7 clever ways to cut the costs of buying your first home

Published: Wednesday, November 01, 2017 @ 9:32 AM

Here are seven tips to lower the cost of your first home Work on your credit score way ahead of time Crowdsource your down payment See if Uncle Sam will help Find a housing counselor Pick a real estate agent based on where you want to live Choose a home where you could stay five to seven years Don't get distracted

Being a first-time home buyer makes you a newbie, but it doesn't necessarily mean you have to be naive about purchasing a home. 

RELATED: House hunters, here are 5 secrets to getting the best home loan

While you might not be the “Property Brothers” your first time out, you can still have some clever tools and tips to reduce those costs.

Here are seven tips to lower the cost of your first home:

Work on your credit score way ahead of time. 

Reducing your mortgage interest rate by even a fraction of a percent point can save you thousands of dollars over the life of your loan, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

One key factor: your credit score. According to Kiplinger, a score of 740 or higher will set you up to obtain the best interest rates. Check your credit report months - or even years - before you're sold on the idea of buying your first home, giving yourself plenty of time to boost your score. "What you don't want is to have to address a bunch of mistakes on your credit report while actively looking for a home and trying to get approved for a mortgage loan," HSH.com vice president Keith Gumbinger told Kiplinger.

To see just how much impact this step could have, enter information on your current and target credit scores into the CFPB's explore interest rates tool.

Crowdsource your down payment. 

If you're comfortable accepting money from friends and contacts, House Logic suggests crowdsourcing to accelerate financing your down payment. Sites like Feather the Nest can walk you through the process.

See if Uncle Sam will help. 

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, offers a number of home ownership programs for those who meet specific income or location requirements. You may qualify for assistance with down payment and closing costs, for example.

HUD also offers deep discounts for people in professions like law enforcement or firefighters when they buy in "revitalization areas." The Veterans Administration can guarantee part of a home loan, help veterans secure a competitive interest rate or waive down payment and private mortgage insurance requirements.

The city of Dayton is facing questions about its handling of money from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. FILE(Staff Writer)

Find a housing counselor. 

HUD-approved housing counselor can give first-time home buyers entirely independent advice on whether a particular set of mortgage loan terms is a good fit.

Pick a real estate agent based on where you want to live. 

A neighborhood expert can often find you the best house at the best price in a way your friend who's a realtor or the agent who lives where you do now can't. "You want people who have worked and have experience directly in the areas you're looking in," Mia Simon, a Redfin agent in Palo Alto, California, told U.S. News and World Report. When you're a first time buyer, never hesitate to use real estate agents, since it costs you nothing. The agent will help structure and present your offer and can troubleshoot any issues that arise.

Choose a home where you could stay five to seven years.

"You're going to spend thousands of dollars to get into the home. To get out of it is going to be equally expensive and may possibly cost more when you do it in less than five years or in a down market," Keith Gumbinger, vice-president of HSH.com, told Kiplinger.

Don't get distracted. 

Aspects of properties for sale that may seem important to you aren't always important to your bottom line. U.S. News recommends concentrating on home features that would be expensive or impossible to change, like not enough bedrooms, an undesirable location or a floor plan that makes it hard to get around. Don't get sidetracked by things you could easily and inexpensively change after the sale, like an odd decorating scheme, dirty carpet or cabinet hardware.

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Avoid the biggest mistake in estate planning 

Published: Thursday, May 17, 2018 @ 10:16 AM
Updated: Thursday, May 17, 2018 @ 7:00 PM

When it comes to finalizing your plans for what happens to your assets after you die, there is one simple mistake many people make - which could put your plans in jeopardy, according to a Centerville C.P.A. A will is the key first step, but only about half of adults between the ages of 50 and 64 have one, according to Mark Bradstreet, C.P.A. with Bradstreet and Co. 

For those that do have their wishes planned out, the biggest mistake they make is not communicating those wishes to family members. “To not let anyone know where your will and documents are - if you don’t do that, then for all intents and purposes, you never had a will,” said Bradstreet. “If you die without one, the state uses their own rules to effectively come up with a will for you.”

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Having a will is clearing the first hurdle, but what comes next is what really helps your heirs after you're gone, according to News Center 7's Rachel Murray. A will lays out who gets what when you're gone - your home, cash, vehicle, and heirlooms - and not having one can be a disaster. "There was a lot of legal difficulties associated with the estate - one lost her home and you can't access bank accounts, things like that," said Don Cook from Mechanicsburg who has many children and grandchildren. 

