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Dust off Your Finances: Spring Clean Your Financial House

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Spring is just around the corner, and with that comes the proverbial spring
cleaning. While most people recognize the value of scrubbing their homes, we recommend dusting off your finances as well.

Consider these tips to help ensure your financial house is cobweb-free.

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Settle In for a Review

  • Review the titling and ownership of all financial accounts. Make certain any accounts owned and titled in a trust, or have a Payable upon Death designation, will meet desired intentions if a transfer were to take place.
  • Review your credit report to make sure
    you’re in positive standing. You can request a free copy once every 12 months from annualcreditreport.com.
  • Review insurance policy and retirement account beneficiaries. This is particularly important if there has been a recent change in marital status. A spousal waiver will be needed if the beneficiary is not the spouse.

 Prepare for the Future

  • Execute a will and a living will. If these documents already exist, they should be reviewed on a regular basis. Circumstances and viewpoints change, which can heavily impact desired allocations and intentions.

Check Up on Your Cards

  • Check the interest rates that are being charged on all credit cards. For individuals who carry balances, consider consolidating to the card with the lowest interest rate or even contemplate a Home Equity Line of Credit as the interest may be tax-deductible.
  • Utilize a credit card that offers rewards. Many of these now carry no annual fee and offer cash back in addition to the travel and merchandise rebates.

Evaluate Your Employer Benefits

  • If financially possible, make the most of your 401(k) by contributing to the level that takes advantage of the full employer match.
  • Review your health insurance coverage options to ensure you are making the best selections for yourself and your family. If you are currently enrolled in a High Deductible Health Plan coupled with a Health Savings Account, review your contributions to make sure you are maximizing your saving options.

Examine Your Life Insurance

  • Make certain existing coverage will meet the financial needs of your family if any member were to pass away, not just the primary income source for the family. Also, if the only secured life insurance is provided by an employer, consider pricing other term policies. Remember employer-provided insurance may not transfer if there is a change in jobs.
  • Research long-term care insurance. Ask your insurance provider about this coverage to ensure it offers home health care in addition to nursing home care. Life expectancy is much greater than it used to be, and in-home and community care continue to rise in price.

Freshen Up on Your Investments

  • Review or create an investment policy statement (IPS). This is an agreement with a financial advisor that states your investment purpose, time frame and risk tolerance. An IPS clearly states the investor’s goals and helps provide clear expectations, consistent communications and true accountability for both the advisor and the investor.
  • Conduct homework for obtaining professional services from investment consultants, estate planning attorneys and certified public accountants. Seek references from trusted friends and colleagues and stick with specialists. Professionals will be able to offer insights and guidance that will help individuals succeed in reaching their financial planning goals.

When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.pulation Survey/Housing Vacancy Survey, Series H-111, U.S. Census Bureau, Washington, DC 20233.


As a Private Wealth Management regional manager, Brent is responsible for the growth and support of new customer relationships as well as supervision of regional sales associates. He is also responsible for oversight and delivery of the financial planning discipline within the region. With nearly 30 years of experience private wealth client relationship management, Brent is a seasoned banking professional with deep Texas roots. He attended the University of Texas at Arlington, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in finance, and is a Candidate for CFP® certification. He serves as a board member of the Dallas Parks Foundation.



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Learn the Rules of “CHES”

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Although many people consider home ownership to be part of the American Dream, home ownership rates have been lagging across the nation. At the end of 2016, the national home ownership rate was 63.7%, a drop of more than five percent from 2006 when the national home ownership rate was 68.9%.*

While there are some obvious economic conditions driving this trend, there are a number of additional contributing factors that vary among demographic groups. Analysis of 2015 mortgage application trends demonstrates that low- and moderate-income applicants in the state of Missouri are more than one and one half times more likely (4.3% vs. 2.6%) than middle- and upper-income applicants to be turned down for a home loan due to their credit history.

Recognizing this challenge, UMB is working with Credit & Homeownership Empowerment Services, Inc. (CHES, Inc.), a Kansas City-based non-profit credit-counseling organization. UMB will provide sponsorships to qualified referrals, making the six-month CHES, Inc. program—valued at $694—available to participants at a deeply discounted total cost of only $55.

