Closing Documents

You should receive the following documentation at closing: Settlement Statement, HUD-1 Form (itemizes services provided and the fees charged; it is filled out by the closing agent and must be given to you at or before closing); Truth-in-Lending Statement; Mortgage Note; Mortgage or Deed of Trust; Binding Sales Contract (prepared by the seller; your lawyer should review it); Keys to your new home.
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Direct Buy Escrow

If you buy a house directly from a seller, without brokers, have an attorney keep your deposit in and escrow account. Too often, money held by the seller is spent prematurely. If the sale doesn't go though it's important that you can recover your funds.
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Mortgage Expiration

If you lock in a mortgage rate, make sure the expiration date leaves enough time to complete the real estate closing. The flood of home purchases and refinancings has created major processing delays, so if there is any question about the processing time, or if you seem to be cutting it close, you may want to pay a little more for a longer lock-in period rather than risk losing your rate.
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Old Home vs New

There isn't a definitive answer to this question. You should look at each home for its individual characteristics. Generally, older homes may be in more established neighborhoods, offer more ambiance, and have lower property tax rates. People who buy older homes, however, shouldn't mind maintaining their home and making some repairs. Newer homes tend to use more modern architecture and systems, are usually easier to maintain, and may be more energy-efficient. People who buy new homes often don't want to worry initially about upkeep and repairs.
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Loan-to-Value Ratio

The loan to value ratio (LTV) is the amount of money you borrow compared with the price or appraised value of the home you are purchasing. Each loan has a specific LTV limit. For example: with a 95% LTV loan on a home priced at $50,000, you could borrow up to $47,500 (95% of $50,000), and would have to pay $2,500 as a down payment. The LTV ratio reflects the amount of equity borrowers have in their homes. The higher the LTV ratio, the less cash homebuyers are required to pay out of their own funds. So, to protect lenders against potential loss in case of default, higher LTV loans (80% or more) usually require a mortgage insurance policy.
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Pre-Qualifying vs Pre-Approval

Pre-qualification is an informal way to see how much you may be able to borrow. You can be "pre-qualified" over the phone with no paperwork by telling a lender your income, your long-term debts, and how large a down payment you can afford. Without any obligation, this helps you arrive at a ballpark figure of the amount you may have available to spend on a house. Pre-approval is a lender's actual commitment to lend to you. It involves assembling the financial records and going through a preliminary approval process. Pre-approval gives you a definite idea of what you can afford and shows sellers that you are serious about buying.
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Department Of Housing And Urban Development

Also known as HUD, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development was established in 1965 to develop national policies and programs to address housing needs in the U.S. One of HUD's primary missions is to create a suitable living environment for all Americans by developing and improving the country's communities and enforcing fair housing laws.
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Back-Up Offer

If you're bid for a house comes in second, be sure to make a backup offer. This puts you next in line if the first offer falls through. Be sure to keep in touch with the seller's agent, or have your broker touch base.
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Refinance Timing

The traditional answer to the question "When is the best time to refinance?" is when interest rates fall 2 percent below your current mortgage interest rate. However, in recent years some experts have argued that refinancing may be appropriate with a smaller point spread. Some weight is often given to the length of time the owner anticipates holding on to the property. If the owner expects to keep the property for at least three or four years, then refinancing may be worthwhile. While refinancing can involve upfront costs, in many cases it is possible to roll the costs of the refinancing into the new note and still reduce the amount of the monthly payment
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Home Walk Through

In addition to comparing the home to your minimum requirement and wish lists, consider the following: Is there enough room for both the present and 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? (Bring a tape measure to better answer these qusetions) Does anything need to be repaired or replaced? Will the seller repair or replace the items? Imagine the house in good weather and bad, and in each season. Will you be happy with it year? 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. Using a scorecard to keep track of the homes you see is a great way to keep organized.
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