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  • The 6 Things I Wish I Knew when I Bought My First House

    So many homebuyers have made so many mistakes. Myself included when I bought my first home. But I'm not alone - many homebuyers made critical missteps and decisions because you're not informed or don't ask the right questions. They overpaid, overspent, and bought homes they just could not afford. It's been painful to watch because a huge percentage of the home-buying and home-owning problems could have been avoided had those homeowners known what they have now learned the hard way.

    Here are 5 missteps I hope you won't be trying to "wish away" when you buy your house!

    1. I wish I hadn't borrowed the full amount the bank told me I could afford -This is not the time to buy the most expensive house you can with the money and credit you've got. No, in fact whatever the bank will lend you, take 20% less. Let's say you go to a bank or a mortgage broker to get preapproved for a mortgage. You say, "I want to buy a house; how much of a mortgage will you give me?" In other words, "What
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  • The Best Mortgages for Today’s New Market

    Today Trulia launched the Trulia Mortgage Center, available online and on dedicated iPhone and iPad apps, to help prospective homebuyers and current homeowners get personalized, real-time mortgage rate quotes. In honor of our newest offering, I wanted to talk about the best mortgages for today's market.

    The Traditional 30- or 15-Year Fixed Mortgage

    I always recommend that you get a 15- or 30-year fixed mortgage-even if you are planning to stay in your new home for only a short while. You never know what may happen in your life, and you want to know that you have a safe and consistent mortgage payment every month for the life of the loan.

    Once again, I am dating myself, but I am willing to suffer the label of old age if it saves you from financial ruin ten years from now. Interest rates do not always hover around 5 and 6 percent. Oh, no. It may seem unbelievable to you today, but I remember buying a property and being thrilled that I was able to lock in a fixed rate at

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  • Ten Last-Minute Tips for a Smooth Closing

    The last phase of the home buying process is crucial. You have already taken care of the inspection and the like, but now you have to wrap it all up. Then, your entire home shopping process will finally pay off on closing day. As they say, "It's time to bring it on home!"

    Hopefully, your settlement or escrow process has moved forward without hitting any major snags. But at this point you need to review these ten last-minute tips for a smooth closing to make sure that you have covered all the bases.

    Ten Last-Minute Tips for a Smooth Closing

    1. You reviewed your estimated closing twice already and are about to review the document a third and final time right before closing. Don't wait until the last few days or hours.
    2. Check with the closing company to make sure the seller has stayed on schedule.
    3. If you have negotiated for repairs to be made by the seller, chances are he will wait until the last minute to do them. He will want to make sure all of your contingencies have
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  • I was just having a chat with some friends and colleagues about the things we all wished we knew before buying a particular home. We covered the basics, and then the conversation started taking a comical turn and we started sharing "war stories" and examples of the things we didn't learn about ourhomes and neighborhoods until we moved in. You can safeguard yourself during the searching phase by using Trulia's local tools related to crime, amenities and commutes and by working with a great agent, but some things you'll just have to learn about a home or a rental by going into it with eyes wide open.

    I thought the list we ran through would be a fun read for you - cringe when you read through them, but learn from them - and don't let them happen to you! When you're looking at property, really try and focus on those items you might not even notice are missing until you've moved in or have been in the home for a while.

    • Rush hour traffic is so bad right past the driveway that you'd
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  • When Renting Makes Cents!

    Renting allows you to be more flexible in 5 different areas: Job/career, family growth, change in relationship status, financial situations and overall happiness with your surroundings. If there is going to be any kind of flux in any of those categories, renting is likely going to be a better choice for you.

    Job/Career: If you are looking for a promotion or to advance in your career via job or location change, you want to have the ability to move in 30 days notice. Renting gives you that luxury and also protects you from having to sell a home that may not be valued at the price you paid for it, not to mention that you'll incur thousands of dollars of closing costs - and that's IF you can sell it in today's tight market.

    Family growth: If you are planning on growing your family and upsizing…or shrinking your family by downsizing, you need flexibilty. Again, in today's marketplace, selling a house can put you in the red and be very costly. Renting allows to easily expand to

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  • Junk Fees: Ones to Look For—and Get Rid Of

    It must be reiterated: When buying a home, be vigilant! Although your eyes are glazing over as you examine all those statements and piles of documents, be strong about questioning every listed fee. In some cases you can point your finger at your seller, lender, or escrow company. Also, ask questions to make sure the closing company hasn't mistakenly added any sellers' fees to your side of the form as well.

