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Real Estate Tips & Resources

Homebuying
How to Buy a Home - Step Three: Choose a Neighborhood
If you  didn’t  catch our last blog post on how to find financing and make sure that you are either pre-approved or Cash-Approved™ before you begin your home search, you can get caught up here.  In today’s blog, we take a look at the third step to purchasing a home: choosing a neighborhood. It’s All About Where You Live: Location, Location, Location! Real estate can be summarized in one word: location, location, location. The most important factor isn’t the house itself- it’s the neighborhood. What makes a neighborhood great? The answer is different for everyone depending on their stage of life and what matters to them. Here are some things to think about as you consider where you want to call your home. “You’re buying the area… the house is just along for the ride.”-Barbara Corcoran, Founder of The Corcoran Group The Practical Side: Does the Neighborhood Check your Boxes? It can be difficult to know what all your priorities in a location are or should be, so a good place to start is by asking yourself a few simple and practical questions. How much can you afford?What is an acceptable daily commute?How far are you from schools and what is their rating? What if you don’t have children, though? Should you still care about a school’s rating? Yes, because of the potential resale value. Future homebuyers of that house might have children and care. And since over half of buyers have children, it is fair to say that a school’s rating can be an important factor in determining resale value. Pro-Tip: When picking a neighborhood keep the resale value, the amount that a home is expected to sell for at some point in the future, in the front of your mind and as part of your criteria for selecting a location. School ratings, nearby commercial development or public utilities like power lines -all things not in a home, but, near a home’s location, can affect the perceived future value of a home. Study the Area within a 1-Mile Radius Can you imagine buying a gown or a tuxedo for a formal event without ever having tried it on until the big night? Probably not. While most people perform their due diligence for a home purchase, they often forget to do their due diligence on the neighborhood and the surrounding area. Why? Well, for one; researching zoning and reviewing HOA rules are not as much fun as cruising open houses and seeing the latest upgrades. When you’re visiting open houses, you’re probably not considering that high school you passed at the entrance of the neighborhood. That school, however, has teenagers-many, many teenagers. Well, what’s wrong with children you might ask? We just said that school ratings are important in picking a good neighborhood and this one is A-rated! So, what’s the problem here? Well, there is no problem- yet. But in October when football season starts there might be. Because where there is a high school there is usually a football team. And a marching band. And Friday night games with stadium lights and boisterous fans. How many games are there again? How late do they go until? Wait- this school hosts a football camp in the summertime for all the schools in the area? Wow. That’s a lot of teenagers close to your home year-round... Pro-Tip: Draw a 1-mile circle around the prospective neighborhood you are considering and identify other residential and commercial development. Ask yourself what the potential impact of these could be on your daily life and if you are ok with it. Take seasons, different times of year, and even traffic patterns into consideration. Who are the People in the Neighborhood? Have you Chatted with Them? It’s very hard to foresee all the possible scenarios, both good and bad, that living in a certain neighborhood might introduce into your life. But not if you’re a person who already lives in the neighborhood. Those people? They know the drill, and they probably aren’t afraid to tell you what they do or don’t like about their community. Unlike real estate agents, lenders or sellers, the people in a neighborhood aren’t motivated to sell you anything. They will be open in sharing what they do or don’t like about their community. Where and when the traffic jams are the worst, how often there are additional HOA assessments, and if the neighbors are dog people? Want to know if a community’s Homeowner’s Association is on the strict side with parking? Ask a neighbor. Want to know if the community culture is a social one with silly hat parties and Wednesday Wine Downs or if people keep to themselves? Ask a neighbor. Need to know where you can get the best New York- style pizza versus Chicago style? You got it. Realize that whether you plan on being social or not, you are going to have neighbors and other people you interface with daily when running errands or enjoying leisure time. Who are the people in the neighborhood? Are they families with children? Empty nester retirees? Young professionals? Renters? Ask yourself: How important is it that the people who live in your neighborhood are in the same stage of life as you? Do you want to be social? Do you prefer privacy? Will they still be welcoming if you don’t want to participate? Love a golf course view but not the game? It’s all good. But we do recommend you find out how early in the morning those golfers may or may not hit a ball straight into your poolside morning meditation practice and throw off your zen. Pro-Tip: Remember that because of The Fair Housing Act, realtors are very restricted in what they can say about “what kind of people” live in a neighborhood. They are also not allowed to talk about crime