Complete Checklist of Documentation Investors Need for Approval

Many real estate investors will use a mortgage loan to pay for a large portion of an investment property’s sales price. While you may be familiar with the loan documentation that is required when you apply for an owner-occupied home, the documentation requirements vary when you apply for an investor loan. By learning more about the documents that your lender may require for your upcoming loan request, you can take steps now to prepare for your investor loan application.

Investors Asset & Income VerificationSome investors are turned off or even stressed out by the amount of documentation a lender requires. However, each document serves a very specific purpose and is essential for the underwriter to make an accurate, informed decision about your loan approval status. By providing all of the documentation requested quickly, you can promote the rapid processing and approval of your loan application. These are some of the more common types of documentation required by a lender.

Proof of Income

Just as the underwriter will review your personal income and overall debt-to-income ratio when you apply for a personal residence loan, the underwriter will walk through these same steps when you apply for an investment property loan.
  • Paystubs for Salaried Employees: Typically, the lender requires either a month’s worth of paystubs or the last two most recent paystubs to confirm your income level. A verification of employment may also be completed with you employer.
  • Federal Tax Returns With W-2s: You may need to provide your last two years of tax returns, including your W-2s if you are a wage earner. If you own a business, your business tax returns for the last two years may also be required. Contract workers may need to provide their 1099 forms for the last two years.
  • Other Related Income Documentation: All sources of regular income must be documented, so you may need to provide documentation showing your child support payments, alimony payments, rental income from investment properties, Social Security awards letter, pension documentation and more. Rental income from investment properties is most commonly verified by providing full copies of all of the leases on your existing investment properties.

Verification of Assets

It is likewise important that you document all of your assets. While you definitely need to document enough funds to pay the down payment and closing costs, the underwriter also wants to know how much additional liquidity you have available. This can be essential for your loan approval process if other factors indicate higher risk.
  • Financial Statements for All Accounts: For each bank account you own, the lender needs to see the last two to three months of bank statements. All pages of the statements should be provided. This includes checking and savings accounts, retirement accounts, stock or investment accounts and more.
  • Explanation and Documentation for Large Deposits: The lender will review your bank statements thoroughly. Any large deposits made into your account that are not generated by your regular income sources will need to be properly explained and documented.
  • Profit and Loss Statement for Self-Employed Applicants: If you own your own business, you will need to provide a current profit and loss statement, which details the business’s net worth. This is required even if your primary source of income is not generated by the business.
  • Business License: Some lenders may ask to see a copy of your active business license.
  • Life Insurance Documentation: If you have a cash value life insurance policy and indicated so on your loan application, some lenders may require you to provide proof of the current cash value amount of your policy. This is because the cash value amount is a true asset.

Other Documentation That May Be Required

The majority of the documentation that you need to provide to your lender for an investment loan application falls into the category of proof of income or proof of assets. However, other miscellaneous documentation may also be required by the lender:
  • Proof of Identity: You typically need to provide a copy of your government-issued photo ID as well as a copy of your Social Security card.
  • Proof of Insurance: Before closing, you will need to shop around and find coverage for the property. A full copy of the policy will be required, and the premium amount will be analyzed by the underwriter.
  • Divorce Decree: Commonly, if you have filed for divorce in the past, the lender need to review the divorce decree. This is regardless of how long it has been since the divorce occurred.
  • Property Ownership Documentation: Everything from a recent mortgage statement to the deed may be required for all properties you own. While this is not always required, you should be prepared to provide it upon request.
  • Credit Explanations: The lender will review your credit report and will ask for written explanations on all credit inquiries as well as all late payments or other derogatory items. Keep in mind that all late payments or outstanding judgments need to be paid in full before closing in most cases.
  • VA Certificate: If you are a veteran or an active military professional, you may be required to provide a copy of your DD214 form.
  • Sales Contract: When you are buying a property, the lender needs to review your fully executed sales contract. Proof of deposit for the earnest money may also be required.

As you can see, you may need to provide a lender with hundreds of pages worth of documentation when you apply for an investment property loan. It can take time to pull together all of the required documentation and send it to your loan processor. If you want to avoid delays with this process, it is wise to begin gathering together the required documentation now. You may ask your loan processor for a list of specific items that may be required for your unique loan application.

