Tag Archives: Dakota County

Dakota County + Conventional Financing = Happy Homebuyers

Shout out to our partners at the Dakota County CDA!  For as long as I can remember, they have only allowed FHA or VA loans to be used in conjunction with their MN first time home buyer program.  They now allow a 30-Year fixed conventional financing option via the HFA Preferred conventional program and this is great news.

As a refresher, all MN first time home buyers must qualify for a basic loan program — FHA, VA or conventional financing.  I look at this as the cake.  As long as you meet the parameters for credit, income and assets for the specific program, you can qualify for your loan — the cake.

One step further, if you meet the parameters of the first time home buyer program, such as the one in Dakota County, you could then get down payment and closing cost assistance — which is the frosting on your delicious cake!  Now wouldn’t that be sweet?

There are guidelines for the conventional loan that must be met in order to qualify.  First, ID-10039817there is a minimum credit score of 640  to even be eligible for the Dakota County  program.  The required down payment is at least 3% and you must contribute $1000 of your own money (no gift) to the transaction.

Since you have less than 20% down, you will be required to have private mortgage insurance, also known as PMI.  The good news is that the PMI for this first time buyer program has reduced coverage requirements which may result in lower monthly PMI payments.

You can learn more about the Dakota County program here, but as a quick recap, they offer three different down payment options.  These are dependent on your household income, but range from 3.5% of the purchase price (max of $7500)  up to 10% of the purchase price (max of $10,000).  As with all MN first time home buyer programs, the assistance is a second loan against your property.  If you sell or refinance your home, the second loan becomes due and payable.

Another requirement for this program, as with other MN first time buyer programs, is to attend the Homestretch class.  This is a worthwhile, 8-hour class that will teach you everything you need to know about buying a home, the process, as well as keeping your home.  You can find classes at the Homeownership Center. Costs for these classes will vary on the location you choose, such as directly from Dakota County or another provider.

I am an advocate of the in-person class because you can learn so much from other attendees.  If it doesn’t work in your schedule, you can “attend” the class online via their Framework class.  If you go this route, you will also need to set up a one-on-one meeting with a first time buyer specialist at the Dakota County CDA.

I am excited we can now offer conventional financing with Dakota County.  They have a wonderful program and for those of you with higher credit scores, it may be a much better financial option to FHA financing in terms of your monthly payment.

As always, it would be a pleasure to discuss your situation to see which cake you qualify for and what type of frosting we can layer on top!

*photo courtesy of  Salvatore Vuono, freedigitalphotos.net


Dakota County Makes Similar Changes to MN Housing

MN first time buyer programs are required to follow specific guidelines in terms of maximum income limits and sale price limits. Recently, MN Housing announced changes to their income and sale price limits. Dakota County has as well.

Like MN Housing, they have reduced their income limits DOWN.

  • 1-2 Person Household Max $82,900
  • 3+ Person Household Max $95,335

    courtesy of Ponsulak|freedigitalphotos.net
    courtesy of Ponsulak|freedigitalphotos.net

They have also changed their maximum sale price to $273,570. This means that the purchase price of the property you’re purchasing cannot be higher than this price, not even by $1!

Dakota County is a fantastic opportunity for the those MN first time home buyers looking to purchase in the Dakota County area. They offer competitive rates with only a .5% charge in origination fee.

Their program has three different levels of down payment assistance which is based on the household income and household size. The levels are either 10%, 5% or 3.5% of the sale price toward down payment and/or closing costs. You must have at least $1000 of your own money into the transaction.

Dakota County also offers the MCC program which means not only can you get their assistance, but you can also get a credit of up to $2000/year toward your tax liability for as long as you have your loan. It’s always a good idea to check with an accountant to determine if this part of the program is right for you.

There is a separate approval process with Dakota County to determine if you’re eligible for their assistance. Your loan officer will run the income calculations to make sure you’re within their limits, but the ultimate decision as to whether you get the assistance is up to our partners at Dakota County.

We’re fortunate south-of-the-river to have such a great program. I’d love to help you figure out what programs are best for you!

