Moving? Here are our tips for choosing the right community

Let’s face it, moving is stressful. To reduce stress when you’re moving from another state, another part of Georgia or another city or town around metromailbox Atlanta, start by narrowing down the ideal community for you and your family.

For starters, consider your commute. There’s no denying the traffic issues Atlantans face, especially if they live outside the perimeter and commute downtown. If you’re moving because of a job, you may want to consider the time you’ll spend getting to and from work first and foremost. Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s see how you can narrow down your choices so that when you’re ready to look at homes with your Realtor, you can pinpoint specific neighborhoods.

Here are some things to consider when moving to Atlanta:

  • Do you have children or are you planning to have children anytime soon?
    Research the school systems. Even if you’re single, living in an area with a much sought-after school system raises your property value.  Great Schools.org is one resource – http://www.greatschools.org/
  • What type of home do you want? Are you interested in a single-family home or an apartment, townhouse or co-op?  Do you want acreage or no maintenance? Match your home to your lifestyle. Are you looking for home with historic charm, or new development? Do you like the protection of an HOA, or want more freedom?
  • What does your ideal community have close by?  If you’re an outdoorsman, own a boat or love to mountain bike, you’ll want to be closer to lakes, forests and parks. If you love to eat out and shop, maybe you’ll want to be closer to stores and restaurants, maybe even have those amenities within walking distance of your front door…
  • What are the redlines?  Allergy sufferers or asthmatics may want to avoid industrial areas. Noise haters may want to steer clear of high traffic roads, highways, even college campuses… decide what’s a deal breaker for you.
  • Other considerations: be sure to review an area’s crime rate, police coverage, fire protection and location of medical facilities. If you are older, or have older parents living with you, a hospital nearby may be a must-have on your list.

Once you’ve narrowed down the areas based on the research and criteria above, there’s no better way to get a true picture of the neighborhood than to visit it (and you may want to visit during the weekend, and weekdays at different times of the day if possible).

  • What’s your first impression? Are the streets wide and well lit? Are they clean and well maintained? Are the homes and businesses kept up or run down? Do people look happy, friendly and energetic?
  • Picture yourself here. Do you see your family having dinner at the local café? Are the kids excited that the school has a big playground? Do you see yourself working out at the gym?
  • Talk to people! What better way to get a first-hand impression. Visit the local market and strike up a conversation with another shopper. Talk you your waitress, stop at a house that is for sale and greet the next-door neighbors…
  • Watch out for redlines and warning signs…. Are there several houses for sale on each block? Are homes and businesses vacant? Look for things that may cause your home value to decrease over time.

Once you’ve found the perfect community, you should apply some of the same principles to finding your ideal home.

  • How much can you afford to spend on a home? Use The Mortgage Guys handy mortgage calculator to see how much you can afford.  Apply Now for pre-approval to boost your bargaining power on the new home.
  • Compare your loan options. Read our Mortgage Basics blog post to find out what mortgage is right for you. http://www.mortgageguysatlanta.com/2011/12/19/mortgage-basics/
  • Find a licensed Realtor in your ideal community to help you find the perfect house!

Mortgage Guys Top Tips for a Smooth Move

Now that you’ve sold, or bought, and of course we hope you’ve worked with The Mortgage Guys on your mortgage, it’s time to think about organizing your move. Whether you’re going around the block or around the world, taking just the clothes on your back or a tractor trailer full of possessions, you’ve got to be organized in order to make the transition a smooth one. The Mortgage Guys have gathered our Ten Top Tips for a smooth and stress-free move:

1-      Plan Ahead – doesn’t matter if you’re move date is in a week or six weeks – planning can take the edge off for you and your family. Create a moving notebook and devote a page to each week (or each day) from now until the move and decide what you’ll accomplish, listing the tasks on each page of the book.

