truman lake homes

What to Look At When Buying a Home

What to Look At When Buying a HomeSmart buyers understand that having a professional home inspection performed on the Lake of the Ozarks/Truman Lake home they are considering buying is a necessity.  After all, this is probably the most expensive purchase you will ever make in your lifetime.  So thoroughly checking out a property before you buy is the intelligent thing to do.  But you don’t need to rely completely on an inspector’s report.  You need to know what to look for when you walk through a home.

Water Leaks/Damage – One of the most damaging elements in nature, water can wreak havoc with a home, especially here in the Twin Lakes area.  We love our water, but it needs to stay in the lakes or a home’s plumbing.  Open cabinets, look under sinks, move the shower curtains, visit the basement and peer behind the water heater.  Moisture buildup, mold and water stains can indicate a potential problem and should be taken note of.

Foundation – If the foundation of your Twin Lakes home is faulty, it can lead to so many other, expensive problems.  Look for cracks in the ceiling or walls inside and outside of the home.  This can indicate that the foundation may be shifting, which can be quite costly to repair.

Landscaping – Foliage makes the outdoor areas of a Lake of the Ozarks/Truman Lake home beautiful.  But, large trees have roots that run deep.  These roots are always looking for a water source.  If planted too close to the house, the roots of a tree will burrow their way into water pipes.  Trust me, you don’t want that to happen.  The root system of trees can also lift a foundation, causing it to crack and creating a multitude of problems.

Attic – Make sure it is insulated properly.  This will help keep cold air out in the winter and hot air out in the summer.  Ask the current owner what their monthly heating/air conditioning bills are like to get a good idea of what you can expect to spend.  Check out the wiring.  Faulty wiring can cause fires.

Age/Condition of Major Items – Find out how old the current appliances (refrigerator, oven, dishwasher, washer/dryer, etc), air conditioning system, paint, water heater and siding are.  Inspect them closely to see what condition they are in.  You may have to replace them, which can add up to a good chunk of change. 

Neighborhood – Take a step back and look at the entire neighborhood your Lake of the Ozarks/Truman Lake home is located in.  Most likely, these homes were all built around the same time as the one you are considering purchasing.  What condition are they in?  Do they show a pride of ownership?  How much traffic and noise do you see and hear?  Visit the property at different times of the day and on different days of the week to gauge the regular patterns of the neighborhood.

Knowing what to look at when buying a home will help you determine which Twin Lakes home is worth considering and which one you should leave behind.  When you want to start looking at homes for yourself, just give us a call.  We’re always ready to help.

Crist & Sharon Fanning, Your Link to the Lake Lifestyle

It Takes More Than a Downpayment to Buy a Home

It Takes More Than a Downpayment to Buy a HomeFirst time home buyers tend to focus solely on saving for a down payment when they are interested in purchasing a Lake of the Ozarks/Truman Lake home.  The more money you can put down, the less you’ll have to borrow, resulting in a lower monthly mortgage payment.  However, it takes more than a downpayment to buy a home.  There are other expenses that first time home buyers tend to overlook or are simply unaware of when they get caught up in the whirlwind that is homeownership.

One expense that many first time Twin Lakes home buyers are unaware of is something called PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance).  This is a mandatory insurance required by home buyers who borrow more than 80% for their home purchase (ie, put less than 20% of the purchase price down).  This covers the loan company in case you end up defaulting.  This insurance premium will go down as your equity increases.  Once the principal on your home loan is less than 80% of your home’s value, you can have the PMI eliminated.  Of course, if you are able to put at least 20% down on your Twin Lakes home purchase, you won’t have to worry about PMI at all.

Closing costs are also things that tend to be overlooked by first time home buyers when buying a Lake of the Ozarks/Truman Lake home These costs include loan processing fees, title fees, fees to record the deed, etc).  These costs vary, so make sure you receive your Good Faith Estimate you are legally entitled to from your lending company.  Typically, you can expect to pay around 2-3% of the price of the home for closing costs.

Home inspections and appraisals are also necessary and, typically, paid by the buyer.  Sometimes, the seller may have already had an inspection done recently.  But it would be wise to have your own inspector look at the property to compare the findings.  You don’t want any nasty surprises when you move into your new home.

