Category Archives: Buying a House

Remodeled Space For Aging In Place | The Daily Oklahoman

*You might have to press pause on the video just below if you want to read everything before you watch it, it seems to be playing automatically.

A quick note before the video/article:

Early in 2017 I found myself in the middle of a transaction that had a very strong thread for all parties involved, aging family members. My sellers were helping their mother sell their childhood home, which needless to say had to be emotionally impactful. Not long after the house went on the market I was approached by a lady saying that her daughter lived a few doors down from the house, and they thought it would be nice to live closer to one another. I later discovered that this very witty and charming person was in the earlier stages of an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. Long story short they purchased the home after a few bumps in the road, and she and her daughter renovated the home – and it is immaculate…

I’m currently writing this with tears in my eyes next to my grandfather who is on his deathbed. In the last few years I lived for a while with my grandparents as they were getting settled into their final residence. We’ve been preparing for this moment for a long time, and in the middle of taking care of him for his final stage of life I saw this article pop up in The Daily Oklahoman, telling the wonderful story of some of my newfound friends, Deb and Amy on one side and Larry and Sue on the other. I’m so grateful for everyone involved. Being a part of their story makes me appreciate my own even more, and I’m pretty much bursting at the seems already with love and appreciation for my own family.


Remodeled Space For Aging In Place

By Dyrinda Tyson For The Oklahoman  

NORMAN — Amy Brewer wanted her mother closer, especially when memory issues began to surface. But it took several years and an Alzheimer’s diagnosis for things to come to a head.

“In April, she got lost for five hours,” she said. “That’s when I decided that she needed to move.”

Her mother, Deborah Brewer, raised a finger.

“Now I have a different story,” she interjected. She offered her explanation, mostly off the record, possibly tongue-in-cheek. “So I knew where I was,” she concluded with a nod.

Still, her daughter saw it as a call to action. Interstate 35 and major chunk of Norman lay between them. And as unpredictable as Alzheimer’s disease can be, the one thing for sure is it doesn’t retreat.

“I decided I’d put this off long enough,” Amy Brewer said. “For five years, I knew we needed to do something. And I’d been floating the idea and floating the idea.”

Her mother, though, was reluctant, at least until Amy played her trump card: “I finally said, ‘There’s going to come a time when I’m going to have to take your car away, and you’re still going to want to see your grandkids. So you need to be right by us. And, she said, ‘I understand.’ ”

The perfect bungalow came on the market that weekend, just two doors down from Amy’s house in central Norman. Things bogged down, however, as she grappled with the logistics of selling one house while buying another.

The bungalow was still on the market when they finally laid a plan in place. They gave the go-ahead to their Realtor, Grady Carter, of Metro Brokers in Norman. But they worried about trust issues on the seller’s side.

“He must have done some magic on his end, though,” Amy Brewer recalled. “I was in San Francisco about to board a flight to New Zealand.”

That meant many hours in the air cut off from communications, so she laid it out in a phone call to Carter. “I said ‘I’m going to land in 13 hours, Grady. Whatever they need us to pay, we’ll pay. Whatever earnest money, we’ll do cash.’ ”

That did the trick. By the time Amy Brewer came home from her extended trip, the deal was done. Friends had pitched in during her absence to ensure Deborah Brewer made it to closing, then helped her move out of her old home and into her daughter’s house to await remodeling on her new digs.

Oh, yes, the remodeling.

“I was really focused on securing this house, which took a long time,” Amy Brewer said. “And after we purchased the house, I realized I had plans to do a complete remodel and no plans to do a complete remodel. I guess someone who knew what they were doing would’ve had that lined up before they closed. A week or two went by, and I realized I had no idea what I was doing.”

Smooth transition

So she did what almost everyone does in this day and age, namely take her plight to social media. And social media gave back, leading her to Kendra Orcutt and her Home Mods By Therapists team. Orcutt channels her experience as an occupational therapist into designing spaces to accommodate people’s physical challenges.

Orcutt and her team opened up the space inside by getting rid of hallways, allowing the bedrooms and bathrooms to open directly up into the main part of the house.

They widened hallways, repurposed space lost to a heater closet to enlarge the laundry room and installed a sliding barn door on the master bathroom, adding not only a trendy touch but one that saves space and is easier for a person on a walker or cane to open.

Even the color scheme in the kitchen was designed with a purpose. The gray-and-black floor tiles are low-contrast, which is easier to navigate with impaired vision or balance.

“By making this house accessible to memory loss, she doesn’t ever have to move,” Orcutt said. “She won’t have to relearn another space. She knows her daughter is down the street. All of those things are important. So what I did was I made things easier to live in.”

Easier to live in, but not institutional. It’s often just a matter of style. What appears to be a towel rack by the bathtub, for example, is actually a grab bar. Its brushed silver surface matches the faucet and, frankly, it could function just fine as a towel rack.

And that’s the point, Orcutt said. “Everything we did in the house, someone else could live in.”

That was a major consideration as Amy Brewer worked to persuade her mother to trade her four-bedroom home for the bungalow.

“She had a great big house, and I didn’t want her to feel like she was having to give up anything,” she said.

Deborah Brewer finally moved into her revamped home in late November. She gave up two bedrooms and a lot of square feet in the move, but may have gained so much more in return.

Amy Brewer smiled as her tween daughter, Harper Sterr, wrapped her arms around her grandmother. “These two are best friends,” she said.

Deborah Brewer held out a hand to compare their heights. “And she’s almost as tall as me.”

Source: Remodeled space for aging in place |

Current Mortgage Interest Rates |

So, it finally happened… Interest rates have gone up a little bit. To keep this in context they have been at historical lows, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t still want a low interest rate – heck I do! When rates are low prices go up, and when rates are high prices tend to stagnate in growth. So, prices have been a little higher lately due to a longer period of very low interest rates. In a market like central Oklahoma prices don’t really baloon like other markets, so we really aren’t talking about something akin to a housing bubble like you might’ve heard about on the national news (we don’t tend to make the national news outside of weather and football). Well anyway, here are the current rates, and if you have more questions about all of these feel free to contact me, or your mortgage banker, but I would recommend actively educating yourself now if you’re considering a move in the not so distant future.

*This chart below might look like it represents a major spike, but as far as the long term average goes this is not a significant hike. However it does show a trend that must be paid attention to.


