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6 Signs Your Real Estate Agent Is Playing Both Sides

Your real estate agent should be on your side and serve your best interests. (Not their own.) When you’re house-hunting, you want to find a real estate agent who is your biggest advocate, keeping your best interests (and your bank account) in mind. Unfortunately, some agents don’t operate this way. A higher purchase price benefits them, so you need to trust that they’ll fight for the lowest price possible on that home for sale in Denver, CO. But how can you tell if your agent is actually playing double agent, serving their own interests as much as yours? Here are six indications that your real estate agent might be two-timing you. “How motivated are you?” If, in an initial meeting, your new agent asks this question, a red flag should go up. A buyer’s agent shouldn’t be driven by dollar signs, and this question indicates they’re most likely trying to determine how much time and energy they should put into your home-shopping cause. Of course, that’s how the business works — but do you really want someone working for you who doesn’t hide the fact that they’re thinking about how quickly they’ll get paid? Your motivation should be to put in an offer when the house is right — not to help an agent pad their bank account. Starting out the nerve-racking buying process with a blatantly self-interested agent is not likely to quell your nerves when you get further into the sale. They ignore your budget You were very clear about your price range, yet your agent keeps showing you properties that are way beyond your means. Sound familiar? Sure, sometimes it’s worth paying a little extra to get the house of your dreams; it might also be that you’ve settled on an unrealistic budget and need to get a grip on the realities of the market. But if your agent is surprising you over and over again with homes listed above your price cap, they might be serving their needs more than your own. If you’re feeling suspicious, check the most recent listings in your area and make sure that other, more reasonably priced homes haven’t come on the market. Listings on Trulia can help you easily gauge what comps are going for in the neighborhoods you’re targeting — and raise your budget, if need be. Insider baseball Does your agent seem to know an awful lot about the sellers of the house you’re interested in? That might be a red flag that they’re in cahoots with the selling agent — potentially a friend or old colleague from another agency whom they’re trying to help out with a commission. Or it might mean that they’re friends with the sellers (there are a lot of small towns in this country, after all) and want to see them get a great price for their home. Either way, your agent is serving multiple interests at once when they should be serving only yours. Too much searching pressure Is your agent pushing you to submit an offer on a place you’re not in love with? Even when you’ve expressed interest in other homes? They might be more enamored with the property’s potential for a bidding war than you are with the property. A good real estate agent should only push you (gently!) to give a space a second chance if they think the place fulfills your wish list in ways you haven’t considered. But if they’re actually trying to squeeze an offer out of you, you should think twice about your agent’s motivations. Too much purchase price pressure Everything was going well until you found your perfect home and began the negotiating process. Now it feels as if your agent just wants to get the deal done, even if it means you could end up paying more than you want (or can comfortably afford). The buyer’s agent should be haggling with the seller’s agent, then coming back to you to explain what else you should negotiate into the deal. Yet you might find yourself convincing your agent that no, you don’t want to spend $20,000 more just to get the agreement signed, even if that does come down to just a few dollars a month in mortgage payments. They pull a disappearing act So you finally put an offer in on a home, and suddenly your agent isn’t returning your calls, even though the home inspection and various other borrowing questions loom. Your agent should be helping you through the entire home-buying process, not just the house hunt. Ostensibly, it’s in your agent’s best interest to make the process run smoothly until the end, but they could be gambling on the sale going through without a hitch — and have refocused their energies on greener pastures: new clients. There’s not much you can do at this stage in the game, except avoid recommending this agent to your friends. Source: Trulia Article

Brandon Farber

Brandon Farber

 

Will Early Mortgage Preapproval Crush Your Credit Score?

One too many credit pulls for mortgage preapprovals can actually hurt your score. With a mortgage preapproval letter in hand and a down payment sitting pretty in your bank account, you’ve set off to purchase the home of your dreams. But after experiencing the bitter letdown of being outbid time after time, you’ve come to realize this whole process might take far longer than you originally thought. Suddenly, your Boy Scout–level preparation to get that preapproval letter could put your credit score in a precarious position. Here’s why: Getting a preapproval requires a “hard pull” on your credit, and too many hard pulls can impact your ability to score the best loan terms once you are officially able to move forward with a mortgage on that home for sale in Sarasota, FL. To avoid this credit stress, follow these tips to mitigate the risk and protect one of the most important assets you have — your credit health. First things first: Get prequalified and then get preapproved To avoid the disappointment of falling for a home your current financial situation can’t sustain, it’s important to get prequalified. This process is pretty straightforward — a lender takes a look at your overall financial picture and determines your purchasing ability based on the information you provide. (No hard pull on your credit necessary.) Once you understand what you probably qualify for and you’re ready to start looking at houses, you should then move forward with the preapproval process, suggests Matt DeLuzio, a loan officer with AmeriFirst Financial Inc. in Denver. “There are many factors that can put a full approval at risk, therefore it is much better to find a lender that can get an actual preapproval done. When this happens, your lender will complete all necessary verifications, run the file through underwriting, and issue a mortgage loan commitment,” DeLuzio advises. Shop lenders within a certain time frame Just as you would shop around for the right car loan, it’s important to shop around for a preapproval. It’s expected that you will look for the best lender and rate, therefore credit-reporting bureaus are more lenient with multiple credit pulls within a certain time frame. According to FICO, the time frame to keep inquiries contained is anywhere from 14 days (older scoring models) to 45 days (the newest scoring models). All inquiries during the time frame laid out by either scoring model would be treated as just one inquiry, a protection offered to mitigate the risk of a massive credit score drop. Lauren Rowland, a Denver-based real estate agent with Kenney & Company, stresses the importance of starting early and continuing to look for the right lender. “Generally speaking, many clients are able to identify and close on the property within the window of time that their preapproval is good for,” Rowland says. “That being said, during the process of looking, they may identify a lender who can offer them a better rate and select to get preapproved again.” Know how long your credit reports last Credit reports are good for 120 days after they are pulled. If a buyer does not close on a home within that period, the report must be pulled again. According to DeLuzio, this could have a significant impact on the interest rate and loan program the buyer can qualify for. “If a buyer is going to go past the 120 window,” he explains, “it is recommended that the credit report be updated far enough in advance of closing to ensure that any changes that need to be made can be done in time.” Both DeLuzio and Rowland suggest finding a reputable lender that can help identify ways to improve and protect your score during the home-buying process — by lowering credit utilization, for instance. Don’t discount the benefits of being prepared While you should always be mindful of your credit, it’s important to understand how beneficial preapproval and overall preparedness can be to your ability to land the home of your dreams. “You should shop well in advance of the point where you ‘need’ a home so that you have hired your lender and real estate agent in advance of finding your dream home,” says Rowland. “Being fully approved and able to close quickly (with all your lending ducks in a row) can give you a leg up against any potential competing offers.” - Source: Trulia Article

Brandon Farber

Brandon Farber

 

Americans File Changes of Address Online-And Select Retail Catalogs

Here's moving news: According to the National Association of Realtors, "home sales remain at historically high levels." This means address changes filed with the United States Postal Service will likely also remain high: about 45 million a year, Postal Service officials report. If you'll be among those moving Americans anytime soon, you should know that many consider the fastest, easiest and most convenient way to file a change of address is with the Postal Service at usps.com. Other change-of-address options include Telephone Change of Address at 1-800-ASK-USPS and the Mover's Guide found in Post Offices. In addition to letters, statements and advertising mail, many movers want to make sure they keep getting their favorite catalogs at their new home. For them, there's the optional Catalog Request Card Service that is available online with the Change of Address form. After customers complete the Internet Change of Address form, they can select specific retail catalogs-current or new-or choose "No Thanks." Since the program's inception last fall, participants have chosen to receive an average of six retail catalogs after they move. And most of these are catalogs they were not previously getting. Evidence, Postal Service officials say, that more and more people like to shop via the mail. Indeed, the Direct Marketing Association expects print catalog sales to hit $158 billion in 2009, up from $152 billion in sales this year. The Association also says that nearly six out of 10 catalog shoppers keep a catalog they order from for at least three months. "We're providing this service so that people can have their favorite catalogs on hand when they're needed most, to organize their homes quickly and easily when it's convenient for them," explained Charlie Bravo, senior vice president for Intelligent Mail and Address Quality. The Postal Service, which gets no taxpayer dollars for routine operations, is an independent federal agency that delivers more than 44 percent of the world's mail volume-some 212 billion letters, advertisements, periodicals and packages a year-and visits 145 million homes and businesses every day, six days a week. It's the world's leading provider of mailing and delivery services, offering some of the most affordable postage rates in the world.  

Brandon Farber

Brandon Farber

 

Alternatives to Foreclosure

Buying a house is a big investment. It really puts a dent on your financial resources. Of course, the expenses do not end with the down payment. You still have to contend with the monthly payments for the mortgage. This is a financial situation that you will have to live with for years until you have fully paid off your loan. But what happens if you get behind in your mortgage payments? A delay in payment can have very serious consequences for your mortgage situation. If the delinquency in payments has become too severe then your home could be in danger of foreclosure. A foreclosure means that your property will be repossessed by the lending institution that gave you your mortgage. Fortunately, even if you have defaulted on your payments, it does not necessarily mean that your property will be foreclosed. There are various alternatives to a foreclosure that you can take. Some of these are: Paying the delinquency. Generally, all lending institutions are required to accept all the payments that were delinquent and reinstate the loan. The delinquent payments that you have to pay may also include some legal fees especially if you are already in the foreclosure stage. There are also lending institutions that require certified funds in order to reinstate the loan. Forbearance and Repayment. One of the most common ways of resolving a delinquent mortgage is to work out a plan with your lending institution where in you get to pay a part of your delinquency every month on top of your regular monthly payments. If you are in a situation where you are not able to meet the monthly mortgage payments, your lender can elect to extend the forbearance by suspending payments for a certain period of time up until you can start a repayment schedule. Payment Assistance. Some state and local governments and also private charitable organizations have instituted programs that help people with delinquencies pay all or part of their mortgage obligation for a certain period of time. Reamortization. In a reamortization, the delinquent mortgage amount is added to the loan balance as a way of bringing the mortgage payments up to date. This move increases not only the total loan amount but also the monthly payments. Of course, the increase in payment will not be as large if the life of the loan is also extended. Private sale. A private sale of the property affected by the delinquency can also be done as it will allow you to meet your obligations as well as get any equity that may have accumulated. In private sales it is usual that the amount is greater than the stated amount owed on the loan. Most of these alternatives presume that you will be able to pay your mortgage payments at some point. But there is also a particular foreclosure alternative called a loss mitigation program. The federal government as well as the mortgage industry established this type of program as a way of stopping foreclosures. Under this program you are given options that will not only assist you in keeping your home even if you do not have the financial capability to pay for the mortgage payments. With these types of programs, it becomes so much easier to address the problem of foreclosures.  

Brandon Farber

Brandon Farber

 

Alternative Housing

Why alternative housing? To save money, to travel, to live creatively - there are many reasons why people choose to live in tents, RVs, cabins, underground homes, rental rooms and anything else that's less common than the houses, condos and apartments that most people call home. Below are some of these housing options, and their advantages. Alternative Housing That Moves Camping at a hot springs area, we sat around the campfire one night with several young men living in the desert in their old converted school bus. It cost them nothing to park it in the desert (on BLM land you have to move every two weeks, though), bathed for free in hot spring tubs that were as nice as those in nearby expensive resorts, and played guitar around the fire each night. Not such a bad life. In Arizona there are whole communities that spring up each winter, full of people living in their RVs. Advantages of RV housing are obvious, and include moving with the seasons, trying out different places, and not paying property taxes. I've talked to people living in Rvs that cost $200,000 and ones that cost $600, so the selection of accommodations is varied, to say the least. My wife and I lived for almost a month in our conversion van as we traveled from Arizona to Florida and then to Michigan. Advantages of a van include better mileage than an RV, and being inconspicuous. We found that could park and sleep almost anywhere. Other Alternative Housing In most areas where rents are high, renting rooms has become common. This makes sense for single people. Just pay a set amount each month or week, and (if it includes utilities) you have a predictable and lower cost of living. I rented out rooms in my own home for years, and even put carpet and lighting in a shed so I could get $50 per week for it in summer. A friend of mine lived in a shack he built for $3,000 on a small piece of land he bought for $7,000. Eventually he ran into problems with the county because he had no occupancy permit. Apparently you can't live on your own land in the woods if your home is too small. However, you can camp on it, so a $2,000 used RV parked on your land makes for a cheap and legal housing alternative. Some people live on houseboats and avoid paying property taxes. Some live in the jungle near the beaches in Hawaii, so they can afford to be in paradise. I know people who lived in a basement while slowly building the house above for cash. People live in cabins built in the national forest wilderness, moving every few years as they are discovered. Truly, your imagination is the only limit to your alternative housing options.  