Would You Like to Save $2000 Each Year?

Kind of a general title.  So how do you save the money?  Do you have to clip coupons, cancel your Netflix or DirectTV or sign up at save-2000-a-year.com?   The simple answer … you need to buy a home.  And, well, you need to use a MN first time home buyer program with the MCC.

Pretty easy, right?  What is MCC?  It stands for Mortgage Credit Certificate.  This is available to MN first time home buyers.  Both MN Housing offers this credit, as does the Dakota County program, for homebuyers buying in Dakota County.

courtesy ddpavumba | freedigitalphotos.net
courtesy ddpavumba | freedigitalphotos.net

So what is it?  It’s not cash paid to you or a big fat check you get yearly, but it’s almost as good.  It’s a credit you can use AGAINST your federal tax liability.  Yes, I said liability.  That means, you need to actually OWE the IRS money.

Pretty scary especially if you’re accustomed to getting money back.  Some words of advice — you should plan your exemptions to break even.  This way you get more money in your paychecks to use throughout the year and not let the government hold it like an unaccessible piggy bank, paying no interest.  That’s my soap-box.

Back to the topic at hand.  The MCC credit … how does it work?  As you may know, when you’re a homeowner, you have a tax deduction of the interest you pay annually, along with the property taxes.  In order to take advantage of this, the deductions need to EXCEED the standard deduction you are allowed by the government.  Sometimes, the loan amount isn’t high enough to accomplish this.  Wouldn’t it be great if you could still get a benefit or get one in addition to the allowed deductions?

Before I go on, let me say, I am not an accountant, so this is where you should consult one to determine if the MCC is right for you.  As I mentioned, you need a liability.   If you break even or get money back, you won’t get the MCC advantage.

The MCC is equal to 35% of the mortgage interest you paid, NOT to exceed $2000.  Let’s say your loan amount was $150,000 with a rate of 4.25%.  That means, you had $6375 in interest paid for the year.  35% of this is $2231.  As you may recall, you’re capped at $2000, so in this scenario, you can use the FULL $2000.  This credit is something you can use EVERY year  you have your mortgage, so you can see this credit can totally add up!

To take the example further, let’s say you owe the IRS $1000.  That credit will wipe out what you owe the IRS.  The other unused $1000 you can carry over for up to 3 years to use, but in each year, you’re still maxed at the $2000.  On the other hand, let’s say you owe the IRS $2500.  In this case, you can wipe out $2000 and you only need to write a $500 check.  Yup, it’s that awesome!

A few things to note.  You had a full $6375 in interest.  If you use the full $2000, then you can only use the remaining $4375 as a tax deduction on your taxes.  Still not too shabby to literally get FREE money to offset what you owe the IRS.  Here is where the accountant comes in.

You need to work with them to determine what you should claim as your federal exemptions in order to create a tax liability.  Not only is getting FREE money so cool, BUT, each paycheck you realize MORE money because less is going to the IRS.  It’s a win-win all around.  Oh, and if this isn’t enough, if you qualify, you can get down payment assistance WITH the MCC!

Not all lenders offer the MCC program, even if they do handle the MN Housing or Dakota County programs.  I do, of course, and would love to help you make the most of buying your first home!  Yea tax liability!!

You … from the Underwriter’s Perspective — The Third “C”

Another piece to your underwriting puzzle — Cash.  I love this one because cash actually isn’t an acceptable source of down payment or closing costs.  The better term for this “C” is assets, or what you have available for the transaction, but then it wouldn’t be with the other cool “C” kids!

You may wonder why cash isn’t allowable, I mean, it’s money and that’s what you need to

courtesy of  ddpavumba|freedigitalphotos.net
courtesy of ddpavumba|freedigitalphotos.net

buy a home, right?  True, but cash isn’t traceable.  We have no idea if it was yours from the tips you made at your server job, money saved at home, a gift from family, an unsecured loan or quite possibly, money derived from other unacceptable sources.  This is why we tell you NOT to make deposits into your accounts using cash with our list of things “not to do” in the loan process.