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Through UMB’s sponsorship, low- and moderate-income applicants who didn’t credit qualify for a mortgage purchase loan will have the opportunity to participate in consumer credit education and credit restoration services provided by CHES, Inc., which is a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) housing, financial education and credit counseling organization.

The program provides access to a financial counselor who can help address the individual’s unique financial situation, with the goal of achieving long-term financial and home ownership success. While no one can guarantee the results of participation, UMB’s sponsorship of program participants is broadening the pathway to home ownership for low- and moderate-income individuals in Kansas City.

“We’ve seen many clients transform their lives in a short period of time and we’re excited to be working with UMB to continue this work in the community,” said Coley Williams, President and CEO of CHES, Inc.

*Statistical information contained within this post was compiled from the 2015 Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data available at www.consumerfinance.gov/data-research/hmda/‡ and the Current Population Survey/Housing Vacancy Survey, Series H-111, U.S. Census Bureau, Washington, DC 20233.

 

When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.pulation Survey/Housing Vacancy Survey, Series H-111, U.S. Census Bureau, Washington, DC 20233.


Zach Wentz joined UMB in 2015 as fair and responsible banking manager. In this role, Zach manages UMB’s compliance with federal banking laws such as the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), Equal Credit Opportunity Act, Fair Housing Act, and Unfair, Deceptive, Abusive Acts and Practices (UDAAP). He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in business finance from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln and is a graduate of the North Carolina School of Banking.



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How to save for a down payment on a home: part II

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Last month we explained how to save for your down payment. Now that you’ve done that, it’s time to focus your plan.saving for a down payment on a homeYou already know that purchasing a home is a substantial investment, and you’ll need to ensure you can afford the monthly mortgage payments. You’ll also need to save up enough money for a down payment and other associated expenses, such as closing costs.

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While you don’t always need to supply a larger down payment due to programs and resources now available for qualified borrowers, the higher your down payment is, the better it is for future finances.  Your monthly mortgage payment will be lower and you may qualify for better rates or terms.

A larger down payment allows you to retain full ownership of the home faster and can save you a substantial sum of money through lower interest rates affixed to mortgages.

Determine a goal 
You should take a look at your finances to determine what kind of home is affordable. A financial expert or mortgage loan consultant can help figure out the best budget for your current financial situation. In addition, online calculators can estimate how much house you can afford. Also, a mortgage loan consultant can look at pre-approving you for a home loan to help determine which loan type you prefer or are qualified for, if mortgage insurance will be required and give you an idea of how much the closing costs and total monthly payment will be.

You can also reach out to real estate agents in the area to ask about the average listing and selling prices of homes in different neighborhoods you’re considering. If you know you want to move to a specific area and homes typically sell for $300,000, you can use that information to tailor a down payment goal specifically to that amount. So, a 20 percent down payment, which is on the high end of the recommended 5 to 20 percent down payment, would equal $60,000.

Do a credit check up
During the pre-approval process, you will be able to have your credit score reviewed to see if there is room for improvement. Be sure to go off of this new credit score since many consumer scores you see on websites are not the same as what a lender uses.

Find ways to save 
We also recommend automatically putting a portion of your paycheck into your savings account. You’ll miss the money less if you don’t get a chance to see it in your checking account in the first place!

Another way to boost a savings account is to work more hours/shifts (for hourly employees) or take on another job. Temporarily increasing total income will help you reach your goal and supply a proper down payment for a dream home.

You can cut down on a number of extra expenses in order to start building up savings, just like you would with any savings goal. Eating dinner out, heading to the movies every weekend and purchasing coffee every morning can really add up.

When saving money for a down payment, you should make a list of all expenses that are required, such as rent, food, clothing and monthly bills. All other extra expenses should be listed in order from most to least costly. By cutting out the most frivolous expenses and trimming the fat from there, you can develop a budget that saves a substantial amount of money.

In addition, replacing certain costs with less expensive ones can help significantly. Here are some ideas for cutting your current living costs:

  • Cancel cable and invest in a more affordable streaming service
  • Create your own vending machine stash of snacks at your desk instead of visiting the machine once a day, save $1/day or $20/month
  • Brew your own coffee, save $4/day or $120/month
  • Cut back on one restaurant visit per week, save $25/week or $100/month
  • Drink glasses of ice water instead of new bottles of water (an environmental choice, too!), save up to $1/day or $30/month
  • Carpool once a week, save $6/week or $24/month
  • Skip one impulse buy, save $40/month
  • Cancel your home landline phone service and just use your cell phone, save $50/month

We don’t expect you to adopt all of those suggestions while you’re saving for your down payment (actually, you probably have a few creative ideas of your own that didn’t make our list). However, if you did incorporate those short-term cuts into your life, you could save $400+ a month and $5,000+ a year!