Brandon Farber

Brandon Farber

 

All you Should Know Before Buying Commercial Real Estate

All you Should Know Before Buying Commercial Real Estate. Buying or renting, such is the question many business people ask themselves around the first of the month, when it comes time to write their rent check. With the interest rates being what they are and prices being affected by the commercial paper crisis, the answer might very well be yes if the right property becomes available and you can afford a relatively important cash down. Owning commercial real estate does have it's advantages.
Choices: As the owner, you can decide whether to select a building that matches your current needs, has enough room for future expansion or maybe is large enough for you to lease parts of it. Equity: Every month your payments are applied to paying down your mortgage and building some equity which could be useful eventually to secure a loan for new equipment,  to finance an acquisition or simply as an asset. Appreciation: Not withstanding any unforeseen occurrences, your building should appreciate with time. This appreciation could,  just as the above mentioned equity, be used to get better financing conditions. Power: As the landlord, you are the person in charge of deciding how to finance the building, picking the tenants, choosing the decorations, selecting entrepreneurs for the work to be done, improving the building. You even have control over your rental rate.
If it's so great, why doesn't everyone do it? The main reason why not everyone owns the commercial space they're using is that, in real life, things don't necessarily go exactly as planned. You can buy commercial real estate with no money down, especially if it's because your money is bringing you more in another (safe) investment.   On the other hand, if it's because your cash flow doesn't allow you any flexibility and that you don't have anything set aside should things go a little unexpectedly, then you may want to seriously consider all the ramifications of the deal you are considering.
Your business' cash flow's growth stage. Is your business bringing you comfortable and predictable income which you are looking to invest or would spending an important part of your income hinder any growth possibility for the near future? Will you be able to afford any substantial and sometimes unexpected expense should you have to perform unscheduled maintenance on your building? Usually, a commercial property will require a 15% cash down payment which, in some cases, can end up being a lot of money. Don't forget you also have to factor in the price of insurance, taxes and legal fees. Due to the importance of the figures involved in most commercial real estate transactions, I recommend you surround yourself with adequate representation meaning: a real estate agent with experience and a positive track record as well as financial and legal advisers.
Examining the tax perspective. Since I'm not a CPA and all situations are unique, I strongly suggest you meet with a competent financial advisor who will help you evaluate your particular situation. For now, keep in mind that in most situations, you will be able to use some of your expenses as depreciation to reduce your taxes or some of the rent as a personal income.
You make your money when you buy, not when you sell. One last but extremely important factor to consider before making your decision is that you make your money when you buy but realize it when you sell. Paying more than the fair market value, not taking into consideration your cash flow factors (mortgage, interest rates, insurance, taxes and repairs VS incoming rent, other income possibilities such as parking for example) or letting your feelings dictate a purchasing decision may negatively affect your exit strategy for year if you are not careful. Though appreciation is quite probable, we suggest you don't factor it in when crunching your numbers: if the deal is still a good deal without factoring in appreciation, you are likely to make a favorable ROI (return on investment) when you decide it's time to go for your exit strategy. If you absolutely need appreciation to justify your purchase, be extremely careful as no one really knows what will happen in the future and, in the present, you may be paying too much.
What you should remember. So we looked briefly at the different aspects of buying a commercial property.  Remember the advantages of being a landlord are: Choices Equity Appreciation Power   Make sure you carefully evaluate your future cash flow. Purchasing the property won't hinder your growth strategy. You can afford unexpected and sometimes quite expensive repairs should they be needed. You can afford the cash down.   Get advice from a professional financial advisor about your tax situation. Get advice from a professional law adviser. Get advice from a professional real estate adviser. Avoid free advice as it often end up being the most expensive kind.   Evaluate the building's cash flow. Make sure the purchase makes sense even without appreciation. Find a reputable real estate specialist.  

Brandon Farber

Brandon Farber

 

7 Mistakes To Avoid When Buying Your First Home

The prospect of buying your first home has become synonymous with so many feelings: excitement, trepidation, fear, joy, and just about every other expression on the emotional spectrum. At the very least, it is an overwhelming experience for anyone that willingly has a go at it. The process is certainly magnified for first-time buyers, but even seasoned investors have found it to be challenging at times. There are so many moving parts to every deal that you are only fooling yourself if you aren’t a bit cautious. To that end, even the best real estate investors and homebuyers experience setbacks on a deal from time to time. Mistakes are bound to happen, but it is how you deal with them that will define the end results. Better yet, preventative measures can help you avoid some mistakes altogether. Fortunately, it is entirely possible for first-time homebuyers to be proactive in their mistake mitigation efforts, despite their lack of experience. Our partners over at CT Homes have compiled a list of common first-time homebuyer mistakes, and the best ways to prevent them from happening to you. Be sure to avoid these seven mistakes when buying your first home: 1. Making An Emotional Decision There is nothing saying you can’t establish an emotional connection with a home, but you are breaking a cardinal rule when you let that attachment dictate the underwritings of a purchase. Any transaction you purposefully walk into should be predicated on one thing: the numbers. The numbers need to reflect your budget, and what it is you are looking to get out of the property. Provided you have conducted the appropriate research, you should have an understanding of how much the property in question should sell for. By no means should your connection empower you to pay more for a home than it is actually worth. At that point, you are seeing to it that you get the raw end of the deal. The sooner that you realize there will be other houses to come along, the less inclined you will be to let you emotions dictate your decisions. Again, it is OK to fall in love with a property, but remember not to let that love get carried away. I recommend looking at several homes that you “love,” as to prevent yourself from becoming too attached. Once there are other houses in the equation, your mind is more likely to reason with sound judgment. 2. Searching For A Home On Your Own The advent of technology, and certainly the Internet, has made searching for a home a lot easier than it used to be. There are several sites whose soul purposes are to help you find the home of your dreams. However, their existence has simultaneously helped and hindered those looking to buy. The sheer volume of homes available at the touch of a button will certainly intimidate onlookers, and could lead to analysis paralysis. I recommend using these sites as a research tool, as opposed to conducting a physical home search. Use them to determine what it is you are looking for, and what might be available in the area. However, when it comes down to physically searching for a home, and not searching through thousands of dead-end listings, I recommend enlisting a little help. There is always the possibility that you will find the home of your dreams on your own, but I am afraid that is the exception rather than the rule. Instead, let your agent vet homes in your place. There is a good chance they know about listings that aren’t even on the market yet. At the very least, they will filter out homes that don’t meet your criteria, and save you countless hours of tedious searching. 3. Working Exclusively With The Listing Agent The listing agent represents the best interest of the seller. They are an essential part of the home selling process, but – as their name suggests – they represent the person listing the property. Their soul purpose is to sell the home at a price the owner has predetermined. Subsequently, the more money the home sells for, the larger commission checks they get. For all intents and purposes, they are trying to sell the home at the highest possible price; something first-time homebuyers are probably not all that fond of. Therefore, it is ill-advised for any first-time buyers to initiate any transactions through the listing agent. Fortunately, you are entitled to work with a buyer’s agent. Not surprisingly, a buyer’s agent represents the buyer. While their services will certainly cost you extra, their expertise can easily save you more on the deal than what it would cost to hire them. Outside of price negotiations, most buyer agency agreements include: Protecting their client’s financial information. Negotiating the best possible price for the buyer. They must disclose whether or not they are working with another buyer trying to get the same property. Show the buyer all the properties they are interested in. Connect buyers with other service providers: inspectors, lenders etc. There are multiple benefits to working with a buyer’s agent, all of which are better than dealing with a seller’s agent on your own. 4. Assuming The Rules Don’t Apply To You Homeownership represents many things to a lot of people, but first-time homeowners undoubtedly associate it with freedom. This could very well be the first time they don’t have to follow the rules set forth in a previous household; or is it? Just because you have never been a homeowner before doesn’t mean the rules of homeownership won’t apply. It is entirely possible that the home you are looking at comes complete with deed restrictions and conditions. Deed restrictions are dependent on their particular neighborhood, and can vary dramatically. Their purpose, more or less, is to provide stability in the respective area. Some are there simply to ensure that the property holds its value. They are not necessarily a bad thing; just something that needs to be accounted for. Sometimes deed restrictions can impede the plans of perspective homeowners, and it is in their best interest to know these things before the home is purchased. 5. Not Saving Enough Money Saving up enough money to put down on a house is quite an accomplishment. The high price of rent in today’s economy has made it difficult for anyone to transition over from renters to buyers. However, the down payment is just the beginning. Outside of the initial cost, most first-time homeowners don’t save enough for what comes next: life as owners. “Transitioning from a renter or your parents’ home to your own home has incidental costs that may be overlooked,” says Aisha Thomas, associate broker with The Thomas Agency of Georgia. More often than not, first-time buyers neglect to account for the costs that follow the closing. It is not a bad idea to have at least two to three months of mortgage payments in reserve. That is on top of the extra money that will be needed for additional closing costs and impending property taxes. There are a lot of costs associated with owning a home, and first-time buyers need to be aware of all of them. Neglecting to account for these costs could be devastating. 6. Neglecting Loan Pre-Approval Too many first-time homeowners make the mistake of not getting pre-approved for their purchase. To that end, a pre-approval letter from your bank goes a long way in securing the property you want. For starters, it is the best way to find out how much home you can actually afford. Secondly, sellers are more inclined to choose the offers of those that have already been approved for specific loan amount. That way there is less risk of the deal falling apart. Be sure to get a pre-approval letter from your bank no less than three months out. You will be glad you did. “This process can take just a few days and simply means that the lender has looked through your financial situation and is comfortable with the idea of lending you a certain amount of money,” says Bianca Mitchell, an agent with Keller Williams in Santa Monica, CA. 7. Paying Too Much Private Mortgage Insurance Lenders took note of the latest recession, and hedged their bets. In order to prevent more people from defaulting on their loans, mortgage guidelines have adapted. One of the new rules requires buyers to pay private mortgage insurance on any property that they weren’t able to put at least 20 percent down on. The private mortgage insurance, or PMI, is added on to the monthly mortgage payments. Typically, first-time homeowners are not able to put 20 percent down on a home, and are – therefore – more likely to pay PMI. However, not enough people know to contact their lender once 20 percent of the home has been paid off. At that time, the PMI will be discontinued. Your lender will automatically cancel your PMI when you owe 78 percent, but you don’t want to pay a month more of PMI than you have to.

Brandon Farber

Brandon Farber

 

The Quintessential First-Time Homebuyer’s Checklist (Part 2)

