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Tips for Buying in a Tight Market

Increase your chances of getting your dream house in a competitive housing market, and lower your chances of losing out to another buyer.

1. Get pre-qualified for a mortgage. You ll be able to make a firm commitment to buy and your offer will be more desirable to the seller.

2. Stay in close contact with your real estate agent to find out about the newest listings. Be ready to see a house as soon as it goes on the market  if it s a great home, it will go fast.

3. Scout out new listings yourself. Look at Web sites such as REALTOR.com, browse your local newspaper s real estate section, and drive through the neighborhood to spot For Sale signs. If you see a home you like, write down the address and the name of the listing agent. Your real estate agent will schedule a showing.

4. Be ready to make a decision. Spend a lot of time in advance deciding what you must have in a home so you won t be unsure when you have the chance to make an offer.

5. Bid competitively. You may not want to start out offering the absolute highest price you can afford, but don t go too low to get a deal. In a tight market, you ll lose out.

6. Keep contingencies to a minimum. Restrictions such as needing to sell your home before you move or wanting to delay the closing until a certain date can make your offer unappealing. In a tight market, you ll probably be able to sell your house rapidly. Or talk to your lender about getting a bridge loan to cover both mortgages for a short period.

7. Don t get caught in a buying frenzy. Just because there s competition doesn t mean you should just buy it. And even though you want to make your offer attractive, don t neglect inspections that help ensure that your house is sound.

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

Making an Offer on a Short Sale What You Need to Know

Are you looking to buy a new home Are you thinking that now’s a great time to find bargains Before you make an offer, it pays to know a little about the seller’s situation.

If a home is being sold for below what the current seller owes on the property and the seller does not have other funds to make up the difference at closing the sale is considered a short sale. Many more home owners are finding themselves in this situation due to a number of factors, including job losses, aggressive borrowing against their home in the days of easy credit, and declining home values in a slower real estate market.

A short sale is different from a foreclosure, which is when the seller’s lender has taken title of the home and is selling it directly. Homeowners often try to accomplish a short sale in order to avoid foreclosure. But a short sale holds many potential pitfalls for buyers. Know the risks before you pursue a short-sale purchase.

You’re a good candidate for a short-sale purchase if:

* You’re very patient. Even after you come to agreement with the seller to buy a short-sale property, the seller s lender (or lenders, if there is more than one mortgage) has to approve the sale before you can close. When there is only one mortgage, short-sale experts say lender approval typically takes about two months. If there is more than one mortgage with different lenders, it can take four months or longer for the lenders to approve the sale.

* Your financing is in order. Lenders like cash offers. But even if you can t pay all cash for a short-sale property, it s important to show you are well qualified and your financing is set. If you’re preapproved, have a large down payment, and can close at any time, your offer will be viewed more favorably than that of a buyer whose financing is less secure.

* You don t have any contingencies. If you have a home to sell before you can close on the purchase of the short-sale property or you need to be in your new home by a certain time a short sale may not be for you. Lenders like no-contingency offers and flexible closing terms.

If you’re serious about purchasing a short-sale property, it’s important for you to have expert assistance. Here are some people you want to work with:

* Experienced real estate attorney. Only about two out of five short sales are approved by lenders. But a good real estate attorney who’s knowledgeable about the short-sale process will increase your chances getting an approved contract. Also, if you want any provisions or very specialized language written into the purchase contract, a real estate attorney is essential throughout the negotiation.

