5 Facts Home Buyers and Sellers Should Know About Credits

No matter which side of the transaction you’re on, you don’t want to give up more than you have to.

After months of searching for the perfect home, making some offers, and maybe even competing with other buyers, you finally have a deal on your dream home. It took some negotiations, but you and the seller have come to terms.

Or have you?

Too often, getting a signed contract and putting your money into escrow is the beginning of what can become yet another round of negotiations. Here are five things every home buyer and seller should know about last-minute negotiations or credits.

Buyers may ask for credits based on property inspections.

Usually, a real estate contract either provides for a property inspection, or buyers inspect before signing. Depending on the property and the issues, a buyer might also have a particular type of inspection for the sewer line, septic, pool or roof.

These inspections can bring to light issues that the buyer couldn’t possibly have known about before making an offer. Once inspected, the buyer may still be interested in pursuing the sale. But given the needed repairs they will probably want to re-negotiate the price by asking for credits or a reduction in the purchase price.

Sellers should consider having a property inspection before listing.

The goal is to avoid negotiations once you’re under contract, because they’re not going to be in your favor. If you know the roof is near the end of its life or the furnace breaks from time to time, let it be known upfront, because rarely can you “sneak” something past the buyer.

You might even go as far as having your property inspected before listing the home. This way, you can address any issues, and make the inspection report available to buyers. They can come up with their best offer upfront, knowing what they’re getting.

If you have an inspection report or are otherwise assured your property is in great shape, you could even ask for an “as-is” clause in the contract. Although it’s not necessarily enforceable, it will send a strong message to the buyers that you aren’t open to more negotiation.

Sellers may try to avoid giving credits by having work done before escrow closes.

After inspections, the seller might agree to have work done before the closing. Or the seller may require that a payment is given directly to a contractor for the purpose of performing the specific, required work and nothing else.

These agreements help protect the seller, because buyers sometimes ask for credits just to help offset the closing costs — and never intends to do the repair work.

It also protects the seller if initial estimates for needed work turn out to have been overstated.

Buyers who ask for credits just to get the price down may be taking a chance.

Sometimes the buyer concedes on the purchase price thinking they can come back after the property inspection and ask for an additional concession.

The buyer may even feel empowered now that they’ve completed a series of inspections and are just weeks away from closing. The seller isn’t going to go back to the drawing board with a new buyer over a few more dollars, right?

Actually, they might. If it’s a strong buyer’s market, there’s a good chance the buyer can pull it off, but if it’s more of a neutral or a seller’s market, the seller may call your bluff. They’re assuming that you’re the one who, having invested all this time and money on inspections and an appraisal, isn’t going to walk away over a few dollars.

Buyers nearly always ask for credits, so sellers should give themselves some cushion.

You should also leave some additional room for negotiation when you’re in escrow. Always assume the buyer will ask for minor repair work — they nearly always do, even if there are no major issues. If you leave some cushion for yourself, you’ll feel better about the deal, and you’ll have protected yourself against the inevitable.

Conversely, the last thing you want is to be blindsided by a buyer asking for a few thousand dollars credit — just when you think the deal is finally done.

Related:

Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.

Originally published March 8, 2012.

Source: zillow.com

Mortgage vs. Cash: Which Is the Better Option When Buying a Home?

Last updated on November 21st, 2020

It’s been about eight months since my last mortgage match-up, so let’s give it a whirl again.

Today, the focus will be on taking out a mortgage versus simply using cash when purchasing a home.

Of course, it’s not that simple for the majority of the population to throw a few hundred thousand dollars (or more) down on a property. So for many, this won’t even be an option.

But it’s worth visiting regardless to see how even the very rich often opt for a home loan when they’ve got plenty of cash to spare.

Buying a Home with Cash Has Its Benefits

cash vs mortgage

  • Cash buyers are more attractive to home sellers
  • The home buying process can be a lot faster without a mortgage
  • Don’t need to abide by any mortgage lender’s rules
  • No property restrictions or inspections to worry about
  • Don’t have to pay interest to the bank for several decades

First let’s talk about buying a home with cash. This is almost certainly the favored approach of real estate investors and perhaps the mega-rich, though billionaires like Mark Zuckerberg still take out mortgages.

And investing gurus like Warren Buffett think the low mortgage rates are a great deal…

But for a large swath of the population, this either/or question doesn’t even get any consideration because most of us can’t afford to buy a home (or even a small condo) with cash.

Still, there are some advantages to buying a home with cash as opposed to taking out a mortgage.

The most obvious is that you don’t pay any interest when you buy with cash. That’s right, no mortgage, no interest payments.

Additionally, you don’t have to make any payments to principal either, seeing that you own your home free and clear right off the bat.

However, that doesn’t mean you won’t have recurring costs. You’ll still need to pay homeowner’s insurance (unless you’re really brave), along with property taxes and possibly HOA dues depending upon where the property is located.

The insurance thing becomes optional when you own your property outright. Not so if you have a mortgage because you don’t really own your home. Your lender does, until that loan is actually paid off in full.

Another plus to paying with cash is the negotiating power you gain when making an offer. If you’re going up against some other would-be buyers that need to finance the purchase, you’ll have the upper hand in pretty much every situation.

Sure, you could get outbid by another buyer willing to offer more for the home, but your cash offer should be king if all else is equal. And it may still be king even if you offer less than the competition.

Once your offer gets accepted, you won’t have to worry about dealing with a bank or mortgage lender. That means it doesn’t matter if your credit score is in bad shape, or if you don’t have the necessary income to qualify for a mortgage. Or if you’re a foreign national who might otherwise have difficulty getting a loan.

There is still a process to purchasing the home, but you can cut out the middleman, otherwise known as the lender. And that means you won’t have to pay lender fees, including a costly loan origination fee, or lender’s title insurance, underwriting fees, and so on.

But you might not want to skimp on the appraisal, even though it’s not a requirement. It’ll buy you some time to determine if the house is in good shape and worth what you agreed to pay.

That lack of a mortgage also means you’ll be able to move in sooner, or rent out the property sooner. Speaking of renting it out, you won’t have to worry about occupancy issues, or a higher mortgage rate because it’s an investment property.

Taking Out a Mortgage, Even If You Don’t Have To

  • A lot of very rich people take out mortgage loans
  • Not because they have to, but because they know home loans are cheap
  • Instead of tying up all their money in a single property
  • They put their hard-earned cash to work in other investments that can yield better returns

On the other hand, there’s the traditional approach to buying a home, with the help of a mortgage.

This is kind of the default option more out of necessity than preference. As I alluded to earlier, most of us can’t afford to buy real estate with cash. We need a mortgage to get the deal done.

In fact, many Americans need a sizable mortgage to get the job done, with practically zero-down FHA loans a popular choice for a large number of prospective home buyers.

So like it or not, a mortgage is often just a fact of life.

The number one downside to a mortgage is all that interest. On a $200,000 loan set at 4.5%, the total amount of interest due over 30 years is close to $165,000. Y

eah, you pay nearly double what you agreed to pay for the home. Sounds pretty rough, doesn’t it?

But like I said, this is the price of not having a substantial amount of money to put down. Along with that, you also have to pay a bunch of lender fees, which can certainly add up.

If you put down a very small amount, you’ll also be subject to paying mortgage insurance premiums, possibly for life if you go with an FHA loan and never refinance.

Oh, and you don’t just get a mortgage. You need to qualify for a mortgage, and not everyone qualifies for countless reasons. Having the lender pry into your personal and financial life may also be extremely annoying and frustrating, but if you need hundreds of thousands of dollars, they’ve earned that right.

The good news is that you write off that mortgage interest as long as you itemize deductions and they exceed the standard deduction.  So some of that interest can result in a lower tax bill each April, which lessens the blow pretty significantly.