When we left off in part one of our First-Time Homebuyer’s Checklist series, we walked buyers through the first six months of the buying process. With that out of the way, it’s time to take it home – figuratively and literally. Below you will find a step-by-step checklist that walks first-time homebuyers through the last six months of the buying process: 6 Months Out Assemble The Proper Loan Documents With roughly six months separating you from the purchase of a new home, the time for preparation is nearly at an end. Of course there will be impending nuances you need to address before the actual transaction occurs, but now is the time to take action. Remember, real estate does not favor the timid; it is on you to be proactive. Take everything you have done up to this point, and use what you have learned to bring the deal to the closing table. Gather all the necessary documents you will need to receive loan approval, and get everything in order. While this step seems about as cut and dry as any other, I assure you that it is more difficult than it sounds. Subsequently, this step is dependent on the actions of whichever bank you are looking to borrow from. Banks are, at the very least, particular when it comes to mortgage loans. Everything must be in order for the transaction to progress. Any unexpected omissions or errors could set you back, or even prevent you from getting the loan altogether. The sheer volume of paper work increases the odds of a mistake, and should – therefore – be addressed at least six months out. The more time you give yourself to go through your mortgage papers with a fine-toothed comb, the better. Carefully compile, and go through the following paperwork: Two to three years of W-2 forms, or business tax return forms for the self-employed. Two to three years of personal tax returns. The most recent paystubs you can get your hands on. Credit card and loan statements. Your bank statements. A list of addresses you have lived in for the last seven years. Brokerage account statements for the most recent two to four months. The most recent retirement account statements. While it may feel a bit premature to gather these documents, I can assure you it is well worth your time. Taking care of this step now will alleviate a lot of stress when it comes time to close, and mitigate potential setbacks. Having said that, you will want to keep these documents close by throughout the entire process. It really helps later if you are able to update them with more accurate information regularly. With any luck, you might even come across something that will reduce your premiums or improve your terms. Find A Lender & Realtor While you are gathering the appropriate paperwork, it wouldn’t hurt to start looking for the lender you intend to give it to. In fact, now is the perfect time to do so. Armed with a better understanding of the loan programs that are available to first-time homebuyers, look for the lender that will accommodate your needs to the best of their ability. Keep in mind that they are competing for your business, so shopping around is an absolute must. Who you decide to borrow from will have a huge impact on the entire process; make sure that you are comfortable with whomever you choose. If you are not comfortable with making the decision on your own, it may be in your best interest to hire a Realtor first. A properly trained buyer’s agent will help you find the right property, negotiate with the seller’s agent, and navigate you through the closing process. Sometimes it is incredibly beneficial just to have a second opinion; someone to let you know you are on the right track. Even better, a good Realtor will be able to help you decide between potential lenders. Should there happen to be any discrepancies or inconsistences, their assistance should be able to alert you to potential complications. At the very least, they should give you more confidence in the lender you choose to represent your loan. To that end, look for a mortgage broker who will help you uncover a competitive loan rate, unlike a bank, which strictly offers its own services. 3 Months Out Receive Loan Pre-Approval In the event you have chosen to stick with our timeline, and are in fact on track, your credit score, paperwork, and down payment savings should be on schedule. Subsequently, you should now have an idea of who is going to represent you and which lending institution you will end up borrowing from. This is the time in the buying process where everything starts coming together. First things first, you will need to receive a pre-approval letter from your bank. Schedule an appointment with the lender you have decided to borrow from, and be sure to have all of your paperwork in order. Provided everything goes well at the meeting, and I am sure it will if you have followed these steps, you are just a credit check away form receiving a pre-approval. At this time, you will learn how big of a loan your credentials have earned. Of particular importance, however, is the leverage such a letter can give you during the buying process. Many first-time buyers are unaware that a pre-approval letter can actually place them ahead of the competition. Knowing that a buyer is capable of closing is a great relief to some sellers, especially those looking to close quickly. At the very least, a pre-approval letter will give all the parties involved in a deal their own peace-of mind. Let The Shopping Begin Having finally received approval, you will know exactly how much house you can afford. This will help you narrow down your actual home search, and prevent you from wasting time on homes out of your price range. Crosscheck what you can afford with the amenities you are looking for, and go from there. Now is the time to physically walk through properties and narrow your search results. Let your agent find homes that match your criteria and view them whenever you can. For what it’s worth, have fun with this part of the home buying process. For as daunting as the whole thing can be, this is the time where you are actually able to visualize what it is you have been working so hard for. 2 Months Out Make The Offer Hopefully your search resulted in finding the home of your dreams, or at least a home you want to move into. If this is the case, it is time to make an offer. However, it is not enough to simply send them an offer you think is fair. The offer process is complicated, and a bit temperamental. However, those with the know-how should have an advantage. For starters, you want your offer to stand out from anyone you may be competing with. There is one way to do this that I have found to be very useful: put the seller ahead of yourself. Transactions only work when both parties come out on top. Before you submit your offer, ask yourself why the seller would accept it. Sending over a low-ball offer just because the house needs work will probably not get the job done. Your offer needs to be fair, and justified. It also wouldn’t hurt if you were the path of least resistance. Again, this is where the pre-approval letter comes in handy. If a seller knows you have already qualified for a loan, you already have an advantage over those that still need to. Ultimately, it all comes down to one thing: getting the home at a price you feel is fair. Request A Home Inspection With your offer on the table, any acceptance should be contingent on whether or not the home passes inspection. One of the first things you’ll want to do after an offer is accepted is to hire a home inspector to look at the property. If everything checks out, it should be safe to move forward. However, the home inspection also offers an out for any property that is not up to your standards. For the sake of this publication, let’s say the home passed the inspection, and it is safe to move forward with the deal. 1 Month Out Double Check Paperwork & Financial Documents With the inspection out of the way, you are finally at the home stretch. Provided you have been updating your documents throughout the process, these last thirty days or so should be the easiest. First, have your agent go through your mortgage documents and check for any errors. It is absolutely critical that everything is correct, or you run the risk of delaying the close. Get Home Insurance Prior to closing, you will want to make sure the property is insured. At the closing, you will be required to present proof of insurance before the transaction can go through. Similar to that of choosing a lender, don’t hesitate to shop around. Get the best rate you can afford, while still having the protection you need. Conduct A Final Walkthrough This is where you will see the home for the last time before the closing. Walkthrough the entire property, and confirm that it is in the condition you and the seller agreed upon. Have The Cash Ready At Closing All that is left is to bring the agreed upon amount of cash to the closing. You will be given the exact number a few days before closing, which should be enough time to receive a cashier’s check or wire the funds. Remember, regular checks are not acceptable. At the closing, pay for the home and pat yourself on the back. Congratulations; you are now a homeowner.

Brandon Farber

Brandon Farber

 

ABCs of Real Estate: Quick Guide To Common Terms

Buying or selling a home? Check out our guide to real estate terms. Home-buying and selling is stressful — and with industry acronyms and real estate terms flying at you from all directions, you may feel overwhelmed navigating your new real estate reality. Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer sifting through homes for sale in Chicago, IL, or a seasoned investor, there’s always more to learn. Trulia’s quick guide to common real estate terms is a good place to start. Download the PDF here and find more helpful information in the articles below. Source: Trulia Article

Brandon Farber

Brandon Farber

 

5 Tips For Relisting After A Home Sale Falls Through

Whatever the reason, if your home sale didn’t close, you’ve got some decisions to make. It’s tough to start over after your home didn’t sell, especially if you had an offer that ended without a closing. This happens sometimes and for multiple reasons: buyer-financing difficulties, a family emergency, problems found at inspection, or even a low appraisal. If you had backup offers waiting in the wings, lucky you! But if you didn’t, you’ve still got a few options for relisting your home for sale in Santa Fe, NMhome for sale in Santa Fe, NM, or Charleston, SC, after a sale falls through. 1. Continue working with your current agent This option is easy. Just start again — ditch that “pending” status, change it back to “active,” and prepare yourself for another wave of showings. But don’t ditch your agent too fast. They did their job to get you a buyer, after all. “It is not [the agent’s] fault if the buyer falls through,” says Brett Ringelheim, a New York real estate agent with Nest Seekers International. “The issue is how well the listing agent investigated the sale and protected the seller,” says Bruce Ailion, an Atlanta real estate agent and attorney. Sometimes agents know when the offer is a shaky one that might not close. Although they may advise you not to take it, you might anyway. In that scenario, the only time to hold the agent responsible is if they pushed you to take a weak offer and then “allowed 30 to 60 days to pass before it fell apart,” says Ailion. When your home doesn’t even get offers, it’s natural to be frustrated. Your first reaction might be to blame the agent. But you really “shouldn’t change agents for the sake of trying something new,” says Gary Lucido, president of Lucid Realty in Chicago. Here’s a strategy Ailion recommends: “Have a conversation and ask that your listing be terminated.” Give your agent some time (Ailion asks for 24 hours) to fix or address the issue. If you’re still dissatisfied, then consider finding a new agent. 2. End the contract with your agent If you need a change — maybe you believe your agent dropped the ball — you can end the contract. “The seller must give notice to the broker in writing,” says Robert Vinson, head of Vinson Real Estate Group in Los Angeles. Note that you could “have some obligation to pay a portion of the marketing efforts,” adds Vinson. You might need to end your contract by waiting until its term ends, but this isn’t always the case. “You should be able to terminate a contract at any time; no reasonable agent wants to work with an unhappy client,” says Lucido. You would then go through the process of finding a new agent. Maybe you picked a family member or friend the first time, and it didn’t work out. Pick your next agent as you would any other professional. In this case, check references, ask whether they sell in your area, and find out if they have experience with your type of home. Selling a historic house downtown, for example, requires a different set of skills than selling suburban subdivision digs. Also find out how many houses the agent listed last year and, of those, how many actually sold. “Above all, don’t list with the agent who charges the least commission,” says Candace Evans, a Westchester County, NY, real estate broker. “Like most things in life, you really do get what you pay for.” 3. Wait a few days If you need (and want) to sell, you’ll need to relist your home. But you might want to reflect on what happened last time and possibly brainstorm a new strategy beforehand. Expect to put in some extra time, especially if you hired a new agent. Sit down with them, discuss what happened, and find out their ideas for preventing the same situation from happening again, suggests Ringelheim. You’ll probably have more photos taken (professional ones are best), powwow on whether you’ll change the price, and possibly highlight your amenities in a better way, such as improving the curb appeal or emptying cluttered closets. 4. Fix any problems If your deal fell through because the inspection report caused the buyer to run for the hills, you have some decisions to make. “It is important for the seller to get all necessary items fixed,” says John Lyons, a Chicago real estate broker. “Otherwise, the problem will likely happen again with the next buyer.” If you’re unwilling to do this, disclose the problems to potential buyers the next time you enter a pending sale and consider lowering the price. 5. Put your listing on pause If you’d rather not relist during a slow season, you can wait it out for warmer weather and a potentially larger market. “The busy spring market starts right after the Super Bowl and lasts until Memorial Day, and the shorter fall market is between Labor Day and Halloween,” says Evans. November and December are “really bad” times, says Gary Lucido. So if you can afford to postpone the sale, consider waiting for a better time of year. You can, of course, still sell a house during the holiday season — you just might need to work a bit harder. Another reason to wait to relist is to have your home show up again as “new” on the listings. “Depending on your local MLS, you may or may not be able to relist the home within a certain amount of time and have it show up as new,” says Ross Anthony, a San Diego agent with Willis Allen Real Estate. The point is to avoid the dreaded “stale” listing, a home that’s been on the market (and MLS) so long, people begin to wonder what’s wrong with it. “When you relist the home, it should show as a new listing with a fresh batch of marketing photos,” says Anthony. He says that after three to six months, a whole new group of buyers could see your listing with fresh eyes. Source: Trulia Article

Brandon Farber

Brandon Farber

 

Professional Advice On Making Your First Offer

More often than not, would-be buyers assume there is nothing more to an offer than the price. While important, the price is only a small part of the equation. There is a lot that goes into making the right offer on a property, and it is in the buyer’s best interest to present the seller with the best possible offer. Your offer, should it be accepted, will represent a binding sales contract. It is important, therefore, that it comes off in the best possible light. However, that is easier said than done. If you are nervous about making your first offer, or are just looking for a little advice, here are some tips from our partners over at CT Homes that will strengthen your proposal and increase the chances of it getting accepted: Remain Confident In Your Research Buyers are advised to research any potential properties they may be interested in. In fact, neglecting to research a property is a recipe for disaster. At the very least, you need to have an idea of what you are getting into. The more you know about a home, the better. However, as with just about everything else in this industry, knowledge can only take you so far. It is absolutely imperative that you have confidence in the research you have done up to this point. Any level of doubt will prevent you from taking action, and – therefore – result in your refusal to even submit an offer. At that point, any research you have done becomes irrelevant. You can actually argue that the ability to act on your research is more important than the research itself. The second you refuse to trust your own due diligence is the moment things will start to go south. I recommend implementing a system that will allow you to approach your research from a methodical standpoint. To that end, I use a three-steep deal evaluation system for every house I look to acquire. That way I know I have covered every possibility, and can confidently make an offer. In step one of my three-step deal evaluation system, you will conduct a brief phone analysis. Within a period of approximately 10 minutes, you want to be sure to collect the following: General information about the property Sellers motivation and price Mortgage information Assuming that the numbers meet your approval, it is time to conduct an in-depth desktop analysis. Otherwise known as stage two, the desktop analysis will allow investors to conduct further research on the subject property. Remember, knowledge is the key to analyzing deals. Take this time to acquire property records and any further information that will help you determine if the property has potential profitability. Look at the property card in county records and compare it to other properties on the MLS. Combine the data to establish three main price points: Cost of property Repair costs After Repair Value (ARV) These three price points, in association with property records, will allow investors to determine whether or not a property is worth making an offer on. After it has been determined that the property is worth pursuing, schedule an in-person meeting with the seller. As its name suggests, the in-person meeting will witness an investor physically evaluate the property to see if it corresponds with the seller’s previous claims. Once it has been decided that the subject property meets your criteria, you will make an accurate offer based on accumulated data. If you follow these steps, I can assure you that confidence will not be an issue. You will be able to make an offer that you are more than comfortable with. Review Your Comps Of course, knowing the details of the property in question is only part of the battle. One of the keys to making an offer is to understand the comps, or comparable properties in the area. Comps are one of the best tools buyers have at their disposal, and should help them make the best offer for their particular situation. Comps, for all intents and purposes, are the starting point for any offer. Comps refer to the prices paid for recently sold homes. However, it is not enough to simply pick the house next door, or one at random. As the name suggests, comps are those homes that are comparable to the one in question. Size, style, location and the number of bedrooms all play an important role. The more similar a home is, the better comp it is. To that end, knowing what another similar home recently sold for will give you a good idea of what the home you are looking to make an offer on is worth. Ideally, you would like to come up with at least three comps to support your offer. Don’t hesitate to put your real estate agent to work. They should be more than capable of getting you the information on the comparable sales you are looking for. I suggest going over the last six months of sales data. That way you have a solid foundation to compare with the property you are currently interested in. First, look at the pending sales and see if they are trying to tell a story about a particular market. The pending sales represent the most up-to-date market statistics. How long sales are pending can indicate whether or not it is a buyers market. See if you can find out the number of offers each property received, and the subsequent selling price. If this is your first offer, your real estate agent should have some valuable input as well. Ask them their opinion on the home’s current value, and compare it with the research you have done. At the very least, mulling over comparable sales will provide you with a good indicator as to whether or not your offer is in the ballpark. Communicate With Your Lender Keep in mind that making an offer would most likely not be possible if it weren’t for a lender. Where else would the average buyer receive enough money to make a purchase of this size? Having said that, before you make an offer, it is important to contact your lender. Not only will they be able to give you an update on the current mortgage rates, but they will also be able to provide you with a preapproval letter; another valuable tool in your offer. Acquiring a preapproval letter is an important step in the offer process that too many people glance over. It will simultaneously make you aware of how much house you can afford, and let the seller know you are a serious prospect. There are even situations where a preapproval letter can give you an advantage over anyone else trying to make an offer on the property. Simply providing a seller with a preapproval letter will show them that you are more likely to be able to buy the house. When your offer is comparable to another buyers, having such a letter could place you ahead of them. Outside of the letter, your lender may be able to tell you about any changes that have taken place in mortgage underwritings since you last checked in. For all you know, better rates will allow you to afford a larger house. You may even qualify for a better loan. You will never know until you ask. Decide On Terms No offer would be complete without terms, or rules specifically put in place to govern the deal. Outside of the price, you will need to discuss terms. How long will the inspection process go on for? Do you prefer a faster closing period, or maybe slower? The terms of an offer can absolutely make or break any deal. To that end, the right terms will absolutely place you ahead of the competition. Conversely, poor terms, or at least those that the seller doesn’t agree with, can hurt your chances of submitting an acceptable offer. Don’t hesitate to offer a quick close if both you and the seller agree on it. Sometimes the smallest details can help you make the best offer.   Source: fortunebuilders.com