* A qualified real estate professional. You may have a close friend or relative in real estate, but if that person doesn t know anything about short sales, working with him or her may hurt your chances of a successful closing. Interview a few practitioners and ask them how many buyers they’ve represented in a short sale and, of those, how many have successfully closed. A qualified real estate professional will be able to show you short-sale homes, help negotiate the purchase when you find the property you want to buy, and smooth communications with the lender. (All MLSs permit, and some now require, special notations to indicate that a listing is a short sale. There also are certain phrases you can watch for, such as  lender approval required. )

* Title officer. It s a good idea to have a title officer do an initial title search on a short-sale property to see all the liens attached to the property. If there are multiple lien holders (e.g., second or third mortgage or lines of credit, real estate tax lien, mechanic s lien, homeowners association lien, etc.), it’s much tougher to get that short sale contract to the closing table. Any of the lien holders could put a kink in the process even after you ve waited for months for lender approval. If you don t know a title officer, your real estate attorney or real estate professional should be able to recommend a few.

Some of the other risks faced by buyers of short-sale properties include:

* Potential for rejection. Lenders want to minimize their losses as much as possible. If you make an offer tremendously lower than the fair market value of the home, chances are that your offer will be rejected and you ll have wasted months. Or the lender could make a counteroffer, which will lengthen the process.

* Bad terms. Even when a lender approves a short sale, it could require that the sellers sign a promissory note to repay the deficient amount of the loan, which may not be acceptable to some financially desperate sellers. In that case, the sellers may refuse to go through with the short sale. Lenders also can change any of the terms of the contract that you ve already negotiated, which may not be agreeable to you.

* No repairs or repair credits. You will most likely be asked to take the property  as is. Lenders are already taking a loss on the property and may not agree to requests for repair credits.

The risks of a short sale are considerable. But if you have the time, patience, and iron will to see it through, a short sale can be a win-win for you and the sellers.

* Not all real estate practitioners are REALTORS . A REALTOR is a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS and is bound by NAR s strict code of ethics.

Note: This article provides general information only. Information is not provided as advice for a specific matter. Laws vary from state to state. For advice on a specific matter, consult your attorney or CPA.

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

Housing and Community Development (HCD) Programs

The mission of the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) is to provide leadership, policies and programs aimed to the preservation and expansion of safe and affordable housing opportunities and to promote strong communities for all Californians.

In accordance with its mission statement, HCD s main responsibilities are to:

  • Advocate and support housing development for all Californians. HCD develops the Statewide Housing Plan and assists cities and counties with the housing element of their General Plans. It also monitors the use of housing funds by local Redevelopment Agencies as well as provides technical assistance and statistical data to the Governor, members of the Legislature and the public. Although many parts of the department assist, the division of Housing Policy Development primarily carries out these tasks.
  • Develop, administer and enforce building codes, manufactured housing standards and mobile-home park regulations. HCD registers and issues titles on mobilehomes, oversees the construction of manufactured housing, licenses the professionals who sell manufactured housing and regulates mobilehome parks. The Department also works with industry and other governmental agencies to develop building codes for both conventional and manufactured housing. These functions are primarily handled by the Division of Codes and Standards.
  • Administer State and federal housing, community development and childcare facilities finance programs. HCD administers a number of loan and grant programs for these purposes. These loans and grants are awarded to local governments, non-profit and for-profit developers of rental and ownership housing, community infrastructure and childcare buildings. The Division of Community Affairs handles these programs.

To fulfill its housing administrative financing responsibilities, HCD has in place several programs that help the development and preservation of affordable housing. The programs offer loans, grants or both to localities, developers, non-profits and individuals that engage in the construction, development or rehabilitation of housing units. The overarching goal of this help is to produce more affordable housing and to increase the rates of homeownership of low- and median-income households.

HCD programs sometimes are multi-folded and thus, have funds available for more than one housing activity. For instance, a program like CalHome funds new construction, acquisition and rehabilitation of single-family and multifamily housing projects, and tenant-based assistance.

HCD works directly with local governments, counties, non-profits, for-profits, and in some instances, income eligible families and individuals, in order to allocate the financing resources needed toward specific housing uses. The best way to find the right program for a determined activity (and all of its requirements) is to consult the Loan and Grant Program Directory of HCD.

This directory lists all of the housing programs available for California by: purpose, assistance type, terms, eligible activities, eligible applicants, application procedures, and contact information for all the programs offered.

