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7 Steps to a Stress-Free Home Closing

July 21, 2016

7 steps to closing home escrow

By: G. M. Filisko, ClientDirect

This cheat sheet helps you do your homework, so you know what you’re signing when you close the sale of your home.

You’ve already cleared several hurdles by finding the right home, negotiating the best price, and getting approved for a mortgage. The last obstacle on your homebuying track is the closing, which can be both tedious and tense. By knowing what to expect and doing some legwork, you can smoothly put your closing behind you. These seven steps will guide you.

1. Set a Closing Date
Ask your title company to set a closing date and time that meshes with the end of your lease or the sale of your existing home. Don’t want to skip work? Ask for an evening or weekend closing. Tight on cash? Schedule your closing for the end of the month. That’s when you’ll pay the least amount of interest at the closing table.

2. Gather Your Funds
Buyers usually have to bring money to the closing. Ask the title company what forms of payment it accepts. Chances are you can’t use a personal check.

If you have to move money into your bank account to pay your closing costs, do so a week ahead to avoid last-minute problems. If the title company requires the funds in the form of a cashier’s check, stop by the bank a few days before closing to pick it up.

3. Purchase Title Insurance
If you’re getting a mortgage, you have to buy a title insurance policy. Think it protects you against problems with the title of your home? Nope, it protects the lender in case the sellers really didn’t own the home or someone else had a claim on it.

To cover yourself, you can buy an owner’s title policy from the same insurance company that sells you the lender’s title policy. Or, shop online at Closing.com, EasyTitleQuote.com, or FreeTitleQuote.com. An owner’s title policy insures you against losses from fraudulent claims against your ownership and errors in earlier sales. In some areas, sellers traditionally pay for the buyer’s title policy.

Whether or not you get the owner’s policy, if you buy a title policy from the same company that issued the prior owner’s title insurance, you can ask for a reissue discount or “bring-down” rate. There’s a discount because the title company only has to check the records filed since that prior owner bought the home, not since the dawn of time.

4. Line Up Homeowners Insurance
Get quotes and compare policies to be sure coverage will start by your closing date. An annual policy should run $500 to $1,000, depending on your home’s size, age, and amenities. To get a lower premium, opt for a high deductible or buy your homeowners insurance from the same company that insures your car.

If you live in an area where natural disasters occur, like earthquakes, floods, or hurricanes, you’ll need separate insurance to protect your home from those hazards.

5. Review Your Good Faith Estimate and HUD-1 Settlement Sheet
Your lender already gave you a Good Faith Estimate (GFE) that showed your estimated closing fees. Some of the fees on your GFE can’t change and others can rise by 10%. Before you go to the closing, compare the numbers on your GFE with the numbers on your HUD-1 settlement statement. Question your loan officer about any fees that increased.

6. Do a Walk-Through
Schedule an appointment to walk through the home one last time just before your closing.

Make sure repairs you requested have been made.
Look for major changes since you last viewed the property.
See if the sellers left everything they promised to leave.
Check to see that the sellers took all their personal belongings.
Test electronics and appliances to ensure they’re still working.
Turn on the HVAC and hot water. Are they functioning right?
Walk the yard to be sure no plants or shrubs have been removed.

7. Resolve Issues Identified in Your Walk-Through
If your walk-through uncovers problems:

1. Delay the closing until the seller corrects them (if your state allows it). But that’s often not feasible because your lease is probably over and you’ve already scheduled movers. 2. Negotiate a discount to your sales price to cover the cost of the work needed. If the air conditioning is on the fritz and a contractor says the repair will cost $500, ask that the sales price be reduced by that amount. If you make that request at closing, however, be ready for a delay while the title company redoes the paperwork. 3. Have the title company hold a portion of the seller’s proceeds in escrow until the dispute is resolved. Once that happens, the funds will be released to you or the seller, depending on the outcome.

G.M. Filisko is an attorney and award-winning writer who has endured several property closings, but the easiest was done through the mail. A frequent contributor to many national publications including Bankrate.com, REALTOR® Magazine, and the American Bar Association Journal, she specializes in real estate, business, personal finance, and legal topics.

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Real Estate @ A Glance: July 2016 Edition

July 14, 2016

 

 

 

Here is the most recent information on the San Diego housing market. For specific information on your neighborhood or a market analysis on your home, please send me an email or call me at 619-888-2117.

