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Q-A Series – FIRST STEPS

Q. WHAT STEPS NEED TO BE TAKEN TO SECURE A LOAN

The first step in securing a loan is to complete a loan application. To do so, you’ll need the following information.
– Pay stubs for the past 2-3 months
– W-2 forms for the past 2 years
– Information on long-term debts
– Recent bank statements
– tax returns for the past 2 years
– Proof of any other income
– Address and description of the property you wish to buy
– Sales contract

During the application process, the lender will order a report on your credit history and a professional appraisal of the property you want to purchase. The application process typically takes between 1-6 weeks.

Q. HOW DO I CHOOSE THE RIGHT LENDER FOR ME

Choose your lender carefully. Look for financial stability and a reputation for customer satisfaction. Be sure to choose a company that gives helpful advice and that makes you feel comfortable. A lender that has the authority to approve and process your loan locally is preferable, since it will be easier for you to monitor the status of your application and ask questions. Plus, it’s beneficial when the lender knows home values and conditions in the local area. Do research and ask family, friends, and your real estate agent for recommendations.

Q. HOW ARE PRE-QUALIFYING AND PRE-APPROVAL DIFFERENT

Pre-qualification is an informal way to see how much you maybe able to borrow. You can be ‘pre-qualified’ over the phone with no paperwork by telling a lender your income, your long-term debts, and how large a down payment you can afford. Without any obligation, this helps you arrive at a ballpark figure of the amount you may have available to spend on a house.

Pre-approval is a lender’s actual commitment to lend to you. It involves assembling the financial records mentioned in Question 47 (Without the property description and sales contract) and going through a preliminary approval process. Pre-approval gives you a definite idea of what you can afford and shows sellers that you are serious about buying.

Q. HOW CAN I FIND OUT INFORMATION ABOUT MY CREDIT HISTORY

There are three major credit reporting companies: Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union. Obtaining your credit report is as easy as calling and requesting one. Once you receive the report, it’s important to verify its accuracy. Double check the “high credit limit,”‘total loan,” and ‘past due” columns. It’s a good idea to get copies from all three companies to assure there are no mistakes since any of the three could be providing a report to your lender. Fees, ranging from $5-$20, are usually charged to issue credit reports but some states permit citizens to acquire a free one. Contact the reporting companies at the numbers listed for more information.

CREDIT REPORTING COMPANIES
Company Name Phone Number
Experian 1-888-397-3742
Equifax 1-800-685-1111
Trans Union 1-800-916-8800

Q. WHAT IF I FIND A MISTAKE IN MY CREDIT HISTORY

Simple mistakes are easily corrected by writing to the reporting company, pointing out the error, and providing proof of the mistake. You can also request to have your own comments added to explain problems. For example, if you made a payment late due to illness, explain that for the record. Lenders are usually understanding about legitimate problems.

Q. WHAT IS A CREDIT BUREAU SCORE AND HOW DO LENDERS USE THEM

A credit bureau score is a number, based upon your credit history, that represents the possibility that you will be unable to repay a loan. Lenders use it to determine your ability to qualify for a mortgage loan. The better the score, the better your chances are of getting a loan. Ask your lender for details.

Q. HOW CAN I IMPROVE MY SCORE

There are no easy ways to improve your credit score, but you can work to keep it acceptable by maintaining a good credit history. This means paying your bills on time and not overextending yourself by buying more than you can afford.

What if They Accept the Offer?

Congratulations, your offer has been accepted!

Over the next 30 to 60 days, your purchase will be pending and you will begin the escrow process. Typically, an offer will have several contingencies. Contingencies are terms and conditions written into a contract by the buyer or the seller, which must be met within specified timelines in order for the sale to be completed. Know this, contingencies are a homebuyer s best friend. When contingencies are not met, the sale is cancelled and your deposit money may be refunded.

Some common contingencies include proper financing being in place and conducting a home inspection. Without proper financing in place, you ll have a tough time paying for your new house! In addition, conducting a home inspection can re-open negotiations to pay for hidden problems the house may have  or terminate the sale entirely if truly serious problems are found.