Additionally, mortgage rates are dirt cheap compared to just about every other type of loan out there. Yes, you pay a lot of interest, but it’s only because the loan amounts are so large.

That means there’s a decent chance you can invest the money that would be locked up in your home (if you paid cash) at a better return elsewhere.

Having a mortgage on your home also means you’ve got more liquidity and less at risk, assuming something goes wrong.

Imagine something devastating happens to your home that isn’t covered by insurance. Would you rather have 20% invested, or 100%?

Also consider the recent housing bust – a lot of homeowners were able to walk away from their homes relatively unscathed because they didn’t have much invested.

Those who purchased all-cash could cut their losses, but they couldn’t walk away without losing a lot of money. There’s also that old saying about putting all your eggs in one basket.

If you don’t have money in other places, it certainly shouldn’t all be tied up in your home.

[Mortgage affordability calculator]

Can You Get the Best of Both Worlds?

  • Most home buyers put down a small amount of cash and take out a mortgage
  • The sweet spot might be a 20% down payment
  • This allows you to avoid costly mortgage insurance and obtain a low mortgage rate
  • You can invest your excess funds elsewhere or prepay the mortgage if that’s your goal

Absolutely. Most people buy homes with cash and a mortgage, not just either or. In other words, when you put 20% down on a house, you’re paying a decent chunk of cash and financing the rest.

As a result, you avoid the requirement for mortgage insurance, you get a lower rate of interest, and you have an equity investment.

Putting down 20% or more should also put you in a pretty good position when it comes to a bidding war, though an all-cash buyer willing to make a good offer will always have the upper hand.

Additionally, you can always pay your mortgage off earlier than planned seeing that most mortgages don’t have prepayment penalties anymore.

Sure, you will subject yourself to the closing costs associated with a mortgage, along with the qualifying process, but you don’t have to pay off your mortgage over 30 years.

If you decide your money isn’t earning as much as you’d like, you can move more of it towards the mortgage balance.

Got plans to retire in 10 or 15 years? Start prepaying the mortgage faster so you’ll be free and clear by the time you’re on a fixed income.  Or go with a 15-year fixed mortgage instead.

Remember, it doesn’t have to be an either/or discussion. You can make adjustments based on your financial standing as time goes on. With cash, you can also pull equity via a cash out refinance. So both options provide flexibility.

Advantages to Buying a Home with Cash

  • No need to qualify for a mortgage
  • No need to shop for a mortgage
  • No mortgage payments (good if you lose your job or are close to retirement)
  • No interest due
  • No lender fees
  • Homeowner’s insurance isn’t required
  • You don’t need to pay for an appraisal
  • More negotiating power when making an offer
  • Lower purchase price possible
  • Faster closing process
  • Could be a better return for your money than a low-yielding CD or bond
  • Set it and forget it investing (don’t have to manage your investments)
  • Can tap home equity if and when needed
  • Can always sell or take out a mortgage
  • Less hassle overall (one less thing to manage)
  • Sense of security because it’s your home!

Disadvantages to Buying a Home with Cash

  • Most of us don’t have the money required to buy a home with cash
  • Mortgage rates are a cheap source of financing
  • Real estate is an illiquid asset (not easy or free to sell)
  • The property could lose substantial value
  • You could lose a lot of money if your home is destroyed and not covered by insurance
  • You miss out on the mortgage interest deduction
  • Your return on investment might be poor relative to other options
  • Poor diversification if a lot of your money is in one single property
  • House rich and cash poor if savings get depleted

Advantages to Buying a Home with a Mortgage

  • Mortgage rates are very low
  • Mortgage interest is tax deductible
  • Inflation should make future monthly payments “cheaper”
  • You only need to bring in a small down payment
  • More cash on hand for anything else
  • Getting a mortgage isn’t really that difficult
  • A mortgage can actually improve your credit score
  • You can prepay your mortgage whenever you want in most cases
  • You can invest your money elsewhere for a better return
  • Your money is more liquid
  • Forced savings each month
  • Less risk if something happens to your home or if values drop

Disadvantages to Buying a Home with a Mortgage

  • Tons of mortgage interest must be paid
  • 30 years of monthly payments (maybe less, but still a long time!)
  • You need to shop for a mortgage
  • You need to get approved for a mortgage
  • You could get declined
  • More (lender) costs associated with a mortgage
  • Closing process more work and more time
  • You may buy more house than you should (get in over your head)
  • Harder to sell the property if little or no equity
  • You can lose your home if you fall behind on payments
  • You don’t actually own your home

Source: thetruthaboutmortgage.com

Top 6 Home Buying Risks To Avoid

June 22, 2019 Posted By: growth-rapidly Tag: Buying a house

Buying a home, especially as a first time home buyer, while can be an exciting time, can be a scary, stressful and expensive process. That’s why it’s important to be aware of the risks involved. By having an idea of what you may encounter when buying a home, you can take steps to avoid them. If you think you’re ready to buy a house, here are some home buying risks to avoid.

If you are interested in comparing the best mortgage rates through LendingTree click here. It’s completely free.

Check out: 5 Signs You’re Not Ready to Buy a House

If the process of buying a home seems complicated to you, it may make sense to speak with a professional. The SmartAdvisor free matching tool can connect you with up to three financial advisors in your neighborhood.

1. Obtaining the wrong mortgage.

The worst thing you can do when buying a house is to obtain the wrong home loan. A bad mortgage loan can be one with a high interest rate, which means that your monthly payments are higher. You also have to pay more in interest over the term of the loan.

The people who find themselves in this kind of situation are those who fail to shop for multiple mortgage lenders before deciding on one.

Not all mortgage loans are created equal. Mortgage rates and fees may differ from lender to lender. So to avoid this risk, you should plan to compare several mortgage rates. While the mortgage process can be overwhelming at times, you can navigate the process by comparing home loans side by side through LendingTree.


LendingTree: A Better Way to Find A Mortgage

LendingTree.com is making getting a mortgage loan simpler, faster, and more accessible. Compare the best mortgage rates from multiple mortgage lenders all in one place and at the same time. LEARN MORE ON LENDINGTREE.COM >>>


2. You don’t have any job security.

Another of the several home buying risks to avoid is to make sure you have a stable job with a steady paycheck so you can make your payments on time.

Unless you were able to purchase your home with all cash, you will need to make monthly mortgage payments to satisfy your loan requirements.

In addition, you will need to consider additional expenses, like money to replace the roof or to renovate the kitchen and bathroom. Therefore you will need a steady paycheck or stream of income.

So before you jump into homeownership, make sure you have a stable job.

Related: Apply for a Mortgage Loan Today

3. You forget about other costs.

First time home buyers may think that buying a house only involves finding and getting a mortgage loan, coming up with a down payment, making an offer on a house that they like, and preparing for closing.

However, they may not realize that there are other costs that come with buying a house.

In addition to the down payment and mortgage payments, they need to come up with closing costs, inspection costs, moving costs, maintenance costs, taxes, etc… And if you don’t consider and budget for these costs, you may be in hot water.

4. Buying a home full with problems.

You may have found a house you’ve always dreamed about. But it’s never good idea to purchase a home without conducting a building inspection.

A house inspection is crucial, because it can let you know of a lot of problems that you as a first time home buyer would have never thought existed.

It can reveal problems with the structure of the house, the roof, plumbing, electricity, etc.

Click here to compare mortgage rates through LendingTree. It’s completely FREE.

If you ignore house inspection and move in anyway, these issues can end up cost you a lot of money and can also be detrimental to your safety and well-being.

In conclusion, buying a home can be a fun and exciting experience. It can also come with unique challenges. By being aware of these home buying risks, you can take steps to avoid them.

