How to Get a Mortgage without a Credit Score

 

Most homebuyers began to establish credit as young adults- whether it is in the form of a student loan, a credit card, or a car loan; but, there are always those consumers who have not built their credit.

Is there a way to get a mortgage without a credit score?

President and CEO of Ross Mortgage Corp. in Royal Oak, Michigan, Tim Ross, states that it is possible, but, it is very difficult.  Lenders use an automated underwriting system that helps them to determine the risk of the applicant.  Information in this system is specific information that includes the applicant’s credit score.  Lenders do have nontraditional means that can be used for credit verification.

Most mortgage lenders generally require that applicants have a score of no less than 620 in order to be considered for a loan.

Regardless of your reason for not having built your credit, there are alternative sources that mortgage lenders can use to determine one’s credit risk. Sources include different types of verification, such as, canceled checks that can be verified through the landlord or canceled checks over a period of time. Other alternative sources of credit include:

•    Utility bills for water, electric, and gas provided they are paid separately from your monthly rent.
•    Cable and telephone bills.
•    Medical insurance, life insurance, renters insurance and car insurance payments if they are not automatically deducted from your salary.
•    School tuition or child care payments.

The more of a solid payment history you can provide to the lender, the better your chances of qualifying for the loan.

What To Expect When Buying Your First Condo

About the author: Crystal Tost is a real estate agent in Calgary,AB where she contributes to www.calgaryrealestateweb.com – search the MLS Calgary for condos for sale.

What to Expect When Buying Your First Condo

Your journey in purchasing a condo for the first time can be both challenging and exciting. You have to be all prepped up for all types of soul-searching and decision-making. After all, this is one of the biggest investments of your life and you don’t want to end up making the wrong choice.

By now, you might have countless questions running through your mind. Here is some relevant information to point you in the right direction:

Know what you want.

Before going out to look for condos, take some time to decide on the things you want. What are the features that suit your needs and lifestyle? In which neighbourhood do you want to live in? Settle these personal issues so you don’t have to waste time being undecided while you’re already on the process of finding homes.

Note that buying a condo takes time.

Patience is a virtue for condo buyers for it takes a while before you can actually move in. You have to go through the process of selection, negotiating prices, inspection, document review and closing the deal. But try not to be stressed out. The ideal house is out there for you. Just give it some time.

Road bumps lie ahead.

The road to getting that dream house can sometimes be challenging, if not altogether frustrating especially when your expectations are not met. There may be different personalities and difficult situations waiting for you which will require important decisions being made by you. The trick is to keep calm and try to look at the positive side – you will soon be the owner of your own condo.

Money has to be spent.

Obviously, making this purchase involves a big financial commitment. The only thing you have to determine is how much you will be spending. Your dream condo will stay merely a dream if you do not have the means to pay for it. Unlike buying your other needs, you need to have enough money to spend on the buying process, actual purchase itself and moving in. If you have not planned this one out, it is highly recommended that you postpone until you have the needed financial requirements.

Stress is part of the journey.

Repeat buyers already know this. But as for you, who is a first-time buyer, you should ready yourself to take on stress. It’s not a dreamy process where everything goes smoothly. Stress can be caused by many things. It may be lack of time or money, problems with negotiation, or merely a brewing argument among your family members about differences in opinion. Just go with it and rationalize your decisions.

It’s all worth it.

You may have gone through more than a lot of difficulties in this journey. But in the end, when you’re finally moving in your stuff, you can laugh about the unforgettable experiences of being a first-time buyer. All is well now that you can enjoy the fruits of your hard work – now that you are finally a homeowner!

Crystal Tost

Real Estate 101: Tips for the Homebuyer

About the Author: Crystal Tost is an award winning real estate agent in Calgary and contributes to www.calgarylistings.com to view luxury homes in Calgary click here

Real Estate 101: Tips for the Homebuyer

Before you purchase real estate, there are many things you should consider, primarily because it’s a major lifestyle change that involves a lot of money. You’ve worked hard for your dream home, and there are proper preparations that should be taken care of before you make a decision. Apart from the financial aspect, it’s also a major legal commitment and sometimes, the sheer amount of paperwork can easily intimidate you.

