Resources

We would like to assist you in your relocation needs. We would like to share with you time and money saving tips. These tips will help you to get organized, make the right decisions and keep more of your own money when buying a home, selling a home, or relocating!

» 10 Tips for First-Time Homebuyers

Owning a home comes with added expenses and advantages. In addition to the down payment and mortgage, you’ll have to pay for closings costs, insurance and maintenance. To figure out whether it’s financially smarter to buy or rent, calculate and compare total home ownership costs to rental rates.

So, you have already done the math and home ownership appears to a better option than renting. Even if your calculations indicate owning is a smart financial move, there are ways to make the home-buying process less stressful and more affordable. Before taking the plunge, there are some additional benefits to asking yourself some tough questions and reviewing a few quick tips.

  1. Be picky, but don’t be unrealistic. There is no perfect home.
  2. Consider your monthly costs. Do your homework before you start looking. Decide specifically what features you want in a home and figure out whether you can comfortably cover the full costs of ownership of those features.
  3. Get your finances in order. Review your credit reports, income and debt obligations. Be sure you have enough money to cover your down payment and your closing costs. Before applying to the Bank of Mom & Dad, note that outright cash gifts can result in big tax bills. Anyone can give anyone else up to $13,000 a year without worrying about gift taxes, but take care to document the loan to keep the Internal Revenue Service happy and also to disclose it to your mortgage lender, since it might affect how much in additional debt you qualify for. Forms for such transactions are posted at sites like Nolo.com. There’s also the possibility that you will qualify for home-buying assistance from the federal government.
  4. Prequalify.  Talk to a lender and get prequalified for a mortgage before you start looking. This is also an ideal time to get a rate lock. A rate lock gives you protection from financial market fluctuations that could affect your interest rate range.
  5. Don’t ask too many people for opinions. It will drive you crazy and can cause unneeded stress. Of course, you will want some counsel. Select one or two people you trust to turn to if you feel you need a second opinion.
  6. Decide when you could move.  Seems like a simple task, but is often overlooked. When is your lease up? Are you allowed to sublet? This can determine how long an escrow should be to comfortably make the transition.
  7. Think long-term. Are you looking for a starter house with the idea of moving up in a few years or do you hope to stay in this home longer? This decision may dictate what type of home you’ll buy as well as type of mortgage terms that suit you best.
  8. Don’t let yourself be house poor. If you max yourself out to buy the biggest home you can afford, you’ll have no money left for maintenance or decoration or to save money for other financial goals. Don’t forget to also factor in yearly property taxes. Would a move across a county line save you money in taxes? Weigh all your options so the final outcome of ownership doesn’t leave you short.
  9. Trust…but verify.  Insist on a home inspection and if possible get a warranty from the seller to cover defects within a reasonable amount of time.
  10. Get help. Consider hiring a REALTOR® as a buyer’s representative. Unlike a listing agent, whose first duty is to the seller, a buyer’s representative is working only for you. And often, buyer’s reps are paid out of the seller’s commission payment.

By staying close to your goals and doing your homework, the home-buying process can be a positive experience.

» Montana Home Ownership Programs

You may qualify for some additional assistance on your way to home ownership.  Primarily, the Montana Home Ownership program is intended to be utilized by first time home buyers, however, in certain “targeted” areas, the borrowers do not need to be first time buyers. Other features include certain income requirements and house price restrictions which must be met.  You can learn more by visiting mt.gov.

» Montana Rental Law

Both the tenant and the landlord have responsibilities and it best to be equipped with the at least the most basic laws for clarity.For instance, many renters assume their landlord’s policy covers their belongings as well. That’s not the case, and they often don’t find that out until after a disaster or a robbery. Your landlord’s policy doesn’t cover anything that’s yours. The only exception to this would be if the loss was caused by negligence on the part of your landlord, and then you would still have to prove it in court. This is where Renters Insurance comes in. You can learn more about it and more by educating yourself on the laws before you rent. If you have a specific question, you are always welcome to call us or visit http://www.rentlaw.com/montana.htm.

Here are few that are notable.

  1. A landlord must keep the property in a fit and habitable condition. This includes keeping the electrical, plumbing, heating, and other facilities in good and safe working condition, and supplying running water.
  2. The landlord must also install an approved smoke detector.
  3. A landlord may enter a dwelling unit without the tenant’s consent only in case of an emergency; pursuant to court order; when the tenant has abandoned or surrendered the premises; to make repairs when a tenant has failed to do so after 14 days written notice; or, when reasonably necessary during a tenant’s absence of more than seven days.
  4. A tenant may not unreasonably withhold consent to the landlord to enter the dwelling unit to inspect or make necessary repairs.
  5. The landlord generally must give the tenant at least 24-hours notice of the landlord’s intent to enter and may enter only at reasonable times.

» Helpful Tools

Here are some helpful tools from Homefair.com

The Salary Calculator Free City Reports
Free School Reports Moving Calculator

Utilities & Services Phone Numbers

Electric
Northwestern Energy (888) 467-2669
Yellowstone Valley Electric Cooperative (406) 348-3411 or (800) 736-5323
Gas
Montana-Dakota Utilities (406) 896-4250
Water
City Billings (406) 657-8315
Lockwood Water User’s Assoc. (406) 259-4120
Sewer
City of Billings (406) 657-8315
Waste Disposal
City of Billings (406) 657-8260
Telephone
Qwest Communications (800) 244-1111
Cable
Optimum Communications (406) 238-7700
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