More articles on buying a house:

The Biggest Mistakes Millennials Make When Buying a House

How Much House Can I Afford

5 Signs You’re Better Off Renting

10 First Time Home Buyer Mistakes to Avoid

Not All Mortgage Lenders Are Created Equally

When it comes to getting a mortgage, rates and fees vary. LendingTree allows you to view and compare multiple mortgage rates from multiple mortgage lenders all in one place and at the same time, so you can choose the best rates for your needs. LendingTree makes getting a loan faster, simpler, and better. Get started today >>>

Source: growthrapidly.com

Buying A House Checklist For First Time Homebuyers

Buying a house, especially if you’re a first time home buyer can be daunting. And searching for a buying a house checklist online can also be annoying.

From finding a real estate agent or broker to assist you in the purchase of a property to start house hunting, the process can be overwhelming if you don’t know what you’re doing.

In order of importance, here’s a ‘buying a house checklist’ we put together to make the process as smooth and as easy as possible.

Number 4 of this checklist is extremely important, so make sure you get to it.


LendingTree: A Better Way to Find A Mortgage

LendingTree.com is making getting a mortgage loan simpler, faster, and more accessible. Compare the best mortgage rates from multiple mortgage lenders all in one place and at the same time. LEARN MORE ON LENDINGTREE.COM >>>


Check out: 5 Signs You’re Not Ready To Buy A House

In brief summary, this buying a house checklist includes checking your credit score, shopping for a mortgage lender, assembling your team – including hiring a real estate agent, gather important documents, making an offer on the house, etc…

Buying a House Checklist for First Time Home Buyers:

Related Resources

Step 1. Review your credit report.

The 1st thing to do when buying a house is to review your credit score.

In fact, your credit score plays a major role in whether a mortgage lender will qualify you a for a loan. And even if you qualify, the interest rate you will get depends on how good your credit score is.

Anything above 700 is considered a good credit score in the eyes of mortgage lenders. If you have something below that, don’t lose hope yet.

A 580 credit score will qualify you for a FHA loan. Or you can always take steps to improve it. So, don’t procrastinate – start working on this step right now.

So review your credit report from an online monitoring service like CreditSesame. It’s completely free. And correct any errors.

Check out: How To Raise Your Credit Score to 850

Step 2. Make a budget.

The best thing about following this buying a house checklist is the fact that it covers the most important aspect of the home buying process, which is making a budget.

Before looking at homes, you need a budget. There is a good reason for that.

Buying a house will most likely be the biggest purchase you will ever make.

Not only will you need to come up with a down payment and have enough of a stable job to make mortgage payments, you will also have to have extra cash related upfront costs.

These costs include inspection costs, renovating costs, closing costs, maintenance costs, taxes, property insurance, etc…

So you will have to make a budget, taking into consideration all of these costs and expenses associated with buying a house.

Related: Apply for a Mortgage Loan Today

Step 3. Gather your documents.

A mortgage lender will need some paperwork from you before they offer you a mortgage loan.

They include your income tax returns, w-2 forms, current pay stubs, bank statements, asset statements and any other financial statements. So, start gathering them now.

Step 4. Get pre-qualified for a mortgage loan

Unless you will buy your home with cold cash, you will need a home loan. So, consider getting pre-qualified for a home loan before you start house hunting.

There are lots of reasons why getting pre-qualified for a mortgage loan is a good idea. For starters, it tells the sellers that you’re serious when you start shopping for your house.

Additionally, getting pre-qualified for a mortgage gives you an idea of how much house you can afford. Mortgage lenders will pre-qualify you based on how much loan they will be able to offer you once everything is done.

So it’s worthwhile to know the limits of your borrowing power. The worst thing that can happen to you is to find a house that you fall in love with, and find out later that you cannot afford it.

Click here to compare mortgage rates through LendingTree. It’s completely FREE.

Step 5. Build your team.

Some first time home buyers make the mistake of ‘doing it alone’, of looking for a property without the help of a professional, like a real estate agent.

This mistake can cost you dearly.

Simply looking at properties on Zillow, Redfin, or on Google isn’t enough. Some of the best deals don’t even make it to these sources.

Real estate agents or brokers have insider knowledge that you don’t have. A good real estate agent understands the current market conditions and knows how to evaluate a property.

Also a home inspector can give you advice and information on the property so you can make an intelligent decision.

A home buying inspection checklist will be important in that regard.

A financial advisor is also a professional that you need to consider in your team.

Although a financial advisor may not be the first person you think to consult before buying a house, but a financial advisor can advise you whether now is a good time for you to buy a house.

They can help you understand how buying a home fits with your overall financial situation and goals. Of course, make sure your financial advisor has experience with real estate investment. See, 5 Mistakes People Make When Hiring A Financial Advisor.

Step 6. Begin looking for properties.

This ‘buying a house checklist’ will help you find the home of your dream.

With a pre-approval letter in hand, at this point you’re pretty much have an idea how much house you can afford.

And with working with a real estate agent, who can tell you where to look, all you need to do is to start the process. In addition to working with a real estate broker, look at online listings, and visit open houses

You also need to start researching the neighborhood. This is incredibly important. You want to know whether you would want to raise a family in that neighborhood. Are there schools nearby? Is it a quiet or noisy neighborhood?

Step 7. Make an offer and prepare for closing.

Once you find a property that you fall in love with, work with your real estate broker to make an offer.

Your real estate agent should be able to give you prices of comparable homes and you should use these numbers to make your initial offer.

Also, start getting ready to start the closing process. Find out with your broker how the closing process works – it may vary depending on your city or state. Also, make sure you know all of the deadlines.

In conclusion, follow these steps to buying a house checklist to help you find the home you’ve always dreamed about.

Click here to compare mortgage rates through LendingTree. It’s completely FREE.

Buying a House Checklist: Summary

1) Review your credit report – check your credit score to make sure they are good. If not, take steps to improve it.

2) Make a budget – that will let you know how much house you can afford.

3) Gather your most important documents, including your bank statements, pay stubs, tax returns, etc.

4) Get pre-qualified for a mortgage.

5) Build your team, including getting a home inspector. We don’t have a ‘home buying inspection checklist, but we have found a great home inspection checklist here for more information.

6) Start looking for properties.

7) Make an offer and prepare for closing.

Read More:

Related Resources

Not All Mortgage Lenders Are Created Equally

When it comes to getting a mortgage, rates and fees vary. LendingTree allows you to view and compare multiple mortgage rates from multiple mortgage lenders all in one place and at the same time, so you can choose the best rates for your needs. LendingTree makes getting a loan faster, simpler, and better. Get started today >>>

Source: growthrapidly.com

66 Questions to Ask When Buying a House

As a first-time homebuyer, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed even before you begin your homebuying journey. After all, this is a new process for you and, simply put, you don’t know what you don’t know. First off, there are no silly questions you can ask during any stage of the homebuying process. So always feel free to ask a question, no matter how trivial you think it might be. You owe it to yourself – and your family – to find out everything you can about a home, especially since it will most likely be the largest investment you’ll ever make. To help you get started, we’ve created a list of 66 questions to ask when buying a house, broken down into each stage of the homebuying process to help keep you informed.

11 questions to ask before you go house hunting

As you well know, buying a house is a significant investment. Before you start house hunting, think through your goals for homeownership. Why do you want to buy a house? 

  1. Do you want to earn equity and build wealth by owning a house? 
  2. Do you expect you might need more space for a future family? 
  3. Do you have a pet or see one in your future and you want a backyard? 
  4. Do you want to live in a quiet, established area or somewhere more lively? 
  5. Do you enjoy yard work, gardening? How much backyard space do you require?
  6. Have you considered the local schools and neighborhoods? 
  7. Have you looked at crime rates around the neighborhoods you’re interested in? 
  8. Is it essential for you to live close to your work? Or, is a commute ok? 
  9. Have you narrowed down a range of purchase prices you can afford?
  10. How much money do you need for a downpayment? 
  11. Are you pre-approved for a mortgage

When you’re wrapped up in the excitement of house hunting, you may forget which questions to ask when buying a house.. If you are a pet owner looking at condos, you’ll have to be sure the homeowners’ association allows pets. Or, let’s say you want to live in a popular downtown neighborhood, but plan to have children in a few years – will this neighborhood still suit your needs? It’s always worth giving some thought to the type of home and area to help focus your search. 

