7 Programs That Help First-Time Homebuyers

programs-first-time-homebuyersEver been through the actual process of buying a home? It’s as hard as competing in the Olympics. There are people to deal with, paperwork full of jargon to read and fill, and fees to pay. Reading through the jargon may make you feel like you want to just skip over and sign the papers. That may sound as easy as skiing downhill, but it may ruin your financial future or just make it an uphill task. It will, therefore, be in your best interest to consider the homebuyer programs listed below. They could make your financial future be as you imagined it.

FHA

If you have a credit history that is not very firm or it is just your first time to buy a house, this is the program to choose. The Federal Housing Administration guarantee a portion of the mortgage for you. That makes it affordable to most Americans. The FHA backing gets you loans that go as low as 3.5%. Start at the HUD.gov website, they have a list of local FHA lenders.

VA

If you are a service member, a veteran, or surviving source of a military member, the US Department of Veterans can help you buy a home. This program is quite generous and depending on their evaluation, you may not even be required to pay a deposit or to have mortgage insurance. As you would expect, this military program is designed to work more on accuracy, than speed.

USDA

usda-loanDo you live in rural America? Well, the US Department of Agriculture assists people in rural America to buy homes. It offers 100% financing through lenders by offering them mortgage guarantees. There are however minimum income qualifications that you need to meet.

Home Upgrade Programs

Do you have more money to spend? If you do, you can have a bigger home. The following programs offer you that option.

I. The Energy Efficient Mortgage program

This program awards you their support by offering you green energy mortgage benefits. All you need to do is improve your home by installing green energy sources. They will then allow your lender to change your loan limits based on energy efficiency improvement. You do not have to make any other financial obligations.

II. HUD 203(k) loans

These loans are for you if you want to improve your home to increase its overall value. They evaluate the improvement you want to make to determine the final value of your house. They then allow you to borrow more funds to make those improvements based on their evaluation of your property. You then make the payment as part of your main mortgage.

Good Neighbor Next Door

This program started as the Teacher Next Door Program. However, it later expanded to include firefighters, medical technicians, and law enforcement officers. That necessitated the change its first name. You will get a 50% discount on account that you commit to living in that house for 36 months. These homes are located in revitalized areas. They are also listed for only seven days in the Good Neighbor Next Door’s website.

Dollar Homes

HUD offers one dollar homes. These homes are acquired by FHA through foreclosures. There are so few of them, and they are listed on their website. We checked them out and found one listed for $17,900. That means you have to be very careful in your search.

Fannie and Freddie

These are government sanctioned companies that offer mortgage with as little as a 3% down payment. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac work with local lenders to offer incredible rates.

Other Options

You will find more links to more affordable home loans in the Department of Housing and Urban Development website. There are many local and state governments that offer loan assistance to home buyers.

If you are looking for an affordable option to own a home, your solution lies in the above resources. They will give you low interest rates and you may get a bargain if you buy a house closer to where you live. They could even help you have an opening ceremony for your new home.

Does A First Time Buyer Need A Home Warranty

is-home-warranty-worth-itWhen you’re buying your first home, you’ll want everything to be as perfect as it can be. A home warranty can bring you peace of mind that repairs will be easier if something does go wrong. This is especially true if you are not the handy, DIY type. There are a few things you should consider when thinking about a home warranty.

Do Some Research

The first thing that you should remember is that you will still need homeowners insurance to cover you if your property were to become damaged by fire, flood or storms. A home warranty will ensure that the warranty company will make simple repairs to your home at a discounted rate. Some companies may also cover you for repairs or replacements that you may need for your appliances such as a washing machine or fridge. Different companies will offer different services and the prices will vary so it pays to shop around to find a plan that has everything that you need for the right price.

What Does It Cost?

It will usually cost no more than a few hundred dollars to take out a home warranty and this is usually a cost that is paid up front. Some companies will also offer an option where you can pay in installments. The actual cost of the warranty will depend on the services that you include in your policy. The age and size of your home do not matter as much to the cost of the policy as you think it might. The main determination of cost will be the things that you want included in your policy.

Service calls are not usually included in the price that you will pay for your premium and so there will be an additional cost if someone does need to be called out to your home. So if for instance you notice that all of a sudden you don’t have hot water in your house, don’t simply call to make a warranty claim unless you actually checked to make sure your water heater pilot light was still lit. Now, if it’s something more serious like a major water heater leak, the service call is usually worth it. The actual cost will be determined by the severity of the problem, how many people are needed to fix it and the length of time the repairs will take. Any fee that does need to be paid will be considerably cheaper than if you did not have a warranty in place.

Pros Of A Home Warranty

  • If your home is more than five years old then you can expect that repairs will become more frequent and a home warranty has the potential to save you a lot of money.
  • You have peace of mind that any repair you do need can be made at a discounted rate.

Cons Of A Home Warranty

  • You may face a dispute about a claim that you have made if the home has not been properly maintained by a previous occupant.
  • If you do not need to make a claim then you will have been paying premiums for no reason.

Before you sign the contract for a warranty make sure that you are completely satisfied that you will be able to make a claim if you need to. In some cases you may be able to negotiate with the seller that they will pay for the warranty for the first year, especially if they are keen to make a quick sale.

