BOB UPTON, Realtor®, CBR's Blog
One of the most famous books around, with over 18 million copies in print, and that holds the title as the longest running "New York Times" bestseller ever, is What to Expect When You’re Expecting. Now in its fifth edition, this pregnancy bible walks parents through what to expect during the nine months leading up to and including delivery.
Buying a home is nearly as momentous as having a baby, and yet, most potential buyers don’t really know what to expect when closing on their home purchase. In fact, knowing what to expect is even more urgent because closing happens in a much shorter time-frame, in as little as 12 days in some cases.
So, what should you expect?
The one part those home-buying reality shows leave out is the closing. So, to many buyers, it remains a mystery until they're in the middle of it. Even real estate professionals get nervous about closing. It's the moment where anything can go wrong, and everything can go right! It begins with mountains of papers to sign and ends with a handful of keys in exchange for a lot of money. So just what is closing and what should you expect?
“Closing” is short for closing the deal or completing the transaction. During closing several significant things happen: Title of your home transfers from the seller to the buyer; the proceeds of the sale (everything remaining after any seller’s fees are paid) distribute to the seller; and if financing the home, the buyer signs the mortgage note, pays fees, insurances, taxes, and real estate commissions. A lot of things happen at closing, so give yourself plenty of time to understand each aspect of the process if it’s your first time around.
At the time of closing, your agent and your loan officer will inform you about what you need to bring to the meeting. Bring identification, so have your driver’s license or passport on hand. You’ll need a cashier’s check for your down payment and the closing costs that appear on your HUD-1 Settlement Statement. This three-page document outlines exactly what your obligations are at closing and in the future. In addition, small items crop up at closing that might need additional funds (furniture you requested the seller leave behind, extra propane or heating oil you're buying directly from the seller) and last-minute requests.
You'll be signing lots of papers. These legal documents obligate you for many years to come, so make sure you understand them. Also, make certain your name is spelled correctly on every page and every addendum. If you're purchasing with a partner or spouse, make sure the legal designation is as you want it. Changing it later may be difficult.
Recognize that while you may have a close estimate of closing costs, you will not know the exact amount until the day of closing, so round up a bit and have extra funds on hand. Sometimes you can swing a deal for the seller to pay all closing costs, but you’ll still be liable for pro-rated taxes, association dues, insurance, and other buyer obligations.
Don't be surprised by fees. Ask your agent to go over all the charges with you so that you know which ones you pay for and which ones the seller pays for.
You want to buy a house, but you know that you need to save as much money as possible for a down payment. Although you've tried to save money in the past, your best efforts have failed to help you collect the funds that you'll need to make a down payment on your dream residence.
Let's face it – saving for a home can be difficult. Fortunately, we're here to offer creative ways to help you get the money that you'll need to make your homeownership dream come true.
Now, let's take a look at three creative ways to save for a down payment on a house.
1. Start a Friendly Competition
Competition often brings out the best in homebuyers. Much in the same vein, you and your friends may be able to compete against one another to see who can save the most money for a down payment on a home.
If you and your friends intend to buy a home together or separately, a friendly competition can make a world of difference in getting the required funds for a down payment. In fact, you can even award the winner of this competition with an "Ultimate Saver" trophy or other fun prizes.
Ultimately, a friendly competition is a great way to have fun with friends and save money for a down payment on a house at the same time. Regardless of who wins the competition, you'll notice that your down payment savings will increase, moving you one step closer to acquiring your ideal residence.
2. Use a Rewards System
Saving for a down payment on a home may seem like a long, arduous process. However, if you build rewards into your day-to-day savings efforts, you can earn incentives as you reach various milestones.
For instance, you may want to reward yourself with a special dinner every time that you reach a savings milestone. Or, you can always celebrate hitting a savings milestone with a trip to the dog park with your puppy.
3. Trim the Fat from Your Budget
It sometimes can be tough to remove cable TV, takeout meals and other excess items from your budget. But if you consider the long-term benefits of these short-term sacrifices, you may be better equipped than ever before to save significant funds for a down payment on a home.
Look closely at your daily, weekly and monthly budgets. Then, you can determine which budget items are essential and which are not and trim the fat from your budget accordingly. This will allow you to speed up the process of saving for a down payment on a house and ensure that you can achieve your homeownership dream faster than ever before.
Lastly, as you prepare to explore available homes, don't hesitate to reach out to a real estate agent for extra help. By hiring a real estate agent, you can get the assistance that you need to discover a great house that falls within your price range.
Homeowners can sometimes overlook things in the excitement to buy a property. When purchasing a property, there are a few red flags that you should be aware of:
1. Fresh paint on some walls
Some homeowners sometimes use a fresh paint job to hide problems with the house. If you find out some walls are freshly painted while others are not, ask the homeowner or the real estate agent some questions. Compare the answers of the seller with the agent to see if they match. Then compare the information with the seller's disclosure beforehand about any issues or past repairs with the property. If you suspect that the home contains some home renovations that you are not aware of underneath the fresh paint, then you should call an experienced general contractor to help you take a look.
