Sunday, April 11, 2010
American Home Week
Preparation eases way for first-time home buyers
By Amanda Schoenberg
Journal Staff Writer
uying a home is the biggestinvestment most peoplemake — and that oftenmakes it the most stressful,particularly for first-time homebuyers.Knowing what to expect, from thetime needed to close to the pages of documents that need to be signed,will make the process go smoother,says Blythe Camenson, a Realtorwith Century 21 Camco who alsorenovates homes.First-time home buyers can stillbenefit from an $8,000 federal taxcredit if they hurry. First-timebuyers, including people who haven’towned a home in three years andearn less than $125,000 a year,can qualify if they sign a bindingcontract by April 30 and close byJune 30.As she watched her rent climbto nearly $1,000 a month last year,Patricia Latham decided it wastime to buy. Latham, a divorcedgrandmother, learned she waseligible for the tax credit becauseshe hadn’t owned a home for years.Working with Camenson, she startedthe process in July and closed on herAlbuquerque home in September.“If I hadn’t ... jumped on it, I thinkI would have regretted it,” saysLatham, who works in professionaldevelopment at the Center for theEducation and Study of DiversePopulations at New MexicoHighlands University.Even for buyers who miss thedeadline, Camenson says it is abuyer’s market in New Mexico.“Once the credit expires, it’s not theend of the world,” she says.
The first step is to get pre-approved for a home loan by findinga mortgage broker or choosing aRealtor who can suggest a broker,says Camenson.“You don’t want to find somethingyou love and not be able to buyit,” says Erik Nore, director of homeownership for the New MexicoMortgage Finance Authority, whichprovides housing financing for low-to moderate-income New Mexicans.There are two options — pre-approval and pre-qualification. Topre-qualify, buyers provide limitedinformation and an estimate of creditscores.At Premier Choice Mortgage inAlbuquerque, co-owner and loanoriginator Rob Burdick prefers toskip straight to pre-approval, whichprovides a complete assessment of buyer finances. For pre-approval,buyers must verify their assets withbank statements, provide salaryinformation and authorize a creditreport check.Most loans require a credit scoreof at least 660, Burdick says. Forbuyers worried about credit, Burdickrecommends speaking with a brokerto identify solutions. Many first-timebuyers use a high percentage of theiravailable credit, he says. One solutionis to pay down debt on credit cardswith low limits. He tells clients not toopen or close credit lines, which canhurt their scores.Once buyers are pre-approved, theywill know how much they can affordand can start looking for a home.Mortgage brokers also help buyersdecide on a loan. People who havesaved 10 percent to 15 percent of thecost of their home usually choose aconventional loan, Burdick says.To qualify for a Federal HousingAuthority loan, buyers can’tpurchase homes worth more than$271,050. They also need a 3.5 percentdown payment.In the Albuquerque metro area,first-time home buyers who earn lessthan $55,900 for one to two peoplemay qualify for a first mortgage loanand down payment assistance fromMFA, says Nore.
First, not last home
When she works with buyers,Camenson asks them what kind of house and neighborhood they prefer.Especially for first-timers, she oftenreminds them that this may not be adream home but a step toward it.She also encourages buyers toconsider whether they will be able toresell the house when they’re readyto move to a new home. For example,a Downtown condo may appeal to ayoung, single man but not to a family.“This is their first home, not theirlast home,” she says. “You have tobuy smart.”Camenson advises most first-timebuyers against fixer-uppers that needmajor repairs, which can quicklyspiral out of control.With Camenson’s help, Lathamsays she learned to look beyondaesthetics to evaluate the “bones” of a home. “She said, ‘Don’t look at thefurniture. Don’t look at the carpet — look beyond it. Does the home feelcomfortable?’”Latham used her tax credit topay for some renovations, whichCamenson handled.“I was able to create my littledream home,” she says.
Once buyers find a home they wantto purchase, real estate agents crafta purchase agreement that must besigned by the buyers and sellers.That is far from the end of theprocess, says Camenson. There arethree phases of negotiation whenbuying a home. The first is the priceof the home, which is determined in apurchase agreement.Other negotiations revolve aroundthe inspection report, which canturn up unseen problems like that
Patricia Latham, outside her Albuquerque home, qualified for the $8,000 fed-eral tax credit for first-time home buyers because she hadn’t owned a homefor years.
With all T Tings You rmmb.Highrng
Homes Starting at $147,990
No Lot Premiums
Free Flex 3rd Garage or Wrap Around Porch
Free Washer/Dryer or Refrigerator
Desert View at Mariposa
New Plans Starting at $314,990
$10,000 in Free Options
Large View Lots Available
Outdoor & Indoor Recreation Facilities, Pools, Parks and Trails
Quality. attention to detail.
S #10 h Hm Brs drcr
Vs s www.svg.cm