Tag Archives: First time home buyer advice

The Home Buying Process

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The Home Buying Process

Basic guidelines for the first time home buyer and the home buying process, simplified.

by Tracy Tkac

Even when you love the house, making an offer to purchase it can be intimidating, it’s a big commitment that will require a chunk of your financial resources. It’s also exciting and wonderful! You will be building equity and getting tax breaks for mortgage payments, but importantly , you will have a place of your own to do with what you wish. When you make  improvements to your home, you will likely make a return on your investment while you enjoy living in your home. Most of all, your home will be the place where you will build memories and entertain friends and family. You will make your house into your lovely home. Below are the basic guidelines and the home buying process simplified.

 Making an offer

Even though it’s early in the buying process, you still must sign a legally binding contract. With your signature, you’re committing to moving ahead with the seller. Keep in mind you can add contingencies to many real estate contracts. For example, most real estate buying offers will be contingent on a property inspection, radon inspection, loan approval, appraisal and sometimes other matters. Such contingencies enable buyers to opt out of the contract if unexpected problems or concerns pop up.

 Disclosures

In most states, sellers are legally required to provide buyers with disclosure documents including any know defects, lead based paint information, real tax bills from the current year and the estimated property tax bill for the next year. In addition, sellers must disclose any known issues that might affect the property’s value or habitability. Usually, in a transfer disclosure statement, sellers must answer a series of “yes” or “no” questions about the property, and provide the neighborhood homeowners association/ or condo information. If there have been leaky windows,  work done without permits or plans for a major nearby development, the seller must disclose them. You will have the opportunity to view the areas master plan and the will be provided with a list of nearby airports. The disclosures will need to be signed by the purchaser and will become part of the offer to purchase and then after all terms are agreed to, they will be part of the contract.

The appraisal

Most buyers put a certain amount of money down toward the purchase price. The balance will come in the form of a bank loan (usually). But a bank isn’t going to hand over that money without due diligence. An appraisal is the financial institution’s way of making sure the contract price is the right price. So the lender sends out a third-party appraiser, which the buyer pays for, to confirm that the contract price is in line with the neighborhood’s comparable sales. If it’s not, the bank can deny the loan or change the terms.If a property does not appraise, the contract price can be renegotiated or contract voided.

Inspections

As part of the real estate contract, you have the right to a property inspection The most common is a “general” property inspection, in which the inspector checks the home from the foundation to the roof and investigates all major systems and components. As the buyer, you should follow along with the inspector to learn more about the property. For example, you’ll want to know about the components (such as the water heater) and have a plan in place for maintenance.

After the general property inspection, the inspector may suggest having a specialist come out. This could be a roofer, electrician, HVAC specialist or even an engineer. Listen to the inspector and have any recommended follow-up inspections. Remember: This is your one chance to approve the property from top to bottom. If issues arise, you may be able to negotiate repair or a buyer credit.  If something major arises and it’s not what you signed up for, you can void the contract via your inspection contingency.

Loan approval or commitment

In addition to making certain the property appraises at no less than the contract price, the bank will want to fully approve your credit, debt and income history. The bank will also want to approve the property’s preliminary title report to make sure there are no liens recorded against the property that might affect its value. The bank can take up to 30 days to complete its review, which should result in a loan commitment or full loan approval. Once that’s completed to the bank’s satisfaction, you’re guaranteed a loan, and you’re one step closer to closing.

Final walk-through

Just before closing, you will do a final walk through in the property to make sure it’s in the condition it was when you last saw it. Make sure the seller didn’t remove any fixtures, make modifications or leave behind garbage or debris. You also want to be sure any fixes you negotiated with the seller have been completed.

The closing

Depending on the market, the last step of the home buying process, the closing or the settlement, may happen at an attorney’s office or at a title company. In some situations, the buyer and seller don’t ever meet. Each goes in to sign their closing papers separately. In others, the buyers and sellers sign the closing documents together. Regardless of how a closing happens, if you’re a buyer and getting a loan, plan on signing dozens of documents at closing. You’ll need to show photo ID, as your signature will be notarized. Prior to the closing, your real estate agent or attorney should send over a closing statement to review. The statement details your final closing costs and the money you need to bring to the closing. The funds can be wired in or paid with a cashier’s check on closing day. Be sure to ask for the statement early, so there aren’t any last-minute surprises.