8 Mistakes to Avoid on Your First Real Estate Investment

Investing in the real estate business is not that simple. Otherwise, everyone in the real estate business would be a millionaire. There are lots of mistakes that first-time real estate investors make that you should be aware of. Many of these are avoidable when you apply sound knowledge and common sense. Here is a list of common real estate investment mistakes that many first-timers make and how to avoid them.

  1. Lack of research

Before many people buy a television or a car, they ask a lot of questions, compare many models, and try to determine if their purchase is worth the money. The effort that goes into buying a home should even be greater. There are also research considerations for different types of investors, whether you are a land developer, flipper, personal homeowner, or a landlord. Not only must you ask a lot of questions about the property, but you must also ask about the neighborhood that the property is located. Here are some questions to ask:

  • Is the property built near a commercial site, or are there prospects for long-term construction in the vicinity?
  • What is the motivation for selling?
  • What is new in the property and what must be replaced?
  • What did the owner pay for it and when?
  • Is the property placed in a flood zone or a problematic area such as are prone to termite or radon problems?

Knowing this information will prepare you for any eventualities and help you know what to expect in future.

  1. Doing everything alone

Real Estate Agent

Trusted Savvy Real Estate Agent, Patricia Wagner

Many investors think they know a lot and that they can close a real estate deal on their own. You may have completed several deals on your own in the past, but remember, things may not go very well in a down market. And if this happens, there is no one you can turn to for help to fix a real estate deal that went sour. Thus, you should make friends with experts and tap every resource that will help you make the right purchase. Your list of experts should at least contain an insurance representative, an excellent attorney, a competent home inspector, a savvy real estate agent, and a handyman. These people should be capable enough to inform you of any flaws in the home or neighborhood. And the attorney should be able to alert you in the case of defects in the title or easements that may come back to haunt you in future.

  1. Wrong location

In the real estate business, location is key since it determines the property prices, market, types of properties, the tenants’ pool, the rent, availability of other rental properties, laws, and regulations, etc. Although it may be easier for you as a first-time investor to go to your local market because of the knowledge you already have, don’t exclude the option of an out-of-state investment if your local market is not suitable for investments at the moment. So, study your local market thoroughly to determine if it is amiable to buy and manage an investment there. If it isn’t, consider markets beyond a 25-mile radius where it is more profitable.

  1. Heart over head

When buying a home, 90 percent of your purchasing decisions are based on your emotions, and only 10 percent relies on logic. Since this is your home where you will raise your family, this is understandable. However, when it comes to investing, making your heart determine your purchasing decision is a mistake to avoid at all costs. If you let your sentiments cloud your judgment, you are more likely to over-capitalize on your purchase instead of negotiating for the best price and outcome for your investment plans. Thus, always buy an investment property based on research analytics. Ask yourself whether it is the best location that will attract high-quality tenants and whether it will provide the returns and gains you require.

  1. Buying too big

As a real estate investor, you will usually learn by doing. So, as a first-time real estate investor, don’t jump in with a large investment property. Purchasing a large-income property such as multi-family home costs more and is more expensive to manage. Thus, experts advise you to start with smaller, less luxurious properties such as a single-family home or apartment which you can afford to purchase without going bankrupt and which will teach you the skills you need for managing a property and being a landlord. After mastering these skills, you can raise your game by purchasing a new property every two to three years.

  1. Underestimating the costs

As a first-time real estate investor, opt for positive cash flow rental properties. The factors that determine cash flow are rental income and costs. Thus, it is crucial to get the most accurate estimates of the expenses. As a new investor, you may undervalue the costs involved in finding the right tenant or forget about the repair costs, and these will lower your profits. The best solution is to get realistic, research-based estimates for purchasing, running, and managing your investment property.

  1. Choosing bad contractors

Unprofessional ContractorIt is an expensive mistake to use multiple contractors to do your job. Flipping houses is quickly becoming a popular trend in real estate investing. Thus, it is vital to find contractors who will do a professional job, clean up the site, and finish the job on time. The means of finding the right contractor for your rental or fix-flip project will determine your success.

  1. Choosing wrong partners

Real estate investment partnerships can prove to be very beneficial for you as a new investor especially if you have limited knowledge or financial resources. However, they may also be deadly traps. Thus, as a new investor, don’t be ready to enter into any partnership just for the sake of having someone to share the risks with or buying a bigger property. Instead, choose your partners carefully among proven experts and professionals, and they must be people you can trust.

