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Buying your first home is a big step! It’s wonderful to dream dreams, and it’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of searching property sites like realtor.com. Before going too far, however, it’s a good idea to hit the “pause” button and consider these more serious points.

1. Know when the time is right. Do some soul searching and make sure you want to buy a home because you genuinely want a home—not because you need an investment or simply think it’s “time” to settle down. Homes require a great deal of time, money, and energy to purchase and maintain. You want to love your home. If the timing isn’t right, you may regret the decision.

2. Review your credit score and get a credit report. You can (and should) request a free report once a year, at annualcreditreport.com. Review your report for any inaccuracies or disputes. It will take time to fix any issues, so start early.

3. Address any weaknesses in your credit history. If you have outstanding credit card or other consumer debt, start paying it off. If you are debt free but have very little credit history, you may need to start establishing a solid credit record. Important caveat: Do not apply for a new line of credit or a credit card if you plan to buy a house right away. Mortgage lenders are interested in a borrower’s well-established track record but may view a new credit line as a “red flag.”

Once you’ve been extended credit, use it and pay it off every month to establish a good record of managing credit obligations and debt. Don’t close old accounts, since they are a part of your history. Instead, use them occasionally – paying them off in full, so they remain active. To show credit worthiness, it’s best to have three or four open accounts, in good standing.

4. Start saving. Buying a home requires saving for a down payment on the purchase price. The more you save towards a down payment (in terms of a percentage of the purchase price), the better your mortgage terms can be. You also need to save money for closing costs. Many first-time buyers are not financially prepared for the cash required at the closing table. Closing costs vary, but on average, you can expect to pay between two and five percent of the purchase price of the house.

Working with your banker to set up a savings plan will help foster a good relationship and may provide a valuable resource when you are ready to apply for a mortgage loan. Let your banker know your plans and your timeline, and ask for their advice on preparing, financially, to purchase your first home.

5. Recognize the responsibilities. Your living costs will probably increase when you shift from renting to owning a home. You will no longer be able to call a landlord when something goes wrong. You are now the landlord, and will have to fix, or pay to repair, anything that goes wrong. Aside from household systems (air conditioning, heat, plumbing, electrical), you may also need to buy or replace major appliances. But the home will be yours-the rent won’t go up unexpectedly or have to mve because they property is now for sale.

The cost of insuring a house is also much higher than renter’s insurance because you aren’t simply insuring the contents of the house—you’re also covering the structure and any liability for visitors who may get hurt while on your property. Additionally, you’ll have to pay property taxes, which is a pretty hard hit for any homeowner, but can be especially challenging for new owners.

6. Get educated. Before you begin looking at houses, educate yourself about the buying process, what to expect, and what to avoid. Do your homework before you start looking to be an informed consumer.

7. Interview buyer’s representatives. Buying a house is a big deal, so you’ll want to select a qualified real estate professional to represent you in your transaction—someone who is both knowledgeable and will look out for your interests.

As a first-time buyer, you may not know there are differences in buyer’s representatives. If you select an Accredited Buyer’s Representative, you can be assured you’re working with someone who has received special training in representing buyers and has already established a track record with buyers. Find out who serves your area.

Once you start the home search, please don’t make any major purchases. No cars, no music systems, no appliances, no vacations, etc. They can change your income to debt ratio and can keep you from getting the better interest rate or even qualify for the loan. I once had a couple who were so excited about purchasing their first home that they bought a washer & dryer 3 days before closing. It almost cost them their dream. Luckily, the store let them put the washer & dryer on hold for 3 days until after closing. So they did move into their first dream home.

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Interesting. Unfortunately, it makes sense when woman still make less than men in so many occupations.

home-buying-tips-for-single-income-women

SEATTLE – April 23, 2018 – Real estate website Estately recently conducted a study showing how America’s gender wage gap affects home affordability and ownership for women.

http://www.floridarealtors.org/NewsAndEvents/

To find out, Estately used 2016 U.S. Census data to compare men’s and women’s median salaries in the 50 most populated U.S. cities. Based on those salaries and assuming a monthly mortgage payment of 28 percent of the gross monthly income, the site used a mortgage calculator to determine the maximum home price each salary could afford.

