Why a Buyer Needs An Independent Inspection at Closing

Why a Buyer Needs An Independent Inspection at ClosingMany sellers hire inspectors and appraisers to value their home prior to placing it on the market. It’s important for buyers to hire their own inspector to get an independent opinion. If a buyer orders an inspection before the sale goes through, the seller may have to resolve any issues that arise. If you forego the inspection, you inherit any problems that come with the house.

Importance Of Inspections

Homes aren’t always well cared for and it’s relatively easy for an unethical owner to paint over a water stain rather than fix a leaky faucet. Clunky furnaces and loud A/C units are symptoms of equipment the owner hasn’t maintained, but it isn’t the only issue that can arise. From hidden mold to lead pipes, there are hundreds of things that could be wrong that a layman wouldn’t notice in a walk-through.

Buyers should include a clause in the written offer that makes the sale conditional on an inspection. This gives you the freedom to walk away if the report comes back negative. Alternately, you can lower the offer price or ask the seller to pay for repairs.

Inspection Process

There’s no uniform process for conducting an inspection. Generally, it includes a report of the heating and cooling systems, plumbing, electrical system, flooring, ceilings, roofing, drainage, foundation and basement, where applicable.

Most states don’t offer a licensing process for inspectors. This means that you might not get a comprehensive opinion on other issues, including termites, lead, rodents, asbestos or methane gas. You can ask for the inspector’s opinion, then hire someone who specializes in the areas of concern.

For example, if the inspector suspects a rodent issue, you can ask a pest control company to inspect the property and provide an estimate to resolve any issue.

What’s Not Covered

The inspector is looking for serious issues, so don’t expect every scratch and ding to appear on the report. If you’d like a greater deal of control over the process, you may be to request to walk through the property during the inspection. However, most sellers are reluctant to allow this for a variety of reasons and it may increase your inspection fee.

Ordering an independent inspection gives buyers important insight into defects in the home they are about to purchase. Foregoing an inspection to save a few hundred dollars could end up costing you a lot more if issues come up after you move in.

Your trusted mortgage professional works with inspectors and appraisers on a regular basis. When the time comes to schedule an inspection, be sure to ask for a referral.

6 Ways To Find the Right Neighborhood For Your Lifestyle

6 Ways To Find the Right Neighborhood For Your LifestyleChoosing a neighborhood you live in is almost as important as the house you buy. The right neighborhood can make your house feel even more like a home. But how do you find the right neighborhood to shop for your next home?

1. Evaluate Your Own Lifestyle

The first step in finding the right neighborhood is to figure out what you’re really looking for. Do you crave a sense of community, or do you prefer not seeing any other houses when you open your front door? Knowing yourself is the key to identifying what kind of neighborhood you’ll be most happy in.

2. Are There Children In The Picture?

If you have kids now or are planning to have some in the future, that will impact your choice of neighborhoods. You’ll want your children to have neighborhood friends. You’ll also want to know your kids are safe playing outside. Look for neighborhoods where families reside. Ask your real estate agent about the quality of local schools.

3. Would You Prefer A Single Family Home Or A Townhouse?

Different neighborhoods have different housing types. You can often do a process of elimination by pre-determining what kind of home you’re looking for. This is something that your real estate agent can do for you.

4. What Will Your Commute Look Like?

You’ll be going to work everyday. That will significantly impact your daily lifestyle. Pin your work address on a map. Then draw a ring around it that represents the distance you’re willing to commute. Neighborhoods within that circle will be candidates.

5. Are You Looking For Nightlife?

If you want to be able to walk out your door and land at a cafe, bookstore, shopping center, bar or someplace else, then your neighborhood will need to reflect that desire. Avoid buying in an area where everything is a 20-minute drive. Your real estate agent will be able to apprise you of neighborhood culture so you’ll have a better idea of where to buy.

6. What Do You Miss Most?

Is your current neighborhood lacking something, such as bike trails, a park or community events? Seek these out when you go home shopping so your life feels more complete when you move.

These six tips will help you find the best neighborhood for the way you want to live. Remember, your real estate agent is knowledgeable about the various neighborhoods in their service area. Use your agent as a valuable resource while you search for that perfect home.

Don’t forget one of the most important factors: what you can afford. Your trusted mortgage professional is ready to help you get pre-approved.