Current mortgage interest rates
3-month trend 30-year fixed 15-year fixed 5/1 ARM 30-year jumbo
11/30/2016 4.13% 3.39% 3.48% 4.09%
11/22/2016 4.1% 3.33% 3.44% 4.08%
11/16/2016 4.01% 3.21% 3.39% 4.01%
11/9/2016 3.73% 2.97% 3.15% 3.73%
11/2/2016 3.69% 2.96% 3.14% 3.74%
10/26/2016 3.64% 2.93% 3.11% 3.67%
10/19/2016 3.64% 2.93% 3.1% 3.63%
10/12/2016 3.62% 2.91% 3.12% 3.64%
10/5/2016 3.56% 2.85% 3.07% 3.58%
9/28/2016 3.54% 2.82% 3.04% 3.54%

Mortgages – Home Loans, Rates, Points and Terms

Being a Realtor® is a funny thing. I like to compare it to being a party planner. I don’t make the ice sculpture, prepare the food – but if the band needs someone to fill in on the mic I’d be happy to :-). I say that to mention that I personally like to see myself as a consultant and an advisor. I am not a lender or a mortgage expert, but I have tried very hard to educate myself on how loans function. In the chart included you’ll see a simplified visualization of an amortization schedule – which shows the life of a loan assuming you simply pay the minimum payment. If you make extra payments that amount over the minimum payment goes 100% to principal assuming that the loan doesn’t have a prepayment penalty. One of the main things that I’d like to convey to home buyers is that the longer that you own your home the more equity and wealth you’ll gain from owning that property. So buying and selling homes more regularly is inherently more expensive. However, if you do need to buy or sell a home it’s important to make sure that you know what you’re moving parts are. Call your HomeBoy if you want to talk about your moving pieces, but in the meantime read this article to get started.

Grady Carter
Realtor®, GRI
Metro Brokers of Oklahoma
Lic. #160723

“Mortgages are liens on a specific piece of property, which enable borrowers to borrow money to live or do business on that property.”



If you’ve decided to buy a house, a townhouse, condominium or apartment, it’s almost a certainty that you will join the millions of Americans who are bound to their home by one thing — a mortgage.

Although many people believe a mortgage is a loan, a mortgage is actually the lien on the property. When a bank holds a mortgage on a house, it means the lender has a claim to the property in case the borrower defaults on the loan.

A mortgage loan is similar to a car loan. Both are secured by real property and require a monthly payment to cover principal and interest. Mortgage loans are amortized: they are calculated so that the principal and interest payments are spread out over the loan period (usually 10 to 30 years) gradually until the principal is paid off.

A mortgage is generally the largest debt that the average family carries. At of the end of 2012, Americans families had more than $13.1 trillion in total mortgage debt.

It is important to understand all that is involved when you apply for and maintain a mortgage account.

You monthly payment is calculated by a combination of factors:
  1. The loan amount
  2. The length of the loan
  3. The interest rate of the loan

There is also an initial cost of a getting a mortgage. Those costs can involve traditional and non-traditional lender fees. Common questions that prospective borrowers have include: How do mortgages work? What are the different factors to consider? And how do you know if you qualify?

How Does a Mortgage Loan Work?

When you decide on a home you wish to buy, your mortgage lender works with you, your real estate agent and the seller of the property to close the deal. The deal begins by you being pre-qualified to borrow up to a specified amount of money to pay for the house.

Once you are pre-qualified and you have an offer on a home accepted by the seller, you will work with your mortgage lender to ensure that you have the financial ability to pay for the mortgage every month.

When you’ve met all requirements of the transaction, the lender sets a closing date so that you can sign paperwork to finalize the loan. At closing the bank’s agent issues the cash required to buy the home to the seller and distributes all required fees to the other parties as well.

After closing you must begin making regular payments on your account to avoid default. Defaulting on a mortgage loan could eventually lead to foreclosure, where the bank reclaims the home.

In most cases, to close a mortgage loan you must come prepared with a down payment. The amount varies from about 3.5 percent to 20 percent of the home sales price depending on the lender and the loan program offered.

How to Qualify for a Mortgage

Besides being able to make a down payment, you must meet an extensive list of factors to qualify for a mortgage loan. First, your credit score must be good to excellent. A 2010 U.S. Housing and Mortgage Trends report by CoreLogic showed that 60 percent of borrowers who secured conventional mortgages had a credit score of 780 or higher. More than half of FHA borrowers needed a score of 680 or better.

Additional minimum requirements normally include:
  • A housing expense debt-to-income ratio of 28 percent (called the front-end ratio)
  • A total debt-to-income ratio of 36 percent (called the back-end ratio)
  • A job that you’ve held for at least two years
  • Employment and salary verification
  • Extensive paperwork to document your financial situation
  • A professional appraisal
  • Cash for closing costs

Also, some lenders require private mortgage insurance (PMI) on mortgage loans, particularly when the down payment is less than 20 percent.

Types of Mortgages: Conventional, FHA and VA

There are a number of mortgage options available to you as a borrower. The three general types are conventional loans, FHA loans and VA loans. Each has specified qualification factors.

Conventional loan: This is a loan that is not backed by a government agency. It is a straight agreement between a bank and a buyer. You usually need very good credit and a substantial down payment of at least 10 to 20 percent to secure a conventional mortgage loan.

A Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan: This is one that is backed by the federal government. This type of loan is common for applicants with credit problems or who cannot afford a substantial down payment.

A U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) loan: A VA loan is similar to an FHA-backed loan except the VA is the guarantor. It is available to qualified military personnel who are veterans or on active duty.

Fixed vs. Adjustable Rate Loans

Mortgage loans come in all shapes and sizes. They come with short terms (five years, often with a balloon payment at the end); medium terms (15 years) and long terms (30 and 40 years). They also come with fixed interest rates and adjustable (or variable) interest rates, and there are also reverse mortgages.

Fixed-Rate Loans

A fixed-rate loan is just what the name suggests: An interest rate is agreed upon before the mortgage is signed, and that rate never changes for the life of the loan, no matter the length of term.

For generations, the staple loan of the mortgage industry has been the 30-year fixed mortgage. That means a borrower will make 30 years of payments of the same principal and interest payments. This type of loan is the least risky type of mortgage loan.

