Filed under: Blog, Down Sizing, Exclusive Buyer Agent, First Time Homebuyers, Florida Real Estate, Home Buyer Advice, Home Buyers, Homebuyer Advice, Real Estate, Real Estate Closings, Real Estate Investment, Relocation, South Florida Real Estate, western north carolina real estate by Kim Bregman
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Do not read this list and become overwhelmed, it is an extensive list meant to cover basic home maintenance. Not all of these maintenance items will apply to all homes. This is a comprehensive guideline designed for homes in the South as well as Northern climates.
Spring cleaning is a way to demonstrate pride in ownership (or rentership). A home and its contents are investments; money spent on something you really love or really need (ideally both). When you take the time to clean thoroughly and properly, you can maintain and prolong the life of the item or finish for years. Further, it means you live in a cleaner and healthier home; less dust, dust mites, allergens, odors, and dirt.
Always start from the top and work your way down. Think about it like this: dust falls down (like rain or snow) so if you start at the top, you’ll never have to re-clean a surface (which is a time waster). It doesn’t make sense to clean the floors first and then dust the tabletops; you’ll just have to clean the floors again. Use gravity to your benefit and always work from top to bottom. It also helps you not miss anything!
General Spring Cleaning Tasks:
These are a list of some of the things that need to be done around the house, and spring is a great time to do them. So often we don’t remember to do them, so let this be your wake-up call!
Tests and replacements:
Test smoke alarm
Test carbon monoxide alarm
Check flashlight batteries
Check fire extinguishers
Change air filters
Check all window screens for tears and repair or replace as required
Overall Spring Cleaning Chores:
Remove fingerprints and dirt from light switches and door handles
Spring Clean Outside:
Filed under: Blog, Exclusive Buyer Agent, First Time Homebuyers, Florida Real Estate, Home Buyer Advice, Home Buyers, Home Maintenance, Homebuyer Advice, Real Estate, Real Estate Investment, South Florida Real Estate, western north carolina real estate by Kim Bregman
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Before you let that dream home slip away, consider these strategies to help bridge the transition:
Make an offer that’s contingent on the sale of your house:
A seller may be persuaded to accept your offer with the caveat that you’ll have to sell your house before closing on theirs. You’ll strengthen your chances of getting a seller to take a chance on you if you can show that your home is priced properly and has a solid marketing strategy. Successful contingency offers depend on good communication between the real estate agents representing both sides. It’s up to you and your agent to reassure the seller that the closing won’t be delayed. Obviously, in hotter housing markets with potentially multiple bids, it can be harder to get sellers to accept such an offer.
Offer the seller a rent-back option:
One way to buy yourself extra time to complete your sale is to offer to buy the new house, then rent it back to the seller after closing. A rent-back agreement is typically for just a month or two. But this arrangement can give sellers extra time to move – or to find a new house of their own – while putting a little money in your pocket and keeping you from having to pay two mortgages at once.
Tap the equity in your current home:
If you have a high credit score and considerable equity in your house, you could free up some of the latter with a home equity line of credit. A HELOC lets you use up to 85 percent of your home’s value, less the balance remaining on your mortgage, and is fine-tuned based on your credit profile and income. Most HELOCs have a variable interest rate, so it’s in your best interest to pay off the loan as soon as your current home sells.
This strategy may let you buy a house before you sell, but it’s not a last-minute option. A HELOC requires an appraisal, income verification and a thorough credit check, so it takes time – generally 30 days or more – to qualify, says Tim Beyers, mortgage analyst with American Financing in Aurora, Colorado. If you’re thinking of going this route, make sure you run the numbers with an expert upfront, Beyers says.
To qualify for the new loan, a lender will evaluate your current mortgage payment, plus the HELOC payment and your new monthly mortgage payment, to calculate your debt-to-income ratio for the new mortgage approval, Beyers says. If your income is high enough to have a debt-to-income ratio below 40 percent with all those payments and other monthly expenses taken into account, only then should you consider a HELOC, he adds.
“Once you start dipping into your home’s equity, that changes the equation when you apply for a new mortgage,” he explains. “Taking too much out can hurt your qualification chances on a new mortgage. Don’t make an offer, then try to scramble to do the math.”
Add a HELOC to your new mortgage:
With this strategy, you break up the financing on your new home with a first mortgage for the amount you need, plus a HELOC to make up the difference in your shortfall for a downpayment, says Elise D. Leve, senior mortgage banker at Citizens Bank in New York.
Once you sell your current home, you can pay the HELOC portion off in full and end up with the single mortgage you wanted in the first place, Leve says.
