Category Archives: Buyers and 1st Time Buyers

Deciding to buy a new home is a BIG decision. What should you do first? What comes next? How do I find a home and ensure I get the right price? Where do I look for information about the community and schools? Can someone take the mystery out of the whole financial process when buying a home?

Why use a closing attorney?

Today we interviewed a great closing attorney, Brad Legare, with Weissman Law. We based our questions off of the those we have gotten from our clients and from inquiries on facebook, instagram and the like. If you didn’t find the answer to YOUR questions in this video link, drop either myself or Greta a line and tell us what burning question you have so we can get it answered for you. The thing is, if you have a question on your mind, it is likely there are others who also wonder the same thing but are afraid to ask! So help them out.

Watch our video interview of closing attorney Brad Legare.

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fscarrollbhhsga%2Fvideos%2F2352777318073000%2F&show_text=1&width=560

 

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Fixer-upper or Move-in Ready?

Shows like HGTV’s “Fixer Upper” have popularized the idea of buying and renovating the worst house on the best block. Homes that need major remodeling, however, aren’t for everyone. Sometimes a move-in ready house is a better option. Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or a seasoned investor, it’s important to understand the pros and cons of each. Read more……..

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How Loan Estimates Work

Okay. You have been doing some online house hunting and found a few homes in an area you like. This gives you the confidence you need take the next steps.

  1. You see an ad on TV and call for a mortgage loan.

They take some basic information from you – your social security number to run a credit report, how much you make, how much you owe, and generally how much home you want to purchase. You begin getting all the back up documents together to provide to the loan officer.

  1. You select a Real Estate Agent to represent you as you move forward locating the right home, making an offer, and completing all the things that have to be completed before you close on the deal.

But did you know?

Loan officers normally provide best-case scenario loan estimates. Depending on your credit score, there may be credit-score adjustments down the road that cause you to take a hit on the interest rate. The lower the credit score, the higher the interest rate adjustment. So ask what the likelihood of an adjustment is when you get the good faith estimate (fee sheet). Ask if this estimate is firm.

Shop Around!

I’ve had clients tell me that they don’t want to have multiple loan companies pulling their credit scores since everyone knows that multiple hits can negatively affect your credit score and if they are borderline, they don’t want the hits themselves to leave them out in the cold without a loan.

Well, guess what? If the credit score hits are mortgage-based, and done within a same 90 day period, only the first hit shows up as a hard hit. The others are considered to be within the same category of hits. Don’t go crazy though. To be safe, only shop around with two or three mortgage companies. More than that and you could (not will, but could) find yourself with more hard hits than are recommended. The credit companies take into consideration that smart loan shoppers are likely to check rates with two or three mortgage companies rather than going with the first one they talk to. Your Agent may be able to provide you with a list of other companies to shop your loan request to.

You have a good mortgage rate and company…

Now be disciplined! Do not increase your debt by taking out any other loans, buying or leasing cars, buying new furniture for the house, or running up your credit cards. Continue to pay your bills faithfully. Once you enter into a contract on a house, it will be another 30-60 days before you actually close on the deal and are able to move in. You should probably move your needed down payment and moving money in a separate savings account and out of your checking account so you don’t accidentally spend it. And it can earn interest for you in the meantime.

 

 

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Buyers and Agents -What you should consider

Just a short blog today. This isn’t about how to select an agent, but if you are interested in that, please check my earlier blog. This is about what happens when you view a listing on a search site such as Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com, and others – and next to the home you like you see three suggested Agents. You click on one and send the email that says, “I am interested in learning more about the property at 123 Main Street.”

Listing Agents Represent Sellers, not Buyers!

That agent may or may not be the one who actually listed the home for sale. The thing is, as a buyer, you don’t really want to talk to the the agent who listed the home. Why? Because they are representing the seller. As such, their relationship with you is the same as the clerk in Sears who shows you their athletic line of clothing. You are a customer to them.

Advertised Agents are usually Buyers’ Agents – Just what you need.

It is more likely that the agent you select is one who wants to work with you as a Buyer/Client. They want to represent you as you move forward to buy a new home. If you don’t already have an agent, this is an excellent way to find one.

