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May 3, 2021

7 Things to prep your home for sale


Today we are going to discuss how to prepare your home for market. Keep in mind that buyers almost always overestimate how much it's going to cost to make repairs. If you spearhead it and take care of those issues upfront, then you will not have that issue down the road. So let's get to it. I'm Sandy Curtis with Berkshire Hathaway Bowen Realty in Hagerstown, Maryland, and I'm your real estate resource, here to discuss preparing your property for the market.

So it's obvious that you want to take care of the holes that you've put in the wall, because buyers are looking and they're thinking, "Oh, we're gonna have to hire somebody," unless that buyer knows what they're doing, to spackle that wall and then they're going to have to have it painted. So take care of your differed maintenance, things that you should have been doing, like cleaning out your gutters, changing the batteries in your smoke detectors, checking the seals around your doors, things of that sort.

I will put a link below for a list of items that you should be maintaining on a regular basis, so this does not happen to you.

The second thing I'm gonna point out is declutter. If you have a garage, store your items in boxes in the garage. That way, your living space is wide open and the rooms feel larger, because there aren't other items taking up those spaces. If you don't have a garage, maybe a friend or a family member will store things for you. Worst case scenario, rent a small storage space.

Number three, brighten the home. There's nothing worse than going into a dark, dreary, cave-like room and thinking, "Oh, this is the darkest house I've ever been in and I don't know how to fix this." You obviously need to brighten the room, so I recommend replacing the curtains, lighten the wall color, get a lighter colored rug or carpet for the room, always leave the blinds and the curtains open, and leave a light on if it's possible. All of these will help brighten up the room if the room is naturally dark to begin with.

The fourth thing on the list to help you prepare for the market is to look at the house. When was the last time you had updates done to the home? Walk through the house and look around. Do all of the outlook covers match? What about the handles on your cabinets? Are they old and dated? These are not expensive items that you can go through and replace, so that they have a nice, shiny look and an updated look to them.

Five would be curb appeal. There's nothing better than pulling up in front of a home and just seeing a front yard that is gorgeous and you just immediately fall in love with the house. It is the first thing people see when they pull up to your home, is it not? People make snap judgements, so when they pull up in front of your home and you have a lot of dead plants or shrubs in the front, it's gonna kinda look sad. So cut back your shrubbery, make sure to mulch. If there's algae growing on the side of the house, pressure wash, if it's on your side walk, pressure wash it. Was the front door previously painted? Does it need a new paint job? And another item would be to go to your local store and get a welcome mat.

The sixth item that I'm going point out, that a lot of people still leave out, are your personal photos. You want more people to look at the home, not your pictures, trying to figure out if they know you or not.

And number seven, is interview agents early. Are you really going to pick the first agent that you talk to? You should interview two to three agents to find out what services they offer. What is their marketing plan? Do they do video tours? Do they offer photography? Do they do staging? I hope these seven items will help you prepare your house for the market.


Home maintenance Checklist


Posted in Selling Your Home
April 26, 2021

6 Reasons Closing Won't Happen

What are the top six most common reasons that a house doesn't close on time?

These are in no particular order but I'm saving the ones that you can control to the end so let's get to it!


Today we're talking about reasons why you would not get to closing and how you can control some of those.

What are some of the reasons why you would not make it to closing?


One of the main reasons why homes don't make it to closing is because they don't appraise for enough. So the house doesn't appraise what's the next step? I mean are you going to get the loan if it doesn't appraise? The answer to that is no, not unless you make an adjustment to your offer via either the seller reduces the sales price to make up for the difference in price or you or the seller or both of you bring money to the table that takes up that amount.

Another one would be any repairs that were requested from your home inspection being done in time for closing when you do your final walkthrough. You're going to go through the home and look for things that may have changed but you're also going to look for things that were done as agreed. If they were not done as agreed and your walkthrough is the day of closing you're not going to go to closing unless you negotiate something out with the seller.

Be it them holding money in an escrow account with the title company to go towards those repairs, a price reduction or an extension for closing.

