Pre-Qualify Before You Buy: All You Need to Know

Andy Preston

 

Getting ready to purchase a house is an exciting and nerve-wracking journey. With so many steps on the road to becoming a homeowner, we know it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. There is one step you can take that will get you closer to owning a home. As a bonus, it helps you sort out your budget and boost your chances of sellers accepting your offer. The answer to some of your house hunting worries is pre-qualification for a mortgage.

Most real estate buyers have heard that they need to pre-qualify or be pre- approved for a mortgage if they’re looking to buy a property. These are two key steps in the mortgage application process. Some people use the terms interchangeably, but there are important differences that every homebuyer should understand.

Pre-qualifying is just the first step. It gives you an idea of how large a loan you’ll likely qualify for. Pre-approval is the second step, a conditional commitment to actually grant you the mortgage.

Getting pre-qualified involves supplying a bank or lender with your overall financial picture, including debt, income, and assets. The lender reviews everything and gives an estimate of how much the borrower can expect to receive. Pre-qualification can be done over the phone or online, and there’s usually no cost involved.

Pre-qualification is quick, and should usually taking just one to three days to get a pre-qualification letter. Keep in mind that loan pre-qualification does not include an analysis of your credit status (no credit bureaus and thus no such 3rd party reports in the Bahamas.  They are in the long past due process of being finalized) or an in-depth look at the borrower’s ability to purchase a home.

The initial pre-qualification step allows for the discussions of any goals or needs regarding a mortgage. The lender will explain various mortgage options and recommend the type that might be best suited.

Getting bond prequalification: What are the benefits?

  1. You’ll know what you can realistically afford, so you can start house hunting with the right price bracket in mind.
  2. You’ll know your credit score.Banks in the Bahamas have internal credit rating scores.  In the United States, ideally your credit score should be above 600 in order to have your home loan application approved by the bank (670+ is considered an good credit score for this purpose). If you have a low credit score, you should look at ways to improve it, such as by paying your accounts in full and on time, clearing your credit card debt, and closing accounts once you’ve paid the balance owed.
  3. As a qualified buyer, you make your offer to the seller that much strongerby demonstrating that you have done your homework on how much you can afford to pay.

You may think that getting pre-qualification adds another item on your house hunting to-do list. However, getting mortgage pre-qualified makes buying a house less stressful in the long run. By getting pre-qualified, you can:

  1. Know your budget: With pre-qualification, you can narrow down your pool of potential homes. Build your budget based on what a lender is willing to provide. You’ll have an upper limit that helps you avoid looking at top-dollar homes that aren’t within your budget.
  2. Surpass other potential buyers: Having your pre-qualification in hand gives you an advantage over other possible buyers. It shows that you are ready and willing to purchase a home. Your competition may not have their pre-qualifications ready, so if you do, you’ll be more attractive to sellers than other buyers who aren’t as prepared.
  3. Make your offer more attractive: When you find your dream home and put in an offer, you want agents and sellers to pick you without hesitation. Mortgage pre-qualification helps put a seller’s mind at ease. Make them more likely to accept your offer with a simple step.
  4. Save time: Pre-qualification allows you to finalize your mortgage more swiftly after you’ve found the home of your dreams. There’s no need to fill out paperwork and wait for lenders to process it when you’re eager to get settled in your new house. Take care of everything beforehand so you have one less task to worry about as you buy a home.
  5. Solve any problems: As you obtain your pre-qualification, you may come across errors made by your Bahamas bank or in the USA, in your credit report or other documentation. Discovering these issues before purchasing a home will save you time and hassle.
  6. Plan other expenses: Having a price range to play in helps you map out additional costs that come with a home. Be sure to incorporate these into your budget so that you do not risk going over what the lender can provide. Calculate your current expenses in the mix, as well, for accurate numbers.

 

Mortgage pre-qualification says a lot to agents and sellers. Acquiring it can be a great tool to keep in your back pocket when negotiating pricing, competing with other potential buyers, or submitting an offer on your dream home. Such an impressive part of your application may seem like it would be difficult to acquire, but many processes for pre-qualification are more straightforward than you might expect.

