My Father's American Dream
My father was a brilliant man with a special affinity for math, a hardworking man who didn't stop working until he was in his 70s and a lousy negotiator as time would tell. He was also tall and slender with strikingly good looks so marrying a woman 15 years younger was no big feat. Together they had 4 great children and lived a comfortable life. He was a physics teacher until he immigrated to Boston in his 50s. My father quickly realized that in order to continue teaching, he would need to understand the American system and take a bunch of teacher certifications so he resorted to the next best thing he could do to support his family: he took on 2 full time jobs working as a security guard. He taught me early on that not working was not an option. Few years later, eager to pay for his own mortgage instead of his landlord's, my father and I set out to find a house that our family could call home. Even as a young teen, I loved the idea of owning real estate to accumulate wealth. We went house hunting with a Boston realtor and fell in love with an 18th century cape home with 4 bedrooms and a huge yard. The house was charming but its location was not ideal. It sat on a hill on a busy street right across from a gas station. It also needed a lot of work. Our realtor convinced my father to pay full price and had him apply to 2 different mortgage companies just in case...after all, my father didn't even have a credit history at that time as he paid bills using checks. He lost a few hundred dollars in mortgage application fees as a result of the dual application. Despite the financial setbacks, I remember my father's excitement on the day of closing. Owning a home was the ultimate American dream. I remember giving the money that I had saved from working at a college internship to help make the down payment for the home. My brother took his savings and renovated the house from top to bottom using money he had saved working part time while in college. Buying that home was a family affair with lots of lessons learned. The lessons that I learned from helping my father purchase that blue house allows me to remain fiercely dedicated to my clients, helping them avoid unexpected pitfalls that come with buying homes and ensuring that their experience is exceptional. Here are 5 things to consider when purchasing a home: 1) Plan, save and establish credit. Planning ahead and putting money aside for a home is the smart thing to do. First time home buyers sometimes neglect the part where they not only need to have credit history but good credit. If there are issues with bad credit, a good realtor can get you in touch with a qualified lender who can help you work through these. 2) DO shop for a lender. If you need to borrow money, shop around for the best rates and make sure to get a pre-approval letter from your lender. Good realtors have a great network of trusted lenders so start there. 3) Location. Location. Location. This is still the number one rule in real estate. In the city, ideal location can vary block by block, building by building so having a realtor who understands the neighborhood is key. 4) Don't pay your landlord's mortgage if you want to build wealth. According to a recent Forbes article that interviewed hundreds of millionaires, it was discovered that most became rich the old-fashioned way - earning a decent salary, putting money aside and investing. Real estate is key to the old-fashioned way of building wealth. 5) Don't just work with any realtor to buy a home. Find someone whom you can trust to be in your corner before, during and after you find your place in this world.