The buyers final walk-through in real estate was designed so that the buyer can confirm the home is in the same condition as when they made their offer and had the home inspected. Its also an opportunity to make sure the seller has actually vacated.
From time to time, a buyer and seller will have negotiated any number of fixes during escrow. The walk-through gives the buyer a chance to make sure all the agreed-upon work has been done to specifications, and that everything is in working order.
Sometimes, buyers are so excited to close that they quickly whisk through the walk-through without taking time to inspect the property. This can lead to small issues once the buyers take ownership. On the other hand, the final walk-through can raise both positive and negative emotions during this final part of the sale process.
It’s smart to take the buyers final walk-through seriously. Don’t see it as simply checking a box. You should run all the faucets and check for leaks. Flush the toilet bowls, open every window and close it and make sure the appliances work.
Here are some tips for buyers to help complete a smooth and effective walk-through.
Don’t do the walk-through the day of closing
A walk-through can uncover repairs that need to be made, but that you didn’t know about before. If you do the walk-through the same day as the closing, there may not be time to get problems remedied.
It’s not uncommon for two walk-throughs to happen. The first identifies some issues for the buyer, and the second makes sure those issues were addressed.
The alternative is to push the closing back to address the issues. The problem here is that your lender may not have approved a delayed closing. It’s better to hammer out any issues in advance.
Use your mobile phone to check the outlets
Plug a phone into all of the outlets to make sure the electricity works. You want to avoid moving in all your stuff, only to realize some outlets don’t work, and you lack light in a bedroom.
Bring your phone and charger to the walk-through and test all the outlets. It’s quick and easy.
Be on the lookout for the sellers’ leftover belongings
Sellers are notorious for leaving junk behind, so take the time to check the garage and attic, and under the deck. The sellers may just assume you want their old paint cans or a propane tank for a future grill.
In fact, they should leave the place completely empty. Some left-behind items, such as the paint, can be toxic or require special provisions for disposal. For example, one seller left behind all kinds of used oil that needed to go to a certain, state-approved car repair shop to be disposed of properly. These unwanted items become yours after you close.
Be emotionally prepared for a surprise
Buyers often fall in love with a home that’s full of furniture, art and belongings. They see it as a home, and remember a warm feeling.
Fast-forward to the close of escrow and you’re faced with an empty home, which can feel cold, sterile or hollow.
Buyers are often surprised by how they feel entering an empty home. Not only is it absent any furniture and “stuff,” but sometimes an empty home shows its imperfections, too.
The sun may have slightly bleached floors, showing the outline of a rug. There may be carpet stains or holes in the wall from a flat-screen TV or paintings. An empty home tends to show poorly, so prepare yourself before the walk-through.
The journey toward homeownership is often a long one, filled with lots of excitement and ups and downs. The final walk-through is one of the very last steps of what could be a multiple-year process.
Consider the walk-through in advance and prepare for it mentally, emotionally and physically. Know what you want to look for, have a checklist, and keep your emotions and feelings in check. Doing so will make for a smooth ride to the close of escrow.
Evers & Co.
Relocating to an Unfamiliar Area? Here’s How to Get Your Bearings
Choosing a home in an unfamiliar neighborhood can be nerve-racking, but it’s almost inevitable when moving to a new city—or even across town. There’s a lot at stake: The wrong decision can cost you money and peace of mind.
Here are some tips to guide you in your search.
Mission: Neighborhood reconnaissance
As with any house hunt, you should first figure out your budget and what you would need, want, and like to have in a house and in a neighborhood. But if you’re relocating across the country, your biggest challenge will be doing long-distance recon on your new hometown.
While you can’t gain access to private social networks such as Nextdoor until you verify you have an address in a neighborhood, a little cybersleuthing will reveal insights on day-to-day life and concerns in areas you’re scouting.
Once you know the general area in which you’d like to live, websites such as City-Datacan collect and analyze data from numerous sources to create detailed profiles of U.S. cities, including information from crime rates to weather patterns. Homefacts includes similar information, then drills down further, listing neighborhood statistics such as median home price, homes for sale, and foreclosures.
AreaVibes can help you narrow down a search; after you type a ZIP code or city in which you’d like to live, you can adjust metrics such as amenities, crime, cost of living, and housing prices to compile a list of neighborhoods that match your “livability” needs.
In addition, many regional newspapers or magazines routinely publish online rankings of their best neighborhoods. Listly has lists of five-star New York real estate communitiesand blue chip Massachusetts real estate communities, so it may be worth a search to see whether there is a similar list for an area in which you’re interested.
Speaking of lists, Livability regularly develops city rankings for a range of topics, including small towns, college towns, and overall best places to live.
