8 Stellar Tips for First Time Homebuyers
Purchasing a home can be quite a challenging task, especially for first-time homebuyers. For most people, it represents one of the most significant monetary investments they will make in their lifetime and they want to get it right.
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Unfortunately, the process can be quite complex and riddled with surprise expenses and unfamiliar technical terms.
Here are 8 stellar tips for first-time homebuyers to make the entire experience less stressful and help you save some money along the way:
1. Start saving for your down payment sooner than later
In most cases, the down payment amount is 20% of the listed value of the house, but many lenders also permit much less than that now. Some first-home buyer programs may permit as little as 3% down payments.
But when you put down a lower amount at this stage, it also means you will be paying significantly higher interest rates and heftier mortgage installations.
Use an online down payment calculator, to know what amount you would comfortably be able to pay.
2. Check your credit rating
Your credit rating is one of the first things a lender will check when you apply for a mortgage loan and the approval of your loan hinges on this aspect.
In fact, this will also help determine what the loan terms and interest rate will be. This is why it’s best to check your credit score well before you start the buying process.
If you have a low credit score, try to clear off existing debts etc. improve your credit rating and then apply for a mortgage loan.
3. Look for a home within a comfortable price range
When you start looking for your first home, it isn’t difficult to go overboard and buy something you can’t really afford.
This is why you need to determine what falls within a comfortable price range and don’t be tempted to look at anything outside that limit.
4. Get a pre-approval letter
In continuation of the previous point, it’s best to get prequalified; this gives you an estimate of the amount a lender may be willing to lend you based on your credit history, income, and debts. But once you start moving through the home buying process, it’s a good idea to get a preapproval.
In this, the lender minutely examines your finances and then confirms in writing the amount they are willing to lend you and on what terms.
Having this pre approval letter in hand gives you the upper hand over home buyers that haven’t taken this step; it indicates to the seller that you are serious about buying the property
5. Conduct some research on down payment options
Most first-time homebuyers struggle to come up with sufficient money for the down payment. But there are a number of good first-time home buyer programs out there such as the federal mortgage programs that allow loans that have only 3% down.
In addition, there are Veterans Affairs loans and Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans that you can apply for if you are eligible. You also have the option to approach close family members to loan you some money for making the down payment.
6. Factor in the closing costs
Most homeowners omit this aspect of the transaction. Apart from saving for the down payment, you would also have to budget for the amount required to close the mortgage and this can be significantly high.
These costs can range from between 2% and 5% of the total loan amount. The expenses you have to keep in view include title searches, building and pest inspections and homeowner’s insurance.
7. Set aside some money for after you move-in
Once you have sufficient money for the down payment and have factored in the closing costs, you need to have a comfortable cushion to pay for things that would need to get done once you move into the house.
This includes things like appliances, updated fixtures, furniture and furnishings as well as any other minor upgrades and additions you want to make once you start living in that house.
8. Consider the type of property to buy
If you want a more indoor space or a larger lot, you may assume you’ll purchase a single-family home. But if you feel that sacrificing space for extra amenities and lower maintenance is something that works for you; and you don’t mind paying a regular homeowners’ association fee, a townhome or a condo may be a better fit.
RELATED: How Big A Home Do You Really Need? 5 Questions to Ask Yourself
In addition to all these things, look for a safe neighborhood that has a positive vibe, good schools, shopping centers and an efficient transportation system, hospitals, supermarkets, and pharmacies etc.
Make it a point to drive through the neighborhood at different times on different days to check out the activity, noise and traffic levels.
Sound off on the Patrick Parker Realty Facebook Page, on our Twitter or Instagram feeds or on LinkedIn. And don’t forget to subscribe to the monthly Patrick Parker Realty HOME ADVICE eNewsletter for articles, tips and guides like this delivered straight to your inbox. You may unsubscribe at any time.
Real Estate Negotiation: 11 Items You Can Negotiate In Your Contract
So, you’ve offered on a piece of real estate. What happens next, however, is somewhat out of your control. Enter: Real Estate Negotiations.
