Costs and SpendingFirst Time Home BuyerHelpful Tips January 19, 2021

Increase Your Buying Power

Buying a home can sound like a pretty daunting idea, especially in our current market. However, there are ways to empower yourself by strengthening your financial standing. It’s all a numbers game when buying a house. The following categories are items that lenders will look at to determine your eligibility for a loan. Review them to find out what you can work on to increase your buying power.

 

Increase savings for your down payment

A down payment will often times increase the likelihood your offer will standout from other offers. The down payment is typically around 20% of the home’s sale price. That amount can sound like a lot, but there are ways to slowing increase your savings. First, you could put a little away from each paycheck into a savings account. Your savings will start growing without you needing to put in much work. You could even open up a special savings account just for your down payment savings. Second, you could find ways to generate additional income. Explore an opportunity for a part time job, and dedicate all the additional income towards your savings.

There are many benefits to offering a serious down payment. Outside of your offer being a standout, you may also be able to negotiate a lower interest rate on your mortgage and it could even remove private mortgage insurance (PMI). So, get to saving!

 

Improve your credit score

It’s pretty straight forward – when your credit score is better, your interest rate is better. It’s not something that happens overnight, it takes work and dedication. But, it will be beneficial in the long run. There are many things that factor into your credit score including your payment history, amounts owed, length of credit history, credit mix, and new credit. To start raising your score, focus on paying down your credit cards, especially those with high interest rates. Avoid opening unnecessary lines of credit. Additionally, try not to make any large purchasing leading up to the time you are preparing to make an offer. Remember that student loans also affect your financial picture so paying them off consistently will improve your standing.

 

Stabilize your debt to increase buying power

Your debt-to-income ratio is also looked at by lenders to determine what you can afford. The purpose is for lenders to confirm you can pay your mortgage on top of all your other debts. They figure this out by finding out which portion of your monthly income will go to your mortgage payments and which portion will go to your other debts (the principal, interest, taxes, and insurance of your mortgage payments, credit card payments, student loans, and any other loan payments). When you pay off your credit cards and make steady progress on decreasing your loans, it will in turn help your debt-to-income ratio.

We are here to help!

Having the right realtor always increases your buying power! The right realtor knows the market, the area, great lenders and your specific situation, which allows them to assist the best way possible. We can do just that! If you have any questions or want to get started increasing your buying power, reach out!

Phone: (208) 818-2456 or (208) 818-2365

Email: traceytindall@windermere.com or johntindall@windermere.com

 

 

 

Credit: Windermere Blog by Sandy Dodge

Costs and SpendingFirst Time Home BuyerHelpful Tips December 9, 2020

Which Type Of Home Is Right For You?

Deciding which type of home is best for you – house, condominium, townhouse or apartment – can be a struggle. Each type has its own benefits and drawbacks, it all depends on your life and specific circumstances. But it’s best to know the differences and how it will align with your life before making the decision.

 

Differences Between House, Condominium, Townhouse and Apartment

House

This option offers the most privacy and freedom of the 4 different options. You have more opportunities to personalize your space. You don’t share a wall like you do with a condo, townhouse or apartment. Additionally, the outdoor space is usually the largest of the 4. On the down side, a house is situated on its own lot which leaves you with the responsibility of maintaining the lawn and structure. Also, purchasing a home has the most cost upfront with a down payment, closing costs, and other homeowner fees.

Townhouse

A townhouse is typ4ically a multi-leveled & narrow structure that connects to others in a row or block. The building has a small parcel of property either in the front or the back. This option offers a mix of both a house and condo, which may be the best of both worlds for some. Similar to a house, townhouse owners are responsible for some maintenance and repair. HOA fees are generally lower than that of a condo since there are less shared amenities.

Condominium

A condominium or condo is an individually owned unit of a larger structure. A condo is generally less expensive than a house or townhouse due to their smaller size and they come with no land. However, with a monthly mortgage payment combined with HOA fees, the cost of living can increase. You are only responsible for the inside of your unit which means less maintenance responsibility. The outside of the unit is considered the common area and ownership is shared with all the condo owners in the building, which means less privacy. As a condo owner, you will live in close proximity to others including sharing certain amenities.

