Archive for Real Estate Tips

Understanding Appraisals and What to Do If Your Home Doesn’t Appraise for Its Purchase Price

Posted in Real Estate Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on June 17th, 2021

Understanding Appraisals and What to Do If Your Home Doesn't Appraise for Its Purchase PriceIt can be a bit of a surprise if your home turns out to be valued at less than the purchase price offered, but this is the type of thing that can occur in an appraisal situation. While this can change everything from your contract to the amount of your down payment if your home has been appraised at less than you envisioned, here are some options you may want to consider.

Review The Appraisal Contingency Clause

If an appraisal contingency clause is built into the terms of your contract, this means that the terms of your contract can be re-evaluated and re-negotiated if an appraisal happens to come up short. While this is meant primarily to protect the homebuyer against a lower appraisal, it doesn’t mean that the terms of a new deal can’t be met for the good of both parties.

Get A Second Appraisal

It’s entirely possible that the initial appraisal is accurate, but it doesn’t necessarily hurt to get a second opinion in the event that the first appraisal seems too low. While you can work in conjunction with your lender to get a second appraisal, you may need to pay for it the second time around in order to get your initial purchasing price. Whether it happens to be good news or bad news, it can be worth the peace of mind to know how to proceed.

Consider A Lower Price

It’s less than ideal when your home is appraised for less than the purchase price, but this doesn’t have to be a deal breaker when it comes to selling it. While you may be able to get away with a higher price for your home in a hot real estate market, if things have cooled off, this can be an important time to re-negotiate the deal you’ve got. If a potential buyer likes your home and has already made an offer, they may be happy to decide on new contract terms.

It can be quite disappointing if your home is appraised at a value that is less than the offer you’ve received, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll have to put your home back on the market. Whether you and the potential buyer decide to re-negotiate or get a second opinion, there are options that can be beneficial for both parties. If you’re currently going through the appraisal process, you may want to contact your local mortgage professional for more information.

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Looking to Close Faster? Follow This Easy Guide to Speeding Up the Mortgage Process

Posted in Real Estate Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on June 10th, 2021

Looking to Close Faster? Follow This Easy Guide to Speeding Up the Mortgage ProcessIf you’re buying a home, you’ll want to try to get your mortgage processed as quickly as possible. Improperly filed mortgage applications are one of the biggest reasons why home sales get delayed, and if you have a hard move-out date already set, it’s critical that your mortgage process goes smoothly.

With careful planning, though, you can shorten the mortgage process and get your financing approved faster. Here’s what you need to do to speed up the approval.

Get Your Paperwork in Order Before You Apply

One of the biggest reasons why mortgages get delayed is because the applicant is missing a vital piece of paperwork. Something like a missing pay stub or a forgotten home insurance document can hold up the mortgage process, so make sure you have everything you need before applying for your mortgage.

When you apply for your mortgage, you’ll need pay stubs dating back four weeks, plus a bank statement for the last 30-60 days. Note that you’ll need the actual statement from your bank – online screenshots don’t qualify. You’ll also need a homeowner’s insurance declaration document and any legal documents pertaining to your finances, like a divorce decree.

Keep Your Finances Consistent Once You’ve Applied

Once you’ve started the mortgage approval process it’s critical that you keep your finances fairly consistent, as major changes will mean your mortgage lender will need to restart the evaluation process. Try to avoid making larger than usual bank deposits, and don’t take out a new loan or credit card. Keep your credit card usage similar to where it’s been in the past.

If you do end up making major changes to your finances, make sure you send the proper documentation to your lender as soon as you can. Call ahead of time to make sure you know what you need to send.

Don’t Forget to Mention Assets and Debts

Before your mortgage is approved, your lender will want to take a thorough look at your existing debts and assets. If you exclude information, your lender will need to spend extra time untangling the situation and determining your proper finances. Make sure you tell your lender about any and all investment properties you own, mortgages on other homes, or loan and credit card balances that are past due.

Getting a mortgage is a complicated process, but having your documents in order can speed things up and ensure you get your mortgage on time.

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What Are The Top Ways To Win A Bidding War?