The Chamber of Commerce in many towns will also provide a guide for people who are relocating. Also, look for news on property taxes in recent years—falling property taxes likely mean that communities have had to cut back on public services.
If you have children, you’ll want to read up on local public schools on GreatSchools.org, as well as determine what day care and after-school activities are nearby. Even if you don’t have children, good schools are a major factor in determining home values in a neighborhood.
No neighborhood is perfectly tranquil, but check CrimeReports.com for crime reports and maps to get a sense of where an area falls on the spectrum. You should also visit theNational Sex Offender registry and FamilyWatchdog.us, which will identify registered sex offenders living in the area. NeighborhoodScout.com will consolidate crime, school, and real estate data in one report, as well as compile lists on safe cities and neighborhoods with good schools.
Draw on a professional’s expertise
If there is one time above all when you’d really benefit from working with a real estate agent with deep knowledge of an area, it’s when moving to a new town.
A knowledgable professional should be able to provide recommendations and compile background information on neighborhoods and homes that fit your needs and price range. Come prepared with a neighborhood or neighborhoods you like, and he or she can give you more information or suggest similar alternatives.
Get down with the locals
Once you’ve done the research and found a neighborhood you like, drive by several times during the day and at night. Look for the following:
- Are there many “for sale” signs on lawns?
- Are there any abandoned or boarded-up houses in the vicinity?
- Is there a lot of trash on the sidewalks?
- Is the neighborhood close to a shopping or business area?
- How well are neighborhood parks maintained?
- Is street parking restricted after school and during rush hour?
Also try to attend a few open houses in your neighborhood of choice. It’s a good way to get a feel for local property values, and to walk around the area. If you see residents out and about, try to talk to them to get their perspective on the community.
If you have time, try to get a drink in a local bar or a cafe and talk to people there. Apps like Meetup and AroundMe will help you connect with people in a town that have similar interests, as well as help you find the nearest hot spot.
These will be your potential neighbors, so they will provide valuable impressions on whether you’ll be pleased with where you eventually live.
Updated from an earlier version by Herbert J. Cohen
Evers & Co.
You’ve found your new home — congrats! But before you dream about settling in and cozying up on your couch for a Netflix binge, you have to actually prep for and execute that big move.
While the process of moving can be exhausting, planning your move doesn’t have to be. Check out these apps to help ease your transition into your new home — and get you closer to that movie night.
Home Inventory Photo Remote
Antsy to start planning your move, but feeling overwhelmed about where to begin? Creating an inventory of the items you intend to take with you is easy with Home Inventory Photo Remote. The app allows you to take photos of your items and then group them by category, collection and even location — keeping you so organized that none of your family members can use the excuse, “I don’t remember where anything goes!”
Once you’re unpacked, the information you’ve gathered in the app will serve as an inventory of your possessions should the unexpected happen and you have to file an insurance claim.
The My Move app lets you read moving company reviews, complete a moving checklist for every step of the process, calculate the weight of the items you plan to take with you, and more. Perfect for calculating potential costs, My Move helps you plan your move on your own terms — and your budget.
Moving Checklist Pro
If you’re just looking for a thorough moving checklist, Moving Checklist Pro comes with a list of 200+ common household moving items, and you can add your own, too. Creating your own custom lists — such as schools to research, services to cancel or items to return — ensures that you’ll never forget a thing. And if you find that this app doesn’t quite meet your needs, Jimbl Software Labs will even refund your purchase.
Once your moving itinerary is planned and you’re on the road, Gogobot is a must to download. Referred to as “a Pandora for travel” by TechCrunch and named “one of the best free apps for travel” by Mom Aboard, Gogobot offers you personalized recommendations on where to eat, play and stay wherever you are on your moving journey.
Moving can be a pain, but these apps can make it a bit less of a headache. No need to wait until you have a moving date to try, though. Download a few of our favorite moving help apps today and see which one best meets your moving need.
by SARAH PIKE
Buying a home can feel overwhelming, and a lot of that uneasiness can come from not understanding how to get a mortgage. This guide — which includes 20 questions to ask lenders — should help clarify the mortgage process and get you on the road to homeownership.
Determine your affordability
Before you start working with a real estate agent, it’s important to understand how much home you can afford. This will help you and your agent target your search, and you’ll avoid the heartache of falling in love with a property that’s out of your reach.
You can determine affordability in seconds using two different mortgage calculators. First use an affordability calculator to determine a purchase price appropriate for your income and down payment; then use a payment calculator to determine your exact monthly obligations.
Get started on your mortgage process
Next, you’ll actually connect with a lender to apply for a loan, and the lender will review all of your qualifying documentation. A loan officer will ask you to provide the items below — verbally or in an online form first, then with full documentation:
- Personal information. Date of birth, marital status, number of children and ages.
