First-Time Homebuyer Resources

So, you’re wanting a place to call your own? That’s exciting! Have you done your homework? It’s going to take some preparation and research to purchase a home. We want you to be well-informed and encourage you to be your own advocate while researching and making home purchase decisions.

We’ve gathered some resources and information about being a first-time homebuyer and have provided them below. While by no means all-inclusive, we’re  hoping these resources will help get you started!

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Homeownership is closer than you think. Get creative with your options!
  • You’re probably familiar with FHA Loans. These are loans insured by the government, more specifically the Federal Housing Administration. FHA Loans generally require lower down payments but do require the payment of mortgage insurance premiums which protect the lender if a borrower defaults.
  • If you’re an active or previous member of the military, a VA Loan may be something to consider. These loans are offered to credit qualifying veterans, or their surviving spouses if service and entitlement requirements are met. There is a VA loan no down payment option.
  • If you’re interested in living in a rural area as designed by the USDA Rural Guaranteed Housing Program, a USDA Home Loan may interest you. USDA loan programs are designed to improve and grow rural areas and you don’t have to have a farm.
  • If you’re interested in living in an energy efficient home, you might want to consider programs that finance energy saving home improvements as part of the mortgage. Some are offered to first-time homebuyers.
  • Lastly, check your local home loan options! Inquire with local lenders who know the area in which you would like to live for financing options. You might be able to find a local down payment assistance program, or other alternative program that fits your needs!

Consider a Mobile Home!

Still on the fence? Wondering what you’ll gain by being a homeowner? Check out these benefits of being a homeowner!

6 Questions to Ask Yourself When Saving for a Down Payment

Investing in a mortgage is a big step. It’s one of the biggest financial steps an individual will take in their lifetime. So it’s important to weigh it carefully. Don’t be discouraged by the size of the choice – instead be encouraged by the variety of resources you can tap into.

Down payments will vary among lenders and in amount, depending on the loan program, type of loan, home price, credit score and budget. Below we’ve crafted some questions that will help you evaluate and analyze your ability to save for a down payment.

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Be ready for your down payment by asking yourself these important questions.
  1. Is now the time for me to purchase a home? In a society that favors the word “now” over the word “later,” this question may seem silly. But it’s not. Purchasing a home means saving consistently, making payments, paying additional bills, maintenance responsibilities, and more. Check out listings near you and see what’s out there. If you aren’t in a place where you can save or you haven’t been saving. It may be time to wait. Be honest with where you’re at.

     2. What down payment can I afford? The possibility of purchasing a home is exciting. However, often our eyes are bigger than our wallets. It’s important to be practical. Consider how much you can pay out of pocket for a home. That may mean going with a cheaper home or being stricter with your spending.

     3. What monthly payment does my income allow? Simple. How much do you or your household make in a month? What will your house payment do to that number? If it doesn’t cover the cost now – it won’t later. Consider picking up odd jobs or making a bigger down payment, or trying the next question.

    4. What changes in spending do I need to make? Everyone needs to evaluate their spending before purchasing a home. Sometimes we need to prioritize the way we spend money. Leisure spending may not always be an option. If purchasing a home is a goal, consider how you can cut spending or alter your habits.

Get Savings Tips Now!

    5. What method will I use to save money? Automatic saving accounts are the most widely recommended method of saving. Usually free, they can be drafted from your pay without effort from you. Banks sometimes have programs for first time buyers or you could invest. You could even try putting a dollar or change in a jar or bucket every day and depositing it every so often.

     6. Do I need to ask for lower rates? If you’ve tried everything above and you still need some wiggle room – evaluate you bills. Are you paying high interest rates on credit cards? Has your car insurance been the same for a while? Consider calling and asking for lower rates. This could put more money in your pocket.

Congratulations, you’re doing your research and preparing well! Are you ready to start saving or do you need to work on one of these questions?

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All Things Credit: Fact vs. Fiction

Credit is complicated. There are no two ways about it. The best approach to dealing with credit is to educate yourself. This takes time and sometimes it means making mistakes, but don’t let the past dictate your future, push forward.

If you’ve had a hard time with telling the difference between fact and fiction when it comes to credit — this sheet is for you.