You wait for a response. A seller could respond to your offer in three different ways:
1. Accept it
2. Reject (or ignore!) it
3. Make a counteroffer
If they accept it, great! If they reject it, that’s OK; there is always another deal, or you could re-offer again. However, when a seller submits a counteroffer, that’s when the real fun begins.
A counteroffer (often just called a “counter”) is a response to another, earlier offer. In other words, if you offered $100,000 on a property, and the seller says, “No, I want $110,000,” that response from the seller is the counteroffer.
A counteroffer can be a good thing. It means the seller wants to sell to you and is willing to find common ground where both parties can get what they want. The negotiation process is where the two sides try to make that happen. Remember, both parties want the exact same thing: a sale.
11 Items You Can Negotiate in a Real Estate Deal
Many people see the word “negotiation” and envision one party winning and the other losing. However, in a good negotiation, both parties walk away feeling like they achieved pretty much, if not exactly, what they wanted. When there is no negotiation, that’s when one of the parties tends to feel they got shafted! So remember: a little back-and-forth is a good thing.
Keep in mind, this is not about negotiating just on the price. In fact, there are multiple parts of the contract that can be negotiated. For example, you could negotiate for any or all of the following:
1. Price How much are you actually going to pay for the property?
2. Closing Date When will you close? Next week? Next month?
3. Closing Location Where is the closing going to take place? Your title company? Theirs? An attorney’s office?
4. Contingencies What contingencies could be removed from the P&S agreement?
5. Financing Will the seller agree to carry a second mortgage on the property?
6. Closing Costs Who will pay for what during the closing process?
7. Home Warranty A home warranty is sometimes included in the sale of a home and covers certain repair items after the sale happens. This can help smooth any concerns on the part of the buyer. Will your deal include one? If so, who will pay for it?
8. Repairs What do you need the seller to fix before you purchase the property? Will you hold them to it? Will you buy the property “as is”?
9. Credits What about getting credits at closing toward certain repairs that are needed? If a new roof is needed, and the seller doesn’t want to put one on before closing, could you negotiate the cost of a new roof given to you at closing?
10. Possession Date When will you actually take control of the property? While it’s most common to transfer possession immediately after the title has been transferred, this is negotiable. Maybe the seller needs a few more weeks. Maybe you want to get in early. It’s all negotiable.
11. Items Left at The Property What is the seller required to leave at the property? Appliances? Tools? Furniture? This is all negotiable.
Again, these are all elements you can negotiate, either offering or asking for a concession. Perhaps the seller is firm on the price, but you can get more repairs done on the property before closing. Or perhaps they don’t want to do anything with the condition or the price, but the seller is willing to carry a contract on the property (seller financing) for a short period while you fix it up. The possibilities are nearly endless as to what your negotiation can produce, so look at negotiation as a huge opportunity for you to creatively achieve your goals.
FREE DOWNLOAD: The Ultimate Guide to Home Buying
You’re likely working with an Agent (or at least you should be), so you may never sit down across from the seller to engage in some television-worthy negotiation. Instead, the negotiation will take place through a back-and-forth exchange of documents signed by you, given to your agent, sent to their agent, and finally given to the seller. The seller will then either accept, reject, or reply with a counteroffer. Your job, at that point, will be to either accept the counter, reject it, or reply with yet another counteroffer.
RELATED: About Real Estate Negotiations
If you are offering on a property outside the MLS, through a private seller, your negotiations will likely be much more direct. In fact, you might negotiate every point on the hood of your car or sitting at the seller’s kitchen table. The back-and-forth will likely be much less formal, though we absolutely recommend putting as much of the negotiation on paper as possible, even if that just means pulling out a sheet of blank paper and writing down the terms.
