4 Key Tips to Getting a Mortgage

Maybe you’re thinking this is the right time to buy a home. Mortgage rates are low, and you drove by that ‘perfect’ house, and you’ve got the itch to buy. So what do you need to know to go from “I’ve got to have it,” to “Sold!” The best mortgage tip advice is to do your homework before you start house shopping. Here are a few tips to consider:

Mortgage Tips: Face the Facts

You’ve heard about the fiasco known as the Equifax credit breach. More than a third of us had our personal information compromised. As a result, financial gurus have recommended that you check out your credit score with Equifax, TransUnion and Experian to make sure it is accurate. It’s critically important when applying for a home mortgage, because a low credit score and credit fraud can derail your plans for your dream home. Most lenders require a minimum credit score of 680 in order for you to qualify for a home loan. If you are looking at an FHA loan, they look for credit scores north of 620. In addition to your credit score, bankers will look at your payment history. Have you missed payments on other obligations? Are you frequently late on paying your bills? Those markers will let a mortgage lender know of your responsibility, and likelihood of paying your home mortgage on time.

2) Are You Cashed Up?

Money talks, especially when it comes to a home loan. If your credit score is sketchy, and your payment history isn’t so hot, then cold hard cash talks. Even if you have a great credit score, walking into a lender’s office with no cash on hand for the purchase can deny you a mortgage. So how much cash do you need? Every mortgage lender has it’s own criteria, but in general, you’ll need a down payment of at least 3.5% of the home price. More is better. With the price of homes in Southern California, we know that means saving a lot of dough, but the real savings comes when you don’t need PMI. PMI stands for Private Mortgage Insurance, and lenders waive PMI when you put 20% down on your home. So break out your calculator and figure out how to put the money away. Not having PMI lowers your monthly mortgage payment, so saving now pays off on down the road. Also remember additional costs: closing costs, home appraisals, title searches, moving expenses. We want you to have the home of your dreams, but also want you to be educated before you buy.

3) Debt Free is a Beautiful Thing

When you apply for a mortgage, lenders take a long peek into your financial history. Not only are they interested in if you pay off your obligations on time, but also how much debt you are carrying. They call it Debt to Income Ratio, which just means the more debt you are carrying, the less likely you are to be approved for a loan. Every lender has their own evaluations, but a good rule of thumb is that they will see if your debts (credit cards, student loans, potential mortgage payments, etc..) exceeds one third of your income, they are queasy about loaning you the cash. If you pay off your debts before filling out a home mortgage application, you’re much more likely to see “Approved” on your application. Also note that lenders will check your debt status just before closing, so any other big purchases you make right before closing can impact their decision.

4) Know Your Limits

We know you are anxious to find and move into that perfect home. Contact us to let us show you what is available. We suggest getting pre-approved for a mortgage before our first house hunting trip. It’s simple: just contact a lender, give them your financial info and let them tell you the amount they will lend. It will free you up to only look at properties that make sense for you. You don’t want to fall madly in love with a property that there is no way you can afford. Speaking of which, lenders can pre-approve you for a lot more house than you can actually afford. Life can get much more stressful when you are house-poor, so get pre-approved, and use it as a general guideline when you are looking at listings, but always consider how much extra cash you will have after paying the mortgage every month, in order for your purchase to be a happy one!

Popular Styles of Homes for Sale in Coto De Caza

Looking at homes for sale in Coto De Caza isn’t hard if you know what you want. Not everyone does their research before going out and looking for a home. Figuring out your top styles of a home will significantly reduce the amount of time you will spend looking at homes that you won’t be happy with.

The types of homes out there all have their perks and pitfalls. Just how smaller homes are more energy efficient but have less space, different styles are better suited for your needs than others. Many of the styles came from a historical origin, and others serve a purpose for the environment they were created in.

We’ll talk about some common styles and why you should be considering them for your next home purchase!

Cape Cod

Now, this may seem a little out of place seeing as it is named for a style of home made popular on the other side of the country, but it’s the beautiful design that makes it suitable for Southern California as well. Many sought after homes for sale in Coto De Caza are actually considered this style.

Cape Cod style is known for having steeply slanted roofs and larger than average chimneys. This was inspired by cottages but adapted for the harsh winters in Cape Cod way back in the 1600’s. The purpose of the original design may not be necessary in SoCal, but the other features make it an attractive style to build anyway.

What features?