Real estate investing is a profitable business, but is not as simple as it looks. There are many things to learn, and you will need to work with many experts and professionals with a good reputation to gain prowess and attain your financial goals. So, tread carefully and follow this expert advice and you will be on your way to the top.

5 Ways the Housing Market Could Change in 2017

The end of 2016 was volatile, unprecedented, unexpected and excruciating for real estate investment. After the stunning election win by President Trump, many people with careers or livelihood attached to the housing market had no idea what expect or how his campaign promise of America first would effect real estate trends. Not withstanding the unexpected win by a man who knows the market so well, there was a lot of social unrest in pockets all over the United States well before President Trump ran his campaign, during and after his inauguration. All of those things need to be taken into account. Also, there are other economic factors that can make a difference. For example, by the end of 2016, people working in the market were weary about members of the millennial generation and if they would even bother purchasing property.

Before getting into the predictions, it is important for anyone reading to know that real estate operates on a double cycle. It operates seasonally, and it also swings over several years. Currently there is growth, and there was growth in and at the end of 2016. The Trump administration has been dedicated to thinning out restrictions for lending, and he has done a wide cut down on a variety of regulations, which will make it easier for people wanting to buy property to get a loan. There are a myriad of predictions and speculations on the Internet, but it is hard to grasp onto reliable sources because of media bias. Here are 5 predictions on the ways the housing market could change, and they are compiled from a few different sources, which seem to be pretty objective.

Affordability Will Lessen

According to Forbes’ prediction of property trends, the wages in larger cities is expected to grow, but those people with a median income will find a disparity when they look to purchase houses. The housing market in larger cities is truly ironic. The wages grow, and people have money to spend, but very few will be able to afford to live in the comfort of a new home. Additionally, this was beginning to happen before 2017 or President Trump. For a while now, people wanting to purchase a home for the first time are growing frustrated because all of the low to medium priced housing is becoming increasingly unavailable. Ten years ago it would not have been a problem for prospective buyers to able to purchase a slightly better home if the affordable ones were scarce or unavailable because all they would need to get was a subprime loan. Now, an extremely high credit score is needed. Waiting for starter homes to be built is one strategy, but even if the builders are more active, work longer and have a higher staff, they are unlikely to make any significant contribution of starter homes to the market for the remainder of 2017.

Increased Population Density Will Lead People to the Suburbs

Cities will continue to become more dense, and when major city populations increase in density it lead people to want to live more spread out and move to the suburbs. Highly populated, dense cities are often havens for crime, large, disruptive classrooms for families with children, long commutes and traffic jams are just few things that are going to lead people into the increasingly popular real estate trend of city fleeing. In addition to everything listed above, densely populated cities, especially in their urban areas are also expensive to live in. Houses are more expensive in a major city and trying to find a nice place to rent at an affordable price is difficult. All large, dense cities can do is ramp up mass transit and increase taxes too. All of these reasons and more are why there will be an increasing property market in the suburbs in 2017.

Credit Availability Will Improve Later in 2017

For the most part, the Trump Administration is not set to deal directly with housing, which is why there is a Presidential Cabinet, President Trump has made it very clear that he and his team plan to roll back the regulations laid out in the previous administrations Dodd-Frank Act. This allows Trump Administration to force banks to lend more freely to a range of different buyers from all walks of life.

2017 Will be the Fastest Market on Record for Growth

2017 Housing MarketDespite some of the bad news for home buyers regarding price, there are other dynamics seeing increases. The 2017 market is expected to break the 2016 property market’s record for being the fastest market. An average home stayed on the market just 52 days in 2016, and buyers using Redfin averaged 83 days searching for a new home, which was seven fewer days than the previous year. Agents have also noted there has been a noticeable increase for short term tours. Same-day tours rose over 25 percent and are expected to grow even more in 2017. People want to buy, and they appear to be serious about.

Rising Rates

Usually, housing does some heavy lifting for the Gross Domestic Product. Housing can be depended on to account for around 15 percent of it, but it has not been pulling its weight recently though. That is because there is a looming property market bubble. Sometimes raising interest rates will help ease some of the tension, so the Federal Reserve decided to raise interest rates in 2017 by first implementing an increase December of 2016, and there are two more expected to follow later in 2017. The effect it will have to buyers will be negative. Higher interest rates make it harder for people to buy, and if they do buy, it makes their payments higher based on the interest rate alone. Nele Richardson, the Redfin Chief Economist, says people should not worry too much. He says a 4.3 percent increase on a traditional mortgage is still a good deal compared to historical interest rate hike.