Home-Buying for Those With a Physical Disability

Owning your own home is a wonderful, if sometimes intimidating, experience. It you’re buying your first home, the experience can be even more exciting but intimidating all at the same time. Owning a home is normally the most expensive asset a person may have and it helps any person feel much more a stalwart member of the community.

kitchen-handicap-accessableReal estate agents sometimes mention that it’s easy for them, as they drive down a street, to point out rentals as opposed to owner-occupied homes. The former simply don’t show the care. The lawns are frequently improperly cared for, the overall appearance just doesn’t show the care a homeowner lavishes on the residence that fills a person with the pride of ownership.

Unfortunately, unless we’re having a home constructed to order, most homes are built following a pretty standard set of rules. The width of corridors, doorways, the height of counters and cabinets, all these are normally of a standard measure.

But for those of us who are physically disabled, many of the standard features of every home can be more than a challenge; some can make it impossible for the new owner to enjoy the full benefits of home ownership. Even those who are not wheelchair bound still would appreciate some of the tips below. After a severe car accident that left my neck in severe pain, I was forced to use a cervical traction device multiple times a day. Needless to say, I understood for a short period of time how difficult common tasks could be.

If you’re confined to a wheelchair, stairs are of course, out of the question, although it is quite possible to have a stairwell elevator installed. In the kitchen the counters may be uncomfortably high, and the kitchen sink is for adults who can stand on two feet and look down into them. Here below are listed some installations to consider for a disabled person who intends to buy a home.

The Kitchen and Bathroom

We should consider the height of kitchen cabinets. Those below the counters may be easily accessible, but those above are often even too high for average homeowners to reach in comfort. Now is the time to consider whether this would be a serious problem.

It’s important too, to consider the placement of appliances in the kitchen. Normally, in more modern kitchens, appliances are placed in a way that makes working in the kitchen convenient, but in many older homes, these designs had not been so well thought out. Some homes predate the arrival of modern refrigerators, so we find them in an odd location, sometimes not even in the same room as the range and kitchen sink. When we’re confined to a wheelchair, convenience is a major concern.

The bathroom too may have cabinets for storage of towels, etc. Some cabinets could make difficult if not impossible for a disabled person to reach in and remove towels or tissues, etc. It’s important too, that the knobs or pulls on cabinets and drawers be easily within reach and that these doors operate easily and smoothly. There is nothing more frustrating than a cabinet door that sticks.

Is it easy to get in and out of the bath or shower easily? In some homes, a walk-in or sometimes a roll-in shower may be available where a bath chair may allow the disabled person to shower in comfort. While there are tubs with doors making entry and exit easy, they would appear to present problems of their own and the homeowner should give the matter serious thought before going to the extra expense. Sturdy handrails around baths, toilets and perhaps other areas in the home can be an extremely helpful safety aid, even for those who are not wheelchair bound but nevertheless use a cane or walker and have difficulty with balance.

Hallways and Stairs

buying-home-disabilityMany homes have hallways that do not consider wheelchairs. In some older homes, a wider hallway may be found, but in today’s homes, most hallways are barely three feet wide. While this may allow the passage of a wheelchair, the hallways must be kept clear of furniture and other objects at all times. It is important of course, for the disabled person to get from room to room without constant difficulties.

As to stairways, these can be impossible for some. But even for those who are mobile, a staircase can present a formidable challenge. Sturdy railings are of course vital. A fall on stairs can be life-threatening. As mentioned above, stair lifts are available, but these too, like the walk-in baths, can be costly extra expenses for the new homeowner.

Exterior Concerns

A disabled homeowner doesn’t want to negotiate a long arduous trip, especially one encumbered by steps, to get from the garage to the entrance of the home. Just getting from the vehicle to the door of the home shouldn’t try the owner’s patience and wear a person out.

Therefore, it’s important to consider any steps between the garage and the entrance to the home. If the entry is from within the garage, there still may be at least one step to hurdle before gaining entry.

Lighting and Switches

Another consideration that may easily be overlooked is the height and location of lights and light switches as well as electrical outlets. It’s important that the disabled owner be able to reach all of these without too much trouble. It’s hard enough for those with debilitating back pain to figure out the best way to sleep with lower back pain, and not having a light switch within easy reach after getting in bed is one of the worst feelings. Even smoke alarms and carbon-monoxide detectors should be located within easy reach of the homeowner.

The home should have adequate indoor lighting. Rooms that lack sufficient lighting can be dangerous for a disabled person who may not clearly see obstacles in the way.

It the homeowner relies on a land line, it’s important to have plenty of phone jacks installed so that any room can be used to make a telephone call, especially in an emergency. Fortunately, these days most of us have a cell phone that is handy to keep on our person at all times.

It’s a good idea to know the distance to the homes of neighbors and the distance medical personnel would have to travel to the home, and it’s also import to consider making it as easy as possible for medical help to get to the owner when necessary. Another extra but perhaps worthwhile expense would be to have an alarm that one wears at all times, alerting a company of an emergency. This can be especially important if the homeowner lives alone. The more access a disabled person has to assistance the better.