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Mortgage News Matters

How to Choose a Real Estate Agent

When it comes to home buying – choosing the right real estate agent for the job is no easy feat. It is a decision that should be done with much thought and care.  And for that reason, we’ve provided a ‘How To’ guide to choosing the best real estate agent for you!

  1. Focus on an agent’s personality and your compatibility. The first thing you should consider when choosing the right real estate agent for you is your chemistry. Finding an agent who is compatible with you and who has your best interests at heart, is essential to any home buying or selling process. It is important to find someone whose values align with your own, by asking yourself, ‘What are some important qualities you want in an agent?’

    When working with an agent, it is important to have someone who is trustworthy, someone who listens to you, someone has a strong work ethic, is honest, and has conviction. The best way to decipher if an agent has these traits is by interviewing them beforehand. Experts recommend interviewing at least three agents before choosing which one to work with.

    Some important questions to ask in an agent interview are as follows,
  • How long have you been working in the real estate industry?
  • What is your specialty?
  • How will you market my home?
  • Can you put me in touch with some of your references?

2. Do your research and review their reputation. A real estate agent’s reputation speaks volumes. Through a web-based search, you should be able to discover pertinent information on any agent in the field and get a feel for them, before even conducting an interview. An agent’s online presence is just as valuable as any referral you can get from a friend or fellow homeowner. By researching each agent online, you can also identify any relevant certifications and specialties that are important to you in an agent.

3. Get referrals. Like online presence, a referral will tell you a lot about working with a specific real estate agent. Getting a referral from a trusted family member or friend is ideal, as you know they have your best interests at heart. However, a referral from any homeowner or seller that has worked with an agent in the past can be just as beneficial. This can help you weed out agents early, that may not be a good fit for you.

4. Gauge connections. Like referrals, it is important to look at an agent’s network and professional connections. Determining how well are they connected to other professionals in their industry speaks to their reputation and can prove their reliability and trustworthiness.

5. Offer adequate support and mitigate risk. One important characteristic to be sure your potential agent possesses is their ability to offer adequate support and mitigate risk. Buying a home is one of the biggest financial decisions one can make in one’s lifetime, it is important to find someone who can offer adequate support. The process will surely have obstacles and finding an agent who is able to deal with the inevitable stress that comes with the home buying process is vital in ensuring a smooth and successful homebuying experience.

6. Look to their experience. Lastly, it is important to look at an agent’s experience. Like referrals, reputation, and online research, you want to pay special attention to your potential agent’s track record and inventory. In addition to doing your own online research, you can browse potential neighborhoods and look for signs with agents that have sold properties, similar to ones that you are interested in purchasing. This is the most tangible proof that the agent and get the job one.

Once you’ve chosen your real estate agent, be sure to discuss a selling strategy and make sure to gauge your expectations. This is the best way to ensure a smooth home buying process and to set both you and your agent up for success!

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Mortgage News Matters

Zero Down and Low Down Payment Mortgage Options

For buyers currently looking to purchase a home – affordability is the name of the game. And finding a mortgage loan that requires zero – or low down payments, is essential to their home buying process. Fortunately, VanDyk Mortgage provides a variety of mortgage loan options with low or no down payments required for our cost-conscious buyers.

Low-Down Payment Mortgage Loan Options:

30-Year Conventional: With consistent interest rates and monthly mortgage payments, the traditional 30-Year Conventional Loan is one of the most popular mortgage loan options. Programs with down payments as low as 3%, the 30-Year Conventional Loan is a great option for those seeking to purchase a home, before they have the funds necessary to do so. Keep in mind, whenever you put a less than 20% down payment on a home, you may be required to pay Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) until you own enough equity in your home.

FHA: The Federal Housing Association, or FHA loan, is an ideal option for first-time home buyers with less than perfect credit. With a down payment as low as 3.5% and lower than average interest rates, the FHA loan a great option for buyers who do not meet the requirements for a traditional 30-Year Conventional Loan.

Zero or No Down Payment Mortgage Loan Options:

VA: A VA, or Veteran Loan, is the best option for Veterans or active duty military members looking to purchase a home of their own. There is no down payment required and low interest rates. VA loans require no monthly mortgage insurance, making it possible for a buyer to purchase a home without paying out of pocket.

USDA: Backed by the US Department of Agriculture, a USDA, or Rural Housing Loan, is for buyers who are looking to purchase a home in a rural or suburban area with minimal investment. These loans require no down payment and provide flexible credit guidelines, as well as low monthly mortgage insurance costs.To learn more about low and zero down payment loan options offered at VanDyk Mortgage, visit our website Loan Options.

