Shirley Giroux RE    
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Open House ~ Beyond the Basics


Buying
Re Mortgage Originator/Financing
It's A Great Time To Buy
Home Buying Guide
10 Mistakes Buyers Make
Are You Ready To Be A Home Buyer

Ask Shirley

Are these low selling prices going to last forever?
    
Well, in October of 2010 the sale prices for existing homes rose slightly from 2009. That's not saying much, but  economists at Moody's Analytics say the market has hit the low point in the cycle. The worst is over.

Don't cheer just yet. Other economists say the market has just begun "a long climb out of a deep hole." With another million foreclosures anticipated for 2011, I do not feel we've reached bottom just yet. read more >>

    Low home prices won't last forever, but it could be some years before you could get the price you would like for the home you are selling.
    Right now, buying and selling are a trade off. That is, you sell for a lower price, but you also buy for a lower price. With the home you buy at this time, you'll get a lot more for your money than what that home would cost in years to come.
    Under the present conditions, you and other prospective buyers would do well to ask yourself what the personal cost of not moving forward would be.
    The home you would buy is the place you need today. It would have more rooms and be more efficient for everyday housekeeping and activities. The enjoyment and excitement factors involved in getting the new place could be significant.    
    One of the big questions involved in buying is whether you have enough equity in your present home so the mortgage can be paid off.
    If that's not a problem for you, this is an excellent time to begin your search for the right home.
    How long would it take to sell your present home? If it's in a neighborhood people like and it's in good condition, it might not take very long. Friends of mine were shocked when their home sold in two weeks.
     It's true that if you wait several years before selling your place, you will probably get a few thousand dollars more for it. But why wait until your children are grown up or away at college before going into a home where each could have their own room, or a guest room for visiting grandparents or maybe a recreation room they would all enjoy?


Selecting a mortgage lender for a new home is one of the most important steps to ensure that the loan process runs smoothly and you get the right loan.

  •   Mortgage Brokers
They work with multiple lenders to get the best pricing for you. They act as
an intermediary between you and the lender. Some have the capability to furnish a
construction loan and convert it to permanent financing when the home is complete.

  • Mortgage Bankers
Bankers negotiate with multiple lenders to get a good interest rate and product for you.
They keep the loan “in house,” which means their own employees process the loan
completely. This is a good option if you are limited on closing time.

If you are building a custom home, a mortgage banker may have access to construction
financing in-house or may broker this portion of the loan out to other construction lenders
(interim lenders).

  • Banks and Credit Unions
They can be a direct source for mortgages and construction financing. They may not be
able to offer the best interest rates because they don’t work with multiple lenders. The loan
could take less time.

  • Builder’s Mortgage
Lenders or Brokers
Many production home builders have their own mortgage lenders. Some will make it a condition of your contract that you use their lender. But they may require points up front.
Once you agree to this, the
interest rate or loan program
might be higher than the market  
interest rate.
It’s wise to write in the
construction contract that you
would like the option to use
the lender of your choice.
This will make the builder’s
mortgage lender try to be
competitive. If they are not,
you can use your own lender
and still have incentives offered
in the contract, according
to experts at :
newhomesmarketcenter.com.
Choosing a New Home Mortgage Lender
Eco-Fashion: “Living Walls” Grow Green
Architects are expanding on the idea of roof
gardens by creating exterior wall gardens.
While roof gardens have long been touted as
an eco-friendly, energy-saving idea, the notion of
making walls into gardens never took root in
design circles until recently. Now, architects are
calling on hardy perennials such as Pachysandra
terminalis to create a stunning new look in building
design, according to Time.
Pennsylvania’s Longwood Gardens boasts
North America’s largest living garden wall. At
3,590 square feet, it’s 50 percent bigger than the
previous record holder, PNC Bank in Pittsburgh.
In South America, the InterContinental Hotel in
Santiago, Chile, has unveiled its 17,000 square
foot living wall.
These living walls require expensive drip irrigation
and electronic monitoring systems so the
plants don’t dry out.

It's A Great Time To Buy
Motivated Sellers Abound

Now is an ideal time to buy.  In many markets prices won't go any lower and there are approximately 4 million active listings.  The number of homes for sale are at a 15-year high.  There are many options available for buyers and sellers.  Let me be your guide through this process.

