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Buyers Reports

Home Buying Guide

 

AVOID A LEMON

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR CREDIT BEFORE BUYING A HOME

MAKING THE RIGHT DOWN PAYMENT

GENERATING POSITIVE CASH FLOW THROUGH REAL ESTATE INVESTMENTS

Growing Your Equity Through Real Estate

EIGHT COMMON BUYER MISTAKES

HOW TO CLOSE ON TIME AND AVOID PROBLEMS

WHAT TO DO IF YOU THINK YOU CAN’T AFFORD YOUR CURRENT HOME

Bankruptcy and Divorce

WHAT FIRST-TIME HOMEOWNERS NEED TO KNOW

TIPS FOR MOVING

HOW TO PREVENT OVER- PAYING FOR YOUR HOUSE

Keys To Selecting The Right Agent

LOANS, MORTGAGES, AND FINANCING OPTIONS

 

AVOID A LEMON:

 KNOW WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN BUYING A HOME                                                                         Whether you are considering buying a house or selling one, conducting a rundown of property items could make all the difference in the world. Although not all things will require costly repairs, some might, which is why it's important to be prepared. Before you head out to look at homes or before you put your home on the market, check out these items to ensure they are in proper working order:

 Look for settlement cracks on the wall, floor, or ceiling. Every home, at one time or another, will get a settlement crack, so if you find a few, there's no need to panic. However, if you notice major cracks, this could be a sign of structural problems. Mark down the location of where you find cracks and make sure they are pointed out to the inspector to determine the degree of damage. If they are small cracks, they can easily be filled with plaster and repainted.

 Look for any leaks. If you notice any water damage marks on the walls, floors, or ceilings, this could simply be from a bathtub or toilet that might have overflowed, or, it could be serious and be due to a leaky roof or poor plumbing. Also, check the tile in the bathrooms and kitchen for any indication of behind the wall leaks, such as mildew or loose tiles.

Open and close all the doors and windows. Listen for squeaks or sticking. In most cases, this is simply a matter of spraying some lubricant such as WD-40, but it could also be another indicator of settlement.

If there is an outside deck, check for rotted wood, which could be a sign of termites or it might just be old wood needing to be replaced.

Check all of the electrical outlets. You can simply take a working nightlight with you to plug in. This will tell you if any of the outlets are not working properly.

Check the garage doors, if applicable. Make sure they run smoothly on the track and that the openers are in good working order. Look for pests such as termites or ants. The best place to look is around the foundation, wiring, pipes, and doors or windows.

 Look at the grading of the yard, both front and back, to ensure that run-off water flows away from the house.

Look at the gutters to ensure they are properly installed and that water flows out adequately.

Check the driveway to look for crumbling concrete, pockmarks, or holes that would need to be fixed.

Carefully check out the heating and cooling systems. These can be high dollar expenses so it's important that they are running properly. Often, these items are covered under a warranty so if there is a problem, see if you have warrant coverage.

 If there are any fireplaces or wood-burning stoves, make sure that the chimneys are clear of debris and that the flues are working properly.

Caulking and weather stripping are important as well. Improper coverage will cause air leaks into the home, raising utility bills and causing unwanted drafts.

The good thing is that everything can be fixed. The bad part is that some items are costly, which is why it's so important to ensure you keep operating systems of the home in good working order.

If you are buying a house, a good inspector should find all of these items and work with the seller to ensure most or all are taken care of.

If you are selling your home, having these things working properly will put you in a much better position of getting a good price out of your home.

KEYS TO FINDING THE "RIGHT" HOME

 There are probably few things in life that are as exciting--or as nerve- racking--as the search for a house. With an organized home buying plan, you can minimize a great deal of the emotional impact. By determining your buying power, your wants and needs, and having an organized search plan, your chances of a stress-free experience are much better.

Gertrude Singer, a realtor with National Realty suggests that buyers, and especially first-time buyers consider a few issues when preparing for and purchasing a home. · Run before walking. This is easy to do once the decision to buy a home has been made. It means rushing off looking at homes, surfing the web or calling on advertisements before doing some up-front preparation.

 · Don't over-buy the first time. A large and beautiful home with little or no furniture tends to be empty and cold. A life where almost every dime of your earnings goes to the support of your house wears thin very quickly and is a frequent cause of family stress. Leave yourself some breathing room!

 · Compare mortgages. Don't simply accept the first plan presented to you. Spend time comparing to get the most advantageous plan for your requirements and financial situation

· Get mortgage pre-approval. Pre-qualification and pre-approvals are a necessary part of the home buying process. Not only will it give you an exact price range for your purchase, pre-approval will add a great deal of strength to your offer.

