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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Do You Need a Real Estate Attorney to Help Close Your Home Purchase? Let’s Take a Look

Posted in Home Buyer Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on April 29th, 2021

Do You Need a Real Estate Attorney to Help Close Your Home Purchase? Let's Take a LookWhen buying a new home, you may have a close eye focused on your budget and expenses, and your goal may be to keep related expenses to a minimum. However, you may also be well aware that a real estate purchase is a legal transaction, and you may be wondering if you need to pay for legal services from a real estate attorney. With a closer look, you can make a better decision that is right for your home buying plans.

The Legal Forms Used With A Typical Transaction

The majority of real estate contracts will be written using standard legal forms. These are legally binding forms with clauses that protect buyers and sellers alike. While they are standard forms, you do want to read the forms in their entirety and understand your obligations before signing the contract. Keep in mind that you are not required to use these forms, and you can request an attorney to prepare a separate contract for you. However, these are commonly used forms that real estate agents typically will use.

The Services Of A Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent is not a legal professional, and your agent likely will not be licensed to practice law in the state. However, the agent can explain your obligations with a standard contract so that you have a better understanding about what you are committed to. Your real estate agent may refer you to a real estate attorney if you require a special contract to be drawn up or if you are not comfortable with different clauses in the standard forms.

When Special Situations Arise

The standard real estate contracts will typically be feasible for use with most transactions, but there are special situations that may arise from time to time. For example, you may only want to purchase a portion of a large estate. While the seller would need to subdivided, your attorney would need to review special documents to ensure the transaction is legal. Perhaps you want to purchase real estate in a corporation or under another entity, or you want to protect your rights when purchasing property with a partner who you are not legally married to.

While real estate agents are not legal professionals, they are able to prepare standard contract forms for you and explain them to you. Because of this, many people will not need to pay for additional legal services, but each situation is unique. When you speak with your trusted mortgage professional about your upcoming purchase, he or she can help you to learn more about services an attorney may provide that your real estate agent may not be able to.

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Buying a Home? What to Do if Problems Are Found During the Final Home Inspection

Posted in Home Buyer Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on April 28th, 2021

Buying a Home? What to Do if Problems Are Found During the Final Home InspectionAs a home buyer, you may go through a number of different steps to ensure that the property that you purchase is in great condition. For example, you may complete an initial walk-through or even several home tours before you make an offer. You may also order a property inspection and even negotiate for the seller to make some repairs on your behalf.

A day or two before your closing date, you may set up a final home inspection to ensure that the home is still in the same condition as the initial walk-through. In most cases, there will be no problems with the final inspection. However, in the event that there is a problem with the final inspection, you will need to know how to handle it.

Work With Your Real Estate Agent

As a first step, you should discuss the issues with your real estate agent. Your real estate agent may have some strategies or ideas that can be used to help you overcome the issue in the best possible way. Minor issues may be resolved with a last minute negotiation to the sales contract. More significant issues may need to be rectified prior to closing, and you may need to delay the closing by a few days or longer until any issues are resolved.

Consider Walking Away

It may be rare for a property to have issues during the final home inspection, and most issues that do arise at this late stage in the buying process may be resolved through negotiations between the buyer and seller. However, in the event that the seller plays hardball and refuses to work with you to resolve the matter, or in the event that the issue is so significant that you are not comfortable with it, it may be an option to walk away from the property.

In most sales contracts, wording is present that requires the property to be delivered to the buyer in the same condition as it was when the contract was signed less general wear and tear. Walking away may not be ideal, but it may be the best option in some cases.

Making a final home inspection is not a requirement, but it is advisable. It can ensure that the home your purchase is in the same condition as it was when you did the initial walk-through, and you can apply these tips if you discover that the home is not in the same condition.

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Home Buying Horror Stories: How Buying a Home Can Go Wrong – and How to Avoid These Mistakes

Posted in Home Buyer Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on April 23rd, 2021

Home Buying Horror Stories: How Buying a Home Can Go Wrong - and How to Avoid These MistakesWhen you buy a home, you may have dreams of settling into a beautiful new space that meets your needs and that your family can feel comfortable in. While many will enjoy this vision of domestic tranquility after taking ownership of their dream home, others have had their dream turn into a veritable nightmare due to some simple mistakes or oversights on their part. By understanding these mistakes, you can avoid making them yourself.

