Monday, February 27, 2012

Questions You Should Ask Your Lender

Once you've narrowed the lender field to a short list of finalists, it's time to compare their offers.  Put these 10 questions to your leading candidates and compare their answers. The results should lead you toward the mortgage lender that is right for you. 
  • What is the interest rate on this mortgage?  To determine exactly what you'll pay over the term of the loan, you need to know the rate. Rates change quickly, and if your credit is less than perfect, you may not be offered the lender's lowest figure.To effectively compare different lenders' programs, ask for the annual percentage rate (APR) of the mortgage interest, which is generally higher than the initial quoted rate because it includes some fees. But beware: the APR found in advertisements can be misleading. Mortgage lenders don't always include all the fees they charge in the calculation that determines APR, so customers who use that figure to shop rather than an itemized breakdown of rates, points and fees may end up comparing apples to oranges.
  • How many discount and origination points will I pay?  Lenders may charge prepaid mortgage interest points to lower your interest rate or other points that have no benefit to you at all. Find out how many you'll be expected to pay and which kind of points they will be.
  • What are the closing costs?  Mortgages come with fees for services provided by lenders and other parties involved in the transaction. You want to know what those fees will be as early as possible. Lenders are required to provide a written good faith estimate of closing costs within three days of receiving a loan application.
  • When can I lock the interest rate and what will it cost me to do so?  Your interest rate might fluctuate between the time you apply and closing. To prevent it from going up, you may want to lock the rate, and even points, for a specified period. Ask your lender if lock fees apply. Also, find out what the experts are expecting rates to do, read Rate Trend Index. 
  • Is there a prepayment penalty on this loan?  There may be a prepayment penalty on your loan. Some penalties are 1 percent of the loan amount, others are equal to six months' interest, some apply only when you refinance or reduce the principal balance by more than 20 percent, and some kick in if you sell your home. Find out the duration of any penalty period and how the penalty is calculated. Some lenders offer lower interest rates to buyers who accept prepayment penalties.
  • What is the minimum down payment required for this loan?  The rate and terms of your loan will be based on a down payment figure, typically 3 to 20 percent of the buy price. If you can put more money down, you may be able to lower your rate and improve your terms; if you come up short, you may be required to get private mortgage insurance (PMI). 
  • What are the qualifying guidelines for this loan?  These requirements relate to your income, employment, assets, liabilities and credit history. First-time home buyer programs, VA loans and other government-sponsored mortgage programs typically offer easier qualifying guidelines than conventional loans.
  • What documents will I have to provide?  Most lenders will require proof of income and assets before approving your loan, and may require other documents as well. Buyers with excellent credit may qualify for a no-documentation or "no-doc" loan, but they can expect to pay a hefty down payment and higher interest rate.
  • How long will it take to process my loan application?  The answer will depend on several variables. When the loan business is brisk, underwriters get backed up, verification takes longer, appraisals move slower and other bottlenecks develop along the loan pipeline. Lenders may say two weeks, but 45 to 60 days is probably more realistic in most cases. You'll need their best guess to determine how long to lock in your loan.
  • What might delay approval of my loan?  If you provide the lender with complete, accurate information, the loan process should run smoothly. If the underwriter discovers credit problems, there could be delays. Make sure you notify your lender if you change jobs, increase or decrease your salary, incur additional debt or change marital status between the time you submit an application and the time the loan is funded.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Things A Lender Needs From You

When putting together your mortgage application your lender will request documentation to verify the information stated on your application.  Here is a list of common documents they will request.  The more complet the application the quicker the approval.
  • Some of the documents they request are likely to include:Income documentation such as form W-2s, social security or pension statements, or tax returns.
  • Asset documentation such as statements from checking, savings, and investment accounts.
  • Documentation showing you are currently employed such as pay stubs. During underwriting the mortgage company will also call your employer to verify your employment and current salary.
  • Employment history going back at least two years.
  • Residence history going back at least two years.
  • Liability documentation showing all of your current debts. This can generally be found on your credit report.
  • Your current credit score. This can be found by pulling your credit report, which your mortgage representative will need your permission to do.
  • If using money given to you as a gift you may need a gift letter from the person giving the funds.
  • If you are self employed you may need a letter from your accountant with information on your income and the state of your business, as well as a copy of your business license.
  • If you are divorced or separated you may be asked to provide a divorce decree or separation agreement detailing the terms including any alimony or child support you are due to pay or receive.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