Fact:

– Credit reports list your payment history

 – Credit reports from the three nationwide credit bureaus can be obtained free once a year

Credit scores are separate from credit reports, however credit scores are typically generated by credit bureau reports

If YOU check your score, it does not lower your score. If a lender does, it can lower your score

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When it comes to credit, do you know fact from fiction?

Fiction:

– The number of credit cards a person has boosts their credit

– The higher the income, the better the credit

– Paying bills late will always lower your score

– Bad credit is forever

From fiction to fact…

“The number of credit cards a person has boosts their credit”

Your credit score does not factor in how many credit cards you have, but it does factor in credit card balances, credit history, late payments and the amount of credit card balances in relation to total available credit. Having more credit cards provides an equal opportunity to pay on time and to miss payments. Again, it all goes back to responsible and timely spending. It’s the quality of your spending, not the quantity.

“The higher the income, the better the credit”

How much income a person makes does not correlate to how they spend it.   Your credit report shows if you pay your bills on time and the frequency in which you do so.  While making more money may help you meet your payments, a credit score is dependent on how you practice financial responsibility.

“Paying bills late will always lower your score”

Don’t make paying bills late a habit. Most credit card lenders provide a grace period after the due date to make a payment. However, when paid after the grace period late payments are generally reported to the credit bureaus and can lower your score.

“Bad credit is forever”

Bad credit does last, but not forever. It usually ages off credit reports after 7 years, but that time can be extended if you have been through bankruptcy. That’s a good amount of time, but you can pay off debt.

Start Building Your Credit!

How to Build Your Credit

Credit. It’s a six letter word that packs a punch. It helps us buy a home, allows us to learn financial responsibility, and sometimes it gives us a little more freedom than we were ready for. If you’ve had a bad experience with credit before – take a deep breath and relax. Your days of fearing a number are over. You are in control of your credit – not the other way around.

So you’re thinking, “Where do I start?” Whether you have no credit or bad credit – understand that building it doesn’t happen overnight. Just like building anything else, it’s a brick by brick process. Let’s jump in!

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Credit can be intimidating, but there are plenty of tools that can help you!

Get organized This is the key. Without it the cycle continues. Buy a calendar or make one just for your bills. This will help you become aware of your due dates so that you make a habit of paying on time. Set reminders on your phone and/or computer. Do all three – remind yourself however you need to. Keep a wall of post it notes with payment dates.

If you get paper statements—highlight what you owe each pay period. Keep a file folder with “To pay” and “Paid” labels. If you don’t have paper statements—keep up with upcoming payments on a whiteboard. This is the easiest way to tackle debt and stay on track. It’s important. Make a system and stick with it.

Set your max spending (and stay under it) Credit cards and loans are great—they allow us the opportunity to own something we probably couldn’t before. Yet, they sometimes can feel like free money. Where we get in trouble is when we forget we have to pay everything back—with interest. So how do you control that spending?

Discipline. Give yourself a ceiling. For example, a card or company may allow $500. Tell yourself, my max is $100 and stick to it. You will still build credit and you teach yourself how to be responsible. Credit is designed to prove you are financially responsible. Use it to learn money maintenance and focus on necessity spending instead of purchasing luxury items.

Pay your balances in full when you can and maintain only a few accounts.

Keep up When it comes to your credit and payments—you are your own advocate. Know where you stand.

Consider a credit card with cushion (Secured /Authorized user) Not all credit cards are the same. So if you struggled with one variety—don’t feel discouraged. There are more options. One option is a secured card. With a secured card you pay a deposit to hold the card. Your credit limit is the amount of your deposit. Essentially, it’s a safeguard should you fail to fulfill your payments. It’s good discipline because then you understand how much money is behind your card, and you have a strong reminder to make payments because you pay into it.

Another option is to become an authorized user on someone’s credit card. Find someone who is first and foremost financially responsible. The best person to do this with is someone you can learn from. Think of them as a credit mentor who can help you spend well and keep you accountable.

Start Evaluating Your Debt

There are many other ways to build your credit. These are just to get you started. Don’t wait.

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Why Checking Your Credit Report is the Best First Step

Honestly, I didn’t care about credit until I went to buy a home. Then it mattered – greatly. Unfortunately, I found it to be true “no credit is equal or worse than bad credit”. It’s a good idea to check out your credit score and report before buying a home. After reviewing your credit report and score, you might choose to pursue a home purchase or you might try improve your credit score first.