Armed with this information, Estately reviewed the homes currently for sale in major cities across the country and identified the percentage of homes men versus women could afford.

The results in some urban centers were bleak. Seattle, for instance, has the biggest wage-based housing gap. Men can afford nearly 150 percent more homes than women.

Colorado Springs, Miami, San Diego and San Jose also topped the list with significant gaps. For instance, in Colorado Springs men can afford 122.5 percent more homes than women, while further down the list in San Diego, the difference is still a significant 68.5 percent.

With these results in mind, we asked real estate and personal finance experts to share their top tips for single women seeking to purchase a home.

Don’t let the down payment scare you away
Coming up with the funds to make a down payment on a home can often seem impossible, particularly when so many Americans have sizeable student loan bills and more.

Andrina Valdes, division president at Cornerstone Home Lending, urges buyers not to let this part of the process discourage them.

“Over and over again, potential home buyers report saving for the down payment as the biggest hurdle to homeownership. When you’re relying on one income to save up for it, the problem can seem insurmountable,” says Valdes.

The good news is there are all kinds of down payment assistance programs that can help individuals get into a home for less money down.

The Federal Housing Administration loan is popular among first-time and single-income home buyers thanks to its 3.5 percent down payment requirement. There are also programs offered by the Veterans Administration and also USDA loans that may require no down payment at all, says Valdes.

Line-up a guarantor or co-purchaser
The reality is that many single income households, whether they’re run by men or women, need assistance in buying a home in today’s market.

Experienced agent Julie Gans of Triplemint suggests lining up a qualified guarantor, co-purchaser or someone who might be able to gift money for your home purchase.

Consider a fixer upper
A growing trend among home buyers with limited means has been buying older properties and rehabbing them, says Ralph DiBugnara, president of Home Qualified.

“There are a few mortgage products in the market right now that make that easier,” said DiBugnara. “Fannie Mae has a loan called Home Style and FHA has what’s called a 203k loan. They both allow you to not only finance the purchase price but also construction costs in the loan to help your home look new.”

Look at homes well below your means
Real estate analyst Julie Gurner, of FitSmallBusiness.com, says it’s critical that single income households buy properties that are well below the amount they’ve been pre-approved for.

“You see that gorgeous home at the top of your range? Pass on it, and you’ll be glad you did,” said Gurner. “Single women and single income families have to be especially mindful to buy a home below their means … It gives them an additional expense cushion every month. Things come up. Doctor visits, your car breaks down, or your furnace breaking can be a big financial hit if you don’t have the ability to absorb it. On months where nothing goes wrong, you have the ability to save.”

As a single income earner, it’s important to protect yourself financially and be able to provide the necessities that make life stable. Having a home below your means can give you both and a great place to live.

House hunt during the right season
When it comes to finding an affordable home, time of year can make a big difference.

That means shopping during the right seasons, when prices traditionally are more negotiable and inventory is better, says Valdes.

Recent data from Trulia shows that there’s a 7 percent spike in starter home inventory during the fall, making it an ideal time to find a good deal. On the flipside, starter home inventory drops by more than 20 percent during the summer, making the warmer months a less appealing market.

Minimize credit card debt
As you embark upon your housing search, it’s critical that you reduce existing debt. This helps on a variety of levels.

For instance, not only does it make you a better mortgage applicant, it will also help once you’re in your new home dealing with a whole host of new expenses.

Gans, of Triplemint, suggest tackling credit card debt in particular.

“Pay off all credit cards prior to purchase to lower your income to debt ratio,” advises Gans. “This reduces your liability and makes you look more appealing to a seller.”

http://www.floridarealtors.org/NewsAndEvents/

Copyright © 2018 North Jersey Media Group Inc. This article originally appeared on Credit.com.

