Cheryl Phelan's Blog
When you’re shopping for a new home, the prospect of a fixer-upper being on the market for an unbeatable price sounds great! There are a few things that should be on your checklist to make sure that the juice is worth the squeeze when purchasing a home. A fixer-upper that needs mainly aesthetic repair is usually a good deal. Just make sure you ask your real estate agent or the property owner about some costly, but necessary, repairs.
First off, any home that is worth its weight in gold needs to have a good foundation. Foundation issues can be quite expensive, depending on the type of repair needed. For example, all houses will settle over time. It’s only natural. But if your prospective home has settled too much it can lead to slab leaks, cracks and serious structural issues; which may lead to expensive repairs.
Plumbing issues can range from a minor leak in the faucet to a cracked supply or drain line, which can either be a slight nuisance or a major flooding issue (and flood damage is not a cheap fix on its own). Along with the immediate cost of the plumbing repairs themselves, plumbing problems can cause higher monthly water bills.
Electrical issues can not only be costly to repair but very unsafe. If you are shopping for a home, make sure to check with the homeowner or agent about the quality of wiring, electrical sockets, etc. to avoid both the costly repairs.
Remember, when shopping for that great fixer-upper in your new neighborhood make sure to check these three big boxes before choosing your soon-to-be dream home.
When you’re self-employed, it’s difficult to decide whether you are ready to buy a house. After all, your income might come in spurts instead of having a regular check every week or two. Being prepared for the mortgage process increases the chance that your application will be approved. Self-employed people have more hurdles to jump because of the nature of their income, even those that make six or more figures.>
Difficulties in Qualifying for a Mortgage
Since you’ve probably done a ton of research on mortgages and finding your dream home, you already know the basics—make sure your credit is good, how much down payment you’ll need and what you are able to afford. You may have a pretty good idea of what documents you need to provide and already have them ready. However, those pesky tax returns might come back to bite you.
The biggest problem in qualifying for a mortgage when you’re self-employed is your tax returns. Most business people take every deduction allowed. However, while that’s great for your pocket since you pay less tax, it’s bad for applying for a mortgage.
Part of your self-employment tax returns is your expenses. You probably claim things like utilities, cell phones, business meals and travel and have a ton of depreciation. When a lender looks at the tax returns, it doesn’t add those things back in—except for depreciation. While you might make $300,000, your adjusted gross income on your tax return is going to be the number the lender looks at. If it’s $10,000, you’re not going to qualify for that loan.
You could amend your taxes or you could wait for two years and not claim anything on your taxes. However, that means you will be paying heavily to the IRS. Or, you could find a lender who does non-conforming loans. Some lenders are sympathetic to self-employed people and will use other methods of verifying income. Some banks may look at your deposits for a year instead. They’ll still ask for your tax returns, but will not use them to qualify your income.
Your tax returns help lenders figure your debt-to-income ratio. While lenders are supposed to use your gross income, that does not hold true with self-employed borrowers. Lenders look at the adjusted gross income on your tax returns. That number is often lower than net income because of the expenses you deduct.
A lender adds up your debts and divides that number by your adjusted gross income. If you have a proposed mortgage payment of $1,200, a car payment of $650 and other credit lines, including credit cards of $500, you have $2,350 in debt. If your self-employed monthly income is $8,000, your debt-to-income ratio should be about 29 percent. But wait a second. That’s not the number on your tax returns.
If the adjusted gross income on the last two years of tax returns is $4,000 and $2,500 respectively, then your average monthly income is going to be $3,250 (add the two together, then divide by 2). That means your debt-to-income is actually 72 percent. The highest a lender will “give” you is 43 percent, though most will only consider your application if your debt-to-income is 39 percent not including your new mortgage and 33 percent including your new mortgage. In this example, a lender who uses deposits instead of tax returns will show a debt-to-income ratio of 29 percent.
If you are ready to purchase a house and want to learn more about qualifying for a loan, feel free to reach out. Together, we'll be able to get you into the home of your dreams, despite the hurdles.
If you've conducted an in-depth search for your dream house but still have yet to find your ideal residence, there is no need to worry. In fact, you can revisit your homebuying strategy and revise it as needed. This will allow you to restart your house search and increase the likelihood that you'll discover your dream home sooner rather than later.
Ultimately, there are many reasons to revisit your homebuying strategy, and these include:
1. You can consider why you're searching for a house.
There are many reasons why an individual may choose to buy a home. By revisiting your homebuying strategy, you can think about why you want to purchase a house and proceed accordingly.
For example, if your initial goal was to buy a home near the top schools in a particular city or town, you may want to refocus your house search to achieve the optimal results. Or, if you now find that you'd prefer to own a house in a big city instead of a small town, you can update your house search.
2. You can evaluate your home must-haves and wants.
After attending open house events and home showings, your homebuying criteria may have changed. As such, now may be a good time to revisit your homebuying strategy so you can update these criteria.
Think about things you've liked and disliked as you've viewed various available houses. You can use your open house and home showing experiences to revamp your home must-haves and wants, and as a result, reenter the housing market with a fresh perspective.
3. You can review where you want to live.
As you've searched for homes, you may have found that houses in certain cities and towns are more appealing than other residences. Thus, you can revise your homebuying strategy to focus on residences in your preferred cities and towns. This will help you accelerate your house search and ensure you can find a home in a city or town where you want to live.
Of course, conducting a home search on your own often can be difficult. But if you hire a real estate agent, you can receive plenty of support throughout the homebuying journey.
A real estate agent understands exactly what it takes to find a great residence in any city or town. He or she can help you revamp your homebuying strategy and streamline your house search.
In addition, a real estate agent will set up home showings, keep you up to date about new houses that become available and help you navigate the homebuying cycle. Once you find your dream house, a real estate agent will make it easy to submit a competitive offer to purchase this residence. And if you ever have concerns or questions about purchasing a home, a real estate agent is ready to respond to them.
Revisit your homebuying strategy today, and you could move one step closer to finding and purchasing your ideal residence.
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