Phil Gibson - BEACH PLACE ONE REAL ESTATE | Indian Shores, FL Real Estate


Buying a home should be a fun, exciting experience, one that ends with you moving into your dream residence. However, problems sometimes can arise that prevent you from accomplishing your ultimate goal.

No homebuyer should be left in the dark, especially when it comes to navigating a competitive real estate market. Lucky for you, we're here to help you kick off your homebuying journey on the right foot.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you launch a successful homebuying journey.

1. Know Your Homebuying Budget

You know that you'd like to buy a house, but how much can you afford to pay for a residence? With a homebuying budget in place, you can determine exactly what you can afford.

Getting pre-approved for a mortgage enables you to enter the real estate market with a budget in hand. Many credit unions and banks are available nationwide, and each lender is happy to provide details about a wide range of mortgage options. That way, you can select a mortgage that matches your finances perfectly.

Also, don't forget to consider the costs of utilities when you budget for a home. And if you need to commute to work or school, you may want to consider your transportation expenses as well.

2. Examine the Housing Market

The housing market usually features a large collection of high-quality houses. Take a look at some of the houses that are currently available, and you can better plan for your homebuying journey.

For example, if there is an abundance of homes available in a city or town where you'd like to live, now may prove to be the ideal time to enter the real estate market. The sheer volume of residences indicates a buyer's market may be in place, so you might be able to boost your chances of acquiring an exceptional house at a budget-friendly price.

On the other hand, if homes are selling quickly in a particular area, it likely means a seller's market is in place. As such, you will need to be aggressive if you want to secure your dream residence at an affordable price.

3. Consult with a Real Estate Agent

The homebuying journey can be daunting, particularly for those who are interested in purchasing a house for the first time. Fortunately, a real estate agent can help you seamlessly navigate the homebuying journey.

A real estate agent possesses comprehensive housing market experience. He or she can share real estate insights with you to ensure you can purchase a great house that meets or exceeds your expectations.

Furthermore, a real estate agent will keep you up to date about new properties, set up home showings and negotiate with home sellers on your behalf. And if you ever have concerns or questions, a real estate agent can respond to them immediately.

Ready to make your homeownership dreams come true? Use the aforementioned tips, and you can enter the real estate market as an informed homebuyer.


If you're planning to purchase a home in the near future, one thing's for sure: You've got your work cut out for you! However, when you finally find the house of your dreams, the time and effort will be more than worth it!

Your to-do list will include calculating how much you can afford to spend on a house, obtaining a pre-qualification letter from a mortgage lender, and eventually comparing loan estimates.

One of the first things home buyers usually need to do before getting too caught up in their real estate search is to check their credit score. Your credit report, which is basically a detailed profile of your credit history, plays a major role in your ability to get approved for a mortgage and obtain favorable interest rates. Consumers are entitled to get a free copy of their credit report once a year from the three major credit reporting companies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

Before applying for a mortgage, it's highly recommended that you check the accuracy of your credit report. If it contains mistakes, inaccuracies, or obsolete information, that could affect your ability to get a mortgage -- or obtain favorable interest rates and terms. Fortunately, errors can be disputed and corrected by the appropriate credit reporting company.

The Impact of Your Credit Score

The most widely used scoring system to determine a borrower's ability (and willingness) to stay current on loan payments is called a "FICO score." Depending on your credit history and bill paying habits, your FICO score can range from a low of 300 to a high of 850. If you're wondering how your FICO score stacks up against other homebuyers and consumers in the U.S., the median FICO score was recently in the neighborhood of 721 (although that number fluctuates). That means 50% of borrowers are above that score and 50% fall below that mark.

According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the best mortgage interest rates are generally offered to borrowers who have earned FICO scores in the mid- to high 700s. If your credit score falls between the high 600s and the low 700s, the interest rates available to you may be somewhat higher.

Those who are saddled with a credit rating below the mid 600s may have difficulty getting approved for a mortgage. If you're in that situation, your real estate agent or loan officer may suggest applying for an FHA loan rather that a conventional loan. Although FHA loans can be more expensive, the standards for getting approved are more lenient. These government regulated and insured loans also allow for a more affordable down payment of as little as 3.5 percent, as oppose to the "typical" down payment of between 10 and 15 percent.


As you may have noticed, your family's grocery bill accounts for a big chunk of your monthly household budget. Fortunately, there are many ways to prevent your food bill from spiraling out of control! Some money-saving strategies are obvious, such as using discount coupons and not shopping when you're hungry, while others are not as widely known.

If you habitually buy more expensive name-brand products without having a specific reason for doing so, it might pay to experiment with generic or store-brand grocery items. When you compare the prices, the savings can really add up! In some cases, there is a noticeable difference in quality, but in countless other instances, the store-brand products are on par with the well-known name brands.

One question to ask yourself is this: "Why pay substantially more for name-brand products when all you're really doing is helping huge corporations pay for their immense advertising budgets?" Your challenge -- and this can be worth the effort -- is to determine which store-brand products are comparable in quality and which ones are not worth the savings. In many cases, the difference in quality is negligible (or non existent), but the total savings from comparing prices can easily add up to $5 or $10 per shopping trip -- and who amongst us would voluntarily throw away a ten-dollar bill every time we went grocery shopping!