There are so many factors that real estate trends use to calculate. Good advice would be to proceed with caution considering considering he has barely been in office half a year. Listen to advisors and continue to read more articles like this before deciding to make a paramount purchase.

Baby Boomers: Here’s How to Sell Your Home to Millennials

While it is true that Millennials are living at home longer than previous generations, that doesn’t mean that they won’t eventually want to buy their own home, just like every generation before them. Considering there are 83 million Millennials in comparison to only 75 million Baby Boomers, they represent the largest pool of home buyers in the US.

Millennial HomeownerIt’s important to understand, however, that Millennials are going to value totally different things than what may have motivated you to purchase your home. The large yard and garden that you may have fallen in love with may seem like a huge burden to a tech savvy Millennial who may also be concerned about the environmental impact of using so much water to tend it. Some things that younger home buyers are placing a high value on, you can’t change, such as whether you live close to an urban area, in a good school district or close to a coffee shop.

On the other hand, if you do happen to live in a good urban school district and close to public transportation, shopping and a coffee shop, then you are in prime Millennial territory and that’s the demographic you are most likely to sell your home to – possibly at a large profit. In that case, you want to maximize the draws that have already been handed to you on a silver platter by creating a Millennial-friendly space and marketing through favored Millennial mediums. Here are 4 ways baby boomers can best market their homes to younger home buyers.

Tech it up

While you may still be using a flip phone, younger generations are far more tech savvy and are looking for homes already using advanced tech. Installing the latest home tech doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg, but will generally go a long way to help sell your home to younger buyers. Some examples of modern tech you can install relatively inexpensively are a learning thermostat, smart smoke/ CO2 detector, smart locks and a video doorbell. Most of these will run you under $200 each, but will probably generate far more in a sale, particularly when installed collectively.

Low maintenance exteriors

Young home buyers are far more likely to want to spend more time at home playing video games than gardening and mowing a lawn. You can combine attractive features by installing a smart watering system that won’t turn on if it has just rained. This will appeal to younger buyers on many levels. It’s tech savvy, saves them the trouble of watering and it’s environmentally friendly by way of cutting down on water usage. While you may love tending your extensive garden, if you live in a Millennial-friendly area, you may want to tear it up and replace it with a more low-maintenance xeriscape garden or even a rock garden.

Energy EfficientGreen – energy efficient interiors

Today’s young home buyers are not just concerned with energy costs, they are also concerned with environmental impact. Most real estate agents recommend not doing major renovations when getting ready to sell your home, since the new home buyers will want to put their own imprint on their new home. It is common, however, to do some minor upgrades such as painting and replacing worn flooring and possibly even older kitchen appliances. Repainting with low VOC paint will go a long way to impressing young buyers, as will energy star appliances, energy efficient doors and windows and even solar panels. If you have old carpeting or vinyl flooring that needs to be replaced, consider replacing it with bamboo or some other material that has a high green rating or low environmental impact.

Use the internet

Young home buyers are hugely internet and tech savvy and that is where they are most likely to turn when looking for a home. While not all home buyers will begin their search online, 92% of home buyers will use the web at some point during the home search process. Just listing your home online is not enough, however. Younger demographics also rely heavily on social media, so you can also use social media to give yourself an edge over competing sellers. In addition, to simply listing your home, offering a video tour or even an aerial view of your home via drone will go a long way toward creating more interest in your home among younger buyers.

The Difference Between Property Value and Depreciation

Buyers can locate a property and purchase real estate without the services of an agent. However, many contract the services of a real estate agent in part for their market knowledge and industry expertise. Real estate agents can provide their valued clients with the best service possible by educating themselves about all aspects of the sales process and even the property ownership process. Buyers who are looking for a personal residence as well as investor clients who are looking for a long-term real estate investment are generally concerned with the value of the property. This concept, however, is often confused with how a property depreciates and what this means in the real estate world. By gaining a better understanding of these two common terms and how they impact different buyers, you can position yourself to better serve your clients.