4 Important Reasons Why You Should Consider Buying A Green Home

4 Important Reasons Why You Should Consider Buying A Green HomeBuying a home is one of the most important decisions you can make. There are many decisions involved in choosing the right home from picking a real estate agent, to figuring out what type of home will suit your needs. You want the right sized rooms, a floor plan that fits your family, and certain home features you know you can’t live without.

With all the decisions you have to make surrounding your new place to live, you may want to consider buying a green home. Green homes can be a little more expensive up front, but over time they can save you money and pay for the upgrades. These are several reasons for deciding to buy a green home.

Air Quality And Health

Green homes are built with better air quality in mind. The materials used to build green homes improve the indoor air quality of your home. Furthermore, green homes are built to encourage indoor plant growth. Plants help clean our indoor air and reduce pollution and are an essential part of any green home.

Saving Water

Green homes are also built to conserve water. Buying a green home will cause you to use 30%-50% less water than in a conventional home. Conserving as much water as possible has become more important now than ever before and purchasing a green home can help you use less water.

Use Less Energy With A Green Home

Everyone would love to save money on their heating and electric bills. With a green home, you can do exactly that. Green homes use nearly 30% less energy and have over 30% less greenhouse gas emissions. This translates to savings on your utility bills every month.

Increase The Resale Value Of Your Home

A home isn’t only a place to live, but it’s also an investment. Purchasing a green home can be viewed as a wise investment, as many people consider green homes appealing. They’re attractive for their many cost saving and natural features, besides offering more sustainable living. For these reasons, your green home may increase in resale value.

There are many direct benefits to you by purchasing a green home. Not only do they help the environment, but they are good for your health and your energy bills. Consider making your next home a green home.

If you are in the market for a green home in your area, be sure to contact us for financing options and a pre-approval.

5 Strategies Millennials Can Use To Buy Homes

5 Strategies Millennials Can Use To Buy HomesMillennials face numerous challenges when buying their first homes. 55% of young adults between 25 and 34 years old don’t own homes as compared to 80% in 1967, according to data from the Census Bureau.

Buying a home is tough with the $1.4 trillion student loan debt, growing childcare expenses and rising rental costs. However, hope is not lost. Millennials can realize the quintessential dream of owning a home.

Millennials can employ several strategies to plan for home ownership without selling their kidneys. Here are five ways to do just that.

Develop A Realistic Budget 

Now is a great time to examine your finances and create a budget for a house you can really afford. Lenders may be able to approve you for a larger loan amount than what you thought possible. Therefore, it’s imperative to be realistic when deciding on the amount of home mortgage payment you can afford comfortably per month.

Make Sacrifices 

Not long ago, someone said (and probably regretted) Millennials can’t save enough to buy homes because they are spend extravagantly. Well, saving thousands of dollars for down payment isn’t easy, but it’s not impossible either. And there are many low to no down payment programs available if you check with your trusted mortgage professional first.

You may have to sacrifice and cut unnecessary expenditures such as buying new outfits and even getting a new car. Living minimally can help pad your personal savings to propel you into owning a house.

Consider The Suburbs 

Although it’s vital to stay near family and a lively social location, consider purchasing a house in a suburban area, where houses are typically more affordable. Plus, if you have pets they will love the larger lots and yards giving them space to play.

You can choose a less populated state where you will probably have a higher chance of affording a home. Although this may not be ideal, if owning your own place tops your list, then location will not stand in the way.

Use State And Federal Programs 

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) gives home buyers the chance to purchase houses with a very low down payment. This lower amount is quite attainable if you save toward this goal.  Some states also offer supplemental programs beyond the FHA program. Find out whether you can access extra grants and subsidies.

Get Your Hustle In Gear 

Although most millennials struggle with unemployment, if you have one job, look for other ways to make extra dollars. You may consider driving for rideshare services, freelance gigs and running errands for people as a way to temporarily boost your earning potential.

Owning a place to call home is great. Like anyone else millennials can buy homes. Talk to a home finance expert and your trusted mortgage professional for more information on how you can make your best investment.

Buy Or Build Your Home? 5 Factors To Consider

Buy Or Build Your Home? 5 Factors To ConsiderA home is one of the biggest investments you can make, and the American Dream for many. Most people spend significant time finding or designing their “dream home.” The first decision is whether to buy or build.

