Category Archives: housing

Ask These Questions When Choosing a Lender

Loan terms, rates, and products can vary significantly from one company to the next. When shopping around, these are a few things you should ask about.

General questions:

What are the most popular mortgages you offer? Why are they so popular?

Are your rates, terms, fees, and closing costs negotiable?

Do you offer discounts for inspections, home ownership classes, or automatic payment set-up?

Will I have to buy private mortgage insurance? If so, how much will it cost, and how long will it be required?

What escrow requirements do you have?

What kind of bill-pay options do you offer?

Loan-specific questions:

What would be included in my mortgage payment (homeowners insurance, property taxes, etc.)?

Which type of mortgage plan would you recommend for my situation?

Who will service this loan—your bank or another company?

How long will the rate on this loan be in a lock-in period? Will I be able to obtain a lower rate if the market rate drops during this period?

How long will the loan approval process take?

How long will it take to close the loan?

Are there any charges or penalties for prepaying this loan?

How much will I be paying total over the life of this loan?

Source: National Association of REALTORS®

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Appraised Value Explanation

  • Appraisals provide an objective opinion of value, but it’s not an exact science so appraisals may differ.
  • For buying and selling purposes, appraisals are usually based on market value — what the property could probably be sold for. Other types of value include insurance value, replacement value, and assessed value for property tax purposes.
  • Appraised value is not a constant number. Changes in market conditions can dramatically alter appraised value.
  • Appraised value doesn’t take into account special considerations, like the need to sell rapidly.
  • Lenders usually use either the appraised value or the sale price, whichever is less, to determine the amount of the mortgage they will offer.

Used with permission from Kim Daugherty, Real Estate Checklists and Systems, www.realestatechecklists.com

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Tips for Hiring a Remodeling Contractor

  1. Get at least three written estimates.
  2. Check references. If possible, view earlier jobs the contractor completed.
  3. Check with the local Chamber of Commerce or Better Business Bureau for complaints.
  4. Be sure the contract states exactly what is to be done and how change orders will be handled.
  5. Make as small of a down payment as possible so you won’t lose a lot if the contractor fails to complete the job.
  6. Be sure that the contractor has the necessary permits, licenses, and insurance.
  7. Check that the contract states when the work will be completed and what recourse you have if it isn’t. Also, remember that in many instances you can cancel a contract within three business days of signing it.
  8. Ask if the contractor’s workers will do the entire job or whether subcontractors will be involved too.
  9. Get the contractor to indemnify you if work does not meet any local building codes or regulations.
  10. Be sure that the contract specifies the contractor will clean up after the job and be responsible for any damage.
  11. Guarantee that the materials that will be used meet your specifications.
  12. Don’t make the final payment until you’re satisfied with the work.

Source: National Association of REALTORS®

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Is a Final Walk-thru Important?

It’s guaranteed to be hectic right before closing, but you should always make time for a final walk-through. Your goal is to make sure that your home is in the same condition you expected it would be. Ideally, the sellers already have moved out. This is your last chance to check that appliances are in working condition and that agreed-upon repairs have been made. Here’s a detailed list of what not to overlook for on your final walk-through.

Make sure that:

  • Repairs you’ve requested have been made. Obtain copies of paid bills and warranties.
  • There are no major changes to the property since you last viewed it.
  • All items that were included in the sale price — draperies, lighting fixtures, etc. — are still there.
  • Screens and storm windows are in place or stored.
  • All appliances are operating, such as the dishwasher, washer and dryer, oven, etc.
  • Intercom, doorbell, and alarm are operational.
  • Hot water heater is working.
  • No plants or shrubs have been removed from the yard.
  • Heating and air conditioning system is working
  • Garage door opener and other remotes are available.
  • Instruction books and warranties on appliances and fixtures are available.
  • All personal items of the sellers and all debris have been removed. Check the basement, attic, and every room, closet, and crawlspace.

Source: National Association of REALTORS®

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Ready Your Home For Winter

  1. Ensure there are no gaps in insulation or crawl spaces that expose pipes to cold air, which could put the pipes at risk of freezing and bursting.
  2. Have your heating system checked by a licensed technician before cold weather requires daily use.
  3. Block drafts around doors, windows and baseboards with weather stripping, window film and caulk to control heat loss.
  4. Install storm doors and windows to improve energy-efficiency and get rid of drafts.
  5. Have chimneys cleaned by an experienced chimney sweep to prevent the risk of a fire from buildup or blockages.
  6. Spray door locks with powdered-graphite lubricant to prevent freezing and sticking.
  7. Set ceiling fans to rotate clockwise to force rising warm air back towards the floor.
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