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Q-A Series – YOU’VE FOUND IT

Q. WHAT DOES A HOME INSPECTOR DO, AND HOW DOES AN INSPECTION FIGURE IN THE PURCHASE OF A HOME

An inspector checks the safety of your potential new home. Home Inspectors focus especially on the structure, construction, and mechanical systems of the house and will make you aware of only repairs,that are needed.

The Inspector does not evaluate whether or not you’re getting good value for your money. Generally, an inspector checks (and gives prices for repairs on): the electrical system, plumbing and waste disposal, the water heater, insulation and Ventilation, the HVAC system, water source and quality, the potential presence of pests, the foundation, doors, windows, ceilings, walls, floors, and roof. Be sure to hire a home inspector that is qualified and experienced.

It’s a good idea to have an inspection before you sign a written offer since, once the deal is closed, you’ve bought the house as is.” Or, you may want to include an inspection clause in the offer when negotiating for a home. An inspection t clause gives you an ‘out” on buying the house if serious problems are found,or gives you the ability to renegotiate the purchase price if repairs are needed. An inspection clause can also specify that the seller must fix the problem(s) before you purchase the house.

Q. DO I NEED TO BE THERE FOR THE INSPECTION

It’s not required, but it’s a good idea. Following the inspection, the home inspector will be able to answer questions about the report and any problem areas. This is also an opportunity to hear an objective opinion on the home you’d I like to purchase and it is a good time to ask general, maintenance questions.

Q. ARE OTHER TYPES OF INSPECTIONS REQUIRED

If your home inspector discovers a serious problem a more specific Inspection may be recommended. It’s a good idea to consider having your home inspected for the presence of a variety of health-related risks like radon gas asbestos, or possible problems with the water or waste disposal system.

Q. HOW CAN I PROTECT MY FAMILY FROM LEAD IN THE HOME

If the house you’re considering was built before 1978 and you have children under the age of seven, you will want to have an inspection for lead-based point. It’s important to know that lead flakes from paint can be present in both the home and in the soil surrounding the house. The problem can be fixed temporarily by repairing damaged paint surfaces or planting grass over effected soil. Hiring a lead abatement contractor to remove paint chips and seal damaged areas will fix the problem permanently.

Q. ARE POWER LINES A HEALTH HAZARD

There are no definitive research findings that indicate exposure to power lines results in greater instances of disease or illness.

Q. DO I NEED A LAWYER TO BUY A HOME

Laws vary by state. Some states require a lawyer to assist in several aspects of the home buying process while other states do not, as long as a qualified real estate professional is involved. Even if your state doesn’t require one, you may want to hire a lawyer to help with the complex paperwork and legal contracts. A lawyer can review contracts, make you aware of special considerations, and assist you with the closing process. Your real estate agent may be able to recommend a lawyer. If not, shop around. Find out what services are provided for what fee, and whether the attorney is experienced at representing homebuyers.

Q. DO I REALLY NEED HOMEOWNER’S INSURANCE

Yes. A paid homeowner’s insurance policy (or a paid receipt for one) is required at closing, so arrangements will have to be made prior to that day. Plus, involving the insurance agent early in the home buying process can save you money. Insurance agents are a great resource for information on home safety and they can give tips on how to keep insurance premiums low.

Q. WHAT STEPS COULD I TAKE TO LOWER MY HOMEOWNER’S INSURANCE COSTS

Be sure to shop around among several insurance companies. Also, consider the cost of insurance when you look at homes. Newer homes and homes constructed with materials like brick tend to have lower premiums. Think about avoiding areas prone to natural disasters, like flooding. Choose a home with a fire hydrant or a fire department nearby.

Q. IS THE HOME LOCATED IN A FLOOD PLAIN

Your real estate agent or lender can help you answer this question. If you live in a flood plain, the lender will require that you have flood insurance before lending any money to you. But if you live near a flood plain, you may choose whether or not to get flood insurance coverage for your home. Work with an insurance agent to construct a policy that fits your needs.

