Archive for the ‘Real Estate’ Category

Why a Buyer Needs An Independent Inspection at Closing

December 12, 2018

Why a Buyer Needs An Independent Inspection at ClosingMany sellers hire inspectors and appraisers to value their home prior to placing it on the market. It’s important for buyers to hire their own inspector to get an independent opinion. If a buyer orders an inspection before the sale goes through, the seller may have to resolve any issues that arise. If you forego the inspection, you inherit any problems that come with the house.

Importance Of Inspections

Homes aren’t always well cared for and it’s relatively easy for an unethical owner to paint over a water stain rather than fix a leaky faucet. Clunky furnaces and loud A/C units are symptoms of equipment the owner hasn’t maintained, but it isn’t the only issue that can arise. From hidden mold to lead pipes, there are hundreds of things that could be wrong that a layman wouldn’t notice in a walk-through. 

Buyers should include a clause in the written offer that makes the sale conditional on an inspection. This gives you the freedom to walk away if the report comes back negative. Alternately, you can lower the offer price or ask the seller to pay for repairs.

Inspection Process

There’s no uniform process for conducting an inspection. Generally, it includes a report of the heating and cooling systems, plumbing, electrical system, flooring, ceilings, roofing, drainage, foundation and basement, where applicable.

Most states don’t offer a licensing process for inspectors. This means that you might not get a comprehensive opinion on other issues, including termites, lead, rodents, asbestos or methane gas. You can ask for the inspector’s opinion, then hire someone who specializes in the areas of concern.

For example, if the inspector suspects a rodent issue, you can ask a pest control company to inspect the property and provide an estimate to resolve any issue.

What’s Not Covered

The inspector is looking for serious issues, so don’t expect every scratch and ding to appear on the report. If you’d like a greater deal of control over the process, you may be to request to walk through the property during the inspection. However, most sellers are reluctant to allow this for a variety of reasons and it may increase your inspection fee.

Ordering an independent inspection gives buyers important insight into defects in the home they are about to purchase. Foregoing an inspection to save a few hundred dollars could end up costing you a lot more if issues come up after you move in.

Your trusted mortgage professional works with inspectors and appraisers on a regular basis. When the time comes to schedule an inspection, be sure to ask for a referral.

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6 Ways To Find the Right Neighborhood For Your Lifestyle

December 11, 2018

6 Ways To Find the Right Neighborhood For Your LifestyleChoosing a neighborhood you live in is almost as important as the house you buy. The right neighborhood can make your house feel even more like a home. But how do you find the right neighborhood to shop for your next home?

1. Evaluate Your Own Lifestyle

The first step in finding the right neighborhood is to figure out what you’re really looking for. Do you crave a sense of community, or do you prefer not seeing any other houses when you open your front door? Knowing yourself is the key to identifying what kind of neighborhood you’ll be most happy in.

2. Are There Children In The Picture?

If you have kids now or are planning to have some in the future, that will impact your choice of neighborhoods. You’ll want your children to have neighborhood friends. You’ll also want to know your kids are safe playing outside. Look for neighborhoods where families reside. Ask your real estate agent about the quality of local schools.

3. Would You Prefer A Single Family Home Or A Townhouse?

Different neighborhoods have different housing types. You can often do a process of elimination by pre-determining what kind of home you’re looking for. This is something that your real estate agent can do for you.

4. What Will Your Commute Look Like?

You’ll be going to work everyday. That will significantly impact your daily lifestyle. Pin your work address on a map. Then draw a ring around it that represents the distance you’re willing to commute. Neighborhoods within that circle will be candidates.

5. Are You Looking For Nightlife?

If you want to be able to walk out your door and land at a cafe, bookstore, shopping center, bar or someplace else, then your neighborhood will need to reflect that desire. Avoid buying in an area where everything is a 20-minute drive. Your real estate agent will be able to apprise you of neighborhood culture so you’ll have a better idea of where to buy.

6. What Do You Miss Most?

Is your current neighborhood lacking something, such as bike trails, a park or community events? Seek these out when you go home shopping so your life feels more complete when you move.

These six tips will help you find the best neighborhood for the way you want to live. Remember, your real estate agent is knowledgeable about the various neighborhoods in their service area. Use your agent as a valuable resource while you search for that perfect home.