What items have you negotiated in a real estate deal? Sound off on the Patrick Parker Realty Facebook Page, on our Twitter or Instagram feeds or on LinkedIn. And don’t forget to subscribe to the monthly Patrick Parker Realty HOME ADVICE eNewsletter for articles, tips and guides like this delivered straight to your inbox.
How Big a Home Do You Truly Need? 5 Questions to Ask to Figure That Out
When it comes to homes, the popular credo is that bigger is better. More square feet = a larger slice of the American dream, right?
For one, bigger homes obviously cost more, and oversized McMansions can be harder to sell. As such, you’ll want a home that’s neither too big nor too small. But how do you strike that balance?
Here are five questions to ask yourself that will help you determine how much space you really need.
1. Is this my ‘forever’ home, or is ‘right now’ good enough?
While you can’t predict the future, it is possible to evaluate the likelihood you might be moving in coming years. If so, then maybe you don’t need to buy that perfect “forever home” where you’ll grow old; maybe a “right now” home is good enough.
There’s a common perception that you should be searching for your ‘forever home,’ and that pressure to find a place that has all the space you might ever need often leads buyers to purchase a home that might be too big. It’s OK to know that you’ll only live in a home for the next five or six years, and to buy a home that will serve your needs during that period. You can always re-evaluate and upgrade to a bigger space later.
2. What will my income look like later?
If you’re early in your career, odds are decent that your income will increase over the years. Or, if you’re reaching the end of your career, you may be looking at flattened or declining income. In either case, it’s never a good idea to get a mortgage at the max of what you can afford; it’s better to go small and have some wiggle room.
Nothing causes more stress than financial strain and a mortgage on a home that is a size too large is most likely to be your biggest burden, and a hard one to overcome. Happiness is often one size smaller than your dream home. That way, you can enjoy your home without dreading your monthly mortgage payment.
Also, remember more space means more time and money spent on upkeep and improvements, more rooms to fill with furniture, and higher utility bills to heat and cool the home.
3. What are my priorities?
Another question to consider is what you’ll use all that space for—and be honest: While you might dream of hosting epic dinner parties in that big formal dining room, will you really? Can you say with certainty that your in-laws will descend on you during the holidays and need a guest bedroom to crash in, or might they be just as comfortable in a nearby Airbnb?
Aside from justifying what you’ll use each space for, ask yourself what you’re giving up. If you dream of having a secret “travel fund” so you can see the world, that may be possible only with a smaller mortgage (and house). Or, perhaps you value things other than space, like school district or a walkable location. So make sure to factor in those variables, too—and make sure you aren’t sacrificing them for space you don’t need.
4. How much space do I want from my own family members?
If you absolutely must have privacy—to, say, get work done in a home office or chill out in your man cave—then that extra square footage may be well worth the money. But if you’re more the type who loves having their family members nearby, a large home gives people plenty of alone time… sometimes too much.
Recently when speaking with one of our buyers, she commented: “I’ve found that my daughter’s friends who live in large homes rarely even run into their parents.” So her preference was for something a bit smaller, because she prefers her kids a bit underfoot.
She was also seeking a more cozy vibe and a close-knit family environment a smaller home encourages. This was what the preference was for her family dynamic. You’ll have to determine yours.
5. Does this home feel spacious even if it doesn’t have much space?
Keep in mind that even small homes can feel spacious purely based on an open floor plan and lots of light. Meanwhile, large homes can still feel cramped if they’re dark or poorly laid out. So, when shopping real estate listings, know that the little number next to square footage may not tell the whole story.
For example, features like a long hallway may increase the total square footage, but they are spaces you pass through, not a true destination within the home.
So instead of focusing on total square footage, focus on the size of individual rooms where you see yourself spending the majority of your time. If all you do in your bedroom is sleep, does it matter if its massive or not?
In your experience, how much space is too much space? Or, did you find you underestimated how much room you actually needed? What did you learn about space when buying your current home? Sound off on The Patrick Parker Realty Facebook Page or our Twitter or Instagram feeds. And don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly HOME ADVICEtm email newsletter for articles like this delivered straight to your inbox. You may unsubscribe at any time.
