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Jennic Property Solutions - Buyers Information

Buyers Information5 Common First-Time Homebuyer Mistakes

1. They don’t ask enough questions of their lender and miss out on the best deal.
2. They don't act quickly enough to make a decision and someone else buys the house.
3. They don't find the right real estate professional who is willing to help you through the homebuying process.
4. They don't do enough to make their offer look good to the seller.
5. They don't think about resale before they buy. The average first-time homebuyer only stays in a home for four years.

5 Reasons You Need a REALTOR

1. A real estate transaction is complicated. In most cases, buying or selling a home requires disclosure forms, inspection reports, mortgage documents, insurance policies, deeds, and multi-page government-mandated settlement statements. statements. A knowledgeable guide through this complexity can help you avoid delays or costly mistakes.
2. Selling or buying a home is consuming. Even in a strong market, homes in our area stay on the market for an average of 120 days.
3. Real estate has its own language. If you don't know a CMA from a PUD, you can understand why it's important to work with someone who speaks the language.
4. REALTORS have done it before. Most people buy and sell only a few homes in a lifetime, usually with quite a few years in between each purchase. And even if you've done it before, laws and regulations change. That's why having an expert on your side is critical.
5. REALTORS provide objectivity. Since a home often symbolizes family, rest, and security, not just four walls and roof, homeselling or buying is often a very emotional undertaking. And for most people, a home is the biggest purchase they'll ever make. Having a concerned, but objective, third party helps you keep focused on both the business and emotional issues more important to you.
6. REALTORS are members of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS, a trade organization of more than 1 million members nationwide. REALTORS subscribe to a stringent code of wthics that helps guarantee the highest level of service and integrity.

 

5 Stages of Buying A Home Buying a home is not a discrete event; it's a process

A sequence of events that happens over time, sometimes over as long as several months or even years! While general guides to buying a home are a dime a dozen, I'm excited to share with you some insider secrets you may not have heard elsewhere - one for each stage involved in buying a home. Here's to helping you make the best decisions at every phase of your homebuying process!

Stage One: Deciding Whether It's The Right Time to Buy. Insider Secret: The market is the least important factor you should consider when deciding whether and when to buy a home.
Why: Everyone knows affordability is at an all-time high. Home prices are low, and so are interest rates. But trying to time the market is a fool's errand; many who get caught up in that game of trying to make sure they buy at the absolute bottom will end up losing out on very, very favorable conditions.

Beyond that, the most important considerations when deciding whether and when you should buy a home are personal, not market driven. On today's market, it only makes sense to buy a place if it's going to be sustainable and work for you for at least the next 4-5 years [if your town's real estate market has been fairly recession-proof] or 7-10 years [if the housing/foreclosure crisis has hit your area pretty hard].

Against this "smart holding period" backdrop, smart buyers decide to buy when it makes sense for:
 their life plans (i.e., they are comfortable making the commitment to live in the same town, and the commitment to )
 their family plans (i.e., whether they plan to get married, have children or empty their nest in the time they plan to own the home - and the implications of these plans on their space needs and location priorities)
 their career plans (including, but not limited to: whether they have job or income security, whether they feel they will be working in the same area for the foreseeable future, and whether they want to work less or start their own business in the months or years to come)
 their financial plans (including foreseeable changes in income and expenses, e.g., kids going to college or making partner at the firm).

Stage Two: Getting Pre-Approved. Insider Secret: Working with a mortgage broker referred by your real estate broker or agent may save you money. Why: Bolstered by the real-life stories of a couple of bad apples, TV pundits and some consumer advocates have spun the tale of a real estate industry cartel, whereby sinister agents hook unsuspecting buyers up with shady mortgage brokers, who place them in crappy loans and kick back some bucks to the agent. I'm here to tell you, in my experience, the opposite is true the vast majority of the time.

When you work with a mortgage broker who has a strong track record of helping your real estate agent's clients out, you end up in a best of all worlds situation, nine times out of ten. First off, your agent will take you much more seriously once a mortgage broker they know and trust has run your credit, checked your income and approved you for a loan, as well as communicated with your real estate pro about your qualifications and what you can afford. Secondly, your agent can help you communicate with your mortgage broker, sometimes helping get past appraisal glitches or facilitating other workarounds, as they come up. Third, you get the assurance of working with a mortgage pro who has been vetted and vouched for by someone you not only trust, but someone who can verify that the mortgage broker has the ability to get transactions closed in the timely manner required of today's real estate sales contract. Otherwise, you may end up working with a competent mortgage broker who has a great track record when it comes to refinancing, but can't keep up with the pace and common obstacles to getting a home financed in the context of a sale.

