Bob Falter, CRS, GRI - ERA Key Realty Services | 508-612-1649 | [email protected]


Posted by Bob Falter, CRS, GRI on 12/5/2018

Buying a house is never a simple decision. Aside from all of the financial aspects of purchasing a home, there are numerous life-related considerations you’ll need to think about. So, it comes as little surprise that diving head on into the house hunting process can be stressful and taxing to the home buyer.

With all of the different numbers to keep track of--a down payment, closing costs, credit scores, interest rates, and so on--it’s easy to get lost in the finer details of your budget. This can lead to even more stress as you try to navigate your way through getting approved for a mortgage and shopping for the perfect home.

In this article, we’re going to give you some tips on how to maintain your budget and reduce stress throughout the home buying process. That way, when you do finally find the house you’ve been waiting for, you’ll be able to move forward confidently.

Trust the process

Many first-time home buyers enter the real estate market with little knowledge or experience of how things work. Any newcomer to such a huge and complex industry is bound to be flustered with all of the different options available to them.

However, much of the home buying process is relatively standardized. Real estate agents all make roughly the same commission, lenders use similar algorithms to decide how much of a loan you’ll be approved for, and real estate contracts contain legal safeguards and contingencies to ensure that you and the seller’s interests are protected.

When shopping for a mortgage or getting pre-approved, it’s a good idea to ask friends, family, or read reviews online to find someone you know you can trust. From there, rely on the experts to lead you through the process.

Have a long-term plan

Much of the stress and anxiety around buying a home comes from the uncertainty of the future. Sitting down with your family and significant other and deciding your long-term goals for homeownership is a good way to build confidence and know that you’re making the right choice.

Determining things like location, the number of years you want to live in a home, and what priorities are the most important (school districts, neighborhood safety, etc.) will help you make that plan a reality.

Use the tools at your disposal

If you’re reading this article, you already have started to take advantage of one of the most important resources you have, the internet. Look up real estate terminology you’re unfamiliar with, read up on the different types of mortgages, and take advantage of free online calculators to create what-if scenarios to find out what you might end up paying in closing costs and interests.

It’s also a good idea to check your credit score for free online. You can check your official reports once per year, but for simple credit checks you can look it up each month for free.

Knowing that you’re in good hands with a lender and agent, that you have a basic understanding of industry terms, that you have a long-term plan, and that your finances are in order will all help set your mind at ease and give you confidence as you move forward toward homeownership.





Posted by Bob Falter, CRS, GRI on 10/10/2018

Home prices may vary greatly throughout the country. But, buying a home is most likely the largest purchase you will make in your life.

Deciding just how much to spend on your home isn’t just a matter of numbers--it also depends on your lifestyle and long-term goals.

In today’s post, I’m going to give you a few ways you can help determine how much is a safe amount to spend on your home so that you’ll feel confident moving into the home buying process that you’re making the best decision for you and your family.

Mortgage as a percent of your income

Like most large purchases, buying a home typically isn’t dependent on the amount you have in the bank. Rather, it depends on several factors including your income, credit score, and the type of lifestyle you want to maintain.

One of the simplest ways to determine how much house you can afford is to figure out what percent of your monthly income your mortgage and insurance will be.

For most homeowners, a mortgage payment that is 25% of their income or less is ideal. So, if you earn $6,000 per month, you don’t want your monthly mortgage payment to exceed $1,500.

This “25% rule” does have one flaw, however, and that does not--and cannot--account for each individual’s financial circumstances.

Let’s say, for example, that you earn $6,000 per month, but that you have a large monthly car payment and are trying to aggressively pay off your student loans. You might find that paying another $1,500 toward a mortgage on top of your current bills is bringing you over budget, especially when combined with your other monthly expenses and retirement contributions.

Plan for homeowner expenses

Another caveat to determining how much to spend on a home is that the home itself will require a budget for maintenance. When renting an apartment, repairs are mostly the responsibility of the landlord or property manager.

Homeownership, on the other hand, requires you to make the repairs yourself or hire a professional. And, if you neglect these repairs, you might find that they cost you even more in the long run or drive down the value of your home.

Create a comprehensive budget

Throughout a given person’s life, they’ll experience raises, promotions, layoffs, medical expenses, childcare costs, and any other number of financial changes. While it isn’t possible to foresee all of the financial fluctuations you’ll experience in life, it is always helpful to have a comprehensive budget.

What do I mean by “comprehensive budget”? The goal of a good budget is to know where each dollar of your income is currently going and to have a plan for each cent that you make. This is a proactive approach to budgeting that will give you an exact number for the amount you can afford when it comes to a mortgage payment.

Within your budget, it’s vital to account for things like an emergency fund, retirement, savings for vacations, and so on.

If you take this due diligence, not only will you have a better sense of where your money goes, but you’ll also be confident in knowing exactly how much you can spend on a home.




Tags: buying a home   budgeting  
Categories: Buying a Home   budgeting  


Posted by Bob Falter, CRS, GRI on 10/18/2017

Establishing a homebuying budget can be tough. But for those who want to secure a terrific home at an affordable price, entering the housing market with a budget in hand can make it easy to accelerate the homebuying cycle.

Now, let's take a look at three questions to consider about a homebuying budget.

1. How much money have I saved for a home?

Examine your finances and see how much money is readily available for a home purchase.