So if cash isn’t allowed, then what do we look for?  The obvious sources of assets are checking, savings and money market accounts.  We’re looking to make sure that the only deposits going into your accounts are funds from your employment and we determine this by looking at the last two months bank statements.  More statements may be requested depending on how long you’re in the process.  Any other deposits will be questioned, because again, the money could be an unsecured loan or untraceable funds.

Some people have CDs (certificate of deposits), mutual funds, stocks or bonds.  These are certainly acceptable sources.  We would need to prove ownership of the accounts by the last two months statements, prove that you liquidated the funds and have them in your account.  For bonds, we would get copies of the actual bonds.  A Roth IRA is also usable.  Typically, you can pull everything out you’ve put in with no penalty.  You aren’t able to take any of the funds you’ve earned from the investment though.  Since I am not a financial planner, I would get their advice on this.

Retirement accounts are other acceptable sources of assets.  Most of the time we use retirement or 401K statements as reserves.  That means, we’re looking at the balances just to make us feel good about the transaction.  Sometimes, certain programs require reserves.  For instance, we need to prove you have at least 2 months of the new house payment leftover after closing.  Or if you’re retaining your current home while purchasing the new home, we may need to prove six months reserves for BOTH the current house payment and the new house payment.  These guidelines vary by program.

Another source of assets is a gift.  Acceptability of this is dependent on the loan type, but in most instances, a gift is okay as long as it’s from a family member.  There are guidelines on how to get a gift, including a form to be completed called a gift letter.

I’ve mentioned unsecured loans and how they aren’t acceptable, but are any loans acceptable for the money you need?  Yes!  If the loan is secured against another home you own, a retirement account or a car, for instance, then a loan is okay.  If the loan is against anything but the retirement account, we must use the monthly debt payment in your qualifications.

Another form of funds for down payment and closing costs could be from an assistance program, like those found with MN Housing or Dakota County Bond.  These aren’t assets you possess, but would serve proof that you have the funds necessary.  All of these programs would require you have at least $1000 of YOUR own money into the transaction, verified via your bank account or some other asset account.  A gift is NOT acceptable for this $1000 as that would not be considered your funds.

Even the seller can contribute to what you need for closing costs, but there are limits to this and it’s a negotiation between you and the seller.

Of course, there are other forms of assets that I may not have touched on.  To know what you need to purchase a home, it’s best to sit down with a professional to look at all your options!  Last “C” coming up next — Collateral.

Dakota County Program Just Got Better!

MN first time homebuyers buying in Dakota County have a few new reasons to celebrate!  The Dakota County Bond program has made some great improvements to their popular MN first time buyer program with regards to their household income calculation, income limits and down payment assistance amounts!  This is fabulous news!!

As the name implies, this program is for homes purchased in Dakota County and is only available for first time buyers — meaning you haven’t owned a home in the previous three years.  The other MN first time buyer program via MN Housing, does have a down payment and closing cost assistance option for non-first time buyers, as well as MN first time home buyers.

courtesy of Stuart Miles|freedigitalphotos.net
courtesy of Stuart Miles|freedigitalphotos.net

Dakota Bond has three down payment assistance options, depending on your household income.  As shared in a previous blog, household income used to be defined as ALL income derived by ANY person, over the age of 18, who will be living in the new home.  They recently revised this to be in-line with MN Housing’s new definition — income is calculated from the person on the loan, any other person on the loan AND living in the home or the borrower’s spouse, whether on the loan or not.

Their assistance can be used with an FHA or VA loan (must be a Veteran to qualify for VA).  The amount of assistance was previously calculated off the loan amount, but is now calculated off the purchase price — offering MORE money to use for down payment and closing costs.

Here is the break down of their assistance programs — the one that changed was for those people in the higher income category — it went from 2.5% up to 3.5% and now has a higher max loan cap — currently $7500, as is the 5% option.  The max loan amount is $10,000 under the 10% option! (more household size info can be found on their site)

10% of Purchase Price
5% of Purchase Price
3.5% of Purchase Price

As with all MN first time home buyer programs, you must attend the Homestretch class.  This course is offered through the MN Homeownership Center.  There is an online version, but if you opt for this, you still need to do a one-on-one session with Dakota County.  Because I feel strongly about education and learning from your peers, I highly recommend the 8-hour,  in-person class.