How To Decorate Your Home With Interior Design…

Moving into a new home can be one of life’s great joys, but it can also be a time of uncertainty, especially when it comes to decorating. How do you make your space look its best while reflecting your personal sense of style? Do it well and you’ll end up with a comfortable, happy home. Do it poorly and you’ll end up with a hodge-podge of furniture, fabrics and paint colors that never congeal into a pleasing whole. With a little planning, and by following the same steps used by professional interior designers, you’ll have a much greater chance of success.  

 

Don’t Start in the Furniture Store

Many have heard the advice to avoid shopping when hungry, because it leads to poor choices. The same holds true for furniture stores – don’t go shopping in a panic, just because you have an empty home. Yes, you need a sofa. But if you pick the pink-striped sectional just because you like it in the store, without taking measurements or thinking about the rest of the room, you’re stuck with it. The rest of the room will have to be built around that sofa, and if it’s too large for the space it will look forever awkward. 

Start in the room you’re looking to furnish, armed with a measuring tape and a notepad. 

 

Determine Your Style

How do you want a space to feel? Here’s a trick to help you hone in on your style: take a look at your closet. Do you prefer tailored pieces or do you prefer looser and more comfortable items? Do you gravitate toward certain colors or patterns? Another way to help you determine your style is to think of key words that define how you want a space to feel. Traditional, formal, elegant? Playful, humorous, inviting? Monochromatic, streamlined, modern?

 

Know Your Measurements

Matching the scale of furniture to the scale of a room is critical. A deep sectional sofa can easily overpower a small room and svelte chairs can get lost in a wide-open loft. Before you start designing, measure the length and width of each room you intend to decorate, along with the ceiling height and elements that could get in the way – stairs, columns, radiators and other obstructions. It’s also a good idea to measure window openings, along with the wall space below, above and to the sides of each one, to get ready for window coverings. 

 

Decide How You Want to Live

This is the tricky part, and there are no right or wrong answers. Rooms can be traditional or modern, formal or relaxed, and visually warm or cool. “To the best of your ability, you have to try to discern how you would like to live in a given space,” said an advisor. “What will you be doing? How many people live there? Are there children? What are your ambitions for how you would like to live?” 

The decoration of a home for someone who regularly hosts large dinner parties, for instance, should be different from a home for someone who eats out at restaurants every night. The person who plans to host lavish fundraisers should have a different living room than the person who dreams only of crashing in front of the TV. 

 

Sample Your Paint

Paint selection is one of the most important and cost-effective decisions you can make. Proper paint choices harmoniously connect spaces. Consider the house as a whole. You risk creating disjointed rooms if you paint one room at time. Take into account how colors affect our mood. Some colors make people feel happy, calm or even agitated.

Sample actual paint colors on your walls when looking at options. Observe them in natural light, morning light and at night. Often a go-to color that worked well for one project will not work for another. What might work at your friend’s home might not work at your home. The chips at the paint store are a helpful starting point, but what looks good on paper might not translate into your interior. With white paints, try a handful of different hues on the wall and pay special attention to the undertones. They can have touches of pinks, blues or yellows. The outside surroundings strongly affect the temperature of the light. The vegetation and the sky can create reflections of greens and blues on your interior walls.

Design can be overwhelming. People often want to know where exactly to start. For any room, I usually suggest that you begin from the ground up: Decide on the floor covering. It doesn’t matter if you want or have hardwood floors, area rugs, tile, stone or wall-to-wall carpeting. Thinking about your floor first will dictate how other pieces are layered in the space. If you select a neutral tone or natural fiber without a lot of pattern or color, you have more options with colors or upholstery. If you start with an antique rug, you can draw colors from the rug to formulate a color palette. It is important to plan these things in tandem, otherwise you end up with the circus effect: too many things going on without the space as a whole functioning in unison. Starting with a sofa or upholstered chairs limits your style immediately. There is more flexibility with something like an area rug with dozens or even hundreds of possibilities. This is where you have options and can then start to layer pieces. It is a much easier approach to make your final floor covering decision first, and then layer.

Go back to your original inspirational images and study the way those rooms are accessorized. Do they mix candles, boxes, bowls and books together, or is there just one vase on a table? Is there a single artwork above the sofa, or a freeform gallery wall? 