As of September 2018, the average sales price of a new home was $377,200, according to joint data collected from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Existing homes sales price was approximately $258,100, according to the National Association of Realtors.

New homes attract bigger prices than existing ones, meaning building costs are also high. So, how do you decide what is best for you?

Here are five factors to consider.

Time 

Building a home takes time since you must complete several phases. You must buy land, find an architect to design, get building permits, find a contractor and start building. It can take between six months and a year before you move into your new home.

Buying an existing home shortens that time. For a new house, you can move in once the escrow closes. Older homes may require renovations, but it won’t take long.

Home Design 

Building your home gives you the benefit of customization. Working with your architect, you can design your dream home to reflect your taste and preference. Buying an existing home, means you may have to compromise on a few aspects.

Energy Efficiency 

Rising energy costs is a concern to potential homeowners. Designing your own home means you can incorporate measures to be energy efficient. Buying an old home may require more resources to upgrade. That might end up hitting your wallet harder.

Fortunately, most homebuilders are responding to market demands for energy efficient homes. Most new homes meet these standards.

Budget 

Budget is an important consideration when buying or building your home. Buying price reflects the value of the house. Your real estate agent will probably give you payment options.

Building, on the other hand, means you have to juggle a budget constantly throughout the construction period. It is not uncommon to spend more than you budgeted for initially.

Even if you decide to find a perfect existing home, you may finally opt to build. Conversely, you may strategize to build and later choose to buy an existing home. In both cases, working with qualified professionals such as a trusted mortgage lender, real estate agent or a builder can make the process seamless.

 

Guide to Quartz, Granite and Laminate Countertops

Guide to Quartz, Granite and Laminate CountertopsIt can be confusing choosing the right countertop material for your kitchen. Here is a list of some common countertop materials along with their pros and cons. Knowing the differences will help you choose the right material to serve your needs.

Quartz Countertops

Quartz is available in different colors and can have a luxurious appearance because it is a manufactured product. It is durable, which means it will not chip or crack as easily as natural stones. Quartz countertops have a non-porous surface which makes it easy to maintain by being stain resistant and it not harboring bacteria or viruses. Some may decide to stay away from Quartz since the price tag will be similar to natural stones while having a more contemporary look and not being as heat resistant as natural stones.

Granite Countertops

Granite is a natural stone product. It is most often chosen for its ability to deliver a luxurious look to any kitchen. Granite is able to withstand hard use and will not scratch even when cutting directly on it with a sharp knife. It is heat resistant, which means placing a hot pot from the stove onto the counter will not damage the stone. However, since Granite is porous, it can absorb liquids such as wine, juice, or oil that will create a permanent stain. The key to avoiding such stains is maintenance, the Granite countertop will need to be sealed once a year or depending on usage to cover the pores. A poorly sealed surface can also harbour bacteria in the pores.

Laminate Countertops

One of the biggest advantages of laminate countertops is that it can look like a natural stone countertop at only a fraction of the price. Laminate does not require any special products or maintenance such as sealing; it can withstand everyday use, and be replaced at a low cost. On the other hand, you need to be cautious with laminate. These countertops can be easily cut or scratched and they are not resistant to heat, placing a hot pot directly onto it can lead to a burn mark or discoloration.

With many countertop materials to choose from, it can be difficult to make a decision. Some of the more important questions to consider are porous or non-porous, durability, and price. At the end of the day you should chose something that fits your needs.

If you would like to purchase a new home or to refinance your current property, be sure to contact your trusted mortgage professional.

5 Real Estate Professionals Who Assist You When You Buy Your First Home

5 Real Estate Professionals Who Assist You When You Buy Your First HomeSo you’re set to buy your first house. But where do you begin?

Buying a house for the first time can be nerve-racking. Most advice articles often concentrate on the steps involved in buying a house. To streamline things, let’s focus on the people who will likely be involved in your purchase transaction.

Concentrating on the finding the right professionals can help you navigate the entire buying process easier and more comfortably. Most people start with their home loan financing or locating a property with a real estate agent. Many of the other people involved in the transaction will be referred by these two important folks.

Apart from you and the seller, a number of other people will probably get involved. Some of them get involved throughout the whole process, others pop in and out, while others are optional. Below is an overview of five people involved.