When everything is done right, there’s nothing like the satisfaction of finally owning your dream home – whether it’s a home by the beach or a city pad – to come home to everyday.

However, it shouldn’t be completely overwhelming as long as you know exactly what you have to do in order to prepare. Here’s a checklist you should go over and think about before you commit to your home purchase.

  1. Evaluate your current lifestyle situation: are you single, married, or about to start a family? Are you also currently struggling with your daily commute to work? These factors should heavily influence the type of real estate you will be purchasing as your new home should complement your lifestyle, not subject you in hardship.
  2. Is the location of this home convenient for you and your family? Consider the home’s proximity to recreational facilities and retail outlets, distance from family and friends, nearness of hobbies, and your preferences for the city living versus open spaces and greenery.
  3. Is the neighborhood of the home you want to purchase safe and secure? Do your homework with regards to crime rates, traffic, and commuting options in the locations you’ve chosen. Properties for sale may be particularly attractive in certain locations but safety and accessibility should not at all be compromised.
  4. Once you find an ideal location or neighborhood, go for a drive around as you may find other houses for sale that may interest you more. This tip is particularly important to those who have chosen a home because of its neighborhood or location. Contact your realtor and see if there are other homes available in the community. You may request your realtor to keep you posted whenever there are new properties for sale which match your preferences.
  5. Realtors are your best friend when purchasing real estate, especially if it’s your first time. It’s their job to do most of the work for you, which includes presenting you with options that suit your needs, lifestyle, and budget. Don’t be afraid to tell them what you’re really looking for; you can even get as specific as you want.
  6. It’s highly recommended to arrange for building as well as pest inspections before you purchase property. There are many reliable services out there that specialize in thorough inspections of property, and will be able to tell you if there are any safety issues and potential pest problems associated with a property.
  7. Save time by pre-approving your finances prior to searching for property. Also, think about the mortgage structure you are after or the financial product which will help you purchase your dream home. Find a mortgage broker who can assist you with finding the right financial help for your home purchase.
  8. Lastly, don’t forget to negotiate before you make a final decision. You may be able to save a good amount of money through negotiating the cost of the home you are looking to buy. A common mistake by some home buyers: Being too sly to negotiate. There are people who save up to $10,000 just trying to negotiate.

Purchasing a home is a time-consuming process, mainly due to the preparation involved. But if you’ve invested time and effort to do it well you will be able to enjoy your property hassle-free now and in the future.

Crystal Tost

Purchasing a Condominium Downtown

If you wish to buy a condominium in the downtown area you should know that it is different than buying a home. People tend to think of condos as small houses without the yard work, but in fact, condominiums and homes are on the opposite ends of the spectrum. It is a great time to buy real estate downtown, but you should keep several things you should do when you beginning your search for your new home.

