Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Bird In the Hand...

is not better than two in the nest.

For some species around the world, when a male bird wants to attract just the right female to start a life with, he builds a nest.

The striking yellow and black markings of the Ploceidae or Weaver bird reminds one of an industrious bumble bee. Found in Africa, Asia and Australia, this ambitious bird scopes out choice territory for a home and then weaves an elaborate tear drop shaped nest from leaves, twigs and other plant fibers. He then hangs around his house maintaining it, advertizing to the females that he is a good provider and is ready for love and commitment.

Males of the human variety might want to follow his example.

As some of my buddies are edging up into their late 20’s and beyond, I’ve been hearing a lot of the same comments:

“I’m tired of the club scene and choosing between having room mates or living alone.”

“I don’t think I’ll meet the kind of girl I want to settle down with, in a bar.”

“I’m not really interested in just 'having a good time' anymore.”

“I want to start a life with a good woman and maybe think about having a few kids.”

Having gotten their youthful rambunctiousness out of their systems, these guys are ready for the next phase of their lives. Ready to commit themselves to one woman. Ready to shoulder the responsibility of adulthood and possibly fatherhood.

The torch has been passed to the next generation of society-productive, family-raising men, and they’re looking for a place to put it.

I recommend in a home. Their own home.

While this dip in the economy might mean a lot of negative things in the grand scheme of things, on a small scale it could be helpful to those looking to buy a house. Particularly for first time home buyers.

With home sales flooding the real estate market, a person with good credit and a stable income has a pretty good selection virtually anywhere in the nation. Add to that the recent and overwhelming number foreclosures the banks are eager to turn around, and the price ranges are looking more reasonable. You’ll get more home (and property) for your dough. (Eh, I mean for your Doe.)

The first thing you’re going to want to do when prepping to buy a home is make sure your credit is as a squeaky clean as you can make it.

Pay off those credit cards. If you’ve been on time with your payments and your interest rates are higher than 8%, call customer service and see if they’ll lower them. You don’t want to have any cards with interest rates in the 20’s or above. Rates like those are typically given to people with unreliable payment histories or with no existing credit history. To a mortgage loaning bank, this will make you look like a high risk customer.

Avoid going to a ‘debt consolidation’ company. Despite what they tell you, it WILL hurt your credit more to try to reduce your debt through one. It shows up negatively on your credit report which will be viewed when you attempt to get a loan or make a purchase that requires financing. Not all debt consolidation companies even do what they say they’ll do. Some just take your money and can completely ruin your credit.

Pay off your vehicle and those student loans. The less debt you have, the more money you can put towards a mortgage, larger loan you can get and the lower your interest rate might be.

Find out your credit score. You may already have a credit card that you can use to obtain this information. Call the customer service number on the back of your card to find out. Or you can check through various online sources. http://www.myfreecreditscore.com/?sid=11401&ad=11401

Take a look online at homes in the area you’re planning to buy. Keep in mind that while a tiny house might suit your former bachelor needs, a wife (and potential children) will be happier with more living and playing space.

A Google search should pull up various real estate sites with pictures, prices and sometimes virtual tours. Pick out something you like in the of area you’d like possibly live and use that median price to crunch numbers with. (I'll get to that in a minute)

Important things to keep in mind when looking at a future home:

• How close is it to parks, schools, rec centers, stores and family friendly locations?

• How far is it from your job? From freeway/highway on and off ramps?

• Is is located next to a power plant, landfill or some else that is unpleasant and potentially dangerous?

• Is the neighborhood in a friendly, safe and clean area?

• Does the home have niceties that will appeal to a woman? A roomy, fully working kitchen? A washer and dryer? Closet space in every room? Will you want or need more than a one car garage?

• What kind of yard does it have? What other features would you want in a home?

After you've chosen something you like, run the price through an online mortgage calculator to get a rough idea if this is a house you can afford. How much of a down payment you can make, what your credit score is, what your income is and where you buy a house all affect your buying power. The larger your down payment, typically the smaller your monthly payments.

This web site does a great job breaking down for you your monthly payment and how much of your money goes to interest vs. the principle over the course of a typical 30 year mortgage. http://www.yourmortgagecalculator.com/

Get pre-qualified for a home loan. Once you’ve done your own leg work, have a real estate agent or lender go over the numbers with you. If you have a few credit cards or existing loans you can pay off in a short amount of time, do that before taking this step.

If you haven't had your current employment for at least a year, you are self employed or have trouble verifying your income, ask your lender about a 'no document loan.' This might increase your interest rate a bit, but it could still get your foot in the door to your own new home.

Houses are expensive. But there are special programs available for low income or single parent home buyers.

Going through HUD to buy a home that was foreclosed on by the previous owners could get you a pretty good deal. Banks are often eager to sell these and recoup their losses. It’s worth taking a look.

Other good sites for getting first home buyer information:



When the time comes to actually go look at the houses, it wouldn’t hurt to take along a female friend or family member.
Especially if they have children, they are sure to notice details you may not have considered. Talk to other home owners. Ask how the process went, how long it took and what successes and pitfalls they experienced. They might also be able to recommend a great real estate agent.

Whether or not you can afford to buy a home or a condo right now, you should start stashing away as much money as you can every month for a down payment. The more you can pay up front will greatly reduce the amount you’ll have to finance, how much interest you’ll end up paying and how long you’ll be paying off your house. Saving money now allows you save even more later. Your minimum goal amount should be $10,000. Put it in a savings account with a high interest rate that you can’t access with an ATM card so you won't be tempted to use for other purchases.

According to the National Association of Home Builders, almost 2/3 of first time home buyers are around the age of 33 or younger
. If you're much younger than that, you're getting an excellent jump on demonstrating you're mature, responsible and a good provider. And what woman doesn't love those qualities in a man?

So if you’re ready for a mate, it just might be time to get started on that nest.