February 19, 2019

When you’re ready to sell your home, your real estate agent may inform you that some improvements will help with the process. You may need to make some repairs and improvements to ensure the home will sell fast and for top dollar. If you don’t have a ton of cash to work with, it’s important to understand the top budget-friendly improvements to make before selling your home.

Landscaping

It won’t actually add value to the property in a physical way, but curb appeal is a selling factor. When you add in the right landscaping, you’ll make a much better first impression. You can hire a professional to handle this or do it yourself.

Once the landscaping is done, make sure you keep up on mowing the lawn and trimming the bushes. You should also make sure all plants receive enough water and any other landscaping is kept up.

Give the Kitchen a Facelift

A kitchen remodel isn’t budget-friendly, but there are some things you can do for just a few hundred dollars that make a big difference. Painting is one of the best places to start as you can paint the walls, the baseboards, trim, molding, and even kitchen cabinets to give it a different look.

You can also replace door pulls and handles, along with having countertops repaired if they have cracks, nicks or grout issues. Replacing the appliances may be another way you can upgrade the kitchen without breaking the bank.

Replace Old Carpet

It may not be as budget-friendly as some of the other options on the list, but replacing old carpet can go a long way to helping get your home sold. Flooring takes a beating over time and old carpet often holds onto odors and looks dingy. Replacing it will help to spruce up your home and make it look new again.

Upgrade the Lighting

Often, an upgrade to the lighting will make rooms feel larger and cleaner. It doesn’t have to cost you a ton of cash to make this happen, either. You can change light bulbs, add in a floor lamp or even add in a new fixture to make a room look much better.

Even the exterior lighting should be addressed. Make sure all light bulbs are working and keep the exterior of your home well lit. Most buyers will visit the property at night, as well as in the day.

Paint Walls

A new coat of paint can go a long way and it’s usually very cheap. Having a room or the entire house painted can go a very long way to making your online images better, along with making the home look better during showings. This is one of the most commonly used budget-friendly improvements for homes getting ready to be sold.

If you’re considering selling your home, make sure you have a good real estate agent representing you. They will be able to give you more improvements you can use to make it easier to sell your home faster and for a better price.

January 17, 2019

Your student loans are huge, and they need to be paid back. The average physician graduates with student loan debt well into six figures. In addition, many will make mistakes when they are young physicians when it comes to their student loans. Here are 7 mistakes to avoid if you’re in this situation.

Choosing the Wrong Repayment Plan

There are so many repayment options that it can be easy to choose the wrong one. When you have a lower income and a high balance, you want to consider the RePAYE’s option, while avoiding the PSLF option. Usually, this will lower your payment and make the most sense.

Paying too Much Interest

Those not using the PSLF repayment plan may be paying too much in interest. When you don’t use this repayment option, your student loans become much more like a normal debt. Make sure you get a good rate, as they can range from 2% to 10%, and even a small percentage difference can add up to a ton of cash.

If you don’t decide to use PSLF or another forgiveness/subsidy program, you need to refinance if your loans are above 5%. The higher your rate, the more you will pay, and it can cost you thousands of dollars.

Not Fighting Against Servicer Errors

Errors are made by loan servicers all the time and cost the borrowers money. Make sure you stay on top of your loan servicer and make sure you handle any mistakes they make quickly. You should keep a record of everything and make sure your records match the records provided by the servicer of the loan.

If you find an error, submit the necessary paperwork and address it immediately. You should also keep copies of all the correspondence and paperwork between you and the servicer of the loan.

Not Considering Tax Implications

Your student loan decisions will impact your taxes. You want to make sure you make the right decisions to get the most forgiveness possible. It’s a good idea to speak with an expert before choosing your repayment option and filing your taxes.

Not Verifying Employment

When you don’t verify your employment for your student loans, it can cause issues if you apply for PSLF. You can either verify when you apply, or you can do it as you progress through time. Many opt to verify later and forget to do so. This can cause huge issues and cost you thousands.