· Don't wait for the "perfect" home. Many first time buyers make the mistake that they will, if they look around long enough, find a home that has a full 100% of their needs and wants. Instead, it makes sense to determine the most important of your needs and the most desired of your wants and selecting a home that meets the majority of them.

· The inspection process. This can involve skipping a whole house inspection completely in order to save the relatively small amount of money involved, or it may involve using a friend or relative with limited experience to conduct the inspection. In either case you run the risk of not exposing potentially expensive--or even hazardous--defects in the property. Protect yourself by investing the $200 to $500 for a professional inspection.

 As soon as you've completed the pre-qualification portion of the loan, you will be ready to start looking for your new home. As you start into the process, one very important step is often overlooked - scouting out neighborhoods.

Sometimes people will find a home and be so thrilled with their find that they fail to look at the neighborhood in which the home sits. You should consider many things, for example, if you have a family, is there a park nearby for the kids? Are the schools appropriate for your kids? If you enjoy having things close by, check out restaurants, grocery stores, etc. Is the neighborhood clean and safe?

 Take a Saturday or Sunday when most people are home and get in your car to drive around. Start exploring different areas until you find one or several that appeal to you.

Take a notepad with you and jot down names of subdivisions, general appearances of the homes to include maintenance and landscaping. Are there kids outside playing around the same age of your kids? If you're elderly, is this a quiet neighborhood with other elderly people?

If you are working through a real estate agent, once you outline the things that are important to you, they should be able to provide several neighborhoods as starting points.

Schools- Just as good school districts are important if you have kids, they are also important if you don't have kids. Buying a home in a reputable school district is a huge advantage for a future sale. Typically, homes with good schools attract more buyers. If you want to determine a good district from a not so good district, you can always conduct Internet research. For example, go to www.homestore.com, choose a geographical area or zip code, and you can find out just about anything you want to know. Other options would be to ask your real estate agent for information, talk to other people in the neighborhood, or even take a tour of the school.

Family- As you probably know, buying a home isn't just an investment. It's a place of safe haven, fun, memories for the entire family. Because of this, after considering the community, you need to consider the number of bedrooms and baths. Will you need a closed garage? Are schools within walking distance for the kids, if not, where are the nearest bus stops?

Property Value/Taxes- Another very important factor when buying a home is property values of other homes in the area. You don't want to buy the most expensive or least expensive home. Also, check on property taxes to see how much they've jumped in the past few years.

What happens if you find two houses that you like equally or perhaps both you and your spouse each have one house that you love?

 Making the final decision needs to be done rationally and not led by emotion. Sometimes this is hard to do but to ensure you get the right home, it's an absolute necessity. It might be necessary to write down all the needs versus all your wants in order to make the right decision.

You should also take your time if possible. You may not have the luxury of time, which makes buying a little more challenging. The best situation is to look at many homes and don't make an offer on the first house you see. In addition, look at houses more than once. If there is one or two that you like, wait a day, then go back, and look again. Usually the second time around you will find something you don't like or something you do like that you didn't notice the first time.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR CREDIT BEFORE BUYING A HOME

Sometimes being approved for home buying can be difficult however, there are things you can do to be approved.

One of the greatest obstacles with home buying is having less than perfect credit. Credit is a huge advantage when buying a home so if you do have bad credit, before you start into the home-buying phase, take time to get copies of your credit report from the three main reporting agencies and clean up discrepancies. Keep in mind that this effort can take years so be prepared to spend some time getting it in order.

There are things you should know before you venture out to buy your home:

· Payment history - No matter what type of loan you apply for, one of the first things any lender will look at is your payment history. If you have made payments on time and even paid off loans early, that's a bonus.

· Create a budget - This is highly recommended and will help you prepare for a home loan as well as keep you on track once you've purchased your home. If at any time you run into a problem and start to fall behind in payments, it's very important to contact your lender to let them know. In almost every case, the lender will gladly work with you to keep you from losing your home.

· Credit Counseling - Sometimes people set up budgets with the best intentions but then slip off their schedule. There are credit counseling services that can help by setting up payment plans to help you stay on budget or get you out of debt. Lenders don't want you to lose your house no more than you want to lose it. Not all lenders will work with credit counseling services, but it's always an option to ask for.

 · Bankruptcies, tax liens, and foreclosures can haunt you for years. Most stay on your credit report for up to ten years and can have a negative impact on purchasing a home. However, if you stay up to date on payments for two to three years after running into one of these situations, with a strong letter of explanation and the proof that you've been working to stay on target, lenders will work with you. It may take a little more work, but it is possible.