Get a Bridge Loan:
A much riskier strategy is what’s called a ‘bridge’ or ‘swing’ loan. Using your existing home as collateral, you take out a bridge loan for three months to five years to use as the down payment on your new home. Once you’ve purchased your new home, you sell the old one and pay off the mortgage and the bridge loan. Such a loan is less risky in a fast appreciating market where appreciation can cover the extra payment on the old home. Even in the best market, however, swing loans can be expensive, last-ditch propositions that are fraught with caveats. Bridge loans can cost 5 to 10 percentage points more than a typical equity loan. Your home must be lien free. Excellent credit is mandatory, as are good income-to-debt ratios. It may be a better idea to get a cash-out refinance, second mortgage or equity loan to use as a bridge loan. Traditional financing is cheaper and less risky, but that could preclude you from landing another mortgage for a new home should the lender consider you stretched too thin.
Filed under: Blog, Exclusive Buyer Agent, Florida Real Estate, Home Buyer Advice, Home Buyers, Home Financing, Homebuyer Advice, Mortgage Information, Real Estate, Real Estate Closings, Real Estate Investment, real estate news, Real estate trends, Relocation, Retirement, South Florida Real Estate, western north carolina real estate by Kim Bregman
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Flipping is when real estate investors buy real estate and then resells them at a profit months down the road. Can you make money doing this? Yes.
Can you make a lot of money doing this? Yes.
But you can also lose everything you own if you make a bad decision….Absolutely!
A renovation can be an overwhelming experience with high stakes. Investors must create an overall vision for the project, gauge its financial feasibility, build a reliable team that includes a Realtor, contractors, lender, accountant, insurance agent, designer or architect, and attorney or Title Company, be highly capitalized, and hope that their assessment of the market is accurate and that the property sells quickly. The longer your cash is tied up and you are paying expenses the less profitable your investment.
Thanks to tighter lending standards you will need plenty of cash, and nerves of steel, to get into flipping. So what do you need to get started?
What Makes a Good Real Estate Investment?
Finding an undervalued property in this market can be a challenge. With foreclosure rates down and bank owned property inventory drying up, there is a shortage of inventory compared to just a year ago. Utilizing real estate professionals will greatly assist you in finding suitable properties.
Now Get Working
Relist and Sell
Filed under: Blog, Exclusive Buyer Agent, First Time Homebuyers, Florida Real Estate, Home Buyer Advice, Home Buyers, Home Financing, Homebuyer Advice, House Closings, Real Estate, Real Estate Closings, Real Estate Investment, real estate news, Real estate trends, South Florida Real Estate, western north carolina real estate by Kim Bregman
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Always know who the real estate agent you are working with represents. If they are the Listing Agent they represent the Seller, a Transactional Agent works for their personal benefit and even though an agent will put you in the car and drive you around and are not the listing agent, in most states they are Sub-agents for the Seller and work for the seller. It is most advisable for buyers to only work with Exclusive Buyer Agents (EBAs). If you find that you are at an open house or have called an agent and they are not an EBA…you’re your tongue. What buyers may innocently say in the presence of a Seller, Listing Agent, Transactional Agent, or Seller’s Sub-agent can be used against them during a negotiation.
While it may be tempting for buyers to say what’s on their mind during their home search, you should consider yourself in a poker game and keep your cards close to your chest and your comments to yourself. There are some things home buyers should never say on the fly.
Others may be listening. Listing agents, seller and neighbors all have motives to keep tabs on the situation — or there could be even be a camera or recording device planted somewhere. In the age of smart home security you can never be too sure.
Those off-the-cuff comments made while moving from room to room could be used against you.
Here are some obvious comments home buyers should never say when shopping for a home:
‘I love it; it’s perfect!’
That feedback goes straight to the seller.
When the less-than-full-price offer comes in and the buyer requests all sorts of concessions, how will the seller be inclined to respond?
‘That (decor, furniture, wall color) is awful!’
What were they thinking?
So maybe the sellers’ tastes are not what the buyer would pick, but that doesn’t make their choices wrong. If these comments get back to the sellers, their desire to be cooperative when offer time comes in my be less than enthusiastic.
‘This home is way overpriced’
Be careful with that statement.
While this is a common buyer thought, what happens if this house ends up being the best option? When the listing agent or seller sees the buyer’s name on an offer, they immediately tart off in a defensive position. If is is truly overpriced your Exclusive Buyer Agent should provide a comprehensive analysis during the negotiation to make this point.