Believing Bad Advice

Many young physicians make the mistake of taking advice from those claiming to know student loans, but really, they don’t. Make sure you only take advice from those you trust. Even a student loan advisor may not give you the best advice since they are compensated by a refinance company in one way or another.

There are several other mistakes a young physician may make with student loans. These loans need to be taken very seriously and you need to make sure you understand your options before making decisions.

October 23, 2018

When it comes to buying a home, you’ll likely need a mortgage. Qualifying for a mortgage isn’t the easiest thing to do. In fact, many potential buyers don’t qualify the first time they apply.

It’s best to make sure you qualify for a mortgage before you start shopping, or you could end up wasting quite a bit of time. In addition, a pre-approval for a mortgage will help to ensure you know how much home you can afford.

Before you apply for a mortgage, understanding why you may not qualify is important. Here are five reasons you may not qualify for a mortgage.

Not Enough Saved

Although possible, it’s rare to find a home mortgage allowing you to buy a home without a down payment or with a low down payment. Typically, you will need at the very least 3.5% of the purchase price, but in most cases at least 5% will be required down. If you don’t have enough money saved, you may not qualify for a mortgage.

Bad Debt-to-Income Ratio

One of the most important factors lenders look at is the debt-to-income ratio or DTI. This ratio basically looks at how much money you make compared to how much you have going out in monthly payments. If it’s too high, which means you have too much debt, you’ll be denied for the mortgage.

Low Credit Score

While credit isn’t the only factor in the mortgage approval process, it’s still a very important one. If your credit score is lower than 600, you won’t be able to use an FHA loan program. This doesn’t mean you can’t find a lender with a program for you, but credit scores under 600 will struggle to get approved for a mortgage.

The good news with credit, it can be repaired. Often, you can do a few things to boost your score, and if you’re right on the line, it may not be that difficult to raise your score enough to get approved.

Inconsistent Employment History

If you’ve hopped from one job to another, it could send up red flags for a mortgage company. Typically, lenders want to see two years of solid work history, but this doesn’t mean you had to be at the same job for the entire two years.

What they don’t want to see is large gaps in between jobs or changing fields of work. Another red flag may be a large fluctuation in the number of hours worked. Any of these could keep your application from being approved.

Unreliable or Hard to Prove Income Sources

While there are programs to help those with hard to prove income sources, you will need to have great credit and a good DTI to qualify. If you have unreliable or hard to prove income, it can be very difficult to get approved for a mortgage.

It’s best to make sure your income is consistent and traceable through bank statements.

If you’re looking to buy a home soon, and you want to make sure you get approved for a mortgage, make sure you understand the qualifications. Check your credit through a local mortgage lender, start saving for the down payment immediately, and make sure your financial situation is desirable. All of the above reasons you may not qualify can be fixed if you start working at it now, instead of after you’ve found out you can’t get approved for a mortgage.

October 16, 2018

Often, doctors are not aware they can get a mortgage loan right after completing medical school. It’s not uncommon for a doctor to carry a massive student loan debt, which makes it very difficult, if not impossible to get a conventional mortgage. However, this doesn’t mean they cannot get a mortgage at all.

Doctors can use a special mortgage program, which will not factor the student loan debt the same way. It’s designed specifically for the unique situation doctors face, giving them a solution to this issue.

Many banks and lenders now offer physician mortgages to help doctors get the home loan they desperately need. These banks have seen a rise in their business for these programs over the past few years.

With more doctors seeking home loans, it’s important to understand why student loan debt won’t get in the way. Here are some of the things you should know about these special physician loans if you’re a doctor looking to buy a home.

Why Doctors May Struggle to find a Mortgage

It seems like doctors would have no issue qualifying for a loan due to their higher than normal income. But the general public doesn’t understand that physicians don’t make high incomes right outside of medical school. Normally, there is a period of additional training from 3-5 years afterwards where physicians make a much lower salary.

Also, doctors face unique challenges with well above average student loan debt. This factors into the debt-to-income ratio making the doctor high risk for a mortgage. With a good amount of savings, doctors can mitigate this issue, but this may not completely solve the issue.