Florida's Tampa and Orlando Housing Markets Ranked First and Fourth Best U.S. Cities for First-time Buyers

(Ariel photo of downtown St Petersburg, in the Tampa Bay area of Florida)

According to Zillow’s 2018 Best Markets for First-Time Buyers Analysis, first-time buyers in the U.S. looking for an affordable home without much competition may have the best luck in the State of Florida, with both Tampa and Orlando ranked high in the Top 10 best cities for first-time home buyers in 2018. Texas also had 3 cities ranked high on the same list.

Residential News » Tampa Edition | By Michael Gerrity | March 2018

Zillow ranked the 35 largest U.S. housing markets based on where first-time buyers have the best chance to find an affordable home with little buyer competition and strong forecasted home value appreciation. First-time buyers make up 42 percent of all buyers, according to the 2017 Zillow Group Report on Consumer Housing Trends.

Orlando-pic.jpgThe U.S. housing market is competitive for all buyers, as there are not enough homes for sale to meet today’s strong buyer demand. In January, inventory of the least expensive homes was down 17.1 percent annually, compared to a 9.7 percent decrease for all homes. In 2017, nearly a quarter of home sales were above the listed price. This puts first-time buyers at a disadvantage this home shopping season because they won’t have the capital from a previous home sale to help fund a down payment or keep up with bidding wars. Saving up for a down payment is the most commonly cited barrier to homeownership.

New buyers will have it easiest in the Southeast, especially Texas and Florida. Five of the top 10 markets for first-time buyers are in those two states. Homes in those markets require a smaller down payment, and buyers are more likely to encounter price cuts.

First-time buyers are likely to face the most difficulty in pricy West Coast markets, especially California metros. Not only are homes expensive, but inventory is especially limited, and it takes longer to break even on a home purchase.

Ten Best Markets for First-Time Homebuyers in 2018

1.   Tampa, FL
2.   Indianapolis, IN
3.   Houston, TX
4.   Orlando, FL
5.   San Antonio, TX
6.   Saint Louis, MO
7.   Philadelphia, PA
8.   Atlanta, GA
9.   Las Vegas, NV
10. Dallas, TX

“More and more millennials are reaching the point in their lives where they are ready to buy a home, but they are entering a highly competitive housing market that has been plagued by low inventory, especially among entry-level homes,” said Zillow Senior Economist Aaron Terrazas. “Southeastern markets will be easiest for new buyers, where homes are more affordable and there’s less competition. People planning to buy for the first time in some of the tougher markets should be prepared to face a more competitive environment, but that doesn’t mean they should count out buying entirely.”

Zillow’s list of the best markets for first-time buyers is based on five metrics:

  • Low median home value that requires a smaller down payment
  • Strong forecasted home value appreciation
  • High inventory-to-household ratio, to indicate available supply
  • Short Breakeven Horizon, which is the time it takes for buying to be financially advantageous compared to renting
  • High share of listings with a price cut

This is a short & sweet infograph explaining some of the many things that professional Realtors do for buyers and seller. There are approximately 180 different items that we do in each transaction, depending on the situation. Below is from Keeping Current Matters.

5 Reasons to Love Using A RE Pro [INFOGRAPHIC] | Keeping Current Matters

 

  • Hiring a real estate professional to guide you through the process of buying a home or selling your house can be one of the best decisions you make!
  • They are there for you to help with paperwork, understanding the process, negotiations, and helping you with pricing (both when making an offer or setting the right price for your home).
  • One of the top reasons to hire a real estate professional is their understanding of your local market and how the conditions in your neighborhood will impact your experience.

 

NFIP-February-2018

WASHINGTON – Feb. 9, 2018 – As part of the just-passed continuing resolution to keep the government open, the National Flood Insurance Program now won’t expire until March 23, 2018.

While the legislation only extends government operations for six weeks – including NFIP – Congress agreed to some long-term changes, including $90 billion in assistance for post-hurricane cleanup in Florida, Texas and Puerto Rico.