· Debt Consolidation - This is another option for reducing your debt to buy a house. In this case, the balance of your debt remains the same but companies are willing to lower interest rates, which do two things - they help lower your outgoing monthly payment and, they lower the overall balance you will be paying. If you have a lot of debt and need to bring your debt to income ratio down in order to qualify for a house, this might be a consideration. The normal ratio is what's called "28/36", meaning lenders believe you cannot spend more than 28% of your gross income for housing expenses and that the total amount of debt payments cannot exceed 36% of your income for a normal 5% down payment loan.

· Flexible Guidelines - Lenders are becoming more and more flexible as a way of getting people approved for home loans. The way they do that is by allowing a greater percentage of monthly income to be used toward the mortgage payment.

· Pay-off Options - If you plan to pay off some of your debt prior to applying for a home loan, consider going after the ones with the highest balances first. Although it's nice to pay off credit cards, available credit puts a person in risk of recharging after the home loan goes through and may actually hurt you in the approval process.

 · Affordable Interest Rates - This helps more people qualify when buying a new home or larger home, as well as lenders providing more attractive mortgage offers.

 · Computer Programs Rate Borrowers - A computerized system called "credit scoring". This new way of assessing one's ability to qualify for a loan still relies on the same information but this new systems helps determine who will default on a loan. To do this, a numerical score is assigned to each factor and then calculated.

The bottom line is getting your credit in order and asking your lender for options.

MAKING THE RIGHT DOWN PAYMENT

 Okay, you're getting ready to look at houses to buy.

You have a pretty good idea what price range you need to look in, but what about the down payment?

How much will you need to be prepared to put down and what should you put down?

The standard in buying a house is between 5% and 10% down payment. For example, if you were looking to buy a $150,000 house with 5% down, which would be $7,500, the remaining $142,500 would be financed with a mortgage company.

 The more you put down, the less money will be financed in your mortgage, meaning your monthly payment will be lowered. If you can put more down, the better. However, not everyone is in that position so rather than putting yourself in a tight financial situation each month, you might consider waiting another year to save a little more.

In addition, be sure you account for all your expenses. Whether you buy a new or used home, there will be expenses once you move in. For new homes, there are appliances, draperies, and for used homes, there are usually repairs. When deciding the amount to use toward a down payment, just keep in mind that you should have a little tucked away for those other expenses.

If you aren't sure about which direction to go, you can always take some time to meet with a loan officer or financial consultant to determine how much of a down payment is best for your specific situation.

 GENERATING POSITIVE CASH FLOW THROUGH REAL ESTATE INVESTMENTS

More and more, people are turning to real estate as a viable investment option. The market is flooded with homes and if done right, purchasing property for the purpose of investment can provide a lucrative return.

Here is some helpful information specific to real estate investing:

Creating Positive Cash Flow Through Rentals

No matter what kind of real estate you decide to invest in, obtaining monthly rent from tenants is critical to your success. Whether you are looking at a pre-tax or after-tax, you will require rental income. The best way to ensure you receive your monthly income on time is to do everything possible to secure quality tenants. Ways in which to do that include thorough credit checks, verification of employment, and past rental history references.

Tax Deductions

Tax incentives for people who invest in real estate can make a huge difference in the tax rates. To offset wage income, deductions for rental property can often be used. In addition, tax breaks enable investors to turn a loss into a profit, which is a huge benefit.

Specific items investors can get tax breaks on include:

Deductions for actual costs incurred for financing, management, and ongoing operations and maintenance of the rental property, which include some of the following examples:  Real estate taxes, Insurance,  Interest payments,  Maintenance and repairs,  Property management fees, Advertising

These expenses can be deducted from your adjusted gross income when you determine your personal income tax. Keep in mind that these deductions cannot exceed the amount of real estate income you receive annually.

In addition to the deductions you can receive for operating expense, you can also receive depreciation breaks. Over time, all buildings deteriorate, although at different levels of severity depending on what the structure is made of, the geographical location of the property, etc. These so-called "losses" can be deducted regardless of the property's current market value. Since depreciation is a non-cash expense, you aren't really spending any money. Therefore, when working with the tax codes, it can get a little confusing and tricky. The best advice is to work with a qualified tax advisor to help you through this process.

Growing Your Equity Through Real Estate

Investing in real estate is complex and you need to know what you are doing, but in the long run, it's well worth the efforts made. The return on investment for real estate opposed to other types of investments such as CD's or bonds is usually greater.The secret to investing in real estate is the equity. When you first purchase a property, you should determine how much equity you want to achieve. Once you reach that desired amount, you should either sell the property or refinance. You need to do your homework and seek professional advice before venturing into these kinds of endeavors. There is a lot of hype and info-commercials about buying homes at sheriff's auctions or foreclosures. Some seek to make a living through fixing these homes up and reselling them. This has been beneficial to some, but many dabblers have been burned by inexperience. Once again it is important to seek professional advice when venturing into these waters.