Be sure to consider your functional needs. A tray on an ottoman can contain remote controls. Throw pillows provide extra back support for deep sofas and chairs. A magazine rack can keep reading materials out of the way. Attractive baskets are ideal for tidying up children’s toys in a hurry. 

These are but a few tips.  To contract a professional service for home decorating, contact us at Treasure Real Estate at:

info@treasurerealestate.net 

242 677 0897 

We can connect you with a preferred designer. 

 

 

 

How to Measure the Quality of a Good and Safe Neighbourhood

 

Neighborhoods play an important role in home safety and personal happiness. If you live in a safe neighbourhood, you’re more likely to enjoy spending time outside gardening or watching your kids play. If your neighborhood is unsafe, you’re likely to keep your doors and windows shut at all times. But it’s not always easy to know if your neighborhood is safe or dangerous. 

 

Community Events

Neighborhoods that host community events like block parties and farmers’ markets tend to be closer. These types of events are a great way to bring families together and encourage people who live in the same area to get to know each other better. It’s also a great way to see what people in the neighborhood are up to: some might be selling flowers or produce from their garden, while others might be into wood carving or furniture restoration. This is a great way to see what the people around you are all about.

 

Great Schools

For homeowners and renters with children, great schools top the list of what makes a great neighborhood. Not only are great schools important for families with children, but they also make the surrounding neighborhoods more valuable and more sought after, keeping property values strong.

 

Thriving Local Businesses

Businesses prosper when people shop. If you notice a variety of shops around your neighborhood, like family-friendly restaurants, bookstores, and coffee shops, it could be a good sign. When people are financially secure, they’re more likely to spend money beyond the necessities and splurge from time to time on going out. it’s worth noticing the types of businesses in your area and the people who frequent them.

 

Kids Playing Outside

There’s comfort in the sound of kids playing. And it’s also a good sign that you’re in a good neighborhood. Parents are more willing to let their kids play outdoors if they feel the area is safe from potential danger. When you’re scoping out the area, look around for kids biking down the street, playing ball, and laughing with friends.

 

Neighborhood Watch Groups

Safe neighborhoods are a sign that people care about their community and are interested in keeping it crime-free. One good way to gauge the area’s safety is with neighborhood watch groups. These are usually groups of people in the neighborhood or community who take it upon themselves to report suspicious behavior and keep an eye on who’s coming in and out of the area.

 

Low Crime Rate

Crime rates are often great indicators of neighborhood safety. But it’s not always easy to spot crime. Luckily, there are crime-spotting tools that give you an idea of what’s going on in your area. You can also check out the city’s website for police-community engagement activities, such as courses on how to prevent crime.

 

As an extra safety measure, you can also contact your local police station for specific neighborhood information. And if you’re planning on moving to a new city, check out resources like the Bahamas’ safest cities to see if your city made the list.

Your quality of life can depend on your neighborhood. If you feel your neighborhood is not as safe as you thought, there are actions you can take, like joining or starting a Neighborhood Watch, to make it safer. If your neighborhood is safe, you can keep it that way by taking part in community programs or starting new initiatives that can benefit your neighborhood and town.

 

Landscaping to Increase Your Home’s Value.

Watch enough HGTV and there’s one phrase you’re bound to hear over and over again: curb appeal.

It’s a term the real estate world uses to describe how attractive a home is when seen from the street. The stronger the curb appeal, the stronger your bargaining position with potential buyers. And one way to increase curb appeal is through landscaping.

Does landscaping add value to homes? A lot of experts say yes.

When you think of the word “Landscape” what comes to your mind? Flowers, trees, palms, shrubs, lots of grass, a mower or weed eater?

Landscaping can add tens of thousands of dollars to the value of your property. In fact, it is one of the few home improvements you can make that not only adds value immediately but also increases in value as the years go by. While interior decor and design concepts regularly go out of style and mechanical systems wear down, plants grow fuller and more robust as the years go by.

A well-landscaped home has a significant price advantage over a home with no landscaping. This advantage ranges from 5.5 percent to 12.7 percent depending on the type of landscaping and the home’s original value. That translates into an extra $16,500 to $38,100 in value on a $300,000 home. There’s more to landscaping than sticking some flowers and a couple of shrubs in the ground, however. The number-one thing that buyers are looking for in landscaping is a manicured design. Close behind is plant size and maturity. A lesser factor, but one still worth considering, is the diversity of plant life within the landscaping design.

