Money Mistakes First-Home Homebuyers Make

Avoid these financial foes when looking to buy a home for the first time.

Making the transition from renting to homeownership is an important (and exciting!) financial milestone for many adults. As one of the most (if not, the most) expensive things we’ll ever buy, we want to ensure that we go into the deal levelheaded, realistic, and financially prepared. However, it’s not always as smooth as we’d like it to be. Buying a home requires a certain amount of research and planning, especially if it’s your first time. First-time homebuyers should be wary of committing these common money blunders.

Not Checking Your Credit

Before you even start checking home listings in your area, you need to check your credit to ensure you’re in a good position to buy. If your credit history is non-existent or your score is lower than average, you’ll want to put in the time to perfect these issues before going to a lender. If you do qualify for a home loan with a less than stellar score, you’ll likely end up paying a much higher interest rate.

Focusing on Price

It’s easy to focus on the listing price when you’re a first-time buyer. However, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are appraisal and inspection fees to consider, as well as closing costs for the loan. Homeownership is an expense in itself and many first-time buyers forget this. Once you’ve closed the deal, there are expenses such as homeowners insurance, property taxes, and maintenance and repairs to face, too. Make sure there’s room in that budget to accommodate these costs.

Choosing the Wrong Kind of Mortgage

While a traditional 30-year mortgage is the most popular type of home loan, it’s not the only option for buying your first place. If you are able to put down a sizable down payment, you may consider choosing a 15-year mortgage instead. Your mortgage will be dependent on your financial landscape as well as what your long-term plans are.

Luckily, Dean Rathbun can help you find the right mortgage for your needs. Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or you’re seasoned in real estate, we can help. Contact us or give us a call at (888) 455-2847 to get started.

Home Improvements That Increase Your ROI

Update your home with these valuable improvements.

The fluctuation of property prices is highly dependent on the state of the market at that given time, which homeowners have little to no control over. However, this doesn’t mean that you have no control over the rise and fall in price of your own home. You’re in control of your property and can ensure that you get the most for your home when looking to sell and purchase another property.

Before you start throwing your life savings into hot tubs and swimming pools, be aware that not all home improvements will increase your ROI significantly. These additions, however, can add value to your property.


A fresh coat of paint can bring life to the most derelict of objects: doors, cupboards, staircases, and walls. Painting a house may not seem like a task worth undertaking, but some properties have gained value significantly after a simple coat of paint!

Replace Doors

Doors are eye-catching, so it stands to good reason that you want them to look their best. Replacing an older, two-car, steel garage door may give you a healthy ROI, believe it or not. That being said, if you convert your garage into in-law living quarters, you could expect a higher ROI.

Floor Coverings

Nothing makes a room feel more miserable than old, worn out, and dirty flooring. Laminated floors, simulated wood flooring or even a tile job may do the trick. If you have budget constraints, consider replacing the carpet and re-doing the floor coverage one room at a time.

Being prepared for a home sale or purchase is critical. Ensure that you know how to handle it by relying on the expertise of a professional mortgage corporation. Contact Dean Rathbun when it comes time to finding the perfect plan of action to buy your home. We are happy to help you.

Questions to Ask Before You Move

What to Know About Your New Property

If you’ve just bought a new home, you’ll know that there is so much to think about! From arranging a removal van to packing to switching utility providers, it’s likely that you’ll have your hands full. Indeed, there is so much to consider that we’ve written a few questions that you should know in advance of your move-in date.

Where are the utility switches?

In case of emergency, know where the utility shut-off switches are. Once you’ve located them, label them, and ensure that each member of the family knows how to turn them off.

Have the previous owners got any spare tins of paint?

Eventually, you’ll need to repaint the walls in your new home. But what shade of beige is the living room? If you’re able to find out what paint and which color the previous owners used, this will help immensely. The previous owner may even have a couple of cans of paint left over, so ask them if they can leave this behind rather than throwing it out.

Will existing items be left behind?

It helps to understand exactly what you are expecting to inherit so that you can plan ahead and buy some useful items prior to the day you move in.

Will there be instruction manuals left behind for any electrical goods?

You should know which electrical goods are going to be staying in the property. You can find almost any instruction manual by doing an internet search, but having these paper copies handy will save you time when trying to figure out how the oven works on your first night in the house!

Are you ready to move into your dream home? Contact Dean Rathbun when it comes time to finding the perfect plan of action to buy your home. We are happy to help you.

How to Save for a House and Tackle Debt

How to Pay Off Debt When Saving for a House

Most of us mere mortals have a bit of debt to our name. That baggage is loaded with interest rates, loans, and payback deadlines. Fortunately, just because we owe a bit of money doesn’t mean that our vision of buying a dream house dissipates. It can take some time, but luckily you can save for a house and tackle your debt!

Intrigued yet? Read on!

Set Savings Goals 
All future homeowners realize that a home includes saving for a hefty down payment. Commit to a specific price range for your future house and set a savings goal!