2-      Room Sweep – go room to room in your current place and decide what you’re taking and what you’re selling, donating, or throwing away. These decisions will help you decide whether you’ll need a rental truck or a moving company.  If you’re planning a yard sale, set aside items to sell as you go through the house.

3-      List Resources – make a list of the phone numbers, websites and addresses of the companies you’ll need to help you move (moving companies, rental companies, shipping companies, storage companies, cleaning companies). List out the phone numbers of utilities, schools and other services in your old and new locations.

4-      Gather the Goods – head to the store to gather up what you’ll need for packing (boxes, plastic bags, bubble wrap or other wrapping material, a thick marker pen, color coding stickers, packing tape). You can be creative with packing materials and save money too. Use household items like sheets, towels, grocery bags, and newspaper to pad boxes.

5-      Friendly Folders – create folders or files for all your moving-related expenses and receipts, family records (such as children’s medical and school records), and account information with national companies (cell phones, satellite TV, insurance company, bank etc).

6-      Spread the Word – start a “change-of-address notification” list. Include everyone you do business with, from service people to health care providers as well as your neighbors and friends. Don’t forget to file a “change of address” form with the U.S. Postal Service.

7-      Prepare the Family – if you’re moving more than 10-15 miles from your current home, take children on a farewell visit to some of the places that hold happy memories or hold a going-away party for them and their friends, and for the adults, maybe hold a pot-luck dinner or barbeque.  Make arrangements with a friend or neighbor to watch kids and pets on moving day. This will ease their stress and yours as the truck is loaded.

8-      Go Treasure Hunting – If you’ve hidden any valuables around the house, be sure to dig them up (check the attic and crawl spaces too). Also remember to pick up any dry cleaning, shoe or jewelry repairs, and return library books, movie rentals, etc. Be prepared to carry valuables such as jewelry, collectibles, and medicines with you instead of packing them to go with the movers.

9-      Touch Up – check each room of the home for things you need to repair and or clean. Fix major nail holes, replace burned out light bulbs, clean carpet and floors, and wash down spills in refrigerator. Or, if time is tight, hire a cleaning company to come in and do a quick clean after the movers leave to make sure that everything is clean and ready for the new owners.

10-   Final Sweep – after the truck is loaded with all of your furniture and boxes, do a last check of:

–  Water shut off?

–  Furnace shut off?

–  Light switches turned off?

–  All utilities set for disconnection?

–  All windows and doors are closed and locked?

–  All spare house keys and garage door openers left for the new owners?

–  Mailbox empty of your mail?

–  Have you left anything at all inside, or out?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moving is less of a chore when you get organized and check off tasks as you complete them. Once you arrive at your new home, your planning will make the relocation easier, but be sure to start into a routine as soon as you can – this is especially important for kids. We also found this a great Infographic to help you remember to de-stress and move smooth!


George Beylouny is a licensed loan originator and the Branch Manager for Silverton Mortgage Vinings.  He can be reached at 678-428-6514, George@mgatl.com or  www.mortgageguysatlanta.com

 

 

Why to Buy… the emotions and economies of renting vs. buying a home

Today’s reduced home prices, low mortgage rates, and solid home inventory have made buying a house attractive, and many Atlantans are asking themselves if it’s the time to give up renting to buy their own home. Making the move from renting to home ownership is an emotional decision, and also very much a financial one.

While setting down roots is often considered a natural step, job responsibilities, family ties, and personal satisfaction can weigh heavy on the decision to give up the flexibility of renting under a 1 year lease, to the 15 or 30 year commitment of a mortgage. Personality and time commitments play a big part in the decision of what type of home to buy as renters are accustom simply making a phone call to fix maintenance problems, and to having all outdoor maintenance, landscaping and yard work done for them. Home ownership comes with a certain degree of upkeep which varies based on whether you buy a condo, townhouse, single family or ranch-style property.

