Category Archives: Home Buyer Tips

Key things to Consider when searching for your Dream Home

Purchasing a home is a big decision and is often time the largest purchases you will make in your life. It can sometimes be overwhelming.   I have seen buyers not consider a lot of things even not anticipating future needs. Everyone has different criteria of wants and needs.   I would like to give you some key things to think about when looking for your next home.

1. Who will be living with you and how many persons?

  • Will you need or want a space for aging parents? If so is there, enough parking, and a private area for them, etc . . .
  • If you have a current relationship that may change soon, will you have room for that person or persons?
  • Do you want to rent out any rooms to help pay for the mortgage?
  • A lot of my clients today need an office even if they are not working from home. Often times this needs to be a separate room.

2. What is the estimated time you plan to own the home?

  • The average person stays in a home 5-7 years.
  • I have had clients not consider soon in the future events and have to quickly upgrade causing the expense of another new purchase.

3. How far away is your work, church, schools, shopping?

  • Some buyers prefer being further out from the city with more opportunities for privacy and land and others are the opposite.  How much are you willing to travel for your important tasks, sports, and work?
  • Then being more in the suburban area offers an array of shopping and medical facililites and more at your fingertips.
  • Any then there is the city often with a high price, but then you may not need a car and have a more ability to have an urban live style with walking and even some sought after restaurants.

4. What are your physical needs or lifestyle preference?

  • In western Pennsylvania I see many many homes with garages in the basement. This can be difficult when looking for one floor living. Often times there are ranches with this type of set up. Many often consider the laundry level.

5. What are services are available?

  • Don’t forget cell and cable service in with what utilities are there. Some houses don’t have very good cell service. That can be a problem for someone working at home. Some remote areas do not even have cable.
  • Check to make sure that your services are available and acceptable.

Consider some of these items if you have not. There are many others but thinking ahead about key points such as these may save you the expense of an unnecessary future move.


What is a Short Sale?

SP_EWP_029-300LA short sale is when the lien holder bank takes less than the debit owed on the property. Often times better than a foreclosure (but not always). When a homeowner can no longer pay their mortgage for reasons such as job loss, divorce, health status or death of an adult family member, or even a job transfer with the housing market not baring a sale price to cover what is owed on the property. These are the same reasons you run into foreclosures.

The seller usually has to call the bank and request to go through this process. This can be before the home is listed or while it is listed. The home owner often times has to prove hardship and explain reasons for needing to do this.

A short sale will effect your credit, but from what I have been told from mortgage lenders that I work with is that a foreclosure hits your credit worse and for a longer time than a short sale. Many sellers want to get the challenging situation behind them. Often times you can recover quicker in a few years and go on to re-purchase a new home if you get things cleared up and work on your credit.

In the transactions that I have processed, the some of the banks often want to get 85% of the appraised value at minimum for the home. There is also a lot of paper work for the sellers and the buyers need to be patient. I have had short sales take 6 weeks and even up to 5-6 months. The processing time can depend on the co-operation of the buyers and sellers and even the bank processes. The larger the bank the more red tape.

If a seller is going into bankruptcy, it is advised to speak to your lawyer. Often times, a short sale is not worth the effort if the property is going to be included in a bankruptcy.

If you are considering a short sale, you need an agent that has the patience to work through the process with you. One of the nice things about the short sale process is that some banks have actually paid my seller’s to close as a short sale rather than let the home go into foreclosure. It was not the case with all situations and all amounts were different. So the bank is rewarding the seller to avoid foreclosure.

New Changes for Home Buyers

Yesterday I was at a meeting regarding new changes in the home buying industry. There is a lot to know for all parties involved in the process and starting October 3, 2015 (unless it is delayed again), there will be new waiting periods in the buyers paperwork for the mortgage due to the requirement to re-disclose new or updated information to the consumer.

The CFPB (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau), has initiated new waiting periods to protect the consumer/home buyer. If a loan is originated before October 3, 2015, it will fall under the current rules.

