Monthly Archives: January 2017

Hunting Down the Perfect House

When the time finally comes to make a move to a new home, families can often times be on one hand extremely excited about the prospect of shopping for a home and on the other hand be unsure as to how to start the process. There are a few important steps that should be taken in any home-buying process to ensure a smooth real estate transaction.

Know What You Want
If you’re upgrading from your current home, odds are you have a good reason. Perhaps your family has grown too large for your old home or perhaps a bump in income has given you the ability to upgrade any of the features of your home. You know why you want to move, now write those reasons down on paper.

When you come to a real estate agent or decide to go out on your own, knowing the kind of square footage you might be looking for, the number of bedrooms, the general area, the school district and other requirements will quickly narrow down your search to homes that are the most relevant to you. By having a good handle on the type of home you’re looking to buy, you cut out a lot of the guess work and wasted time that can take place in the early going.

Pick the Right Real Estate Agent
The best real estate agent is not always the one with his face on the bus bench. Publicity gets the name of particular realtors and realty companies out into the public, but publicity does not always translate into the time and care it takes to make sure you get the home buying process you’re looking for. Interview multiple realtors, asking plenty of questions each time.

You will probably be spending a large amount of time with whoever you choose, so make a wise choice. You are entrusting perhaps your biggest single possession into your realtor’s hands, so feeling comfortable with your choice will go a long way towards feeling comfortable with the process as a whole.

Take Control of the Showing Process
Shopping for homes is usually the most time-consuming portion of the home-buying process and can often leave people frustrated if they feel that they are wasting their time on improper homes. Knowing what you want comes in to play big time in this step and can trim a lot of the fat from what is out there on the home market by narrowing down the entire set on a few key pieces of information. If you see a home online or just driving by, don’t hesitate to ask you realtor to set up a showing. That’s what they’re there for so make use of them.

Don’t ever be afraid to simply drive up to a home where you have a scheduled showing and never take a step inside. This is going to be your prospective home, so factors such as the appearance of nearby homes, the area of town and accessibility to things that are important to you are all entirely legitimate reasons to not want a particular home. Communicate that to your realtor and she/he will be able to get a better idea of the type of area you are looking for. Keeping that communication going leads to better showing and less time wasted on homes that just aren’t right for you.

The Guide For First-Time Home Buyers

Buying a first new home is a big step in anyone’s life and the process can initially seem like an extremely daunting task. With all of the information available, advice to be learned from and realtors to choose from, it can certainly seem like an insurmountable mountain of information.

While that may initially be true, there are some steps that you can take that will help you cut through all of that and avoid information overload. The new home buying process is an exciting one and while there are certainly many things to think about, they shouldn’t detract from the experience.

Use The Web
Online resources, much like this site, can help you do a great amount of research into a home or area without ever leaving the comfort of your favorite chair. No matter what area you’re looking to purchase real estate in, there are undoubtedly many online resources concerning that area. Everything from county governments to local realtors provide handy region-specific tips and tricks that might help you in your search for a new home.

While your realtor will help you with a lot of the information about home prices in the area you’re investigating and other related bits of information, it can also be empowering to take a hold of the situation and find the kind of applicable information you’re looking for yourself. Anything that helps you get comfortable with the home buying process is a benefit.

Know Your Limits
There are a variety of ways to get frustrated during the home buying process and perhaps chief of all of them is pursuing a home that you simply cannot afford. Every step of the process, from convincing a realtor to show you an expensive property to getting financial backing for a piece of real estate outside your income viability, makes the process more difficult and will ultimately discourage you about the home buying process.

Yes, we would all like to have our first home be the perfect combination of location, size and amenities but many times it is not realistic to purchase a 10-bedroom estate with a first home purchase. If you have an accurate view of what you can afford, it will ease the entire process as your realtor will show you nothing but realistic homes, of which you will almost certainly find one you’ll love for a first piece of real estate.

Use Your Home Inspection Right
While in many areas, home inspections are an accepted part of the home buying process, there are parts of the country that have hot real estate markets that perhaps move quickly and don’t always incorporate home inspections into the process. Nothing has the potential to blunt your enthusiasm over a new home purchase like problems that could be inherited along with a new home.

Home inspections will often go through the health of a home’s furnace, roof and foundation to give you an accurate description of just what kind of state a home is in. Take advantage of that and don’t be surprised after a home purchase with problems you’ll immediately have to deal with.

Securing The Right Title Insurance

Title insurance has become an accepted part of most real estate transactions, giving lenders some security in regards to claims against a particular property that they may be insuring. Title insurance companies offer that security and your realtor may have a favorite entity that she or he tries to steer you towards during your real estate transaction.