Don’t forget one of the most important factors: what you can afford. Your trusted mortgage professional is ready to help you get pre-approved.

4 Important Reasons Why You Should Consider Buying A Green Home

December 7, 2018

4 Important Reasons Why You Should Consider Buying A Green HomeBuying a home is one of the most important decisions you can make. There are many decisions involved in choosing the right home from picking a real estate agent, to figuring out what type of home will suit your needs. You want the right sized rooms, a floor plan that fits your family, and certain home features you know you can’t live without.

With all the decisions you have to make surrounding your new place to live, you may want to consider buying a green home. Green homes can be a little more expensive up front, but over time they can save you money and pay for the upgrades. These are several reasons for deciding to buy a green home.

Air Quality And Health

Green homes are built with better air quality in mind. The materials used to build green homes improve the indoor air quality of your home. Furthermore, green homes are built to encourage indoor plant growth. Plants help clean our indoor air and reduce pollution and are an essential part of any green home.

Saving Water

Green homes are also built to conserve water. Buying a green home will cause you to use 30%-50% less water than in a conventional home. Conserving as much water as possible has become more important now than ever before and purchasing a green home can help you use less water.

Use Less Energy With A Green Home

Everyone would love to save money on their heating and electric bills. With a green home, you can do exactly that. Green homes use nearly 30% less energy and have over 30% less greenhouse gas emissions. This translates to savings on your utility bills every month.

Increase The Resale Value Of Your Home

A home isn’t only a place to live, but it’s also an investment. Purchasing a green home can be viewed as a wise investment, as many people consider green homes appealing. They’re attractive for their many cost saving and natural features, besides offering more sustainable living. For these reasons, your green home may increase in resale value.

There are many direct benefits to you by purchasing a green home. Not only do they help the environment, but they are good for your health and your energy bills. Consider making your next home a green home.

If you are in the market for a green home in your area, be sure to contact your trusted mortgage professional for financing options and a pre-approval.

5 Strategies Millennials Can Use To Buy Homes

December 5, 2018

5 Strategies Millennials Can Use To Buy HomesMillennials face numerous challenges when buying their first homes. 55% of young adults between 25 and 34 years old don’t own homes as compared to 80% in 1967, according to data from the Census Bureau. 

Buying a home is tough with the $1.4 trillion student loan debt, growing childcare expenses and rising rental costs. However, hope is not lost. Millennials can realize the quintessential dream of owning a home. 

Millennials can employ several strategies to plan for home ownership without selling their kidneys. Here are five ways to do just that. 

Develop A Realistic Budget 

Now is a great time to examine your finances and create a budget for a house you can really afford. Lenders may be able to approve you for a larger loan amount than what you thought possible. Therefore, it’s imperative to be realistic when deciding on the amount of home mortgage payment you can afford comfortably per month.   

Make Sacrifices 

Not long ago, someone said (and probably regretted) Millennials can’t save enough to buy homes because they are spend extravagantly. Well, saving thousands of dollars for down payment isn’t easy, but it’s not impossible either. And there are many low to no down payment programs available if you check with your trusted mortgage professional first.

You may have to sacrifice and cut unnecessary expenditures such as buying new outfits and even getting a new car. Living minimally can help pad your personal savings to propel you into owning a house. 

Consider The Suburbs 

Although it’s vital to stay near family and a lively social location, consider purchasing a house in a suburban area, where houses are typically more affordable. Plus, if you have pets they will love the larger lots and yards giving them space to play.

You can choose a less populated state where you will probably have a higher chance of affording a home. Although this may not be ideal, if owning your own place tops your list, then location will not stand in the way. 

Use State And Federal Programs 

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) gives home buyers the chance to purchase houses with a very low down payment. This lower amount is quite attainable if you save toward this goal.  Some states also offer supplemental programs beyond the FHA program. Find out whether you can access extra grants and subsidies. 

Get Your Hustle In Gear 

Although most millennials struggle with unemployment, if you have one job, look for other ways to make extra dollars. You may consider driving for rideshare services, freelance gigs and running errands for people as a way to temporarily boost your earning potential.

Owning a place to call home is great. Like anyone else millennials can buy homes. Talk to a home finance expert and your trusted mortgage professional for more information on how you can make your best investment. 

