Forget Aspen! 10 Great U.S. Ski Towns Where Folks Can Actually Afford to Buy a Home

Winter, as you’ve surely heard, is coming—hard and fast. So why not ride it out in your very own home in the mountains, in a sweet place where the slopes are groomed, the air is clean, and après-ski bars are buzzing? While you’re at it, maybe chill for the summer too! Truth be told, you don’t have to be a second-generation reality TV star, tech titan, or trust-fund kid to live large in a great American ski town. And no, we’re not schussing you. You just need to know where to set your sights.

Hint: It’s not on Aspen, Jackson, Park City, or any of the other snowy playgrounds of the 1%, where median home prices rival or even exceed the most expensive neighborhoods of San Fransisco or New York.

But there are plenty of lower-key, way more inexpensive options around. In fact, just about half of America’s ski towns, as defined by realtor.com®, have a median home price under $300,000. So our data team set out to find the most affordable of the bunch, towns where you can keep the dream of owning a home near the slopes alive, and maybe even have some cash left over for a new snowmobile. Or heck, an SUV!

While you’d be forgoing some of the glam scenes, upper-end nightspots, and world-class powder of the best-known resort towns, these lower-priced mountain meccas are still undisputed winter and summer wonderlands. Some are old mining towns, or small remote cities that built resorts as a means to replace fading industries. They have fewer tourists, and miles of untrammeled nature.

To create our rankings, we started with a list of around 450 ski resorts, as compiled by onthesnow.com, a website that creates snow reports for the ski industry. We then looked at median list prices in the nearest towns or cities to those resorts to figure out which had the least expensive real estate. Only places with at least 50 homes for sale in October were included, and for geographic diversity, we included just one place per state.

So pull on that discount Uniqlo parka, grab a hot toddy or three, and let’s check out the best bargain ski towns in America.Most affordable ski towns

 

Read More:  Realtor.com – Ski Towns

Got Real Estate Questions?   The Caton Team is here to help.

We strive to be more than just Realtors – we are also your home resource. If you have any real estate questions, concerns, need a referral or some guidance – we are here for you. Contact us at your convenience – we are but a call, text or click away!

The Caton Team believes, in order to be successful in the San Fransisco | Peninsula | Bay Area | Silicon Valley Real Estate Market we have to think and act differently. We do this by positioning our clients in the strongest light, representing them with the upmost integrity, while strategically maneuvering through negotiations and contracts. Together we make dreams come true.

A mother and daughter-in-law team with over 35 years of combined, local Real Estate experience and knowledge – would’t you like The Caton Team to represent you? Let us know how we can be of service. Contact us any time.

Email Sabrina & Susan at: Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522 Office: 650-365-9200

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina
A Family of Realtors
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What can we do for you?

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Thanks for reading – Sabrina

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices – Drysdale Properties

Sabrina DRE# 01413526 / Susan DRE #01238225 / Team DRE# 70000218/ Office DRE #01499008

The Caton Team does not receive compensation for any posts.  Information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Third party information not verified

Resources for Buyers Struggling With Down Payments

First-time buyer surveys consistently show the top hurdle to homeownership is saving up for the down payment. But potential home shoppers may be misunderstanding the amount of money they really need to buy a home.

“Paying 20 percent down is, quite frankly, a myth,” Karen Hoskins, vice president at NeighborWorks, told HouseLogic. “Most buyers pay only 5 percent to 10 percent down—some even pay zero.”

Several assistance programs exist to help buyers with down payment concerns break into homeownership. For example, 69 percent of about 2,500 homebuying programs tracked by Down Payment Resource offer down payment assistance. The average amount of assistance from these programs tops $11,000.

HouseLogic offers several places where buyers can search for down payment assistance, including through national government programs. The Federal Housing Administration offers loans to first-time buyers with down payments as low as 3.5 percent. Programs like the USDA Rural Development Loans and VA Home Loans offer eligible buyers zero down payment loans.

Mortgage financing giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac offer eligible buyers loans where they can put down as little as 3 percent of the purchase price. When buyers put down less than 20 percent, they pay private mortgage insurance each month to protect the lender’s interest.