On top of that, sometimes the relationship can help you negotiate out of a couple of line item loan fees (if your particular mortgage rep has the power to get them down at all), if push comes to shove and cash is tight to close the deal. Assuming you are working with a real estate pro you really trust, working with a mortgage broker they trust can save you, rather than cost you, money.

Stage Three: House Hunting Insider Secret: "Distressed" doesn't always equal "discounted" - in some cases, a "regular" sale can be a deeper deal.
Why: Short sales and foreclosures have grown to comprise roughly 30 percent of the homes sold on today's market, even higher in some areas. The average sale price of foreclosed homes was 32% lower than the average sale price of non-foreclosed homes, at last count. However, it's not always the case that foreclosed homes or short sales - homes which are being sold for less than what the seller owes on their mortgage(s) - offer the buyer a fabulous discount.

Mortgage servicers and asset managers who make decisions about distressed properties are on the hook to their investors to recoup as close as possible to the current fair market value of every home they sell. Some banks even have a general rule of rejecting offers more than 10 percent or so below the home's list price, preferring instead to reduce the price by that amount and put the home back on the open market to see if any new buyers are activated by the price reduction to make an offer better than the lowball offer that was initially put on the table. On short sales, the bank is trying to get as close as possible to recovering what the seller owes - and may or may not be concerned with what the fair market value of the home is. (Nine times out of ten, there will be a big gap between fair market value and the seller's outstanding mortgage balance. If there wasn't, the seller wouldn't need to do a short sale!)

With so many distressed properties and homes with depressed values on the market, in many areas, the individual, non-distressed home sellers who are putting their homes up for sale right now are those who are very motivated to sell. Further, they are more likely to be flexible with you on everything that is negotiable, from contingency and escrow periods, to price, to repairs and included items.

Also, individual sellers can be emotionally motivated to sell to move on with their lives, get into their bigger (or smaller) house, or move on to their next job; banks, on the other hand, aren't people (!), so lack that emotional sense of urgency to get the properties sold, no matter how urgently you may think they should be trying to get rid of the foreclosed properties they own. (If you've heard the old advice that banks don't want to be in the home-owning business, I can tell you this. That is true, in a very general sense, but now they are and will be - for a long time to come. They have no emotions, have no urgent need to sell or move, and are not willing to give houses away at pennies on the dollar to get out of it, no matter what those infomercial folks say.)

Long story short: you can sometimes negotiate a better deal with an individual seller on a "regular" sale than with a bank on a distressed home sale. So, don't limit your house hunt to foreclosures and short sales, if you're looking for a good deal on your home.

Stage Four: Negotiations Insider Secret: Your family and friends can cause you to lose your dream home. Why: With so much information on the web and the news every day about the recession and the buyer's market, everyone seems to be an armchair economist/real estate savant. But much of that news is national and based on medians, averages and trends. That is, it might not necessarily apply to every home on the market in every city, and more importantly, it might have nothing to do with "your" particular home.

When I was a little girl, my best friend's grandfather would very carefully hand each of us a quarter, always doling it out with the sage admonition: "Don't spend it all in one place." We'd always smile, look at each other, then go ask our Moms for ten bucks apiece. In the same vein, people who are not currently in the market for a home have no idea what an individual home should "go for." If you tell your parents, church pals, or colleagues at work the blow-by-blow details of your offer, counteroffers, etc., you should expect to hear things like, "Oh, you're paying way too much!", "I think you should push them down another $10K," or "You know, you're in a better bargaining position than that." And sometimes, taking that sort of advice will end up blowing your deal. Work with your trusty real estate broker or agent to develop a smart strategy - with their experience in your local market - about what price and terms to offer. Then keep working with them to manage and maintain realistic expectations as you proceed through negotiating the contract to buy your home.

Stage Five: Escrow, Inspections and Underwriting Insider Secret: It's critical that you attend your home inspections. Why: When it comes to inspections, many first-time buyers expect that a home will either pass or fail. Except in a few jurisdictions where the government imposes certain condition requirements for a home to be sold, the home inspection is more about educating you, the buyer, as to the details and nuances of the home's condition than about seeing if the place hits a particular target for "good" or "bad" condition.