statistics. It will be up to your own personal research to find data and assess if you feel safe and comfortable. How to Try a Neighborhood on for Size Adopting the daily lifestyle and commuting patterns of a location by going different places on different days and times will let you know its true character so you can get a sense of what life is like on a weekly basis. Test the traffic on different days and different times by commuting from a prospective neighborhood to your place of workGo for a walk after 5pm. If you’re a dog person, bring your pooch. You can tell a lot about a neighborhood by the locals who walk them every dayPark in different locations on different days at different times-yes, that’s right; stake the place out. Sure, that street seems quiet on Wednesday at 11 am, but that doesn’t tell you if the college kids living in the rental home next door will be hosting a Kegger on a Saturday nightGo out to eat-whether you think you will eat out a lot or not, you can learn a lot about a place and its people by test driving dining options that are nearby Life is Short, Find your Happy Place In a low inventory housing market, it can be an incredible challenge to secure a perfect home or even one you feel really excited about. While there are many things you can do to renovate a home after you close on the sale, there is nothing you can do to change the vibe you do or don’t get from a community and its “sense of place”.Do you feel comfortable and welcome when you are there? Are people friendly and warm? Or do you feel like a visitor? Feeling comfortable is key. How do you like the scenery leading into the neighborhood? The entrance? Are there trees, trails or beautiful views? Does the thought of pulling into the neighborhood at the end of every day lift you up? Before you begin house hunting, don’t forget to go “happy hunting” and find a neighborhood that feels right. You are less likely to make a hasty decision and end up with a bad case of buyer’s remorse if you take the time to learn the neighborhood first. A neighborhood is where feeling at home and belonging should begin and end every day. Your location will dictate many of the people you meet and the experiences you have, so choose wisely. We hope you this post will help you find a neighborhood where you feel welcome and can call home. Where to Look for More Helpful Information: School board website-this is where you should be able to confirm a school’s ratingLocal police stations– this is where you can get statistics on crime. Note: The Fair Housing Act prohibits realtors from talking about the crime rates so you must come to your own conclusionsCity and County - this will tell you everything you need to know about the local governmentFacebook groups and app’s like NextDoor -these can be very helpful in connecting to locals
Jennifer Shapiro | Mar 17, 2021
Piggy bank representing the savings that can come from making an all cash offer with Accept.inc, even if you need a mortgage
Homebuying
How to Buy a Home - Step Two: Find Your Financing
In case you missed it, in our last blog post, we talked about how to know if you are ready to buy a home. In this blog post we talk about the first step in buying a home- which is securing financing. Financing will make or break a deal The single most important distinguishing factor between an attractive or a weak offer is the type and quality of the financing. Knowing this, it makes sense that the next step on your journey toward homeownership is getting your financing squared away. This typically means either getting pre-approved for a traditional mortgage or getting Cash Approved™ with Accept.inc. A buyer who has the full cash amount in their bank account doesn’t need to worry about this step. Two options: Pre-approved or Cash Approved™, what’s the difference? When buying a home there are two things to keep in mind: first, how to win the home, and second, how to pay for the home once it becomes yours. A mortgage is a financing instrument used to pay for a home. Unless someone has the cash to cover the entire purchase, they will need to apply for a home loan.There are two options to securing a home loan:Getting pre-approved for a traditional mortgage.Getting Cash Approved™ to make an all-cash offer that is backed by an Accept.inc mortgage. In the traditional mortgage process, a loan pre-approval happens upfront. The underwriter doesn’t start the process of review however, until the home has gone under contract. This can take up to 4 weeks to complete. With an Accept.inc all-cash offer, the underwriter reviews the file before the home goes under contract, which can be done in as little 72 hours. This can be done as soon as you are ready to apply for a home loan. Both a pre-approval and a Cash Approval™ will give you a way to finance the home. The difference is in the strength that each brings when presented as part of an offer.Before you can pay for the home, your offer needs to win With a Cash –Approval™, you are not only approved for a mortgage before you submit an offer on the home, but you receive an enormous additional benefit: you are also approved to submit an all-cash offer! Similar to how a 0% credit card works, Accept. Inc will front the cash for any borrower who they have approved for a mortgage at no additional cost. This enables you and your agent to shop and negotiate with the power of cash. In case you didn’t read our blog on why cash is becoming the new standard; cash offers have a 4X higher win rate on average nationwide. If you want an overview of just why cash offers are stronger, check out the post we wrote on Why Cash Offers are Quickly Becoming the New Normal. Remember: First you need to win the home. Then, you need to pay for the home.Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to securing financing Many people procrastinate on securing financing before house hunting. Perhaps because they are nervous of hearing bad news like they won’t qualify for the home they love... or any home. Perhaps it just seems too complicated or daunting. Shopping for a home without applying for a home loan is like shopping at the mall without your wallet. If you’re serious about making homeownership a reality, you will want to find out your purchasing power (how much of a loan or cash offer you are approved for) before going any further. With a traditional mortgage pre-approval, you still may not fully know your buying power after pre-approval. If you’re curious as to why, read our previous article on the risks offers with pre-approval letters face. If you apply for financing and are not approved, don’t fear. A good Loan Officer (or Approval Specialist if you choose Cash Approval™ from Accept.inc) should give you a roadmap, custom-tailored to your finances and timing to help you obtain the approval you need.Decide what is a comfortable monthly payment You will want to do the math on what your monthly mortgage payments will be, based on your down payment, before you begin looking for a home. While a lender may tell you that are approved for an even larger monthly amount, only you know what is truly comfortable and safe to maintain. Being able to afford the monthly payment is the #1 factor you are committing to when purchasing a house. A good rule of thumb is that your monthly payment should be approximately 30% of your monthly salary.Pro-tip: Don’t forget about these costs in addition to your principal when calculating total monthly payment:Don’t forget about maintenanceDon’t forget about interestDon’t forget about taxesDon’t forget about insuranceDon’t forget about Homeowners Association dues (HOA)Prepare for your prequalification call or application BEFORE you look for a home! Imagine this, you’re at an open house that you happened to drive by on a beautiful crisp Sunday morning as you were coming home from picking up bagels. You know your realtor said not to go to any of these without them, but it’s ok, you’re not going to stay. Just a harmless pop -through to pick up some information. As you walk through you notice that there are high ceilings, natural light, a split open floorplan. Hold on....you actually like this house! Once, then twice, you make your way through the house to the backyard. No way! A pool?! You do another lap of the home and ask the realtor for a price sheet. You’re surprised and delighted to see the price is only slightly above your budget! How can this be? In this neighborhood? The realtor tells you the owner is going through a messy divorce and wants to parachute out immediately. They tell you that if you’re interested, you should put in an offer today because they are reviewing a short list tonight. Two hours later, you and your wife are combing the house with her parents on FaceTime, taking pictures of the walk-in pantry and videos of the backyard. You’re in the three-car garage measuring how many feet the third bay is, when your realtor comes running in frantically waving her cell phone and sticking it in your hand. “Here, this is Mark, he’s a loan guy, tell him your social. He’s gonna ask you some questions so he can get us a pre-approval letter for the offer I’m writing up in my car-HERE, say hi,” and with that, she shoves her iPhone up to your ear. Like a zombie with a craving for open floor plans like brains, you jump right in. “Hello, Marcus?” you reply. “Heyyyy man, what’s up? Yeah, I'm good man, I’m good. This home has a three-car garage! Yeah, I got 15 minutes right now, sure!” Mark/ Marcus/ the loan guy/ the mortgage bank guy, what’s -his-face, proceeds to ask you all kinds of questions about your income, your debts and you ramble off a bunch of quick numbers. He says he has everything and just needs to speak with your wife. Next thing you know, she’s talking to Marco while you’re FaceTiming your mother-in-law, showing her the Koi pond. (..Friends, this is not the time nor place to try to and remember the interest rate on your student loan) Sadly, this is how many pre-approvals happen. On the fly, with a stranger, under and the pressure of a dopamine rush brought on by closet barn doors and subway tile backsplashes. Remember how your realtor wanted you to prequalify in your first meeting and you said you’d think about it? Well, here we are...Two things you can do to be proactive in your home loan application: First, find a lender you want to speak with by doing your own research or asking for referrals. Talk to other people (including your realtor, if you already have one) who have had positive experiences. A lender plays a critical role in your home purchase, just as much as your real estate agent. Remember, you are assembling a dream team. It is pivotal that your agent and lender communicate and work well together in case your transaction hits bumps in the roads (and undoubtedly it will.)Some things to keep in mind when choosing a lender:They are trustworthy, transparent and have a good reputationWill they help you win? This is a good time to weigh the benefits of an all-cash offerYour realtor has confidence in them and wants to work with themYou are comfortable talking with themThey are knowledgeable about interest rates, discount points and lending guidelinesThey are creative and strategic and don’t give up easily, they are skilled in the art of finding a solutionThey call you back in a timely manner and have flexible hours of operation –you can always get them on the phone when you need themCustomer service, customer service, customer