Debunking The Myth of 20% Down!

Empty PocketsListen up! Did know you don’t need to put a 20% down payment on a house purchase?

That’s right! Today’s conventional loan requires a qualified borrower to put only 5% down, and an FHA loan only requires 3.5% down.

The National Association of Realtors recently noted that millennials represent the largest share of homebuyers, at 32%, and make up 68% of first-time homebuyers. This may come as a surprise to those folks reading articles about how millenials never buy homes. How can it be that so many millennials — a generation that is moving back in with mom and dad and has historic amounts of student debt — are managing to enter the housing market, even overcoming the mortgage rules of thumb of a 740 credit score, 43% debt-to-income ratio and a 20% down payment on a house?

Here’s How:

Here is a closer look at these programs:

FHA Loans

What is an FHA Loan?

FHA stands for the Federal Housing Administration, and its loans help borrowers who have less money to put down or may not qualify for other loan types. Through FHA, the U.S. government provides the lender with borrower-paid mortgage guarantee insurance. This means the borrower has to pay for mortgage insurance for the life of the loan. As a result, lenders are willing to approve borrowers that don’t meet the higher standards for conventional loans.

Why Would I Want an FHA Loan?

The primary reason people choose an FHA loan is simple: FHA loans allow you to put as little as 3.5% down when buying a house. FHA loans also offer relaxed credit and debt-to-income requirements compared with conventional loans. This is a prime way millennials are getting into the housing market. FHA also allows the seller to contribute up to 6% of the purchase price towards buyers closing costs & pre-paid items. This is twice the amount allowed on a conventional loan.

What is the Downside of an FHA Loan?

The biggest downside can be the cost — government-provided mortgage insurance adds 1.75% to the loan amount and requires a monthly fee of .85% of the loan amount. This monthly fee lasts the life of the loan.

How do I Get Rid of Mortgage Insurance on an FHA Loan?

An FHA loan carries mortgage insurance for the life of the loan. The only way to remove it is to refinance to a conventional loan when your home equity has increased to a point that you have an 95% loan-to-value ratio; remember that if you make a 5% down payment on your home, for example, your initial loan-to-value ratio would be 95%. Note that the loan-to-value on an FHA loan is 98.25% at time of closing ( 96.5% + 1.75% upfront fee) on average it takes two years for your loan to be at 95% of the original sales price.

Conventional Loan Programs

What is a Conventional Loan?

A conventional loan is neither insured nor guaranteed by the federal government, and it must meet guidelines set by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

How do I Qualify for a Conventional Loan?

In general, there’s a limit of $424,100 for single-family homes. In some high-cost counties (counties in CA) the limit can be as high as $625,000.

These loans require that a borrower have a minimum FICO score to qualify. Lenders will have their own minimums beyond the Fannie and Freddie guidelines, but a 620 credit score is often a starting point. A score over 740 will most likely get you the best rates.

There are various loan programs and the minimum down on a conventional loan can be as little as 3%: the so-called “Conventional 97” is backed by Fannie/Freddie, so rates are low, borrowers may receive reduced private mortgage insurance, but income limits do apply per county.

What is the Downside of a Conventional Loan?

The downside of a conventional loan is that if you use one to buy a house with less than a 20% down payment — meaning your loan-to-value ratio is higher than 80% — you have to purchase private mortgage insurance, a monthly expense which is typically .52% but can be up to 1.5% of the loan amount depending on a borrower’s credit rating.

Make no mistake, putting 20% down is a good idea if you can do it. It’s how you avoid mortgage insurance. But paying PMI for a time might be acceptable if it means actually getting into the housing market and building equity.

How do I Get Rid of PMI?

Unlike an FHA loan — which carries mortgage insurance for the life of the loan — the mortgage insurance on a conventional loan will fall off as soon as the loan-to-value ratio reaches 78% because of the Homeowners Protection Act. At 80% a borrower can request that the PMI be eliminated.

What this means is that, if your home is appreciating steadily, you’ll be in good position to see your mortgage insurance disappear. Another way to get rid of PMI is to keep track of the comps for recently sold homes in your neighborhood. If you feel that your home is undervalued, you can always order a new appraisal to determine whether your home equity is such that you can eliminate the PMI.

You can also refinance your loan, if rates have dropped, which can both save you money while reducing or possibly eliminating the PMI.