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Buying a Home ~A Guide to Getting Started ~ Step-by-Step                     
By , About.com Guide


Let's say one morning you wake up and realize that, yes, buying a home is the right thing to do for yourself.. You're tired of throwing away money on rent and figure that it's time to get into a home of your own. But you have reservations.

After all, if it's your first time, you've got questions. You might be a little nervous that you'll mess up, and it's normal to feel that way. You are probably spending hundreds of thousands of dollars and making the most important financial purchase of your life.

You will find that being an informed individual about the home buying process is empowering for you. Lucky for you that you came to the right place. So let's get started buying your first home!

Consider if Buying a Home is For You

Many people harbor secrets fears about buying a home, and some of those fears are justified. Not everybody is cut out to own a home, and if you're one of those people, it's better to find this out now than when you're under contract.

  • Renting vs. Buying.
    You might decide that renting is better for you than buying, because buying a home has its drawbacks.

  • Reasons to Buy.
    On the other side of the coin, there are many more benefits to buying. Keep these reasons in mind if you start to get cold feet.

  • Should You Buy a Home Before Getting Married?
    Tips for home buying with a partner or significant other before tying the knot, plus how to handle the financial details of homeownership without plans to ever marry.

Before Buying a Home, Get Your Finances In Order

Line up your financing, set aside a down payment and study the loan programs available. By doing your homework, you will know exactly how much you can pay and what it will cost you.

  • Order a Free Credit Report.
    Give yourself time to clean up a credit report that contains mistakes. Dispute errors. Try to reduce your monthly debt obligations now by paying down those loan balances.

  • Find a Lender.
    Check out places to get a mortgage and compare rates and fees. Start with your own financial institution, then interview a few mortgage brokers and choose a loan product you completely understand.

  • Determine a Down Payment.
    The more you put down, the lower your monthly mortgage payment. Here are 12 places to find a down payment.

  • Consider FHA Loans.
    FHA loans carry competitive interest rates, come with minimum down payment requirements and allow sellers to pay some or all of your closing costs.

  • Get a Preapproval Letter.
    Showing the seller you are already preapproved for a loan gives you an edge during offer negotiation.




Learn How to Avoid Home Buying Mistakes

The best way to avoid making a mistake it to learn from the mistakes others have made. Buying a home in a desirable location is your best defense. Remember: location, location, location.

  • First-Time Home Buyer Tips.
    Start your search online, and don't rely on print because most homes are not advertised in the newspaper.

  • Preview Homes for Sale.
    Ask your agent to look at homes before showing them to you, and tour only those that fit your parameters.

  • Avoid the Top 3 Home Buying Blunders.
    Protect your earnest money deposit by writing contingencies into your contract. Here's how to make sure you buy the right home.

Make an Offer and Negotiate Like a Pro

Although buying a home is not like buying a car, for example, you can still negotiate to get a good price.

Get a Home Inspection and Read Disclosures

Never buy a home without getting a home inspection. Most states have laws about the types of disclosures you are entitled to receive.

  • What a Home Inspection Covers.
    Go through this list and make sure your home inspector doesn't miss anything crucial.

  • Material Facts.
    Besides disclosing lead-based paint, which any home built before 1978 can contain, sellers should notify you of major defects.

  • Do a Final Walk-Through.
    Always do a final inspection a few days before closing to make sure the property is in the same condition as when you agreed to buy it.

Closing on Your Home

Transactions generally close within 30 to 60 days after your offer has been accepted. Remember to reserve movers or a moving truck early because many people move at the end of the month.

  • Home Insurance.
    Shop for insurance rates carefully. Often, the company that insures your automobiles may offer you the best policy rates.
  • Title Insurance Policy.
    You might think you don't need a title policy, but it's the cheapest form of insurance you can buy, and you pay the premium only once.

  • Home Buying Closing Process.
    This covers every step of the home closing process, from the beginning to the end.


 10 Mistakes Buyers Make When Buying A Home
     Protect yourself from these common pitfalls...

1.     Making an offer on a home without being qualified.
          Pre-qualification will make your life easier - so take the time to speak with a lender.  Their specific questions in regard to income, debt, etc., will help you determine the  price range you can afford.  It is an important step on the path to home ownership/

2.     Not having a home inspection.
          Trying to save money today can end up costing you tomorrow.  A qualified home inspector will detect issues that many buyers can overlook.

3.     Limiting your search to open houses, ads or the internet.
          Many homes listed in magazines or on the internet have already been sold.  Your best course of action is to contact a Realtor.  They have up-to-date information that is unavailable to the general public an are the best resource to help you find the home you want.