The popularity of the fixed-rate loan was two-fold. Lending institutions like banks and credit unions liked it because they could count on long-term income at a specified rate. Borrowers liked the loans because they knew what their monthly payment would be for the life of the loan. There are no surprises.

Adjustable-Rate Mortgage Loans

Adjustable rate mortgages (ARM) loans are more complex than fixed rate loans. The bank offers you a low introductory rate for a period of time (usually one to five years) then the rate begins to adjust. The rate varies depending on certain financial indices — usually the Cost of Funds Index (COFI) or the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR).

ARMs are attractive to borrowers who want to enjoy a low monthly payment for a while, but they can become a major burden when the rate goes up.

Other programs include balloon and buy-down loans. With a balloon loan the borrower agrees to make a large lump sum payment at the end of the loan. A buy-down loan is similar to an ARM except the rate change occurs toward the end of the loan period and the interest may vary up to three times instead of every month, quarter or year like ARMs.

Mortgage Rates

The rate of your mortgage means the interest rate of your home loan. It is one of three key drivers – along with the amount of money you borrow and the length of time for which you borrow – of your monthly payment.

As a result of the Great Recession and the bursting of the U.S. housing bubble, home interest rates are at some of the lowest points in history. Lenders are agreeing to 30-year fixed loans with interest rates of less than 4 percent.

How Interests Rates Are Determined

The federal government has three quasi-government institutions that are the primary agencies dominating the secondary mortgage market.

They are:
  • The Federal Mortgage Association – aka Fannie Mae
  • The Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation – aka Freddie Mac
  • The Government National Mortgage Association – aka Ginnie Mae

Each agency serves a different function in the mortgage business, but all three help keep money flowing into the market by bundling mortgages. These mortgages are purchased with funds borrowed from investment banks. Fannie, Freddie and Ginnie sell to other investors and large financial institutions, such as pension funds and insurance companies.

In this way, money is continually being pumped back into the lending system. The three agencies provide the funding to individual lenders so they can continue to offer mortgages to new homebuyers. In effect, then, the real supplier of your mortgage is not your bank, which is merely servicing your loan, but the agencies and financial institutions that buy and sell the mortgage-backed securities in an endless cycle of commerce.

It is in this secondary market that interest rates for mortgages are set. These rates are constantly fluctuating based upon the amounts that the various players in the game – the three primary agencies and their customers – set as their profit margins, or “spread,” when buying and selling mortgage-backed securities.

Your Monthly Mortgage Payment

When negotiating a mortgage, it is important to understand that the interest rate does not truly reflect your total monthly costs. The Truth in Lending Act requires all lenders to state on loan documents the Annual Percentage Rate, also known as the APR. The APR is defined as the cost of credit to a borrower in relation to the amount borrowed, expressed as a yearly rate.

Your APR will most always be slightly higher than your interest rate because it includes other items associated with obtaining a mortgage, such as origination fees, any points purchased, prepaid mortgage interest, mortgage insurance premiums, and various other lender fees.

What is most essential to remember is that your interest rate is only one piece of the borrowing puzzle and must be considered in context when applying for the most appropriate and affordable mortgage you can find.

The modern mortgage industry offers a huge array of products. There are also many government-backed mortgage programs, which have their own sets of qualifications and conditions. Take the time to explore all options and don’t believe lenders who advertise unrealistically low interest rates. These are the ones who make up your “savings” in exorbitant lending fees.

Your mortgage payment will likely be a considerable part of your monthly expenses for some time to come. It pays to use your head before signing on the dotted line. Compare offers, be prepared to ask many questions and take the time to do the math, so that your dream home is not accompanied by a nightmare of a mortgage.

Mortgage Points


Mortgage: $90,000

Interest rate: 7.5 percent

Monthly payment: $629.30

Each point costs $900 and will lower your interest rate by one-quarter of a percentage point.

If you purchase two points for $1,800, you are left with:

Interest rate: 7 percent

Monthly payment: $598.78


Monthly savings: $30.52

Now divide the cost of the points by the monthly savings.

$1,800 / $30.52 = 58.98

This means it will take 59 months to break even. If you plan on staying in your home for five years or longer, you would be saving money by purchasing those two points.

Although there are many diverse offerings among mortgage lenders, you will find some similarities no matter where you turn. For instance, every mortgage offer will come with an interest rate, a payback period (term), processing fees and the option of paying “points” on the loan.

A point is equal to 1 percent of the principal amount of a mortgage. For example, if the mortgage is for $100,000, each point is worth $1,000. By paying more points on a loan, future home owners can get negotiate down their interest rate, thereby lowering their monthly payment.

One type of points — origination points — is actually a fee that you may be charged when you take out a mortgage. These points do not provide any value to the borrower and should be avoided if possible. Discount points, on the other hand, can be paid to a lender in order to obtain a loan at a lower interest rate.

Depending upon the lender and the daily fluctuations in the mortgage market, each point you pay will reduce your interest rate from one-eighth to one-quarter of a percentage point. You may have the option of paying for up to four discount points or more.

When deciding whether to pay for points —  or how may to buy —  you need to consider how long you plan on staying in the home. That will determine your break-even point, the length of time you’ll need to stay in your house to make the purchasing of points an economically advantageous choice. The longer you stay in your house, the more money you save with a lower interest rate.

Tax Rules and Negative Mortgage Points

In addition to lowering your interest rate, discount points are considered pre-paid interest by the Internal Revenue Service and are tax-deductible. Origination points are not deductible.

But you can only deduct discount points in the year they are paid, and only if several requirements are met, including:
  • Your main home secures the loan.
  • The points you paid conform to established rates and practices in your area.
  • The points were not paid for inspection, appraisal, title, attorney fees or property taxes.
  • The points were computed as a percentage of the principal amount of the mortgage.
  • The amount is shown as points on your settlement statement.

Buyers cannot pay points on Federal Housing Administration (FHA) or Veterans Administration (VA) loans, but on most mortgages, either the buyer or the seller can pay the points or split the cost between them. Points work in a similar fashion in the refinancing of a mortgage, but those points must be deducted on your taxes over the life of the loan and not all at once.

While less common, a lender may also offer you negative points. In that case, a bank would pay you points so that you would agree to pay a higher interest rate. This cuts down on your closing costs, which usually run several thousand dollars, and increases your monthly mortgage payment. This option would only be attractive if you could not come up with the necessary cash at closing.