Home inspectors don't just look for things that need fixing, they also look to understand the home's systems and features, as well as to point out areas that will require your ongoing maintenance, highlight emergency shutoffs and other need-to-knows, and indicating where you should have specialists further inspect items of concern. Many home inspectors create vivid, detailed electronic reports - some, complete with color photos. But that's not enough!

If you're physically onsite at the home during the inspections, the inspector can physically show you the shutoffs for water, gas and electric - and how to use them. They can also point out, in person, any things that need repair, and give you some tips for maintaining the place in tip-top shape. Also, in many states, the general home inspector is legally prohibited (vs. the pest, roof or other "specialty" inspectors) from issuing a written quote or bid for repairs, to avoid a conflict of interest where they'd try to fabricate flaws in the home to get the repair job. However, the repair costs are one of the most important things a smart buyer wants to know!

If you show up, many inspectors will give you a rough range it would cost you to do various repairs, or otherwise indicate to you whether the needed repairs are "big deal" or "$10 home improvement store" fixes; some will even give you a few references to contractors they trust.

All around, you'll get much more of the detailed information you need to know whether and how to move forward with the transaction if you should up in person to the home inspections, rather than just waiting for a copy of the report to come to your email.

 

5 Things Home Buyers Do That Turn Sellers Off (and Kill Deals)

On today’s market, every savvy seller wants to know what turns buyers off, so they can get their homes sold as quickly as possible, for as much as possible. But buyers, take note – there is a minefield of seller turn-offs you can trigger that hold the potential to keep you from getting the home you want at the best price and terms, or to unnecessarily complicate dealings with your home’s seller.

Lest you think all of today’s sellers are under the gun and will just put up with whatever behavior buyers dish out, be aware that there are still many multiple offer situations in which buyers have to compete with each other to get a home – buyers who trigger these turnoffs tend to lose in those scenarios. Also, avoiding these seller turnoffs can create a transactional environment of cooperation and avoid things turning adversarial. That, in turn, can empower you to score a better price, get extra items you want thrown into the deal, and even negotiate more flexibility around your escrow and move-in timelines – all perks that can make your life easier and your budget go further.

For sellers, these turnoffs pose the potential of irritating you out of an otherwise good deal – maybe even the only deal you have! Here’s a few of the most common buyer-perpetuated seller turnoffs, with tips for sellers on how to keep an emotional (and economic) even keel, even if your home’s buyer makes some of these waves:

1. Trash-talking. Trash-talkers are the home buyers who think they’re going to negotiate the list price down by slamming the house, telling the sellers how little it is really worth, how the house across the street sold for nothing, why the school on the corner should make them desperate to give the place away, etc. This strategy never works; in fact, when you attack a seller and their home, you only cause them to be defensive, and think up all the reasons that (a) their home is not what you say it is, and (b) they shouldn’t sell their home to you! Sometimes this happens with buyers who actually love a house and just walk around it fantasizing about all the ways they would customize it to their tastes while a seller is there. Sellers: avoid being at home while your home is being shown. Buyers: save your commentary for your agent; if you do encounter the seller in person keep your conversation respectful and avoid critiquing the house or the list price.

2. Being unqualified for mortgage financing. When a seller signs a buyer’s offer, most often the seller agrees to effectively pull the home off the market, forgoing other buyers who might be interested. As such, the only thing worse than getting no offers on your home is getting an offer, getting into contract, then having the whole thing fall apart when the buyer’s loan falls through – especially if that could have been predicted or avoided up front.

Sellers: Work with your agent to vet your home’s buyers’ qualifications, including their loan approval, down payment and earnest money deposit – before you sign a contract. It’s not overkill for your agent to call the buyers’ mortgage pro before you sign the contract and get a level of comfort for how robust their qualifications are. Buyers: Get pre-approved. Seriously. And make sure that you don’t buy a car, quit your job, deposit lottery winnings or do any other financial twitchery between the time you get loan approval and the time you close escrow on your home.

3. Making unjustified lowball offers. No one likes to feel like they are being taken advantage of. And sellers generally know the ballpark amount that their home is worth, as well as what they need to sell it for to get their mortgage paid off. Yes – the price you pay for a home should be driven by its fair market value, rather than the seller’s financial needs, and deals are more available in a market like the current one, in which supply so vastly outpaces demand. But just throwing uber-lowball offers out at sellers hoping one will hit the spot is not generally a successful strategy, especially if you really, really want a given property.