4.     Choosing a real estate agent who is not committed to forming a strong business relationship with you.
          Making a connection with the right Realtor is crucial.  Choose a professional who is dedicated to serving your needs - before and after the sale.

5.     Thinking there is only one perfect house out there.
          Buying a home is a process of elimination, not selection.  New properties arrive on the market daily, so be open to all possibilities.  As your Realtor for a comparative market analysis.  This compares similar homes that have recently sold, or are still for sale.

6.     Not considering long-term needs.
          It is important to think ahead.  Will the home suit your needs 3-5 years from now?

7.     Not examining insurance issues.
          Purchase adequate insurance.  Advice from an insurance agent can provide you with  answers to any concerns you may have.

8.     Not buying a home protection plan.
          This is essentially a mini insurance policy that usually lasts one year from the close of escrow.  It usually covers basic repairs you may encounter and can be purchased for a nominal fee.  Talk to your agent to help you find the protection plan you need.

9.     Not knowing total costs involved.
          Early in the buying process, ask your Realtor or lender for an estimate of closing costs.  Title company and attorney fees should be considered.  Prepay responsibilities such as Homeowner Association fees and insurance must also be taken into account.  Remember to examine your settlement statement prior to closing.

10.     Not following through on due diligence.
          Buyers should make a list of any concerns they have relating to issues such as; crime rates, schools, power lines, neighbors, environmental conditions, etc.  Ask the important questions before you  make an offer on a home.  Be diligent so that you can have confidence in your purchase.