Another item would be if there are clouds on the title, meaning that it doesn't have a clear deed and it's not able to transfer until it's cleared up. That is a title company job and that's what they get paid the big bucks for. 

Now i mentioned before that there are things that are in your control obviously the appraisal is not within your control, whether the house has a cloud on the title or not is not within your control but...

 One of the top reasons that houses don't close on time is because the people forget to bring their id with them or make sure that that id has not expired. It is required on all closings that the buyers and the seller provide id so your id must be up to date if it is not, you need to go get it renewed.

 Another thing that would be within your control is drumroll please.... don't spend any money before closing guys!

 If you don't have the money to buy furniture then don't buy the furniture yet. You may have thrown the numbers off. Your debt to income ratio may not be what it needs to be in order for your lender to give you that loan.

So opening a new credit card opening any kind of debt adding to an existing credit card and making your debt go up higher or even co-signing with a family member (or anyone) can affect your credit and if your lender pulls your credit the day of closing and they see new items on your credit that were not there before they're going to reject your loan.  

That is the number one thing that you have control over right there guys...

 If you have to spend the money then wait until closing is over and then do it.


Lastly, and pretty much out of everyone's control until covid 19 is over a lot of people are on furlough and unable to make it to closing hence we have to do an extension. Just because the home doesn't go to closing today doesn't mean it can't go to closing next week .... unless you went and opened up new credit cards or added more debt to your debt to income ratio and your lender doesn't give you the loan that is well within your control.



April 23, 2021

Realtor to Realtor Referral


Did you know that real estate agents can refer and receive monetary referrals from other real estate agents?

Even if they're not in your area?!

Amazing, Right?

If you are looking for a real estate agent, ask yourself "who do I know that can help me?"

Do you have a family member or friend in Real Estate?

Reach out to them to help you find the right agent for you in your needs, it doesn't cost you a dime and if they refer you to an agent that helps you close on a real estate deal they can get a referral check from that agent!

So the next time you're looking to buy or sell a property try to remember, do you have any friends or family who are real estate agents?

They may not live in your area but that's okay! Give them a call, they will refer you to an agent in the area you are looking to buy or sell in and they can get paid a referral fee for it. 

April 19, 2021



What is asbestos and why should you have an inspection for it?

We are discussing asbestos and how it can affect you in your home. 

So what is asbestos?

Asbestos is a group of minerals that are small fibers that are heat resistant.

Now I am going to be abbreviating some of this so it is best that you go to this link that will take you to the EPA website that will give you much more information about asbestos and how you can be affected by it.

Exposure to asbestos can lead to some cancers and other diseases. Asbestos is still used today in the united states as long as it is one percent or less of the product that is being produced. It's a very effective insulator and can be used in many products including cloth, paper, cement, plastic and other materials to help make them stronger.

When asbestos dust is inhaled or ingested the mineral fibers can become permanently trapped in the body. It's important to avoid any disturbed product that has asbestos in it. Keep in mind most cases are tracked back to occupational exposure but it can be in your home.

Many of the products in your home could possibly have asbestos in it including tile, roofing, siding, insulation on your pipes and your heating ducting. Keep in mind the microscopic asbestos fibers do not have a taste nor do they have a smell to them so if you ever see anything that has asbestos in it that is disturbed and could possibly be dropping the fibers into the air, it is something that needs to be taken care of immediately.

If you find that there are asbestos  items in the home then there are options for you. You can  possibly have all of the asbestos removed from the home or you can encapsulate it so that it doesn't get outside of that enclosure.

If you think that asbestos may be in the  home then yes you should have an inspection done to find out if it is asbestos and if it is in bad condition needing attention immediately. 

If you have any other questions about asbestos please let me know in the comments and don't forget to like and share the video!

Posted in Buying a Home
April 16, 2021

7 Questions for your lender

Here are 7 important questions you should ask your mortgage advisor. Geared toward First Time home buyer questions, but important to anyone buying a house. Get the right mortgage loan questions and answers the first time you meet with your lender.