Mortgage Loan Officer

First-time home buyers rarely pay all cash for their property. Most of them borrow money to purchase the property. As such, your mortgage loan officer becomes part of the process from the start to the end. From the moment you inquire if you can afford to the time of transferring ownership, your loan officer will be there.

Real Estate Agent

Most first-time buyers employ a real estate agent to assist them purchase their houses. Agents can help you find the house, draft your offer and advise you on ways to negotiate with the seller. They will likely help you circumnavigate through inspection and closing steps.

Settlement Agent

A settlement agent or a closing agent becomes involved from the moment you reach an agreement with the seller until the transfer of ownership is complete. In most cases, a settlement agent is most involved in the last days before you assume ownership.

Home Inspector

Home inspectors get involved for a short period of time. Most of them pop in, carry out an inspection, write a report and they’re gone. You may never hear from your inspector again. Your real estate agent or mortgage loan officer will most likely be able to recommend a trustworthy home inspector.

Appraiser

Mortgage lenders usually ask appraisers to estimate the market value of the house you’re purchasing. An appraiser makes sure that your lender isn’t advancing you more money than the actual market value of the house. Though the appraiser reports to your lender, you usually pay for the appraisal in your home loan closing costs.

Please keep in mind that legal requirements for transferring house ownership vary from one state to another. For instance, some states require a real estate attorney in the transfer of ownership. Check with your preferred real estate professional to get the details in your local market.

If you are in the market for a new home or interested in refinancing your current property, be sure to contact us today.

5 Home-Buying Pitfalls To Avoid

5 Home-Buying Pitfalls To AvoidBuying your home can be nerve-racking, especially if it’s the first time. The buying process is exciting and often complex. The chances of making a mistake are relatively high.

In today’s real estate market where demand surpasses supply, you can’t afford to make mistakes. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. If you are in the market to buy a house, here are five pitfalls avoid.

Not Doing Your Homework Well 

Fortune favors the prepared in real estate. And preparedness begins with understanding your finances. A wise buyer examines assets, analyzes debts and gets finances pre-approved before jumping into the house hunt.

Know the neighborhood well, since you’re also buying a location. It’s paramount to research about the quality of schools, upcoming zoning issues and crime level. Not all suburb spots are ideal to live in.

Picking The Wrong Mortgage 

Getting your loan pre-approved puts you in a better position to negotiate. Find out how much property you can afford. Don’t rely on your bank’s internet site only. Instead, use calculators and consult with your trusted mortgage professional to find out how much you can borrow.

It’s worth noting that what banks show they can lend can differ with what they will lend. As such, it’s imperative to choose your mortgage carefully. Compare offers from various banks or consult an independent finance broker.

Going With The Market Flow 

Resist the temptation to flow with the market rather than your needs. The real estate market goes in cycles. There are times suitable for buyers, and times suitable for sellers.

However, don’t gamble with your future by sitting and waiting for the right time. Once you know your budget, get your finances organized, think about your needs now and in future. Then use short term market conditions to make long-term lifestyle choices.

Exceeding Your Budget 

Most homebuyers fall for the trap of picking more appealing properties that cost more than their budgets. Falling into this pitfall can derail your future finances.

Although it’s human nature to yearn for more than we can afford, resist the desire. Surpassing your budget exposes you to potential financial shocks with bigger payments, property taxes and more.

Falling In Love 

If you find the perfect house, keep it to yourself. Don’t let the sellers read your emotions. If they do, they may use them against you while negotiating.

Wise buyers know there are several homes out there, and there is one that’s right for them. And if you can’t afford one or your offer isn’t accepted, keep looking and move on.

Buying a home is rejuvenating. However, if you’re not careful, you can make mistakes you may regret later. Consult with your trusted real estate expert and trusted mortgage professional to get the best advice for your situation.

 

 

5 Trends Shaping Green Homes

5 Trends Shaping Green HomesThink green home design is a fad? Well, think again. Sustainable home designs are gaining popularity at a breakneck speed. In 2017, green homes accounted for more than 60 percent of family home builder’s portfolios, according to a survey conducted by the National Association of Home Builders.

But what is really driving green home designs? In this post, we explore five trends shaping sustainable homes.

1. Energy Efficiency 

Home designs that cater to consumers’ need to reduce utility bills continue taking center stage. From net-zero energy homes to energy conserving products, home buyers want to save money. Moving forward, industry experts predict that ultra-efficient building designs like net-zero-energy or passive home designs will continue dominating the industry.

