Gordon Avery | Westfield Real Estate, Southwick Real Estate, West Springfield Real Estate


Ready to acquire your dream house? Before you embark on a home search, it often helps to establish a homebuying wish list. That way, you can narrow your house search and discover your dream home without delay.

Now, let's take a look at three factors to consider as you craft your homebuying wish list.

1. Home Size

Home sizes vary. As such, you'll want to consider your living situation closely to ensure you can find a house in a size that suits you perfectly.

Remember, a three-bedroom house may be too big for a single person. Much in the same vein, a one-bedroom home is unlikely to meet the needs of a family of five. But if you consider your living situation ahead of time, you can determine what size home to buy.

2. Home Location

Do you want to own a house that is located just minutes from your office in the city? Or, would you prefer a home in a small town? Think about where you want to live, and you can tailor your home search accordingly.

Keep in mind that home prices will vary based on location. Oftentimes, houses in or near major cities are more expensive than similar homes in small towns. At the same time, homes close to top schools or attractions may prove to be more expensive than others.

3. Home Exterior and Interior Features

Consider the home exterior and interior features that you want – you'll be glad you did. If you evaluate home exterior and interior must-haves, you can create priorities as you search for your dream house.

For instance, buying a house that features a central air unit may be a top priority if you plan to relocate to a warm-weather region. On the other hand, you might want to purchase a house that features an in-ground swimming pool, but you can live without this outdoor amenity if necessary.

A homebuying wish list is essential, regardless of where you choose to pursue houses. In addition, if you require extra help as you get ready to enter the housing market, you may want to employ a real estate agent.

With a real estate agent at your side, you can boost your chances of acquiring a top-notch house at a budget-friendly price. A real estate agent will allocate the necessary time and resources to learn about your homebuying goals. Then, this housing market professional can help you streamline your home search.

Furthermore, a real estate agent will provide expert assistance throughout the homebuying journey. He or she will set up home showings, help you submit offers on homes and handle homebuying negotiations. And if you ever have homebuying questions, a real estate agent is happy to respond to them at any time.

Make your dream of purchasing a home come true – consider the aforementioned factors, and you can create a wish list to help you accomplish your homebuying goals.


If you’re a first-time buyer, odds are you’ve never seen or heard much about mortgage applications. However, for something as important as buying a home, it pays off to go into the process knowing what to expect.

Mortgage applications aren’t all that complicated in and of themselves. Most of the time, your chosen lender will walk you through the process and answer any questions that arise. However, complications do arise when it comes time to provide documentation on things like your income.

To make things easier for your first application, I’ve put together this list of frequently asked questions that first-time buyers often have about their mortgage application process.

Will applying for a mortgage hurt my credit score?

Mortgage lenders will run a credit inquiry to help determine your lending eligibility. There are two types of credit inquiries: hard and soft. A soft inquiry is a quick credit check that doesn’t affect your credit score. A hard inquiry, on the other hand, does. This means your score will be lowered slightly for a few months and then will bounce back.

Mortgage lenders run both types of inquiries. For quick, pre-qualifications, lenders typically run a soft inquiry. Then, as you progress through the approval process, they’re run a detailed credit report (hard inquiry).

What information should I have available?

Lenders will ask you for various documents. The most common things they will ask for include proof of income in the form of  W-2 forms from the previous year and your most recent pay stub. They will also require a record of your other debts, including student loans, auto loans, credit card debt, and any other outstanding debt that you owe. Finally, they will ask for an inventory of your assets. This could include investments, properties, auto titles, and more.

What if I don’t work a conventional job?

People who are self-employed or have unconventional income can still qualify for a loan and will still be required to show proof of income. Lenders may ask for Form 1099 records, tax returns, or any other record or proof of income you have available.

How long does it take to complete an application?

Mortgage applications can be completed as quickly as you gather the required documentation. However, there’s more to getting approved for a mortgage than filling out an application. There will be time needed to process the application, and underwrite your mortgage. This entire process typically takes between 30 and 45 days.

Is it safe to apply for a mortgage online?

Most lenders allow you to start the application process online and their online portals are typically secure. Make sure you check your browser window to ensure that the connection to the site is secured, and you should have nothing to worry about.

Keep in mind that most online applications are designed to get you  prequalified and on your way to getting a mortgage. So, if you want to avoid getting calls from the lender, you might not want to enter any data until you know you’re interested in borrowing at this time.



The US government has been helping Americans achieve their goal of homeownership for decades. Through programs offered by the Federal Housing Authority, the USDA, and the Department of Veterans Affairs, millions of Americans have been able to afford a home who would have otherwise struggled.

The focus of today’s post is one such service: loans offered through the USDA Rural Development program.

If you’re hoping to buy a home in the near future but are worried about being able to save up enough for a down payment or build your credit score in time, USDA loans could be a viable option.

Let’s take a look at some of the common questions people have about USDA loans:

Do I have to live in the middle of nowhere to get a USDA loan?

The short answer is “no.” rural development loan eligibility for your area is laid out on a map provided by the USDA. Most of the suburbs outside of major cities, as well as nearly all rural areas, are covered by the rural development program.

Can I qualify for a USDA loan if I’ve previously owned a home?

Yes. You may be eligible for a loan as long as you’re not the current owner of a home that was purchased through the rural development program. So, for example, if you own a home financed through the USDA and wanted to buy a second home and rent out the first one, you wouldn’t be able to finance your second home through the USDA.

How does the USDA loan guarantee work?

