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Category Archives: buy a house palmdale - Page 2

How Much Does My Agent Need to Know About My Finances?

Money is a delicate issue. How much we earn and how much we owe is information many of us prefer to keep close to the vest.

If you’re concerned about detailing your finances to your real estate agent, rest assured that there’s plenty of privacy in the client/agent relationship.

In their wheelhouse
Real estate agents don’t need, or expect, you to disclose everything about your money. That said, they must understand your overall situation to help guide you to a home that’s within your budget.

An agent’s job is to negotiate a home purchase or sale on your behalf, keep the transaction on track and help you navigate real estate paperwork. His or her strength lies in understanding home values, and property and neighborhood features. Home financing is an altogether separate story from a home search or sale; therefore, agents usually don’t delve into your finances to crunch the numbers.

Leave it to the lender
Agents are happy to let your mortgage lender handle the financial questioning. A loan officer at a bank or mortgage company calculates your maximum purchasing power and your monthly payments based on your loan application, financial documentation and debt-to-income ratio.

Be prepared to supply your lender with your last two years of tax returns, recent pay stubs, bank statements and investment accounts. Agents then present a lender-generated preapproval letter to listing agents, indicating the amount you’re able to borrow.

Contact your local RE/MAX All Pro agent if you have questions about buying a house or selling one. Our real estate professionals can guide you – with discretion – toward your next home.

For all the things that move you®

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At RE/MAX All-Pro, we understand the stress that can be involved in moving, and we want to make your real estate experience as smooth as possible. When you are ready for the big move, our 15 foot box van is available for the exclusive use of our friends, family, and clients. Call your RE/MAX REALTOR for details and reservations. Some rules and restrictions apply. Call for details.

New Buyers: 4 Ways to Set Yourself Up for Success

2015-01-4waystosetforsuccessAs one of the largest financial decisions in a person’s life, buying a home requires discretion, sensibility and budgeting. The following tips will keep you on the right path as you look to purchase your first place.

1. Keep score
The better your credit score is, the better your mortgage terms will be. A good credit score can save you tens of thousands of dollars over the life of your loan. Start reviewing your credit a few months before you apply for a home loan. If you have a score in the 600s or lower, start paying down credit balances to 30 percent or less of your balance. Also make bill and debt payments on time – no later than 30 days after the due date. If you have a score in the 700s or 800s, be sure to maintain and protect your good credit. The slightest credit misstep can cause a strong credit score to plunge more sharply than a weak score.

2. Consider all costs
The cost of a home is just the start, and smart buyers tighten their belts before buying to meet the monthly and yearly financial demands of homeownership. When you buy a home, you’re responsible for paying principal and interest, taxes and insurance. Additionally, you’ll need to cover expenses such as utilities and possibly homeowner association dues. You’ll also need cash on hand for the upkeep and repair costs that come with any home. The average homeowner spends 1 percent to 4 percent of a home’s value on property maintenance each year, according to U.S. News & World Report. Expect to pay for repairs or maintenance even within the first year of owning your home.

3. Be flexible in your search
Homebuyers who distinguish between wants and needs make the most sensible decisions. A list of must-haves should include items that affect your quality of life, such as a home’s location, its price, number of bedrooms and square footage. You should be prepared to concede nonessential items, such as views and extra rooms, if you find a house meets your must-haves and is within your budget. Being flexible also involves adjusting your criteria as the home search progresses. For example, your budget may require looking at a town house rather than a detached home, or buying a fixer-upper in order to live in a better neighborhood.

4. Keep your cool
Don’t get overly excited in your search, especially in markets where homes are selling quickly. A bit of self-restraint prevents you from overspending or choosing a home that doesn’t fully fit your needs. Be prepared to walk away if a home inspection reveals more defects in a home than you’re able to deal with. Also, keep calm if you find yourself in a bidding war. Your agent can help you make the most competitive offer, and if it doesn’t get accepted then your agent can help you find the next great option. Finding the right home that fits your lifestyle and budget can take weeks or months. By starting early and being patient, you’ll avoid the sense of urgency that often drives homebuyers to make hasty decisions.

Don’t go it alone. Find a RE/MAX All Pro agent who can guide you every step of the way.

What Goes Into Making an Offer Below Asking Price?

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You’ve found a house you love. It’s the perfect size, layout, condition and even has your must-haves. There’s only one problem. The seller’s asking price is too high. It’s time for the phase of home buying that most people dread and even fewer are skilled at: the art of negotiation.

