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.

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    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!

When Paying Ahead on Your Mortgage Can be Beneficial

When we started our mortgage, I was shaken up by the number of years and total of payments behind owning our home. It seemed so big, and I could only see it getting bigger with interest. In the first year of owning, we tried to simply get used having our monthly payment. But after researching I wanted to be a little more proactive in paying off our home.

Pre-paying your mortgage is situational. It’s not a one size fits all, but it can save you a lot of money in interest if you are in a financial position to do it. For me, it makes sense to pre-pay an extra fifty dollars a payment to cut time and interest off my total amount owed. Let’s dig in and look at when paying ahead can be beneficial.

If you’ve found your forever home. If you know you plan to stay in this home for a long period of time, then paying it off faster may be worth it. That way you are putting money into something that will benefit you and your family for years to come.

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If you’ve found the place to call home, you’ll feel more at ease in investing in it. 

You’re in a financial situation where you can focus on debt. When you boil it down, the difference between paying off your mortgage sooner or later is when you want/need to have more money. What I mean is that if you are in a tight spot financially now with lots of bills and financial responsibilities you probably would benefit more from paying your regular payment.

On the other hand, if you don’t have a lot of bills or financial responsibilities and you’ve got savings you may want to pay down your mortgage debt now. This may give you less money in the future, but you also will have less debt. It’s always a catch 22. Moral of the story: if it won’t hurt you to add even 10 dollars a month, it may be worth considering. If it’s going to hurt you financially it’s not worth it – this is voluntary, not mandatory.

You want to eliminate as much interest as possible. In light of my own financial philosophy, reducing the amount of interest I pay over the life of the loan is a major motivation. Interest is a quiet debt, and for that reason I like to address it head on. The extra amount you end up paying by letting interest compound is significant. So, whenever I see an avenue to reduce my mortgage debt and the amount of interest I owe on that debt – I’m willing to do it. Even if it means having less money to spend now. I’d rather have less or no debt now than more money, but everyone is different.

You have some savings. It’s important to have some cushion. If you’ve been able to save, then pre-paying may also be appealing to you. That way you’re not spending the only money you’d have for emergencies and you are focusing on prioritizing your funds. Many people recommend having 3 – 6 months of earnings in savings, but this isn’t realistic for everyone. You should know based off your budget how much you might need if an emergency happened, and you needed enough money to last several months without a paycheck.

This is not an exhaustive list, but it does cover some of the main motivations behind pre-paying your mortgage. Remember the amount does not have to be big. You’d be amazed what pre-paying 10 dollars a payment for a year could do to decrease the total interest you will pay on your mortgage loan over time. Would pre-paying be a good option for you?

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How to Help Prevent Your Mobile Home’s Foundation from Shifting

Mobile homes that are placed on pier and anchor foundations can be vulnerable to shifting if they are not set up properly or not maintained. It is a good idea to discuss your home’s foundation with your licensed installer before your home arrives.

The main cause of sinking foundations is due to the ground shifting. This usually happens when the weather changes. Freezing temperatures, rain, and humidity all effect the dirt underneath your home and change it by expanding and contracting.  While you cannot control the weather, preventing moisture from accumulating underneath your home will help prevent the soil and foundation from shifting. According to a Manufactured Housing Research Alliance publication, these are some of the main preventative actions you can take.

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The best prevention is being aware of how your home is being placed and having communication with the team that is doing the work.

1. Shed Water

Ensure that your property can shed water. When your land is being prepped, make sure the land is graded so that water will shed away from the home.  If not, water could pool underneath the home causing damage. It is also important to be sure your gutter downspouts drain water away from the home.  Gutter downspout  extensions can be attached to the end of the downspout after your home is placed.

2. Ground Cover

There are a few other things that deserve your attention underneath the home. A proper ground cover under your home will help prevent moisture in the crawl space from entering the home through the floor. Make sure this is installed when the home is initially placed and have the barrier inspected by a professional periodically.   Have the vapor barrier repaired or replaced if the inspector finds any tears.  Do not attempt to inspect or fix the vapor barrier yourself.  Only a professional contractor should go under your home.

3. Skirting

Lastly, it is important to  keep your skirting in good condition. Skirting keeps critters out and protects the underbelly of the home (pipes included) from the elements and moisture. If you notice a hole or have damaged skirting– consider investing in an update.

There are reasons other than water or moisture that can be the cause of your homes’ sinking foundation. However, these are the most common and preventable reasons. Once your home settles, it can become un-level. Look out for creaking floors, sticking doors, and buckling in the walls or floors. These could be signs of a foundation issue. We hope this helps!

These items are designed for professionals. So please ask your contractor or those placing your home to be sure these items are done by someone who can expertly and safely perform them. Doing these items incorrectly can damage your home.

Your Home From Water

VMFHomes.com Consolidates Facebook Pages for Better User Experience

You may have noticed while reading our blog that we have a great website with a huge inventory of mobile homes. Over the years, we’ve looked for the best ways to evolve and connect our customers, who are potential homeowners, with resources that fit them.  Facebook is a reservoir of growth and sharing, so it only made sense to put our products where our customers were.