Determining Your Leverage

Probably the most important factor when determining a solid investment is how much equity you're purchasing. Equity is the difference between the actual property value and the balance currently owed on the mortgage loan, therefore, the more equity in the property, the better.  

EIGHT COMMON BUYER MISTAKES

Home buying can be a very exciting experience, but if you are not well-informed about the home buying process, it can also be very frustrating.In the "good old days" home buying was a less complicated process. You usually learned of a home for sale by word of mouth through your friends and family. You called the owner of the home, made an appointment to look at the house, and if you liked what you saw, you made an offer. Things are much different today.

However, you will also find that today most home buyers are better educated about the home- buying process thanks to the Internet, books on real estate, and real estate sections in their local newspaper. But, even with all the information available to home buyers, costly mistakes can still be made if you buy a home on impulse.Buying a home is not like walking into your favorite store at the mall and buying something on impulse. If after you get home you realize that you really didn't need the newly purchased item, most of the time you can take the item back to the store and ask for a refund. It's not that easy with a home once you've bought it. You can't take the "receipt" back to the bank and tell them you changed your mind, you want a refund.Review each of the most common mistakes listed below, and you will have a very enjoyable experience when purchasing your new home.

1. CREDIT RATING

Did you know you have a credit rating? Many people are not aware that their credit report not only shows a missed payment, but it also carries a rating that lenders will use to determine your interest, or if you even qualify to get a mortgage loan. You can order your personal credit report when you get pre-qualified. If you see a mistake on any one of the credit reports, now is the time to make the corrections, before you put an offer in on a home.

 2. PRE-APPROVAL

 Get pre-approved for a mortgage. When you select a lender, have your credit report pulled along with all the other documentation needed to get a mortgage commitment. Don't just get a letter from your lender stating you are "pre-approved." You can still get turned down after a home is found and appraised and your actual incomes calculated. A good attorney should help you assemble the needed documents; once a home is found, the only thing you should have left to do is get an appraisal.

3. KNOW HOW MUCH YOU CAN AFFORD

Today, home buyers have many financing options available to them, including buying a home with little or no money down. However, even after getting approved for a loan, don't accept one with monthly payments that are higher than you feel comfortable making. If you do, you're begging for problems later on keeping up your mortgage payment which could mean foreclosure on your home. Additionally, home repairs usually appear when you least expect it. Imagine that one evening you're sitting in your favorite chair enjoying a football game when all of a sudden the heat goes off, and it won't turn back on. This could turn into a very costly unexpected repair bill. You don't want every dollar going toward the mortgage; you need a cash cushion to cover unexpected maintenance expenses.

4. GET EXPERT ADVICE

 First-time buyers often turn to friends and family for advice, but your friends and your family may have strong opinions that don't necessarily match yours. Some may be extremely knowledgeable; others may not have been in the housing market for years. In addition, what worked for a friend may not work for someone in your income bracket.

5. THE HOME INSPECTION

Don't let your excitement and your emotions get the best of you. Buying a home is a major investment. Hire a professional home inspector to point out major defects. The inspection report will also help you in budgeting future maintenance expenses. For example, if the report says the roof has to be replaced in three years, you can start setting money aside now.

6. VISIT THE HOME MORE THAN ONCE

It makes sense that most people will view a home during the day. But to get a "real" feeling for the house, you should visit the home during the day, at night and on a weekend. This lets you see whether, for example, the park across the street is an asset or an evening hangout.

7. MAKING LOWBALL OFFERS

Buyers sometimes walk around a home making derogatory comments, hoping it will lead to the seller's accepting a lower offer. Put yourself in their place. How would that make you feel? It does the opposite; it annoys the homeowner. Make a reasonable offer. If the sellers like you, chances are that they will work with you.

8. FALLING IN LOVE WITH THE FIRST HOUSE YOU SEE

Falling in love often results in overpaying or purchasing a home with defects. Remain objective. If the deal collapses, stay calm. Another home just as nice is sure to follow. If you keep in mind the list above, your home buying experience should be a smooth one!

HOW TO CLOSE ON TIME AND AVOID PROBLEMS

In addition to the stress involved in the actual house hunting process, there is also the stress associated with closing the contract. To help reduce the level of frustration, we've provided some tips and information. To begin with, once a contract has been signed to buy a house, now the closing, starts. This settlement, or closing is when the title of ownership is transferred from the seller to the buyer.However, before you can go into the closeing process a few things need to take place.

Secure Financing

In order to buy a house, you must first secure financing, which means taking out a mortgage loan. The lender will require specific financial information such as a credit report, proof of income, current expenses, current appraisal, property survey, and in some cases, an inspection to check for hidden problems. Because of competition among lenders, approval should not take more than a few days.