Be Sure of Your Buyer/Client Relationship

So, if you are already working with an Agent, and you have signed a contract with them basically hiring them to represent you, should you be clicking on another Agent’s name simply because it showed up next to a house you are interested in seeing? No. Make note of the address and get to your Agent. When you signed that contract, you basically hired them to help you find a home. Put them to work.

Why not work with more than one Agent?

Think about this. Working with Real Estate Agents isn’t like working with that Sears sales clerk. They aren’t paid a regular wage from a company. They make money working exclusively with clients. When you click on an agent next to a property, they get notified (sometimes with an email, text and phone call) that you are looking for information about a particular home. Most Agents will ask you if you are already working with an agent during their initial conversation with you. If you are, say so, but as I stated earlier, if you are working with an agent, don’t click on any of those advertised agents. Just call your agent and ask them about the home. Why do they ask? Because reputable Agents don’t try to steal clients away from other agents. Agents only get paid when the deal is done – the closing ceremony has happened and the keys have been exchanged. Sellers typically pay the commissions for both the listing agent and the agent who brings the buyer to the table. Buyers shouldn’t assume that Agents just run around showing people homes. Agents have very real fiduciary (legal) responsibilities to their Buyer/Clients. They have a costs associated with working with Buyers that Buyers aren’t expected to pay. So they spend money on you whether or not you actually buy a home. The goal of course is to help you find the best home for the best price in the shortest amount of time. And then get paid – by someone else than you. If you have more than one agent running around thinking you are their client, you are taking unfair advantage of them.

Bottom Line

Do your online search. When you find a home you are particularly interested in, select and agent to the right. When they get back to you, interview them even as they will be interviewing you. If you feel like they might be a good person to work with, meet with them and if that goes well, sign a contract with them to represent you. Then you will go through the process of finding you new home – but the buying process is the topic of another blog.

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Moving Yourself? What do you need?

One of the frustrating parts of moving is… every time you get home from the store you realized you should have gotten.. yet another item you need to pack with and ran out of. Here is a list of items you need in order to pack as well as items that would be smart to keep out of the moving truck until the very last second.

Boxes

Packing Tape

Packing Paper

Bubble Wrap

Moving Blankets (you could also use old towels)- to wrap furniture or artwork and tape over the fabric; this creates extra layers of protection for your glass or delicate belongings.

Markers or Label maker-Label, Label, Label. You will not regret it.

String or Rope

Screw Drivers-sometimes you have to take doors off the hinges to get furniture through, or you have to take furniture apart

Cleaning supplies-clean as you go, it makes the process easier (broom, dustpan, vacuum, Clorox wipes, Windex, paper towels, etc.)

We know how fast moving tape is used, and depending on how many “movers” you have, you might want to invest a tape gun per mover, or have two people share one and label it. Have a designated spot to sit down your moving supplies so you are not constantly looking for what you need.

Hope this helps you in your DIY Move!

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What time of year is the best time to move?

top-5-fsm-seasonal-businessAs we continue to kick off the New Year we can see how full our schedules are. We all know that different seasons, months, holidays of the year bring different pros and cons. So what are the best and worst parts of moving during different seasons? When is the best time to move?

Unfortunately, the best time to move can also be the most inconvenient time to move for some. The slower months for moving companies, realtors, etc. are during the holiday season of November through January which also mean the cheapest prices for you as a mover. The con to consider as you move during the holiday season though is traffic. When considering the time it will take to move, double the amount of time it should take you to get to your new home, that way you are not frustrated and you do not feel behind. As many travel during the holiday season roads are easily clogged and traffic is guaranteed.

The same also goes with the days of the week. Monday through Thursday are the slowest and cheapest because no one prefers to take off of work to move. It is easier to acquire a mover and cleaners for your home on these days, which you might want to be mindful of.

Parents: I know you are thinking right about now.. gosh. These are not beneficial to my kids at all. This will disrupt their lives even more than the Move itself and it will be so hard for them to keep up with homework, make friends, etc. The idea is though: it will not make the Move transition any more difficult than it will be already. Why you ask? Because the kids will be at school during the day. You do not have to worry about them, take long lunch breaks, find something to entertain them, etc. Fact: you will need that half hour mental break when you go pick them up. They very well might be excited to see the progress made each day during the Move. Transitioning schools during the school year allows them to make friends instantly in class rather than during the summer the chance of them moping around the house wishing they knew someone in the neighborhood. Moving during the school year can be potentially best for everyone involved and cheaper for your wallet.