VA Loans

What is a VA Loan?

The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs backs loans as a benefit for active-duty military personnel, veterans and some spouses/widow(er)’s. VA loans come with great terms for those who qualify.

VA loans can be either fixed rate or adjustable rate mortgages. This type of loan can only be used for your primary residence, and you can only have one VA loan at a time.

Why Would I Want a VA Loan?

VA loans have 0% down requirement and do not require mortgage insurance. And while credit scores matter in order to qualify for the program, minimum requirements are currently 640.

How do I Qualify for a VA Loan?

You qualify for a VA loan if you are a veteran, active duty personnel in any branch of the U.S. Armed Forces, or a spouse/widow(er) of one.

The take away is that in today’s mortgage environment it is not necessary to make a 20% down payment on a house that will be your primary residence. At Title Mortgage Solution we offer a wide variety of loan programs to ensure we have the best options for our clients. When you sit down with one of our loan officers we will work diligently to find the loan program that is the best fit for your circumstances.

 

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What Is An 80/20 Loan Option and Why Should You Consider It?

Smiling young couple shaking hands with an insurance agentFor those of us who can remember back to the pre-crash days of the early 2000s, the term “80/20” or piggyback second mortgage was a very popular one, and a great loan option when financing a home. When the markets crashed c. 2008, these loan options became all but extinct. Well, they are back and they are more popular than ever!

80/20 refers to a loan option that offers borrowers the ability to finance 100% of the price of a home, or in the case of a refinance, 100% of the appraised value of a home. Essentially this is a creative way to avoid paying Private Mortgage Insurance (commonly referred to as PMI), but also not have to make a down payment in a purchase, or utilize the full equity of a home you already own. Lenders do this by offering one mortgage for 80% of the price/value of a home and another loan for the remaining 20%. In a purchase, you are essentially financing your 20% down payment that alleviates the need for PMI.

Who is this great for and why?

This is great for a person who has excellent credit, a steady job that can sustain the mortgage payments, but not a lot of cash in the bank to put into the purchase.

This option is favorable over a PMI loan in that you are potentially increasing your deduction for mortgage interest on your taxes, and mainly because you are building equity at a faster pace as the 20% secondary loan is typically for a shorter term.

Feel free to reach out to any of our Loan Officers at Title Mortgage Solution to learn more about 80/20 loan options and see if this may be a good fit for you!

 

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Title Mortgage Solution Upgrades to Larger Downtown Hanover, NH Office

7 Lebanon Street, Suite 105 Hanover, NHAfter 15 years on South Main Street in Hanover, NH, Title Mortgage Solution has relocated their mortgage lending office to a larger downtown location. The Title Mortgage Solution team can now be found at 7 Lebanon St., Suite 105 in Hanover, NH. The office is situated behind Salt Hill and Talbots, right next to the parking garage for easy parking.

According to Josh Bennett, Vice President and Loan Officer of Title Mortgage, “The new office is twice the size of our previous space and features more private offices as well as a closing conference room and state of the art technology. Our entrance is on the first floor in a courtyard and there is plenty of natural light. This new space is already feeling like home.”

Title Mortgage Solution has been servicing mortgage needs in the Upper Valley since 2000. Their very first office location was at 32 South Main Street in Hanover where they stayed for 5 years. This was followed by 10 years at the most recent 23 South Main Street location. It was in this last location that the Title Mortgage Solution team grew from 4 people to the current team of 13. The to move to 7 Lebanon Street is a mere 10 months after the Upper Valley mortgage lenders expanded their services by opening an office in Burlington Vermont in March of 2016. Owner Bill Vierzen has close ties to the Burlington area after growing up in Vergennes, VT. Title Mortgage Solution has always offered mortgage financing in both Vermont and New Hampshire so the expansion into Burlington was a smooth transition. As the business grew and adjusted to multiple locations it became apparent that the Main Street Hanover office was no longer meeting their needs.

Rob Messenger, Sr. Vice President and longtime Loan Officer of Title Mortgage Solution sees the new downtown Hanover office as a way to better serve clients. “Our team of loan officers and support staff work extremely well together. We simply got to a point where we couldn’t all fit in the space we had any longer. The new office space will allow us to continue our close working relationship while giving us significantly more room to grow. The best part is that it keeps us right in downtown Hanover but much closer to the parking garage!”