Remember, the more money that is at your disposal, the more likely it becomes that you'll be able to secure your dream residence in no time at all.

Although savings are important, it is essential to note that those who have little to no money saved still have plenty of time to get ready for the homebuying journey. And if you start saving a little bit each day, you can move closer to accomplishing your homeownership dreams.

2. Do I need to get a home loan?

In most instances, a homebuyer will need to obtain a home loan so he or she can purchase a residence. Luckily, many lenders are available to help you discover a home loan that matches or surpasses your expectations.

Meet with a variety of lenders in your area – you'll be glad you did. Each lender can provide insights into assorted home loan options, explain how each home loan works and respond to your home loan concerns and questions.

Also, it often helps to get pre-approved for a mortgage. If you have a mortgage available when you enter the real estate market, you'll know exactly how much you can spend on a residence, thereby reducing or eliminating the temptation to overspend on a house.

3. How will my monthly expenses change after I buy a house?

Owning a home is different from renting an apartment. As such, you'll want to account for all potential expenses as you create a homebuying budget.

For example, a homeowner will be responsible for any home cable, internet and phone bills. This property owner also will need to consider any home maintenance costs like those associated with mowing the lawn in summer or removing snow from the driveway in winter.

Crafting a homebuying budget that accounts for your personal finances can be tricky. If you need additional support along the way, lenders may be able to provide expert tips to ensure you can acquire a wonderful house without exceeding your financial limitations.

Lastly, don't forget to reach out to a real estate agent for help along the homebuying journey. A real estate agent is a housing market professional who will go above and beyond the call of duty to assist you in any way possible. From setting up home showings to negotiating with home sellers on your behalf, a real estate agent will make it easy for you to secure a superior home at a budget-friendly price.

Consider the aforementioned homebuying budget questions, and you can speed up the homebuying process.




Tags: budgeting   buyer tips  
Categories: Buying a Home   budgeting  


Posted by Bob Falter, CRS, GRI on 5/11/2016

Owning your own house or apartment is a gratifying experience, as you not only have a place you can call home, but you also have the freedom to live the way you choose once you enter your domain. However, to find a home that can truly make you happy, there are a few points that you should consider beforehand. The first point to think about is the neighborhood (where your home will be located). This is important, because you need to feel that the area you are living in will be safe from crime, and that it will also be easy to commute to work on a daily basis. In the end, you do not want to spend too much time traveling in the evenings or in the mornings, as this can only make life more difficult. The next point to think about is how much space you want, as well as how many responsibilities you are willing to put up with. In other words, you could either choose to find a home that has a huge garden and a swimming pool, which is perfect if you enjoy gardening and going out for a swim, or, you could decide to do away with these extra bells and whistles if you hate gardening and do not want to spend time cleaning the pool. In other words, you want a home that you can truly feel comfortable living in, as this in turn will ensure that you can keep your life as stress free as possible. Price is always important, and you want to make sure you look for a home that you can afford. There are a lot of other expenses you have to think about, cable TV, insurance, taxes, telephone, heat, electric, maintenance etc. So make sure you factor all of these into your monthly budget. You do not want to be house poor and buying a home that you may fall in love with can in the end be very stressful if you are struggling to pay for it every month. Look for a home at a good value and that may need some cosmetic fix ups and grow into the home with home improvements down the road. This will bring value to your home and in turn be a good invest when you go to sell the home.





Posted by Bob Falter, CRS, GRI on 5/24/2015

White distilled vinegar is effective for killing most mold, bacteria and germs due to it's high level of acidity. Vinegar is a weak form of acetic acid that is made from the fermentation of sugars and starches. White vinegar has so many different uses in the home; it is considered the “miracle cleaner”. It is pocketbook friendly, all natural, safe for pets and nontoxic. Why would you use anything else? It is a good idea to purchase two empty spray bottles, keep one full with pure white vinegar and the other with half water and half vinegar. This just makes it easier to dispense and have on hand at all times. A person can work wonders cleaning their home naturally just armed with vinegar and water. There are so many different uses for white vinegar in your home. Here are just a few ideas. Vinegar mixed with water is an excellent cleaner for all kitchen surfaces like counter tops, refrigerators and stove tops. To shine chrome fixtures simply make a paste of 2 tablespoons salt and 1 teaspoon white vinegar. To clean wooden cutting boards simply just wipe with vinegar. Clean refrigerator shelves with a solution of ½ white vinegar and water. Did you know that soaking fruit and vegetables in 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water can remove up to 98% bacteria? Soak fruit and vegetables for at least 10 minutes then rinse to get best results. Vinegar is also useful in the laundry. To decrease lint in laundry add ½ cup straight white vinegar to rinse cycle. To make your bright’s brighter add ½ cup vinegar to the rinse cycle. If you have pets white vinegar is a good solution to have in house. If your dog has the mishap of getting sprayed by a skunk, use dilution of vinegar and water, rub dog’s fur then rinse with warm water. Repeat a couple times. To keep dogs from scratching their ears rub them with a cloth diluted with vinegar and water. Vinegar is so versatile in the home. You do not have to worry about the vinegar smell remaining after you use it because the smell dissipates after it dries. So, for people who believe in living green and healthy, white vinegar is a must have in the pantry closet.