However, as with most aspects of the real estate process, you have a choice in title companies and it would certainly behoove you to look into all of the possible options. Of course, there is certainly value in going with a title insurance company that your realtor has a familiarity with, but simple familiarity does not always make for the best business decision. Here are some things to think about when going through the process of selecting a title insurer.

This Does Not Apply To You
On a personal level as the owner of a property, title insurance does nothing to protect you. Title insurance protects your lender from claims against a property, but not the owner. For that kind of protection, a separate type of insurance called an owner’s policy can be taken out to protect you from similar claims. If claims do arise, they are not usually small, so owner’s policies can certainly come in handy.

The Grass Is Always A Different Color
While the grass may not always be greener when you investigate a number of title insurance companies, it is certainly a different color. Each title insurance company has their own unique ways of covering certain things, omitting certain things and generally constructing a policy unique to that organization. Shop around for your needs and get full disclosures from each company of what is and what is not covered.

If you are a new home buyer, sometimes builders can make claims against the title of a home. Find out if that kind of activity is covered under the policies you investigate. Your situation is unique and will always have special circumstances that may not universally apply to all title insurance offers. Consult your realtor and read through the coverage declarations of the companies you consider to ensure that you are covered as you need to be.

Read The Report
During the course of the title insurance process, the title insurance company you eventually choose for your real estate transaction will send a report to the lending company on your deal with any points of interest or dispute concerning the property’s title. This can be an interesting read and you may be able to point out mistakes or issues with it as well. Make sure that both your lender and title insurance company have an accurate view of your property, as it will greatly affect you should a claim come against the property’s title standing.

Title insurance can sometimes seem like an arduous part of the real estate process, but making sure that you are properly covered in any business transaction is simply a smart thing to do. Those that have had title claims come against their properties will tell you that process is not enjoyable and the right kind of title insurance can greatly reduce your exposure to that event. As always, you are paying your realtor for a reason and one of them is expert advice on the twists and turns of your real estate transaction.

Title insurance is one of those twists and turns, so be sure to use your realtor as a resource when going through the process. Ultimately, the control you exercise over the title insurance process will depend on how involved you want to be in your real estate transaction. There is always value in taking charge of your own significant investment in a piece of real estate, so don’t be shy.

Researching Your Investment Property

Getting involved with an investment of any kind is a significant business operation and one that should not be entered into lightly by any means. By going through an extensive set of information before ever signing your name on the dotted line, you can avoid some of the pitfalls that are awaiting investors on some projects. There will always be unforeseen circumstances encountered on any business deal and purchasing an investment property is no different.

Know Your (Potential) Tenants
If you are buying a multi-family home with current renters, make sure you get a full disclosure on all of the information surrounding those renters. Do some of the tenants have a history of late payments? Are you going to have to replace one of the renters in the near future?

Obviously, a piece of real estate full of eight-year tenants will be a bit more attractive than a property with a high level of turnover. By buying a rental property, you are buying into the management of that property and you should have a complete picture on the kind of time and effort commitment that is going to be necessary to maintain the real estate. If minimizing your day-to-day time expenditure on a property is important to you, perhaps you will put a premium on a history of stability with the property.

Know Your Property
Of course you will take numerous tours of the property before purchase, but make sure you either commit to memory or write down any of the small little items you notice that might need work or further investment. Obviously, the state of the appliances in the piece of real estate is something to be noticed as you will often be asked to update those appliances later and some kind of expectation has to be determined as to how likely it is that you’ll have to in the near future.

Any kind of infestation is a huge red flag as it can indicate further infrastructure problems with the property, so be sure to look for anything that might suggest a pest problem. Externally, investors sometimes neglect to think about features such as landscaping and drive way/roadway repairs that could become issues over the course of owning a multi-family property. It is easy to see problems that a coat of paint could solve but perhaps more difficult to see sprinkler-system troubles on a property inspected in December. Be sure to exhaustively inspect your potential investment just as you would exhaustively inspect a piece of real estate you hope to make your new home.

Know Your Implied Agreements
Often, investment properties come with strings attached to other companies that might have agreements on the property. Sometimes those agreements terminate during a change of ownership, but sometimes they don’t. That can include cable television services, landscaping, snow removal agreements and a whole slew of property-upkeep services that need to be done on any property. If you are not planning to take care of these types of things yourself, an outside company must be used and sometimes previous agreements will leave you without the ability to even negotiate rates. These are all costs associated with adding an investment property to your portfolio and should be understood before taking action on any piece of real estate.

There are loads of other aspects to owning a property that are best left for other articles, but never underestimate the time and effort commitment it requires to take on an investment property. By doing some thorough homework on the state of the property, the state of the tenants and the state of the external agreements surrounding the property, you can ensure that you have a full picture of the property and what your financial outlay will have to be. Doing your homework before any of those steps will remove some of the uncertainty and potential mistakes that can beset investment projects.