Title Mortgage Solution has done over $1 billion in mortgage financing since opening their doors in 2000. The mortgage team works with multiple lenders which allows them to offer competitive interest rates with low closing costs and a diverse portfolio of loan programs.

The team took residence in their new office on January 11th. Next time you’re in Hanover stop in and say hello!

The new Title Mortgage office is now at:

7 Lebanon Street, Suite 105
Hanover, NH 03755
Phone: 603-643-1400
Fax: 603-643-1201

Same great team, new convenient location!

 

5 Buyer Pet Peeves to Update Before You Sell

PaintingWhen you are getting ready to list your home on the real estate market you start thinking about keeping it clean and removing clutter. Most sellers aren’t looking to do major renovations at this time but there are a handful of things that make buyers cringe but are very low cost and low effort for the seller to fix in advance. A $40 fix could totally change the way a prospective buyer sees your home!

1. Chrome hardware – Chrome hardware and fixtures are no longer catching the eye of buyers in a good way. These shiny metal finishes are proving to be a buyer turn off. Knobs and fixtures can be expensive but updating to a brushed nickel or brass finish can turn up the sophistication in your kitchen or bathroom and please your potential buyers. The shorter their list of things they want to change the better!

2. Paint colors – Bright and bold paint colors may be your favorite but chances are your buyers won’t love them as much. If your home features loud paint colors or a funky accent wall, it’s probably best to update this before listing the home for sale. When selling a home it’s best to stick with gray, beige or white paint colors. This is something the buyer may update again but it’s important that they see the home as a blank canvas when they tour it with the intention to buy.

3. Carpeting – If you have to make any flooring updates before selling, keep in mind that buyers are not looking favorably a rooms with wall to wall carpeting. Some people love carpeting underfoot in a bedroom but at the end of the day hardwood is still king. If any of the rooms in your home require a flooring update weigh your options before laying more carpet. It could help your home sell faster and garner more interest.

4. Multi-use rooms – If your home has more bedrooms then your family needs, you may be using one of them as a gym, home office, wrapping paper room or catch all. The opportunities are endless. This is a great use of space for you but when it comes time to sell you need to show buyers the full potential of the home. If they are looking at your home you should assume that they intend to use all the bedrooms for their original purpose. Before the house goes on the market move your gym or office set up and stage that extra room as a bedroom again. When a room is filled with gym equipment it may give the illusion that a bed may not fit nicely in the space.

5. Maximize storage – You may struggle to fit all of your bath towels in your linen closet but you don’t want your prospective buyer to see that. Empty out that linen closet and put back in only what fits nicely and in an organized way. Put the extra items in storage until you move. Showing buyers an over stuffed linen closet gives the impression that the home lacks space. While that may be the case for your family you want to show your home with full potential and in a positive light.

Sellers often make the mistake that buyers can see past these things and that they would rather make their own updates once they move in. There are some buyers out there that can do this but the majority need to be able to walk through a home and picture themselves living there at that moment. A few smart update choices before listing your home can result in a faster sale and more interest overall.

2017 Real Estate Market And Interest Rates: What Do Experts Predict?

rising-interest-rates-mAs 2016 draws to a close, many people are wondering how mortgage interest rates will change in the New Year and how the housing market will perform if rates do rise. Despite the fact that interest rates have not trended up since December 2015, experts are suggesting that rates have begun to rise and they will continue to go up over the course of 2017.

According to a CBS News article, these rate increases do not pose a threat to the real estate market and they anticipate that house prices will continue to rise.

“But that small initial increase, which would be the first upward tilt in rates since December of 2015, is unlikely to reduce demand for housing. Home prices have continued to rebound this year. The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) House Price Index posted a 6 percent gain in the third quarter on a year-over-year basis.

Economist Andres Carbacho-Burgos of Moody’s Analytics expects nationwide housing prices as measured by that index to rise an average of 4 percent in 2017. Steve Hovland of online real estate management firm HomeUnion projects a similar uptick, while noting that some markets that have seen have seen the sharpest price increases during the recovery, such as New York, Los Angeles and Austin, Texas, could see a dip.”

According to the same article the biggest risk is to luxury homes. In many areas the mid level priced homes are seeing multiple offers while the luxury homes are having trouble attracting any buyers. This goes along with the fact that the average amount buyers are borrowing is very modest compared to where it was during the housing crash. This shows us that people are buying within their means and sticking to the mid-level priced homes. This is a trend that is not likely to change.