Understanding Property Value

Home ValueYou and your clients may be well aware that the value of real estate does not generally remain stagnant. It can increase and decrease frequently based on a wide range of market conditions. Property value is most commonly determined by a real estate agent or an appraiser in part by reviewing local market comparable data. You likely are already familiar with this process of finding properties of similar size and condition in the neighborhood where a potential listing is located and making reasonable adjustments based on condition, special features, layout and more. The value of a property is important during the sales process to determine a fair offer to make to the seller, and it also is important to a buyer during his or her years of home ownership. For example, it will be used to determine the property taxes owed on the property each year, and it also will be used to calculate the equity in the home.

Exploring the Meaning of Property Depreciation

This is a term that has two distinctive meanings in real estate. Its most common meaning relates to a decline in the value of a property. When the market rates adjust downward, the real estate value declines. The other term is less commonly known, and it may be a factor that investors are more concerned with. The Internal Revenue Service allows investors to use property depreciation as a tax deduction. This is one of the least well-known real estate investment benefits, but it can be a true financial advantage. It gives investors the opportunity to offset their tax liability and to maximize gains. The value of the property is capitalized over the expected life span of the property. The IRS sets the expected life of assets for you. In addition, significant property improvements can also be depreciated for additional financial benefit.

What These Terms Mean to a Personal Residence Buyer

When talking to your clients about these two factors, it is important to remember who your client is and what his or her primary interests may be. The value of the property is most significant factor that will affect a personal residence buyer. This type of client wants to ensure that they get a fair price on the property. When talking about the property, you may discuss property value appreciation rates in the local area. Ensure that they understand there are no guarantees that values will continue to appreciate at a specific rate. However, this information can be beneficial to them as they decide which property to proceed with.

Why They Are Important to Investor Clients

Both of these factors are important to investor clients for different reasons. Investors typically want to ensure that the property cash flows on a monthly basis. The sales price they negotiate on the property will dictate their loan amount and monthly loan payment. In this way, the sales price plays a major role on the overall monthly cash flow that the property can generate for them. Many investors want to project a specific minimum return on investment. This includes tax benefits as well as the appreciation rate of their property and their ability to build equity. The tax benefits are directly impacted by depreciation. Because this factor is based on the value of the property, the two factors are intertwined. In addition, a higher value generally increases the amount that can be depreciated each year, or in other words, it offsets the owner’s tax liability on the property. You can help your investor clients to better determine their overall return on investment by focusing their attention in part on these key factors.
Understanding the different real estate terms that your clients may have questions about is critical. They are contracting you for your real estate services as well as your expertise in this area. It is important that you know what these terms mean and that you have a practical working knowledge of how they affect buyers’ decisions and financial goals.

The Essentials to Styling Your Home to Sell Quickly

When listing a home on the market, it’s important to do everything in your power to ensure it sells as quickly as possible. Not only will sitting on the market for a protracted period of time leave your money tied up in the home, but it can also make your property seem less appealing to prospective buyers. Here are some of the best steps you can take to make your home sell quickly.

Update Paint and Flooring

New Painted WallsMany homes that have been in the hands of the same owner for many years have slowly fallen out of date in terms of interior decor. If you want your home to sell fast, it’s important to update its appearance before listing it. Fresh paint and new flooring will be relatively inexpensive, but they will make your home much more appealing to potential buyers. Look through some home magazines to get a sense of what the preferred styles are at the moment, as these will typically be what buyers are looking for.

Arrange Rooms to Create the Illusion of More Space

Some homeowners, especially those who sell without the help of an agent, make the mistake of showing their homes with the furniture arranged as it usually is. While this may be the most comfortable arrangement of furniture you have found, it probably isn’t the best for styling a home to sell. Try rearranging the furniture and decor in your living spaces to make them look larger. In your living room, for example, position couches or loveseats near the edges of the room to create a large, open space in the center, as this will make the room look larger than it actually is.

Get Your Lighting Right

As minor a matter as it may seem, home lighting plays a large role in how potential buyers will view your property. Dim, outdated lighting will make your home seem less inviting. Modern lighting that illuminates your spaces more thoroughly, on the other hand, will tend to appeal to home buyers. At the moment, bright but cool lights are very much in style.

Pay Special Attention to Your Kitchen

Because it is used multiple times every day, a home’s kitchen is one of its most important spaces. Buyers will be looking for a kitchen with modern styling, so be sure you can give it to them. This can be as simple as updating paint or wallpaper, but there are also several other steps you can take. Replacing countertops, sinks or cabinet hardware, for example, will help to improve the appearance of the space.