Also, be aware that being approved for a home loan saves time for everyone by ensuring that you, as the buyer, can actually afford the home and be able to follow through an offer. 

7 questions to ask when you interview agents

Contacting the agent listed on the for-sale sign of a house you’re interested in may not be the best way to protect your interest as a buyer. When you work with your own agent, that agent’s job is to represent your interests. They help research the house, find answers to all of your questions, and serve as your professional intermediary for communicating with the seller’s agent and homeowner.

Naturally, you will want to choose a great real estate agent that you are comfortable with and feel like they have your best interests in mind. Most real estate experts recommend that you interview at least three agents identified by recommendations from friends and family who have bought or sold a house recently. Here are some questions to ask potential agents to see if they are the right agent for you.

  1. How long have you been a real estate agent? 
  2. What kind of experience do you have in this specific market area?
  3. Do you usually work with buyers or sellers? 
  4. How do you usually communicate with clients? What should I expect for response time? 
  5. How will you help me search for homes? 
  6. What days and times are you typically available for showings? 
  7. How will you ensure transparency about any issues you see with a house? 

When you set your expectations for communication, home tours, and other information you count on your agent to provide, you have a good chance to establish a productive relationship from the start – which will help you through your homebuying journey.

stylish living room

stylish living room

37 questions to ask when touring homes

This is an extensive list, and not every question applies to every situation. For example, if your goal is to purchase a single-family home, questions relating to condominiums don’t apply. However, this list of questions to ask when touring a house should give you an excellent start in making well-informed decisions when buying your first home. 

  1. What’s the reason for the sale? How long have the sellers lived there?
  2. How long has the house been on the market? 
  3. What is the neighborhood like?
  4. When was the house built? 
  5. What are the property taxes?
  6. Are there any upcoming condo or homeowners association fees?
  7. What are the average utility costs? 
  8. Have there been any major repairs to the property? If so, do you know if they provided a warranty?
  9. Are there any boundary disputes with neighbors?
  10. Are there any shared driveways or communal spaces?
  11. Are there any public rights of way passing through – or near – the property? 
  12. How old are the major appliances and systems?
  13. Are the appliances included in the sale?
  14. What is the sales history of this house, and how would it affect my offer?
  15. Is there enough storage space? Room to grow? 
  16. Is there any evidence of water problems? Can you see damp drywall, basement floors, or open leaks? Can you smell mildew? Or is there a smell of fresh paint that might be intended to cover up a water issue?
  17. Are the walls structurally sound? Look for cracks and look for evidence of cracks covered over by wallpaper that doesn’t look right or paint applied over filler.
  18. Is the chimney in good condition?
  19. Are the windows sound? Will any of the glazing need to be replaced?
  20. Do the ground floor windows have working latches to lock the windows? 
  21. Is the attic insulated? If so, when was the insulation installed?
  22. Is there any soundproofing in the house? (Try viewing the home at different times to hear road noise or neighbors.)
  23. Are there working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms?
  24. Is there adequate cell phone reception indoors? How’s the broadband service in the area?
  25. What type of system is used to heat and cool the house? 
  26. Ask to see the circuit box – does the wiring look up to date?
  27. How is the condition of electrical outlets and switches? (You can bring something to plug into try outlets.) 
  28. Do all of the lights work? If not, why not?
  29. Does the property have any lead pipes? Do you see any issues with pipes in need of repair?
  30. What kind of drainage system does the property have? Is it on the city sewer, or is there a septic tank? 
  31. Is there any asbestos in the property, or has there ever been an asbestos survey completed?
  32. What kind of roof does the property have? When was it last replaced, and what is its current condition? 
  33. Do you see any gutter leaks? Are the gutters cleaned out, or do they need work? 
  34. Are there any trees growing within 15 feet of the property? Can you discern if roots are likely to be a problem? 
  35. Which way does the yard face, and is there any part of the yard that doesn’t receive sunlight throughout the day? 
  36. Would the real estate agent buy this house? If not, why not?
  37. What’s the lowest price you think we could offer for this house and still close the transaction?

You can ask these questions when buying a house – and others as applicable – to understand your likely overall costs to own this home. When you understand all of your costs, you’ll confidently be able to make an offer you can afford

open concept new kitchen

open concept new kitchen

11 questions to ask when making an offer and closing on a home

Real estate agents make offers on homes every day. Their job is to help you make the best offer while protecting you against potential risks with the transaction. 

  1. How does the offer work? Do we communicate with the seller or seller’s agent? 
  2. What contingencies do you recommend including in the offer? 
  3. How much earnest money should we put in the offer? 
  4. When do we need to provide earnest money? 
  5. When should we expect to hear back from the seller? 
  6. If we receive a counter-offer, when do we need to reply? 
  7. How can we sign the paperwork? Digital? In-person? 
  8. If the offer is accepted, what are the next steps? 
  9. How far out is the potential closing date from an accepted offer? 
  10. What are our next steps once the offer is accepted?
  11. What do we do at closing? 

Your real estate agent wants to make the home buying transaction as smooth as possible. If they do not provide this information upfront, be sure to ask. 

You should prepare a list of your own questions to ask when buying a house. It can include any given here, or others that represent your own interests and concerns. Answers to these questions will ease your mind and help you understand what you can expect during each stage of the homebuying process. Completing your research is perfectly acceptable, but don’t skip asking questions of your mortgage broker, real estate agent, and title company. When you gather enough information, you can make the best decision buying your first home. 

Source: redfin.com

66 Questions to Ask When Buying a House – Redfin

As a first-time homebuyer, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed even before you begin your homebuying journey. After all, this is a new process for you and, simply put, you don’t know what you don’t know. First off, there are no silly questions you can ask during any stage of the homebuying process. So always feel free to ask a question, no matter how trivial you think it might be. You owe it to yourself – and your family – to find out everything you can about a home, especially since it will most likely be the largest investment you’ll ever make. To help you get started, we’ve created a list of 66 questions to ask when buying a house, broken down into each stage of the homebuying process to help keep you informed.

11 questions to ask before you go house hunting

As you well know, buying a house is a significant investment. Before you start house hunting, think through your goals for homeownership. Why do you want to buy a house? 

  1. Do you want to earn equity and build wealth by owning a house? 
  2. Do you expect you might need more space for a future family? 
  3. Do you have a pet or see one in your future and you want a backyard? 
  4. Do you want to live in a quiet, established area or somewhere more lively? 
  5. Do you enjoy yard work, gardening? How much backyard space do you require?
  6. Have you considered the local schools and neighborhoods? 
  7. Have you looked at crime rates around the neighborhoods you’re interested in? 
  8. Is it essential for you to live close to your work? Or, is a commute ok? 
  9. Have you narrowed down a range of purchase prices you can afford?
  10. How much money do you need for a downpayment? 
  11. Are you pre-approved for a mortgage

When you’re wrapped up in the excitement of house hunting, you may forget which questions to ask when buying a house.. If you are a pet owner looking at condos, you’ll have to be sure the homeowners’ association allows pets. Or, let’s say you want to live in a popular downtown neighborhood, but plan to have children in a few years – will this neighborhood still suit your needs? It’s always worth giving some thought to the type of home and area to help focus your search. 

Also, be aware that being approved for a home loan saves time for everyone by ensuring that you, as the buyer, can actually afford the home and be able to follow through an offer. 