With the emphasis on these median priced homes the big issue to come about in the 2017 real estate market will likely be an inventory issue. There are fewer homes in this price range and with the bulk of buyers shopping in the same range this can cause the market to move quickly and you may see an increase in multiple offer situations.

Trends show that borrowers are coming to the table with bigger down payments then they have in the past which also helps to keep housing debt low.

What does this mean for you?

If you have been considering buying or selling your home in the next few months you should rest easy that the market will do fine despite a series of interest rate increases. The increases are only expected to increase the average monthly mortgage payment by $65.

If you are a homeowner who intends to stay in your home but wants to refinance, now is the time. Rates may never be this low again and talks of increases should be taken seriously.

The team of loan officers at Title Mortgage are here to work with you to secure the best possible rate for your home purchase or refinance to contact us or apply today!

 

5 Ways to Get Your Offer Accepted

Couple have house offer acceptedBeing a homebuyer in a hot market can be just plain overwhelming. You have the potential to fall in love with a house and have it whisked away by another buyer. No one wants to lose a home they love if at all possible so here are some tips to help make sure your offer gets accepted.

1. Don’t Make a Lowball Offer – When house shopping it can be tempting to throw out a super low purchase price to try and snag a killer deal. The truth is this rarely works and often leaves a bad taste with the sellers. In fact, if there are multiple parties interested they may not consider your offer at all and simply move on to negotiate with another buyer. You certainly don’t need to offer full price and you should absolutely discuss the market value with your buyer agent but try to come in with a well thought out and fair price.

2. Get Pre-Qualified – If you find a home you love before getting a pre-qualification it can cause a major delay in submitting your offer. Pre-qualifications can be done quickly but once you’ve found a house you love, you don’t want to wait to make an offer and risk that someone will make one before you. Most sellers won’t accept an offer without a pre-qualification letter.

3. Pay For Closing Costs – These days many buyers ask the seller to cover the closing costs. For some buyers, having the closing costs covered makes it possible for them to purchase the home. For others it’s simply a tactic to get the price lower. Asking for a seller to pay closing costs complicates the offer. If it’s not absolutely necessary, simplify the offer by listing a price you are comfortable with that doesn’t have additional reductions attached.

4. Reduce Contingencies – Another tactic that should only be used by highly qualified and experienced buyers is to reduce the contingencies attached to your offer. If you have extra cash available to you it may make sense to remove the financing contingency. This contingency lets a buyer out of the commitment to buy the home if their financing falls through. Waiving it shows the seller how serious you are as well as the resources available to you. It is the sign of a highly qualified buyer. Make sure you discuss this with your lender and buyer agent before deciding to forego this contingency.

Another contingency you may waive is the home inspection. This can be a risky move so another option would be to shorten the inspection period. Instead of making the seller wait 15 or more days until the inspection period is over, consider shortening the period to 7 days and get an inspector out to the house in 24-48 hours after making the offer. This will be seen favorably by the sellers.

5. Make it Personal – Sometimes the very best way to make your offer stand out is to sell yourself. Real estate is typically a very professional transaction so if you take the time to write a heartfelt personal letter to go along with your offer it could be the difference between having your offer accepted and losing out to another similar offer. Tell the sellers about yourself, your family and why you want to buy their home.

These tips can help your offer stand out among other offers. But before you make any offer, consult your buyer agent and discuss your options and the property itself. They can provide expert help as you navigate your real estate transaction.

5 Changes To Save You Money This Holiday Season And Beyond

ThanksgivingThe holiday season can be very expensive. From extravagant feasts with family and friends to Christmas and Hanukkah gifts, your money goes quickly over the holidays. When you have big expenses like the holidays you are likely to notice the results in your bank account. But how about those small daily costs, are you as aware of those?

You may not want to cut back on your holiday traditions but there are some ways you can cut back on daily and monthly spending that will help you save year round. These 5 tips will help you cut back on spending that you won’t even notice. You can use the money you save to put toward the next holiday season or save for something big like investing in a new home.