Everything You Need To Know About Buying A Home This Spring
Blooming flowers and warmer temperatures don’t just mark the start of allergy season. Spring is also peak season for real estate sales. If you’re thinking of buying a home this year, you’re probably wondering what the current market is like and how to navigate it.
FREE DOWNLOAD: The Ultimate Home Buyer’s Guide
The 2017 spring real estate season differs from past spring markets in some big ways. Here’s what you need to know…
1. Inventory Is Low
Home inventory has dropped for eight consecutive quarters, making it harder to find a home, according to Trulia’s research.
In 2017, homebuyers are up against a very competitive market, where there are fewer homes for sale that cost more than they did last year.
Hit hardest? First-time homebuyers. There’s a larger inventory of trade-up homes and luxury homes than starter homes. As prices rise, people who might have been looking for a luxury home may now be in the trade-up market. Those who would have been in the trade-up market are buying starter homes or hanging on to the homes they already have. This means first-time buyers have to put in extra effort to land a home.
2. Homes Are Selling Fast
Understanding the current real estate market can keep you from being blindsided. Short supply is the dominant issue this spring. Homes that are priced at market and are in attractive condition sell in days.
You may want to act quickly when you find something you like, and be flexible with seller requests — two tactics that can help you buy a home in a competitive market.
3. Interest Rates Are Rising
Rising interest rates could price some buyers out of the market. The Federal Reserve announced in March that interest rates would be increased by a quarter point based on the growing confidence on the economy.
But interest rates are still historically low and affordable. Higher rates will likely decrease one’s home-buying power, but it’s unlikely to deter serious buyers who are actively looking for a new home. What’s likelier to happen, at least in the short term, is that more people will enter the market before rates get even higher.
4. Timing Is Everything
The hardest part of buying a starter home is saving the down payment. Once you have that in place, there are great options.
But should you wait to save 20% for a down payment to avoid private mortgage insurance (PMI), or should you buy now with only, say, 5% to put down before interest rates rise?
In most cases, it becomes more expensive to wait. If it’s going to take you two years to save 20% and prices and rates rise, it’ll usually be better to go ahead at 5% and pay PMI.
5. Consumer Confidence Is High
Rising interest rates signal a strong economy, and consumers, with renewed confidence in this strong job market, are buying homes. This is what most people call a comeback. People who found themselves underwater on their homes are now starting to see those homes gain value. They can now make — instead of lose — money on a home sale.
6. Try To Overlook The Little Things
If your ultimate goal is to become a homeowner this spring, you may wish to circle back to that older home with no upgrades that didn’t initially excite you.
Some available properties may lack modern layouts and amenities. Consider ignoring cosmetic issues like bad paint colors or poorly placed furniture and determine your budget for desired upgrades. In a competitive real estate market with low inventory, being able to overlook simpler flaws could be the difference between getting a good deal on a home and not getting a home at all.
7. Preapproval Is More Important Than Ever
You may need to offer more money to buy a home in this busy real estate season. First, figure out what you can comfortably afford. Don’t stretch yourself financially.
A good formula for a starter-home buyer would be to dedicate 38.3% of monthly income to your home — a 2.9 point increase from last year.
Once your budget is set, focus on prepping your finances for a home purchase. The more prepared in preapproval you are, the more value you add to yourself and your buying appearance. This means having all documentation in line so you can move fast.
Are you planning to buy a home this spring? Tell us why on our Facebook Page or Twitter or Instagram Feeds. And don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly eNewsletter for articles like this delivered straight to your inbox. You may unsubscribe at any time.
Why Is There So Much Paperwork Required To Get A Mortgage?
Why is there so much paperwork mandated by the lenders for a mortgage loan application when buying a home today? It seems that they need to know everything about you and requires three separate sources to validate each and every entry on the application form.
RELATED: 6 Mortgage Terms To Know
Many buyers are being told by friends and family that the process was a hundred times easier when they bought their home ten to twenty years ago.