Q. WHAT OTHER ISSUES SHOULD I CONSIDER BEFORE I BUY MY HOME

Always check to see if the house is in a low-lying area, in a high-risk area for natural disasters (like earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, etc.), or in a hazardous materials area. Be sure the house meets building codes. Also consider local zoning laws, which could affect remodeling or making an addition in the future. Your real estate agent should be able to help you with these questions.

Q. HOW DO I MAKE AN OFFER

Your real estate agent will assist you in making an offer, which will include the following information:
– Complete legal description of the property
– Amount of earnest money
– Down payment and financing details
– Proposed move-in date
– Price you are offering
– Proposed closing date
– Length of time the offer is valid
– Details of the deal

Remember that a sale commitment depends on negotiating a satisfactory contract with the seller, not just Making an offer.

Other ways to lower ins-insurance costs include insuring your home and car(s) with the same company, increasing home security, and seeking group coverage through alumni or business associations. Insurance costs are always lowered by raising your deductibles, but this exposes you to a higher out-of-pocket cost if you have to file a claim.

Q. HOW DO I DETERMINE THE INITIAL OFFER

Unless you have a buyer’s agent, remember that the agent works for the seller. Make a point of asking him or her to keep your discussions and information confidential. Listen to your real estate agent’s advice, but follow your own instincts on deciding a fair price. Calculating your offer should involve several factors: what homes sell for in the area, the home’s condition, how long it’s been on the market, financing terms, and the seller’s situation. By the time you’re ready to make an offer, you should have a good idea of what the home is worth and what you can afford. And, be prepared for give-and-take negotiation, which is very common when buying a home. The buyer and seller may often go back and forth until they can agree on a price.

Q. WHAT IS EARNEST MONEY HOW MUCH SHOULD I SET ASIDE

Earnest money is money put down to demonstrate your seriousness about buying a home. It must be substantial enough to demonstrate good faith and is usually between 1-5% of the purchase price (though the amount can vary with local customs and conditions). If your offer is accepted, the earnest money becomes part of your down payment or closing costs. If the offer is rejected, your money is returned to you. If you back out of a deal, you may forfeit the entire amount.

Q. WHAT ARE “HOME WARRANTIES”, AND SHOULD I CONSIDER THEM

Home warranties offer you protection for a specific period of time (e.g., one year) against potentially costly problems, like unexpected repairs on appliances or home systems, which are not covered by homeowner’s insurance. Warranties are becoming more popular because they offer protection during the time immediately following the purchase of a home, a time when many people find themselves cash-strapped.

10 Questions to Ask Home Inspectors

Before you make your final buying or selling decision, you should have the home inspected by a professional. An inspection can alert you to potential problems with a property and allow you to make an informed decision. Ask these questions to prospective home inspectors:

1. Will your inspection meet recognized standards Ask whether the inspection and the inspection report will meet all state requirements and comply with a well-recognized standard of practice and code of ethics, such as the one adopted by the American Society of Home Inspectors or the National Association of Home Inspectors. Customers can view each group s standards of practice and code of ethics online at www.ashi.org or www.nahi.org. ASHI s Web site also provides a database of state regulations.

2. Do you belong to a professional home inspector association There are many state and national associations for home inspectors, including the two groups mentioned in No. 1. Unfortunately, some groups confer questionable credentials or certifications in return for nothing more than a fee. Insist on members of reputable, nonprofit trade organizations; request to see a membership ID.

3. How experienced are you Ask how long inspectors have been in the profession and how many inspections they ve completed. They should provide customer referrals on request. New inspectors also may be highly qualified, but they should describe their training and let you know whether they plan to work with a more experienced partner.

4. How do you keep your expertise up to date Inspectors commitment to continuing education is a good measure of their professionalism and service. Advanced knowledge is especially important in cases in which a home is older or includes unique elements requiring additional or updated training.

5. Do you focus on residential inspection Make sure the inspector has training and experience in the unique discipline of home inspection, which is very different from inspecting commercial buildings or a construction site. If your customers are buying a unique property, such as a historic home, they may want to ask whether the inspector has experience with that type of property in particular.

