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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:

7. Kitchen3

1766 Maryland Ave NE, St Petersburg, Florida

When a homeowner decides to sell their house, the number one thing that they want is, of course, the best possible price!! Right? Next, is that they want the least amount of problems to receive this price. Most sellers don’t realize all of the steps required to reach their goal. Marketing is more than sticking a sign in the yard, placing an add on Craig’s list or posting some photos on Facebook. Does the seller know how to stage the house to show it’s best appeal to the most buyers? Is the seller willing to answer phone calls 24/7, literally? Yes, at 2 in the morning when a buyer is searching the Internet! Does the seller know if the buyer is a serious buyer with their mortgage in place or are they pre-approved? In order to know all of these things & much more, a seller really needs to hire a real estate professional.

Technology has changed the buyer’s behavior during the home buying process. According to the National Association of Realtors’ 2016 Profile of Home Buyers & Sellers, the percentage of buyers who used the internet in their home search increased to 94%. However, the report also shows that 96% of buyers who used the internet when searching for homes purchased their homes through either a real estate agent/broker or from a builder or builder’s agent. Only 2% bought their homes directly from a seller that they didn’t know. Most of the buyers who bought homes directly from sellers (For Sale By Owner) still used a Realtor to represent them. Buyers start their search for a home online but then depend on an agent to find the home they will buy (50%), to negotiate the terms of the sale (47%) & price (36%), or to help understand the process (61%). There is so much information out there, either through the Internet or family & friends that more buyers are now reaching out to real estate professionals to help them through the very complicated process. The percentage of buyers who have used agents to buy their homes has steadily increased from 69% in 2001.


Sooooo, if you are thinking of selling your home, don’t underestimate the role a real estate professional can play in the process. The vast majority of buyers have realized that they actually need a Realtor in order to purchase their new home correctly. The laws regarding real estate change constantly & a professional Realtor will know the latest requirements & forms, as well as have a much larger audience with which to present your home in the best light.

This post below has some great information on how to choose an inspector when purchasing your next home. I would also add to schedule your home inspections as soon as possible after your offer is accepted. You want to allow enough time for repairs to be completed before closing. If there is too much wrong with the house, you will want to move on quickly to find the right house for you.

So you made an offer, it was accepted, and now your next task is to have the home inspected prior to closing. More often than not, your agent may have made your offer contingent on a clean home inspection.

This contingency allows you to renegotiate the price paid for the home, ask the sellers to cover repairs, or even, in some cases, walk away. Your agent can advise you on the best course of action once the report is filed.

How to Choose an Inspector

Your agent will most likely have a short list of inspectors that they have worked with in the past that they can recommend to you. Realtor.com suggests that you consider the following 5 areas when choosing the right home inspector for you:

  1. Qualifications – find out what’s included in your inspection & if the age or location of your home may warrant specific certifications or specialties.
  2. Sample Reports – ask for a sample inspection report so you can review how thoroughly they will be inspecting your dream home. The more detailed the report, the better in most cases.
  3. References – do your homework – ask for phone numbers and names of past clients that you can call to ask about their experience.
  4. Memberships – Not all inspectors belong to a national or state association of home inspectors, and membership in one of these groups should not be the only way to evaluate your choice. Membership in one of these organizations often means that there is continued training and education provided.
  5. Errors & Omission Insurance – Find out what the liability of the inspector or inspection company is once the inspection is over. The inspector is only human after all, and it is possible that they might miss something they should have seen.

Ask your inspector if it’s ok for you to tag along during the inspection, that way they can point out anything that should be addressed or fixed.

Don’t be surprised to see your inspector climbing on the roof, crawling around in the attic, and on the floors. The job of the inspector is to protect your investment and find any issues with the home, including but not limited to: the roof, plumbing, electrical components, appliances, heating & air conditioning systems, ventilation, windows, the fireplace & chimney, the foundation and so much more!

Bottom Line

They say ‘ignorance is bliss,’ but not when investing your hard-earned money in a home of your own. Work with a professional you can trust to give you the most information possible about your new home so that you can make the most educated decision about your purchase.

http://www.keepingcurrentmatters.com/2017/01/29/what-to-expect-from-your-home-inspection/

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

Is This the Year to Move Up to Your Dream Home? If So, Do it Early | Keeping Current Matters

It appears that Americans are regaining faith in the U.S. economy. The following indexes have each shown a dramatic jump in consumer confidence in their latest surveys:

  1. The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index
  2. National Federation of Independent Businesses’ Small Business Optimism Index
  3. CNBC All-America Economic Survey
  4. The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Survey

It usually means good news for the housing market when the country sees an optimistic future. People begin to dream again about the home their family has always wanted, and some make plans to finally make that dream come true.