  1. Learn about the neighborhood and amenities- Especially if you’re moving somewhere specifically for the art of restaurant scene. Nevertheless, you should be as comfortable with the niche of the condominium as the condominium itself. Take time to find out how far the amenities you need and want are from your condo. I recommend walkscore.com to my clients. You can find out how far the closest coffee shop, grocery store, movie theatre, park etc is. This is especially important if you prefer to walk to these places, or say if you’d like to find out if there’s a park nearby to complete your daily morning jog, or walk your dog. You also want to make sure the area is safe. Don’t compromise your safety to live in a cheaper condo that you think is a good deal. You can call the city’s chamber of commerce for a crime data report or ask your realtor. Don’t forget you won’t be living in the suburbs in a single family home, you’ll be in the center of the city which means you’ll be doing a lot more walking or biking; you want to know you’re safe and have amenities close by. Your house will also sell faster if you have more amenities in the area, because it will appeal to as many people as possible.
  2. Consider buying in up-and –coming areas-many cities have areas downtown which are being development. Ask your realtor is such an area exists. If you find an area which is being gentrified you should consider searching for homes in that area because not only will you get a good deal on a home, but the value of the condo will rise more than the rest of the cities, over time. You’ll be glad you did this because you’ll find yourself living in a new section of downtown where many stores and buildings will be new, and you will make a great chunk of money off your investment when you’re ready to sell.
  3. Hire a realtor who knows the condo scene and the area- you don’t want to work with a realtor who doesn’t know the area you are looking at well, or one who doesn’t focus specifically on condominiums. You’ll find that having a realtor who focuses on your needs will be able to offer you advice others in the field cannot, such as informing you about condos which have not been put out on the market yet, or about sellers who are about to reduce their price. There are certain legal requirements and potential liabilities involved with downtown condominiums; you need an experienced agent to ensure your best interest is met.
  4. Browse multiple buildings- to get the feel for different features and offerings. You’ll never know your options until you exhaust your resources, so you don’t want to miss out on an opportunity to find something you really like. Look for a unit with the IT factor while you are browsing, the qualities in a condominium which set it apart and make it incredible. It could be the large deck, the spacious kitchen, the spectacular view, commercial appliance package or beautiful lighting/entertainment. The IT factor will be important down the line because it is important to have something in your condo which stands out because there are many units in the city selling for less than market value. Buying in a depressed market offers buyers an exceptional opportunity to buy diamonds in the rough for bottom line pricing and low rates. Finding a killer condo which has IT can make the difference in selling your house at a good price.
  5. Ask about condo rules and fees- You should speak with the condo association and ask for a copy of the by-laws or a short list of rules. Make sure you look over the rules well, because once you buy a home, you can’t turn back. If you need one or more parking spaces make sure that you are given those spaces with your home. If you have a pet, you need to find out whether pets are allowed. Some condos do not allow you to paint the walls, or renovating part of your unit. Other condominiums only allow residents to use the swimming pool or common area at certain hours. Some condominiums require residents to end parties at certain hours. Know the condominium rules and regulations so you’re not surprised by anything when you move in.

When you’re searching for a condominium downtown you need to consider much more than price and payment options. Several things should be considered so you feel happy with your new home. This list above is not exhaustive but it will help you get a start on your search, and your realtor can help you with the rest.

The Ultimate Guide to Buying a Luxury Condominium

So you’re ready to buy you’re first luxury condominium. You might be thinking it’s not as complicated as buying a house, but guess what? It’s more complicated. We’ve compiled a list of important things you need to consider before you purchase your new condo.

 

Location is crucial-

You’ve heard this before, it applies to any and all real estate, but in purchasing a luxury condo location carries even more weight. You’re going to be investing a large sum of money in a property, so you want to make sure of two things- that you’re sure you want to live in this area, and if this area the region is going to increase in value in the following years. You need to learn about your target neighborhood well, and the surrounding areas. Are the amenities you need, a grocery store, fitness center, school etc. close by? A realtor will know the area well and be able to answer these questions.

In real estate we have something we call the principle of progression and the principle of regression. Depending on the homes features and cost, compared to other homes in the area it may benefit from the Principle of Progression or be suffer from the Principle of Regression. Find out if your target city or the surrounding communities are developing or plan on expanding. If the answer is yes- more homes or office buildings are being built in the area- all other factors aside- you can expect the value of your condo to rise tremendously in the years following a purchase.

 

Are there currently any disputes among owners and the Condominium association is trying to resolve?

Are there any condominium laws currently being reformed?  

If one or more of the owners, or the association informs you that owners are fighting intensely over one or more issues, you should reconsider about buying into a wasps nest. Some common issues include hanging items from a balcony, pets, and age restrictions.

Ask your realtor to determine whether any amendments to the condominium by-laws are being discussed. You don’t want to be handed the keys to your new condo, and learn the next day that a new amendment had been added to the bylaws stating that every condominium owner only get one parking space. You don’t want to leave your Ferrari in the street. That is an extreme example, but there are many cases in which a change in by-laws could change your satisfaction with the property. Once you have a unit you have a vote. If the condominium is professionally managed you can ask your realtor for the number of the managing company; they’ll be glad to answer these and other questions for you.

 

Work with a realtor that knows the area and focus-

It’s critical that you have an excellent buyer agent who focuses on luxury condominiums and is familiar with the area you want to buy in. Luxury real estate agents know the legal requirements and potential liabilities of the business, which differ from the regular market.