It’s important to remember that just because a loan is advertised with “no points” does not mean it is the best loan for you. Points are just one item in a complex set of circumstances that you will have to consider when negotiating for a loan. Make sure you understand points and how they relate to the other details in your mortgage application, and compare several offers and combinations before making a final decision.

Reverse Mortgages

A reverse mortgage is a loan that allows you to take advantage of equity in your home. Instead of you paying the bank, the bank pays you a monthly stipend that depends on the value of the home and other factors.

Older borrowers who have paid off most or all of the mortgage balance on their homes and need additional income to cover basic needs commonly apply for reverse mortgages.

The FHA has a special program called the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) to help homeowners in need who are over the age of 62. However, it is important to note that the lender has a claim on the property and unless the loan is paid off the homeowner may have to sell the home in the future.

Other Key Mortgage Terms

If you’re new to mortgage loans, here are a few more key terms that you should be aware of before talking to a lender or broker:

Fixed rate loan: A mortgage loan that maintains the same rate throughout the loan period

ARM (adjustable rate mortgage): A mortgage loan that starts off fixed and then varies

Discount points: Up-front payments made to the lender to get a discount on your mortgage interest rate; one point is equal to one percent

Origination fee: A processing cost commonly charged by the lender; included in closing costs 

LTV (loan to value): The amount of the loan divided by the value of the property

Seller’s assistance: A program that allows the seller to contribute up to 6 percent of the purchase price toward your closing costs

Appraisal: A valuation of the home you wish to buy

Closing costs: Fees and expenses due to the lender and other parties to the loan

Escrow: An amount held by the lender to pay for property taxes and hazard insurance; built into monthly payment

Private mortgage insurance (PMI): An insurance policy to protect the lender in case of default; built into your monthly payments if required as a condition of the loan

Amortization schedule: Shows the breakdown of interest and principal you pay with each monthly installment payment over the course of the loan

Underwriting: The process of carefully evaluating a loan application to decide if the borrower is a good credit risk

Source: Mortgages – Home Loans, Rates, Points and Terms

Buying a House First Time Buyer Guide | Financegirl

I love hearing personal stories and explanations about the home buying experience from people who aren’t really real estate professionals, but who have a very valid story to tell. Another example of a “layman’s story” that I posted previously from the website “The Art of Manliness” had some similar themes, and some different ideas as well as this article below. I hope you enjoy it, and if you have any questions or comments please feel free to reach out to me.

Grady Carter
Realtor®, GRI
Metro Brokers of Oklahoma
Lic. #160723


“Buying a house seems like something you’re just supposed to do once you reach a certain age. I’m frequently asked why I don’t own a house yet at 29 years old. My reply is always the same: “my student loans are my mortgage”. But that may not be the case for you…”

Buying a House for Beginners: An Overview of the Process and 22 Terms You Need to Know

Buying a house first time buyer guide

Buying a house seems like something you’re just supposed to do once you reach a certain age. I’m frequently asked why I don’t own a house yet at 29 years old. My reply is always the same: “my student loans are my mortgage”.

But that may not be the case for you – you may be ready to buy a house. Whether you’re ready to buy a home is a personal question that should be answered based on your finances (and other things, like commitment to the area and life choices).

I’m a big proponent of the Dave Ramsey line of thinking when it comes to home ownership – buying a house costs you money in the short term but is an asset in the long term. What does this mean? It means that you need to have money to buy a house. Comparing rent to a mortgage payment is not how you decide whether you should buy a home. In fact, most pros suggest that you have an emergency fund of at least 3-6 months in place and put between 10-20% down when you buy a home.

If you are ready to buy a home, then there are certain things that you need to know. Even if you don’t care to know about this stuff — guess what? You still need to learn about it if you’re buying a home (the same applies if your spouse knows the ins and outs — you still personally need to learn it).

To help you, I’ve included the following below:

  1. an overview of the home-buying process
  2. a flow chart of the home-buying process
  3. 22 terms that you ought to know if you are buying a home.
An Overview of Buying a Home: The Story of a Seller, a Buyer, and a Lender

Seller wants to sell his house and Buyer wants to buy Seller’s house. Buyer isn’t a millionaire, so Buyer needs to get help from the Lender (bank) to finance this big purchase. Lender agrees to give Buyer a loan under certain conditions (these terms are always advantageous to the Lender so the Buyer must read carefully). Seller and Buyer go through negotiations until they reach the most important substantive terms of their agreement (usually this is the price and a few other things). After Seller and Buyer have an agreement in writing, the closing process begins. The Seller and Buyer need to do their own due diligence to make sure that this deal is a good idea for each of them. Additionally, the Lender has to make sure the property is valued as it should be and that the Buyer will most likely keep its promise to pay the mortgage. After all parties involved – the Seller, Buyer, and the Lender – do their due diligence, they can begin to sign papers and transfer the property. However, if there are any hiccups with any of the parties, the deal may be called off. Otherwise, at closing, title to the property is transferred and the deal is complete.

This illustration may be too basic and unnecessary for you, but I believe it’s always good to understand the bigger picture (side note: this is basically how all deals work, including business deals).

Buying a House for Beginners: An Overview of the Process and 22 Terms You Need to Know

Buying a house seems like something you’re just supposed to do once you reach a certain age. I’m frequently asked why I don’t own a house yet at 29 years old. My reply is always the same: “my student loans are my mortgage”.

But that may not be the case for you – you may be ready to buy a house. Whether you’re ready to buy a home is a personal question that should be answered based on your finances (and other things, like commitment to the area and life choices).

I’m a big proponent of the Dave Ramsey line of thinking when it comes to home ownership – buying a house costs you money in the short term but is an asset in the long term. What does this mean? It means that you need to have money to buy a house. Comparing rent to a mortgage payment is not how you decide whether you should buy a home. In fact, most pros suggest that you have an emergency fund of at least 3-6 months in place and put between 10-20% down when you buy a home.

