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Tips for First Time Home Buyers

by Sandi Pressley

Mortgage rates remain at historic lows so first time home buyers are making the move to buy now. If you’re among this group of buyers, these tips will help you make the most of your real estate dollars as you make your first home purchase.

How Much Can You Afford

The most difficult part of buying a home is often being able to tell the difference between what you can afford and what the bank says you qualify for. Banks will often lend a much higher amount than might be affordable. Mortgage calculators help but can be inaccurate without closing costs and other unexpected costs. To truly understand affordability, start by running the numbers.

What Can You Pay Monthly

Before you talk to a lender, you must know how much you can spend on a monthly mortgage payment. Financial experts recommend keeping that amount below 25-30% of your monthly income. This number is often too high for some when figuring in higher utility costs and putting money aside for maintenance of their new home. Contact a local real estate professional or utility service provider to find out average utility costs for the size and type of home you’re considering. Keep in mind, in some climates, summer and winter utility costs can vary widely from spring and fall. You also want to keep in mind, small changes in how you live can have a big impact on your cost of living. For example, a longer commute, even a slight change, can add up to higher fuel costs.

How Much Should You Put Down?

Next on the list is to determine how much you should put as a down payment. You’ll be much more appealing to lenders if you have enough for 20% down but you also need to consider expenses like appraisals, inspections, closing costs and movers. Borrowers with less than perfect credit can expect to pay a higher rate or higher down payment in order to secure a loan. If you’re unable to save up 20% for a down payment, don’t worry. Lenders have plenty of programs available, especially for first time home buyers, that require little to no money down.

What about PMI

PMI or Private Mortgage Insurance is a policy the lender uses to protect themselves with borrowers who are considered risky. Rates for PMI vary by lender and can add a significant amount to your monthly payment. Some loan programs require PMI until you’ve put a certain amount toward your principal balance. Some programs require it for the life of the loan. If your down payment is less than 20%, you’re most likely going to be paying PMI. Talk to your lender about rates and requirements.

Paying Interest

Interest rates can be the deal breaker in many situations. A higher rate, even slight, can have a significant impact on your monthly payment. Work with your lender to figure out what options you have to lower your interest rate. The amount of interest you end up paying over the life of a 30 year loan can be staggering so make sure that rate is as low as it can go. Now that you understand the costs involved in buying your first home, contact your lender and let them know what you can afford. They’ll get you prequalified so you can start searching for your dream home.

Have an Awesome Week!


Sandi’s Hot Home Listing

13804 Spirit Trail Place NE

Price: $629,000 Beds: 5 Baths: 4 Square Feet: 4,935

Exquisitely Feng Shui Home built by ULTIMA HOMES. This Custom home showcases dramatic DOUBLE spiral staircase. With over 4900 SQFT, this dream home offers sophistication & Luxury! Light, bright open floor plan offers 4BDRMS+OFC/4 BATHS/3 car garage. Meticulously built-this home features stunning raised ceilings, arched accents, gleaming oak hardwood flooring are but a few. View This Listing

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6 Great Reasons to Buy NOW!

by Sandi Pressley

This may be the best time to purchase a home.  There are many reasons but below we’ll highlight the top 6.  If you’re considering a purchase, here are a few great reasons to make that move now!

Reason No. 1 to buy now: Rates are low
"Low mortgage rates continue to keep ownership less expensive than renting," said Investopedia. "Even a small change in interest rates has a significant effect on what you'll pay each month and over the life of a 30-year mortgage.
Take a $172,000 30-year mortgage, for example ($172,000 is 80% of the median sales price for existing homes of $215,000 after a 20% down payment). With an interest rate of 4%, you would pay $821.15 each month. At an interest rate of 5%, the monthly payment would be $923.33, and at 6%, the payment rises to $1031.23."

Reason No. 2: Renters Feeling the Squeeze
A recent article from the National Association of Realtors explains that renters are “feeling the squeeze” as rental costs increase nationwide at a pace greater than income increases.

Reason No. 3: It’s Easier to Qualify
When the real estate market hit its recent low around 2006, lending institutions increased their lending standards, making it harder to qualify for a loan.  During this time, lending standards were raised and only prime applicants could get a decent loan.  Today, those standards have loosened slightly, making it easier to find loans and get qualified.  New FHA minimums include a 620 credit score and 3.5% down payment.   

Reason No. 4: PMI Costs Less
When a buyer puts a down payment of less than 20%, there is often an additional monthly fee called PMI or Private Mortgage Insurance.  Early this year the Feds lowered those fees on FHA loans which can add up to over $900 a year in savings.  

Reason No. 5: It’s Still a Good Investment
Perhaps even a great investment.  Experts say that affordability is still at an all-time high, making home ownership a great option for those investment dollars.  As an asset, homeownership stands up, especially when buyers make smart decisions. 

"The largest measurable financial benefit to homeownership is price appreciation," said Investopedia. "Price appreciation helps build home equity, which is the difference between the market price of the house and the remaining mortgage payments."

Reason No. 6: Pride of Ownership
Pride of ownership is a real thing!   Having the freedom to make it your own, painting walls, upgrading kitchen items and not having to worry about higher rent payments coming with your next lease term, make owning your own home a great idea.  Add that to watching your equity grow and the tax benefits of homeownership and this is a no-brainer!

Have An Awesome Week!

