Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Providing Open House Security Means Taking A Few Precautions

According to most real estate professionals, there are protocols to holding an open
house. Contain the dog. Vacate the property. Even bake some cookies. While open houses can increase the likelihood that your home will sell, it can also increase the potential for theft — also a fact known by Realtors.
Here's a few tips on keeping your home and belongings safe whether you list with a real estate agent or try to sell your own property. 
So how can you safeguard your place and your belongings? For one, you can place security cameras in plain sight, keeping potential thieves from making your home a target while helping you identify them should a burglary occur. A sign should be posted that the property is under surveillance. The most effective locations are at your home’s entry and other key spots, such as home offices and bedroom closets.
No one will advise you to remove everything of value, but you can hedge your bets nonetheless. While TVs can stay, other high-value items should be removed, including jewelry, expensive collectibles, and important papers. Don’t leave bank statements or any other financial information around, and make sure things like passports and house keys are not left out or are easy to find. Doing all this will only prepare you for your move anyway.
Thieves have been known to target open houses specifically for the purpose of finding prescription drugs, according to many real estate and law enforcement experts. Do a “museum sweep” (going room by room) of everywhere you keep medicines, scooping them up and throwing them into boxes or other safe places where quickly prying eyes can’t find them. Your agent should also inform visitors that smartphone photos are not permitted without the express permission of the owner, so would be thieves can’t go snapping photos to “case” the place.
While you can’t stop people from bringing their kids to open houses, make sure your Realtor informs visitors that children are not free to roam on their own. Even new home agents advise parents to hold children by the hand when walking through their model homes. Unsupervised kids will likely be touching stuff, especially if toys are accessible. Some say it’s wise to leave out an inexpensive toy or game specifically for the purpose of attracting and overly busy little hands.
Don’t forget to check your insurance coverage. While it may sound paranoid, going room to room and taking pictures can help with documentation should you need to provide it. Your agent would thank you. Done again after the open house, it will also reveal if anything has been disturbed.
It’s a great idea to have your agent arrive early to walk through the home and yard before the open house. After the showings begin, ask the Realtor to check periodically during the open house to make sure rooms that are expected to be empty really are vacant. It’s also not a bad idea (especially if your agent sets up a reception area as people enter) for the Realtor to have a helper who follows visitors around at a comfortable distance. All lights in the house should be on not just for showing purposes, but also for security. At the end of the open house, ask the agent to again walk through the entire home to check that rooms and closets are clear before locking up, shutting off the lights, and heading out.
While it’s customary for the owner to vacate during open houses and showings, no one will stop you from hanging around if you prefer to keep an eye on things. It’s best to stay away from the main entrance or where your real estate agent is set up. Agents agree that owners tend to be somewhat emotional when hearing potential buyers talk about their home, so this is not the best of scenarios from their standpoint. 
Thank you for visiting my blog, I encourage you to leave a comment or questions. Let me know if my blog has helped you. I would love to hear your thoughts and any ideas for future posts.

Roxy Redenbaugh
ACMC Loan Consultant
Mortgage Coach

Branch Manager
NMLS #269926

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Taking The Emotion Out Of Buying A Home Is Good Business Sense


There is a good deal of emotion wrapped up in buying a home. Determining where we will spend the most intimate as well as memorable moments of our lives is no small decision. And it is no doubt one of the biggest investments most of us will ever make.
Removing emotion is no easy task. But if we make an attempt to screw our heads on as investors and looked at buying home the way we might buy a stock or mutual fund, education is the key — asking what considerations are necessary in order to have a knowledge base before acting.

If you’ve been a renter, you know there are advantages to it as well as freedom. But what about the future, and permanency? The idea of buying goes beyond renting, since you are pouring your money into a single bucket all your own — not someone else’s. Even before that final mortgage payment is made, you will have been living in your investment as physical shelter, which is why buying a home is still considered one of the safest investments around. It’s not just a piece of paper, an account number or a line on a graph.
Look at this as a business proposition first and foremost by scrutinizing the proximity and access to basic services regarding health, supply, security, and transport. That house way up on a hill may make your heart flutter, but if minimum requirements such as electricity and gas systems, lighting, waste collection, and sewer services are a concern, your little slice of heaven can soon turn into a nightmare. It’s also a good idea to inquire about infrastructural projects in the area that have the potential to increase or decrease the value of the property. Can that golf course eventually get sold to developers for more housing? Will those abandoned railroad tracks get used for future transit? Either you or your Realtor can visit the local city planning offices and pose these questions or just take a look at plans for the area.

What about your personal needs? Will local regulations or the governing entity of the neighborhood allow you to build on to the existing structure or renovate the exterior? Speaking of exteriors, building materials are not meant to last forever. Whether the home you are considering is stucco or siding, think about painting and repairs down the road. If most of the interior is carpeted, what kinds of expenses would you be subject to when you replace it all with hardwood?

It’s always recommended that you accompany the individual doing the physical inspection of the house you are considering. Try out the water pressure, check the electric meter and boards, and hold your hand up to the AC vents. If a breaker trips in the middle of the night in a snowstorm, where will you have to traipse to re-set it? This is also when you can educate yourself as to the structural system of the house, including how to access some areas you don’t need on a daily basis. Your home becomes a living, breathing entity when you think of it as a vessel that needs care, maintenance, and an occasional face-lift.