So basically why is this important? Because it can affect your closing date. This is really MY main concern for both my buyers and sellers. I will tell you that if you have all your life’s belongings in a truck and you are thinking you are driving it right over to the next house, hmmm, maybe not. This can and does happen now (on occasion for various reasons) but the risk from what I am seeing may be higher.

Ok, my point is if you are buying a home after October 3, 2015, (and you are not paying cash) you need to have good people working with you can keeping up on paper work. Buyers and sellers also need to diligently participate with the process. A buyer needs to get info and paper work to the lender as soon as possible. Do everything they tell you to do and what they tell you NOT to do. ( Don’t go buy new furniture on your credit card before you close or anything else large for that matter like a new car – it will change your debt to income ratio if you are right on the edge – just don’t do it!) You can buy the furniture or whatever after you close. Your credit and employment is checked again before closing.

So one of the things that can trigger a re-disclosure: If the fees to the buyer changes more than 1/8 of a percent at a certain point, it can trigger a re-disclosure. If this re-disclosure is with in 3 days of closing, hmmm, your are not closing on your scheduled date. This is one example of a re-disclosure scenario. Now I was also told that all banks do not do 3 days some may make it as late as 7 days. If the buyer does not have access to email then it will be the later time period.

One of the lenders that I work with is trying to make this process as smooth as possible for the buyers and everyone involved.

Attached are a few videos to explains some of the process. If you have bought a home before, then you may be familiar with terms and paper work that is mentioned already. If not you will be seeing it, if you are buying a home. Make sure you surround yourself with good, efficient, and knowledgeable people. You will be fine.

I do not necessarily endorse the companies providing information in this video.  The buyer is free to choose their own lender and closing/title company.  These video were made with the original deadline date of August 1, 2015 which has since been delayed to October 3, 2015 of of this blog entry.



When Buying a Foreclosure, Avoid These Mistakes

There are still plenty of foreclosures out there in the market in many locations across the country. It is a great time to cash in on these deals. Buyers do need to be cautious when purchasing. Sometimes you are not always getting a great bargain. Here are some things to consider:

1. Just because a house looks good does not mean it is. There could be”mold like” substances hiding behind walls and floorboards which could lead to costly repairs. Sometimes a foreclosure or fixer upper can look run down and have an excellent shell and important interior parts. Recently I took a buyer into a an older $22,000 – 4 bedroom foreclosure. You could tell the home was wonderful in its day. But what we found out was that some of the beams in the basement were burned. Insurance money, we thought, had made some nice upgrades but . . . there was also the hidden issue of the home being required to tap in to new sewer lines in the town – ouch! I made sure any interested parties were aware.

Also, don’t rely on any previous inspections if there would be any. Empty homes can deteriorate quickly. I always suggest buyers have an inspection. Also you should check the sewer/septic and water statuses as some banks claim to know nothing about whether these systems exist or are currently in working order.

2. Price is should not always be the focus. The price will get many people’s attention. You want to research quality of the school district, location, crime rate and even the view, and accessibility. Also financial problems are not always the main reason for every foreclosure.

3. Don’t be tempted to “flip” the house. Sometimes the price is not always low enough for a neighborhood to get your money back out of the flip. Always consult a real estate professional, home inspector or a contractor if you lack that knowledge.

4. Stick to a budget. Buyers need to make sure that they have the money to repair what they need or want repaired. Buyers should avoid taking additional loans. A great option in some cases is a rehab loan. For example, there is a loan called a 203K rehab loan (not all loan agents have knowledge of how to run them nor do all want to). This loan will escrow money for needed repairs that are are required to get financing or even additional things that are desirable to do.

Here is a neat article with before and after photos of a remodeled fixer upper. You have to have vision when purchasing a home like this. As an agent, is amazing to see what different people see when they walk into a home.

Stylish Remodels: A Foreclosure Gets a Dramatic Makeover