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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Home Warranty Coverage

A home warranty, or home protection plan, is a service contract, normally for one year, which protects homeowners against the cost of unexpected repairs or replacement on their major systems and appliances that break down due to normal wear and tear. A negotiable contract between the buyers and sellers which do not overlap or replace homeowner's insurance policy, this type of warranty can save the new homeowner lots of headaches, as well as put seller's fears to rest. The warranty covers mechanical breakdowns, while insurance typically repairs the related damage, for example: if a hot water heater burst and destroyed a wall in your home, the warranty would repair the water heater and your insurance would pay to fix the wall.
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Securing a Loan

The first step in securing a loan is to complete a loan application. To do so, you'll need the following information: Pay stubs for the past 2-3 months; W-2 forms for the past 2 years; Information on long-term debts; Recent bank statements; Tax returns for the past 2 years; Proof of any other income; Address and description of the property you wish to buy; Sales contract. During the application process, the lender will order a report on your credit history and a professional appraisal of the property you want to purchase. The application process typically takes between 1-6 weeks.
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Closing Costs

There may be closing costs customary or unique to a certain locality, but closing costs are usually made up of the following: Attorney's or escrow fees (yours and your lender's if applicable). Property taxes (to cover tax period to date). Interest (paid from date of closing to 30 days before first monthly payment). Loan origination fee (covers lender's administrative costs). Recording fees. Survey fee. First premium of mortgage insurance (if applicable). Title insurance (yours and your lender's). Loan discount points. First payment to escrow account for future real estate taxes and insurance. Paid receipt for homeowner's insurance policy (and fire and flood insurance if applicable). Any documentation preparation fees.
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Reverse Mortgages

If you own your home, a reverse mortgage loan will pay you in monthly advances or through a line of credit. Reverse mortgages convert home equity into cash with no repayment required for as long as borrowers live in their homes. Because of the complex nature of reverse mortgages, you may wish to seek the advice of an attorney, financial advisor or accountant before taking out this type of loan.
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Renovation Value

Renovating your home can increase its resale value. But don't expect a dollar-for-dollar return. Some upgrades (an extra bathroom, for example) pay off; some (like swimming pools) don't pay off at all. If you want fine marble in the foyer, spend away. But don't count on buyers being willing to pay as much for it as you did.
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Listing Agent Interviews

If you are planning to sell a home and are interviewing listing agents, ask if they have any near-term vacation plans - and then ask about back-up support in their absence. Everyone is entitled to time off, but you want to make sure your home sale doesn't have to take a vacation when your agent does.
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Homeowners Insurance

A standard homeowners policy protects against fire, lightning, wind, storms, hail, explosions, riots, aircraft wrecks, vehicle crashes, smoke, vandalism, theft, breaking glass, falling objects, weight of snow or sleet, collapsing buildings, freezing of plumbing fixtures, electrical damage and water damage from plumbing, heating or air conditioning systems. Such policies are "all-risk" policies, which cover everything except earthquakes, floods, war, and nuclear accidents.
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House Viewing Questions

Many of your questions should focus on potential problems and maintenance issues. Does anything need to be replaced? What things require ongoing maintenance (e.g., paint, roof, HVAC, appliances, carpet)? Also ask about the house and neighborhood, focusing on quality of life issues. Be sure the seller's or real estate agent's answers are clear and complete. Ask questions until you understand all of the information they've given. Making a list of questions ahead of time will help you organize your thoughts and arrange all of the information you receive.
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Mortgage

Generally speaking, a mortgage is a loan obtained to purchase real estate. The "mortgage" itself is a lien (a legal claim) on the home or property that secures the promise to pay the debt. All mortgages have two features in common: principal and interest.
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