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Posts Tagged ‘home buying’

This week, I had the opportunity to show a million dollar house. I realized when I pulled in the drive that this was a house I had sown before. Over a year before. It was still on the market!
As I pulled up the drive, the first impression of the house was a good one. The landscaping was well kept, professionally installed, and complementary to the house. The facade was clean, the roof unstreaked by the dark lines that sometimes happen when algae is allowed to grow there.
A quick walk around the outside however, gave me pause. Behind the foundation plantings was a rat trap, the kind you often see outside a restaurant by the dumpster. The deck was bad ly in need of refinishing, with worn boards and railings that threatened splinters. It was solid enough, just not very attractive.
The pool though, was clean and inviting enough that I actually thought of grabbing the swim suit I had in the back of the car and diving in, just once. (I didn’t do it, but I was tempted!) The slightly more distant tennis/basketball court appeared to be in good condition.
Although the power lines were a little too close for the comfort of one who might be wary of such things, they were hidden behind trees and not so close that any buzzing or popping would be a problem.
The inside was, at first glance, stunning. Rooms were not so large as to be overwhelming, but not so small that one felt cramped. There was a good flow between living room and library, with a very nice powder room to one side that was panelled to blend with the deep cherry of the bookshelves. French doors led to the large deck, or with a slight turn, a well lit passage led to the recessed family room. That space blended into the breakfast room, kitchen and sunroom, with an opening to the formal dining room and back to the front hall.
Corian countertops could have presented better as granite, but were still attractive, and two ovens plus a built in microwave and large gas cooktop were near the double sink. A laundry room with new washer and dryer and a door leading to the spacious two car garage were off a hallway that led to a side entrance.
The sunroom in the back had both skylights and ceiling fans, a mini fridge, and a compartment for a keg, complete with a bar-style spout. Unfortunately, when I opened the door to the space that could contain a keg, the inside was filthy. French doors led to the tattered deck, but by then I was starting to feel embarrassed. This was supposed to be an exclusive residence, but it wasn’t as clean as my last $400,000 listing!
Turning into the dining room, I kicked aside a dead roach on the hardwood floor. The center of the room had a clear impression of a former rug. The rest of the floor was sun faded. A similar mark remained in the family room, where the outline of the former Oriental rug was clearly visible.
Scratches in the hardwood floors could have been buffed out, and the wall in the family room had a large splotch of darker paint where someone had painted around an entertainment center. With the entertainment center gone, the ghost of old paint remained.
Carpet on the basement stairs was filthy, and although the two bedrooms and baths and the game room in the basement were very nice, the silver rat traps in the storage room were a definite turn-off.
Upstairs, there were four bedrooms, each with their own spotless bath. All were comfortably sized, with a particularly nice master suite. A back staircase led back to the kitchen, perfect for a discreet entrance from the garage or by a late night teenager hoping to pass the master suite unnoticed.
One of the bedrooms was painted a deep green except for the large splotch of blue where some large piece of furniture had once again been painted around. The furniture was gone, but the blue splotch remained.
Add to this random burned out bulbs and some dusty glass light fixtures, and the house just refused to shine as it should have. It reflected badly on the listing agent, who is known for listing expensive houses, and should have known about all these little things that added up to one big disappointment.
Now I will admit that I have not had the privilege of listing a house this large, but those I do list are always spotless. If necessary, I will go in with a bottle of Windex and a roll of paper towels and clean the windows myself. I am not above scrubbing the toilets before an open house, just to be sure there is no water ring and the bathrooms smell fresh, and I certainly have no problem with keeping a broom and dustpan in a closet somewhere so I can sweep bits of leaves, dirt or dead bugs out of the way before someone comes to look.
Now I may be assuming a lot here, but I figure that if someone can afford to live in a million dollar house, they should be able to afford light bulbs and a car pet cleaning service that actually gets the carpets clean. If there are stains, I would certainly at least make a strong suggestion that carpets be replaced or floors refinished.
Light bulbs are not expensive and an attentive agent would have made sure that details like burned out bulbs were fixed, smoke detector batteries replaced to avoid beeping, and rat traps were at least discreetly hidden in the basement. Why were they needed anyway? I find it hard to believe that there were so many rats in the area that the homeowners needed all those traps. The one outside, okay, but in the basement of an empty house?
It is my personal opinion that if an agent is going to list a million dollar house, that agent should make sure that the house looks like a million dollars! Rooms with paint “ghosts” should be repainted, splintery decks should be refinished, and if the agent isn’t willing to check the house herself, a weekly cleaning service should be employed to make sure that windows are clean, floors swept, and foil is removed from the bottom of the ovens.
Want to know what makes a house worth more? It isn’t having an agent who sticks a sign in the yard and pays for expensive brochures, but one who is honest enough to tell the owners what needs to be fixed ans actually shows up on a regular basis to make sure everything looks like a million dollars, even if it’s only a $400,000 house!

