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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.

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:

On Valentine’s Day,

You’ve given roses, flowers, balloons, candy & jewelry. Why not not give your sweetheart a diamond of a house for Valentine’s Day?

This 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom Shore Acres home in St Petersburg is all remodeled and ready for you to move in. I’ll even add a big red bow! Happy Valentine’s Day!!

https://www.trulia.com/property/3223754998-1766-Maryland-Ave-NE-Saint-Petersburg-FL-33703

This is an impressive post that brings out excellent points for both sellers and buyers. These are the kinds of things that we Realtors explain weekly, if not daily. Thank you Cara!
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Don’t go into the buying and selling process blind

As a layperson, you don’t know what you don’t know when it comes to handling the single largest transaction you’ll likely make in your life.

As with most important things in life, you wouldn’t try to handle a legal situation without an attorney, build your own house or take on the IRS solo to challenge a tax matter. Well, buying or selling a home is no different.

Here are 10 reasons you should never buy or sell a home without a agent.

1. Knowledge is not power

A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing when it comes to real estate. At the click of a mouse or a tap on your phone, you can get an instant valuation of your property.

Is that value realistic? On which properties is it based? What did those properties have that yours does or does not? What were the dates and details of those sales?

That valuation could be significantly more or less than what your property is actually worth. Just like using the internet to self-diagnose a medical issue is not the best idea, the same applies to real estate.

2. What do you know about the market?

To the above point, as a seller, do you know what other options buyers are likely to consider when they are looking at your home? Do you know who the typical buyer audience is, where they are coming from and how to find them?

Do you know what agents likely work with this group? What is the average number of days on market for homes in your area, and what percentage of the asking price are they getting? Are there any particular terms of sale that are a trend in your area, such as sellers paying closing costs for buyers or other concessions?

As a buyer, what types of properties are most realistic for your price range and the kind of financing you will be doing?

A good agent educates you about “real estate reality” as far as what you can get for your money in your desired areas and criteria that are important to you.

Lastly, whether a buyer or seller, do you know why properties in one particular location sell faster than another? Are there challenges, perceived or real that could affect values?

A stellar agent can prevent you from making an expensive mistake when it comes to buying (such as a home near a soon-to-be-constructed highway or busy railroad tracks — no wonder it was priced so cheap). And alternatively, that same agent can help sellers position their property in the best way when taking into account external factors around it that can affect value.

3. Agents are expert problem-solvers

So what happens when the inspection reveals termites, a roof leak, a house that needs to be replumbed — or worse yet when an inspector paints a picture of a fairly minor repair issue in a far worse light than it is? What happens when an appraisal comes in at less than contract sales price?

These are run-of-the-mill issues that agents face every day. They don’t make our palms sweat and cause us to faint, but instead we stand tall in the face of the myriad challenges this business presents.

My first broker told me, “If you aren’t solving problems, you aren’t selling real estate.” How true this is.

If you are selling your home on your own and encounter these situations, can you prevent the buyer from running for the hills? Do you have a plethora of experts you can call upon, often at a moment’s notice, who can help?

As a buyer, do you really want to be addressing repair items with a seller directly? Sellers are so often in “repair denial,” particularly when they are trying to sell their home on their own — there are never any issues as far as they are concerned.

As a buyer, do you really want to be addressing repair items with a seller directly?

 

4. Overcoming objections is what agents excel at

You are selling your home on your own. Do you have a record of who has come through and when? If they had an agent, who it was and what the buyer thought of it? If they didn’t buy your home, what did they buy instead and why?

A real estate agent with two buyers

That’s what agents working with sellers manage. Are there any themes emerging? If there are concerns that are presenting as a challenge for buyers, do you know how to address them?

Are there ways to combat these objections by providing additional information or consulting with needed designers, contractors, landscapers, the homeowners’ association and so on?

Superstar agents can effectively address objections such as “didn’t like layout” or “needs too much work” and know how to position a property effectively, so buyers go from “just looking” to locking an offer up.

5. Effective negotiation skills are key

As a seller, you received a low offer on the property. Do you make a counteroffer, outright reject it or not respond?