2 New Stock Ct. Hopkins SC (Just Reduced) 129,995

Price Reduction $140,900 2 New Stock Court Hopkins, SC

Better than new, well maintained home! Fantastic landscaping and huge privacy fenced yard, corner lot. Open floor plan, kitchen opens into family room w/fireplace. Master suite w/trey ceiling, walk in closet, private bath w/separate shower, garden tub. Stainless Steel Appliances & Home Warranty Included. This home is mere minutes from downtown, I-77 , I-26, Ft Jackson, Shaw and McEntyre. This is an incredible home, at a great price!  4Bed 2.1Bath  2089 sq ft. Call 803.553.3740  MLS 302420 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Getting Your Finances in Order

If you are considering home ownership and you don't know where to begin; here is a great starting point. 
  • Develop a family budget. Instead of budgeting what you’d like to spend, use receipts to create a budget for what you actually spent over the last six months. One advantage of this approach is that it factors in unexpected expenses such as car repairs, illnesses, etc., as well as predictable costs such as rent.
  • Reduce your debt. Generally speaking, lenders look for a total debt load of no more than 36 percent of income. Since this figure includes your mortgage, which typically ranges between 25 and 28 percent of income, you need to get the rest of your installment debt—car loans, student loans, revolving balances on credit cards—down to between 8 and 10 percent of your total income.
  • Get a handle on expenses. You probably know how much you spend on rent and utilities, but little expenses add up. Try writing down everything you spend for one month. You’ll probably see some great ways to save.
  • Increase your income. It may be necessary to take on a second, part-time job to get your income at a high enough level to qualify for the home you want.
  • Save for a down payment. Although it’s possible to get a mortgage with only 5 percent down—or even less in some cases—you can usually get a better rate and a lower overall cost if you put down more. Shoot for saving a 20 percent down payment.
  • Create a house fund. Don’t just plan on saving whatever’s left toward a down payment. Instead decide on a certain amount a month you want to save, then put it away as you pay your monthly bills.
  • Keep your job. While you don’t need to be in the same job forever to qualify, having a job for less than two years may mean you have to pay a higher interest rate.
  • Establish a good credit history. Get a credit card and make payments by the due date. Do the same for all your other bills. Pay off the entire balance promptly.
Now, I didn't say it would be easy and that there would be no sacrifice.  In fact it will take lots of both and there will be many stumbling blocks along the way.  Here is a tip; get a picture of your dream home and carry it with you always and look at 'often and make sure you put a price on the picture.  This will keep you focused on your goal; owning your own home.  That sounds good doesn't it; GOOD LUCK!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Seller Net at Closing (FISBO Help)

To find out how much money you’ll net from your house, add up your closing costs and subtract them from the sale price of the house.

Closing Costs for Sellers

Mortgage payoff and outstanding interest.
Pro rations for real estate taxes.
Pro rations for utility bills, condo dues, and other items paid in arrears.
Closing fees charged by closing specialist.
Title policy fees.
Home inspections.
Attorney’s fees.
Survey charge.
Transfer tax or other government registration fees.
Brokerage commission.

Total Expenses:

Selling Price:

Net Net to Seller:

Most of the above numbers are readily available or can be obtained with a phone call.  These numbers are crucial so you will know where you stand with the buyer and if his or her offer will fit into your scenario.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Open House Tips for FSBO'S

Doing a Open House is no different for a FSBO than for a Realtor if your intention is to attract buyers to your property.  Without a doubt Saturday (2:00 to 5:00) and Sunday (2:00 to 4:00) are the best times as that is what Realtors are doing.  Below are some additional tips that will be helpful to your success.
  • Advertise your open house. Ideally you should advertise both the weekend before and the weekend of the open house. Check with the local paper to see when their ad closing deadlines are.  The internet is better than local paper.
  • Create a property summary sheet. This sheet gives prospective buyers an overview of your home. Include dimensions for each room, copies of a property survey, summaries of utility costs and property taxes, and a list of when capital items such as roofs and furnace were added.
  • Develop a sign-in form for prospects’ addresses. You’ll ideally want both phone numbers and e-mail addresses to follow up with prospective buyers.
  • Put up signs. One or two days before the open house, place directional signs at major intersections within three to four blocks of your house. Be sure you check on anti-sign regulations in your area.
  • Get your house ready. Remove clutter, clean your house, wash your windows, add flowers, turn on lights, open draperies and blinds, remove valuables and breakables, confine pets, turn on soft music, and set up a table for your property fact sheet near the entrance.
  • Develop a follow-up sheet. Getting feedback on your home from prospects who attended your open house will give you a better understanding of how to make your home more appealing to buyers.
In closing you have to work hard and make sure you do all of the above and if everything works out you will get a couple of interested buyers.  Don't be discouraged by poor attendance; remember in advertising the basic principle.  The more you advertise the more you sell; one of the few direct relationships in marketing.