While the national flood insurance program isn’t a direct part of federal funding, its future has been tied to it recently because the flood insurance extension has been voted on alongside the larger spending packages.

For at least the next six weeks, however, homebuyers and sellers in flood zones can stop worrying about the loss of flood insurance derailing their transaction.

© 2018 Florida Realtors®

 

Homeownership: “The Reports of My Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated”

The famous quote by Mark Twain in the title of this article can be used to describe homeownership in America today. Last week, the Census revealed that the percentage of homeowners in the country increased for the first time in thirteen years

Homeownership: "The Reports of My Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated" | Keeping Current Matters

story in the Wall Street Journal gave these new homeownership numbers some context:

“The annual increase marks a crucial turning point because it comes after the federal government reined in bubble-era policies that encouraged banks to ease lending standards to boost homeownership. This time, what’s driving the market is a shift in favor of owning rather than renting.

‘This is market, market and market…There’s no government incentive program in sight that is having this effect,’ said Susan Wachter, a professor of real estate and finance at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, ‘This is back to basics.’”

In a separate report comparing the rental population in America to the homeowner population, RentCaféalso concluded that the gap is now shrinking.

“Undoubtedly, the recession had a great impact on homeownership…However, it looks like it takes more to discourage Americans from buying a house than that.

As the years go by, it seems more and more certain that the fact that renting has seen a sudden gain in popularity is more a reaction to the economic crisis than a paradigm shift in the Americans’ attitude toward housing.”

America’s belief in homeownership was also evidenced in a recent survey by Pew Research. They asked consumers “How important is homeownership to achieving the American Dream?”

The results:

  • 43% said homeownership was essential to the American Dream
  • 48% said homeownership was important to the American Dream
  • Only 9% said it was not important

Bottom Line

Homeownership has been, is and will always be a crucial element of the American Dream.

*Pictured Above – Mark Twain’s home in Hartford, Connecticut.
from Keeping Current Matters

Urban Institute recently released a report entitled, “Barriers to Accessing Homeownership,” which revealed that eighty percent of consumers either are unaware of how much lenders require for a down payment or believe all lenders require a down payment above 5 percent.”

Myth #1: “I Need a 20% Down Payment”

Buyers often overestimate the down payment funds needed to qualify for a home loan. According to the same report:

Consumers are often unaware of the option to take out low-down-payment mortgages. Only 19% of consumers believe lenders would make loans with a down payment of 5% or less… While 15% believe lenders require a 20% down payment, and 30% believe lenders expect a 20% down payment.”

These numbers do not differ much between non-owners and homeowners; 39% of non-owners believe they need more than 20% for a down payment and 30% of homeowners believe they need more than 20% for a down payment.

While many believe that they need at least 20% down to buy their dream home, they do not realize that programs are available that allow them to put down as little as 3%. Many renters may actually be able to enter the housing market sooner than they ever imagined with programs that have emerged allowing less cash out of pocket.

Myth #2: “I Need a 780 FICO® Score or Higher to Buy”

Similar to the down payment, many either don’t know or are misinformed about what FICO® score is necessary to qualify.

Many Americans believe a ‘good’ credit score is 780 or higher.

To help debunk this myth, let’s take a look at Ellie Mae’s latest Origination Insight Report, which focuses on recently closed (approved) loans.

2 Major Myths Holding Back Home Buyers | Keeping Current Matters

As you can see in the chart above, 53.5% of approved mortgages had a credit score of 600-749.

Bottom Line

Whether buying your first home or moving up to your dream home, knowing your options will make the mortgage process easier. Your dream home may already be within your reach.

 

Erroneous assumptions about the business can cause a ton of confusion for the public about how the real estate process works.

The real estate process makes everyone an armchair expert by default. The buyer, the seller, their friends, co-workers and neighbors all know how real estate works.

