ASK THE REALTOR: I am looking to rent an apartment or house. Based on my income I figure that I can afford about $1,500–$1,900 each month. What advice can you give me about getting the best deal for my money?
LYDIA RUSSO: The first thing I would advise you to do is to go see a mortgage broker immediately and see if you can qualify for a mortgage. $1,500/month is plenty to afford to buy a house of your own.
Think about it…
When you own your own home you will be able to enjoy a great tax write-off—interest on your loan and property taxes. This write-off will help cover your expenses—utilities, heat, and insurance.
If you shop wisely with a knowledgeable realtor and buy a home in a good neighborhood with a good school system, your property value will increase as you enjoy living there over the years.
Own your own home? When you are the owner there is no landlord to tell you that you can’t have a pet, you can’t paint the walls, you can’t hang your big-screen television above the fireplace, you can’t even use the fireplace, you can’t barbeque, or you can’t have visitors or company stay overnight…You are the landlord. You decide what you can and cannot do!
If you see a property on a great street that needs some painting, landscaping, and updating inside, that is the one you buy. Now you are your own landlord and can make the changes and updates you want when you want. You don’t have to make all of the improvements at once. A smart owner does something each year. That is your gift to yourself.
True story… 40 years ago, all of the realtors I worked with told me that I could not afford anything in a particular town I was interested in—a great town, great schools. I didn’t believe them and I kept looking. I found a house on a great street that needed lots and lots of work. I saw it the first day it came on the market. I offered full asking price because I knew I would lose it if I didn’t. My husband tried to talk me out of buying. I went with my gut. I paid $27,500 for this house…back then, this was a lot of money. We painted inside and outside and we landscaped the yard. Then, each year, little by little, we did some structural work—new furnace, new bath, new kitchen. Years later we added a master suite on the first floor and two more baths. The town now has me valued at $2.5 million. I don’t want to sell it because we still love it! Over time I probably spent $250,000 to $300,000 in improvements over the 40 years. I have enjoyed everything we have done. If I ever need money, I can sell it for a great profit. You can do the same.
If your biggest concern is your down payment, mortgage interest rates are the lowest that we have seen in many, many years. With the current rates and programs, we see customers who are paying as little as 3.5 percent down payment. If you are a veteran, you may qualify for a VA Loan through the Department of Veterans Affairs. This is one of the few mortgage options for Veterans and active military members who don’t have down payments. If you are concerned about not having enough money to update, there are FHA 203K Loans that will include the money you need to buy the house (the down payment) plus the money to do the repairs at a very reasonable interest rate. Russo Real Estate can put you in touch with someone who can tell you if you pre-qualify for a loan and what you can afford within the hour.
Stop throwing your money away each month on rent. Live your dream, buy your own own, and put up that picket fence you have always dreamed of.
Russo Real Estate is a family-owned business that has been servicing the northern Bergen County area of New Jersey for over 40 years. Lydia Russo and her son Robert offer a personal service not often found in large, corporate-owned agencies. Our agents have the knowledge, experience, and dedication needed to make the process of either buying or selling a home an easy one. From start to finish our agents will provide assistance with any of your questions. Please visit us online at www.RussoRealEstate.com or call us directly at 201-837-8800.
By Lydia Russo, Broker, Owner, Russo Real Estate, Teaneck, New Jersey