Sandi's Hot Home Listing

2700 Vista Grande Dr. NW 114, Albuquerque

Price: $595,000   Beds: 3   Baths: 2.5  Square Feet: 3,970

INCREDIBLE & RARE BLUFF LOT RESIDING ALONG THE RIVER W/Unobstructed views of the City,Bosque,Rio Grande & Mountains. This bluff lot offers unsurpassed sensational views-will not find more breathtaking views anywhere ceiling to floor windows from living, dining, kitchen & Master-Suite showcases phenomenal Views! View This Listing


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How Important is Curb Appeal?

by Sandi Pressley

Do you have a home on the market in Albuquerque? Are you getting ready to list your home for sale? If so, one of the most important parts of your listing is your home’s Curb Appeal. How your home appears from the street is just as important as how it looks inside because, if the buyer isn’t sold when they drive up, they may never take the time see what’s beyond the front door. Well-maintained landscaping, a clean yard and attention to details, will attract more buyers and possibly a higher sales price.

When a potential buyer drives up to your listing, the first thing they notice is the big picture. They see your home, the trees, flowers, colors and most importantly, the level of effort taken on the outside of the home. That first impression is vital and you’ve already lost it if you’ve got dead plants, chipping paint and cracked sidewalks. Not only will the buyer be turned off by the disrepair outside, they’ll make assumptions that the same level of care has been taken inside.

Creating the perfect first impression can feel expensive and overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are 5 projects that can be low cost and have a high impact on your home’s curb appeal.

  1. Remove any dead plants or flowers, trees, fallen leaves and trash from your yard. This step alone will make a big difference in the appearance of your yard from the curb.
  2. Pull weeds and cut the grass, regularly. Nothing says deferred maintenance like tall weeds or an overgrown lawn. Consider asking a neighborhood teen willing to do this for a small fee every week.
  3. Add some color with potted flowers. After removing any dead plants and trees, you may notice blanks spots in your yard. Leaving them blank is fine but you can also fill in with seasonal, flowering plants.
  4. Clean everything! Front facing windows and screens should be cleaned and repaired if needed. Spray off the patio and driveway and do your best to remove any stains. Remove cobwebs from corners and make sure your entry walkway is free of debris including fallen leaves.
  5. Make the garage door shine! Depending on the size of your home, the garage door can comprise up to half of the visual space from the curb. Make sure it’s clean and in good condition. Consider adding new hardware or a decorative address block above the garage for added appeal.

Your local landscape supply company or home improvement store can be valuable resources for ideas and supplies. Take a sketch or photo of the front of your home with you and don’t be afraid to ask for ideas. This small step can mean more traffic for your listing and a higher sales price when the right buyer comes along.

Have a great week!

Sandi’s Hot Home Listing

9759 Colonial Circle NE, Albuquerque

Price: $339,000  Beds: 3  Baths: 2  Square Feet: 1,900

This stunning, single story home is situated in the desired and lovely, guarded and gated community of Tanoan.  The property overlooks mountain and golf course views.  T this open, light and bright floor plan has vaulted ceilings and shows like a model!  This gorgeous home showcases 2 living areas, a lovely kitchen plus 3 bedrooms, a 2 way fireplace inside, an outdoor fireplace, 2 full baths and a 2 car garage!  View This Listing


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The Time to Lock Your Rate is NOW!

by Sandi Pressley

Have you been thinking about buying a new home? Now might be just the time to make that move.  The current low rates we are seeing in the real estate market today are likely not going to stick around.  

Here’s the great news, mortgage interest rates are still at historic lows which is fantastic for this hot spring housing market.

Our advice for people considering a home purchase is lock your rate now.  “This is the last call before the bar closes at these historically low levels,” said Jonathan Smoke, chief economist at®.

Rates are still low but experts believe they are about to rise.  The Feds are expressing that the economy is becoming more stabilized so rates will likely rise in the next few terms.  Since late 2008, the Fed has been helping with this stabilization by keeping rates low.  Once things are settled, and consumer confidence rises, those rates will begin to rise.  Some experts say that could happen as soon as June.
“From here, rates should go up more than down, which means affordability declines rapidly,” Smoke said. “It also means that navigating mortgage choices becomes simultaneously more important, but also more complex as higher rates would cause qualifications to be harder and some options will fall off the table.”

Affordability goes down as rates go up.  That’s the way the market works.  Rates rise and prices increase.  Take advantage of your buying power now and lock your rate today.  

Have a great week!



Sandi's Hot Home Listing

 4 Cinco Circle, Placitas

 Price: $450,000  Beds: 3  Baths: 3  Square Feet: 2,740

 View This Listing

EXCEPTIONAL Placitas Custom Home offers a Private 2 Acre Sanctuary w/ breathtaking MTN views. This 3Bdrm/3Bath/3Car garage NM Pueblo home showcases spacious floorplan featuring a dramatic entry way into a cozy living space w/Kiva FP & exposed vigas, T&G ceilings + wooden shutters thru-out. Gorgeous upgraded Gourmet Kitchen w/custom cabinetry, Granite countertops w/beautiful backsplash accents. Relax in Private Master-Ste With stunning Kiva FP & lovely Master Bath Jetted tub, sep shower & LG walk in closets.Gorgeous front/backyard courtyards, beautiful low maintenance landscaping & unobstructed views. Horses are Welcome!Immaculate, warm & inviting property with its highly sought after location-Directly across street from National Forest Loop RD Trl Head-Fabulous access to hiking & biking!


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