Make no mistake, negotiation is part skill and part art form. An experienced buyer’s agent will know how to finesse the contract negotiations and save you a lot of hassle. Your gut might tell you that the asking price for the house is too much, but you’ll have a better chance of getting a lower offer accepted if your agent can back it up with facts.

A few key elements:

Comparables and Statistics
The best way to determine the fair market value of a house is to measure its asking price against similar homes that have sold in the same area, providing a set of numbers known as comparables or comps. Your agent will handle this, providing data from the local multiple listing service, or MLS. This gives you a baseline starting point. Your agent will also consider other factors, including the original listing price of similar homes versus their selling price, as well as the number of days the house has been on the market. All of this information can help make a better factual case for making an offer lower than the asking price.

Following a Process
Your agent will prepare a written offer to submit to the seller or seller’s agent. Along with this written proposal, your agent can present facts such as the comps and other data to justify your offer. When the seller sees this in writing, you have a much stronger case. Also, writing a letter to the sellers about your situation and your feelings about their home can make a big impression.

Seller Motivation
One of the strongest negotiating factors is understanding the seller’s motivation. This may be hard to do on your own, but your agent may be able to help. If your agent learns, for example, that the sellers are moving and have closed on a house elsewhere, this tells you they’re probably motivated to sell quickly. Knowledge is power – especially in negotiations.

Making Your Lower Offer Work for Them
Sometimes buyers can make their lower offers more palatable to sellers by offering concessions or compromises. Something as simple as being flexible on a closing date can be attractive. If, for instance, the sellers are facing a one-month gap between the sale of the current home and their purchase of the next, they might appreciate it if your offer included an extension of the closing date or an opportunity to lease their home back from you for a month. If you don’t need assistance from the sellers to pay closing costs, they could see this as a big plus. Also, having a pre-approval letter from your mortgage lender is one of your best advantages. This tells sellers that your financing is secure and not likely to fall through.  It can be a gamble for sellers to accept an offer from someone who hasn’t yet secured financing.

Making the Asking Price Work for You
Depending on how far off the asking price is from your budget and your understanding of the home’s value, you and your agent might consider agreeing to the full asking price but requesting additional concessions from the sellers. For instance, your agent could include in the offer a request for the sellers to pay your closing costs. Perhaps there are household items, such as the washer and dryer, you would be interested in keeping; these also can be written into an offer. A home warranty is another item sellers may agree to purchase for you. These types of seller concessions could offset the gap you and your agent see between asking price and the fair market price.

A Backup Plan
Not all negotiations result in an agreement. Sometimes the parties are too far apart in price, and there’s nothing to be done. In these cases, your agent can be ready with other properties that fit your needs. In any negotiation, you have more leverage if you’re willing to walk away.

The End Game
Above all, remember that negotiating the price you’re willing to pay for a house is just that – a negotiation. You’re trying to reach an agreement that’s acceptable to both you and the sellers. The object isn’t to beat the sellers or win the negotiation. The object is to purchase the house. Good agents know this – and will use their expertise to make it happen.

Find a local RE/MAX All-Pro agent who can guide you through the negotiating process.

8 Tools Every Homeowner Should Own

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Every home at some point requires maintenance. Some of that maintenance doesn’t have to cost you a lot of money if you keep some basic tools around the house. Here are some helpful tools you can keep on hand.

Screwdrivers
Make sure you have both flathead and Phillips-head screwdrivers of various sizes. A complete set is even better, letting you do everything from tightening loose fixtures to putting together furniture. For light projects, you could opt for a single, multi-bit screwdriver that stores detachable heads in the handle and doubles as a nut driver.

Hammer
A good hammer is an absolute staple for everything from hanging photos to repairing fence pickets. The most common size weighs 16 ounces. Consider investing in a good hammer with a claw head and an anti-vibration rubber grip.

Utility knife
A trusty utility knife or box cutter can come in handy, especially if you’re just moving into your home and need to unpack those well-taped-up boxes. And as long as we’re on the subject of knives, consider getting a putty knife. You’ll be surprised how often you’ll reach for it.

Wall level
It only takes a few millimeters for a shelf or artwork to look off-kilter; a wall level takes the guesswork away. Unless you have an experienced eye, a level will help you hang items on the wall evenly the first time.

Measuring tape
You’ll save yourself a lot of frustration if you measure appliances and furniture before trying to fit them into your new place. A long, 35-foot tape measure will do the job in big and small projects. A more modest, 12-foot measuring tape also is a good alternative, particularly for jobs like hanging artwork.