7 questions to ask when you interview agents

Contacting the agent listed on the for-sale sign of a house you’re interested in may not be the best way to protect your interest as a buyer. When you work with your own agent, that agent’s job is to represent your interests. They help research the house, find answers to all of your questions, and serve as your professional intermediary for communicating with the seller’s agent and homeowner.

Naturally, you will want to choose a great real estate agent that you are comfortable with and feel like they have your best interests in mind. Most real estate experts recommend that you interview at least three agents identified by recommendations from friends and family who have bought or sold a house recently. Here are some questions to ask potential agents to see if they are the right agent for you.

  1. How long have you been a real estate agent? 
  2. What kind of experience do you have in this specific market area?
  3. Do you usually work with buyers or sellers? 
  4. How do you usually communicate with clients? What should I expect for response time? 
  5. How will you help me search for homes? 
  6. What days and times are you typically available for showings? 
  7. How will you ensure transparency about any issues you see with a house? 

When you set your expectations for communication, home tours, and other information you count on your agent to provide, you have a good chance to establish a productive relationship from the start – which will help you through your homebuying journey.

stylish living room

stylish living room

37 questions to ask when touring homes

This is an extensive list, and not every question applies to every situation. For example, if your goal is to purchase a single-family home, questions relating to condominiums don’t apply. However, this list of questions to ask when touring a house should give you an excellent start in making well-informed decisions when buying your first home. 

  1. What’s the reason for the sale? How long have the sellers lived there?
  2. How long has the house been on the market? 
  3. What is the neighborhood like?
  4. When was the house built? 
  5. What are the property taxes?
  6. Are there any upcoming condo or homeowners association fees?
  7. What are the average utility costs? 
  8. Have there been any major repairs to the property? If so, do you know if they provided a warranty?
  9. Are there any boundary disputes with neighbors?
  10. Are there any shared driveways or communal spaces?
  11. Are there any public rights of way passing through – or near – the property? 
  12. How old are the major appliances and systems?
  13. Are the appliances included in the sale?
  14. What is the sales history of this house, and how would it affect my offer?
  15. Is there enough storage space? Room to grow? 
  16. Is there any evidence of water problems? Can you see damp drywall, basement floors, or open leaks? Can you smell mildew? Or is there a smell of fresh paint that might be intended to cover up a water issue?
  17. Are the walls structurally sound? Look for cracks and look for evidence of cracks covered over by wallpaper that doesn’t look right or paint applied over filler.
  18. Is the chimney in good condition?
  19. Are the windows sound? Will any of the glazing need to be replaced?
  20. Do the ground floor windows have working latches to lock the windows? 
  21. Is the attic insulated? If so, when was the insulation installed?
  22. Is there any soundproofing in the house? (Try viewing the home at different times to hear road noise or neighbors.)
  23. Are there working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms?
  24. Is there adequate cell phone reception indoors? How’s the broadband service in the area?
  25. What type of system is used to heat and cool the house? 
  26. Ask to see the circuit box – does the wiring look up to date?
  27. How is the condition of electrical outlets and switches? (You can bring something to plug into try outlets.) 
  28. Do all of the lights work? If not, why not?
  29. Does the property have any lead pipes? Do you see any issues with pipes in need of repair?
  30. What kind of drainage system does the property have? Is it on the city sewer, or is there a septic tank? 
  31. Is there any asbestos in the property, or has there ever been an asbestos survey completed?
  32. What kind of roof does the property have? When was it last replaced, and what is its current condition? 
  33. Do you see any gutter leaks? Are the gutters cleaned out, or do they need work? 
  34. Are there any trees growing within 15 feet of the property? Can you discern if roots are likely to be a problem? 
  35. Which way does the yard face, and is there any part of the yard that doesn’t receive sunlight throughout the day? 
  36. Would the real estate agent buy this house? If not, why not?
  37. What’s the lowest price you think we could offer for this house and still close the transaction?

You can ask these questions when buying a house – and others as applicable – to understand your likely overall costs to own this home. When you understand all of your costs, you’ll confidently be able to make an offer you can afford

open concept new kitchen

open concept new kitchen

11 questions to ask when making an offer and closing on a home

Real estate agents make offers on homes every day. Their job is to help you make the best offer while protecting you against potential risks with the transaction. 

  1. How does the offer work? Do we communicate with the seller or seller’s agent? 
  2. What contingencies do you recommend including in the offer? 
  3. How much earnest money should we put in the offer? 
  4. When do we need to provide earnest money? 
  5. When should we expect to hear back from the seller? 
  6. If we receive a counter-offer, when do we need to reply? 
  7. How can we sign the paperwork? Digital? In-person? 
  8. If the offer is accepted, what are the next steps? 
  9. How far out is the potential closing date from an accepted offer? 
  10. What are our next steps once the offer is accepted?
  11. What do we do at closing? 

Your real estate agent wants to make the home buying transaction as smooth as possible. If they do not provide this information upfront, be sure to ask. 

You should prepare a list of your own questions to ask when buying a house. It can include any given here, or others that represent your own interests and concerns. Answers to these questions will ease your mind and help you understand what you can expect during each stage of the homebuying process. Completing your research is perfectly acceptable, but don’t skip asking questions of your mortgage broker, real estate agent, and title company. When you gather enough information, you can make the best decision buying your first home. 

Source: redfin.com

When Should You Start Looking for a House?

The short answer: Immediately. That is, if you want to buy a home at some point in the next year, or any time thereafter.

We’ll get into the specifics in a moment, but there’s really no sense in waiting if you want to own a home or condo because it’s always going to be a lengthy process.

Sure, once you find “the one” it might only take a month, or even less, to close escrow, thanks to new technologies that are making the actual transactional piece faster.

But the transaction is just one slice of the pie, and usually the fastest part. Personally, whenever I’ve looked for real estate, it’s been a long, long search. We’re talking many months if not a year or longer.

Consider All Aspects of the Process

home buying timeline

  • Decide you want to buy a home (might be a long or short process)
  • Determine if you’re able to (seek out mortgage pre-approval)
  • Might need additional time to save for down payment and/or improve credit
  • Start looking at listings (set saved searches and alerts)
  • Find a real estate agent to work with (can be early on or late in the process)
  • Attend open houses, tour properties, and find one you like
  • Make an offer the seller accepts
  • Conduct inspections
  • Secure financing and close your loan

It’ll Probably Take You Over a Year to Find a Home

If we count the time from when you begin house hunting until your home purchase loan ultimately funds, there’s a decent chance 365 days will have elapsed.

I’m talking the day you first set your filters on Zillow/Redfin until the time the mortgage lender congratulates you on being a homeowner with an oversized key.

Does this mean each and every day is going to be consumed with home shopping? No, not at all. In fact, there might be days or weeks at a time during that span when nothing is brewing.

Your desired market could lie dormant if no new listings appear that fit within your specific parameters.

Of course, this is technically part of the process too. Waiting. And keeping an eye on things even when nothing is happening.

The good news is this will give you more time to prepare as a homeowner, especially if you’re going to be a first-time home buyer.

First Make Sure You Qualify for Home Loan Financing

  • The mortgage should come before the house
  • Not the other way around as some may lead you to believe
  • Know you can actually obtain financing and at what price point
  • Then start looking at suitable properties to ensure you don’t waste your time or anyone else’s

I’ve written an entire post about this, but I’ll reiterate here again. It’s probably not a good idea to start searching for a home until you know you qualify for a mortgage, assuming you’re not paying cash.

You wouldn’t shop for a new car if you didn’t have a steady job and money in the bank, so why shop for an even larger purchase without knowing where you stand?

Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to get a mortgage pre-approval, and even easier to get pre-qualified, though the latter isn’t worth a whole lot.

Either way, make sure you do one of the two to at least get a ballpark estimate of what you can afford. And to determine if there are any red flags that need to be addressed early on.