2. Title issues
A home buyer or lender will carry out a title search while the home is in escrow. You should pay attention to the preliminary title report and check if there are liens, restrictions, encumbrances and anything else that could restrict how you can use the property. When doing due diligence during the escrow period, make sure you understand your rights as a buyer on the property and any third parties included in the title. As a rule of thumb, the longer a title report is, the more likely there's something there that you should know. A preliminary title report is an important document that you should go through. If you do not understand the terms on the title document, ask for help from your real estate agent or a lawyer.
3. Cheap flips
Today's real estate market is filled with people who are looking to make money from flipping homes cheaply. Be wary to avoid becoming a victim of a quick flip. Many houses are products of extensive renovations. Sometimes the contractors use substandard building materials that may have problems despite their shiny looks. As a buyer, you should check the kind of materials used in the home you want to buy. If you don’t know much about construction, hire a general contractor to help you inspect the home extensively.
Pay attention to the seller’s disclosures to identify any red flags that may be there and if they will cause you problems in the future. Consult with a real estate agent or lawyer to help you avoid issues with your home purchase.
As a home seller, it is essential to do everything possible to promote your house to the right groups of property buyers. However, as you approach the finish line of a home sale, you may encounter a "persistent" homebuyer. And if this happens, the home selling process may come to a screeching halt.
A persistent homebuyer may be more likely than others to demand home improvements or a price reduction to finalize a house sale. As a result, you may need to decide whether to accommodate this homebuyer's requests, continue to negotiate with him or her or walk away from a potential home sale altogether.
So what does it take to deal with a persistent homebuyer? Here are three tips to help you do just that.
1. Understand the Housing Market
Are a homebuyer's requests valid? If so, they are likely to be based on housing market data. Therefore, if you analyze the housing market closely, you can better understand a persistent homebuyer's demands and proceed accordingly.
Take a look at the prices of comparable houses in your city or town. By doing so, you can determine how your house's price rates against the competition.
Also, don't forget to assess the prices of recently sold homes in your area. This housing market data will help you understand the demand for houses in your city or town and determine whether you're operating in a seller's or buyer's market.
2. Stand Your Ground
A persistent homebuyer may be in a hurry to purchase your house. As such, he or she may push you to make rash decisions that may not be in your best interest.
For home sellers, it is important to take a step back and evaluate all aspects of any home selling decisions. And if you feel uncomfortable with a homebuyer's requests, you should feel comfortable walking away from a possible home sale.
Ultimately, declining a homebuyer's requests and walking away from a home sale is far from ideal. On the other hand, doing so will allow you to reenter the housing market and restart the home selling journey with a fresh perspective.
3. Consult with a Real Estate Agent
If you're unsure about how to deal with a persistent homebuyer, you're probably not alone. Lucky for you, real estate agents are available nationwide to help you handle tough negotiations with any homebuyer, at any time.
A real estate agent understands the art of negotiation and can share his or her housing market expertise with you. That way, you can get the support you need to make informed decisions at each stage of the home selling journey.
Perhaps best of all, a real estate agent will respond to your home selling queries as the property selling journey progresses. No question is too big or too small for a real estate agent, and this housing market professional is happy to answer your home selling questions time and time again.
Take the guesswork out of dealing with a persistent homebuyer – use these tips, and you can boost your chances of getting the best results from the home selling journey.
As a home seller, it is important to do everything possible to generate interest in your residence. Otherwise, it may be tough for you to maximize your house sale earnings.
Ultimately, there are many things you can do to stir up interest in your house, such as:
1. Improve Your Home's Curb Appeal
Buyers may be more likely to schedule a showing to view a home that boasts amazing curb appeal versus other available houses. Fortunately, if you devote time and energy to revamp your house's exterior, you can ensure your home makes a positive first impression on buyers.
To upgrade your home's curb appeal, you should repair any cracked or chipped property siding. You also may want to remove debris from any home exterior walkways and ensure your front lawn is neat and tidy. That way, you can make it easy for buyers to fall in love with your residence as soon as they see it.
2. Remove Clutter
Clutter may make a house appear cramped. Luckily, if you remove clutter from your house, you can show off your residence's full potential to buyers.
If you have assorted personal belongings scattered across your home, you may want to put these items into a storage unit for the time being. This will help you keep your personal belongings safe until your residence sells. At the same time, removing these items from your house could help buyers envision what life may be like if they purchase your home.
3. Perform a Home Inspection
A home inspection is crucial for a seller, as it enables this individual to learn about any underlying property issues. Then, following an inspection, a seller can prioritize home repairs accordingly.
It generally won't take long for a home inspector to review your residence and provide you with his or her findings. Once you have a home inspection report at your disposal, you can determine exactly what you can do to improve your house and help it stand out to potential buyers.
For those who are searching for innovative ways to showcase a home to buyers, you may want to hire a real estate agent, too. This housing market professional can eliminate the guesswork commonly associated with selling a home.
Typically, a real estate agent works with a seller to ensure this individual's house selling dreams can come true. If a seller wants to get the best price for a home, for example, a real estate agent will craft a plan to help this individual achieve his or her desired results. Or, if a seller is unsure about how to promote a residence to buyers, a real estate agent will help this individual host home showings and open house events.
When it comes to selling a house, it usually is a good idea to prepare for the property selling journey. Thanks to the aforementioned tips, you can accentuate your home's features to prospective buyers. And as a result, you could speed up the house selling journey.