‘I can afford to spend up to X’
While it’s certainly a good idea for prospective buyers to find out just how much they can afford, they should keep that information strictly between them and their Exclusive Buyer Agent. You would be surprised by the number of deals that end of at the top of your affordability range because you disclosed this to the agent that is driving you around. Insist that they develop a Comparative Market Analysis and pay no more than market value for any property regardless if you can afford to pay more. Most real estate agents have a duty to get the highest price offer for the Seller or want to get the highest price offer to get the most commission. The only type of agent that has a fiduciary responsibility to the Buyer is an Exclusive Buyer Agent, even an Accredited Buyer Agent will either be a transactional agent or sub-agent of the Seller if they are not the listing agent as well.
“Why is the Seller moving?”
This is a personal question that’s best not asked by a buyer, it will more often then not result in an evasive answer or a lie.
Let the buyer’s agent position that query with the listing agent in a diplomatic way to glean information about the situation at hand.
‘What are the neighbors like?’
Talk about putting someone on the spot. Listing agents likely have no idea — they don’t live in the neighborhood 24/7, and it would they cannot discuss race, religion, sexual orientation, etc. When cornered, is the seller likely to divulge?
“There’s a Mrs. Kravitz across the street and a curmudgeon next door? And by the way, the teenager that lives on the other side of the house? His band starts warming up in the garage about 11 p.m. on Thursday nights.”Hardly. These people are trying to sell their house. It’s all wonderful. Buyers have to assess the neighbors on their own. Visit the neighborhood and different times of the day and on the weekends to get a sense of the neighborhood.
‘Will the seller take X price?’
Negotiations are best left to agents with a written document from which to work. No Agent or Seller will be inclined to negotiate in good faith without a written offer and Proof of Funds or a pre-qualification letter that demonstrates your ability to buy the property.
Although it’s OK to be candid with your own agent and those you trust, only do so when you are not within earshot of anyone in the seller’s camp. That includes those curbside chats as you are wrapping up the showing near your car.
Be engaged but conservative in the information you share and how you react to homes you see, even if you have a real interest. You can jump for joy when you are with your agent writing the perfect offer.
Filed under: Blog, Down Sizing, Exclusive Buyer Agent, First Time Homebuyers, Florida Real Estate, Home Buyer Advice, Home Buyers, Homebuyer Advice, Kim Around the Web, Real Estate, Real Estate Closings, real estate news, Real estate trends, Relocation, South Florida Real Estate, western north carolina real estate by Kim Bregman
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Filed under: Blog, Exclusive Buyer Agent, First Time Homebuyers, Florida Real Estate, Home Buyer Advice, Home Buyers, Homebuyer Advice, Kim Around the Web, Real Estate, real estate news, Real estate trends, Relocation, South Florida Real Estate, western north carolina real estate by Kim Bregman
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When buying a home, most people focus on how much the home costs and what interest rate they can get on the loan. While understanding the lending process is very important, the other fees that home buyers overlook when it comes to their home purchase.
There are some fees that will require up-front payment. Other fees may be rolled into the loan for your home. It’s important to understand the difference and know what you’ll be expected to pay.
Earnest Money Deposit
To prove you’re “earnest” in your purchase commitment, a buyer can expect to deposit to a trust account 1% to 2% of the total purchase price as an earnest money deposit within days of entering into a contract.This amount can change depending on market factors. If demand in your area is high, a seller could expect a larger deposit. If the market is cold, a seller could be happy with less than 1%.
Other governing factors like state limitations and rules can cap how much earnest money a seller can ask for.
An escrow account is basically a way for your mortgage company to make sure you have enough money to cover related taxes, insurance and possibly mortgage insurance. The amount you need to pay varies by location, lender, and loan type. It could cover costs for a few months to a year.
If you only provide a small down payment, you may be required to purchase private mortgage insurance. Private mortgage insurance, commonly referred to as PMI, is typically provided by a private mortgage insurance company to protect lenders against loss if a borrower defaults.
Sometimes this means you are required to pay a full year’s worth at time of purchase, or it will be rolled into your monthly payment.
Escrow accounts are common for loans with less than a 20% down payment and mandatory for FHA loans, but it’s not required for VA loans.
Origination Fees & Points
The origination fee is the price you pay the loan officer or broker for completing the loan, and it includes underwriting, originating, and processing costs.
The origination fee is a small percentage of the total loan. A typical origination fee is about 1%, but it can vary. You should shop lenders for more than interest rate, but all of the fees associated with the loan.
You want to be assured your new home is structurally sound and free of defects before you complete the purchase. Those assurances come with a price.
Some states, such as North Carolina, require an attorney to be present at closing. In other states, such as Florida, this is optional. If you use a lawyer, expect to cover the costs, which vary by area and lawyer and what the attorney is being asked to do.
