Frequently Asked Questions
Your home should fit the way you live, with spaces and features that appeal to the entire family. Before you begin looking at homes, make a list of your priorities: location, size, lot, amenities, etc. Establish a set of minimum requirements and a "wish list". Minimum requirements are things that a house must have for you to consider it, while a "wish list" covers things that you'd like to have but aren't essential.
In order to determine how much you can afford, we need to understand debt to income ratios. First, we must determine what your gross annual income is and divide that income by 12. (12 months) Second, we must determine your long term debt. For example: home mortgage (principal & interest), taxes & insurance (T & I), school loan, car loan, credit card debt, etc. and calculate the monthly payments. Third, the debt to income ratio is established by dividing the monthly debt by the monthly income. The debt to income ratio should, in most cases not exceed 35%. Forth, if the debt to income ratio is 35% or less and your credit rating is decent, there is a good chance you will be able to get approved for a mortgage loan.
In addition to comparing the home to your minimum requirement & wish lists, consider the following: Is there enough room for both the present & the future? Are there enough bedrooms and bathrooms? Is the house structurally sound? Do the mechanical systems and appliances work? Is the yard big enough? Do you like the floor plan? Will your furniture fit in the space? Is there enough storage space? Does anything need to be repaired or replaced? Imagine the home in good and bad weather and in each season. Will you be happy with it year round? Take your time and think carefully about each house you see. Ask your real estate agent to point out the pros and cons of each home from a professional standpoint.
If possible, take photographs of each house: the outside, the yard, the major rooms, and extra features that you like or ones you see as potential problems. And don't hesitate to go back for a second look.
It absolutey is! For most people, a home is the largest investment they will ever make and protecting that investment by spending a few hundred dollars is well worth it. An inspector checks the safety of your potential home. Home inspectors focus especially on the structure, construction, and mechanical systems of the house and will provide you with a report of any repairs that need to be take care of, suggestions on how to maintain your home, and most importantly, will provide you with peace of mind. Some sellers will allow you to make the sale of the home contingent upon completion of a satisfactory home inspection. In this case, the seller will either make the proper repairs or compensate you for the repairs that need to be made. Please be aware that the purpose of a home inspection is to point out repairs that can affect the safety and resale value of your home, not cosmetic blemishes. Be sure to choose a home inspector wisely. Be sure to ask questions and find out how many years they have been in the business. Talk to your family, friends, and realtor to see if they can recommend one to you.
It's not required, but it is a good idea. Following the inspection, the home inspector will be able to answer questions about the report and any problem areas. This is also a good opportunity to hear an objective opinion about the home you'd like to purchase and it is a good time to ask general maintenance questions.
This will likely be the first opportunity to examine the house without furniture, giving you a clear view of everything. Check the walls and ceilings carefully. Also check any work the seller agreed to do in response to an inspection. If you find that the work has not been done, it should be brought up prior to closing.
If the house you are considering was built before 1978 and you have children under the age of seven, you may want to have an inspection for lead-based paint. It is important to know that lead flakes from paint can be present in both the home and in the soil surrounding the house. Peeling, chipping, chalking, or cracking lead-based paint is a hazard and needs immediate attention. Common problem areas are windows and window sills, doors and door frames, stairs, railings, banisters, porches and fences. The problem can be fixed temporarily by repairing damaged paint surfaces or planted grass over the affected soil. Hiring a lead abatement contractor to remove paint chips and seal damaged areas will fix the problem permanently.
Radon is a radioactive gas released from the normal decay of uranium in rocks and soil. It is an invisible, odorless, tasteless gas that seeps up through the ground and diffuses into the air. In a few areas, depending on local geology, radon dissolves into ground water and can be released into the air when the water is used. Radon gas usually exists at very low levels outdoors. Radon can enter homes through cracks in floors, walls, or foundations, and collect indoors. It can also be released from building materials, or from water obtained from wells that contain radon. Radon levels can be higher in homes that are well insulated, tightly sealed, and/or built on uranium-rich soil. Because of their closeness to the ground, basement and first floors typically have the highest radon levels. Any home can have a radon problem. This means new and old homes, well-sealed and drafty homes, and homes with or without basements. In fact, you and your family are most likely to get your greatest radiation exposure at home. That is where you spend most of your time. Nearly 1 out of every 15 homes in the United States is estimated to have an elevated radon level (4 pCi/L or more).
A buyer prefers a home that is in move-in condition and will pay top dollar for it. It is important to be sure your home is in superior condition before listing it. Make repairs prior to selling. This will help reduce the risk of buyers trying to renegotiate the price due to repairs or problems that may arise from a private inspection done prior to closing. Having your property in top condition will attract more buyers to your home giving you an excellent chance to sell your home faster, and at top dollar. Work on your home's curb appeal. Make sure your landscape is pristine. Mow the grass, clean up any debris and weed the garden beds, sweep the sidewalk. Plant a few annual flowers near the entrance or in pots to be placed by the door. Clean the windows and make sure the paint is not chipped or flaking. Windows should be free of ripped or bent screens. These should be replaced or removed entirely. Windows should also be clean and cobweb free. Being able to have draperies open, allowing light into the house is a plus at any showing. Be sure that the doorbell works. Clean and freshen up rooms, furnishings, floors, walls and ceilings. Make sure that bathrooms and kitchens are spotless. Organize closets. Providing a feeling of openness in a home can be accomplished quite easily and allows the house to appear larger. Open areas free of clutter are very important in showing a home. Make sure the basic appliances and fixtures work. Replace leaky faucets and frayed cords. Eliminate the source of any bad smells, such as the kitty box. Use air freshener or bake a batch of cookies before your open house to ensure that the house smells inviting. Invest in a couple of vases of fresh flowers to place around the house and next to any information about the house you have prepared for buyers. Selling a home can be a lot of work, but with all your efforts, they can pay off quickly and with a larger sum of money.
