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10 papers buyers need to buy a home

3/30/2011
ome buyers and -sellers alike often bristle with anticipatory irritation at the mere thought of all the paperwork they expect they’ll have to come up with to do their transaction, above and beyond the basic loan application, contract, disclosures and closing docs. And these worries start way in advance; it’s as though, before they even start visiting open houses, buyers begin to visualize - and dread - spending hours upon hours in the dank catacombs of the Vatican (à la Da Vinci Code) combing through ancient files, seeking some rare and precious artifact documenting their childhood dental history or genealogy. In some respects, this vision of the experience of obtaining a home loan might not be far off - there are oodles of hoops through which to jump and, occasionally, the loan underwriter requests something sort of bizarre. But more commonly, there’s a pretty finite universe of documents you’ll really need to scrounge up to get your home bought - or sold. Here they are: 1. ID (e.g., driver’s license, state-issued ID, passport). Who must produce it? Buyers and sellers. Why? Uh, hello!?! Lender wants to know that you are who you say you are, buyers, and the title insurance company wants to make sure, sellers, that you actually have the right to sell the home. Funny enough, this commonly goes unrequested until you get to the closing table, when the notary requests to see it before signing, but some mortgage brokers and even some real estate brokers and agents may ask to see it earlier on. 2. Paycheck Stubs. Who must produce it? Any buyer financing their purchase with a mortgage. Sellers, usually only in the case of a short sale. Why? Buyers’ purchase price ranges are determined, in part, by their income. And short sellers have to prove an economic hardship. 3. Two months’ bank account statements. Who must produce it? Buyers getting financing; sellers selling short. Why? Buyers’ lenders now require proof of regular income and proof that the down payment money is your own. Short sellers? It’s all about the hardship. 4. Two years’ W-2 forms or tax returns. Who must produce it? Mortgage-seeking buyers and short selling sellers. Why? Banks want to see a stable, long-term income. They also limit you to claiming as income the amount on which you pay taxes (attn: all business owners!). And in short sales, again, they want documentation of every single facet of your finances. 5. Updated everything. Who must produce it? Buyer/mortgage applicants. Why? Because things change, and because the time period between the first loan application and closing can be many months - even years! - on today’s market. During the time between contract and closing it’s not at all unusual for underwriters to demand buyers produce updated mortgage statements, checks stubs, and such - and its quite common for them to call your office the day before closing to request a last minute verification of employment! 6. Quitclaim deed. Who must produce it? Married buyers purchasing homes they plan to own as separate property. Married sellers selling homes that they own separately, or joint owners selling their interests separately. Why? With the Quitclaim Deed, the other spouse or owner signs any and all interests they even might have had in the property over the the selling owner, making it possible for the title insurer to guarantee clear, undisputed title is being transferred in the sale. 7. Divorce decree. Who must produce it? Buyers and sellers who need to document their solo status or the property-splitting terms of their divorce. Why? Again, to ensure that the seller has the right to sell. Recently single buyers might need to prove that they shouldn’t be held to account for their ex’s separate debts or credit report dings. 8. Gift letters. Who must produce it? Buyers using gift money toward their down payment. Why? The bank wants to be sure the gift came from a relative, and is their own money to give. They also want the relative to confirm in writing that it’s a gift, not a loan - a loan would need to be factored into your debt load. 9. Compliance certificates. Who must produce it? Usually sellers, but sometimes buyers, by contract. Why? Some local governments require various condition requirements be met before the property is transferred, like some cities which require a sewer line be video scoped and repaired, cities which require a checklist of items be met before a certificate of occupancy be issued (usually relevant to brand new and really old homes, the latter of which are often subject to lead paint concerns) and energy conservation ordinances which require low-flow toilets and shower heads to be installed. Ask your real estate pro for advice about which, if any, such ordinances apply in your area. 10. Mortgage statements. Who must produce it? Any seller with a mortgage. Why? the escrow holder or title company will need to use them to order payoff demands from any mortgage holder who has to get paid before the property’s title can be transferred. By no means is this an exhaustive list. Agents: what documents do you see buyers and sellers struggle to scrounge up during their home buying transactions? By Tara-Nicholle Nelson | Broker in San Francisco, CA

Consumers Agree Its A Good Time to Buy Real Estate

3/25/2011

[1]RISMEDIA, March 25, 2011According to the latest Spending and Saving Tracker from American Express, more than two in five (41 percent) of Americans said that its a buyers market for real estate. However, over 61 percent agree that a sellers market is at least a year away.

