It’s 2019. Where’s your new up north cabin?

If you’ve resolved that this is the year to buy a new lake home or cabin in northwest Wisconsin, then it’s time to get started.

If one of your new year’s resolutions was to find a new lake home or cabin and get moved in before Memorial Day weekend, well, then I am a little concerned.

Here’s why: It may take us a while to find the lake and the cabin that are just right for you. Figure a little negotiating before you have an accepted offer, and then typically about another 60 days before the actual closing can take place. (With new banking regulations that have recently gone into effect, the few exceptions are generally cash offers with no inspections or other contingencies. They can usually happen faster.)

So if you’d like to enjoy weekends at your new cabin this summer, it may not make sense to delay your search until May or June. If you want to actually own that cabin by May or June, then the time to get started is right now.

If we get underway quickly and things happen fast, there’s still one situation when a late spring could complicate your plans. That’s if you’re buying a three-season cabin that has its water turned off in the winter. You’ll probably want an inspection, and it’s hard to inspect a cabin’s well, septic system, and plumbing without turning on the water. But even then, I’m usually able to help buyers and sellers work things out.

And if you’re buying a year-round lake home or cabin, the best time to buy is… Year-round. So if you’re ready to turn those up-north cabin dreams into reality, give me a call now at 218-590-6634. Or, you can reach me at jeanhedren@edinarealty.com.

What type of mortgage loan works best for you?

What type of mortgage loan works best for you? 

Your mortgage loan consultant will be able to discuss the best mortgage loan program for you. Basically all mortgage loans belong to two main groups: conventional and government.

Conventional loans

Two types of conventional loans:

  • Fixed rate: Traditional type of financing. The interest stays the same for the full term of the loan, typically 15 or 30 years with predictable and stable payments.
  • Adjustable rate: An adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) interest is linked to a financial index, such as a treasury security, so the monthly payment can vary over the life of the loan, usually 25 to 30 years. There are lower initial payments. Some ARMs can be converted to fixed rates generally after the first 5 years.

Government loans

  • FHA loans, which are insured by the Federal Housing Administration, are typically designed to meet the needs of first-time homebuyers with low or moderate incomes. FHA loans can be approved with a down payment as little as 3.5 percent and a credit score as low as 580.
    Often called “helper loans,” they give a boost to potential borrowers who may not be able to secure one otherwise. For this reason, FHA loans have maximum lending limits. Talk with your lender to see what the FHA loan limits are in the counties where you are searching.

    And remember, because the agency is taking on more risk by insuring FHA loans, the borrower is expected to pay mortgage insurance both at the time of closing and on a monthly basis, and the property must be owner-occupied.

  • VA loans, backed by the Department of Veterans Affairs, are guaranteed to qualified veterans and active-duty personnel and their spouses. VA loans can be approved with 100 percent financing, meaning VA borrowers are not required to make a down payment.Unlike FHA loans, borrowers do not have to pay mortgage insurance on VA loans.
  • USDA loans, backed by the United States Department of Agriculture mortgage program, are intended to support homeowners who purchase homes in rural and some suburban areas. USDA loans do not require a down payment and may offer lower interest rates; borrowers may have to pay a small mortgage insurance premium in order to offset the lender’s risk.
  • WHEDA: Low down payments and below-market interest rates. Interest rate is fixed for 15 to 30 year loan term.

Ready to enter the buyer’s market?

Need help financing a new property? Understanding the loan types is step one, but you’ll need the help of a qualified expert to get you into your dream home.

Reach out today to get help connecting with a trusted, local mortgage specialist.

Start your property search at www.JeanHedren.com

10 steps to buying your dream home

Buying a home is without doubt the biggest financial commitment you’ll make. It isn’t just about dollars and cents, you are making an investment in your future.

Here are the important steps in the process. I’ll be here to help you every step of the way.