6. Will you offer to do repairs or improvements Some state laws and trade associations allow the inspector to provide repair work on problems uncovered during the inspection. However, other states and associations forbid it as a conflict of interest. Contact your local ASHI chapter to learn about the rules in your state.

7. How long will the inspection take On average, an inspector working alone inspects a typical single-family house in two to three hours; anything significantly less may not be thorough. If your customers are purchasing an especially large property, they may want to ask whether additional inspectors will be brought in.

8. What s the cost Costs can vary dramatically, depending on your region, the size and age of the house, and the scope of services. The national average for single-family homes is about $320, but customers with large homes can expect to pay more. Customers should be wary of deals that seem too good to be true.

9. What type of inspection report do you provide Ask to see samples to determine whether you will understand the inspector’s reporting style. Also, most inspectors provide their full report within 24 hours of the inspection.

10. Will I be able to attend the inspection The answer should be yes. A home inspection is a valuable educational opportunity for the buyer. An inspector’s refusal to let the buyer attend should raise a red flag.

Source: Rob Paterkiewicz, executive director, American Society of Home Inspectors, Des Plaines, Ill., www.ashi.org.

Reprinted from REALTOR magazine (REALTOR.org/realtormag) with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS .
Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.

Determine How Much Mortgage You Can Afford

By: G. M. Filisko

By knowing how much mortgage you can handle, you can ensure that home ownership will fit in your budget.

Homeownership should make you feel safe and secure, and that includes financially. Be sure you can afford your home by calculating how much of a mortgage you can safely fit into your budget.

Instead of just taking out the biggest mortgage a lender qualifies you to borrow, consider how much you want to pay each month for housing based on your financial and personal goals.

Think ahead to major life events and consider how those might influence your budget. Do you want to return to school for an advanced degree Will a new child add day care to your monthly expenses Does a relative plan to eventually live with you and contribute to the mortgage

Still not sure how much you can afford You can use the same formulas that most lenders use, or try another of these traditional methods for estimating the amount of mortgage you can afford.

1. The general rule of mortgage affordability
As a rule of thumb, you can typically afford a home priced two to three times your gross income. If you earn $100,000, you can typically afford a home between $200,000 and $300,000.

To understand how that rule applies to your particular financial situation, prepare a family budget and list all the costs of homeownership, like property taxes, insurance, maintenance, utilities, and community association fees, if applicable, as well as costs specific to your family, such as day care costs.

2. Factor in your downpayment
How much money do you have for a downpayment The higher your downpayment, the lower your monthly payments will be. If you put down at least 20% of the home’s cost, you may not have to get private mortgage insurance, which costs hundreds each month. That leaves more money for your mortgage payment.
The lower your downpayment, the higher the loan amount you’ll need to qualify for and the higher your monthly mortgage payment.

3. Consider your overall debt
Lenders generally follow the 28/41 rule. Your monthly mortgage payments covering your home loan principal, interest, taxes, and insurance shouldn’t total more than 28% of your gross annual income. Your overall monthly payments for your mortgage plus all your other bills, like car loans, utilities, and credit cards, shouldn’t exceed 41% of your gross annual income.

Here’s how that works. If your gross annual income is $100,000, multiply by 28% and then divide by 12 months to arrive at a monthly mortgage payment of $2,333 or less. Next, check the total of all your monthly bills including your potential mortgage and make sure they don’t top 41%, or $3,416 in our example.

4. Use your rent as a mortgage guide
The tax benefits of homeownership generally allow you to afford a mortgage payment-including taxes and insurance-of about one-third more than your current rent payment without changing your lifestyle. So you can multiply your current rent by 1.33 to arrive at a rough estimate of a mortgage payment.

Here’s an example. If you currently pay $1,500 per month in rent, you should be able to comfortably afford a $2,000 monthly mortgage payment after factoring in the tax benefits of homeownership.