As a young person, what should I know about purchasing a home before 30?

Here are some pluses, minuses, and things to consider before investing in a house.

Downsides to Buying a House

  • Buying means staying put. When you rent, you probably won’t sign a lease lasting longer than a year, which gives you flexibility to move. But when buying a house, you should plan on staying put for at least three to five years. If the real estate market drops, it could take longer than that for the value of your home to recover. You might feel stuck, waiting until you can avoid a loss upon selling.
  • Buying means having less free time. Most buyers spend more time maintaining and improving their homes than they did with their rentals. There’s no landlord to call when the toilet leaks! You’ll either have to do such things yourself, or hire repairpersons or contractors. Also, keeping track of things like when to change the heating filter or get a regular termite inspection can pose a challenge if you’ve never had to think about this stuff.
  • Homeownership costs go beyond the mortgage payment. Don’t compare the cost of buying to renting by looking at mortgage payments versus rental prices. Buying involves additional costs, including homeowner’s insurance, property tax and maintenance and repairs. All of these can add significantly to the expense of owning.

Upsides to Buying a House

    • Homeowners can personalize and customize their space. You’ll have no rental agreement that prohibits you from tearing out a wall, changing the bathroom tiles, or getting a dog, cat, or a monkey. There’s little motivation to make improvements in a rental, where you’ll only be benefiting the landlord, if the landlord consents to them in the first place.
    • Increased property value is all yours. Over time, the value of homes tends to increase (though it can take years, and sometimes with alarming downturns in between). When you sell, any return on your investment is yours, not your landlord’s, to keep.
    • Eventually, you won’t have a monthly payment. One of the biggest benefits of buying real estate is that unlike with renting, where you’ll be writing a check every month forever, you can eventually pay off your mortgage. Or, you’ll be able to use the equity to buy your next house, and eventually pay that one off.
  • You’re allowed certain tax benefits. First time homeowner’s exemption from paying property tax to certain levels; duty free importation of materials in the event of hurricane damage. 

Who Really Isn’t Ready to Buy a Home

Buying isn’t for everyone, and might not be for you at this stage in your life. That’s okay. It’s especially important to choose your next move carefully if you’re uncertain where your life is headed. It doesn’t make much sense to buy if:

  • You plan to return to school or take any sort of sabbatical. Unless you’re sure you’re going to stay put and can afford the mortgage payment, or you know you can rent the house out for enough to cover its costs, now probably isn’t the right time to buy.
  • The size of your household might grow. It’s hard to predict the future, but if you can’t afford to buy a home that will accommodate your new dog, new significant other, or new baby, and any of these is a distinct possibility in the next few years, waiting might be better (unless prices are rising crazily where you want to live).
  • You want freedom from the responsibilities of owning. Now might be a time for you to explore, travel, or take on a new hobby. Owning a home tends to limit one’s flexibility. And selling a house, or even renting one out, also takes time. Home maintenance, repair, and improvement can be an added drain on your time and finances.
  • You can’t afford to buy where you want to live. Keep your mind open, but don’t buy in a neighborhood just because you can afford it. You’ll be miserable if you’re a true urban dweller stuck in suburbia, for example.
  • You really can’t afford a home at all. This sounds obvious, but not all prospective homebuyers have a handle on whether they’ve saved enough for a down payment, closing costs etc and have a good enough credit score and history, to allow them to get a loan for the house they want.

 

Of course, by paying attention to these factors, you might put yourself in a better position to buy in the future.

 

How to Choose an Architect…

 

Choosing the right architect to build your dream home isn’t all too different from choosing a life partner; you will spend a lot of time (and money) with one another, together you’ll experience moments of excitement and moments of frustration, and your opinions will differ but ultimately together you will create something you will feel proud of. All kidding aside, you should be aware that the relationship between an architect and client is critical to the successful design and construction of your dream home. Below we’ve indicated some key considerations on how to choose a good architect to bring your dream home to reality.