3 Things You Need To Know About Divorce And Homeownership

December 4, 2018

3 Things You Need To Know About Divorce And HomeownershipDivorce can be an incredibly emotional and financially stressful time. Questions about what happens to assets and the family home add to the anxiety. Each state has divorce laws that differ and that can complicates decision-making.

For example, marital assets are distributed differently in community property states from equitable distribution ones. The idea of 50-50 splits may be a myth because judges have the discretion to deviate from even percentages. That being said, these are three things you should know about homeownership when contemplating divorce.

Who Gets The House?

This often ranks as the biggest question among divorcing spouses. Many years ago, it was assumed that the wife automatically gets the marital home. But laws have changed, and same-sex marriages don’t bring a difference in gender to the process.

These days, marital homes are generally subject to either community property divisions or equitable distribution. That means the court will either split it 50-50 or weight the equity in one person’s favor for a specific reason.

In divorces that include minor children, the parent who enjoys primary custody may be given an opportunity to remain in the home. This is often done by spouses agreeing to that solution. It’s also not uncommon for a court to order the home to be sold after children reach the age of majority.  

Risks Of Co-Ownership After Divorce

Continuing to maintain joint ownership after divorce presents certain risks. In all likelihood, there will be a mortgage attached to the property and failure to make timely payments by either party puts both credit histories at risk. If one person falls on hard financial times, a court-ordered liquidation may be necessary. On the other hand, the other owner may have to foot all the bills to protect their credit rating.

Another risk associated with joint ownership is that the person living in the home may not adequately maintain it. Homeowners are all too familiar with ongoing maintenance and repairs. The home could end up losing value due to negligence. Although joint ownership has its child-rearing and potential value appreciation benefits, it can be risky.

When A Home Is Not A Marital Asset

Although states take different approaches to divide assets in a divorce, not everything is included in the so-called “marriage.” There are a number of items that are usually considered separate and apart from the marriage such as personal items, tools of a trade, pre-marital assets, and most importantly inheritance.

It is not uncommon for people to inherit a family home from parents or other loved ones. That property may not constitute a marital asset unless steps are taken to merge it.

For instance, putting a spouse’s name on the deed or leveraging its equity for a joint purpose may be considered co-mingling it with marital assets. However, if it remains separate and apart from the marriage, chances are that it will not be on the table for distribution during the divorce.   

Homeownership and equity are handled differently from state to state. It’s important to speak with a legal professional about your unique situation. 

If you are in need of assistance to refinance your current property, your trusted mortgage professional is ready to help.

NAHB Reports Lowest Builder Confidence Reading Since 2014

November 29, 2018

NAHB Reports Lowest Builder Confidence Reading Since 2014Obstacles facing home builders have caught up with high builder confidence according to the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index for November. Builder confidence dropped eight points to an index reading of 60, which was the largest month-to-month drop in builder confidence since 2014. November’s decline in builder confidence was greater than the largest month-to-month decline during the housing crisis.

Housing Market Index readings over 50 are considered positive, but analysts said that long-standing headwinds caught up with home builders’ outlook on housing market conditions and sub-categories used to comprise the overall Housing Market Index reading.

Obstacles Impacted November Home Builder Confidence in Housing Market

Builders have long cited shortages of buildable lots, rising materials costs and labor shortages, but builder sentiment appeared strong until November. Recent tariffs on building materials and rising mortgage rates further added to builder concerns. Buyer traffic indicated that would-be home buyers may be waiting for home prices and mortgage rates to fall. Less demand for homes would increase inventories of homes for sale and potentially reduce extreme buyer competition that caused rapid price gains in high-demand metro areas.

Components of November’s NAHB HMI also declined in November. Builder confidence in current housing market conditions fell seven points to an index reading of 67. Builder confidence in housing market conditions within the next six months dropped ten points to 65. The reading for buyer traffic in housing developments dropped eight points to 45. Readings for buyer traffic seldom exceed the HMI index reading of 50.

NAHB Housing Market Index: Things to Know

Housing and mortgage industry pros view the HMI as an early indicator of construction pace and for measuring supplies of homes for sale. The National Association of Home Builders HMI is based on survey of NAHB members; the sample size varies according to the number of responses received from builders each month. Analysts noted that November’s reading was impacted by fewer builder responses in November; 315 responses were received in November as compared to 360 builder responses in October. Fewer responses increase the volatility of index readings.