There are many other contingencies that can be attached to the sale of a particular piece of property depending on the different needs of buyers and sellers. Again, a good real estate agent will suggest the contingencies that you should make as part of the offer.

During the sale pending period, you will also be provided with a number of disclosures relative to the sale of your new home. These disclosures run the gamut from information about the business relationships between your real estate agent and your lender, to natural hazards that may exist in and around your new home.

Two of the most important disclosures you will receive include:
Real Property Transfer Disclosure Statement This disclosure is completed by the seller. It tells you the physical condition of the property and potential hazards or defects that may be associated with it. While the seller is principally responsible for the disclosures presented in this document, the agent is also responsible for conducting a visual inspection of the property and disclosing any readily observable defects detected in the process. This document also discloses any special taxes, assessments and other factors that may have a material effect on the value or desirability of the property.

Agency Relationship Disclosure Your real estate agent is required to provide you with a written disclosure stating whom he or she represents in the transaction. The agent may represent you as the buyer exclusively, or the seller exclusively, or be a dual agent representing both you and the seller. You should carefully review and understand this disclosure as it has a material effect on the level of responsibilities that your agent owes to you.

Attaching excessive contingencies to an offer or sale in a hot real estate market can easily kill a deal. There may be several other buyers waiting in line with a shorter list of needs.

Home Buyer Hint
Depending on the location, age and other factors involved with the residential property that you are purchasing, additional disclosures may be required. If you have questions about disclosures, ask your real estate agent.

Questions to Ask When Choosing a REALTOR?

Make sure you choose a REALTOR who will provide top-notch service and meet your unique needs.

1. How long have you been in residential real estate sales Is it your full-time job While experience is no guarantee of skill, real estate  like many other professions  is mostly learned on the job.

2. What designations do you hold Designations such as GRI and CRS  which require that agents take additional, specialized real estate training  are held by only about one-quarter of real estate practitioners.

3. How many homes did you and your real estate brokerage sell last year By asking this question, you ll get a good idea of how much experience the practitioner has.

4. How many days did it take you to sell the average home How did that compare to the overall market
The REALTOR you interview should have these facts on hand, and be able to present market statistics from the local MLS to provide a comparison.

5. How close to the initial asking prices of the homes you sold were the final sale prices This is one indication of how skilled the REALTOR is at pricing homes and marketing to suitable buyers. Of course, other factors also may be at play, including an exceptionally hot or cool real estate market.

6. What types of specific marketing systems and approaches will you use to sell my home You don t want someone who s going to put a For Sale sign in the yard and hope for the best. Look for someone who has aggressive and innovative approaches, and knows how to market your property competitively on the Internet. Buyers today want information fast, so it s important that your REALTOR is responsive.

7. Will you represent me exclusively, or will you represent both the buyer and the seller in the transaction While it s usually legal to represent both parties in a transaction, it s important to understand where the practitioner s obligations lie. Your REALTOR should explain his or her agency relationship to you and describe the rights of each party.

8. Can you recommend service providers who can help me obtain a mortgage, make home repairs, and help with other things I need done Because REALTORS are immersed in the industry, they re wonderful resources as you seek lenders, home improvement companies, and other home service providers. Practitioners should generally recommend more than one provider and let you know if they have any special relationship with or receive compensation from any of the providers.

9. What type of support and supervision does your brokerage office provide to you Having resources such as in-house support staff, access to a real estate attorney, and assistance with technology can help an agent sell your home.

10. What s your business philosophy While there s no right answer to this question, the response will help you assess what s important to the agent and determine how closely the agent s goals and business emphasis mesh with your own.

11. How will you keep me informed about the progress of my transaction How frequently Again, this is not a question with a correct answer, but it reflects your desires. Do you want updates twice a week or do you not want to be bothered unless there s a hot prospect Do you prefer phone, e-mail, or a personal visit

12. Could you please give me the names and phone numbers of your three most recent clients
Ask recent clients if they would work with this REALTOR again. Find out whether they were pleased with the communication style, follow-up, and work ethic of the REALTOR .

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

What a Home Inspection Should Cover

Home inspections will vary depending on the type of property you are purchasing. A large historic home, for example, will require a more specialized inspection than a small condominium. However, the following are the basic elements that a home inspector will check. You can also use this list to help you evaluate properties you might purchase.

