Auction 101: Bidding On Your First Property

Auction 101 Bidding On Your First PropertyWith the right combination of strategy, knowledge, and luck, flipping houses can create big profits for short-term investors. However, your path to success starts at your first auction.

For first-timers who are intimidated by their lack of experience at public auctions, follow these steps to ease the confusion of your first property purchase.

Locate Auctions In Your Area

Finding live auctions is as simple as an internet search. Websites run by government agencies list homes that have been seized due to tax liens or foreclosures. Try searching databases maintained by:

  • Fannie Mae
  • The FDIC
  • The US Department of Housing and Urban Development

Another option is your local newspaper. Banks publish foreclosure notices in the public notice section. You can also find advertisements from auction companies and information from the sheriff’s or county tax collector’s office that helps you hunt down low-cost properties.

For busy investors who plan to use real estate as an extra income, be certain to enlist the help of a professional real estate agent. They often keep lists of homes in foreclosure in the surrounding area.

Assess Available Properties

All properties are not created equal. To find the right fit for your project, find the following information for each potential listing.

  • Current bid price
  • Previous purchase price
  • Length of time property has been unoccupied
  • Property condition
  • Number of bedrooms and bathrooms
  • Sales history of homes in the surrounding neighborhood

This information isn’t always readily available. You may be able to find more information via an MLS search, public lands records, or various real estate websites that publish property data. Of course, if you’re working with a real estate agent, they will provide all the data you need to make the right decision.

Some auction sites include pictures and map data. At other auctions, bidders may be allowed to visit the property or hold open houses before the sale occurs.

Perform A Title Search

When you’ve found a few properties that you like, take some time to do a thorough title search. This process ensures your property doesn’t come with some unfortunate surprises.

During your search, you’ll need to:

  • Obtain records from the tax assessor to verify the tax status of the property.
  • Locate the property’s deed either physically or online.
  • Investigate the property’s sales history to ensure no one else can claim ownership.
  • Check for liens, unpaid mortgage commitments, and legal judgments against the property.

Once a property has cleared these steps, you’ll be ready to start placing bids on your first investment property.

Trying new things can be daunting as well as exciting. Don’t forget to rely on your trusted and reliable real estate professional to guide you along your home buying venture.

3 Green and Gorgeous Trends in Home Design

3 Green and Gorgeous Trends in Home DesignThese days, people want energy-efficient homes that look great. To answer the call of passionate environmentalists, developer are rising to the occasion and designing home features that minimize waste, save energy and reuse reclaimed materials. The results are gorgeous, green homes that help move the sustainable living trend forward.

Hidden Solar Panels

Solar panels are a great way to save energy, but not everyone loves the optics. A series of solar panels on the roof may save you money on your utilities, but it can detract from the natural shape of your home. As an alternative, innovative in-roof solar panels are installed level with the roof line.

This is accomplished by designing a deeper roof so the solar panels are flush with your shingles or other roof material. Of course, this requires some forethought, but it’s not impossible to retrofit your existing home to take advantage of the clever development.

Reclaimed Materials

Deconstruction involves the “un-building” of a house. Specifically, when buyers or developers tear down a structure before building a new one, they attempt to reuse, salvage or donate as many materials as possible. Otherwise, all this material ends up in a landfill.

Reclaimed brick brings a rustic character to a new home. It also adds a historic appeal and interest to an interior or exterior space. Wood siding and beams reduce further deforestation and often give you beautiful hardwoods and rugged lumber that has stood the test of time. Reclaimed flooring often nets you thicker wood slabs that you can refinish for a powerful visual effect.

Bamboo is the ultimate sustainable building material. This fast-growing wood results in light-colored, unique wood floors. Although its’s softer than traditional hardwoods, it’s a great wood substitute that can regenerate in three years with minimal pesticides or fertilizers.