The assistance from Dakota County is an interest-free, deferred loan.  When you refinance, sell your home or your home becomes non-owner occupied, you must pay the assistance back.  There is also a minimum investment of your own funds of $1000.

Also available with Dakota County is the MCC — Mortgage Credit Certificate.  This can create a $2000/year tax credit.  In a nutshell, 35% of the mortgage interest you pay each year can be used to offset a tax liability, up to $2000/year.  I am happy to explain this further, but an accountant is the best person to advise if this is a beneficial option for you.

We are very fortunate in Minnesota to have so many wonderful programs to help MN first time home buyers obtain their homeownership dreams.  It would be my sincere pleasure to discuss your options to see which programs best fit your situation!

Not Your Parents’ Interest Rate

It’s all over the news that rates are at RECORD lows, again!  How lucky can we be?  If you’re looking to buy a home, especially your FIRST home, it’s a great time to consider doing it.

But, buying a home “just because” the rates are low isn’t a good reason to purchase and some people, frankly, aren’t cut out to be home-owners.  You need to know the time is right for YOU!

What about the first time buyer programs*?  Yup, their rates are soooo low, it’s crazy.   You can find their rates by visiting their sites — MN Housing and Dakota County.

Yippee — great rates — what does that mean to you, other than bragging rights over your parents’ rate when they bought their first home?? It means more buying power. For example — hypothetically, let’s say you qualify for a $1500 PITI payment (principal, interest, taxes and insurance), of which $1200 is just the principal and interest. With a rate of 4% (APR 4.191%), you’d be looking at financing about $250,000 — if the rate were 1% higher, your buying power drops by $25,000.

A better way to look at this … buy a home that’s $25,000 less and have a lower payment by about $130. THAT sounds like a better idea, especially since home prices are in YOUR favor.

NUTSHELL — if now IS the time for YOU to buy, then by all means take the plunge. Make sure you’re working with a lender with experience (like my 17 years) and one that knows and practices the first time buyer programs (in my sleep!). I am here and happy to help!

*Assistance and qualification for program is based on total household income and possibly other parameters set by the program

The Rate Stars are Aligning for First Time Buyers

The past few years have been sensational with first time buyer programs and rates. Recently, a few of the popular programs REDUCED their rates again, making this an even better time to “go all in!”

courtesy of Grant Cochrane|freedigitalphotos.net
courtesy of Grant Cochrane|freedigitalphotos.net

MN Housing, a program that is well known throughout the Minnesota area, has got a few programs. One of their programs offers no assistance, BUT, a low rate.  That is incredible!  And, if you want, or qualify for, down payment assistance, you could be looking at a little higher rate. All of these rates are subject to change, are 30-year fixed terms and have NO pre-payment penalty!  Keep in mind, they do have a recapture tax, which all subsidized bond programs have.  Don’t let this scare you though … most people don’t have to worry about this when they sell.

Another great change occured with the City Living Program. This is the program availalbe to homes in the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. They reduced their rates AND increased their down payment assistance from 2% of the loan amount up to 2.5%! Plus, you may be eligible for funds in certain neighborhoods making the pot even sweeeter!

The Dakota County program also dropped their rate . They offer 3 different tiers of assistance depending on your household income. And speaking of household income — all the programs have adjusted these limits down just a tad, so please inquire if you’re interested in pursuing one of the programs.

Remember, you’re only a first time buyer once and if you can take advantage of a special program to reduce your rate and possibly help with costs, do it!!!

Dakota County Program Lowered Their Rate!

