Titine Joyce - Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Scituate



Posted by Titine Joyce on 11/15/2018

Your credit score is a fundamental component of a mortgage lenderís decision to approve you for a loan. It can also affect the interest rate and loan amount you can secure.

Along with your income history and down payment, a solid credit score is one of the three most important things youíll need when it comes to buying a home.

Credit scores themselves, however, can be a complicated business. And finding out what score you need to buy a home and how to achieve that score can also be a complex topic.

So, in this post weíre going to break down some credit score basics as they relate to buying a home.

Types of credit scores

You may have heard of the three main credit bureaus, TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. Each of these bureaus keeps a detailed credit history for everyone in America (except for those who have yet to open a line of credit or take out a loan).

Since each credit bureau may have slightly different information available data to draw from, your credit scores from each company may vary.

However, when it comes to buying a home, most lenders use a standard scoring model called a FICO score to ensure that all mortgage applicants are treated fairly when they seek a loan.

Things are further complicated by the fact that there are several different FICO scoring models designed for different types of credit. So, if youíve seen your FICO score when applying for an auto loan, it may be a different score than you will see when applying for a mortgage.

Build credit; raise your credit score

All of the types of credit scores and scoring models can be confusing. But what you mostly need to worry about is how to boost your score.

Your credit score will be based on five main factors:

  1. Making on-time payments

  2. The percentage of available credit (not maxing out your cards)

  3. Having diverse types of credit (auto loans, student loans, credit cards, etc.)

  4. Not opening new lines of credit frequently (a red flag that youíre struggling financially)

  5. The length of your credit history, or how long youíve been consistently paying your bills

What score do you need to buy a home?

There are several different mortgage types available for buyers. First-time homeowners, veterans, people seeking to buy a home in a rural area, and any other number of circumstances can help you qualify for mortgages even if you have a low credit score.

A general rule, however, is that itís always better to apply for a mortgage with a high credit score to help you secure the best possible interest rate. 

Some programs do have minimum credit scores that they will accept for a mortgage. FHA loans are one common example. The Federal Housing Authority guarantees loans for people across the country who are hoping to buy their first home (or who havenít owned a home in the last three years). Their guarantee is what enables lenders to safely approve mortgages for borrowers with low credit scores. The current requirement for an FHA loan is a credit score of 580 or higher for a mortgage with a 3.5% down payment. You can secure an FHA loan with a lower credit score, but youíll have to make a larger down payment.


There are several other options available for hopeful homeowners when it comes to mortgages. But, if you arenít planning on moving in the next few months and your credit score could use some work, now is the time to start focusing on building credit.





Posted by Titine Joyce on 10/18/2018

Purchasing a home may prove to be an arduous process, particularly for those who fail to plan ahead for the property buying journey. Thankfully, there are many quick, easy ways to streamline the homebuying cycle.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you become a smart homebuyer.

1. Study the Real Estate Market

A smart homebuyer realizes the housing market fluctuates constantly. In fact, a real estate market that favors sellers today may favor buyers tomorrow, or vice-versa. But if a homebuyer reviews the housing sector closely, he or she can differentiate a buyer's market from a seller's market and plan accordingly.

Oftentimes, it helps to analyze the prices of recently sold houses in your preferred cities and towns. This will enable you to see whether houses are selling at or near their initial asking prices. It also will allow you to find out how long homes are available before they sell.

2. Obtain Home Financing

A smart homebuyer understands the importance of getting a mortgage before he or she pursues a residence. Thus, this buyer will meet with lenders and get pre-approved for home financing to further accelerate the homebuying journey.

Generally, it won't take long to get pre-approved for a mortgage. Banks and credit unions employ friendly, knowledgeable mortgage specialists who can help homebuyers quickly analyze various home financing options. These specialists can teach you about a broad array of mortgage options and help you weigh the pros and cons of different mortgages. Then, once you evaluate all of your mortgage options, you can select a mortgage and kick off the homebuying journey with a budget in hand.

3. Hire a Real Estate Agent

A smart homebuyer knows that working alone to find and purchase a house can be difficult. Therefore, this buyer will allocate time and resources to hire a real estate agent who can provide comprehensive assistance throughout the homebuying journey.

Typically, a real estate agent is a must-have for a homebuyer, regardless of the current housing market's conditions. A real estate agent understands the ins and outs of the housing sector and is happy to share his or her expertise with any homebuyer, at any time.

When it comes to navigating the homebuying journey, a real estate agent is ready to help you in any way possible. For instance, if you need help finding a residence in a particular city or town, a real estate agent will make it simple to narrow your house search. On the other hand, if you want to buy a new house as quickly as possible, a real estate agent will ensure you can discover your dream residence on your timeline. Best of all, a real estate agent will respond to any of your homebuying concerns and questions and help you make informed decisions at each stage of the homebuying cycle.

Enter the housing market as a smart homebuyer Ė use the aforementioned tips, and you can increase the likelihood of enjoying a successful homebuying journey.




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Posted by Titine Joyce on 9/6/2018

Employing a real estate agent offers an ideal first step for those who want to buy the perfect residence, and for good reason.

With a real estate agent at your disposal, you'll be better equipped than other homebuyers to find a wonderful house at a price that matches your budget. Plus, your real estate agent will be able to help you navigate each stage of the homebuying process.

What should you expect after you hire a real estate agent? Here are three things that will happen:

1. You'll narrow your home search.

What are you looking for in the perfect house? Ultimately, you'll need to narrow your home search to ensure that you can discover your dream residence without delay.

Luckily, your real estate agent will allocate the necessary time and resources to help you narrow your home search. By doing so, you'll be able to move one step closer to finding a first-rate home that you can enjoy years to come.

