I recently had the opportunity to appear on “Chicago Tonight,” alongside personal finance expert Terry Savage, to discuss ways consumers can beat the post-holiday financial blues. I gave viewers real estate advice for the coming year, including tips on refinancing.
Some real estate advice for consumers considering buying a home in the new year:
Plan on spending roughly three times your total income, provided you have good credit – that will get you a lower interest rate.
Do your homework. There’s tremendous competition between lenders, so shop around for the most inexpensive closing costs. You may find the closing costs differ by thousands of dollars for what is essentially the same 15- or 30-year mortgage.
Think about what it really means to buy a home. You’ll need to consider your everyday expenses, how much you spend on entertainment and the money you want to save towards items you need or want. If you still want to be able to do these things, it may mean cutting back on how much you spend on your home.
Commit to staying for a while. The days of moving into a home, living there for a year and selling it for a profit are over. Plan on staying in your home for between five and 10 years.
Some real estate advice for consumers thinking about refinancing their mortgage in 2012:
Don’t wait for interest rates to drop lower. Though rates continue to hit historic lows, waiting could mean missing the boat entirely. Contact your lender and start the process while mortgage rates are still low.
Realize refinancing is not available to everyone. In places like Chicago, Atlanta and Michigan, among others, prices have dropped to a place where refinancing is difficult. If you owe more than your home is worth, you may not qualify.
Look into the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) 2.0. If your mortgage is owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, and you are current with your payments, you may qualify.
If you can save money from day one by refinancing, you should.
Ilyce Glink and Terry Savage on “Chicago Tonight”