FREE DOWNLOAD: Your Guide To Home Buying
The Most Critical Steps To Take When Buying Your Dream Home
There are two very good reasons that the loan process is much more onerous on today’s buyer than perhaps any time in history:
1. The government has set new guidelines that now demand that the bank proves beyond any doubt that you are indeed capable of paying the mortgage.
During the run-up to the housing crisis, many people ‘qualified’ for mortgages that they could never pay back. This led to millions of families losing their home. The government wants to make sure this can’t happen again.
RELATED: Will I Qualify For A Mortgage?
2. The banks don’t want to be in the real estate business.
Over the last seven years, banks were forced to take on the responsibility of liquidating millions of foreclosures and also negotiating another million plus short sales. Just like the government, they don’t want more foreclosures. For that reason, they need to double (maybe even triple) check everything on the application.
However, there is some good news in the situation.
The housing crash that mandated that banks be extremely strict on paperwork requirements also allowed you to get a mortgage interest rate around 4%.
The friends and family who bought homes ten or twenty years ago experienced a simpler mortgage application process, but also paid a higher interest rate (the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage was 8.12% in the 1990s and 6.29% in the 2000s).
If you went to the bank and offered to pay 7% instead of around 4%, they would probably bend over backward to make the process much easier.
Instead of concentrating on the additional paperwork required, let’s be thankful that we are able to buy a home at historically low rates.
What is the Cost of Waiting Until Next Year to Buy a Home?
Over the course of the last 12 months, home prices have appreciated by 7.0%. Over the same amount of time, interest rates have remained historically low which has allowed many buyers to enter the market.
FREE DOWNLOAD: Your Guide To Home Buying
The Most Critical Steps To Take When Buying Your Dream Home
As a seller, you will likely be most concerned about ‘short-term price’ – where home values are headed over the next six months. As a buyer, however, you must not be concerned about price, but instead about the ‘long-term cost’ of the home.
The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), Freddie Mac, and Fannie Mae all project that mortgage interest rates will increase by this time next year. According to CoreLogic’s most recent Home Price Index Report, home prices will appreciate by 4.7% over the next 12 months.
What Does This Mean as a Buyer?
If home prices appreciate by 4.7% over the next twelve months as predicted by CoreLogic, here is a simple demonstration of the impact that an increase in interest rate would have on the mortgage payment of a home selling for approximately $250,000 today:
If buying a home is in your plan for 2018, doing it sooner rather than later could save you thousands of dollars over the terms of your loan.
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5 Things Real Estate Agents Wish You Knew About Buying a House
Buying a house isn’t like buying a Grande Americano at your regular Starbucks. Infinitely more money, thought, and prep work go into acquiring real estate – and given that it’s not a purchase you make often, it’s understandable if you might not be adept at wheeling and dealing.
But guess what? There is someone who can show you the ropes well within reach: your Real Estate Agent! Odds are (we hope), you’ve hired an Agent to help guide you through the home-buying process.
RELATED: How To Hire A Buyer’s Agent
But even then, there might be things you end up doing that make your Agent sigh deeply—and get a strong urge to sit you down and say, “Look, here’s the deal!”
Curious about what those things are? Read on for some of the things that Real Estate Agents really wish you knew, since it would save them – and ultimately you – a ton of aggravation seeing your deal through.
1. Know What You Can Afford Before You Start Looking
Finding the perfect home would be a snap if money weren’t an issue, but let’s get real. For most people, money doesn’t grow on azaleas, which means their finances must be taken into account. So don’t waste your time shopping for real estate before you know what price range you can afford.
FREE DOWNLOAD: Your Guide To Home Buying
One easy way to get your bearings is to type your income, savings, and other details into a home affordability calculator. Better yet, get a mortgage pre-approval letter; the process involves a lender checking out your finances and determining how much it’s willing to loan you for a home.