In addition to the links mentioned above, it is also important to visit HCD s website to become familiar with the housing resources the agency has developed:

  • Affordable Housing Preservation: Information on the preservation of government-assisted projects at-risk of conversion to market rate, state preservation notice requirements and charts, and status reports.
  • Building Codes and Standards: Information on the nine programs the Division of Codes and Standards administers which address manufactured and factory built housing issues; and employee housing, code enforcement and state housing law issues.
  • Financial Clearinghouse: A source of information on over 200 housing programs, government, private lenders and foundation grants, all of which are non-HCD funding sources.
  • HCD Loans and Grants: Contains a calendar of funding and links to recent developments in rental housing, guidelines for homebuyer programs, monitoring and management of HCD programs, proposition 46 and publications.
  • Housing Planning and Statistics: Information on housing topics technical assistance (i.e. NIMBY resources), state housing planning (i.e. housing element), state plans and reports (i.e. redevelopment agencies report), and links to federal plans and reports.
  • Income Limits: State income limits and income limits for California-administered CDBG and HOME programs.
  • Redevelopment Agency Data: Reports, activities, and technical assistance for form-completion
  • Registration and Titling: Laws, regulations, program activities, contacts, and investor links against fraud.

Other important HCD links:
Notices of Funding Availability: (NOFAs) Information on funding availability for HCD s programs.
Proposition 46 Programs List: Information on programs funded by the  Housing and Emergency Shelter Trust Fund Act of 2002 $2.1 billion dollar bond measure .

HOUSING PRIMER

Tips for Finding the Perfect Neighborhood

Your neighborhood has a big impact on your lifestyle. Follow these steps to find the perfect community to call home.

Is it close to your favorite spots Make a list of the activities  movies, health club, church, etc.  you engage in regularly and stores you visit frequently. See how far you would have to travel from each neighborhood you re considering to engage in your most common activities.

Check out the school district. This is especially important if you have children, but it also can affect resale value. The Department of Education in your town can probably provide information on test scores, class size, percentage of students who attend college, and special enrichment programs. If you have school-age children, visit schools in the neighborhoods you re considering. Also, check out www.schoolmatters.com.

Find out if the neighborhood is safe. Ask the police department for neighborhood crime statistics. Consider not only the number of crimes but also the type  such as burglaries or armed robberies  and the trend of increasing or decreasing crime. Also, is crime centered in only one part of the neighborhood, such as near a retail area

Determine if the neighborhood is economically stable. Check with your local city economic development office to see if income and property values in the neighborhood are stable or rising. What is the percentage of homes to apartments Apartments don t necessarily diminish value, but do mean a more transient population. Do you see vacant businesses or homes that have been for sale for months

See if you ll make money. Ask a local REALTOR or call the local REALTOR association to get information about price appreciation in the neighborhood. Although past performance is no guarantee of future results, this information may give you a sense of how good of an investment your home will be. A REALTOR or the government planning agency also may be able to tell you about planned developments or other changes in the neighborhood  like a new school or highway  that might affect value.

Make personal observations. Once you ve narrowed your focus to two or three neighborhoods, go there and walk around. Are homes tidy and well maintained Are streets quiet How does it feel Pick a warm day if you can and chat with people working or playing outside.

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

How to Get an Offer on Your Home

1. Price it right. Set a price at the lower end of your property s realistic price range.

2. Prepare for visitors. Get your house market ready at least two weeks before you begin showing it.

3. Be flexible about showings. It s often disruptive to have a house ready to show at the spur of the moment. But the more amenable you can be about letting people see your home, the sooner you ll find a buyer.

4. Anticipate the offers. Decide in advance what price and terms you ll find acceptable.

5. Don t refuse to drop the price. If your home has been on the market for more than 30 days without an offer, you should be prepared to at least consider lowering your asking price.