Paying Too Much For The Property

One the surface, the main cost of buying a home relates to the sales price, and it is true that your monthly housing payment may be the primary related expense. However, other expenses such as homeowners insurance, property taxes, repair and maintenance costs, utilities and more will all need to be factored into the cost of home ownership. Some buyers believe that because an online calculator or a lending professional tells them that they can afford a high priced home that it is the case. You can review your budget and estimate all related home expenses to determine how affordable a specific property is for you.

Finding Out That The Location Is Undesirable

There are many things that can make a location undesirable, and you should take time to become comfortable with the location before making an offer. Consider, for example, if the neighbors like to throw loud parties on the weekend or if there is a teen driver that likes to speed down the street. If you are buying a property with open land or vacant buildings around it, consider researching zoning, and think about future uses for these properties that could influence value and desire.

Discovering That Your Property Is In Bad Condition

Some home buyers discover after purchasing a property that it is not in the best condition, and some even learn that their home needs tens of thousands of dollars of repair work or more. Even properties that appear to be in great condition on the surface may have hidden issues with the foundation, structure, roof, pipes or electrical work, to name a few. You can order a property inspection to learn more about the true condition of a property.

These are among the most common issues that can turn a dream home into a nightmare. When you work with a local real estate agent when buying a home, your agent can help you to avoid unpleasant and costly mistakes such as these.

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The Three Essential Habits That Successful Home Buyers Must Embrace

Posted in Home Buyer Tips,Mortgage by Michigan Real Estate Expert on April 22nd, 2021

The Three Essential Habits That Successful Home Buyers Must EmbraceWhether you are preparing to purchase your first home or it has been many years since you last walked through the home buying process, you may be starting to feel overwhelmed at the thought of all of the work that lies in front of you. From concerns about finding the right home to the physical act of relocating all of your belongings after the closing, there is certainly a lot to think about. While each home buying transaction is unique, the most successful home buyers have typically adopted a few behaviors. You may keep these in mind to help you navigate through the process with success.

Keep An Eye On Your Budget

Financial stress when buying a home is common. You may have saved for years to afford your down payment, but there are various expenses that some may have not calculated or planned for. It is important to leave extra funds available for unexpected expenses, such as paying for the appraisal up-front on the home you have fallen in love with. Likewise, keep a close eye on your budget so that you are aware of your financial situation at all times.

Be Available And Flexible

It is imperative that you remain available and flexible as much as possible. Your real estate agent may call you at the last minute with a great new listing that has come on the market, and you may need to be flexible with your schedule to see this property before other buyers do. In addition, you may need to be flexible and accommodating with regards to contract negotiations, working with title company requests and more.

Seek Advice And Knowledge

Buying a home does not have to be stressful, but it also is not something that you do every day. There is a lot for even an experienced home buyer to learn, and you should be prepared to seek advice and to educate yourself along the way. Ask questions as necessary, and use the Internet for additional research.

Home buying is a process, and you may consider taking one day at a time as you proceed through the journey to reach your ultimate goal. A skilled real estate agent can guide you through the process and can help you to more successfully reach your goal. Reach out to a real estate agent today to begin looking for your new home.

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Approved With Conditions: What Does It Mean?

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on April 7th, 2021

Approved With Conditions: What Does It Mean?Applying for a home loan might not be the most exciting part of purchasing a home; however, many homeowners need to go through a lender to purchase a home. It is exciting to hear that the approval letter has gone through; however, it is also possible for someone to see that they have been approved with conditions. What does this mean?

What are some of the most common reasons why someone might have conditions?

It Could Just Be Standard Procedure

Sometimes, people see that they have conditions to meet as a simple part of the approval process. For example, someone might be missing standard paperwork. It is the job of the underwriter to make sure that the lender is not taking on too much risk. Usually, this simply means that the loan requires some additional paperwork to be made final. Applicants need to gather this paperwork as fast as possible so the loan continues through the process. If there is a seller waiting, it is critical to jump on this immediately to prevent the offer from falling through.

What Are The Most Common Conditions?

There are several conditions that people might have to meet in order to finalize the loan approval process. For example, some people may need to provide letters of explanation, documenting anything that could be related to questions in the file. In other situations, a large deposit could require a letter of explanation as well. That way, the lender knows that someone has not taken a cash advance or opened another line of credit to cover the down payment. In other situations, proof of employment could also be listed as a condition of approval. Lenders want to make sure that applicants are going to keep their job after they purchase the house. Finally, earnest money proof could also be required. This is simply a copy of the earnest money check itself. It is critical for applicants to provide this paperwork quickly in order to finalize process.