2. You'll visit a wide range of high-quality houses.

Your real estate agent will set up home showings and keep you up to date about open houses in your area. That way, you can stay on top of the housing market, browse a broad array of top-notch residences and find one that suits you perfectly.

As you browse houses, don't forget to provide your real estate agent with questions. This will enable you to make a more informed decision about how to proceed following a home showing or open house.

Furthermore, your real estate agent wants feedback to guarantee that you can explore houses that correspond to your lifestyle and budget. And if you view a home that fails to meet your criteria, let your real estate agent know immediately. This will make it easier for your real estate agent to find houses that meet or exceed your expectations, and as a result, may help you accelerate the homebuying process.

3. You'll submit your first offer on a home.

If you've reviewed a variety of houses and find a residence that you would like to purchase, now is the perfect time to submit an offer.

Your real estate agent will offer recommendations to ensure that you can submit a competitive offer on a house. In addition, this real estate professional can provide details about how long a home has been available, if a home seller has lowered the price of a residence recently and other factors that may impact your initial proposal.

Submitting an offer on a house can be stressful, but you can always reach out to your real estate agent for support. Your real estate agent will keep you up to date about whether a home seller accepts, rejects or counters your offer. And if you receive a "Yes," your real estate agent can help you take the next step toward acquiring your dream home.

Before you begin a home search, hire a real estate agent Ė you'll be happy you did. A real estate agent can simplify the homebuying process and help you achieve your homeownership dreams.




Tags: Buying a home  
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Posted by Titine Joyce on 8/30/2018

Whether youíre a first-time homebuyer or youíre upgrading to a larger house to fit your familyís needs, itís vital to understand just how much house you can afford before you start shopping for homes.

When planning for your future home, there are two main things you need to figure out.

  • What is a smart amount to spend on a home for your budget

  • What are the key features in a home that will give you the most benefits for the cost

These two questions may seem simple, but there are quite a few factors that should go into determining each one.

So, in todayís post, Iím going to walk you through the process of determining what kind of house you can afford so you can make the best home buying decision for you and your family.

A smart home buying budget

To create an effective budget, youíll need to gather some information and possibly create a spreadsheet with Excel (or a free alternative like Google Sheets).

On your spreadsheet, youíll first want to add up all sources of income that your family has. This is the easy part for most people who only have one or two sources of income based on a salaried job.

Next, is the hard part--expenses. We canít just use your current expenses to determine the new budget because we have to account for changes in several areas.

If you arenít sure of the cost of living for the area you hope to move to, try plugging it into this cost of living comparison tool to see get a better idea of the cost of things like transportation, childcare, groceries, and more.

Likewise, itís also a good idea to assume youíll be paying more in utilities if youíre hoping to move into a home that is larger than your current home. Keep in mind, however, that different houses have different levels of energy-efficiency, so itís a good idea to also ask the seller of the homes youíre interested in to determine what your costs might be.

Now, subtract your expenses from your income. The amount remaining should easily cover whatever mortgage payment you receive along with, ideally, 20% of your income going toward savings.

Deciding what you need in a home

The second part of determining how much house you can afford is to find out exactly what youíre looking for in a home. The number of bedrooms, bathrooms, location, the size of the backyard; all of these are questions that have a monetary value.

So, to really answer this question youíll need a strong understanding of what you and your familyís goals are for at least the next 5-7 years, if not longer.

Once you have your long-term goals and a good understanding of your budget, you can start safely shopping for homes with a clearer idea of the type of home youíre looking for and just how much home you can afford.




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Posted by Titine Joyce on 3/8/2018

We all know that buying a home is expensive. For first-time buyers who donít have the luxury of equity for a down payment, it can be difficult to find a way to finance your home without taking on a huge interest rate and mortgage insurance.

Fortunately, loan programs like those offered by the U.S. Veterans Affairs can be a godsend. However, there is a great deal of confusion around who is eligible for VA loans and how to acquire them.

So, in todayís post, weíre going to cover some of the frequently asked questions of VA loans. That way, you can feel confident in knowing whether or not itís a good financing option for you and your family.

VA Loans FAQ

Who is eligible for a VA Loan?

VA loans arenít just for veterans. Most members of the military, including Reserve and National Guard members can apply. Additionally, spouses of service members who died from a service-related disability and those who died on active duty can apply as well.

How long do you have to service to be eligible?

The VA defines eligibility as having served no less than 90 days of service during wartime and 181 days of continuous service during peacetime.

Who are VA Loans offered by?

Like any other loan, VA loans are offered by private lenders. The difference is that VA loans are guaranteed by the government. That means that the federal government takes on some of the risk of lending to you, therefore making it possible to secure a loan with little or no down payment.

Should I make a down payment on a VA loan?

If you have the means, making a down payment will almost certainly save you money in the long run. If you can put down 10% of your total mortgage amount, you can also significantly reduce the VA Funding Fee.

Will I have to pay private mortgage insurance?

Private mortgage insurance (PMI) is something that borrowers pay on top of their mortgage payments and interest. This additional insurance helps borrowers buy a home with a small down payment. VA loans allow you to secure a mortgage without PMI.

Are VA loans different for active duty, National Guard, and Army Reserve members?

Each type of service member is eligible for a VA loan. However, there are some minor differences regarding the VA Funding Fee. With no down payment, an active duty member would pay 2.15% of the loan amount in fees. National Guard and Army Reserve members pay around 2.40% with no down payment.

What does my credit score need to be to get a VA loan?

The VA doesnít have a set minimum credit score. However, the private lenders that offer the loan do. On average, the lowest credit score that you can secure a VA loan with is around 620. That being said, a higher score will secure you a lower interest rate, saving you money over the lifetime of your loan.




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