 years down the road, and you won’t have had time to build much equity in the property before it’s time to sell and move onward and upward.

Are you looking for a guide to help you find a great deal on the right home for you? I’ve been in the Denver Real Estate game for over 20 years, and I’m here to help. Drop me a line to let me know how I can make your home purchase plans a reality.

Jack Meyers
jackestate@aol.com
303.263.3050
Twitter: @jackestate

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6 Signs it’s Time to Buy (or Buy Up)

There are a variety of signs and signals it’s time to consider buying your first home, or beginning the search for your next one. Sometimes the place you live now can be rearranged a bit to meet your needs — but sometimes, the best solution is a first (or next) home. Read on to learn some of the clearest signs it’s time to consider a move.

  1. You need a home office. If your home was just right for you once upon a time, but now you work from home or have started a business, it may be time for a home search. Your career matters, and whether you are investing in a new business or transitioning your workplace from office to home, you need the practical, functional aspects of an actual office – not just a corner of the kitchen table. businessman in small office working on laptop
  2. Your career is on fire! One of the coolest things about workplace success is the improvement in lifestyle that can come along with it. Living within your means is always a wise choice, but if you’re renting a thrifty apartment or the starter home you bought several years ago and your job (and paycheck) have grown, it’s time to consider an upgrade, or investing in permanent roots if you are renting. Stuffed Closet
  3. Your closet-mountain is threatening an avalanche. If clutter is taking over your life, you may need to pare down a bit — but you may also genuinely need more space. Don’t rent a storage unit — invest in a right-size home. If you’re living in 1200 square feet, 1500-1800 may be a better fit. If you’re around 2,000 square feet, you may need 2,400-2,600 to give yourself a bit of breathing space. Buying a new home provides a brilliant opportunity to take stock of what you have, unload what you no longer need, and start fresh.                                                 Grass
  4. The grass seems so much greener anywhere but your neighborhood. If your daily life, career or social life are in a rut, it may be time for a new scene. Maybe you’re tired of the hubbub downtown, and you’d be happier (and you’ve heard you’ll get more bang for your buck) further out of the city center. Maybe you work in the city and you’d like to shorten your commute and live closer to the action. Maybe your kids are entering school, and the home you bought as a couple before the kids, is not in a great school district. If you find yourself in a scenario like this, it’s definitely time to consider a move.                                                                          crib aby
  5. You need another bedroom for baby or the in-laws. If your family has grown (or Mom is moving in), you can weather a lot of different growing pains, but you can’t create an extra bedroom or bathroom out of thin air. You might be surprised to find the perfect home, in a great neighborhood (or the neighborhood you already live in and love), with an additional bedroom, or finished square footage on a lower level that suits your expanded housing needs. If your need for additional beds/baths is short-term and you can handle a year or less of tight quarters or shared space, your current digs may do. If, however, new arrangements are long-term or even permanent, it’s worth finding a home that will effectively meet everyone’s needs. Adequate personal space = a happier family.                                                              Dinner Party
  6. You would so love to entertain — but not in this place! You don’t have to be Martha Stewart to want to take a turn hosting Thanksgiving, inviting colleagues for drinks (somewhere besides a bar), or throwing together a dinner party once in awhile. Face it — at a certain point, #adulting means more than a meet up at the Olive Garden, and it’s an awesome feeling to know you can gather friends + family, neighbors + colleagues, around a table for a meal, or in the living room for a casual soiree. If your current digs feel more Friday-night-kegger and you’d like to send out more of a cocktails-and-canapes vibe, it’s time to toss out the commemorative shot glasses from your college spring break in Cancun (that one year) and get thee a grown-up house.

So, what’s stopping you? I’ve helped both newbies to the market and old-hat buyers upsize, downsize and right-size their homes for over 30 years, and I love what I do! It would be my pleasure to introduce you to your first (or next) new home. Drop me a line to let me know how I can help you in the busy Greater Metro Denver housing market.

Jack Meyers
jackestate@aol.com 
303.263.3050
Twitter: @jackestate

How Much House Can You Afford?