  1. Choose a Realtor® to assist you in the home buying process. The term Realtor® identifies a real estate professional who is a member of the National Association of Realtors®  and subscribes to its strict Code of Ethics.
  2. Get Pre-Approved. It’s the key to increasing your negotiating power. Meet with a mortgage consultant and get pre-approved for a loan. Don’t confuse this with a pre-qualification which is simply an estimate of your potential buying power. A pre-approval is a preliminary review of your credit information and pre-approves you up to a maximum loan amount.
  3. Refine your focus. Discuss your housing needs, wish list, preferred location, and budget.  Searching and previewing your properties online will help to narrow down your choices. I can create an online search for you at www.JeanHedren.com  based on your specifications to help you narrow your choices.
  4. View properties. Once you find homes that meet your criteria, request a tour of several in person so you can be comfortable with what’s on the market. I can show any home, even those listed by another firm. Be realistic with your expectations. There’s no such thing as a perfect home. Make a list of priorities as a guide to evaluate each property.
  5. Make an offer. When you know you’ve found the right property, you may need to act quickly depending on the market conditions. Ask about current market conditions and  get advice about preparing your offer. Several points for negotiation should be included in your offer, including price, financing, terms, date of possession, inclusion or exclusion of repairs and furnishings or equipment. The offer to purchase should also include a period of time to have appropriate inspections completed.
  6. Negotiate terms. Counter offers are common in real estate. Be prepared to be a little flexible on price, closing date, repairs, or other items.
  7. Get an inspection. This is your best chance to have the property’s systems and structure evaluated. In NW Wisconsin, it’s common to have three types of inspections: house, well, and septic system.
  8. The walk-through. Usually a day before closing, do a final walk-through of the house to make sure everything you thought was included in the purchase agreement has remained on the property.
  9. The closing. At the closing you will sign the mortgage loan documents and pay your closing costs. The seller will execute the deed to the property, and the closing agent will record the necessary instruments to give you legal ownership of the property. The keys will be handed to you and the house is yours!
  10. Move in.

Start your home search at www.JeanHedren.com. Call Jean at 218-590-6634 when you are ready to view properties.

The art of finding your dream home: How to narrow down three important criteria

Key Insights

Home type: How to decide between a single-family home, condo or townhome

We admit that in today’s market, the majority of homebuyers and sellers tend to focus on single-family homes. But condos and townhomes can also be a great fit for your family in the short-term or for the long haul.

  • Home type is important. Consider the difference of each space, and how they would work for you now versus in the next 10 years.
  • Think about your location priorities: What’s important to one homebuyer can be completely different from the next.
  • Home features are important, too! Narrow amenity options down by considering what you have now, and how you’d like to see that change.

When deciding what type of home is best for you, here are some questions to consider:

Do you want full control over updating the space? If you plan to knock down walls to create an open floor plan, or if you love to landscape, you might consider a single-family home. Condos and townhomes are usually managed by a homeowners’ association, or HOA, that could limit or regulate your interior and exterior modifications.

Is convenience a large factor in your decision? Although a condo or townhome can be regulated by an HOA, that’s not necessarily a negative thing. In addition to regulating the space, an HOA may provide amenities such as a pool, workout facility, security patrols or lawn service.

So, if you’d like to relax after a long day of work (rather than worrying about setting up sprinklers to water the grass), a home such as a condo or townhome run by an HOA might be something to consider. Just keep in mind, the services from the HOA are not free. You’ll usually be required to pay monthly dues to your HOA.

Whether you decide on a single-family home, condo or townhome, remember — research from the National Association of REALTORS® shows that homebuyers are spending an average of 10 years in a home — so think not only of the home you want now, but also of the property that will suit you for the next several years.

Location: How to decide on a city or neighborhood

Some people prefer to vacation in a relaxing rural cabin, while others want to be in the heart of Uptown Minneapolis. Similarly, everyone has different preferences of where they’d like to settle in to buy a home.

When deciding on a location, consider these factors:

  • School district
  • Commute time to work
  • Safety

Think about what matters most to you, and the type of life you want to live. Rank the list of above criteria in terms of importance, then be sure to follow that list as you consider different areas to live. Remember: While your goal may be to find a home that checks every box off your list, you may have to narrow down must-have items versus nice-to-have amenities.

Home features: Certain features are must-haves for buyers

Just as some location criteria are important to certain buyers, home features can be just as important to others. Do you want the ease of walking into a turnkey home that doesn’t need any new appliances or updates? Or are you excited by the potential of purchasing a fixer-upper that could require months (or even years) of renovations?