However, if you’re struggling to keep up with your rent, consider what amount would be comfortable and use that for the calcuation instead.

Also consider whether or not you’ll itemize your deductions. If you take the standard deduction, you can’t also deduct mortgage interest payments. Talking to a tax adviser, or using a tax software program to do a “what if” tax return, can help you see your tax situation more clearly.

More from HouseLogic
More on the mortgage interest deduction (http://www.houselogic.com/articles/mortgage-interest-deduction-vital-housing-market/)

More on the tax advantages of homeownership (http://www.houselogic.com/articles/tax-tips-homeowners-preparing-2009-returns/)

Other web resources
A worksheet on home affordability (http://www.ginniemae.gov/2_prequal/intro_questions.asp Section=YPTH)

Freddie Mac information on home affordability (http://www.freddiemac.com/corporate/buyown/english/preparing/right_for_you/afford.html)
G.M. Filisko is an attorney and award-winning writer who’s owned her own home for more than 20 years. 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.

Visit houselogic.com for more articles like this. Reprinted from HouseLogic with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

6 Creative Ways to Afford a Home

1. Investigate local, state, and national down payment assistance programs. These programs give qualified applicants loans or grants to cover all or part of your required down payment. National programs include the Nehemiah program, www.getdownpayment.com, and the American Dream Down Payment Fund from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, www.hud.gov.

2. Explore seller financing. In some cases, sellers may be willing to finance all or part of the purchase price of the home and let you repay them gradually, just as you would do with a mortgage.

3. Consider a shared-appreciation or shared-equity arrangement. Under this arrangement, your family, friends, or even a third-party may buy a portion of the home and share in any appreciation when the home is sold. The owner/occupant usually pays the mortgage, property taxes, and maintenance costs, but all the investors’ names are usually on the mortgage. Companies are available that can help you find such an investor, if your family can t participate.

4. Ask your family for help. Perhaps a family member will loan you money for the down payment or act as a co-signer for the mortgage. Lenders often like to have a co-signer if you have little credit history.

5. Lease with the option to buy. Renting the home for a year or more will give you the chance to save more toward your down payment. And in many cases, owners will apply some of the rental amount toward the purchase price. You usually have to pay a small, nonrefundable option fee to the owner.

6. Consider a short-term second mortgage. If you can qualify for a short-term second mortgage, this would give you money to make a larger down payment. This may be possible if you re in good financial standing, with a strong income and little other debt.

Reprinted from REALTOR magazine (REALTOR.org/realtormag) with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS .
Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.

Real Estate Syndication – Does a New World Need a New Way?

The world has gotten sufficiently complicated, where many of the rules that have been written in the past need to be broken or disregarded so that we can move forward and break through the log jam.

This is true in the real estate syndication business, but it also applies to the operations of traditional businesses as well as the entities that fund them. Many syndicators feel competitive with one another, and therefore, they refuse to share information that could help both of them to move forward. This competitive spirit is not only misplaced, but it’s slowing down the entrepreneurial promoters’ ability to move forward.

Small syndicators are really not competitors with one another. Instead, small syndicators have to worry about their ability to compete against the larger players in that market who are gobbling up all of the properties and the deals that could otherwise be shared. The only way for small entrepreneurial syndicators to succeed is by working together to combine deals, to pool investors, and to share fees. Otherwise, trouble will be on the horizon for all of us.

This may seem somewhat counter-intuitive, but the only place where we compete is really in the acquisition of investors – and there are plenty of accredited investors to go around. We might seem to compete for properties, but there are plenty of properties all over the United States for us to cooperate on. And if we can figure out a way to share fees, then everything else will be easy.

One of the most important benefits that I promote at the Real Estate Deal Making Symposium and Syndication Seminar is the networking activities that take place between the participants. I promote this not only because I believe we can help one another intellectually, but also because I believe that doing deals together is the way to go.

Since there are four skills that are required to put together a syndication, and since most of us don’t have (or at a minimum we don’t specialize in) all four of these skill areas, we have to cooperate with others who do work in those areas and who do specialize in those skills.