Set Up a Separate Savings Account
If you don’t already have a savings account for your down payment, set one up! Keeping your savings separate means that you won’t dip into it for car repairs or a shopping splurge.

Strategize Your Debts
Make a list of all of your debts and interest rates for each. The debt snowball method may help you: pay off your smallest balance first while keeping up with the minimum payments on your other debts. Once that first one is eliminated, direct that money to the next highest balance, and so on! Don’t forget to budget your down payment savings into this plan.

Stick to It!
Paying off debts and saving for a house are both long-term goals. Be consistent and you’ll see movement!

Contact Dean Rathbun when you’re looking to secure the right mortgage for your needs. We work with your credit score and financial picture to ensure that you lock in the right home loan to land that house of your dreams. Give us a call to get started.

Tips for Selling Your Home When You Have Pets

How to Sell Your Home When You Have Dogs and Cats 

Selling a property can be difficult at the best of times, but if you have pets, it can sometimes be even more difficult. Not everyone loves cats and dogs as much as you, and even if your pet has been the tidiest and cleanest, some viewers won’t want to view a property where a pet has previously lived. To help sell your home without Fido or Mr. Whiskers hindering the process, check out these tips.

Try Not to Be Sentimental

It’s really hard to put your emotions to one side in a home sale, especially when you’re attached to your beloved pet. Homebuyers don’t want to be met at the door by excitable dogs or have to step over cat toys. If you can, keep your pet shut away in one room while guests view the house, or leave them with a family friend or neighbor. Remember that buyers are there to picture themselves in the property, and any unwanted distractions could leave them feeling uninterested.

Cleanliness Sells

Never underestimate the power of a vacuum and a mop. If you want to achieve the top price for your property, it will need to be looking (and smelling!) great. While it can be difficult to stay on top of smells and toys in the house, try to ensure that the property is left in good condition before a viewing. Ensure there are no toys lying around, no clumps of dog hair floating along, and that litter boxes are emptied and cleaned.

Go Neutral

As mentioned before, viewers are trying to picture themselves in your property, so that last thing they want to see is family pictures and pet portraits in each room. Try to neutralize the space so that the guest isn’t put off with the number of personal belongings. If you don’t have the space to tidy things away, consider investing in self-storage for the period your property is on the market.

Buying a home is no small feat, so it pays to have a trusted, experienced professional on your side! Contact Dean Rathbun when it comes time to finding the perfect plan of action to buy your home. We are happy to help you.

House Hunting: How to Win a Bidding War

Know How to Get Ahead of the Bidding War 

If you’re buying a home at the height of a seller’s market or simply want a sought-after house in a neighborhood with limited turnover, you may find yourself in the midst of a real estate bidding war. While it’s tempting to just keep upping the number every time someone outbids you, you may need to step back and decide how much you really want that particular home. Here are some home-buying tips to help you navigate the vicious bidding waters.

Set a Budget

Start by figuring out exactly how much you can afford before you look at properties. Your income, credit rating, monthly expenses, and down payment will help determine your loan approval. Work with the right mortgage team to help you get started.

Don’t Overbid

It may seem logical that a seller would automatically accept the highest bid, but sellers want to be certain that offers are going to go through. In short, putting in a high bid can be a risk – both because the seller may not accept it, and because your lender may not be willing to increase the value of the loan.

Watch for Timing

When you’re competing against potential buyers, it’s in your best interest to be on top of things and scan the housing listings on a daily basis. Once you see a home on the market that sparks your interest, consider acting quickly. If you wait a day or two, someone else may have already claimed the advantage.

Make Your Strongest Offer

In a tight housing market, you may assume that there are going to be multiple offers on a property. Rather than going in with the mindset of negotiating your final price, try going in with your strongest offer.

Are you ready to secure the right home loan to see you into your dream house? Contact Dean Rathbun when it comes time to finding the perfect plan of action to buy your home. We’re happy to help!

How Much Home Can I Afford?

Determine Your Budget Amount for a Home

One of the most common questions a first time homebuyer asks is ‘how much home can I afford?’ Like every important question in life, there’s no one simple answer. How much you can afford truly depends on many factors. There are no concrete rules for how much home you can afford, or how big your mortgage can be. However, to give you an idea of the numbers you’re looking at, read on.

To determine what you can afford, the standard rule is that your monthly expenses should not exceed 40 percent. The 40 percent rule is based on dividing your monthly mortgage payments and other monthly debt payments by your gross monthly income.

Always consider:

  • Your income – Money that you receive on a regular basis, such as your salary or income from investment. This income number helps to create a baseline for what you can afford to pay every month.
  • Funds available – This is the amount of cash you have available to put down and to cover closing costs. For this, you can use your savings or investments.
  • Debts and expenses – Take monthly obligations into consideration, such as credit cards, car payments, student loans, groceries, utilities, insurance, etc.
  • Credit profile – As always, your credit score plays a large factor. Your report and amount of debt you owe influence a lender’s view of you as a borrower. Those factors will help determine how much money you can borrow and at what interest rate you’ll be charged.