Brandon Farber

Brandon Farber

 

The Quintessential First-Time Homebuyer’s Checklist

The process of buying a home starts well before you physically set foot in a property. In fact, preparation is half the battle. It is in the best interest of those buying their first home, or even those that have acquired multiple properties, to familiarize themselves with the proper steps. In part one of this series, we’ll take a look at what first-time homebuyers should be doing in the year leading up to their purchase. Our partners over at CT Homes have compiled the following checklist for first-time buyers to use throughout the process: 12 Months Out Credit Check Few things impact your ability to buy a home more than your credit score. In fact, it can be argued that your credit score serves as the foundation for the entire home buying process. It is the one thing that can clearly and decisively identify whether or not buying a home is even an option for some. There is no other measurement of one’s viability that is so cut and dry: either you qualify for a home loan or not. It is simple as that. According to the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), “Minimum credit score requirements for FHA home loans depend on which FHA loan product the applicant needs. Generally speaking, to get maximum financing on typical new home purchases, applicants should have a credit score of 580 or better. Those with credit scores between 500 and 579 are, according the FHA guidelines, limited to 90 percent LTV.” That is precisely why it is so important to check your credit score at least 12 months before buying a home. Any attempt to buy a home with an unacceptable score will be met with futility. I recommend acquiring a copy of your credit report from the three bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. The idea is not so much to know what your score is, but rather to identify any inconsistencies. That way you will know what steps you need to take to fix your credit score, if any are required at all. Determine A Budget At this time, you should have an idea of how much you want to spend. At the very least, determine what you can afford. While your situation will certainly be different in one year’s time, there is no reason you can’t speculate on the position you will be in. However, it is important that you don’t inflate your budget. Temper what you expect to spend, and be realistic with your numbers. Things don’t always go according to plan, and that big raise you are expecting isn’t necessarily an inevitability. In other words, it is better to error on the side of caution. As a general rule of thumb, lenders look positively on those with a debt-to-income ratio of no more than 43 percent. Your total debt should not exceed 43 percent of your gross monthly income. Calculate your debt to income ratio, and determine how much you are comfortable spending every month. Come Up With A Down Payment Plan It is, without question, a great idea to put down at least 20 percent on a home. If at all possible, I highly recommend it. The cost of the loan will be significantly less, as well as the resulting interest rate. However, that is rarely the case with first-time homebuyers – especially in today’s market. For those that find the prospect of putting 20 percent down preposterous, there are many programs that can help. The FHA currently offers loans that require as little as 3.5 percent down. Of course, what you don’t pay up front will be made up for over the duration of the loan. If you go this rout, you will be expected to pay monthly mortgage insurance premiums, which will drive up your monthly expenses. Once you have determined how much money you will need to put down, come up with a savings plan. Check with the credit unions in your area to see if they have any programs that can assist you in saving money. Keep in mind that banks will want you to “season” the money you end up saving. In order for them to vet you thoroughly, they will want to see that you have had stable funds in your account for 60 to 90 days before actually applying for a loan. It doesn’t hurt to have the money in a respective account as soon as possible. Try having the money in your account about a year before you actually commit to a purchase. 9 Months Out Prioritize What You Are Looking For Now is the time to ask yourself what you are looking for in a new home. What is most important to you, and your family? Are you looking for three, or maybe even five bedrooms? What type of neighborhood are you willing to move to? Understanding what you want out of your first home will ultimately make the process that much easier. Not only will you make rational decisions, but you will also eliminate any headaches that coincide with indecisiveness, or even ignorance. Do yourself a favor and have a clear idea of what you are looking for in a home. This is the time to match what it is you are looking for with the predetermined budget. At the very least, what you expect to spend should narrow things down a bit. Eliminating those properties that don’t fit your criteria now will save you time later on down the road. Research I can’t stress the importance of due diligence enough. Understand the ramifications of your actions, and know that everything you have done up to this point will greatly impact your impending purchase. To that end, this step is no exception. Research homes that meet your criteria, making sure to vet those that catch your attention. For as important as this step is, however, it is also the most fun. It is essentially the point in time that most people associate with buying a home. For all intents and purposes, it is the first time you will actually be looking at homes. Everything you have done up to this point has prepared you for this moment. Feel free to research neighborhoods and visit open houses. Get a feel for what is on the market in your price range. Use property listing sites like Realtor.com, Trulia and RedFin to facilitate your research. Learn as much as you can about a respective area: The block the house is on, the local cost of living, nearby stores, school systems and even public transportation. All of this will come into play, and it can only benefit you to know it all. As part of your research, try visiting a couple of open houses in the area. Get a feel for what is offered in your price range. Physically going to a property will finally make the process seem real. It may even motivate you to save more. Budget For Miscellaneous Expenses As a first-time homebuyer, there are no doubt expenses you may be unaware of, or – at the very least – underestimated. For those of you that are unaware, buying a home comes with several upfront costs. Make sure your budget accounts for all of these costs: A home inspection, title search, property survey, home insurance and more. Of course, these costs will vary significantly between areas, but they are important nonetheless. Find out which costs your purchase will incur and budget accordingly. If cash is tight, start saving now.   Source: fortunebuilders.com Stay tuned for part 2 coming soon!

Brandon Farber

Brandon Farber

 

5 Neighborhood Features That Boost Resale Value

By Blake Miller / Trulia Contributor | Originally November 11, 2015 Increase your home’s value by purchasing in the right neighborhood. When you’re looking at homes for sale in Sarasota, FL, or Houston, TX, certain factors are on the top of your list — be they large walk-in closets, a gourmet kitchen, or a private backyard. But beyond the details of the house itself, your potential new abode’s neighborhood will most likely be high on your list (location, location, location!). Maybe it’s the community pool, the nearby biking trails, or walkability to the elementary school and grocery store. Or maybe it’s the overall curb appeal of the neighborhood. (Who doesn’t want their neighborhood’s entrance bursting with inviting, colorful flowers and shrubs?) Here’s a list of the neighborhood features that not only satisfy your home-buying checklist but also boost your resale and property value in the future. Walkability Yes, it seems as if we drive or take public transportation everywhere these days. But the truth is, there’s something about being able to walk out your front door and head down the street to the grocery store or local coffee shop that not only appeals to potential buyers but also boosts your resale value significantly. “Whether you’re a young, urban professional or a baby boomer, homeowners want to be able to walk or bike to local eateries, bars, grocery stores, banking, and more,” says Brad Pauly, a real estate professional with Pauly & Presley Realty in Austin, TX. “If a new restaurant opens in a desirable, walkable neighborhood, that could increase the value of that property.” This is especially important in urban areas such as San Francisco, where a Walk Score can make or break a home’s value. Amenities Who wouldn’t want a free pool? “Homeowners love neighborhood amenities,” says Pauly. “Typically, new-home communities offer pools, fitness facilities, parks and play areas, and security and gates.” Amenities such as tennis courts, walking and biking trails, and dog parks do incredible things to boost a home’s resale value — especially for families looking to buy. “We’re seeing increased interest in neighborhoods with amenities that rival a resort: workout facilities, pools, playgrounds,” says Sharon Voss, president of the Orlando Regional Realtor Association. “Here in Florida, sports fields, biking and walking trails, and multifunction green spaces are utilized year-round and highly valued.” Historic charm “The historic character of a neighborhood tends to help resale value, as it is a feature that is difficult to replicate,” explains Ross Anthony, a real estate agent with Willis Allen Real Estate in San Diego. “Many times, historically designated districts will aim to maintain a certain level of uniformity and have community commissions to help preserve the neighborhood aesthetic, which in turn will help preserve values.” Unique homes Not everyone wants to choose from the four models a builder offers — and only those four models — which is why neighborhoods that offer you the choice of semicustom or custom homes sometimes have a better resale value than ones that don’t. “Areas with custom and semicustom homes, compared to cookie-cutter production homes, tend to show larger increases in value over time,” says Anthony. “More astute buyers prefer unique homes with character that add to the charm of the neighborhood and are more likely to own for longer periods of time, creating less turnover in the neighborhood.” Schools It almost goes without saying that if a neighborhood is located in a great school district, it immediately boosts a home’s resale value. “If a home is in a quality school district, those communities tend to not only retain their value, but appreciate as well,” adds Pauly. “There will always be parents who want their children attending great schools.” Original Source: Trulia Article

Brandon Farber

Brandon Farber

 

10 Numbers You Need To Know Before You Sign A Mortgage

Make sure you’ve got these numbers in hand before you head to your closing appointment. Your offer has been accepted and you’ve been approved for a mortgage. But along with knowing the purchase price of a home and the size of your down payment, there are a lot of numbers to consider before you arrive at the closing on that home for sale in Athens, GA. On October 3, 2015, the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) made it easier for homebuyers to find and digest the numbers related to their mortgage payment. The revised loan estimate form explains the terms and costs of a mortgage you’re considering and details a number of numerical nuggets you need to know. Here’s the rundown. The loan terms These amounts, which include the loan amount, interest rate, and monthly principal and interest payment, are locked in and cannot increase after closing. However, your monthly payment could still vary because of homeowners’ association fees or escrow amounts for taxes and/or insurance. This section of the new form also details any applicable prepayment penalties, says Roland Narofsky, regional vice president of Maine Savings FCU in Bangor, ME, and a 25-year industry veteran. “This is a fee charged to the borrower if they pay off the loan early, and is typically charged if the loan is paid off within the first five years.” Your estimated total payment It’s important to know what size nut you’ll have to crack each month. And along with the principal and interest already listed, you’ll want to know your estimated escrow payment for property taxes and insurance, along with any other assessments such as homeowners’ association fees that can drive up your monthly costs. Closing costs Closing costs include a lot of line items and fees. One biggie? Origination fees. “Most banks charge a fee of approximately $1,000 to originate a loan,” says Narofsky. That covers the application and underwriting costs incurred by the bank. Mortgage points, which equal a percentage of the loan, are also usually included and will be spelled out. “Points are negotiable by most banks, and many lenders often charge three to four points,” says Narofsky. So if you were buying a house for $100,000 and paying 1% in mortgage points, you’d pay $3,000 to $4,000 in points at closing. “This is one of the charges you need to watch out for, as it can get pretty expensive,” cautions Narofsky. “Some lenders may allow you to bundle this in with the loan, so ask before closing.” You can also lower your mortgage payments by offering to pay more points at closing. You may be able to shop around for values when it comes to some of your closing costs, such as survey and title fees. Others, such as appraisal fees, title services, and tax services, are probably non-negotiable. Closing costs also include prepaid interest (for the number of days you’ll have the loan until the first payment is due) and property taxes from the day you close on the property until the time the next tax bill is due. Cash to close To calculate the amount of cash you’ll need to bring to closing, subtract the earnest money you’ve already paid from the total of all closing costs. APR The last number you’ll find on the loan estimate is the annual percentage rate (APR). This is not the interest rate. Instead, it is your cost over the loan term expressed as a rate. “When the difference between the interest rate and the APR is greater than 0.5%, you may be paying high fees,” says Narofsky. Even though the new loan estimate statement packs a lot of detail into a few pages, Narofsky says there are a few other numbers you need to know. Rate-lock period “New regulations will make it almost impossible to close a loan in 30 days,” says Narofsky. If your rate lock expires before closing, or before funding in case of a refi, the lock is worthless — so you need to make sure the expiration date extends beyond the closing date. Keep in mind, closings don’t always occur on time. “In New York state, buyers and sellers normally have a right to delay a closing for 30 days for any reason. Even if you as a buyer are ready to close, the seller might need to delay the closing, so leave some cushion,” says Narofsky. Total cost of borrowing This is how much it actually costs you to borrow the money over the length of the term. Amortization length Ask for a detailed schedule that breaks down how much of each payment is going to principal and interest. Prepayment option amount Generally around 15% to 20%, this, says Narofsky, is how much of a lump sum you can put down on principal every year without getting charged a penalty. Insurance charges If you’re putting down less than 20% of the purchase price of the home, you may be charged a mortgage insurance premium until the principal is 80% or less of the cost of the home. Despite having to crunch a lot of numbers, Narofsky says, the process shouldn’t be overwhelming. “Your attorney and/or lender representative should be equipped to walk you through each of these numbers,” he says. And if at any time something seems out of whack or confusing, don’t be afraid to speak up. “It’s much easier to correct a mistake, negotiate, or discuss options before you’re sitting at closing,” he adds. Source: Trulia Article