With rates falling, a few of the first time buyer programs have been lagging behind as they still have higher rates.    Many people are still taking advantage of the program since it offers down payment assistance.  Recently, they lowered the rate to to be competitive with the market.  So you know, this is a rare thing for first time progams.  Normally when there is money alloted to the counties, the initiative is set at a certain amount of funds and a certain rate.  This is great news!

arrow downTo repeat, many people are taking advantage of this program not just for the rate, but the opportunity to get down payment assistance.  The Dakota County program offers three tiers of assistance depending on household income.  Household income is defined as income brought in by all people in the home over age 18 and includes such income as bank interest, child support/alimony, side jobs, etc.  Even if the income can’t be used for qualifying (i.e. overtime that has been received for less than two years), it is still figured into the limits for first time buyer programs.  Here are the down-payment tiers:

Household          10%                         5%                      2.5%
Size                  Income Limit      Income Limit    Income Limit

1                           $29,400                $45,100              $84,000
2                           $33,600                $51,550              $84,000
3                           $37,800                $58,000             $92,400
4                           $42,000                $64,400             $92,400
5                           $45,400                $69,600             $92,400
6                           $48,750                $74,750            $92,400
7                          $52,100                 $79,900            $92,400
8                           $55,450                 $85,050           $92,400

Max assistance for the 10% limit is $10,000 and max for the 5% limit is $7500.

So what do the numbers mean? Let’s reference the middle column. Let’s say you have 3 people in your household. That means your total household income must be under $58,000 — one cent over and you go to the next column. In this scenario, you qualify for down payment assistance equal to 5% of the base loan amount, with a max of $7500. The first time buyer assistance is a second mortgage that is placed against your home when you close. It is an interest-free and payment-free loan. If you received $7500, you would pay back $7500 either when you refinance your loan or sell your home.

If you’re looking in Dakota County for your first home, definitely check out this program.  All lenders are not created equally with first time programs.  Lenders must be approved to do this financing.  Obviously, I can help!  It’s time to take advantage of all you have to gain as a first time buyer in this market!

*Rates are subject to change.

Can ANYONE Get a Loan Anymore??

Believe me; I ask myself this daily.  You hear that you need 20% down to get financing or sterling credit.  And though these are GREAT attributes, they aren’t a guarantee that you will get a mortgage OR that you won’t have to go through a few hurdles.  It used to be so easy to get financing.  It wasn’t that we just handed money out to anyone, though there were people who did and look where that got us.  It’s not just them; it’s the lenders that accepted high risk buyers and did deals that should have never been done.  This is neither here nor there.  Right now, we need to focus on what the rules or guidelines are NOW, not what they used to be.  Those days are gone my friends.

stopLet’s start with the simplest issue I see today and the piece that has had the most changes — CREDIT.  Let’s talk about credit scores first.  Way back when, credit scores mattered; but they weren’t as much of a guage as they are now.  What I mean by that is we were able to create credit for people if they had lower scores or if they had NO scores.  It may have been acceptable to help someone who had lower scores, let’s say 560, if we could show clean credit on alternative sources such as insurance, utilities, rent, cell bills, etc — this is how we “created” credit.  And, if there was a clean credit history in the last 12 months, this deal could have probably worked.  Now, the line is drawn.  For the most part, you will need scores AND the middle of the 3 scores (most of us have a score from each bureau – Experian, Equifax and TransUnion) must be at least 620 or higher.  This is NOW.  I am guessing in the next few months, or sooner, most investors will be at 640, as some have already taken that leap.

Still referring to credit, you now need at least THREE tradelines (an item of credit on your credit report) AND they each must have 12 months’ history.  Plus, these lines need to be current.  Let’s say you haven’t done anything with your credit for a few years because you worked abroad.  You may have great credit scores because, before you left, you did a good job managing your credit.  Unfortunately, most, if not all, of your tradelines will be older in terms of the last active date.  This is one of the things that’s catching people and making it so they can’t get a loan.  It’s a shame really because you can tell they’re good at making payments and are responsible.  Thing is, the score isn’t a true representation of their credit since it doesn’t have current information reporting.  There is one exception to this rule, as of now.  The 3 main first time buyer programs, CityLiving, Dakota County Bond and MN Housing, in conjunction with an FHA loan, will allow less than 3 tradelines and less than the 12 month history.  If there is a score, it must still be over 620, however.  With the first time programs, we would work on creating credit and we WOULD need to find 3 items of credit to have added to our credit report — again, car insurance, utilities, layaway plans, healthclub memberships, utilities, etc., are all items we can use to create your history.  And by the way, this will NOT help your score as we do this on our credit report we pulled.  This does not get reported to the credit bureaus.