For more information, try the virtual home inspection at www.ASHI.org, the Web site of the American Society of Home Inspectors.

Structure: A home s skeleton impacts how the property stands up to weather, gravity, and the earth. Structural components, including the foundation and the framing, should be inspected.

Exterior: The inspector should look at sidewalks, driveways, steps, windows, and doors. A home s siding, trim, and surface drainage also are part of an exterior inspection.

  • Doors and windows
  • Siding (brick, stone, stucco, vinyl, wood, etc.)
  • Driveways/sidewalks
  • Attached porches, decks, and balconies

Roofing: A well-maintained roof protects you from rain, snow, and other forces of nature. Take note of the roof s age, conditions of flashing, roof draining systems (pooling water), buckled shingles, loose gutters and downspouts, skylight, and chimneys.

Plumbing: Thoroughly examine the water supply and drainage systems, water heating equipment, and fuel storage systems. Drainage pumps and sump pumps also fall under this category. Poor water pressure, banging pipes, rust spots, or corrosion can indicate problems.

Electrical: Safe electrical wiring is essential. Look for the condition of service entrance wires, service panels, breakers and fuses, and disconnects. Also take note of the number of outlets in each room.

Heating: The home s heating system, vent system, flues, and chimneys should be inspected. Look for age of water heater, whether the size is adequate for the house, speed of recovery, and energy rating.

Air Conditioning: Your inspector should describe your home cooling system, its energy source, and inspect the central and through-wall cooling equipment. Consider the age and energy rating of the system.

Interiors: An inspection of the inside of the home can reveal plumbing leaks, insect damage, rot, construction defects, and other issues. An inspector should take a close look at:

  • Walls, ceilings and floors
  • Steps, stairways, and railings
  • Countertops and cabinets
  • Garage doors and garage door systems

Ventilation/insulation: To prevent energy loss, check for adequate insulation and ventilation in the attic and in unfinished areas such as crawlspaces. Also look for proper, secured insulation in walls. Insulation should be appropriate for the climate. Excess moisture in the home can lead to mold and water damage.

Fireplaces: They re charming, but they could be dangerous if not properly installed. Inspectors should examine the system, including the vent and flue, and describe solid fuel burning appliances.

Source: American Society of Home Inspectors (www.AHSI.org)

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

What Not to Overlook on a Final Walk-through

It s guaranteed to be hectic right before closing, but you should always make time for a final walk-through. Your goal is to make sure that your home is in the same condition you expected it would be. Ideally, the sellers already have moved out. This is your last chance to check that appliances are in working condition and that agreed-upon repairs have been made. Here s a detailed list of what not to overlook for on your final walk-through.

Make sure that:
Repairs you ve requested have been made. Obtain copies of paid bills and warranties.
There are no major changes to the property since you last viewed it.
All items that were included in the sale price  draperies, lighting fixtures, etc.  are still there.
Screens and storm windows are in place or stored.
All appliances are operating, such as the dishwasher, washer and dryer, oven, etc.
Intercom, doorbell, and alarm are operational.
Hot water heater is working.
No plants or shrubs have been removed from the yard.
Heating and air conditioning system is working
Garage door opener and other remotes are available.
Instruction books and warranties on appliances and fixtures are available.
All personal items of the sellers and all debris have been removed. Check the basement, attic, and every room, closet, and crawlspace.

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

Short Sales Predictions?

Will we see an increase or decrease in Short Sale Activity in 2011?
It’s been a bumpy ride for short sales investors since 2008. Over the last two years a lot of banks have been less than eager to approve short sales, instead drawing out the process for long periods of time and ultimately halting short sales completely for a while at the end of 2010 because of the robo-signing debacle. So is there light at the end of the tunnel for short sale investors?