If you are ready to buy a home, then there are certain things that you need to know. Even if you don’t care to know about this stuff — guess what? You still need to learn about it if you’re buying a home (the same applies if your spouse knows the ins and outs — you still personally need to learn it).
To help you, I’ve included the following below:

an overview of the home-buying process
a flow chart of the home-buying process
22 terms that you ought to know if you are buying a home.
An Overview of Buying a Home: The Story of a Seller, a Buyer, and a Lender

Seller wants to sell his house and Buyer wants to buy Seller’s house. Buyer isn’t a millionaire, so Buyer needs to get help from the Lender (bank) to finance this big purchase. Lender agrees to give Buyer a loan under certain conditions (these terms are always advantageous to the Lender so the Buyer must read carefully). Seller and Buyer go through negotiations until they reach the most important substantive terms of their agreement (usually this is the price and a few other things). After Seller and Buyer have an agreement in writing, the closing process begins. The Seller and Buyer need to do their own due diligence to make sure that this deal is a good idea for each of them. Additionally, the Lender has to make sure the property is valued as it should be and that the Buyer will most likely keep its promise to pay the mortgage. After all parties involved – the Seller, Buyer, and the Lender – do their due diligence, they can begin to sign papers and transfer the property. However, if there are any hiccups with any of the parties, the deal may be called off. Otherwise, at closing, title to the property is transferred and the deal is complete.

This illustration may be too basic and unnecessary for you, but I believe it’s always good to understand the bigger picture (side note: this is basically how all deals work, including business deals).
Home Buying Process Flow Chart

Here is a chart that I created to demonstrate what a typical home-buying process might look like in a little bit more detail.

Home Buying Flow Chart


Real Estate Jargon: 22 Home Buying Terms

Now to the good stuff. Here is a list of 22 terms you need to know before you buy a house (when I originally started writing this post, I thought I could do it in 10 items – turns out there is a ton of stuff you need to need to know).

Real Estate Agent
A real estate agent is a licensed professional who helps the buyer or seller in the house-purchasing process. Most agents work for a real estate broker or realtor. As a buyer, you want to hire a good real estate agent when you are buying a house.

Pre-qualified and Pre-approval
Getting pre-qualified is the first step in the mortgage process (it’s usually pretty simple). You give your lender your overall financial picture, the lender evaluates your information, and then the lender gives you an idea of the mortgage amount that you will qualify for. Note, that – is not a done deal – you may not in fact qualify for the loan for which you are pre-approved (it’s a general idea).

Pre-approval is the second step in the mortgage process. You complete a mortgage application and provide detailed information to the lender (although you will not yet have a house picked out most likely, so the property information can be left blank). The lender will approve you for a specific amount and you will get a better idea of your interest rate. This puts you at an advantage with a seller because the seller will know you’re one step closer to getting a mortgage.

If you get pre-qualified and pre-approved before you pick out a home, then you can move quicker on purchasing a house (you won’t have to make your offer contingent on obtaining financing, which is especially valuable in a competitive market).

Proof of Employment and Income
You will have to provide proof of employment and proof of income to qualify for your mortgage. This shows the lender that you are creditworthy. It’s usually not great to quit your job during the home-buying process for this reason. Some lenders may ask for employment verification later in the home-buying process, so your approval could actually change if you take a lesser paying job during the home-buying process.

3 Types of Loans: Conventional, FHA, and VA
A conventional loan is a loan that is not backed by the government (meaning that the government doesn’t make any guarantee that you will pay the mortgage), and therefore, carries private mortgage insurance if you put less than 20% down. Conventional loans adhere to guidelines set by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and are available to everyone, but are more difficult to qualify for than VA or FHA loans (you need better credit and a steady income, for example).

An FHA loan is a loan insured by the Federal Housing Administration (this means that if you default, the FHA will repay the note to the bank). Because the loan is insured, the lender typically offers a low down payment required (3.5%, for example) and low closing costs. Anyone can apply for an FHA loan and an FHA loan is easier to qualify for than a conventional loan. Instead of PMI on your FHA loan, you will have MIP (mortgage insurance premium), which stays with the life of the loan. That means that unlike a conventional loan where you can remove the PMI, on an FHA loan, you cannot remove the insurance without refinancing the entire loan (which you have to qualify for in order to do).

A VA loan is guaranteed by the Veterans Administration and is available only to certain borrowers through VA-approved lenders. Usually, you need to be in the military or a veteran to qualify. VA loans do not carry PMI and there is no money down required.

Adjustable rate vs. Fixed rate
An adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) offers homebuyers with a low interest rate on their loan for an initial period, after which time, the interest rate increases or fluctuates for the remainder of the loan. This loan transfers the risk of rising interest rates to the buyer.

A fixed rate mortgage means that the interest rate on the mortgage is fixed at a specific rate for the entire life of the loan. For example, if you have a 15 year fixed mortgage at 4%, this means that your loan is for 15 years and your interest rate will be 4% for the full 15 years, regardless of the market.

PM (and MIP)
PMI stands for private mortgage insurance. As part of qualifying for a conventional loan, you will have to get PMI if you put down less than 20%. Once your equity in your home reaches 20%, you can get the PMI removed (lowering your monthly mortgage payment). However, with an FHA loan, the insurance stays on the loan for the life of the loan, regardless of the equity in the loan. The private insurance on an FHA loan is called mortgage insurance premium (MIP). There is no way to avoid MIP on an FHA loan.

15 year and 30 year loan
Lenders issue mortgages on 30 year or 15 year terms. You will be hard pressed to find a lender issuing a mortgage for a term other than 15 years or 30 years. The advantage of a 15 year mortgage is that you pay significantly less money in interest over the life of the loan than you would under a 15 year mortgage.

Like any other loan, a co-signer on a mortgage means that the person is binding himself to be legally obligated to make the debt payments should you default. So, if you have your mom co-sign on your mortgage and you default, she’s on the hook legally and will have to make payments. Similarly, if she wants to get off your mortgage, she can’t do so without you refinancing. If a co-signer is required, the lender is effectively saying that your financial history isn’t good enough and they want someone else to be on the hook, too.

Amortization Schedule
An amortization schedule is a complete table showing your payments, principal, and interest over the course of the loan.

Prepayment penalty
A prepayment penalty is a clause that will be in your loan documents (if it exists at all). A prepayment clause says that you will pay a penalty for repaying your debt early.

Offers and Counter Offers
When you buy a house, you will make an “offer”, which is an offer to buy the house. The seller may accept your offer or reply with a counter offer, which will state different conditions than what you offered.

A home inspection is an examination of a home done by a home inspector to determine the condition of the home at the time of inspection. You will need to pay for a home inspection if you’re buying a house.

