Dollars & Sense: Helpful Financing Tips & Tools


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Estimate Your Monthly Mortgage
Home ownership is a serious financial decision that requires a great deal of planning and budgeting. Below is a helpful tool to help you estimate what your mortgage may be, but there are a number of other costs to consider when buying a home that will affect what you pay to own a home. Association fees, taxes, utilities, repairs and even landscaping costs need to be accounted for. Read about the costs of owning your own home.

How Much Home Can You Afford?
Knowing what you can afford is critical to your success as a future homeowner. There are a number of factors that go into whether or not a bank will lend to you: annual income, amount of debt you carry, credit history and employment history. The calculator below can be used as a guide for what you may be able to obtain financing on. You can get a more in depth view of what you can afford here.

What to Consider When Shopping for a Mortgage
You work hard for your money. When you make the choice to buy a home, it comes with a lot of financial decisions that affect where your money goes. It's almost inevitable that you will require a home loan to finance your purchase, but there are loans that favor you and others that can hurt you and land you in bankruptcy or foreclosure. Loans like the latter are often referred to as the practice of predatory lending. What's confusing is that a loan can be considered predatory and hurt one borrower, but be a perfectly ideal specialty mortgage to another! The best way to make sure that your money works for you and is to do your homework. You can learn about how to avoid predatory lending here and about specialty mortgages here.

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Special Service Areas (SSA)
When you are buying a home, especially a newly constructed home, you should be aware of whether or not your home is a Special Service Area (SSA). An SSA home may be marketed and priced at a lower value to accommodate the tax you will need to pay to your municipality or county to cover the costs of infrastructure (sewers, sidewalks, street lights) that the developer asked the municipality/county issued bonds on to allow for construction. Learn more about SSAs and what you need to know about buying a home in a SSA.

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The Dreaded Five Letter Word: TAXES
Richard Nixon once said "Make sure you pay your taxes; otherwise you can get in a lot of trouble.” That's a bit ironic coming from Nixon, but it is indeed true. Illinois does not have a state property tax, so your local government establishes the real property tax rate for your home. Your property taxes are determined by the value of your home as determined by the tax assessors in your area. There are some basics you should know about: Illinois property taxes and your rights as a taxpayer. If you want to know even more, the State of Illinois also offers a 34 page document that describes in depth the State Property Tax System that you can download.

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Problems Paying Your Mortgage?
Foreclosure and the loss of your home can be the result of problems with your ability to pay your mortgage. Not only do you lose your home, but all the money that you invested in it. Whether you are struggling with a subprime mortgage, the loss of employment, illness or any other issue, the key is to keep the lines of communication open. The sooner you reach out to your lender or service provider, the better. Together you can work toward a solution to avoid such a pitfall. Learn more about how to avoid foreclosure and keep your home.

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Understanding the Market
The housing market can be fickle, but if you have an idea of what it looks like, you can be a wiser buyer or seller. Zillow, publishes a helpful summary of home prices & values. You can Review the Illinois Outlook here.

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