Many state and local homebuying programs offer assistance programs too. There are many different forms of assistance, such as forgivable loans and grants (gifts for some or all of the down payment and closing costs) to soft mortgages (down payment assistance loans that are deferred for some period of time based on the program’s requirements).

To find a program, HouseLogic recommends NeighborWorks, which provides housing counselors to discuss mortgage options for free, and the Down Payment Resource, where buyers can check their eligibility for assistance programs. Mortgage brokers should also be able to supply buyers with information about programs in their area and help determine eligibility.

Read the full scope of your buyers’ options and share the available resources for down payments—or no down payments—on HouseLogic. 

Source: 

Known Ways You Can Buy a House With No Down Payment,” HouseLogic.com (December 2018) 

I read this article at: Realtor.com

Got Questions – The Caton Team is here to help.

We strive to be more than just Realtors – we are also your home resource. If you have any real estate questions, concerns, need a referral or some guidance – we are here for you. Contact us at your convenience – we are but a call, text or click away!

The Caton Team believes, in order to be successful in the San Fransisco | Peninsula | Bay Area | Silicon Valley Real Estate Market we have to think and act differently. We do this by positioning our clients in the strongest light, representing them with the upmost integrity, while strategically maneuvering through negotiations and contracts. Together we make dreams come true.

A mother and daughter-in-law team with over 35 years of combined, local Real Estate experience and knowledge – would’t you like The Caton Team to represent you? Let us know how we can be of service. Contact us any time.

Email Sabrina & Susan at: Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522 Office: 650-365-9200

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina
A Family of Realtors
Effective. Efficient. Responsive.
What can we do for you?

The Caton Team Testimonials

The Caton Team Blog – The Real Estate Beat

The Caton Team Website

The Caton Team Advantage

How to Buy While Selling Real Estate

Want Real Estate Info on the Go?  Download our FREE Real Estate App:  Mobile Real Estate by The Caton Team

Visit us at:  Our Blog * TheCatonTeam.com * Facebook * Instagram * HomeSnap* Pintrest * LinkedIN Sabrina * LinkedIN Susan

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices – Drysdale Properties

Sabrina DRE# 01413526 / Susan DRE #01238225 / Team DRE# 70000218/ Office DRE #01499008

The Caton Team does not receive compensation for any posts.  Information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Third party information not verified.

House hunting for first-time homebuyers: is there a right way?

A lot of buyers, especially first-timers, worry about whether or not they’re going about their home search the right way.

On the one hand, buyers fret that if they find their “dream home” too early, they might be missing out on something better. But, on the other, if the process takes a while, they worry that they’ll never find a home that works for them. The FOMO is real.

Keep reading to find out if you’re on track with your home search and what you should do if you find that you need to go back to the drawing board.

How many homes should you see?

Honestly, that depends. While we understand the impulse to try and rely on hard-and-fast statistics, homebuying is a truly personal experience rather than a science.

Trust your intuition. You know your needs, likes, and dislikes better than anyone else. You’ll know when you’ve landed on the property that makes the most sense for you to call home.

That said, though, there are a few things you can do to help speed your search along:

If you’ve been looking for a while and haven’t really found anything that meets your needs, it might be time to redefine search criteria. Sit down and take some time to think about which features you really need to have in your new home versus which are more nice-to-have, wishlist items.

Narrowing your search

Sometimes, narrowing search criteria can get tricky. If you’re unsure of where to start, try using the following as a starting point.

Neighborhoods

Focusing in on a particular area is one of the easiest ways to refine your search. You can start by doing research into different neighborhoods by you. Think about what you commute to work will look like, if the area has amenities that you enjoy, the quality of the school district, and home values.

With that in mind, though, you getting too hung up on a particular zip code can also limit your criteria. The key is keep an ideal location in mind while still staying open to possibility.

Bedrooms & bathrooms

When searching for a house, you should have a firm idea of how many bedrooms and bathrooms you’re after. Whether you’re just looking to accommodate yourself and the occasional guest, are thinking about starting a family in the near future, or want the option to convert a spare bedroom into an office, this information will surely help narrow your search.