Even though a home can be staged for sale beautifully with furniture and accessories, it’s important to visually remove the temporary fluff and consider whether your own furniture will fit if you don’t intend to buy all new items. A few overstuffed chairs facing a fireplace do not equal a family of four facing a big screen TV over that same fireplace. How much room would be left over for an adequately sized sofa or sectional? And when looking at bedroom space, has the stager used mostly twin beds in secondary bedrooms? Can you turn around in the laundry room when someone opens the door to the garage?

While a home’s listing should give you most of the financial information you’ll need, it may not tell it all. The costs of things like homeowners association fees (if any) should be a concern — how well is the association managed, are there any liens or lawsuits pending against it, how often has the fee gone up and what does it cover? Does the neighborhood have supplemental taxes levied against it for expenses normal property taxes don’t cover, such as lighting and landscape corridors? Some of these extra taxes last up to 25 years from the time a home is built, and not all are write-offs on taxes.
Of course, your knowledge of the market surrounding the house you are considering is key as well. What homes have sold recently, what was included in the price and how long did they take to sell? How does this house compare to any of them, and why might it be worth more or less? It may seem like overreach, but ringing a few doorbells in the surrounding neighborhood and asking a few questions is not a bad idea when you are considering such a large investment.
And lastly, know your rights as a consumer buying real estate, whether you have professional representation or not. Read up about them online or buy a few books so that you are at least armed with a slew of questions. You’ll be glad you did a little prep work, took some of the emotion out of the equation, and looked at this as an important personal business investment.

Thank you for visiting my blog, I encourage you to leave a comment or questions. Let me know if my blog has helped you. I would love to hear your thoughts and any ideas for future posts.

Roxy Redenbaugh

ACMC Loan Consultant
Mortgage Coach
Branch Manager
NMLS #269926

Source: TBWS

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

How Gifted Funds Can Be Your Down Payment

Down payments are a bugger for first-time homebuyers. It seems that the initial financial stab at home ownership is among the greatest roadblocks of owning a home, especially in high-cost urban housing markets, for which it may take a couple a decade or more to transition from renter to homeowner or to vacate their parents’ basement as they save up.
Family members willing to pitch in financially are a boon to getting into a home sooner than it would happen otherwise. In fact, 25 percent of first-time homebuyers used cash they received as a gift for a down payment, according to a 2017 by the National Association of Realtors. But before you make a beeline to the bank with a check from Mom and Dad, it’s important to observe the proper guidelines of using gift money as part of your down payment.
Your mortgage application will be scrutinized up one side and down the other, noting every detail of your finances, including credit scores as well as the history and consistency of your income and employment. Why? Because lenders like to hedge their bets, making sure you appear capable of paying the loan back. That scrutiny includes considering where your down payment came from, putting it under a microscope before extending your loan approval.
The good news is the help you get from family members is not limited to parents only. Anyone in your family (including stepparents grandparents, aunts and uncles) may give you the money for a down payment. How about close friends? Lenders are less inclined to allow you to use financial gifts from non-relatives unless it’s a fiancĂ©. All those funds you raised as wedding gifts in lieu of china and crystal? Chances are good that you won’t be able to use it toward a house unless it’s to buy some furniture after you close escrow.
Others who can’t help out are those who have any financial interest in the sale of the home, such as the seller, the agent or the broker, with underwriters going through your down payment sources to make sure there is additional documentation guaranteeing transaction-related parties aren’t involved in the gift. Your Realtor, the developer or other interested parties also can’t funnel money to a family member who then makes it a gift.
Speaking of gifts, remember the definition of that word. What you receive should not be considered a loan or some kind of barter deal. If the money is actually a loan and you play it off as a gift, you’ll be committing loan fraud. If, however, you’re taking out a conventional government-backed mortgage (through Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae), the entire down payment (in many cases) may be a gift if you put down 20 percent or more. In this case, you also have the added benefit of not having to pay private mortgage insurance, which indemnifies lenders against default if there is less of your skin in the game. Putting down less than that must be primarily your own (traceable) funds. How much is allowed to come from a gift depends on the loan type.
Using gift funds and applying them toward your loan should be done as soon into the loan process as possible, giving the lender plenty of time for verifications of the entire paper trail of your down payment. How extensive that trail needs to be depends on the lender, but it all starts with a gift letter. This document makes it clear to your lender that the money is truly a gift and not a loan, so don’t leave the wording of it up to your mom to think up, with sentimental verbiage about how much she wants to help provide a home for future grandchildren.
Include the full name, address and phone number of the person giving you the money as well as your relationship to that person, the precise dollar amount of the gift, the address of the property you’re buying, the date the money was transferred to you, account information for where the funds were pulled from, a statement from the donor that repayment is not expected, and the donor’s signature. There are plenty of templates for this online that can serve as guides. In addition to the gift letter, your lender will need to see documentation of the gift exchanging hands, typically in the form of bank statements. 
Of course, your donor has to be legit too, demonstrating that he or she actually has the assets to give. Statements should should show the donor’s withdrawal as well as how your deposit and the gift amounts match up. As we said earlier, don’t wait to do all this at the 11th hour, wiring funds just before close of escrow. It should all take place well ahead of loan approval, and your loan officer will advise you on how this all should work to get that happy result.
A final caveat: remember the IRS. Gift money for a home down payment is treated like any other financial gift by them, and there are limits to how much gift money may change hands in a given year without any tax repercussions. As with anything tax related, contact your tax account for tax advice.

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Thank you for visiting my blog, I encourage you to leave a comment or questions. Let me know if my blog has helped you. I would love to hear your thoughts and any ideas for future posts.


Roxy Redenbaugh
ACMC Loan Consultant
Mortgage Coach
Branch Manager
NMLS #269926