Closeing the Sale

The real estate lawyer is responsible for explaining everything to you in detail. They should also double check all figures to ensure there are no errors.If everything checks out, you will do a final review of the documents, sign the documents, and pay the money. Once that's done, the settlement is complete and the keys to the property are handed over to you on closing day. Finally, you will receive a copy of the recorded deed and title insurance policy, if purchased.Now the only thing left to do is move and enjoy your new home!

WHAT TO DO IF YOU THINK YOU CAN’T AFFORD YOUR CURRENT HOME

Buying a house for the first time or upgrading from an existing house is a big decision. It's important that you have a good understanding of what you can and cannot afford to buy.

Contingencies:If you already own a house and have decided to move but don't yet have your first house sold, there is the option of putting a contingency offer on the second house. This means that the second house is being held while you get your first house sold.Keep in mind that contingency contracts usually only hold the house for a limited amount of time, and in some cases, you can get bumped if another buyer shows up with a better offer, meaning no contingency, more cash, better credit. Although this is an option, it should be carefully considered.If you have great credit or have cash to put down, you can usually make an offer without a contingency. However, if you need to sell your first house before you have the money to close a deal on a second house, then you have a real dilemma.Often sellers are uncomfortable working with contingencies in that they want more certainty. To come to a compromise, sellers might accept the contingency contract as long as it has a "kick-out" clause. This clause states that if a better offer comes through, the seller has the right to accept the new offer, thus canceling your offer.It is a far better solution to sell your first house before you put a contract on a second house. Going this route will end up saving you effort, disappointment, and money.

 If you are uncertain about your financial situation, meet with a financial advisor or mortgage lender before signing a contract.

Bankruptcy and Divorce

Unfortunately, this is the situation of many people. Many divorced people end up filing for bankruptcy due to the financial issues involved. What are the options for someone in this situation where they have a good income, but need a because their savings has been depleted? There are viable options allowing qualified borrowers to finance the entire purchase of a house, including closing costs. These options allow a buyer to purchase a house with no down payment. The catch is that credit history needs to be spotless and with a bankruptcy, there could be problems qualifying. One thing to remember is that if you have filed bankruptcy, after two years have passed since its dismissal and you've maintained good credit since, you could qualify. However, you should really look at your current situation and determine if this is the right time for you to buy. If you have just gone through a divorce, more than likely your bank account has been drained. Lenders prefer that you take time to rebuild your savings and get your feet back on the ground. Obviously, from their viewpoint, they don't want to put you in a situation of defaulting on a loan because you weren't ready.If your credit score is not quite up to par, you should wait a little while before pursuing a house. Take the next year or two getting all your credit in order, bills paid off, and money socked away in the bank. Although it's tough waiting, it also provides you with a goal, which in the end will eliminate a lot of unnecessary stress.The best thing you can do to prepare is create a budget and stick with it. Once you see a plan written down on paper, you will be able to track your progress much easier. Make sure to speak with a mortgage broker to find out from them what you can or cannot afford. With lower interest rates you may be surprised at the amount of a loan you may be able to afford. If you can't buy your house right away, don't be discouraged. It's far better to be thoroughly prepared so when you do close, you will be able to enjoy your house and feel much better about your decision.

 WHAT FIRST-TIME HOMEOWNERS NEED TO KNOW

 If you are interested in buying your first home, don't allow myths to dissuade you from trying.The truth is that with home prices increasing, it's a little more difficult for the first-time homeowner simply based on price. However, with so many options available, that doesn't mean you can't qualify for a mortgage loan. You just need to know what to plan for and what questions to ask.Studies show that many potential homeowners believe they can't buy a house when in fact, there is strong possibility that they can. Close to 15% of people living in Canada state they would like to buy a home within the next few years but believe from a financial perspective, they won't be able to. Another 10% state they can afford a home but for other reasons, probably won't buy for a while.

 Here are some myths:

In order to qualify for a house, you need 10% down

Lenders are required by law to provide you with the best possible rate for your loan

You can't qualify for a house if you've been with your current employer less than two years

Your credit must be perfect

The truth is these are just myths. Now for the truth:

