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Miracle on My Street

By AMY YOUNG

Buying a home for the first time, or any time, can be an exciting adventure, as well as a scary one.

On the other hand, there’s also the pleasure of participating in the American dream of owning your own home. No more having to be quiet because other tenants might complain. No more having to fight for a parking spot nearby. No more dealing with landlords.

The advantages of home ownership are both personal and financial. On the personal side, there’s the very real pleasure of being master of your castle. You can put a nail in the wall to hang a picture without worrying that you might not get all of your cleaning deposit back. In short, there’s a kind of freedom that comes with home ownership that tenants never get to experience.

In addition, there are financial rewards. You get to deduct (in most cases) all your mortgage interest and your taxes. When you sell, you can often defer your gain from immediate taxation by rolling it over into a more expensive home. And when you reach the age of 55, you may be eligible for a big “gift” from Uncle Sam — you may not have to pay taxes on up to $125,000 of the profit on the sale of you home. If you have an office at home, you may even be able to take a deduction for it.

With Christmas just weeks away, one might wonder if the American dream of a family owning its own home could become a reality by Christmas day. Is it still possible to buy, close and move into a new home by Christmas, and if so, how does one prepare to make the dream come true?

Most developers surveyed in the Dade and Broward County area unequivocally agreed that it is not only possible to move into a new home by Christmas, but the feat has been accomplished many times.

It borders on a myth that home owners always experience a two- to three-month wait on a new home closing. The developers questioned reported that a mortgage can be arranged, approved, and the property inspected in less than two weeks. Most developers have finished homes which are ready for immediate occupancy as soon as the loan is approved.

Some developers in the area offer in-house financing, or have lenders they work with very closely which promotes a speedy loan approval process. “It makes the mortgage process much easier and much more efficient. It can save the buyer money and he could move in in a timely manner,” said Traci Phillips, marketing director for Lennar’s Dade County Division.

Another way for a home buyer to speed up the loan process is to pre-qualify before he or she goes house-hunting. In recent years, mortgage lenders, real estate agents, and financial planners, all have endorsed pre-approval or pre-qualifying.

It only makes sense to figure out how much home you can afford before you begin to plan your house hunting. “Consult with a real estate expert, an attorney or broker to help with this process,” suggests Bob Krieff, chief operating officer for Breakstone Homes.

It’s a good idea to have all the necessary documents on hand. Some of the documents a lender will request include the following items:

  • Recent paycheck stub.
  • Two years of income tax forms (if you are self-employed).
  • A copy of your bank statement, usually for two months.
  • Verfication of deposit (from a bank showing you have the necessary down payment in your account).
  • Any other documents the lender may need, such as proof that you have paid off old loans that may show up in your credit report as unpaid.

As with any major transaction, complications could surface which could preclude a home buyer from purchasing a home in time for Christmas.

These might include credit problems (a poor credit score), tax liens, the unavailability of sufficient funds for the down payment, and insufficient or inaccurate information provided to the lender.

“If the buyer purchases a completed home, the only thing that can complicate closing is the mortgage process,” said Diana Ibarria, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Westbrooke Companies, Inc.

Rita Roig, director of closing for UAMC, Lennar’s mortgage company adds, “Buyers must make sure that the information they provide on the application is accurate. Being honest facilitates a quicker process, and a possible denial can be avoided.”

Finally, some area developers offer a variety of incentives to buyers moving in by Christmas, including qualifying for the Homestead exemption if the buyer closes before year’s end.

“Builders always like to end the year with additional sales, especially during a traditionally slow month,” says Krieff.

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Amy Young is a freelance writer based in Palm Bay, FL

About Tim McMahon

Work by editor and author, Tim McMahon, has been featured in Bloomberg, CBS News, Wall Street Journal, Christian Science Monitor, Forbes, Washington Post, Drudge Report, The Atlantic, Business Insider, American Thinker, Lew Rockwell, Huffington Post, Rolling Stone, Oakland Press, Free Republic, Education World, Realty Trac, Reason, Coin News, and Council for Economic Education. Connect with Tim on Google+