Consider the following major skill categories and determine the one that you are strongest in. Then find others to fill in the gaps where you are lacking.

Market Skills – Intense knowledge of the deals in the marketplace and being able to pick the right ones to syndicate.

Capital Skills – Understanding and raising the money and how its structure will work for your deal.

Property Management or Asset Management Skills – Looking after the real estate once you acquire it, with the ability to implement the business plan that is the basis for the investment in the project.

Business Management – As the number of syndications increase, special skills will be required to deal with the attorneys, accountants, investors and other constituents interested in the investments that you have set up.

Don’t take these four major skill areas lightly. Whether you are a promoter or an investor, you should make sure that your team has all of these skills in place.

If you believe that syndicating together is the way to go, then take advantage of the other syndicators who you know, and work with them. And if you don’t know other syndicators, then get involved with us and our new organization (the National Association of Syndicators) because this business is a great business, but we have to do it a different way or it may not work out for any of us.

Join our new Facebook group http://tinyurl.com/yekewfz to learn more.

We are in the real estate syndication business. We invest in properties and we offer seminars to assist others in acquiring the skills needed to syndicate properties. This topic is very relevant for helping you in raising funds or investment capital for any real estate investment, whether it be for commercial property or another kind of investment property.

Joel began his career as a CPA with the prestigious firm of Price Waterhouse. During his time with the company’s Entrepreneurial Services Group, Joel immersed himself in the real estate syndication business. After reviewing hundreds of partnership agreements and preparing as many tax returns, he left Price Waterhouse in 1986 to start his own syndication firm, raising several million dollars in three short years. By 1990, Joel had built a property management firm of more than 40 employees with a portfolio exceeding $100 million. Joel continues to syndicate real estate and other assets, as well as counseling other promoters on successful syndication strategies. He is also involved in film financing and invests in early stage companies and other deals. For more information about Joel Block and his upcoming seminar, visit his site at http://syndicatefast.com/

Author: Joel G. Block
Article Source: EzineArticles.com
Import duty tariff

Common Closing Costs for Buyers

You ll likely be responsible for a variety of fees and expenses that you and the seller will have to pay at the time of closing. Your lender must provide a good-faith estimate of all settlement costs. The title company or other entity conducting the closing will tell you the required amount for:

Down payment
Loan origination
Points, or loan discount fees, which you pay to receive a lower interest rate
Home inspection
Appraisal
Credit report
Private mortgage insurance premium
Insurance escrow for homeowner s insurance, if being paid as part of the mortgage
Property tax escrow, if being paid as part of the mortgage. Lenders keep funds for taxes and insurance in escrow accounts as they are paid with the mortgage, then pay the insurance or taxes for you.
Deed recording
Title insurance policy premiums
Land survey
Notary fees
Prorations for your share of costs, such as utility bills and property taxes

A Note About Prorations: Because such costs are usually paid on either a monthly or yearly basis, you might have to pay a bill for services used by the sellers before they moved. Proration is a way for the sellers to pay you back or for you to pay them for bills they may have paid in advance. For example, the gas company usually sends a bill each month for the gas used during the previous month. But assume you buy the home on the 6th of the month. You would owe the gas company for only the days from the 6th to the end for the month. The seller would owe for the first five days. The bill would be prorated for the number of days in the month, and then each person would be responsible for the days of his or her ownership.

Reprinted from REALTOR magazine (REALTOR.org/realtormag) with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS .
Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.

8 Tips for Finding Your New Home

By: G. M. Filisko

A solid game plan can help you narrow your homebuying search to find the best home for you.

House hunting is just like any other shopping expedition. If you identify exactly what you want and do some research, you’ll zoom in on the home you want at the best price. These eight tips will guide you through a smart homebuying process.

