Kathy Craig - ERA Key Realty Services


The definition of a "dream house" varies from homebuyer to homebuyer. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to determine if a residence is right for you.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you evaluate a home so you can decide whether to proceed with an offer to purchase.

1. Review a Home's Features

Think about why you are searching for a home and what you want to find in a house. For example, if you require a home that features a deluxe kitchen, you can narrow your house search accordingly. On the other hand, if you want a home that boasts an above-ground swimming pool, you can focus on houses that offer this amenity.

Consider where you want to reside too. That way, you can hone your home search to a select group of cities and towns and find a residence that is located in one of your preferred locations.

2. Examine a Home's Price

The cost of a home depends on a number of factors, including the residence's age and condition. Of course, the housing market itself plays an important role in a house's cost as well, so you'll want to examine the real estate sector closely. By doing so, you can differentiate a buyer's market from a seller's market – or vice-versa – and determine if a home's price falls within your budget.

In a buyer's market, there may be an abundance of quality houses available at budget-friendly prices. If you shop for a home in a buyer's market, you may be able to purchase a house at or below a seller's initial asking price.

Comparatively, in a seller's market, there is a shortage of premium houses, and top-notch homes that become available may be in high demand. In a seller's market, you may need to act fast to acquire your dream home. Plus, you may need to submit an offer to purchase that exceeds a seller's initial asking price so you can purchase your ideal residence without delay.

3. Consult with a Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent is a home selling expert, and he or she is happy to help you weigh the pros and cons of buying a house. In fact, a real estate agent will go the extra mile to ensure you can make the best-possible decisions throughout the property buying journey.

With a real estate agent at your side, you can receive lots of support so you can enjoy a seamless homebuying experience. A real estate agent first will learn about you and your homebuying goals and help you search for a residence that matches your expectations. Next, a real estate agent will help you craft a competitive offer to purchase your dream home. And if your homebuying proposal is approved, a real estate agent will help you finalize your house purchase.

Use the aforementioned tips, and you should have no trouble deciding if a house is right for you.


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.




For many people, nothing beats condo living. As such, the demand for condos continues to grow, and many property buyers are relocating to condos across the nation.

Before you buy a condo, however, it is important to remember that condo living is different from living in a traditional house. Therefore, property buyers who plan accordingly can set realistic expectations for condo living.

How can a property buyer find out what it's like to live in a condo community? Here are three tips to help you prepare for condo living.

1. Learn About Condo Communities in Your Area

Condo communities come in all shapes and sizes, and you should take a close look at the condo communities in your city or town to find out what they're all about.

Even a quick drive through a condo community may prove to be exceedingly valuable. This will enable you to see the size and style of assorted condos, along with the distance between the properties themselves.

After you view a few condo communities, consider what you'd like to find in your ideal residence. This will enable you to compare and contrast your home must-haves versus what condos offer and map out your property search accordingly.

2. Meet with Current and Past Condo Owners

Do any family members or friends who currently live in a condo community? If so, schedule a meet-up with them so they can share their thoughts and views on condo living with you.

Nothing beats firsthand knowledge about condo communities. By meeting with current or past condo residents, you can better understand the pros and cons of condo living.

Be sure to come up with a list of questions before you meet with current or past condo residents as well. Remember, the more you prepare, the better off you'll be as you determine whether condo living is right for you.

3. Collaborate with a Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent has a simple goal: to help you find a residence that you'll be able to enjoy both now and in the future. As a result, this housing market professional can set up condo showings for you, allowing you to find out what it's like to live in a condo community.

In addition, a real estate agent can provide extensive details about what to expect if you decide to purchase a condo. This real estate professional can provide a copy of a condo community's homeowners' association (HOA) rules, inform you about any HOA fees and offer details about community pools and tennis courts that may be available to condo residents.

Perhaps best of all, a real estate agent is happy to offer honest, unbiased condo buying recommendations. He or she can provide you with plenty of information about a broad assortment of condos to help you make an informed purchase decision.

When it comes to browsing condos, don't leave anything to chance. Instead, collaborate with a real estate agent, and you can explore a variety of condos any time you choose.


If you have been looking for homes online for some time, you may be tired of viewing them on a screen. While online home searches are helpful and a perfect starting point for finding a home, you need to see a home to get a feel for it. Whether you are attending open houses or have set up private showings with your real estate agent, there are certain things that you can do to make the most of touring potential homes. You only have a limited amount of time to see a home. Your agent won’t wait around for you all day while you explore every nook of a house and people still live in the house. There’s a good chance someone may need to come back in at some point! Read on for tips on how to use your time and resources wisely when it comes to searching for a home to buy.


Don’t Waste Time


First, you should select the right homes to view. Don’t waste your time looking at properties that you can’t afford or aren’t the right size for you. From your online search, make a list of properties you’d like to see in person. You can narrow down your search quickly by doing the following:


Carefully read property details

Check out the photos of the home in detail

Find out from your realtor if there are any comparable properties for sale


Know What You Can Afford


If you can’t afford a property, don’t waste your time looking at it. Be realistic in your home search, finding the properties that will suit your needs and your budget. Remember that many factors go into a listing price for a home including the location, the size of the house, the neighborhood, the amenities, and more. The bottom line is to stick with homes that fall in your budget to make your search much more manageable.


Work With Your Realtor To Schedule Home Showings


Make use of your agent. They can schedule private showings for you or alert you to upcoming open houses. You can send your agent a handful of listings that you’re interested in, and they can make a schedule for you to maximize your time seeing properties in specific locations.


Hiring a real estate agent is an essential step in buying a home. They can help you to find and view the properties that could potentially come your next home.    



Buying a new home is a big decision and one that many wonder if they are truly ready for.

Use this guide to determine if you are ready to start house hunting:

  1. Thirty percent of your income can cover a mortgage payment for your ideal home

The ability to afford month to month payments is incredibly important. Staying within the recommended percentages when it comes to budgeting helps you failsafe your finances from potential future hardship. At the very least you want your mortgage payment to be as close as possible to the thirty percent marker of your income.

  1. You’re in a secure job.

In addition to having an income that can sufficiently support the month to month payments you also want to ensure that that income is a reliable source. Signs of a reliable income are that you have been with your current company for longer than two years with several months at the same pay rate.

  1. You have a great credit score

This one shouldn’t come as any surprise to you. A great credit score will not just increase your eligibility for financing but also for a great interest rate. If your score falls in the “good” region you can take steps to bring up your score fairly quickly, as far as scores go,  before applying.

  1. You have a down payment saved up

A down payment is a big savings goal to tackle. So if you’ve already done the math and saved up a sizeable sum for the downpayment on your dream house you are most certainly ready! Ideally, this amount should be around twenty percent of the sale price.

  1. You’ve prepared a prospective budget

If you already have a down payment saved you at the very least have part of this step taken care of! Knowing your future homeowners budget doesn’t just include your typical expenses plus a mortgage payment. You also want to factor in homeowners insurance, potential HOA (Homeowner Association) fees, and maintenance costs.

  1. You’re ready to build equity - or it’s your next financial goal

For those scratching their heads, equity is the amount of your home that you actually own. This is the ratio between your homes value, the amount you have paid and the amount you owe. As you continue to make payments on your home your equity grows. Equity can also increase if the value of your property increases.

  1. You’re ready for stability

If you’re ready to settle down in one place for at least the next five years you’re looking for stability. Perhaps you’re ready to put down some roots and start a family or become a part of a local community. Owning your own home provides you a steady living expense, builds equity and gives you (almost) complete control of your lifestyle.





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