Credit is usually a biggie, and one that can take months to resolve if there are any glaring issues. Or if you simply need time to up your credit scores for more favorable mortgage rate pricing.

Anyway, once you know how much house you can afford, and that you’re more or less eligible for a home loan, you can begin your property search.

Set Up Your Property Searches and Get Email Updates

  • Only after you know you can obtain a home loan
  • Should you begin searching for properties in your price range
  • Companies like Zillow and Redfin are handy and offer nearly real-time updates
  • They allow you to set alerts and receive instant or daily emails when new properties hit the market

One of the best ways to search for a property these days is via Zillow or Redfin. Assuming they cover your particular metro, pretty much every house, condo, and townhome will be listed.

You’ll have a ton of key information at your fingertips, including listing price, days on market, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, square footage, sales history, recent comparable sales, and most importantly, pictures!

Most home sellers throw up 20-50 photos or more, so you can do most of your home shopping from the comfort of your own abode before even thinking about a tour.

The good thing about these sites is you can set up filters and saved searches, then elect to receive targeted emails daily or instantly.

So the minute something new pops up, you’ll receive an alert. Or you can wait and get all new listings for that day in one shot.

Assuming you followed step one and got pre-approved for a mortgage, while simultaneously getting all your ducks in a row otherwise, you’ll be ready to pounce at a moment’s notice.

And these days, with the real estate market so hot, you might not get a chance to hesitate (see my 2021 home buying tips for more on that).

However, for most folks, the search process will take over a year, so there’s not necessarily a big rush.

Tip: If it’s a pocket listing or for some reason not on the MLS, the property may not show up on these websites. But this is less likely and even then, it may not be what you’re looking for or readily available.

Select an Experienced Real Estate Agent

  • Most home buyers will use a real estate agent to get the job done despite there being other options
  • You can choose to work with one early on in the discovery process
  • Or do the pre-qualifying and home shopping on your own before selecting one
  • Then you can have them come in just for the negotiation and paperwork when you find a house you like

Another thing you’ll need to take care of along the way is choosing a real estate agent to work with, that is, if you don’t go it alone.

Most home buyers work with agents, so there’s a good chance you will too. Add this selection process onto your home search timeline.

It can happen while you’re looking at prospective homes, or once you’ve already found one. You might know an agent and just tell them to be ready for you once you find your ideal home.

Or you might want some more hand-holding and seek out an agent without delay, who hopefully will get you organized and prepped immediately to avoid any missteps.

I like the idea of doing some stuff on your own first without any input from interested parties so you can explore and figure things out without bias.

But everyone is different and may not have the time, patience, or ability to do so.

Anyway, an agent can send you updates when new listings hit the market as well and basically be a more hands-on guide if you want/need it.

They can take part immediately or enter the conversation at a later date. It’s really up to you on how they fit in.

Tip: You can fly solo and once you find a home you like, use the listing agent as your buying agent to perhaps give you a leg up on the competition. Just be sure they have your best interests in mind too.

There Are Plenty of Houses in the…

  • It’s easy to fall in love with a house at first sight
  • And experience major FOMO along the way
  • But you’ll probably see 10+ properties in person
  • Before finding the right one (so try to temper your emotions)

I think we all have a tendency to fall in love with the homes we see in person, especially as first-timers, but it’s important to physically visit multiple properties to gain perspective.

These days you can see 50+ photos of a property before committing to a tour. So if you’ve made it that far there’s a good chance you’re into it.

Sure, you can arrive at the property in question and be completely underwhelmed, but if do like what you see, it might be hard to walk away.

And even harder not to imagine yourself living there. And decorating it exactly how you wish.

The best line I can think of here is that there are plenty more fish in the sea. Don’t get caught up on that first property, or any property in particular.

Aside from potentially overpaying, often times, you’ll look back and be grateful that you didn’t buy that one house, or you’ll be glad you got outbid by another buyer, etc.

You might get lucky and find that right house in a week, but chances are you won’t. Or it might just feel like the right one until you dig deeper and see more of what’s out there.

Tip: Per the National Association of Realtors, buyers see an average of 10 homes before making an offer. So prepare yourself mentally.

Okay, So How Long Does It Take to Buy a House?

  • The average time it takes to find a house might be 4-6 months
  • But it depends when we actually start the clock
  • Many buyers dip their toes for a while before getting more serious
  • We also have to factor in the many steps including financial prep, selecting an agent, house hunting, and loan closing

While results will vary, maybe tremendously, most industry experts say it’ll take anywhere from four to six months to buy a house, if not longer.

Thing is, it depends when the clock starts ticking. Do we start counting when you first open the Redfin or Zillow app, or do we start counting once you’ve met with a real estate agent?

These days, prospective buyers do a lot on their own before making contact with anyone. Or making it known that they’re even in the market to buy.

They may go through their own little discovery period where they weigh the pros and cons of homeownership, potentially for months.

As noted, it’s advisable to get in touch with a bank, lender, or mortgage broker just to know you qualify for a mortgage. Technically, this could count as the start of the home buying process.

The real estate agent part can be put off until you get more serious about buying a home because of the technology available these days.

We no longer need to be driven around the neighborhood by a friendly real estate agent in their Mercedes-Benz.

So really, the agent can come in during the late stages and help you close the deal, maybe only working with you for a month or so with the offer, paperwork, inspections, and loan closing.

But chances are they’ll come in earlier and send you listings or be on the lookout for properties that might make sense.

Then we have to take into account the home loan process, which can take anywhere from 30-45 days or longer.

If we round that up to two months and add a couple months of looking, we’re already around four months.

But the odds of finding your dream home in two months might be quite low if you’re a picky buyer, which you should be in most cases.

In reality, you could be looking for six months before you find something you like, then once you submit an offer and get your mortgage, it’s seven or eight months.

Factor in the time you were thinking about buying a home for a few months before that, the general financial preparation (saving for a down payment, getting credit in order, etc.), and the pre-approval piece, and you’re at a year in many cases.

To summarize, it going to take a while, and that’s totally okay. It’s not a process that should be rushed.

In fact, the more time that goes by, the more knowledgeable you should become. And you can mentally prepare for homeownership at the same time. That’s a good thing.

Read more: When should I buy a house?

Source: thetruthaboutmortgage.com

How to Buy a Home in a Seller’s Market: 9 Ways to Win

What is a Seller’s Market?

A seller’s market is when there are more homebuyers in a particular area looking to purchase a home than actual houses listed for sale. A seller’s market usually results in rising home prices and stiffer competition among homebuyers. Also, home sellers will have the upper hand when it comes time to negotiate. However, even if the U.S. housing market is indicating a seller’s market and the competition is fierce, rest assured that you can still buy a home.

How has the pandemic affected the market?

The pandemic has affected the housing market in many ways. Because of the shortage of available homes, and the high amount of buyers still looking for a house, the market has been in favor of the sellers. Although eventually there will be more homes listed in 2021 than there were in 2020, the market will likely still favor the home seller and there may still be considerable competition. However, if you are ready to buy a house don’t let a seller’s market deter you. According to Redfin’s Chief Economist Daryl Fairweather, “mortgage rates are as low as they may ever get, so if you are able to buy a home now, you can take advantage of low rates before they rise.” If you are interested in buying a house this year, here are nine of the best tactics to follow when you are ready to make an offer. 

Be Ready to Act Instantly in a Seller’s Market

1) Get Pre-Approved for a Home Loan

If you’re a first-time homebuyer, one of the smartest things you can do to ensure your chances of buying the home you want is to apply for a pre-approval on a mortgage. Applying for a mortgage after making an offer on a house tells home sellers you may not be as motivated to buy as others. An underwritten pre-approval for a mortgage usually takes about 24 hours and is strongly recommended for those looking to buy and want to be competitive in a seller’s market.