To avoid any confusion after you're gone, Bradstreet recommends writing a letter to hand-out to trusted family members that include, "where your will is at, who has got it, who is your attorney, safe deposit keys - a lot of people will go ahead and list out their different assets, and their different account numbers."

OTHER NEWS: This app may stop robocalls for good

Sharing your wishes with family can be tough. "Most people, including my wife, doesn't like to talk about it and I don't like to talk about it either mortality, but I want to make sure that my kids are taken care of," said John Noyen of West Chester. 

There are many online forms to create a will yourself, but Bradstreet recommends consulting with an attorney who will help you make sure your wishes are carried out when the time comes.

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This app may stop robocalls for good 

Published: Wednesday, May 16, 2018 @ 12:19 PM

At home, at work, on your smartphone- robocalls are targeting people at all hours of the day and night.

Michael McCann is fed up with all the robocalls especially the sneaky ones with “spoofed” phone numbers. 

“The local ones make you feel like it’s somebody you know within the area,” said McCann in an interview with our sister station WPXI. 

Now, there’s a way to fight back. 

An app called RoboKiller claims to stop the scammers in their tracks and even allows you to exact some revenge. 

RELATED: Who’s behind robocalls? 

The app won a contest sponsored by the F.T.C. and is billed as a highly intelligent and constantly-growing database which blocks hundreds of thousands of phony numbers. 

If a scammer calls you from a new phone number RoboKiller remembers the scammers voice and can add that new number to their blocked calls list, according to RoboKiller V.P. Ethan Garr.

You can also have a little fun with the scammers with a feature called Answerbot.

You choose from a list of sarcastic, interactive recordings which answer the call and have long conversations with scammers to waste their time.

“They think they are talking to a human and it drives them insane,” said Garr.

ROBOCALLS: Local man copes with a new twist on the problem 

Some Answerbot conversations have lasted 40 minutes, Garr said, and that’s 40 fewer minutes for the scammer to try to steal other people’s money. 

McCann tested RoboKiller for a week and he was impressed.

“So far so good. I’ve had no robocalls,” said McCann, “I think it’s very important to have something like this if you want to make sure your privacy is protected.” 

The RoboKiller app costs $24.99 a year. 

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Millennials bypass starter homes, new studies show

Published: Thursday, May 10, 2018 @ 11:42 AM
Updated: Thursday, May 10, 2018 @ 6:12 PM

Millennials bypass starter homes, new studies show

A growing trend among millennials is expected to have a wider impact on the real estate market.

Studies and stats show that millennials are putting off buying a home. In fact, many are skipping a starter house altogether and saving up for a home they will live in into retirement, according to USA Today.  

RELATED: Why homes are selling lightning fast

Seventy-five percent of first-time home buyers would rather skip a starter home, according to a 2016 survey by Bank of America. 

Millennials lived longer at home or rented for a longer period of time, allowing them to save a larger down payment to purchase the home of their dreams, analysts said. They also purchased more homes last year than any other generation, according to the National Association of Realtors. 

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Gas prices could rise due to Trump’s withdrawal from Iran nuclear deal

Published: Tuesday, May 08, 2018 @ 10:55 AM
Updated: Tuesday, May 08, 2018 @ 6:40 PM

(image: Pexels)
(image: Pexels)

UPDATED @ 6:35 p.m.:

Gas prices could spike now that President Trump announced withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal.

“It a double negative to not have the deal and also have those prices go up,” said Tom Tudar of Dayton. 

Analysts say the move could remove a million barrels of oil a day from the global supply, according to News Center 7's Rachel Murray. 

Right now, the lowest gas prices in the Miami Valley can be found at a few stations in Springfield at $2.46 a gallon. 

To find the cheapest gas prices near you, go to whio.com and click on "Pump Patrol".

Many motorists in the U.S. are already paying three dollars or more for a gallon of gas, but the Miami Valley might be spared from hitting that benchmark.  

Right now, the national average price of $2.81 a gallon is 45 cents higher than a year ago, and prices are expected to increase, according to AAA.

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Motorists on the west coast and Idaho, Utah, and Pennsylvania are already paying three dollars a gallon for regular unleaded, with California drivers paying the highest amount, $3.63. 

The current average for the Dayton Metro area for regular gas is $2.61 up from $2.14 a year ago, and up four cents from last month, according to AAA stats.  

News Center 7 consumer reporter Rachel Murray will talk to a local AAA expert to find out why gas prices are rising and whether we can expect them to level off or decrease any time soon. 

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