How do you plan to save for your down payment?

When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.


Jackie Ahumada is a mortgage loan officer with UMB Bank. She has more than 10 years experience in the mortgage industry and more than 18 years in management of customer service delivery and operations.



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Rising rental rates encourage homeownership

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The 2015 Rental Market Report conducted by Rent.com showed that rates for apartment units are likely going to continue to increase.

The 2015 Rental Market Report conducted by Rent.com showed that rates for apartment units are likely going to continue to increase. The survey gathered responses from more than 500 property managers in the U.S. to determine the current and forecast state of the rental market.

Rising rent encourages home buying

Rent will rise
According to the survey, 53 percent of property managers indicated they would prefer bringing in a new tenant and charging a higher rate over negotiating a lease renewal with a current tenant.

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In addition, the survey showed 88 percent of managers raised rent in the last year, and 68 percent of participants believe rates will continue to rise into the next year. Many expect rent to rise by an average of 8 percent, which is a 2 percent increase from the expected rent rise predicted in 2014.

The increasing cost of renting an apartment is turning many renters into interested homeowners, according to a recent survey done by TD Bank.

“Rising rents are motivating Americans to purchase a home,” said Scott Haymore, Head of Pricing and Secondary Markets. “With an improving job market and economy, renters are gaining more confidence in the housing market and starting to explore homeownership as a feasible option.”

Mortgages may be more appealing
Many current renters are seeing substantial increases in the rent they regularly pay, which is making them more interested in becoming a homeowner. The survey indicated the breaking point for many consumers deciding to transition from renting to buying is when their rent reaches $1,100 per month. The average monthly rent currently sits at $1,000 making the breaking point for many individuals very close.

Many renters have already experienced substantial increases in the rent they pay each month. More than 50 percent of respondents indicated their rents increased by nearly $300 in the past two years.

Rising rent was 47 percent of survey participants’ biggest motivators for purchasing new homes.

The American Dream
Owning a home is still a critical component to the American Dream. Almost 60 percent of consumers and 76 percent of millennials indicated it was “extremely” or “very important” to own a home in the TD Bank survey.

While 51 percent of respondents indicated money is the primary concern when it comes to purchasing a new home, the average surveyed renter was able to save more than $50,000 for a down payment, and 24 percent of millennials have saved $100,000. The ability to save is the true key to homeownership.

“We can see from our data that rents are rising, and while many renters feel that saving for a home is out of reach, there are other options they should consider,” said Haymore. “Today, potential buyers can take advantage of state and government affordability programs, which offer options outside the traditional 20 percent down payment. This enables them to pursue homeownership, build equity and still feel comfortable with their monthly payments.”

Saving for a down payment
Gathering the funds to save for a down payment on a new home requires dedication. According to Zillow, hopeful homeowners will want to first establish exactly how much money is needed to pay for the perfect house. Reaching out to a real estate professional will help to get a better idea of what the current local market looks like and whether buyers or sellers have the advantage.

In addition, contacting a mortgage lender can help an interested buyer figure out what can be expected from the entire lending process. If a consumer wants to secure a lower interest rate, he or she may want to provide a larger down payment.

Once it’s been decided how much is needed to invest in a new home, interested borrowers should examine their current spending habits. Budgeting downfalls can lead to issues when saving for a down payment, but fixing these issues will help hopeful homeowners reach their financial goals even faster.

Another way for interested buyers to build their savings for a new home quickly is by earning more cash to contribute to funds. Individuals can get a second job for a certain amount of time, or they can figure out a way to turn a favorite hobby into a profitable one using websites like Etsy or Facebook as a marketing platform.

Holding a garage sale is another way to increase savings and build a down payment fund. Decreasing the number of items that must be moved will also be beneficial when it’s time to pack everything up and relocate.

