Homebuyer Do’s and Don’ts When Getting a Loan

  • DO continue to make payments on time for current mortgages, cars, credit cards, etc..
  • DO paper trail, document, and explain any large or unusual deposits or withdrawals into accounts such as checking, savings, stock, etc.
  • DO keep pay stubs, bank statements, tax forms, etc., in case the lender needs to update the documentation prior to closing.
  • DO ask questions if something is unclear about the loan program, fees, and/or loan conditions.
  • DO let the loan officer or mortgage broker know if anything changes, for example, your employment, income, assets, credit history, etc.
  • DO document that the earnest money deposit has cleared your account; obtain a copy of the cancelled check and/or statement that reflects the funds have cleared.
  • DO lock-in the interest rate.  These are ordinarily thirty to sixty days and definitely worth it if rates are trending upward.
  • DO have homeowner’s insurance agent information available and provide updated documentation (pay stubs, bank statements, etc.) in a timely manner so as not to delay the closing.
  • DO NOT increase credit card balances and/or loan balances.
  • DO NOT apply for additional or new credit or put balances on a paid credit card.
  • DO NOT ignore late payment and/or collection notices that are received during the loan process.
  • DO NOT purchase anything that is “same as cash”, as it will show on the credit report as a new debt.
  • DO NOT buy furniture, a new car or appliances on credit until after closing.  This is the most common “don’t” action that has occurred during my sales.
  • DO NOT lend money to family members or friends if the money is needed for closing.
  • DO NOT store money at home; place it in a bank account so it can be documented as savings throughout the loan process and can qualify as assets on hand.
  • DO NOT have overdrafts on a checking account.
  • DO NOT quit or change jobs during the loan process.

 

 

Taking Care of an Empty House

Often we have listings of homes for sale or lease that are vacant for a few months.  Sitting vacant is probably one of the worst things that can happen to a house.  I make sure I or the owner visit empty listings at least once a week.  Here are some things to be sure to check.

Run the water: Every time I show the home or am checking the home, I run the water in the bathrooms, kitchen, laundry room, etc. and flush all the toilets.  If this is not done sewer gases will accumulate in the drains and when someone occupies the house and starts using the shower or toilet, a very foul odor will permeate throughout the house.

Run the garbage disposal: Some garbage disposals tend to freeze up when not used; run the disposal when you turn on the kitchen faucet.

Toilet lids: Another thing to be aware of is that if the lids on the toilets are closed, mildew accumulates in the toilet bowls and is unsightly for a prospective buyer or lessee.  Put the seats down but leave the lids up is my advice.

Air out the house: Open windows and doors periodically to get rid of that vacant house smell.

Check the smoke detectors: If you hear a chirping noise it is probably one of the smoke detectors needing new batteries; this is an aggravation for people viewing the house as well as being a possible breach of safety.

Be sure to lock all doors: One of my worst fears is that someone will move into a vacant home; it can take years to get them out.  Plus, think of how scary it would be to enter a house and find someone there.

Check the yard: Sometimes, the sprinklers get out of whack and some parts of the yard are not getting any water.  This leaves dead grass areas that are unsightly.

Check the gutters: Take a look at the rain gutters to make sure they are not full of leaves and other debris.  If the gutters are full and there is a rain storm, water will flow over to the edge of the roof and can cause a lot of damage.

Check around the front door: Remove any free newspapers, magazines or door hangers that have been delivered since your last visit.

Check the lights: Most showings are during the day, but some are after dark, and it can be pretty creepy for the agents and their clients if there are some lights that do not operate.  Usually, a light bulb just needs replacing.

 

 

Taking care of your empty house will likely bring a higher price in a shorter time.

 

Interesting 90275 ZIP Code Facts

The 90275 zip code is the City of Rancho Palos Verdes.  There are 15,633 households of which 76% are owner occupied; 66% are married; 39% have children.   The median home sales price is $845,000.  The median age of the inhabitants of this zip code is 32.37 years; 33% have bachelor degrees and 23% have graduate degrees.  82% are white collar workers, mostly in service industries and most commute by car thirty-one minutes to their places of work.

This information was obtained from the Realist tax portion of our Multiple Listing Service and though believed to be accurate, is not guaranteed.

