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Home Buying & Rentals

Read the very best advice on how to save money on your housing expenses. Whether buying, refinancing, or renting your living space find great tips for cutting costs and getting more for your money. Search for the best mortgage rates, take advantage of the latest government programs and tax credits, and learn the most effective negotiation strategies.

TIPS


  • Do the math on whether to rent or buy
    A wise investment won't break your bank account. Compare the cost of renting versus the cost of buying a house with 20% down and a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage. If the total monthly cost of the mortgage, property taxes and insurance is less than the [...]
  • For the best price on a house, look for old or expiring listings
    Houses listed for more than three months become old news in the real estate market, and owners are more likely to accept a lower price offer. Statistics show that at least 80% of deeply discounted homes have been on the market for 90 days or more. [...]
  • Do a free search for smart buys on foreclosed houses
    Although it's sad for the original owners, now is the time to find a bargain on a previously foreclosed house. Skip the websites that charge fees to see their foreclosure listings. Instead, try the foreclosure searches on Zillow or Trulia. Get free [...]
  • Go for "almost new" instead of brand new
    Even though a builder might offer outrageous incentives if you agree to build a new home, it could cost tens of thousands of dollars more in mortgage costs. A smart buy is in the resale market, where many homes for sale are almost brand new, and [...]
  • Find bargains in awkward layouts, not fixer-uppers
    Traditional wisdom held that a fixer-upper (i.e., a house that needs obvious remodeling work to fix issues) could be a great bargain for someone who knows a thing or two about managing a construction project. In fact, with lots of investors buying [...]
  • Buy direct to save $$, but with risks
    If a house has a "for sale by owner" sign, it could mean a bargain. Most likely, real estate agents are not yet involved, which means both parties can save on commission costs which can normally add up to 5-6% to the cost. Check newspapers and [...]
  • Find bigger savings when buying a smaller home
    First, the sticker price of a small home will generally be much lower than a larger home. Second, smaller homes are cheaper to maintain in terms of electricity costs, property taxes and homeowner's insurance. Third, with less area to clean, you'll [...]
  • Do a thorough walk-through before buying
    Plumbing and electrical systems can be costly to fix. Take your time going through the house before the final purchase, with the help of a licensed home inspector who will find things you might not have even known how to look for. Make sure there [...]
  • Grab a bargain on a rental property in the off-season
    Not too concerned about where to live? Try a ski resort town in the summer, or a beach resort town in the winter. These towns thrive on holiday business, which dries up in the off-season. A property owner might be thrilled to have renters in the [...]
  • Sublet in college towns during the summer
    Thousands of college students around the country vacate their apartments and go home in summer - why not sublet from them? A lot of people are willing to offer discounted rent, or will include utilities in the price, because they are happy to get [...]
  • Claim the tax credits you are entitled to for buying a home
    Through April 30, 2010 home buyers were eligible for tax credits as first-time or repeat purchasers. Read more at http://www.federalhousingtaxcredit.com/glance.php which summarizes the current credits and provides links to learn more.
  • Take advantage of new government programs to cut down your mortgage costs
    Check the latest interest rates at Bankrate.com to see if you might want to refinance at a lower rate and/or longer term to reduce monthly costs. If you are paying PMI (private mortgage insurance) because you had less than 20% as a down payment, but [...]
  • Check out local REOs (Real Estate-Owned) for potential home bargains
    You will often hear about buying "foreclosed" properties but often the best bargains can be post-foreclosure REOs. Search inventory from lenders in your area here or try the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac sites.
  • Shop around for your mortgage, it could save you thousands of dollars
    You already know to compare prices before you buy electronics or airfare. Given the much higher cost of buying a home, you can imagine how much higher the savings can be from shopping around. Start with some mortgage comparison sites like Bankrate, [...]
  • Shorter mortgages can cost you 30% less on your home
    Shorter term mortgages, such as 15 years instead of a 30-year mortgage, usually offer lower interest rates so ultimately you will pay less for your house. The downside is that your monthly payments are higher, you just make fewer of them. This is [...]
  • Consider paying more now, less later
    If you can afford a larger down payment than the 5-20% that most lenders will require, ask your lender to calculate what your monthly and total payments will be if you put more down up front. Consider what else you could do with that money, such as [...]
  • Get free counseling from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development if you qualify
    The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development offers free Foreclosure prevention counseling and homeless counseling services. They also link to approved agencies that will provide other counseling services for a fee, or at no charge "to [...]
  • Don't look past key disclosures, and use them to negotiate for additional savings
    Get the seller's disclosure and review it for known problems. Ask an agent's advice for how to effectively negotiate on those items - in some cases you might be able to get money back and then handle getting the items fixed on your own.
  • Negotiate your closing costs
    Some closing costs - such as taxes, title and prepayment of mortgage premiums - are unavoidable and non-negotiable. However many costs are applied by your lender and can vary greatly - such as application fees and document fees. Compare costs and [...]
  • Figure out how desperate the seller is to gain a negotiation advantage
    Put yourself in the seller's shoes when you learn about what situation they are in. How much did they pay for the house, and are they going to make money on the sale? How much do they still owe, so how much will they put in their pocket? How much [...]
 
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