Flashlight
Power outages can happen anytime, so be ready with at least one durable flashlight and batteries. They also come in handy when you’re working on repairs in those darker and tighter spaces. Look for hybrid versions, which use solar power and contain a back-up battery. If your new place has electricity upon move-in, you also can purchase a rechargeable work light.

Wrench and pliers
Start with an adjustable wrench that can handle many different jobs. Six-, eight- or 10-inch long wrenches are the most popular. Pliers also are indispensible; look for ones with serrated jaws that grip objects firmly.

Toolbox
Store your most commonly used tools in a single place, such as an easy-to-carry toolbox, and you’ll always know where to find these tools when you need them.

Do you have a favorite go-to tool? Share it below!

Are you thinking about buying a house? You’ll need a lot of information – and not just about tools! Contact your local RE/MAX All Pro agent to help you find the right home for you.

5 Advantages of Buying a Fixer-Upper

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We all have fantasy images of our dream house. These images may be hard to let go of when buying a home, especially when all you can afford are homes that, well, let’s just say need some TLC.

That’s when it’s important to keep in mind that the fixer-upper you’re looking at could have the potential to someday become your dream house. It’s just one advantage fixer-uppers can offer. Here are a few others:

1. Lower price
A home that needs work likely will be less expensive. Such properties rarely list at full market price.

2. Fewer competitors
Many buyers are unwilling or unable to put a lot of work into a house. This creates the perfect opportunity to snatch a bargain, a major advantage welcomed in particular by first-time homebuyers or house hunters competing for homes in areas with low inventory.

3. A blank canvas
With a fixer-upper, you call the shots as to how the house will eventually look. You don’t have to settle for a home that reflects someone else’s taste. Plus, if you do some of the work yourself, you’re automatically awarded bragging rights.

4. Quicker equity
If you renovate the home shortly after you buy it, you may increase its value quickly. Equity provides many financial benefits, from raising your personal net worth to giving you an opportunity to refinance sooner, if needed.

5. The possibility of renovation loans
Ask your lender about the Federal Housing Administration’s 203k loans that provide homeowners with funds specifically for fixer-upper projects. The loans, the 203k Streamlined Mortgage and the full 203k Mortgage, are available for homes with needs ranging from cosmetic improvements to extensive structural work.

Whether you’re looking for the home of your dreams or a starter house that may need some work, a RE/MAX All Pro Agent can guide you there.

Sweet Incentive for First-Time Homebuyers

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If you’re looking to start your home search this fall, there’s a new pilot initiative that will sweeten the deal if you’re a first-time homebuyer. It’s the Homeowners Armed with Knowledge (HAWK) counseling program, which aims to provide FHA insurance discounts to first-time homebuyers who obtain housing counseling and education via the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD.

Here are the perks: Those who complete the HUD-approved counseling before and after a home purchase will receive a 50 basis point reduction in the upfront FHA mortgage insurance premium (MIP) and a 10 basis point reduction in the annual FHA MIP. In English, that means you could save $325 per year, or nearly $9,800 over the life of your loan.

In addition to the monetary savings, you become more knowledgeable about the home-buying process and better prepared for what lies ahead. Sounds good, right? You also can brush up on the ins and outs of purchasing your first home by browsing through the RE/MAX Home Buying Guide.

Buying a home can be complicated and a little overwhelming. After all, it’s one of the biggest investments of your life. Keep calm and don’t go it alone. A RE/MAXAllPro agent can help guide you in the right direction.

6 Decisions to Make Before the Home Search

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In the market for a new home, but have no idea where to start? There are several decisions you should begin to make before you even start your home search. By asking yourself the right questions, you can quickly pinpoint what you want – and can afford – in your next home.

1. What’s your budget? See how your finances stand up, to see what you can afford to pay each month. A financial adviser or your RE/MAX All Pro agent can help you crunch the numbers. Going through the mortgage pre-approval process lets you know how much lenders will allow you to borrow – plus it helps you show sellers that you have the funds to backup your offer.

2. What do you need in your new home? How many bedrooms or bathrooms do you need? What about a large kitchen, a home office or a playroom for the kids? How many cars need covered parking? It’s critically important to ensure the home you select meets your family and lifestyle needs.

