Buying a home is huge step, and often represents the culmination of a lifelong dream. But while under the thrilling spell of the home buying experience many LGBT buyers fall victim to three of the biggest mistakes. Became familiar with these pitfalls to successfully avoid them.
One of the many companies directly owned by Warren Buffett, the most successful investor in American history, is a business that builds and sells homes across the United States. Addressing the shareholders of that company Buffett explained that when he is qualifying a home buyer he looks at two fundamental financial requirements. He wants “a meaningful down payment” and he expects that the monthly payments constitute “a sensible percentage of income.” That’s a simple and sound approach that LGBT buyers should follow when shopping for a home.
These days most banks require a rather conservative debt to income ratio of about 30 or 35 percent. That means that if a homeowner’s monthly income is $5,000 then their combined housing expenses – including such things as the mortgage, homeowner’s insurance, and property taxes – should not exceed about $1,650. LGBT loan applicants may find lenders who will still qualify them at higher ratios of debt, but it is not wise to accept burdensome loans with steep mortgage payments. In fact, most financial planners and mortgage experts recommend that LGBT buyers err on the side of greater caution and stick to housing expenses that don’t exceed 25 percent of their income. That gives them a manageable loan and a comfortably protective buffer against any unexpected calamity that might happen in today’s challenging economy.
Buying a House to Get a Slab of Granite
No matter what kind of property they are looking at, residential buyers have a tendency to purchase cosmetic curb appeal because it resonates with them on an emotional level. A buyer will fall in love with the apple tree in the back yard, the urban chic brickwork in a downtown loft, or the granite counter tops in a condo unit. Those are great assets and amenities, and if a home has them they can add to its allure. But LGBT home buyers should not confuse cosmetics or isolated features with underlying and sustainable overall value. Minor features can always be upgraded, and amenities can also be added to a home – but home buying decisions should consider everything being bought, not just one or two exciting perks.
Superficial reasons to buy may be compelling, but the smart buyer will look beyond giddy emotions to make more realistic, level-headed decisions. There is nothing wrong with buying the cute front door, in other words, as long as it opens into a home that meets the rest of a buyer’s carefully articulated criteria. The bottom line valuation of any property should also be based on fresh market data, a keen buyer-ordered inspection, and an objective professional appraisal. The goal is to ensure that the home is both cosmetically attractive and structurally and mechanically sound and free of defects.
Picking the Wrong Realtor
Perhaps the biggest pitfall is shopping for homes without first shopping for the best possible real estate agent. The majority of buyers wind up making the biggest financial decision of their lives – the purchase of a home – without giving much thought to how they shop for the Realtor who will guide them through the process. Most people enlist the services of an agent by calling the phone number posted on the “for sale” sale in front of a home that they find interesting. Whoever answers the call instantly becomes their Realtor. But most LGBT consumers would never hire a financial consultant, building contractor, attorney, or even a house sitter or professional home cleaning service by just responding to the first ad and phone number they see. They would instead first perform some basic due diligence, conduct a few interviews, and then try to make an informed selection.
For LGBT buyers the best course of action is to hire a LGBT or gay-friendly Realtor, because there are many significant issues that are of special, specific concern to LGBT home buyers. There are gay marriage legalities to consider, tax implications, rights of survivorship, and rules regarding how credit is evaluated for non-married partners applying for a mortgage. All LGBT buyers also share a common interest in understanding how supportive a particular community or neighborhood is, especially if they are relocating to a new area. Only another member of the LGBT community can adequately address those issues with a depth of personal experience, so generally speaking all LGBT buyers are better served by taking advantage of the help of a qualified LGBT or gay-friendly real estate agent and mortgage broker.
To find real estate professionals dedicated to active support of the LGBT community, visit http://www.gayrealestate.com, or call toll free 1-888-420-MOVE (6683).
Click here for list of gay realtors, lesbian realtors and gay friendly realtors nationwide.
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