Plus, a pre-approval letter helps you move fast when making an offer. Since you now have it in writing that your loan is guaranteed, it removes any possibility that you won’t secure financing.
2. Don’t Call The Listing Agent
In case you didn’t know, buyers generally have their own Agent, and sellers have theirs. And ideally, it’s the Buyer’s Agent and Listing Agent who interact with each other, conveying their clients’ questions and concerns to see if a deal can be done.
As such, when you do an end run and contact a Listing Agent directly, this seemingly innocent move can cause a whole ton of trouble.
RELATED: About the Negotiation Process
While you main not mean this, it’s almost an implication that you do not trust your Buyer’s Agent and/or that you do not have a strong working relationship. These things will impede negotiation. You’re actually giving power away to the seller’s Agent.
3. Please Do Not Talk Around Other Agents
Another time buyers may put their foot in their mouth is during showings and open houses. Since the Listing Agent may be present, this is a time when loose lips can sink real estate deals.
You might say things you are not supposed to say, such as how many houses you’ve checked out, how much you like or dislike the house, and, worst of all, how much you can afford or are willing to spend.
Sharing such info is akin to tipping your cards while playing poker: It gives the home sellers a whole lot of info they can use as leverage during negotiations.
So when in doubt, say nothing. Let your Agent be your voice at an open house or in any conversation with the sellers.
4. You Do Not Need To See Every Home Within A 50-mile Radius
You don’t have to look at hundreds of properties to find the right one.
The truth is, if you have an Agent truly working for you, you won’t be looking at tons of homes. Your Agent will screen properties for you and make sure you’re only looking at the ones that fit your needs. So if the first home you see is the one, that’s OK, your Agent did her job.
If you feel the homes you are seeing are not a fit for you, talk to your Real Estate Agent again about your wishlist and revisit your must-haves vs. like-to-haves, etc. They are there to serve and satisfy you. There is no harm in revisiting this conversation.
5. Don’t Let Fear Of Commitment Give You Cold Feet
This tidbit you can file more under helpful advice because Agent’s have seen this before. Yes, buying a house is a big commitment. Yes, it’s scary, and your mind might race with all sorts of worse-case scenarios. What if you make an offer on a house, and that very day another house – even more perfect for you – crosses your path? Or, what if you move into a house you’re happy with, then a layoff leaves you unable to pay your mortgage?
Sure, these are all possibilities, but uncertainty is a part of life. It is normal to ask these commitment-phobic-type questions. Just don’t let them get in the way of this important and exciting life change.
And if the worse happens, you can always sell a house later on; this need not be a death-do-you-part endeavor.
Did you recently buy a home and would perhaps do things differently if you had to do it again? We’d love to hear from you! Sound off on our Facebook Page or on our Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn feeds. And don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly eNewsletter for articles like this delivered straight to your inbox.
Is Every Offer Shown to the Seller? What to Do If You Think Your Offer Is Being Ignored
It’s unsettling to think your offer on a house is being ignored. After all, isn’t it only fair that every offer be shown to the seller? The real deal: While that might seem like a reasonable ask of the seller’s Real Estate Agent, it’s not necessarily required. Is it ethical for an Agent to present all offers to the sellers? Yes—and most do.
In general, written offers must be presented. This falls in accordance with the National Association of Realtors® Code of Ethics, which states that Realtors shall submit offers and counteroffers objectively and as quickly as possible. However, not all Real Estate Agents are members of NAR and required to abide by its code.
FREE DOWNLOAD: Your Ultimate Home Buying Guide
Why A Seller Might Not See Your Offer
Some sellers set a limit for how low they’re willing to go in price and ask their Real Estate Agent to dismiss any offers below that price.
If the seller has specifically instructed their Agent not to bring offers that do not meet a certain minimum requirement, the Agent may not need to present any offer that falls short of the minimum.
Every state’s laws are different, but generally, if the seller has instructed his Agent in writing to withhold certain kinds of offers, then the Agent won’t present those offers.