We advise against compromising on this feature because, while it is possible to put an addition on later, doing so takes a substantial amount of time and effort. More often than not, homeowners find that they would rather put their home on the market than go through the hassle of trying to renovate it to fit their changing needs.

Sale price

This is the big one. Once you have the above two details settled, it’s time to narrow your search results further to only those homes that you can truly afford. If you’ve already applied for a pre-approval, that number can be a good place to start. However, remember that a pre-approval shows the maximum amount that you can ask for in a loan. You may not want to borrow up to that amount once you factor in the rest of your monthly expenses.

To find a more comfortable sale price, we recommend using a mortgage calculator to get a sense of what your monthly payment could look like at various loan amounts and interest rates. Then, once you’ve landed on a number that works for you, try plugging that into your monthly budget to get a sense of how the payment will feel in addition to your other costs.

Now what?

The good news is that once you’ve narrowed your search down, your pool of available properties will likely be much smaller than it was before – and much more targeted to meet your needs. From here, your search will be about zeroing in on your perfect match on the basis of which property was the best fit for your personal tates.

You’ll know when a property feels like it could become home versus when you’d be trying to make the best of an imperfect situation. Keep hunting until you find the former.

 

This article originally appeared on OpenListings.

 

Got Questions – The Caton Team is here to help.

We strive to be more than just Realtors – we are also your home resource. If you have any real estate questions, concerns, need a referral or some guidance – we are here for you. Contact us at your convenience – we are but a call, text or click away!

The Caton Team believes, in order to be successful in the San Fransisco | Peninsula | Bay Area | Silicon Valley Real Estate Market we have to think and act differently. We do this by positioning our clients in the strongest light, representing them with the upmost integrity, while strategically maneuvering through negotiations and contracts. Together we make dreams come true.

A mother and daughter-in-law team with over 35 years of combined, local Real Estate experience and knowledge – would’t you like The Caton Team to represent you? Let us know how we can be of service. Contact us any time.

Email Sabrina & Susan at: Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522 Office: 650-365-9200

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina
A Family of Realtors
Effective. Efficient. Responsive.
What can we do for you?

The Caton Team Testimonials

The Caton Team Blog – The Real Estate Beat

The Caton Team Website

The Caton Team Advantage

How to Buy While Selling Real Estate

Want Real Estate Info on the Go?  Download our FREE Real Estate App:  Mobile Real Estate by The Caton Team

Visit us at:  Our Blog * TheCatonTeam.com * Facebook * Instagram * HomeSnap* Pintrest * LinkedIN Sabrina * LinkedIN Susan

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices – Drysdale Properties

Sabrina DRE# 01413526 / Susan DRE #01238225 / Team DRE# 70000218/ Office DRE #01499008

The Caton Team does not receive compensation for any posts.  Information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Third party information not verified.

How Important Is The Lender in a Real Estate Purchase?

How Important Is The Lender in a Real Estate Purchase?

More important than you think….

Hi!  Sabrina Caton here, Realtor with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices in Redwood City.  I wanted to write my own article today – to shed some light about the importance of the Lender you are working with when purchasing Real Estate in the Bay Area.

If you are a Buyer in the Silicon Valley – then you already know how competitive this market is.  If a Buyer wants to be the winning bidder on a home – they pretty much have to write their best offer – Non Contingent.  Meaning they’re locked into that contract no matter what.  Interest rates rise and they can’t afford their loan?  Doesn’t matter if their offer is Non-Contingent.  House doesn’t appraise for their offer price?  The Buyer better pony up the money or risk possibly losing their good faith deposit – because the offer was Non-Contingent.

As scary as Non-Contingent sounds – it is doable – as long as a Buyer has their ducks in a row – and what I mean by ducks is the Buyer is working with a terrific Realtor and a fantastic Lender, who has already run their credit, taken their application and had the Underwriter  review it all before drafting the Pre-Approval Letter.