service... Pro-Tip: Don’t wait until you’re in the middle of a conversation with a lender to figure out the answers to the following:Understand the difference between a pre-approval and a CashApproval™Understand that while there is convenience in filling out an online application, there are benefits to building a relationship with a loan officer and troubleshooting your approval through verbal conversation Understand that all answers you give will have to ultimately be verified by the underwriter with documents as evidenceHave copies of your tax returns and/or W2’s or 1099’s, pay stubs and bank accounts in front of you for easy referenceKnow the specific balances and interest rate of your credit cards and other debts- make a list if needed-this is not a time to wing it!Be prepared to have your credit report pulled. This will be a hard pull, but rest assured that pulling your credit report with multiple lenders to shop competitively for a home loan will not lower your FICO score dramatically.Be prepared to back up what you say in the call with paper proofMove forward with confidence, and don’t settle for less than either a pre-approval letter, a Cash–Approval™ letter or... a plan to get one At Accept.inc, we upgrade offers to cash, because we believe that anyone who can qualify for a mortgage deserves an equal chance at home ownership. We offer homebuyers who qualify for a mortgage the ability to make all-cash offers on a home at no extra cost. This gives sellers the speed and certainty they seek, while giving buyers the strongest chance of winning. In a competitive real estate market, nothing will push your offer to the top of a seller's list faster than offering cash. Because there are no additional costs to get Cash Approved™ and buyers are free to work with any real estate agent they choose, many say Cash-Approval could one day replace the traditional mortgage pre-approval letter. We know we’re a little biased, but whether you decide to go the traditional mortgage route of getting a pre-approval or a Cash Approval™ with Accept.inc, we still encourage you to find your financing first for that dream home.Time is of the essence in real estate. Do yourself a favor and find out your spending power from day one. Make it step one, not nine of your real estate search. The sooner you start, the faster you can get into your dream home.
Jennifer Shapiro | Mar 10, 2021
E.J. gets down on one knee to propose to Chelsea on the front porch of the new house they won with Accept.inc
Stories
A Front Porch: the Most Romantic Place on Earth
A year ago, Chelsea sat in an Ethiopian Jazz Club in LA and couldn’t dream of a more romantic Valentine’s Day. Her boyfriend, EJ, was sharing their love story with the audience at an open mic night, and she was bathing in the glow. This year, Chelsea and EJ are in Denver spending Valentine’s Day safe at home in their very own house. Neither one of them would have ever pictured themselves in Colorado as homeowners. However, a lot can change in one year. Chelsea and EJ’s story started in California, where the two world travelers met. Chelsea is originally from Colorado Springs and EJ is from Ohio. They met in the Venice neighborhood of Los Angeles through mutual friends a few days after Chelsea had moved to California. The two immediately became inseparable. Two years later, in 2020, Chelsea and EJ were enjoying the California dream, sharing their love for travel by globetrotting around the world and enjoying all that Southern California had to offer. Albeit a bit cramped, their “quaint” 650 square- foot California apartment allowed the Software Engineer and Wellness Product Manager to live the Venice lifestyle that they both loved. EJ loved surfing and Chelsea enjoyed bike riding and meditating by the water. As self-acclaimed foodies, they enjoyed eating out all over LA and discovering new culinary gems weekly. Sunset over Venice Beach, CA From time to time, they would discuss the idea of moving to Colorado as an ideal place to relocate for the long-term if they ever wanted to start a family. However, they were both hesitant to give up their California lifestyle. “It kind of just happened...there was just this moment we were ready to come here… we took a walk through Cheeseman Park and it just felt so much like home,”  In March of 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic swept across the world. Locked down and working from home, the two began to think differently about their future. Chelsea’s work had also been impacted, further causing the couple to look more intently at their short-term prospects. “When COVID hit, we took a step back to re-examine our priorities, and how we wanted to move forward in the next few years,” said Chelsea. Chelsea and EJ had always shared a love of travel but were unable to fly this year and explore as they always had. Both working remotely, driven by a combination of wanderlust and a desire to visit family, they hit the open road. The three-week road trip through Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado, took them back to see Chelsea’s family in Colorado Springs. The topic of moving back home to Colorado resurfaced and was once again met with an internal feeling of resistance in Chelsea. “I was not ready to leave California,” she said. During one trip to Denver, a walk in Cheeseman park on a fall afternoon with a group of friends suddenly shifted their mindset into a different place. “I can’ explain it, it kind of just happened. It just felt so much like home,” said EJ about the afternoon stroll. “I said, ‘does this just feel right?’ and we both looked at each other and just knew it did.” Even though a piece of their heart was still in California, they started to think about the opportunity to own a home and what it could mean for their lives. “I thought the sunset on the beach was hard to leave until I saw the sun set over the mountains,” EJ added. Then and there, they decided that they would move to Colorado sometime in the next year. EJ’s mother, a realtor back in Ohio, began doing the legwork of searching and calling up listings. In what can only be seen in hindsight as serendipity, EJ’s mother stumbled upon a listing from Denver agent Lori Abbey of The Lori Abbey Collection, The Compass Group. Lori immediately told EJ’s mother the listing was a fixer-upper flip at best, and Lori was convinced EJ and Chelsea could do much better. It was at this point that Lori stepped in to become the couple’s buyer agent in Denver. Chelsea and EJ told Lori they were not in a rush and wanted to find the perfect home and were ok if the process took up to a year. A few weeks into working together, Lori noticed the housing market was getting hotter and hotter by the minute as a result of the pandemic, which was causing unprecedented demand coupled with a shortage of supply, creating one of the tightest seller’s markets in Denver’s history. Finding and winning a home in Denver was becoming tougher for buyers by the day. The area and price point Chelsea and EJ wanted was incredibly popular. Lori recommended they become Cash-Approved™ with Accept.inc to compete with cash buyers in Denver’s uber- competitive housing market. “I have to be honest, my whole family works in real estate, so at first we were very skeptical, saying to each other ‘something’s gotta be up here,’ said EJ. “But we checked {Accept.inc} out and we realized this is brilliant…no one has ever thought of this before?! We get to find our dream home with cash in this super-competitive market?!”. “Babe, is this our house?”  For the next few months, the couple toured homes virtually from California, with Noah, a buyer’s agent on Lori’s team. “Noah was great! We must have toured over 30 homes with him on FaceTime,” said Chelsea. “He was really honest, which we appreciated since we couldn’t be there in person.” Chelsea and EJ had set a budget for their home, but once they started seeing homes at that price point, their budget slowly continued to increase. They had submitted a few offers but were losing, even with cash, because they were reluctant to go over budget and the market was so fiercely competitive. They felt discouraged. They started to question if they should delay their move. The next morning, EJ was in a meeting when he noticed a house (slightly over budget) that became active online. He quickly texted Chelsea the listing. Chelsea immediately replied: “Babe, is this our house???!” “We had the dream team…in less than 24 Hours, our whole world changed,” Within hours of the home being listed online that morning, it had 1,500 views and 39 showings scheduled for the upcoming weekend. Knowing this was the one, Chelsea and EJ contacted Lori who immediately sprang into action. This time the couple didn’t hesitate. They gave Lori the green light. Within a couple of hours Noah was showing them the home on FaceTime. “When Noah showed us this home, we noticed he didn’t have anything bad to say. After he finished touring it, he walked outside, smiled at us and immediately we said ‘Noah, we want to put in an offer'.” He said, ‘I know, this is your house.” For Chelsea and EJ, this home checked all the boxes of what they were looking for. It was even in the neighborhood they were targeting, the coveted Whittier/RINO area of Denver. Chelsea had lived in the Denver area throughout college. She decided that if she was ever to move back, the RINO neighborhood would be her dream destination. She loved the neighborhood for its diversity, artistic vibe, the people, the fashion, the dining; the mindset. “For me, it reminds me of a place like Venice and Venice is one of my favorite places in the world” said Chelsea. The House Armed with an Accept.inc Cash-Approved™ offer letter, Lori presented the offer to the listing agent within hours of Chelsea and EJ seeing it over FaceTime. Fortunately, Lori had done previous transactions with the listing agent, so the cash offer became even sweeter when coupled with the trust built between the agents. Lori also knew how smooth and easy the transaction would be for them if it was funded with an all-cash offer from Accept.inc, since she had closed dozens of transactions with Accept.inc over the past year. “Without the cash, I could not have done this,” explained Lori. “When you’re an agent and you’ve done business with another agent who you know can cooperate and problem-solve with you, that type of credibility and trust is 25% of making a deal work in a market like this, but having the cash was huge for them (the sellers). I convinced the listing agent that our Accept.inc offer coupled with the skills of an experienced agent would ultimately be simpler, faster and easier.” And just like that, within four hours of Lori hearing from Chelsea and EJ, Lori and the Accept.inc cash offer shut down the other thirty-nine showings setup for that weekend, securing the home. Ironically, the night before the home came active online, Chelsea and EJ had a long talk rethinking their move to Colorado and whether they should stay in California longer. “It’s crazy to think that just the night before we were starting to think we should push out our plans. And then next thing you know, this home gets listed on the market and Lori had submitted an offer and secured the home- all in a matter of hours. Because of the dream team of Lori and Accept.inc, our whole world changed in 24 hours,” said EJ. “When you look at a street all you see are houses, but when you see your house, you just see memories.”     