Posts Tagged ‘Home Buying’
Just because you’ve closed escrow and have given the keys to the house to their new owner doesn’t mean you’re done just yet. While the hard part is over, there are still a few tasks you should complete before calling it a done deal.
It should go without saying, but once you’ve moved your possessions out of your home, you should thoroughly clean it. Though it isn’t necessarily required, it is a nice courtesy to extend to the buyer of your home. Nobody likes moving into a dirty house, or wants to waste time getting settled in by having to give the entire home a thorough cleaning.
Organize and store sale documents
Selling a home can produce a mountain of paperwork, and it may be tempting to toss all of it once the sale is complete. But don’t go shredding those documents too soon. You will want to keep a copy of all your records for the upcoming tax season, to show your expenses and any proceeds from the sale. You should also hang onto them in case you should ever get audited for that tax year.
Keep records of home improvements
Not only should you keep all sales documents, but you should also keep records of any improvements you have made on your home. These are also needed for tax purposes. The IRS allows homeowners to improvements to your home’s cost during the time that you owned it.
Contact utility companies
Another important task to complete when you’re selling your home is to contact the utility companies to have your service discontinued. You should arrange for the services to be disconnected on your closing date. Also arrange to have home delivery of your newspaper canceled, and the alarm service disconnected. Notify each company of your forwarding address so they know where to send the final bill.
Change your address
At this point, you should also complete a change of address form with the United States Postal Service. The form can be completed in person at a local branch or online. Although this blanket service will ensure that most of your mail gets forwarded to your new address, you should still notify credit card companies, banks and other places where you do business of your new information.
Terminate homeowner’s insurance
In addition to disconnecting utility services, you also need to contact your insurance agent to cancel your homeowner’s insurance policy. You should do this even if you’ve arranged for a new homeowner’s policy with the same agent. They will not automatically terminate your old policy for you, so you should be sure to complete that task yourself.
Be aware of tax laws
Finally, stay on top of tax laws when you’re preparing your taxes for the year in which you sold your home. Tax laws do change from year to year, and you want to be sure that you’re making the most of any deductions that could be coming your way from the sale of the house. Please feel free to contact us for local Whidbey Island Real Estate information
Compliments of Virtual Results
You may have noticed more “for sale” signs around Whidbey Island of late and that is a sign of change – of positive change – according to Fannie Mae! The housing market is showing definite signs of improvement which is good news, regardless of whether you are a buyer or seller.
The Fannie Mae Economic & Strategic Research Group reports a “modest growth” trend through the rest of 2012. Despite an uncertain job market and lowered consumer spending in the first quarter, the group is still forecasting a 2% increase in the gross domestic product growth projection, which is excellent for real estate and for you, if you are interested in buying or selling a home!
Fannie Mae’s Chief Economist Doug Duncan reported that, “Despite signs of deteriorating momentum for economic activity, housing continues to be a bright spot as news from the housing market has been relatively upbeat, presenting a rare upside boost to the economy.” The report went on to state that home sales have increased 9% in the last year and that single family homes are selling for 20% more than they did in 2011.
Combining those statistics with the National Housing Survey released last month, which showed greater confidence in homeowners about the real estate market, means that a turn-around is in progress. In fact, those polled showed a 6 percentage point increase in their desire to buy, an all-time high as compared to normal poll statistics gathered over the last two years. Visit Fannie Mae online to access the survey results and see other recent reports on the housing market.
Each day technology becomes even more impressive as new tools, products and apps are rolled out that truly have a place in your daily life. It can be exciting and exhausting to try to find the ones that will benefit you. As a homebuyer, it can be overwhelming to narrow down all the choices. With that in mind, I’ve made my real estate website tech and mobile friendly in the hope that you will find the results you need in your search, however, when it comes to buying a home, these apps may of benefit to you as well.
Many of these apps are even offered free of charge, although they may request your location information in order to produce the results you desire. If you want more specific information or ideas on specialized apps for your tech devices, please give me a call so we can brainstorm on how I can help meet your real estate needs. In the meantime, though, check these out!
Not sure where you want to live?
- Nabewise Get to know neighborhoods in-depth, complete with pictures, reviews and ratings ond rankings on the things you care most about.
- GreatSchools Get to know local school options and read reviews by staff and parents of children attending the schools. Schools are also scored based on scores and ratings.
- Yelp Find the best restaurants, shopping, and entertainment in the area you are researching directly from the people who live there. A true “insider’s view.”
Trying to keep track of everything?
- Evernote Keep track of your buying process, including the information on homes you have seen, complete with your personal notes!
Want to compare?
- House Hunter This tool allows you to set priorities on your wants and needs and match them to homes you are considering with the feature list and also has a mortgage calculator built in.
- Trulia – Easy to use and even includes a help button! Depending on your mobile device, you can check and compare listings and even search by feature using your voice.
Looking for actual numbers?