Other findings:
Homeowner confidence on whether they would receive the asking price for their home is nearly evenly split43 percent said they are confident they would; 47 percent are not very or not at all confident.

However, many homeowners39 percentare not willing to settle for less than the asking price, even considering the tough real estate market, in contrast to 23 percent who are willing and 38 percent who are not sure.

To sell their home in the current market, 44 percent of homeowners note that they would be interested in including appliances, while 28 percent would consider offering to make requested repairs or allowing an allotment for repairs.



Posted By susanne On March 24, 2011 @ 4:07 pm In Business Development,Business Outlook,Finance and Economy,Real Estate,Real Estate Consultants,Real Estate Information,Real Estate News,Real Estate Trends,REALTOR Marketing,Today's Marketplace,Today's Top Story,Today's Top Story - Consumer |

Easy Ways to Transform a Room

3/24/2011

RISMEDIA, March 23, 2011Updating a living room or family room doesnt have to mean giving it a complete makeover. A few simple changes can transform a tired room into a fresh space in no time.

Give your windows better treatment
Replace heavy draperies, which can look outdated, with a more contemporary alternative. Faux wood, honeycomb blinds, roman or vertical shadesthere are a lot of options to dress up your windows. Many online companies will send you samples so you can see how the different options will look in your particular space.

Lighten things up with sheers. The soft folds of billowy sheers allow more light to come into the room, but still offer some privacy. Sheers in lighter colors also make the room appear larger and serve as a color-coordinated highlight at the same time.

Use mirrors to add visual interest
Instead of the hanging a large mirror in a traditional space, such as above a couch or fireplace, modernize by hanging several smaller mirrors. Create a grouping of mirrors with frames that have the same color, but different sizes, shapes and textures.

Hang a large mirror between two windows to give the illusion of having more windows in the room.

Replace an outdated furniture item

Update your coffee table or entertainment center. These larger pieces are often the focal point of the room, so changing them out can put the entire room in a whole new light.

Look for items that are both functional and easy to assemble. For example, Z-Line Designs furniture includes an instructional DVD with each item, so you can easily assemble pieces that are traditionally complicated to put together. Their ready-to-assemble mounts and stands for flat panel TVs can update any room in a flash. For more information, visit www.z-linedesigns.com.

Freshen up accessories
Theres no need to re-upholster a sofa or its matching chairs. Swap the current accent pillows out for some new ones. Try a new, complementary color or add a pattern or fun texture to a solid background.

Switch out your centerpieces. Replace a silk flower arrangement for a tray with pillar candles on it. Update the framed photos with new pictures and new frames. Look around the house for a few interesting pieces that can be put to new usewhat can you do with a stack of interesting books or a grouping of pretty bowls?

Posted By susanne On March 22, 2011 @ 4:01 pm In Best Practices,Business Development,Consumer News and Advice,Homeowner's Toolkit,Real Estate,Real Estate Consultants,Real Estate Information,Real Estate News,Real Estate Trends,REALTOR Marketing,Today's Marketplace,Your Guide to Home Improvement

First Time Homebuyers

3/23/2011

First-Time Home Buyers Prepare for Best Buyers Market in Recent History

Posted By susanne On March 17, 2011 @ 4:10 pm In Luxury Real Estate,Real Estate,Real Estate Information,Real Estate News,Real Estate Trends,Today's Marketplace,Today's Top Story,Today's Top Story - Consumer | Comments Disabled

 [1]RISMEDIA, March 18, 2011While affordable housing prices, ample inventories, and historically low interest rates signal buyers market for investors or move-up buyers in many U.S. markets, inexperienced first-time buyers may not know if the time is right to make a move into real estate.

Its not about timing the market. Its about time in the market, says Steve Berkowitz, chief executive officer at Move, Inc., a leader in online real estate. Once you know how long you expect to own a home, look at the historical value performance of properties in the neighborhood. Be confident about your own job security, down payment resources and tolerance for upkeep, as well as the lifestyle you want today and in the near term. While homeownership may not be for everyone, it is the right choice for hundreds of thousands of people. Todays housing market, especially for first-time buyers, makes it almost impossible not to think about the possibilities.