Whether you’re buying a home for the first time or planning to upsize, downsize or relocate, thoughtful planning in terms of how much you should spend on your home makes sense. Beyond the size of mortgage you qualify for, thinking through additional expenses and your desired lifestyle before you begin the house hunt, will save time and help you make a smarter home-buying decision.

*Disclaimer: I am not a mortgage lender or financial adviser, and you should bring any and all questions of this nature to a financial professional. I do, however, have many years of experience in the Real Estate industry, and have worked with clients to buy and sell homes at a variety of price points for clients from all walks of life.

  1. Understand Debt to Income Ratio. A Qualified Mortgage will require that your debt to income ratio is no higher than 43% once you take on a mortgage. This means the sum total of all of your debts + your monthly mortgage payment can be no more than 43% of your gross income.
  2. Consider your personal financial situation. Do you have young children and accompanying daycare costs? Are you planning to have children? Are your insurance and medical costs stable? Will you need a newer vehicle in the near future? Do you plan to travel often? Know the answer to questions like these before you determine how much you are willing to spend on monthly mortgage payments.
  3. Consider all home expenses. How much will property insurance and property tax set you back? Will your loan require private mortgage insurance (PMI)? Does your new neighborhood have an HOA? Will your utilities increase significantly from your current situation?
  4. What will you do in an emergency? If home repairs arise, can you handle the additional demands on your budget? When you determine how much house to buy, consider setting aside a monthly amount to handle home repairs as they arise.

At the end of the day, information is POWER, and you should be as informed as possible in order to make the right decision about the affordability of your home purchase, and whether that purchase will fit in with your overall financial and life goals.

Are you ready to take the plunge, or move on to your next home? Drop a line. I’d be happy to help you navigate the competitive Denver Real Estate market.

Jack Meyers
jackestate@aol.com  
303.263.3050
Twitter: @jackestate

 

 

Let Freedom Ring

If you rent or crash on somebody’s couch, you’re missing out. Homeownership offers a freedom that can’t be found in renting; if you’ve never done the research — talked to a mortgage professional, consulted with a Realtor, driven around a few favorite neighborhoods to scope out what’s for sale — now is the time. Read on for a few of the freedoms homeownership offers.

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Homeownership makes YOU the boss. Who likes answering to a landlord or management company? When you own your home, you have additional responsibilities, but you also hold all the cards. So go ahead – paint the walls, hang your pictures, and make the place your own. No permission needed!

Homeownership leaves you free to seek a return on your investment. As a renter, you will never see a dime of the money that goes into your rental payments. Investing in the lucrative real estate market gives you an opportunity to gain equity over time. In addition, interest on your mortgage is tax deductible every year.

Homeownership offers stability. Rents can and do rise over time, property changes hands, and you won’t always have a choice about the ongoing terms of your rental, or whether you can remain there long term. When you own your home, it’s yours. No one can pull the rug out from under you or change the terms of your contract.

Homeownership helps you build a strong credit history. Making your monthly mortgage payments on time every month shows lenders you are a good bet for future auto loans, home improvement credit, and positive financial terms in general.

Pride of ownership is awesome! A rental is never really yours…in the back of your mind, you always know the walls, floor, ceiling — all belong to someone else. Pulling into your own garage or parking space, glancing around the kitchen from the breakfast table and knowing what you see is really, truly your own, gives you a sense of pride that can’t be met when you’re sending in a rent check to pay somebody else’s mortgage.

Have you been pondering the benefits of owning your first (or next) home? I’d love to help you take the next steps to homeownership, or trading up to your next dream home. Drop me a line or pick up the phone.

Jack Meyers

The Meyers Group
jackestate@aol.com 
303.263.3050
Twitter: @jackestate

Cosmetic Issues = Buyer Savings

In a high demand real estate market like Denver, Sellers have the advantage. When Buyer demand outpaces available inventory, the Seller is king, and they have the upper hand at the negotiating table. Don’t abandon all hope, Buyers! In any market, there are things you can do to educate yourself so as to gain an edge in the process.

One area Buyers should pay particular attention to is the cosmetic condition of properties they view. In a Buyers’ Market, Sellers have to work harder to appeal to Buyers, including staging and taking care of deferred maintenance. Sellers can get away with minor deferred maintenance or cosmetic issues when the market is in their favor. BUT – these issues can still give the Buyer a little wiggle room at the negotiating table.