The home buying process will go more smoothly when guided by an experienced real estate professional.

 

The 3% down payment mortgage makes a comeback

The 3% down payment mortgage makes a comeback

Don’t count out millennials

In an effort to open up lending to more low-income and first time home buyers, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced Monday that they will start backing mortgages with down payments of as little as 3% of the home’s price.

But borrowers will still need to meet strict criteria first, the two government-backed mortgage giants said.

The new loans will only be doled out to those who buy private mortgage insurance, have a credit score of at least 620 and offer complete documentation of their income, assets and job status. And, to further mitigate risk, the agencies will require borrowers to receive home ownership counseling.

Both programs are for fixed-rate loans given to first time homebuyers and those seeking to refinance. Fannie will start backing the loans as soon as December 13, while Freddie will start offering them March 23.

The move should expand access to credit for first-time homebuyers, typically younger buyers who have not have had enough time to save a big lump sum.

Fannie and Freddie already back mortgages with as low as 5% down. And the Federal Housing Administration insures 3.5% loans.

Still, according to Mark Palim, who directs economic and strategic research at Fannie Mae, it’s a welcome expansion of credit.

“It’s not a radical departure from what we’re doing now, but anything at the margins helps,” he said.

The 3% loans from Fannie and Freddie should also offer some advantages over the 3.5% down loans offered by FHA, according to Palim.

For example, the FHA loans require borrowers to pay for private mortgage insurance premiums for the entire term of the mortgage — typically 30 years. That means adding an extra 1.35 percentage points to monthly mortgage rates. A loan carrying a 4% rate, for example, becomes a 5.35% mortgage.

Related Best cities for Millennial home buyers

In dollars, that’s about an extra $80 a month for every $100,000 borrowed or $960 a year. That adds up to nearly $30,000 over the life of the loan.

Under Fannie and Freddie’s programs, borrowers are permitted to cancel their private mortgage insurance premiums once the mortgage balance drops below 80% of the home’s value — either because they’ve made enough payments or the home’s value has risen.

If home prices increase 5% a year for three or four years, for example, these borrowers may be able to cancel their insurance and save them tens of thousands of dollars over the next 26 or 27 years.

December 8, 2014: 6:24 PM ET

New Mortgage Rules

Some Builders Like New Mortgage Rules, But Toll Calls Them “Dumb

A Pulte home being built in Phoenix.
Getty Images

Some home builders are heralding federal regulators’ move this week to ease mortgage-qualification standards  as a key to reviving the entry-level market but at least one is panning it as a return to dangerous lending.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency indicated this week it will expand mortgage availability with changes such as allowing borrowers to make a down payment of 3% of a loan’s value rather than the typical 20% for a high-quality mortgage.

On Thursday, two national builders reporting quarterly results touted the change as key to bringing first-time buyers back into the market. First-time buyers accounted for an average of 29% of new home sales from 2001 to 2011, according to the National Association of Home Builders. But this year that figure has dropped to an estimated 16% , because of tepid job and wage growth, mounting student debt and tight lending standards.

“I don’t think anybody is a proponent for going back to what happened in 2006 or 2007 at all, but a little common sense goes a long way,” said Larry Nicholson, chief executive of builder Ryland Group Inc., in a conference call with investors Thursday, adding, “I do think it helps the entry-level buyer with the 97% (loan-to-value) program. I think that will get some people off the fence.”

Richard Dugas, CEO of builder PulteGroup Inc., called the proposed changes “a positive statement” during his quarterly conference call with investors on Thursday. “Over time, as some of these ideas get put into practice, it certainly has the potential to affect activity, particularly for the entry-level category,” Mr. Dugas said.