As a buyer, you want to make an offer that asks the seller for everything and the kitchen sink (well, because it’s attached, it conveys as part of the house anyway).

How do you formulate a strategy? Do you know your opponent and have you gathered much intelligence about them? How much should you offer or counteroffer?

Does your response risk alienating the other side? What about more than one offer? How do you facilitate, manage and negotiate effectively to keep all interested buyers in play?

The negotiation landscape can get complex, which is why a third party is always beneficial in acting as a buffer zone to separate emotion from facts and work to reach an objective outcome.

6. Preventive medicine equals more money in your pockets

The saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” certainly applies when it comes to real estate because surprise is never a good thing when it comes to buying or selling.

Surprise is never a good thing when it comes to buying or selling.

A good agent walks you through the necessary steps before you start your property search or put your property on the market.

As a buyer, there are certain things you must do before starting your property search, such as getting prequalified — preferably preapproved — so you don’t waste time looking at properties that aren’t a match, and so that you don’t waste a seller’s time coming through a home that you cannot afford.

As a seller, are there items that should be addressed before putting your property on the market? Should you get a pre-listing inspection, and are there any repair items that need to be taken care of?

What about staging or editing your furnishings and decor? What items make the most sense for you to address to position your home for maximum exposure?

Do you need a floor plan created for your home? Is there any pertinent information you need to pull together that is critical for the sale?

In short, a top-notch agent guides you on critical steps you need to take before stepping into the market that will save you time, headaches and hassle when an offer comes through.

7. Marketing expertise is needed to sell your home

Image is everything when it comes to real estate, and a poorly presented property is like showing up at the Oscars without using a stylist.

Do you have access to the right photographers, video producers, stagers and interior designers to make your property shine?

Although you might think marketing your property on your own is easy, there is a difference between playing photographer and hiring someone with an objective, critical eye for what kind of marketing will attract the right buyers.

Are you able to find the money shot? What photos are going to best present the property? Should a drone be used, and for which shots?

Are you able to create a video to effectively tell your property’s story and how to best find that story and articulate it? What kind of marketing collateral can you prepare that’s going to communicate the features, benefits and advantages of your property over another effectively, and how is that collateral going to be distributed?

Do you have access to vendors that might be able to offer incentives or discounts for buyers who could benefit from their services with the new home?

A poorly presented property is like showing up at the Oscars without using a stylist.

8. Social network exposure is unmatched

Can you broadcast your property across numerous websites and various social media networks to pique buyer and agent interest — locally, nationally and possibly internationally?

Are you able to reach hundreds, thousands or even more with the click of a mouse? Are you able to use predictive analytics and targeted digital marketing to put your property in front of the right prospects? A top agent is skilled in making your property go viral in just seconds.

A top agent is skilled in making your property go viral in just seconds.

 

9. Agents have mad connections

Real estate agents are connected to just about everyone and everything. The three degrees of separation rule applies here.

Agents are constantly in the know — it’s their job to be. They leverage their relationships with real estate related service providers, lenders — and, most importantly, other agents — to help bring the sale together.

Agents exchange and share advice and ideas that can help one another, and by networking and information-sharing, they help bridge the gap between for sale and sold.

They also have access to properties that are not officially on the market and often know deals not advertised that builders might be offering in terms of discounts or specials that can help save you money.

Need a handyman or a really good painter? Ask your agent about the contacts he or she has, and get hooked up with great providers.

10. Trusted advice and an available point person are a seller’s best friend

Who else can you go to with a question or concern almost any time of the day or night? Yes, as much as we don’t like to admit it, there is no such thing as office hours for real estate.

A good real estate agent is your trusted adviser every step of the way, and unlike your attorney or accountant, you won’t get charged for every phone call or email.

Who else can you unload your qualms, fears and worries upon regarding the buying and selling process? When your peanut gallery of friends, family and co-workers are giving you confusing advice, who can you trust for objective information to make the best possible decision?

Don’t go into the buying and selling process blind. Let a real estate professional be your guide so that you can celebrate this incredible milestone without worry, knowing that the heavy lifting and problem-solving was done for you.

Cara Ameer is a broker associate and Realtor with Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. 

 

Annalisa Weller, Realtor®, Certified International Property Specialist

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