Category: First-Time Homebuyer

14 Sep 2011

Let the Homebuying Adventures Begin! Where Do I Start?

I’m a girl who has rented apartment after apartment (oh the stories I could tell…). From the good, to the bad, to the ugly I’ve seen and lived in it all, trust me. Overall, renting is fine but everytime I write that rent check I stop and think about the money I’m essentially throwing away. It pains me that this monthly allotment doesn’t go towards anything of true value (I’m sure the receiver of said check would disagree with me on that point).

I’ve done the research and the last survey showed that homeowner net worth exceed renters by 46%. Awesome.

So, while I have a place to call home, I don’t have a place to call “my own.” A place where I can paint the walls any color I choose, make remodeling changes if I’m feeling “Tim the Toolman Tailor-ish”, or landscape to my hearts content. I want that. I’ve been wanting that for a while now.

Many of my friends recently took the next big adult step and bought places of their own. Those Facebook status updates were more brutal for me than the “I just got engaged!” updates (ok, that’s not entirely true but they come a close second). Update after update got me thinking. Why couldn’t I at least figure out what my options were?

13 Sep 2011

Introducing Our New First-Time Homebuyer Guide!

Attention all first-time homebuyers!

At the Allen Tate Companies we take pride in helping people achieve the goal of homeownership.  As homeowners ourselves, we understand real estate on a personal level. One day, several of us in the office were sharing our experiences about buying our first home. When the conversation turned to “I wish someone had told me ___,” it occurred to us that our “lessons learned” could be helpful to others.

Our new first-time homebuyer website and Homebuying Adventures were born from that conversation. Designed to help make the home buying process easierthe new first-time Homebuyer Guide includes interactive tools and great resources for beginners – as well as experienced – buyers.

Homebuying Adventures is the flagship of our new first-time homebuyer website. The video series tells the story of first-time buyers Amy and Genevieve. They are friends, co-workers at Allen Tate Company and renters, who are thinking about buying their first homes. By inviting other first-time homebuyers to share their journey, our goal is to help take the mystery (and fear) out of the process of buying a home.

26 Jul 2011

How to Prepare for a Home Inspection

Most people would think about the inspection of their home the day before the home inspector is scheduled to arrive. But if you are planning to sell your home it is always good practice to take care of some of the potential issues before you put your house on the market.

Is the banister to the deck and/or the stairs loose?  Is there chipping paint on the window frame? If the house was built before 1978, lead-based paint is a concern. And depending on the loan type, it may be a requirement that this be fixed.

18 Jul 2011

Are All Insurance Agents Created Equal?

Ten years ago, you didn’t expect to turn on the television and see insurance companies battling it out for commercial time in between your favorite shows. You also didn’t see them as some of the biggest sponsors of the sporting event of the year, the Super Bowl.

Times have changed though—and some of the big insurance companies out there are spending millions of dollars each year to tell you that you can save 15% in 15 minutes.

Their focus is price-driven and I understand why.  Customers want to save money.  You want to save money. I want to save money too. But I don’t agree with the fact that they simplify insurance as if it’s a commodity like gasoline.

8 Jul 2011

Prequalification vs. Pre-pproval: Which Is Best For You?

Starting your home search can be extremely exciting  – and nerve-wracking. You are about to embark on a great adventure. It can be easy to get caught up in all the excitement and lose track of the many different moving parts you need to keep in place. One of the most important moving parts is your mortgage financing.

As you start your search you may hear phrases like “Make sure you are pre-qualified!” or “Get pre-approved!” What do these mean, which one is best for you and how will they impact your search?

Let’s start with prequalification, which is traditionally a review of your credit report and credit score. This process may also include the completion of a loan application that your loan officer or mortgage consultant will review with you and run through an automated underwriting system.  That automated system will let your loan officer/mortgage consultant know whether what you have told them in terms of income, assets and credit will fall within the general mortgage guidelines.   However, that is subject to you providing acceptable documentation to the lender.   If you have clean credit, a strong job history, good assets and reserves, the prequalification letter is probably going to meet your needs as you look for a home.

1 Jul 2011

Questions to Ask Your Realtor

As a consumer, I’ve often wondered what I should be asking my real estate agent when buying or selling a home. At one point, when I was purchasing my first home, I wondered if I even needed an agent – how hard could it be after all? I did try to purchase a home without agent representation, but the transaction went sideways and fell apart.  Did you know that buyers of previously owned homes and buyers aged 18 to 24 were most likely to report using a real estate agent?

The agent that I attempted to use in my first transaction did not meet my expectations. Sure, she was nice enough, but she was not consistent in her communication. In one week, I would hear from her everyday and the next several weeks I heard nothing from her at all. Her schedule was difficult to work around and it always seemed that when I was available to look at homes, she wasn’t. It wasn’t because she was working with other clients, but rather she had very active kids and their sports schedule did not jive with my schedule.

3 Jun 2011

Outdoor Living Spaces for All Seasons

With the wonderful climates here in the Carolinas (minus the heat wave we’ve been subject to recently!), we get to spend a lot of time entertaining and enjoying our outdoor living spaces. That being said, there is no reason for your planters to sit bare during the fall and winter months. Many of us simply leave our planters bare because the thought of maintaining that “inviting” look at all times can be a little overwhelming. Believe me, I get it. But fear not! There are easy, low-maintenance steps you can take to keep your planters looking great all year-round.

17 May 2011

Make House Hunting Easier

While having access to so many online tools and resources can make the home-buying process less time consuming, it doesn’t necessarily make it any less overwhelming.

There are a few basic steps I recommend that can make the process a whole lot easier for you.

  • Get pre-qualified. When I say that you may be sitting there wondering, “What does that exactly mean?” Well, simply put it’s how much house you can afford to buy. There are lots of great online calculators that can give you an idea on payments, but be sure to talk to a lender before you start looking at homes. You want to make sure you can qualify for a loan and determine how much house you can afford. It is a waste of your time to look at houses that may be out of your price range.  The good news is that getting pre-qualified is a fairly simple process. Through Allen Tate Mortgage, for example, it can be done online!
5 Apr 2011

What Happens When A Tree Falls on Your Property?

Having been in the insurance industry for years, this question is probably one of the most popular inquiries we get!

Limited coverage (usually $1000) is provided on the homeowner’s policy to remove a tree that has damaged a covered property due to wind, hail, and the weight of ice, sleet, or snow. This coverage responds provided the tree 1) damages a covered structure or 2) does not damage a covered structure but a) blocks a drive way and prevents a vehicle from leaving or b) blocks a handicap ramp or fixture.


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