Posted in Real Estate Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on June 9th, 2021

What Are The Top Ways To Win A Bidding War?Right now, there are not a lot of houses for sale, as inventory and new home construction continue to lag behind buyer demand. In addition, low mortgage rates are accelerating demand, meaning that in many situations the sellers are receiving multiple offers. Therefore, it is important for potential buyers to do everything they can to win a bidding war. What are a few ways buyers can give themselves an advantage?

Get Pre-Approved For A Home Loan

The first thing interested buyers need to do is to get pre-approved for a home loan. Because many sellers have options, they might be more willing to take a cash offer because they know the money is going to be there. In order for potential buyers to compete with cash offers, they need to get pre-approved for a home loan, which tells the seller that the buyer has already been approved for a home loan by the lender. Getting pre-approved can make buyers more competitive.

Present The Best Offer First

Because many properties are receiving multiple offers, buyers need to be ready with their best offer at the outset. If they can convince the seller to forgo listening to other offers, they have a better chance of securing the home. Therefore, buyers have to work with experienced professionals who can help them figure out what their budget is, what comparable homes are selling for, and how they can make a competitive offer that could convince the seller to say yes quickly.

Act As Quickly As Possible

Finally, buyers have to be ready to act fast. Properties are not staying on the market as long as they once did. For example, one site says that homes are spending 20 days fewer on the market now than they did one year ago. Therefore, buyers do not have time to wait. If they have trouble getting their work schedules set, traveling to the area, or lining up a showing, the home could be off the market by the time this is done. Buyers must act as quickly as possible.

Get Ready To Win A Bidding War

These are just a few of the most important steps buyers need to take in order to win a bidding war. While the market is hot, it is possible to find a home at a fair price.

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How Does A Change In Mortgage Rates Impact A Family’s Housing Budget?

Posted in Real Estate Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on May 27th, 2021

How Does A Change In Mortgage Rates Impact A Family's Housing Budget?

The housing market is extremely competitive right now because mortgage rates are still near record lows. While mortgage rates are rising this year, the rates are still attractive to many individuals and families who are looking to buy a home. At the same time, when mortgage rates change, families need to re-evaluate their budgets. A change in mortgage rates will impact the monthly mortgage payment, so families need to know what they can afford.

Furthermore, because the market is so competitive, sale prices are going up as well. As mortgage rates and home prices rise, families need to determine what their monthly budget is. Even a small increase in the mortgage rate can make a big difference.  

Families Must Do The Math To Figure Out Their Monthly Mortgage Payments

Families need to figure out what monthly mortgage payment they can afford before they make an offer on a home. The factors impacting the monthly mortgage payment are the loan amount, the interest rate, and the repayment period. Many homeowners take out a 30-year mortgage; however, borrowers might be able to adjust the term to meet their specific needs. A few important points to remember include:

  • If the number of years over which the loan is paid back goes down, the monthly payment will likely increase
  • If the interest rate on the loan goes up, the monthly payment will increase
  • If the loan amount goes up, the monthly payment will increase

Families can adjust all of these factors to find the right monthly payment for their budgets.

There Are Ways To Reduce The Interest Rate On A Loan

Finally, there are steps that families can take to reduce the interest rate on their loans. For example, families might be able to put more money down to qualify for a better interest rate. This could reduce the monthly payment, keeping the loan amount within the family’s budget. Or, families might be able to pay down other types of debt such as credit card debt or car loans. If families have a lower debt to income ratio, they might qualify for a better interest rate. This could help families afford a larger house without having to spend more money.

Reevaluate

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How to Become a Homeowner: First Time Home Buyer Guide

Posted in Real Estate Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on May 14th, 2021

How to Become a Homeowner: First Time Home Buyer GuideBecoming a homeowner for the first time is exciting. However, for many potential buyers, the process can also be confusing. Below is an overview of the steps you need to complete in order to buy your first home. 

Work Out The Finances

The first step in buying a home is deciding on a price range. This price range will be determined by your income, as well as your own comfort level with home prices and monthly payments. Consider all of these factors to determine the maximum amount you are willing to spend on your new home. 

In most cases, you will be required to pay the downpayment and closing costs upfront, even if you are financing the rest of the home’s purchase price.

In general, most lenders will expect a downpayment equal to 20 percent of the home’s purchase price. Otherwise, you may be required to pay mortgage insurance. Before buying a home, set enough money aside to cover these expenses. 