If you’re not a handyman (or handywoman), consider the costs of modernizing and redecorating as you’ll need to hire out, so you may want to just look at move-in ready homes. Consider your out of pocket costs will be to get into the new home (keeping in mind what you’d “love to have”), then talk to the mortgage professionals here about what you can truly afford month to month. You also want to be sure that the home you buy is one you’ll be happy in for years to come. Don’t make the mistake of convincing yourself that home buying a short-term commitment.

Emotions matter…i f you’ve just gone through a big life change such as marriage, a newborn, divorce, job change, or a death in the family, taking on the responsibility of owning a home might not be the best decision today.

When considering a move from a rental unit to a home, you need to find a neighborhood and a house that suits your lifestyle, commute time, and budget. You may want to live in Woodstock, but don’t want to spend the commute time to get to your south Atlanta job because you have young children in daycare. Regardless of where you decide to live, be sure to have your Realtor share the sales price trends of homes in the neighborhoods you’re considering, after all, a home is an investment.

Buying a home is in fact one of the biggest investments you will make – ever.  So…armed with good credit, a stable job, and cash in the bank, making that investment may very well be a wise financial decision.

The Pros

For Renting:

  • Flexibility (relocating is easier)
  • Can invest money elsewhere (stock market)
  • No upkeep fees (drippy faucets, broken appliances, etc.)

For Buying:

  • Tax-breaks (mortgage interest and property tax deductions)
  • Potential for building equity (traditionally 4-5% annually)
  • Emotional satisfaction/pride
  • Security, stability, comfort

 

The Cons

For Renting:

  • No equity
  • Annual rent increases

For Buying:

  • Property taxes
  • Upkeep
  • Mortgage costs
  • Loss of flexibility should you want to move

If you are on the fence about whether to buy or rent, use what’s called the rent ratio, an over-simplified starting point. Take the purchase price of a house and divide it by the yearly cost of renting. The New York Times has a great calculator to help you in your decision making process: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/business/buy-rent-calculator.html.

You may also want to read our Tips for First Time Home Buyers blog post – http://www.mortgageguysatlanta.com/2012/07/26/tips-for-first-time-home-buyers/

All in all the decision to assume a mortgage and buy a home is a very personal one. But armed with accurate information, it’s a decision you can feel good about. Contact Atlanta’s Mortgage Guys before you tear up that rental agreement, and we’ll help you review your options so you can make the best choice for you.


George Beylouny is a licensed loan originator and the Branch Manager for Silverton Mortgage Vinings.  He can be reached at 678-428-6514, George@mgatl.com or  www.mortgageguysatlanta.com

How to Choose a Great Real Estate Agent

In addition to finding a mortgage lender, when thinking about listing your home for sale or purchasing a new home, finding a a real estate agent who can use a wide range of tools to help your purchase your home is important. Here are some of the best traits of a great real estate agent. Handshake

  • Find your candidates from relationships you already have. Ask people you know who own or are shopping for new homes in the same general geographic area where you want to live who their realtor was, how their transaction went, whether they still keep in touch with their realtor, and whether they’d work with that person again.
  • When you’re calling to find the right candidate, make sure you mention the name of your source. This way, you seem more credible and serious than a person who’s calling at random, and you’ll show you’re more deserving of their time and attention.
  • Set up expectations. What do you want from your real estate agent? Outline your needs from the start so there won’t be any surprises down the road.
  • Find an agent that specializes in homes that are similar to what you’re looking for. If your budget is $200,000, it’s probably best to stick with an agent who has similar listings. Also, be sure to check out the photos and descriptions of current listings to see what type of properties they’re most familiar with.
  • Make sure you get along with the agent. Ultimately, there should be some sort of compatibility that allows you to have a successful business relationship.
  • Be wary of choosing a friend or family member. This could potentially jeopardize the relationship if the buying or selling process gets difficult.