Just because you can get your credit report for free doesn’t mean your lender can (and they will actually pull all three). You have to reimburse the lender, usually around for these reports that usually run about $30.
If you live in a hazard-prone area, you might need to purchase extra insurance in addition to homeowners insurance, these can include wind and flood. Lenders will require that you purchase the required insurance to protect their investment. If you are a cash buyer, you have the option of buying insurance or self-insuring. Make sure you understand the risks.
Your lender will not approve a loan for a home without knowing what its fair market value is. They will determine this value based on an appraisal. Appraisal costs vary by market area and the size and complexity of the property. An appraisal will typically cost $250 to $1000.
Title insurance covers you in the unlikely case that the person who sold you the house didn’t actually own it or if information on the title was false. Typically this is verified before the purchase of your home, but this insurance protects the lender or the buyer against loss arising from disputes over ownership of a property.
The lender will require you to have title insurance for the value of the loan. You are also required to have title insurance on the value of the property. Whether the buyer or seller pays for this is area specific and is a protocol not a mandate and can be negotiated as a condition of the contract.
A survey is not required in all instances, but your lender may require a professional surveyor to determine exactly where your property lines are drawn. Your attorney will also review the survey to ensure that there are no encroachments. Prices vary widely, but expect to pay at least $100.
Document preparation fees:
The lender, broker, Title Company or closing attorney will usually have a fee to cover the preparation of the required documents for the loan and closing paperwork. These fees are typically rolled in closing costs for the home and may be covered by either the homebuyer or seller.
State Recording Fees:
Depending on where you live, there may be a fee required for recording and holding the information regarding the sale.
Filed under: Blog, Exclusive Buyer Agent, First Time Homebuyers, Florida Real Estate, Home Buyer Advice, Home Buyers, Home Financing, Homebuyer Advice, House Closings, Mortgage Information, Real Estate, Real Estate Closings, real estate news, Real estate trends, Relocation, South Florida Real Estate, Title Insurance, western north carolina real estate by Kim Bregman
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When you buy a fixer-upper residence for either personal or investment reasons, you need to have a thorough understanding of all of the potential related additional costs to determine if it is a worthwhile investment.
The following analysis in introspection will assist you in determining much you can afford, how much to offer, and whether a fixer-upper house is right for you.
Decide what you can do or want to do yourself
TV remodeling shows make home improvement work look like a snap. In the real world, attempting a difficult renovation job that you don’t know how to do will take longer than you think and can lead to less-than-professional results.
Do you really have the skills to do it? Some tasks, like stripping wallpaper and painting, are relatively easy. Others, like electrical work, can be dangerous when done by amateurs.
Do you really have the time and desire to do it? Can you take time off work to renovate? If not, will you be stressed out by living in a work zone for months while you complete projects on the weekends?
Price the cost of repairs and remodeling before you make an offer
If you are using a professional get several estimates on the work you want done by licensed and insured contractors.
If you’re doing the work yourself, price the supplies.
Either way, tack on 10% to 20% to cover unforeseen problems that WILL arise when you start to open walls, remove windows, install electric and plumbing, etc.
Check permit costs
Ask local officials if the work you’re going to do requires a permit and how much that permit costs. Doing work without a permit may save money, but it’ll cause problems when you resell your home. Also check to ensure that there was no other non-permitted work done to the home. If you get permits that chance that this work will be found and cited is likely.
Decide if you want to get the permits yourself or have the contractor arrange for them. Getting permits can be time-consuming and frustrating. Inspectors may force you to do additional work, or change the way you want to do a project, before they give you the permit.
Factor the time,costs, and additional requirements of permits into your plans.
Double check pricing on structural work
If your renovation plans include major structural work, hire a structural engineer to inspect the home before you put in an offer so you can be confident you’ve uncovered and conservatively budgeted for the full scope of the work required.
Get written estimates for repairs before you commit to buying a home with structural issues.
Don’t purchase a home that needs major structural work unless:
You’re getting it at a steep discount
You’re sure you’ve uncovered the extent of the problem
You know the problem can be fixed
Check the cost of financing
Be sure you have enough money for a down payment, closing costs, and repairs without draining your savings.
If you are planning to fund the repairs with a home equity or home improvement loan:
Get yourself pre-approved for both loans before you make an offer.
Make the deal contingent on getting both the purchase money loan and the renovation money loan, so you’re not forced to close the sale when you have no loan to fix the house.