- Residence history. Rent payment or all mortgage, insurance and tax figures — for at least the past two years.
- Employment and income. Documentation showing wages and employment history for at least two years. If you receive commissions or bonuses, you’ll need two years of figures. Lenders average variable and self-employed income over two years. Full tax returns for two years are usually required.
- Asset balances. All checking, savings, investment and retirement accounts. You must provide all information for accounts, even if you’re only using one account for the down payment (you lender will need to see a paper trail for large deposits and withdrawals). If you’re using gift funds for your down payment, specific rules apply.
- Debt payments and balances. Credit cards, mortgages, student loans, car loans, alimony and child support.
- Social Security number. For a credit report to confirm your debts and credit scores.
Select down payment and loan type
Once your lender has your full profile, he or she can recommend loan structures based on your situation.
Perhaps your income is strong, but you’re early in your career and haven’t saved up that much money. In this case, your lender might recommend a 10-percent down payment because the slightly higher payments fit your budget and enable you to conserve cash.
Or you might start the process thinking you want to buy a 1-bedroom condo using a 5-year adjustable-rate mortgage because you think you’re going to sell the home and upgrade within five years. But your lender may look at your income and consider that you want to start a family within three years, then determine that you can afford the monthly budget and cash to close on a 3-bedroom single family home using a 30-year fixed loan.
It’s important to match your loan terms and home buying choices with your objectives. Because lenders require your full financial profile, they are in a good position to help you explore and fine-tune your objectives to make sure you select the loan type that fits you best.
Find an agent and start home shopping
After you’ve begun the mortgage process,
call Tracy Tkac- 301-437-8722 and begin your home search.
Introduce your lender to your agent, and ask your lender to brief your agent on your mortgage process. This will verify your target home price and down payment for your agent and show that you’re ready to close as soon as you find a home.
Write offers, lock your rate and finalize your loan
Once you find a home you love, you’ll write an offer. Your agent will present your offer to the seller, and if the seller accepts your offer, your loan process will move to the final approval phase.
Your lender will inform you that it’s time to lock your rate. A rate lock runs with a borrower and a property, so you can’t lock your rate until a seller has accepted your offer.
Then your lender will request any updated documentation needed from you, order an appraisal on the property and review the property title report.
Once all of these items check out, your lender will draw final loan documents with your desired rate and terms for you to sign. Your lender will fund the loan, and the home will be yours!
The Home Buying Process
by Tracy Tkac
Washington Homes Group
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
1. Get Loan Pre-Approval
This step is extremely important. It will help you to know what you can afford and determine if there are any glitches in your credit that need attention before buying. Talk with a few lenders to get rate quotes and to find one that fits your working style. After you are pre-approved, make sure to pay close attention to your finances and do not make any rash decisions or large purchases, such as a car, until after the purchase of your new home.
2. Find An Agent
An agent will lead you through the process of the paperwork, negotiation strategies, inspections and ultimately settlement by placing offers, negotiating final prices and settlement terms and closing costs to settlement.
Find a professional agent that is knowledgeable in the area in which you are looking to buy. In most cases in the MD, VA and DC area, if a home is listed in the MRIS, the area multiple listing system, then the commission is paid entirely by the seller- not the buyer. A Buyer Broker is an agent that advocating and working exclusively for your best interests.
By finding a knowledgeable real estate agent that you trust, you are likely to save money, purchase the home of your choice and have a smooth and successful transaction.
3. Prioritize Your Needs and Wants
While location and price range will dictate a lot about the home you will be looking for, you should also think about what amenities you hope for. Start big with the non-negotiables such as the specific communities you want to live in, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms you need, what style of homes you are interested in looking at, whether or not you need a garage, etc. After the larger must-haves are established it is easier to understand what is negotiable in the long run. If you are prepared beforehand you can assure that you are looking for everything that is necessary.
4. Look Into Potential Programs
In recent years there has been an increased effort by the government to try and stimulate home purchases. One of these efforts includes tax credits and benefits for first time homebuyers. During your home buying process, be sure to look and see if any credits or benefits are available for you. Some of these programs will allow savings on the initial purchase of the home and others will save money back in the form of a tax return. Either way, the saved money can be a major bonus and it is well worth the effort to find out. Your realtor and lender will help you determine if you qualify for any programs.
5. Inspect Your Future Home, Choose Your Settlement Company ect.
Research the companies you will want to use for your inspections and settlement. Your contract to purchase your home may be contingent on certain inspections such as termite, home inspection, radon or well and septic. Looking into the cost of these inspections and choosing what company fits your expectations will put in a position to be prepared to move forward. A choice of settlement company is generally the purchasers to make. There are many factors to consider, your agent will help you navigate the way to a successful conclusion!