What questions should you be asking your lender?

Buying a home can be overwhelming, especially for first-time home buyers.

I provided a Buyer Checklist. It'll take you to it, print it out, take it with you, keep it with you, so you're doing everything that you need to do to get to the closing table. 

One of the steps is getting pre-approved for your loan.

And these are the questions you should be asking and writing down so that you can discuss it with your buyer agent.

 1-What type of loans do they offer and which one is the best fit for you and your needs? 

This is important information when you're purchasing a property because certain loans have limitations on what they will allow if the home needs repairs. 

For an example, you're looking at a foreclosed property. It has broken water pipes, it's been disclosed, but the lender is not willing to do any repairs to the property, nor will they allow the buyer to do any repairs. One of the loan requirements for FHA is the home has to be habitable. So not only are you qualifying for your loan, you need to discuss with your realtor as to whether that home you want to look at is going to qualify for your loan. 

There are rehab-type loans that are available, that you could discuss with your lender. But does that lender offer that? 

So back to the first question, what loan types do you offer, and how are they gonna benefit me? 

2-How long is the rate you have quoted me good for? 

Interest rates change daily, so in order to take advantage of a really low interest rate that is happening at this particular time, you need to get pre-approved for your loan so that the lender can lock that loan percentage in, and there's no penalties to you to take advantage of it later. 

So the timeframe in which they're able to lock in your rate is how long you have to get to closing, not to find a property.

So if your interest rate is only good for three months, you have two months to find your home at a bare minimum, because it can take 30 to 45 days to close on a loan.

3-How long is it before the loan can close? 

Mr. Lender, I have found the property I would like to buy, if I made an offer on it today, how soon could we close on it? 

4-Is going to be whether you need mortgage insurance or not?

When you're purchasing a property, you have to take into account your property taxes, how much your mortgage insurance is, how much is your homeowner's insurance? Things of that sort that you have to pay on a yearly basis. Those are numbers that have to be paid in order to protect you and the lender. But with that protection comes a hefty monthly addition to your mortgage.

Mortgage insurance is not the same thing as homeowner's insurance, your homeowner's insurance is it protects you against fire, mortgage insurance protects the mortgager if you default on your loan. Loans that are 80% or more of the value of the home, require mortgage insurance.

5- You're also going to want to ask your lender, if the mortgage insurance drops off, once you have hit 80% or less of your loan to value?

6- How much can I ask the seller to contribute towards my closing costs?

The percentage that they give you is the maximum amount that you can ask the seller to contribute towards your closing costs. And that percentage is based on the sales price. I cannot stress how important this number is to you and your realtor, because when you are ready to purchase your property, you need to know how much your closing costs are, and how much of that you can ask the seller for if you don't have enough.

Now, I will make a note here that just because they say that you can ask for up to 6% in closing assistance on the seller side, it's not likely that you're going to get 6% in my area. The average amount that the sellers are willing to contribute toward buyer closing costs is 3%. That includes banks. So foreclosures, almost all of them will offer a 3% in closing assistance, if it is an owner-occupant making the offer, you just have to make sure you put that in your negotiations upfront that you're requesting 3%.

Now. I wanna point out these are in no particular order. They are all something you should ask when you are getting pre-qualified or pre-approved for the loan to purchase your property. And the last one I'm gonna point out today is

7- How much are your closing osts and your down payment? These numbers are very, very important. 

They are important because you need to know how much you need to bring to the table. And how much of that, if any, can you ask the seller to contribute towards? So if you have not gone through the steps to get pre-approved, you're not going to know the percentage that you can ask the sellers assistance for.

Think about it, if you're making that offer and you ask for the 3% and you actually need 4 ,you may not be able to purchase the property.


Posted in Buying a Home
April 12, 2021

What are the best schools and safest neighborhoods in Washington County?

Questions realtors hear on a regular basis but are not allowed to answer? 