Large Windows That Conserve Energy

In the past 20 years ago, windows have gotten larger – and more energy-efficient than ever. High-performance glazing and innovative frames hold in heat in winter and cool air in summer.

Steel windows now open up and require fewer mullions to support larger glass panes, which reduces construction materials and air leakage. This means that green-minded homeowners can enjoy floor-to-ceiling views of the ocean or mountains without paying a huge utility bill or expending vast amounts of energy.

Be sure to let your trusted real estate agent know if green living is on your priority list for your future property.

 

 

3 Things You Should Know About Land Surveys

3 Things You Should Know About Land SurveysOne thing to think about when purchasing a home or parcel of land is to have an updated land survey conducted. While property deeds generally include detailed information, many are outdated for a variety of reasons that include nature, weather conditions, and adjustments in floodplain maps among others.

Even when the information about the property is spot-on at the closing, human perception of where your property begins and ends can lead to some unenviable outcomes. Given that buying real estate ranks among the largest personal investments for most people, these are three things you may want consider about land surveys.

Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

The old Robert Frost poem “Mending Wall” ponders the reasons that people erect property line fences and why they fix them each spring. The reason is a simple one, setting boundaries avoids unnecessary disagreements and allows people to get along.

Land disputes can turn otherwise friendly neighbors into hostile abutters because there is a pervasive sense that someone is stealing from you. Good fences are the product of clearly identified boundary markers and professional surveyors are the people who measure and certify them. If you plan on buying or recently purchased a parcel of land, updating the land survey may be in you and your neighbor’s best interest.  

Squatters Can Take Your Land Through Adverse Possession

Many states continue to allow the practice of adverse possession. In some places, it’s known as “squatters rights.” If someone who does not rightfully own a piece of land can maintain or utilize it for a period of time, they may be able to put in a claim.

Although many people consider this an outdated and unfair practice, it remains too common in rural and suburban areas. Misplaced fences are often the basis of such claims. When abutters work your land or use it to access their own, that can be the basis of a claim to get a permanent easement or take it from you.

Land Surveys Can Be Used For Insurance Purposes

The severe weather storms that struck communities across the country have prompted organizations to update their floodplain maps. Property owners who were not previously required to purchase flood insurance may now find themselves considered “at risk.”

But that designation can be considerably more complex than just owning a home or residential property inside the flood zone. These updated maps do not necessarily consider the elevation of each and every property. In order to be properly listed, you may need to have an elevation certificate to petition FEMA and others that your property is not at risk. That means having a professional land survey conducted.

There are numerous reasons why current land surveys can prove valuable to real estate buyers and sellers. Without one, you are operating without critical information about a significant investment.  Your trusted real estate agent and home mortgage professionals can refer you to appraisers and land surveyors in your area. Be sure to rely on these valuable resources during your new home purchase.

Buy Or Build Your Home? 5 Factors To Consider

Buy Or Build Your Home? 5 Factors To ConsiderA home is one of the biggest investments you can make, and the American Dream for many. Most people spend significant time finding or designing their “dream home.” The first decision is whether to buy or build. 

As of September 2018, the average sales price of a new home was $377,200, according to joint data collected from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Existing homes sales price was approximately $258,100, according to the National Association of Realtors. 

New homes attract bigger prices than existing ones, meaning building costs are also high. So, how do you decide what is best for you?

Here are five factors to consider. 

Time 

Building a home takes time since you must complete several phases. You must buy land, find an architect to design, get building permits, find a contractor and start building. It can take between six months and a year before you move into your new home. 

Buying an existing home shortens that time. For a new house, you can move in once the escrow closes. Older homes may require renovations, but it won’t take long. 

Home Design 

Building your home gives you the benefit of customization. Working with your architect, you can design your dream home to reflect your taste and preference. Buying an existing home, means you may have to compromise on a few aspects. 

Energy Efficiency 

Rising energy costs is a concern to potential homeowners. Designing your own home means you can incorporate measures to be energy efficient. Buying an old home may require more resources to upgrade. That might end up hitting your wallet harder. 