Oh, by the way... Whenever you come across people who are thinking about buying or selling a home and who would appreciate the kind of service I offer, I'd love to help them.  So, as these people come to mind, just give me a call with their name and business phone number.  I'll be happy to follow up and take care of them.

~~~~~~~~~~

Are You Ready To Be A Home Buyer?

Most buyers of real estate are making the biggest investment they will most likely ever make in their lives, which can be scary for some buyers.

Many first-time home buyers put down a minimum amount and buy a home using an FHA loan. This means your home is leveraged, and you can't immediately flip it for profit. This is a long-term commitment.

Top 5 Traits of a Home Buyer

Everybody needs to live somewhere. If you can buy a home for about the same amount you would pay in rent, and want to stay rooted long enough to build equity, then becoming a home buyer may be a good decision.

You will make a good home buyer if you are:

  • A buyer who conforms to the market.   

    If you're the type of buyer who thinks, "Every home on the market is overpriced; I'm not paying that much," then you're not conforming to the marketplace. Serious home buyers research the market and have realistic expectations.

  • A buyer who has savings equal to 2 to 3 months of mortgage payments in reserve.

    Mortgage lenders want buyers to have a reserve. You should not put your entire savings into your home purchase. You should maintain an emergency fund.

  • A buyer who has the resources and time to maintain a home.

    Homes require upkeep. You'll have a lawn to mow, was the windows, replace the furnace filters, and you will need to tend minor repairs from time to time.

  • A buyer who is employed with at least two years on the job.

    You must have two years of employment at the same company, or two years within the same industry. Lenders expect to see stability in a buyer's employment history.

  • A buyer who plans to stay in the area.

    If you're uncertain about maintaining residency within the state, it's probably a good idea to skip buying a home. Some buyers who relocate are able to rent out their home, but handling a rental long distance is not always wise. You don't want to be forced to sell when you don't have enough equity to pay commissions and the other selling expenses.


Making Your Home Cozy for Winter
 
Heating your home is not enough. You also need to make sure that warm air does not leak out of your house. To do that, you need to first find the leaks. You can use an incense stick to detect gaps at the joints of walls, ceiling, and floors. Also check around doors and windows. You can even have leaks at electrical outlets in your exterior walls.

Once you know where the leaks are, you need to seal them up. Apply weather stripping to windows and doors. You can use caulk around the frames of doors and windows. If there is a large gap, you may need to use expandable foam to completely fill in the space. To properly insulate your outlets, use special insulation gaskets that fit under the face plate of the outlet.

One thing you need to be careful of, however, is that you don’t seal up your home too tightly. Some ventilation is needed to reduce indoor pollutants and to ensure healthy air circulation. Make sure that the ventilation fans above your stove and in your bathrooms and laundry room are working properly. And on nice days, open a window or door for a few hours to ensure some access to fresh outside air.
 
Selling Your Home
Your Showing: Beyond The Basics


Cleaning is perhaps the most crucial part of a successful showing. When communicating the value and uniqueness of your home, dirty clothes in the laundry room and stains in the carpet will cut you off at the knees every time. However, while most people think to clean a property and remove clutter from areas of the house, there are some ways that a seller can go the extra mile to interest a potential buyer.

It is important to remember that when you put your home on the market, you are entering into a competition with every other home for sale in your general price range in your area. That means that anything you can do to set yourself apart from the rest of the homes in your area will pay dividends as potential buyers think more about your home than the others out there.

When a potential buyer arrives for your showing, often they have already been to another potential new home and may be on their way to another after yours. During such a cluttered schedule that is typical for most real estate transactions, giving yourself an edge through an exceptional showing can certainly help you secure a deal in the long run.

The Lived-In Blank Slate
When a potential buyer enters your home, that person's thoughts immediately go to how they would fit in this home and how their family would fit in the home. If you have decorated your home in all bright pink walls, that might be just what you want to live in, but it will disrupt the ability for a buyer to picture living in that property.

Avoid this by making sure that your home balances the feeling of a blank slate but still keeping the feeling of home that enhances a buyer's impression of the property. They want to imagine living in the home but they don't want to imagine it with nothing to go on. This follows all the way down to closets and cabinets. People will open your cabinets, so be prepared to make sure that what they see when they do won't turn them off of your home.

Your Furnishings Are Merely Accents
Chances are, you will not be leaving your furniture behind when you move out of your property. A potential buyer will be bringing in entirely new furniture with a new color scheme and may even paint all of the interior walls a specific favorite color. Simply put, the buyer is not buying the way you decorated the property so don't make your decorations the star of the show.

All of the contest of your home should be geared towards maximizing the way the architectural elements of the property show. If one of your big selling points is a breakfast nook, providing the furnishing for that breakfast nook can help a buyer picture having that as a part of daily life. However, if you have an incredibly expensive, ornate table, you will detract from the architecture and focus eyes on the furnishings.

Similarly, you can use this trick in reverse to hide some of the architectural shortcomings of your home. Perhaps a particular window trim is not contemporary enough but you don't want to spend the money to update it. Use a fancy window covering to draw attention away from that part of the property.

While cleaning and removing clutter from your home provides the foundation of a positive showing, going the extra mile before a prospective buyer enters your home will dramatically increase your chances of selling the property. By giving a potential buyer a somewhat generic presentation in the design that is used chiefly to accent the home itself, you will give yourself a leg up on the competition in your area and spur meaningful interest in your home.

The body of this article is taken from it's original article by my WA colleague, Joe Lane, co-owner of The Lane Real Estate Team, Kennawick, WA RE.  You can visit him at http://www.joelane.com/.

Are you looking for an experienced agent in the New England, Bristol County area? With 25 years of service based, business experience, Shirley Giroux works hard to serve home buyers and sellers in the Bristol County and surrounding areas.

Are these low selling prices going to last forever?

    
Well, in October of 2010 the sale prices for existing homes rose slightly from 2009. That's not saying much, but  economists at Moody's Analytics say the market has hit the low point in the cycle. The worst is over.

Don't cheer just yet. Other economists say the market has just begun "a long climb out of a deep hole." With another million foreclosures anticipated for 2011, I do not feel we've reached bottom just yet.

Low home prices won't last forever, but it could be some years before you get the price you want for your home.

Right now, buying and selling are a trade off.  That is, you sell for a lower price, but you also buy for a lower price.

The home you buy today is more than the home you will buy when values increase.

In today's market, the question to ask yourself is what would be the personal cost of not moving forward today?    The place you need today is the home you should buy.  Your larger home would have more rooms and be more efficient for everyday housekeeping and activities.  The
 enjoyment and excitement involved in getting the new place are not insignificant factors either
.    
A major question involved in buying is whether you have enough equity in your present home to pay off the mortgage.  If that's not a problem than this is an excellent time to begin your search for the right home.

How long would it take to sell your present home?

If it's in a neighborhood people like and the property is in good condition, it might not take very long. Friends of mine were shocked when their home sold in two weeks.  Although many homes have been on the market for a year and longer.

It's true, if you wait several years before selling your place, you might get a few thousand dollars more for it. But why wait until your children are grown up or away at college before going into a home where each could have their own room? Or to do without a guest room  or maybe a recreation/family room?