Property taxes are an unavoidable part of homeownership.  These are what help fund the local government and schools.  These costs also vary depending on where you live.  Taxes can either be paid in one lump sum annually or divided up into 12 payments and added onto your monthly mortgage payment.  Many homeowners find it easier to pay in monthly payments throughout the year rather than try to come up with the entire sum at one time.

Finally, all lenders require you to carry homeowner’s insurance on your Lake of the Ozarks/Twin Lakes home for as long as you own it.  The cost for this insurance is dependent on a variety of factors, including the size of your home and lot, age of the home and which company you use.  Get quotes from several different insurance companies before settling on one.

While saving is great, it takes more than a downpayment to buy a home.  Keep these expenses in mind when deciding whether you can afford that Twin Lakes home or not.  When you’re ready to start looking for your dream home in the Twin Lakes area, please feel free to contact us.

Crist & Sharon Fanning, Your Link to the Lake Lifestyle

How to Whip Your Credit into Shape for Buying a Home

How to Whip Your Credit into Shape for Buying a HomeYou need a good credit score to help secure the best deals when buying a Lake of the Ozarks/Truman Lake home.  The higher your credit score, the lower your interest rate will be and the lower your monthly mortgage payment will be.  Let’s face it, though.  Not everyone has stellar credit.  Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac won’t even consider applicants with a score of less than 620.  But, how do you whip your credit into shape for buying a home?  The key is to start now.

The first thing you will need to do is to get a copy of your credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com, the only official site to to to for your free credit report.  You are legally entitled to one free report from each of the three credit reporting agencies (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax) every 12 months.  Not all creditors report their information to all three agencies.  Your credit score can vary quite a bit from one agency to the next.  That’s why it’s important to pull your report from all three.

Once you receive your report, examine it thoroughly to make sure all the information is correct.  Not only do you need to make sure that all the accounts listed actually belong to you, but you also need to make sure that the status of these accounts is correct.  For example, if you made arrangements to pay a delinquent account but it shows that the company charged it off instead, this can have a bigger negative effect on your credit score.  When you find errors, you will need to contact the credit agency it was reported to in writing as well as the company that reported it.  Explain the error, provide documentation as proof of your claim and request that the error be corrected.

Next, put a freeze on applying for any new credit.  This includes cars, appliances, furniture, department store cards and even changing your cable service.  Every time a business makes an inquiry about your credit, your score gets hit a few points.  This can quickly turn you from credit-worthy to undesirable by loan companies.

Now is the time to start paying down debt.  You want your debt-to-income ratio to be low as well as your credit used vs credit available.  Many financial experts recommend that you keep your credit card balance at less than 34% of your credit limit to show financial stability.  For example, if you have a credit card with a $3000 limit, your balance should never exceed $1000.  On the other hand, don’t close your credit accounts entirely either.  If you had four cards with a total limit of $10,000 and carried a balance totaling $3200, your credit used vs available would be 32%.  However, if you closed one of those cards that had a limit of $3000, your credit used vs credit available would increase to 45.7% ($3200 total balance with $7000 total limit).  Hold off on closing any unused accounts until after you have closed escrow on your new Twin Lakes home.

Finally, avoid the urge to move existing balances onto a new credit card.  This won’t decrease your debt load and your score may actually go down slightly when opening the new card.  Besides, a new credit card won’t erase the history of the debt on your credit report.

If you’re planning on purchasing a Lake of the Ozarks/Twin Lakes home in the next few months, start whipping your credit into shape now.  Time is of the essence.  You want to get your financial situation in the best shape possible before you apply for a loan in order to get the best deals available.  Even a 1/2% difference in interest rate will either save or cost you thousands of dollars over the life of your home loan.  That’s nothing to sneeze at!  Contact us when you’re ready to start looking at living the lake lifestyle.

Crist & Sharon Fanning, Your Link to the Lake Lifestyle

The Kitchen is the Heart of the Home…and the Home Sale

The Kitchen is the Heart of the Home...and the Home SaleThe kitchen is the heart of the home…and the home sale.  Have you noticed that, whenever you have guests over, you inevitably end up in the kitchen?  This is especially true when you have an open floor plan that allows a direct line-of-sight from the kitchen to the family room.  If you are considering selling your Lake of the Ozarks/Truman Lake home in the next six months to a year, you may want to take a good look at your kitchen to see if it is in dire need of an update.