But a different view was expressed Wednesday by Robert Toll, founder and executive chairman of luxury home builder Toll Brothers Inc., during remarks at a Urban Land Institute conferencein New York. He called the proposed loosening of credit standards “a really dumb-ass idea.”

“Yeah, we have a slow recovery, but it appears to be going to continue,” Mr. Toll said, adding, “Why do we want to go do what got us into this problem in the first place? … Three percent down doesn’t make any sense.”

Mr. Toll concluded that lenders have required a 20% down payment on top-rated mortgages for decades “and we had a hell of a housing program.”

Mr. Toll has a little less at risk than do other homebuilders. His company caters to affluent buyers, selling homes at an average price of $717,000. Pulte and Ryland, by contrast, serve more entry-level buyers than Toll, though they sell to others as well.

Quarterly results released by Pulte and Ryland on Thursday reflected a new-home market that remains stuck between neutral and slow growth. Pulte reported inking 3,779 sales contracts in its third quarter, flat from the year-ago period when analysts expected a gain of 5%. Ryland posted a 7.2% increase in orders to 1,707 when analysts expected a double-digit gain.

Ryland’s average selling price registered $331,000, up 11.1% from a year earlier after gains in the high teen percentages earlier in 2014, according to Raymond James & Associates analyst Buck Horne.

Toll, for its part, reported in September a 6% decline in orders in its latest quarter, which ended July 31.

Why You Should Get Off the Fence About Buying a Home

Community: Alexandria, VA 22314

Why You Should Get Off the Fence About Buying a Home

 

As the housing market continues to stabilize and show more signs of health and improved conditions, you might be thinking more seriously about purchasing a home, right? Here are some reasons why it’s (still) a good idea to get off the fence — sooner, rather than later and Why You Should Get Off the Fence About Buying a Home.

Mortgage rates are (still) low

During the recession, the rate on the 30-year, fixed-rate loan averaged 4.32 percent. Now, rates are close to that, and there’s no recession! That means they’ve got nowhere to go but up — particularly because the Federal Reserve is expected to end its bond-buying program, which has been credited with pushing mortgage rates to historic lows, in October.

Granted, rates aren’t expected to skyrocket overnight, but don’t think that a small uptick wouldn’t affect your budget. In fact, if rates were to go up by just 1 percentage point, your purchasing power would be reduced by a whopping 11 percent. To put this in further perspective: If you could afford a $400,000 loan at 4 percent mortgage rates, you could afford a loan of just $356,000 at 5 percent. An even smaller rise in rates — say from 4.5 percent to 5 percent — would add $75 to the monthly payment on a $300,000 house with $50,000 down. To see how much waiting could cost you, specifically, check out Zillow’s recent analysis here.

Home prices are (still) affordable    

While home prices, nationally, continue to rise, up nearly 7 percent from July 2013, they are still 11 percent below their 2007 peak. And get this: Home buying is more affordable now than ever before. According to a recent Zillow analysis, U.S. home buyers at the end of the second quarter spent 15.3 percent of their incomes on a mortgage, far less than the 22.1 percent share homeowners devoted to mortgages in the pre-bubble days. This situation won’t last forever, especially as mortgage rates continue to rise.

Buying is (still) cheaper than renting

No doubt, buying a house is a significant purchase, but in a majority of the country, it’s (still) cheaper than renting. In fact, in half of metros in the U.S., buying beats renting after only two years. This can be attributed to historically high rental prices that have helped skew the rent vs. buy decision toward buying for those who can afford it. So if you can afford to buy, now is the time as rents aren’t getting any cheaper!

 

AUTHOR:

The Home Buying Process

GetMedia

The Home Buying Process

by Tracy Tkac

Washington Homes Group

www.washingtonhg.com

Even when you love the house, making an offer to purchase it can be intimidating; it’s a big commitment that will require a chunk of your financial resources. It’s also exciting and wonderful! You will be building equity and getting tax breaks for mortgage payments, but importantly , you will have a place of your own to do with what you wish. When you make  improvements to your home, you will likely make a return on your investment while you enjoy living in your home. Most of all, your home will be the place where you will build memories and entertain friends and family. You will make your house into your lovely home. Below are the basic guidelines and the home buying process simplified.