For most homeowners, the next step in the home buying process involves looking into different mortgage options. Unless you have enough money to purchase your home for cash, you will need a mortgage. Be sure to compare quotes from different lenders before making a choice to be sure you are getting the best deal.

Once you have chosen a lender and a specific type of mortgage, ask for a preapproval letter that you can attach to any offers you make so that you will be a more reliable and attractive buyer. 

Hire An Agent 

When searching for the perfect first home, hiring a real estate agent to represent you throughout the process is highly recommended. Your real estate agent will act as a buyer’s agent, which means they will have your best interests at heart. When you don’t have a buyer’s agent, you will be dealing only with the seller’s real estate agent instead. Because this individual has been hired to represent the seller, they will always put the seller’s needs above yours. 

Find The Right Home

Once you have a qualified agent to represent you and a preapproval letter from your lender, it is time to start looking for your new home! Your real estate agent will help you comb through listings and choose the properties you want to see. Next, you will walk through each home until you find the one that is right for you. After you have chosen a home, your real estate agent will help you prepare and submit an offer to the seller. 

The process of buying your first home may seem overwhelming at first. However, by following these steps, you can simplify the process and become a homeowner with ease. 

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The Potential Pitfalls of Buying a Second Home for Income

Posted in Real Estate Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on May 11th, 2021

The Potential Pitfalls of Buying a Second Home for IncomeAside from owning a business, owning rental property has been one of the top investment choices for people, most commonly done through buying a second home. Handled right, income properties can generate significant gains for investors, both in terms of real estate appreciation as well as monthly income from tenants. However, it’s not sure a surefire approach to financial success. There are a lot of ways that a budding real estate investor can go sideways with an investment property home purchase as well.

Watch Out for the Seller-Renter

Many times people will sell a home but then offer to rent it from the buyer, essentially trading their home title for ready cash but not really moving out. These situations come up a lot where someone wants to stay where they are but doesn’t want to deal with a mortgage anymore and would rather rent. They are also frequently listed as buyer-direct home sales versus using a traditional route through a real estate agent and broker. The big risk here is that the seller is able to unload the home on the buyer, and then stop paying the rent a few months in. The deal allows them to avoid foreclosure but then it becomes the landlord’s problem to actually evict. By the time the legalities are done and eviction is finally achieved, many landlords have taken a loss on the property and end up selling again. It’s better to have a clean sale with no further obligation between the parties and start with brand-new renters altogether.

Have a Good Strategy Ahead of Time

There are different ways to make a net profit from a rental property. Depending on the cost of financing, down payment and expectations of holding a residential property the driver for profit can be different. Some expect to make a gain both from rental income as well as equity growth. Some realize with the cost of financing, the better plan is to use rental income to pay for the mortgage as much as possible and make the net gain on the property equity appreciation over time. How long a property will be held can come into play as well. Knowing going in what one’s strategy is can help avoid mistakes once a commitment has been made or being surprised if the market has a downturn etc.

Tax Benefits are Different

An income property doesn’t get the tax same deduction benefits of a first home. The mortgage interest deduction, one of the biggest tax benefits possible for an individual is not possible with a rental income property. However, if you are operating your rental property purchased as a business, many of the expenses of running that business can be deducted through the Schedule C form process with an income tax return. Check with a tax advisor or attorney to be sure for your specific situation and interests.

Owner Responsibilities

Just because you rent the property doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. As a new buyer and owner, you’re still responsible for the property taxes due, HOA assessments, utilities and other costs tied to the property. Unless you contractually make the renter responsible, the tax, HOA and utilities will address the property in your name as the owner. Some forget this fact and get a nasty surprise in the mail with a tax or assessment lien on their property.

In short, buying a second home as an income property has the potential for significant investment gain, but it doesn’t operate on auto-drive. You need to still be involved quite a bit and watch whom you rent to when protecting your property interest.

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3 Things You Must Do after Inheriting a Home

Posted in Real Estate Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on May 10th, 2021

3 Things You Must Do after Inheriting a HomeThere can be a lot of excitement when it comes to the realization that you’ve inherited a home, but simply because it’s an inheritance doesn’t mean there aren’t a few strings attached. Whether you’re expecting to be gifted with a home in the future or you’re currently going through this process, here are a few things you may need to watch out for.