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Recently, I have had  a lot of calls from people who want to rent rather than buy. My first question is: “Why?” There really are several good reasons, but many renters don’t fit into any of these categories.

First, if you are only going to be living in an area for a year or two, it makes sense to rent. This is especially true if the time it takes to sell a house in that area is especially long, or if values there are currently heading down. Those in this category would likely be military or those on a special assignment for their job. It could also include those who are temproarily relocating to care for an elderly relative but plan to move back after the person is settled or passes.

Second, if you are new to an area and don’t know which neighborhood you want to settle in. If you arrive and just buy the first house that you see, you may end up in an area that is less than desireable for your family. This might mean something as simple as too long a walk to the bus, or it could progress to more serious issues such as the local drug dealer living next door. In this case, you are better off to rent for a year and then make a decision on where you want to live permanently.

Third, if you have bad credit. Naturally, this will keep you from qualifying for a loan which makes it next to impossible to buy a house. Rent the smallest, least expensive place you can stand for a year or two while you work on getting your finances in order. This is best done with the advice of a mortgage lender or broker, or a financial planner. Follow their advice, get things straightened out and check again in a year to see if you can qualify for a loan.

Fourth, if you are strapped for cash. There are multiple reasons for this, ranging from bad financial decisions to circumstances that go way beyond your control. If you don’t have enough to cover the down payment and settlement costs, then put the homebuying dream on hold for a few years while you save. One of the saddest things I see in real estate is someone living in a beautiful home who can’t afford furniture. Be patient, wait until the time is right and then buy something you can afford.

Fifth, if you are waiting for a home to sell in some other part of the country. Many times people will be transferred and move before they can secure the equity in their home through a sale. This can put them in a bind if they can’t afford to make two mortgage payments while they wait. Rent until the old house sells, then you can use the money to buy without putting yourself in a bind.

If you are not in any of these categories, perhaps you should consider purchasing a home rather than renting. There are home types for every need, from those who want to have no yard work and just a small place (condo or senior living development), to those who want a place to entertain or a big yard for the family. You may have to make some compromises, but the money you save in taxes and other fees can more than make up for the cost of the house.

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By:Phil Goldberg

Did you know . . . One of the issues that always comes up when working with buyers is how much money the buyer is how much money they plan to use for a down payment.  When working with buyers that say they are getting all or some of their money from a gift, FHA requires a “paper trail.” I want to show you what is needed because this alone could hold up a deal or worse yet, kill a deal.

The gift letter itself must contain the following verbiage:

  • Name, address and telephone number of the donor
  • The dollar amount of the gift
  • The relationship of the donor to the borrower
  • That no repayment is required

There are four ways to verify the transfer of the funds (only one is required ):

  1. If funds are already in a borrower’s account…
    1. Obtain a copy of the withdrawal slip from donor’s account
    2. Obtain a copy of deposit slip and bank statement showing the deposit into borrower’s account.
  2. If funds are provided at the closing table…
    1. Obtain a copy of withdrawal slip from the donor’s account
    2. Or. obtain a bank statement showing the withdrawal from the donars account
  1. Must be paid in the form of a certified check
  2. If funds are going to be “wired” at closing…
    1. Donor to provide documentation of the wire transfer
  3. If donor is borrowing funds…
    1. Donor to document the loan
    2. Funds were borrowed from an acceptable source—bank, credit union, home equity line of credit, etc.
    3. Cash on hand is NOT an acceptable source of gift funds

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For your best chance of getting your loan approved, follow these ten simple rules!

Thou shall not change jobs or become self-employed

Thou shall not buy a car, truck or van unless you plan to live in it

Thou shall not use your credit cards or let your payments fall behind

Thou shall not spend the money you have saved for your down payment

Thou shall not buy furniture before you close on your house

Thou shall not originate any new inquiries on your credit report

Thou shall not make any large deposits into your bank account

Thou shall not change bank accounts

Thou shall not co-sign for anyone

Thou shall not purchase ANYTHING until after the closing

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Here is an informative article from MSN with some good tips for those looking to buy! Some of the advice may seem obvious, but is often overlooked in the search for the right home.

http://realestate.msn.com/10-homebuying-tips-from-real-estate-pros?_p=328733cd-1495-4729-b093-580522eb9ca5&_nwpt=1

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