How Special Physician Mortgages Help

With a physician mortgage, doctors can get the loan they need to buy a house. These programs may have a bit higher interest rate compared to a conventional mortgage, but they often don’t require a down payment or may only require a small down payment.

One of the requirements of this special mortgage loan is a future work contract. Doctors have to be able to show they will have a steady income in the future.

While the loan may come with a bit higher interest rate, it does come with the benefit of no private mortgage insurance requirement. Typically, if a home buyer puts less than 20% of the purchase price down on a home, they must pay for private mortgage insurance. Physician loans don’t have the same requirement, which saves doctors thousands of dollars each month.

Also, as long as the student loan debt is still deferred, those monthly payments won’t be added into the debt-to-income ratio used to qualify a home buyer for a mortgage.

Lenders are Seeking Doctors

Eventually, doctors have an average salary of $300K, according to Medscape. This amount of income makes a doctor a lower-risk borrower for lenders. In addition, most lenders understand that if they create a relationship with the doctor, they will use the lender again and again for other financial needs, such as car purchases or home remodeling.

With this in mind, lenders actually seek doctors right out of medical school for these special physician loan programs. They want to help doctors buy homes and use these specially designed programs. If you’re a doctor looking to buy a home, don’t let student loan debt stand in your way. You can use a special physician mortgage and own a home instead of throwing your money away on rent.

October 8, 2018

As a first-time home buyer, you may go into the process experiencing all types of emotions. Buying your first home can be very exciting, but it can also be very scary. This will likely be one of the largest financial transactions of your life. Here are seven questions you should always ask as a first-time home buyer.

Why do I want to Buy My First Home?

Defining the reasons you want to buy your first home is vital to the process. There are several great reasons for investing in a home instead of paying rent. The biggest reason for investing in a home is that you will be building equity for yourself every month you pay your mortgage instead of building equity for your rental’s owner. Another great reason for buying a home is having your own outdoor space and privacy from neighbors. It’s important to understand why you want to buy your first home before moving forward with the process.

Have I Saved any Money Towards My First Home?

You will need more than just a down payment to buy your first home. Homes come with taxes, insurance, appraisal costs, inspection costs and more. You need to make sure you not only have money for the down payment, but also the rest of the costs associated with buying a home. If you only have enough saved for a down payment, know that you can also get a gift from a parent, or it might be possible to ask the seller to cover your closing costs in any offer.

Are there any First-Time Home Buyer Programs I Qualify For?

It’s important to check your local area for any first-time home buyer programs you may qualify for. This could include grants towards the down payment or programs to help with some of the other fees. Make sure you check before you buy, or you could be missing out on a program that may help you quite a bit.

Am I Ready to Own a Home?

Owning a home is a responsibility and comes with plenty of financial things to consider. There are several great benefits, but you also have to weigh the responsibilities you will have with the home. You will need to take care of upkeep, maintenance, any unexpected repairs, taxes and other things. Make sure you consider these responsibilities before you buy your first home.

Where Will I Be in Three Years?

Sure, this question is often asked during a job interview, but it should also be asked when you want to buy a home. If you have thoughts of moving to a different city or traveling in the near future, buying a home may not be the right move. However, if you plan to stay put for the next three years or longer, it might be the perfect time to buy your first home.

Will I Qualify for a Home Loan?

Every situation is a bit different, but you must know whether you can get a home loan or not before you enter into the home buying process. If you cannot get a home loan, you won’t be able to buy a home right now. Make sure you’re pre-approved before you start shopping, or you may just be wasting your time.

Can I Afford to Buy a Home Now?

While the down payment is important, so is the monthly payment and other expenses. You might have higher utility bills compared to an apartment or condo. In addition, you will need to consider insurance, taxes, and maintenance in your budget before you make the final decision to buy a home.

If you’re a first-time home buyer and you’re just getting started in the process, ask these seven questions first. The answers will determine whether it’s the right time to buy or if you’re jumping the gun a bit. A local Realtor can also help you answer any questions you have about the home buying process and will help you determine if you are ready to buy a home.