Buying a high end condo is not the same as buying a house. There are legal differences; home owners are given total legal control of the home, including the land it sits on. When you buy a Condo, you only own the home, all the property around the house is controlled by the democratic decisions of all the owners of the complex. Meaning you may not be able to paint the door if you don’t like the color, or uproot the bush in your front lawn which you find distasteful. When you live in a Condominium your neighbors are more than just neighbors; they’re co-investors. When searching for condos remember that there are fewer open houses for high-end properties and appointments need to be made. Make sure you have a close trusting relationship with your realtor so you’ll be the first to learn about price reductions and new homes which have not been put on the market.

 

Consider the amenities you desire

 

Before you even begin to search for a condo, sit down and make a checklist of your wants, thing you’d like to have, and your needs, the must haves. If you’re an avid golfer, make sure you’re scoping properties with nice courses nearby. If you want a swimming pool, search for condominiums which have shared or personal swimming pools. How many parking spaces do you need? How far is the condo from a grocery store? The internet is your friend here, or you can call the condo’s association and speak with them.

 

Prepare your finances-

In order to narrow your search for condos, you should sit down and determine how much you are willing to spend, set a minimum and maximum price. Figure out how much down payment you can put down. In order to qualify for mortgage you should be able to put down a minimum of 20% of the purchase price; however some financial institutions may require more. Consider all costs associated with buying a condo: down payment, closing costs, appraisal, mortgage points, maintenance and taxes. Before you meet with your realtor to begin your search, you should consult with a mortgage broker to learn about the programs available and determine which would suit your needs best. It is much easier to find a condo when you have a price range.

 

Buying a luxury condominium is on is different from buying a house in more ways than one. You need to make sure you’re informed about the neighborhood you want to live in, you’re familiar with the condominium management and rules, know how you’re going to finance your purchase and more. This list will help you get started and learn about the basics, to learn more speak with your agent.

Important Things to Consider When Buying a Luxury Home in Colorado

Are you looking to buy a luxury home in Colorado? Although more affluent buyers tend to settle quickly on what their heart desires, I suggest you shop around until you find a desirable home with the right value. The market is not what it once was, although right now is the best time to buy a luxury home, the rules have changed. Colorado has a ton of elegant homes to offer, but make sure when you’re going to buy a home you’re making the following considerations:

  1.  Location is key- An old rule which still applies. However, buyers now need to think long term, often years, possibly decades, into the future. Finishes can always be updated, additions can be made and landscaping redone, but one thing you can never change is location. Learn about the price trends and economy of your target location and discuss them with your realtor.
  2. Consider resale- During the real estate boom, houses sold quickly for top dollar, however, those days are over, and our advice now is- don’t buy a very large property or an over-specialized estate, which is more expensive or more elaborate than the properties surrounding it.
  3. Determining value and gauging price in the current market is the biggest challenge for buyers today. Some homes are priced to sell as soon as they hit the market, others have significant price reductions. MLS records are not a great reflection of market prices, so you need to research and visit comparable properties. Ask your agent for an analysis of the number of sales, the sale-price-to-list-price ration, and the number of failed homes in contract, and the time on the market for the last year. A great real estate agent will be able to make these stats available to you and know how to use them to your advantage in negotiations.
  4. A large discount doesn’t mean a great deal- There are some deals where you will pay full price and get a great value and others where you’ll receive a considerable discount but still pay more than value.
  5.  Look for the hidden gems. Although most buyers want homes which are modern or contemporary, the homes with the best value are the ones which are over stylized with out of date décor. If you are not very well skilled in envisioning a creative changes in décor bring someone along who can supply the vision for you.

Purchasing a luxury home is a big investment. Luckily you are buying at the perfect time in a state with many options, but you still need to take your time and learn about the market. If you’re considering buying a specific type of property, perhaps an equestrian or a waterfront executive mansion, you need to consult with an agent who is experienced in that field. Find the right agent and you should be well on your way to not only buying your next dream home but making a great investment.

10 Steps in Buying a Luxury Home

Everyone knows that buying a home can be straining work; it’s one of the biggest decisions of your life. If you’re buying a luxury home you need to want to purchase your home with confidence. We’ve compiled a list of five steps you can take to better prepare yourself for the search and make sure you choose the right home.