Try To Meet All Requested Conditions As Quickly As Possible

It can be frustrating to see that a loan has been approved with conditions. Fortunately, a lot of these conditions are relatively easy to meet. Homeowners that are requested to provide proof to finalize the application process should try to do this as quickly as possible.

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Buying and Selling a Home at the Same Time? How to Juggle These Two Transactions

Posted in Real Estate Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on March 30th, 2021

Buying and Selling a Home at the Same Time? How to Juggle These Two Transactions There are few things that can be more stressful than buying or selling a home. When you are buying and selling a home at the same time, your stress level may understandably skyrocket through the roof. There may be financial aspects of both transactions that may be cause you stress, and you may be dealing with logistical issues or simply feel stressed by the stacks of documents piling up for both transactions. While this will inevitably be a challenging time in your life, you can more easily navigate through the transactions with success by following a few tips.

Consider the Timing of Both Transactions

One of the best things you can do when buying and selling a home at the same time is to plan ahead and consider the timing of both transactions. You may get lucky enough to get an offer on your home from a buyer who wants to close just a few days before you close on your new home. However, it is more likely that these two transactions may be finalized weeks or longer apart from each other. You may need to plan on finding an interim home or paying double mortgages for a period of time. You may consider which of these two options is more preferable to you based on your work situation, your family’s needs and your budget.

Prepare a Budget Ahead of Time and Update It Periodically

Financial stress can mount during this period of time. You will need to make a good faith deposit and pay for third party reports and mortgage application fees for your new home purchase. You may also need to pay money to make repairs and to stage your current home before you list it. It is common to rent a storage unit and to pay for boxes and moving supplies as well.

In addition, a buyer for your current home may request that you make repairs to your home before closing. It is important that you prepare a budget so that you can pay for all of these expenses as they arise, and you should consider leaving yourself ample funds for unexpected expenses. If you run into a cash crunch, consider completing the sale of your current home entirely before going under contract with your new home purchase.

Use the Same Real Estate Agent for Both Transactions

The knowledge and support of a real estate agent can be beneficial to you for both transactions, and you may consider using the services of the same agent for both. Dealing with one person who is familiar with your goals and needs can be truly beneficial to you throughout the entire process, and he or she may offer insight about the best steps to take to make the transition from one home to the other smoother for your family.

While buying and selling real estate can be stressful, you do not have to make the process more difficult than it needs to be. You can set up a time to meet with a real estate agent today to begin discussing your plans and to take the initial step.

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Ready to Relocate? 3 Tips on How to Set a Moving Budget That Won’t Break the Bank

Posted in Real Estate Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on March 25th, 2021

Ready to Relocate? 3 Tips on How to Set a Moving Budget That Won't Break the Bank Relocating to a new area can be exciting, but it can also be expensive. There are many resources to help, but most cost money. However, if you take your time and plan carefully, you can reduce the expense so you don’t start your new life with new debt. Here are three tips to controlling your moving budget.

1. Find Out What’s Free

Nothing is better than paying nothing, right? Don’t assume you have to fork out money for everything you need to move. If you have accepted a new job, ask your new employer whether the company can cover any of your moving expenses.

When it comes to moving supplies, see what you can get without having to pay for it. Stock up on free moving supplies by asking your workplace, local grocery stores, and friends and family for unneeded, sturdy boxes. Instead of paying professional movers, see if you can barter with friends or family for help in moving boxes to and from the truck.

2. Focus On Essentials

After you’ve pursued every possible angle to cover your needs for free, you will likely need to pay for something. The trick is to only do so for what is absolutely necessary. Many providers will offer you help along the way, but you should only sign up for basic services. This could include moving big items such as a piano, paying for gas and tolls, or buying cartons for oddly-shaped or particularly valuable items. If you are not able to move things yourself, this could include hiring professionals.

3. Do It Yourself

If you have the time and are physically fit, start long before moving day and pack everything yourself. Rent or borrow a truck and move your boxes yourself, perhaps with the help of a friend. Take care of disconnecting old utilities and signing up for new ones. Handle both cleaning your old home and preparing your new one. Anything you can do with a little elbow grease will mean less money out of pocket.

Call your real estate agent for advice on keeping moving expenses down. Ask about providers who may give you a discount for being referred by your agent. Remember that you are in charge of your move, so don’t automatically sign up for every service available. By using free goods and services when available and doing much of the work yourself, you can set and follow a moving budget you can afford.