Selecting a real estate agent is one piece of the home-buying puzzle. Contact The Mortgage Guys of Atlanta, GA to help you fill in the gaps. We can sit down and talk you through the home buying process, including helping you figure out your budget, discussing financing options, and even offering a recommendation on real estate agents we have worked with in the past.

News in Renting Vs. Buying a Home

According to a new article published by the L.A. Times, on average, potential homebuyers who purchase a home instead of renting can break even by three years.

This real estate news was discovered by the website Zillow, and the new analysis of this data is called the “break-even horizon.” The discovery: compparing what it would cost to buy or rent the same home in a number of U.S. markets over time. Of course, the rent versus buy calculations vary widely based on location. Collection of Rental Signs

The analysis includes many factors that first-time homebuyers need to consider when purchasing a home, such as the down payment, mortgage and rental payments, buying and selling costs, utilities, property taxes, maintenance costs, homeowners insurance and tax deductions. Additionally, the analysis adjusts for price inflation and also predicts home values and rental price appreciation.

If you’ve been a renter for a long time and are interested in purchasing your own home in Atlanta, Georgia, don’t hesitate to contact The Mortgage Guys. George and Dan can work with you to make you feel comfortable making well-informed decisions about the home buying process and guide you in calculating your budget.

Photo courtesy of Flickr.

 

 

Tips for First-Time Home Buyers

With mortgage rates still hovering at all-time lows, now is the best time for new homebuyers to think about purchasing a home. If you have all of your financial ducks in a row, looking for a new home can be one of the most exciting parts of the home buying process.

Choosing which neighborhood in Atlanta you’re looking to move into, as well as other considerations like single-family home vs. condo, are some of the decisions in your future. Here are some additional tips every new homeowner should be aware ofMortgageServicing.jpg

  • Calculate your budget. By sitting down and figuring out a budget, you don’t risk wasting time on homes you’re unable to afford. It’s best to determine your budget based on your income and current debts, and using a mortgage calculator can help you get started. If you have money set aside for a down payment, don’t forget to figure that in.
  • Pay off remaining debt. This includes car loans, student loan debt, and credit card debt. These are all factors in maintaining a good credit score as well.
  • Avoid looking at houses that don’t match your budget. This will save you and your real estate agent time and energy. No sense in wasting either for both of you on houses you won’t comfortably be able to afford.
  • Gather important mortgage-related documents early on. This includes items like a list of current debts, employment information, tax return information, etc. It will save you time and energy later on to have all the necessary documents in order.
  • Ask lots of questions. The home buying process can be confusing, full of real estate and mortgage jargon that many new homeowners don’t understand. Don’t hesitate to ask lots of questions, and a good mortgage lender will help you understand all the ins and outs of the process.

If you’re about to take the plunge and purchase your first home, don’t hesitate to contact The Mortgage Guys so that we can help you get the lowest rate! We’re happy to take the time to answer all of your questions and ensure the home buying process goes smoothly.

How to Maintain a Good Credit Score

As we’ve written before in a previous post, the importance of credit scores have risen drastically in recent years. Potential homebuyers must understand that a credit score is a very important factor in determining whether or not a mortgage lender will give you a loan.

Factors like credit cards, car loans, payment history and credit history will all determine your credit score. Here’s how to make sure your credit score is top-notchCredit Cards and Money

  • Keep tabs on your credit report – You can check it annually at freecreditreport.com. Make sure to go over it carefully, and report any errors on the provided form.
  • Pay your bills on time – Not paying your bills will effect your credit rating. Plus, the longer you pay your bills on time, the better your credit score will be.
  • Keep your credit card balances low – Try to keep your credit card debt well below your credit limits. Pay off as much credit card debt as you can, paying off the cards that are closest to their credit limits first. Lenders like to see credit activity, but keep it to a minimum, otherwise, you look like a risky candidate for a loan.
  • Keep old credit cards open – When you close an old credit card, the issuer no longer sends updates to the credit bureaus and the credit scoring formula distributes less weight on inactive accounts. This means that losing that credit history can shorten your average credit age and cause your score to drop.
  • Limit applications for new credit – If you are new to credit, opening numerous new credit accounts could make you look like a risky candidate and will lower your credit age.