Leading up to the closing day on the home, EJ had bought a ring and was brainstorming different proposal scenarios with Chelsea’s family, trying to figure out the right time and place to pop the big question. And then a week prior to the closing, EJ’s grandfather and best friend passed away from COVID. “The most romantic place in the world for my grandparents wasn’t a beach, it wasn’t France-it was their front porch. They would always sit on the swing of the front porch together and watch the cars go by,” EJ recalled. EJ and his family recalled these memories fondly after his grandfather’s passing and suddenly EJ knew there was only one place to pop the question. The most romantic place in the world for my grandparents wasn’t a beach, it wasn’t France-it was their front porch. By the time closing day arrived, EJ’s plan was set. He and Lori had a photographer waiting at the home when they arrived. They also called Chelsea’s family in Colorado Springs to drive up for the big event. Chelsea was totally unaware of EJ’s secret plan. She thought the photographer was there to take pictures of the home and the couple for social media. In her mind, this explained EJ’s nervousness. Lori took them on a final walk-through of the home. While she was taking them through the basement, Chelsea’s family hid around the side of the home with flowers and champagne. EJ led Chelsea out on the front porch, took her by the hand and said, “you know, we’ve been looking at all these houses. And when you drive down a street of homes, all you see are houses. Maybe you like this roof or that porch or this landscaping. But when you see your house, you don’t look at any of that stuff. You just see memories.” EJ then kneeled on bent knee and asked for Chelsea’s hand in marriage. Surprised and elated with a flood of emotion, Chelsea said yes to her true love on the porch of her dream home while her family cheered and rushed to surround them. It was the first of many joyful memories the engaged couple is now making in their dream home. “I love seeing what we can make of this place... we don’t want to sell it ever.”  Chelsea and EJ’s story is just starting and they can’t think of a better way to spend this Valentine’s Day than home together cooking. They are thrilled to feel like they can finally call a place of their own ‘home.’ The engaged couple is head over heels with each other, but…also, with their new house which is a bit of something old and something new. They are already feeling sentimental and nostalgic about its history and the memories they are making as they settle in their first month. “Now that we got engaged on the porch, we love the house so much, we don’t see ourselves ever selling it,” says Chelsea. The home is coming up on its 100th birthday in 2022 and the homeowners have decided they will throw a Roaring 20’s New Year’s Eve party to commemorate the centennial celebration. “I have to admit, the new construction homes have beautiful upgrades. But this home is different,” said Chelsea. “It will be 100 years old next year. We didn’t want to buy a brand-new house, we wanted something we could work on over time and put our own stamp on,” said Chelsea. The two are planning a wedding for the fall of 2022, two short years after that magical walk in Cheeseman Park. The couple was supposed to visit Italy at the beginning of 2020 since EJ is Italian with deep roots and family still living there. The trip had to be postponed due to the pandemic. They are now planning to honeymoon in Italy and Croatia where EJ’s late grandfather was from so they can pay homage to EJ’s family. “One million percent, we got the house because of Accept.” EJ & Chelsea Share their First Kiss as an Engaged Couple Chelsea and EJ are breathing a huge sigh of relief now that they have secured their dream home. They feel that with the all the unpredictable timing and circumstances, everything happened for a reason. In the short time since they have closed, Lori has seen the Denver market become even more competitive. She believes the couple got in just in time. “One million percent we couldn’t have gotten this house without Accept,” said EJ. “The sellers wanted a competitive bid and wanted to take the weekend to see how high of a price they could get. But we had the dream team. From our awesome Cash Transaction Specialist, Tori, to our rock star Approval Specialist, Maura. The whole team was amazing throughout this process and even post-closing. They’ve continued to answer all of our questions. Thanks to Accept.inc and Lori, we were able to take this house off the market just hours after it was listed,”. said EJ. “We’ve spoken with friends who are also looking for a home (without Accept.inc) and they are having a much different and very poor experience. In the last week alone, I’ve referred two friends to Accept.” said EJ. EJ & Chelsea's First Engagement Selfie It’s been a whirlwind year for these soon-to-be newlyweds and as they sit on the steps of their front porch in Denver, they can’t help but think how much home ownership is about to change this next chapter of their life together. Settled comfortably in their home, the couple is now looking forward to starting a family. “I didn’t realize the initiative of the founders of Accept.inc was to give everyday people like us a chance to compete with these bajillionaires in buying a home today-that's life-changing,” said EJ. “I really love that they’re giving people that opportunity.” The End
Jennifer Shapiro | Feb 16, 2021
A blue house with a yard and trees in Denver, Colorado that was bought with a cash offer from Accept.inc
Homebuying
How to Buy a Home - Step One: Are You Ready?