More and more innovative mortgage packages are being created, offering the borrowers options for cash back to help with closing costs. Every lender works with its own rates bases on their standards as well as the type of loan being considered. Rates change literally every day so once you've made the decision to buy a house, check rates with more than one lender and check on a daily basis.Job stability is important but the five-year rule is merely a myth. For example, if you have worked in public relations or some other industry for 10 years but have had three jobs in that time, because you've stayed within the same business, lenders will often consider this as continuous employment, especially if you've made advancements. In addition, solid credit and a larger down payment can compensate for work history in some instances.It's true that credit is very important when qualifying for any loan. However, if you have been out of a bankruptcy for two years and can provide a good letter of explanation to the lender, they will usually accept that. If your credit is in real bad shape, consider a credit counseling service to help you get back on track. Generally, this can be done in as little as 12 to 18 months.As you make your comparisons of the financial benefits of renting versus owning, be sure to consider tax deductions. When you buy a home, the closing costs, mortgage interest, and points are all tax deductible.The best things a first-time homebuyer can do are conduct research and ask many questions. Remember that buying a house is never easy for anyone. However, interest rates are currently lower than they've been since the 1960's so if you can buy a house, this is probably a great time.With being a first-time homeowner, there are many questions you'll want to ask. It's easy to focus in on the size of the rooms, the structure, the lot, but there are other options to consider - things you need every day to live. Here are some examples:

Public transportation - If you depend on public transportation then you need to check into what options are available in the area you are interested in looking. ·

Aging parents - More and more families are taking care of elderly parents, therefore, you should think about any special needs as you start looking.

Public safety - What is the crime rate in the preferred area? How close are public services such as police, fire, and hospital? · Parking - Will there be any issues with parking? If the house you're interested in doesn't have a garage, is there ample off-street parking?

Utilities - This is an important finance to look at. Usually the seller can provide copies of the past few months for you to review, giving you an idea of what you would need to budget for.

New communities - If the area you want is in an entire new community, what recreational amenities are offered? Is there a clubhouse? Pool? Playground? Exercise facilities?When you get to the point of being serious about buying a house, these are the steps to follow to make the qualifying and purchase as easy as possible:Establish good credit habits and clean up any unfavorable reports.

You should start saving for the down payment, closing costs, and extra for any hidden expenses. Don't forget about utilities, moving expenses, and items needed for the home.Research and read. Go to your local library and read up on as much as possible about financial management and home buying.Start looking at various areas where you might be interested in living. Go to some open houses and do some comparison-shopping.Meet with a reputable real estate agent and start the preliminary process.Just remember that there is no reason to be afraid or intimidated when it comes to buying a house. The main concern expressed by  couples is that they aren't sure where to begin. There is also the fear of rejection when it's very possible that the credit situation isn't as bad as they believe.

Home buying has become increasingly easier thanks to the Internet. Years ago, people hated the one-on-one approach of determining if they qualified for a loan. The Internet has made it so much easier where people can now go to various lenders, provide some information, and be notified online whether or not they qualify.In addition, mortgage advice is also readily available. Whatever questions you have can easily be asked from the privacy of your own home. Responses are accurate, thorough, and always confidential.

TIPS FOR MOVING

Once you have located your new home, now comes the fun part - moving. Whether you are moving two streets over from your current home, from one side of town to the other side, or clear across the country, you have two options for moving - using professional movers or doing it yourself.There are pros and cons of both choices, so first sit down and decide how much you can afford to spend, and what option you feel works best for you. Let's look at what those differences are:

Professional MoversProfessional movers come in many different forms. There are those on the less expensive end of the system, consisting of two to four people with a truck, all the way up to the executive level of packing and using a huge semi-truck to delivery your belongings. Usually, what you pay for is what you get.

Most moving companies provide sturdy, reinforced boxes. The cost of these boxes is included in the amount quoted for the move.Professional movers use padded blankets to protect your furniture. These blankets are secured with rope or bungee cords to ensure no damage occurs.If you are doing the packing, make sure you carefully mark each box, specifically pointing out to the movers the boxes that contain fragile items.In most cases when using professional movers, you don't have to worry about the weight of the boxes in that they know how much to pack and use dollies.If working with professional movers, one semi-truck may contain several households so your belongings may not be the first on their route. Talk to the movers and determine when they are targeting arrival at your new home. Keep in mind that traffic, construction, weather, can all be factors in delay. For this reason, it's important to have phone numbers and e-mail addresses for not only the movers but also the main office should your belongings not arrive on time. In addition, make sure they have phone numbers where you can be reached as well. If the schedule shows arrival for 5:00 p.m., have someone at the house from 4:00 p.m. until the truck arrives.

Self-Moving

By visiting your local grocery or business dumpster, you can find all the boxes you need. Many businesses throw out boxes of all sizes, which are also industrial strength. Cost - nothing.You can use old blankets, pillows, or towels, or, some rental companies will rent padded blankets to you for a very small fee. Just be sure that you wrap breakable items carefully and don't stack boxes of breakables on top of each other.Mark all boxes carefully. Separate your breakable items and you might consider moving those in your car instead of loading them into trucks with your other items.When packing your boxes, keep the weight of the box reasonable. If you can't pick it up, obviously it's too heavy. 