If you are considering moving up to your dream home, it may be better to do it earlier in the year than later. The two components of your monthly mortgage payment (home prices and interest rates) are both projected to increase as the year moves forward, and interest rates may increase rather dramatically. Here are some predictions on where rates will be by the end of the year:

HSH.com:

“We think that conforming 30-year fixed rates probably make it into the4.625 percent to 4.75 percent range at some point during 2017 as a peak.”

Svenja Gudell, Zillow’s Chief Economist:

“I wouldn’t be surprised if the 30-year fixed mortgage rate hits 4.75 percent.”

Mark Fleming, the Chief Economist at First American:

“[I see] mortgage rates getting much closer to 5 percent at the end of next year.”

Lawrence Yun, NAR Chief Economist:

“By this time next year, expect the 30-year fixed rate to likely be in the 4.5 percent to 5 percent range.”

Bottom Line

If you are feeling good about your family’s economic future and are considering making a move to your dream home, doing it sooner rather than later makes the most sense.

Agents, did you know you can share a personalized version of this post? Learn more!

house outline on tablet

Every real estate agent wants a well-informed home buyer who’s prepared to take on the responsibility of home ownership. Of course, not everyone is enlightened about the homebuying process when they seek your services. One way to get your clients ready for the transaction is to refer them to homebuyer education courses before they launch their search.

A Sample of Homebuyer Education Programs

HUD provides a comprehensive list of its approved resources, including homebuyer education courses and one-on-one counseling. Here are a few of those programs, which are available online and can be completed at the buyer’s leisure.

Framework
Cost: $75
Time to completion: About four hours
Includes nine education modules with a quiz at the end. Coupons are available, which agents can provide as a gift to clients. After completing the course, users download and save a Certificate of Completion. For buyers who purchase a home through Fannie Mae’s HomePath REO program, the cost of the course will be reimbursed. Fannie Mae also offers closing cost incentives to first-time buyers in the HomePath program who complete the Framework course.

MGIC Homebuyer Education
Cost: Free
Time to completion: About an hour
This program is suitable for buyers who are just beginning to learn about the homebuying process and who do not yet have a lender. It’s approachable and user-friendly, and the course can be taken by a “stealth” user without registering. Users can also register and take a quiz at the end, which will satisfy requirements for Freddie Mac Home Possible programs.

eHome America
Cost: $99
Time to completion: Eight hours, taken online at your own pace
This is one of several financial courses offered through the HUD-approved “Home Purchase” program. It covers topics such as determining if now is the right time to buy, shopping for a home, and getting approved for a home loan.

CreditSmart Steps to Homeownership
Cost: Free
Time to completion: About two hours
This program focuses on good credit: how you can improve your credit score, why it’s necessary to do so, and how it leads to home ownership. Users receive a certificate, which can be used for Freddie Mac Home Possible programs.

United Guaranty’s Home Ownership Course
Cost: Free
Time to completion: Two to three-and-a-half hours
Satisfies the homeownership education requirement for Freddie Mac’s Home Possible affordable home program. After you complete the course and assessment, your lender (if applicable) will be notified by email.

These courses, many of which are now being offered online by lenders and nonprofit community organizations, are useful for all clients — those entering the market for the first time or even making a second or third home purchase. Many real estate professionals try to act as full-service providers able to solve any problem or answer any question, notes Joe Weisbord, director of credit and housing access at Fannie Mae, whose HomeReady program requires prospective buyers to take a HUD-approved homeowner course in order to qualify for a loan. But “people don’t like to admit what they don’t know,” he says, and your clients may not always come to you if they’re embarrassed about their lack of knowledge.

By linking them to a course providing “independent, unbiased information that helps them understand choices they’re going to make,” you’re helping meet your clients’ needs while building trust.