Are you Ready, Willing and Able to Buy a Home this Year? When people think of the American Dream, the first thing that comes to mind is home ownership. Owning a home of your own can be one of the most gratifying achievements in life and is a fundamental step to building long-term financial stability. It is, however, important to purchase only when you are ready, otherwise instead of you owning a home, you risk the burden of home that owns you! Unaffordable payments, maintenance and renovation costs can quickly bury a homeowner if they don’t take the time to calculate the steps and money needed before purchasing. How do you know if you’re ready? The time to figure that out is now, before you begin to pound the house-hunting pavement. Here are seven things to think about before you apply for financing or begin to house hunt: 1. Do you have enough money in the bank? A home purchase requires a lot of upfront cash, even with a traditional mortgage covering much of the sales price. First, you will want to have money set aside for a down payment. While mortgage lenders suggest a 20% down payment as the ideal starting point, a down payment on a home loan can be as little as 3%. Obviously, the lower your down payment is, the higher your monthly mortgage payment will be and vice versa. You will want to do the math on what your monthly mortgage payments will be based on your down payment before you begin looking for a home. Pro-Tip: A good rule of thumb to determine what you your monthly payment should be, is that it should be approximately 30% of your monthly salary. Fannie Mae’s guidance on this ratio is 31% and depending on your credit, certain lenders may go as high as 38%. Remember: your monthly payment should include taxes, insurance and maintenance fees like Homeowners Association (HOA) dues. It’s crucial that you are comfortable with the monthly payment on a home before committing to it. Being able to afford the monthly payment is the #1 factor you are committing to when purchasing a house. Homeowners have the choice to snooze on upgrades or renovation costs at their discretion, but a monthly mortgage payment isn’t optional. The same goes for homeowner association (HOA) fees, taxes and insurance. These non-negotiables must get paid every month without exceptions, or you could find yourself at risk of foreclosure. An equally important and overlooked step: make sure you have enough money in the bank after the home closes. It’s a good idea to have enough for a healthy emergency fund to cover six months of living expenses along with your monthly mortgage payment. 2. Are your mortgage qualifications strong? Make sure you meet the three C’s of mortgage qualification: credit, capacity to repay the loan and collateral Credit A borrower’s FICO or credit score plays an enormous factor in determining the interest rate a borrower will receive. Most lenders do have a minimum score for their program however, you probably want to make sure you are in the 700 club to take advantage of today’s uber competitive rates. Capacity The biggest factor that dictates the interest rate is what lenders call your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio or, in simpler terms, how much money you make in comparison to how much you owe. A good benchmark is Fannie Mae's guidance on debt-to-income ratio: a 31% housing ratio (the amount you pay monthly for your home) and 43% total debt ratio (the amount you pay monthly towards debts including housing monthly). These also are the federal cutoffs for the "Qualified Mortgage" rules that were written into the Dodd Frank Act. The general cutoff point for a majority of lenders is around 45%. Student loans are also considered as debt by lenders. Alimony can be counted as both income or debt depending on whether you are giving or receiving it. Collateral Just like any other loan, home loans have to be collateralized with an asset. In the case of a mortgage, the home itself is the collateral. One of the purposes of an appraisal is to determine if the value of the home is equal to or greater than the amount of the loan. Are your career and income in a stable place? Lenders look for employment or income history that is stable. While it is not a black and white requirement that you be at the same job for two years, the general rule of thumb is that lenders look for at least two years of documented income from the same line of work (W2’s, 1099’S and paystubs). Lenders also like to see some stability. They are, after all, trying to build a file of evidence that demonstrates you will have future earnings to pay back on the mortgage. Don’t necessarily fret if your employment history hasn’t been 100% consistent or your life circumstances have recently changed. There are many options for those who have good credit and strong income, despite some job insecurity or recent major life events like divorce or separation. Pro-tip: Organizing this documentation of employment/income by finding hard copies and scanning them into electronic format.is strongly recommended. Things are moving very fast in today’s real estate market, and having your paperwork ready to be shared at a moment’s notice with a lender before you submit an offer can make all the difference. Even if you are going with a cash offer service like Accept.inc with full upfront underwriting, it will still speed up your approval process to have your documents in order. If you decide to go the preapproval route, your offer will carry more weight if your real estate agent can attest that you have already submitted your proof of employment/income to the bank. Too often transactions fall apart because critical documentation was not received early enough, and by the time the underwriter (the person who gives final approval on the loan) receives the documents, it is too late. The process works differently when you are making a cash offer. If you choose a to get cash-approved™ with Accept.inc, then this step is taken care of during the underwriting process upfront meaning that you get to use proof of cash funds, instead of a pre-approval letter when you submit your offer. There is an art to building and crafting