Price and condition are the two most important factors in selling a home, even in a down market. The first step is to price your home correctly. Use comparative sales information from your agent, or pay for a professional appraiser to objectively evaluate your home's worth. Second, go through the house and repair any obvious cosmetic defects that could deter a buyer. In a down market, you may have to consider lowering your price and/or making a major repair, such as replacing the roof, in order to lure a buyer. Also, make sure that your home is getting the exposure it deserves through open houses, broker open houses, advertising, good signage and a listing on the local multiple listing service or online listings provider.
MLS stands for Multiple Listing Service. The MLS is a private database that is created, maintained and paid for by real estate professionals to help their clients buy and sell property. Buyers and sellers can work with the professional of their choice, confident that they have access to the largest pool of properties for sale in the marketplace.
Here is the link to click and search.
Whether or not your home has a swimming pool, a view, has a second story or is located on a corner lot — even what construction materials were used — can be important to a buyer in determining value. These items may or may not matter, depending on your neighborhood. This is where an experienced Real Estate Agent can help you analyze the relevant values of the comparable properties and come up with a pricing strategy. An even more detailed approach to determining value is the price-per-square foot method, which takes the same comparable properties and normalizes everything that is the same about two properties to give a value to what is different about one or the other. For example, if you have a totally homogenous neighborhood, the price-per-square-foot is exactly the same for each unit. Then you apply that to a condo building. Units on a particular floor have a certain value, but if you go up 10 floors, the value increases because the view is better. That difference is the value of that feature — in this case being on a higher floor. Figuring out the price-per-square-foot can often more accurately describe what is happening in a particular market. Here is another example: Let’s say last year the median sale price in a neighborhood was $1 million and this year it went down to $800,000. When analyzing the price-per-square-foot in more detail, you may find it was just three smaller homes that sold this year. So where you thought there was a significant drop in price in the neighborhood, turned out to really just be a change in the size of homes that sold. Your Realtor will make sure that numbers aren’t misinterpreted, and will give you a true sense for market value.
The answer to the question is YES! There are many reasons why you should talk with a bank or a mortgage broker and get mortgage pre approval before looking at homes. First and foremost, talking with a bank before looking at homes can help you understand exactly how much you can afford. There is no reason to look at homes for example that are listed for $900,000 if you can only afford up to $800,000. If you’re a first time home buyer, talking with a bank before looking at homes is strongly suggested, as there are many first time home buyer programs available. These programs can vary from state to state and country to country, so knowing exactly what’s available to you, is critical. Another important reason to talk with a bank before looking at homes is so you understand exactly what costs are associated with buying a home. There are many home buyers who don’t understand the difference between a down payment, pre paid items, and escrows, which can be thoroughly explained by a mortgage professional. A mortgage professional can give you advice on the type of financing you should be looking to obtain and also whether or not you should request the seller to contribute towards your closing costs, also known as a seller’s concession.
Buying a home can be a very solid investment. With that being said, renting can also be a better option for some, depending on the circumstances. The current interest rates are incredible. Since the interest rates are so low, it actually can be cheaper to pay a mortgage right now than paying rent. There are questions that you should ask yourself before deciding to buy a home. One of the most important things to consider is the length you plan on staying in a home, if you were to purchase. If the answer is only a few years, it’s likely the better decision is to continue renting. Another question to ask yourself is whether you are ready to take on the additional “responsibilities” of owning a home. When owning a home there will be general home maintenance that should be done, are you ready for that? Buying a home is a great option in many cases, but not always.
There is truly no concrete “correct” answer to this question. There are pro’s and con’s to buying a home before selling your current home and the same can be said about selling your current home before buying another. Buying a home before selling your current home The biggest benefit to buying a home before selling your current home is the fact that you have a suitable property lined up. This can reduce the stress and pressure of having to find a home once your current home is sold. This however also can create disappointment and heartbreak. If you are unable to purchase a new home without having to sell your current home, your purchase offer is going to be contingent upon sale and transfer of title of your current home. If your current home does not sell in a timely manner, this can lead to you getting “bumped” by a non-contingent buyer and you losing out on the home you’re looking to purchase, which can be devastating. Selling your current home before purchasing a new home The time it takes to sell your current home is unpredictable. There is no crystal ball that exists that can tell you exactly how many days it will take. Selling your current home before buying a new home will put you in an ideal position to negotiate on the new home you’re purchasing due to the fact you are purchasing without the sale contingency of your current home. One risk of selling your current home without buying a new home first is the chance of not being able to have a place to live. There are options if your current home sellers before buying another, though. A “rent-back” can sometimes be negotiated with the buyer of your current home. A “lease-back” would allow you to retain possession of your current home for a certain time after closing at the expense of paying the buyer's mortgage. A “lease-back” allows for additional time to find a new home.