Apartment

An apartment is similar to a condo in that it’s a unit inside a larger building. The largest difference than the other 3 options is that apartments are rented rather than owned. You may get similar amenities as a condo, but you only pay monthly rent to the landlord. Because of that you won’t be building equity to use in the future. Renting an apartment is likely the least expensive option, especially since you won’t be paying monthly HOAs. You must rely on the landlord for all maintenance inside and outside of the unit. The space is not yours to personalize and may be required to leave after your lease is up.

 

Will It Work For Your Life?

House

Purchasing a house is the best option for those who would like to invest in their financial future since you will be building equity. Additionally, it will give you the opportunity to put down roots and the space to start or grow your family. You will have the security of knowing you can handle significant life changes. The privacy and freedom to personalize your space as you please.

Townhouse

For those that would like more space than what a condo or apartment can offer but aren’t yet ready for owning a home, this is a great between option. It’s ideal for homeowners who don’t want the responsibility of maintaining a large home and yard. It could be a great fit for those looking to get out of renting in a large metropolitan area to owning their own home in a more residential area.

Condominium

If you’re looking for a low-maintenance residence with shared amenities and a strong community feel, this would be a great fit. They are typically located in more of a metropolitan area with access to shopping, dining and entertainment. This will allow for a shorter commute than in a suburban area.

Apartment

An apartment is a smart choice for those who don’t want the responsibility of home ownership just yet. It would be a stepping stone into living on your own, knowing that you are not yet building equity. Also, it would be good for those who don’t plan to stay in one area long-term.

 

Ultimately, you will need to do what feels right for you and your situation. But we hope to have helped in making a decision in the right direction. No matter what type of home ownership you are looking for, we are here to help. Feel free to contact us with any questions!

 

Credit: Windermere Blog Written by Sandy Dodge, Bankrate

Helpful TipsHome & ProjectsWinter November 16, 2020

Don’t Forget! Top 6 Overlooked Winterizing Tasks

As a homeowner, you likely already have a checklist of items you need to complete before the snow stays. But, there are a few items that you may have forgotten about. Don’t let these items go unchecked or you may have unnecessary headache and expense in the future. Below are 6 tasks that should be completed but many homeowners overlook.

Note: If you do not have a checklist of home maintenance before winter, take a look at ours here!

1. Drain Gasoline and Oil From Your Yard Equipment

Mowing your lawn may be the last thing on your mind right now. But, to ensure your power equipment still runs in tip top shape next year, drain the remaining gas and oil out. If gasoline or oil sits too long it could cause changes in the chemical composition which could lead to a number of problems. Read about how gas can go bad and how to identify it here.

Image result for clean weep hole"

 

2. Clean Your Window Weep Holes

There are many windows that have weep holes on the exterior bottom of the frame. Their purpose is to drain any water that collects in the frame’s bottom channel. But often times they get clogged with bugs or debris of some kind which could then spill into your house. First, test the weep hole by pouring water into the track. If it doesn’t steadily drain out, there is likely a clog. If that is the case, you could spray it out with compressed air or poke a wire hanger into the hole.

 

3. Drain Sediment From Your Water Heater

You should drain some of the water from your water heater every year otherwise sediment will collect at the bottom. With gas powered water heaters, this will cause hot spots that will damage the tank. With electric powered heaters, it could cause the lower heating elements to fail. So draining it once yearly will not only extend the water heaters life but also save you money on your energy bills.

 

4. Clean Dryer Vents

If your dryer vent is plugged, it could cause your dryer to run inefficiently or even cause a house fire. Before winter arrives, be sure to clean out your vent to prevent that from happening. It may not always be lint that causes the backup, there may be pests nesting or stuck exhaust hood flappers could also be the culprit. Each year, take the vent off the back of your dryer and clean it. You could get any debris out with a wet/dry vac or use a cleaning kit that can be purchased at home centers. Inspect your exhaust hood flappers to ensure they are in proper working order as well.

 

5. Check For High Water Pressure

High water pressure can cause issues with pipes, connections and appliances not to mention it wastes water. It is very easy to test to pressure, you just need to purchase a pressure gauge that hooks up to spigot or tub faucet. If the pressure is too high, just change the pressure reducing valve.