Often times, at this stage in the process – a Buyer is looking for the best “deal”.  Meaning – they will follow the path that gets them the “most money” – or so it is perceived.  People may shop a Lender based on their closing costs, the interest rate quoted or because they know them.  All fine and well – but we need more!  The worst is when a buyer uses any Online Lending Score – that is a horror story for another blog post.  (Just take my advice and use a local Lender when buying in the Bay Area.)

When a Buyer is writing a Non-Contingent offer – they are heavily relying on what their Lender has told them.  What some Buyers overlook is the followthrough.  Did the Lender have the Underwriter  (The Bank God as I call them) review the application to ensure they fit into the box?  Did the Lender verify employment?  Does the Lender know one income earner is on leave?  Will their income still be used to qualify for the loan?  What happens if their income is not used?  What happens in a Buyer takes on new debt?  What is a Buyer pays down debt?  So many issues can up at any time, it is best to start off with their best foot forward.

The last thing a Buyer needs once they get an offer accepted is surprises in their loan.  Like – they don’t have a loan!  Large purchases that change their debt to income ratio can turn a Buyer from Pre-Approved to Not Approved.  To make things worse – what if a Buyer found this out AFTER their Non-Contingent offer is ACCEPTED?!  Well – the Buyer could risk losing their Good Faith Deposit and around here that’s 3% of the purchase price and our purchase prices are at least $1 – $1.5 million dollars.  So we’re taking $50,000 here!  

Unless a Buyer is buying a home in cash – the home loan is the most critical part of the transaction.  Any Sellers Realtor worth their salt will call each Lender on each offer they receive – to ensure the strength and validity of the loan.  Because without the loan – there is no sale and NO SELLER is going to risk the most important sale of their lives on “what if’s.”

I could go on and on about the horrors of bad lending.  So instead let me leave you with this.  When you are starting the journey towards homeownership – the true first step is to apply for a home loan and determine your budget.  That entails sitting down and making your own personal home budget.  Itemizing what you spend your money on and how much you have left towards the mortgage.  Once you’ve applied for a home loan, find a Reatlor your can talk to and trust and sit down and do just that – talk.  Each client is a unique situation and therefore requires a different plan.  The Caton Team is comprised of myself Sabrina and my partner/mother in law – Susan.  Together we have 35 years combined, local real estate experience.  Chances are we’ve worked through similar situations as you are in now.  Our time is free, our advice is free – put us to work for you.

If you’ve got Real Estate questions – we’ve got answers.  Contact the Caton Team when you are considering a purchase or sale of Real Estate.

I wrote this…

Got Questions – The Caton Team is here to help.

The Caton Team strives to be more than just Realtors – we are also your home resource. If you have any real estate questions, concerns, need a referral or some guidance – we are here. Contact us at your convenience – we are but a call, text or click away!

Email Sabrina & Susan at: Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522 Office: 650-365-9200

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina
A Family of Realtors
Effective. Efficient. Responsive.
What can we do for you?

The Caton Team Testimonials

The Caton Team Blog – The Real Estate Beat

The Caton Team Website

The Caton Team Advantage

How to Buy While Selling Real Estate

Want Real Estate Info on the Go?  Download our FREE Real Estate App:  Mobile Real Estate by The Caton Team

Visit us at:  Our Blog * TheCatonTeam.com * Facebook *Yelp Us * My Yelp * Instagram * HomeSnap* Pintrest * LinkedIN Sabrina * LinkedIN Susan

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices – Drysdale Properties

Sabrina DRE# 01413526 / Susan DRE #01238225 / Team DRE# 70000218/ Office DRE #01499008

The Caton Team does not receive compensation for any posts.  Information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Third party information not verified.

Guide to Buying a Home

The Early Bird’s Guide to Buying a Home

By Daniel Bortz

Edited by Sabrina

 

Planning to buy a home this year?  Then – is the time to get rolling.

“Spring is peak home-buying season, which means you’re going to have a ton of competition from other buyers,” says Peggy Yee, supervising broker at Frankly Realtors in Vienna, VA. Hence, winter is the ideal time to get ahead of the curve.  But life happens when you make other plans.  Regardless of when you want to buy – follow these steps and you’ll be way ahead of the pack.