A home appraisal is an examination of the value of the property done by a real estate appraiser. An appraiser determines the monetary value of the property. You will need to pay for a home appraisal in order to provide your lender with the value of the property for which you are trying to purchase in order to get financing.

Transfer Documents
“Transfer documents” refers to the documents relating to the transfer of ownership from the seller to the buyer. Most documents will be signed by the seller and delivered to the buyer for your review. Documents include: 1) deed, 2) bill of sale, 3) affidavit of title (or seller’s affidavit), 4) transfer tax declaration, 5) transfer tax declaration, and 6) buyer / seller settlement statement. It’s important that you do your due diligence and read through the transfer documents to make sure everything says what it should say.

Home Loan Documents
“Home loan documents” refers to the documents relating to the mortgage issued by the lender to you, the buyer. These documents include: 1) note, 2) mortgage, 3) loan application, and 3) Truth-In-Lending Disclosure (TILA). There may be other documents included. It’s always a good idea to read the documents yourself and consider having an attorney read them for you, too.

Real Estate Title Documents
The title company and escrow company will also send you documents to review. The title company will send you the title insurance commitment showing that the party who has title is in fact the seller, in addition to any liens on the title. You should review this document and so should your attorney if you have one. The escrow company will also review it to make sure it says what it should say.

Title Insurance
Title insurance protects you and the lender from the possibility that the seller didn’t have free and clear title when the seller sold you the property. Getting title insurance is a standard step in the home-buying process. Your escrow or closing agent will typically help you get title insurance after the purchase agreement is signed.

Home Warranty
A home warranty includes basic coverage over certain things that may go wrong, such as plumbing, electrical, heating, and major appliances. The warranty is for a certain amount of time (like one year) and you have to pay for it up front if you want it.

Closing costs
Closing costs are fees paid at the closing of the transaction. Closing costs can be paid by the buyer or seller and they can be part of the negotiation process. Closing costs can be thousands of dollars, so don’t forget about them!

Escrow (and Monthly Payment)
When you get a mortgage, your lender may require you to set up an escrow account. A monthly escrow amount is added to your mortgage payment. The escrow payments goes toward real property taxes and insurance that you would otherwise have to pay once or twice a year. Instead, you generally will pay a monthly payment and the money sits in escrow to be paid by your lender when it’s due. This escrow payment is above the principal and interest portion of the mortgage payment and is required.

Homeowners Insurance
Most lenders require you to have homeowners insurance in place in order to obtain a mortgage; however, it is not required by law.

Property Tax
Property tax is the amount of money that you are required to pay based on the property’s assessed value. Property tax can be very costly, depending on where you live. This is something you’ll want to consider when calculating how much you plan on spending on your overall homeownership expenses. Property tax payments are usually due annually, but more often than not, they are divided into and included in your monthly escrow payment.

A Final Note!

In a perfect world, I would love to get a 15 year fixed rate mortgage using a conventional loan where I put down 20% (avoiding PMI altogether) in a great neighborhood close to the city (but not too close) with a white picket fence, red door, and black shutters with a boatload of money in the bank to go with it. But here I am, writing about the process and not buying any homes – I’m just trying to pay off my student loans. What’s my point? Take all of this with a grain of salt. My experiences are based off my friends and their experiences as recent homebuyers. I will say that many of my friends wish they knew more about the process before getting into it. There is power in knowing!

Do what’s best for you given your past experiences, current circumstances, and future hopes and dreams. Make good decisions. Buy a house when it’s right for you – and be smart about it. No one said this stuff was sexy – it’s just part of the process and part of being an adult.

Source: Buying a House First Time Buyer Guide | Financegirl

10 Red Flags To Watch For When Buying A Home

You’ve probably heard people describe nightmare scenarios on television or in person about finding something out about a home after they’ve purchased it. Most of the time the new homeowner will find themselves angry and skeptical of the recent selling party for potentially not disclosing something. The best way to avoid having to figure out what to do in that moment is to thoroughly inspect the home before the purchase is completed – specifically during the contracted inspection period. Well, here are some of the main issues that are worth combing over when inspecting a home.


10 Red Flags To Watch For When Buying A Home

Every house is different, and having someone help you investigate is probably a good idea unless if you consider yourself a real estate expert already. If you do want some advice feel free to contact me with the information provided below, or by submitting a question or comment below.

Grady Carter
Realtor®, GRI
Metro Brokers of Oklahoma
Lic. #160723

How Long Do Appliances Typically Last? – The Appliance Cheat Sheet

When you’re looking to buy a house there are a lot of things to consider. One of the categories of items to consider is the condition and age of the working components of the house, like the appliances. Knowing about how long appliances tend to last could be very useful information while negotiating your original terms, and also for if you need to renegotiate terms due to advice given to you by an inspector during your agreed upon inspection period.

This conversation could be somewhat null and void if a home warranty is in place, insuring much of the working components of a home. For more information on this and other real estate related quandaries shoot a message on over to your home boy!


Appliance Cheat Sheet


If you’d like to ask me a question directly please feel free to reach out to me by phone or email listed below, or you can fill in the info box with your question or comment.

Grady Carter
Realtor®, GRI
Metro Brokers of Oklahoma
Lic. #160723

Planner Shares System For Managing Money – Business Insider

Being a real estate agent is often a lot like being a party planner. There are several people and issues that need to be kept up with, and consistently held to account. Part of making sure that the party goes off without a hitch when working with a homebuyer is making sure that they have a financial plan to execute the purchase. Most people like to keep their finances rather private, so it’s important that people know that making that plan can be done in private. I often recommend that people use a few different free services to monitor their finances and credit:, and Credit Karma. They both run ads, but if you can just ignore those you can be a step ahead. Feel free to send me a message if you have any questions about either one of those services. Now, read this article and if you don’t have these basic financial tools in place start setting them up. You can do it – now let’s make a plan and throw that party!

If you are seriously wanting to get your financial house in order you might reach out to an accountant/cpa and maybe even a financial planner to look at how you can use your money to best fit you life and goals. And you might also talk to an estate planner in case you are worried about what will happen to your assets in the case of you passing away. My sister Claire is actually an estate planner and you are more than welcome to call her to ask about what that looks like, just tell her that I sent you. 🙂

Claire Bailey,  Bailey and Poarch: (405) 329-6600

Grady Carter
Realtor®, GRI
Metro Brokers of Oklahoma
Lic. #160723


“A few years ago, I put in place a ‘Money Flow’ system to help my family track our spending.”