So a lot of you when you're moving into an area you want to know where is the safest place to move? 

But in real estate we are not allowed to discuss these because it can lead to steering.

What do you mean by steering? Well steering is where you talk someone into moving into an area based on an assumption. 

We all have opinions and they are not the same. Everybody has different views on different things in their lives. So in real estate if I were to tell you which school I thought was the best school, it may not be the same thing in your eyes. 

If criminal record is of concern to you then you're going to want to look up the public records to find out if the police are called on a regular basis to that area and which houses they're called to more often. Washington County Sheriff's office Crime Statistics and Maps: https://washcosheriff.com/crime/crime-statistics/

If you have a specific neighborhood that you're looking for you can pull it up and see if there are many calls for the police and what those calls are for. 

This way you can make that educated decision on what neighborhood is best for you. 

Which are the best schools? Is another question I hear a lot. 

Check out the Washington County School districts , see where their grades are and explanations of the different schools. Other resources are Maryland Schools Report Card and Great Schools Organization Scores for Public and Private Schools.

So what does that mean to you? It means your realtor is your resource. So reach out to your realtor, find out where your local school district's website is so that you can pull up the school records. Find out what the scores are and pick a school that is best for your needs.

When you found a neighborhood that you like I recommend that you drive there and you spend some time in the neighborhood, talking to the neighbors finding out what is going on in the area.  A lot of neighbors will be glad to discuss their neighborhood with you , a lot of them are proud of their neighborhood and they love to talk about it.

Posted in Buying a Home
April 9, 2021

Pros and cons of living in Maryland

Pros and cons of living in Maryland, specifically Washington County, Maryland.

Did you know that Maryland is the ninth smallest state in America? And it's been nicknamed America in miniature, due to the plethora of different parks that we have in our state because 40% of the state is covered with trees.

This leads me to our number one pro for living in Maryland is the great outdoors. We have state and national parks in abundance. So you have hiking, biking, swimming, boating, fishing, you name it and we have it.

Surrounding the Hagerstown area we have Cunningham Falls, Greenbrier State Park, Gathland State Park, Gambrill State Park, South Mountain Park, Rocky Gap and Fort Frederick State Park just to name a few. Two hours West of us we have Deep Creek Lake and about three and a half hours to the East we have Ocean City.

Number two would be the amount of beaches that are in Maryland.

We have miles and miles of beaches and don't forget to stop by Assateague Island and visit with the wild horses that run free.

Number three, Maryland gets to experience all four seasons. So if you like snow, but if you like summer this is the state for you. Our location is in an area where the temperatures don't get too extreme in one direction or the other on a regular basis but you get to experience all four seasons here.

The fourth pro for Maryland is the plethora of museums and monuments that are there to visit. It would take you years to visit all of them and don't forget to stop by the aquarium at Baltimore Harbor.

Our cons here in Washington County, of course, is going to be traffic for commuters. If you are headed East for work commuting you are going to get stuck in traffic. There's no way around it unfortunately. If you head West in the spring or the summer on a Friday, or come back on a Sunday, headed to Deep Creek, you're going to hit traffic.

For the most part in Washington County, we don't have a lot of traffic, but for commuters just be aware that Maryland does have a lot of rush hour traffic.

Number two con would be the housing prices are above the national average in Maryland. The farther West you go, of course the lower those prices are going to come down.

Just as an example, last year (2020) in Washington County our average sales price was approximately $245,000 where in Frederick County, right next door that average sales price was around $383,000.

If you're looking to rent, be aware that your average rent in Washington County is going to run you around $1,200 and in Frederick County it's going to run you upwards of $1,800 a month.

The number three Con is with higher sales prices comes higher property taxes. So be aware homeowners, you will probably have a higher property tax than you were used to if you were moving into the State of Maryland.

Number four con is the Bay Bridge. If you want visit or have to commute back and forth through the Ocean City area, you're going to get stuck in the bottleneck at the bottom of the bridge.