Sellers: Don’t get overly emotional about receiving a lowball offer; counter at the price you and your agent decide makes sense based on the total circumstances, including your motivation level, recent comps and the interest/activity level your listing is receiving. Buyers: Work through the similar, nearby homes that have recently sold (a/k/a comparables) before you make an offer to factor the home’s fair market value into your offer price – also factor in how much you want the place, too. Don’t be amazed if you make an offer far below asking, and don’t get a response.

4. Renegotiating mid-stream. Sellers plan their finances, moves and - to some extent – their lives around the purchase price a buyer agrees to pay for their home. If you get into contract to buy a home, find out during inspections that costly repairs need to be made, then propose a lower sale price, repair credit or even actual repairs to the seller, that’s sensible and fair. But if you were aware that the property needed a lot of work before you made an offer on it, then you come back asking for beaucoup bucks’ worth of credit or price reductions midstream, expect the seller to cry foul. And holding the seller up two weeks into the transaction because you caught a case of buyer's remorse? Not cool, and not likely to foster the spirit of cooperation you may need to get your deal closed.

Sellers: avoid mid-stream price renegotiations by having a full set of inspection reports and repair bids at hand when you list your home.

Buyers: try to avoid renegotiating the entire deal unless you get some major surprises at your inspections or inflating small repairs to try to justify a major price cut.

5. Misleading or setting the seller up. Remember when we talked about buyer turn-offs? Being misled by listing photos or very fluffy property descriptions was high on the list. The same goes for sellers.Offering way over asking with the plan to hammer the seller for a reduction when the house doesn’t appraise at the purchase price? #LAME Making an as-is offer planning the whole time to come back and ask for every penny ante repair called out by the inspectors? Lame squared.

Sellers: If you get multiple offers and are tempted to take a sky-high one or one that claims to be all cash, consider requesting proof that the buyer has sufficient funds to make up the difference between what you think the home will appraise for and the actual sale price, and statements showing the cash truly exists. Buyers: Don’t be lame. I’m not saying you have to tell the seller exactly what your top dollar is, but making offers with terms designed to intentionally mislead is really, really bad form – and can result in losing the home entirely if and when your bluff gets called.

 

8 Steps to Getting Your Finances in Order

1. Develop a family budget. Instead of budgeting what you’d like to spend, use receipts to create a budget for what you actually spent over the last six months. One advantage of this approach is that it factors in unexpected expenses, such as car repairs, illnesses, etc., as well as predictable costs such as rent.
2. Reduce your debt. Generally speaking, lenders look for a total debt load of no more than 36 percent of income. Since this figure includes your mortgage, which typically ranges between 25 percent and 28 percent of income, you need to get the rest of installment debt – car loans, student loans, revolving balances on credit cards – down to between 8 percent and 10 percent of your total income.
3. Get a handle on expenses. You probably know how much you spend on rent and utilities, but little expenses add up. Try writing down everything you spend for one month. You’ll probably see some great ways to save.
4. Increase your income. It may be necessary to take on a second, part-time job to get your income at a high-enough level to qualify for the home you want.
5. Save for a down-payment. Although it’s possible to get a mortgage with only 5 percent down – or even less in some cases – you can usually get a better rate and a lower overall cost if you put down more. Shoot for saving a 20 percent downpayment.
6. Create a house fund. Don’t just plan on saving whatever’s left toward a downpayment. Instead decide on a certain amount a month you want to save, then put it away as you pay your monthly bills.
7. Keep your job. While you don’t need to be in the same job forever to qualify, having a job for less than two years may mean you have to pay a higher interest rate.
8. Establish a good credit history. Get a credit card and make payments by the due date. Do the same for all your other bills, Pay off the entire balance promptly.

8 Ways to Improve Your Credit

Credit scores, along with your overall income and debt, are a big factor in determining if you’ll qualify for a loan and what loan terms you’ll be able to qualify for.
1. Check for and correct errors in your credit report. Mistakes happen, and you could be paying for someone else’s poor financial management.
2. Pay down credit card bills. If possible, pay off the entire balance every month. However, transferring credit card debt from one card to another could lower your score.
3. Don’t charge your credit cards to the maximum limits.
4. Wait 12 months after credit difficulties to apply for a mortgage. You’re penalized less for problems after a year.
5. Don’t purchase big-ticket items for your new home on credit cards until after the loan is approved. The amounts will add to your debt.
6. Don’t open new credit card accounts before applying for a mortgage. Having too much available credit can lower your score.
7. Shop for mortgage rates all at once. Too many credit applications can lower your score, but multiple inquiries from the same type of lender are counted as one inquiry if submitted over a short period of time.
8. Avoid finance companies. Even if you pay the loan on time, the interest is high and it will probably be considered a sign of poor credit management.

