Monday, September 1, 2008

Deadline Newsroom FAQ 9108

When you have questions needing answers that really hit home, contact the Deadline Newsroom. This installment: home buying timing; getting the best mortgage; home ownership costs.

by Broderick Perkins
© 2008 DeadlineNews.Com

Unauthorized use of this story is a copyright violation -- a federal crime

Deadline Newsroom - Q: The market is flat, prices are falling in some communities. Should I buy a home now or wait?

A: Don't base your home purchase decision solely on market conditions.

It can be profitable if you can buy low and sell high, but home buying is more than an investment. There's also the tangible aspect of a roof over your head. Buy a home right now to live in for a decade or more and not only will you stop dropping rent into a black hole, chances are you'll also enjoy some appreciation and numerous tax benefits along the way. Buy a home in a soft market and expect to flip it for a profit in six months to a year and you could lose your shirt. And there are a lot of potential outcomes in between.

Home buying is a very personal decision. Buy a home based on your financial ability, lifestyle needs and personal goals. Check your credit, shop around to see what's available and what you can or cannot afford and get professional help from mortgage and real estate experts to help you make a sound decision.

It's not always a good time to for you, as an individual, to buy. You have to decide when it's a good time for you to buy.

Q: Money is tight. Underwriting terms are tough. How can I be sure I have the best mortgage I can get?

A: Three tips.

1) Examine your credit report. You need to know how creditworthy you are before the lender discovers how creditworthy you aren't. You may have some credit cleaning up to do. The better your credit and the higher your credit score the better your position to negotiate for the lowest mortgage cost and the best terms. Your report, one from each of the big three credit reporting agencies -- that's three reports each year -- is available from

2) Shop around. Shop lenders, brokers, credit unions, your bank or financial company, as well as federal, state and local government home loan programs. Compare all the numbers of every loan program you consider. Use the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation's (FDIC) "Mortgage Shopping Worksheet" to conveniently make that comparison.

3) Get independent, professional help, counseling and education from a mortgage or home buying counselor who has no stake in your mortgage or home purchase. You want to both educate yourself about the home loan process and get assistance in determining which mortgage best fits your financial status, lifestyle and home owning goals.; NeighborWorks, your local housing or social services department and other recognized agencies can get your steered in the right direction.

Q: What costs are included with home ownership?

A: Home ownership costs begin with financing costs -- your down payment, mortgage points, fees, commissions and other costs associated with writing your mortgage, as well as title and escrow costs and fees. See the HUD 1 Settlement Sheet to learn about mortgage and title and escrow fees.

You lender may also require that you have sufficient savings or financial holdings intact after you sign for your mortgage. The lender wants to make sure you aren't stretched too thin after you buy a home. The next costs are in your regularly monthly mortgage payment which likely will consist of a payment against the principal and interest on you loan. You can include in your monthly payment (and should if have a difficult time budgeting) or pay on your own homeowners insurance and property taxes.

Additional costs are associated with the upkeep of your home -- maintenance, repairs, landscaping, home improvements, alterations and additions.

Got questions? Send them to We'll do our best to get you the most relevant answer.

© 2008 DeadlineNews.Com

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Broderick Perkins, an award-winning consumer journalist of 30 years, is publisher and executive editor of San Jose, CA-based DeadlineNews Group -- DeadlineNews.Com, a real estate news and consulting service and Web site and the new Deadline Newsroom, DeadlineNews.Com's news back shop. In both cases, it's where all the news really hits home.

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