3. Do you want a condo or single-family home? Condos come with much less maintenance. You typically won’t be shoveling snow in the winter or replacing the roof, but you’ll likely pay monthly association fees to cover services and repairs in the community. Houses, on the other hand, come with more privacy and freedom to customize. They also come with full responsibility for maintenance.

4. How do you feel about living under covenants? Depending on where you buy, you may have to pay homeowner association (HOA) fees in addition to your mortgage. There are benefits to HOAs, such as maintenance, community centers, and maybe even a pool or gym. But you also could be faced with more restrictive rules about the look of the outside of your home, down to the color of your front door, types of window coverings, and whether you can plant flowers in your yard.

5. What school district do you want to be near? Even if you don’t have children in the house, local schools will affect your property value. Prospective homebuyers tend to search with education in mind. Do your research on the schools in the areas you’d like to live in.

6. Should the home be move-in ready? Ask yourself how much elbow grease you’re willing to put into a home – or how much you’ll pay someone else to do the work. Fixer-upper homes can be great after the work is done, but you’ll want to figure out your renovation budget before you start your home search. If you’re not ready for the extra financial commitment of rehabbing a home, or you can’t or don’t want to wait for remodeling projects to finish up, then a home that’s move-in ready might be right for you.

After considering all these factors, you’ll be ready to start the home search with a clearer picture of where you’re headed. When that time comes, let a RE/MAX All pro agent guide you all the way there.

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Tips for Improving Your Credit Score

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Looking to buy a home soon? If so, you’ll want to start saving for a down payment – and thinking about getting pre-approved for a home loan. But before you do, it’s worth checking your credit score to see whether you need to bring it up to increase your chances of qualifying.

Your first step is to visit www.annualcreditreport.com to get your free credit report. Some of the things lenders will look for include your debt-to-income ratio, the number of late payments, recent credit inquiries and how many credit accounts you have open.

For an additional fee, you can visit www.MyFico.com to learn your FICO score, which is a key factor in your ability to qualify for a loan and a reasonable interest rate. The higher your score is, the better your chances are of getting a reasonable interest rate.

If you find out that your score isn’t yet at an ideal place to qualify for an affordable home loan, consider taking a few months to get it within a range that improves your chances of qualifying.

Here are a few key tips from Bankrate.com, a leading online aggregator of financial rate information:

  • Pay your bills on time every month. Late payments lower your credit score.
  • Try to pay off your existing balances each month, or keep them within a reasonable range. Your debt-to-income ratio is a big factor in determining your credit worthiness and ability to repay a home loan​.
  • Don’t close any accounts for six months, especially your older credit accounts. They help establish your long-term credit history.
  • Need a score boost quickly? Speed the process up with rapid rescoring through a lender who is subscribed to this special service. If you have legitimate errors on your credit report, rapid rescoring can address and correct them in as little as 72 hours. The service can run about $50 per account but could save you thousands on your loan.

Your agent is a great resource for advice. Contact a RE/MAX All-Pro agent  or RE/MAX Mortgage Division, Mountain West Financial to learn how you can improve your credit score and better your chances of getting pre-approved for a home loan.

 

Listing Photos: What to Look for When Shopping

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These days, very little is left to the imagination when it comes to browsing homes for sale online. With virtual tours, professional photos and mapped locations, it’s easy to see what you might be getting – before you ever set foot in a potential purchase. Technology certainly has its advantages, doesn’t it?

These listing features help you, the homebuyer, narrow down your home search and direct your real estate agent to specific properties. And although you shouldn’t risk ruling out an otherwise perfect property based solely on its online reputation – hey, even houses have bad days – photos and videos can help save time and energy when it comes to building your short list of homes to tour.

So what should you really be looking for based on these photos, videos and mapping tools? Start with:

  • Layout. Does it meet your space needs? Are the only bathrooms upstairs? Is there a pantry?
  • Potential Repairs. Have the original hardwood floors seen better days? Are you up for the challenge of rehabbing?
  • Yard maintenance. Does the home feature a half-acre yard – on a hill – with 30 bushes that need regular pruning? Will you have time to maintain it all – and is the yard worth the effort?
  • Lot location. Are you concerned about being on a corner lot at one of the neighborhood’s main intersections?

Remember, photos and videos can’t always capture everything, so consider your top three priorities in a home. When you think you’ve found them in a property online, it might be worth taking a look in person – even if that shade of green in the kitchen isn’t your first choice.

The best thing you can do is see what’s really there. Contact a RE/MAX real estate agent who can help you find your picture-perfect place.