10 Pieces of Paper You Must Round Up to Buy (or Sell) a Home

Home buyers and -sellers alike often bristle with anticipatory irritation at the mere thought of all the paperwork they expect they’ll have to come up with to do their transaction, above and beyond the basic loan application, contract, disclosures and closing docs. And these worries start way in advance; it’s as though, before they even start visiting open houses, buyers begin to visualize - and dread - spending hours upon hours in the dank catacombs of the Vatican (à la Da Vinci Code) combing through ancient files, seeking some rare and precious artifact documenting their childhood dental history or genealogy. In some respects, this vision of the experience of obtaining a home loan might not be far off - there are oodles of hoops through which to jump and, occasionally, the loan underwriter requests something sort of bizarre. But more commonly, there’s a pretty finite universe of documents you’ll really need to scrounge up to get your home bought - or sold. Here they are:

1. ID (e.g., driver’s license, state-issued ID, passport). Who must produce it? Buyers and sellers. Why? Uh, hello!?! Lender wants to know that you are who you say you are, buyers, and the title insurance company wants to make sure, sellers, that you actually have the right to sell the home. Funny enough, this commonly goes unrequested until you get to the closing table, when the notary requests to see it before signing, but some mortgage brokers and even some real estate brokers and agents may ask to see it earlier on.
2. Paycheck Stubs. Who must produce it? Any buyer financing their purchase with a mortgage. Sellers, usually only in the case of a short sale. Why? Buyers’ purchase price ranges are determined, in part, by their income. And short sellers have to prove an economic hardship.
3. Two months’ bank account statements. Who must produce it? Buyers getting financing; sellers selling short. Why? Buyers’ lenders now require proof of regular income and proof that the down payment money is your own. Short sellers? It’s all about the hardship.
4. Two years’ W-2 forms or tax returns. Who must produce it? Mortgage-seeking buyers and short selling sellers. Why? Banks want to see a stable, long-term income. They also limit you to claiming as income the amount on which you pay taxes (attn: all business owners!). And in short sales, again, they want documentation of every single facet of your finances.
5. Updated everything. Who must produce it? Buyer/mortgage applicants. Why? Because things change, and because the time period between the first loan application and closing can be many months - even years! - on today’s market. During the time between contract and closing it’s not at all unusual for underwriters to demand buyers produce updated mortgage statements, checks stubs, and such - and its quite common for them to call your office the day before closing to request a last minute verification of employment!
6. Quitclaim deed. Who must produce it? Married buyers purchasing homes they plan to own as separate property. Married sellers selling homes that they own separately, or joint owners selling their interests separately. Why? With the Quitclaim Deed, the other spouse or owner signs any and all interests they even might have had in the property over the the selling owner, making it possible for the title insurer to guarantee clear, undisputed title is being transferred in the sale.
7. Divorce decree. Who must produce it? Buyers and sellers who need to document their solo status or the property-splitting terms of their divorce. Why? Again, to ensure that the seller has the right to sell. Recently single buyers might need to prove that they shouldn’t be held to account for their ex’s separate debts or credit report dings.
8. Gift letters. Who must produce it? Buyers using gift money toward their down payment. Why? The bank wants to be sure the gift came from a relative, and is their own money to give. They also want the relative to confirm in writing that it’s a gift, not a loan - a loan would need to be factored into your debt load.
9. Compliance certificates. Who must produce it? Usually sellers, but sometimes buyers, by contract. Why? Some local governments require various condition requirements be met before the property is transferred, like some cities which require a sewer line be video scoped and repaired, cities which require a checklist of items be met before a certificate of occupancy be issued (usually relevant to brand new and really old homes, the latter of which are often subject to lead paint concerns) and energy conservation ordinances which require low-flow toilets and shower heads to be installed. Ask your real estate pro for advice about which, if any, such ordinances apply in your area.
10. Mortgage statements. Who must produce it? Any seller with a mortgage. Why? the escrow holder or title company will need to use them to order payoff demands from any mortgage holder who has to get paid before the property’s title can be transferred.

 


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