A Financial Planner Shares Her Personal System For Managing Money

family walking beach winter

The author’s family is not pictured.Flickr / James Brown

Part of the reason we accumulate debt is that there are so many distractions in our lives – things we want to buy but don’t need.

But we also ring up debt because we simply don’t understand the flow of our income and expenses, so we can’t accurately estimate how much money we have available to spend.

I’ve struggled with this myself. A few years ago, I put in place a “Money Flow” system to help my family track our spending.

You may have heard of a system like this before, but follow along on this tour, because it really works.

Putting the pieces in place

1. Set up two free checking accounts:

  • One to pay fixed expenses (such as the mortgage, car payments and utility bills).
  • One to pay variable expenses (groceries, gas, clothing and so on).

2. Set up a high-yield online savings account.

We call this our “curveball” account. It’s an emergency fund for use when life throws us curveballs – large medical bills, a job loss or reduction in income, major home repairs, that kind of thing.

3. Make a plan for big-ticket items.

My husband and I agreed that we would use one family credit card for large purchases, such as airline tickets and hotel stays. We still have our separate credit cards – it’s wise to keep your own credit cards to maintain your credit score and credit history. Using them once or twice a year should be sufficient. And don’t close those cards because it will affect your overall credit score.

Implementing the system

1. Draw up a budget for fixed and variable expenses.

Add up how much you need in each category. This will be your guideline for how much should be in each of your checking accounts.

Fixed expenses might include:

  • Rent or mortgage payment
  • Property taxes
  • Utilities (gas, electric, water, etc.)
  • Home, auto and umbrella insurance
  • Life, disability and long-term-care insurance premiums
  • Health insurance premiums (if not taken out of your paycheck)
  • Cable TV, Internet, phone and cellphone
  • Gym or yoga memberships
  • Debt payments (credit cards, student loans, car loans, personal loans, etc.)
  • Savings (yes, this is an expense – pay yourself first!)

Variable expenses might include:

  • Groceries
  • Eating out
  • Gas
  • Clothing/shoes
  • Personal services (haircuts, doctor visit copays, etc.)
  • Entertainment

2. Distribute money to the accounts.

When your paycheck comes in, allocate the designated amounts into each checking account based on the budget you created. The sum earmarked for the curveball account can go there directly.

3. Pay fixed costs directly.

All bills are paid automatically from our fixed-expenses account. We do not have to write any checks, and no debit card is necessary. This account has a cushion of a few hundred extra dollars in case a bill shows up unexpectedly or before we have a chance to replenish the account.

4. Pay variable expenses from the second account.

This account should have a debit card, which you can use for purchases.

5. Link the curveball account to either checking account.

If an emergency arises, you can transfer funds within 24 to 48 hours. You can then access the money with a check or debit card.

Realizing the benefits

Once I implemented this system, the process of tracking expenses wasn’t so cumbersome anymore. Separating expenses into fixed and variable categories meant I didn’t have to worry constantly about checking account balances. Having fewer transactions in each account also made it easier to see the bigger picture of our spending.

The chart below depicts the flow of money.

Money Flow Chart2

* After taxes and pre-tax retirement plan contributions.Chart courtesy of MainStreet Financial Planning

Every family’s finances are different, of course. Feel free to customize my system as necessary. The point is to get – and keep – a grasp on the flow of your money. If you know exactly what’s coming in and going out, you can’t be surprised by debt.

Source: Planner shares system for managing money – Business Insider

5 Predictions for the Housing Market in 2016 – NerdWallet

One thing that seems more and more clear to me is that so goes millennials so goes the nation in next decade. If millennials decide not to buy houses there is going to be a large wealth shift – we will become even more of a renter society. So, a stable housing market that young people want to participate in matters. A lot of people are outraged by our nation, and world’s growing wealth gap (and in many ways rightfully so), but not participating in ownership of housing could be one of the greatest factors in the next great wealth shift. A lot of numbers show that young people do want to own their own stuff, and have a more self-sustaining lifestyle in a lot of ways. I’m just very curious which direction my peers and I are going to trend towards in regards to housing.

Grady Carter
Realtor®, GRI
Metro Brokers of Oklahoma
Lic. #160723

5 Predictions for the Housing Market in 2016

  February 5, 2016  Home Search, Mortgages

You can trust that we maintain strict editorial integrity in our writing and assessments; however, we receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners and get approved. Here’s how we make money.


A New Year brings new opportunities, and that’s certainly true if you’re looking to sell or buy a home in 2016. What exactly does the year ahead have in store for housing?

Industry experts point to a lot of promising signs — moderate increases in prices and sales, the creation of more households, and an improving job market — for the national housing picture in 2016. But the gains won’t look like they have over the past two years, and we’ll see more local housing markets stabilizing in the near future. And that’s a good thing.

After the deluge of damaging foreclosures and short sales that flooded U.S. cities during the downturn, a number of housing markets have recovered in a big way in recent years, to the relief of homeowners and economic analysts alike. In 2013, there were 5.09 million existing-home sales nationally, according to the National Association of Realtors. In 2014, sales dropped by 3.1% to 4.93 million. Although final figures for 2015 are not yet available, NAR predicted existing-home sales would close out the year at 5.3 million — nearly 7% higher than the previous year.

With NAR forecasting existing-home sales to rise by 3% to 5.45 million in 2016, experts say we’ll start seeing more balance return to the housing market in the near future.

Here’s a closer look at five key housing predictions for 2016:

1. Rising rates will squeeze first-time homebuyers most

The Fed’s move to increase interest rates in December reflects the major strides the U.S. economy has made as it emerges from the Great Recession. Higher rates (though they haven’t happened yet), along with rising prices and limited supply, will make it harder for some to afford a new home. The good news: Long-term mortgage rates will see only a gradual increase this year and will remain relatively low compared with what they were before the downturn.

Thirty-year fixed-rate mortgages, which averaged under 4% for most of 2015, will average 4.4% this year, according to Freddie Mac. Meanwhile, housing data firm CoreLogic, in its latest U.S. Economic Outlook report, predicts mortgage rates will increase roughly half a percentage point in 2016 over 2015.

