Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Everyone should enjoy the blessing of home ownership

The wedding season is fast approaching and along with that comes the yearning by many young couples to find their first home. May is also National Home Ownership Month.

 At times, I wish that I was living in a downtown studio apartment. It would be nice on a sunny day to ride a bicycle or a scooter to work. With an apartment, there’s no siding to fix or gutters to clean. I would never have to cut the grass or pull any weeds. But then, no weeds, also means no land for which to sow or area for which to walk and ponder.

Still, the first step’s a doozy.

“The real estate industry can be a complicated area for even the most handy people,” according to Mike Dunphy, editor and chief of “Holmes: The Magazine to Make it Right,” a publication launched by Mike Holmes, celebrity contractor and host of HGTV’s “Holmes on Homes” and “Holmes Inspection.” To help honeymooners and clear the murk involved with mortgages, property inspections and premiums, Dunphy offers the following tips regarding the crucial steps to home ownership:
• Be ready by being preapproved: Gather up your financial documents and discuss with your bank’s loan officer the kind of home you can afford. A credit score check will be done by the bank to evaluate how your employment, savings and debts may affect your purchasing power. Be sure to ask for a copy of the report, as you’ll need it later.
• Comparison shop for mortgages. “Don’t stop at one approval,” said Dunphy. “Interview a number of banks, credit unions and mortgage brokers.” Find out what each lender offers in terms of fees, late and pre-payment penalties and payment options, and then compare them. “Before any lender triggers a credit check, give them the copy from your first bank’s inquiry,” Dunphy said. Too many credit checks at one time will raise red flags that could ultimately lower your score.
• Happy hunting: Once you are preapproved and have a clear understanding of what you can afford, you’ll be able to start your search. Having the paperwork done also offers you haggling power.
• Cautionary phrase: Once you find your dream home and make an offer, Dunphy recommends having a “condition on finance” in the purchase and sales agreement. This allows your lender to approve your finances but also the house as an investment.
• Cautionary walk: Congratulations on having your offer accepted. Now, the ball is in your court. Before closing, meet with your real estate lawyer to ensure everything is in order. It’s up to the lawyer to perform a title search and name execution. Go over the final mortgage agreement and be sure all of the terms have been met. It’s also at this time that the property and home should be inspected. It may cost more to have a professional look things over, rather than doing it yourself, but it’s worth it.
• Closing: Pull out the pen and be prepared to sign a whole lot of paperwork. “Hire a lawyer to go over all the fine print,” Dunphy said.
Home ownership can be a burden, but with it come feelings of pride, independence and well-being. It’s the headquarters where newborns are introduced to members of the family for the first time, where children grow up and where loved ones gather to catch up on old times. 

It’s for these reasons that homesteads are passed down from generation to generation — because parents want their children to experience the joys of home ownership.

Today's Muse
Home is a name, a word, it is a strong one; stronger than magician ever spoke, or spirit ever answered to, in the strongest conjuration ~ Charles Dickens

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