    "If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's a duck!" Well, some fees are not all they are quacked up to be. They are junk. If you see the ones listed below, scrutinize them and ask if they are necessary or negotiable.

    Mortgage Loan Fees

    • Application fee-This can sometimes be reduced or removed.
    • Assumption fee-This can be too high.
    • Courier fee-Was a courier ever used and is this necessary? Ask for details.
    • Points-Are they what you agreed to?
    • Lender's attorney's fee-Ask to have this removed.
    • Lender's title insurance-This can often be too
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  • Why Waiting for the Bottom of the Housing Market Will Cost You Money

    Snagging a house at the bottom of the market, or so you think, may not always be the best money saver. When home prices are low like they are now in manyAmerican cities, I know it's very tempting to wait even longer, in the hopes that prices will decline even further. What most homebuyers don't realize is you have to balance a low price and bottom of the market with a low interest rate. Rates are at historic lows, which only means one thing - they WILL go back up.

    So if interest rates are on the rise but the market is heading a bit lower, waiting another six months for a dropping market to sink lower still may actually cost you in the long run.

    For example, if you buy a house for $450,000 with 20 percent down, you will have a $360,000 mortgage. With a low 5 percent interest rate, your monthly payment of mortgage, principal, and interest would be $1,932.56. However, if you wait six months in the hopes of getting the same house for $10,000 less at $440,000, thus with a

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  • Mortgage Fees to Look Out for and Compare

    As I've been warning you over and over, getting a mortgage has never been more challenging than it is in today's market. It's just a tougher environment.You never know where you'll get the best deal for your mortgage these days and you don't know who will say yes, given all that has changed in the mortgage industry.
    On top of all of that, a mortgage typically comes with a set of costs, but it doesn't have to cost you a ton, if you're smart. Here are the fees to ask about and be mindful of when shopping for your mortgage:

    • Points: Each "point" is equal to 1 percent of the loan amount. So 2 points on a $100,000 loan costs $2,000. You can use points to "buy down" the interest rate, meaning the more points you pay, the lower the interest rate. Points are also tax deductible, even if the seller pays some or all of the points.
    • Origination fee: Sometimes lenders also call points "origination fees." Keep an eye out for this confusing wording.
    • Credit report fee: You may
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  • How to Navigate a Fiercely Competitive Rental Market

    Speed and preparedness are key to finding the right rental!

    It's no secret that there are a number of hot rental markets across the country right now. Since 2011, rents have increased in 24 of the 25 largest rental markets, with rent increases topping 10 percent inSan Francisco, Miami, Oakland, Denver, Seattle and Boston. For those of you looking to brave the current rental market, here are some tips:

    1. Don't put it off till the weekend - Jump on the listing! many apartments and homes rent immediately. So don't think you can get take your time to preview the unit on a late Sunday afternoon. Chances are it will be gone.
    2. Be prepared - The competition is tough. It's no longer a renter's market - be prepared for multiple offers and competition from others. Landlords now receive 1-5 applications for any apt or house. If you find an apartment you like, be ready to fill out the application on the spot. Carry all your identification with you.
    3. Who loves you? -
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  • What Mortgage Lenders Will Ask For—You May Be Surprised

    Getting a mortgage has never been more challenging than it is in today's market. You never know where you'll get the best deal for your mortgage these days and you don't know who will say yes, given all that has changed in the mortgage industry.

    What will be even more frustrating is that you never get to know how long it will take. In today's market, banks are understaffed and overworked. Loan applications are backed up for weeks, even months. Stricter qualifying requirements may drag your loan approval out to the very last possible day. It can be one of the most frustrating aspects of buying a home today. But the good news is: now that you know what you are in for, you'll be prepared for the worst!

    What Lenders Will Ask For-You May Be Surprised You will probably find that your application experience with two different lending candidates will be tremendously different from each other, and for no good reason. One might demand that you prove X, Y, and Z while the other never asks the

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