Making your kitchen a showpiece doesn’t necessarily mean breaking the bank with a major renovation.  Sometimes, small touches here and there can create a brighter, more appealing, up-to-date look for pennies.  A bit of paint, new hardware on the cabinets and doors, a simple backsplash or crown molding can breathe new life into an old room.  Even a good deep cleaning can turn a dull kitchen into one that Twin Lakes buyers will find appealing.

The trick to determining whether a few minor changes are enough or if you need to completely overhaul your kitchen is to check out what’s happening in other Lake of the Ozarks/Truman Lake homes in your area.  You don’t want to spend thousands of dollars by adding travertine tile, brand new stainless steel appliances and granite countertops just to price yourself completely out of the market.  On the other hand, if your cute country kitchen is competing against homes with much more modern accoutrements, a simple coat of paint won’t do.  Visit open houses near you to get an idea of what is the standard fare in your neighborhood.  Take a look at photos in your local MLS to see what those kitchens look like.

It’s true.  The kitchen is the heart of the home…and the home sale.  Making your kitchen a showpiece depends primarily on what condition it is currently in as well as what is happening in your local real estate market.  Contact us now if you’re interested in selling your Lake of the Ozarks/Truman Lake home.  We can help you decide just where your kitchen stands with the competition and we’re always happy to help.

Crist & Sharon Fanning, Your Link to the Lake Lifestyle

What to Expect With a Foreclosure

What to Expect With a ForeclosureForeclosures are a popular choice with buyers.  However, they do come with some risks.  That doesn’t mean they aren’t worth the effort, though.  If you know what to expect with a Lake of the Ozarks or Truman Lake foreclosure, you are better armed to make a wise decision when it comes time to decide whether to purchase a foreclosure or go with a traditional home sale.

The biggest risks associated with a foreclosure come when you go through a foreclosure auction.  Buyers typically bid on a property sight unseen.  That means that bidders aren’t usually allowed to go inside and take a look around or have the opportunity to fully investigate the history of the property to make sure there are no liens attached.  Since a large percentage of foreclosed homes don’t make it through the auction process, they then revert back to the mortgage companies and are resold through an REO.  This can be helpful to you as a Twin Lakes buyer because you can do a bit more investigating of the property before deciding to buy it.

REO’s are sold “as is”.  This literally means that what you see is what you get.  Banks may make some repairs before they sell the Lake of the Ozarks/Truman Lake home but don’t expect that you will be able to negotiate a lower price based on the amount of repairs needed as you would in a traditional home sale.  That is why it’s a good idea to have a contractor come with you to make an estimate on what needs to be repaired or replaced before you put your offer in so you can assess whether it is worth it to you to buy the property.

A home inspection is of particular importance when considering a foreclosure.  A professional home inspector will be able to tell you the condition of the property as well as make suggestions as to what issues are critical and what you may be able to expect to have to replace or repair down the road.  Make sure that the roof is inspected (as it can be a major cost to replace) as well as an inspection of the sewer line and pool (if appropriate).  Since the home inspection will not cover pests (such as termites and mice), you may need to have a pest expert come in to inspect the property as well.  Even though these inspections will cost some money, it’s worth the peace of mind to avoid thousands of “surprise expenses” down the road.

Be patient and expect to compromise a bit.  There are many unexpected contingencies when dealing with a foreclosure.  For example, the bank may require that you use their escrow company instead of one that you want in order to make the deal happen.  Also, banks can be notoriously slow in getting paperwork completed in a timely manner.  Speed bumps are bound to happen. 

Above all, read a contract completely before signing anything.  If you have questions, ask them.  Have your financial advisers, real estate agent, lawyers, etc, read over the contract to get their expert opinion.  Never sign anything without thoroughly reading through its contents and understanding exactly what you are signing.

Buying a foreclosure can be a sound financial decision.  Be prepared for what to expect with a foreclosure and you will lessen the chance of being hit with surprises.  The road to homeownership can be a rough one sometimes.  But you’ll have to agree that it can be well worth the trip.  If you are interested in purchasing a home in the Warsaw area, please contact us today!

Crist & Sharon Fanning, Your Link to the Lake Lifestyle

Crist & Sharon Fanning on Zillow

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