The Shady Side of Withholding Offers
A Listing Agent withholding offers could be less than fully ethical if she is acting as a transactional broker (also known as a dual Agent), representing both the seller and the buyer. (Keep in mind that dual agency is illegal in some states.)
The concern is that the Listing Agent might withhold one offer in favor of a higher offer that benefits the broker financially. Doing so is a big procedural breach and can put the Agent at risk of losing their license.
What To Do If You Think Your Offer Is Being Withheld
As a buyer, if enough time has passed and you suspect your offer is being withheld, talk to your Real Estate Agent about the situation. Agents deal with this kind of thing frequently and will know how to broach the subject with the Listing Agent. Advising you is your Agent’s job, right?
Here are some of your other options:
Ask for a rejection in writing. There should be a place on your written offer for the seller to formally reject your offer. You can request that your Agent ask for this formal rejection.
Contact the seller. It’s unlikely your Real Estate Agent will be happy with your doing this, but it’s not illegal for you to contact the seller directly to ask about your offer. However, be prepared: This might not go over well. If a seller wanted to work directly with the buyer, he wouldn’t have hired a Real Estate Agent in the first place. Proceed with caution, and maybe ask your Agent first.
Report the Agent. If you are truly convinced the Listing Agent is withholding your offer for selfish reasons, you can report the Agent to her brokerage or to the licensing agency in your state. Again, this is not an option to take lightly as it could have serious repercussions for the Agent in question. Seller’s are allowed to refuse offers for any reason they wish. So even if you feel your offer was fair, if the seller refused it and you didn’t hear back, it may have nothing to do with the Listing Agent at all. Accepting an offer is at the Seller’s discretion, not the Listing Agent.
Be fair. Remember the legal reasons why offers are allowed to be withheld. Do not report an Agent or leave a negative online review if you do not have all of the details about the situation.
Just move on. Whether there really are ethical issues or the Listing Agent’s communication style just isn’t working for you, it might be best to look for another house. And do you really want to work with an Agent you don’t trust? Unless this house is a picture-perfect, once-in-a-lifetime deal, it’s probably in your best interest to keep looking.
Are you a recent homebuyer who has experienced concerns over the status of your offer? Tell us about it on Facebook on the Patrick Parker Realty Facebook Page or sound off on Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn. And don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly HOME ADVICE™ eNewsletter for articles like this one delivered straight to your inbox.
7 Questions to Ask a Home Inspector Before Your Home Inspection Even Begins
Given a Home Inspector is charged with checking out a home for any flaws before you buy it, s/he’s an important safeguard who could protect you from purchasing a lemon—and squandering tons of cash in repairs.
So, how do you find a reputable home inspector?
It boils down to interviewing home inspectors to gauge how thorough a job they’ll do. To help, here are some of the best questions to ask.
Bonus: This will also help you know what to expect! Knowledge is power, my friends.
1. “What do you check?”
A lot of people don’t know exactly what a home inspector is going to do… it’s a lot! A home inspector scrutinizes a long list of more than 1,600 features on a home. They inspect everything from the roof to the foundation.
Going into the inspection with a clear understanding of what the inspector can and can’t do will ensure that you walk away from the inspection happy.
2. “What don’t you check?”
There are limits. For instance, inspectors are restricted to a visual inspection – they cannot cut holes in walls for that look behind the curtain.
As a result, an inspector will often flag potential problems in the report and you will have to get another expert – a roofer, HVAC person, builder, electrician, or plumber – to come back and do a more detailed examination.
3. “What do you charge for an inspection?”
Home inspections usually cost between $300 and $600, though it will depend on the market, the size of house, and the actual inspector. Generally, you’ll pay the inspector the day of the inspection, so you’ll want to know in advance how much and what forms of payment are accepted.
Beware of inspectors who quote you a very low price. That’s often a sign they’re having trouble getting customers.
Spending on a good inspector will more than pay for itself in the long run.
4. “How long have you been doing this?”