 

Is Your Home Ready to Sell?

You waited all winter to sell your home just in time to move during the summer.  You put in the extra work to make your house stand out from all the rest on the market, right?  No matter where you are in the process, review the list below to help you determine what buyers really want and do not want in their future home.

The top three must-haves:

1.  Curb Appeal:  You only get one chance to make a first impression.  Your home should sell to the buyer from the curb.   Buyers should be so impressed that they want to leap out of the car and run inside.

How do you create curb appeal? Show attention to detail.  Your home has to be prettier, cleaner and in better condition than its neighbors.  Start with sweeping the drive, walkways and porch or entry of dirt and debris.  Get rid of leggy bushes, wilted flowers and broken tree limbs and plant fresh flowers in the front garden.  Power-wash the exterior and hand wash the windows and touch up paint around the windows, if needed.  I have trusted tradesmen who can do these things for you, if you prefer.  Replace the door hardware and porch sconces.

2.  Space: The number one reason why people buy homes is to have more room.  Whether they are moving from an apartment or moving up from the home they have, they want to have plenty of space.

If you have a large home, you are golden, but that does not mean you have it made.  You can ruin a buyer’s first impression with too much clutter, so make sure to keep your home picked up so your buyer can see your home’s features clearly and easily.

What if you do not have a lot of space?  Plan to do some storing and staging.  Rent a storage unit and put away all out-of-season clothes, toys, home decorations and accessories.  Clean off all tables and counter tops so you have only the minimum of things you need to operate your home.  Empty closets of anything that is stored and move it to the storage unit.  The small expense you will pay in storage fees you will more than make back from a good offer to purchase your home.

3.  Updates: First-time buyers and single people tend to buy older homes because they are more affordable than buying new.  So unless the buyer is a building contractor, chances are he will want a home that is as updated as possible.

Concentrate on the kitchen and bathrooms.  Replace the most dated features such as counter tops, cabinet pulls and appliances.  Bathrooms are so personal that they can easily turn buyers off.  Invest in new towels and bathmats  (use your old ones and replace them with the new ones when you have an appointment to view your home or for an open house).  Throw out slimy soaps and limp ragged bath sponges.  Replace with liquid shower and bath products.  You can take all the newly purchased items to your next home.

Painting is expected by buyers, but do not repaint the same colors that you chose ten years ago.  Pick an updated neutral like a warm gray instead of beige.  Be sure to choose a color that will complement the architecture and flooring in your home.

The typical home purchased in 2013 had 1860 square feet of living space and was built in 1996, so home buyers are not expecting your home to be a mansion, nor do they expect it to be new, but they do expect to see pride of ownership.  The more updates and repairs that you perform, the more confident the buyers will be that they are choosing the right home.

The top five have-nots:

Make sure your home is free and clear of the following items (instant turn-offs).

1.  Overpricing your home: If you have listed your home at a higher price than recommended you will get negative feedback from buyers.  The worst feedback is silence that could include no showings and no offers.  The problem with overpricing your home is that the buyers who are qualified to buy your home will not see it because they are shopping in a lower price range.  The buyers who do see your home will quickly realize that there are other homes in the same price range that offer more value.

2.  Smells: Smells can come from a number of sources-pets, lack of cleanliness, stale air, water damage and much more.  You may not even notice it, but your agent may tell you something has to be done.  There is not a buyer in the world who will buy a home that smells unless they are investors looking for a bargain.

3. Clutter:  If your tables are full to the edges with photos, figurines, mail and drinking glasses, buyers’ attention is going to be more focused on breezing through your living room without breaking any glass figurines than in considering your home for purchase.  Too much furniture confuses the eye and makes it really difficult for buyers to see the proportions of the rooms.  If they can not see what they need to know, they move on to the next home.

4.  Deferred maintenance:  Deferred maintenance is a polite euphemism for letting your home fall apart.  Just like people age due to the effects of the sun, wind and gravity, so do structures like your home.  Things wear out, break and weather and it is your job as a homeowner to keep your home repaired.  Buyers really want a home that has been well-maintained.  They do not want to wonder what needs to be fixed next or how much it will cost.

5.  Dated Decor:  People want your neighborhood, but that does not mean they want a dated-looking home.  Just like they want a home in good repair, they want a home that looks updated, even if it is from a different era.