The following is a list of items you can use to your advantage when trying to negotiate concessions or a lower price as a Buyer in a Sellers’ Market (or any market):

  • Overly colorful paint, or paint in poor condition. If the basement is hot pink or the exterior paint is flaking off, it is worth asking for a minor break in the price, or a “paint allowance,” to help cover the cost of updating the home. You might not get what you ask for, and you may have to offer full price with a “paint allowance” stipulation, but the answer to a question you don’t ask is always NO.
  • Damaged carpet or other flooring. I once helped clients buy a house that sounds terrible – but was really a hidden gem: listed under FMV (fair market value), but the house needed all new paint, there were no window treatments of any kind, the main level smelled like dog and the finished basement smelled like cat. UGH – right? They bought this home in a desirable suburb for about $20,000 less than it was worth, and by painting and replacing flooring themselves and purchasing quality blinds on sale, they were able to make this house shine and gain instant equity. Don’t pass up an opportunity like this because the house is a little rough around the edges.
  • Fence in disrepair. Wood fencing is a common source of deferred maintenance. I don’t know many homeowners who enjoy staining or painting the fence every year or two. Use this to your advantage. If the Seller has left the fence alone for a few years, or it has obvious damage, ask for a break in price, or ask whether the Seller will meet you in the middle on repair or replacement costs. If you’ve made a fair offer and the Seller is motivated to close the deal in a timely manner, you may be able to pick up a few bucks on an item like this.
  • Road construction or other pesky projects – current or future. Even in a Sellers’ Market, major road construction, noisy building sites, even nearby home construction can be a pain. Noise. Pollution. Ugly views. Extra traffic. None of these things are pleasant to put up with. As a Buyer, do your homework! If there is a new road going in half a block away, the Seller should disclose this information if they have it – but they don’t always do that. Learn everything you can about a city or neighborhood, and if there are projects underway or planned for the near future, use this information to your advantage. A motivated Seller with a smart Realtor on their side knows major construction projects near the home will not improve the market value in the short run, and they will likely want to sell the house before the dust begins to rise. Use this information to negotiate a better price, or possibly concessions on the home.

Buying a house is a big deal, and there are a lot of moving pieces. When you work with an experienced Realtor, you’ll reap the benefits of someone who’s got your back – and knows every in and out that could save you money and give you an edge. In a market like Denver, Buyers need all the help they can get to score a great deal. If you’ll be in the market soon, I’d love to help you find the right home and maximize your potential at the negotiating table.

Jack Meyers

The Meyers Group
jackestate@aol.com
303.263.3050
Twitter: @jackestate

 

 

Millennials Wonder…

Millennials Wonder…Will I Ever be Able to Afford a House? 

millennials-save-america

The FED’s recent rate hike, tight housing market and other factors leave many Millennials wondering – will I ever be able to afford a home of my own?

This rising generation is waiting longer than ever to marry and have children, and having fewer children once they do start a family. More of them are continuing their education past high school, which means they’re saddled with hefty student loan debt right about the time they’re settling into careers and considering a home purchase. Rental rates – in the Greater Denver area and across the country – have skyrocketed as the housing market has gotten tighter, so renters are able to put less money into emergency funds, retirement accounts and a piggy bank designated for the future down payment on a home.

Other than sharing the sturm und drang of this situation on social media, what can this group do to rise above the challenges preventing them from entering the housing market? Read on for tips on how the Millennial in your basement (or renting the apartment next door or bunking on campus) can pick herself up, dust herself off and prepare for home ownership.

Clean up that Credit. The thing about youth is, it lacks experience. If you went out and got yourself a couple of credit cards, a car, a personal loan and maybe bounced a few checks for good measure as a poor broke college student, quit doing that and start digging yourself out of the hole. There’s no shame in admitting you don’t know how to clean up your credit. Ask a trusted friend, colleague or mentor for advice or referrals to a service that can help, then take action. And if you have no credit, research what you need to do to build a positive credit history from scratch – before you start house hunting.