Decrease you grocery bill – There is a startling fact that in the U.S. we waste between 30-40% of our food. This means that a large amount of the food bought by the average family goes uneaten. If this is happening in your home it’s time to make a change. Meal planning, resisting impulse purchases and avoiding extra shopping trips are all great tools to prevent overspending on food you won’t end up eating.

Monthly services and subscriptions – If it’s been months since you’ve had time to stream a movie on Netflix, it’s time to put your subscription on hold. These small monthly charges may not make a big dent in your bank account but if you subscribe to several things every month, this can quickly add up. Monthly subscriptions are very popular right now so if you receive anything monthly that you don’t have time to read or use, it’s time to cancel and save that money for something else.

Pay your bills on time – Getting organized to avoid making any late payments can save you money in monthly bank fees. Paying your credit card or your mortgage late can incur a hefty late fee and if you are getting a couple a month it can really add up. Set up reminders or recurring payments for bills that are the same amount every month.

Know your weakness – Understanding what triggers your spending impulse can help you keep it in check. How many times have you walked into the store for toothpaste and walked back out with a cart full of extras. Pay attention to this spending habit. The more you organize your shopping trips the less likely you are to get out of control.

Track your spending – There are a number of options for apps that will help you keep your eyes on your budgets and your spending. Mint allows you to track budgets and spending and Digit helps you track spending and lets you make weekly transfers into your savings account.

Budget tracking is important no matter what your financial goals are but it becomes especially important when you are looking to buy a home. The ability to afford your mortgage payment will involve the ability to stick to a budget and make wise financial choices every month. Doing this will even give you the opportunity to splurge a little over the holidays!

Be Prepared: 4 Reasons Your Mortgage Payment Can Increase

Mortgage Payment IncreaseMost people enter into a mortgage payment with the expectation that they can budget for that exact amount going forward. While it’s true that a 30-year fixed mortgage payment will not change there are more variables that go into that monthly payment then the principal payment against your purchase price.

4 Reasons Your Mortgage Can Increase

1. Your Loan Type is an Adjustable Rate Mortgage

At Title Mortgage our loan officers pride themselves on being very informative and clear about the types of loan programs available to our clients. Adjustable rate mortgages can be an excellent low interest rate option for many buyers but it is very important that you understand exactly how an adjustable rate loan works. Typically the terms are 5-year arm, 7-year arm or 10-year arm. This means that the loan is fixed for the first 5, 7 or 10 years and then the rate will adjust annually for the life of the loan. This product is a smart choice for someone who knows they will only own the home for a set period of time. Having a loan product with an adjustable rate mortgage means you can count on the rate going up after the fixed term is over. This will then increase the monthly mortgage payment.

2. Increased Property Taxes

If you put less then 20% down on your home you will typically be required by your lender to escrow your property taxes. The tax responsibility is then split into 12 payments and added to your monthly principal payment. When you obtain a home loan your lender will use the current property tax rate to determine what your monthly payment will be. In most cases you will pay this mortgage amount for the first year you live in the home. It is very common for towns to reassess home values shortly after a sale. If your town determines that your tax assessment increases that monthly mortgage payment is going to increase as a result.

3. Insurance Costs and Condo Fees

As part of that required escrow account you may also be required to have your mortgage lender pay your homeowners insurance and condo fee on your behalf as well. This means that the monthly cost of these fees will be rolled into your mortgage payment and property tax payment. Similarly to property taxes these fees are set at the time of purchase but both condo fees and homeowners insurance can increase from time to time. These increases don’t usually amount to much when spread out in 12 months of payments but they can change that bottom line.

4. Human Error

Sometimes even a mortgage lender can make a mistake. That is why it is so important that you understand what can change your monthly payment and ask for an explanation from your lender as to exactly why the payment has increased. Don’t be shy to ask your questions and review calculations to understand what is being done. You want to be completely confident in the payment you are making every month.

To avoid surprise increases make sure you pay attention to any property tax notifications you receive from your town office even if you know your lender will be paying your taxes. You should also make sure you understand your annual homeowners insurance fees and exactly what is included. You want to make sure you are adequately covered but you also don’t want to over pay.

Buying a house is a big responsibility and it doesn’t stop after the papers are signed. Getting a good understanding for how your mortgage payment and escrow payment is calculated is important. The loan officers at Title Mortgage are ready and available to explain this to you and breakdown the payment calculation before it’s time to sign the papers.