 

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The Overlooked Cleaner Energy Source for Home and Office: Ground Source Heat Pumps

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Everyone has heard the energy saving benefits of solar and wind power but did you know ground source heat pumps (GSHPs) can save you up to 45 percent on your energy consumption compared to conventional HVAC systems. How do we know this? Experience.  In 2004, UMB installed a vertical ground source heat pump system consisting of 12 wells at our branch location in Grandview, Mo. According to Roy Allen, who is part of the UMB maintenance team, the Grandview location saves approximately 21,000 kWh per month over similar sized banking center locations. With such great savings on energy UMB has decided to install a second system at another banking center as well. Construction for this new center should begin in February 2016.

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In addition to saving energy and money GSHPs are good for the environment since they are a cleaner source of energy using mostly ambient heat from the ground while using very little electricity.

How Ground Source Heat Pumps Work
So how do these systems provide cleaner energy and help you save on your utility bills? Air temperature can fluctuate greatly with the seasons and even daily, with daytime highs and night time lows, but surprisingly ground temperature remains relatively constant. Conventional air-source HVAC systems attempt to capture heat from frigid winter air as well as disburse heat into the baking hot summer air – which is no easy task.  However ground source heat pumps work by capturing the neutral heat absorbed at the surface of the Earth, it then heats the air in the winter and then extracts the heat from inside air in the summer. This is done through a water solution that flows through pipes (wells) buried in the ground that circulates the heated water to the home/office in the winter and then it is reversed in the summer whereby the heat is extracted from the air and transfers it via water through the pipes removing the heat from the building and transferring it to the ground.

Types of Systems
There are four basic types of GSHPs including horizontal, vertical, pond/lake which are all closed loop systems. The fourth type is the open loop system. The option you choose is dependent on the climate, soil conditions and the available land. UMB banking centers utilize the vertical option. This option is used when soil is too shallow for trenching, it also does not require a lot of space. Roy explained the system only takes up a 70 ft. x 100 ft. space and contains 12 wells at a depth 500 ft. It is located under the drive through teller lanes. He said both the current and new systems, designed by Lankford Fendler and Associates, have life time warranties on the wells. Another benefit of the system is that it is very low maintenance.

So the next time you are looking for a cleaner energy source for your new home or office you may want to consider ground source heat pumps.

Sources:
http://energy.gov/energysaver/geothermal-heat-pumps
http://energyblog.nationalgeographic.com/2013/09/17/10-myths-about-geothermal-heating-and-cooling/

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Ms. Shahane is a Vice President Healthcare Marketing/Sustainability Manager for UMB. She is responsible for managing marketing initiatives for UMB’s healthcare payments, HSAs, and benefit card products. In addition, she leads the UMB Green Team and promotes UMB’s internal sustainability initiatives. She joined UMB in 2001 and has 13 years of experience in the financial services industry. She earned a MA in Marketing from Webster University. She is a volunteer for Bridging the Gap and serves on the board for Northeast Neighbor to Neighbor.



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How to save for a down payment on a home: part I

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Purchasing a home marks a significant milestone in your life. We’ve already shared with you the 5 steps to buying a home, but what about before you even begin that process? While searching for the perfect property and finally finding the dream home you’ve been looking for is exciting, saving up the money for a down payment can be a bit daunting.

If you’re interested in purchasing a home, there are a few details to consider. Understanding the process can help immensely when deciding to purchase a home and set aside money for this substantial investment. As an interested buyer, you can become more focused when you know what to expect and how much money to contribute toward ownership of a home. Consider speaking to your trusted mortgage consultant to provide guidance early to help determine what kind of down payment you will need to provide.
saving for a down payment on a home

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The purpose of providing a down payment 
Buying a home often involves acquiring a home loan to afford the purchase. This translates into monthly mortgage payments over the course of a set amount of time, during which you pay and become a full owner of your property. Because it is a loan from a mortgage broker, bank or lender, interest is also applied to the amount of money borrowed. So if you purchased a $100,000 home, you would actually pay more because of the interest rate affixed to the mortgage.

A loan serves a fantastic purpose in allowing homeownership to be more attainable for everyone, but fluctuating interest rates may drive individuals to refinance or put off purchasing a home to save more money.

This is the primary purpose of giving the seller a larger down payment when buying a house. If you can supply a larger down payment, you are more likely to be approved for a home loan. You will not have as much to pay off and may even increase chances of obtaining a lower interest rate.