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

Negotiate Your Best House Buy

By: G. M. Filisko

Keep your emotions in check and your eyes on the goal, and you’ll pay less when purchasing a home.

Buying a home can be emotional, but negotiating the price shouldn’t be. The key to saving money when purchasing a home is sticking to a plan during the turbulence of high-stakes negotiations. A real estate agent who represents you can guide you and offer you advice, but you are the one who must make the final decision during each round of offers and counter offers.

Here are six tips for negotiating the best price on a home.
1. Get prequalified for a mortgage
Getting prequalified for a mortgage proves to sellers that you’re serious about buying and capable of affording their home. That will push you to the head of the pack when sellers choose among offers; they’ll go with buyers who are a sure financial bet, not those whose financing could flop.

2. Ask questions
Ask your agent for information to help you understand the sellers’ financial position and motivation. Are they facing foreclosure or a short sale Have they already purchased a home or relocated, which may make them eager to accept a lower price to avoid paying two mortgages Has the home been on the market for a long time, or was it just listed Have there been other offers If so, why did they fall through The more signs that sellers are eager to sell, the lower your offer can reasonably go.

3. Work back from a final price to determine your initial offer
Know in advance the most you’re willing to pay, and with your agent work back from that number to determine your initial offer, which can set the tone for the entire negotiation. A too-low bid may offend sellers emotionally invested in the sales price; a too-high bid may lead you to spend more than necessary to close the sale.
Work with your agent to evaluate the sellers’ motivation and comparable home sales to arrive at an initial offer that engages the sellers yet keeps money in your wallet.

4. Avoid contingencies
Sellers favor offers that leave little to chance. Keep your bid free of complicated contingencies, such as making the purchase conditional on the sale of your current home. Do keep contingencies for mortgage approval, home inspection, and environmental checks typical in your area, like radon.

5. Remain unemotional
Buying a home is a business transaction, and treating it that way helps you save money. Consider any movement by the sellers, however slight, a sign of interest, and keep negotiating.
Each time you make a concession, ask for one in return. If the sellers ask you to boost your price, ask them to contribute to closing costs or pay for a home warranty. If sellers won’t budge, make it clear you’re willing to walk away; they may get nervous and accept your offer.

6. Don’t let competition change your plan
Great homes and those competitively priced can draw multiple offers in any market. Don’t let competition propel you to go beyond your predetermined price or agree to concessions-such as waiving an inspection-that aren’t in your best interest.

More from HouseLogic
Determine how much mortgage you can afford (http://buyandsell.houselogic.com/articles/4-tips-determine-how-much-mortgage-you-can-afford/)

Keep your home purchase on track (http://buyandsell.houselogic.com/articles/keep-your-home-purchase-track/)

Plan for a stress-free home closing (http://buyandsell.houselogic.com/articles/7-steps-stress-free-home-closing/)

Other web resources
More negotiating tips (http://www.freddiemac.com/corporate/buyown/english/purchasing/offer/negotiate.html)

Develop a homebuying strategy (http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/article-29746.html)

G.M. Filisko is an attorney and award-winning writer who has to remind herself to remain unemotional during negotiations. 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.

Loan Types to Consider.

Brush up on these mortgage basics to help you determine the loan that will best suit your needs.

Mortgage terms. Mortgages are generally available at 15-, 20-, or 30-year terms. In general, the longer the term, the lower the monthly payment. However, you pay more interest overall if you borrow for a longer term.

Fixed or adjustable interest rates. A fixed rate allows you to lock in a low rate as long as you hold the mortgage and, in general, is usually a good choice if interest rates are low. An adjustable-rate mortgage is designed so that your loan s interest rate will rise as market interest rates increase. ARMs usually offer a lower rate in the first years of the mortgage. ARMs also usually have a limit as to how much the interest rate can be increased and how frequently they can be raised. These types of mortgages are a good choice when fixed interest rates are high or when you expect your income to grow significantly in the coming years.