When you buy a home, a lender asks you to make a down payment. If you don’t have a down payment, the government (USDA, VA, or FHA) insures the down payment on your home rather than you paying it up front.

Will I have to pay mortgage insurance?

Unlike other subsidized loans, rural development loans require a “guarantee fee” rather than PMI (private mortgage insurance). The guarantee fee is 1% the total mortgage amount and this can typically be financed into the loan (so you don’t have to pay up front). In addition to the guarantee fee, USDA loans also charge an annual premium for the lifetime of a loan.

What are the qualifications for a USDA loan?

To find full eligibility information, complete the survey on the USDA’s eligibility website to find out if you qualify. However, the general qualifications are:

  • U.S. citizenship

  • Buying a home in a qualifying area

  • 24 months of income history

  • A credit score of 640 or higher for streamlined processing

  • Income high enough so that your monthly payments do not exceed 29% of your monthly earnings

What is the direct loan program?

The USDA really offers multiple urban development loans. The guarantee program, for which most single families utilize, and the direct loan program. Direct loans are designed for families who have the greatest need. You can also find out if you’re eligible for a direct loan by filling out the questionnaire on their website.




Buying a home should be an unforgettable experience. However, problems sometimes may arise that prevent a homebuyer from enjoying the property buying journey.

Whether it's tough negotiations with a stubborn home seller or a property inspection that reveals many problems with a house, problems may occur that can make the homebuying journey memorable for all the wrong reasons.

Lucky for you, we're here to help you streamline the homebuying process and ensure you can acquire your dream home quickly.

Now, let's take a look at three tips that homebuyers can use to transform an ordinary property buying experience into an unforgettable journey.

1. Perform Plenty of Real Estate Market Research

Navigating the real estate market can be tricky, particularly for first-time homebuyers. Conversely, homebuyers who evaluate the real estate market closely should have no trouble discovering a wide range of terrific residences.

Examine the prices of recently sold homes in your area. That way, you can establish a price range for homes that match your needs.

Also, analyze the amount of time that recently sold properties were available. This will help you differentiate a buyer's market from a seller's one and ensure you can map out your homebuying journey accordingly.

2. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage

Buying a home likely will require you to get approved for a mortgage. If you receive pre-approval for a mortgage, you can narrow your home search based on your budget.

To get pre-approved for a mortgage, you should meet with several banks and credit unions. These lenders can explain how a mortgage works and help you find one that suits you perfectly.

In addition, don't hesitate to ask plenty of questions when you meet with lenders. These mortgage professionals can provide expert insights into the different types of mortgages, including fixed- and adjustable-rate options. By doing so, they can help you get pre-approved for a mortgage so you can kick off your search for the perfect home.

3. Work with a Real Estate Agent

When it comes to buying a home, working with a real estate agent is paramount. This real estate professional will do what it takes to eliminate guesswork and streamline the homebuying journey.

A real estate agent understands the challenges that are commonly associated with buying a home and can help you overcome any potential hurdles along the way. He or she also is happy to respond to your homebuying concerns and queries and provide you with the support you deserve at any time.

Furthermore, a real estate agent will keep you up to date about new homes as they become available, set up home showings and negotiate with home sellers on your behalf. This housing market professional will even provide honest, unbiased recommendations to help you make informed decisions throughout the homebuying cycle.

Ready to get the best results from the homebuying journey? Use these tips, and you enjoy an outstanding homebuying experience.


As a homebuyer, you'll want to do everything possible to guarantee a quick, seamless homebuying journey. Because if you're not careful, you may be forced to deal with a nightmare homebuying experience.

Ultimately, there are many ways to ensure that you can avoid a nightmare homebuying experience, such as:

1. Narrow Your Home Search

Although you know that you want to buy a home, it pays to consider exactly what you'd like to find in your ideal residence. By doing so, you can narrow your home search and avoid the homebuying nightmare of pursuing residences that fail to meet your expectations.

Think about which features are must-haves for your new home, as well as which features you can afford to live without.

For example, if you require a home that is close to your office, you can search for houses near your workplace. On the other hand, if you want to live in a small town, you can remove city residences from your home search.

Establish priorities as you search for your dream house – you'll be glad you did. If you separate your home must-haves from your wants, you can simplify your home search and move one step closer to finding your ideal residence.

2. Get Your Finances in Order

How much can you afford to spend on a house? Create a homebuying budget, and you can avoid the risk of browsing available residences that fall outside your price range.

To determine how much money you have available for a home purchase, it often helps to meet with local banks and credit unions. These financial institutions can provide details about a variety of mortgage options and help you select a mortgage that corresponds to your finances.

Also, you should check your credit report before you buy a home. You are entitled to a free annual copy of your credit report from each of the three credit reporting bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). Take advantage of this perk, and you can learn your credit score and take steps to improve it prior to purchasing a house.

3. Hire an Experienced Real Estate Agent

An experienced real estate agent understands both the homebuyer's and home seller's perspectives. As such, this housing market professional can help you analyze a home seller's point of view and negotiate the best price on any home, at any time.

Typically, an experienced real estate agent will meet with you and learn about your homebuying goals. This housing market professional then will map out a homebuying journey, one that helps you streamline the process of acquiring your ideal house.

Let's not forget about the assistance that an experienced real estate agent can deliver throughout the homebuying journey, either. A real estate agent can provide expert insights into the housing market and help you make informed decisions, thereby reducing the risk of a nightmare homebuying experience.

Take the guesswork out of buying a home – use the aforementioned tips, and you can minimize the risk of a nightmare homebuying experience.




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