Step No. 1: Find a buyer’s agent

Teaming up with a Realtor is your first step.  For starters, an agent can take the time to help you identify what type of home you want and educate you on the local market so that you’ll have realistic expectations of what you’ll be able to find in a few months.

Also, “your agent may hear of properties that are going to come on the market or sold off market, which could enable you to get a sneak peek at homes before other buyers.”

To find a real estate agent, you can ask friends or family for referrals, or use a reputable real estate database.

“If you’re laser-focused on a specific neighborhood, you’ll want to work with a neighborhood specialist—someone who knows the community like the back of their hand,” Yee advises.

Step No. 2: Get your financing squared away

Before you even lay eyes on a house, you should be looking at lenders. Why? Because lenders will help you get real about how much house you can afford. They will determine how much money they’re willing to lend you by checking out your financial details, from your income to your credit score and more. Plus, if your finances are less than perfect, you’ll be able to find out in plenty of time to make amends.

“Depending on what shape your credit is in, it may take a couple of months to raise your score,” says Richard Redmond, mortgage broker at All California Mortgage in Larkspur and author of “Mortgages: The Insider’s Guide.”

There’s no magic spell to banish poor credit; the strategy will depend on your financial situation.

“For some people, it might make sense to pay off their credit card balances over the next couple of months, but that might not be the right move if you’re going to need the money for closing costs,” Redmond explains. Thus, it’s beneficial to get credit advice from a mortgage professional at least two to three months before you plan to buy.

If your credit score is strong (760 and above will qualify you for the best interest rates), getting pre-approved for a home loan now makes sense.

“Pre-approval is usually only good for 90 days,” says Redmond, “but it’s easy to renew it if the borrower’s financial picture doesn’t change. And when interest rates are trending upward, which they currently are, it’s better to lock in your rate sooner rather than later.”  And remember – you don’t lock a rate until you have an accepted offer.  Now that’s a whole other blog.

Step No. 3: Start previewing homes

You’ll probably do an initial consultation with your agent to identify what type of home you want to buy. However, you won’t really know what type of home you’re looking for until you actually step inside some homes, says Lisa Cahill, co-owner of Evolve Real Estate in St. Petersburg, FL.

“Your criteria can change when you start to look at properties,” says Cahill. For example, you might think you need a home with 2,500 square feet of living space, but that number could change when you start seeing homes in person. Your real estate agent can alert you to open houses to attend so you get a feel of homes on your own.  As you would in your own life.

Step No. 4: Scrutinize prospective neighborhoods

Have your sights set on a particular neighborhood? Check it out – to see if the community is going to be a good fit.

“You can tell whether an area has good schools on paper, but there are a lot of things you can’t judge unless you go there in person,” says Cahill.

For instance, online research won’t show you what the noise level is during rush hour or what the neighbors are like (e.g., is it more for young families or older residents?). Those are things that you need to assess with your own eyes. Concerned about traffic? “Go and test-drive your commute,” says Yee.

Step No. 5: Don’t rule out buying early or later

Even if you had originally planned to buy later in the spring, what if you find a home you absolutely love earlier or later? If you’re willing and able to move earlier or later, then keep an open mind with respect to buying a home.

If you’re thinking of buying this year – let’s sit down and chat.  I’m sure you have questions and we probably have the answer – and if we don’t we know who does.  Contact the Caton Team for a free Real Estate consultation.

 

I read this article at: http://www.realtor.com/advice/buy/early-birds-guide-buying-home/?identityID=9851214&MID=2017_0217_WeeklyNL&RID=353497822&cid=eml-2017-0217-WeeklyNL-blog_2_earlybirdbuying-blogs_buy

Remember to follow our Blog for the local real estate beat, a pulse on the San Francisco Peninsula at: https://therealestatebeat.wordpress.com

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.  

Email Sabrina & Susan at: Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522 Office: 650-365-9200

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Thanks for reading – Sabrina

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina – A Family of Realtors

Effective. Efficient. Responsive.  What Can The Caton Team Do For You?

 

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices – Drysdale Properties

Sabrina BRE# 01413526 / Susan BRE #01238225 / Team BRE# 70000218/ Office BRE #01499008