 

DETERMINE WHAT SERVICES YOU NEED FROM THE ARCHITECT

Perhaps you’re looking for an architect that can provide numerous design services; perhaps you are seeking a complete package which includes: permit and construction drawings, interior design, furniture selection, landscape master planning, etc. An architect or architectural firm that specializes in a multi-disciplinary approach will allow for a seamless transition between each scale of design, ultimately creating a cohesive end product.

 

RESEARCH THE ARCHITECT’S SPECIALIZATION

The architectural profession covers a broad range of building types. Perhaps you’ve mentioned that you intend on building a custom home only to have a friend suggest “Oh I know an architect; I’ll connect you two.” While all architects are “qualified” to design residential buildings, most will have a specialization with which they are most experienced. Schools, hospitals, or warehouses, for example, must satisfy a different set of requirements and go through a different permitting process than a custom home. Further, architects specializing in larger building types may be less interested in taking on residential work. How to choose a good architect for your home build? Hire an architect that has substantial experience in residential design to ensure that they are familiar with the building and construction type, and how to navigate the required municipal processes.

 

REVIEW THE ARCHITECT’S PORTFOLIO

If you’re interested in building a custom home, you’ve likely spent a fair amount of time driving around your neighbourhood, browsing images of homes, or researching how to choose a good architect. By now, you can hopefully identify a style that you gravitate towards. While architects specializing in residential design can satisfy a range of styles, most will have an aesthetic that they feel strongly about. For example, most architects have a team of people passionate about modern design, though they don’t shy away from working with clients that prefer a more traditional approach. Browse the architect’s website and ensure that their aesthetic is aligned with yours. Additionally, look for projects on similar building sites to your property, whether it be a tight urban lot, a suburban infill, or a sprawling country property.

 

REQUEST REFERENCES

A flashy website makes a great first impression, but references and testimonials will give you a more accurate indication of what it’s like working with that particular architect. They are a firsthand account from those who have had positive or negative experiences working with the architect and their team. If they’re not readily available online, ask the architect to connect you with a previous client or two.

 

CONCLUSION

Working with an architect on the design and build of your dream home is an exciting process. Go into the process well-researched both on what you hope to get out of the experience, and what your expectations are of the architect. Ask plenty of questions, and make sure that your architect is doing the same. Set clear lines of communication and be patient with one another, as the process is long but always worthwhile.

What Represents an ‘Over-Investment’ in Real Estate

Investing in real estate involves risks and rewards – and usually the higher the risk, the greater the potential for significant gains and losses of invested equity.

 

Investing in real estate involves risks and rewards – and usually the higher the risk, the greater the potential for significant gains and losses of invested equity. Intuitively, we understand that it’s necessary to take more investment risk in order to achieve higher returns. But how much is appropriate? And how can you quantify investment risk to figure out if it’s a chance you want to take? How do you know if your investment is an over investment?

 

  1. Before buying, scope out an area and determine if it’s the kind of community you wish to live in. Take note of the manner in which yards are kept; kind and condition of homes and cars are in; amenities in place and condition – pools, tennis courts, etc.

 

The area will give you an indication as to the residence, how the uphold the neighbourhood and what to expect once you buy, move in or rent out your property.

 

  1. Research the demographics of residents in the community especially the kind of work they do, professionals or not. Income levels currently and future potential are important because they will indicate the ability of residents to maintain their homes and upkeep the community.

 

Ensuring that your investment is not an over investment relies largely on the location and community your property resides in. Is it an community with frequent break ins? Do the neighbours take pride in their homes? Whether you like it or not, these factors contribute to the overall perception of your neighbourhood and directly impacts the value of your investment.

 

  1. Find out the average value of a home in the community.  This is important for purposes of capital appreciation and investment recovery.  Eg. if the average home is a 3 bed 2 bath home and costs or is valued at $300,000 you do NOT want to build or buy a home that is 10 bedrooms 10 bathrooms for $1 million.  This represents an over investment.  When it is time to sell, it is unlikely that you will be able to recover your investment of $1 million.  In all likelihood you will realize a loss on your investment.

 

Be practical and consistent with what you buy or build in your community of choice.