Friday, February 10, 2012

FSBO'S Protect Yourself During Showings

Just a few tips if you plan to sell your without a Real Estate Agent concerning some of the safety procedures we take when listing and selling homes.  This is not to say this list is complete;  for sure every day something new is added to this growing list.
  • Don’t use alluring or provocative photography in advertising, on the Web. There are many documented cases of criminals actually circling photographs of their would-be victims in newspaper advertisement.
  • Limit the amount of personal information you share. Consider advertising without using your photograph, home phone number and/or home address in the newspaper. Don’t use your full name with middle name or initial. Use your office address or list no address at all. Giving out too much of the wrong information can make you a target.
  • Be careful how much personal information you give verbally as well. Getting to know your buyer client does not need to include personal information about your children. You should use only their first initial and last name on their “For Sale” signs to conceal gender and prevent anyone other than a personal acquaintance asking for you by name.
  • To best prepare for an emergency, pre-program important numbers into your phone. These may include your office, your roadside assistance service or garage, and even 9-1-1.
  • An important part of ensuring that you stay safe on the job and on the road and at home is preparing some “safety nets” in advance. One such precaution is having a distress code system in place. Establish a voice stress code, a secret word or phrase that is not commonly used but can be worked into any phone or in-person conversation for cases where you feel that you are in danger. Use this if the person you are with can overhear the conversation, but you don’t want to alarm them. The distress code could be something as simple as “Hi, this is Jane. I’m at [address]. Could you e-mail me the red file?” You can make up your own distress code, i.e. DOG FOOD (when you don’t have a dog) or I’m going to MAYDAY Lane (and there is no Mayday Lane).
  • As homeowners you should never let strangers who walk up to your door into your house. People wouldn’t ordinarily do that, so safety should not go out of the window because your house is on the market. Children should be told to not let anyone in the house, no matter what they say. All lookers should schedule an appointment in advance. Sellers need to be aggressive and willing to ask tough questions. Screening all who tour your house is mandatory. Hawkins says that if buyers refuses to answer questions, question their motives. "If they are legitimate, they expect to answer even personal financial questions." Sellers should ask for employment information and get a phone number to call them at work.
  • Ask for a home phone number, do Internet research and confirm they are the actual property owners or call their landlord or talk to their lender and confirm that they are legitimate buyers. Sellers often overlook simple steps like never giving out your home phone number to buyers. Would-be criminals will know when you are not home if they call and don’t get an answer. Hawkins says it seems innocent enough, but you shouldn’t advertise when you aren’t home. "Telling would-be buyers that no one is home at a certain time of the day let’s them know the perfect time to come back and rob you."
  • There is safety in numbers; therefore safety experts recommend that you never show your home alone. Have another adult with you. Avoid exposing your children to strangers in the house. "Trusting buyers is a no-no that even real estate agents do at times, you should always accompany buyers throughout your house at all times. This allows you to prevent theft and the unlocking of windows and doors for later re-entry when you aren’t home.
  • It may seem like overkill, but sellers should hide all valuables: jewelry, bank info, prescription medication, etc. Hide them where thieves don’t think to look. If necessary, put valuables in storage or a safe deposit box. When sellers enlist the help of real estate agents, the agents will tell them to do the same thing, it’s difficult to guard valuables at every moment.
  • Although the thought is scary sellers should always have your escape route pre-planned just in case of an emergency. ” Never let buyers get between you and your escape route (the front or back door). Also, you should never enter a room or space before the buyer does.
  • Always let someone; relative, friend or better yet, a neighbor, know who’s coming to see your house and at what time. Have a check-in time, if they don’t hear from you at a pre-determined time, they need to call or get to your house immediately. With communication being so important, an idea that is simple, yet brilliant is to keep your cordless home phone in hand at all times in case you need to call for help. This is better than a cell phone because with 911- your address will pop up on the dispatch operator’s screen even if you can’t talk.
Two closing words BE CAREFUL!


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

What Home Buyers Like the Most

1. What single home feature do buyers say they want most in a new home?
Air Conditioning

Staying cool is important to buyers in all regions of the country. Nearly three-quarters of home buyers ranked central air conditioning as “very important” for their new home, and 83 percent of buyers purchased a home with central air. Other highly desired home features: a garage for two or more cars (57 percent), a walk-in closet in the master bedroom (53 percent), and a backyard or play area (50 percent).

2. What’s the median size of homes purchased between late 2005 and early 2007?
1,840 square feet

Home sizes are growing. The size of the typical home purchased by survey respondents increased by 100 square feet since 2004, according to the survey results. Meanwhile, the median age of recently purchased homes decreased to 12 years from 15 in that same time span.