1.       Determine your needs and wants- before searching for a home figure out what your goals are. Luxury homes are more about a certain lifestyle than the number of bedrooms or bathrooms. Think about how long you’d like to stay in one location and how you’re going to live in the house. Make a list of your wants and needs so you can visualize your “must haves” and your “would be nice” preferences.
2.       Take your time in choosing a broker- You need to spend as much time searching for a broker as you do searching for a home. Look for a realtor who is as well versed in her field as you are in yours. Ask them about their special training, education, titles, and experience. Choose a local realtor, someone who knows the neighborhood or city you wish to live in well. Not all good agents are luxury realtors, you’d be wiser to find someone who has experience in the geographic area and knows the price range in which you have an interest. If they have to use their GPS to find the next property, they may not know the area as well as they claim.
3.       Choose a broker that has specialized knowledge-Whether you’re looking for a ranch, waterfront, or an equestrian estate, you need a realtor who has experience and knowledge in that field. You may not be aware that these properties entail more work than other properties including legal requirements and potential liabilities; but agents who work in a special property area make that their business. Having a trusting relationship with a great agent will put you on the inside to be the first to know about price reductions and properties which have not come out of the market yet.

4.       Know the region you are searching in- Every state and city have different methods, rules, and laws on buying and selling homes. If you’re new to an area ask your agent to explain typical real estate practices, and if you haven’t been in an area for a while get an update on changes. Learn about transfer taxes, how much they are and who pays them. Take time to read and evaluate all disclosures and ask your agent to explain them to you when you begin your search.

5.       Make an intellectual checklist- Most people buy what makes their hearts leap. Before making an emotional decision step back and figure out whether the house checks off all the requirements on your checklist. Do you need a pool because you swim laps every day or do you want a pool so you can lounge outside once a twice a month in the summer? Making a checklist will allow you to narrow down your options, and ensure that you won’t buy a house that doesn’t include everything you need.

6.       Be prepared to establish your ability to purchase- Unless you are well known you may need to demonstrate that you are able to produce the funds for a home even to view a property.

7.       Think with your head not your heart- Often the buying process will evoke many feelings in buyers, including fear and guilt. It’s important to reflect on what a certain purchase, especially of a second home, will mean for your family and your financial future. Furthermore, make sure when you’re deciding on a home you’re buying what you need and not sacrificing what you must have for what you want.

 

8.       Research the online market- Local real estate companies are the best place to begin. That is the quickest way to learn what is available, what types of homes are in the area, and what type of prices to expect.

9.       Don’t Forget Potential Fuel Costs- whether you need to commute to work, school, shopping, or the airport, you’re going to pay for gas, and it’s not as cheap as it once was. Most shoppers don’t take utilities and tax into consideration, but they often neglect the cost of fuel.

10.   Avoid last minute surprises- and make sure you will not have buyer’s remorse. The most experienced buyers will have specific inspections for different features of a property from pools to electronics. This is one of the biggest changes in recent years.

5 Things you should know about Buying a Luxury Home

Buying a luxury home is a big deal. You are investing a lot of time and money in your home so you should be as prepared as possible. Having knowledge of the market you are navigating is vital in finding the right home. We’ve compiled a list of basic facts you should know to help you prepare for the search.

  1. It’s a perfect time to buy– Seriously. When looking at the real estate in general the high-end market has seen a major recovery in sales, there is certainly no shortage of wonderful buying opportunities. So many in fact, that major news sources have been publishing articles discussing it. Equally advantageous are the low interest rates, which are exceptionally low for even jumbo loans
  2. If you’re trading up, sell low, and buy even lower– This means that even if you wind up selling your home for less than it’s worth, you’ll still come out on top. The big discount on your home sale will be much easier  to stomach once you realize how low you’re new home is selling for. Add incredibly low interest rates to the equation and the option of selling low doesn’t sound so difficult. And don’t worry about whether is a buyer’s or seller’s market, instead get a handle on what’s happening currently in your target city/neighborhood and price range.
  3. You’re not the only buyer on the market– Currently, any can purchase a high end home for the fraction of what is cost only a few years ago, and this attracts consumers worldwide. The U.S real estate market has never experienced so much interest from international buyers in the past. Keep in mind that multiple offers do happen. Despite the fact that there are many homes for sale, really great properties do get noticed. When a property is prepared and priced on the market it will undoubtedly draw multiple offers and that’s often uprising to buyers.
  4. Don’t expect all sellers to be desperate– The luxury real estate market is a little different than other real estate markets. Distressed sales do not constitute all homes in the market; they are only part of the market. Don’t be quick to take a stern stance in negotiations, sometimes that’s not the best strategy. In some cases patience will yield a more desirable outcome. It’s important to give buyers enough time to consider your offer.
  5. Cash will change the equation– This is one of the biggest transformations of the real estate market in the past five years, more and more luxury buyers are requesting a cash deal. This isn’t because of a lack of available loans, but rather buyers realize they can settle on a better deal with cash because there are less complications and sellers are more likely to accept a lower price.

