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Posts Tagged ‘Real Estate Tips’

Five Absolute Truths About the Home Buying Process That You Will Need to Come to Terms With

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Five Absolute Truths About the Home Buying Process That You Will Need to Come to Terms WithBuying a home is one of the most exciting times that an individual will undertake in life. However, a property purchase is not without its challenges, and these can cause frustration. In this article we’ll share five potential setbacks that home buyers will need to understand and come to terms with to make a successful purchase.

Homeowner’s Insurance is Necessary

Most lenders will require insurance before financing is approved. To fulfill these requirements, the policy should be for at least one year and proof that the policy has been paid for must be presented. Purchasing the policy is something that must be done before closing can take place, so if you’re sure that this is the home for you, don’t delay.

Some Sellers Are Firm, No Matter What

In an ideal situation, the buyer and the seller come to a mutual agreement very easily. However, in most cases negotiation of some type is likely to be a part of the process. As with most negotiations, to reach success both sides will need to compromise.

Probate Properties Have Special Terms

When the original homeowner has died, there are certain considerations to keep in mind that do not typically apply to other types of property. One is the fact that there is a special process that must be completed before the property can be sold, even though the heirs may advertise the property as being for sale ahead of time. Another factor to keep in mind is that a recently probated property may have been uninhabited for some time and will be sold ‘as is’.

Loan Offers May Not Be Set in Stone

A common pitfall for many buyers is the assumption that home financing will be approved without issue. Unexpected circumstances may arise that cause a mortgage loan to be denied, which can cause an unprepared buyer numerous issues. Many sellers, in anticipation of such problems, have a contingency requirement.

Expect Caution from Sellers

If a seller treats your offer with caution or trepidation, don’t take it personally. Many homeowners have been burned during previous sales, and you have no idea what the seller has been through with potential buyers this time around. If someone is exercising caution, there’s likely a good reason for it.

The 5-Minute Guide To Flood Insurance: What It Is, How It Works, And Whether You Need It

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The 5-Minute Guide to Flood Insurance: What It Is, How It Works, and Whether You Need ItYou’ve got house insurance, and assume your property is covered for any type of detrimental occurrence that can possibly take place.

However, not all homeowners are aware that home insurance policies don’t necessarily cover damage related to a flood, as the risks are too great. As a result, homeowners must purchase flood insurance through a private company.

Floods are one of the most common hazards in the US, costing billions of dollars in damage to properties every year.

What Is Flood Insurance?

Flood insurance policies are typically made available to homeowners in flood-prone areas. The majority of insurance policies cover some form of water damage, from things like leaking faucets to bursting plumbing pipes.

However, such policies don’t cover water damage as a result of flooding of rivers or sewers that cause water to ruin a home.

Specific flood protection is provided by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which is run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Standard flood insurance policies cover “direct physical damage” to a property resulting from floods.

A separate policy must be purchased to protect the belongings inside the home or building. Homeowners can buy up to $250,000 in coverage for the home, and up to $100,000 in coverage for possessions. Even renters are permitted to purchase flood insurance to cover their possessions.

How Does Flood Insurance Work?

Flood insurance isn’t sold by FEMA directly, but rather is sold to customers through private insurance agencies. Premium rates are determined by the government, and they remain consistent from one insurer to the next.

How much a homeowner pays for their own specific flood insurance depends on a number of factors, including how prone the neighborhood is to floods and how much coverage a homeowner wants. The average annual premium is approximately $520 for $100,000 worth of coverage for a property with no basement, and approximately $615 annually for a property with a basement.

Filing A Flood Insurance Claim

The claims process is like any other insurance claim. Once the claim is filed, the damage will be analyzed by an adjustor assigned by the insurance company. A “proof of loss” form will need to filled out and submitted to the insurer within 60 days of the flood occurrence.

Do You Need Flood Insurance?

It’s necessary to find out if you are eligible for flood insurance before buying it. For residents of a community to be eligible, the community needs to enforce floodplain statutes to lessen the chances of flood damage, after which FEMA ensures that such regulations are followed.

Only those who reside in a community that participates in NFIP can buy insurance – today, about 20,000 communities across the country participate in this program.

FEMA offers maps that outline what areas are at high risk for floods, and those that are at moderate-to-low risk. The law requires homeowners to have flood insurance if the properties are located in a high-risk zone and have a federally-backed mortgage. This is because properties located in these high-risk areas have a 26 percent chance of suffering flood damage during the 30 years that it would take to pay off a mortgage.

Homeowners are not required to buy flood insurance if they reside in a moderate-to-low-risk zone, though it may be a good idea to purchase it anyway. Properties outside the high-risk areas make up over 20 percent of NFIP claims. Homeowners in these areas can purchase up to $200,000 in flood insurance.