Be sure to think about the key features that you’d like to see in your home-to-be, including:

  • Number of bedrooms or bathrooms
  • Status of appliances, possibly with warranties
  • Wallpaper or paint
  • Flooring: Hardwood, carpet or tile
  • Washer and dryer in a dedicated laundry space

Keep in mind that many requirements may stem from things you don’t currently like about your living situation — and that’s okay! There’s no better indication of what you need than knowing what isn’t working for you now.

Carefully consider what you have (or don’t have) now and generate a list of changes and upgrades you’ll need in your new space.

If you’re ready to purchase a house, or if you’d like expert help in deciding which type of home is right for you, reach out any time to get started. Call Jean Hedren, Edina Realty NW Wisconsin, 218-590-6634.

Buying and selling a house — how do I time it perfectly?

Need to sell your current home and buy another? You may be wondering how to time it just right, so the sales align — or if you should be buying or selling your home first.

Here are the pros and cons of each decision with insights you can use when determining whether to buy or sell your home first.

Selling a home first

You sold your house! Now what? Here’s the inside scoop on the pros and cons of selling your home first.

  • Upside: By selling first, you’ll likely feel more financially secure as you begin searching for homes to buy. It can be helpful to know what kind of money you’ll walk away with at closing so you can set a responsible budget for house #2 and feel confident that you can get approved for your next mortgage loan.
  • Downside: There’s more to think about than just the money you’d acquire from a sale, though. Consider this: The inventory of homes for sale is low (though new listings are starting to rise) and it may take longer than you think to find your next home.

Some homebuyers are comfortable with the idea of finding a “Plan B” home as a temporary option while they search for the perfect place to after they sell their house.

Plan B options for temporary housing include:

  • Renting a house or townhome for the short-term
  • Renting an apartment month-to-month
  • Moving in with generous family or friends during the interim
  • Booking an “extended stay” hotel or inn, which tend to have a usable kitchen area

If you’re in the process of selling your home, and you’re concerned that you might close on your sale before finding your new home, you’re not without options. Together, we can discuss the possibility of negotiating for a later closing date when accepting a buyer’s offer. This will help you gain more time to find your next property.

Buying a home first

It’s also possible to buy a home before you’ve placed your existing home on the market.

  • Upside: By buying a new home before you sell your current home, you can search on your own terms and put an offer on the home of your dreams — rather than being tied to a timeline.
  • Downside: If you buy a new home before selling your current property, you’ll have to have enough cash on hand to cover the down payment for house #2, and you may end up paying two mortgages until your first home sells.

If you choose to buy first, be sure to save up as much money as possible in order get approved for a second mortgage and have peace of mind as you commit to paying two mortgages for the short-term (or possibly longer). You’ll also want to work with a real estate agent who is committed to helping you sell quickly.

Adding a contingency when buying

If you want to buy first, but avoid two mortgage payments, you can try to add a buyer’s home sale contingency in the purchase agreement of your new home. This contingency states that the transaction for the new house is dependent on the sale of your current property.

A seller may perceive a contingent offer as weaker than a non-contingent offer. In a sellers’ market, you may have a more difficult time getting the seller to accept a contingent deal.

Should I buy and sell a home at the same time?

This is a pretty common scenario, especially for homeowners who don’t have a “backup plan” — like the option to move in with family or friends for a few weeks or months.

At first, this may seem like the best-case scenario. Here are a couple of things you might not have considered about coordinating a new home purchase and a property sale.

  • Upside: You can time your moves to coincide. This will allow for a seamless transition from one house to the next — packing up a van and relocating a few miles away is about as easy as a move can get.
  • Downside: It can be a challenge to stage your for-sale home and keep it clean for showings, all while touring other homes, making offers and negotiating coinciding closings.

So, what’s the best plan?

Unfortunately, there’s no cookie-cutter answer to this question. All homeowners are different, with unique finances, timelines and other logistical factors (like school and work schedules, family trips, short-term living options, etc.) that can impact what’s smartest for them.

And, homes are different, too! In an area without many homes for sale, sellers can accept an offer on a home in just a few days or even hours — while sellers in a higher-inventory market, or who price their homes too high, may wait months for just one offer.