Hopefully these tips on maintaining your credit score will help you get on the right track with credit, and be on your way to applying for a mortgage. If you still have questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to contact The Mortgage Guys in Atlanta, GA.

Photo courtesy of Flickr.

The Best Tips to Sell Your Home

We’ve written many blog posts about what to look when searching for a new home, but about half the time, in order to even look for a new home, homeowners have to sell their current home, and in current real estate market, that be a tough sell. However, with some good advice, every home can look like a diamond in the rough. Here are a few of our favorite tips for preparing your home for the real estate market:

  • During an open house, it’s best to leave for a few hours. Staying inside during an open house can potentially leave you open to hearing criticism about the home, which could make you defensive and scare off the buyer.  Take your kids to the park or go visit an attraction that’s on your to-do list, and it’s time much better spent.
  • Put Family Photos Away – Storing family photos before your house goes on the market helps potential buyers see themselves in your home. Photographs can be distracting, and buyers might be looking at photos of your family vacations instead of your crown molding and granite countertops.
  • Kill your Clutter – One of the biggest turnoffs for buyers is clutter. Real estate agents suggest to remove half of everything in your closets, garage and cabinets. Extreme, yes, but people love seeing that all your stuff fits in the house, and won’t be worried if their own belongings will fit, too. Clutter-free kitchen
  • Make the front entrance welcoming – A new doormat and a vase of fresh flowers at the door will help welcome potential buyers as if they were guests. Add fresh flowers or plants in your front beds or on the front porch for an extra dose of curb appeal.
  • Put Away Fragile Items – Prospective buyers with children will more than likely bring them along, so you don’t want any of your fragile or valuable items out on display.
  • Get Rid of Any Signs of Pets – While most people agree that pets are important members of the family, not everyone is pet-friendly. Remove food and water bowls and make sure the litterbox is out of sight and kept clean so buyers who aren’t animal lovers aren’t turned off. Most importantly, keep your pets crated or better yet, with you during an open house.
  • Little Extras – Putting fresh soap and towels in the bathrooms, clean dish towels in the kitchen and even emptying the trash can really pack a punch. It says to buyers, “this house is well-kept,” and they’ll believe it!

These are just a few house selling tips that we’ve gained from working with real estate agents all over the Atlanta area. If you’re currently looking to purchase a new home, don’t hesitate to contact Dan and George of the Mortgage Guys in Atlanta, GA.

 

What to Look for in a Green Home

Whether you are a first time home buyer or a seasoned veteran, it is important to note that buying a house is one of the biggest decisions you can make, and not just financially. The location, size and style of your house, along with what you chose to do with it, can have a huge impact on your carbon footprint. Buying a home in Atlanta, GA with green renovations is also a great option, as you can feel good knowing that the renovations were environmentally friendly. Here are a few items to look for when looking to purchase a newly-renovated green home:

Windows – Choosing windows in a home that have been recently replaced with energy-efficient windows replacing old windows with ENERGY STAR qualified windows can lower household energy bills by 7-15 percent. You also get the added benefit of avoiding drafts in the winter and sweltering areas in the summer.

Look for this logo when considering your new r...

Low or Zero-VOC paint – If a house has been painted with low or zero-VOC paint, it is especially good for homeowners with small children, animals or people with breathing problems like asthma and emphysema. VOC stands for volatile organic compounds, and with traditional paints, these compounds are released into the air as it dries, which causes air pollution.

Reclaimed Materials – Things like reclaimed wood floors, cork floors are gaining in popularity. Reclaimed materials are not only more affordable (as a whole), but they save the energy, material, and resources it would take to produce a new similar product.