Basic Guidelines

Before moving, consider having a garage or yard sale. This is the perfect opportunity for cleaning out the old and eliminating all those unwanted items from being packed and moved.Carefully mark the boxes containing towels, toiletries, sheets, etc., so you can unpack those first and at least be able to make your bed and take a shower.Other boxes that you want to get into as soon as you arrive at your new home can simply be marked with "Open me first." This might include coffee, eating utensils, or clothing that you've packed separately to cover a few days.

If you have children, let them help in writing out the labels. This will free you up to do other things and, it will help them get used to their new address.Especially if you have cats or other small curious animals, make sure you keep them closed off from packing as well as the moving day activity. Pets can easily get into boxes without anyone knowing or, they can quickly run out a door.Allow anything electrical to return to room temperature before plugging it in. For example, if it's extremely cold outside, condensation could develop. Then, when you go to plug them in, you could get shocked.Take phone books with you and notify old neighbors and friends of your new address and phone number, if you already have the number.Don't pack food that could spoil. Refrigerator items such as mayonnaise, butter, milk, etc. should be placed on ice in a cooler and then moved or given away. If moving across the country where boxes will take days to arrive, don't pack any perishable foods at all.

HOW TO PREVENT OVER- PAYING FOR YOUR HOUSE

When getting ready to buy a home, knowing what price to offer helps give you some level of control over the buying process. The big question is - how do you know what is a fair offer? To come up with an offer that is accurate, there are a few important things to consider. First, you need to research the selling price of comparable properties in the same geographical location.  Next, determine the condition of the home as well as required repairs, and finally, the seller's situation. Once you have identified this information, you will be able to come up with a fair offer for both you and the seller.Let's look at this in more detail.What Have Similar Properties Sold For In This Area? Reviewing the selling price of houses comparable to the houses you are interested in and in the same area, gives you a definite advantage.Specifically, you want to look at total square footage, lot size, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, type of construction, garage space, amenities such as;  fireplaces, pool, deck, etc. If you are looking to buy a tract home, finding this information will be easier in that you can use the price of an exact model to do your comparison.Although some comparable sales information is difficult to find by the public, your real estate agent should be able to access this information easily through Multiple Listing Service (MLS) or public records.

· MLS

This is the listing service used by all real estate agents. Through this service, the agent can locate all types of information about a specific house. Many years ago, MLS was used only by licensed agents. However, this service has now become available to the public simply by going to websites such as Realtor.com or HomeAdvisor.com. If you know the price and location of a house, you can look at listing prices. In addition, the MLS service will usually provide most of the information needed, although only on homes still actively listed for sale.

For houses that have already been sold, only a real estate agent can gain access to this information to help you determine the appropriate offer.

· Public Record

When a house is purchased, the property deed is transferred from the seller to the buyer. This deed is then recorded at the local county recorder's office, which includes sales information as well as other property information as a way for the property tax to be assessed.As long as there are no additions to the house, this data is public information and can be accessed via the Internet or at the courthouse. You will be able to find square footage, sales price, as well as number of rooms.If you run into a problem, your real estate agent can usually gain access by going through the insurance company. In this situation, the title company compiles the data from the county recorder's office or, they purchase the information from other companies.

· Pending Transactions

Since there is no record of the sales price until the house has actually sold, this makes getting accurate information a little tricky. Obviously getting your hands on information from a house sold one month ago opposed to six months ago is far more valuable. However, until the deed is recorded, the information is not there nor is it available in the MLS.The reason for this is that the seller is protected should the transaction not go through and the property would go back on the market. By knowing what the buyer accepted on the first accepted offer, new buyers would have a huge advantage the second time the house goes on the market. They would have the upper hand over the seller in knowing what the house sold for and what the buyer is likely to accept.However, keep in mind, a real estate agent can usually obtain the price information on the sale that fell through by conferring with another agent, which is done as a professional courtesy.The bottom line is that analyzing comparable information should be a huge part of your overall house buying process. Look for recent sales in the area you are interested in, the specific house you like, and determine if you have a motivated seller. If a seller has been transferred for a job, or if the house belonged to an elderly mother who just passed away, they may be willing to be more flexible on the selling price.