Low down payment options 
There are programs available that allow individuals to qualify for a home loan despite only being able to provide a small down payment. Government-sponsored enterprises, such as Fannie Maeand Freddie Mac, can provide an interested homebuyer with a 3 percent down payment option. However, higher interest rates and other requirements are put in place to help protect the lender. Gifts from family members are also allowed, but check with your loan officer to see what guidelines may apply.

Another agency that makes homeownership more attainable is the Federal Housing Administration. An FHA loan can help offer financial assistance when purchasing a home through a variety of programs such as fixed-rate FHA loans for people purchasing their first home. There is an option for everyone that will make navigating through the real estate industry easier.

An FHA-backed loan protects a lender in case a borrower is unable to continue with his or her mortgage payments. By providing this insurance, qualified buyers who have a difficult time providing a larger down payment or have a lower credit score due to debt accumulated during his or her education can still become homeowners.

Another way the amount of your down payment can affect your total monthly payment is when mortgage insurance is added, often referred to as PMI (private mortgage insurance). For example with conventional loans, PMI may be required if you don’t put down at least 20 percent. This protects the lender if the borrower should default on the loan. Even if you put less than 20 percent down, the mortgage insurance cost is lower if you put down 5 percent rather than 3 percent or even lower with a 10 percent down payment rather than just 5 percent.

Additional costs to consider 
Before someone decides to start saving up money, knowing how much to save is a crucial factor one must contemplate. Working with a trusted lender can help guide you and provide information to help determine what loan will be best for you and how much of a down payment will be required.  According to U.S. News & World Report, a buyer will not pay merely the agreed selling price, but also will need to designate funds for additional expenses such as:

  • Closing costs
  • A home inspection
  • Taxes
  • Appraisal fee
  • Credit report fee

In addition, some purchases may require a homeowner’s association fee to be paid as well as private mortgage insurance. Buyers should account for these expenses when creating a budget and starting a basic savings account for this exciting purchase.

 

When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.


Jackie Ahumada is a mortgage loan officer with UMB Bank. She has more than 10 years experience in the mortgage industry and more than 18 years in management of customer service delivery and operations.



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Choosing the Right Mortgage Partner

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The housing market continues to show signs of improvement. If you’re looking to buy or move to your next house in life, it’s important to choose the right mortgage partner. Here are some tips to help you as you navigate this long-term financial plan.

 

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UMB Financial Corporation (Nasdaq: UMBF) is a diversified financial holding company headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., offering complete banking services, payment solutions, asset servicing and institutional investment management to customers. UMB operates banking and wealth management centers throughout Missouri, Illinois, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Arizona and Texas, as well as two national specialty-lending businesses. Subsidiaries of the holding company include companies that offer services to mutual funds and alternative-investment entities and registered investment advisors that offer equity and fixed income strategies to institutions and individual investors.



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How to use a home equity line of credit

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Finding the treasure within your home
home improvement

We’ve walked you through the steps to buying a new home. Before you finished unpacking, we’re guessing you already started a list of improvements and additions to give your new home a personal touch.

Reports like this one show that you’re not alone. Today, home improvement is becoming a growing trend for many American homeowners. Much of this growth is attributed to a rebound in the housing market and the highest consumer confidence scores since 2008.

So should you tackle a home improvement project?

Whether it’s updating your bathroom or adding more space to accommodate a growing family, improving your home can be a fun experience and a strategic method of increasing its fair market value. Research has shown that adding a deck and turning your attic into a bedroom raise the most value, returning approximately 85 percent of your original investment.

If you are considering making a home improvement, using a home equity line of credit (HELOC) to borrow against the equity in your home may be a good solution for financing the project. With today’s low interest rates and steady rise in home prices, you may have greater opportunity to borrow against your equity.

Some advantages:

  • You can make purchases with a HELOC debit card. Using the card is an easy and efficient way for you to pay for needed items.
  • The flexibility factor – the home equity line is something you can access as many times as you need to, as long as the credit is available. But remember to be disciplined with your spending. If you would like to use the equity in your home for a purchase, the wisest thing to do is use it for investments that help retain or add value to your home.