Reportable Period :: JUNE 2016:: SAN DIEGO ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®

Median Sales Price: $500,000
Days on the Market Until Sale: 29
Housing Affordability Index: 2016-Q1: 28%
Months Supply: 2.3

Reportable Period:: JUNE 2016 :: SAN DIEGO ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®

Halfway through 2016, residential real estate markets are performing as predicted at the beginning of the year. Sales and prices have been going up in most areas, while the number of homes for sale and total months’ supply of inventory have been going down. Meanwhile, many sellers have been getting a higher percentage of their asking price, and supply continues to struggle to meet demand. The message may be repetitive, but it is largely positive.

Total Market

 

To view larger image, click here.

The Rehabbers’ Guide to 203(K) Loans

July 7, 2016

FHA 203K

Article from ClientDirect

Lenders’ weak stomach for extending credit doesn’t have to sour your upgrade dreams. The old but new again FHA 203(k) loan rolls remodeling and mortgage costs together, whether you’re buying or refinancing an existing home loan to pay for upgrades.

First, some 203(k) basics:

  1. 15- or 30-year term option
  2. ARM or fixed-rate option
  3. 3.5% down payment for loans of $625,500 or under and 5% for loans above $625,500; other FHA loan qualifications apply
  4. Interest rate a tad higher than market
  5. Higher fees compared with equity or other FHA loans, for such things as title checks, architectural plan reviews, appraisal, and FHA inspections
  6. No balloon payment
  7. Loan amount = projected value post-rehab, including the cost of the work
  8. FHA loans take longer to close than conventional mortgages
  9. More paperwork than a straight mortgage loan

 

Now, 13 rules for what you can and can’t do with a 203(k):

1. You can buy a fixer-upper so awful it wouldn’t qualify for a regular home loan. Whether buying or refinancing, all that needed work might keep your home from qualifying for a regular bank loan. Banks don’t finance homes in ill repair because they’re too hard to resell if they have to take the house back via foreclosure.

2. You can DIY with a 203(k) if you can show you know how to DIY. You can do the work yourself, or act as your own general contractor, if you can prove you’ve got the chops, and can get the job done on time (the maximum timeframe is six months). Of course there’s a catch: When you DIY, you can only use the 203(k) proceeds for supplies. You can’t pay yourself to do the work on your own house.

3. You can use a mini 203(k) for mini-sized projects. If you’re just doing your kitchen, bathroom, or another project that costs $35,000 or less, there’s a streamlined version of the 203(k) designed just for limited-size projects.

4. You can’t use it to buy a new-construction home. The house you’re fixing up has to be at least a year old.

5. You can’t use it to buy and install a new toilet, even one of those fancy Totos. You have to spend at least $5,000 on your renovation to use the 203(k) program. And the whole mortgage, including those remodeling costs, has to be under the FHA mortgage limit for the area where you live.

6. You can expect the lender to be up in your grill about how and when the home improvements get done. An inspector will be dispatched to your home multiple times to check in on the progress, which is why rule #7 is so important.

7. You have to keep your contractor from going on a long vacation to Europe.

Your contractor has to start work within 30 days of the loan closing.
He can’t stop working on the project for more than 30 days.
He has to get the whole job done within six months.
Doing it yourself? The same timelines apply. So no long vacations for you until the work gets done.

8. You can use the loan to make your mortgage payments if you can’t live in the house until the work is done. This is one sweet provision of the 203(k) program because it means you don’t have to make a mortgage payment on the home you’re remodeling and pay to live somewhere else while the work is going on.

You can use the 203(k) loan to pay for up to six months of principle, interest, taxes, and insurance payments when your property is going to be uninhabitable because of the renovation work.

9. You can use it to make energy-efficiency upgrades like installing a new furnace, windows, or attic insulation. You can get a 203(k) loan to pay for 100% of the cost of energy-efficiency improvements. You don’t have to get those improvements appraised, but they do have to be cost-effective, meaning they’ll pay for themselves over their useful life. The HUD inspector will make the call.

10. You can rip the house down if you plan to build something in its place. As long as you keep the foundation of the home, you’re good to go.

11. You can have a little shop downstairs. It’s kosher to use a 203(k) loan to remodel a home that includes some commercial space, as long as you use the money only for projects in the residential part of your home and the amount of commercial space doesn’t exceed these limits:

25% for one-story building
49% for two-story
33% for three-story building
12. You can use a 203(k) for a condo unit, but … your condo building must have FHA approval — which is tough to get these days — or meet VA, Fannie Mae, or Freddie Mac guidelines. Also, your building can have no more than four units, though there can be multiple buildings in the association.

13. You can’t break these rules or the lender can take its money back. Like immediately. Your lender can also refuse to advance you any more money or apply any money left in the escrow account to reduce what you owe on the mortgage.