Short Sale Predictions

While I have continued to operate my short sales business successfully through this mess, I must say that it has become more difficult for a short sale to get approved by the bank, so it’s taken working on more deals to create the same income (luckily for investors, there are a lot of short sale deals out there). If the short sale predictions for 2011 that are reported in the news are correct we should see a significant increase in short sales a fewer foreclosures during 2011. One report released today explains it like this:

“According to global ratings agency Fitch Inc. and Managing Director Diane Pendley industry experts are expecting to witness more short sales and fewer foreclosures in 2011, an encouraging sign for homeowners in the D.C. Metro, northern Virginia and Maryland regions as well as those seeking alternatives to foreclosure. A short sale, or a sale in which a property is sold for less than what is owed on the mortgage, can be an effective alternative to foreclosure while allowing homeowners to escape the burden of bankruptcy. The Tania Ivey Real Estate Group, which services Northern Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C., offers a number of Certified Distressed Property Experts (CDPE) to advise clients in the short sale process. Home sellers in specific areas such as Fairfax County VA, or Loudoun County VA are seeing the number of Short sales increase. If you are a homeowner in Leesburg VA or Ashburn VA trying to sell your house you are competing with numerous Short Sales. Even areas such as Great Falls VA and Vienna VA are seeing a major part of the market being short sold.”
Read more: benzinga.com/press-releases/11/01/p784762/real-estate-short-sale-to-increase-in-2011-as-banks-attempt-to-dispose-#ixzz1BPPrqizR

Ultimately, the banks will be the ones that decide if they are ready to play ball in 2011. There will be no shortage of delinquent mortgages any time soon, and so it comes down to foreclosure or short sale for the banks. For both investors and homeowners alike, let’s hope the banks choose to start short selling more properties again.

Article Source: http://www.articlesnatch.com

About the Author:
Phill Grove has conducted approximately $200M in real estate transactions – using non-traditional investing methods such as mortgage assignment, short sales, equity partnering, auction-options, wraps, swaps, and other methods – many of which he invented and/or pioneered for the industry. Phill has invented a new strategy called the Mortgage Assignment Profits System. Phill Grove has personally trained and coached hundreds of Real Estate Investors on the “12 Ways to Buy and Sell Real Estate”, as well as marketing and lead processing strategies that actually work. Find out more about Phill at http://www.REIMaverick.com

8 Tips to Guide for Your Home Search

1. Research before you look. Decide what features you most want to have in a home, what neighborhoods you prefer, and how much you d be willing to spend each month for housing.

2. Be realistic. It s OK to be picky, but don t be unrealistic with your expectations. There s no such thing as a perfect home. Use your list of priorities as a guide to evaluate each property.

3. Get your finances in order. Review your credit report and be sure you have enough money to cover your down payment and closing costs. Then, talk to a lender and get prequalified for a mortgage. This will save you the heartache later of falling in love with a house you can t afford.

4. Don t ask too many people for opinions. It will drive you crazy. Select one or two people to turn to if you feel you need a second opinion, but be ready to make the final decision on your own.

5. Decide your moving timeline. When is your lease up Are you allowed to sublet How tight is the rental market in your area All of these factors will help you determine when you should move.

6. Think long term. Are you looking for a starter house with plans to move up in a few years, or do you hope to stay in this home for a longer period This decision may dictate what type of home you ll buy as well as the type of mortgage terms that will best suit you.

7. Insist on a home inspection. If possible, get a warranty from the seller to cover defects for one year.

8. Get help from a REALTOR . Hire a real estate professional who specializes in buyer representation. Unlike a listing agent, whose first duty is to the seller, a buyer s representative is working only for you. Buyer s reps are usually paid out of the seller s commission payment.

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

Is It an Offer They Can t Refuse

So you ve gotten pre-approved on your loan and you ve decided on what type of home you want to buy. And, you ve found your dream home. Now it s time to make an offer on it. This is when the real fun begins.

To make a good offer on a house, look at its fair market value. To get its fair market value, there are two things you can do: get a comparable market analysis (CMA) or have a professional appraisal done.

The CMA is typically done by your real estate agent. Again, this is a good time to have a great, knowledgeable agent. A CMA is a process of looking at comparable sales in your prospective neighborhood. By examining things like size, location and purchase price, a good agent should be able to give a fairly accurate determination of a home s fair market value.

On the other hand, you can choose to have a professional appraisal done on your prospective home. An appraiser estimates the value of the home and will give you an estimated fair market value. However, you will have to pay to have an appraisal done  whether you get the property or not.