The State Of The Mortgage

Once a home has been effectively handed over to you, it’s important to determine the status of the mortgage with the lender and if anything is still owed. While you have the option of taking over the mortgage in a lot of cases, in the event that there’s a reversible mortgage or you’re choosing to rent it out as a second property, you may not be able to transfer the mortgage. While this can often be a rather seamless process, if money is owed there can be other factors to consider.

Determine If You Want It

If you already have a first home and don’t want to take care of your second property as a rental unit, it’s important to realize that keeping the home may not be the best decision for you. While you have the option of organizing a short sale if you’d like to get it off of your hands, you can also contact a real estate agent who will be able to provide you with advice on how to proceed if you’re unwilling (or unable) to take control of the property.

Is It In Good Condition?

Whether you want to keep the home or not, there can be cases where it’s not even a question if it’s a home that you’re going to end up investing money into without much return. In the situation that a lot of money is owed on the house or there are serious issues with its general condition, you may want to release yourself from the inheritance and move on with your financial situation still intact.

There can be an instant feeling of acquired wealth in the event that you’ve inherited a home, but a home in bad condition or that you don’t want to take care of can end up being more of a headache than anything else. If you’re currently considering your options when it comes to a home inheritance, contact your local mortgage professional for more information.

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What to Do With Spot When Buying a Home

Posted in Real Estate Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on May 6th, 2021

What to Do With Spot When Buying a HomeBuying a home in another location far away can be challenging in terms of logistics as well as moving, but it becomes additionally harder for pet owners who may not be able to take their bigger animals with them right away.

Oftentimes folks may have to prepare a newly-bought home for a pet, make multiple moving trips or might not be able to take the new pet to the location at all for a while. All of these situations can be frustrating and difficult for both the pet and owner. Some available solutions can make some sense depending on the situation.

Family or Friends

Ideally, if a person has a family member or friend whom the pet can stay with for a temporary duration, that can be an advantage. If doing so, make sure your pet is already good around other people as it will have anxiety being left in a new place with unknown people for a long time and missing you. Also, make sure whom you leave the pet with has had experience with animals. Folks who have never had a big dog for a pet, for example, may hit you with a surprise when they suddenly can’t care for your pet being overwhelmed a day or week into the favor.

Short-term and Long-term Kennel Services

Alternatively, kennel and animal boarding services can help. Keep in mind you get what you pay for. Low cost kennels will likely keep your animal in a basic unit, often cement, with few amenities aside from water and food and an hour of exercise time. It’s a bit like prison for an animal. Better services focus on care for animals lodged, give them exercise and socialization time, keep their cages or containers clean, and interact with the animals when feeding. These facilities cost more, but they tend to keep the pet mentally healthier during the stay.

Permanent Separation

In some cases, a home buying move may require one to give up their pet completely. The first step should always be to try to give the pet to family or a friend who will take care of the pet right and wants to take on the pet willingly. These are the best situations, and the pet likely may know the person already. It will still be depressed for a while, but the pet will transition better.

If you don’t know anyone willing and a separation is a must, don’t immediately resort to the local pound or animal control as they unfortunately end up having to euthanize animals they can’t adopt out. There are multiple rescue groups based on specific breeds who will take the pet and try to adopt it out to a willing and vetted family and new home that can handle the breed. These groups work nationwide through networks and move former pets to new homes regularly.

Separating from a pet is no fun and often painful, but there are options to provide care temporarily or long-term versus just leaving a pet with local animal control. Planning and some research will typically produce multiple choices locally, and they could very well make your move and new home transition easier.

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How Does the Escrow Process Work when Buying a Home?

Posted in Real Estate Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on May 5th, 2021

You Ask, We Answer: How Does the Escrow Process Work when Buying a Home? When you purchase a new home, escrow is a word that you will hear numerous times from different parties. There are several types of escrow accounts that will be established, and you may be wondering where your money will go when placed in an escrow account or how it is applied to your transaction. By taking time to learn more about the escrow process, you can be a more informed buyer.

Your Initial Escrow Deposit

Within a short period of time after your offer is accepted by the buyer, you will be required to make an escrow deposit to the title company. Typically, you will write a check for the escrow deposit, and your title agent will hold the funds in a non-interest bearing account. These are funds that will be applied to your down payment at closing, and they serve as a good faith of your interest to proceed to the seller.