I also want to point out that that bridge is 4.3 miles long, it also sits upwards of 354 to 379 feet in the air depending on which direction you're headed.

If you don't like driving across bridges I would recommend you reach out to one of the people who will drive you across the bridge. That service is pretty cool, there is someone who will drive you from the beginning of the bridge to the end of the bridge and then you pick it up from there, for a fee...

Posted in Buying a Home
April 5, 2021

4 Ways to Pay off your Mortgage quicker

Today, we're discussing how to pay down your 30 year mortgage quicker than 30 years, so let's get to it. I'm Sandy Curtis with Berkshire Hathaway Bowen Realty in Hagerstown, Maryland, and today we are discussing paying down your mortgage early.

So let's discuss the different ways to get your mortgage paid down a little bit faster than you would with a 30 year mortgage.

There's obvious advice that I can give you, such as don't spend the maximum amount of money that you're pre-approved for. Just because they pre-approved you for it doesn't mean you need to spend it. Also keep in mind that it is best to try to qualify for your mortgage based on one income. So if you have a dual income house, then you want to use one of your incomes to qualify for your loan. That way if something were to happen, you would have the other income to fall back on.

Another thing to keep in mind is the more money you put down on your mortgage, the quicker it's going to be paid back. If you have credit card debt, you should pay your credit card debt down before you pay your mortgage down because your interest rate on your credit card is revolving and it is more than likely higher than what your interest rate is on your mortgage.

Living frugally can help you also, because you're not spending more money in different aspects of your life, and it gives you extra money each month to put towards your mortgage payment, in other words paying your mortgage down sooner.

So there's a few things I do recommend you do to help pay your mortgage down a little bit quicker than it normally would if you didn't follow these steps. We have now borrowed the full, maximum amount of our house, we have put a fairly large amount of money down, and we have equity in the home, but we want to pay the loan down so that we don't have that over our heads and we can live in the house without a payment due every month. That sounds ideal.

Well, how would you go about doing it?

It's going to depend on your individual needs and abilities. The first thing anyone's going to tell you to do to help you pay your mortgage down is make an extra payment every year. If you make one extra mortgage payment every year, it can knock years off of your loan and save you thousands in interest.

Let's have a look at Dave Ramsey's calculator, and show you how you can pay your loan down faster based on how much you pay. Okay, so let's say our loan amount is $200,000. Just for easier math we're gonna use $200,000 as our loan amount. Our first payment is due in January of next year, just saying, if you have a current balance, there is also a button here, the blue letters, you can click on that and use your current balance on your current loan.

This is just an example though, so we're gonna use the basics here. So our loan amount's $200,000, first payment's due in January, it's a 30 year loan, and it's at 3% interest, giving us a principal plus interest payment of $843.21. So if we were to make an extra $200 a month payment bringing our payment to $1,043.21, and we do that on a monthly basis, we would be saving $30,910.34 cents in interest, guys. That's a car! And eight years and two months off of your mortgage. That's pretty awesome. That just turned your 30 year mortgage into a 22 years mortgage, not bad.

Let's say you rent out one of your rooms and you're getting $400 a month, well, let's add that $400 to your $843 monthly payment, and that's gonna come in at $47,395.36 savings in your interest, guys. That's almost $50,000, and it cuts 12 years and nine months off of the mortgage.

That's pretty awesome, but we're not all in that position, so let's back this up and say, okay, well, I have an extra $50 each month that I'm going to make on my mortgage payment, and that $50, $50 extra a month is going to save me $10,000 in interest and cut two years and seven months off of the mortgage. That's pretty awesome.

Let's say that we have the ability to make only one extra mortgage payment. So remember, our mortgage payment, based on this $200,000 loan amount, is $843.21. We're going to do this yearly, so we have that one extra mortgage payment per year, and that is going to save us 14,033.66 in interest and cut three years and seven months off of our mortgage. That's pretty awesome.