The bottom line is, even if you don’t necessarily live in a high-risk zone, this doesn’t mean your home won’t ever get flooded. Many conditions can result in flood damage, including clogged drain systems, flash rainstorms, and damaged levees.

Dos And Donts Of Buying Distressed Real Estate

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How to Build the Ultimate Tree House for Your Children in Just Seven StepsDistressed real estate is real estate in need of serious repairs. These properties are often called “handyman specials.” If you have the skill or the money to complete the repairs, you can often find great deals. Here are some dos and don’ts of buying distressed real estate.

DO Get A Home Inspection

Distressed homes need repairs. Some of these repairs, like broken floor tile, are easy to see. Others, like water damage in the attic, can be easily hidden. The only way to know for sure what you’re buying is to have the property inspected by a professional home inspector.

DO Pay Attention To The Home’s Market Value

You don’t want to buy a home and spend your hard-earned money for repairs only to find out the home is worth less than what you paid for it. Have your agent complete a comparative market analysis so you know what the home is worth.

DO Have An Estimate For Repairs

There’s no point buying a distressed home if you can’t afford the cost of the home and the repairs. Get an estimate from at least three contractors before you buy. Knowing the cost of repairs beforehand will help you make the best decision.

DON’T Think About Potential Profit

You’ve probably heard countless stories about people who bought distressed properties and sold them for outrageous profits. However, the reality is that most distressed homes are sold for a small profit or no profit.

DON’T Buy A Home Just Because The Price Is Low

When you buy distressed homes, you have to consider more than just the asking price. Add together the cost of repairs, insurance, and what you can realistically expect to make from the sale. This will tell you if the home really is a good investment for you.

DON’T Buy If You Don’t Have The Money

No matter how good a deal you find on distressed homes, they aren’t worth it if they will stretch your budget too far. The last thing you want to deal with is damage to your credit score and the risk of foreclosure in the event you can’t pay for the home.

4 Tips To Lower Homeowners Insurance For Your Home

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4 Tips To Lower Homeowners Insurance For Your HomeWith the prices for everything skyrocketing these days, every penny counts. This includes your homeowner’s insurance costs. If you’re thinking of buying a home and need homeowner’s insurance, here are a few tips on getting quality insurance for a fair price:

Tip #1: Shop Around

Ask family and friends about their homeowner’s insurance. Check the Yellow Pages, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) and the state insurance department. 

Other places to shop for insurance include consumer guides, insurance agents and online insurance quote services. Don’t just look for lower prices, however. You need a fair price for the services you need.

Tip #2: Raise Your Deductible

The deductible is how much you have to pay before the insurance company starts to pay a claim on your home. The higher the deductible, the lower the premiums. If you live in a disaster-prone area, your policy may have a separate deductible for specific types of damages. 

Make sure, when reading the policy, you carefully go over damage-specific information.

Tip #3: Use The Same Insurer

Some companies will take five to fifteen percent off your premium if you buy more than one policy from them. If the insurer offers homeowner’s, auto and liability coverage, you stand a chance of having a lower premium than if they only offer one or the other. 

The key is to make sure that the combined price is lower than if you bought them separately.

Tip #4: Improve Home Security

By installing a sophisticated fire sprinkler system and a fire/burglar alarm that rings the monitoring stations, some companies will cut your premium as much as fifteen or twenty percent. 

For a smoke detector, burglar alarm or deadbolt locks, you can usually get at least a five percent discount. Check with your insurer to make sure that the system you’re installing will lower your premiums, though; the systems aren’t cheap and not all of them qualify for a discount.

Read everything carefully before you sign, to make sure the policy covers your insurance needs without adding on hidden fees. Even a little money saved can go a long way toward making it easier to live within your budget. 

Ready to buy a home? Let me help you find the perfect home and get it at the best terms and price. Call or email your trusted real estate professional.

Understanding Your Credit Score And How It Impacts Your Home Ownership Prospects

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Understanding Your Credit Score And How It Impacts Your Home Ownership Prospects

Understanding your credit score and how it impacts your home ownership prospects your credit score is an important part of your financial profile. It has a direct impact on your ability to take out loans.

The score itself is a numerical reflection of your credit history. It gives lenders a way to discern your reliability before approving a loan like a mortgage for instance.

Though this is the basic function of a credit score, it can also have a far-reaching influence over other aspects of home ownership.

Mortgage Loan Approval: Will Your Score Make the Cut?

First and foremost, the status of your credit score is a deciding factor in whether or not you are approved for a loan.