2. Health 

Most home buyers are more aware of the dangers of chemicals than before. As such, most of them are seeking non-toxic interior products. The manufacturing industry trend is leaning towards healthier materials. As the demand rises and prices stabilize, these products are more likely to be game changers. Most home designs will probably focus on eliminating troublesome chemicals such as VOC paints and phthalate free flooring.

3. Home Performance And Monitoring 

Home energy audits are major factors considered by consumers, and home performance is key. Some cities like Austin expect new homes to undergo performance tests before recommendation for resale.

Energy software programs allow home builders and remodelers to monitor how slight changes in home designs can save thousands of dollars in utility bills. Homeowners are also benefiting from energy monitoring devices to track their household energy consumption.

4. Water Efficiency 

80 percent of American states anticipate water shortages in a few years, says a Government Accountability Office survey. Therefore, wise water usage is becoming crucial as consumers demand for water efficient homes. Most builders are already getting their homes HERS Rated as consumers look for ways to save dollars from rising water prices.

5. Biophilic Home Designs 

Nature is beneficial to us biologically, physically and psychologically. However, in the last century, home designs separated us from nature. Today, biophilic designs (connected to nature) strive to reverse that by integrating nature into homes. Modern building can capture the sun’s movement using windows, architectural details and patterns, connecting us to the season, time of day and our inner biorhythms.

If you are in the market for a green home, be sure to contact your trusted mortgage professional for a financing pre-approval!

3 Millennial Home-Buying Trends Sellers Should Know

3 Millennial Home-Buying Trends Sellers Should KnowAfter five consecutive years of Millennials outpacing all other home-buying demographics, sellers would be wise to wrap their thinking around what makes this generation tick.

According to a 2018 Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends research study, Millennials purchased more than one-third of all homes in 2017. With home purchases totaling approximately 36 percent of the market in 2018, this class of buyer has increased its market share from 34 percent in 2017.

Taken as a whole, the previously formidable Baby Boomers ranging from 52-70 years old enjoyed only a 32-percent market share. GenXers declined from 28 percent in 2017 to 26 percent in 2018.

With the relatively young Millennials still not fully engaged in the real estate market, expectations are that this group could set the tone for decades.

Millennials Have Improved Buying Power

If you accept the Pew Research Centre definition of Millennials, then they were born between 1981 and 1996. That means the entire population is currently at or past the age of college graduation.

Other research indicates that they enjoy an average annual income that has trended up from $82,000 in 2017 to $88,000 in 2018. That means their overall income outran the estimated inflation rate of about 2.1 percent. Not every group can boast that claim.

With the older end of the group now over 30 years old and the younger swath advancing into careers, sellers may want to plan for spare-no-expense Millennial buyers. The average home they purchased in 2017 was $205,000. In 2018, the average rose to $220,000. They apparently are not shy about spending more on a house they like.

Single Millennial Women Are Buying More Homes

Young single females are making a run at home-buying supremacy. According to recent data, single women purchased approximately 18 percent of all homes in 2017. The figure is more than double that of single males, although married couples remain in the top spot.

The average age of single female buyers stands at 28 years old, and their home loans exceeded $175,000. Appraised values reportedly topped $210,000. Sellers may want to consider a more single female-oriented aesthetic moving forward.

Millennials Willing To Pay For More Space

There are two telling reasons why many Millennials are inclined to bypass traditional starter homes and pay for larger ones.

The first reason goes to the age of the older Millennials. At about 36 years old, they entered into adulthood during a painful economic period. High unemployment and a sluggish economy persuaded older Millennials to either wait or hunker down in a small starter home. That group now has equity in the property or money in the bank. With a hot economy and rising wages, larger homes make affordable sense.

Younger Millennials, by contrast, are entering the workforce during a full-blown economic revival. Jobs are plentiful, and employers are competing with wages to secure workers. The robust economic landscape allows many young professionals to afford larger homes. With that in mind, sellers may want to upgrade outdoor patios and consider taking down a wall or two to create an open floor plan.

If you are a homeowner interested in listing a property, speak with a real estate professional about what Millennials in your area want in a home. Millennial home buyers are changing the industry. If you are a Millennial in the market for a property, be sure to contact us for a pre-approval!