Fortunately, most homebuilders are responding to market demands for energy efficient homes. Most new homes meet these standards. 

Budget 

Budget is an important consideration when buying or building your home. A buying price on an existing home reflects the value of the house.  

Building, on the other hand, means you have to juggle a budget constantly throughout the construction period. It is not uncommon to spend more than you budgeted for initially. 

Even if you decide to find a perfect existing home, you may finally opt to build. Conversely, you may strategize to build and later choose to buy an existing home. In both cases, working with qualified professionals such as a trusted mortgage lender, real estate agent or a builder can make the process seamless.

 

How The Title Search Works

How The Title Search WorksA title search is an early warning system for buyers and lenders. It reveals flaws the owner must resolve prior to a closing or refinance request. This allows the owner to clear any issues on the title so that the process can move forward. Also, it protects the buyer or lender from assuming an obligation they aren’t responsible for. 

Title Search

A chain of title exists in the public records. It shows the history of property title transfer from each previous owner to the next. Unfortunately, these searches are labor intensive and require a specialist called a title examiner.

The search may take the title examiner back to a time when property laws were much different. Technically, only 40-60 previous years are required, but this may omit important information on older properties. Therefore, title examiners typically go back to the original owner.

Tax Search

The second step involves a search of tax records to ensure there are no unpaid taxes that could result in a tax lien on the property. The local municipality could hold buyers responsible if the taxes aren’t paid prior to the closing.

Inspection

If the title insurance is for a refinance loan, the lender often orders an inspection. The inspector examines the property to investigate whether there are any encroachments or other defects that affect the title. They also verify the lot size, note unrecorded easements and then mark the location of improvements.

Judgments

Judgment decrees, liens and unpaid federal taxes entail a claim on the property that supersedes a lender’s or buyer’s rights. Therefore, if discovered judgments create a cloud on the title, the current owner must resolve them before the transfer of title to the buyer.

Closing

The lender or buyer and seller can proceed with the closing after all defects have been cleared. However, the title company won’t issue a commitment to insure the property if clouds remain on the title. 

Understanding how the title process works can make the closing process easier and might make buyers a little more patient while waiting for the title commitment to arrive. 

Your trusted real estate agent and home mortgage professional will be there to guide you through the process and help you communicate effectively with your lender. These partnerships can be a key element in your successful transaction.

5 Home-Buying Pitfalls To Avoid

5 Home-Buying Pitfalls To AvoidBuying your home can be nerve-racking, especially if it’s the first time. The buying process is exciting and often complex. The chances of making a mistake are relatively high. 

In today’s real estate market where demand surpasses supply, you can’t afford to make mistakes. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

If you are in the market to buy a house, here are five pitfalls avoid. 

Not Doing Your Homework Well 

Fortune favors the prepared in real estate. And preparedness begins with understanding your finances. A wise buyer examines assets, analyzes debts and gets finances pre-approved before jumping into the house hunt. 

Know the neighborhood well, since you’re also buying a location. It’s paramount to research about the quality of schools, upcoming zoning issues and crime level. Not all suburb spots are ideal to live in.

Picking The Wrong Mortgage 

Getting your loan preapproved puts you in a better position to negotiate. Find out how much property you can afford. Don’t rely on your bank’s internet site only. Instead, use calculators and consult with your trusted mortgage professional to find out how much you can borrow. 

It’s worth noting that what banks show they can lend can differ from what they will lend. As such, it’s imperative to choose your mortgage carefully. Compare offers from various banks or consult an independent finance broker. 

Going With The Market Flow 

Resist the temptation to flow with the market rather than your needs. The real estate market goes in cycles. There are times suitable for buyers, and times suitable for sellers. 

However, don’t gamble with your future by sitting and waiting for the right time. Once you know your budget, get your finances organized, think about your needs now and in future. Then use short term market conditions to make long-term lifestyle choices. 