Enhance Your Outdoor Space

Outdoor SpaceIn the process of styling a home ahead of putting it on the market, some homeowners focus entirely on their indoor areas and ignore the outdoor elements of their properties. This is a major mistake, as the outdoor part of your property will be the first thing a buyer sees upon arriving. Make sure that your yard is well-trimmed and tastefully landscaped. You may also consider laying down fresh grass seed or fertilizer before listing your home in order to make your lawn appear fuller and healthier.

Get Photo-Ready

When a potential buyer first sees your home, chances are he or she will be looking at an online listing. If you want to make your home stand out from the pack, be sure you’re ready for a professional real estate photographer to take great pictures in your living spaces. One good way to ready your home for this process is to carefully position small decorative or accent pieces on shelves while keeping tables largely clear. Ideally, the pictures of your home should make it look friendly, inviting and livable. For this reason, it is rarely a good idea to list a home with photographs of empty rooms, as this will make it harder for buyers to visualize themselves living in it.

Focus On Your Entryway

Houses are a lot like people in that those who are seeing them for the first time form opinions very quickly based on their appearances. This is why your home’s entryway is such an important space if you want it to sell quickly. Upon entering your house, a potential buyer should form a positive impression immediately. To help this happen, you can install tile or hardwood flooring or position a table with a tasteful decor piece or two by the door. The exterior of your entrance should also be striking, with good-looking lighting fixtures and door hardware in place.

There’s never an absolute guarantee that your house will sell quickly, but with proper styling you can vastly increase the chances that it will. Remember as you prepare your home to look at it through the eyes of a prospective buyer, rather than as someone who has lived there for years. By understanding what a buyer will be looking for, you can style your house to appeal to the person who is hunting for a new home.

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Questions to Ask Potential Mortgage Lenders

A home mortgage is a common way for individuals to afford home ownership. Depending where you live, a new home may cost several hundred thousand dollars or more, and many are simply unable to buy such an expensive item without financing or without considerable effort made at saving for decades of their lives. A home loan may stretch out payments on the house for 20 to 30 years in most cases, providing you with affordable monthly payments. However, before you can apply for a home loan, you must first find the right lender to work with. Some home buyers are inclined to decide which lender to use by shopping for the best interest rate, but this is not the only aspect of the screening process you should consider. Your home loan lender will impact your stress level when applying for home financing, your closing costs, your overall buying timeline and more. Consider asking a potential lender these questions as you make your final decision about who to work with.

MortgageHow Will the Loan Be Serviced?

It is common for lenders to sell their loans after closing to other parties, and it is also common for them to use a third party servicing company to handle collection of payments and other related tasks. While this is common practice, it can impact your loan payment experience in the years to come. If the loan representative states that another party will handle the loan payments, get the name of that company. Thoroughly research the company to ensure that they are known for providing great customer service to their customers.

What Are the Closing Costs?

Each lender has a different approach to establishing closing costs. Closing costs plus your down payment will equate to your total funds due at closing. You need to know that you have enough money available to pay the total funds due at closing. In addition, you may wish to compare different lenders’ closing costs to find the one that offers the best overall deal. In some cases, you can save thousands of dollars by shopping around and comparing closing costs before selecting a lender.

Should You Buy Down the Rate by Paying Points?

With a home loan, you are typically provided with an interest rate at par, and you may be given the ability to buy down the rate by paying points. A point equates to one percent of the loan amount. When you buy down the rate, you will have a lower monthly payment as well as less paid in interest over the life of the loan. Your lender ideally will ask you how long you intend to stay in the home when answering this question. Be wary of lenders who automatically recommend that you buy down the rate without asking about your long-term plans for home ownership. It is most effective to buy down the rate when you plan to be in the home for a long period of time.

Should You Pay Off Debts Before Applying?

As part of the pre-qualification process, your lender will calculate your debt-to-income ratio. If your ratio is very high, you may be requested to pay off some debts and close some accounts before or at closing. If your score is low or borderline, you may be advised to pay debts off several weeks or more before applying so that your credit rating may improve.

Are You a Strong Candidate for Loan Approval?Loan Approval

The last thing you want is to spend your time, energy and money going through the home buying process and loan application process only to find out at the very last minute that you do not qualify for the loan you need. You may lose some of your earnest money to the seller as well as money spent on the appraisal, property inspection and more. More than that, you may have become emotionally vested in buying your dream home, and it can be devastating to learn that you do not qualify for the loan you need to purchase it. Ask your lender up front if you are a strong candidate for loan approval. Pay attention to the key aspects of qualification that the lender states that you meet as well as areas that you may be borderline on.