Furthermore, you’ll receive a pre-approval letter from your lender indicating how much of a mortgage you’ve been approved for. Sharing this letter with home sellers shows them you won’t be wasting their time and that you’re motivated to buy their home.

2) Get a Great Real Estate Agent

The home buying process can be stressful and sometimes overwhelming. Having a great real estate agent by your side throughout this process can help make everything go more smoothly and aid you in making an offer quickly when the time comes. This is particularly true if you are moving to a new area or a larger housing market and looking at houses in Atlanta or New York. Your buyer’s agent can provide you with keen insights into specific neighborhoods, such as walkability, schools, and other local amenities. They will also help you when it comes time to make an offer, since they know what’s happening in the local markets and will use that knowledge to negotiate effectively on your behalf. 

eco-friendly green house

eco-friendly green house

How to Make Your Best Offer 

Once you have gone through the pre-approval process, connected with a real estate agent, and found the home you want to buy, you’re ready to make an offer. The following are things you can do to make your offer stand out among the competition.

3) Write an Offer Letter Catered to Each Home Seller

Letters to home sellers have become more and more common in a seller’s market and especially true with competitive neighborhoods. So, how do you write a real estate offer letter that will grab the home seller’s attention? First of all, don’t just tell the home sellers you want to buy their house, tell them why you want it. Home sellers are people too and will be appreciative to hear what you love about their home. Additionally, if you notice that you share something in common with the home sellers, mention it in your offer letter. If you both have kids or dogs, referencing this in your letter is a great way to make yourself more relatable, and will also show you wrote it specifically for them.

4) Make an Offer in Cash if You Can in a Seller’s Market

For sellers, an all-cash offer is very appealing and can lead to a higher likelihood of you winning the house. If you don’t have to use a lender, there’s no financing contingency, which shows the sellers that you will most likely not pull out of the deal due to financial issues. If you pay in cash the sale can also happen quickly and, overall, lead to a smoother home sale. Of course, many of us can’t afford an all-cash offer and will need to rely on other tactics.

5) Put More Earnest Money Down

Earnest money is the amount of money you put down to show how serious you are in purchasing a home, also known as good faith money. Earnest money protects the home seller in case a buyer backs out of a home sale after the offer was accepted. Unless a homebuyer backs out due to something coming up in a home inspection or appraisal, the seller will get to keep the earnest money. Earnest money can also be a great tactic to use if you’re shopping in a seller’s market or competitive neighborhood. Home sellers tend to favor buyers who put down a larger installment of earnest money because it shows that you are serious about your offer and giving you a leg up on the competition.

6) Add an Escalation Clause

An escalation clause is inserted into your purchase offer for a home and is intended to make sure you get the chance to be the highest bidder. This clause states that if the seller receives another offer that is higher than your initial bid, you are willing to increase your offer to a higher price, usually a predetermined amount. Want to give yourself the best chance at calling home in a hot neighborhood your own? Then add an escalation clause to your offer.

7) Waive Extra Contingencies

In a seller’s market, you may want to submit an offer without certain contingencies as a way to stand out among competing offers. Waiving contingencies gives the sellers an advantage by taking away protections for the buyer and should only be done with the recommendation and oversight of your agent. Waiving either the inspection contingency, the appraisal contingency, or both can be an effective way to win a bidding war. In a seller’s market, refrain from asking for high-maintenance contingencies such as only buying the house if your current one sells or that you can knock down a wall. Essentially, keep your contingencies to a minimum so the home seller has fewer hurdles to complete in selling their home.

8) Don’t Restrict the Sellers to a Timeline

Limiting the home seller to a timeline can cause them extra stress when they are likely already overwhelmed. Give the home seller the gift of time, allowing them the flexibility to move out whenever it is best for them. A rent-back agreement is a great option for buyers to purchase the home and then rent it back to the seller to give them time to find a new place to live. Something as simple as time might give your competitive offer the edge it needs to win the home.

9) Be willing to make concessions during negotiations

During the negotiation process, you may have a better chance of closing the deal if you are willing to make compromises. There may be some things that you are not willing to budge on such as a home inspection, but maybe you don’t ask the home seller to redo the back deck or paint the house before you move in. This will allow for a smoother closing process and for you to move into your new home more quickly.

Buying a home can be difficult, especially if you are buying in a seller’s market. Use any or all of the recommended tips to stand out from the competition to help you purchase your next home.

Source: redfin.com

Expert Homebuying Tips for Buying in a Seller’s Market

According to buyer protection laws in most states, sellers are required to report any findings in home inspections to subsequent buyers. In other words, if an inspector finds something wrong with the house, the seller will have to deal with it one way or another— either with you, or the next buyer should you choose to drop out of the deal.
When trying to woo your seller in a competitive market, it helps to make a generous earnest money deposit. An earnest money deposit is a good-faith deposit requested by the seller when you enter into a contract to buy the house and typically run anywhere from 1% to 3% of the sale price of the home.
This might sound crazy, but making a good impression on your new neighbors can actually make a difference when it comes time for a seller to review offers.

Get a Pre-Approval Letter

Larissa Runkle is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.
Another way to win over your seller (and prevail in any bidding wars) is by keeping your contingencies to a minimum.
“In a really aggressive seller’s market, a home buyer who has to sell a current property should do so before placing an offer on another home,” said Jason Gelios of Community Choice Realty. “Don’t always assume that the seller will take the highest price. Other conveniences can play a factor in gaining the seller’s attention, especially things like faster closing times and less restrictions.”
In order to be competitive in a hot seller’s market, you will need to line up your financing in advance.
Source: thepennyhoarder.com

Be Friendly With Neighbors

Let’s say the listing price on your dream home is 0,000 and you’re able to put down a 6% down payment. That leaves you with a mortgage of roughly 1,000. For a 30-year fixed mortgage at an interest rate of 3%, that translates into ,269 monthly payments. Now let’s say you decide to bid a little higher on the home and offer ,000 over asking price. This would only bump up your monthly payment (assuming you qualify for that low interest rate) by .
Contingencies are the contractual stipulations buyers and sellers must meet before the deal can close. Unsurprisingly, sellers don’t like to have too many of them to deal with. Contingencies can include such things as requesting a seller to make certain repairs, getting a home inspection, or even the fact that you’ll need to sell your old house before being able to buy the new one.
If that sounds fast, it is. But by the time we submitted our offer, the seller already had three others. This is where it helps to have a great real estate agent on your side.

Submit an Offer Quickly

I was in this exact position last fall. Here are seven key takeaways from my experience buying in a seller’s market.
While my partner and I didn’t make the highest offer on our house, we did have the fewest contingencies — mainly, we didn’t ask too much of our seller in the way of repairs, or have another house to sell in order to afford the new one.
After you’ve seen a house, and decided you love it, be prepared to submit an offer quickly— as in, ASAP.
Buying a house is a big decision, but it can feel especially overwhelming to place an offer on a home less than 24 hours after seeing it for the first time. Plus you’re under pressure to outbid several other buyers — or risk losing the house.
“It’s important to understand that the strength of financing is a key consideration a seller takes into account when selecting an offer,” said real estate developer Bill Samuel.

Minimize Your Contingencies (Within Reason)

Work with your real estate agent to determine how many other offers the seller already has (or expects to get) and then be prepared to draft something up that day. In our case, we toured our home for the very first time at 11 a.m. on a Monday — it came on the market the evening before — and made an offer by 4 p.m. that same day.
Work with your real estate agent to find out what matters most to the seller — is it money, closing quickly, something else entirely? Then make sure your offer addresses their needs.
“Having a realtor who can get your offer submitted quickly is crucial,” said Erik Wright, owner of New Horizon Home Buyers. “You want to get your offer in front of the seller first, and make it strong. Purchase price is the obvious factor and in a competitive market, houses often go for over asking price. However, a strong offer has several factors and it depends on what’s most important to the seller.”
Wait. Why would anyone make an offer that’s above asking price? Because the competition did it first, and in a hot seller’s market, offering above asking price is often what it takes to even be considered.
In a hot seller’s market, you’ve got to be ready to move fast. Often this is more of a change in mindset than anything else. When my partner and I first started looking at homes, we considered ourselves casual buyers — that is, until our dream home came on the market late one Sunday night. From there, things moved quickly. We saw the home, made an offer, were under contract by morning, and spent the next month and a half going through the process of closing on the house.
Besides all the usual suspects, like saving up for a down payment and improving your credit score, you’ll also want to get a pre-approval letter from your bank. It states that a bank would approve you for a mortgage of a certain amount, and acts as a guarantee to the seller that you can actually afford to buy their house.