After all, the last time they bought or sold a home was 10 years ago, and in their view, not much has changed. Misbeliefs and bad information are a dangerous combination.

People don’t know what they don’t know, and what they do know is enough to create false perceptions of a profession that is often surrounded by damaging assumptions. Here are 15 real estate myths — busted!

1. Real estate agents are paid a salary

Despite what many think, the public is horribly confused about how agents make a living.

There must be a salary floating in the background that supports agents — after all, how is it that they can appear so well-groomed, professional and polished while hosting lavish broker events, open houses or other marketing activities, showing customers around town all day and buying them lunch?

Attention perpetual house shoppers and sellers just testing the market: the agent’s time and expenses are 100 percent on them.

Are you a rich broker, or a poor broker?
How to drive automation and profit from Robert Kiyosaki’s ‘Cashflow Quadrant‘ READ MORE

There is no base salary or reimbursement for the time and money they’ve expended no matter the outcome, whether it’s 500-plus messages or hours of research, advice, problem-solving, trouble-shooting, giving insight over the phone or making countless trips to show property.

How would you feel if your employer decided, as part of its cost cutting, to not give you a paycheck for your all of your work and effort, especially on a big project that involved a tremendous amount of time and effort on nights, holidays and weekends?

2. The agent keeps all the commission

First, the public needs to understand that commission is legally paid to the agent’s employing brokerage company, which in turns pays the agent.

Depending on what side the agent is representing (buyer or seller), their brokerage will earn the listing or selling side commission unless the agent happens to be handling both sides of the transaction.

It is a rare occurrence, but it does happen, and doing so is never a walk in the park.

No matter what the commission is, the amount paid to the agent is not the entire commission — the brokerage takes its portion (to be able to run the company to support its agents and keep the lights on), and then the agent gets his or her split.

The split varies based on the company, business model and the agent’s level of production.

There are usually additional fees that come off the top of the gross amount of commission being paid to the brokerage.

By the time all is sliced and diced, the resulting amount to the agent may surprise you. Then that agent has to remember to withhold money for taxes and social security. They make a living just like everyone else; the difference is the check doesn’t come every two weeks.

3. The typical commission is 6 percent, right?

Speaking of which, I recently had someone ask me this exact question.

The buyer wanted to purchase one of my listings and assumed that I would be receiving the “standard 6 percent,” to which I explained that all commissions are negotiable and vary according to a variety of factors with type of property, price and such in my market.

Every market is different.

4. An agent’s gas, mileage and other transportation expenses are reimbursed 

If only real estate brokerages had a “transportation fund” to reimburse agents for these things.

The 25 trips to show a buyer homes every time a new one hit the market — only for the buyer to wait and see if something better comes along.

The three days spent driving all over town with a relocating buyer who decides not end up moving to that city.

The umpteen trips to a listing, prepping for showings, and continually checking on the vacant property; or meeting vendors contractors, photographers, etc. — none of it is paid for by anyone but the agent.

Driving into new construction neighborhoods that are rife with tire-puncturing nails — the gas, tolls, vehicle wear-and-tear and maintenance — it all adds up, and it’s all on the agent.

5. Marketing expenses aren’t the agent’s responsibility

Speaking of things the public thinks a brokerage pays for on behalf of an agent — don’t forget the marketing expenses!

Think about the several thousand dollars for video production, 3-D tours, digital marketing campaigns, specialty websites, broker open house events, the local symphony quartet playing on a red carpet greeting prospective buyers — not to mention the design and printing of brochures and the like.

Yep, this marketing is brought to you by — your neighborhood friendly real estate agent (sorry no corporate sponsor was available), who didn’t ask the seller to contribute one dime, even after agreeing to discount commission to make the seller happy.

And when the seller doesn’t follow the agent’s advice, won’t work with an offer that was received because it was “too low” and ultimately decides to pull the house off the market?

Oh well.

6. A home passes or fails inspection

An inspection is meant to assess the condition of a home. An inspector doesn’t “pass” or “fail” a home.