Let's say you come into some money one year, let's say it's $10,000, and you wanted to put that towards your housing. Can you do a one-time payment? Why yes, yes you can. And how much would one payment of $10,000 save us on our original loan of 200,000? It's gonna save us $13,000, so if you put down 10,000, you're going to save an additional 13 in interest. That's pretty good guys, two years and four months off of the mortgage.

So as you can see, paying down your mortgage could be a benefit to you even if it's just a one-time payment, a monthly payment, quarterly, yearly, you choose. Just make an extra payment on your mortgage and pay that loan down a lot faster.

Now, do I recommend 30 versus 15 years on your loan? Again, it is going to depend on your individual needs and your individual goals as to where you wanna be in 15 or 30 years. However, I will note that a 15 year mortgage is going to have a much larger minimum payment due every month for that 15 years, whereas a 30 year mortgage is going to have a much lower payment due each month, and it could open you up to making an extra payment or two.

If you can afford the higher mortgage payment on a 15 year loan, but you have a 30 year loan right now, don't refinance it and pay extra to refinance when you can just put that extra payment towards your monthly mortgage payment and pay your loan down faster.

These are all things that I have picked up over the years. I am not a financial advisor so please, by all means, if you have further questions about how to save money or how to invest your money, that is a financial investor question, and I would recommend you reach out to them.

Our options are to keep your loan as a 30 year mortgage versus a 15 so you're protecting yourself with a lower monthly payment in case something were to happen, but you're living frugally and you're saving money each month to go as an extra payment towards your mortgage. So you're paying your mortgage down a little bit faster each month, and it brings years and thousands of dollars in interest off of your loan in the end.

However, I will note that if you can afford a fairly hefty extra payment each month, it might be in your best interest to look and see if it is a value to you to invest that money versus paying the mortgage off sooner. I am not a financial advisor in any way, shape, or form. I am just giving you feedback on what I have seen over the years, and maybe it will benefit you. Pay your mortgage down sooner, become debt-free, or invest towards your future. 



Posted in Buying a Home
March 31, 2021

Good Neighbor Next Door

Calling all Firefighters, EMTs, Teachers of kindergarten through 12th grade, and Police officers.

If you're looking to purchase a HUD home in a revitalization area, you could qualify for a 50% off discount.

What am I talking about? Well, let's discuss this program and how it may benefit you. 

HUD has many programs that are available out there, however, one of them I wanted to bring to your attention, because if you are a police officer, a teacher of kindergarten through 12th grade, a firefighter, or an Emergency Medical Technician, EMT, you could qualify for 50% off of a HUD owned property if it's located in one of the revitalization areas.

It sounds too good to be true, right? 50% off, are you kidding me? Well, there are some rules that you have to follow, such as you have to sign that you're going to live in the property for the next three years at a bare minimum. Technically, the discount that you're getting on the property is going to be a second lien on the home for those 36 months. If you stay there for the 36 months, it drops off and it goes away.

HUD does require you to sign as a second mortgage, but it's at 0% interest, and zero payments. They call it a silent second. Your personal loan is going to be for the 50% that you're paying for the home. The silent second is for the other 50% that is discounted off of the home.

So how do you know if you qualify for this program? Well, you're welcome to go the HUD home store website and click on the Good Neighbor Next Door link, or you can call a listing agent of a HUD property and they will be able to discuss the program with you. Keep in mind that the HUD revitalization areas are limited, so you want to make sure that you know that you're looking in the area that you want to take advantage of the program in.

To qualify as a law enforcement officer for the Good Neighbor Next Door program, you must be a full-time agent of the federal government, the state, a unit of the local government, or an Indian tribal government. You must directly serve in the locality of where the home is located.

A teacher qualifies if the person is employed full-time as a teacher with a state accredited school, public or private, that provides direct services to students in pre-kindergarten up to 12th grade. And you must also be looking for a home located in the area that you're serving.

For firefighters and EMTs to qualify for the Good Neighbor Next Door program, you must be employed by a local fire department or emergency medical service responder, unit of the federal government, a state, a unit of general local government, or an Indian tribal government. You must also be full-time employed and serve the area that you're looking to purchase the property in.