Exceeding Your Budget 

Most homebuyers fall for the trap of picking more appealing properties that cost more than their budgets. Falling into this pitfall can derail your future finances. 

Although it’s human nature to yearn for more than we can afford, resist the desire. Surpassing your budget exposes you to potential financial shocks with bigger payments, property taxes and more.

Falling In Love 

If you find the perfect house, keep it to yourself. Don’t let the sellers read your emotions. If they do, they may use them against you while negotiating. 

Wise buyers know there are several homes out there, and there is one that’s right for them. If you can’t afford one or your offer isn’t accepted, keep looking and move on. 

Buying a home is rejuvenating. However, if you’re not careful, you can make mistakes you may regret later. Be sure to consult with your trusted real estate expert and trusted mortgage professional to get the best advice for your situation. 

 

 

What Happens After Your Offer Is Accepted?

What Happens After Your Offer Is AcceptedWhen you make an offer on a home, you wait anxiously to see if it will be accepted. Sometimes you’re lucky enough to hear back within hours. Other times you could wait days or even weeks.

But once you get that good news that your offer has been accepted, what happens next? It’s a common question, and one that your real estate agent can help you with. In general though, here’s what you can expect.

There’s A Home Inspection

A home inspection needs to be conducted in order to assess the condition of the home for financing needs. This is a stage where some issues might come up that require negotiation. If serious problems are reported on the home inspection report, you could try to negotiate a lower price with the seller, but they don’t have to agree to that. 

There’s A Lender Home Appraisal

A lender appraisal will also have to be done. This is when the lender asks a third party to come out and assess the financial value of the home. If the appraisal comes out well, you could get approved for the selling price. But if the appraisal comes out lower than the selling price, you could have a hard time getting a mortgage unless the seller is willing to come down in price.

You’ll Go To The Closing

Now’s the time to get your financing finished up. If you’ve been pre-approved, that’s great. But your pre-approval may only be conditional. That is, it may be contingent on your financial situation to be completely in order. The full approval process may unveil something that needs to be corrected before you actually get final documents for the home purchase.

Once the documents are issued, you will go to the loan closing to sign the documents.  This usually happens with a third party closing agent or escrow company that ensure everything is in order.

The final word is that a lot can happen between having your offer accepted and actually getting the keys to your new home. That’s why it’s absolutely essential to work with a trusted home mortgage professional and a licensed real estate agent when buying a new home. They’ll be able to navigate you through any of the rough spots that happen along the way. And while there are things that can go wrong along the way, chances are great that eventually you’ll be able to happily call yourself a homeowner!

Big Cities vs. Secondary Markets: Where to Buy?

Big Cities vs. Secondary Markets Where to BuyAtlanta, Charlotte, New York and Los Angeles are always on the real estate radar because of big ticket sales and good media coverage. The secondary markets – those markets without the celebrity undertones – may actually be better deals. With the price of borrowing money rising and occupation rates dropping in primary markets, places like Nashville and Birmingham are looking better to investors.

Where Are the Secondary Markets?

A secondary market is generally defined as a mid size or large city that has recorded an uptick in growth in the immediate past. They do not have quite the economic clout or media presence of a primary market, although they may rival each other in terms of population.

Generally, the influx of new attention for a secondary market will be from young professionals. These are people who are upwardly mobile and seeking new forms of skilled employment. This is what has driven the markets of cities like San Antonio, San Jose, San Diego, Phoenix and Philadelphia to new heights in recent years.

What Do Experts Think?

Experts believe that primary markets have topped out for the time being. With occupancy rates dropping from highs in the lower 90 percentiles, primary markets are just too saturated for their own good. Landlords in these areas are more unwilling to lower rents in these areas, because there are usually more high income earners established there who want to stay in the area to keep a legacy job or maintain a family.