Balloon mortgages. These mortgages offer very low interest rates for a short period of time  often three to seven years. Payments usually cover only the interest so the principal owed is not reduced. However, this type of loan may be a good choice if you think you will sell your home in a few years.

Government-backed loans. These loans are sponsored by agencies such as the Federal Housing Administration (www.fha.gov) or the Department of Veterans Affairs (www.va.gov) and offer special terms, including lower down payments or reduced interest rates to qualified buyers.

Slight variations in interest rates, loan amounts, and terms can significantly affect your monthly payment. For help in determining how much your monthly payment will be for various loan amounts, use Fannie Mae s online mortgage calculators.

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

What You Can Do to Improve Your Credit

Credit scores, along with your overall income and debt, are big factors in determining whether you ll qualify for a loan and what your loan terms will be. So, keep your credit score high by doing the following:

1. Check for and correct any errors in your credit report. Mistakes happen, and you could be paying for someone else s poor financial management.
2. Pay down credit card bills. If possible, pay off the entire balance every month. Transferring credit card debt from one card to another could lower your score.
3. Don t charge your credit cards to the maximum limit.
4. Wait 12 months after credit difficulties to apply for a mortgage. You re penalized less for problems after a year.
5. Don t order items for your new home on credit  such as appliances and furniture  until after the loan is approved. The amounts will add to your debt.
6. Don t open new credit card accounts before applying for a mortgage. Too much available credit can lower your score.
7. Shop for mortgage rates all at once. Too many credit applications can lower your score, but multiple inquiries from the same type of lender are counted as one inquiry if submitted over a short period of time.
8. Avoid finance companies. Even if you pay the loan on time, the interest is high and it will probably be considered a sign of poor credit management.

This information is copyrighted by the Fannie Mae Foundation and is used with permission of the Fannie Mae Foundation. To obtain a complete copy of the publication, Knowing and Understanding Your Credit, visit www.homebuyingguide.org.

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

It s Mine! It s All mine!

TAKING POSSESSION

Typically, the day escrow closes on your new home, you will be able to take possession of the property. Congratulations! Here are a few hints on closing day to keep in mind:

Check to see when you will actually take possession of the house. Often, a transaction has to be recorded at the City or County Recorder s office for it to be official.

Resist the urge to do any work to the house before escrow closes. If the deal falls through, you are out time and money.

Be sure to do a walk-through of the house before you sign final papers and move in. Is the house in the same condition as it was when you agreed to buy

How to Structure the Deal to Share the Profit Fairly

This is one of the most difficult places where syndicators get burned. Many syndicators, that I see, structure their deal with a 50/50 back-end. That means that the syndicator does all the work, the investor puts up all the money, and when the property sells several years into the future, they split whatever the upside is 50/50.

Some syndicators take tiny fees along the way; but for the most part, a structure where you’re taking a large back-end but no money upfront, or little money upfront, is destined to disaster, because it’s very common that the syndicator will have a hard time getting into the long run. If the syndication that one does is just for a few friends to do a deal, then there is no harm and no foul in structuring this type of relationship. However, if the syndicator wants to get into the long run and wants to be in the business for an extended period of time, then the syndicator needs to realize cash flow throughout the life of the property. Imagine if you had one deal that was a 50/50 back-end split, but no money upfront and along the way.

That wouldn’t be so bad. However, would you be able to do the same deal for 20 properties? Certainly, you would not. Twenty Deals would require the implementation of a sophisticated property management operation, a maintenance operation, a mortgage operation, and a real estate brokerage operation.

The successful long-run syndicator will establish these programs and these business entities, and will charge the syndication for it. The syndication business is a great business, but it has to be run like a business. Therefore, all of the deals that I teach individuals how to structure have a front-end, an ongoing operations component, and a back-end participation. I always encourage the smaller back-end in exchange for more money in the front and in the middle.

Joel began his career as a CPA with the prestigious firm of Price Waterhouse. where he 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

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