Even if you put down a large down payment on your home, a low credit score can still cause the loan to be rejected. For this reason, it’s best to wait until you’ve built up a good credit score before looking to purchase a house.

Mortgage Interest Rates: The Lower The Score The Higher The Rate

High interest rates are another reason to hold off on purchasing a home until you’ve obtained a very good credit score. While applying for a loan with the minimum credit score required might get the loan approved, it also means having to pay higher interest rates.

Shooting for a credit score above the bare minimum before applying for a mortgage will increase the likelihood of receiving a much lower interest rate. A higher credit score demonstrates a credit history of timely payments and the ability to successfully pay off debts, which are key factors in mortgage approvals.

Homeowner’s Insurance Approval And Premium Rates

An insurance broker running a credit check might seem a little out of the ordinary, but in actuality when is comes to home insurance, companies frequently run credit checks on prospective clients. When an insurance company inquires about your credit history, all they receive is your credit score and nothing more.

The nitty-gritty details of your credit history remain private. So, why are insurance companies running credit checks in the first place? Credit scores are an integral part of the scoring system they use to determine premium rates for each client.

Though your credit score might seem irrelevant in determining how likely you are to file an insurance claim, the industry argues that there is a documented connection between those who are more likely to file insurance claims and the lowly state of their credit scores. This trend has led insurance providers to offer higher insurance premiums to those with lower credit scores.

In some cases companies may refuse to insure a client based on a poor credit rating. Credit scores have a profound influence over financial transactions. You ability to make a large purchase like a new home can be severely hindered by a poor credit score.

If you have a low credit score, consider taking some time to repair your credit history before applying for large loans. Correct any lingering errors on your credit report and get into the habit of making consistent, timely bill payments.

Addressing these issues could dramatically improve your credit score in a year’s time, putting you in a much better position to tackle home ownership.

Did You Know? How Paint Color Choices Can Drastically Affect The ‘Mood’ Of Your Home

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Did You Know? How Paint Color Choices Can Drastically Affect the 'Mood' of Your HomeWhether you’re sprucing up your house to sell or simply looking for a color to bring out the beauty of your home, it’s imperative that you do your homework.

Before you head off to your local DIY store with a paint sample in one hand and a wallet in the other, you need to ensure that you’re picking the colors that are right for your home and your personality.

It is true that you can never go wrong with a neutral, but you can also go so much more right with the correct color in the appropriate space, whether it’s a neutral or not.

Give The Buyers The Blues

Blue is a great calming color and has even been known to lower blood pressure. When a person walks into a blue room they feel tranquil and at peace.

Blue is also the color of trustworthiness and dependability, so if you are selling your home, or if you just want to make your guests feel welcome, put a blue paint color on the walls of your front hall or foyer.

Eat Your Heart Out Red

Red is a high-energy color and it has been proven to stimulate the appetite. This makes it a perfect color for a kitchen. An accent wall splashed with a deep, rich red can bring interest and vibrancy to an ordinary kitchen. Be sure not to overdo the red though; one wall or a back splash is enough to get the point across without becoming garish.

Approach Yellow With Caution

Yellow is one of the most difficult colors to pull off correctly in a home. The light plays tricks with it, and what you thought was a sunny yellow in the store might become a sallow jaundice on a cloudy day.

If you must paint with yellow keep it very pale and keep it in a less used room. It can be a soothing color but it’s best to leave it out of the main rooms.

Give Green A Go

Green is said to be the most restful color on the eyes. Certainly, when we think of green, we think of the outdoors. Experts say the color green taps into our need for balance and makes us feel safe and at home.

With all that going for it, the color green is an ideal choice for any room in your house; especially a master bedroom where the restfulness of the color invites you to climb into bed and have lovely dreams.

Visions Of Violet

Purple or violet is often a favorite color of children. As we grow older, we tend to forget about this under-used color. The truth is, however, it can be an absolutely stunning color in a family room or living room.

Although we associate purple with children, a deep royal purple can give your room a regal look, which is perfect if you have high or vaulted ceilings. If you want to give your home a feeling of luxury with a bit of decadence, then violet or purple is the color for you.

No matter what colors you choose in your home, if you’re looking to resell it’s a good idea to consult an expert to ensure that your colors are compatible with one another. There’s nothing worse than a house that has a chopped-up effect due to its rooms being painted a myriad of different colors.

What Will Harp 3.0 Mean For Homeowners After 2014?

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What Will Harp 3.0 Mean for Homeowners After 2014?As economic influences affect the housing market in the United States, there has been the introduction and development of programs to assist with the downturn.

During the 2009 economic crisis in the United States that resulted in home prices and values falling, a program named HARP was introduced to assist the many affected homeowners.