Brandon Farber

Brandon Farber

 

10 Rookie Mistakes That Hurt Homebuyers

Don’t be a newbie: Avoid these common mistakes when buying your first home. We’ve all bought things that we’ve later regretted: Be they those high-waisted jeans, pumpkin-spiced potato chips (they exist!), or the $189 electronic toothbrush your dentist said you had to have. At least the money wasted wasn’t a life changer. But what if you paid too much for a car and later realized you couldn’t afford it? That can amount to a significant financial hit. Now just think about the home-buying process. It’s more complicated than all those other purchases combined. If you’re a first-time homebuyer, buying a house can be positively overwhelming. With an agent by your side to guide you through the process, you’ll make it through just fine — but you might want to be aware of these rookie mistakes. If you’re searching for homes for sale in San Francisco, CA, where the market is ultracompetitive, making one of these mistakes could end up costing you big time. 1. Getting too emotionally attached You’re about to purchase what’s probably the most expensive item you’ve ever bought. So this advice from Chris Leavitt, a real estate broker with Douglas Elliman and star of Million Dollar Listing Miami, may be easier said than done: “Relax and don’t get too attached. There will always be another house if you lose one.” Try finding “several homes you love so that you’re not too emotionally invested in one,” suggests Tali Raphaely, president of Armour Title Co. 2. Finding the home yourself We know you’re going to browse Trulia to find homes for sale in your desired location. But don’t rely on just your brilliant research skills. Finding your own home is like “diagnosing yourself of an illness,” says Mirella Nazarian, partner associate of Omega Group Los Angeles. “Let your agent vet the homes for you,” she says. A good real estate agent might find you properties that aren’t yet on the market. And of the homes that are on the market, your agent should be able to tell you “what the home looks like, where it’s situated, the Walk Score, and the price per square foot in the neighborhood.” 3. Going directly to the listing agent If you’ve ever played Monopoly, there’s a card you might pick (a bad one) that says, “Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.” It means you did something wrong and now must pay the penalty. The same applies if you go directly to a listing agent who is hired by and represents the seller, not you. “Unless [the listing agent] is someone you have worked with or know personally and know they are an amazing agent, this is a big no-no,” says Nazarian. 4. Assuming you have no rules to follow as a homeowner One of the draws of homeownership is freedom: getting out from under someone else’s rules, whether those of your parents or your landlord. But some homes have deed restrictions that come with conditions. Deed restrictions vary, depending on the community you’re buying in. Their purpose is typically to ensure the property holds its value, which is a good thing. But if you have plans that conflict with the restrictions, you won’t be a happy camper. “Get copies of the restrictions, read them, and ‘look under the hood’ at the internal health of the condo or homeowners’ association,” says Robert Tankel of the Tankel Law Group in Florida. Look to see whether reserves are kept, the neighbors are paying their assessments, if there are pet restrictions, and whether you can run a business from the home. 5. Not saving enough money If you saved up enough money for a down payment, kudos. That’s a huge accomplishment. Unfortunately, it’s only the tip of the iceberg. “Transitioning from a renter or your parents’ home to your own home has incidental costs that may be overlooked,” says Aisha Thomas, associate broker with The Thomas Agency of Georgia. Thomas suggests that buyers have two to three months’ worth of mortgage payments in reserve. You should also count on paying closing costs (between 2% and 5% of the home’s price) and property taxes. After moving day, you’ll also need to buy household essentials you’ve never owned before, such as appliances, tools, and garden supplies. Travis Sickle, a Florida certified financial planner, recommends having three to six months of expenses saved up in an emergency fund. “It’s not money to buy new furniture or remodel a room,” he says. “It has to be for the unexpected expenses, such as a leaky roof.” 6. Not getting preapproved for a loan You’ve run the numbers several times now and know just what you can afford. That’s great. But if you want your offer to be taken seriously by the seller, get proof of income and assets in the form of a preapproval letter from a lender. “This process can take just a few days and simply means that the lender has looked through your financial situation and is comfortable with the idea of lending you a certain amount of money,” says Bianca Mitchell, an agent with Keller Williams in Santa Monica, CA. 7. Paying private mortgage insurance (PMI) If you don’t put down at least 20%, you’ll have to pay PMI, or what Kelly Hager, CEO of Kelly Hager Group Real Estate Services in St. Louis, jokingly calls the “higher-payment thingie.” Many first-time buyers pay this, she says. If you do, make sure you notify your lender when you pay down your mortgage and owe just 80% of the home’s value. Your lender will automatically cancel your PMI when you owe 78%, but you don’t want to pay a month more of PMI than you have to. 8. Not checking the price of homeowners’ insurance Buying a beach house is a dream come true for many people. But make sure you can afford to insure that home by the water because it could be pricey. “Being on the beach, wind insurance is expensive, and there’s a higher risk of flood,” says Kent Owen of Heritage Insurance of Alabama. Other factors may increase your insurance, such as if your new home is located near a fault line (earthquake-prone), has a pool, and more. 9. Not checking your credit score Here’s a weird trivia fact: About 42 million credit reports contain errors. True, the error might be just a misspelling of your street address, which wouldn’t affect you. But some errors could hurt your score badly, such as showing you have late payments when you don’t. “Check your credit at least three months prior to house hunting,” says Jeanne Kelly, credit expert. If there’s an error, ask the credit bureau to kindly fix it. Your interest rate depends on it. 10. Not getting a home inspection All homes need inspections, even brand-new ones. But some homebuyers skip this step “because they get emotionally attached to the home and want it no matter what,” says Steven Annese of EliteFixtures.com. If the home does have issues, you’ll want the seller to fix them or to lower the price. If you’re first-time homebuyers, you might be a bit shy about asking the seller to fix that stuck window or leaky faucet. “The reality is that the buyers who ask for more often get more,” says Josh Muncey, an agent in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston. So don’t be afraid to speak up and get outstanding issues fixed before you sign those settlement papers. Source: Trulia Article

Brandon Farber

Brandon Farber

 

12 Sneaky Places To Hide Ugly (But Necessary) Everyday Stuff

From organizing overflowing piles of mail to corralling toiletries, these creative solutions will help you declutter every room. Between piles of unopened mail and squirreled-away stashes of cleaning products, it’s easy for any home to quickly get overrun by clutter. This is especially true in smaller spaces and studios, where even your bed can seem like an eyesore. (Have you ever looked at homes for sale in New York? Two words: No storage.) But don’t sweat the small stuff — I mean, spaces. Here are some creative ways to carve out hidden nooks and crannies for storing all that extra stuff out of plain sight. Now you see it … now you don’t! 1. Artwork on hinges Anyone who has had to contend with an awkwardly located cable outlet will appreciate this smart solution: an oversized painting on hinges that functions like a medicine cabinet. (It works great for covering thermostats and circuit breakers too.) 2. Stowaway laundry drawer Nothing negates a clean, well-organized room like a basket full of dirty laundry in the corner (or worse, spread out on the floor). Keep washer-bound piles out of sight in a deep drawer like this one. 3. Trapdoor floor Lacking closet space? Take a cue from designer Jeremy Levine, who built storage units into the floor of this workspace to stow supplies and spare equipment. Or, you know, you could go with these more traditional tricks to make your room seem bigger. 4. Over-the-door organizer It’s no secret that pocketed, over-the-door organizers are perfect for extensive shoe collections. But they’re also indispensable for hair tools, cleaning supplies, and beauty products in bathrooms with scarce cabinet space. 5. Platform storage bed In tight quarters, a classic platform bed with built-in drawers is a game changer, and you can find stylish options to fit any budget at retailers from IKEA to Pottery Barn. 6. Router boxes Decorative boxes with strategically placed holes are the perfect way to hide unsightly wireless routers and modems and the accompanying tangle of cords. 7. Fabric skirts and curtains A simple fabric curtain or skirt around a pedestal sink or TV console goes a long way toward visually decluttering any space. Bonus: They’re supereasy to DIY. 8. Hanging files Attach hanging file pockets to the outside of bookshelves to keep mail, magazines, and papers organized and off countertops. 9. Storage headboard Like the ubiquitous storage ottoman, a headboard with built-in cubbies kills two birds with one stone — covert storage space plus an essential furniture piece. 10. Retractable ceiling bed Tiny-house dwellers take note! French retailer BedUp one-ups the traditional Murphy bed with a version that drops down from the ceiling. 11. Closet office In smaller apartments and houses, the dining room or coffee table often becomes the default home office, where paperwork and clutter can quickly take over. An inspired way to avoid the mess? Transform a closet into a hideaway workspace, and shut the door whenever it’s time to call it quits. 12. Range hood hideaway Stashing pots and pans inside the oven is a time-tested trick for kitchen storage in small apartments, but here’s another clever idea: a range hood topped with a hidden compartment. The lift-up door blends in with the cabinets and provides the perfect spot for kitchen accessory overflow. Source: Trulia Article

Brandon Farber

Brandon Farber

 