15-Year vs. 30-Year Mortgage: 5 Reasons to Refinance Today!

15 yr vs. 30 year mortgageOver the past year there have been lots of discussions about the possibility that mortgage interest rates are on the rise. This has resulted in a lot of people considering a home purchase or a home refinance to capitalize on the low rates before they are gone.. With interest rates still very low, it’s not to late to refinance your home mortgage and there are a lot of reasons to consider a 15-year vs. 30-year mortgage.

5 Reasons to Choose a 15-year Mortgage

1. Reduce the Interest You Pay – One of the major benefits of a 15-year loan is that the interest rate is lower then a 30-year loan. This allows you to pay off your loan balance in less time with a smaller increase in monthly payment. By reducing the rate you are also reducing the total interest you pay over the life of the loan.

2. Shorten the Repayment Time – Imagine if you could reduce the 20 years remaining on your mortgage by 5 years. For most of us our mortgage is the largest monthly payment that we make each month. Being able to stop that payment 5, 10 or  15 years sooner means you can re-allocate that money sooner by increasing your retirement investment or adding to your vacation funds.

3. Build Equity Faster – By choosing a 15-year mortgage you are paying down the principal faster and this will result in building equity in your home faster. This will make it easier to refinance down the road, sell sooner or take out a line of credit for a special project. The more of your home value that you own the better off you will be and the closer you are to becoming debt free.

4. Reduce Debt During Retirement – 30 years is a long time and for many people that loan will overlap with the early years of retirement. The downside of this is that you will need to continue to fund your mortgage payment on your retirement income. If you can pay off your home and start thinking about downsizing before retirement you will be in a much more comfortable position.

5. Force Yourself to Make the Payment – Many people opt for the 30-year loan by telling themselves that they will pay extra every month and end up paying the loan off faster anyway. This can be a great choice for some people but it takes discipline that can be challenging. Only you know yourself well enough to know if paying extra is something you will keep up with but the 15-year mortgage will require you to pay the same every month and give you that lower interest rate.

If you are considering refinancing your current loan or your are looking to buy a new home, the loan officers at Title Mortgage can help you run the numbers to determine if a 15-year mortgage makes sense for you. Contact us today!

Google Before You Buy: 5 Things The Search Engine Can Tell About a Home

google, internet search conceptsMost of us use Google or another search engine every single day. Those who are house hunting use the internet constantly to keep up with recent home listings and pricing changes. If you are searching for a home in the Upper Valley or the greater Burlington area, it’s time to start using Google to learn more about the property you’re interested in.

1. Google the address – Your first step should be to google the address. You can plug your address into Google Maps and use the Street View to explore the neighborhood or use Google Earth to get a visual of the land surrounding the home and the proximity of neighbors. This is especially helpful if you are unable to drive by the property easily but even if you have driven by there are still things you may be able to notice that you didn’t see during the drive by.

2. Investigate the Homeowners Association – If the home you are considering buying is part of an association you should take the opportunity to research the HOA before you make an offer. Many HOA’s have online reviews of logged complaints that may be of interest before you buy.

3. Home History – The real estate listing may give you some of the sales history of the home but there is further research you can do. By Googling the home you should be able to determine if the previous owners intended to flip the home or if they lived there for 20 years. If the home was a flip and the sellers are claiming a number of improvements, there may even be photos from before the last sale. You may even take it a step farther and Google the names of the sellers. If they have done other home flips, any issues or complaints could show up.

4. Evaluate potential growth – Depending on where the home you are interested is, you may want to do a little research on the towns growth plans for the area. If you are near a main road this would be especially important. You can Google the city’s planning department to see what kind of projects are lined up or look for any recent permits pulled for nearby streets or intersections. The more you know before you put an offer in on a home, the better you’ll feel.

5. Detect health and safety concerns – When you are house shopping you can get all kinds of information before you make a decision. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration maintains a list of properties that have at one time been identified as drug labs. This could be especially helpful if the property you are interested was a rental and you don’t have access to tenant information. Additionally you can check the sex offender registry to determine if there is concern in the neighborhood you are considering.

You probably Google everything from current events to the best price on a purchase you are planning to make. You should use the same tools to learn everything you can about a home you are considering making an offer on. The more you know in advance the less chance there is that you will ever regret your purchase or be blindsided by a development you were not expecting in the first year or two of owning the property.