 Making an offer

Even though it’s early in the buying process, you still must sign a legally binding contract. With your signature, you’re committing to moving ahead with the seller. Keep in mind you can add contingencies to many real estate contracts. For example, most real estate buying offers will be contingent on a property inspection, radon inspection, loan approval, appraisal and sometimes other matters. Such contingencies enable buyers to opt out of the contract if unexpected problems or concerns pop up.

 Disclosures

In most states, sellers are legally required to provide buyers with disclosure documents including any know defects, lead based paint information, real tax bills from the current year and the estimated property tax bill for the next year. In addition, sellers must disclose any known issues that might affect the property’s value or habitability. Usually, in a transfer disclosure statement, sellers must answer a series of “yes” or “no” questions about the property, and provide the neighborhood homeowners association/ or condo information. If there have been leaky windows,  work done without permits or plans for a major nearby development, the seller must disclose them. You will have the opportunity to view the areas master plan and the will be provided with a list of nearby airports. The disclosures will need to be signed by the purchaser and will become part of the offer to purchase and then after all terms are agreed to, they will be part of the contract.

The appraisal

Most buyers put a certain amount of money down toward the purchase price. The balance will come in the form of a bank loan (usually). But a bank isn’t going to hand over that money without due diligence. An appraisal is the financial institution’s way of making sure the contract price is the right price. So the lender sends out a third-party appraiser, which the buyer pays for, to confirm that the contract price is in line with the neighborhood’s comparable sales. If it’s not, the bank can deny the loan or change the terms.If a property does not appraise, the contract price can be renegotiated or contract voided.

Inspections

As part of the real estate contract, you have the right to a property inspection The most common is a “general” property inspection, in which the inspector checks the home from the foundation to the roof and investigates all major systems and components. As the buyer, you should follow along with the inspector to learn more about the property. For example, you’ll want to know about the components (such as the water heater) and have a plan in place for maintenance.

After the general property inspection, the inspector may suggest having a specialist come out. This could be a roofer, electrician, HVAC specialist or even an engineer. Listen to the inspector and have any recommended follow-up inspections. Remember: This is your one chance to approve the property from top to bottom. If issues arise, you may be able to negotiate repair or a buyer credit.  If something major arises and it’s not what you signed up for, you can void the contract via your inspection contingency.

Loan approval or commitment

In addition to making certain the property appraises at no less than the contract price, the bank will want to fully approve your credit, debt and income history. The bank will also want to approve the property’s preliminary title report to make sure there are no liens recorded against the property that might affect its value. The bank can take up to 30 days to complete its review, which should result in a loan commitment or full loan approval. Once that’s completed to the bank’s satisfaction, you’re guaranteed a loan, and you’re one step closer to closing.

Final walk-through

Just before closing, you will do a final walk through in the property to make sure it’s in the condition it was when you last saw it. Make sure the seller didn’t remove any fixtures, make modifications or leave behind garbage or debris. You also want to be sure any fixes you negotiated with the seller have been completed.

The closing

Depending on the market, the closing may happen at an attorney’s office or at a title company. In some situations, the buyer and seller don’t ever meet. Each goes in to sign their closing papers separately. In others, the buyers and sellers sign the closing documents together. Regardless of how a closing happens, if you’re a buyer and getting a loan, plan on signing dozens of documents at closing. You’ll need to show photo ID, as your signature will be notarized. Prior to the closing, your real estate agent or attorney should send over a closing statement to review. The statement details your final closing costs and the money you need to bring to the closing. The funds can be wired in or paid with a cashier’s check on closing day. Be sure to ask for the statement early, so there aren’t any last-minute surprises.

Why Use A Real Estate Agent?

Why Use A Real Estate Agent? The road to homeownership can be bumpy, and it’s often filled with unexpected turns and detours. That’s why it makes sense to have a real estate pro help guide the way.