Another obvious consideration to moving is the weather. It cannot be controlled, but being mindful of the climate and reoccurring weather in the area that you are moving each year can help you better plan your move. For instance, it would be extremely difficult to move in the south in July because of the extreme heat. It will take double the amount of time to move because the need for water breaks for your professional or volunteer movers. Know the typical weather patterns for your area and use them for your moving wisdom.

Sometimes, as movers we do not have a choice on when we need to move, but this helps us highlight pros and cons if we do have the choice to better enhance the Moving adventure.

 

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Get Pre-Approved

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Once you have decided to buy a home, you will want to know how much of a home you can afford. Once you know that, well, you can truly begin looking in earnest. All the search engines out there on the internet allow you enter a minimum and maximum price range, filtering out the homes you cannot afford and focusing on those you can. I recommend you download my mobile application to use as one of your search engines. It draws its information directly from the GA Multiple Listing Service (GAMLS), which has the most up-to-date information. But what is better than that, it has a scan feature you can use from your smartphone. As you are driving around looking at neighborhoods or see a particular house you are interested in, you can point your phone at it, hit scan, and it will pull up that home and any others within a 1 mile radius. Cool, huh? To get my mobile application, simply text “scarroll” to 678-400-6100 and follow the directions.

Let’s step back a moment. If you are just curious what’s out there, look at everything. Dare to dream.

But if you are seriously searching, don’t be one of the many buyers who starts looking for a new home without taking the time to find out how much they can afford.  That’s like going to the grocery store without your wallet! How do you figure out how much home you can afford? Well you can use what is called an Affordability Calculator.

Now call me and while you are getting pre-approved, we will start looking for the right home for you.

But I digress. The purpose of this blog is to tell you how to get pre-approved. A pre-approval is generally a written statement from a lender stating the lender’s preliminary determination that a borrower would qualify for a particular loan amount under that lender’s guidelines. The determination and loan amount are based on income and credit information. Most pre-approval letters are good for 60 to 90 days.

Don’t confuse a pre-approval with a pre-qualification. With a pre-qualification, the lender relies on information provided by the buyer to estimate how much the borrower could qualify for. With a pre-approval, the lender verifies the borrower’s information and documentation to determine exactly how much it would be willing to lend to that borrower.

There are many reasons why you should get pre-approved. The most important reason is that you will get an accurate idea of how much home you can afford. This can help to target your home search and ensure you only look at houses that are truly in your price range. A pre-approval letter also helps you prove to real estate agents and sellers that you’re a credible buyer and able to act fast when you find the home you want to buy. Some sellers might even require buyers to submit a pre-approval letter with their offers, though having a pre-approval letter does not guarantee that your offer will be accepted by a seller. A pre-approval letter can make you stand out in a competitive real estate market. If you make an offer on a house without a pre-approval, your offer may not be taken as seriously as an offer from another person with a pre-approval.

So how do you get Pre-Approved?

Gather Essential Information (gather supporting financial documents – don’t guess)

Financial: Income, asset and expense information
If buying: Estimated purchase price and down payment amount
If refinancing: Estimated property value and loan amount

Select a Loan Company. Feel free to email me if you are stumped. I can send you some contacts who I feel comfortable working with and help you identify one matching your particular situation. My email is susan.carroll@bhhsgeorgia.com.

Begin the Pre-Approval Process

Contact a local mortgage consultant by phone or email.
Complete their online application form.
Your mortgage consultant will ask for the financial and property information you’ve gathered. To complete your request, you’ll need to submit your supporting documents before they issue the Pre-Approval letter.

Complete the Loan Application Process

Once you have found the home of your dreams, you will need to complete your application. If they have not already done so, your home mortgage consultant will probably ask you for Pay stubs, your last two years’ W-2s, last two federal returns, two months’ worth of bank statements of all types of accounts, and permission to pull your credit report.