All in all, the perfect option for one seller might not work for a different seller, even if they live on the same block. No matter what, we can weigh all your personal and financial factors to determine if you should sell your home first, buy a home first, or buy and sell at the same time.

Next steps

Ready to get a move on buying or selling a home — or both? Call Jean Hedren, Edina Realty NW Wisconsin, 218-590-6634.

Home buyers: Shop for a mortgage loan

Choosing a mortgage lender

More than half of home buyers don’t shop to find the best interest rate or loan program for their home purchase.

Generally a buyer would rarely purchase the first home they look at, they often accept the rate and terms offered by only one lender. Not all lenders are the same. They don’t offer the same terms and rates to the same buyer.

I advise my buyers that shopping around to compare rate and terms for a mortgage is a reasonable exercise considering that a half percent less interest rate could not only lower the payment but the cumulative interest that is paid throughout the life of the loan.

Mortgages consist of more than interest rates. They include the rate plus origination fees and discount points, which are prepaid interest assessed by the lender at settlement. Other considerations might include adjustable vs fixed-rate loans, low down payment vs high down payment, and whether there are prepayment penalties.

Most important, you will want to work with a lender you can trust, someone that will work effectively, and a lender that offers a range of mortgage loan options.

  1. Make a list of lenders. Your Realtor will know several area lenders and can provide you with a list of contacts.
  2. Talk to a loan officer. Call or visit the lenders on your list to learn how they might work with you. Ask questions:
  • What types of loan products are offered?
  • What are the rates, points, rate-lock period?
  • What are the closing costs?
  • How long is the mortgage application process?
  • When will I know if I’ve been approved?
  • What documents do I need to provide?
  • What costs am I expected to pay?
  • Is there an application deposit?
  1. Compare rates with other lenders. When comparing rates with other lenders, be sure the rates are for comparable loans.

www.JeanHedren.com

About Jean Hedren Realtor. Jean Hedren, Edina Realty NW Wisconsin Realtor, specializes in lake homes, cabins, and waterfront real estate in NW Wisconsin. View all posts by Jean.

A Home Inspection: The Best Investment You’ll Ever Make

A Home Inspection: The Best Investment You’ll Ever Make

I advise all my buyers to hire a home inspector.  I tell them it’s the best investment they’ll ever make.  If the inspection uncovers issues so serious that they decide to walk, it can feel like money wasted.  But if it helps them avoid big surprises they would have encountered later, then it’s definitely money well-spent.  That’s why I very rarely write up offers that don’t include an inspection contingency.

I even advise buyers to hire an inspector when they’re considering a foreclosure or other distressed property that’s being sold “as-is.”  More information can help them, in the words of that old song, “know when to walk away… and know when to run.”  Or, they can move forward with confidence, armed with solid information about just what they’re getting into.  And even when a home is being sold as-is, that doesn’t necessarily mean there can’t be a little negotiating if an inspection uncovers major issues.

It’s also important to remember that a condition report is very different from an inspection report.  Yes, sellers sign on the dotted line to signify that they’re telling the truth.  But even though they’re completing the condition report to the best of their knowledge, they may not know about all of their home’s issues.  So no matter how much you trust the seller’s condition report, it doesn’t take the place of an inspection.

If an inspection uncovers major issues, you have two choices: you can walk, or you can ask the seller to “cure.”  The seller can resolve the situation by either fixing it or giving you a credit at closing.  I almost never advise my buyers to walk away without trying to negotiate a solution.  The only exception would be in the case of serious mold or structural issues.  Almost anything else can be fixed.  If this is a home and a location that you like, work with the seller to reach a fair outcome.

Most homes outside the city limits have their own well and septic, and those need to be inspected, too.  Some inspectors are specialists, while others can take care of all three inspections in the same visit.  Ask your Realtor for recommendations.

Don’t procrastinate on this step; start working to schedule an inspection the moment you have an accepted offer.  The best inspectors can be very busy; here in northern Wisconsin, that’s especially true during the summer months.  So you’ll have plenty of time for any negotiations that might need to take place between the inspection and the contingency deadline, make sure you schedule your inspection for the earliest date possible.

Start your property search: www.JeanHedren.com
Call Jean Hedren, Edina Realty NW Wisconsin Realtor, 218-590-6634