Make a Generous Earnest Money Deposit

This is where it helps to know your budget up front.
When deciding how much of an earnest money deposit to include in your offer, keep in mind that whatever amount you give comes off the price of the home (and is returned to you if the deal falls through). In other words, there’s no reason to be cheap. If you can, go slightly above the seller’s requested deposit amount. Even if it’s just a little more than what they’re asking, that gesture of good faith might just be what gets you the house.

A row of houses on a cul de sac in a suburban neighborhood.
Getty Images

Offer Above Asking Price

Since you’ll likely be visiting the home at least once before making an offer, be prepared to talk to any neighbors you might run into. In close-knit neighborhoods, or ones where people share resources (like an HOA), sellers might care a bit more about the type of person they sell the house to.
If you’re serious about finding your dream home in the next few months, the best thing you can do is know what you want from the outset, and get your ducks in a row to make a compelling offer when you find it. Maybe this means making a list of your must-haves in a house, and working to improve your credit score. It might also mean reaching out to a real estate agent before you need one, and getting that pre-approval letter in place.
No seller wants to risk accepting an offer that might fall through. Aand since pre-approval letters can take some time to get, have one ready before you find your dream house.

Lace Up Your Running Shoes

Upping your offer may not break the bank as much as you’re fearing. “With interest rates so low these days, offering more than what the seller is asking may not make a drastic difference in your overall monthly payments,” real estate agent Pavel Khaykin of Pavel Buys Houses said.
All that said, there are certain contingencies you should never forgo, and a home inspection is one of them. Getting your home inspected is hugely important, since inspectors will often find things even the sellers weren’t aware of. No matter how much you love a house, don’t be afraid of exercising your right to an inspection.
Although inventory is low, new houses come on the market all the time.
If you happen to meet a neighbor when visiting the home, introduce yourself and make a good impression. You never know how much their opinion of you might factor into any final decisions.
While these circumstances might sound extraordinary, they’re not. With housing inventory nationwide at an all time-low — down 22% from last year according to the National Association of Realtors — it’s no wonder buyers are competing for the same few houses.

Should you schedule a pest and termite inspection? 5 reasons you should – Redfin

January 6, 2021 February 3, 2021 by Alison Bentley

Updated on February 3rd, 2021

Whether you’re an aspiring first-time homebuyer and about to make your first offer or you have just purchased your second or third home, you’re probably excited to enjoy your new space. But wait, is that a little critter by the backdoor? Maybe it’s just an ant… nothing to worry about, right? Just to be sure there aren’t any other pests lurking about your new house, you might want to consider getting a pest and termite inspection. Here are five reasons you should schedule a termite and pest inspection before any unwanted visitors wreak havoc on your dream home.

house-pest-termite-inspection

house-pest-termite-inspection

Why should you get a pest and termite inspection?

As a new homeowner, it’s always a good idea to cover all your bases and have a pest and termite inspection performed. Homes in more humid climates – think homes in Miami, FL or houses in Houston, TX – are more susceptible to termite infestations due to the increased moisture in the surrounding environment. If you’ve seen any signs of a termite infestation, it might be a good idea to have a termite inspection. These signs can include buckling floorboards, creaky floors, or damaged wood.

For those still in the homebuying process, if you see signs of termite damage in the house, you should consider adding a termite contingency when making an offer on a home. A termite contingency may give you the option to back out of the sale if there’s been significant damage found. Otherwise, you can try to negotiate with the seller to pay for the repairs. 

What if you’re planning on just getting a regular home inspection? Your home inspector likely won’t look for specific types of pest or termite damage. However, if your home inspector does find damage, contacting a pest or termite inspector should be your next step. A pest or termite control specialist like the ones at Terminix can help you determine what the best course of action is, likely scheduling an inspection to determine the extent of the damage.

Is a pest and termite inspection required before closing on a home?

If you’ve already purchased your home, then you didn’t miss out on any required inspections. For most homebuyers, termite and pest inspections are not required before closing on a home. However, certain types of loans such as FHA and VA loans may require you to pay for a pest inspection before your mortgage approval, so it’s best to check with your mortgage lender or real estate agent. Your real estate agent will also know if your particular state or county requires a pest inspection before purchasing a home.

For example, My Termite Company points out, “In California, the Wood Destroying Organisms Report (WDO) does not include pest control. The report includes any termites, termite damage, fungus, fungus damage, dry rot, beetles, and carpenter ants- no pests. It also includes Section 2 findings, meaning any condition that can attract termites in the future such as excessive moisture, plumbing leaks, or earth to wood contact.”

patio-pest-inspection

patio-pest-inspection

5 benefits of having a termite or pest inspection

There are several benefits of having your home inspected for termites or pests.

1) Negotiating power. If the home you’re looking to buy ends up having damage from termites or pests, you’ll likely have better negotiating power. Your real estate agent can help you decide what negotiations to make. These negotiations may include asking the seller to reduce the price so you can pay for pest control services or asking the seller to pay for any repairs or fumigation services before you close on the home.

2) Peace of mind. These inspections will be able to tell you if there’s any structural damage from pests or termites. Your inspector will disclose any issues they find. Then you’ll have an idea of what kind of maintenance you might need as the home’s future owner. 

3) Save money. Moving into a new home can feel like the dream, but it’s always a good idea to know what you’re getting yourself into. Without a pest or termite inspection, you may be foregoing a critical type of home inspection that may end up costing you more money down the road if a problem is left untreated.

4) Prepare for future expenses. If your pest or termite inspector finds certain types of pests in the home you’ll have a better idea of what to look out for as a homeowner. That way, you will know if your new home or the area you’ve moved to is susceptible to specific pests. It will also help you to plan ahead for any costs associated with keeping these pests away.

5) Find a local pest control company. Say your home is more susceptible to termites because you’re buying a house in a more humid area, or that spiders or mice are more common in your county. The good news is you’ve found a local pest control company to help you schedule regular maintenance. You’ll know just who to call for help if any critters start appearing in your house.

What to expect during a pest inspection

The inspection will take roughly 30 minutes but can vary based on the size of the home and whether there’s a basement, crawl space, or any extra areas. The inspector will examine the interior and exterior of the home for any signs of damage, infestation, or specific areas that might be more susceptible to pests. They’ll check for any signs of moisture. Damaged wood or buckled paint indicate the presence of wood-destroying insects like termites. They are more likely to be found in these areas vulnerable areas.

Green Pest Services provides the advice, “When scheduling an inspection, pest control experts will typically need to know the following details about the property including: square footage, number of floors, any current pest concerns and their locations within the home, and, of course, the address. Knowing these details will help prepare your pest expert for their visit. It can even provide insight as to what particular areas of the home may be at risk of pest invasions and, therefore, could use additional attention.”

The inspector will check for a variety of different bugs such as carpenter ants, fleas, mosquitos, and moths, among others. Where you are located may also play a role in the types of pests your inspector will look for. Some pests are more likely to be found in certain areas or are local to your region. If these types of local pests are found during the inspection, your pest inspector may recommend regular pest control to keep these critters at bay. 

Source: redfin.com