Though I am in the business of selling houses, I know it is no easy task to move.  You will receive daily calls from agents to show your home, you will be asked to leave your home during open houses; you will really have to “put your life on hold” until it is sold.  The objective should be to limit the marketing time by making sure your home is the best it can be.

Tax Implications When Selling a Home*

Home sellers used to be penalized when they sold a home, paying huge capital gains taxes on their next tax return. However,the United States government saw fit to change that taxation process with the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997.  Now, many people qualify for no capital gains at all, depending on their income and tax situation. Take a look at some sample situations that can help you to avoid tax-related headaches and stay ahead of the financial curve. Single Owners – If you are a single homeowner, you are not required to pay capital gains unless the profit is higher than $250,000. You can figure out your profit by subtracting the sold price from the original price paid.  From that figure, you can also deduct any major household improvements made over the years, including an additional room or in-ground pool installation. For most homeowners, their profit is conservative, allowing them to pocket the money or put it toward a new property.  Married Homeowners – Because a home may be larger for a married couple, the government stipulates that up to $500,000 in profit is acceptable to avoid taxation. However, there is a significant tax rate when profits are above the $500,000 threshold.  In general, your tax rate is around 20 percent.  For example, your profit is $600,000. You need to pay a 20 percent tax on the $100,000 above the threshold. As a result,you owe $20,000 in taxes alone.  Time Constraints – You must pay capital gains only if you lived in the home for less than two years. For most homeowners, this time constraint is not applicable.  As long as you remain in a home as a primary residence, you can technically sell and buy a home every two years without paying capital gains.  For families trying to grow their family and wealth, this tax relief is a welcome sight. There is no limit to the amount of times you can buy or sell with no tax liability.  Special Circumstances – The government recognizes that there are extenuating circumstances that must be accounted for.  If you bought a house and were transferred to a different state by your employer within one year, for example, you are exempt from paying capital gains.  Other issues, including long-term government or private company duties, free you from paying taxes as well. Documented health problems, such as suffering from cancer, allow you to skip taxes if you must move before the two-year limit. If You Owe – It is best to contact a tax professional.  He can look over your personal situation to find out the tax cost.  In general, tax professionals take the sold price and reduce it with documented capital improvements and depreciation costs.  You can also deduct some of the closing costs to lower your tax liability.  However, high profits mean higher taxes overall.  Selling a home is much easier than it used to be. Go over your personal situation when considering selling prices. Receiving a conservative profit on your home is helpful when it comes to tax liability.

*I am a Realtor, not an accountant or attorney; this post is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace your consulting with a tax professional.

How the Real Estate Business Works

I was recently working with a prospect who was looking for a lease property and that experience is what has prompted me to write this post.  I met this person and showed her some homes.  I had mentioned to her that the homes she was finding on other web sites came from our Multiple Listing Service and I would be able to show those properties.  She notified me about homes she found on one of the sites but when I looked them up, they were not listed.  I told her she would have to contact the owner or agent direct and I was kicking myself because I did not explain to her how our business works.

The Multiple Listing Service is not just a list of homes on the market.  When a property is listed for sale or lease, that listing agent is offering compensation to the cooperating agent.  If the commission is 6% the compensation to the cooperating agent is usually 3%.  If a property is not listed we cooperating agents are not entitled to a commission; therefore, we may be working for nothing, which, of course, agents cannot afford to do.

We have the capability of putting prospects on an auto-e-mail program that will notify them when new listings come on the market.  A person’s finding just the right property, I believe, is contingent upon working with an agent he trusts to keep him apprised of new or price-changed listings and to be there to show him the property.  That buyer’s agent will be working just for that buyer.  Look for an agent who is not only responsive, but also a good negotiator who is up on the latest legal requirements for real estate transactions cialis 20mg en ligne.  Ask the agent for recommendations from other satisfied buyers.  A listing agent who represents you as a buyer may have a conflict of interest, as he is also representing the seller.  Be sure to ask how he will handle the situation.  He will have to ask himself over and over, “Is this in the seller’s best interest; is this fair to the buyer?”

Good luck with your real estate purchase. and be sure to contact me if you need assistance.