Harp has since developed and a 3.0 version has been introduced. As a result, many homeowners are beginning to wonder: What will Harp 3.0 mean for homeowners after 2014?

The Economic Crisis: Harp 1.0 In 2009

In 2009, HARP 1.0 was introduced. The program was designed to help homebuyers who couldn’t refinance their homes because of the sudden and significant dip in home values.

It was open to borrowers with loans that were taken out prior to May 31, 2009, and other requirements made the program available only to homebuyers with a good payment history and a loan-to-value ration of 125 percent, meaning that the borrower could not receive a loan of over 25 percent of the home’s total value.

This program came to help some homeowners who were affected by the economic downturn, but wasn’t available to those in the foreclosure centers in particular areas of California, Nevada, and Arizona.

Harp 2.0: Redefined Assistance

In October of 2011, Harp 2.0 was introduced with changes that helped to make the program more helpful to homeowners who were in trouble as a result of the financial and housing downturn.

The 125 percent limit on the loan-to-value of the Harp 1.0 program was removed, allowing those with significant value drops in their homes to receive help as well. Changes were also added to allow borrowers to refinance investment properties, and borrowers were allowed to switch lenders to shop around for a refinance under the Harp 2.0 program.

Harp 3.0 For Homeowners In 2014

Though the previous Harp programs have assisted over three million homeowners since the financial downturn, there are still many homeowners in need of assistance. With nine million homeowners in a financial crisis after the 2009 economic downturn, there is still much that can be improved upon to help assist in these circumstances.

The Responsible Homeowner Refinancing Act of 2013, which is widely referred to as Harp 3.0, is one approach to solving the problem.

The Harp 3.0 program has been presented, and, if passed, will lower the fees involved. This means that need for appraisals will be lessened, making the program more widely available to homeowners experiencing financial difficulties, and there will be greater ease in the underwriting process.

The Harp 3.0 program, if passed, would also not be constrained to only loans owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, as restricted in Harp 1.0 and 2.0. The new version of the Harp refinance program means that homeowners with sub-prime mortgages may become eligible, too.

With the media covering the possibility of Harp 3.0 in 2014 and many homeowners anticipating its availability, which might finally mean their eligibility for refinancing, there is a great chance of significant financial improvement and progress for homeowners. Getting refinanced is exactly the progress many homeowners have been awaiting.

For more information on the Harp 3.0 program, talk to your mortgage professional today.

The Magic Number: Does Your Credit Score Need To Be Above 800 To Apply For A Mortgage?

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The Magic Number: Does Your Credit Score Need to Be Above 800 to Apply for a Mortgage?Over the course of a lifetime, financial development can lead to some wonderful opportunities. A person’s financial development and state of affairs is something that is particularly important when it comes to taking out a bank loan to further progress in life, and the largest loan most people will require is a mortgage for a home purchase.

Since the process of getting approved for a mortgage is heavily dependent on credit history and that three-digit credit score that reflects reliability as a borrower, you should always put forth practices to keep that number healthy and growing.

However, how much importance does a credit score hold? Does that magic, three-digit number need to be above 800 in order to get approved for a mortgage?

The FICO Score: The Magic Number That Counts

When you apply for a mortgage, you will have to provide certain information to your financial institution or mortgage broker. The mortgage specialist at your bank or mortgage broker will then pull your credit score and your credit report.

Fair, Isaac and Company is the scorekeeper of your FICO score, which ranges from 300 to 850, 850 being the highest of all scores, and 300 being the lowest.

Every person in the United States has three FICO scores from the three different credit-reporting bureaus. Up to 80 percent of financial lenders will use a borrower’s FICO score in order to approve a mortgage application and determine a suitable interest rate on the loan.

The 600 Range: Fair And Good Credit Mortgage Options

If your credit score isn’t perfect (ie. above the 800 mark), you need not worry too much. There are many options available for those with credit scores around 600, and, with many different financial lenders to consider, having a mortgage approved sometimes means persisting with an application to several different lenders before receiving a “yes.”

With a “fair” and “good” credit rating falling between 620 and 719, there are options available to get approved for a mortgage well under the perfect 800 mark.  An FHA loan is a type of mortgage loan that is insured by the US Federal Housing Administration, offering an option with more flexible qualification measures. For homebuyers with a credit score above 620, this is a viable and common option.

720 To Perfect: Under 800 And Still In Great Shape

The median credit score in the United States is 723, and anything above 720 is placed with the marker of “excellent credit.” Therefore, just because you may range just slightly above 720, which may feel miles away from a perfect 800, you’re likely in just as good of shape when it comes to getting approved for a mortgage. You can expect a mortgage approval with good interest rates if you have a credit score higher than 720.