Or perhaps more important: How many inspections have you done? A newer inspector doesn’t necessarily mean lower quality, but experience can mean a lot—especially if you’re considering an older home or something with unusual features.
5. “Can I come along during the inspection?”
The answer to this should be a resounding yes! Any good inspector will want prospective owners to be present at the inspection.
Seeing somebody explain your house’s systems and how they work will always be more valuable than reading a report, and it gives you the opportunity to ask questions and get clarifications in the moment.
If an inspector requests that you not join him, definitely walk away. Run!
6. “How long will the inspection take?”
Inspections often take place during the work week, when the seller is less likely to be around. Knowing how much time you’ll need to block out will keep you from having to rush through the inspection to get back to the office. You’ll get only a ballpark figure, because much will depend on the condition of the house. But if you are quoted something that seems way off – such as a half-day for a two-bedroom apartment, or just an hour for a large, historic house – that could be a red flag that the inspector doesn’t know what he’s doing.
7. “Can I see a sample report?”
If you’re buying your first home, it can be helpful to see someone else’s report before you see your own. Every house has problems, usually lots of them, though most generally aren’t that big of a deal. A sample report will keep you from panicking when you see your own report, and it will give you a sense of how your inspector communicates. It’s another opportunity to ensure that you and your inspector are on the same page.
Always remember that your Patrick Parker Realty Real Estate Expert has a network of trusted home professionals and experts we’ve been working with for years. Don’t be afraid to ask us for referrals.
Do you have Home Inspector nightmare stories to tell as tales of caution? How about Home Inspection successes? Share your comments the Patrick Parker Realty Facebook Page, Twitter or LinkedIn, or on our Instagram feed. And don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly HOME ADVICEtm email newsletter for articles like this one delivered straight to your inbox. You may unsubscribe at any time.
10 Rookie Mistakes That Hurt First-Time Homebuyers
If you’re a first-time homebuyer, buying a house can definitely be 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.
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If you’re searching for homes for sale on the Jersey Shore or Eastern Monmouth County where the market is ultracompetitive, making one of these mistakes could end up costing you big time.
Here are the Top 10 mistakes often made by first-time homebuyers:
1. Getting too emotionally attached
You’re about to purchase what’s probably the most expensive item you’ve ever bought. So try – as difficult as it is – not to get too attached. There will always be another house if you lose one.
A good tip would be to work with your Buyer’s Agent to find several homes you love so that you’re not too emotionally invested in one.
RELATED: How To Find The Right Buyer’s Agent
2. Finding the home yourself
We know you’re going to browse www.patrickparkerrealty.com and other real estate websites to find homes for sale in your desired location. But don’t rely on just your research skills. Finding your own home can be like diagnosing yourself of an illness.
Let your Agent vet homes for you. 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 price per square foot in the neighborhood, and every other detail.
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. You need someone representing your best interests and your best interests only.
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 a condo or homeowners’ association. Look for things like 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.
Aim to 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.
Three to six months of expenses saved up in an emergency fund is even better. It’s not money to buy new furniture or remodel a room. It’s for the unexpected expenses, such as a leaky roof.
6. Not getting pre-approved 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 pre-approval 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.
7. Paying private mortgage insurance (PMI)
If you don’t put down at least 20%, you’ll have to pay PMI. 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 home on the water is a dream come true for many people. But make sure you can afford to insure that home because it could be pricey. Being on the water means higher wind insurance and, of course, higher risk of flood. Other factors may increase your insurance, such as if your new home has a pool and more. Do your research ahead of time. Your Buyer’s Agent will have a network of experts you can ask about these things.
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. 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. 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. But the reality is that the buyers who ask for more often get more. So don’t be afraid to speak up and get outstanding issues fixed before you sign those settlement papers.
Did you make any rookie mistakes and have tips to share? Sound of on our Facebook Page, or on our Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram feeds. And don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly HOME ADVICE email newsletter for articles like this delivered straight to your inbox. You may unsubscribe at any time.
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