In the event you back out of the contract after the option period has passed, the escrow deposit may be handed over to the seller and would not be refunded to you.

Escrows for Taxes and Insurance

In addition to this type of escrow deposit, you may also hear about an escrow account for your property taxes and insurance. Setting up this type of escrow account may be a requirement by your lender, but it is not always required. Essentially, this is the account that your property taxes and homeowners insurance will be paid out of. You will pay a specified amount of money into the escrow account to establish a balance at closing, and a portion of your monthly payments will be applied to taxes and insurance as well.

The amount of money that is required at closing will be dependent on the month that you close as well as the annual costs for taxes and insurance.

Essentially, escrow accounts are established to pay for specified expenses that you are required to pay for as a buyer. The initial escrow deposit for the sales contract is a short-term type of escrow account, and the property tax and insurance escrow will remain intact until your mortgage is paid off in most cases.

Now that you know more about the escrows that you will be required to contribute money to as a buyer, you will be a more informed buyer when making your real estate purchase.

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How To Get A Mortgage If You Are A Gig Worker

Posted in Real Estate Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on April 15th, 2021

How To Get A Mortgage If You Are A Gig WorkerTwenty years ago the economy was putting the dot-com bubble behind it, and people were buying homes. The high majority of folks worked for someone else; they received a paycheck, were given a W-2 from their employer, and filed their income tax returns accordingly.

This also provided easy documentation to loan officers when folks wanted to borrow a mortgage to buy a home. As of 2019 36 percent of workers in 2020 were identified as bona fide gig workers per the federal government, or a bit more than 1 out of every 3 workers. That change translates to mortgage application processes today.

However, house loan processes have been particularly strict since 2009, especially due to how flexible and liberal loan reviews were at the time during the 2000s real estate bubble that ended that year and almost took down the major banking system in the collapse. For gig workers who essentially function as their own small businesses or as independent contractors, there is no consolidated income report aside from income tax filings.

Most have earned their money from multiple sources to make up a full living income. As a result, matching gig income to a traditional mortgage model can be challenging. Here’s what gig workers should anticipate and be prepared to answer as a result.

Definitive Proof of Income

For the gig worker proof of income is practically the same as showing how a small business produces a net profit sufficient to be invested in when asking for a business loan. As a gig worker, you won’t have a W-2 statement that is accepted as universal proof of your income and ability to pay a loan payment. So, you will need to provide a substitute that can be independently verified.

That means your income proof will need to show your bank statements evidencing all major payments coming in as well as matched by your IRS Schedule C and IRS Form 1040 showing how your income is arrived at. Because IRS forms are under penalty of perjury, they are considered a reliable income proof source for lenders. Some lenders may go further and want to see MISC 1099 forms received by clients for the last three years as well. Bank statements can reinforce assets’ availability as well, but they are not a full substitute.

Keep Your Credit Card Debt Nil or Low

Many independent workers ride on credit cards to pay bills in between jobs. Unfortunately, this also inflates personal debt, which mortgage lenders don’t want to see. To be successful with a mortgage as a gig worker, your credit card balances need to be kept as low as possible. You can have other debt, but it is best to be structured like a student loan or car loan. These don’t change from month to month and are predictable, but a credit card balance can grow quickly, creating a lending risk. Pay pending bills, lower the balance, and shift the debt to other financial tools if you can. The less revolving debt (credit cards), the better.

Boost the Down Payment

Having a larger down payment works wonders in any mortgage application. The traditional amount is 20 percent of the price of the home you want to buy. If you’re in that range, great. If not, save more. Talk with your lending professional to find out about lower down payment options as well. Don’t forget your closing costs. In some cases, those can be contributed by the seller of the home. Once again, your lending professional will be able to give you the best advice for your situation.

Be Realistic

Finally, don’t apply for a mortgage well beyond your income level and savings. You’re just wasting a lot of time and setting up for a disappointment. Focus instead on having a sizable down payment, documented income, and a home price well within your combined payment range. This will bolster your application and resolve a lot of concerns that otherwise get a denial.

Talk with your real estate and mortgage lending professionals for details based on your personal situation.

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