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Mortgage News Matters

Tips for Buyers in a Seller’s Market

Finding yourself a buyer in a seller’s market can often feel intimidating. When inventory is low, and demand is high, sellers are the ones who hold all the leverage.  This is why finding your competitive edge is critical to the home buying process. To make sure you stand out from the crowd, consider using our tips for buying in a seller’s market.

  1. Begin your search today! In a seller’s market, time is of the essence. It is important to do your research and prepare beforehand with important information, such as reports, open houses, and offer due dates, to avoid wasting precious time.
  2. Obtain pre-approval. Getting preapproved by a lender before making an offer tells you how much buying power you truly have and helps pre-determine your bottom line. 
  3. Reduce or eliminate certain contingencies, such as inspections or move-in dates. This reduces common time-consuming obstacles to the home buying process.
  4. Present a strong (or best) offer price. If it is in your budget to do so, consider offering more than the asking price. This will set you apart from other buyers and provide you a competitive edge.
  5. Consider a cash offer. A cash offer tells the seller you are a serious buyer, and not interested in wasting their time. Offering a cash deposit for up to 1% of the offer price is a great way to stand out from the rest.
  6. Do not present a counteroffer. In a seller’s market counteroffers are seen as mere time-wasters. In many cases, sellers will not even consider looking at them. Always start with a strong offer price.
  7. Know your budget and be ready to bid. In a market with more buyers than sellers, a bidding war is almost certain. Understanding your budget and preparing beforehand to bid, is the best way to ensure, both you and your offers are taken seriously.
  8. Avoid being too choosy. As houses move quickly on and off the market, it is important to reduce your non-negotiables. For example, location is important, but renovations can be done anywhere. Limiting various terms is crucial to buying a home in a seller’s market.
  9. Stay alert to new listings. You may think you have found your perfect home, only to find that it has just been sold. Do not get discouraged! The key to being a buyer in a seller’s market is remaining patient and vigilant for the next opportunity that comes along!
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Mortgage News Matters

How to Build and Maintain A Good Credit Score

A good credit score is essential to any new or prospective homebuyer. It’s what will show your lender the likelihood that you will be able to pay back your debt. So, we’d say it’s pretty important!

The first step towards building and maintaining a good credit score is to first determine your credit standing. You can do this by obtaining a free copy of your reports from annualcreditreport.com. Once you have this information, carefully look over your report and take note of any errors that you find. These errors can then be disputed with the credit bureaus.

If you find that you have a below-average credit score, it can be refreshing to know that most credit blunders disappear from your credit report every 7 years. For more information on understanding and managing your credit score, check out our Credit Clean-Up Guide.

To better assist you in your credit building process, we’ve listed a few techniques below:

  • Apply for a secured credit card. The purpose of a secured credit card is to build enough credit to qualify for an unsecured credit card, which offers more benefits to its borrowers. A secured credit card requires a deposit to open. And the deposit is typically the same number as the borrower’s credit limit on the card. These work the same as a credit card and you won’t incur interest as long as you pay your balance in full.
  • Credit-builder loans. These are a type of forced savings program where the lender holds the money you borrow in an account that isn’t released to you until the loan is repaid. This can be a great option for those who are looking to build their credit.
  • Becoming an authorized user on a friend or family member’s credit card who is currently in good credit standing. Many will start building their credit by becoming an authorized user on a relative’s credit card. This option adds their payment history to your credit, showing that you are a reliable borrower – if they are in good standing.
  • Get a co-signer. If you have a family member or friend who is in better credit standing, you can also ask them to be your co-signer. This means that if you default on your loan, they are responsible to pay for it, so it’s best to be upfront with your co-signer about all the terms.
  • Have a long history of credit (start building credit early). The best way to start building good credit is to, well, start building your credit. Make sure that you start as soon as you can and maintain good practices like paying regularly and on time.

Once you’ve built up a good credit score, it may be helpful to follow a few techniques you can use to maintain.

  • Pay regularly and on time. One of the most effective ways to maintain a good credit score is to make sure you are paying your bill regularly and on time. To help you with this, consider setting up automatic payments so that you don’t miss a loan or credit card payment.
  • Maintain reasonable credit. Experts recommend keeping credit at no more than 30% of your credit limit if you can help it. If you must go over 30%, make sure you pay it back down to that amount as soon as you are able to.
  • Only apply for the credit you need. Think of it like a loan, only borrow what you need. Anything more is too much.
  • Pay minimum monthly balance on time. Paying on time shows your consistency and reliability as a borrower.
  • Keep old credit cards open. Closing old cards can have a negative effect on your credit, so it’s best practice to keep them open even if you no longer use them.

*The three major credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – have recently extended their offering of free weekly credit reports through April 22, 2022, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. *