Keys To Selecting The Right Agent

If you're considering buying a home, you may have a number of things on your mind: finding a house that suits your budget; locating a house in the right school district; deciding on the right floor plan. While all of these things are important, the single most critical decision you have to make when home-shopping is which realtor you will choose. It's true, you could go it alone, but without proper representation, you'll be at a distinct disadvantage, not only in negotiating a deal, but also in finding the right house.For your sake and the sake of your family, it's best if you work with an agent. An agent can help you locate properties for sale in the neighborhood you desire. He or she can also provide valuable advice during the "looking stage"; your agent is likely to notice things that you don't and therefore could end up saving you a great deal of money. In addition, since chances are the seller will be represented by an agent, you'll want an agent there to look out for your best interests.Once you make the decision to retain an agent, the next decision you'll have to make is whom to choose. This is not as easy as it might appear. You'll want to do more than just flip through a phone book to find a name. You'll need to do some homework to make sure you select an agent who's right for you.Given this fact, there are a number of questions you should ask when agent-shopping. Some agents work as “Buyer Agents." These are agents who represent buyers. Find out how long the agent has been in the field. A more experienced agent is likely to give you better service and greater attention to detail. Also, ask how much of the agent's work involves representing buyers. This will give you a clue about whether the agent is likely to ask the right questions throughout the buying process.Ask for references, specifically, the names and phone numbers of about a half-dozen buyers the agent has represented in the last six months. If the agent is readily willing to give you this information, it shows his or her confidence and provides some indication of trustworthiness. Once you have the contact numbers in hand, be sure to follow up by making calls. You can find out whether the agent was responsive, helpful, and knowledgeable. And who would know better than the clients he or she has represented?Also, ask the agent if he or she will have information about "For Sale By Owner" properties. You'll want to ensure that you get a chance to view a wide variety of properties so that you can make an intelligent decision about which home is right for you.In addition, ask the agent about credentials. Has the agent had specific training related to the unique needs of buyers? Does he or she hold special accreditation? Any agent who is not willing to share this information with you is probably not worth dealing with.Also, make sure you settle financial matters with the agent before you look at your first house. Find out whether he or she will receive a commission on the purchase of a house, or whether he or she works on an hourly basis. Obtaining answers to such questions now will eliminate headaches in the future.Another important question is whether the agent has a list of lenders, home inspectors, and contractors that he or she likes to work with. It will certainly save you time, and probably money, if you can rely on your agent to supply this information rather than trying to hunt it down yourself. The answer to this question will also give you an idea as to whether the agent is knowledgeable about the community.

LOANS, MORTGAGES, AND FINANCING OPTIONS

While shopping for a home is exciting, it also means you need to do some research to find the best loan. Finding a good loan can make a huge difference in your monthly payment as well as the overall process.Here are some tips to help you along your way:

Being pre-approved for a loan is by far one of the best choices you can make. First, there is no cost and no obligation. Second, it allows you to have a little more advantage when shopping in that the seller knows you are a "serious buyer." This is different from a pre-qualification that only gives you an idea of what you might be able to afford. Being pre-approved means that you have done all of the qualifying paperwork at the front end of the process, freeing you up to shop.Flexible underwriting guidelines can help a couple out in qualifying for a larger or nicer home. The way this works is that if one spouse has not yet secured employment where they're moving but can produce two years of past employment history, the underwriter can use the past history in consideration for the amount you would qualify for. This gives you the flexibility of looking for the home you really want and gives the spouse time to find the right job.Rate-lock options are something you might want to look into. The shorter the lock time, or the less time between when you agree on a mortgage rate and when you go for settlement, the lower interest rate you might be able to lock into.Quick loan processing is offered by some lenders and consists of you being approved in just five to seven days. If you are in a hurry, this is a great option and might even save you a step in the moving process. For example, if you've sold your house or you have terminated your rental lease but your new home won't be ready for you to move into immediately, you might have to find temporary housing for a month or two in the interim. However, with this option, it's possible to get the processing done quick enough to eliminate the need for the temporary housing step.

Quick close: if you agree to close quickly to help the seller out, they will agree to cut their price.Look at an Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM). It's true that the loan may fluctuate somewhat, but you will also enjoy lower monthly payments.Good credit does count. If you have top-notch credit, you are a lender's dream. Keeping your credit in perfect order allows you to negotiate for better rates, inspection fees, commissions, and points. Good credit is a huge advantage.Rate sheets are a tool used by loan officers in determining the cost of a loan to the officer, not the buyer.

As you conduct your search for an agent, some standard questions you should ask include:

1. Are you able to help me with an easy and free pre-approval?

2. Am I able to get preferred access to special low down payments, interest rates, and monthly payments?

3. Will I be able to get advance notice of listings matching my criteria?

Once you sign on the dotted line, you've locked into some serious financial obligations. Be prepared and work with a good agent and lender to ensure they take everything into account in securing the best loan for you.

 

Get educated about the market buy getting the latest listings automatically sent to you from FreeStThomasInfo.com        All the Best in your home search..John

*special thanks to Scott Irvin, a top Remax Agent in Doylestown PA for his assistance with these reports
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