Sonia Rollins
EXIT Premier Real Estate | 781-454-6043 | [email protected]


Posted by Sonia Rollins on 12/9/2018

Having a high credit score is one of the most important and helpful things you can achieve before buying a home. A solid credit history will give you a better chance of being approved for the home loan you want and getting a lower interest rate so that you know youíre getting a good deal on your first home.

But, as any renter can tell you, it can sometimes be difficult to lift your credit score when youíve got so many other things to worry about.

In todayís post, Iím going to cover the best ways to build credit while renting an apartment so you can lift your score to an amount that will help you achieve your goal of homeownership.

1. Take over the bills

If you live with roommates or with your family, one good way to start building your credit score is to simply put more bills in your name.

If youíre certain that youíll be able to make on-time payments on them each month, this can be a way to boost your score without much thought.

Keep in mind, however, that not all utility companies report your payments to credit bureaus, so itís a good idea to check that yours does before putting the bills in your name.

2. Become an authorized user

If taking out new credit isnít an option for you, becoming an authorized user on someone elseís credit account can help you increase your score.

Be sure to find out whether the credit issuer reports payments for authorized users before taking this step. And, once youíre sure that they do, you can be added to the account without changing anything about your spending.

3. Convince your landlord to report your rental payments

In most cases, rental payments arenít reported to the credit bureaus. However, it is becoming more common. Check to see if your landlord uses a service like PayYourRent or RentTrack. If not, consider asking them to try it out.

4. Solving the ďno creditĒ problem

Since we all start off with a blank slate in terms of credit history, some renters have the issues of not having enough credit information to start building their score.

If this is the case, it might be a good idea to open your first credit account. But, wait! Before you start racking up debt on your first credit card, take a minute to make a wise plan.

First, donít change your spending habits just because you have credit. Pick a card that offers rewards in the form of cash back, and only use your card for things like gas and groceries that will help you earn points.

Then, set your card to auto-pay in full each month so that you never start accruing interest. This way, youíll build your credit score and earn money (in the form of rewards or cash back), making it a win-win.





Posted by Sonia Rollins on 11/25/2018

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.




Categories: Uncategorized  


Posted by Sonia Rollins on 10/21/2018

As a homebuyer, it is important to do everything you can to find your dream residence. Once you discover your ideal house, you should be ready to submit a competitive offer to purchase this home.

Ultimately, there are several factors to consider as you try to put together a competitive offer to purchase your dream house. These factors include:

1. A Home's Age and Condition

Examine a house closely before you craft an offer to purchase Ė you will be glad you did. Because if you leave no stone unturned in your quest to learn about a residence, you can create an offer to purchase that accounts for a house's age and condition.

If you have questions about a house, you should reach out to a seller's agent. That way, you can address these questions before you submit an offer to purchase.

Also, it is important to remember that there is no such thing as a "bad" question to ask about a house. A home purchase may be one of the biggest transactions you will complete in your lifetime. And if you devote time and energy to learn about all aspects of a house, you can ensure you are ready to purchase this home. Perhaps best of all, you can identify potential home problems that otherwise may prove to be costly and time-intensive down the line.

2. The Current State of the Housing Market

Differentiating between a buyer's market and seller's market is key, particularly for those who are ready to submit an offer to purchase a house. If you assess the local housing sector, you can find out whether a buyer's or seller's market is in place and submit an appropriate offer to purchase your dream residence.

In a buyer's market, homes may remain available for many weeks or months after they are listed. Thus, a seller may be willing to accept an offer to purchase, even if it falls below his or her initial home asking price.

Comparatively, in a seller's market, there is a shortage of quality houses available. And in this market, the best houses sell quickly, which means you likely will need to submit a competitive offer to purchase to secure your ideal home.

To determine if a buyer's or seller's market is in effect, take a look at how quickly houses are selling in your city or town. You also should find out if homes are selling at or above their initial asking prices. With this information in hand, you will be better equipped than ever before to submit a competitive offer to purchase your dream house.

3. Your Homebuying Budget

There is no need to overspend to buy your ideal house. Therefore, you should try to submit an offer to purchase that accounts for your homebuying budget.

Oftentimes, it helps to meet with banks and credit unions before you embark on a home search. This will allow you to get pre-approved for a mortgage and enter the homebuying journey with a budget at your disposal.

As you navigate the homebuying journey, you may want to hire a real estate agent, too. Because if you have a real estate agent at your side, you should have no trouble crafting a competitive offer to acquire your dream residence.




Categories: Uncategorized  


Posted by Sonia Rollins on 10/7/2018

If youíre a first time homebuyer and want to start weighing your mortgage options, youíll have much to learn. With so much at stake, youíll want to make sure you choose the best mortgage for you now, and one that will still suit your needs years into the future.