To help first-time buyers know if theyre ready to look for the home of their dreams as we head into this years home-buying season, the experts at Move have created a reality checklist designed to help them decide if the time is right.

Get your financial house in order
Before you decide to buy a home, its essential to make sure your credit is in good shape and repair any damage previously done. Know your credit score: thirty-five percent (35%) of successful buyers recently reported they didnt know their credit score when they went house shopping, according to a national survey fielded for MortgageMatch.com. Having enough money set aside for a down payment is a key component to making sure you are ready to purchase a home. Also, its important to not put all of your money in the down payment as other fees or unexpected expenses often arise after closing.

Dont fall in love with a house you cant buy
Find out how much you can afford: establishing your purchase power upfront, including how much money will be required for a down payment and closing costs, is a must for first-time buyers. Look for special loans available from FHA and government sponsored loans for first-time home buyers that reduce the amount of money required to get into a home.

Learn the lingo
Since first-time buyers are new to the market and will finance a significant portion of their purchase, its important to get familiar with the processes and terminology associated with home-buying. Here are a few key terms from MortgageMatch.com to add to your vocabulary:

Bait rate: Misleading mortgages with low rate promises and no contingencies generally for those with extraordinary credit. Rates are based on: credit, debt-to-income and loan-to-value ratios, the size and type of loan, property location and the day you lock your rate, etc. The loan isnt locked until the application is accepted. By then, it may be too late to find a better rate from another lender.

Basis point: A term used in the mortgage industry which simply means 1/100th of 1%.

Closing costs: The fees required to process and close your loan. Theyre a cash obligation running from 3-5% of the purchase price. Motivated sellers might pay a portion of these costs.

FHA: Federal Housing Administration, the Federal Government Agency that oversees the U.S. Housing market. FHA Loans are loans insured by the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development.

FRM and ARM: A Fixed-Rate Mortgage Loan (FRM) is a loan where your interest rate stays the same for the life of the loan. ARMs are Adjustable-Rate Mortgages with variable interest rates that fluctuate based on an agreed-upon index.

GFE: The Good Faith Estimate (GFE) is a document explaining all costs involved in getting a loan.

TIL: The Federal Truth-in-Lending Form is a document that spells out the costs and fees of the loan.

Lis pendens: An official notice that there is a pending lawsuit over real estate.

Per Diem interest: Interest you pay per day, from the day you close to the last day of the month.

Underwriting/underwriting fees: Underwriting is a process the lender performs to qualify a borrower for a loan and the fee is what you pay the lender at closing to cover evaluating the risk involved with loaning you money.

Warranty deed: A legal document guaranteeing the seller has a right to sell a property, which is very important if you are considering a distressed or discounted property.

Mortgage Knowledge
While national rates on 30-year-fixed-rates mortgages have risen slightly this year, they are still at historic lows not seen since 1980, according to Freddie Mac. Buyers who prepare themselves financially before they start looking for a home will have a better chance of succeeding, says Sue Stewart, senior vice president for Move, Inc. If you want to land the best mortgage that fits your needs, start early, educate yourself on your financial situation, get your documentation together and find a lender you trust.

Find a REALTOR® and go shopping
For those ready to buy, REALTOR.com® has the tools and tips to help you find a REALTOR® and, ultimately, the right home. Finding a licensed real estate professional in your area will make the process smoother and easier to understand. Once you find an agent, share your realistic budget and what youre looking for in a home. Stay in constant contact with your agent and look for homes whenever you have a spare moment.

First-time home buyer resources
For more tips designed to help the first-time buyer navigate the home buying process, the experts at Move have provided an abundance of helpful information thats just one click away:
-Reality checklist Are you sure youre ready to buy? Heres how to know.
-How-to Guide: Buying Your First Home Everything you need to know about buying a home
-Get Prequalified Now Get prequalified for a mortgage before you begin shopping
-Realtor.com Blogs Connect with REALTORS® to help you navigate the market
-MortgageMatch.com News Answers questions about finances and mortgages
-Move.com Home Finance Equips first-time buyers with tools, guides, advice, and more

If now isnt the right time, prepare for your future purchase
If now isnt the right time to buy a home, make a plan with a target date for when you expect to be ready. Improving your credit, paying down debt, stabilizing your work history and calculating exactly how much you can afford, are the best ways to prepare for your future home purchase. Its also important to refrain from making any new large purchases or applying for new credit.

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