Financial, Uncategorized

How Big a Mortgage Can You Really Afford?

Whether you’re a first-time home buyer, you’ve grown out of your current home or maybe you’re looking to downsize after the kids have left home, you may be scratching your head and wondering just how much home you can afford. Home ownership should offer you a feeling of security, not leave you feeling destitute!

So why not just go by lenders guidelines and borrow what they deem appropriate? Well, a mortgage lender won’t take into account your current and future financial goals. Do you plan to have children? You’ll need to factor in childcare costs or maybe the loss of income of one spouse. Maybe you want to return to school eventually. All of these things must be considered!

Old rules generally said you can afford a house 2-3 times your income. So if you earned $100,000 annually, you’d be able to afford a $200,000 – $300,000 home. But what if you have $1,500 a month in car payments, student loan payments, credit card bills? The best way to break down those sort of expenses that are of utmost importance is to make a detailed budget. Factor in things like mortgage payment, homeowners insurance, taxes, HOA fees, utilities, etc.

Now, a huge part of how big of a monthly payment you’ll have is how much of a down payment you can afford. The larger the down  payment, the lower the monthly expense. Many lenders also require private mortgage insurance (PMI) on loans with less than 20% down. You also have to factor in what sort of market it is – if you wait around trying to save, you may end up paying more for a home.

Take into account your monthly debt. Most lenders play by the “43% rule.” So using the $100,000 scenario above, we come to $43,000 in annual income. Divide that by 12 and we get $3,583. That means all bills, mortgage included, shouldn’t exceed that number.

Use your monthly rent as a guideline. Tax benefits of home ownership allow you to spend about 1/3 more than your rent. So if you’re currently spending about $1,500 a month on rent and you’re not struggling to make ends meet, you should be able to comfortably afford about $2,000 a month on a mortgage payment.



What are Millennials Looking for in a Home?

We’re used to thinking of “home” as a universal concept, but the younger generation is turning that notion on it’s head a bit. Home-buying millennials typically fall into the 18-35 year old range and are known for being tech-savvy and knowing exactly what they want in a home. As a seller, it’s important to know what this generation is looking for, because it’s expected they’ll make up about HALF of the first time home buyers in 2017!
Many millennials are moving from renting in an urban environment but as they get older and start thinking about having a family, they prefer to leave the city for a suburban setting with easy access to public transport.  This is good news for sellers in the suburban Philadelphia area – homes in Montgomery County are just a quick Septa ride away from the city!
Now, let’s think about what exactly these buyers are looking for. Since most are using almost all of their savings on a down payment, they want something move-in ready, generally. That’s not to say there aren’t millennials looking for fixer-uppers, but the majority don’t want to have to spend money they don’t have getting their home up to par! Things like updated kitchens, baths and hardwood are crucial. If your home is carpeted, be sure to specify if their is or isn’t hardwood underneath.
Staging is also a crucial element to attract these buyers. They want to be able to look at your home (and they’ll be looking online first – so it’s important to get your home ready to go viral!)  and imagine what it’ll be like when they’re living there.
Something that’s fairly new in the real estate game is smart home technology. This is essential for young buyers. They want to be able to come inside and control the lights, the heat, even open the front door with their smart phones! This may seem a bit confusing or overwhelming, but fear not! Coldwell Banker, a leader in innovation, has you covered with our Smart Home Staging Kit. You can learn all about Smart Home technology there or contact one of us at Coldwell Banker Realty Corp. We can talk you through the ins and outs and get your home “millennial ready” painlessly!

Raise Your Home’s Value Instantly

If you are planning to put your home on the market this spring, your real estate agent may be telling you to declutter, or work on your home’s curb appeal or even stage your home. Some of the things on your to do list may seem tedious or downright expensive, but it turns out that you’re actually receiving sound advice.

HomeGain, an agent referral site, has identified the top 10 home improvements under $1500 that add the most value. We’ll break it down your returns on investment (ROI).

  1. Cleaning and decluttering ($290 cost / $1,990 price increase / 586% ROI)
  2. Lightening and brightening ($375 cost / $1,550 price increase  / 313% ROI)
  3. Home staging ($550 cost / $2,194 price increase / 299% ROI)
  4. Landscaping ($540 cost / $1,932 price increase / 258% ROI)
  5. Repairing electrical and plumbing ($535 cost / $1,505 price increase / 181% ROI)
  6. Kitchen and bathroom ($1,265 cost / $3,435 price increase / 181% ROI)
  7. Replace or clean carpets ($647 cost / $1,730 price increase / 169% ROI)
  8. Paint interior ($1,012 cost / $2,112 price increase / 109% ROI)
  9. Repair floors ($931 cost / $1,924 price increase / 107% ROI)
  10. Paint exterior ($1,467 cost / $2,222 price increase / 51% ROI)

Some of these items on this list could even be done for cheaper if you’re enterprising and do it yourself, making an even larger return on investment!