8 Photos You Should Take At Every Open House

Bypass the blur: Jog your memory about what you love (and hate) about the houses you view. The home-buying process can make your head spin. After awhile, all the properties start to blend together. “Was the house with the dated kitchen the one with the fabulous deck, or was that the one with the small closets?” Referring to a Trulia listing of that home for sale in Fort Lauderdale, FL, is a huge help, but if you have specific criteria — or just want an extra tactic to jog your memory — add the task of taking photos to your list of open-house ideas. This is especially true if it’s a heavily populated open house and there’s a swarm of people around you as you walk through. Believe us, you’ll be glad that you have documentation instead of relying on your memory. Take note: If the home is still occupied by the seller, be polite and ask the agent on duty whether it’s OK for you to take some photos. If it is, here’s a targeted list of photos that will come in handy, whether you decide to make an offer or not. 1. Heavy-use areas Some areas of a house get more wear and tear and ultimately need more TLC than others. And those are the areas you need to photograph. Whether it’s the driveway or the mudroom, you’ll want to know just how much work needs to be done, since this can affect your offer — or determine whether you even want to make one, depending on whether you mind getting your hands dirty. “It’s important for homebuyers to get images of the curb appeal of the house, the front entrance as they walk in, the kitchen, the bathrooms, and the backyard,” says Arvin Sahakian, a California real estate broker and vice president of BeSmartee, an online mortgage brokerage. “These are the areas of the home that commonly need fixing up, remodeling, or repairs.” Taking photos of areas that need fixing is “a great way to avoid inspection headaches later on in the buying process,” says Rachel Hillman, a Massachusetts real estate agent and owner of Hillman Homes. Show your photos to a contractor — if you happen to have one in your network — before the inspection to get a ballpark figure of how much the repairs might cost. “Your [agent] can help you decide whether to bring up those repairs as part of the offer or wait until the inspection,” adds Hillman. 2. Specific rooms If you’re bringing furniture when you move, it helps to take photos of the layout of the rooms to see, for example, whether your oversized sofa and reclaimed-wood coffee table will work with the space. 3. Your “must-haves” Certain home features are probably important to you, such as a separate laundry room, lots of garage storage space, a walk-in pantry, or an eat-in kitchen. Definitely take photos of your must-have areas so you’ll remember which houses have them. You’ll also want to be consistent. Do this by taking a “picture of the same rooms at each house so you can compare them later on,” says Hillman. “If you are looking for a move-in-ready kitchen, fireplace in the living room, and basement storage, make sure to take a picture of the kitchen, living room, and basement at every house so you can compare [later].” 4. Problem areas This category of photo will never make it into a decorating magazine, but you should snap a picture under the sinks, of the electrical panel, of stains on the walls and ceilings, and of the roof from different angles. Why? A photo taken below the sink “will show if there has been any leakage in the past,” says David Feldberg, a California real estate broker. He explains that it’s especially important to take a picture of the electrical panel in older homes. “You want to see if it has room left or will need to be upgraded.” Stains on the walls and ceilings show “evidence of leaks that have come through the roof or the walls.” And you’ll want to know if you’ll need to replace the roof soon. “That is no small expense and should be factored into the price.” 5. Appliance tags Not every home sale includes appliances, but you should take a photo of the make and model numbers of the ones you will get as part of the deal. That way, “You can estimate their value and life span later on,” says Ross Anthony, an agent with Willis Allen Real Estate in San Diego. Most water heaters, for example, have a manufacturer’s tag stating the installation year. 6. Street views You can’t count on the listing photos to include the neighborhood, so “take a few shots facing away from the house and down each direction of the street,” suggests Anthony. This will remind you of what you’ll see every time you go outside. 7. The extra touches Sometimes you fall in love with the little extras of a home: “The vessel sink in the master bathroom or the hammock between two trees,” says Desmond McKenna, a Washington, DC, real estate agent with DC Home Buzz. Definitely snap some pics of those details. That way, when you’re back at home going through everything, the photos will remind you of your favorite features. 8. The address No matter how great your photos are, they won’t do you much good if you don’t have a method for putting them in order. “The key is to be organized so you can remember what photos go with each house,” says Rachel Hillman. Desmond McKenna recommends photographing the home’s exterior and the address number of the property. You can then use those photos as a catalog. Source: Trulia Article

Brandon Farber

Brandon Farber

 

10 Projects To Tackle Before Selling A House

Looking to get a leg up on the housing market? These easy upgrades can make your home more appealing to buyers. Like all sellers, you want your house to appeal to a wide range of buyers who can afford your asking price — it doesn’t matter if your home is competing with homes for sale in San Angelo, TX, or Columbia, SC. But to stand out in a crowded market, you need to make your home look as desirable as possible. Tried-and-true tactics such as painting and decluttering can go a long way toward achieving this goal — but these other simple home staging tips can up your home’s wow factor and lead to a quick sale. 1. Have all of your carpeting cleaned This is especially true if you have pets. (Eau de dog is not the odor you want wafting through your home as potential buyers walk through it.) If your carpeting is old and tired and you have hardwood flooring underneath, remove the carpet, says Erica Walther Schlaefer, an associate real estate broker at Keller Williams Realty in Rochester, NY. Chances are, buyers are going to want to know the condition of the floors anyway. 2. Give your moldings a makeover If your moldings are chipped or scuffed, give them a quick touch-up, recommends Schlaefer. Ditto any walls that have scuff marks or stains. 3. Do up your deck If you have outdoor living space such as a deck or patio, make it look as inviting as possible, says Schlaefer. Upgrade existing outdoor furniture by purchasing new cushions or pillows, give your grill a good cleaning, and add some potted plants or flowers. If it’s winter and you live in a cold climate, be sure to keep these areas shoveled to show them off. 4. Freshen up your front door Give it a coat of paint and replace your house numbers with a more modern font. If your mailbox has seen better days (or has been knocked over by a snowplow one too many times), buy a new one. Also, be sure your entryway looks tidy; don’t welcome potential buyers with clutter. That means no stray soccer cleats or sets of keys by the door. 5. Remove roof moss Moss may make buyers think your roof is old and will need to be replaced soon, says Schlaefer. If you have the nerve to get up on your roof, it’s simple to remove moss: just use a long-handled scrub brush to scour it loose, working down the roof to keep from lifting and breaking the shingles. Don’t use a pressure washer — the power of the spray could damage shingles. 6. Make sure your mechanics are in working order “Buyers want to feel as though a furnace or boiler is in good shape and has life left in it,” says Schlaefer. Have these items cleaned and inspected prior to putting your house up for sale. 7. Cut your closets in half No, not literally, but if you remove half the items in your closet and then neatly organize the remaining clothing, the closets will instantly appear larger — a big plus to buyers. 8. Update your outlets If your electrical outlets and switches are outdated and yellowed, replace them with a more modern version. Make sure to use the same style in each room for a uniform look. Replace your switch plates too if they’re looking a little dingy. 9. Replace your toilet seats It’s an inexpensive upgrade that goes a long way toward making your bathroom appear updated. Ditto a new shower curtain and a fresh coat of grout in the shower. 10. Perk up your pulls If your kitchen cabinets or drawers are on the older side but you don’t have the time or inclination to redo them, replace the knobs and pulls with a more modern or unique version. This is an inexpensive task, yet it can make a huge difference in your kitchen’s appeal. Source: Trulia Article

Brandon Farber

Brandon Farber

 

10 Essential Home Security Hacks

Keep your home from being a target with these 10 easy tips. The bungling burglars from Home Alone may have seemed like idiots for being so easily foiled by a bratty 8-year-old boy, but when it comes to home safety during the holidays, they’re much more realistic than Kevin and his swinging-paint-can defense. That being said, according to statistics from the FBI, there were an estimated 1,729,806 burglaries in 2014. On the positive side, the U.S. Department of Justice studied the numbers too, finding that household burglary rates are surprisingly lower in winter and higher in summer. No matter what time of year, you probably aren’t keen on leaving a kid behind to defend the old homestead. And once that sense of security is shattered, you might be prompted to make an expensive decision — such as adding your home listing to the Atlanta, GA real estate scene just to give yourself some peace of mind. Before you take serious action, put these 10 holiday safety tips to work and make your home less of a target this holiday season — or any season. 1. Beef up security systems Sure, you’ve set the alarm and have motion-activated lights outside, but there are some additional things you should consider doing to fortify your home. For instance, install a heavy-duty lock strike plate on your door; it’s the weakest part and where thieves may try to break in. You can also add sash pins to double-hung windows to make them more secure. 2. Look as though you live there when you’re out of town If you live where the grass is still growing, be sure to mow it before you leave so your home looks well taken care of. Expecting a big snow? Have someone on retainer to shovel your walk and driveway for the same reason. 3. Windows + extension cords = bad Who doesn’t love twinkly lights? But if you want to bring a touch of Clark Griswold to your home, be sure you aren’t running electrical extension cords through your windows. If they don’t close and latch, you’re sending burglars an invitation to invade. 4. Don’t fall for door-to-door solicitations A common way to scope out what kind of goodies you have in your home is by posing as a charity asking for donations. If someone comes to your door, don’t open it, or ask for an ID that links them to the charity — and don’t let them see inside. 5. Use the latest tech Gayla Leathers of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Ambassador Real Estate in Omaha, NE, says to take advantage of a device called FakeTV, which mimics the flickering light of a TV to make it look as though you are home. You can also buy Wi-Fi-connected plug-in devices that allow you to turn lights on and off remotely with your cellphone. 6. Keep your tree out of sight The Christmas tree in front of the window looks lovely, all piled with presents for thieves to see — and take. Either keep your tree away from prying eyes or wait until Christmas Eve to put out your presents. 7. Do your packing out of sight Heading over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house? Load up the sleigh in the garage or out of sight if at all possible, advises Heather Dodson, a real estate agent at Team Leung in Greensboro, NC. 8. Be smart about boxes Hopefully, you score a lot of gifts, but don’t leave the empty boxes on the curb for everyone to see. Break down the boxes, turn them inside out, and put them in your container on the day trash is picked up. Even better? Cart those boxes to a recycling center yourself. 9. Make a record of gifts Got some big-ticket items coming down your chimney this year? It’s a good idea to take a picture of anything pricey, and even jot down the serial number. Should the worst happen, you will have a record of what was taken — or at the very least, a handy reminder of who should get a thank-you note. 10. Don’t publicize your vacation plans It’s hard to fight the allure of Facebook and Instagram. But it’s probably not the best idea to share your travel plans with your 500 closest friends online. Your Facebook profile might not be as private as you think — and it’s better not to take the risk. Source: Trulia Article

Brandon Farber

Brandon Farber

 

How Much House Can You REALLY Afford?

Just because a lender approves you for a mortgage doesn’t mean you can comfortably afford it. It doesn’t matter if you’re searching homes for sale in Fort Lauderdale, FL, or Philadelphia, PA. Type “how much house can I afford” into a Google search and you’ll come up with a number of online tools and mortgage calculators to help you figure the answer to your query. You might also see rules of thumb that state things like “your mortgage payment shouldn’t take up more than 35% of your monthly income.” But it’s important to make sure you understand how the pieces all fit together, and that you take your personal financial situation into account. Here’s why. Financial rules of thumb may not apply to you Every person’s finances are just as individual as they are. So while it may be a good reference point to know that your mortgage payment shouldn’t be more than 35% of your monthly income, that figure could vary a lot depending on things such as debt and other monthly payment obligations, not to mention how much you’ve saved for a down payment. Online mortgage calculators such as this one from Trulia are great at giving you a clearer starting point for mortgage shopping. You’ll get a much better sense of what your price range might be instead of a blanket rule of thumb. But they’re only as accurate as the information you provide, so if you forget to add regular budget line items such as food, day care, or gas costs, you won’t get a complete picture. Your lender may approve you for more than you can realistically afford Lenders are now legally required to ensure borrowers can “reasonably afford” to repay a loan before they approve a new mortgage. But there’s a difference between being able to reasonably afford something and being able to realistically afford something. When looking at what’s reasonable, lenders can account for your income and any current debts that you need to repay each month. If you make $5,000 per month after taxes and need to pay $500 toward your car loan each month, a mortgage payment of $1,500 may seem perfectly reasonable. In this (extremely simplified) example, you’d have about $3,000 per month left over to handle all your other expenses. And perhaps you can afford your living expenses on this budget. But what about the other goals you want to achieve? What about saving for retirement or investing for your future? If you commit to a large monthly mortgage payment, you may find yourself squeezed to make your remaining money cover your living expenses, plus monthly bills and loan repayments. While a lender can give you a mortgage you can reasonably afford, it comes with the consequence of not being able to handle other financial priorities. In short: Even though you may qualify for a large mortgage, that doesn’t mean you should max out your house budget. You’re the only one who can determine what’s comfortable Only you can examine your life and your values to determine what you might be willing to give up to make room in your budget for a mortgage — and what you’re not. You might be perfectly happy to take on a larger monthly mortgage payment in exchange for reducing meals out, cutting back on luxury vacations, or sticking with your old phone instead of going for the upgrades just because you can. Or you may decide that renting makes more sense for yourenting makes more sense for you because you can mitigate costs, take on less financial responsibility, and enjoy more flexibility. Either way, you need to determine what you feel comfortable with. You need to decide what works within both your budget and your long-term plans to reach goals that matter to you. Consider these factors to decide how much house you can really afford Once you set your financial priorities, here’s where you’ll need to do the math: What’s your current income? What are your basic living expenses? What are your fixed costs? How much do you want to put away each month into savings or investments? How much will it cost to maintain your new home? What kind of down payment will you have? (The more you put down, the smaller your monthly mortgage payment will be.) Now you can factor a mortgage into all of the above, and see how much you can really afford. When doing so, don’t forget to count both the mortgage principal and interest — along with property taxes, homeowners’ insurance, and other extras such as HOA fees. Source: Trulia Article

Brandon Farber

Brandon Farber

 

Should Millennials Rent or buy?