a paper trail for a mortgage file-particularly if your situation is not clear or straightforward. The sooner you can get your financial ducks in a row for your lender, the sooner you will know if you are ready to buy a home 3. Are you ready to settle down somewhere for the next several years? Now that you have determined you have enough money for a down payment, and your credit score is strong enough, you should ask yourself if you are emotionally ready for a home. Being financially ‘able’ is only part of the equation. As rule of the thumb goes: you must be ready, willing and able. So what does ‘willing’ mean? In real estate, ‘willing’ is no different than wanting. In addition to being financially able and ready to close the transaction quickly, sellers want to see that you are personally invested in the outcome of the home purchase. Simply put: sellers want to know your heart is in it to win it. 4. What are your emotional stakes in the game? What you don’t want is to purchase out of pressure or FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). Family or friends are telling you that the market is on fire, and you need to buy just because you can. It’s easy to feel an obligation to appease everyone. These are the wrong kinds of emotional signals. While purchasing a home in a competitive market will undoubtedly be stressful and scary at times, it should be driven by a longing and authentic desire for a deeper commitment to a place and to your own life goals. You should feel ready to put down roots. Purchasing a home can create a sense of stability that allows you to make longer-term plans for your life. You are no longer at the whims of rental market pricing. The idea of spending your weekends fixing up your home or beautifying your landscaping sound fulfilling and exciting. You've been watching way too much HGTV and find yourself wanting to walk through model homes just for weekend thrills- these all can be signals that you are wanting a place of your own. Most importantly: you’ve fallen in love with a neighborhood or at minimum, feel like you have found a place you feel comfortable in and feels like home. While you may not find the perfect house with this transaction, you should feel happy and at peace with the location you are buying in. Remember- as real estate guru Barbara Corcoran says: “you’re buying the area; the house is just along for the ride…” 5. Are you overpaying on rent and tired of having nothing to show for it? There are pros and cons to renting versus owning. Renting can offer residents the features and benefits of full amenities such as a pool, a gym or common areas without the headache or hassle that maintenance can often bring. Renting during times of uncertainty or life transition can be a safe way to take a time out without being tied to a mortgage. It can also be an expensive place to get stuck. Just like the housing market, rental prices are driven by supply and demand, with renters now making up 34% of the general population. At the same time, rent has increased by more than 36% in the last decade according to a recent study by RentCafe. While there are minimal commitments tied to rent, there is also no progress made towards a larger goal of financial stability. Instead of building equity in your residence, you are putting money in a landlord’s pocket. You are also saving yourself the headache and hassle of maintenance. In the final analysis, your biggest way to measure whether it is better to rent or take a mortgage is to compare both monthly payments (don’t forget to include maintenance and taxes) side-by-side and compare them to your life goals. 6. Are you ready to close on a home in the next month? 2021 is already proving to be a hypercompetitive market due to a combination of record- low supply, record- low interest rates and unprecedented demand from the pandemic, all resulting in one of the most aggressive seller’s markets in history. Given these factors, sellers are being pickier than ever. Offers backed by a traditional mortgage pre-approval are lagging behind in the race against cash offers to win in bidding wars. If you’re going to get a home loan it is imperative that your mortgage officer, loan processor, and underwriter move as quickly as possible in removing your financing contingency. According to a recent CNBC report, 36% of real estate purchases are cash transactions. This means that sellers have their pick of their litter and aren’t going to wait around. One way of removing financial contingencies is to work with a lender who can upgrade your offer to a cash offer like Accept.inc. Are you ready to begin paying on a home as early as 30 days from now? Are you ready to move? Timing is everything in real estate but in a hot market like this one it can make or break the deal. If your time box is more than 30 days, you might want to ask yourself if you are ready to buy in such a hot market. There should be more reward than risk Buying a home doesn’t have to be a gamble when you’re conservative and in it for the long game. Calculate how much is needed for renovation. Don’t count your pennies when it comes to making a profit in the short-term. If you're purchasing to with the intentions of flipping the home and turning a quick profit, you might want to wait. 7. The Time to Become Ready, Willing and Able is Now –Before you Start House Hunting While house hunting on Zillow and cruising open houses have become fun cultural phenomena, we are currently in a market that is not for the faint of heart when it comes to purchase preparation. In a seller’s market with little or no inventory, being ready, willing and able on day one of your home search is no longer an option- it's a prerequisite to winning a home in 2021. A home is one of the biggest purchases you will make in your life. It can be a gamechanger for your trajectory and bring years of joy and countless memories. But before anyone sells you a house, or you even to begin to house hunt, it’s important that you have sold yourself on why you are ready to purchase a home. We promise that if you do, it will make closing day that much sweeter.
Jennifer Shapiro | Feb 16, 2021