According to the National Association of Realtors 2013 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 88 percent of buyers purchase their homes through real estate agents or brokers. That reliance on real estate professionals has steadily increased from 69 percent in 2001.

While real estate websites and mobile apps can help you identify houses you may be interested in, an experienced agent does much more.

Real estate agents:

1. Guide. Before you tour your first home, your agent will take time to learn more about your wants, needs, preferences, budget and motivation. A good real estate agent will help you narrow your search and identify your priorities.

2. Educate. You should expect your agent to provide data on the local home market and comparable sales. The home-buying process can be complicated. A good agent will explain the steps involved – in a manner that makes them understandable – and provide counsel along the way.

3. Network. An agent who is familiar with your target neighborhoods will often know about homes that are for sale – even before they’re officially listed. Experienced agents tend to know other agents in the area and have good working relationships with them; this can lead to smooth transactions. Your agent may also be able to refer you to trusted professionals including lenders, home inspectors and contractors.

4. Advocate. When you work with a buyer’s agent, their fiduciary responsibility is to you. That means you have an expert who is looking out for your best financial interests, an expert who’s contractually bound to do everything in their power to protect you. If you find yourself in a situation where the same agent represents both the buyer and seller, things can get trickier, advises Scottsdale, Arizona-based real estate agent Dru Bloomfield.

“A lot of people think they’ll get a lower price by going straight to the listing agent, but that’s always not true,” she says. “If I was representing both the buyer and seller, I’d be hard-pressed to take a low-ball offer to the seller. But, as a buyer’s agent I’d do it, because I have no emotional ties or fiduciary responsibility to the seller. Buyers should work with an agent who can fully represent them.”

5. Negotiate. Your agent will handle the details of the negotiation process, including the preparation of all necessary offer and counteroffer forms. Once your inspection is done, the agent can also help you negotiate for repairs. Even the most reasonable consumers can become distraught when battling over repair requests; an agent can do “the ask” without becoming overly emotional.

6. Manage minutia. The paperwork that goes along with a real estate transaction can be exhaustive. If you forget to initial a clause or check a box, all those documents will need to be resubmitted. A good real estate agent understands the associated deadlines and details and can help you navigate these complex documents.

7. Look out. Any number of pitfalls can kill a deal as it inches toward closing; perhaps the title of the house isn’t clear, the lender hasn’t met the financing deadline or the seller has failed to disclose a plumbing problem. An experienced real estate agent knows to watch for trouble before it’s too late, and can skillfully deal with challenges as they arise.

Professional real estate agents do so much more than drive clients around to look at homes. Find an agent you trust and with whom you feel comfortable working; you’re sure to benefit from their experience, knowledge of the local market and negotiation skills.

MN-AG739_CLUBHO_D_20140729163743

5 Smart Moves for a First Time Buyer

5 Smart Moves for a First Time Buyer

GetMedia-47Tracy Tkac

Washington Homes Group

www.WashingtonHG.com

301-437-8722

To get you started in the right direction, and this is just a start, here are a few tips that you should consider.

Get lender-qualified and find a good real estate agent

To start off, keep in mind that there are  5 smart moves to consider for a first time buyer should  in the Maryland, Virginia and Washington, DC real estate market.

Make sure to get qualified by a lender or loan officer to see what price range you can realistically afford. It will waste your time and you may be disappointed to learn that a home is out of your budget after you fall in love with it.

Talk with some real estate agents to find the right person to represent you in your transaction. It is in your best interest to sign with a buyer- broker agent, it does not cost you anything as the seller pays all commissions. Your agent can recommend a couple of good lenders to speak with.Your realtor will be your guide and partner though-out the process, make sure they are committed to you fully and knowledgeable about the area’s in which you are looking and the process. There are many procedural deadlines and paperwork that must be kept to date on, any slack could cost you money.

Once you’re qualified and have your price range estimate in hand, you’ll be able to spend your time shopping in neighborhoods that you can afford. But remember: Just because the bank says you can qualify for a certain amount, that doesn’t mean you should spend that amount. Make sure you can actually afford the monthly payment, along with all your other bills.