Tons of windows! Windows both on each side of the door, and directly above them on the second floor. They are also known to have cedar shingles, but that isn’t absolutely necessary to be considered a Cape Cod.

If you’re looking for a home that feels quaint while never skimping on space, you should consider the Cape Cod style in your search.

Contemporary Vs. Modern

Contemporary homes are very well-liked and actually different from the Modern style homes. While they are similar in aesthetics, the contemporary style is fit for the future.

Contemporary homes for sale in Coto De Caza are going to be much more energy efficient than their Modern counterparts. They will utilize windows intuitively for getting the most out of the sun’s natural lighting. They will also use the newer technologies in lighting, plumbing, and possibly even allow for the addition of solar panels.

In addition to being energy efficient, they are built with more eco-friendly and sustainable materials. Being contemporary basically means using safer quality materials that will save you a lot of money down the road.

While Modern and Contemporary have several similarities in the way they look, both internally and externally. The difference comes down to whether you want to pay a little more for a more earth friendly home built with nontoxic materials.

We think that going Contemporary if you’re leaning in that direction, is an excellent choice that may just make you money if you decide to sell in the future. Many home sellers have to do costly repairs before the home is ready, but you might save yourself the trouble by going with the more sustainable materials.


Unlike the Pueblo Revival style, which is inspired entirely by the indigenous natives of Northern and Southern America, the Spanish style pays homage to European ancestors. The Spanish style does incorporate a bit of the Native American architecture and blends them with a Mediterranean design.

The bulk of the Spanish style best resemble the old missions, of the 20th century. They usually have arched porches, arched corridors, clay roof tiles, bell towers, and square pillars.

Many different layouts exist, but they will frequently have many of the previously mentioned features as well as quatrefoil windows that take on the appearance of flowers. Quatrefoil windows have the appearance of a four-leaf clover, having four circles coming from a central point.

This is one of the best parts of the style because so much can be done with these types of windows. If you’re looking for a little inspiration, you can take a look at examples from history by googling it. This kind of window was very popular in older European churches, and many still stand today!

Let’s Talk

We’ve covered a few of our favorites, but there are so many other home types out there to choose from. If you’re still trying to figure out what styles of homes for sale in Coto De Caza are right for you, please call us at 949-350-0146 or email us at Debrakovacs@cox.net and we can give you more information on everything this beautiful town has to offer!

Finding Beautiful Homes for Sale in Rancho Santa Margarita

Shopping for new homes for sale in Rancho Santa Margarita doesn’t have to be as difficult as it may sound. We have compiled a list that you should check off as you from open house to open house to find the right home for your needs.


Location, as they say, is everything. When considering all of the homes for sale in Rancho Santa Margarita, don’t take its physical position as the only piece of information when determining whether or not to buy.

The distance the home is from your work, or at the very least the nearest freeway, is something to consider seriously. Few people want to be so close to the freeway that you can hear the cars, but you don’t want to drive 30 minutes of streets to get to the highway you need either.

Having children means figuring out where you need to live to get them in the district that you want them in (if you are even looking into a public school.) Another thing to consider is how close you would be to city parks, and anywhere they will be for reoccurring extracurricular activities. If you are steps away to their school but 45 minutes away from their piano teacher, you might want to look somewhere in the middle of the two.


When it comes to homes, size definitely should matter. This goes both directions though. You want a house large enough to accommodate the needs of your family, and possibly for the event of a growing family.

When looking at homes for sale in Ranch Santa Margarita, don’t just go with the bigger is better mindset. Especially when it comes to the square feet of your property. If the home is huge, but you have no yard for your dogs and children to play in, you may want to reconsider. The same can be said about the opposite situation, a 2-bedroom home for five people probably won’t cut it, even if you have all the backyard you could ever want.

Finding something that meets the needs of everyone, and allows some space for fun and hobbies is the way to go. Take everything into account about the house, the activities your family enjoys, and even the plans for the future before blindly signing a contract!


Of course, the price matters but for more reasons than just the actual price of the home. Buying a dream home is an amazing feeling, but only if you can truly afford the dream.

Making the necessary payments on your mortgage, property taxes, homeowners insurance, car payments, car insurance, field trips for the kids…getting the idea yet?! Things come up, and life can be expensive. What we want everyone to do ahead of time is figure out if buying the home and still having a life are possible.

Owning the dream home, but not being able to afford to do go out to dinner or the movies is not fun. If you have to work extra just to go camping in your own backyard, you have a major issue!