By law, you are entitled to one free copy of your credit report annually from each of the three nationwide credit reporting companies. Unfortunately, some folks don’t know this and end up paying for what they didn’t have to. Also, some websites claiming to sell credit reports and scores are not legitimate. Be sure to check out this site to be sure you don’t get fooled by an impostor website.

You can visit one website to get your free credit reports from the three major credit reporting companies – AnnualCreditReport.com. You’ll have to input some of your personal info to retrieve your report. This is the same if you call or mail your request. If you create a myEquifax® account, you can get two free credit reports a year.

Credit reports offer you a lot of details – from debts and when you paid them to old addresses. Plus, things like payments, accounts, and actions within them that you may not know about. That’s why credit reports are always good to look at– because they may show information about potential fraud or identity theft and things that you may not be aware of. This may help you protect your credit score and history by letting you see whether all the information and account details are accurate. Then, if they are not, you can freeze your credit, place a fraud alert, or dispute inaccuracies.

What you may be surprised to find out is that credit reports do not list your credit score! Weird, huh? You’d think for sure it would.

According to Equifax®, there are a couple of ways to see your credit score.

  1. You can contact your credit card company or bank as sometimes they may provide your credit score to you as an account feature.
  2. You can purchase your credit score directly from any of the three major credit reporting companies.

Find More About Credit Scores!

How Escrow Accounts Work and Why They Rock

If you have a mortgage, then chances are you’ve heard the word escrow thrown around a time or two. But what is it exactly?

An escrow account is a helpful tool built into your mortgage. It allows for funds to be collected monthly to pay for your homeowner’s insurance and/or property taxes. By your mortgage collecting escrow, it ensures that your insurance and property taxes are paid in a timely manner. The benefit to you is you don’t have to worry about fronting hundreds or thousands of dollars all at once for your homeowner’s insurance or property taxes.

The formula is typically simple for finding the amount owed. Let’s say both insurance and taxes are escrowed from each monthly payment. The monthly payment is found by taking the total amount paid to both insurance and taxes for the year and then divided by 12. (The 12 is for 12 months.) That’s it! That would be your monthly payment in addition to your mortgage! Please keep in mind, some lenders may use another calculation that varies slightly and is also permitted by the law. Be sure to contact your lender if you have further questions as to how your escrow is calculated.

Occasionally, your escrow payments may increase or decrease. If that happens, either your insurance or taxes have changed. This will affect what you pay monthly. In most loan types, this is the cause of increase or decrease for monthly payments.

All in all, escrow accounts allow for your insurance and property taxes to be paid on your behalf without much extra work on your end!

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Researched and created by Rachel Mersinger

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First Steps to Selling Your Manufactured Home

Perhaps you’re ready for something different, another location, or just another manufactured home. Prepping your home might feel overwhelming. It certainly can be! Yet, we want you to go through the process with as much ease as possible. Time to prep your home!

If it’s time to sell your mobile home, you might be wondering where to begin. You’ll begin at the same place any homebuyer does – making your place look clean and fresh. You want the buyer to be able to imagine themselves there so avoiding bold style choices, colors/patterns, and lots of personal touches will allow them to dream up their own ideas.

A quick way to make your manufactured home more appealing is to pressure wash or clean the siding. Dirty siding makes a home look quite aged. Check out this easy how to on how to clean your siding!

Do light repairs. If you have been saving and can do some more moderate fixes, by all means go ahead. If you’re a little more strapped, try fixing easy things that don’t cost much or that you can perform the labor on. This leaves the buyer with a better visual, and they see you did work to maintain your home. Check out these quick and easy upgrades!

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Being sure your home is ready for a new owner is very important when prepping to sell.

Be sure to understand how your home will be listed. Is it a land and home or are you selling a home only? A home only is also sometimes called “chattel” (this is just an industry term for a manufactured home that is not affixed to land and the title has not been converted to real property). There are also ways to sell a home in a park/community.  Check your community’s rules and your pad rental agreement for information on how to sell your home if it is located in a manufactured home park.   Manufactured homes have to be affixed to land and have the title converted to  real property to be sold as land and home. If not, you are selling the home only. Not sure if your home is real property? Check out this informative article.