He or she will provide a report explaining all issues along with a summary of the age of key systems such as plumbing, electric, HVAC and the roof along with an estimate of economic life remaining on those systems.

7. Inspectors have to find something, don’t they?

Speaking of inspections, no one likes the idea of someone crawling around their home for a few hours with a camera and notepad making note of every crack, crevice and things that may not function to a certain standard.

Here’s the deal: inspectors are hired by the buyer to do an independent and objective evaluation of a property. The reality is they are going to find things — no property is perfect, even with brand new construction homes.

There is no secret conspiring happening behind the scenes. If the sellers are concerned about what might be found, the best way to level the playing field is to obtain their own pre-listing inspection before putting the home on the market.

8. Weekends bring out the most serious buyers

Contrary to popular belief, weekends don’t usually bring out the most serious and ready-to-buy buyers. Open houses and other open-to-the-community events tend to bring voyeurs, nosy neighbors and curiosity seekers interested in looking at decorating ideas and how other people live.

Just watch Zillow’s latest web series “Open House Obsessed” that follows people who have made a hobby out of going to open houses.

The most serious showings tend to happen during the week. In many markets, it is usually too late to wait until the weekend to look at any properties of interest.

9. Zillow says, therefore it is

When was the last time Zillow physically walked through a property, pulled relevant comparables, did specific adjustments and established an on-point range of value?

Zillow’s Zestimate gives a consumer a general idea of the value of a home — the company calls it a “starting point” — but by no means is it an exact valuation tool. Zillow can’t discern the difference between why homes on one street or in a particular area may be different value-wise versus those just two streets over.

It can’t tell the consumer why the last three sales sold for the prices they did and why a particular school is driving people to a specific neighborhood. Even Zillow’s CEO, Spencer Rascoff, sold his home for 40 percent less than the Zestimate showed in 2016!

10. It is better to price a home on the high side as the seller can always come down

This is one of the most common fallacies in real estate. Sellers want to protect their asking price so they think overpricing it is an effective defense mechanism against selling too low.

Newsflash: overpricing your home often leads to the home sitting and not receiving much interest. If a home is priced competitively from the beginning, the chances of attracting optimal traffic from the beginning greatly increases.

As a follow-up to this myth, sellers often say “well, a buyer can always make an offer,” but the problem is that when you’ve overpriced it, buyers may not look at the home in the first place, let alone put an offer in. You have to entice with the price.

11. When making an offer on a home, you need to start with a low offer

Just as sellers make a classic mistake of overpricing, buyers often make the mistake of wanting to start with a really low offer.

Although there is nothing wrong with negotiating, if the home is priced within range, an unrealistically low offer is only going to alienate the seller, and you won’t be taken seriously.

Don’t be surprised if you receive a very slight counter or no counter offer at all.

12. The longer a home is on the market, the more negotiable the deal

Not necessarily, and in fact, it may mean just the opposite. A home that lags on the market is likely sitting due to its asking price as well as its lot, layout, location or condition of the home.

An awkward layout or inferior location can also play a role. The seller may be unrealistic about their asking price or want the market to pay more than it is willing to bear.

13. Multiple price reductions mean the seller is desperate to sell

If a home has had multiple price reductions, that must mean the seller desperately needs to sell.

Price reductions are made to bring the property in line with current comparables, price it to be competitive or underprice it to help generate more traffic and interest.

Often when a seller has done several price reductions it means they are through with negotiation.

14. Multiple offers give the sellers an advantage

If a seller receives more than one offer and elects to simultaneously counteroffer all buyers, that increases their leverage and the likelihood of selling for top dollar.

Maybe but maybe not.

It can be easy to see dollar signs when there is more than one offer in hand from multiple buyers. Keep in mind that every buyer has a limit, and no one likes to be played.

Not every home is a must-have in every market, and there will always be another property that becomes available.

As a seller, if you play this card wrong, you could end up having the entire situation backfire and be forced to watch all the buyers walk away.