While some home buyers may ask one mortgage lender these questions, it is best to ask multiple lenders these same questions. By doing so, you can more easily compare the answers to find the lender that seems to answer your questions more completely and honestly. Some may provide more elaborate and detailed explanations as a means to help you make a better decision, to guide you through the process and more. It is wise to speak with multiple lenders before you make your decision about which lender you want to move forward with.

Why Hire a Home Inspector When Buying a Home

ValueFor most people, buying a home is the largest purchase and most significant investment they’ll ever make. Finding the perfect home is an important part of the process, so hiring a home inspector can ensure that there are no issues lurking in a property that you’re certain is “the one.” Here are eight of the key reasons to hire a qualified home inspector.

  1. You can ensure value for your money.

It’s impossible to tell whether a home is worth the price you’re offering unless you know everything about its condition. A home inspector can identify existing health and safety problems as well as other negative (and positive) aspects that may affect your decision to purchase the home.

  1. It helps you negotiate.

Having a home inspection can help you decide on a fair offer price for the home. If there are significant issues, you can negotiate with the seller for a lower price or to fix certain items. In some cases, buyers choose to walk away from a home contract if the property will need more work than they anticipated.

  1. It is comprehensive.

Your qualified inspector will examine all visible interior and exterior areas of the home, including structures such as the roof, foundation, walls, windows, doors, insulation, basement, detached garage, and attic. He or she will also evaluate the electrical, plumbing, heating and cooling systems, test appliances, and even check for evidence of termites. After the inspection, often within 72 hours, you’ll receive a detailed written report.

  1. It protects you and your family.

As previously mentioned, a professional inspector will detect any issues with the home that could affect the safety of the occupants. This could include radon, carbon monoxide, mold, or faulty or damaged wiring, as well as easily fixed problems like a leaky faucet that could lead to more serious issues if left unchecked.

  1. It could detect legal issues with the home.

Some homes have additions, renovations, or structures such as decks or pools that have been installed without permits and may not be built to code. This could affect the home’s value and taxation as well as impact the ability to get homeowner’s insurance.

  1. It can find construction problems.Inspector

If you’re buying a brand new home, you may think you’re impervious to the need for an inspection. In fact, having an inspection can allow poor workmanship, construction issues, mistakes, and any other problems to be addressed before you move in, potentially saving you time and money later.

  1. It helps you meet insurance requirements.

In many cases, your homeowner’s insurance company may require you to have a home inspection as a condition of coverage. This is especially true if you need to meet specific requirements, such as flood zone protection.

  1. It helps you forecast future expenses.

Even if a home inspection doesn’t detect any major issues, it can be an important factor in budgeting for future expenses. For example, you’ll have information about the condition of the roof and other structures, systems, and appliances.

If you’re buying a home, finding a qualified inspector could potentially save you thousands of dollars, a small price to pay to protect your peace of mind.

Real Estate Snap Shot for Florence Kentucky

Many families are choosing to relocate to Florence, Kentucky, and it is not hard to see why. Only a twenty-minute drive from Cincinnati, the city provides easy access to a major metropolitan area while offering a small-town lifestyle that is family friendly and economical. Residents can make a short drive to enjoy two major league sports teams, numerous museums, and a lively arts scene, or stay at home to enjoy the peace and serenity of Midwestern, small-town life.

Real Estate Snap Shot

With a population of just over 32,000, it is one of the eight largest cities in Kentucky, and the largest in Boone County (see HomeTownLocator). While being the largest city in the country ensures that residents receive high levels of public services, it is still a small city by any standard. Consequently, it experiences limited traffic congestion, a low crime rate, and all of the experiences one would expect in a small Kentucky town.


Family features are plentiful. The city has nine schools (five elementary schools, two middles schools, one high school, and an alternative center). It also boasts seven parks, most of which include playgrounds that will appeal to young children, as well as ball fields for older kids (see the city park directory). Nearby outdoor recreation areas include Doe Run Lake Park and Boone Woods County Park.


While the city does not have major theme parks, professional sports, or high-end museums, residents can find those attractions and more within a reasonable driving distance. The city is also a thirteen-minute drive from Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, a major airport with direct flights to Paris, Cancun, and the Dominican Republic, as well as numerous other international and domestic destinations (see CVG).