 

Often, property investors don’t realize how important it is to take these factors into account, so they don’t end up in over- investment. Investors should ask about how much is used to capitalize an asset, and ensure they are receiving a return commensurate with the risk.

 

Ultimately, real estate investors should inquire about these risks and receive straight answers to be more confident in their investing decisions. Be aware of any investment opportunities that don’t make all risks involved crystal clear.

How to Hire a Contractor

Choosing the right contractor not only means your finished building will be everything you want it to be; it also means the process itself will go smoothly and in a timely fashion. It’s simply not worth it to hire a contractor who will not deliver what you want with a minimum of hassle. You want someone with whom you can really work and communicate. These guidelines will help you choose a professional contractor and ensure a good working relationship.

Assemble a list of contractors who either by word of mouth or the Internet, suit the project and make a quick call to each of your prospects and go through these questions to ask a contractor:

  • Do they take on projects of your size?
  • Are they willing to provide financial references, from suppliers or banks?
  • Can they give you a list of previous clients?
  • How many other projects would they have going at the same time?
  • How long have they worked with their subcontractors?

The answers to these questions will reveal the company’s availability, reliability, how much attention they’ll be able to give your project and how smoothly the work will go.

Meet them in person

Based on phone interviews, pick three or four contractors to meet for estimates and further discussion. A contractor should be able to answer your questions satisfactorily and in a manner that puts you at ease. It’s crucial that you two communicate well because this person will be in your home for hours at a time. On the other hand, don’t let personality fool you. Check in with your consumer protection agency and your local Better Business Bureau before you hire a contractor to make sure they don’t have a history of disputes with clients or subcontractors.

Trust your gut feeling

A contractor could be in your home and around your family for days, weeks, or even months while changing the way your house looks and functions. So if you don’t like a contractor for any reason, don’t hire him or her.

The biggest thing is choosing the right contractor. If somebody says something that’s even an embellishment, it’s enough of a reason not to trust him and move on to the next contractor. You have to trust the contractor 100 percent, not 95 percent.

Ask for samples of their work and references

This lets you see a contractor’s handiwork and may spark ideas for your project. “Samples are more important than references,” Peterson says. “They allow you to see the quality of our work. You can see the designs we came up with and how creative we are.”

Looking at a contractor’s past projects also lets you see the variety of work the company has performed, such as contemporary, Craftsman, or historic designs.

Don’t forget to ask for references.

A top construction contractor should be able to provide a solid list of references, and yes, you should follow up with them.

Happy Customer, Happier Moments

We Love a Happy Customer!!!

There is nothing we love more than a happy customer so we thought we’d share with you what Christa and Brad Wolansky had to say about Treasure.

“Especially as the new year has begun, this is truly motivating for us as an agency and to reiterate the words said here, we are committed to providing you with excellence. Your needs are a priority for us. Here is what our customers had to say:

Very hard to find a more motivated, energetic and detail-oriented buyer’s-or-seller’s agent in the Bahamas than Matthew Mitchell. Our project included an existing home purchase as well as the new construction of an airport building. Matthew jumped right into both of these complex situations with both feet and took it to be his personal mission to navigate the maze of “da Bahamas” to get what looked like the impossible done. We literally could not have been successful without him.

A word about motivation and energy: You won’t find anyone to top Matthew’s stick-to-it-ness and communication skills. Not a day went by (including holidays/weekends) where Matthew didn’t keep us apprised of progress and was there for our Family Island site visit(s) and tours. The time he put in was over the top. Plus, Matthew constantly did “more” – beyond the mere scope of a home acquisition and certainly not required – to help us learn about the Bahamas and work through the learning curve.

Choose your agent carefully. Any Bahamas real estate firm can provide listings. But only Matthew and Cheryl Mitchell’s Treasure Real Estate provides the real win via added value, tremendous ability to get it done, and Bahamas knowledge. You will be glad you chose to work with them.

If you wish to communicate with my wife and I about our recommendation of Matthew & Cheryl Mitchell and Treasure Real Estate, please free to do so and ask them to put you in touch with us and they will be happy to do so.”

Christa & Brad Wolansky

Massachusetts, USA and Fernandez Bay, Cat Island, Bahamas

And there you have it. To see more of our properties or to get in touch with us, click on the button below and visit our website.