1. Know thyself
Understand the type of home that suits your personality. Do you prefer a new or existing home A ranch or a multistory home If you’re leaning toward a fixer-upper, are you truly handy, or will you need to budget for contractors

2. Research before you look
List the features you most want in a home and identify which are necessities and which are extras. Identify three to four neighborhoods you’d like to live in based on commute time, schools, recreation, crime, and price. Then hop onto REALTOR.com (http://REALTOR.com) to get a feel for the homes available in your price range in your favorite neighborhoods. Use the results to prioritize your wants and needs so you can add in and weed out properties from the inventory you’d like to view.

3. Get your finances in order
Generally, lenders say you can afford a home priced two to three times your gross income. Create a budget so you know how much you’re comfortable spending each month on housing. Don’t wait until you’ve found a home and made an offer to investigate financing.

Gather your financial records and meet with a lender to get a prequalification letter spelling out how much you’re eligible to borrow. The lender won’t necessarily consider the extra fees you’ll pay when you purchase or your plans to begin a family or purchase a new car, so shop in a price range you’re comfortable with. Also, presenting an offer contingent on financing will make your bid less attractive to sellers.

4. Set a moving timeline
Do you have blemishes on your credit that will take time to clear up If you already own, have you sold your current home If not, you’ll need to factor in the time needed to sell. If you rent, when is your lease up Do you expect interest rates to jump anytime soon All these factors will affect your buying, closing, and moving timelines.

5. Think long term
Your future plans may dictate the type of home you’ll buy. Are you looking for a starter house with plans to move up in a few years, or do you hope to stay in the home for five to 10 years With a starter, you may need to adjust your expectations. If you plan to nest, be sure your priority list helps you identify a home you’ll still love years from now.

6. Work with a REALTOR®
Ask people you trust for referrals to a real estate professional they trust. Interview agents to determine which have expertise in the neighborhoods and type of homes you’re interested in. Because homebuying triggers many emotions, consider whether an agent’s style meshes with your personality.

Also ask if the agent specializes in buyer representation. Unlike listing agents, whose first duty is to the seller, buyers’ reps work only for you even though they’re typically paid by the seller. Finally, check whether agents are REALTORS®, which means they’re members of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. NAR has been a champion of homeownership rights for more than a century.

7. Be realistic
It’s OK to be picky about the home and neighborhood you want, but don’t be close-minded, unrealistic, or blinded by minor imperfections. If you insist on living in a cul-de-sac, you may miss out on great homes on streets that are just as quiet and secluded.

On the flip side, don’t be so swayed by a “wow” feature that you forget about other issues-like noise levels-that can have a big impact on your quality of life. Use your priority list to evaluate each property, remembering there’s no such thing as the perfect home.

8. Limit the opinions you solicit
It’s natural to seek reassurance when making a big financial decision. But you know that saying about too many cooks in the kitchen. If you need a second opinion, select one or two people. But remain true to your list of wants and needs so the final decision is based on criteria you’ve identified as important.

More from HouseLogic
HOAs: What You Need to Know About Rules (http://www.houselogic.com/articles/hoas-what-you-need-to-know-about-rules/)

A Financial Plan for Your Home (http://www.houselogic.com/articles/a-financial-plan-for-your-home/)

When It Pays to Do It Yourself (http://www.houselogic.com/articles/when-it-pays-to-do-it-yourself/)

G.M. Filisko is an attorney and award-winning writer who has found happiness in a brownstone in a historic Chicago neighborhood. 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.

Visit houselogic.com for more articles like this. Reprinted from HouseLogic with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

6 Tips for Choosing the Best Offer for Your Home

By: G. M. Filisko

Have a plan for reviewing purchase offers so you don’t let the best slip through your fingers.

You’ve worked hard to get your home ready for sale and to price it properly. With any luck, offers will come quickly. You’ll need to review each carefully to determine its strengths and drawbacks and pick one to accept. Here’s a plan for evaluating offers.

1. Understand the process
All offers are negotiable, as your agent will tell you. When you receive an offer, you can accept it, reject it, or respond by asking that terms be modified, which is called making a counteroffer.

2. Set baselines
Decide in advance what terms are most important to you. For instance, if price is most important, you may need to be flexible on your closing date. Or if you want certainty that the transaction won’t fall apart because the buyer can’t get a mortgage, require a prequalified or cash buyer.