The economics are also appealing. The city’s cost of living is more than 11% below the national average, while unemployment and median house cost are also low (see Many residents reap the benefits of a big-city salary in Cincinnati while spending at a small-town rate. Low housing costs provide families with many housing options.


As of this writing, shows 257 homes for sale within the city limits. Trulia reports a median sales price of $135,450 and a median rent of $1,362 per month; both numbers represent a very low cost of housing compared to most communities near major American cities.


One sure sign that this community is a good place for families is the fact that a disproportionately high number of families are choosing to settle there. While 72% of residents are homeowners, the median age is only 35 years, reflecting the family focus of this community. Almost all workers (97%) commute by car, with many of them making the twenty-minute trip into Cincinnati (see Trulia).


For parents raising children, there are numerous benefits of living near other families. Parents want their children to have playmates, and they want to associate themselves with other parents who are in the same stage of life, facing similar challenges.


Families that live within the city limits of Cincinnati may, therefore, benefit financially and in other ways by moving to this Northern Kentucky haven. The increase in commute time is minimal, while the decrease in stress and expenses is profound. With a short move, a family can replace congestion and noise with baseball teams, outdoor adventures, and friendly neighbors.


For parents seeking an inviting community with an easy commute to Cincinnati, Florence could be the perfect city. Considering the reasonable real estate prices and favorable economic factors, the city is a very appealing hometown for families.

Northern Kentucky Points of Interest and Activities

Located next to Cincinnati and the Ohio River, Northern Kentucky is an area full of opportunities for fun. Whether you’re in Kenton, Boone, Pendleton, Campbell or any other county, you’ll be able to find something to do.

For good food and fun, the best places to look are in the cities of Newport and Covington. Located close to one another, Newport and Covington have plenty of great restaurants and music venues. Some of the best restaurants include the York Street Cafe in Newport and the Bouquet Restaurant in Covington. If you crave a burger, you can also go to Mad Mike’s Burgers & Fries with locations in Newport and Florence. Kentucky

In Newport, you can catch any number of great touring or local acts at the Southgate House Revival or at the Thompson House. In Covington, you can see music at the beautiful Madison Theater and its smaller neighboring venue, Madison Live, and at the Backstage Cafe. Newport is also home to Newport on the Levee, a retail and entertainment center. Here you can catch a movie at the AMC theater, have a wonderful meal at BRIO Tuscan Grille, and find a book at Barnes and Noble.

Some great bars in these areas include the Crazy Fox Saloon, Mansion Hill Tavern, and Hofbrauhaus in Newport. Covington is home to the MainStrasse Village, an area overflowing with bars, such as Rosie’s Tavern, Cock & Bull English Pub, and MainStrasse Village Pub.

A few of the best points of interest are the parks. There are beautiful parks to be found all around, including Devou Park in Covington, South Fork Park in Florence, and Big Bone Lick State Park in Union. You can also take a boat out on the water at Kincaid Lake State Park in Falmouth and go fishing or do other water activities.

There are also plenty of awesome golf courses in the area. Devou Park in Covington has its own course. Covington is also home to Twin Oaks Golf & Plantation Club. There is also World of Golf in Florence and Lassing Pointe Golf Course in Union. If you prefer knocking down pins than setting up tees, you can go bowling at Florence Bowl in Florence and at Axis Alley at Newport on the Levee. Golf

For those who like to watch sports, you can see the minor league baseball team the Florence Freedom play at UC Health Stadium or watch the Northern Kentucky University Norse men’s and women’s basketball teams play at BB&T Arena in Highland Heights.

If you are someone who loves to unwind with a cup of coffee or tea, then you’ll love to hear about the cafes in the area. Some of the best are Reality Tuesday Cafe in Park Hills, Newberry Bros. Coffee and Carabello Coffee in Newport, and Left Bank Coffeehouse and Roebling Point Books & Coffee in Covington.

For day trips with your family, friends, or spouse, one of the best spots to go to is the Newport Aquarium, with its 70 exhibits. You can also visit the Behringer-Crawford Museum in Covington for a history lesson about the region, and the James A. Ramage Civil War Museum in Fort Wright.

We hope this has given you a great idea about the points of interest to be seen and activities to be had in Northern Kentucky. With so many different cities and different vibes to be found in each area, we can all but guarantee you will find something fun to do.