Keeping an eye on your credit rating and understanding the measures that are used in determining your credit score will certainly help you maintain a good score. Of course, speaking with a professional and receiving expert advice is always recommended. For specified information on your particular situation, contact your mortgage professional to discuss your options for receiving a mortgage loan.

How Will A Short Sale Affect Your Ability To Buy Another House In The Future?

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How Will a Short Sale Affect Your Ability to Buy Another House in the Future?The last few years have been financially difficult for millions of homeowners, with job losses and decline in home values devastating families all over the US. As a result, a great number of homes have gone through short sales, which has had a detrimental effect on consumers’ credit ratings.

If you’ve considered or experienced a short sale, one of the biggest concerns you may have is how it will impact your ability to purchase another property in the future. Here are five key variables on how a short sale can impact your next home purchase.

Duration Of Delinquency Plays A Big Role

Short sale transactions take a long time to complete, depending on the state that you live in and the bank’s policies. During this process, homeowners in a short sale may have trouble continuing to make monthly mortgage payments. The duration of delinquency can have a major negative impact on your credit score, even before the final short sale is reported.

Deficiency Judgments May Have Long-Lasting Effects

A short sale usually with comes a large debt that is left unpaid that banks look to settle. In the case of short sale, this debt is the difference between the amount owed and the amount for which the home is sold.

When you’re on the hook to come up with this difference, a deficiency judgment is filed through the courts and is attached to your credit rating as a negative debt outstanding. This can have a lasting effect on your credit rating, and can hinder your chances of buying a home in the future.

Lower Credit Scores Often Mean Higher Interest Rates

The poorer your credit rating, the more likely you are to be charged a higher interest rate when borrowing money. With the large cost of a home purchase, a high interest rate over a long amortization period can prove to be extremely costly, which many home owners may find difficult, if not impossible, to pay for.

Larger Down Payments May Be Necessary

Many banks and credit unions have specific guidelines that require you to put more money down on a future home purchase if you’ve experienced a housing-related credit issue in the past. Certain banks may request as much 20 percent for a down payment. Many homeowners may not be able to come up with such funds, or may need a lot of time to build up such capital before being able to buy a house.

A Long Waiting Period Might Apply

Since the housing crisis in the US, many major mortgage insurers and investors, like Freddie Mac, FHA, and Fannie Mae, have implemented new rules on how long you have to wait after a short sale before you can purchase again. Depending on the type of loan, this can be anywhere between two to four years on a short sale.

It’s critical to stay informed and understand how these rules can impact your ability to buy a home in the future after a short sale. Speaking with a seasoned mortgage specialist can help you stay in the know, and help you assess your finances and credit health before you plunge into the real estate market in the future.

Important Legal Tips For Homeonwners

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Important Legal Tips For HomeonwnersBeing a homeowner is exciting. It can be financially rewarding, too. Unfortunately, it can also put you in a tough legal position. Between the complexities of owning a house, having to deal with lenders and the risk that comes from owning something valuable, keeping yourself legally protected is a good idea.

Here Are Some Risks — And Some Ways To Handle Them.

  • HOAs. If you own a condo, townhome or other property in an association, the homeowner association is extremely powerful. Not paying their dues, violating their rules, or doing just about anything else to end up on the wrong side of them could leave you subject to fines or even foreclosure.
  • Neighbors. Whether or not good fences make for good neighbors, bad neighbors make for legal problems. Before dealing with your neighbors, research your community’s laws to see what options you have to deal with their unlicensed backyard dog breeding facility, teenager that steals your oranges or their tree that keeps breaking your window. It’s good to know what your responsibilities are as a neighbor, as well.
  • Legal Paperwork. Part of having a house is having paperwork. Keeping it in a safe place where you can get to it when you need it is always a good idea.
  • Being A Landlord. If you’re thinking about moving out and turning your house into a rental, take the time to see if you can really do it. Your mortgage, your homeowner association bylaws and your community’s laws can all either prevent you from renting out your house or can impose conditions or extra costs.
  • Financial Scams. When you own a house, you’re at risk of being the victim of mortgage scams. If you also have strong credit, you could also be a target for identity thieves that want to steal your good name to steal money.
  • Insurance. Your insurance does more than pay if something happens to your property. It can also give you liability protection that pays off if you harm someone at or away from your home. Given that you could lose your house in a suit, this protection is particularly valuable.

Being a homeowner requires more than just mowing the lawn and painting on occasion. You will also want to pay careful attention to your legal exposure and manage it. A little bit of care could save you a lot of money and trouble down the line.

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