For nervous first-time buyers, those with poor credit, or others who need extra attention while learning the homebuying process, pointing them to a course can also be a great way to solidify the client-agent relationship. Homebuyer courses aim to demystify credit-score requirements, budgeting, shopping for a mortgage, home inspections, insurance, and maintenance, among other items. This takes the pressure off you, and you can spend your time honing in on the type of properties your clients are interested in. You’ll be ready to go once they are, and “it’s less likely that unknown circumstances will arise that will lead to the sale falling apart,” Weisbord says.

But homebuyer courses — many of which are free, but costs can fall along a range of up to $100 — can also convince a prospective buyer that they’re not ready to purchase. That’s still good for the agent in the long run, Lane says. “I’m not afraid of losing [a client]. If someone wants to rush and make a bad decision, I don’t want to be a part of that. It’s important in our business to take our clients through a rigorous fact-finding mission.”

The in-depth programs position buyers who may struggle with the lending process to successfully purchase once they’ve built up their savings or repaired their credit. That could help them secure a more competitive mortgage rate and lead to a bigger home sale later on. “Today’s sale might be critical, but the way to build a real estate career is through a chain of referrals,” says Anne McCulloch, senior vice president for credit and housing access at Fannie Mae. “People who don’t succeed are not the best referrals.”

For certain lending programs, including Freddie Mac’s Home Possible Mortgages, completing a HUD-approved homebuyer education course is mandatory. A newly revised course called Framework, a joint enterprise of the Housing Partnership Networkand the Minnesota Homeownership Center that is available to consumers nationwide, draws on research of best practices in online learning, says Framework president Danielle Samalin. “We’ve learned that content tied to emotional information is more readily retained,” she says, adding that Framework employs motion-graphic videos and homebuyer stories, among other content. “Most people complete it within a day of signing up.”

Other lenders are offering education resources with incentives. In May, Wells Fargo debuted a new program called yourFirstMorgage, which includes a 1/8 percent reduction on mortgage rates for buyers with down payments of less than 10 percent if they complete a homebuyer education course.

For Lane, referring clients to these courses is a way to make her value proposition as a real estate professional stronger. “Every time you provide something for a client, you build that bond,” she says. “It’s a way to separate yourself from the herd, a long-term relationship-building opportunity.”

BY BETH FRANKEN   http://realtormag.realtor.org/sales-and-marketing/feature/article/2016/10/help-clients-get-smarter-about-ownership

Many first-time home buyers receive down payment assistance from a family member or close friend, but they may not realize there are specific guidelines they must follow when they take money from others for a home purchase.

Read more: Help Clients Get Smarter About Ownership

First off, the down payment must be considered a gift. If it’s considered a loan, the lender must then factor that into the mortgage approval amount, and your buyers may then qualify for less than they may have needed to.

Your buyers will need a gift letter from the person or persons who gave them the money. The person who gifted your buyer the money will need to state on paper that he or she does not plan on asking for the money back in return and that it is, indeed, a gift.

“The gift letter is very serious,” says Casey Fleming, mortgage adviser and author of “The Loan Guide: How to Get the Best Possible Mortgage.” “While it is doubtful that a lender would ever audit a file after the fact to see if the recipient is paying the donor back, if the transaction goes bad, you might very well find yourself with a subpoena in your hand.” Remember, you cannot lie on a mortgage application. It’s a felony.

The gifter may also be required to provide bank statements, possibly even up to two months of statements from their account.

Your buyers also likely will want to get the down payment in advance during the early planning stages of their house hunt. That could also help save them from possible delays later on.

“If the funds are ‘seasoned’ — meaning that they’ve been in the account long enough so that the last two bank statements don’t show the deposit — the gift does not have to be addressed,” Fleming says.

Also, there is a limit to how much your buyer can be gifted tax-free. Any gift of $14,000 and up will face a tax bill, under current rules.

That said, “it is $14,000 per year per donor, so a couple could give $28,000 ($14,000 from each) to their child,” Fleming says.

Source: “Getting a Down Payment as a Gift? Avoid the Mistakes That Could Mess You Up,” realtor.com® (Nov. 28, 2016)

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. 

 

 

If you are in the market for a house, you’ll likely want to make sure you have a roof that won’t leak, a solid foundation, proper wiring and so on. But what about the things not covered by the inspection? Sometimes it’s these less obvious factors that end up making the biggest impact on your day-to-day experience of a house — things like the quality of light, flow from room to room and the amount of time it takes to shovel the driveway. Here are 20 things to look for — and happy house hunting!