It's also interesting to note that many supermarkets tend to stock their more expensive products at eye level. By shifting your glance to the higher or lower shelves at the store, you can often spot money-saving bargains that would have otherwise escaped your notice. While you're at it, it also pays to check out the expiration date on products so you don't end up wasting money on items that have been sitting around for a while. A big frustration that we've all experienced is getting home and realizing that a perishable item we picked up at the grocery store expires tomorrow -- or even worse, yesterday!

Here's a money-saving tip that not everybody thinks of: If an advertised sale item has been sold out, you can often get a "rain check" issued to you, which will entitle you to the discount price -- even after the sale is officially over. You may have to get it from the customer service desk or a manager, but if you're determined to be a savvy grocery shopper, it's worth the extra few minutes.

One of the easiest, most automatic ways to save money at the food store is to join your supermarket's "loyalty program". It goes by different names at different places, but once you sign up, the discounts, coupons, and special offers keep coming your way! Taking a few minutes to glance over your grocery store's weekly newspaper insert can also point you in the direction of worthwhile savings opportunities.


It's easy to dream about the ideal house, harder to describe that home to a realtor. But, you've got to know the details that make up your dream home if you expect to find that perfect place. Identifying the details of your dream home may take a bit of work, but you don't have to do it alone. If you have a partner and children, definitely get their input. Work to ensure that everyone who's going to live in the house gets amenities and style elements that they want. Also, factor in your favorite colors, textures and personal aspirations when thinking about your dream home, including where the house is located. If you love surfing, swimming and fishing, a country home near the beach might be the right choice. Ask yourself questions to find out what you really want Do  you want to live in a small town, the type of place where traffic jams rarely, if ever, form? Is access to reliable public transportation important to you, especially if you prefer not to drive? Are older homes more to your liking than modern, contemporary houses? And what about arts and entertainment? How important is it for you to be near major sports and concert venues? You can gain clues about your dream home when you visit extended family and friends. You may love the open living room, dining room and kitchen concept at a friend's single family home. The round, marble tub at your grandparents' house might give you a warm feeling every time you soak in it. Don't rule out how carefree, courageous and happy you felt as you ran across the back lawn at your aunt and uncle's three story bungalow. After you narrow down the location, size and type of house that you want, start to create a wish list of amenities that you want your dream home to have. Sample items that you could add to your wish list include whether you want a front and back porch, small or large yards and whether you want a home office and, if so, how big do you want the home office to be. Other wish list items are window styles, how much street noise you'll tolerate, numbers and sizes of bedrooms, whether you want a finished basement and how many cars you want to fit in the driveway and garage. You may also want a dream home that's only a 10 minute drive to work. If you identify features that you want in your dream home before you consider how much you can afford to pay for a house, you might be surprised at your options. By focusing on features or amenities, you could also help your realtor to look for a house that fits your wish list instead of zoning in on a house based mainly on price. Stay open. Finding eight out of ten things that you want on your dream home list could prove to be very rewarding.

The App Store is saturated with tools for helping you keep track of your budget, spending, income, credit score, and more. However, each app is different, offering varying levels of user-friendliness, security, and helpful features. We've built a list of the most useful apps for keeping track of your finances--from budgeting and paying bills, to learning about investing and credit, these apps have you covered.

Mint

Mint is the juggernaut of budgeting apps. You can securely sync all of your bank accounts, loan accounts (credit card, student loans, etc.) and even income accounts like PayPal. Once you've logged in, Mint does most of the work for you. In fact, just yesterday I got a notification from Mint that I was charged extra for my gym membership. In the app or from the website you can design your own personalized budget that includes things like food, shopping, groceries, gas, etc. When you make a purchase with one of your linked cards, Mint automatically sorts the purchase into the correct category. Aside from budgets, Mint also helps you set up a timeline for paying your debts. It shows you how long it will take at your current monthly payment amount and tells you how much you would save in interest by paying it off faster.

PocketGuard

PocketGuard is like a sleek, minimal version of Mint. However, its main strength, as the name suggests, is security. It boasts several barriers to identity theft and complicated and technical security measures that we won't get into here (we're talking 128-BIT SSL encryption). PocketGuard is also simpler than Mint, both in terms of content and display. Plus, you won't see as many advertisements for credit cards that Mint so slyly sneaks into just about every screen you view.

Home Budget with Sync

The name's a little awkward, we know. But they added that "with Sync" in there for a reason. Home Budget's most redeeming feature is that it allows you to sync up with other budgets in your household (your spouse, roommate, etc.). This makes it much easier for couples who are splitting bills to keep track of their expenses and savings. One piece of advice is to choose what you share wisely. Not everyone wants to share all of their personal finance information with others.

You Need a Budget

You Need a budget, or as its many happy customers call it, YNAB, is a whole lot more than just a way to keep track of your money. It boasts several learning resources that empowers you with financial knowledge. Where other apps just let you plug in numbers, YNAB teaches you what all of those numbers mean and helps you make more informed decisions with your money. YNAB is created with the intention of reducing your financial stress. It has simple videos, instructables, and more to help you learn the ins and outs of budgeting. Then it helps you build your own budget and stick to it with many of the same features as Mint or PocketGuard.

Personal Capital

If you're ready for the big leagues of finance and want to start investing and tracking your assets, Personal Capital will help you get there. This app is designed for managing and analyzing assets. The app's main features are broken into categories: cashflow, retirement, investing, and net worth. The outstanding feature here is investing. It simplifies investing, checks up on your investments, and gives you useful tips that will help you get your toes wet in the investment world.



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