- Zillow Zestimates and make me move allow you to get an idea of what homes cost on any street and even permit you to make offers to home owners who do not have their property for sale.
- Realtor.com Get stats on new homes, sold homes, and homes for sale easily and quickly, including price changes in any neighborhood.
Every week, we field a number of questions from our VA buyers regarding VA loan questions. VA is an outstanding loan program and we would like to make this information available to all of our readers. Here are some of the top questions we respond to.
Q: How do I deal with bad credit?
A: Bad credit is a common challenge. In order to qualify for VA financing, military home buyers must have at least a 620 credit score. This minimum can be a stretch for those with a past bankruptcy or foreclosure. We work closely with credit-challenged military buyers. Rather than dismissing applicants with low credit scores we partner with the potential borrowers to help point them in the right direction to repair their credit rating and position themselves to qualify for the loan.
Q: What if my spouse has bad credit?
A: All VA loan borrowers and co-borrowers will be under close scrutiny by a lender. Credit scores for both applicants have to measure up to the 620 minimum. It may be advisable for a potential buyer to obtain a loan without a co-borrower, provided the solo borrower can afford the mortgage payments and meet all criteria.
Q: What can I buy with a VA loan?
A: VA loans can only be used to finance primary residences (up to a 4-plex if the veteran lives in one unit). Vacant land and commercial properties are ineligible. It is possible to finance new construction with a VA loan, but only through certain lenders.
Q: What are current VA loan rates?
A: It’s not uncommon for VA loan interest rates to be lower than conventional loan rates. But as with any loan, the interest rate on a VA loan will shift with the market. Borrowers can get a sense of VA rates during the pre approval process.
There are many local lenders and qualified real estate professionals here on Whidbey Island that can help with the VA process. If you or someone you know has questions that aren’t answered here, there are many available resources available locally. We are proud to serve our military and our veterans.
January 2012 is over and we are headed into an exciting year of opportunity. In researching the statistics for North Whidbey Island real estate sales for January, we have found that the market seems to be starting a rebound. The number of active listings (homes for sale) is decreasing and the number of pending sales is increasing which is a very good indicator for a stabilizing market. Also the number of days that homes are on the market for sale is decreasing. Another great statistic is our sales prices. After a number of years of decline, we seem to be bouncing along the bottom. Prices have stabilized with a little increase in some markets. New construction and condominiums are still at a slow pace but there is light at the end of the tunnel.
For purchasers this is still a good time to be considering buying a home. With the interest rates at an all time low and the market still soft, now seems to be the best time to be a buyer. As we approach the summer selling season, I believe that with the decreased amount of homes for sale, the prices will start to inch up. Hopefully interest rates will stay down for some time.
Like you, we are always trying to discover ways to save money. This interview with Rick Bunzel of Pacific Crest Inspections gives us five great tips on ways to reduce our heating bills.
- Lower your hot water heater to 120 degrees
- Use a programmable thermostat to drop night time temps to 55 degrees
- Change your furnace filter regularly and make sure the furnace is tuned.
- Have your duct work checked and vents balanced
- Add insulation to the attic
By following these tips and watching your energy consumption, you should be able to save some money and help the planet. We hope that you have enjoyed these energy saving tips. Please feel free to contact Rick Bunzel at Pacific Crest Inspections, 1-866-618-7764, or contact any of us at Coldwell Banker Koetje Real Estate in beautiful Oak Harbor, Wa. for any other real estate related questions or comments. We are here to serve you.
One of the comments that I hear quite often is “I don’t have 20% down and so I can’t buy a house”. Many people are confused and have the wrong information when it comes to purchasing a home. News articles, tv programs, etc. talk about how hard it is to get financing, to get qualified, the amount of down payment needed, etc.
In today’s lending environment, your credit rating is one of the most important things to consider. You credit rating can affect your interest rate, your ability to qualify for the loan, and many other factors. I posted an interview with a local lender that answered Home Mortgage Questions that is very informative.
Back to the down payment question. Do you need 20% down to buy a home. The answer to that question is NO. There are loan programs available today with a minimum zero down payment if you qualify. There are FHA programs available with 3%-5% down payment available. There are conventional mortgage programs available with very minimal down payments required. There are some great loan advisers here on Whidbey Island. I would encourage any one that is considering a home purchase to sit down with one of these local advisers and get your questions answered. It is very possible that today may be the day that you decide that it is time to own your own home.
I am often asked, “How’s The Real Estate Market in Oak Harbor?”
I was recently asked to speak at the Rotary Luncheon about the state of the real estate market in Oak Harbor. My speaking engagement was postponed for a few weeks, but I thought I would share some of the information in this blog. I will continue with a second blog that will address another area that affects the real estate market, Short Sales and Bank Owned Properties.
The first answer that I have after someone asks me about the real estate market is, “It depends”. Now I am not trying to be flippant with that statement, but my answer really does depend on if you are a buyer, a seller, when you bought your home, etc.