15. All agents are the same

Although the general process of buying or selling and the ensuing chain of events are similar, no two agents are the same, nor is their approach to real estate. The public often lumps all agents into the same bunch and considers them a commodity without really taking the time to study the differences in their approach, presentation and achievements.

As in every profession or organization, there are those who are committed to excellence, devote endless amounts of time and energy into working with buyers and sellers and are highly adept problem solvers. Others simply march to lower standards and do the bare minimum to get by.

Just as some attorneys and physicians are better than others, so are real estate agents. Some are more resourceful, responsive and creative.

Although a few photos and minimal listing description may be adequate in the eyes of one agent, another agent can’t imagine presenting a listing that wasn’t properly prepped for sale with staging, video, 3-D and a slick marketing campaign with professionally designed and produced collateral for digital and print.

In real estate, an agent can never assume, and the same goes for the public.

Cara Ameer is a broker associate and Realtor with Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. You can follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

Email Cara Ameer.

July There's no place like home

 

                                                              Capture                                                           PROFARM Neighborhood Advocates
                                                           No Place Like Home (July 20, 2017)

Wherever you are in your real estate journey – dreaming, planning, remodeling, looking – a REALTOR® can help you along the way.

There’s no place like home… until a better house hits the market! You thought you were settled, until a “For Sale” sign showed up in front of that house you’ve been eyeing for years. Even when you are settled, there are always shifting priorities and scenarios that may prompt you to consider moving.

The kids are gone and you want to downsize, or maybe a parent is moving in with you. Perhaps you’ve just gotten married or are having a baby and need more room. Housing and family needs combined account for 72.7% of the reasons people move, according to the 2015-2016 U.S. Census Bureau.

Or you’ve got outdated appliances and have new kitchen envy. Many of the homes in Pinellas County are older housing stock, and need not only cosmetic, but in many cases safety or efficiency upgrades.

The next generation of home buyers are looking for updated interiors, well-equipped kitchens and outdoor living rooms.

According to the National Association of REALTORS®, for-sale-by-owner homes stay on the market longer and sell for $39,000 less than those sold with the help of a real estate professional.

Finding the right agent matters! An experienced agent, who knows the market and has a network of potential buyers, can help sell a home 32% faster than an inexperienced agent (study by Dr. Bennie D. Waller, Longwood University).

Whatever your life stage or wherever you are in your real estate journey, you have a partner in me to help guide and support you.

I’m ready when you are! Contact me to set up a personalized plan for your real estate goals. Thank you, Annalisa Weller

© 2017 Pinellas Realtor® Organization

Buying a Home? Do You Know the Lingo? | Keeping Current Matters

Buying a home can be intimidating if you are not familiar with the terms used during the process. To start you on your path with confidence, we have compiled a list of some of the most common terms used when buying a home.

Freddie Mac has compiled a more exhaustive glossary of terms in their “My Home” section of their website.

Annual Percentage Rate (APR) – This is a broader measure of your cost for borrowing money. The APR includes the interest rate, points, broker fees and certain other credit charges a borrower is required to pay. Because these costs are rolled in, the APR is usually higher than your interest rate.

Appraisal – A professional analysis used to estimate the value of the property. This includes examples of sales of similar properties. This is a necessary step in getting your financing secured as it validates the home’s worth to you and your lender.

Closing Costs – The costs to complete the real estate transaction. These costs are in addition to the price of the home and are paid at closing. They include points, taxes, title insurance, financing costs, items that must be prepaid or escrowed and other costs. Ask your lender for a complete list of closing cost items.

Credit Score – A number ranging from 300-850, that is based on an analysis of your credit history. Your credit score plays a significant role when securing a mortgage as it helps lenders determine the likelihood that you’ll repay future debts. The higher your score, the better, but many buyers believe they need at least a 780 score to qualify when, in actuality, over 55% of approved loans had a score below 750.