 

Image result for test sump pump"

6. Test Sump Pump

It’s best to test you sump pump twice a year to avoid your home flooding. It is very simple to test it, you just need to dump water into the basin to make sure it’s working. And be sure your pump has a vertical float switch.

 

 

 

Consider adding the above tasks to your winterizing checklist to help with any possible issues that may arise over the winter season.

Credit: Family Handyman, Do It Yourself 

Helpful TipsHome & ProjectsWinter December 3, 2019

Don’t Forget! Top 6 Overlooked Winterizing Tasks

As a homeowner, you likely already have a checklist of items you need to complete before the snow stays. But, there are a few items that you may have forgotten about. Don’t let these items go unchecked or you may have unnecessary headache and expense in the future. Below are 6 tasks that should be completed but many homeowners overlook.

Note: If you do not have a checklist of home maintenance before winter, take a look at ours here!

1. Drain Gasoline and Oil From Your Yard Equipment

Mowing your lawn may be the last thing on your mind right now. But, to ensure your power equipment still runs in tip top shape next year, drain the remaining gas and oil out. If gasoline or oil sits too long it could cause changes in the chemical composition which could lead to a number of problems. Read about how gas can go bad and how to identify it here.

 

Image result for clean weep hole"

2. Clean Your Window Weep Holes

There are many windows that have weep holes on the exterior bottom of the frame. Their purpose is to drain any water that collects in the frame’s bottom channel. But often times they get clogged with bugs or debris of some kind which could then spill into your house. First, test the weep hole by pouring water into the track. If it doesn’t steadily drain out, there is likely a clog. If that is the case, you could spray it out with compressed air or poke a wire hanger into the hole.

 

 

3. Drain Sediment From Your Water Heater

You should drain some of the water from your water heater every year otherwise sediment will collect at the bottom. With gas powered water heaters, this will cause hot spots that will damage the tank. With electric powered heaters, it could cause the lower heating elements to fail. So draining it once yearly will not only extend the water heaters life but also save you money on your energy bills.

 

4. Clean Dryer Vents

If your dryer vent is plugged, it could cause your dryer to run inefficiently or even cause a house fire. Before winter arrives, be sure to clean out your vent to prevent that from happening. It may not always be lint that causes the backup, there may be pests nesting or stuck exhaust hood flappers could also be the culprit. Each year, take the vent off the back of your dryer and clean it. You could get any debris out with a wet/dry vac or use a cleaning kit that can be purchased at home centers. Inspect your exhaust hood flappers to ensure they are in proper working order as well.

 

5. Check For High Water Pressure

High water pressure can cause issues with pipes, connections and appliances not to mention it wastes water. It is very easy to test to pressure, you just need to purchase a pressure gauge that hooks up to spigot or tub faucet. If the pressure is too high, just change the pressure reducing valve.

 

Image result for test sump pump"

6. Test Sump Pump

It’s best to test you sump pump twice a year to avoid your home flooding. It is very simple to test it, you just need to dump water into the basin to make sure it’s working. And be sure your pump has a vertical float switch.

 

 

 

Consider adding the above tasks to your winterizing checklist to help with any possible issues that may arise over the winter season.

 

Credit: Family Handyman, Do It Yourself 

First Time Home BuyerHelpful Tips October 9, 2019

12 Mistakes That Can Derail Closing Day For Buyers

Buying your first home? Maybe you have done this before and just assume lending is pretty straight forward? Avoid these common mistakes that can blindside a buyers mortgage and closing day!  

Lending is a complicated business with a number of moving parts and many rules that can make the difference between a happy closing day or no home at all.   There are so many things that can effect your loan process and your road to a successful closing day.  Here are just a few of the most common mistakes that buyers make.   

 

Here are a few more things to avoid so that you can keep loan and purchase on the rails through to closing day!  

Big Purchases on Credit. It is tempting to buy the furniture for your new home or a new car for the garage before the sale closes. Take care if you are making these purchases on credit. Large purchases on credit can have a major impact on your credit profile which effects your mortgage application. It’s a better plan to wait until after closing or pay cash for these transactions or you may be putting that furniture in a different living room than you originally picked them out for.