Include inspection contingencies in your offer
Don’t rely on your friends or your contractor to eyeball your fixer-upper house. Hire pros to do common inspections such as whole home inspection, radon, mold, lead-based paint, chinese drywall, septic, well and pest.
Lastly, don’t pay more than fair-market value
Have your EXCLUSIVE BUYER AGENT develop an comparative market analysis that makes adjustments for all of the issues involving the property, location, condition, time value of money, et. al. A transactional broker or listing agent is interested in selling the property for the highest price and is not working in a buyer’s best interest. Always use an EBA when purchasing real estate.
Filed under: Blog, Down Sizing, Exclusive Buyer Agent, First Time Homebuyers, Home Buyer Advice, Home Buyers, Homebuyer Advice, Real Estate, Real Estate Closings, real estate news, western north carolina real estate by Kim Bregman
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Buying a home is a major lifestyle and investment decision. Homebuyers have a lot of questions throughout every step of the process and I have found that many of the questions are common to many. Here are some answers to the most common questions I get asked.
Q: What home can I afford?
That depends, of course-on your income and other financial obligations. There are many Home Affordability Calculators for a ballpark figure. A visit to the Optima Properties website will offer you many tools under the Finance Center!
Before you start to shop, make sure that you know exactly what you can afford by getting pre-qualified by your financial institution of mortgage broker.
Q: Can I buy a home and sell my current one at the same time?
Yes, you can-but it’s the real estate equivalent of walking a tightrope. This is one of the trickiest questions to answer, on the one hand, if you buy a home before you sell the one you’re in, you’re overextended financially; if you sell before you buy, you might need to rent a while before finding a new place. There are ways to do both at once, and one option is to request a “sale contingency” in your contract. This means you only agree to buy a home if you can sell the one you’re in. The only downside is if your seller doesn’t agree and will not agree to this condition….it never hurts to ask!
Q: How many homes should I see before making an offer?
As many as you need to! While home shoppers these days can look at hundreds of homes online, most need to physically visit the area and stand in the properties before they put in an offer. Keep in mind, this varies tremendously for each person. Some people find their home within hours of looking or make an offer sight unseen because they have definitively defined their criteria. For others, it takes months and sometimes over a year if they are trying to determine the area, lifestyle, and type of home that meets their requirements.
Q: What do you think the seller will accept as a fair price?
As a rule of thumb, knocking 5-10% off the list price
won’t ruffle any feathers for an initial offer. If the property has been sitting on the market for months, you can venture below that, but the bottom line is, you never know how low a seller will go, as they have different motivations for selling. Your Exclusive Buyer Agent should develop a Comprehensive Market Analysis to determine the market value of the property. This should be your guideline as to how much to offer and how high to go.
Q: How do I know if the property is a good deal?
While there’s no crystal ball on whether a certain home is a bargain and will appreciate, rest assured that with research, you can keep surprises to a minimum. The best way is to check out comps-what similar properties are selling for in the area.
Q: How quickly can I close?
If you are paying cash you can typically close in the time it takes to get the home inspected and have a lien, permit, and title search conducted. The new TRID requirements for home loans have extended the time required to get a mortgage. I advise all my buyers to not commit to a closing for less than 60 days from the effective date of the contract.
Q: Should I get a home inspection?
My only answer to this question is YES, YES, YES! A certified and licensed home inspector ( not your father in law) will look into the condition of the roof, electricity, heating and air, plumbing, among other functions and conditions of the property. Even if you are just purchasing land you should check for soil contamination, septic perkability, etc.
Q: Can I back out if I change my mind?
While buyers can always back out of a deal, doing so without good reason may forfeit their earnest money and full deposit. The form of contract you choose to use may provide you with different outs. Contingencies are great “escape clauses. For example, if you enter into an AS IS contract upon an unsatisfactory home inspection, the buyer can ask for their deposit back. Another contingency is “subject to appraisal.’” That means you can back out if the appraisal either ordered by your closing agent or your lender results in a valuation that is less than the agreed to purchase price.
Bear in mind that the more contingencies you include in your offer the less room you have to negotiate other terms and conditions of the contract with the Seller.
There is not question to small or unimportant when purchasing a home. There is a wealth of information available and your agent should assist you in getting your questions answered in a timely manner.
Filed under: Blog, boomerrang homebuyer, Down Sizing, Exclusive Buyer Agent, First Time Homebuyers, Florida Real Estate, Home Buyer Advice, Home Buyers, Home Financing, Homebuyer Advice, House Closings, Mortgage Information, Real Estate, Real Estate Closings, real estate news, Real estate trends, Relocation, Retirement, western north carolina real estate by Kim Bregman
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