Discount Points – A point equals 1% of your loan (1 point on a $200,000 loan = $2,000). You can pay points to buy down your mortgage interest rate. It’s essentially an upfront interest payment to lock in a lower rate for your mortgage.

Down Payment – This is a portion of the cost of your home that you pay upfront to secure the purchase of the property. Down payments are typically 3 to 20% of the purchase price of the home. There are zero-down programs available through VA loans for Veterans, as well as USDA loans for rural areas of the country. Eighty percent of first-time buyers put less than 20% down last month.

Escrow – The holding of money or documents by a neutral third party before closing. It can also be an account held by the lender (or servicer) into which a homeowner pays money for taxes and insurance.

Fixed-Rate Mortgages – A mortgage with an interest rate that does not change for the entire term of the loan. Fixed-rate mortgages are typically 15 or 30 years.

Home Inspection – A professional inspection of a home to determine the condition of the property. The inspection should include an evaluation of the plumbing, heating and cooling systems, roof, wiring, foundation and pest infestation.

Mortgage Rate – The interest rate you pay to borrow money to buy your house. The lower the rate, the better. Interest rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage have hovered between 4 and 4.25% for most of 2017.

Pre-Approval Letter – A letter from a mortgage lender indicating that you qualify for a mortgage of a specific amount. It also shows a home seller that you’re a serious buyer. Having a pre-approval letter in hand while shopping for homes can help you move faster, and with greater confidence, in competitive markets.

Primary Mortgage Insurance (PMI) – If you make a down payment lower than 20% on your conventional loan, your lender will require PMI, typically at a rate of .51%. PMI serves as an added insurance policy that protects the lender if you are unable to pay your mortgage and can be cancelled from your payment once you reach 20% equity in your home.

Real Estate Professional – An individual who provides services in buying and selling homes. Real estate professionals are there to help you through the confusing paperwork, to help you find your dream home, to negotiate any of the details that come up, and to help make sure that you know exactly what’s going on in the housing market. Real estate professionals can refer you to local lenders or mortgage brokers along with other specialists that you will need throughout the home-buying process.

The best way to ensure that your home-buying process is a confident one is to find a real estate professional who will guide you through every aspect of the transaction with ‘the heart of a teacher,’ and who puts your family’s needs first.

re-posted from:

Annalisa Weller, Realtor®, Certified International Property Specialist

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  • ‘Welcome’ to all our new members who joined us in June July 2, 2018
    The Pinellas REALTOR® Organization would like to welcome all of our new REALTORS® who joined us in June! We are happy to have you as a part of our organization and wish you much success in your careers. Allen Collins Realty Inc Joel Morris Andrew Binder Andrew Binder Barkett Realty Florian Santana Barkett Realty Thomas  […]
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  • Local wire fraud attempt July 2, 2018
    We received a call from a Realtor member who shared her experience with wire fraud attempt. She received four offers on a property. Someone hacked into her email and was sending emails from it, acting as her, with very suspicious language. Three contracts were sent to her with requests to wire tens of thousands of […]
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  • Florida has a new team advertising rule June 25, 2018
    The team ad regulation, 61J2-10.026 Team or Group Advertising, is as follows: 61J2-10.026 Team or Group Advertising. (1) “Team or group advertising” shall mean a name or logo used by one or more real estate licensees who represent themselves to the public as a team or group. The team or group must perform licensed activities […]
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  • May 2018 Pinellas County Real Estate Statistics June 21, 2018
      Click here to view Pinellas County Real Estate Statistics for May 2018 to see what the numbers tell us about the market.
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  • PRO COO Katie Shotts goes to Hernando County Association of REALTORS as CEO June 18, 2018
    PRO Chief Operating Officer Katie Shotts, RCE, e-PRO was selected as the next Hernando County Association of REALTORS CEO. Katie has ten years of experience in the REALTOR family, including 7 years at the 3,200-member Memphis Area Association of REALTORS and 3 years at PRO. She was the Communications Director and staff exec for the […]
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