From:  http://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/30459291/list/home-buying-checklist-20-things-to-consider-beyond-the-inspection

by Kimanh Moreau | June 2015

NationalHousingMonth-713x297

If you believe House Hunters, the home buying experience goes something like this:

1. Visit home in ideal neighborhood.
2. Check for granite countertops in kitchen.
3. Check also for double sinks in master bathroom.
4. Make jokes about how your partner or significant other will not get any closet space.
5. Make an offer.
6. Move in!

In reality, the home buying process is often a lengthier and more complicated process than what we see on TV. And that is a good thing. Why? Because buying a home is one of the most important financial decisions you are likely to make and your choice should not hinge (only!) on countertops and double sinks.

Here, we take a look at five essential questions that any prospective homebuyer should ask before making an offer on a particular home:

What are Similar Houses Selling for?

Before making an offer on a home, it is wise to explore what comparable homes in the area have sold for recently. (In real estate parlance, these are referred to as “comps”.) It is only through looking at comps that you will be able to understand whether or not the home’s asking price is reasonable. Your agent will be able to pull together a list of comps for you easily and should be able to explain what the comps suggest about your prospective home’s value.

What’s the story with this house?

It’s easy to fall in love with a house, but it is hard to stay in love with a house that needs a surprise new roof or turns out to be riddled with asbestos. To avoid major buyer’s remorse, a home inspection is key.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Nowadays, many sellers will have purchased a home inspection before they put the home on the market. Make sure you read the inspection rather than simply receiving a run-down of highlights from the selling agent.
  • If the seller has not already had the home inspected, commissioning an inspection from a trusted & accredited home inspector is key. Your agent will likely have recommendations for a good home inspector.
  • Some buyers will forego the option of requesting a home inspection in order to strengthen their offer to the seller in a hot market. Before going this road, it is wise to talk about the risks associated with purchasing a home without having it inspected with your agent.

Is Documentation Available for the Garage Door/Hardwood Floors/etc.?

Rarely do buyers think to ask for something as mundane as a user manual for an air conditioning system, or the warranty on a roof. However, having these documents at hand can save major headaches later, should something go wrong.

Below are a few common items that it pays to ask for information about before you close on a new home:

  • Warranties on major appliances and home systems such as heating & cooling units, and windows.
  • Purchase information and passwords for alarm systems, keypads, and garage door openers.
  • Instruction manuals for any of the above.

While your seller isn’t required to leave these for you, most should have no problem doing so, especially if the sale has been amicable. If, however, you realize you are missing some key documents after you get the keys, a few phone calls to a dealer or service provider can point you in the right direction.

Will you Need Flood Insurance?

Do you know if your prospective home lies in flood plain? If so, you will likely be required to carry flood insurance. This raiser your insurance costs and is something you will definitely want to research.

FEMA provides maps detailing flood plain areas and these are worth exploring. It is also important to note that flood plains are assigned different ratings depending on the level of flood risk. This rating will impact the cost of your flood insurance policy.

Once you understand that a home is in a flood plain think about the following:

  • How much more each month will flood insurance cost you and can you afford this?
  • Are you comfortable living in a home that is in a flood plain?
  • Are there comparable homes available that are not in a flood plain?


What are the Monthly Utility Costs?

No one likes paying utility costs, but unless you are planning to live off the grid, chances are you’ll be sending off those bills to the utility companies each month.

To gauge how much utility costs will impact your bottom line, consider asking the seller for copies of their utility bills during peak month. (Depending on where you live, peak months could be the cold months or the very hot summer months.)

Before you let high utility bills scare you from a property, however, it makes sense to think about whether or not some little fixes could save you big money down the road. For example, adding weather stripping around windows and doors helps prevent drafts, as does insulating light switches and outlets. If there is room in your budget to upgrade to energy-efficient appliances, you can realize savings there as well.

***

Whether this is your first foray into homeownership or you are an experienced buyer, purchasing a new home is an exciting time! And while tracking down user manuals and examining flood plain maps is no one’s idea of a good time, spending time researching these things can save you major headaches (& wallet aches!) in the months and years to come.

Annalisa Weller, Realtor®, Certified International Property Specialist

(727) 804-6566
AnnalisaWeller1@gmail.com

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