Approaching winter weather typically reduces home construction and plans for new construction; 2018 has seen natural disasters and catastrophic wildfires that destroyed many homes. While these factors did not impact November’s home builder confidence, readings they will likely affect home builder confidence readings in the coming months.

If you are looking to buy or refinance, your trusted mortgage professional is ready to help you identify your best financing options.

Buy Or Build Your Home? 5 Factors To Consider

November 27, 2018

Buy Or Build Your Home? 5 Factors To ConsiderA home is one of the biggest investments you can make, and the American Dream for many. Most people spend significant time finding or designing their “dream home.” The first decision is whether to buy or build. 

As of September 2018, the average sales price of a new home was $377,200, according to joint data collected from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Existing homes sales price was approximately $258,100, according to the National Association of Realtors. 

New homes attract bigger prices than existing ones, meaning building costs are also high. So, how do you decide what is best for you?

Here are five factors to consider. 

Time 

Building a home takes time since you must complete several phases. You must buy land, find an architect to design, get building permits, find a contractor and start building. It can take between six months and a year before you move into your new home. 

Buying an existing home shortens that time. For a new house, you can move in once the escrow closes. Older homes may require renovations, but it won’t take long. 

Home Design 

Building your home gives you the benefit of customization. Working with your architect, you can design your dream home to reflect your taste and preference. Buying an existing home, means you may have to compromise on a few aspects. 

Energy Efficiency 

Rising energy costs is a concern to potential homeowners. Designing your own home means you can incorporate measures to be energy efficient. Buying an old home may require more resources to upgrade. That might end up hitting your wallet harder. 

Fortunately, most homebuilders are responding to market demands for energy efficient homes. Most new homes meet these standards. 

Budget 

Budget is an important consideration when buying or building your home. Buying price reflects the value of the house. Your real estate agent will probably give you payment options. 

Building, on the other hand, means you have to juggle a budget constantly throughout the construction period. It is not uncommon to spend more than you budgeted for initially. 

Even if you decide to find a perfect existing home, you may finally opt to build. Conversely, you may strategize to build and later choose to buy an existing home. In both cases, working with qualified professionals such as a trusted mortgage lender, real estate agent or a builder can make the process seamless.

 

Guide to Quartz, Granite and Laminate Countertops

November 23, 2018

Guide to Quartz, Granite and Laminate CountertopsIt can be confusing choosing the right countertop material for your kitchen. Here is a list of some common countertop materials along with their pros and cons. Knowing the differences will help you choose the right material to serve your needs. 

Quartz Countertops

Quartz is available in different colors and can have a luxurious appearance because it is a manufactured product. It is durable, which means it will not chip or crack as easily as natural stones. Quartz countertops have a non-porous surface which makes it easy to maintain by being stain resistant and it not harboring bacteria or viruses. Some may decide to stay away from Quartz since the price tag will be similar to natural stones while having a more contemporary look and not being as heat resistant as natural stones.

Granite Countertops

Granite is a natural stone product. It is most often chosen for its ability to deliver a luxurious look to any kitchen. Granite is able to withstand hard use and will not scratch even when cutting directly on it with a sharp knife. It is heat resistant, which means placing a hot pot from the stove onto the counter will not damage the stone. However, since Granite is porous, it can absorb liquids such as wine, juice, or oil that will create a permanent stain. The key to avoiding such stains is maintenance, the Granite countertop will need to be sealed once a year or depending on usage to cover the pores. A poorly sealed surface can also harbour bacteria in the pores. 

Laminate Countertops

One of the biggest advantages of laminate countertops is that it can look like a natural stone countertop at only a fraction of the price. Laminate does not require any special products or maintenance such as sealing; it can withstand everyday use, and be replaced at a low cost. On the other hand, you need to be cautious with laminate. These countertops can be easily cut or scratched and they are not resistant to heat, placing a hot pot directly onto it can lead to a burn mark or discoloration. 

With many countertop materials to choose from, it can be difficult to make a decision. Some of the more important questions to consider are porous or non-porous, durability, and price. At the end of the day you should chose something that fits your needs. 

If you would like to purchase a new home or to refinance your current property, be sure to contact your trusted mortgage professional.