Consider me your resource for all things real estate!  Selling, buying, upsizing, downsizing, relocating, investing, vendor referrals, shoulder to cry on during renovations and more.  Just send me an email or call me at 619-888-2117. 

Questions to Ask When Considering a Condo

June 30, 2016

condoforsalesandiego

 

From: National Association of Realtors 

Questions to Ask When Considering a Condo
Condominiums, townhomes, and properties located within a homeowner association offer certain perks, but it’s important to consider them in your decision process.

How much storage is available?
Some properties include storage lockers, but there may not be attics or basements to hold extra belongings.

How’s the outdoor space?
Your yard may be smaller than you’d find in a traditional single-family home, so if you like to garden or entertain outdoors, this may not be a good fit. But if you dread yard work, it may be the perfect option.

Are amenities important?
Many properties offer swimming pools, fitness centers, and other facilities that would cost much more in a single-family setting.

Who handles maintenance and security?
Property managers often hire professionals to care for common areas and perform in-unit repairs. Keyed entries and doormen may regulate access to your home when you’re not there (good news if you travel).

Are there required reserve funds and association fees? How much are they?
Although fees generally help pay for amenities and provide savings for future repairs, the HOA or condo board determines these fees, and you’ll have to pay them even if you’re not in favor of the improvements.

What are the association rules?
Although you have a vote on future changes, association rules can dictate how you use your property. Some condos prohibit home-based businesses; others prohibit pets or don’t allow owners to rent out their units. Read the covenants, restrictions, and bylaws carefully before you make an offer.

What’s the average vacancy rate?
It’s never too early to be thinking about resale. The ease of selling your unit may depend on what else is for sale in your building, since units are similar.

How many units are owned by investors?
Some lenders require a certain percentage of the building to be owner-occupied and may not be able to offer you financing if the ratio is too low.

Can I meet other residents before making an offer?
You will share space and decision-making duties with your neighbors when part of a homeowner association, so it’s important to make sure you can work together. If possible, try to meet your closest prospective neighbors before you decide on a place.

Consider me your resource for all things real estate!  Selling, buying, upsizing, downsizing, relocating, investing, vendor referrals, shoulder to cry on during renovations and more.  Just send me an email or call me at 619-888-2117. 

What Sells?

June 23, 2016

Consider me your resource for all things real estate!  Selling, buying, upsizing, downsizing, relocating, investing, vendor referrals, shoulder to cry on during renovations and more.  Just send me an email or call me at 619-888-2117. 

WhatSells

 

5 Tips for Deciphering Your Home Loan’s Good-Faith Estimate

June 16, 2016

 

loan-estimate-form

 

From ClientDirect

When you’re shopping for a mortgage loan, it’s sometimes hard to understand the jargon lenders use in the good-faith estimate explaining the costs and fees you’ll pay when taking out a mortgage.

When you apply for a mortgage, the lender has three days to give you a good-faith estimate of the fees and interest rate you’ll pay, as well as other loan terms. Here are five tips for using the new three-page form to your advantage.

1. Know which fees can increase and by how much
In the past, lenders provided an estimate of the costs involved in getting your home loan, and if those costs rose by the time you closed on your home, tough luck. The good-faith estimate shows some fees the lender can’t change, like the loan origination fee that you pay to get a certain interest rate (commonly called points) and transfer costs.

The form also lists the charges that can increase by up to 10%, like some title company fees and local government recording fees. The lender must cover any increase over that amount.

Finally, the good-faith estimate lists the fees that can change without any limit, such as daily interest charges.

2. Look for answers to basic loan questions
In the summary section, lenders explain your loan’s terms in simple language. Can your interest rate rise? If so, a lender must spell out how much the rate can jump and what your new payment would be if it does. Can the amount you owe the lender increase, even if you make your payments on time? If it can, a lender must show you the potential increase.

3. Evaluate the “tradeoffs” on a loan
In the new “tradeoff table,” you can ask lenders to provide details on the tradeoffs you can make in choosing among home loans. If you’d like the same loan with lower settlement charges, how will the interest rate change? If you’d like a lower interest rate, how much will your settlement charges increase?

4. Compare apples to apples with the shopping chart
Included on the good-faith estimate is space for you to list all the terms and fees for four different loans, so you can make side-by-side comparisons.

5. Know what’s missing from the good-faith estimate
The new form lacks some key information, such as how much you’ll reimburse the sellers for property taxes they’ve already paid on the home. It also doesn’t tell you the amount of money you’ll have to bring to the closing table. Some lenders have created supplemental forms providing that information. If yours hasn’t, ask for it.