Energy Efficient Lighting and Fixtures – A home with energy-efficient lamps which accept LEDs and compact fluorescent light bulbs, help save energy by using less electricity. Another item to look for is motion sensors and timers in rooms to keep lights turned off when they’re not needed.

In addition to these, location  and size are also important in choosing your next home. Keep in mind that smaller homes use less energy and require less materials during construction and location is key since you will want to be close to shopping, schools and your work.

Hopefully, these tips will help you if you’re on the market for buying a green home. If you’re currently looking to purchase a new home or know someone who is, contact The Mortgage Guys in Atlanta, GA. We’re happy to help!

 

Seven Things Your Agent Should Know About Your Mortgage Approval

While many experienced real estate agents have a general understanding of the mortgage approval process, there are a few important details that frequently get overlooked which may cause a purchase to be delayed or denied.

New regulation, updated disclosures, appraisal guidelines, mortgage rate pricing premiums, credit score, secondary approval layering, rescission deadlines, property type, HOA insurance requirements, title and property flip rules are just a few of the daily changes that can have a serious impact on a borrower’s home loan financing.

With today’s volatile lending environment, it’s obviously important for home buyers to get a full loan approval which clearly defines all contingencies that pertain to each unique home buyer’s scenario prior to spending any time looking at new homes with an agent.

Either way, we’ve listed a few of the top things your agent should keep in mind while showing you new properties:

Caution – Agents Beware:

Property Type –

High-Rise, Condo, Town House, Single Family Residence, Dome Home or Shoe House… all have specific lending guidelines that can influence down payment, credit score and mortgage insurance requirements.

Residence Type

Need to sell one home before moving into another? Is a property considered a second home if it’s in the same city?  What if I’m buying a home for my children to live in, it is still considered an investment property?

These are just a few of several possible residence related questions that should be addressed by your agent and loan officer at the initial loan application.

Rates / Locks

Mortgage Rates are typically locked for a 30 day period, and one of the only ways to get a new rate is to switch mortgage lenders.  Rates also have certain adjustments for property / residence type, credit score and down payment which could have a big impact on monthly payments and therefore approvals.

A 1% increase in rate could literally mean the difference between an approval or denial.

Headline News / Employment

Underwriters watch the news as well.  Borrowers who work in a volatile industry during hard economic times may have to jump through a few extra hoops to prove that their employment and income is secure.

Job changes, periods of unemployment or property location in relation to the subject property are other things to consider that may cause a speed bump in the approval process.

Title / Property Flip –

A Flip is considered a property that has been purchased by an investor and quickly sold to a new buyer within a 30-90 day period.  Generally, an investor will do a little rehab work, fresh paint, landscaping…. and try to re-sell the property for a significant profit margin.

While it seems like a perfectly fair transaction, many lenders have strict guidelines in place that prevent borrowers from obtaining financing on properties that have a previous owner with less than 90 days of documented ownership.

These rules change frequently, and are specific to particular property types, so make sure your agent is aware of all the boundaries associated with your approval letter.

Homeowner’s Association Insurance

Some lenders require Condos and Town House communities to have sufficient insurance and reserves coverage pertaining to specific ratios on units that are owner occupied vs rented.

It may also take a few weeks and cost up to $300 to receive an HOA Certification, so make sure your Due-Diligence period is set accordingly in the purchase contract.

Appraisal Ordering Procedures

Appraisal ordering guidelines are changing quite frequently as regulators implement many new consumer protection laws created to prevent future foreclosure epidemics.

Unfortunately, some of the new appraisal regulations have proven to slow the home buying process down, as well as confuse lenders about the true estimate of neighborhood values.

VA, FHA and Conventional loan programs all have separate appraisal ordering policies, so make sure your agent is aware of which loan you’re approved for so that they document any anticipated delays in the purchase contract.

For example, if an appraisal takes three weeks and the average time for an approval is two weeks, then it probably isn’t smart to write a purchase contract with a four week close of escrow.

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