Sometimes, first time buyers are hesitant to ask questions they may consider too basic because they donít want to seem inexperienced to lenders, agents, or anyone else theyíll be in contact with throughout the home buying process.

So, in this article, weíve compiled a list of commonly asked mortgage questions that first time buyers might want to ask before heading into the process of acquiring a home loan.

What is the first step to getting a mortgage?

This question may seem straightforward, however the first step can vary depending on your financial situation. For those who already have saved up for a down payment and built a solid credit score, the first step is probably contacting lenders and getting preapproved or prequalified.

However, if you arenít sure about your credit score and havenít saved up for a down payment (ideally, 20% of what you hope to spend on the house), then you should address those matters first.

To find a lender, you can do a simple Google search for the mortgage lenders in your area, or you can ask around to friends and family to find out their experience with their own mortgage lenders.

What does it mean to be pre-qualified and pre-approved?

If you think of the mortgage process in three steps, the first step would be getting pre-qualified. This means youíve given the lender enough basic information for them to decide which type of mortgage youíre eligible to receive.

Pre-approval includes collecting and verifying further details. At this step, youíll complete a mortgage application and the lender will run a credit check. Once youíre pre-approved, your file can be moved to the underwriting phase.

What are closing costs?

ďClosing costsĒ is an umbrella term that covers all of the various fees and expenses related to buying or selling a home. As a buyer, you are responsible for paying numerous closing costs. These can include, but are not limited to, underwriting fees, title searches, title insurance,  origination fees, taxes, appraisal fees, surveys, and more.

That sounds like a lot to keep track of, however your lender will be able to give you an accurate estimate of the total closing costs when you apply for your loan. In fact, lenders are required to give you a list of these costs within three days of your loan application in the form of a ďgood faith estimateĒ of the closing costs.

What will my interest rate be?

The answer to this question is dependent upon numerous factors. The value of the home, your credit score, the amount you put down (down payment), the type of mortgage you have, and whether or not youíre paying private mortgage insurance all factor into the interest rate youíll receive. Interest rates also will vary slightly between lenders.

You can receive a fixed-rate mortgage that does not fluctuate throughout the repayment term. However, you also typically have the option to refinance to acquire a lower interest rate, however refinancing comes with its own costs.




Categories: Uncategorized  


Posted by Sonia Rollins on 9/30/2018

Shopping for a home is an exciting time for any hopeful homeowner. After weeks of scouring listings looking for the perfect home in the ideal location for you and your family, it can seem like youíve found the needle in the haystack.

When itís time to go visit that home, itís easy to put on rose-colored lenses and overlook issues that should, at the very least, be taken into consideration when it comes to deciding whether or not you should make a bid on the home and how much you should offer.

Todayís post is all about preparing you for that first viewing. Weíll give you tips on what to look out for and how to factor these things into your equation when it comes to making an offer.

Check the listing for omissions

Even if a home looks perfect on paper (or on its website listing), itís still quite likely that there are things youíll want to know about before considering an offer. A home listing should attempt to address several questions you might have. But ultimately, itís main goal is to attract interest in the home.

So, what type of things should be in the listing that the seller might leave out?

  • Poor street conditions, heavy traffic, and blind driveways are all things that will factor into your decision but most likely wonít be mentioned in a listing

  • Odors of any kind can be off-putting and difficult to remove. Some homeowners may not even know that their home has an offensive odor if theyíve become used to it.

  • Room omissions. If the home is listed as having two bathrooms but there are only photos of one, this could be a sign that there are problems with the second bathroom that the seller doesnít want you to see quite yet.

Top dollar home repairs

A professional home inspection will be able to give you an idea of the kind of money youíll need to spend on renovations in the coming years. But why wait? When touring a home, ask questions about the last time important renovations and repairs were made.

Roofs, septic systems, and electrical work are just a few of the things that are expensive to repair or replace. If the previous homeowner has a small family or lives alone and you plan on moving in with a houseful of kids, you might find that your impact on the septic and electrical systems of the home are too much for the house to handle. Youíll want to take this into account before considering a bid on the home.

Utility costs

The cost of heating a home in the winter and keeping it cool in the summer can be hefty if the home isnít properly sealed and weatherproofed. Ask the current homeowner what they spend per month on utilities to get an idea of what you might be spending.

Then, take a look at the windows and doors. Cracks, malfunctioning locks, and worn weatherstripping are all signs that the home will need some work to be energy-efficient.

Donít ignore the little things

Small fixes may not seem like a big deal when viewing a home. They can even deceive you into thinking that youíre getting a good deal by buying a fixer-upper for a price thatís lower than the market average.

However, itís important to keep in mind that small fixes around the house are a sign that bigger problems are also being neglected. Donít be too quick to assume the house will be a good deal before getting it professionally inspected.




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