3 Critical Tips for Buying a Home in a Short Sale

November 21, 2018

3 Critical Tips for Buying a Home in a Short SaleYou just found your perfect home, and you feel like everything is right including the price. But, what could be wrong with your ideal home? Maybe, it is being sold as a short sale, and that could present a major challenge if you want to become be the eventual homeowner.

Short sales are different from other conventional real estate transactions since the property in question is usually listed at a price that is much lower than the amount of the outstanding mortgage debt.

Unlike a regular sale, the homeowner must obtain permission from the lender before proceeding with the transaction. Whether you are a veteran property buyer or a first-time home buyer, closing a deal on a short sale can be a challenging and stressful experience. We compiled the top three tips for buying a home in a short sale.

Consult A Short Sale Expert

First, you should consider getting help from a short sale expert who will help you identify homes that are being offered as short sales, help you determine a reasonable purchase price and also advise you on what to include in your offer to make it attractive to the seller.

Before you go for a particular short sale expert, ask them how many buyers they have helped purchase homes on short sales and how long they have been in business.

Good Deals Take Patience

Secondly, remember to be patient when engaging in a short sale deal. There is a high likelihood that most buyers will get impatient after several weeks of waiting and walk away from the deal leaving you in a strong position to negotiate.

If you understand that the initial offer on any short sale can take a long time before the lender accepts or rejects it, you will be in a better position to get a good deal since there will be no stiff competition. However, you should keep in mind that the lender might reject your offer.

Get A Full Loan Approval Early

Lastly, make sure that you get approved for a loan and not just pre-approved. Go through the trouble of getting approved if you want to stand a good chance of landing your dream home through a short sale.

Keep in mind that there will be multiple bids on the property and most of the prospective buyers will be pre-approved. Since you want to get the home at the best possible price below the market prices, being fully approved will make your offer stand out with the lender since you no longer face the risk of your financing falling apart at the last minute.

Entering into a short sale transaction will require patience and diligence. Your best partners will be your trusted real estate and home loan professionals. 

5 Real Estate Professionals Who Assist You When You Buy Your First Home

November 20, 2018

5 Real Estate Professionals Who Assist You When You Buy Your First HomeSo you’re set to buy your first house. But where do you begin?

Buying a house for the first time can be nerve-racking. Most advice articles often concentrate on the steps involved in buying a house. To streamline things, let’s focus on the people who will likely be involved in your purchase transaction.

Concentrating on the finding the right professionals can help you navigate the entire buying process easier and more comfortably. Most people start with their home loan financing or locating a property with a real estate agent. Many of the other people involved in the transaction will be referred by these two important folks.

Apart from you and the seller, a number of other people will probably get involved. Some of them get involved throughout the whole process, others pop in and out, while others are optional. Below is an overview of five people involved.

Mortgage Loan Officer

First-time home buyers rarely pay all cash for their property. Most of them borrow money to purchase the property. As such, your mortgage loan officer becomes part of the process from the start to the end. From the moment you inquire if you can afford to the time of transferring ownership, your loan officer will be there.

Real Estate Agent

Most first-time buyers employ a real estate agent to assist them purchase their houses. Agents can help you find the house, draft your offer and advise you on ways to negotiate with the seller. They will likely help you circumnavigate through inspection and closing steps.

Settlement Agent

A settlement agent or a closing agent becomes involved from the moment you reach an agreement with the seller until the transfer of ownership is complete. In most cases, a settlement agent is most involved in the last days before you assume ownership.

Home Inspector

Home inspectors get involved for a short period of time. Most of them pop in, carry out an inspection, write a report and they’re gone. You may never hear from your inspector again. Your real estate agent or mortgage loan officer will most likely be able to recommend a trustworthy home inspector.

Appraiser

Mortgage lenders usually ask appraisers to estimate the market value of the house you’re purchasing. An appraiser makes sure that your lender isn’t advancing you more money than the actual market value of the house. Though the appraiser reports to your lender, you usually pay for the appraisal in your home loan closing costs.

Please keep in mind that legal requirements for transferring house ownership vary from one state to another. For instance, some states require a real estate attorney in the transfer of ownership. Check with your preferred real estate professional to get the details in your local market.

If you are in the market for a new home or interested in refinancing your current property, be sure to contact your trusted mortgage loan professional.