If you’re a first-time homebuyer or you earn a lower income and haven’t had a raise lately, the rate increase might make it harder for you to afford a home. For the most part, though, a slight rate bump isn’t cause for panic and is unlikely to sideline most potential homebuyers, says Christian Redfearn, an associate professor of real estate at the University of Southern California.

Increasing mortgage rates will clamp down on refinancing activity as fewer homeowners will have enough incentives to refinance their current mortgages, according to CoreLogic. As a result, the firm is forecasting refinance originations to decrease by one-third this year.

2. Sales will rise, but modestly

Even though mortgage rates are rising, home sales will still be up about 3% this year as existing homeowners jump into the selling pool, according to a forecast from the National Association of Realtors.

After years of depressed prices, many homeowners have regained much of the equity they lost in the downturn, so they may seek to cash in on that value and sell in 2016 to move up to their next home, NAR President Tom Salomone says. In some markets, though, prices have increased too quickly, causing a bumpy recovery that’s priced out some potential homebuyers, he says.

“We don’t want these big peaks and valleys we’ve seen since the downturn,” Salomone says. “Steady, sustainable growth is what we’re after.”

As the economy continues to grow and more jobs are added, potential homebuyers with strong credit will be more willing to jump into the market too, Salomone says.

3. House prices will increase, too, but not at 2015 levels

Another trend that sellers in particular will appreciate: Home prices will rise again this year by 4% to 5% as demand increases faster than supply, according to CoreLogic. Although the increase in home prices will outpace inflation, it’s less than the 6% increase seen in 2015.

The more measured growth of home sales and prices is good news for the millions of younger Americans who are on the cusp of homeownership. However, experts agree that a shortage of housing inventory and new construction, which leads to bidding wars and competitive market conditions, will fuel higher home prices until more sellers enter the market or more homes are built.

“We haven’t built enough housing for a long time,” Redfearn says.

4. Housing demand will be up

The improving job market has been a boon for new household formations, a term that refers to configurations of people who live together under one roof, be it you and a few roommates, a married couple, a nuclear family of four, or just you. This increase will continue in 2016, with more than 1.25 million new households expected to be formed.

Millennials — all 83.1 million of them — now outnumber baby boomers and comprise more than a quarter of the U.S. population, according to the Census Bureau. Many of them are moving out of their parents’ homes, getting married or having children. As they do, these young Americans will create higher housing demand, particularly for rental homes.

This new surge in demand is expected to spur more construction of single-family homes and multifamily apartment buildings, but not at the pace needed to keep up with new households. NAR forecasts 1.3 million single-family housing starts this year, but the country needs 1.5 million to keep pace with demand.

Freddie Mac predicts total housing starts will increase 16% from 2015 to 2016, but it’s still not enough. That’s why more people are turning to the rental market, which is faced with a similar crunch.

5. Rents will also rise

Construction of multifamily homes will increase this year, but there’s still a shortage of rental homes for the millions who need them. Rental vacancy rates are at or near their lowest level in 30 years, according to the CoreLogic report. Accordingly, rents in 2016 will continue to rise faster than inflation, CoreLogic predicts.

With rents climbing, it’s no wonder so many millennials struggle to afford a down payment. For starters, 41% of them are saddled with student loans that frequently run into the tens of thousands, according to NAR. Plus, wages are growing slowly or not at all as rents and other living costs get steeper. It’s a combination of challenges that makes it hard to save for a down payment on a home, experts say.

Homeownership rates will dip slightly again this year as the number of new households that rent exceeds the number of new homebuyers. However, 94% of renters under 34 surveyed by NAR say they still want to buy a home in the future, and that bodes well for a more balanced market in the years to come, Salomone says.

The bottom line

The housing market has come a long way since the Great Recession, but the recovery has been uneven, and some areas still have a long way to go.

A sustainable housing market, Salomone says, is one that’s fair for both buyers and sellers. All the signs we’ve mentioned point to a more balanced road ahead for housing, but it’ll take a little more time to get there.

Let’s Play A Little Game – Buying A Home

Ok, let’s play a little game. Let’s say you pay about $800 per month in rent, and you are interested in keeping some of your money. Let’s imagine that you bought a house for about $120k, and put 10% down, with current rates your payment could be about that same $800 per month. If you held onto that house for 10 years (as a primary residence or as a rental property), and it increased in value by about 1% per year you would have quite a bit of equity!!!

Maybe you’d want a house for a different price, and with a different down payment, everyone’s situation is a little different.
Rates have been historically low, but they’ll have to go up even more eventually. Buying isn’t always a good idea for everybody, but have you looked into whether or not it’s a good idea for you? Call/message/email me if you are interested in finding out what all of this hoopla is about! 🏡 #Oklahoma #RealEstate

Grady Carter
Realtor®, GRI
Metro Brokers of Oklahoma
Lic. #160723



Just Listed: Gorgeous Golf Course Home in Norman!!!

Click Here To See The Listing

Well hello there!

In Real Estate  every transaction is unique. Sometimes hearing that a property is unique can be problematic, but sometimes it is a great thing! In the case of my newest listing in Norman located at 4601 Augusta Drive being unique is fantastic! Located just a few minutes south of the University of Oklahoma campus it manages to feel like a getaway outside of town. Backing up to the Cobblestone Creek Golf Course (which is currently being managed by, and soon to be owned by The University), and having several upgrades and amenities this house was designed to entertain. You’ll honestly just have to see it for yourself to really appreciate it. My personal favorite part is the amazing back porch that has a TV case, wet bar, fire pit, and multiple sitting areas. So go ahead, grab your agent (and if you don’t have one feel free to give me a call), and schedule an appointment to see this beautiful home!



This fantastic split bedroom home was built for getting away, and entertaining! It is located on the Cobblestone Creek Golf Course, and has a grand outdoor entertainment area equipped with: a partial kitchen, fire pit, and 3 sitting areas that back up to the golf course! The owners have taken great care of it and upgraded a litany of items, including: huge patio (with a TV, cooking area, extra lighting, and wet bar), extra large driveway, sprinkler system, water softener & water purifier, invisible pet fence, mosquito system, attic decking+shelving, and landscaping. The master suite is large with a very big walk-in closet and bathroom. If you are looking for a place to get away in town, we’ve got a deal for you! The home just appraised for $350,000, and the seller is simply asking for the appraised value, so come and take a look for yourself!

HOA includes: Golf Course, Pool, Club House, and Maintenance for Neighborhood Entry.