3. Create an offer review process
If you think your home will receive multiple offers, work with your agent to establish a time frame during which buyers must submit offers. That gives your agent time to market your home to as many potential buyers as possible, and you time to review all the offers you receive.

4. Don’t take offers personally
Selling your home can be emotional. But it’s simply a business transaction, and you should treat it that way. If your agent tells you a buyer complained that your kitchen is horribly outdated, justifying a lowball offer, don’t be offended. Consider it a sign the buyer is interested and understand that those comments are a negotiating tactic. Negotiate in kind.

5. Review every term
Carefully evaluate all the terms of each offer. Price is important, but so are other terms. Is the buyer asking for property or fixtures-such as appliances, furniture, or window treatments-to be included in the sale that you plan to take with you

Is the amount of earnest money the buyer proposes to deposit toward the downpayment sufficient The lower the earnest money, the less painful it will be for the buyer to forfeit those funds by walking away from the purchase if problems arise.

Have the buyers attached a prequalification or pre-approval letter, which means they’ve already been approved for financing Or does the offer include a financing or other contingency If so, the buyers can walk away from the deal if they can’t get a mortgage, and they’ll take their earnest money back, too. Are you comfortable with that uncertainty

Is the buyer asking you to make concessions, like covering some closing costs Are you willing, and can you afford to do that Does the buyer’s proposed closing date mesh with your timeline

With each factor, ask yourself: Is this a deal breaker, or can I compromise to achieve my ultimate goal of closing the sale

6. Be creative
If you’ve received an unacceptable offer through your agent, ask questions to determine what’s most important to the buyer and see if you can meet that need. You may learn the buyer has to move quickly. That may allow you to stand firm on price but offer to close quickly. The key to successfully negotiating the sale is to remain flexible.
G.M. Filisko is an attorney and award-winning writer who has survived several closings. 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.

Visit houselogic.com for more articles like this. Reprinted from HouseLogic with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

Insurance Programs

Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) enables homebuyers to obtain conventional home loans with relatively small down payments. Prior to the advent of PMI, lenders of conventional mortgages traditionally required a down payment of at least 20 percent of the home’s purchase price.

Saving enough money to make a down payment of ten or twenty percent is one of the greatest barriers to homeownership today, so that requirement shrank the pool of potential homebuyers. Having insurance helps first-time and moderate-income purchasers surmount this obstacle by reducing the down payment required to obtain a mortgage to as little as three percent of the purchase price. Both private and federal programs offer mortgage insurance. Down payment requirements may vary depending on the insurance issuer.

Lenders typically require mortgage insurance on low down payment mortgages because loss experience and studies have shown that a borrower with less than 20 percent invested in a home is more likely to default on a mortgage should problems arise. In other words, there is a good correlation between the size of the down payment made on a mortgage and the eventual likelihood that the mortgage will be paid-off according to its terms.

Although it is the borrower who normally pays for PMI, the insurance coverage protects the lender, not the borrower. The insurance protects lenders against default-related losses on conventional first mortgages made to mortgage borrowers who make down payments of less than 20 percent of the home’s purchase price. PMI typically provides lenders with a default guarantee covering the top 20-to-25 percent of the mortgage balance. The lender assumes the risk for the remaining (uninsured) portion of the loan.