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We hope that this will make it easier for you to find your forever home!

We regionalized our Facebook pages into multiples pages, “Used Mobile Homes of the Midwest”, is one example. This served us and our customers well for a while as we were able to advertise to the areas specific of those who liked the page. This was quite important as we have homes across the United States, and we wanted to serve customers with solutions in their area.

Our “Used Mobile Homes…” pages were the best way, we felt, to share inventory on social media. Now, we’ve found an even better way to share our inventory. We are combining all the pages into one page: “VMF Homes”. This will allow us to share everything we have with you, and it will be easier for our customers to find our brand. This will also streamline our ability to respond to you, update pricing, and give you the best information.

Keep an eye out for changes! Also, go ahead, if you’re a fan of our older pages, and like VMF Homes today!

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Why it’s Important to View Our Mobile Homes in Person

With the internet and how sophisticated listings are today, buyers are more and more likely to purchase a home without viewing it or going through traditional channels. Now, certain situations may warrant someone buying without viewing – but we highly discourage it. There are just certain things you can only get a true feel for by visiting. What kind of things you might ask?

Learn the location and neighborhood. Photos don’t always tell you enough about a neighborhood or area. They can’t give you a feel for what’s butted up against the home. They won’t show you how the homes surrounding your potential home look. They don’t tell you about the best wing restaurant being just up the street! The places around your home are quite important – learn your proximity.

Talk to the neighbors (if there are any). When we were looking at our house, one of the neighbors introduced themselves and told us about the previous owner’s work to the home and how they enjoyed the area. This was a big encouragement to us. Another place we visited, the neighbor stared at us the whole time with a scowl watching where we parked. My point is, neighbors matter. Whether they tell you a place is great, not so great or just show you with their attitude, it can make an impact.

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Meeting neighbors while searching for a home is great idea. 
Seasonal changes. You can’t tell what homes look like in and out of season. You still won’t visit the home each season probably, but you can get a feel for some different aspects. Perhaps when you visit the home and it’s raining, and you notice some flooding or pooling or water that needs to be addressed. Maybe you see it at sunset and notice where the light falls in the house. You could even see a meadow behind the home you didn’t see in the summer photos because the leaves hid it – the list goes on. See your potential home in a variety of situations, times, and weather if possible.

Look out for problem areas. Visiting a home will allow you to see potential problem areas. Big problems could include soft spots/ water stains or alike damage in the home. Bad electrical or plumbing may be evident by trying light switches, outlets, and looking for leaks or slow draining of water if it’s turned on. These items are quite expensive and can be an unwanted hit to your wallet. Figure out what you’re willing to fix and what’s too much.

Let your imagination take hold. Visiting the home allows you to dream. It helps you see where your kids can play, or your grandparent can sit, or where you’ll spend most of your time entertaining. Walking through a home helps you visualize your family living there and even how you can decorate it! It helps the dream materialize a little more.

An informed buyer is a happy buyer. With any home, even a brand new one – there will be some surprises and things to deal with- it’s just part of the responsibility of being a homeowner. However, if you can alleviate yourself from some of these things, why not do it?

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Call or chat us at vmfhomes.com to view a home today!

The Truth about These Mobile Home Myths

Many opinions and ideas have been taken as fact when it comes to mobile homes. But as manufactured housing continues to evolve and gain popularity, it’s important that these myths are eliminated.

If you’ve seen one model, you’ve seen them all.

Maybe 30 years ago this statement had some grounds, but not now. Mobile homes are no longer built all the same. There are a wide variety of models with traditional to upscale layouts and materials. Mobile homes are evolving and changing.

Just look at the popularity of small manufactured homes. The whole idea of smaller homes is to provide a small, efficient space. There are mobile homes for a variety of budgets and lifestyles.

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They are starter homes.

A mobile home can the home you live in all your life, especially now. In the past, mobile homes were sometimes considered transitional, temporary housing. Today, they are an investment for many families.

We are often told we have to have a bigger or more expensive home and that we should not be satisfied with the first home we buy. But when it comes to your home, you decide. If you love your home, then you love it. You don’t have to have a bigger, newer home. Your home has character. Your home is YOURS.

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Your forever home is right here.

Mobile homes aren’t built well.

Manufactured homes are built indoors, which helps to protect the home from weather during the building process. Also, mobile homes are typically built on sturdy, steel frames. They are built to comply with federal HUD Code building requirements, which enable builders to build with consistency and quality. Check out code standards.

They are not built to withstand storms.

No home is indestructible, but manufactured homes are built with weather in mind. Manufactured homes built to HUD Code must be built according to which wind zone the home will be located in. There are three wind zones based in the United States.  Coastal areas are in the highest wind zone, Zone 3. Zone 3 homes are built to be able to withstand 110 mph winds. Wind Zone 2 are built to withstand up to 100 mph. Zone 1 homes are located in more interior areas of the country. In these areas, the threat of hurricanes is much lower, so Zone 1 homes are built to withstand lower wind speeds. Get educated about wind zones!

Can Mobile Homes Build Equity?

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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