A tougher call for younger house hunters, especially in California, if mortgage rates rise Buying a home is 23% cheaper than renting nationwide for millennials and now is the best time to buy since 2012 when interest rates were a tad lower. Trulia’s Rent vs. Buy Report has traditionally assumed a 30-year fixed rate mortgage with a 20% down payment for households moving every seven years. With these assumptions, buying is 36% cheaper than renting on a national basis, based on September home prices. That’s the best differential since 2012 when it was 38% cheaper to buy than rent. Buying is also cheaper than renting in each of the nation’s 100 largest metros. However, using the Census’ 2014 American Community Survey and a new Trulia consumer poll, we’ve found that the math is different for young households (ages 25-34), who tend to move every five years (*) and can only afford up to a 10% down payment (**). This edition of Rent vs. Buy crunches the numbers for these prospective home buyers. To compare the costs of owning and renting for young home buyers, we also assumed a 3.85% mortgage rate on a 30-year fixed-rate loan, itemized federal tax deductions and a 25% tax bracket. With those assumptions, buying is not only 23% cheaper than renting nationally, it is also only cheaper than renting in 98 of the nation’s top 100 markets. But personal choices aside, here are the current economic conditions that influence today’s market. Nationally, home price growth has outpaced rent growth since 2012. That favors the rent side of the buy vs. rent equation. However, interest rates have returned to near historic lows, now at about 3.85%, after climbing to 4% or higher in 2013 and 2014. In October 2012, rates were about 3.4% for a 30-year-fixed rate mortgage. In that year, young households found that it was 28% cheaper to buy than rent. Cheaper to Rent in Honolulu and Silicon Valley
The rent vs. buy gap differs vastly across metros, largely because home prices and rents, property taxes, and home-price appreciation differs by metro. Taking these factors into account, young home buyers in the nation’s 100 markets would find that buying a home ranges from being 5% more expensive than renting in Honolulu to being 46% cheaper to buy a home in Houston. The only other metro in the top 100 where buying is more expensive than renting a home for young buyers is San Jose, where they’d pay 2% more to buy a home than to rent. Rounding out the top 10 is New York, where buying is now 11% cheaper for younger consumers than renting. Our rent vs. buy metric is especially tight for young prospective buyers in California. Of the 10 markets nationwide where buying vs. renting is a tougher call, seven are in the Golden State: San Jose, Orange County, San Francisco, Oakland, Sacramento, San Diego, and Ventura County. Where Renting Beats Buying (and Where It’s a Tough Call) # U.S. Metro Median Home Price, Sept 2015 Median Rent, Sept 2015 Cost of Buying vs. Renting (%), Sept 2015 1 Honolulu, HI $612,642 $2,500 5% 2 San Jose, CA $907,806 $3,500 2% 3 Orange County, CA $639,129 $2,800 -5% 4 San Francisco, CA $1,100,000 $4,400 -7% 5 Oakland, CA $617,357 $2,800 -7% 6 Sacramento, CA $326,910 $1,650 -8% 7 Newark, NJ-PA $326,045 $2,200 -10% 8 San Diego, CA $488,959 $2,325 -10% 9 Ventura County, CA $514,053 $2,500 -11% 10 New York, NY-NJ $437,834 $2,350 -11% Note: Positive numbers mean that buying costs more than renting. Click here to download the full Rent vs. Buy cost considerations for the 100 largest U.S. metros.   Southern, Midwestern Housing Markets Great for Young Buyers
Buying is clearly a better deal in many Southern markets. Metros in Texas, Florida and Louisiana dominate the top ten list of places where young households will find buying an easier call. In No. 1 Houston, for instance, it is 46% cheaper for younger buyers to buy than rent. Where Buying a Home Beats Renting # U.S. Metro Median Home Price, Sept 2015 Median Rent, Sept 2015 Cost of Buying vs. Renting (%), Sept 2015 1 Houston, TX  $162,784  $1,550 -46% 2 Baton Rouge, LA  $154,940  $1,395 -45% 3 Syracuse, NY  $118,999  $1,375 -44% 4 Fort Lauderdale, FL  $200,734  $1,750 -44% 5 Miami, FL  $241,740  $1,955 -43% 6 New Orleans, LA  $169,688  $1,500 -43% 7 Tampa, FL  $151,974  $1,300 -42% 8 Oklahoma City, OK  $130,095  $1,195 -42% 9 Detroit, MI  $60,465  $850 -42% 10 San Antonio, TX  $141,907  $1,295 -42% Note: Negative numbers mean that buying costs less than renting. Click here to download the full Rent vs. Buy cost considerations for the 100 largest U.S. metros.   Rising Prices, Rents in Some Markets Spur Big Swings in Rent vs. Buy Math
Many metros have seen drastic swings in our rent vs. buy metric since 2012 when the housing market first started to turn around. That’s largely because of rebounding home prices and swings in how much prices rise relative to rents, and vice-versa. In Las Vegas, for example, it is now 20% cheaper to buy than rent. In 2012, it was a whopping 43% cheaper to buy than rent in that metro. Much of this change is due to the fact that price increases outpaced rents in Las Vegas. The median cost of a Las Vegas home has soared to $194,789, up from $124,575 in 2012. Median monthly rents, meanwhile, have risen just $100 in the same period to $1,250. This difference led to an almost 23 percentage point drop in the advantage of buying vs. renting. Where House Hunters Should Have Bought in 2012 # U.S. Metro Cost of Buying vs. Renting (%), Sept 2012 Cost of Buying vs. Renting (%), Sept 2015 Point Difference in Cost of Buying vs. Renting, 2012-2015 1 Las Vegas, NV -43% -20% +23% 2 Riverside, CA -41% -21% +20% 3 Bakersfield, CA -46% -26% +20% 4 Sacramento, CA -27% -8% +20% 5 Phoenix, AZ -41% -23% +18% 6 San Diego, CA -27% -10% +17% 7 Fresno, CA -38% -22% +16% 8 Ventura County, CA -27% -11% +16% 9 Warren–Troy–Farmington Hills, MI -45% -29% +15% 10 Orange County, CA -21% -5% +15% Note: Negative numbers mean that buying costs less than renting. Click here to download the full Rent vs. Buy cost considerations for the 100 largest U.S. metros. In some markets, rent growth has outpaced home price growth. That has made home buying an even better financial choice vs. renting in those markets now than in 2012. However, the changes haven’t been as drastic as in Las Vegas. For example, in San Antonio—which tops the list of 10 metros where buying a home is an even better deal vs. renting now than it was three years ago—younger home buyers would find buying now almost 42% cheaper than renting, up from 33% cheaper in 2012. That makes for an eight-percentage point difference in our buy vs. rent metric. Where Buying is Much Better Than Renting Today # U.S. Metro Cost of Buying vs. Renting (%), Sept 2012 Cost of Buying vs. Renting (%), Sept  2015 Point Difference in Cost of Buying vs. Renting, 2012-2015 1 San Antonio, TX -33% -42% -8% 2 Akron, OH -25% -31% -6% 3 Long Island, NY -16% -21% -6% 4 New York, NY-NJ -6% -11% -5% 5 Greenville, SC -35% -39% -4% 6 Albuquerque, NM -21% -25% -4% 7 Birmingham, AL -34% -37% -3% 8 Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN -31% -34% -3% 9 Kansas City, MO-KS -31% -34% -3% 10 Houston, TX -44% -46% -3% Note: Negative numbers mean that buying costs less than renting. Click here to download the full Rent vs. Buy cost considerations for the 100 largest U.S. metros.   Higher Mortgage Rates Could Spur Renting in California
Many economists predict that the Federal Reserve Bank will raise interest rates, now near historic lows, by the year’s end. Nationally, rates would have to nearly double to about 6.5% to equalize the buy vs. rent equation for young buyers. Still, an increase of 25-50 basis points could push mortgage rates to 4.15% – 4.4%. That would make the costs of renting about the same as buying in some large California markets.   Mortgage Rate Tipping Point # U.S. Metro Mortgage Rate Tipping Point When Renting Becomes Cheaper Than Buying Point Increase Needed to Reach Tipping Point 1 Orange County, CA 4.40% +0.55% 2 San Francisco, CA 4.50% +0.65% 3 Oakland, CA 4.60% +0.75% 4 Sacramento, CA 4.70% +0.85% 5 Ventura County, CA 4.90% +1.05% 6 San Diego, CA 4.90% +1.05% 7 Los Angeles, CA 5.00% +1.15% 8 Newark, NJ-PA 5.10% +1.25% 9 New York, NY-NJ 5.10% +1.25% 10 Seattle, WA 5.20% +1.35% Note: Assumes current mortgage rates of 3.85%. Click here to download the mortgage rate tipping point for the 100 largest U.S. metros. Orange County, San Francisco, and Oakland are the most vulnerable markets. An increase of interest rates of half a basis point (0.5 percentage points) would make the costs of buying in those markets about the same as renting. In other vulnerable markets, the rate increase would need to be closer to 1.00-1.35 percentage points.  However, home buyers in these metros don’t need to panic. The Fed hasn’t increased rates by more than 25 basis points at a time since the Fall of 1988.     FULL RENT VS. BUY METHODOLOGY
Trulia calculates the costs of buying and renting by: We use our quality-adjusted measure of home prices and rents, which allows an apples-to-apples comparison between rental and owner-occupied housing units. We looked at median home value and rent in September 2015 in each of the largest 100 metros. We calculate the initial total monthly costs of owning and renting, including mortgage payments, maintenance, insurance, and taxes. We calculate the future total monthly costs of owning and renting, taking into account expected price and rent appreciation, as well as projected inflation. We factor in one-time costs and proceeds, including closing costs, down payment, sale proceeds, and security deposits. We calculate net present value, which reveals the opportunity cost of using money to buy a house instead of investing it. Net present value is the worth in today’s dollars of a future stream of payments and proceeds, taking into account expected interest rates. Trulia’s Rent vs. Buy Calculator lets you compare renting and buying costs using other assumptions about prices, rents, and other factors. It uses the same math that powers our interactive map and this report. You can read our extended methodology here. (*) 2014 American Community Survey Data shows that Americans aged 25-34 move approximately every five years. (**) When asked how much their household would be able to put down as a down payment, if they were in the market for a home, 62% of Americans between the ages of 25 and 34 said they could only afford a downpayment of 10% or less on a home purchase. This survey was conducted online within the United States between October 13th and 15th, 2015 among 2,009 adults (aged 18 and over) of whom 383 are 25-34 by Harris Poll on behalf of Trulia via its Quick Query omnibus product. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online. All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, the words “margin of error” are avoided as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal. Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in our surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in our panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. Source: Trulia Article

Brandon Farber

Brandon Farber

 

5 Surprising Things Covered by a Home Warranty

Ceiling fan on the fritz? Don’t hunt down DIY repair tips until you’ve checked your home warranty coverage. Whether you sign up for one yourself or get one when you buy your new home, a home warranty typically covers problems with the big systems in your home (think electrical, plumbing, and HVAC). Major appliances are also typically included. But you might be surprised by some of the more unusual items a home warranty can cover. Of course, not all policies are the same, but if you’ve got a home warranty and these things break, you’ll know whom to call before you go the DIY route. 1. Ice makers Let’s have a show of hands for those of us who have had a built-in ice maker stop working. Since the ice maker is part of the refrigerator, it’s pretty standard fare in most home warranty policies. The next time you need a random cube for your bloody mary, don’t fret — you’re covered. 2. Spoiled food Likewise, if your refrigerator stops working, you may be able to claim the cost to replace the resulting spoiled food. The really fun part is going to the grocery store and making a detailed price list! This coverage comes in handy if it’s days before the Fourth of July and you have three racks of ribs chilling in your now-defunct refrigerator. 3. Ceiling fans Ceiling fans are important fixtures in our houses — and they are also sometimes deemed worthy of warranty coverage (assuming they were correctly installed). So whether the light won’t turn on or the fan blades are no longer churning, call your home warranty company. If all the fans in the house are of similar age, it might be worth having the technician inspect all of them — especially if you’ve had to pay a service fee. Get your money’s worth! 4. Permit fees and code violations It’s the accumulation of ancillary fees that can make a home repair project expensive. Specifically, city permitting fees add up quickly and can take a chunk out of your budget. Did your service technician uncover a code violation when trying to repair/replace an item? In some cases, that’s covered by a home warranty policy as well. 5. Garage door opener We usually think of the garage as outside of the house and therefore not covered in a home warranty policy. When it comes to home warranties, this is one that could go either way. (Note: If the garage isn’t included standard, it could be added with an extra fee — just ask.) And the garage door opener, that seemingly simple motor that makes our coming home and pulling our car into the garage so convenient, can be surprisingly pricey to replace. If you choose to invest in a home warranty policy or if it came with the new home you just purchased, familiarize yourself with your specific coverage. You may be pleasantly surprised by the number of items covered. And that just might help keep some cash in your pocket. Source: Trulia Article

Brandon Farber

Brandon Farber

 