Based on this information, they will provide a Loan Estimate shortly after receipt of your application. The Loan Estimate provides an estimate of the costs of obtaining your loan and the anticipated cash needed to close. After you review the Loan Estimate, you must indicate in writing your intent to proceed with the transaction. Avoid delays by submitting all pages of legible documents as soon as possible, along with any required fees.

There are more steps in the real estate process which must be followed until you actually close on your new home and walk out with the keys. But they are the topic of other blogs.

Here are some of the sources I used to draft this blog in case you want to read more……

http://www.bankrate.com/finance/mortgages/do-you-need-mortgage-preapproval.aspx

https://www.credit.com/loans/mortgage-questions/how-to-get-pre-approved-for-mortgage-home-loan/

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Help from Homes For Heroes

HFH Logo

As you are probably aware, I come from a Military background. I was born an Army Brat (who came up with that anyway?) and when I graduated from college, I entered active duty as a Military Police Officer; a 2nd Lieutenant. I served on active duty for 14 years and then, because of several medical problems brought on, according to my doctor, from “being all you can be,” I decided to take an early out and entered the reserves instead. My knees still ache from all the years of running…..

When I learned about the Homes For Heroes program and what I could do as a real estate affiliate to help others who have dedicated their time and their lives to helping others, I knew I had to be a part of it. So if you work or worked in any of the following; military, police, fire, medical field or as a teacher; and you are selling or buying a home; let me know. My way of paying forward is to contribute part of my real estate commission to my clients’ closing costs. Yep. You heard it. I will help you pay your closing costs. I can also put you in contact with lenders and closing attorney’s who will provide a discount of their fees as their way of thanking you for your service.

If you have a moment, take a look at this short film. And remember when you decided to register, let them know that I am your Realtor of choice. Or type in http://www.homesforheroes.com/affiliate/susan-carroll to register.

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The Bidding War

biddingwar

Just in case purchasing a house was not enough anxiety for you, let us create a little bit more, by adding another person wanting to buy the house. So now we have entered into a bid war. One dollar more or less, one change suggestion more or less, and the house is not yours. No stress though, this is not the only house for you no matter how much you love it.

Helpful tips:

Do your homework and research. Make sure this house is definitely the one you want. Look at the community, schools, grocery stores, salons, activities, etc. that you know you use now and make sure the area around the home fits your lifestyle.

Make sure your finances are in order. If they are not and the other bidder has their finances ready to go, pre-approval with money to put down they are more likely to win the bid.

Create an escalation clause. This puts a limit on how much yo are willing to pay on the house and protect you from the sellers expecting you to pay exceedingly higher than the other bidders.

Show the sellers your appreciation. Write a letter, send a picture with your family all excited in front of the home, or video your kids walking through it for the first time dreaming about their bedrooms. This will help the sellers know you will take responsibility for the home, care for it, and take care of it, they will see you in the home and be more likely to pick your bid.

No matter if you win or lose the bid, there is a reason. I hope these small tips help out and help you win your Bidding War and be able to move into your new home!

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The Moving Company

moving-truck

Many thoughts come in when selecting movers and thinking about who will be handling all your belongings. The first decision is “is it worth hiring a mover over asking friends and family to help?” Followed by, “Will my belonging be safe from damage or theft?”

That is entirely up to you, but most of the time it is worthwhile to have fewer hands in your home during the process. And there is something to be said for hiring a professional in the strategy they have set in place and all of the protection they establish for you and your personal items.

If you are selecting a professional mover, Promover, is a great place to start in checking out all the professionals and knowing who is trustworthy in the moving business.

You can also receive free moving quotes on moving.com. This can get your price estimate to know if you can afford professionals along with purchasing a new home or selling your old home. All the fees of these transactions add up so be wise with your money!

Do your research into each company and the company you select. Make sure you know about the insurance or coverage they will place on your belongings. What fees will be added if they have to carry belongings up stairs or far distances or if you have over-sized or heavy items. Ask if your belongings will have to be transferred along the trip as well. Also think about if you are going to want to tip your movers and have change ready to give each individual mover their piece of your gratefulness.

The bottom line with moving is that you are ready and prepared in knowing your belongings for the movers, for knowing who are handling your personal belongings, and what the costs are of protecting everything you own. Research and know the ins and outs in order to be protected during your Move.

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