Scrounge up a Down Payment. Traditional financing will require a 20% down payment to avoid the additional expense of PMI (private mortgage insurance.) One good way to plan your extra savings is to use an online mortgage calculator to figure out what you can afford, tally other likely costs of home ownership like HOA + utlities, and start “paying your mortgage” now. If your rent + utilities is $1500 per month and the mortgage you can afford + other housing expenses = $2000, begin putting $500 per month away as soon as possible. This will help you save up toward the down payment, and when you do purchase a home, you’ll already be used to the monthly expense.

Educate Yourself about Home Ownership. Home ownership is not “renting with different paperwork.” The expenses, challenges and responsibilities of home ownership vary greatly from those of a rental property, and you should know the ins and outs of home mortgages, homeowners insurance, how an HOA works, how owning a home will affect the rest of your financial life, and have a plan in place for what to do if you lost your job, became ill or needed to move suddenly. Life happens – whether you own a home or not. Before you make the largest financial investment of your life, know your stuff.

Consider Your Lifestyle. Buying a home in your 20s is different than buying a home in your 30s, 40s or beyond. Are you single now? What will you gain or lose if you meet someone and decide to sell the home in three years. Are you entrenched in a career with a particular company, or are you on the lookout for the next great thing? A mortgage company will want to see steady job history, so don’t change jobs close to when you’ll apply. In addition, consider whether the size, price and location (location, location) of your home search will be a fit for the next five years. If you aren’t a millionaire investor, you might not be financially prepared to sell and move in a year or two. Purchase a home when you are reasonably certain you’ll be happy for a few years time.

Be Realistic. Owning a home is still the American dream for many people, regardless of age, level of education, religion, cultural heritage – owning a home of one’s own is a big deal. Dream big – but plan realistically. You may have grown up in a five bedroom McMansion with a spacious yard and professional landscaping, but your first house might not fit that ideal. Know which five or so items are non-negotiable on your list, and don’t begin the search for your home until you are pre-qualified for a home loan and have selected a Realtor to work with. If you fall in love with an out-of-reach home, the home you end up with will feel like settling. If you wait to begin your search until you know what you qualify for and have done some soul-and-pocketbook searching to know what you want, you’ll fall for the right home – a house you can afford that meets your needs for the next 3-5+ years.

Jack Meyers

The Meyers Group
jackestate@aol.com
303.263.3050
Twitter: @jackestate

 

What First Time Buyers Want

WHAT FIRST TIME BUYERS WANT

According to organizations like NAR (the National Association of Realtors) and Zillow, first time buyers are far from dead. In fact, an online survey by Zillow attributed 47% of home sale over the past year to first time buyers. This figure helps explain the lack of inventory in the housing market; first time buyers don’t have a property to sell, so while they are flocking to buy, there aren’t enough home available for the total number of buyers, keeping home prices strong for sellers, but leaving some buyers searching longer than they expected, and making multiple offers before clinching a deal.

So who are all these first timers, you ask? If you are a seller, chances are first time buyers are viewing your listing, and it’s worth knowing who they are and what motivates them to buy. If you are in the market to buy a home, learning more about the “typical” first time buyer may give you an edge over the competition.

  • Median age is 33
  • Large percentage of first time buyer’s are couples in their thirties
  • More likely to be college educated                                                                                              (62% of buyers overall have at least a 4 year college degree)
  • 17% of millennial homebuyers are Hispanic
  • Just 66% of millennial homebuyers are white; future generations of homeowners will likely continue to increase in diversity
  • At a median purchase price of $217k and median square footage of 1800, millennials are bypassing smaller starter homes and purchasing next level homes once reserved for “buy up” shoppers looking to expand on space and amenities
  • According to Zillow’s information, just 1/4 of millennial homeowners are city dwellers; a whopping 47% choose to live in the suburbs, proving that suburban living, despite rumors to the contrary, is just as popular with up and coming millennials as prior generations

Whether you are a swinging single, married with 2.5 kids, thinking about retirement or hoping to upsize, downsize or rightsize your digs, it pays to be informed and to have an experienced professional by your side to help you navigate the real estate marketplace. Give me a buzz to let me know how I can help.

Jack Meyers

The Meyers Group
jackestate@aol.com 
303.263.3050
Twitter: @jackestate