- If you are a buyer, the question is a no brainer. The Oak Harbor Real Estate Market is fantastic. In fact, I just helped my niece and her family make a purchase of a home. Interest rates are at all time lows (though they are starting to creep up). There is a large supply of inventory on the market for sale right now and sellers are being very generous in their negotiations.
- If you are a seller and you have owned your home for at least 10 years, than it is a good market. As you can see from the chart, home prices have appreciated 3-4% average over the last 10 years. So if you need to sell, than from an investment perspective, you have made a good decision and the Real Estate Market is good.
- If you are a seller and you haven’t owned your home for more than 5 years, than the value of your home is probably equal to or less than your original purchase price and you might want to consider other alternatives to selling, such as rent, or not moving. If you are in this situation than the Oak Harbor Real Estate Market is not so good but is getting better.
A large component of the Oak Harbor Real Estate Market is Short Sales and Bank Owned Properties. In my next post, I will explain the statistics for these sales and how they are affecting our market.
1. What is a real estate short sale?
A short sale occurs when a lender agrees that it will take less than what the homeowner owes on their note. The lender usually agrees to this during the beginning stages of foreclosure when the they realize that the homeowner will not be able to meet the terms of their agreement and will be foreclosed upon if a short sale does not occur. This short sale would result in a substantially discounted purchase price for the end buyer of the home. The buyer would then proceed with the purchase of the home when the lender agrees to a price.
2. Will a lender allow a real estate short sale when the seller has some a good amount of equity?
If the home has some amount of equity, the lender may choose to continue with a traditional foreclosure proceeding to regain title to the property and dispose of it at a fair market price. Short Sales are generally discounted below fair market value, because the time value of money makes it more viable for the lender to sell it quickly rather than waiting through the redemption period, which in some states can be 6 to 12 months. Banks are not in the real estate business and generally don’t want to own the home.
3. What documents are necessary to proceed with a short sale?
The individual documents necessary to proceed with the short sale will depend on the lender. Typically, the lender will require hardship letter detailing the circumstances leading to a short sale. A signed, valid purchase and sales contract, preliminary HUD-1 settlement statement and a preliminary estimate of proceeds to the lender. There may be additional requests for more detailed information on the financial condition of the seller, ie; pay check stubs, bank statements, a personal financial statement and monthly budget assessment, amongst other things.
4. Will the seller’s credit be affected if they agree to a short sale versus a foreclosure?
While it is up to the individual lender to decide what to report, what often happens is the loan will report as “paid” on their credit report for a short sale, and sometimes with a reference that says “settled for less than originally owed”. A foreclosure will show as a default and can affect one’s credit for 3-7 years. It is absolutely less damaging to have the short sale referenced than to have a foreclosure on a credit report.
5. Will a lender allow the homeowner to make a profit on a short sale?
Absolutely not. The lender is taking a loss when they agree to a short sale and they will not agree to let the homeowner benefit financially.
6. If a seller is in bankruptcy, will that affect the short sale of the property?
Absolutely, as most lenders will not consider a short sale if the homeowner is in the middle of a bankruptcy proceeding. Negotiating a short sale between the parties is considered a collection activity and such a negotiation is prohibited during bankruptcy proceedings.
7. Will the bank or lender require an appraisal on the home in a short sale?
Most lenders will hire a broker to develop a Broker’s Price Opinion (BPO) to determine the value of the home. Some will require that a full appraisal be submitted in the short sale package. The lender will need some formal assessment of the value of the home in order to make a decision as to an acceptable offer. Settling on an agreeable price usually requires some negotiating between the end buyer and the lender and this can be an iterative process.
8. Are there tax implications for the short sale?
Much like the issue of credit reporting, the circumstances vary by lender. As a short sale represents a loss for the lender, they can report the amount lost as “debt forgiveness” to the seller. If a formal tax form 1099 is filed, the seller may be responsible for paying taxes on the amount of debt forgiveness. A CPA should be consulted by the homeowner in this situation.
9. Why would a lender agree to a short sale?
The lender doesn’t want to own the home because they are not real estate experts. Foreclosure proceedings can be very time-consuming and costly. The seller is relieved of the home they can no longer afford. The buyer is purchasing the home at an attractive price. A professionally executed short sale can benefit all parties involved in the transaction.
Courtesy of: Donna Sanford
Rick Schutte, Broker/Owner of Coldwell Banker Koetje Real Estate in Oak Harbor, Wa. interviews Lyn Bankowski, senior loan originator, from AlaskaUSA Mortgage about the need of checking your annual credit report.
In this interview, Lyn mentions the free reports can be found at https://www.annualcreditreport.com/. This central site allows you to request a free credit file disclosure once every 12 months from each of the nationwide consumer credit reporting companies. AnnualCreditReport.com is the official site to help consumers obtain their free credit report. You can also go to http://ftc.gov/freecreditreport for more information.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act guarantees you access to your credit report for free from each of the three nationwide credit reporting companies every 12 months.