Other Considerations

To answer the large question of how much home you can afford, the current mortgage rate must be considered. Mortgage rates affect monthly payments, which, in turn, affect your budget.

Contact Dean Rathbun when you’re looking to secure the right mortgage for your needs. We work with your credit score and financial picture to ensure that you lock in the right home loan to land that house of your dreams. Give us a call to get started.

Tips for Millennials Who Want to Invest in Real Estate

Real Estate Tips for Millennials

If you’re among the generation of young people who reached adulthood around the year 2000, you’re considered a millennial. As a millennial, you’re likely to be well acquainted with financial challenges such as rising student loan debt, stagnant wages, and sky-high rent prices.

If you’re looking to get into real estate, then you’re wise to start young. You have time on your side and you can possibly see huge returns even before you reach 40.

Are you a young investor who’s looking tips on how to get started in real estate? Read on.

Work with Professionals

When it comes to making big decisions about your finances, ensure you have the right help on hand. Talk to a financial adviser before you decide to invest in real estate. While it’s a big responsibility, it can have equally big rewards. You’ll also need to work with a good mortgage lender who can help you find the right home loan for your needs.

Be Realistic About What You Can Afford

What may be good for you in your fifties may not a realistic prospect in your thirties. If you can’t realistically afford to take on an investment property right now, don’t force yourself to rush into it. Of course, when applying for a mortgage, your lender will examine your finances and take your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio into account when deciding whether to give you a loan and for how much.

Reduce Debt and Save

Sure, we can say you need to save money, but it’s easier said than done, right? Having proof of consistent saving will help your chances of getting approved for an investment property, and substantial savings will give you that all-important cushion to fall back on. Work on paying off your highest-interest debt first. Always pay more than the minimum balance if at all possible. If possible, avoid taking on any more debt like a new loan or adding payments to your credit cards.

Contact Dean Rathbun when you’re looking to secure the right mortgage for your needs. We work with your credit score and financial picture to ensure that you lock in the right home loan to land that house of your dreams. Give us a call to get started.

What to Fix Before Selling Your Home

Important Repairs to Make Before Selling a House

It’s easy to miss a lot of the wear and tear that happens to your house over the years. But when you start thinking about selling, the state of your home becomes much clearer. You know there are issues that need to be sorted out now before a professional home inspector shows them to the potential buyer.


Paint is one of the cheapest, easiest ways to update the look of your home before you list it. You don’t even need to be a professional painter to make this work for you, either. Lighter and neutral colors are preferred when selling because they tend to appeal to most people. Rooms with dark, chipped, or dirty paint are the ones that will benefit the most. If you have wallpaper, it’s a good idea to remove it and paint the walls instead.

Repair the Roof

The roof is the home’s main defense against the weather, so it’s important that it’s in good condition. If the buyer or home inspector sees that the roof is in poor condition or has been neglected, the sale could quickly spiral out of control. Take the time now to replace any missing tiles and patch up any leaks.

Replace Broken Window Glass

Even if one window has a crack or chip in it, potential buyers will see this as a home that’s been neglected. If you didn’t fix a broken window, what else has gone amiss? Replacing windows doesn’t have to be expensive, but it is a repair worth making.

Leaking Faucets

Not only will potential buyers see this, but they’ll hear a tap that is leaking. Fixing a dripping faucet can be as simple as tightening a few nuts and bolts!

Being prepared for a home sale or purchase is critical. Ensure that you know how to handle it by relying on the expertise of a professional mortgage corporation. Contact Dean Rathbun when it comes time to finding the perfect plan of action to buy your home. We are happy to help you.

How to Buy a Home When You’re Self-Employed

How to Qualify for a Mortgage When Self-Employed

Buying a home is daunting for anyone, but it is notoriously hellish if you’re self-employed. While being your own boss has plenty of benefits, it can also bring periods of no work and unstable income. As a result, it can be hard to prove to a mortgage lender that you can pay back a loan for a home. The key to making it all easier is to plan ahead.

Make sure you can verify your income.

Lenders want to know how much money you earn before they decide whether or not to give you a loan. It makes sense – they want to know you’ll be able to pay them back. When you’re self-employed, you’ll have to hand over your last two tax returns. To do this, you’ll fill out IRS 4506-T, giving the lender access to your tax records. Lenders may also ask for your business license.

Be aware of large deposits.

If you’re self-employed, your income may be irregular and unstable at times. When you have a large, irregular deposit during the mortgage process, it can be a problem. The deposit often has to be part of the borrower’s regular income, matching ‘common or usual activity’ in your account. Be prepared for this, as you may need to provide even more documentation.

Improve your credit score.

A good credit score is important for anyone applying for a mortgage, but it can be especially important for those who are self-employed. Typically, lenders like to see scores of 740, and higher. To keep your credit in check, don’t take out new loans or add more debt to your credit card, keep accounts in good standing open, and pay accounts on time.

When you need help obtaining a smart mortgage for your needs, contact Dean Rathbun. We can help you determine the right plan of action for your real estate needs.