How to Prepare to Sell in the Social Media Age

Liking, sharing, commenting – the way homes are being marketed in 2017 is different than it was in the past and it’s important to know what buyers are looking for online before you put your home on the market. Even more important is picking an agent with the knowledge of how crucial your home’s digital presence is. You only get one shot with buyers to make a solid first impression online. Once your home is uploaded to the MLS, it’s syndicated to dozens of websites and (hopefully) shared again and again. Be prepared for your listing to go VIRAL!

Small things matter. Make sure your home looks ready to sell and not in the process of getting ready. You want to wow your buyers with polished photos and a home they can see themselves living in. So touch up the paint in the bathroom, clear out the clutter and make sure surfaces are cleaned off.

That being said, you can’t go wrong with going minimal. Counter tops should be free of appliances, papers, anything! Put it away for the photos (and the showings!). Buyers are easily distracted by all of the “extras.” A clean slate where a buyer can imagine his or her personal i

It’s crucial to connect with an agent who understands the importance of marketing your home online. At Coldwell Banker Realty Corp, we understand the way to connect with buyers. We will use our web presence to get your home out there and implement the latest online tools to do so. To hear all about our digital marketing plans for your home, call us at (215) 855-5600!


Feeling the itch to buy your first home?

Maybe spring fever has hit you. The temps are (slowly!) climbing, the poor tulips and bulbs are trying to peek through under the late-season snow we had last week and all you can think about is the warm weather and entertaining guests in a home of your own. But, where do you start?


First things first, get your credit sorted. Most lenders require a credit score of 620 or above, so know your number. Check your credit history for any issues before contacting a mortgage broker. It’s free to check once a year!


Save money! In all likelihood, a home purchase will be the biggest purchase you’ll make. You’ll need to factor in a down payment of some sort, closing costs, various inspections, etc when you’re buying, so keep that in mind.


Find a mortgage broker you trust and figure out your budget. Tell him or her what you’re willing to spend and be prepared to delve into the nitty-gritty of your finances. But don’t fret – this is his or her job, so no need to be shy! Be prepared to fax or email a few recent pay stubs, 2 years of W-2s, 2 years of tax returns and a few recent bank statements.




This crucial step ties into step three. You’ll need a preapproval from your lender before you can get to the fun part – seeing homes with your agent! This letter states that your lender has received all of your documentation and is comfortable lending you the amount of money you’ll need to see aforementioned homes.


Decide where you want to live! Are you a city person or do you need a bit more space? If you’re moving to a new neighborhood, drive around! Check out street view. Get comfortable with the area.


Find an agent you connect with at Coldwell Bank Realty Corp. No one knows the area like we do! Our team works together to help make the process as smooth and stress-free as possible. You’ll be settled in your new home and have a new friend to invite over – your agent!

And fear not! The experienced agents in our office are happy to help guide you through the process and help you learn along the way. We understand the uncertainty that comes along with buying your first home and we’d love to be the ones to make the experience of finding the home you’ve always imagined a wonderful one!

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After the snow that hit us last week, it’s hard to believe spring is here! As we embark on this new season, many wonder – is spring really the best time to sell? Conventional wisdom says so, but let’s delve a bit deeper.

The drive to buy in the spring comes from warmer weather, more daylight, and the desire to get settled into a new home before the start of a new school year. All of this means more inventory on the market, and unlike other industries, more inventory in real estate means a higher price for the seller!

More homes on the market also equates to better comps. With more properties sold, an appraiser will better be able to value your home appropriately.

Another advantage to selling in the spring is curb appeal. Think of how welcoming your home looks with flowers in bud or your bulbs in bloom! The longer daylight hours also gives buyers more time to come out and see all of the beauty your home and garden has to offer this time of year!

With all of this being said, you may be thinking – more inventory, more curb appeal for all sellers? Buyers can be picky then, right? Well, the same holds true for sellers! A seller can be pickier and wait until just the right offer comes along with the influx of buyers during this peak season.

So if you’re on the fence about finally putting your home for sale, or if you’re in the market for a new home, get in touch and we can discuss what’s best for you.


3 Steps to Listing Your Home in January

Are you ready to get your home on the market before Spring? If so, here’s a little secret: You’ll actually be steps ahead of those who wait, and it’ll put you in a position of competition with buyers for your home!

Here’s three steps to getting an edge on the competition.

As Soon as you can…

1. Find The Perfect Real Estate Agent: The sooner you start, the better. Look for a pro who works with confidence and has a track record for knowing the market.  Also, connecting with an agent who is backed by a leading broker and brand, makes a big difference.   Don’t fall for those brokers with discount prices.  The right brand-backed agent will make sure your home has all the cutting-edge marketing tools to showcase your home in the best possible light!

2. Make a Plan and Prioritize: Once you have your Real Estate partner, you need a solid plan.  The best thing you can do is start with a to-do list for everything you need to get your home ready.  If you don’t have a list, work with your agent to get their view of the priorities.  Then focus on each task, one at a time.

3. Box it Up: This is the hard part. Parting can be such sweet sorrow, but in this step, it’s good to start packing up most of your things.  This step will help your home show the best, as clearing clutter is a great way to attract buyers.  As an added bonus: sometimes you can get free boxes from local stores in your area, if they have extra’s they are just throwing away.

Ready, Set, Go!