Rising real estate prices and interest rates also put the primary housing market out of the reach of many outsiders. Researchers have found that doing real estate business in a secondary market can provide an investor with a 16% premium. The cost of real estate itself is around 38% lower. So are the costs of maintaining a property (energy costs 22% lower; labor costs 14% lower).

The New Primary Markets?

With respect to income, secondary market housing prices are up to 45% more affordable. Individuals notice this, and so do commercial investors and developers. This is why the mad rush to cities like Phoenix and San Diego will be red hot for the next few years, say investors, even in relation to established cities like Los Angeles and New York.

No matter where you are looking to purchase your new home, you can rely on your trusted real estate professional to help you locate your dream property options. 

Differences Between A Short Sale And A Foreclosure

Differences Between A Short Sale And A ForeclosureIf you’re looking to get an untraditional deal on a new home purchase, you may encounter either a short sale or a foreclosure. These two terms refer to sales that are not usual. As a homebuyer, it’s important to understand the differences between them and how each one might affect your buying experience.

What’s A Short Sale?

A short sale is a situation where the owner has a strong motivation to hurry up and sell their home. In so doing, they’re willing to sell for less than what they owe on the house. Homeowners have a variety of reasons why they might do a short sale. Their reasons might include a personal emergency, or they might be trying to protect themselves against a future foreclosure.

In a short sale, the owner’s lender has to be apprised of the plan. In many cases, the lender is supportive of the short sale, since it keeps them from having to go through the long and expensive process of a foreclosure.

Short sales can represent great deals for buyers. However, since this type of sale is so unusual, the process of buying often takes a much longer time than a regular home purchase. You’ll need to be patient, but if the sale does go through, your patience can pay off.

What’s A Foreclosure?

A foreclosure is a situation where the owner’s lender is forcing the sale of the property due to unpaid mortgage payments. The lender is essentially taking back ownership of the property. The bank then puts the home up for sale as a foreclosure, and is the official seller of the property.

A foreclosure property may offer a good deal for a buyer, but the process may be long and drawn-out. Since the seller is the lender, they are not in any particular hurry to sell a property, and the transaction can be very complicated.

If you’re interested in buying a short sale or a foreclosure, you should look for a real estate agent that specializes in these types of transactions. Your real estate agent can help you to successfully navigate through all the red tape that short sales and foreclosures inherently have.  

4 Signs You’re Going To Need A Bigger House

4 Signs You're Going To Need A Bigger HouseThere comes a time in every young homeowner’s life when they need a bigger house. When you buy a starter home, it’s unlikely that will be your forever home. But how do you know when it’s time to spend the time and effort to upgrade to a larger home?

Here are four signs you’re gonna need a bigger house!

1. You Have To Move Stuff To Get To Other Stuff

In a house where there is enough room for everything, you can move freely and access all your things without having to rearrange furniture. If you find yourself constantly pushing other things aside in order to get to what you want, there isn’t enough space in your home.

2. You’re Always Misplacing Things

The key to organization is having a spot for everything. But if you’re short on space, everything can’t have its own spot. That’s when things get lost or misplaced. If you repeatedly misplace your belongings, you probably need a bigger house.

3. You’ve Got A Growing Family

Do you have a little one on the way? As your family grows, your need for space will increase. It’s hard to imagine that a small baby will take up much space, and they don’t. It’s the baby accessories that take up the space; the high chair, the playpen, the walkers, the crib, the toy chest and more. It’s all fantastically fun, but you are going to need a bigger house.

4. You Just Feel Cramped

You and the other members of your family should each feel like you have space to be alone, spend time on hobbies, and have private conversations. If you just feel cramped all the time or you feel like you don’t have any privacy, it could be because your house is too small.

When you finally realize that the problems aren’t with you, but with the size of your house, it’s very liberating. Now you have the answer to the issues. All you have to do is go out there and find a bigger house to move into.

Call your trusted real estate agent and explain your reasons for moving so they can help you find a new home with more square footage.