Purchasing Your Luxury Home with the Right Mortgage Loan

If you are interested in purchasing a luxury condo or loft, you will likely need to obtain financing to assist with your purchase. With many different type of mortgage loan options available to select from, it is important to learn more about your options so you can choose the loan that is best-suited to you and your needs. Here is a look at just a few of the home mortgage options you have to select from.

Fixed-Rate Mortgage

Fixed rate mortgages are the most common type of loan obtained by those who are purchasing a home. With this type of loan, the interest rate remains the same throughout the lifetime of the loan. In general, these loans have 10, 15, 20, 30, 40 and 50-year terms.

Adjustable-Rate Mortgage

If you would rather take advantage of fluctuating interest rates, you may prefer to get an adjustable-rate mortgage, or ARM. There are many different types of ARMs available, but the basic idea is the same with all of them: the interest rate is directly affected by changes in the Prime Rate. How frequently your interest rate is adjusted in accordance with the Prime Rate, however, will differ with the specific type of ARM you obtain.

Government-Backed Loan

While there are several different government programs available, the two primary types of government-backed loans available are FHA loans and VA loans. The traditional FHA loan is available to only first-time homebuyers, while VA loans are available to eligible veterans and their spouses. While both types of loans are backed by the government, the actual loan is issued by a lending institution and you are responsible for negotiating the interest rate with the lender. Since your loan is backed by the government, the required down payment is significantly reduced. With FHA loans, you typically need to have a 3.5% down payment, while VA loans do not require a down payment at all.

Interest-Only Mortgage

Interest-only loans allow you to pay toward just your interest for a period of time, after which you are required to pay off the full balance of the loan. Therefore, this is a good option if you plan to move within a short period of time or if you are confident you will have the money available when the loan comes due.

Piggyback Mortgage

If you do not have the 20 percent necessary for a down payment with a conventional loan, you may choose to obtain a piggyback mortgage. With this type of loan, you take out two loans: one for the down payment and one for the rest of the amount needed to purchase the home. These loans may be fixed-rate loans, ARMs or a combination of the two.

Exploring the Pros and Cons of Owning a Condo

Are you trying to decide if condo-living is right for you? While living in a condo is the perfect option for many people, particularly those who want to live a life of luxury, there are some potential downsides to living in a condo. Therefore, before you decide to make a purchase, it is important for you to explore the pros and cons of living in a condo community.

The Downsides to Living in a Condo

Depending on your personal goals and lifestyle, there are some potential downsides to living in a condo. For example, when you purchase a condo that is located inside a tower or multi-unit building, you only own the inside of your unit. Therefore, if you are looking for total homeownership, a condo may not be your best option. Furthermore, since many condo units are connected to one another, you may not feel the same level of privacy and security as you would with a single-family home or separate unit. Depending upon the type of condo community you live in, you may also not have a private front or back yard to enjoy. Since condo communities typically offer shared amenities, such as tennis courts, pools and other recreational equipment, you will also have to be willing to share these items with other condo residents and you will need to pay a monthly condo fee to help cover the cost of maintaining these facilities.

The Benefits of Condo-Living

While there are some potential downsides to living in a condo, there are several benefits as well. For example, condos are often less expensive luxury estates and single-family homes. Furthermore, while you do have to share the recreational facilities with other residents and you do have to pay condo community fees, the cost is still much less than it would cost for you to install and maintain comparable facilities at a private home. Also, you are only responsible for maintaining the inside of your unit while all other responsibilities of homeownership are handled by the condo association. In other words, you don’t have to worry about all of the hassle or expense associated with maintaining the yard, structure and major appliances and systems.