No 90-Day Same as Cash! Many times you may be tempted to make a furniture or appliance purchase for your new home. Often these can be done now and no payments for 90 days or even longer. Don’t be fooled. These purchases still affect your credit and can destroy your loan process. Remember, just a small change in your credit picture might be just enough to keep your loan from moving forward.

IRS, State and Local Liens. You’ve heard the old saying “Death and Taxes”.  Back taxes and liens can derail your attempts to get financing for a mortgage so be sure to have your books in order before filing your loan application. There are a number of searches done against your social security number just before closing and this is where liens against you sometimes appear, even though they are NOT on your credit report.

Changing jobs, become self-employed or quitting a job. Changing jobs will change the qualification basis and if you move into a different line of work or take a lower paying job, this may disqualify you from moving forward with your purchase. Also going from an employee to self employed changes everything. Of course you need a job so don’t quit yours.

Don’t Spend your Money!   Especially your funds set aside in your bank account for your closing day.   Often these funds need to be on deposit for a couple of months to be “seasoned” and allowable for your purchase. If you spend it, you may have problems having new funds seasoned in time for your closing day. Also many times your loan will require a certain amount of “reserve funds” in your account and trying to get those funds into your account at the last minute can be catastrophic.

Large Deposits. You would think more money is a good thing, right? But large deposits are handled differently and require sourcing, which can get complicated. Always ask your loan officer before you make a large deposit.

Changing Bank Accounts. You will not want to change bank accounts during the loan process. Making a move like this will change your financial picture and quite possibly slow down the process or cause your loan to be denied.

Never Co-sign. Don’t do this for anyone during the loan process. Co-signing will not only change your credit picture, it will also change your debt ratio. The smallest change in debt ratio may ruin your chances for a loan approval.

Late Payments, Missed Payments. Credit Inquiries. Of course pay your creditors on time and avoid having your credit report pulled during the loan process. Late or missed payments will decrease your credit score and so will excessive credit report inquires. Sometimes just a few points on your credit score make the difference between a happy closing day or no closing day at all.

Overpaying. Before your bank will approve your mortgage they will appraise the home you are purchasing.  If they feel you are overpaying they are likely to decline your mortgage application. If you find yourself in this situation consult with your agent on renegotiating your offer to be more in line with the bank’s appraised value.

Purchasing too close to Foreclosure. If you are making an offer on a house which is facing foreclosure be sure to have a closing date set before the foreclosure date. Have your agent work with the lender to structure closing before the house goes back to the bank and into foreclosure

Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange (CLUE). CLUE is a database of insurance claims for both people and property.  Your home insurance rates are determined by the information about you and the property you plan to purchase which is contained in this report. Past claims for water damage, falling trees and even dog bites from present and past owners can multiply your insurance rates. Consult your agent about the CLUE report for your future home as soon as possible once your home purchase offer is accepted.

As always, work closely with your lender. Share everything with your loan officer so they can navigate through the process and guide you through the rough spots and onto closing.  It’s better to know about potential issues up front and not be surprised just before closing with bad news.  How a great loan officer helps you! and Other missteps that keep you from closing.

 If you are just starting the process and want to know more about how the buying process works, connect with us.   We will be happy to meet with you and walk you through the buying process, help you find a lender and get you on the path to home ownership.

johntindall@windermere.com 208-818-2456 traceytindall@windermere.com 208-818-2365

First Time Home Buyer August 19, 2019

Top 3 Fears for First Time Home Buyers

Buying your first home is a BIG DEAL.  But it may not be as “scary” as you thought!

We have helped tons of first time home buyers get into their first homes.  Time and time again, the concerns, misconceptions and fears we discuss are the same.

Here are just 3 we hear all the time and often the reasons buyers decide they need to wait or that it “just wont for for them”.

We are here to tell you, its not as hard you think and when you work with someone like us, we will get all of the questions answered and guide you through the process each step of the way.  Believe us, whatever you worried about or are afraid to ask, we have dealt with it before and can help you too!