Why You Might Need Expert Probate Legal Advice

If you have suffered the loss of your spouse or close family member, then it is likely that you may have dealt with probate, or at least have heard of the term.

Basically probate is the term which where the deceased estate, for instance property and money, is distributed to those named in the will – the beneficiaries. It gives one or more people the legal authority to carry out this out. It also gives them the authority to collect in all of the deceased’s money, such as from insurance policies and paying any debts owed.

Probate is a complicated legal process, and it is for this very reason that people require professional assistance. Probate legal advice can be gained from probate solicitors.

The person dealing with the deceased’s will is called the executor. The executor will have the known what their role would be when the will was drawn up. Their legal right to deal with its provisions is through a document called “grant of probate.|”

Probate can be applied for even if the deceased never left a will. In such cases the next of kin applies for letters of administration.

It is permissible to apply for grant of probate without the assistance of probate solicitors. It can be applied for through the Probate Service. However, this process can very time consuming. This is why many people instead choose to apply for the grant through solicitors. This is often the wisest choice as he will have the professional knowledge to offer probate legal advice.

Probate solicitors can be found through the Law Society. The information can be gained through the society’s website. Alternatively, you might want to search online – either for local probate solicitors or for a source of online probate legal advice. Finally, perhaps the best way of choosing your probate solicitors is through recommendation from friends or family.

A grant may not be needed in certain circumstances. For instance, the home may have been left to the surviving spouse or partner, or the bank accounts were held jointly. Here the production of death certificate may be enough for funds to be transferred to the surviving partner.

Those acting as executors of the will have many duties to perform once they have received the grant. The assets of the deceased have to be gathered together and of the deceased’s outstanding bills paid off. Then the balance will have to be passed on to the beneficiaries named in the will. As well as this, everything that has been gathered in, paid out and then paid to those named in the will has to be accounted for. This alone is one of the many reasons why people seek probate legal advice.


Article Source: http://www.articlesnatch.com

About the Author:
If you are looking for specialist probate legal advice but you can rely on, get in touch with the expert Probate Solicitors at Bonallack & Bishop – who offer an online fixed fee probate service for clients nationwide.

10 Questions to Ask the Condoboard

Before you buy, contact the condo board with the following questions. In the process, you ll learn how responsive  and organized  its members are. You ll also be alerted to potential problems with the property.

1. What percentage of units is owner-occupied What percentage is tenant-occupied Generally, the higher the percentage of owner-occupied units, the more marketable the units will be at resale.

2. What covenants, bylaws, and restrictions govern the property What grandfather clauses are in place You may find, for instance, that those who buy a property after a certain date can t rent out their units, but buyers who bought earlier can. Ask for a copy of the bylaws to determine if you can live within them. And have an attorney review property docs, including the master deed, for you.

3. How much does the association keep in reserve Plus, find out how that money is being invested.

4. Are association assessments keeping pace with the annual rate of inflation Smart boards raise assessments a certain percentage each year to build reserves to fund future repairs. To determine if the assessment is reasonable, compare the rate to others in the area.

5. What does and doesn t the assessment cover Does the assessment include common-area maintenance, recreational facilities, trash collection, and snow removal

6. What special assessments have been mandated in the past five years How much was each owner responsible for Some special assessments are unavoidable. But repeated, expensive assessments could be a red flag about the condition of the building or the board s fiscal policy.

7. How much turnover occurs in the building This will tell you if residents are generally happy with the building. According to research by the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS , owners of condos in two-to-four unit buildings stay for a median of five years, and owners of condos in a building with five or more units stay for a median of four years.

8. Is the condo building in litigation This is never a good sign. If the builders or home owners are involved in a lawsuit, reserves can be depleted quickly.

9. Is the developer reputable Find out what other projects the developer has built and visit one if you can. Ask residents about their perceptions. Request an engineer s report for developments that have been reconverted from other uses to determine what shape the building is in. If the roof, windows, and bricks aren t in good repair, they become your problem once you buy.

10. Are multiple associations involved in the property In very large developments, umbrella associations, as well as the smaller association into which you re buying, may require separate assessments.

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

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