Another fun credit change that is COMING, and fast — Fannie Mae is requiring that lenders verify the borrower’s credit prior to closing.  It’s under the new Loan Quality Initiative.   Some Minnesota lenders have already put this in motion.  The interpretation of pulling credit prior to closing is within 48 hours of closing.  So, in my article, “Things Not to Do”, you learned that while in the loan process, don’t open new accounts or close accounts.  Well, this just became CRUCIAL to follow.  If you open a new account, just have a creditor check your credit for a possible new account, increase balances on what you owe, or anything … your approved, ready-to-go-to-closing loan could be un-approved.  For instance, the credit pull or increase in balances, could have dropped your score under what your approval requires.  Or, the new debt now makes it so your ratios are too high for qualifying.  If you want to deal with stress or the possibility of not closing on a home, then feel free to mess with your credit.  My advice is far different and will be quite bold.  If you want your loan to stay approved, DO NOT, under any circumstances, open new credit, consider opening new credit so your credit has to be pulled by another lender or increase your balances on your current debts.  This could make or break whether you close on your home or not.  There is no first time buyer exception to this either, so my advice stands in all circumstances — Just Don’t!

percentageWhat else is making it hard to get financing?  How about qualifying ratios?  This is how a lender determines what you qualify for.  We use your gross monthly income and run some calculations.  In most cases, the “debt ratio” is the most common one for us to look at.  We want to make sure your new house payment PLUS all other obligations, does not exceed the program guidelines.  Essentially, for most loans, that means not spending more than 45% of your income toward the new housepayment and your other debts.  PMI companies (private mortgage insurance) have put their guidelines on this too.  Many PMI companies require a ratio of 41% or less.  Even though you may have an approval through an automated underwriting system, the PMI company could trump it and disapprove your loan due to excessive ratios.  I can remember the “days” when we saw ratios at 65%.  Now, was that a good underwriting decision?  Maybe, maybe not.  For an underwriter to make this call, the borrower must have excessive compensating factors, such as plenty of money left over after closing, good credit scores as well as good job stability.

This is a small sampling of the changes in the loan industry.  They are a few of the guideline changes that have impacted much of the business I do.  So, in answer to the blog’s title question … yes, many people can get loans.  No, you don’t need 20% down and sterling credit.  Fortunately, FHA is a great loan requiring only 3.5% down and more leniency with credit.  FHA also allows us to go a little higher in ratios and doesn’t limit us to the 45%.  I am not saying we can go over that just willy nilly.  That’s not the case.  We can go a little higher if, and only if, there are good compensating factors.  And I bet you didn’t know this (well, unless you read the blog), City Living and Dakota Bond programs ONLY allow FHA loans or VA, no conventional.  And don’t forget FHA and their guidelines in regards to disputed accounts.  This just adds another item on the checklist of things we have to watch for in order to make sure you can get approved for a loan.

Enough already, huh?  That’s all I have to say.  There are just too many variables that if it’s something YOU can control, you should.  You may want to check out our office blog titled Pain in the Assets — this goes over another important piece to your loan puzzle.  With all that can go wrong in the loan process now due to guideline changes, title issues or bank issues, we need all the humor we can get, so hopefully you like our article.  I’d love to do your loan right the first time by educating you BEFORE things become an issue.

Why are You Buying a Home?

Do you know the answer to this?  Have you thought about the responsibility that comes with homeownership?  It is nothing like renting.  You can’t just call the supe to come over and fix the clogged sink or make a call when your neighbors are too loud.  It’s a really big deal this thing called homeownership.