If you are curious about buying and want to know more, let’s connect!  We are here to help you Make Awesome Happen.

Also be sure to watch our First Time Buyer Play List on YouTube    for more helpful information about buying your first home.

Helpful TipsHome & Projects March 12, 2019

Homeowners Exemption

Tax season is upon us! That means we not only need to file taxes by April 15th, but also to file for the homeowners exemption.

If you’re not sure if you qualify or where to file, we are here to help!

 

 

What Is The Homeowners Exemption

This exemption is provided by Idaho state law, for the purpose of reducing the taxable value of your home up to $100,00 or 50%, whichever is less. For example, if your home is worth $400,000, you may only pay tax on $300,000. As a result, this exemption will save you money and reduce you property taxes!

 

Who Qualifies

A home owner can file the exemption if they are an Idaho resident and they occupy the home for more than 6 month out of the year (Primary Residence). It can only be filed on the primary residence, it can not be put on a second home or a rental.

 

When  To File

New Construction you must file within 30 days of purchasing the home.

For Existing Homes, the deadline to file for the homeowners exemption is April 15th for THIS year’s exemptions.

File one time per house. After you file, the exemption stays with the house until you sell the house. Then you will need to file it again on your next home.

 

Where To File

Real Estate Concept

Filing must be done at the county’s assessors office where the house is located. Every county does it a little differently, but you have to file each one in person,  it can not be done online. Below are a list of the addresses of nearby counties:

 

Kootenai: 451 Government Way, Coeur d’Alene

Shoshone: 700 Bank St #100, Wallace

Boundary: 6452 Kootenai St, Bonners Ferry

Bonner: 1500 US-2 #205, Sandpoint

Benewah: 701 College Ave # 7, St Maries

 

Do Not Share Sales Price

Idaho is a non disclosure state. That means you do not disclosure the purchase price of the home with the county or on any external sites like Zillow because it is not required. This is a good thing! If the county has the home assessed at a lower value than what you purchased it at, you will continue to be taxed at the lower rate. If you share the higher purchase price with them, they will start taxing you at that higher level.

 

Other Exemptions

Below are a few other exemptions you can file on your property. Click on the links to learn more about how it works in Kootenai county. You would file each of the below exemptions the same way as a homeowners exemption, at the county’s assessor’s office where the land is located.

Agricultural: This program will reduce the taxable value on agricultural land.

Timber: This program will reduce the taxable value of the private land used to primarily harvest timber.

Property Tax Reduction Program (Formally known as Circuit Breaker): This program reduces property taxes for individuals who meet age and income requirements. 

 

Contact Us!

If you have any questions, concerns or confusion, never hesitate to contact us! We are here to address any roadblocks you have and point you in the right direction so that you can save some money on your taxes.

John: 208.818.2456

Tracey: 208.818.2365

 

Check out our video below regarding important tax information for home owners. Also,  subscribe to our YouTube page to keep up with all things real estate! 

 

 

 

Costs and SpendingFirst Time Home BuyerHelpful Tips January 3, 2019

Rules for Saving & Paying Down Debt

Saving money can be such a challenge for most of us.   When it comes time to buy a home or invest in real estate it can become even more of a struggle.   With mortgage financing, we must be sure to keep our debts low, while having  enough assets on hand to get our loan approved.  We will need to consider the budget for new mortgage payments while paying of credit card or consumer debts each month.  AND we must be mindful about putting money away into a 401K or other investments and maybe having a little extra to enjoy life. 

Image result for saving money

 

 

Below are 7 simple rules for saving your money and paying off debts. Following these rules will make it easier to get where we’d like to be financially before taking the steps to get your dream home. 

 

1. Automate It! 

Most places of employment offer direct deposit. Use that to your advantage. Set your direct deposit up for a portion of your paycheck to be deposited into several different accounts. One for your 401K, another into a savings account for the purpose of emergencies, also an account to save for home projects, vacations, etc. Then, set up your bills to be paid automatically. It would be beneficial to check with your loan holders to see if that would be an option. Ultimately, it comes down to this: if you can’t see the money then you won’t have the temptation to spend it.