Consider me your resource for all things real estate!  Selling, buying, upsizing, downsizing, relocating, investing, vendor referrals, shoulder to cry on during renovations and more.  Just send me an email or call me at 619-888-2117. 

 

The Truth About How Sellers Choose Their Buyers

June 9, 2016

selecting buyer

 

By: Lisa Kahn, ClientDirect

Touring prospective houses can feel like wandering through an infinite, imaginary desert: You’re tired, you’re cranky, and you’re not sure if the experience is EVER. GOING. TO. END. So when you’ve finally found “The One,” it’s an amazing feeling. You can already see your family celebrating holidays by your dream home’s stately fireplace and savoring countless brunches in its adorable breakfast nook.

But wait. Before you summon the moving truck, your dream home’s seller has to pick you, too. Luckily, the key to locking down your ideal abode doesn’t always mean offering the most cash. Here are five ways to tip the odds in your favor.

1. Negotiate with a Smile
Unlike most commercial real estate transactions, the buying and selling of a home is complicated by all kinds of emotions, explains Sara Benson of Benson Stanley Realty in Chicago. Often, how the seller feels about you can be more important than your money.

“People tend to do business with those they like and trust,” she says.

One of Benson’s favorite examples of this phenomenon occurred when one of her clients was second in line for a home. While the first-place bidders were negotiating their contract, they whipped out a long list of unreasonable demands for the seller.

“This infuriated the homeowner, who finally told them, ‘My property isn’t for sale to you at any price!’” Benson recalls. The seller ended up offering Benson’s clients the house, even though their bid was $10,000 below that of the first buyers.

Lesson learned? “Don’t nitpick over items that are insubstantial, like a torn window screen or a $50 valve on a hot water heater,” says Benson. “This will anger a seller more than anything.” And that, she says, could be a deal breaker.

2. Get Personal
Bruce Ailion, an agent with RE/MAX in Woodstock, Ga., agrees that profit isn’t always the seller’s primary motivation. He recalls a recent deal in which he was representing an older couple selling their long-time family home.

“We had two offers: one from an investor paying cash, the second from financed first-time buyers.”

Despite Ailion’s recommendations, the sellers chose the first-time buyers, even though the cash offer was higher and would have been a much simpler transaction. Ultimately, what mattered most for Ailion’s clients was to pass their beloved home on to a deserving young family.

3. Figure Out the Seller’s Unique Motivation
Understanding why the sellers have put their home on the market is yet another powerful tool a buyer can bring to the negotiating table, says Ailion.

“Some sellers want a quick sale; others need time to find a home. Some are focused on price, others on certainty,” he says. “There are so many intangibles. It takes a deep understanding to make a good deal for everyone.”

See what information you can glean about the seller — from your agent or even from the seller’s neighbors — to arm yourself with as much information as possible.

“The more flexible a buyer can be on closing and possession, the more likely they’ll be able to negotiate a lower price,” agrees Benson. “They’re giving the seller peace of mind and the comfort of not having to rush out.”

4. Write a Love Letter
Sometimes, a heartfelt note from a potential buyer can make all the difference, even when the chances seem pretty slim.

Darcey Regan, a Chicago-based HR executive, had already bid on another home when she and her husband stumbled upon a gorgeous old Victorian. Instantly, they were smitten. “I grew up in an old house, and the sellers had done a really great job of maintaining and renovating this one,” she says.

Unfortunately, multiple people had already placed offers on the house, including several developers who were planning to demolish the property. Regan felt her only hope was to write the sellers a letter. In it, she talked about growing up in a similar house, and how much she respected the owners’ efforts to preserve their home.

Within 24 hours, the sellers told her the house was hers. “It turns out they really wanted someone who would keep the house rather than tear it down,” she says.

Though it felt like a long shot, Regan believes her note was successful because it was genuine. Her advice? “Write a letter only if you’re really in love with the house, not because someone told you to.”

5. Work With a Pro
It also helps to have a knowledgeable, well-respected pro on your side — someone who understands market realities and who will work well with the seller’s agent.

How do you find that seasoned pro with the sterling reputation? “Ask for referrals from your personal and professional network, and interview at least three different [agents] before you choose the one you feel most comfortable working with,” advises Benson.

Residential real estate is a game of both head and heart. Smart buyers who employ both are the ones most likely to win the home of their dreams.

Consider me your resource for all things real estate!  Selling, buying, upsizing, downsizing, relocating, investing, vendor referrals, shoulder to cry on during renovations and more.  Just send me an email or call me at 619-888-2117. 

 

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