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Making The Offer: 4 Ways To Craft An Offer That Will Catch The Seller’s Attention

Posted in Home Buyer Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on February 18th, 2021

Making the Offer: 4 Ways to Craft an Offer That Will Catch the Seller's AttentionIt can take a time and effort to find the perfect home to purchase. After you have found that home, you need to convince the seller that your offer is the one they want to choose. There may be multiple offers made at the same time, and you may be in a situation where you are competing for the home.

Even if your offer is the only one the seller receives, there is no requirement that they must accept the offer you make. Crafting an effective offer that will catch the seller’s attention is important, and you may be able to accomplish this by following a few tips.

Offer Close To The Asking Price

One of the first things most sellers will look at when they receive an offer is the price you are offering to pay. You may feel as though the seller is asking too much for the home, and your agent may advise you to offer a lower price. On the other hand, there may be multiple offers, and you may feel as though you need to offer a price higher than what is being requested. With your real estate agent’s advice in mind, consider that a seller will be more inclined to accept an offer if it is close to what they are asking. If your offer is too low, they may decline it without looking at the other merits to your offer.

Request A Quick Closing

When you prepare your offer, one of the factors that you will have control over is the requested closing date. Sellers generally want to close quickly, but this is not always the case. Each market is unique, but a general rule of thumb is to offer a closing date that is 21 to 28 days away, contingent on mortgage approval. You may work with your real estate agent and mortgage company to determine when a reasonable closing date is. However, offering a quick closing generally shows that you are a motivated buyer.

Choose A Shorter Option Period

A sales contract has an option period, which allows the buyer to back out of the deal for any reason. This may be a time when you get your third party reports, such as the property inspection, completed. A shorter option period may be preferred by sellers. This is because the buyer is generally locked into the contract contingent on mortgage approval after the option period has expired.

Offer A Higher Non-Refundable Good Faith Amount

When you make an offer, you will also give the seller a good faith or earnest money deposit. The amount of the deposit will be disclosed in the contract, and you will typically hand it off after the offer has been accepted. This is the amount of money that you stand to lose if you do not follow through on the terms of the contract. A higher good faith or earnest money amount shows that you are serious about buying the home.

There are many factors that a seller is thinking about when reviewing an offer. While the entire offer will be reviewed fully, the fact is that these factors are generally given significant weight in most seller decisions. You can work with your real estate agent to structure the best offer possible.

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Buying Your First Home? Here’s Why You’ll Need to Ensure You Have a Proper Home Inspection

Posted in Home Buyer Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on February 10th, 2021

Buying Your First Home? Here's Why You'll Need to Ensure You Have a Proper Home InspectionThere’s a whole lot to learn when buying one’s first home, an investment that can bring joy, but sometimes, grief. A competent real estate agent can assist in locating those homes that meet the home buyer’s needs and can advise on factors such as market value of the home and neighborhood services. The agent will help the buyer through the negotiation and purchase process. But the buyer should take responsibility to make sure that the steps below are taken.

Home Inspection Contingency Included in Purchase Offer

At the point where the buyer finds a home and decides to make an offer, the contract should be written contingent on an acceptable inspection. If serious issues are found, the buyer has the options of requesting certain items to be fixed, to be compensated for the costs of repair, for a lower purchase price or to cancel the contract. Without this contingency, the buyer is bound to the contract without these options and may suffer huge costs.

Selecting the Home Inspector

Reputable and successful home inspectors may be recommended by the real estate agent or friends. The buyer should talk with prospective inspectors and ask for references. Another indication of competency is an affiliation with professional groups such as the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) or the National Association of Home Inspectors (NAHI).

Inspecting the Home

There are potentially many problems in homes that are not visible to the eye. The home buyer that engages a professional home inspector can be assured that major problems will be identified. As an added value, by accompanying the home inspector and asking questions, the first-time buyer can learn about proper maintenance and of possible problems that will not go into the report.

What Will the Home Inspector Do?

The home inspector examines the entire home, both outside and inside, and checks for safety, defects, replacement or repair needs, and potential problems that should be monitored closely. The inspector will then produce a report covering the findings. The inspection generally takes two to three hours and costs between $200 and $500.

What Will Be Inspected?

External inspections will cover the roof, exterior walls, foundation, grading, garage, and may include sprinklers, lawn, porch lights, walkways and driveways as well. Interior inspections will examine the plumbing and electrical systems, HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning), the water heater, kitchen appliances, laundry room, fire safety and bathrooms.

Taking this optional step of completing a home inspection, even with a new home, will be well worth the time and additional cost. It will provide a basis on which to make a more realistic offer and give the buyer the peace of mind of having in-depth knowledge about the house being purchased.

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