 

2. Know How to Prioritize

Should you start paying down debt or saving first? Which debts should you start with? You need to know how to prioritize and compare the numbers. First, start by checking the interest rates on your loans and credit cards. The higher the interest rate, the more of a priority that should be to pay off. Save any extra money you get. Tax return? Put that into savings! Get a raise at work? Automatically deposit that extra percentage into savings each month. Eventually, you will have enough in that account for a nice down payment on your home. 

 

3. Imagine Your Future Self

Where do you want to be in 5 years? 10 years? 20 years? Owning your own home? Not drowning in debt? Studies show if you imagine where you’d like to be in the future that will motivate you to take the necessary steps for the purpose of achieving those goals.

Image result for saving money

4. Stop Unnecessary Spending

Take a good look at your finances and what you spend money on regularly. Do this with the intention of determining what can be dropped or scaled back on. Maybe a gym membership that you pay for monthly and only go once every 3 months or so. Another common unnecessary expense is cable TV; streaming services are cheaper, and they have a great selection. Additionally, rather than getting a coffee at Starbucks every day, make your own coffee at home. You may be surprised to know that could save over $100 a month. Also, eat meals at home instead of going out to eat. Even dropping one expenditure mentioned will make a huge difference on your bank account. 

 

5. Reward Yourself

You can’t live your life to save and pay down debt. Every now and then you need a reward for all your hard work. Use that as a motivation to save. Got a bill paid off? Get yourself something! Reached your goal on an amount of money you wanted to save? Treat yourself! Be sure to make these rewards sensible, but you could be getting perks while saving and paying off bills.  

 

Image result for saving money

6. Take Advantage of Bank & Credit Cards Offers & Rewards

Take a good look at your credit card rewards, it may surprise you what they offer. There may be an opportunity for you to receive a percentage of what you spend in cash back. Who wouldn’t benefit from that? Make sure your bank account doesn’t charge you a monthly maintenance fee. If it does, research how to waive it or get a different account.

 

7. Start Young (Its never early or late to Start)

If this applies to you, pay attention. Starting off at a young age will set you up in the future. Even if you’re working at your very first job, you can start taking the necessary steps. Apply the rules above and your savings will grow faster than you could ever anticipate.

By following these rules, you can save, pay off debt   Whether your goal is to save for a home or prepare for the future, it’s all possible with a little hard work and knowledge on your side.

Think that your credit is hopeless and that you may never be in a position to buy a home? Don’t!  There is always a way with a good plan and a good team.  We have helped so many buyers get into homes when they thought it would never be a reality for them.  We have a great team that can help you build the roadmap to get there.  Want to know more about how to get started?  Let’ Connect

Credit: NPR Public Radio – https://www.npr.org/2018/12/12/676120025/get-started-saving & http://time.com/money/4266906/save-for-new-home-tips/

Helpful Tips April 18, 2017

What documents to keep and what to toss?

Tax time again and a mound of documents and not sure what to do with it all?

Hopefully you made it through another tax season and found all of your documents needed to file your return.  Now, what documents do you need to keep and which ones should you toss?   Here’s a little guideline which will help you with clearing out the old paperwork, but not throwing away anything that you might need later.

What to keep and what to toss?

 

John and Tracey
Keeping it Real…Estate

John and Tracey Tindall

208-818-2365 or 2456

www.johnandtracey.com

johntindall@windermere.com

traceytindall@windermere.com

Home & ProjectsListings & Selling your Home March 16, 2017

Best ROI when Updating Your Home to Sell

Thinking of selling and want to spruce up your home before hitting the market?   Surprisingly you should think small when making renovations and updates for the best ROI.

If you are like most of our clients you may have a laundry list of things you believe you need to your home before you sell it.  Some of the things may be costly and in the end will not improve the sale-ability of your home or even provide a good return on your investment investment.     Here are some tips to consider:

If you are thinking of selling , lets meet up and we can work with you to develop a plan for success.  The right improvements to increase the sale-ability of your home while being kind to your finances.

How to contact John and Tracey

John Tindall: 208-818-2456   johntindall@windermere.com

Tracey Tindall: 208-818-2365  traceytindall@windermere.com

Click here to learn: More about us!