Give yourself an additional level of comfort by seeking counsel from your banker or financial advisor. This person is experienced in carefully reviewing all the home equity options to ensure you have the appropriate financial resources to complete your project in the most strategic way possible.

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When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.


Ms. Michelle Nischbach joined UMB in 2010. As Territory Sales Director in the consumer bank, she is responsible for overseeing operational and advisory excellence within five primary operating markets: St. Louis, Greater Missouri, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Arizona. Ms. Nischbach has 26 years of experience in the financial industry and earned her MBA from Lindenwood University.



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5th Step in Buying a Home – Loan Approval and Closing

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Have you:

Whew…you’re almost to the finish line. Now that you have a contract, the only thing left besides the packing and unpacking is to get approved on a loan and attend the closing.

Once you have an accepted contract it is time to contact your mortgage loan officer (the one you worked with when you were pre-approved) and start the process for loan approval.  Your contract should allow for at least 30-45 days for you to get loan approval and close on your new home.

Home Stretch

fixed or variable rate Settlement Cost Booklet HUD-1 Settlement Statement Image Map
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When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.


Jackie Ahumada is a mortgage loan officer with UMB Bank. She has more than 10 years experience in the mortgage industry and more than 18 years in management of customer service delivery and operations.



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4th step to buying a home: searching & making an offer

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Have you:

Good! Then it’s time to start house hunting. As a mortgage loan officer for the last 10 years, I certainly have a lot of knowledge in real estate, but still always refer to experienced realtors for this next step. Their knowledge of the housing market, along with expertise in real estate contracts, are the key to making the best selection of the property in which you could spend at least 5 years (but for some of you, potentially the rest of your life). I referred to Anita Trozzolo, a Kansas City realtor to give us some guidance for this next step.

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Create a priority list

You are making perhaps the biggest purchase of your life, and you deserve to have that purchase fit both your wants and needs.

Your priority list should include the basics, such as:

  • neighborhood and size
  • number of bedrooms and bathrooms
  • basement (finished or unfinished)
  • a kitchen that comes with appliances

If you can’t get a home at your price with all the features you want, then what features are most important?  Start prioritizing.  For instance, would you trade fewer bedrooms for a finished basement?  A longer commute for a larger home and lower cost?

What type of home best suits your needs?

You have several options when purchasing a home from a traditional single-family home, duplex, townhouse or condo.  Each option has its pros and cons, depending on your wants and needs, so you need to decide which type of property is best for you. You can also save on the purchase price in any category by choosing a fixer-upper. Keep in mind, though, the amount of time and money involved to turn a fixer-upper into your dream home might be much more than you expected.

Regardless of your choice, it’s important to target your search. By using options such as general location and affordability, you can refine your search and focus on homes that offer the most desirable features. However, based on my experience with the hundreds of first time home buyers for whom I successfully found and negotiated their first home, it is imperative to nail down location first.  The majority of buyers purchase homes from their choices in their most desired location.

Here are some more tips for your search:

  • Make sure your realtor understands your wants and needs.
  • Your agent must be patient, and show you as many homes as you would like to see. This is most likely the largest purchase of your life!
  • Have your agent set you up on an automatic home search program. This is an efficient way to guide you in your search.
  • Drive through neighborhoods on your off time to check out the area.
  • Choose your favorites before submitting an offer, and tour as many times as you feel comfortable.  Oh, and don’t forget to bring parents and friends. The more eyes the better!

Submit an offer, and most importantly understand the sales contract.  Your agent will assist you with the following:

  • To determine how much to offer, your realtor will show you a market analysis of all the recent sold properties comparable to the home or homes you’re interested in.
  • Obtain all material defects known from the seller through the seller’s agent.  
  • Discuss types of insurance that is required.
  • Counsel you on what price to offer the seller.
  • Make sure closing costs are explained and negotiated.
  • Make sure home warranty is explained and negotiated.
  • Explain the sales contract and all other forms associated with the contract.
  • Present your offer to the seller.
  • Negotiate your offer and counteroffers.
  • Set up inspections.
  • Provide the contract to the lender and closing company.
  • Stay in constant communication with the lender.
  • Arrange and attend the closing.
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When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.


Jackie Ahumada is a mortgage loan officer with UMB Bank. She has more than 10 years experience in the mortgage industry and more than 18 years in management of customer service delivery and operations.



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