Lenders are required to automatically cancel mortgage insurance on new mortgages once the equity in a home reaches 22 percent. Homeowners may request to cancel at 20 percent equity levels. Lenders are required to provide homeowners with the information needed to cancel their insurance. At this point, the insurer is no longer liable for default of the loan. If the loan was sold to Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae, homeowners should contact their lenders once equity reaches 20 percent because they have more lenient requirements for insurance. Equity levels are determined according to the purchase price of the home. Any increased values do not apply. However, if the homeowner feels that his property has increased significantly in value, dropping the loan to value ratio below 75 percent, than the homeowner may request a new appraisal and cancel the PMI. There are some exceptions to cancellations, such as existing mortgages and high-risk loans.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac currently require mortgage insurance on all low down payment programs with a Loan to Value (LTV) ratio of 90-95 percent. A down payment of 3 percent requires coverage of at least 18%. Down payments of 5 percent require coverage between 25 and 18 percent. Loans with 10 percent down require 17 to 12 percent insurance coverage. There are several different options available to borrowers to increase initial buying power and reduce monthly payments while maintaining a security and safety level for lenders. At the inception of the loan, lenders can either add a small percentage rate increase or add additional points at the close of the deal. Information on Freddie Mac Mortgage Insurance and Fannie Mae Mortgage Insurance is available online. Fannie has partnered with PMI Mortgage Insurance Co. in order to create more affordable housing opportunities. This insurance company s website has information about how PMI helps homebuyers, how to calculate PMI premium, products, realtor training and PMI cancellations requirements.

CalHFA is home to four divisions: homeownership programs, multifamily programs, mortgage insurance services and small business development. Its mission is to finance below market-rate loans to create safe, decent, and affordable rental housing and to assist first-time homebuyers in achieving the dream of home ownership. The Mortgage Insurance Services division helps prospective homeowners move past current mortgage insurance challenges and restrictions by utilizing the California Housing Loan Insurance Fund. The insurance fund encourages lenders to make loans to hard-to-serve borrowers and buyers with little or no money for a down payment and closing costs. It also assists lenders by insuring loans for borrowers with past payment problems. Insurance is provided to those homebuyers that meet the income and area requirements. For more information: read CAR s paper CalHFA, and visit CalHFA Mortgage Insurance website.

Mortgage Insurance Services Programs

This list constitutes an inventory of mortgage insurance programs requiring minimal upfront funds with participating lenders.
Cal Rural ACCESS 97/6 (conforming, statewide)
CalHFA Conventional
CalPERS 97 & 97/3 CalPERS members have additional benefits such as reduced Title and Escrow Fees through , Stewart Title and Old Republic Title. Other benefits are 30-day rate lock, 100% financing option, Free 60-day rate protection, two free float downs, controlled closing fees, closing cost assistance and reduced mortgage insurance rates. For more information go to CalPERS Advantage program.
CalSTRS 80/17
CalSTRS 95 Conventional
CalSTRS 95/5
Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac 97/3
Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac Conventional 95 & 97 LTV
Freddie Mac 100 & 100/3
Lease Purchase – ABAG Program
Lease Purchase 97/3
NHF – Access & Gold 97/7 Conventional

HOUSING PRIMER

Yikes! How much is this loan going to cost me?

After getting their offer accepted, the first shock buyers get is seeing the Good Faith Estimate. The Good Faith Estimate is an estimate that lists the money you need to purchase your home, including your down payment, fees paid before closing and all the closing costs you will encounter when purchasing a home. With recent changes in the laws, lenders are required to disclose all possible charges associated with getting your loan

Some of the big ticket items include the Origination Fee, Loan Discounts, Title Charges, Government Transfer Fees and the Upfront Mortgage Insurance Premium for FHA loans. There’s also a lot of little charges that add up, like the Appraisal, Underwriting and the Courier Fee (which always seems high to me)

The Good Faith Estimate gives you an estimate of your settlement charges and loan terms if you are approved for this loan. For more information, see HUD’s Special Information Booklet on settlement charges, your Truth-in-Lending Disclosures, and other consumer information at www.hud.gov/respa

grab the January 2010 updated  HUD new settlement cost booklet

I also found these two websites that have very good interactive samples that explain what each line item is

http://joemetzler.com/mui_goodfaith.pdf

http://www.seloan.com/sample_gfe.html

As always, if you have any questions or doubts, please don’t hesitate to give me a call any time at 323-215-9836.

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Daniel Andrade, REALTOR® DRE #: 01849983
Century 21 My Real Estate Co
7825 Florence Avenue, Downey , CA 90240
call today 323-215-9836
daniel@mynewhouses.com

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