What's Included in a Builder's Warranty

Want to know what is (and isn’t) covered? This list will help. The allure of buying a new-construction home is obvious: It’s new, it’s never been lived in, and it oftentimes comes with all the bells and whistles that go hand in hand with new construction. New homes also usually boast a builder’s warranty, which, for many homeowners, are the proverbial icing on the new-construction cake. Those warranties, though, can be tricky when it comes to navigating what is (and what isn’t) covered. “Building warranties are definitely something to take note of,” says Josh Altman, a Los Angeles–based real estate agent and author of It’s Your Move. “Much like anything else in the world, these warranties vary across the board.” Here are the top things you need to know about builders’ warranties, whether you’re shopping for new homes for sale in New York, NY, or Santa Fe, NM. The difference between long- and short-term warranties “Long-term [usually 10 years] is where you should have a structural foundational warranty,” says Altman. “So if anything [very bad] goes wrong, you are covered. Short-term [generally one to two years] may include things like stucco and drywall but may not include things like appliances that would not be a result of improper workmanship.” But you’ll very likely have more than just two warranties “In many cases, the builder will offer a one-year bumper-to-bumper warranty,” explains Keith Thompson, a real estate broker with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Carolinas Realty in Charlotte, NC. “This generally covers everything in the home with the exception of cosmetic, such as if the homeowner damages a wall while moving in. Beyond this, you’ll have coverage ranging from two to five years on mechanicals such as plumbing, electrical, HVAC.” In a newly constructed home, you will also have separate manufacturers’ warranties if things such as your windows, shingles, or appliances fail, adds Thompson. The last is a structural warranty: “Some states require the builder to provide a warranty for a particular number of years. These warranties are usually 10 years, but John Wieland Homes, for example, has offered a 20-year structural warranty for as long as I’ve been selling real estate,” says Thompson. In Florida, adds Sharon Voss, president of the Orlando Regional Realtor Association, “a builder’s 10-year structural warranty is not only included, but required by state law.” Your warranty usually covers a punch list of repairs In most cases, as part of the warranty process, builders will “set up a meeting after closing but before the one-year warranty expires to go through the house and fix anything that is covered,” says Thompson. “Some builders will do this twice — once at 30 days postclosing and again at 11 months — while others will allow the buyer to decide when the meeting will be during the one-year period.” Buyer beware: Builder-backed warranties are worthless if your builder goes under When the 2008 recession hit, many builders went out of business — and that meant homeowners with builder-backed home warranties were really out of luck. “You have to be cautious of builder-backed warranties, because if the builder goes out of business, your warranty may become worthless,” explains Rachelle Schreiber, executive regional manager of Realty Group International. Try to address as many issues as possible at your 30-day postclosing walk-through, as opposed to waiting until the one-year follow-up. That way, you can breathe easy if your builder does go under. It might not be transferable If you purchase a home from the original owner and it’s still within the first year of the warranty, you may — or may not — be covered by that same warranty, explains Voss. Be sure to find out from the builder whether the warranty is transferable from the seller to the new buyer. Source: Trulia Article Want to know what is (and isn’t) covered? This list will help. The allure of buying a new-construction home is obvious: It’s new, it’s never been lived in, and it oftentimes comes with all the bells and whistles that go hand in hand with new construction. New homes also usually boast a builder’s warranty, which, for many homeowners, are the proverbial icing on the new-construction cake. Those warranties, though, can be tricky when it comes to navigating what is (and what isn’t) covered. “Building warranties are definitely something to take note of,” says Josh Altman, a Los Angeles–based real estate agent and author of It’s Your Move. “Much like anything else in the world, these warranties vary across the board.” Here are the top things you need to know about builders’ warranties, whether you’re shopping for new homes for sale in New York, NY, or Santa Fe, NM. The difference between long- and short-term warranties “Long-term [usually 10 years] is where you should have a structural foundational warranty,” says Altman. “So if anything [very bad] goes wrong, you are covered. Short-term [generally one to two years] may include things like stucco and drywall but may not include things like appliances that would not be a result of improper workmanship.” But you’ll very likely have more than just two warranties “In many cases, the builder will offer a one-year bumper-to-bumper warranty,” explains Keith Thompson, a real estate broker with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Carolinas Realty in Charlotte, NC. “This generally covers everything in the home with the exception of cosmetic, such as if the homeowner damages a wall while moving in. Beyond this, you’ll have coverage ranging from two to five years on mechanicals such as plumbing, electrical, HVAC.” In a newly constructed home, you will also have separate manufacturers’ warranties if things such as your windows, shingles, or appliances fail, adds Thompson. The last is a structural warranty: “Some states require the builder to provide a warranty for a particular number of years. These warranties are usually 10 years, but John Wieland Homes, for example, has offered a 20-year structural warranty for as long as I’ve been selling real estate,” says Thompson. In Florida, adds Sharon Voss, president of the Orlando Regional Realtor Association, “a builder’s 10-year structural warranty is not only included, but required by state law.” Your warranty usually covers a punch list of repairs In most cases, as part of the warranty process, builders will “set up a meeting after closing but before the one-year warranty expires to go through the house and fix anything that is covered,” says Thompson. “Some builders will do this twice — once at 30 days postclosing and again at 11 months — while others will allow the buyer to decide when the meeting will be during the one-year period.” Buyer beware: Builder-backed warranties are worthless if your builder goes under When the 2008 recession hit, many builders went out of business — and that meant homeowners with builder-backed home warranties were really out of luck. “You have to be cautious of builder-backed warranties, because if the builder goes out of business, your warranty may become worthless,” explains Rachelle Schreiber, executive regional manager of Realty Group International. Try to address as many issues as possible at your 30-day postclosing walk-through, as opposed to waiting until the one-year follow-up. That way, you can breathe easy if your builder does go under. It might not be transferable If you purchase a home from the original owner and it’s still within the first year of the warranty, you may — or may not — be covered by that same warranty, explains Voss. Be sure to find out from the builder whether the warranty is transferable from the seller to the new buyer. - See more at: http://www.trulia.com/blog/whats-included-in-new-home-warranties/?ecampaign=con_cnews_digest&eurl=www.trulia.com%2Fblog%2Fwhats-included-in-new-home-warranties%2F#sthash.gdJVw0or.dpuf Want to know what is (and isn’t) covered? This list will help. The allure of buying a new-construction home is obvious: It’s new, it’s never been lived in, and it oftentimes comes with all the bells and whistles that go hand in hand with new construction. New homes also usually boast a builder’s warranty, which, for many homeowners, are the proverbial icing on the new-construction cake. Those warranties, though, can be tricky when it comes to navigating what is (and what isn’t) covered. “Building warranties are definitely something to take note of,” says Josh Altman, a Los Angeles–based real estate agent and author of It’s Your Move. “Much like anything else in the world, these warranties vary across the board.” Here are the top things you need to know about builders’ warranties, whether you’re shopping for new homes for sale in New York, NY, or Santa Fe, NM. The difference between long- and short-term warranties “Long-term [usually 10 years] is where you should have a structural foundational warranty,” says Altman. “So if anything [very bad] goes wrong, you are covered. Short-term [generally one to two years] may include things like stucco and drywall but may not include things like appliances that would not be a result of improper workmanship.” But you’ll very likely have more than just two warranties “In many cases, the builder will offer a one-year bumper-to-bumper warranty,” explains Keith Thompson, a real estate broker with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Carolinas Realty in Charlotte, NC. “This generally covers everything in the home with the exception of cosmetic, such as if the homeowner damages a wall while moving in. Beyond this, you’ll have coverage ranging from two to five years on mechanicals such as plumbing, electrical, HVAC.” In a newly constructed home, you will also have separate manufacturers’ warranties if things such as your windows, shingles, or appliances fail, adds Thompson. The last is a structural warranty: “Some states require the builder to provide a warranty for a particular number of years. These warranties are usually 10 years, but John Wieland Homes, for example, has offered a 20-year structural warranty for as long as I’ve been selling real estate,” says Thompson. In Florida, adds Sharon Voss, president of the Orlando Regional Realtor Association, “a builder’s 10-year structural warranty is not only included, but required by state law.” Your warranty usually covers a punch list of repairs In most cases, as part of the warranty process, builders will “set up a meeting after closing but before the one-year warranty expires to go through the house and fix anything that is covered,” says Thompson. “Some builders will do this twice — once at 30 days postclosing and again at 11 months — while others will allow the buyer to decide when the meeting will be during the one-year period.” Buyer beware: Builder-backed warranties are worthless if your builder goes under When the 2008 recession hit, many builders went out of business — and that meant homeowners with builder-backed home warranties were really out of luck. “You have to be cautious of builder-backed warranties, because if the builder goes out of business, your warranty may become worthless,” explains Rachelle Schreiber, executive regional manager of Realty Group International. Try to address as many issues as possible at your 30-day postclosing walk-through, as opposed to waiting until the one-year follow-up. That way, you can breathe easy if your builder does go under. It might not be transferable If you purchase a home from the original owner and it’s still within the first year of the warranty, you may — or may not — be covered by that same warranty, explains Voss. Be sure to find out from the builder whether the warranty is transferable from the seller to the new buyer. - See more at: http://www.trulia.com/blog/whats-included-in-new-home-warranties/?ecampaign=con_cnews_digest&eurl=www.trulia.com%2Fblog%2Fwhats-included-in-new-home-warranties%2F#sthash.gdJVw0or.dpuf

Brandon Farber

Brandon Farber

 

Advice On Selling A House

Maybe you've read lots of advice on selling a house. But do you know the biggest mistake many people make when selling a house? Not understanding real estate value. You see, it doesn't matter what you think your home is worth. It doesn't matter what youdid to make in nicer for your family. The value of your home is determined by buyers. What you enjoyed about your house may be irrelevant when it's time to sell. Think in terms of what buyers want, and use some of the following advice on selling a house.  1. Know the market. What other similar houses have sold for? Have those examples ready to show potential buyers.  2. Decide on a minimum price - the price below which you just won't move. Don't tell your agent what this minimum is, but negotiate with any buyers who make an offer near or above it.  3. Concentrate on the visible things first. A new mailbox is often a good idea. When buyers fall in love with the house before they even enter it, they forgive a lot of problems.  4. Clean the neighborhood. If a neighbor's yard is a mess, give their kids $10 to pick up the yard. Spend $20 to put flowers in any common-areas, and buyers will have a better first impression of the neighborhood.  5. If you or your agent aren't getting many calls, try something new. Is more advertising necessary? Is the price too high? If price is the problem, drop it fast. That perfect buyer might pass on by while the the home is still over-priced.  6. Listen to prospects. They'll be more objective than you. If you hear several times that the kitchen is dark, get out the white paint.  7. Find the average sales time for your area. If your house is taking longer than average to sell, there's a problem, and usually it's the price.  8. Ask your real estate agent what she plans to do - before you sign a listing agreement. Write down what she says, and hold her to her promises.  9. If there are known problems, such as an old roof, get an estimate for repairs. The sellers may want a $7,000 allowance for a new roof - until you show them your $4,000 estimate.  10. Do improvements that can realistically get you at least a two-to-one return on investment. If $300 to seal the driveway is likely to add $600 to the sales price of the home, do it. Always consider first those things that are most visible. There are dozens of things you can do to sell your house faster, and get a better price. Start with the ones that will get the most "bang for your buck." Also, read and USE good advice on selling a house.  

Brandon Farber

Brandon Farber

 

Choosing a REALTOR

The ideal agent is not always the one with the most sales under his or her belt, or the most years on the job. The ideal agent is one who listens to you, is easy to get along with, and has the tools and skills to address your unique situation. Every home buyer is different. Some have credit issues. Some are buying from out of state. Some need help selling their current home in addition to buying a new one. Just as buyers have different needs, real estate agents have different skills and specialties. Here's how to find the agent who's right for you: 1. Ask friends and family for agent referrals.
Nobody knows you as well as your friends and family do. So they're often in the best position to recommend an agent who is well-suited for your needs. You can also trust a referral from friends or family more than one that comes from a stranger. 2. Talk to multiple agents.
I once saw a statistic that 84% of home buyers choose the first real estate agent they contact. This means one of two things. Either most people are choosing wisely the first time, or they're just rushing into things without shopping around. Probably a little of both. You don't have to exhaust yourself interviewing agent after agent, but at least talk with two or three to see who you're most comfortable with (which leads to the next point). 3. Consider the vibe factor.
Professional expertise is an important criterion when choosing a real estate agent. But interpersonal skills are equally important. After all, you'll be working with this person anywhere from 2 to 12 months, so it helps to get along with them. We all have unique personalities, and that's the way it should be. But when working with someone professionally, if helps if their personality "meshes" well with your own. 4. Ask how they hunt.
When deciding on a real estate agent, ask how they search for homes. Some agents have their own preferred listings that they favor. But you want what's best for you, not what's best for your agent. You're paying them, right? So make sure the agent is willing to search high and low to find the best home for you. That includes using the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) as well as their own personal network. 5. Read paperwork carefully.
This advice is heavily used for a reason. It's critical that you examine all documents during the home buying process, and that includes your agent agreement. At some point during the relationship, your agent will probably ask you to sign an agent agreement. Basically, it just means that if the agent shows you a particular property, your purchase of the property should be credited to that agent. In most cases it's a simple, just be sure to read it carefully and ask questions.  

Brandon Farber

Brandon Farber

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