Begin considering how you will list the home. Will you have a real estate agent, list yourself, or auction the home? Research and call around to agents to see what commission they charge and decide if it’s  work you think you can do yourself. Ask yourself if you have time to commit to showing your home, covering the usual processes, and getting documents signed. If you decide against listing it yourself, be sure to find a real estate agent who specializes in manufactured housing.

Consider how you will price your home. This is best done by considering the homes around you. How much are they selling for? What condition is your home in? Many who sell by owner obtain an appraisal to determine how to price their home and obtain or pay for a buyer’s inspection to help the buyer feel confident in their purchase. These may not be necessary, but they can help you accurately price your home and secure a buyer. Learn more about how they work.

Don’t forget curb appeal! Landscaping and the area around your home are extremely important. Clean up clutter, keep your grass cut, plant some shrubs – make the place lovely! People do judge the book by the cover – give them a good cover!

We hope this helps you prepare your home for a quick and easy sale! Learn more in depth about the manufactured home sales process!

Selling Without An Agent?

 

A Pain Free Guide to Understanding Escrow

Escrow is the final piece to understanding what makes up a mortgage.

What is Escrow?

Additional funds collected by your lender with your mortgage payment that is set aside to pay your property taxes, home insurance, and flood insurance if you have it.

Is it required?

Many lenders do require escrow for taxes and home insurance. Ask your lender what your options are on your loan.

Why is it usually required?

It keeps you from having to save separately for large bills. It allows you to not have to worry about due dates, and rest assured that the payments will be made.

How is it calculated?

Usually, your monthly escrow payment is divided by the estimated annual costs for property taxes and insurance by 12. Then, a cushion amount is added to help make sure there will be enough if the bills go up

What are those calculations based on?

  • Closing documents
  • Insurance company
  • Local property tax rates

What is an account analysis?

Sometimes called an escrow review, this is when your lender or mortgage servicer reviews your escrow account yearly. They compare the collected amount to your current bills for taxes and insurance to be sure the monthly payment is correct.

Can it change the cost of my mortgage?

Escrow does not change the amount of your mortgage, but it may change your monthly payment if your property tax or insurance bills go up or down.

What happens to the money?

The money is used to pay the property tax and insurance bills when they are due. If there is too much or not enough money when your mortgage company does the escrow analysis, they will contact you to review your options.

Learn More About Mortgages

How to Get the Most Out of the New Vmfhomes.com

Our site got a serious face-lift and we are excited about it! Mostly, we’re excited for you because finding a great mobile home just got even easier! You’ll be welcomed to our site with a larger redesigned search bar. This is where you’ll probably spend most of your time – sifting through the possibilities. Next, you’ll see some suggestions of local listings you may like. As you travel down the page you’ll find a video explaining who we are and tons of the blog posts that you can read to stay updated.

You can search for homes within 25, 50, 100, or more miles of your desired location. Your search results will take you to a listing page where you’ll find all the details you need about each home. You’ll have an option to be contacted by our helpful sales team about a particular home or you can call us.  As you scroll through searches looking for your dream home – you’ll discover there may be more options than you thought. Creating an account can help you keep track of your searches and the homes you are interested in.

Creating an account is easy and free and it allows you more control over tracking homes you’re interested in. You can provide as little or as much information about yourself as you prefer and you can change your preferences once you’ve signed in.

Create your account:

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This pop-up will appear when you click “My Account” or “Log In”. Next, click the “Create An Account” button.
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This will pop-up then you can fill out this form and register for your account!

The best things about an account…

  1. You can keep track of offers you’ve made. Properties that you have made an offer on will be displayed as well as the status of the offer.
  2. You can keep all your favorites in one place. As you navigate through our listings you can “favorite” homes by clicking the heart on the upper right hand corner.  When you “favorite” a home, it will be added to the list of  all to your favorites for you to come back to and filter through.
  3. You can save your home searches. Looking for a home within a certain area? Trying to stay in a particular school district? Or wanting less of a commute? Name and keep your home  searches on file.

Doesn’t that sound nice? We think so, too! Go ahead start a search now!

Oakbur Quill Co.