3. Repeat buyers tend to be choosier than first-time buyers. In particular, repeat buyers place much more emphasis on these home features:
Oversized garages and master bedroom walk-in closets

Sixty-five percent of repeat buyers said they wanted a garage with two or more spaces, compared with 41 percent of first-time buyers; 61 percent said they wanted a walk-in closet in the master bedroom, compared with 38 percent of first time buyers. Although repeat buyers placed more importance than first time buyers on nearly all home features surveyed — with the exception of a backyard or play area, and proximity to work — big garages and walk-in closets are two features that repeat buyers were much more likely to seek in their new home.

4. Within three months after buying a home, nearly half of all buyers remodeled or made improvements to which part of the house?

Six in ten buyers took on remodeling or home improvement projects soon after buying a home, according to the survey, and the kitchen was most often involved. Nearly half (47 percent) of home buyers remodeled or made improvements to their kitchen within the first three months. Other common projects include remodeling bathrooms and bedrooms, and adding new appliances and lighting. Overall, the typical buyer spent $4,350 on home improvement projects within the first three months.

5. Which home feature saw the biggest jump in buyer popularity since 2004, when NAR conducted its previous buyer preference survey?
Oversized garage

The most significant change between the 2007 survey and the previous 2004 survey was in the number of buyers who said oversized garages were important in their home purchase decisions. In that time frame, oversized garages (for two or more cars) gained 16 percentage points to 57 percent. What’s more, 56 percent of buyers who purchased a home without an oversized garage said they would have paid extra for one, while in the 2004 survey only 6 percent said they’d be willing to pay extra. Other features growing in popularity: hardwood floors, granite countertops, and cable readiness.

6. What three features did buyers say they’d be most willing to pay extra for in a home?

Central air conditioning, walk-in closets, and hardwood floors

Buyers aren’t afraid to spend money on the features they really want, according to the survey. Sixty-five percent said they’d be willing to pay extra for central air conditioning — in fact, they’d pay a median of $1,880 extra for a home with it. Sixty percent said they’d pay extra (a median of $870) for walk-in closets, and 57 percent said they’d pay more (a median of $1,900) for hardwood floors. Buyers were willing to pay the most for a waterfront property, an extra $4,760.

7. A home’s energy efficiency is most important to which segment of buyers?
New-home buyers

Of all buyers, nearly half reported a home's energy efficiency was "very important", but new-home buyers were particularly concerned. Sixty-five percent of buyers of homes one year old or newer said energy efficiency was "very important" in their home search. On the other hand, 32 percent of those who purchased homes 51 years or older said energy efficiency was "very important".

8.  Where do first-time home buyers tend to purchase a home?

Suburb or subdivision

Suburbs are still the most popular place to live, even for first-time buyers. Slightly more than half of this buyer segment purchased a home in a suburb or subdivision, compared with 20 percent who purchased a home in an urban or central city area, and 20 percent in a small town. Only 10 percent of first-time buyers bought a home in a rural area.

9. What’s the most common type of home purchased?
Single level

Overall, 47 percent of buyers purchased a single-level home, while 44 percent of buyers purchased a two-level home. Nine percent of buyers bought a home with three or more levels. In general, the older the home buyers, the more likely they are to buy a one-level home.

10. What did new-home buyers most wish their home had more of?


Can a home ever have enough storage? Nearly half of new-home buyers said more storage space would make their residence ideal. Among all buyers — of homes both old and new — 40 percent would have preferred more closets and nearly 60 percent wish for a larger kitchen. Regardless, more than 90 percent of home buyers said they are satisfied with the home they purchased.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

5 Ways to Speed up Your Sale

1.Price it right. Set a price at the lower end of your property's realistic price range.

2.Get your house market ready for at least two weeks before you begin showing it.

3.Be flexible about showings. It's often disruptive to have a house ready to show on the spur of the moment, but the more often someone can see your home, the sooner you'll find a buyer.

4.Be ready for the offers. Decide in advance what price and terms you'll find acceptable.

5.Don't refuse to drop the price. If your home has been on the market for more than 30 days without an offer, be prepared to lower your asking price.


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Terms to Watch for in a Purchase Contract

1. The closing date. See if the date the buyer wants to take title is reasonable for you.

2. Date of possession. See if the date the buyer wants to move in is reasonable for you.

3. The earnest money. Look for the largest earnest money deposit possible; since it is forfeited if the buyer backs out, a large deposit is usually a good indication of a sincere buyer.

4. Fixtures and personal property. Check the list of items that the buyer expects to remain with the property and be sure it’s acceptable.

5. Repairs. Determine what the requested repairs will cost and whether you’re willing to do the work or would rather lower the price by that amount.

6. Contingencies. See what other factors the buyer wants met before the contract is final—inspections, selling a home, obtaining a mortgage, review of the contract by an attorney. Set time limits on contingencies so that they won’t drag on and keep your sale from becoming final.

7. The contract expiration date. See how long you have to make a decision on the offer.