How do you find out where the properties are located? Well let's take a look at the map. Take a quick look at the map to see what area near you will qualify for the Good Neighbor Next Door revitalization area, see all that blue there? Those are the revitalization areas. You can see Washington, D.C., and Baltimore have quite a few areas that are available. Looks like there's a place in Atlantic City that qualifies as a revitalization area.

So they're looking for people who are giving back to their community and can help protect and serve that area. If you'd like more information about the Good Neighbor Next Door program, you can always comment below and I will answer it. You can also reach out to your local HUD real estate agent and ask them to help you and get more about the program.

Posted in Buying a Home
Feb. 10, 2021

How to buy a home with low income


How much house can I afford? Well, that's a question we hear a lot, and we're going to talk about it now. I'm Sandy Curtis with Berkshire Hathaway, Bowen Realty, in Hagerstown, Maryland, and today we're discussing how much do you need to make to buy a house?

There's a lot of factors that go into a mortgage. The three main things that are going to affect your ability to buy a home are your credit score, how much you have to put down on the mortgage, and your debt-to-income ratio.

The higher your debt, the higher your interest rate could possibly be. The lower those numbers are the better. When bankers are doing the numbers, they take your income and then they also take your outgoing bills or debt, and then they run the numbers to make sure that you fit within the criteria of the loan that you're looking at.

No more than 28% of your monthly income should be used towards your monthly mortgage payment, and no more than 36% of your monthly income should go towards your debt. So, how much of a monthly mortgage payment can you afford to pay? Well, based on the 28/36 rule.

Let's use an example of $5,000 gross monthly income. That's just a general round number. It's easy for me to remember. So 5,000 gross monthly income, where would your mortgage payment need to be to be below the percentage that it's acceptable by your lender for your mortgage payment? Let's use an example of $1,400 a month in mortgage, at a 5,000 monthly gross income. That puts you at that 28% debt-to-income for your mortgage payment. So you would want to keep your payment below $1,400 a month.

Now, where would that put us for your debt? Now, your debt includes your student loans, your personal loans, your auto loans, your credit card payments, child support, alimony, and then they divide all of that by your monthly income. So let's use the example that you have $5,000 coming in every month in gross, and that you have $1,800 in debt that you are paying out every month. Doin' the calculation on that brings us at 36% of your debt-to-income ratio. So you're gonna wanna pay those bills down sooner rather than later, because the more debt you put on there the higher that percentage is going to be, and the less likely you are going to get qualified for a loan.

The quickest way to do these numbers is to reach out to your lender and ask them to run the numbers for you. That way they know that the taxes, the hazard insurance, and your homeowners association, any other additional fees that are needing to be paid towards that property, are included in the estimated monthly mortgage payment.

Keep in mind that those numbers are the highest numbers. So it's in your best interest to keep those numbers below 28 and 36. Just because you have money every month doesn't mean that you necessarily need that fourth bedroom if there's only two of you living in the house. Keep your monthly housing bills down below 28%. Honestly, I would keep it below 25%.

And if your debt is at 36% or higher, start working on paying that debt down. The sooner you have that debt down, the sooner you can start saving money to go towards your down payment on your purchase. Keep in mind that credit scores, the higher that credit score the better your chances of a lower interest rate is going to be. The lower your debt is the better.

And the more money you have to put down on your mortgage is also going to affect your interest rate, and in a good way.

If you have mortgage lender specific questions, I do have some lenders I can refer to you, but I do recommend that you reach out to a lender and discuss those questions with them so that you get the answers that you need.

Keep in mind that there are home ownership costs that you should be saving money for in the backend. So if you've maxed out your debt to your income, if something were to go wrong in the house, you may have an issue later on down the road, which is why you wanna keep your debt below that number. Things like your utility bills, repairs, if you have an appliance that goes bad, even routine services like pest treatment. Those are all items that you should keep in the back of your mind that could be an expense to owning that home. 

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