For real estate sales professionals, you should get referrals for a full-time agent or broker who sells at least five or more properties per year and is well-educated on the process and location where you plan to live. You should call references, check that the agent’s state sales license is up to date and interview them to make sure you’ll be comfortable working with them.

Make sure you plan to be a long-term owner

Once you know your price range and have looked at some properties, it’s time to make sure that you believe you can find a property that you will own for a minimum of a few years or can rent out if circumstances change.  The truth is, long-term real estate ownership can be a great way to earn wealth, but short-term ownership may or may not be a wise investment depending on where  you are buying and market conditions. The most important thing you can do, is educate yourself.  Do your homework: Talk to go to first-time buyer seminars, check out online material and read some books to learn what to avoid in the buying process. The more you educate yourself, the better the chances you have of buying a good investment and a  wonderful place to live!

Know the Process

Your agent should tell your exactly what you can expect from viewing property, making an offer, negotiating terms, important contingencies to include in your offer, inspections, repairs, loan process, appraisal, walk through and finally settlement.

Take your time

Make sure you have a full understanding of what the marketplace has to offer in your price range and that you know what you’re doing and even though buying a home can be stressful, that you are as comfortable as possible with your decision.

 

 

The Advantages to a Mortgage Preapproval

The homebuying process can be exciting, but also stressful. When there are a large number of buyers in the market for real estate, the odds of being able to purchase your desired home can be low. However, getting a mortgage preapproval prior to home shopping can dramatically increase the odds of success.

Make Mortgage Preapproval Your First Step

A mortgage preapproval should be a homebuyer’s first step when purchasing a home. A borrower can choose to meet with a lender or get an initial preapproval via the Internet. The preapproval process is similar to the actual mortgage process and will, in fact, eliminate a lot of time after a home has been chosen.

When obtaining a mortgage preapproval, the borrower will complete a mortgage application and submit the necessary documentation to the lender. The lender will pull a credit report and examine the borrower’s credit.

Based on all of this information, the lender will determine the amount of funds that the borrower qualifies for. The borrower will receive a Conditional Commitment, which states the amount of funds that the lender agrees to lend provided that the conditions are met. While a preapproval is an important first step, it is not the final mortgage approval.

Impress Homesellers With Your Mortgage Preapproval

One of the advantages of having a preapproval is that this letter can be shown to real estate agents and sellers when looking for a home. By doing so, both the agent and the seller know that the borrower can qualify for a certain amount of funds. It is proof of the borrower’s financial standing and ability to proceed with the home purchase.

Another advantage is that some of the work that is involved in obtaining a mortgage is already done. The lender has already examined the borrower’s financial situation, including credit, income and assets. During the preapproval process, the lender will also discuss the most appropriate type of mortgage program that fits the borrower’s needs, whether it is a conventional loan or a government loan.

This is significant because not all sellers will accept a buyer who is using a government loan. Knowing the details of what type of loan is appropriate for the borrower, the agent can then show them homes that will fit their preapproval both for cost and type of funding.

How Mortgage Preapproval is Determined

The preapproval is determined by putting the information given to the lender through automated underwriting. In most cases, the preliminary loan file goes through a preprocessing before the preapproval is given to the borrower. Since there is an actual examination of the borrower’s documentation, the borrower will also receive a list of additional information that may be needed. The borrower can then submit this information while shopping for a home.

Once a home is found and the sales contract is signed, processing the loan is faster since most of the work for the credit file has been done. The final process involves verifications, ordering and receiving the appraisal, ordering title documents, obtaining insurance, etc. The final underwriting is the last step before the loan file is sent for closing.

The preapproval process is an important part of a home purchase. Since there is a lot of information involved in obtaining a mortgage, it eliminates many last minute problems that can arise. Obtaining a mortgage preapproval helps the home purchase process go smoothly.

301-437-8722/ 202-364-1700 Real Estate Professional Licensed in Maryland, Virginia & Washington, DC