Having the right amount of money for everything that your family wants is vital, so finding a home that allows you to have activities still is essential. If you can’t afford the house you truly want, don’t worry! You can always sell your home down the road and use the money to secure something better.

When in doubt, ask yourself the most important question: do I really want to be living on a budget for the next 30 years?

Get Help

Going about buying homes for sale in Rancho Santa Margarita alone is a mistake unless you are a realtor yourself. For the majority out there who are not, get one!

A good realtor will be able to help you find something that will allow you to continue to live the life that you have imagined for your family, without running the risk of putting you in the poor house. Let’s face it, we all overestimate how well we can handle a financial situation, but realtors have the foresight to make sure that you can manage the mortgage along with all of your other expenses.

Don’t just sit around looking at realty websites, hoping that you can someday own a home. Call The Kovacs Connection at 949-350-0146 or email us at Debrakovacs@cox.net and we can help make your dream a reality. We know all of the homes for sale in Rancho Santa Margarita, and we will match you and your family with the perfect house immediately!

First Time Home Buyer Help That Works

The real estate world can feel like a big and scary place; this is why we always offer the first time home buyer help. Going in guns blazing will only cost you a lot of money. It’s great to have enthusiasm, but it’s even better to some knowledge and research to back your every move.

Here are some tips that will help any first time home buyer seem like an expert and get you a great deal in the process:

Home Markets, Where Are They?

“This home is only $300K? That’s great! We were considering spending much more. Where do I sign?!” Stop, breathe, let’s go about this slower.

Had you researched the neighborhood, you would have realized that this home is only worth $225K and you were about to overpay big time!

Do your research.

Have you ever been looking at homes in an expensive area, such as the Hamptons, and then compared the same size houses in the middle of rural Ohio? You might not be shocked to see the price difference to be several million dollars, but they are in entirely different states, so the price difference makes sense.

The same thing happens between bordering cities, and even neighborhoods within the same city for reasons such as accessibility to freeways and malls, nearby schools, or even the crime rate of the area.

Doing some research will ensure that you don’t make a huge mistake and overpay for a home in an unsafe neighborhood.

Can You Even Pay That?

First, you want to figure out what your mortgage would be; you can easily find a mortgage calculator online to help you determine what your monthly payment would be.

Next, you want to factor in the closing cost, depending on the home, it is not unusual to pay upwards of $15K on closing costs. If you weren’t expecting to pay this on top of the price you agreed on for the home, you might just be in big trouble.

Then figure out what your monthly expenses as a household would be. In other words, add up the internet, gas, electricity, expected grocery bill, and any other monthly expenditures you incur and add them to your mortgage payment.

Now you’re getting much closer to what you’ll be spending every month, of course, try to have some financial wiggle room in case of an emergency.

Last, figure out your budget. With all of the expenditures added up, what will you have left over? Is it enough to live comfortably, or will you be risking a missed mortgage payment every time you take the family out to a monthly dinner?

If you can barely make everything work and don’t have much leftover for savings and fun, you might want to consider a different home. There is no shame in choosing a different home in order to avoid a foreclosure down the road. In fact, the smart move is to take this into account and travel towards the more affordable home.

You can always sell your home and upgrade down the road!

Get Your Money!

You likely don’t have the money for the house upfront, so you’re going to need to get a mortgage to be able to afford it. Well, you should take a few steps first.

Checking your credit is ground zero in the loan process, if you don’t know it, find out immediately. If your credit is good, move forward, if it isn’t you might want to consider taking some action over the next few months to raise your credit score.

The interest rate a good credit score can get you will save you tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. It is crucial to try to have your credit at its absolute best when applying for a loan.

After you get a better credit score, it’s time to choose a lender and get preapproved. You actually have several options. Big banks, most credit unions, and even the government offer mortgage loans.

Each of these institutes will have its perks and pitfalls, so be sure to shop around and try to get the best interest rate you possibly can. If you’re able to take your time, between an increased credit score and some careful shopping, you can easily save yourself $100K over the next 30 years of your mortgage.

This just happens to be one of the most overlooked tools for first time buyers, don’t be like the rest of them. Take it slow and push for the absolute best deal, your bank account will thank you some day.

If you’re a first time home buyer and need help that will get you into a great home quickly, please contact us by calling us at 949-350-0146 or emailing us at Debrakovacs@cox.net or realestatebyrana@gmail.com and we can help you today!

Photo Credit: Shutterstock/Jirsak