In a recent survey, the main reason first time buyers bought was an affordable market.  The two reasons that followed were the tax credit and the low interest rates.  Now, today is the last day you can take advantage of the tax credit.   As you have heard over and over, you need a signed and accepted purchase agreement  by today AND must close on your new home by June 30th.

Honestly, how did you answer the question above “Why are You Buying a Home”?  Was it because you could get an $8000 tax credit?  As much as I hate to say this, if your answer to this was yes, you’re not alone.  I have talked to so many people in the last 12 months that decided to buy because of the money the government was giving away.  My advice to them — great incentive to get out and start looking, but only purchase if you’re ready AND completely understand what you’re getting into.  I just tweeted that it’s better to have “lost” $8000 vs. $80,000 or more due to a bad judgment on buying a home just to get the credit.

Here’s the thing.  Yes, the money will be gone and that’s a bummer.  I can’t help you there.  BUT, what I can do is offer up the other two reasons people bought this year — affordability and low rates.  Seriously, this couldn’t be a better time to buy.  As we discuss weekly on our radio show, MN Real Estate Show on KTLK 100.3, this market is going to be here a little while — at least another 2-3 years.  Home prices are not going to rebound fast because we have more foreclosures to get through.  With that said, homes under $250,000 are still being gobbled up fast if they’re decent homes.  Regardless of that, you have the lowest prices to purchase at in record years.

And what about low rates?  I don’t have a crystal ball — wait, I DO have a bouncy crystal ball, but it doesn’t help me predict the future.  I wish it did and I wish I had that ability.  What I do know is that there are PLENTY of first time buyer programs out there with down payment assistance and lower-than-market interest rates.  I have access to them all, PLUS, we do a few other things that most lenders don’t.  For instance, in one of my blogs I talk about the 203K loan with FHA.  I noted in the paragraph above that homes are gobbled up if they’re decent.  What about the less-than-perfect homes?  As a first time buyer, it’s tough to afford a home and then on top of it have money to do work.  This is your BEST opportunity to make the house “yours”.

These are all great reasons to buy a home.  And there are more, such as no longer paying another person’s mortgage by renting.  May as well put your money into something that will appreciate — though that will take a little time, it’s still a better investment.  There is something to be said about having your own place.  Downside is you will have more expenses, maintenance, including furnishing and decorating.  These are all things to consider.  But, it’s yours.  Not someone elses.  You can do whatever you want to the house.  You don’t have to answer to anyone.  It’s the pride of ownership and that alone is one of the best reasons to buy in my opinion!

Then there’s the “tax credit” you get.  No, not speaking of the one that expires today.  That would be silly.  I am talking about the tax benefit of owning a home.  Most of you probably don’t get to write off any expenses, like the donations you give of stuff or money.  Wouldn’t it be nice to get a benefit from that?  As a homeowner, each year you can itemize all of the interest you pay on the loan and all the property taxes you paid that year.  Did you know, you can also itemize the state income tax that you pay?  Nice benefit there.  I don’t want to mislead you.  Not everyone will get this tax benefit, or I should say, be able to utilize it.  If the loan size is smaller, along with lower rates, you may not have enough itemized deductions to EXCEED the standard tax deduction listed on page 2 of the 1040’s.  And that’s okay.  Sometimes not paying a lot for a home loan is a really good thing!  There’s more to this and I am happy to explain further your benefits based on your situation.

So, the question still stands — “Why are You Buying a Home?”  I’ve given you plenty of reasons that still make sense even though the tax credit is expiring.  My hope is you have other reasons for owning.  But as I said earlier, it’s NOT something to enter into lightly.  As a matter of fact, the best advice I can give you, short of coming to one of my seminars 😉 , is to go to a Homestretch Course.  This will not only teach you most of what you need to know when buying, but also what it takes to maintain your home after it’s yours.  Also, this will meet the pre-requisite to be eligible for most of the first time buyer programs.  Look at that — kill 2 birds with one stone — learn about homeownership AND qualify for down payment assistance.  And who doesn’t want interest-free money and lower rates?  Sign me up 😀